Wednesday, August 29, 2012

When The Going Gets Tough, Hang In There!

Barbara. Paulie. Adrienne. 2Rs. Karen & Katie. Today's column is all about you. Yep, you, dear readers (and listeners) of this column who not only indulge in my playlists and the musings that go along with them, but have found yourselves motivated enough to give some feedback in the comments section. I love your comments, and I love it when you suggest songs I didn't think of!

About a year ago I shared a playlist called Hang In There Baby, and discussed the healing powers of music when life's got you down. I told a story about one of the most dark and sour moments in my own life, and how one song finally helped me pick myself up by the bootstraps, put a smile on my face, and let all the negative crap drain away to make room for some positive energy.

It was one of my most viewed columns ever. The feedback in the comments section was tremendous, especially the song suggestions from readers that I had failed to include in the playlist. The feedback means a lot to me. Lets me know you're picking up what I'm laying down. Sometimes it's hard in my line of work to know if the music I'm playing on the radio is getting through to anyone. I'm sitting alone in a room spinning discs and talking into a microphone, and if anyone anywhere in the world is listening, I don't know it until someone stops me on the street, calls me on the phone or emails to communicate back. Every once in a while I even get a letter from an 85 year old guy in Bandon, Oregon who uses an actual typewriter! In the media world, we're flying blind, having no idea if there's anyone out there paying attention until something makes you so happy or so angry that you're moved to take action.

Cut to a few weeks ago, when someone suggested that I consider jumping on board and creating a playlist for September's Suicide Prevention Month (A News Cafe has a whole series dedicated to the topic, starting with this). I realized that I'd pretty much done just that last October with Hang In There, Baby. All the songs I would put on a playlist to try to do my part in preventing someone from thinking about taking their own life are exactly the songs I already put onto a playlist. Except, of course, for all the songs that I left off that playlist. The songs that were suggested by readers.

Today, I'm adding those songs onto last year's playlist, and I invite you to continue offering suggestions in the comments section below if you can think of more tunes that you think should be included. I'll be happy to add them on as we go forward...ah, the magic of Grooveshark! (That is if I can find them. Grooveshark is an amazing resource, but doesn't have much in the way of The Beatles or Lenny Kravitz, which I find tragic.)

Please share with us songs that inspire you to move forward, songs that help you suck it up and get yourself back on track. Songs that help you hang on, stand up, hang tough and cowboy up. Songs that help you find faith in yourself. And whenever life is getting you down, stream this playlist, and keep hanging in there. And if you think you can't do it by yourself, there are people out there ready to help, like Help, Inc. (which is looking for volunteers, by the way).

Stream the playlist on Grooveshark:

  1. Mose Allison - I Don't Worry About A Thing 
  2. Crescent City Gold - Hang Tough This is the musical Dream Team of New Orleans. Dr. John, Allan Toussaint, all the great musicians together, hanging tough.
  3. Lenny Kravitz - Stand Unfortunately, Grooveshark doesn't carry this tune. Bummer. Fortunately, YouTube does! Please enjoy this song by watching the video. It's one of the most meaningful of the bunch.
  4. Destiny's Child - Survivor
  5. Morcheeba - Good Girl Down
  6. Randy Newman - Can't Keep A Good Man Down
  7. Andy Grammer - Keep Your Head Up
  8. Stevie Wonder - Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing
  9. Monty Python - Always Look On The Bright Side
  10. Frank Sinatra - On The Sunny Side Of The Street
  11. Ingrid Michaelson - Be OK
  12. Pink Martini - Hang On Little Tomato That little tomato is you!
  13. Ben Folds - Golden Slumbers Maybe what you really need is a nap.
  14. Coldplay - Everything's Not Lost
  15. Michael Franti & Spearhead - Hey World (Don't Give Up)
  16. Kate Bush - Don't Give Up
  17. Tom Petty - I Won't Back Down
  18. Shakira - Waka Waka 
  19. Chris LeDoux - Cowboy Up
  20. Gene Autry - Back In The Saddle Again
  21. Andrews Sisters & Bing Crosby - Ac-cen-tu-ate The Positive
  22. Anita O'Day - Pick Yourself Up
  23. Stevie Wonder - Put On A Happy Face
  24. Michael Franti & Spearhead - Have A Little Faith
  25. Gloria Gaynor - I Will Survive
  26. Helen Reddy - I Am Woman
  27. Playing For Change - One World
  28. Randy Newman - You've Got A Friend In Me My apologies... reader Paul suggested a song by Randy Newman that includes the iconic Mark Twain quote, "Sing like nobody's listening." Alas, I couldn't find it. This was the best I could do. If anyone knows the song he speaketh of, let me know!
  29. Brett Dennen - Nothing Lasts Forever Brett Dennen, however, included the line in this sweet song.
  30. Celine Dion - A New Day Has Come
  31. Israel Kamakawiwo'ole - Somewhere Over The Rainbow
  32. Sarah McLachlan - Arms Of An Angel
  33. Sheryl Crow - Here Comes The Sun
  34. Megan Slankard - Sails This one wasn't on Grooveshark, but you can listen to it on Megan's website. You can also hear her live in person from time to time when this talented Bay Area musician performs in Redding, usually at Vintage.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Blue Moon

There was no way I was going to let the next Blue Moon slip by without dedicating a playlist to it. I mean, after all, these things only happen once in a blue moon, right? And from what I understand the next one isn't coming around again until 2015, and that's just way too long to wait. I'm not planning on going on and on ad nauseum about blue moons. I figure Doni's got some physics genius far more scientifically minded than me already lined up to discuss blue moons and the different definitions of what makes a blue moon (because there's actually more than one kind, from my brief, 3 minute internet based research project). But I am going to promise you one of the absolutely best soundtracks of all time to stream through your speakers as you sit in your backyard and gaze in wonder at this month's upcoming blue moon. Why do I think there's a pretty great chance you'll be watching the moon on August 31st? I mean other than the fact that it's pretty hard to miss a giant, round orb in the sky? Because this time you might find yourself looking at an actual bonafide blue (as in the color blue) moon. While a blue moon only comes along once in a blue moon (I'm gonna keep using that all day!!!), a blue moon that actually appears to be blue in color is really, really, super-duper rarer than a blue moon rare. What makes that happen? A lot of dust particles or smoke. Some major forest fires in Sweden and Canada in the early 50's caused it. The 1883 eruption of Krakatoa caused bluish blue moons for several years. And on August 31st, I'm wondering if the incredible number of wildfires we've been experiencing in the region will create just the right conditions to turn the moon blue. Or maybe a brilliant red like we've never experienced. Whatever color it turns out to be, I predict that it's going to be incredible. A moonrise you won't wanna miss. If you can see it at all, of course. Enjoy this week's playlist. I think it's worthy of a howl or two!
Blue Moon by Valerie Ing-Miller on Grooveshark
  1. Blue Moon - Chris Isaak
  2. Moon Song - Bob Schneider
  3. Paper Moon - Ella Fitzgerald
  4. Moonlight Serenadek - Glenn Miller
  5. Harvest Moon - Neil Young
  6. Moonlight Kiss - Bap Kennedy
  7. Blue Moon - The Mavericks
  8. Does That Blue Moon Ever Shine On You - Toby Keith
  9. Paper Moon -  Shout Out Louds
  10. Blue Moon - Sha Na Na
  11. Blue Moon - The Kills
  12. Moonlight In Vermont - Willie Nelson
  13. Moonlight In Vermont - Tommy Dorsey
  14. Old Devil Moon - Lena Horne
  15. Blue Moon - The Ventures
  16. Havana Moon - De-Phazz
  17. Moon Over Bourbon Street - Sting
  18. Shoot The Moon -  Norah Jones
  19. Moondance - Van Morrison
  20. Kiko & The Lavender Moon - Los Lobos
  21. Dutch Moon - The Stranglers
  22. Man On The Moon - R.E.M.
  23. Bad Moon Rising - Creedence Clearwater Revival
  24. Moonshine - Jack Johnson
  25. Moon Rocks - Talking Heads
  26. Moon Safari - Air
  27. Meet You At The Moon - Imelda May
  28. Good Night Moon - Shivaree

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

On Fire

Helicopter dropping a load onto the Salt Creek Fire, last Thursday.

I'm trying to remember the last time we had a whole summer go by here in the Northstate without a big wildfire - or four or five of them. It pretty much goes with the territory, doesn't it? No matter how much rain we get in the winter or spring (and we got a lot this year), summer brings temperatures that rarely fall below the century mark, and along with it comes a dry spell that seems to go on forever.
And then lightning hits.
Or someone mows the lawn and hits a rock.
Or carelessly tosses a cigarette out the window.
Or sets off fireworks in a field.
Or drags a chain while towing a boat to the lake or an RV to the campground.
Or someone sets a fire on purpose.
It happens every summer. I feel like I'm always waiting for it, just hoping that when it happens, wherever it happens, that nobody loses their home, their animals or their lives. Because that happens.

Last Wednesday I worked out of Ashland for the day. Just as I was putting on my seatbelt, getting ready to head back over the Siskiyou Pass towards home, I received a text from my friend Judy asking if I knew what the plume of smoke north of Redding was about. When I reached the fruit checkpoint on the other side of the border, after the attendant asked me if I had any fresh produce, he asked me how far south I was heading. Then he told me I wouldn't be getting there, because moments earlier I-5 was closed down at Salt Creek due to a wildfire along the freeway. Ah, that plume of smoke.

By the time I reached the city of Mount Shasta, the closure had been moved there, and traffic was being detoured to Highway 89. That's when I decided to pay a long overdue visit to The Goat. They let me tie Casper up to the fence, and I feasted upon a burger before they ran out of fries but after they ran out of blue cheese dressing, since the food delivery truck was stuck on the south end of the freeway closure. Stranded motorists started trickling in. A couple who had been headed out Highway 89 to camp informed me that I probably wouldn't be able to make it my friend's ranch in McCloud, as they'd been turned around 3 miles outside Mt Shasta due to bumper to bumper stalled traffic. I shared my table with a group of 10 hikers from Redding who began plotting out a way to get back home that involved rarely traveled backroads and a drive over to Trinity Center. Eventually I got on the freeway and headed back to Ashland, where I arrived just as the freeway was opened again for southbound traffic. Of course.

I was able to make it back home the next day, but it was very eery driving through the scorched terrain, still smoking along both sides of the freeway. A helicopter with a giant bucket flew overhead after dropping its load over the plume of smoke which loomed in the sky, moving slowly eastward. The Salt Creek Fire had doubled in size from the day before and then doubled again before the next day was through, 930 acres lost before the fire was contained by the brave firefighters and pilots who worked hard to stop its progress and saving hundreds of homes. Not a single home was lost, not a single life. We are so fortunate. Because a few came close.

And suddenly, it seems like we're surrounded by fire. There's the Parks Creek Complex fire that's burning to the north of us in Siskiyou County, west of Weed, taking 17 acres so far. The Dillon Fire, which is actually about 20 fires still under investigation but believed to be human caused, has burned 318 acres northwest of us along Hwy 96 near Happy Camp. Lightning is believed to be the culprit behind another handful of fires burning in the Happy Camp Ranger District, the largest of which, The Bill Fire, has burned about 60 acres. To the east, a 10 mile stretch of road within Lassen Park has been closed due to the Reading Fire, which has burned almost four thousand acres so far. To the southeast, the Chips Fire in Plumas has devoured more than 19 thousand acres. And then further to the east, the Lost Fire in Nevada is now getting a helping hand from California firefighters on the whopping 58 thousand acre blaze.

Back to those brave firefighters and pilots. Let's celebrate their efforts, whether they're inmates from the nearby Sugar Pine Camp, or working for CalFire or the U.S. Forest Service, or just regular folk standing on the roof with a garden hose. Each and every one of the more than 1500 people who are out there right now battling the fires on all sides of us deserves our gratitude and respect, prayers and positive thoughts. It's dangerous work. Remember just 3 short years ago, when a helicopter went down in the Shasta-Trinity forest, killing Redding Cal-Fire employee Jim Ramage and 8 other people who were battling the Iron Complex fire? One of the 8 was David Steele, who grew up in my hometown of Ashland, Oregon. I graduated from high school with his mother, his father was a year behind us at Ashland High, and David followed in their footsteps, graduating from the same school the year before he died. He was 19 years old. Every time a wildfire flares up in the region, I think about David, his fellow firefighters, and all of the family members who lost a loved one that hot day in 2008.

David Steele

Today's playlist weaves together a number of memorable and worthy songs about fire, but it's not designed to make light of the fires currently burning in the area. Instead, I hope it keeps fire season at the forefront of your consciousness; keeps you thinking about what you can do to minimize the chance of another fire being sparked.  I want you to think about David Steele and his whole crew, and his mother and father, his two sisters and his brother, every time you go out into the wilderness and build a campfire. Or the next time you chain up a trailer to your truck. Or the next time you light up a cigarette, or mow the lawn, or set off fireworks. Would you do that? If you were one of those evacuated in one of the recent fires, making room for brave people to put their lives on the line to defend your property, you might be interested in making a donation to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

  1. Fire - Etta James
  2. Fire - Ohio Players
  3. Fire - Pointer Sisters
  4. Fire - Jimi Hendrix
  5. Fire - Arthur Brown
  6. Sex On Fire - Kings of Leon
  7. I'm On Fire - Bruce Springsteen
  8. Forest Fire - Josh Wilson
  9. Serpentine Fire - Earth Wind & Fire
  10. We Didn't Start The Fire - Billy Joel
  11. Burning Down The House - Talking Heads
  12. Skies On Fire - AC/DC
  13. Fire - Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
  14. Bob Marley - Burn One Down
  15. Forest Fire - The Dream Academy
  16. Water & Fire - Deep Forest
  17. Forest of Fire - Jon Anderson
  18. The First Fire - If These Trees Could Talk
  19. Fire Bomb - Rihanna
  20. This Fire - Franz Ferdinand
  21. World On Fire - Sarah McLachlan
  22. Man On Fire - Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
  23. Burn It Down - Los Lobos