Influential Albums – Day 3


The Beatles – Meet the Beatles

The first Beatles album I heard was their 20 Greatest Hits. I remember hearing it when I was probably in 7th grade riding to a football game with a couple of friends and I was imitating the harmonica sound in “Love Me Do”. Sounds about right for a 7th grade boy. My favorite Beatles album is Revolver.

This album though, is influential because it’s the first one that I got for myself. Nowadays, I prefer the British versions to the American ones, but  back then I didn’t know any different and this was my exposure to any of their songs that weren’t greatest hits and any that I might have heard on Z-93 or 96 Rock growing up. I think my elementary school music teacher probably had us sing, “Yellow Submarine”, but that could be a shared memory of someone else.

The excitement of most of the songs on this album, to me, was electric. It has the hits, “I Want to Hold Your Hand”, “All My Loving”, “I Saw Her Standing There” and those are GREAT, but the deeper album cuts I really, really love. “Hold Me Tight” and “LIttle Child”. I can’t include music links because all the actual Beatles songs have been taken off YouTube. The slower songs on this album I don’t particularly love, but they fit. They are a snapshot of what the band was at the time – a group making their way through the world, trying to make it big. I’m sure they had NO idea; although, it was certainly starting at this time. They would appear on The Ed Sullivan show shortly after this was released in the US.

This album has LOTS and LOTS of “yeah”s. LOTS of them. There’s a whole lot of clapping too on these songs. It must have been pretty tiring to spend the time working out and recording  those claps.

The Beatles’ harmonies has always been one of my favorite parts of the group and they fascinated me when I heard this album. I love to sing and I am much more of a melody person than a harmony person, but I wish I could come up with harmony lines. I’m sure I could with practice or teaching or whatever. I guess with the Beach Boys and the Four Freshmen the harmonies were big here in America. I’ve always thought that Paul Anka’s “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do” had to be influential to The Beatles’ early work. I know The Everly Brothers definitely were, but the line, “I beg of you…” and all the intro lines to the verses are very Beatlesque, even though their originals were just starting to be developed at the time.

I listened to this album on my way to school this morning and there were parts I’d forgotten, but by and large it was as exciting and exhilarating today as it was more than 30 years ago. Good Lord, more than 30 years ago. I had a great time singing along and trying to hit the harmony parts right. When I was younger I used to play with the balance a lot and listen to just the vocal track in one speaker and then just the instrumental track at different times. Whether it was the instruments bleeding through the vocals side or the chorus coming in on the instruments side, I just dug it.

I’ll end with two songs, George’s, “Don’t Bother Me” and the closing song, “Not a Second Time”. I like George’s songs. He was kind of thrown a bone on the records. At first it was, ‘Here, George, sing this cover or sing this song John wrote”, but then he started writing his own. Imagine the courage it took to bring a song to Lennon and McCartney! “Don’t Bother Me” is a great first original for George to bring to the group. “I’ve got no time for you right now, don’t bother me.” I loved that line as a teenager and still love it today. “Not a Second Time” is such a great song because you can tell the character still really wants to be with the girl he’s singing about, but he knows he can’t. He was hurt too badly the first time, and he’s not going to do it, not a second time.

What it could have been

Jellyfish – Bellybutton

Harmonies? Check. Clever lyrics? Check. Pure pop awesomeness? Double check. I found Jellyfish when I worked at the UGA radio station, WUOG. I totally fell in love with them. After listening to them I basically decided they were a continuation of Paul McCartney’s “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” which was just a continuation of Paul’s experimental/baroque Beatles genius. I have Jellyfish Pandora station and as soon as I figure out how to work Spotify correctly, I will have one on that, too.


30-Day Writing Challenge, Day 4 – 10 Interesting Facts About Me


  1. I am left-handed – No one else is in my family. No grandparents that I know of, neither of my parents, not my brother, and neither of my daughters are. I’ve always enjoyed that I’m the only one; although, in elementary school my teachers did not show me the correct way to hold my paper and pencil so my handwriting was pretty bad. Not to worry, though, because when you become a teacher you have to learn to write neatly on a board so students can read it!
  2. I am Very Particular about loading the dishwasher – There is a right way to do it. It’s logical, it’s orderly, and it’s the most efficient way to get the dishes clean. That’s funny because I am neither logical nor orderly. Efficient? Sometimes on Tuesdays. I think it might be an area that I can control, so I like it the right way. My mother; however, probably thinks my way is absolutely ridiculous. If we’re in the kitchen together I cede the dishwasher to her. I’ve been bodychecked by her before, and well, that’s not something I want to repeat.
  3. I have rewired and replumbed and entire house – The first house GQ and I lived in had been renovated for us, but to save money we decided to do the renovations ourselves on the second house. I met a man about my father’s age at a neighborhood association meeting and mentioned that I was going to call an electrician to come out the next day to see about rewiring. He said, “Don’t do that. I’ll show you how to do it.” I didn’t take him seriously, but at the end of the meeting, he got my phone number and gave me his and told me that he was serious. The next day I called him up and sure enough, he came over and he showed me how to rewire a house. Before that the most I had done with electricity was change a switchplate cover and get a slight shock from an exposed wire on an extension cord in high school drama class. I pulled out all the old, scary wires and replaced them with grounded wires and plugs throughout the house. Up in the attic, down in the basement, and in the creepy crawlspace. There wasn’t a part of that house that I hadn’t run wire. After finishing the wiring he looked at my plumbing and told me that he could show how to do that also. I jumped at the opportunity. I spent countless hours, both really hot and really cold down in our basement and crawlspace pulling out old pipes and putting in new ones. It’s crazy to think about now, but I did it 15 years back.
  4. I stop and pick things up from the side of the road – I have found all kinds of neat things. I have a hard time passing things by, and often when I do pass it by I regret not stopping. Sometimes, of course, it’s not practical to stop. I have had to refine my compulsion to do this some because there’s only so much stuff you can get. I am trying to get to a point where if I get something I give myself two weeks to do something with it or I have to put it back out on the road. Just between you and me, I haven’t gotten there yet. Currently, I’m constructing a whirlygig from a big rig wheel cover I found on a Spaghetti Junction overpass. I passed it three or four times, and I finally had to have it.  It’s so big and shiny. I’ll post a pic of it once I’m done. I am trying to figure out if it will be weather vane type whirlygig of just a basic spinning one.
  5. Currently, ska is my go-to music – It’s not reggae, it’s ska. It’s from the same place, though; Jamacia. It’s more lively than reggae. It has some of its roots in 50’s and 60’s soul and doo-wop music. It drives GQ a little crazy. Maybe more than a little crazy. I can’t really explain it, but it’s what moves me. I was introduced to it back in the early 80’s by a band named Madness. They were heavily influenced by an early ska pioneer, Prince Buster. Their music stuck with me through all the different styles that I have encountered, and more often than not, my Classic Ska station is what my Pandora is usually tuned to. This song, Swing Easy, is what I would be my theme music.
  6. I can write with my toes – I have strong, monkey toes. I can hold and manipulate markers and other things. I could open the doors of the car that I drove in high school and college. I performed this toe-writing feat for a Trinity TV, Culture Shock, segment last year.
  7. I used to write and perform original songs on guitar – I wanted to be a rock star in college. I was not willing to give up going to school or my girlfriend (now my wife) in order to fulfill the demands of that particular calling. I started writing songs my senior year of high school and continued for about six or seven years.  I found it pretty easy to do, so I’d just do it. I performed them by myself or with a friend in some places in Athens and Atlanta, but it never really went anywhere.
  8. I love comic book conventions – Dragon Con here in Atlanta, isn’t really a comic book convention, but there are many comic book elements there, and I LOVE it. I have been to San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) twice and New York Comic-Con once. I would definitely go back to New York, but I would not go back to SDCC unless I had some serious special passes to avoid the absolutely insane lines.
  9. I have a collection of Joker cards from over 40 decks of cards – Being a teacher, decks of cards are something that I sometimes ask for at the beginning of the year. If you’ve worked with children, or even if you have children, you know that decks of cards rarely stay together. So, one year I just started pulling all the Joker cards out of the incomplete deck. I now have enough to be the border around my teacher bulletin board in my classroom.
  10. I really, really want to surf – I have gotten to surf twice, both times in Hawaii. The first time, GQ bought us surf lessons for Christmas when we were in Maui with my whole family. The second time was when we were on Oahu visiting my brother, who was stationed there in the Army. Right? Before I actually had surfed I had always felt that I was meant to surf. Now that I have surfed I want to do it more. I love the ocean and I really just want to get out there and (pardon my surfer lingo) shred some waves.

Well, those are 10 things about me. I’m not sure how interesting you’ll find them, but hopefully, there are a few things that you didn’t know before.

Current Top 10 Favorite Things

Okay, so I’m going to stop re-posting old things for now.  Here’s what is currently making me happy.

10.  Sitting in My  Backyard – I like to sit in my pink plastic Adirondack chair in my backyard and watch the crows fly through the neighbors’ yards. It’s pretty cool to see them swoop from air to branch or just navigate their way through the trees.  Every once in a while I’ll see a hawk do it, and that’s triple cool, but the crows are pretty cool on their own. (don’t tell GQ that I’m enjoying the crows.  She’s convinced they’re stalking her)

9. Marley – The newest addition to our family is proving to be quite a character. Whether he is jumping up on our bed while we’re reading to the Girls, chasing his tail, or just chewing on one of his many toys (and an occasional Barbie) Marley is definitely keeping us entertained.

8. Victory Golden Monkey – A Belgian style beer that packs an impressive 9.5% avc into a 12 oz. bottle.  I’ve added it to my Gentlemint with the description, “It’s the kind of beer that you drink during a long dinner with friends.”  This bonus of course, is that you’re basically getting 2 beers at one time – Economically Buzzworthy.

7. Shift Pale Lager – The folks at New Belgium Brewery (makers of Fat Tire and other good beers) recently released this new beer in not only a can (for pool consumption!!!) but also as a tall boy! 16 oz. of quality pale lager.

6. My iPad – I would have never gotten this on my own, but the principal at my school bought one for each of the teachers and paraprofessionals. I know, right?!? I have got to say, those people at Apple really know how to make the electronic crack.  This thing is a lot of fun and really handy in so many ways. I’ve got my Kindle books on there, games for the Girls to play, drawing apps, an app that lets me create and edit Word docs, and so much more.  It’s ridiculous how much I am enjoying this.

5. Real Sugar in my Coffee – A while ago I switched to Splenda b/c I realized I was taking in too much sugar and it was making me kind of  grumpy.  I guess my body can’t process it like it used to, and so I switched. I had switched to Coke Zero before this.  Not that Splenda wasn’t good, but real sugar is just so much better. I’m watching my sugar intake because no one benefits from my over  indulgence.

4. Three Websites – The Art of Manliness –, The Thing About Flying –, and Casual Disagreement – Each of these gives me regular entertaining, thought provoking articles to read on an almost daily basis.  I’m happy that I am actually going to some sites that aren’t just pop-culture oriented (not that there’s anything wrong with those. I still go on them too, they’re just not on the top 10 right now).

3. The Popularity of The Avengers – Holy Record breaking Comic Book Super Hero Movie!!! American, and seemingly the world can’t get enough of this movie.  I’m pretty sure that if all comic book movies were this good there might not be a need for many other types of movies – I’m looking at you, Nicholas Sparks fans.

2. My Madness Pandora Station – I have loved Madness since I first heard, “One Step Beyond” back when I was 10.  It was a bug that I caught and never shed. They make me happy in a way that music should make you happy.  The Pandora station has introduced me to songs of theirs I’ve never heard due to only being released in the UK as well as similar bands such as The Selectors and The Specials.  Madness is one of the only ones that is still around.  The English Beat is still touring, but it’s just Dave Wakeling with a new group of musicians. Not to take anything away from them, because they put on a great show. I also get to hear The Toasters, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, The Aquabats, and more newer bands, as well as bands that influenced Madness like Toots Mayall and Desmond Dekker.

1. Summer Break – Hot diggity dog!  Two months off.  I know that a lot of us in our 40s and older like to think that we got all three months off for summer when we were kids, and it certainly felt like it, but I’m pretty sure it’s very close to what kids (and teachers!!!!) are getting now. Of course, to some (GQ) it seems like 10 months of interrupted regularly scheduled days, to those of us that get it off, it’s pretty freaking awesome.  Any teacher that tells you that summer break isn’t one of the reasons they are in our profession is a liar; plain and simple. BTW, no picture can do summer break justice.

Well, that’s what’s making me happy right now.  GQ & The Girls aren’t on this list because they’re beyond List Worthy.  They make it all worthwhile.

Go check out some of these things and see if they make you happy too.  Happy Summer!