Welcome to Awakenings

Life IS history in the making. Every word we say, everything we do becomes history the moment it is said or done. Life void of memories leaves nothing but emptiness. For those who might consider history boring, think again: It is who we are, what we do and why we are here. We are certainly individuals in our thoughts and deeds but we all germinated from seeds planted long, long ago.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Music Musings

Today in Music History: August 31

Thoughts and reflections mirror personal impressions about musicians, their unique rhythms and styles of music. No two are exactly alike, even when covering another artist's song. Perhaps one genre in particular is special with maybe something random now and again thrown into the mix to be different. The mood of the moment sets the tone of the music: fast, anxious, noisy versus slow, relaxing, soft. What music speaks for you?

1956 The top 10 songs in the UK singles chart were all by American artists including Elvis Presley, The Platters, Doris Day, Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers, and Gogi Grant. What a diverse group of recording artists and their songs! Each of these had No.1 hits in the US.
1963 The girl trio, The Angels, started a three week run at No.1 on the US singles chart with ‘My Boyfriend’s Back’. The writers of the song Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein and Richard Gottehrer were a trio of Brooklyn songwriter/producers who went on to write the hits ‘Sorrow’ and have the 1965 US No.11 single as The Strangeloves with ‘I Want Candy’.
 1963 The Ronettes first entered the US singles chart with 'Be My Baby' the girl group's only top 10 hit. Lead singer, Veronica Bennett who became Ronnie Spector, took producer and ex-husband Phil Spector to court in the late 1990s for unpaid royalties.
 1969 Decca Records released what has been called The Rolling Stones most political song, 'Street Fighting Man', written after Mick Jagger attended a March 1968 anti-war rally at London's US embassy, during which mounted police attempted to control a crowd of 25,000. The single was kept out of the US Top 40 (reaching No.48) because many radio stations refused to play it based on what were perceived as subversive lyrics.
1985 'Brothers In Arms' by Dire Straits started a nine-week run at No.1 on the US album charts. The album also topped the charts in 25 other countries and went on to sell over 20 million worldwide.
1985 UB40 with guest vocals from Chrissie Hynde had the UK No.1 single with their version of the Sonny Bono song 'I Got You Babe' a hit for Sonny & Cher in 1965.
1987 The largest pre-order of albums in the history of CBS Records occurred as 2.25 million copies of Michael Jackson's ‘Bad’ album were shipped to record stores in the US. The LP followed the Jackson album, ‘Thriller’, the biggest Jackson-seller of all time (over 35 million copies sold). ‘Bad’ went on to sell over 13 million copies.

1991 Metallica started a four-week run at No.1 on the US album chart with, Metallica. The album featured ‘Enter Sandman’, ‘Sad But True’, ‘The Unforgiven’ and ‘Nothing Else Matters’ went on to sell over 10 million copies in the US alone.
1997 Oasis went to No.1 on the UK album chart with their third album 'Be Here Now.' The album had sold over a million copies on the first day of release. At that point, Oasis were at the height of their fame, and 'Be Here Now' became the United Kingdom's fastest selling album to date.  
2003 Elton John went to No.1 on the UK singles chart with 'Are You Ready For Love'. The song was recorded in 1977 and released in 1979, when it reached No.42. It was used by Sky TV for their Premiership football ads.
2002 NASA announced that Lance Bass, singer with NSYNC, was to become the first celebrity astronaut. His $23.8 million (£14 million), place on a Russian Soyuz module would make him the youngest person at 23 years of age to go into orbit. Bass ended up not taking part in the flight after failing to pay for his $20 million ticket on the craft.

2004 UK medical magazine Thorax issued a warning to music fans saying that listening to loud music in the car can give you a collapsed lung. One 19 year-old had been treated in Bristol after his left lung collapsed as his 1,000-watt bass box boomed out in his Fiat Panda.

2006 The Times ran a story on the demands of rock stars when on tour. Check these out...
Ozzy Osbourne insists on an eye, ear, nose and throat doctor at each venue.
The Beach Boys require a licensed masseur, Meat Loaf a mask and one small tank of oxygen.
David Bowie requests that the dressing room temperature is between 14c and 18c.
Paul McCartney must have a large arrangement of white Casablanca lilies in his dressing room.
Mick Jagger must have an onstage autocue with the lyrics to all the songs, it would also tell him the name of the city in which they were performing.

And the music goes on beating to the rhythm of the changing times...  

September is...

...the beginning of Autumn, a time of change! A welcomed break from the sweltering temperatures of summer, a look ahead to landscapes erupting in riotous colorshow magnificent! With a new month comes occasions for celebration, so let's take a peek at what is at the top of the list for the entire month of September. What better start than to begin with music. Not just any music but tunes that date as far back as the 11th century that are still played in the 21st century. Then, make a music connection with each celebration.

Classical music may be at the bottom of your playlist but why not move it to the top during Classical Music Month? There is a huge possibility you know a lot more classical tunes than you think. Do you like the movies? More and more classical pieces are indeed intricate parts of their soundtracks. Even television programs and commercials have researched artistic masterpieces for marketing and advertising. You may or may not recognize the titles but perhaps the melodies ring a bell. Here is a sample...

According to Wikipedia, the term Hispanic is used to denote a link to Spain, whether it is a culture or a group of people. This is why the people of the countries and islands who were once ruled by Spain are labeled Hispanic today. As these geographical locations encompass a large variety of customs, traditions, cuisines, and music/art forms, the Hispanic community is a diverse group which cannot be limited to a stereotype. During National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 to October 15), celebrations are in order for the generations of Hispanic Americans who have positively influenced and enriched our nation and society. 

Put away the straw hats worn while gardening and the beach hats topping the head for protection from the summer sun. Jazz up your fall wardrobe with a stylish hat. Both men and women wear hats and hats have been a part of our history for centuries. A hat is a headcovering that may be worn for protection against the elements, for religious reasons, for safety, or as a fashion accessory. In the past, hats were an indicator of social status. In the military, they denote rank and regiment. There are hats for men and hats for women, as well as hats worn by both sexes. Purveyors of men's hats are called hatters and purveyors of women's hats are called milliners. If you like, go cr-r-r-razy during Fall Hat Month.

The square dance is uniquely American. So American, almost 50% of the United States (24 to be exact) have designated the square dance as their state (folk) dance (click HERE). However, the format, many of the folk dances movements, and the terminology incorporated into the square dance were brought by early immigrantsEnglish, Irish and Scottish settlersfrom other countries to the United States. Celebrate International Square Dancing Month by participating along with a local square dancing club or host a square dance of your own. It's a great way to get some exercise while having fun at the same time!

We may be at the end of the summer season with temps beginning to drop (hopefully) but there are still some warm (even hot) days ahead. Of course, summer treats are not just for summer. Most are enjoyed year around with the Popsicle being one of them. The flavorful explosion of sweet blueberries at the end of summer has never tasted better. Include these in your next frozen treat experiment and you'll be a card-carrying member of the blue tongue society. Step back in time and celebrate National Blueberry Popsicle Month while listening to Jan & Dean's 'Popsicle'...

National Piano Month
The piano has been instrumental in many different genres of music with musicians 'tickling the ivories' for centuries. For National Piano Month, celebrate an instrument that continues to be classical, contemporary and flexible at the same time; an instrument that contributed enormously to the development of music as we know it, and continues to play a key role in modern music. It is enjoyed by young and old...there is no age limit when it comes to the piano!

Let's Talk Chicken! Did you know there are more chickens than any other domesticated bird on Earth? With that thought in mind, it is so far down the list of endangered species there is no need to worry about running low or heaven forbid OUT of Southern fried chicken! For National Chicken Month, options are endless as to how to enjoy chicken: casseroled, crocked, crusted, baked, BBQed, boiled braised, broiled, fingered, fricasseed, fried, grilled, nuggeted, pied, roasted, rotisseried, rubbed, saladed, sandwiched, sauced, sauteed, seared, smoked, stir-fried, stuffed, just about any way you like it. I fact, you can eat chicken every day for the month and never eat the same recipe twice. While dining on one of your favorite chicken recipes, enjoy one of many popular songs with chicken in the title!
Ah-h-h-h, September, so much to celebrate, especially the sweetest gift of naturehoney, of course! This one, simple ingredient is all-natural, delicious and so-o-o-o versatile. The National Honey Board (NHB) has always recognized the importance of honey bees and the benefits of honey. From the kitchen pantry to the bathroom vanity and beyond, honey plays a valuable role in our everyday lives. Did you know to make one pound of honey, a honeybee needs to tap 2 million blossoms? Now, that's what I call a 'worker'! Have a Honey Chipper Day but this time every day for the entire month.

Celebrate a healthy start every morning during the month of September. If you are not a breakfast eater, this is the month to change your habits. Jump start your metabolism, feel better and stay healthy. The benefits of eating breakfast are well worth the effort. As with any food be sure to include the right foods on the menu. Choose foods that contribute fiber, protein and healthy fats. Did you know breakfast should make up one-fourth to one-third of daily caloric needs? Just don't overdo with the sweets. Eat better during Better Breakfast Month!
Whew! That is a lot of celebration...and, to think that is not all being celebrated but all for now! Enjoy September!

This is classical...this is piano!


Smiles within Smiles...Remembered

August 31, 1997

Tragedy struck at the heartstrings of young and old as news of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales spread around the world. Media attention and public mourning were extensive following her death in a car crash in Paris on 31 August 1997. What a tragic end to such a gracious lady who will always be remembered for her charitable spirit.

 In 1999, TIME named Diana one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century. In 2002, Diana was ranked 3rd on the BBC's poll of the 100 Greatest Britons, outranking The Queen and other British monarchs.

Lady Diana Spencer, Princess of Wales, Great Britain
July 1, 1961 - August 31, 1997

The Smiles of Diana

 An icon of British royalty, the “People’s Princess”
smiled from within capturing the heart of America.
She mesmerized the world with her interest in fashion
and popular culture but is most remembered for her
compassion, a trait upon which she thrived.

For a small, wee child
With rosy cheeks aglow
An uncertain smile
Seemed quite apropos

A delightful young girl
Of hardly ten
With a hint of a smile
Let you in…

Inside her heart
Where warmth resided
Soothing comfort
Her smile provided

A fairytale wedding
Showered joy and pride
Within a blissful smile
She both laughed and cried

Empathy and devotion
Surpassed all mystical charms
Within the most loving smile
New life wiggled in her arms

Arms that opened wide
Even in times of dire distress
With a smile so big
Strong as a mighty fortress

Graceful beauty
Her true legend rendered
Smiles within smiles
Always to be remembered

Diana, your smiles are deeply missed!


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Giddy up!

Giddy up! Ride 'em cowboy! Common words back in the days of the Old West. None rang out any louder than from the riders of the Pony Express. Back in the days of the wild west, no Fed Ex was available, no Postal Service ran that far west, no planes, and delivery by ship was likely to take months if it ever got there at all.

Seeing this need for a specialized delivery service, Leavenworth and Pike’s Peak Express Company took an opportunity to expand into this void. From this important decision was born one of the most iconic pieces of American HistoryThe Pony Express. No event In American History has captured the imagination of young and old alike, more than the excitement created by those young riders and their horses, as they rode across the western half of our continent. 

A Bit of Pony Express History...
Frank E. Webner Pony Express rider ca. 1861

The Pony Express existed for 18 months between the days of April 3, 1860 to October 1861. In these days there was no air mail, no great American Highway, all there was was hundreds of miles of wide open spaces with not much in between but animal filled wilderness and bandito filled hollows. During this time, if you wanted to send a letter or small package from anywhere East past the gateway of St. Joseph, Missouri, there was only one way to go. The Pony Express was a massive employer for it’s time, with up to 80 young riders employed at any given stage, with stringent requirements on their age, size, and weight.

The Pony Express preferred to employ the youngest riders they could, in part for their resilience, and in part for how light they were. The less a man weighed the longer the horse could run and the more cargo the rider could carry. Since the horses were put to go full tilt for 10 to 15 miles at a stretch before changing, this was of vital importance. The rider changed out every 75 to 100 miles, but the mail never so much as slowed even in the worst of weather. While the average trip from coast to coast (On Horseback!) took 10 days, when they delivered Lincoln’s Inaugural Address, the trip was made in a mere 7 days and 17 hours.

Pony Express Festivals...

Pony Express Day Festivals are a staple all throughout the United States with tons of opportunities to celebrate the bravery of these young mailmen. Since 1986, many festivals are being celebrated on August 31st as Pony Express Day. Re-enactments of the Pony Express ride with 1860's historic dress group, demonstrators, food, entertainment, children's circle and more are all part of the festivities. Equestrian events commemorate the challenges the the riders faced. Speaking of equestrian events, let's not forget the true heroes of this endeavor, the horses that carried men and post across the nation time and time again. As for food, chili was one of the staples of the old American West, and as you might imagine there was often a pot of this spicy staple bubbling to keep the riders fed as they came in and out with letters and packages.

Get the 1953 movie ‘Pony Express’ featuring Charleston Heston and Rhonda Fleming! This is a classic about this amazing American institution and the trials and efforts of the men and women who fought to make it a reality. Gather friends and family on Pony Express Day...celebrate the Pioneer spirit of the Old West!

Giddy up! Ride 'em cowboy!  



Melodies & Rhythms

Today in Music History: August 30

The melodies and rhythms of music touch the heart and soul of each listener. The same song may mean something entirely different from one person to another. For one, it may bring on smiles of happiness and memories of joy. For another, those memories may be filled with heartache. For others, it is expressing through music what one cannot put into words alone. Music is pleasure that allows each to cope when all else seems to fail. Music abates loneliness. 

There are songs that are immediate No. 1s while others take time to climb the ladder to the top of the charts. Then, there is that one which comes along totally unexpected...see Music Trivia at the end. 

1949 Hank Williams, aka The Drifting Cowboy, went into Herzog Studio in Cincinnati to record one of the most heart-rending songs ever recorded'I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry'. Williams wrote the song originally intending that the words be spoken, rather than sung. The song about loneliness was largely inspired by his tumultuous relationship with wife Audrey Sheppard.
1969 One hit wonders Zager and Evans started a three week run at No.1 on the UK singles chart with 'In The Year 2525', a very unusual song in a very unusual year. The song stayed at #1 for 6 weeks on the US chart, which was longer than any other song that year and earned it the distinction of #1 Record of the Year 1969. The song reflected the apprehension of the times and also the wonder of technology: it started its chart run the week before the Apollo 11 moon landing.
Here is the timeline of why this science fiction-themed song was the #1 hit of 1969:
March 1969 - two futuristic sci-fi movies receive Oscars: Planet Of The Apes and 2001: A Space Odyssey.
July 11, 1969 - David Bowie's "Space Oddity" (the tale of Major Tom) is released in the UK. It doesn't become a chart topper until September.
Week ending July 12, 1969 - "In the Year 2525" hits #1 on Billboard's Top 40 chart.
July 16, 1969 - Apollo 11 Moon Mission lifts off from Florida.
July 20, 1969 - Apollo 11 astronauts make history when they set foot on the moon.
 1975 KC and the Sunshine Band went to No.1 on the US singles chart with, 'Get Down Tonight', the group's first of five No.1's peaked at No.21 in the UK. This was the first of 5 US #1 hits for KC & The Sunshine Band. It also went to #1 on the R&B charts, not surprising since Disco was really a funky form of R&B. The song features a distinctive introduction, in which a recorded guitar solo is rendered at double speed over a normal-speed guitar line in the background. 
1975 Rod Stewart had his fifth UK No.1 album when Atlantic Crossing started a five-week run at the top of the charts and No.9 on the Billboard Top Pop Albums chart. The title indicated Stewart's new commercial and artistic direction, referring to both his crossing over to Warner Brothers and on his departure to escape the 83 per cent top rate of income tax introduced by British Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson for the jet-set lifestyle in Los Angeles (where he had applied for American citizenship at this time).
1986 Steve Winwood went to No.1 on the US singles chart with, 'Higher Love', a No.13 hit in the UK. This Track was Winwood's first #1 single as a solo artist. It also won 2 Grammys in 1987: Record Of The Year (beating Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer" and Robert Palmer's "Addicted To Love"), and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. Winwood played many of the instruments on a number of hits in the '60s and '70s as a session musician and as a member of Traffic, The Spencer Davis Group and Blind Faith. In the '80s, he established himself as a solo artist with songs he wrote with Will Jennings (writer of "My Heart Will Go On" with James Horner for the movie Titanic), who put lyrics to Winwood's music.
1995 Carly Simon and James Taylor performed live together in front of 10,000 fans on Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. It was the first time they appeared live on the same stage since 1979. The former couple played their own solo sets before combining their efforts in raising money for the local agricultural society.
2003 Blu Cantrell Feat Sean Paul were at No.1 on the UK singles chart with ‘Breathe’, Beyoncé was at No.1 on the US charts with ‘Crazy In Love’ and R. Kelly had the Australian No.1 single with ‘Ignition (Remix).’ 

2013 Cinema's across the UK were handing out earplugs to parents taking their children to see One Direction’s British-American 3-D concert film. Billed as an intimate all-access look at life on the road for the global music phenomenon, This Is Us follows the lives of the five members of the boy band, One Direction. Accompanying chaperones could enjoy One Direction: This Is Us 3D without being worried by the high-levels of expected screaming and shouting in the auditoriums. Humans are capable of screaming as loud as 120 decibels, which is the same as standing next to a running chainsaw. The film was rolled out internationally on 30 August 2013 with a majority of markets being reached by the end of September 2013.

2013 A 96-year-old who wrote a song for his late wife made the US iTunes Top 10, alongside Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. Fred Stobaugh, whose wife Lorraine had died in April, had no previous musical experience and wrote the song on a whim for a competition. He submitted his handwritten lyrics by post and, although the contest was online-only, the organizers were so moved they put the words to music. 'Oh Sweet Lorraine' was No.7 on US iTunes and had seen over 1.9m YouTube views.

And the music goes on beating to the rhythm of the changing times...  

Triple Fun Day!


Do you enjoy the outdoors? Ready to hike along a wooded trail? What about a picnic? Like to grill or enjoy grilled food? Bring on the rest and relaxation away from the stress and busyness of the hectic workday. The coming celebrations are definitely reminders of having the cake and eating it too! What a grand way to end the month of August and celebrate over the Labor Day weekend, not with just one named 'day' but three...

August 31 is...
Eat Outside Day


Prepare to set the table on the porch or patio, or spread a blanket on the ground. If you prefer to dine out, be sure to choose a restaurant where you can eat on an outside deck. This is the day to enjoy some fresh air hopefully without sweating too much in the sweltering, unrelenting August heat. With it being the end of the month, temperatures should be cooling down somewhere but unfortunately not everywhere. Find a good shade tree or maybe head out of the house in the early morning hours before the day's temps begin to rise. Um-m-m-m? Who said eating outside could not commence at breakfast time! However and whenever you decide to celebrate just don't forget the knork and be sure to make the day family time! 

While deciding where to go and what to eat, keep in mind...


August 31 is also ... 
International Bacon Day
aka Baconmania!

Ah-h-h-h...the aroma of bacon baked or fried, the sound of bacon as it sizzles in the oven or pan, the feel of choppin' bacon for a salad or placing bacon strips on a sandwich or burger, and of course, the taste of bacon as tastebuds become absorbed in flavor bursts of pure delight. Are you craving bacon yet? If not, you should be...so get it ready for the picnic, grill some bacon burgers or be sure to include bacon in one of your menu items if dining out. Ever tried frying bacon and eggs in an iron skillet on the grill? Yum! Bet it's breakfast time somewhere around the globe!

Bacon is celebrated every year with the photo at left maybe going a bit overboard but the point well taken: A toast to bacon! Did you know that bacon originated in China? What about in the year - 1500 BC during the Shang Dynasty? That's a long, long time for people to have been enjoying bacon and solidifies the fact that bacon has been consumed for centuries upon centuries upon centuries. Whether cured or fried extra crispy, its decadent, rich, indulgent flavor calls for more, more, more! Did you know the average American eats 17.9 lbs of bacon each year? That is just one of basic 17 Mouthwatering Facts About Bacon...

The third and final celebration for this day is a snack that can be enjoyed throughout the morning or afternoon while preparing to eat outside or prepping the bacon.

August 31 is also...
National Trail Mix Day
aka GORP Day

There is always the need to have snacks available any day, any time of the day. One of the best between meals snack is Trail Mix, aka GORPGood Old Raisins & Peanuts, which can be purchased at the store or made fresh at home.
In New Zealand, trail mix is known as scroggin or "schmogle". The term is also used in some places in Australia but usage has only been traced back to the 1970s. Some claim that the name stands for Sultanas, Carob, Raisins, Orange peel, Grains, Glucose, Imagination, Nuts or Sultanas, Chocolate, Raisins and Other Goody-Goodies Including Nuts; but this may be a false etymology. Source: wikipedia.org
As for GORP, it doesn't have to stop with just the raisins and peanuts, no, sir! Toss in the Chex, sunflower seeds, favorite cereal, M&Ms, chocolate chips or chunks, pretzels, dried fruits (banana slices, pineapple chunks, cherry bits), dates, coconut flakes, almonds, pistachios, cashews, pecans, whatever tickles your nose or fancies your taste buds. Since August 31st is Eat Outside Day and International Bacon Day, plan a hike outdoors and don't forget to toss in some crispy fried bacon pieces into baggies of Trail Mix to snack on along the way.

Recipes to be enjoyed at some time throughout the day...
Click the image or the name of the recipe!

For Eat Outside Day...


For International Bacon Day...

Add bacon to the Juicy Grilled Burgers or

Wondering what to have for dessert?

Click HERE for recipe!

For Trail Mix Day, enjoy a munchie between meals...