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Tuesday, July 29, 2003

It's funny, the useless things you remember.

As I was driving around doing my errands this morning, Gloria Estefan started singing some old songs to me. Her CD, Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, came on the changer, and I had to laugh at myself, because for nearly every song she sang, I could name the male singer who had originally recorded it, thirty or forty years ago.

And as each new song came on, I was surprised and delighted once again, as if knowing the last three songs wouldn't have given me the idea that maybe I'd know the next one, too. As I thought about the original versions of these songs, it occurred to me that the male singers who had recorded them had higher voices than Gloria Estefan. Maybe that's how the songs got chosen, because they were in her vocal range.

My memory has some gaps in it now. There was a time when I could identify any song that came on the radio by the first three notes. Of course, that was a long, long time ago, and there were far fewer songs then.

The title song gave me some trouble. I knew the singer's name was Mel, and I knew it wasn't Mel Tillis (or Mel Gibson or Mel Brooks). I thought and thought as I drove around listening to it, but I didn't come up with the name until I got home where I could Google the song. Mel Carter. At least I'm not crazy. The song is also associated with U2, but not by me.

Google also reminded me of another Mel Carter song that I'd forgotten, "All of a Sudden My Heart Sings," which is so similar in structure to "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me" that it could almost be the same song. That's how it was in those days (the 1960s, that is). If you had a hit with one song, you redid it and called it something else and could probably count on another hit. Look at the Dixie Cups (not the Dixie Chicks), with "Chapel of Love" followed by "People Say."

Most of the songs on the CD were easy to recognize. "How Can I Be Sure": Felix Cavaliere of the Rascals. "Traces": Dennis Yost of the Classics IV. "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying": Gerry Marsden of Gerry and the Pacemakers. "You've Made Me So Very Happy": David Clayton Thomas of Blood, Sweat and Tears. I didn't have to look up any of those names, although I did look up Gerry's last name because I wasn't sure I was right. I was.

Not surprisingly, the only songs I couldn't even make a guess about were a couple of disco numbers, "Everlasting Love" (also recorded by U2, and before that by Carl Carlton) and "Turn the Beat Around" (apparently this wasn't done by the Pointer Sisters at all, but by Vicki Sue Robinson).

I didn't get to the other songs on the CD. Instead, I came home and got to work, but in the background I played the Soft Rock satellite channel. I think the reason this was my working music today was that it was comfortable, non-threatening and familiar.

Plus, I knew almost every song they played, and nobody had to explain the difference between Air Supply and the Little River Band to me. I already knew that Jackie DeShannon sings both "Put a Little Love in Your Heart" and "What the World Needs Now Is Love." I'd like to find the Daily Double in this category, Alex.

28 July 2003

A visitor to my garden.

When I'm listening to a baseball game and other people are around and not paying attention, it doesn't bother me or surprise me. But sometimes I'm listening to music and people don't even react, don't even realize it's playing. I find it hard to relate to that attitude about music, because it's so much a part of my life. Baseball is a big part of my life, too, but I know it doesn't connect with everyone. How anyone can fail to respond to the power of music is hard to understand.

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The Stuff box is back, now that I'm posting same-day entries again. I don't have anything to say here, but there might be some new (lower-case) stuff on the Links page if you haven't been over there lately. I highly recommend everything I highly recommend. Also, the year-ago entry (linked below) has links to the two- and three-years-ago entries, if that interests you at all. Or even if it doesn't.

Recent recommendations can always be found on the links page.

One year ago: Insufficient
"I'll be waiting for tomorrow's mail with a-tremblin' with fear. I'm not in a position to be paying the bank for every math error I've ever committed."

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