That above “#NowPlaying” tweet from over 6 years ago is how I commented on the song I want to go into detail in this post: “Don’t Give Up,” a duet by the English artists Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush. Before I get into how moving a song this is, have a listen to it first. Really, listen to it and don’t just watch Peter and Kate in an embrace.
As I write this (Friday evening in Wisconsin), polls have been closed for a few hours in the Republic of Ireland, where citizens voted on a proposal that would amend the country’s constitution and allow its parliament (the Oireachtas) to relax the country’s strict laws against abortion. Today’s vote comes three years after voters approved an amendment to permit marriage between two people “without distinction as to their sex”; it was also that same year that legislation passed allowing transgender citizens in Ireland to freely request a change in legal gender identification on government documents.
If early exit polls are any indication, today’s proposal will be approved by a sizeable margin of voters, just as the marriage equality amendment passed by a wide margin in 2015. For a country where religiously conservative viewpoints have long held influence on society and laws, it’s sure seems that progressive attitudes are starting to take root in Ireland in the past 20 years or so. But don’t think that Ireland had been a country where everyone had to strictly follow the edicts the Roman Catholic Church would pass down every Sunday regarding, say, what people should think, who people could love, or how people could express themselves. On the contrary, for the Irish are a pretty progressive lot; it’s just that the laws of Ireland have taken some time to catch up to that fact.
After a Friday full of trying to keep up with my supervisor’s demands in the morning, volunteering in the afternoon, and getting together with a support group in the evening… and then spending all Saturday morning composing a blog entry, I spent Saturday afternoon camping in front of the TV set. And “camp” also meant “campy.”
Saturday (May 12) was Grand Final day of the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest. If you recall my write-up about the 2016 contest, Eurovision is part of a consortium of European television broadcasters that produces and distributes TV content throughout Europe. The Eurovision Song Contest is by far their biggest event, and this year it was held in Lisbon, capital and largest city of Portugal, whose entry in last year’s contest took home the title. Continue reading
Even with a busy weekend ahead of me, I thought I’d keep my writing juices going by adding another tune I’ve been meaning to add to “Allison’s Jukebox.” And it’s a relatively recent addition, I must admit. The inspiration for this entry came from the podcast Crybabies, where guests talk about the things that make them cry. The guests’ admissions about what activates their waterworks makes Crybabies a pretty candid show (and, yes, tissues are available in the studio during recording).
One episode of Crybabies from September of last year featured the actress Shannon Woodward, whose list of “crying cues” included a scene near the end of the film My Girl 2. If you’ve seen that film, or at least read the plot synopsis at the link I just posted there, you’re probably familiar with the scene and the song that’s included. “Smile” had its roots in another movie long before My Girl 2 or even the original My Girl was conceived: Charlie Chaplin’s 1936 silent classic Modern Times. That movie’s own final scene features Chaplin, in his tramp persona, sitting on the side of a highway alongside the film’s gamine, Ellen (played by Paulette Goddard). The two are… well, rather than let me describe it to you, look and listen for yourself. Listen especially.
First off, I may be ranting in a couple of spots in this post, so please accept my apologies in advance. Okay, as I’ve mentioned at least a couple of times on here, I don’t get into watching awards shows very much. Oh, sure, I may sample some of the pre-show red carpet coverage. And I’ll catch a moment or two of the ceremony as I’m surfing through the channels. And I’ll certainly read up and/or watch some of the highlights the next morning. But watching 3+ hours of one award after another and performance after another can feel like a tedious slog. On top of that, there’s the fact that most awards shows occur on a Sunday night, when I tend to turn in early so that my body and mind (the latter especially) can rest up for the week to come. (Notice I’m leaving out politics; a certain segment of the populace will sneer at whatever statement of social/cultural import a host, winner, or presenter may say, but I’ll never dissuade them from saying it, especially these days.)
I’ve been meaning to add this song to “Allison’s Jukebox” for a while, and it took hearing it played on the radio while driving home tonight to finally put it to pixels: George Harrison’s “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth).”
Just as with Prince’s “Diamonds and Pearls,” which I sung the praises about here, “Give Me Love” is one of those drop-everything, sit-at-attention-and-listen songs that are my all-time favorites. Truth be told, George Harrison had at least a couple other works in his repertoire that could fit the bill, including “What Is Life” and “All Things Must Pass,” two songs that predate “Give Me Love” by a couple of years.
While I’m spending part of my Saturday morning bathing in the euphoria from and thinking up a post documenting my poetry performance Friday night (an awesome evening all around), I want to make a quick addition to “Allison’s Jukebox.” Have a listen to “Diamonds and Pearls,” the 1991 hit by Prince and The New Power Generation.
If you saw some of my retweets on Twitter a couple of days ago, you learned that there was a significant bill introduced in Wisconsin’s state legislature that, if it becomes law, would prohibit discrimination based on one’s gender identity or expression. I’m trying to formulate a post devoted solely to that piece of legislation (which you can learn about here). But in the meantime, I want to highlight a couple of interesting LGBT-related items.
The first was another piece of big Wisconsin news this week involving Ash Whitaker, a student at Kenosha’s Tremper High School who received disrespect from the administration of both the school and the school district just because he is transgender. Originally, Ash made news for wanting to run for prom king, but was rebuffed by Tremper High officials who dictated that he run for prom queen or be dropped from consideration for prom court altogether. The school relented, allowing anyone who qualified for prom court to run for prom king or prom queen, whichever one matched the gender they identified as.
Time for a mellow addition to “Allison’s Jukebox.” I heard this song again on the radio, by coincidence, just days before my niece’s high school graduation, and I realized that, in part due to the motion picture it was heard in, it’s a perfect song for graduation season.
First, about the movie the song is heard in: Teachers was a comedic/dramatic motion picture that was released in the fall of 1984. It was the type of film where you’d throw a boatload of notable actors (Nick Nolte! JoBeth Williams! Judd Hirsch!) into one setting, give their characters somewhat disparate yet related situations, and let them do their work.
Of course, since the film’s title is Teachers, it’s about the a typical day (week?) at an inner city high school, focusing on its faculty and teachers who, let’s face it, do not have good moral or ethical standing yet are trying their best to rise above the system (well, some of them anyway).
As noted above, Teachers has one main plot line (er, two really) but quite a few disparate subplots. Here’s a partial rundown of the latter:
- Fights between students.
- Fights between faculty members (like I said, the faculty’s not perfect).
- The death of a student at the hands of police (a harbinger of present day news?).
- A mental outpatient who poses as a substitute teacher and makes U.S. history engaging for the class (Richard Mulligan was always a pleasure to watch).
- And a female student who gets knocked up by a gym teacher, only to have another teacher take her to an abortion clinic (a scene that definitely raised a ruckus with conservative groups at the time).
When I first thought of starting “Allison’s Jukebox” as a recurring blog topic last fall, I had a lot of ideas about what songs to write up. One of those songs that was very high on the list is what I’ll highlight in this post, and the passing in November of the musician who wrote it and originally recorded it adds some poignancy to a song that already had a lot of pathos.
The song is “A Song for You,” and it was written and first recorded by Leon Russell for an album he released in early 1970. The song, for reasons I’ll get to below, is certainly one of Russell’s most recognizable pieces, one whose beauty will last well beyond the 74 years he lived on this earth.