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  • Writer's picturejim lenz


Speaking of gas prices (as we are so often wont to do), you may have noticed that after the pre-spring-break surge, prices have remained pretty steady at around $3.55 a gallon, and this despite the fact that Ukrainian drone strikes have knocked out about 20% of Russia's refinery capacity, which should have driven global gasoline prices up (since Russia has become a net importer of refined gasoline instead of a net exporter, although they remain a huge exporter of oil and natural gas). Given that gas prices always creep up with the increase in summer driving trips, and this year Russia is buying instead of selling on the world market, what gives?


Damned if I know. It shouldn't work that way, but for some reason it is. Not that I'm complaining.

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Well, as you can probably guess, I'm not going to gush on and on about the beautiful, sunny weather today. Quite the opposite. I actually had a couple songs about sunshine picked out, but they have been temporarily shelved. Playing them today would just be cruel, and I am not a cruel guy.


It is true that Pirates are supposed to be ruthless and cunning, but the bylaws don't say anything about gratuitous cruelty. (Look it up!)


So instead, here is a chance to play some music a little more appropriate to our current circumstances, and luckily there is something like a metric ton of really good songs about this very thing. I'm going to start with a Beatles song. I don’t play enough of their music, but here's a slight correction of that oversight.


This song was recorded at the same time as Revolver, their 7th studio album, released in 1966. The song was released as the B side of the single "Paperback Writer." Neither song on the single appeared in Revolver, but their release was meant as a preview of the sort of music on the album, and it represented the first major shift in musical style for the group, from pop to psychedelic. This song featured the first ever use of reverse recording on a record and it remains (in my opinion) an underappreciated masterpiece. It was inspired by a frustration with people complaining about the weather.


Please enjoy the Beatles performing "Rain."




Ringo Starr later said he thought his drum performance on that song was the best he ever turned in. He would probably know.


This next song comes from another British pop/rock group, although from almost twenty years later. The Eurythmics began recording in 1981, but their second studio album, Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) really catapulted them to stardom. That was released in January of 1983. Touch, their third studio album, followed in November of the same year, built on their earlier success, and confirmed them as one of the most influential bands of that decade. This is the lead track off that third album.


Please enjoy The Eurythmics (Annie Lennox and David Stewart) performing "Here Comes the Rain Again."



I love their music. It's always thought-provoking, but I wouldn't exactly call it cheerful. But I like cheerful music (in moderation) and so this next song fills that bill.


Back in 1969, a film came out that I think changed the western genre forever. There had been great westerns before, but this was a great film that simply happened to be a western. The screenplay was written by William Goldman, one of the great screenwriters of Hollywood history. This was his first original screenplay, and it won him an Oscar. (Beginner's luck!)


The film, of course, was Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. A song included in the soundtrack was written for the film by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, and recorded by B. J. Thomas. Some people associated with the production (including Robert Redford) did not think it fit the story, but changed their mind once the final product turned out to be a masterpiece.


The song itself became a huge hit and you've all probably heard it a million times. That usually doesn't stop me from playing a song (you probably heard "The Girl from Ipanema" two million times), but in this case I thought I'd change things up with a smooth jazz version by one of my favorite female vocalists.


This is from her 2012 album The Beat Goes On. Please enjoy Emily-Claire Barlow singing "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head."



Now we come to the part of our show dedicated to a featured artists (or theme) of the month, and this month it's The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. Not so much of a cheerful, fun song this week. Instead, we're going to listen to one of the great songs of Irish Rebellion.


This song was written about the time of the 1916 Easter Rising (which you may remember was memorialized in the song "The Foggy Dew," which we heard a couple weeks ago) but the song drew on a rebellion half a century earlier to inspire a new generation of Irish nationalists. It was written by Peadar Kearney who composed numerous Irish songs of rebellion (including "The Soldier's Song, now the Irish national anthem), and he was himself a member of the Fenian Brotherhood. The song is about the Fenian Rising of 1867, which militarily was a complete failure, but politically brought Irish nationalism to world attention and began a surge in Irish patriotism which would eventually result in Irish independence. It is also one of the most moving of Irish historical songs.


From 1969, please enjoy the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem singing "The Bold Fenian Men" from the album of the same name.



And that's it for this week. Keep your powder dry and I'll see you next week.

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