Monday, January 26, 2009

Sam Cooke, A Change is Gonna Come, Jon Bon Jovi, Bettye Lavette

Today I again watched Obama’s Inaugural Concert. This song, A Change is Gonna Come, written in 1963 by popular gospel, R&B, and pop singer, Sam Cooke (1931-1964), was recorded in 1964. During the concert it was very well done by Bettye Lavette and Jon Bon Jovi.

And I think Jon and Bettye singing A Change is Gonna Come said it all. It brought forth the sentiments, the emotions, that so many of us were feeling with our new President and the change we are undergoing. The shift of energy, the acceptance of diversity that has been so evident.

Sam Cooke, a young talented black man, was active in the Civil Rights Movement and it was that and Bob Dylan’s Blowing in the Wind (Peter, Paul and Mary) that inspired his writing of A Change is Gonna Come. From 1957-65 he apparently had 29 Top Forty Hits. I loved his music. Probably my favorite of his was You Send Me. I remember playing the 45 rpm record over and over again. But I think I also loved every song he sang.

Read more about Sam Cook and listen to an award winning Documentary “Sam Cooke, A Change is Gonna Come,” by radio station (90.3 WCPN) on his life and music. Funding provided by the United Black Fund of Greater Cleveland, Inc. It’s very good.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Historic Inauguration of President Obama, and Vice President Biden

It was amazing to watch. Obama’s inauguration was so historic and emotional. It seems the significance of this goes much deeper than the historic event of having a bi-racial/Black President. (I loved he was sworn in on Abraham Lincoln’s Bible) I believe the bigger message or hope has been about positive change, acceptance, tolerance, diversity, and equality in all areas of life and that might be why it has hit so many of us a such a deep level...a soul level. And with that comes the emotion, the tears. I think our new President and Vice President will represent us well.


American Prayer, written by Dave Stewart, Bono. Stewart explains why he wrote the song:
"People long for a connection-- whether it is to music, to their country, or to a big idea."

Saturday, January 17, 2009

An Historic Journey by Train, Obama and Biden on the Obama Express

The Obama Express: From Philadelphia to Washington D.C., an historic journey, a duplication of part of a journey made by Abraham Lincoln to his own inauguration in 1861. Today our President-elect Barack Obama made that symbolic journey to Washington D.C. for his Tuesday inauguration, accompanied by his wife, Michelle, and their two daughters. They picked up Vice President-elect Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, and family in Wilmington, Delaware.
Here is a bit of Obama's speech at a stop in Baltimore:

"And yet while our problems may be new, what is required to overcome them is not. What is required is the same perseverance and idealism that those first patriots displayed. What is required is a new declaration of independence, not just in our nation, but in our own lives - from ideology and small thinking, prejudice and bigotry - an appeal not to our easy instincts but to our better angels."

"That is the reason I launched my campaign for the presidency nearly two years ago. I did so in the belief that the most fundamental American ideal, that a better life is in store for all those willing to work for it, was slipping out of reach. That Washington was serving the interests of the few, not the many. And that our politics had grown too small for the scale of the challenges we faced. But I also believed something else. I believed that our future is our choice, and that if we could just recognize ourselves in one another and bring everyone together - Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, north, south, east and west, black, white, Latino, Asian, and Native American, gay and straight, disabled and not - then not only would we restore hope and opportunity in places that yearned for both, but maybe, just maybe, we might perfect our union in the process."

"This is what I believed, but you made this belief real. You proved once more that people who love this country can change it. And as I prepare to leave for Washington on a trip that you made possible, know that I will not be traveling alone. I will be taking with me some of the men and women I met along the way, Americans from every corner of this country, whose hopes and heartaches were the core of our cause; whose dreams and struggles have become my own. Theirs are the voices I will carry with me every day in the White House. Theirs are the stories I will be thinking of when we deliver the changes you elected me to make. "

I surprisingly found myself with tears in listening to his words today. So hopeful, so inspirational, so energizing. I can't help but associate Obama with Lincoln. Even did so before the Lincoln theme was created for the Inauguration. This is history being made. And it is exciting.

I better keep the Kleenex handy on Tuesday, because that is the way this is hitting me, deeply.


Photo by Richard Perry, New York Times

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Endings and Beginnings, Shifts of Energy, Miracles Do Happen

Counting the days! Five to go! GW Bush said goodbye to America tonight! Thank goodness. I don’t think he has a clue how unpopular he is, nor does he have any understanding of how he has harmed this country, outright failed it in so many ways. Maybe it’s called denial.

Let me count the ways. I don’t know where to begin, but probably the most outstanding event has to be the Iraq War, and the supposed weapons of mass destruction, and the thousands who have died as a result. Following that would be Katrina. It is still disgusting to see that things are far from normal in three and a half years. What a government failure that was! Swept under the rug?—you bet. Anybody want a cheap trailer full of mud, mold, formaldehyde, and other toxins? Rights taken away, torture, corruption, economic downfall.... it could go on and on...and thankfully it will be over with that bunch in five days. GW can sit and enjoy his beers.... and we won’t have to see him fall off couches, fall off bikes, or fall all over himself trying to give a speech...or... What a relief!

I personally feel very optimistic about the change taking place since the election. I’ve spoken with so many who feel it. I mean like feeling the energy shift that is happening. I spoke with a woman clerk today in a very nice department store, a company that filed for bankruptcy this week. We all hope that the small chain of stores will make it. And she was optimistic about that, and also mentioned this positive global shift happening now. Many feel it despite the economic crisis we’re in.

We know Barack Obama and Joe Biden and the rest of his administration really have their work cut out for them in getting our country back on track, and it may not happen overnight, so to speak, but it is in motion and has been for several months now. And that is exciting.

I was in the car today listening to the radio about New York’s Hudson River plane crash. What a miracle that was! Then I thought, why not. That’s the way things feel right now. Always nice to hear how people move forward to help others in a crisis. And thank goodness for a very skilled pilot, co-pilot and crew, and passengers who apparently kept their calm and did what had to be done.

Man, that water would be so cold.....!


Monday, January 12, 2009

Elvis Presley Never Dies

As always, for many years now, it is hard to get through early January without thinking about Elvis Presley. January 8th, 2009 he would have been seventy-four. Those of us who grew up with Elvis and his early success can’t help but realize we are not too far behind that age.

I was listening to the radio show Coast to Coast AM the other night and a discussion by George Noory and his guests of the theory that Elvis never died. These gentlemen all concluded Elvis died. Funny, how after all these years since his death in 1977, there is still that conspiracy theory out there that he staged his own death to escape the public or that he was in the Federal Witness Protection Program. I was looking at a couple of youtubes about this theory. Facts can be easily distorted, and I saw nothing credible to indicate that Elvis was not dead. Isn’t it somewhat amusing that some, for whatever reasons, won’t give up on the idea that he faked his death.

Many of us who were fans of Elvis and his charismatic personality, his sensuality, his music, his spirituality, and all, are still fans. He’s a part of us. Part of who we are, who we were. President Jimmy Carter said it well shortly after Elvis’ death in August of 1977:

"Elvis Presley's death deprives our country of a part of itself. He was unique and irreplaceable. More than 20 years ago, he burst upon the scene with an impact that was unprecedented and will probably never be equaled. His music and his personality, fusing the styles of white country and black rhythm and blues, permanently changed the face of American popular culture."

It’s interesting how certain events, certain people, stay in our minds: people we’ve never met, never known personally, but despite that, they become very much a familiar figure, a friend, a hero, even someone who gives us comfort in reading their words, or hearing their voices, seeing their image. Although it could be viewed as a one-sided relationship, each gain something from it on some level, conscious or unconscious.

A meeting of the minds, a meeting of the heart, a meeting of the soul.

You may want to read more of what I previously wrote of Elvis in my August 2007 archives.


This song, Old Shep, written by Red Foley (1910-1968) is said to be the first song Elvis sang in public, at the age of ten.

And this song, The Wonder of You, was written by prolific songwriter Baker Knight (1933-2005).

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

"Republican" Palace in Iraq, Again?

The new American Embassy opened in Baghdad. Situated on the banks of the Tigris river, one mile south of Saddam Hussein's Republican Palace -- U.S. headquarters in Baghdad since 2003 -
the Embassy covers 104 acres and is the largest in the world, housing 1,200 U.S. diplomats, soldiers, and government staff from 14 federal agencies, according to a U.S. State Department news release.

The original price tag on the 27-building complex was $592 million, but a congressional report from 2007 -- citing State Department documents -- indicated the cost could end up $144 million higher. With the 2007 report that would mean $736 MILLION. How many millions tacked onto that since the report? When the figure figures appear will it be over One Billion?

A U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee report of 2006 indicated there were 21 buildings on the site. The embassy’s 104 acres is six times larger than the United Nations compound in New York, and two-thirds the acreage of Washington’s National Mall. Vatican City has a total area of 108.7 acres.

And it is the size of 80 football fields!

It seems our State Department's Bureau of Overseas Building Operations, rejected one bid from an American Company, and then waived a law that requires open and competitive bidding. It awarded a sole-source contract for the unclassified portions of the new embassy complex to a Kuwait-based firm, First Kuwaiti General Trading & Contracting Co.

Embassy construction had missed several deadlines; several problems have emerged, including faulty electrical and firefighting systems; and the project has been subject of a criminal investigation. It appears that the company that has built our Embassy, leading supplier of low-paid laborers recruited from poor Asian countries to build and operate U.S. military camps in Iraq frequently as a subcontractor to guess who–Halliburton’s multibillion support services agreement.

So our government took down Saddam’s grand Republican Palace, and a mile away built the United States "Republican" Palace. Are there richly adorned vacation suites for Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld to enjoy while they overlook the Tigris while sipping a beer, the Tigris which flows with the blood of thousands of lives lost in the unnecessary Iraqi War; blood of military men and women, blood of innocent civilians, men, women, and children.

All done for revenge, oil, and power?

And why do we need this huge complex? It feels like more waste, more billions, more ego.

15 more days....thank goodness.

I came across this quote from our President-elect today that I really liked:

"As I said before, in my own sort of mental library, the Civil Rights movement has a powerful hold on me. It’s a point in time where I think heaven and earth meet. Because it’s a moment in which a collective faith transforms everything. So when I read Gandhi or I read King or I read certain passages of Abraham Lincoln and I think about those times where people’s values are tested, I think those inspire me." ~Barack Obama

And he inspires me.