The Clash – S/T (US version)
I wish I knew where I heard The Clash for the first time. I got this on cassette – that was the format I used pretty much exclusively at the time – in California, I think at Tower Records in San Francisco. I was in 9th grade and my family was in SF for a conference my dad was involved in. I guess I heard something off London Calling, maybe had even gotten it at that point? Anyway, I love The Clash and this one totally struck a chord with me. Loud, raw, catchy. I know the lyrics are a very important part of the band, but to be perfectly honest, I’m a melody man. A song’s got to have a great hook and music to pull me in. I’ll incorrectly sing the words to songs for years. I am a serial lyric mishearer. So, again, I know the lyrics to The Clash are super important to whole thing of The Clash, but at the same time, so were their looks. They were calculatedly put together by the band. That has nothing to do with anything other than make me feel like less lame for not fully committing myself to the lyrics.
My dad did not understand or like my punk rock inclinations. I did not understand his disdain for it. To me, there were a lot of comparisons between the early, original rock ‘n roll he turned me on to and bands like The Clash. They even covered, “I Fought the Law”, not on this album, but nonetheless. Three chords, catchy songs, brazen attitude. It seemed synonymous to me. I get it now. Punk rock was an affront to a lot he held near and dear and I’m sure had he heard, “I’m So Bored With the USA”, he would have been none too pleased.
A podcast I listen to – and you should too – “The Great Albums Podcast” did one on London Calling not long ago and it was great. I was unaware that Joe Strummer wrote most of the songs, whether it was he or Mick Jones that sung. The Clash always did great covers, too. They could have put out an album of just their covers and it would have been great. The hosts of The Great Albums talk about how The Clash always make the covers they do their own, and it’s totally true. As mentioned earlier, “I Fought the Law” (Bobby Fuller Four version) could totally come from the pen and paper of a young, British punk rocker.
Not seeing The Clash play live is something I am sad about. I don’t know if the band would have gotten back together had Joe Strummer not died. Their induction into the R ‘n R Hall of Fame – who are those sharped dressed, hair slicked down men? – was interesting to see. I don’t know if Joe would have been part of that or not. He had moved away from punk rock as he got older, but he was still revolutionary. Mick Jones moved away from punk too with Big Audio Dynamite. I read somewhere that Joe was up for playing, but he died shortly before their induction. Damn.
So, another compilation. Twice in this 10 day span I’ve done that, but again, this is how I was introduced to a very important musical figure in my life. My friend, Craig Pickel (yep) introduced me to Neil on many rides in her (yep) little Honda CRX. Decade on the tape deck, wings or chips and salsa from Jaggers in our bellies, and Life as the conversation topic.
Neil changed the way I played guitar. By the time I started listening to him, I guess I’d been playing for 3 years or so. So many of the people I listened to had lots of effects and weird chords and were technically much more advanced than I was. When I got Neil Young Complete Music Volume 2 I saw chords that I knew and could play with no problem. There were a bunch of songs I hadn’t heard yet in that book so I bought the Decade songbook and just went to town. Both acoustic and electric, Neil pretty much kept things pretty simple. Even the finger picking he did on “Sugar Mountain” and “The Needle and the Damage Done” were straight ahead enough that I could figure it out. I never learned to read music, but I remember sitting down and figuring out the guitar part of “Ohio” from CSNY. I had a little music reading knowledge and took what I had and wrote down the notes to learn it.
I played A LOT of Neil Young on guitar. I was up in Athens finishing school and like a lot of guys up there, I had thoughts, dreams, fantasies about playing guitar in Athens and then…the world. Well, everybody’s got to start somewhere and I tried to play out at a few places, pizza places, open mics, coffee houses. I’d play some Neil, some R.E.M., a Beatles song or two then inevitably somebody would call out, “Play ‘Margaritaville’.” I’d say I didn’t know it. “Well play ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ then.” I’d say I didn’t know that one either. “What do you know, then?” I know a lot of Neil Young. So, I didn’t play too many of those places. Also, I did know those songs, but that’s not what I was into, so I didn’t play them.
As time went on I delved into Neil’s catalog and starting getting more of his releases. Neil Young & the Blue Notes, This Note’s For You was one of the first records I bought when I started buying albums again. I thought it was pretty cool, I dug the horns (still do!) I had kept up with his struggles with Geffen Records and knew that he had gotten back on Reprise Records.
One of my favorite cassettes that I have of his is Comes a Time. It’s funny because I don’t think there are any of those songs on Decade. I’ll end this with one of my favorite lines from one of Neil’s Buffalo Springfield songs, “Mr Soul”, “She said you’re strange, but don’t change and I let her.”
What it could have been
As much as I loved Neil Young, I would have totally been Duane Allman. Holy cow! I’ve put this down before, but if The Allman Brothers Band never made another album after their first one, they still would be regarded as pivotal musicmakers. The interplay between Duane and Dickey, the drumming of Butch and Jaimoe, the thumping bass of Barry, and Greg on the Hammond, well, there you go. This album, cassette, CD spent a lot of time on my different players during my hippie wanna be period, as did some other jam bands, but The Allmans are the ones that have kept their flavor the longest for me.
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
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.
The B-52’s Self Titled First Album
This would be another stone in my musical foundation. I’ve written about my exposure to the B-52’s before, so I’ll skip that. What I’ll do is talk about the amount of time I’ve spent dancing to Rock Lobster, the full 6:48 of it, not the shortened version. “Down! Down!!” The time I’ve spent trying name all 52 Girls. The time Glitter Queen and I had “Dance This Mess Around” played at our wedding reception because it’s just so good. How their version of “Downtown” is so different than Petula Clark’s version, and I totally want to go to THAT downtown instead of Petula Clark’s
I’ll talk about my memories of the seeing teens dance to this album and DEVO and thinking, “OH! I get it.” At the age of 9 or 10, when I saw them, and heard that music, I can’t tell you how pivotal a moment it was for me. On a podcast this morning, I heard journalist and Jann Wenner biographer, Joe Hagan say something that totally relates to this album, “just a fantastic expression or joy. If you listen to this record it’s fun and it’s funny.” He was talking about the Specials first album, but seriously, these songs on the B-52’s, that’s it.
I’ll tell you how over the years I’ve seen the B-52’s many, many times and how they always impress me, even when Cindy’s voice is failing because she has a cold, but she still is there doing the show.
I’ll tell you how I know I have an instant connection with someone when I see that they have this album, CD, digital file in their music collection.
I’ll tell you how Ramona’s doctor, the dearly departed, Dr. Yoder, had “Rock Lobster” as his ringtone and how that spoke volumes.
I’ll tell you how mustachioed Fred Schneider banging that cowbell in the song means more to me than the cowbell in “Honky Tonk Women”.
I’ll tell you how when I’m driving around listening to music I almost always think to myself, “How would this sound if it was a B-52’s song?” “Shut Up and Dance With Me” – totally could be one of theirs, Fred – “Come on, GIRL!!” Cindy & Kate harmonizing in their amazing way, “Don’t you dare look back, just keep your eyes on me”. Then the 3 of them together, “SHUT UP and DANCE with me!” It’s a logical connection to “Dance This Mess Around”.
If you have this album and you haven’t listened to it recently, go and do it. If you only know the B-52’s because of “Roam” or “Love Shack”, I’m not sure what you’ll think of this, but I hope you go listen and I hope you love it like I do. So, don’t forget, “Planet Claire has pink air, all the trees are red. No one ever dies there. No one has a head…”
What it could have been
DEVO, New Traditionalists. Man, oh, man. Those teens listened to DEVO, too and again, it just spoke to me. So weird and so awesome. I think I’ve said this before, but I tried to get a group of my friends in 7th grade to dress up in matching white shirts and white pants and be DEVO for the day. I’m pretty sure an older brother of one of the guys convinced us that it was a bad idea.
(Full Disclosure – this post has nothing to do with John Lennon’s song of the same title. I was hoping it would, but not happening. On with the post…)
Here at Trinity School, we are always striving to increase our ability to help our students. One of the main ways this happens is through the professional development (PD) that Trinity offers. Our PD is meaningful and impacting.
This is my third year at Trinity, and I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that I have grown more professionally in those three years than in the 18 I was in public school. That statement is hard to believe, I imagine. I am sure that you may even think that I am employing hyperbole, but I honestly think it is a true statement.
I have mentioned in a previous post that we are not only expected to continue to grow as a teacher, but it is encouraged. Opportunities abound for teachers and staff members to explore areas and techniques that will benefit us in the classroom, but also in areas of our own personal growth. The administration knows that when we are taking care of ourselves, stretching our minds, learning new things, we will be more effective in the classroom, and ultimately that is our main goal. To become the best that we can be in the classroom so that our students will get the absolute best education they can while they are at Trinity.
So, how does that tie into the title of this post? That would be the recent addition of the concept of mini-lessons to the classroom. What is a mini-lesson? From the Web Site, Teacher Vision, “A mini lesson is a short lesson with a narrow focus that provides instruction in a skill or concept that students will then relate to a larger lesson that will follow. A mini lesson typically precedes reading workshop or writing workshop, but it can serve as an introduction to a social studies, science, or math lesson.”
I have always been a whole-group teaching kind of teacher. I have relied on my ability to hold my students’ attention through my kinetic personality and delivery as well as finding ways to help the students connect to the lesson. I think I have been successful at this, but after learning about mini-lessons and seeing this approach from some of my co-workers I have made a decision that it will benefit my students more if I adopt this method as well. It is a big change in teaching styles and one that I am attempting to make this year.
Two critical factors in successfully implementing the mini-lesson strategy are keeping the lessons short and concise and the conferencing that occurs with individual students while the remainder of the class is independently working. I’m not necessarily known for being one to get directly to the point. My students learn that pretty quickly. I am learning to cut down my delivery to the very essence of the lesson I am introducing or teaching to the class. Doing so will help to ensure that the engagement of the students will be held. One on one conferencing takes time, practice and a very different approach than a whole-group style of teaching. As anyone who knows me will tell you, I’m not a quiet person, but in order to not distract the other students, I am going to need to
find use my inside voice. I have one, I just don’t use it very often. Learning to be unobtrusive as I make my way around the classroom to confer with students is something that I can see may be another challenge for me.
Luckily, I have the knowledge that challenges make me rise to the occasion. I have 20 years of experience in education. I have so many tools in my toolbox (teacher lingo, y’all). Most importantly, I have the support of an awesome administrative team and co-workers who will help me with this challenge. Their encouragement, advice, and observations will guide me along this path to taking my teaching to a new level.
To top it off, I am inviting my administrators and colleagues in my class to watch me this year as I am starting over. Robert Kaplinsky has issued the #ObserveMe Challenge, a chance for teachers to invite others in to observe them in the moment and look for specific feedback on different goals the teacher lists on a sign outside the classroom door:
I am excited about this and a little nervous. As I said, it is a big change for me, but one that I know will be beneficial for my students, and above all else, as a teacher, I want to be the very best I can for my students. (Maybe I should have had a David Bowie song in my head?)
What challenges are you facing and what goals have you set for yourself this school year? I’d love to hear from you on these topics.
7 years from now I’ll be 52 almost 53. Good grief! That used to seem so very, very old. I know it’s not now. 7 years from now I will have a 21-year-old daughter and an 18-year-old about to graduate from high school. Good grief (again)! I am thinking that I will still be teaching. Will I be at Trinity? Who knows?
I’m going to go with what this comic up above is saying, “The future doesn’t care what you think.” That’s the truth. I tell my students all the time to live in the moment. I try not to worry about the future too much. Actually, my favorite Bible verse deals with that specifically – “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”(NIV)
So, in 7 years, I hope to be in a very similar position to where I am now – doing something I love with people I enjoy, living a life with the Glitter Queen and two almost grown daughters.
Maybe, by then, I’ll be a grown-up.
Ugh, this is going to be a difficult one. There are so many books that I love. I mean, this could be put into segments – juvenile, young adult, classic, contemporary (to be honest, there’s not a lot of contemporary writing that I care for).
I’m going to go with one that fits into several categories; fiction, historical fiction, young adult, and even some fantasy. Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief
I’ve not seen this cover before. If you don’t know anything about this book then the cover might seem more creepy than it is. The narrator of the book is Death. The main character of the book is the little girl he’s holding up.
It’s set in WWII Nazi Germany and concerns a girl, Liesel, and her family who hide a Jewish man, the son of a friend of the little girl’s father.
This story is interesting because it’s told from the perspective of a German family that wants nothing to do with the Nazi Party. Liesel’s father suffers because of his refusal to join the party. She has a best friend named Rudy, who is hilarious.
Death is everywhere in this story, and he’s tired. He can’t catch a break, and that is really all he wants, but he can’t because, well, it’s WWII Nazi Germany.
The Book Thief is one of the very best books that I have ever read. I laughed and I cried. I have read it twice. I don’t want to overread it because I’m afraid it will lose some if its specialness for me.
A book that I do not love. This may cause some dissension (among my 6 followers). The book is Love You Forever by Robert Munsch.
There are two reactions when this book is mentioned or shown or brought out, or whatever. Most of the reactions are, “Awwww, I LOVE that book!” There are a few though that are, “Ooooh…that book.” Just now, GQ, saw the picture and said, “Ugh, that’s a terrible book.” [sidenote – there are many reasons we are together, her reaction right there is definitely one of them]
Look, I get it. It’s about a mother’s love. There’s nothing purer than that. I get it. But this book, I just can’t with this book. I think I’m all good with it until the mom drives over to the grown boy’s house in the middle of the night with a ladder on her car, climbs up the ladder and watches her grown son sleeping. That right there puts it into a place where I just can’t.
I’m a father of two beautiful girls. I will, of course, love them forever. I am excited, and nervous, about them growing into beautiful adults. I hope that the relationships that I am building with them will continue to grow as they become adults. That being said, I can’t think of any rational reason that I would do what the mom does there. That’s crazy. Seriously. Seriously crazy. Then, at the end, it’s just sad. The Book Thief is sad too, but it’s a different kind of sad. I don’t know, maybe Love You Forever is just too…close? That’s what I feel, but I don’t know if it comes across right. It’s like that horrible 70’s song, “Sometimes When We Touch”. That song is the worst. THE WORST. It’s too intimate. That’s how I feel about Love You Forever.
So, there you go. One I love and one I don’t. I can’t recommend The Book Thief enough. I’ve possibly offended you with my loathing of Love You Forever, but I think there are two camps where that book is considered, and I’m okay with mine being the smaller camp. How about you? What’s a book you love and one you don’t?
The kids of Team Benefield have been doing a nice job of keeping up with the daily challenges. They aren’t writing as much as I had hoped, but they are doing it, and they are willing to share it with me. I’ve picked 3 topics to share some of their responses: 5 Problems w/ Social Media, 10 Interesting Things About Me, and A Place I Would Live, Even Though I Haven’t Ever Visited.
It’s interesting to note that many of them think that social media accounts are open and available for everyone to see. It was a reoccurring idea in the 5 Problems post. I will have to make sure they know they can change the privacy settings, but of course, since they aren’t 13 they don’t have one. (Uhhh…right)
5 Problems w/ Social Media
- It’s not always private
- Someone that you don’t know can look at your pictures or posts
- You can get hacked
- You can get tracked down
- Some things are inappropriate
- Too much time posting so kids don’t do HW
- Posting and seeing inappropriate things
- Anyone can see your posts
- People can track you down
- Kids download without parents knowing
- You can do things you don’t mean
- People can get mad at you
- It can be dangerous
- You can be stalked
- It can be awkward
- Hackers can hack you
- Inappropriate pictures
- Inappropriate comments
- Forgetting password
- Anyone can read your stuff
- Wasting time
- You can lie about your age
- Inappropriate pictures
- Sharing personal information
- Sharing someone’s picture when they don’t want it seen
- Anyone can see everything you post
- Some people post inappropriate things
- People can trace you
- People get addicted
- Strangers can track you
- Anyone can do anything and not get caught
- Inappropriate stuff can be posted
- No parental controls
- Nosy people stalking you
- Instagram – it’s a good idea but random ppl can create a fake name and act nice, but they could be a weird murderer
- Snapchat – random people can see ur story
- Accounts can get hacked
- Ppl use it to bully or be mean
- Ppl can track you
- People insult
- Post inappropriate things
- Leave footprints
- People hack other people’s accounts
- People spend too much time
10 Interesting Things
- I play PS4
- I like cats
- I play tennis
- I have a sister
- I am neighbors Mellow Mushroom
- I wear glasses
- My eyes are blue
- My favorite color is green
- I have a cat named Pete
- I have a cat named Poggi
- I collect lots of memorabilia
- I have over 100 stuffed animals
- Ketchup is my favorite food
- My favorite movie is a lot of the Star Wars movies
- My dad and I enjoy watching the Red Sox
- My favorite player is David Oritz
- I enjoy volunteering
- My favorite subject is social studies
- I dislike hot dogs, especially at Yankee Stadium
- I love hockey!
- I have 2 cats
- I can now swallow a pill
- I play tennis tournaments
- I have curly hair
- I wear glasses
- I didn’t apply out
- I am allergic to carrots
- I suck at golf
- I love tennis
- I want to go to Woodward
- I play baseball
- I have a pool
- I have two sisters
- My middle name is Michael
- I play football
- I play basketball
- I have been at [this school] since I was three
- I don’t have a pet
- My mom is a substitute
- I like golf
- I’m allergic to Iodine
- I hate vegetables
- I’m allergic to dead bugs
- I’m lactose intolerant
- I love white chocolate
- I love Reese’s cups
- I don’t like to brush my hair
- I love the Beatles
- I love to listen to old songs
- I love to listen to Spanish songs
- I own two guitars
- I like Star Wars
- I have an electric car
- My birthday is tomorrow
- I’m going to Galloway next year
- I have an Ipad Pro
- I love to draw
- My Dad’s b-day is the day after mine
- I have my own theories about Dinosaurs
- I found a coin from Trinidad and Tobago in my Backyard
- I take college courses
- I am German and Polish making me a “Peace child”
- My initials are MAD
- My cats have nerdy names, Saturn and Spocky
- I am ambidextrous
- I am going to Zanzibar
- I went on a plane at 4 months
- I’m livin’ by the river
- 97 year-old piano teacher
- My eyes change with the seasons
- I have 2 dogs
- I have 1 turtle
- I play softball
- I have brown hair
- I applied out
- I have a sister
- I play basketball
- I like climbing trees
- I’m a lefty
- I like ice cream
- I love to bake
- I am allergic to peaches
- I’m pretty (according to Claire)
- I wear glasses 😕
- I also wear contacts 😊
- I like fruits and veggies
- My eyes are hazel
- I’ve worn glasses for 3 years
- I’ve had braces before
- I am a UK fan
Where would you live even though you’ve never been there?
Andrew – I would want to live in California, or the Bahamas, or Great Britain
Claire B- New York City!
Marshall – I would live in Fiji
Finn – I would live in Hawaii even though I have never been to it
Grayson C- I would live in the Galapagos Islands. There are so many cool creatures and the water is beautiful!
Audrey – I would live in Dubai because I’ve heard the buildings are awesome
Kiki – I would live in Australia in a heartbeat
Lawton – Australia
Katrina – I would live in Australia even though I’ve never visited it