Archive for the ‘John Denver’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: JOHN DENVER & THE MUPPETS-A Christmas Together (1979).

This is a strange recording.  Perhaps even more so nearly forty years past its release date when The Muppets are still beloved but aren’t hugely popular.  It’s strange because it’s quite an earnest record, and yet it is sung by puppets with weird voices.

So this album is not meant to be funny (with some exceptions), and yet it’s hard not to smile somewhat at the crazy voices involved.  But the songs aren’t played for laughs.

So if you can get past the fact that Rowlf the Dog is singing an earnest song, it’s quite enjoyable.  In fact, the whole disc is warm and inviting, nonjudgmental and really sweet–pretty much everything that John Denver and The Muppets are known for.

The album features of traditional Christmas carols and original songs.

“The Twelve Days of Christmas” (Denver with the Muppets).  This is kind of an unfortunate song to start with if only because it feels much longer than its 4 minutes (as this song always does).  Having a different Muppet sing each line helps though.  And there are some amusing moments (Beaker of course).  But it’s not really played for laughs, exactly.  Except maybe for Piggy’s “five golden ring” line, kind of.

“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” (Rowlf the Dog and Denver).  Rowlf was always an earnest singer so this pairing makes sense.  But Rowlf’s voice is pretty weird.  “The Peace Carol” (John and Scooter with the Muppets). I don’t know this song, but it’s quite pretty and they have wisely picked the least strange-voiced Muppets to sing it with him.

“Christmas Is Coming” (Miss Piggy with Scooter, The Great Gonzo and Robin the Frog) This is a round with Piggy on lead and then each one repeating the one line.  I was unfamiliar with this song too.

Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat / Please put a penny in the old man’s hat / If you haven’t got a penny, a ha’penny will do / If you haven’t got a ha’penny, then God bless you!

“A Baby Just Like You” (Denver with the Muppets) This is a very John Denver song, pretty and mellow.  “Deck the Halls” (The Muppets)  It’s nice to hear Kermit get a lead vocal.  Everyone sings this in turn and it’s quite nice.  “When the River Meets the Sea” (Robin and Denver with the Muppets)  It’s weird to have a Muppet sing this first verse, but it’s a gentle voice and works nicely with Denver.

“Little Saint Nick” (Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem)  Okay, so hearing the Electric Mayhem is always fun.  I’m amused hearing all of the voices of the band (this is a song you can be silly with).  And of course having Animal shouting “Run! Run! Reindeer!” is pretty darn funny.

“Noel: Christmas Eve, 1913” (Denver) gentle and pretty.  “The Christmas Wish” (Kermit the Frog with the Muppets)  This is a very sweet song wishing love to all whether you believe or not.  Medley: “Alfie, the Christmas Tree” / “Carol for a Christmas Tree” / “It’s in Every One of Us” (Denver with the Muppets)  This is a strange story about a tree who loved Christmas.  And it’s narrated not sung.  This one is skippable.

“Silent Night, Holy Night (Stille Nacht)” (Denver with the Muppets) I was surprised that this was sung in German first.  Then Denver recites how the song was written, and it’s quite moving.   A very lovely rendition.  “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” (Denver with the Muppets) The disc ends with a bit of fun with the cast singing.  And there’s some good Muppets antics: they sing “figgy pudding”  Miss Piggy asks, “piggy pudding?”  “no, it’s made with figs.”  “oh”  “and bacon.”  And when they sing “we won;t go until we get some” Animal chants “won’t go! won’t go!”

All in all this is a delightful Christmas album.

[READ: December 1, 2017] “Aftermath”

Once again, I have ordered The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This year, there are brief interviews with each author posted on the date of their story.

Hello. Welcome. It’s finally here: Short Story Advent Calendar time.

If you’re reading along at home, now’s the time to start cracking those seals, one by one, and discover some truly brilliant writing inside. Then check back here each morning for an exclusive interview with the author of that day’s story.

(Want to join in? It’s not too late. Order your copy here.)

This year I’m pairing each story with a holiday disc from our personal collection

There’s a lot unspoken in this story, which is revealed in little snippets.

Genevieve moved back into the house on Monday.  But she decided that it needed a good cleaning first.  She called a company named Aftermath to go through the whole house–scour it and make it shine.  They asked if there was any kind of biohazard in the house and she said no.

When she returned, everything looked the same, although a little brighter. (more…)


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jan2017SOUNDTRACK: BRENT COBB-Tiny Desk Concert #592 (January 17, 2017).

brentI don’t like country music.  I’ve found I’ve grown less fond of it in the last few months because a lot of country artists are crossing over but still bringing that twang that is like nails on a chalkboard to me.  I initially bristled against Cobb because he’s got that country twang in spades.

But he proved to be such an engaging and likable fellow–a funny storyteller and genuinely nice guy–that I found that I enjoyed his songs a lot more than I expected.

“Solving Problems,” is a song about a Sunday-afternoon bull session.  It’s an uptempo song with some enjoyable lyrics–the lyrics are what won me over, especially in his delivery: “Conversation covers everything and in between, from Grandpa’s health to marrying good girls.”

When the song is over he notes: “Y’all been having a lot of Southerners on here lately, whats up with that?”

The second song “Down In The Gulley” is a funny song–but not, you know, comical or anything.  He introduces it with a story about his uncle and his daddy.  When they were kids they were putting down pipes from a stream to head towards the pump house.  A few years ago (as in decades later), the sheriff saw these pipes and thought that they were running moonshine.  Well, he says, his Uncle Bubba is a great guy but her can be a little orn’ry, especially if you wake him up first thing in the morning accusing him of having a moonshine still.  So for the song he imagined what it would have been like if it was a moonshine still.   I really like the guitar work ion this song–really interesting melodies.

When the song is over he says “you were really listening.  Listening crowds make me nervous–all as you want as an artist is for people to listen to you but when they do it freaks you out.”

The third song “Country Bound,” is one that he didn’t have anything to do with its creation.  His family members were writing this song when he was 5.  It reminds me a lot  of John Denver and it’s my favorite song that he plays.  It’s his my favorite of the set.  It features a bouncing solo from J Kott, whom Cobb jokingly calls “our bass player/lead guitarist.”  In addition to Cobb and Kott, there’s Steve Smith on the drums.

He was only planning to do three songs, but he says “we can do more or not.”  Someone says one more.  He smiles and says “it’s up to you [presumably whoever introduced him] if we have time.  I don’t even now who the guy [who said “one more”] is, he might not even work here.

The final song is the sobering “Shine On Rainy Day.”  It’s a slow ballad and a thoughtful one.  “While he weaves plenty of wit into his lyrics, Cobb can devastate just as easily: ‘Ain’t it funny how a little thunder make a man start to wonder, ‘Should I swim or just go under?'”

[READ: January 15, 2017] “The Sad Fact”

This is an excerpt from Cusk’s novel Transit.

This story begins in a very modern way: “an astrologer emailed me to say she had important news concerning events in my immediate future.”

The spam message went on to say that the information was causing her great excitement and for a small fee, she would share this with her. But “the sad fact was that in this era of science and unbelief we had lost the sense of our own significance.”  The narrator knows it is spam: “it seemed possible that the same computer algorithms that had generated this email had generated the astrologer herself:  she was too obviously based on a human type to be human herself.”  And yet…

A friend of hers has said that so much of our language has been culled by computers that faux humans often feel more substantial than the original. (more…)

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croninSOUNDTRACK: THE OKEE DOKEE BROTHERS-“Can You Canoe?” (2012).

okeecanoe I found out about The Okee Dokee Brothers from Kids Corner.  They are two guys (one on guitar one on banjo) who sing folk songs about going outside, “with a goal to inspire children and their parents to get outside and experience nature. They believe this can motivate kids to gain a greater respect for the natural world, their communities and themselves” (from their website).

This is a fun folk song–easy to sing along to and very catchy.  It reminds me in spirit (but not voice) of John Denver–the guys have very good harmonies as well.

And since spring time may (finally, maybe) be coming, we should be busting out our canoe soon as well.  Perhaps we’ll sing along to this

Can you canoe on a little boat built for two?
Can you canoe? I’ll be your captain and your crew
Can you canoe if there’s nothing better to do?
I wanna float down a river with you.

In addition to the catchy chorus, there are some great lines in the song, too.  Like:

“We don’t need no outlets, we don’t need no wires
Primetime entertainment will be lightnin’ bugs and fires”


“I’ll take the bow brother, you can take the stern
I’ll move us forward, while you choose when to turn”


“Sound waves on the water don’t need to be amplified.”

I have become a quick convert to this band whom I’d not heard of until very recently.  I’m looking forward to my kids hearing this (and watching the videos too).

Here’s the video:

[READ: April 15, 2014] The Chicken Squad (1)

I grabbed this book for the kids because it looked like a lot of fun.  And indeed it was.  I didn’t realize that Cronin was the author of such fun kids books as Click, Clack, Moo and Diary of a Worm (and other insects).  This book is quite different from those picture books in that this tells a (admittedly short) longer story.  And it has chapters!

The story is told by the family dog, J.J. Tully, a retired search and rescue dog.  J.J. Tully is in charge of the yard and that includes watching out for the chickens.  He introduces us to the four chicks who live in the yard: Dirt (speciality: foreign languages, math, colors, computer codes), Sweetie [who has glasses] (speciality: breaking and entering, interrupting), Poppy (speciality watching the shoe [which is where they live]) an Sugar [has a triangle head–which comes in for a very funny joke later] (specialty: None that i can see).

The plot begins when a squirrel named Tail comes running into the coop.  He is in a panic shouting, “It’s after me.”  When the chicks question him, he can only get out variations of: “Its big and scary!!.” “It’s BIG and it’s SCARY!!”  And while he is panicking, trying to get out the details of what it looks like: (Big), J.J. comes in to see what the ruckus in.  And Tail faints dead away. (more…)

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