Category Archives: music

Goodbye Treat

When I got to college in 1980, the movie version of Hair was just a year old. I, of course, had not seen it, but the album made its way to my turntable. Eventually, I saw the movie, and it’s one of those that I rewatch every so often. Today, I will watch it once again in honor of Treat Williams who became the hippie George Berger and brought us all along for the freewheeling journey. Williams died in an accident yesterday while riding his motorcycle.

I love every bit of the movie, but my favorite scene comes when the hippies infiltrate the garden party. Williams sings “I’ve Got Life” as he dances along the dinner table, kicking aside the flowers and swinging from the chandelier. It is fun, upbeat but also, on a larger level, speaks to the way change happens as those on the outside come inside and often laugh at the things that seem so important to those claiming the table.

If you haven’t watched the movie, I encourage you to take a look For now, I leave you with Treat Williams:

Ahead of Their Time

I recently read Searching for the Sound: My Life with the Grateful Dead, Phil Lesh’s memoir of his career as the base player for this legendary band. It was a fun if sobering romp through the 1960s and beyond. Lesh catalogs the highs of a joyous, free spirited time, and the lows as he watches friends and fellow musicians die before their time, ravaged by drugs. If you are a fan or just want to learn more how this band became legend, it’s worth a read.

But, I’m writing about Lesh today because before I passed the book on to a friend–she is 30 years younger than I am but a stalwart Dead fan–I grabbed the one quote that I noted as I read. It concerned the Dead’s willingness to let their fans tape the show and share those tapes with others. The band not only tolerated it, but eventually let a few of the “tapers” plug into a second sound board. Famous for never repeating the same show twice, the band seemed unconcerned, and Lesh remembers that Jerry said, “As soon as we play it, we’re done with it. Let ’em have it” (p. 174). That’s not completely true, Lesh writes, as the band itself taped their shows for their own review and some of those tapes made it into the trading streama as well.

Lesh muses about the potential impact of those networks: “It’s interesting to speculate about the influence of these trader networks on the programmers who designed such file-sharing peer-to-peer software as Napster, Lime Wire, or Kazaa–software that does the same thing digitally.” I wonder how this sharing culture also influenced new ways of thinking about copyright that led, eventually, to the Creative Commons movement that gets beyond corporate control and back to grassroots connections that seemed at the heart of ideas about the early Internet.

The Internet Archive has become the online library of not just Grateful Dead shows, but also lots of other live music from Bela Fleck and the Flecktones to New Riders of the Purple Sage. The archive describes the bands who allow their live music to be shared via the platform as trade-friendly. The webpage defining this concept includes a quote from Lesh’s memoir: “On balance, allowing taping was maybe the smartest business move we ever made” (p. 266).

I did not have the opportunity to hear the Grateful Dead while I was at William and Mary as I believe the 1978 show, which coincided with Parents’ Weekend, may have been their last, just a couple years before I arrived. Fortunately, I can listen to those shows and lots and lots and lots of others as part of the Grateful Dead collection at the archive. As the band sings in Franklin’s Tower: If you get confused, just listen to the music play.

Back Online With Boundaries

I spent December binge watching media while making cards, crocheting gifts and baking. When I wasn’t making, I was reading, finishing the year with 134 books. I also completed the Kindle challenge with a perfect month in December. I traveled a bit, too, to see family and friends. All excuses for not blogging, I suppose, but being offline in general helped me consider how and where I wanted to spend my in 2023.

Happy New Year 2023

I have not made a resolution to post every day but figured I could at least check in to wish everyone a happy new year. I spent yesterday setting up my LibraryThing thread in the 75 books a year group, my 9th year sharing life and reading with a few people. I intend to spend more time there than on social media, developing deeper relationships in this protected environment. I created a new year’s greeting just for them as several of them are bird nerds like me.

I would like to take more photos so I signed on for Fat Mum Slim’s Photo a Day challenge. Today’s theme was hello and here was my submission.


Major is loving the nice weather and we usually get out twice each day for a ramble around the farm. We have had regular sitings of a bald eagle and a hawk along with meadowlarks and white-throated sparrows.

I’ll write more this year about the importance of nature in my life.

January 1, 2023 Dog Walk

I also include a selfie I grabbed on the walk. This is me at 60-1/2, unfiltered. I cringe a little at posting, but I have earned those lines and wrinkles. If I have any wisdom to share, it is to be aware in the present as much as possible. Bad or good, it’s what you have. It is the essential lesson of meditation. It doesn’t mean you can’t change your life and your circumstances if need be, but acceptance of the present can help with that process as well.

For some reason, I thought of Bruce Springsteen as I wrote that advice. His album, Wrecking Ball, is filled with stories of struggle and oppression; yet, there seems to be a sense of hope as well that hard times and rocky ground have moments of contentment and joy as well, even if it is in the listening of a song. I leave you on this first day of the new year with two songs from Springsteen. The first is his live rendition of a Stephen Foster song called “Hard Times (Come Again No More)” and the second the video for “Rocky Ground” from the Wrecking Ball album, which references the Foster song. Many of the songs on Springsteen’s album have connections to old American songs and spirituals.

ala Austin Kleon

I’m not sure how I discovered artist and writer Austin Kleon. Probably on Twitter. I have his books and the new one is on preorder. But, it’s his weekly newsletter that makes him an integral part of my life. I look forward to it every Friday. He seems to have mastered the art of the email newsletter: ten quick items. He highlights his blog posts which are always thoughtful and also introduces his readers to music and books and art, all in the name of supporting our own creativity. If you don’t get the newsletter, you should.

Go ahead…subscribe now. I’ll wait.

I’ve thought about crafting my own Austin Kleon style blog post each week, but I’ll be honest: I’m a little intimidated. Kleon has a breadth and depth of knowledge of culture and the arts that make my offerings seem meager. But, as the saying goes (at least if you grew up with Risky Business), sometimes you just have to say WTF. So…here you go: five items from the week ala Austin:

  1. I was sad to finish The Books By the Bay mystery series by Ellery Adams, but she knows when a good thing is done. Using the setting in coastal North Carolina to craft the stories, Adams drew on Native American and Appalachian culture while painting a loving portrait of the fishing community that resides along side the tourists in Oyster Bay.
  2. This Newshour feature on conductor Jessica Bejarano inspired me to stream some classical music, including Beethoven. I’m also learning to play Piano Sonata No 20 (short and pretty simple), and it feels good to sit down at the piano in the evenings for a little practice. I have never been much of a music memorizer, but I would like to try to get a couple pieces under my belt (or my fingers, as it were). I may try this easy tip.
  3. The Electric Light Orchestra has always been a favorite, and Mr. Blue Sky has been running through my head lately, probably because it has been raining so much! As though the Internet was reading my mind, I stumbled on this animated version.
  4. It is February 1, and I like Austin’s idea of starting my resolutions now. I often wait until my birthday month in May as that’s really the start of my new year, but May seems far away. Today is about this blog post and 10,000 steps, something I haven’t done regularly since Christmas Day.
  5. Thursday was the last day for the 4H STEM Club. As I said on Twitter:

Happy Friday!

My Digital Blindspot

I have never been a fan of the digital immigrant/digital native comparison. I’m reasonably old in technology years, having grown up with cabinet televisions, rotary telephones and “hi fi” systems to play records and later cassette tapes. We continue to store lots of music in those so-archaic-they-are-coming-back-again formats. We’re ready for the 21st century vinyl revolution!

But I am finding my place in the world of media proliferation and overlap. I understand that content has become disconnected from its traditional hardware and timelines. Listening to the radio now probably means listening to radio content rather than tuning in on a traditional receiver. The one radio I still use is in my car, and I listen to my local public broadcasting station.  At home, my live listening shifts to Alexa who is able to provide access to multiple radio stations with the content I want so I may be listening live but to a station on the West coast. I also time shift the content, using the NPR One app to access recordings of both “real” radio programs and separately produced podcasts that have never been broadcast over the radio airwaves. I listened to the BBC News story about Norway switching off FM over an FM radio station being streamed through my Alexa.

So, I’m no stranger to the digital content revolution. But, late last year, I discovered my digital blindspot. I am a Gilmore Girls fan and was excited when Netflix announced the new series. I marked its debut on my calendar.  In my mind, they would debut like a broadcast television series or movie, probably around 9 PM or so. At some point during the debut day, I logged into social media to see reviews appearing from people who had obviously already watched all four episodes. How, I wondered, did they get early access? It took a minute or two before I realized they weren’t special: just smarter. Netflix isn’t a television station; it offers simultaneous access to television shows and movies. So, it wouldn’t be broadcasting the Gilmore Girls’ episode at any special time but simply making them live. And clearly, they had already done that. I fired up the tablet and sure enough, there they were.

I suppose now is when I say I chuckled ruefully at my digital native folly but mostly I just was glad I could watch earlier rather than later as 9 PM is starting to be my bed time.

It’s anytime, anywhere, (almost) any content,and I think I’m getting the hang of it.