Peace, Love and Understanding

Remembrance Day is observed on November 11th in Canada.

I’d like to highlight a song that means something to me and conveys my abiding wish for peaceful, nonviolent alternatives to the costs and devastation of war and strife worldwide.

That said, I mean no disrespect to the memories of all the brave soldiers who fought, stood on guard, and died for us. I honour them just as you do.

UPDATE 2020: I love this new social-distanced version for the times we live in. I hope you have a listen.

As I walk through
This wicked world
Searchin’ for light in the darkness of insanity.
I ask myself
Is all hope lost?
Is there only pain and hatred, and misery?

And each time I feel like this inside,
There’s one thing I wanna know:
What’s so funny ’bout peace love and understanding? Ohhhh
What’s so funny ’bout peace love and understanding?

And as I walked on
Through troubled times
My spirit gets so downhearted sometimes
So where are the strong
And who are the trusted?
And where is the harmony?
Sweet harmony.

Cause each time I feel it slippin’ away, just makes me wanna cry.
What’s so funny ’bout peace love and understanding? Ohhhh
What’s so funny ’bout peace love and understanding?

So where are the strong?
And who are the trusted?
And where is the harmony?
Sweet harmony.

Cause each time I feel it slippin’ away, just makes me wanna cry.
What’s so funny ’bout peace love and understanding? Ohhhh
What’s so funny ’bout peace love and understanding? Ohhhh
What’s so funny ’bout peace love and understanding?

~ Nick Lowe

Smile

Sunday Snaps: “The Week of the Cat”

It’s been a rather feline week here at home.
You’re probably thinking: “Isn’t every week a feline one at your house, Jennifer?”
Well, yes, but I took more pictures!

Let’s start with Maisie last Sunday.

“You’re playing my favourite song!” 

Then there was a visit from another cat on Monday. Maisie did a double take.

“Hey! You’re not Vivian!”
“Sorry, Mom says you’re not allowed in.”

And to round out the week:

“If it fits, I sits.”
You can win all sorts of things in beer cases now.

*Thank you for the photo ops, Maisie!*

Getting back to that 70’s song:

“…She comes out of the sun
in a silk dress running

Like a watercolor in the rain
Don’t bother asking
for explanations

She’ll just tell you that she came
In the year of the cat…”

They don’t write ’em like that anymore.

How was your week?

Guest Post: Connie Lacy

“From a novelist’s perspective, the Sixties, itself, is like a character – so rich was that period as a decade of change.” ~ Connie Lacy

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming author Connie Lacy to my blog as a special guest. I hope, dear friends and followers, those of you who read or write fiction would kindly say hi or leave a comment for her below.

Connie writes speculative fiction, climate fiction and magical realism, all with a dollop of romance. Having worked for many years as a radio reporter and news anchor, her experience as a journalist shows up in some of her novels.

Connie’s post today is about 1960s music, stemming from her research for her latest novel due out this fall. I am a huge fan of the music from that era, so I jumped at the chance to share it with you. Take it away, Connie!

The 1960s – when social consciousness hit the airwaves

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When you think of music of the 1960s, what pops into your mind? The Twist by Chubby Checker? Ricky Nelson’s Hello, Mary Lou? Maybe it’s Come Together by the Beatles, or Bob Dylan’s Like a Rolling Stone. All of those songs were popular in the 1960s. But the first two were in the early sixties. Dylan’s Like a Rolling Stone hit the charts in 1965 and Come Together was released in 1969. Needless to say, the volatile decade of the 1960s saw a huge transformation in the music everyone heard on the radio. Looking back, the first few years of that decade seem like a continuation of the 1950s, while the middle and late sixties come across as a new era with a more complex sensibility.

I’ve been re-listening to some of those songs as I write my latest novel which comes out this fall. The story is set in 1966-67 as musical tastes underwent a tectonic shift. It’s surprising now to think that the actual top forty playlist as my novel opens in September of 1966 included such varied songs as: Sunshine Superman by Donovan, Summer in the City by The Lovin’ Spoonful, The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine, Land of 1000 Dances by Wilson Pickett and Stevie Wonder’s version of Bob Dylan’s Blowin’ in the Wind, all in the top ten. Then at #11 was Wouldn’t it Be Nice by The Beach Boys and #12 was Lil Red Riding Hood by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs.

The Sixties, of course, was a time of great social upheaval, with opposition mounting to the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement gaining momentum, growing demands by women for equal opportunities, and the gay rights movement picking up steam. The music we listened to incorporated or reflected growing social consciousness. Some popular songs were overt political statements. It’s amazing when you realize we went from Brian Hyland’s 1960 hit, Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini, to James Brown’s Say it Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud in 1968… and from 1961’s My Boomerang Won’t Come Back by Charlie Drake to Barry McGuire’s 1965 anti-war anthem, Eve of Destruction.

This musical evolution took us from silly novelty songs like 1962’s Monster Mash to 1965’s My Generation by The Who – a teen rebellion anthem if there ever was one. But the airwaves were also filled with anti-war songs. Think Fortunate Son by Creedence Clearwater Revival, Peace Train by Cat Stevens, Universal Soldier by Donovan and the very powerful War by Edwin Starr – “War, huh, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing.” There were songs calling for equal treatment of black Americans such as A Change Is Gonna Come by Sam Cooke and Southern Man by Neil Young. There were also songs that became anthems for women, like Aretha Franklin’s Respect, Lesley Gore’s You Don’t Own Me, and on the Country and Western side, there was Dolly Parton’s 1968 hit, Just Because I’m a Woman.

From a novelist’s perspective, the Sixties, itself, is like a character – so rich was that period as a decade of change. Our country was undergoing a dramatic transformation and our music was changing as well. What a gift for me as a writer. And I make use of popular songs the characters listen to in my novel to help create that Sixties vibe.

If you’d like to be notified when my new book comes out, you can sign up for occasional, brief author updates here. And you can find my other novels on my Amazon author page or my website www.connielacy.com.

This article was originally posted on the author’s website here.

Thanks so much for visiting, Connie!

Readers and Writers, did you live through the Sixties?
Have you ever written a story set in that decade?
What are some of your favourite songs from the era?

All She Knows For Sure

The north wind rages,
thick curtains of snow swirl outside
and darkness sets in –
yet another spring blizzard
close on the heels of another.

The sound of it
as it rattles thin panes
in old windows
and the deep isolation
weighs heavy on her spirit.

He puts on soft music
from 1977 and
pours her a glass of wine
to drown out the world
beyond this room.

Sitting beside her,
he begins the footrub
she’d asked for earlier
and they’d both forgotten about
until now.
She closes her eyes.

The music swells
in the warmth of this cocoon.

And all of a sudden
he is her young, dark-haired man again,
the one who had captured her heart
more than twenty years ago.
She smiles.

Is it the way he tends to her,
the way his eyes meet hers?
Or is it the wine, and
the song he knows she loves?

Or could it be
their history together,
a combination of all these things
that transcends
and zooms her back
to that magical fall of ’94?

She doesn’t know.
All she knows for sure
is this:
she never wants this moment to end.

Come From Away – A Review

In September, I blogged about how excited I was to have tickets to a local showing in concert of Come From Away, a musical that is heading to Broadway in the new year. You can read that post here.

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We attended the Gander show on Saturday afternoon, and it was INCREDIBLE!

Both shows in Gander on Saturday were sold out.
Both shows in Gander on Saturday were sold out and received standing ovations.

Flawlessly executed.

Overflowing with energy, talent, and professionalism.

And generating such love and pride for the citizens of Gander and surrounding communities – who most certainly deserved it – it was truly a moving experience.

“The Come From Away musical was written to show the compassionate response by Newfoundlanders when air space closed over North America after the Twin Towers fell —diverting dozens of planes to Gander. The community took in more than 6,000 passengers for several days while planes were grounded.” – Local CBC story on Come From Away

Can you imagine if the population of your town had nearly doubled on 9/11?

The show tells the tale through the eyes of local mayors, residents, a pilot, and stranded passengers, 100 minutes of heartfelt musical numbers that show how Newfoundlanders went above and beyond with their own special brand of hospitality.

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To paraphrase Canadian playwright Irene Sankoff, cowriter of the musical:

Not only did the {citizens of Gander} let people off of the planes who were {strangers} to them, but they let them into their community buildings. They canceled school for the entire time that “the plane people” were there, devoting all of their energy to taking care of them.

They put them up in their schools and community buildings, and then began inviting people home for dinner, inviting them to stay the night, cleaning their clothes, and giving them anything that they could ask for over the time that they were stranded.

Countless times during the show, we laughed out loud. And many other times we wiped away our tears. And boy, did we ever applaud! I had chills several times, and it had nothing to do with the fact we were in a hockey arena.

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I could go on and on about it, but just let me say, if you have the opportunity to see the show in Toronto or New York, you should. I know I’m biased, being a Newfoundlander and all, but I think anyone would enjoy such a positive showing of humanity in the face of crisis and disaster. With all the negativity in the media these days, it was a welcome change. 

The cherry on top? All proceeds from the Gander shows were donated to local charities.

The Love Story. On the left, the actors who played the real-life couple on the right. One from Texas and one from England, they met during 9/11 in Gander, eventually marrying and honeymooning back in Newfoundland!
The Love Story. On the left, the actors who played the real-life couple on the right, a woman from Texas and a man from England. They met during 9/11 in Gander, eventually married, and honeymooned back here in Newfoundland!
At a special dinner held in Gander, the U.S. Ambassador to Canada, Bruce Heyman unveiled a new plaque thanking the people of this province.
At a special dinner held in Gander over the weekend, the U.S. Ambassador to Canada, Bruce Heyman, unveiled a new plaque thanking the people of this province.

I think our little province and its people made quite an impression on those affected that week. To illustrate, near the end of the show, one of the “plane people” from the U.S. told her new Gander friend that Newfoundlanders can’t tell knock-knock jokes.

“Why not?” her friend asked.

“Okay, I’ll be the Newfoundlander,” said the American. “You say knock knock.”

“Knock knock.”

“Come on in – the door is open!”

This is a shining example of Newfoundland hospitality and our way of life being brought to the Broadway stage. Did I mention I was proud?

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For more info, here is the Official Come From Away Website.

Come From Away

Come-from-away or C.F.A.: a Newfoundland slang term for a traveler or anyone who is not from here; a non-Newfoundlander.

The musical “Come From Away” will be on Broadway next March, but Newfoundlanders have the chance to take in the show here at home for $20. We have our tickets and I can’t wait! We reserved them online here, but I don’t know how many tickets are left.

The musical, which tells the true tale of a group of travelers stranded in the little town of Gander, Newfoundland during 9/11, will honour the people of Newfoundland and Labrador by holding two concert performances of the new production at the Steele Community Centre in Gander on Oct. 29th, one at 3pm and one at 8pm. Another nice feature: all proceeds go to local charities.

Mirvish Productions gives us this synopsis:

“On September 11, 2001, 38 planes with 6,579 passengers were stranded in a remote town in Newfoundland. The locals opened their hearts and homes, and hosted this international community of strangers for a week — spurring unexpected camaraderie in extraordinary circumstances. When the world stopped, their stories moved us all.” 

Local actress Petrina Bromley stars in both the Broadway and Toronto versions of Come From Away which was written by husband and wife team Irene Sankoff and David Hein.

Come From Away earned wonderful reviews in California and Washington, and will run in Toronto from November to January. March 12th is Opening Night on Broadway.

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For the first time, I get to see a live show that will be on Broadway, and I only have to drive to Gander, our nearest urban centre (about 80 miles) to see it! I like that.

The Ends of the Earth

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“I could make you happy, make your dreams come true
There’s nothing that I would not do
Go to the ends of the Earth for you
To make you feel my love.”

Bob Dylan wrote it. Billy Joel, Garth Brooks, Adele, Neil Diamond, and many others recorded it. These talented singers knew a great song when they heard it.

Make You Feel My Love has been one of my favourite love songs ever since Dylan released it on his 1997 album, Time Out of Mind. As it happened, that was the same year he came to perform two shows at St. John’s Memorial Stadium here in Newfoundland, one of which Paul and I attended.

A little side note here about that concert: My daughter Denise was in class during her last year of high school when she heard through the student grapevine that Dylan was coming to our fair province. Knowing full well how big a fan her mother’s fiancé was, she phoned Paul from school on her lunch break to be the first to blurt the good news. Needless to say, we were elated and scored our tickets right away for the show. But as excellent as the concert turned out to be, Paul remembers that phone call with a special fondness. It showed him how much his stepdaughter cared.

Nowadays I like to tease him about the song and how I identify with the lyrics in the last verse shared above. I am reminded of how I followed him to Newtown five years ago. Now tell me, what could be more proof of my love and loyalty – to make him feel my love – than to go to “the ends of the earth” that is Perry’s Point, a wild piece of land that juts out into the cold North Atlantic?

Mushy? Sentimental? I don’t care.

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*Photos taken from Perry’s Point on April 19, 2016.

Man of a Thousand Songs

A Newfoundland legend has passed.

Ron Hynes lost his battle with cancer yesterday, but the St. John’s native and the “man of a thousand songs” will be remembered in this province as one of our best and most talented singer-songwriters.

I’ve loved Ron’s music ever since he performed as front man with the Wonderful Grand Band on a local early-80’s TV show. But when I saw him sing and play at the Fat Cat on George Street one night in the early nineties, I knew he would be an enduring musical storyteller and an artistic treasure.

Sonny’s Dream, his most famous song internationally, has been recorded by many artists such as Valdy and Emmy Lou Harris. Have a listen:

As much as I love that song, the following is perhaps my personal favourite. The lyrics alone, in my opinion, elevate its author Ron to the deserving title of our finest wordsmith and poet.

St. John's Harbour
St. John’s Harbour

St. John’s Waltz
by Ron Hynes

Oh the harbour lights are gleaming
And the evening’s still and dark
And the seagulls are all dreaming
Seagull dreams on Amherst Rock
And the mist is slowly drifting
As the storefront lights go dim
And the moon is gently lifting
As the last ship’s coming in

All the sailors got a story
Some are true, some are false
But they’re always wrecked
and they’re up on the deck
Dancin’ the St. John’s Waltz

Amherst Rock Jennifer's Journal
Fort Amherst (Amherst Rock)
Jennifer’s Journal

Oh we’ve had out share of history
We’ve seen nations come and go
We’ve seen battles rage over land and stage
Four hundred years and more
For glory or for freedom
For country or for king
Or for money or fame but there are no names
On the graves where men lie sleeping

All the nine to fives survive the day
With a sigh and a dose of salts
And they’re parkin’ their cars and packin’ the barsRON-HYNES
Dancin’ the St. John’s Waltz

Oh my heart is on the highway
And I’m sold on goin’ to sea
All the planes fill the skyway
The trains run swift and free
So leave the wayward free to wander
Leave the restless free to roam
If it’s rocks in the bay or it’s old cliche
You’ll find your way back home

So don’t question or inquire
What’s been gained, what’s been lost
In a world of romance don’t miss out on the chance
To be Dancin’ the St. John’s Waltz

Rest in peace, Mr. Hynes.
Your music will continue to live on through our playlists and in our hearts.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/ron-hynes-death-reaction-1.3327456

Happy Old Year :-)

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For several reasons, 2014 was a happy and productive year for yours truly, and probably the most pleasant since we moved to Bonavista Bay North four years ago.

Fittingly, the most popular song of 2014 turned out to be “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. With its simple, exuberant message and its cheerful beat, perhaps I’m not totally surprised it has become one of the bestselling singles of all time (Personally, I liked his hit “Get Lucky” a little bit more).

However, I find myself partial to the version below by Walk Off The Earth, a band from Burlington, Ontario. They are accompanied in this video by the American pop rock band, Parachute. Have a listen, and tell me what you think!

Thanks to Denise and Dave for introducing them to us a couple of years ago, and kudos to Paul for “feeling the endorphins release”. 😉

 

What was your favourite happy song of 2014?

Was it a good year for you, or one you are glad to put behind you?

What is bringing you happiness right now?

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Links of Interest:

Pharrell Williams’ 24 Hours of Happy

Walk Off The Earth (Official Website)

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Jennifer’s Journal
*3 Years Blogging*