RAMH@9: The Music Break Mix

'Blown Hat Dance,' by John Fraissinet on Flickr

[Image: “Blown Hat Dance,” by John Fraissinet (found on Flickr, and used here under a Creative Commons license — thank you!). I love that the subject’s pursuit is a solitary one; to the extent that any of the bystanders notice him at all, they seem amused more than concerned, eager to join in, or anything else. When you chase your hat long enough, you get used to it: that’s just the way things go.]

This year’s anniversary post — if all goes well — will appear on Wednesday, April 19, rather than Thursday (i.e., the actual anniversary). If so, it will neatly confirm this year’s anniversary theme: that Wednesdays (and weekends), in particular, deserve some kind of musical interlude. Each song in the mix below was featured, at least peripherally, in a post for the “Midweek/Weekend Music Break” category, sometime in the last nine years.

All right, if you really want to get technical, the earliest selection below dates back only to February, 2011. But since the very first such post didn’t appear until January of that year, I figure I’m due a pass on the fact-checking.

As usual, each link in the track listing here takes you to the corresponding RAMH post. (Some of those posts featured numerous other songs, as well. You can tell which, probably, by hovering over the track title — you’ll see a little pop-up label showing the post‘s title. If the post title names this specific song, then that song is (always? most often?) the only one covered.) To actually play the mix, scroll down a bit further on the page for the audio-player device.

Track Title Artist Time
1 Steel Rail Blues Gordon Lightfoot 02:49
2 Lead Man Holler Harry Belafonte 04:13
3 Chuck E’s in Love Rickie Lee Jones 03:29
4 Easier Said Than Done The Essex 02:11
5 Take Me to the Pilot Elton John 03:46
6 Froggy Bottom ‘Mary Lou Williams’ (Geri Allen) 06:20
7 Black Magic Woman Santana 03:15
8 Old Paint Linda Ronstadt 03:04
9 Lyin’ Eyes The Eagles 06:23
10 Down by the Sally Gardens Loreena McKennitt 05:39
11 Fistful of Rain Warren Zevon 05:18
12 Once in a Lifetime Big Daddy 03:42
13 Un coin à nous Angela Easterling 04:34
14 The Only Thing Worth Fighting For Lera Lynn 03:16
15 Bandit Queen Sarah Beatty 03:20
16 Poor Side of Town Johnny Rivers 03:05
17 The Skye Boat Song Bear McCreary/Raya Yarbrough 01:36
18 Shine On Shook Twins 03:52


This year, the little audio-player whatsit lets you download each track as it’s playing — or at least as it’s selected. See the little “Download” button at the top left? There you go. (You can also pop out the playlist into its own window, if you don’t want to linger on the post.) The total length of this year’s mix is about 70 minutes: a CD’s worth. Either way, you can find this year’s version of my random anniversary thoughts below the fold.

Finally, for the record, here’s the list of links to earlier anniversary posts, most of which included playlists of their own. (As indicated, I did no playlist in 2009-10, nor in 2012.) One of these days I’ll combine them all into a single one; shuffled, especially, they really do make for an eminently listenable mix… although, looking back on them now, maybe my first priority should be replacing all the outdated audio players with the one I’m using nowadays. Ha.

As always, implicit in every post here is my gratitude for your visit. Thank you!

RAMH@9: The Music Break Mix

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RAMH@8: To One Thing Constant Never… and a Playlist

Drawing by V. Spahn

[Image: cartoon by French cartoonist/illustrator/humorist V. Spahn. Roughly translated, I believe the caption says something on the order of, “Oh, shoot — I meant to get to the office early this morning!”]

Like many people who fired up blogs in the Great Flowering Era — i.e., pre-2009, say (the year when Facebook first turned a profit, or at least become “cash-flow positive“) — I imagined Running After My Hat would become a journal.

A journal, of course, is different from a diary. A diary celebrates or simply notes the everyday, with lesser or greater force depending on its import to the author; a journal discusses, considers, weighs, argues, and/or blathers on about topics which may or may not be based upon something mundane, but which may also spring, unbidden, from the author’s mind and soul. The latter more closely resembles my RAMH ideal at the outset.

I suppose the place has attained that ideal, over time, although the topics have come to differ from those I’d first imagined. I apparently have much less to say about writing, for example, than I once thought I would. (On the other hand, some of this is reticence by design.)

It’s also become, well, stranger than I’d planned — stranger in ways that I could not have anticipated. I didn’t know, in 2008, that the blogging wave was already cresting. For a while, I actually tried to post something new every single day; by the time RAMH attained what I think of as its own peak, though — 2011-13, maybe — the posting rate had already declined, roughly in proportion to the dwindling audience.

To be fair, the decline in my output was mirrored by the decline in my input — my reading of and participation in other blogs. It’s not as if RAMH were the only blog withering at the time. When Google dropped its “Google Reader” blog-aggregation product, in 2013, I believe the transformation of the Web from a writers-and-readers model to a social-chatter model was complete.

What’s left, then, has become more like a real journal: a place for talking to myself, as time and circumstance allow, about topics and in ways I don’t mind making public, but also about topics and in ways I can’t imagine sharing in Facebook’s short-attention-span theater. (RAMH posts do automatically trigger brief summary posts on Facebook, for anyone who might be interested, with links to the full RAMH entries.)

Although I haven’t done a statistical analysis, I bet ninety percent of the content here has come down to two things: posts in the “Ruminations” category — all of them whiskey river Fridays posts, I think — and posts related somehow to music. Translated, this means that my output here seldom exceeds two posts weekly: not a good mechanism for attracting and retaining loyal readers, but at the same time a good tool for “keeping my hand in.” I like ruminating, and I like learning (and talking at length) about some aspects of music, too: both pursuits which ultimately depend not on facts, but on the processing of facts. And I don’t mind processing them openly, for my own sake, even if for no one else’s.

All the other stuff I used to post about here has transitioned to That Other Place. That place has its uses, as I’ve learned. But there’s not much room there for running after one’s hat, any more than I’d find in a shopping mall at the holidays, or a crowded amphitheater.

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Story Up My Sleeve #29 / Midweek Music Break: “Golden Ring,” by Tammy Wynette and George Jones

Yeah: our hands and our cake. And our golden rings.[Don’t know what this is? See the Story Up My Sleeve background page. Today’s selection also serves as the final weekly Midweek Music Break featuring a “story song,” in keeping with the “May is National Short Story Month” theme.]

I don’t listen to a lot of country music. But even I know this: story songs lie as thick on the ground in Nashville as in any other musical landscape, and more thickly there than anywhere except over the ancient wooded hills and valleys of folk music. (The latter probably wins only because of a thousand-year head start.) You have no doubt seen those mind-boggling lists of country-music song titles, real and imagined; if you scan through any of them you’ll find entire story lines suggested in just the titles of, who knows, 90% of them.

I’ve never seen this phenomenon explained anywhere. (I’d like to believe it signifies something artsy and profound like “the powerful universal, cross-genre appeal of story-telling,” but who knows?) Whatever the reason, selecting a country song to feature during this month of story songs felt at first as though it might be almost too easy — so easy that I almost stayed away from country altogether. But today’s selection, “Golden Ring,” just — no pun intended — fit.

It fits, obviously, with the whole “month of stories” theme. George Jones, the male half of the original duet, died just a week or two ago. Its history suggests current events here in the US: as first conceived by the songwriter, Bobby Braddock, it was about the effects of a gun — not a wedding band — on the lives of a series of owners. Heck, the song even came out during the month of May, in 1976. (Wikipedia helpfully notes in a gossipy aside that this was 14 months after Wynette and Jones’s own real-life divorce.)

But it carries a hidden subtext, as well — at least for today, and at least for me. None of the lyrics are relevant for this purpose except the chorus’s last line, the one that suggests the twining of love around that simple bit of jewelry. About that line, I’ll just say: happy anniversary, Baby.


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RAMH@5: Cherchez les Femmes (A Playlist)

'Fifty-Three Stations of Tokaido: 44 (Yokkaichi),' by Utagawa Hiroshige

[Image: Fifty-Three Stations of Tokaido: 44 (Yokkaichi), color woodblock print (1841-34), by Utagawa Hiroshige. For more information, see the note at the foot of this post.]

Well, damn. I just couldn’t quite make it to a thousand posts by today: I’m still a couple dozen short. (On the other hand, if you count all the auxiliary not-actual-posts-as-such pages — the About stuff, and the Propagational Library series, story excerpts and so on — they put me easily over the top.)

If you challenged me on the point, I’m not sure I could answer coherently why I’m still blogging (however fitfully these days), in addition to Facebooking and posting to Twitter. On the face of it, the whole blogging transaction model is upside-down (especially relative to those other platforms): the blogger can spend an hour, several hours, sometimes days of work thinking about, possibly researching and writing-and-editing a given post — for close to zero reward. Post provocatively or hilariously (however briefly) on FB or Twitter, though, and you get a dozen acknowledgments of one kind or another, from simple “Like”s to full-blown dialogue on the subject. It’s… well, I don’t know. It’s weird. Unless you’ve got dozens of followers and regular commenters (a circumstance which I’ve frankly never aspired to), and hence something like conversation, blogging may just be one of those aimless pursuits which some humans follow. You go for Sunday drives in the country; I blog.

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Intersections Close By, Milestones Passed

[Image: the cruise ship Queen Elizabeth 2 and the New York City skyline at night (January, 2011)]

From whiskey river:

Most of us stand poised at the edge of brilliance, haunted by the knowledge of our proximity, yet still demonstrably on the wrong side of the line, our dealings with reality undermined by a range of minor yet critical psychological flaws (a little too much optimism, an unprocessed rebelliousness, a fatal impatience or sentimentality). We are like an exquisite high-speed aircraft which for lack of a tiny part is left stranded beside the runway, rendered slower than a tractor or a bicycle.

(Alain de Botton [source])



A man is walking in a field
and everywhere at his feet
in the short grass of April
the small purple violets
are in bloom. As the man walks
the ground drops away,
the sunlight of day becomes
a sort of darkness in which
the lights of the flowers rise
up around him like
fireflies or stars in a sort
of sky through which he walks.

(Wendell Berry [source])

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Not unusually for a Sunday, I took The Pooch for a longish walk this morning. The temperature had broken this week, and it was only in the high 70s. A couple of neighbors took advantage of the opportunity to fire up lawnmower and chainsaw, but few people otherwise had yet ventured out.

It was such a nice walk.

Still, I couldn’t help wishing the sky were a little less immaculate, less perfect. More strangely, I found myself wishing that even a single airplane would cross it. I didn’t want to remember that other clear blue morning sky. I didn’t want to forget the airplanes.


Update: The day has also brought my politically more outspoken friend FLJerseyBoy out of whatever hole he’s been hiding in for three-plus years. He’s suddenly popped up again at A Dog Starv’d, with a different take on it.

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RAMH@3: The Mix

Today, Running After My Hat turns three years old. Over the last couple weeks, I had the opportunity (if that’s the word!) to go back and read a whole bunch of posts from that time. I thought, y’know, that I could maybe identify more clearly what the blog is (even vaguely, if not exactly). At the very least, it might give me some place to start revising the About RAMH page.

(I should be scuffing my feet in embarrassment to have a hard time answering that question. But I’m sure those of you who’ve been following along understand the problem. Ha.)

One really surprising finding: way more than I’d ever imagined, there’s a lot of music here. In fact, if you count multiple versions of the songs covered in the “What’s in a Song” series, and videos (in the posts themselves and, rarely, in the comments), apparently I include music in a third of the posts at the site . This suggested that I could offer you a “mix post” (like a mix CD) today.

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If You Can Believe It (or Even If You Can’t)

[Image: backglass from a new(ish) pinball game by Stern,
currently available from Premier Amusements]

From whiskey river‘s archive (a/k/a the commonplace book):

A physicist visits a colleague and notices a horseshoe hanging on the wall above the entrance.

“Do you really believe that a horseshoe brings luck?” he asks.

“No,” replies the colleague, “but I’ve been told that it works even if you don’t believe in it.”

(Niels Bohr)



A man and a woman happened to sit next to one another on a train. The woman took out a book and began reading. The train stopped at a half dozen stations, but she never looked up once.

The man watched her for awhile, then asked, “What are you reading?”

“It’s a ghost story,” she said. “It’s very good, very spooky.”

“Do you believe in ghosts?” he asked.

“Yes, I do,” she replied. “There are ghosts everywhere.”

“I don’t believe in them,” he said. “It’s just a lot of superstition. In all my years I’ve never seen a ghost, not one.”

“Haven’t you?” the woman said, and disappeared.

(Alvin Schwartz)

and (plus the last sentence):

“I see nobody on the road,” said Alice.

“I only wish I had such eyes,” the King remarked in a fretful tone. “To see Nobody! And at that distance too! Why, it’s as much as I can do to see real people, by this light!”

(Lewis Carroll [source])

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Running After My Hat: The Two-Year, 30-Second Version

I’ve been trying to come up with something… different to do for this blog’s second anniversary. And then along comes Google, with its wacky “Search Stories Video Creator” for YouTube.

The Video Creator’s first page gives you up to six search boxes, into which you enter search terms — presumably forming some sort of “story arc.” (There’s also a seventh box on the form; this is used to create a “last slide,” as you will see.) For each search, you also choose whether you want to search the Web in general (the usual Google search), Google Images, Google Maps, blogs, news, Google Products, or Google Books. And then, when you’ve made those selections, you select a canned soundtrack from among numerous genres and styles.

And when you’ve done all the above, the system creates a YouTube video of your search(es) results.

It’s… it’s weird. Also kinda cool. And/Or disconcerting. Best of all, it gave me something… different to do for the blog’s second anniversary.

What I did was choose six posts from the last two years, published roughly every few months. From each of those six, I pulled key words or phrases for my search terms. I can’t say that the selection is entirely random: I wanted it to be sorta-kinda representative of the way RAMH has evolved (assuming “evolution” describes what’s happened here). And yet I also didn’t want to select “greatest hits,” “my favorite posts,” or any such thing. (You’ll find, for example, that none of the six was a What’s in a Song post, although a couple other series are represented.)

Here are the six posts I chose:

Below is the “Running After My Hat” entry in the Search Stories pile o’ stories. I decided to call it “in pursuit of headgear”:

Thank you to RAMH readers, both the lurking and the commenting sorts (especially the latter!), and thank you beyond measure to the bloggers whose sites I visit regularly, and from whose words — every day — I draw inspiration.


Note: The image at the top of this post, “Breezy,” is a scratchboard illustration from the fairy tale commonly called “The Goose Girl.” (Caption: “Curdkin has been tormenting the main character, so she calls out ‘Wind, wind, blow today, carry Curdkin’s cap away!’, and it does.”) It is by Tanaudel, on Flickr. You can read “The Goose Girl” here, on Project Gutenberg. (That version of the story includes a striking print of the same scene; it is by one Jennie Harbour, an Art Deco-style illustrator about whom little seems to be known.)

[Hat tip to the pseudonymous Jordan Baker of Dealing in Subterfuges for alerting me to this Google/YouTube Video Creator thing.]

Update, 2010-04-26: The Teacher Tracks blog recently posted an entry on five ways which teachers can use the Google Search Stories thingum as an educational tool. It included a link to a (Google-produced) “love story” using a beefed-up version of the publicly available tool:

(Apparently this was used in a Super Bowl ad this year. Darn. I missed that, didn’t I?)

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Her Little Voice

[Above is the longer version of the Twin Peaks opening title sequence, including a fairly
complete cast listing (at least for the recurring characters). The “official” and higher-
version, with a truncated theme song and cast listing, is here.]

[Note: Comments disabled for this post, for what will eventually be obvious reasons. :)]

From whiskey river:

And then the kicker is this: in passing from the real to the imagined, in following that trail, you learn that both sides have a little of the other in each, that there are elements of the imagined inside your experience of the “real” world — rock, bone, wood, ice — and elements of the real — not the metaphorical, but the actual thing itself — inside stories and tales and dreams.

(Rick Bass)

Not from whiskey river:

your little voice
Over the wires came leaping
and i felt suddenly
With the jostling and shouting of merry flowers
wee skipping high-heeled flames
courtesied before my eyes
or twinkling over to my side
Looked up
with impertinently exquisite faces
floating hands were laid upon me
I was whirled and tossed into delicious dancing
with the pale important
stars and the Humorous
dear girl
How i was crazy how i cried when i heard
over time
and tide and death
your voice

(E.E. Cummings)


Love one another, but make not a bond of love
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you
be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with
the same music.

(Kahlil Gibran)

And finally, who could argue with this?

One woman can make you fly like an eagle, another can give you the strength of a lion, but only one in the Cycle Of Life can fill your heart with wonder and the wisdom that you have known a singular joy.

(Deputy Tommy “Hawk” Hill, Twin Peaks)

…Okay, I said “finally” up there but, heck, as long as we’re on the theme we may as well go for broke:

[Below, click Play button to begin. While audio is playing, volume control appears at left — a row of little vertical bars. This clip is about 5½ minutes long.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

(lyrics by David Lynch; music by Angelo Badalamenti;
performance by Julee Cruise)

Don’t let yourself be hurt this time.
Don’t let yourself be hurt this time.

Then I saw your face
Then I saw your smile

The sky is still blue
The clouds come and go
Yet something is different
Are we falling in love?

Don’t let yourself be hurt this time.
Don’t let yourself be hurt this time.

Then your kiss so soft
Then your touch so warm

The stars still shine bright
The mountains still high
Yet something is different
Are we falling in love?


Are we falling in love?

Happy anniversary, Baby.

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