Tag Archives: bee gees

From the Heart: Padre Steve’s Favorite Songs of Love and Life for Valentine’s Day

young loves

I have spent many Valentine’s Days away from my wife Judy over the course of my military career. Tonight though, for the second time in a row time. I will be with her. Two years ago  I was stationed away from her and holding the duty pager for the hospital where I served as the Director of Pastoral Care. I added up the time between when I was mobilized from the Army Reserve in 1996 to support the Bosnia Operation until when I returned from Camp Lejeune in August of 2013 and I figured at we had been apart 10 of 17 years due to military assignments. I am glad I am now on my last active duty assignment before retiring in 2017, and God willing won’t have to spend months or years away from her again.

In all of these times I have loved music. I remember dating Judy and every week bring in new LP albums or pop 45 singles on vinyl back in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Most of the songs were popular on the radio and I would hear them on American Top 40.

I find that music expresses love in ways that I find difficult to do on my own. Perhaps this is because of the fact that I am a historian and not a poet or artist. Here are 25 of my favorites of all time. They are songs that express the emotions of love, love embraced and love requited the joy of love and the agony of losing it.

These are songs that men and women express the feelings of those who have loved, lost and longed for love. They are songs of men and women who sometimes are geographically far away but still close and others that can be sitting next to each other but be as far from each other emotionally and even spiritually as Earth is from the furthest star system in the galaxy.

I think that in my life that many speak to the relationship that I have with the woman that I have loved since the day that I met her back in the late summer of 1978.

It is interested because a number of years later Barry Manilow wrote a song called The Summer of 78 which expresses much of what I felt and still feel about her.

It was one of those summer’s
lasting forever
making the winter wait
a summer of music and passion
the summer of ’78
you appeared like the summer
sudden and perfect
and not a day too late
I swear there was music when I found you
that summer of ’78
it seem we floated through the days

and nights were always filled with stars
and it seemed every song they played on the radio
was ours
it was one of those summer’s
only for lovers
touched by the hand of faith
and now when the winter’s are long
I remember the summer of ’78

barry-manilow

I think any compilation of love songs has to begin with Barry Manilow’s“Weekend in New England” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=olApnMheBW8  I think for me, as a career military man who has spent many years away from my wife, sometimes in harm’s way the questions asked in the song resonate. “When will our eyes meet?” “When can I touch you?” “When will this long journey end and when will I hold you again?” have particular meaning and they are part of the longing that I have.

the-carpenters

The Carpenter’s breakthrough hit “Close to You” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6inwzOooXRU written by Burt Bacharach is a song that is fitting for the love that many young lovers feel when they first meet. I remember when we first started dating I could hardly stand to be away from Judy. The song is more one of infatuation than actual love, but I think unless we first have that infatuation that love often remains dormant.

1012128_10151749215177059_1902693993_n

Bread’s classic mellow ballad “If” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzgBULcFaLw is a song that expresses an almost eternal nature to love.

Jim Croce’s hit “I’ll Just Have to Say I Love You in a Song” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EN1nMpmC0n4 is one that expresses how badly the words often come out when we try to communicate with the one that we love. There are so many times the words that I have said have not come across how I meant them. So much of a relationship that is based on how we communicate that care and love for each other, the lament that “every time I’d try to tell you, the words just came out wrong” can be true for many of us.

428661_3334148676879_1363437757_33348048_1105361205_n

England Dan (Dan Seals and John Ford Coley) “I’d Really Love to See You Tonight” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxdsk-cFX-k Sometimes when we love someone we somehow lose contact, or maybe have grown apart emotionally. The song begins with small talk on a phone call and is the words of someone who wants very badly to be together again with the one that he misses.

In a similar vein to “I’d really love to See You Tonight” but perhaps even more heart wrenching is Paul Davis’ “I Go Crazy” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_L886mjb0O8 because the woman that he loves is now with someone else and he sings “when I look in your eyes I still go crazy. That old flame comes alive, it starts burning inside…”

olivia-newtonjohn-with-cliff-richard-suddenly-1980

All couples sometimes have arguments and sometimes those arguments lead to complete silence and even the break up of a relationship. Sir Cliff Richard’s “We Don’t Talk Anymore” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htZir_Taizg is one of those songs where one partner blames the other for the breakup and boldly states that he isn’t losing sleep over the end of the relationship. Not a very good way to go, but a very real feeling for many people in the Lonely Heart’s Club.

Olivia Newton John and Cliff Richard’s duet “Suddenly” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-GxxhjFcngM is a song that is a 180 out from We Don’t Talk Anymore. This song is one that speaks of a deep love and admiration for each of the two people in the relationship that they are willing to do anything and go anywhere to be with one another.

years from now

The Dr Hook hit “Years from Now” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EfsPeVVL8zE is one that always manages to bring a tear to my eye. It came out about a year after Judy and I started dating and even though it is now well over 30 years since I first heard it I imagined the future, now we are deep into it and I feel the same way. One verse says “I know this world that we live in can be hard, Now and then and it will be again, Many times we’ve been down,Still love has kept us together the flame never dies, When I look in your eyes the future I see.” Since we have gone through many difficult times it is a song that is intensely personal and one that I almost feel that I could have written the lyrics.

David Soul riding high on his success in Starsky and Hutch released “Don’t Give up on Us Baby” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YY8APrYU2Gs in 1977. It hit number one in both the US and UK and was his one big hit. It is a song of a man trying to convince a woman that they have a relationship that is more than just one night. “Don’t give up on us, baby, We’re still worth one more try, I know we put a last one by, Just for a rainy evening, When maybe stars are few, Don’t give up on us, I know, We can still come through.”

4801

Dan Hill’s “Sometimes When We Touch” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-xnyHG96vY8 is a song that means a great deal to both Judy and I. The words are somehow haunting and healing. One verse and the chorus really get to me. “Romance and all its strategy leaves me battlin’ with my pride, But through the insecurity some tenderness survives, I’m just another writer, still trapped within my truth, A hesitant prize fighter, still trapped within my youth. And sometimes when we touch, the honesty’s too much, And I have to close my eyes and hide, I wanna hold you till I die, till we both break down and cry, I wanna hold you till the fear in me subsides.”

Van Morrison wrote “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQ4NAZPi2js in 1989. Recorded and released by Rod Stewart in 1993 it is a song that originally was written as a prayer by Morrison. It is sung at many weddings and it a song that I will stop and listen to whenever I hear it.

san fernando 1980

The Australian duo Air Supply is known for their mellow love songs and one of them“Two Less Lonely People in the World” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RidVsFXE2Y0 is one that I like. Sometimes I think that had I not met Judy that I never would have married. I am quite the introvert and often a loner that prefers the adventure of being independent and adventurous and does not like to be tied down. When my father retired from the Navy in 1974 I thought that my life was over, because we were going to remain in one place. Judy had spent most of her life in one city but I took her away from that because throughout my life I have been afflicted with this wanderlust and spirit of adventure. That being said the fact that we are together means that even though we are often apart that there are still “two less lonely people in the world tonight.”

Meat Loaf’s “I Would do Anything for Love” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOikQWAL8qc from his 1993 Bat Out of Hell Album is one of the big world wide rock power ballads of the past two decades. The focus is probably more on the physical relationship that some of the other songs in this list but it has a resonance because the physical is also a big part of why we fall in love with each other. “As long as the planets are turning, As long as the stars are burning, As long dreams are coming true, You’d better believe it, that I would do, Anything for love, And I’l be there until the final act, I would do anything for love, and I’ll take a vow and seal a pact…”

Elton John’s “Your Song” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTa8U0Wa0q8 is a tender ballad of a musician who has little to give his love except a song.

lionel richie and diana ross endless love

One of the tenderest duets for Valentine’s Day comes from Lionel Richie and Diana Ross, the hit Endless Love http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MP7m5VqQ6f8 was written for the movie of the same name.

The Bee Gee’s How Deep is Your Love http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpqqjU7u5Yc is another tender song of devotion to a love.

Chicago’s “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEwNcnklcsk is a song that hits hard at a situation that many couples that love each other find themselves. That is when for whatever reason they find that they need to be away from each other, but the key is that they find their way back.

REO Speedwagon’s “I Can’t Fight this Feeling” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqJK29zsO44 is actually quite good because it is a song that sees a relationship go from a friendship to something more, something that sometimes scares the people involved because somehow we often think that we don’t want to “ruin the friendship.” I really think that any relationship that is meant to be has to begin with friendship and the words in the song “What started out as friendship, Has grown stronger. I only wish I had the strength to let it show” is a reality for so many people.

a couple once and young

Anne Murray release a song called Daydream Believer  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9gN37gEKDrM that had been recorded years before by the Monkees http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nU615FaODCg , but in 1980 it became one of my favorites as my relationship with Judy began to really develop

Bonnie Tyler’s “It’s a Heartache” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8VGQTtENSs has been recorded and been a hit for Juice Newton and Rod Stewart as well as Tyler. It is a song that speaks of the pain of a broken relationship when one of the people involved is more dependent on the other person than that person is committed to them.

Juice Newton’s “Angel of the Morning” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTzGMEfbnAw is a song that describes the breakup of what may be an illicit love affair. Since a lot of people become involved in such relationships it is a powerful reminder of the pain associated with the end of those relationships.

20130215-095226.jpg

A similar theme is part of Laura Branigan’s “How am I Supposed to Live Without You” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MN6JBTGcr68 though it seems that this song is not about an illicit relationship but the betrayal felt by a person who finds that the one that they love is leaving them. Her son Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSDvFUy4ayk tells the story of a woman wondering if her love will still love her.

laurabranigan1990

I find a lot of commonality with Journey’s power ballad “Faithfully” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMD8hBsA-RI. Written about the love of a couple, one of whom spends his life on the road as a musician and rediscovers his love for his bride. I think that it is a song that any man or woman in the military, or for that matter any other profession that spends much time away from home can relate.

bethkiss

The tender ballad by Kiss “Beth” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbtO_Ayjw0M is a song that I think expresses how many people deal with the tension between what they love and who they love. The song is about a man who promises to come home as soon as he is done playing music with his band and keeps calling back until finally he admits that he will not be coming home that night.

388439020_640

Blondie’s Heart of Glass http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGU_4-5RaxU is another song that talks about misplaced love and how many relationships appear to be real but then end with at least one partner hurting and wondering what happened. The Tide is High http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bv_mQIZHeHs is Judy’s ringtone on my iPhone, it is about a girl who won’t give up on her love and Dreaming http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TU3-lS_Gryk  is another song of dreams of love.

ABBA_-_Agnetha___Frida10

The Swedish super group Abba had numerous songs dealing love, hope, love lost and love found.  “One of Us” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIKAe8Wi0S0 is song about a relationship where one partner thinks that they can do better only to find out that they were wrong. The chorus “One of us is crying, One of us is lying, In her lonely bed, Staring at the ceiling, Wishing she was somewhere else instead, One of us is lonely, One of us is only, Waiting for a call, Sorry for herself, feeling stupid feeling small, Wishing she had never left at all….” finds an echo in many of the people that I meet. Their lesser known song, Our Last Summer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6YqC3D0GMo tells the story of a woman remembering her last summer in Paris with a former lover. Knowing Me Knowing You http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUrzicaiRLU  tells the story of a breakup as does The Winner Takes it All  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92cwKCU8Z5c   

kissing

In the ;late 1970s and early 1980s Kenny Rogers released a number of songs suitable for the Valentine’s Day. She Believes in Me http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSPvv2EUdCA  is wonderful because it talks of an experience that many young lovers know that of having someone who believes in them and their dreams, even when they wonder. You Decorated My Life http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uY-CKe4lvwY talks about the difference a love makes in life, while Don’t Fall in Love with a Dreamer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOU4TWGSxZM a duet he sang with singer songwriter Kim Carnes talks about the hazards of falling in love with a dreamer.

us

Finally there is a song that from the first time I heard it has been a song that speaks to me about my love for Judy. It is a song that like Dr Hook’s Years from Now, is a reminder of how far we have come and how much we have been through; that song is Kenny Rogers’ “Through the Years” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzEwadgcZnQ which was released in 1982, a year before we were married.

chickweed-lane-val-day

So to all of my readers, enjoy the music and have a happy Valentine’s Day.

Peace

Padre Steve+

4 Comments

Filed under Just for fun, marriage and relationships, music

Saying Goodbye to a Shipmate…Fair Winds and Following Seas Senior Chief Branum

HMCS Pam Branum’s Rules:

Rule 1: Take care of your sailors

Rule 2: Accomplish the mission

Rule 3: See Rule One

chief branum

Today we said goodbye to our fallen shipmate Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman Pamela Branum.  The ceremony took place in our main auditorium at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth.  Needless to say because of the kind of person that she was and the influence that she had in people’s lives was very well attended with sailors coming in from all over the country.  Likewise it was filled with Naval tradition in fitting tribute to this child of east Tennessee who left home to serve her country and died in the line of duty.  It was a memorial service a celebration of life, a promotion ceremony and retirement all rolled into one.  And Senior Chief Branum deserved all of it.  A woman of faith she embodied the reality of her faith in the care of people and her witness to God in thought, word and deed.

The service was interesting.  I have planned, conducted or participated in more or these that I can count. On this one I was deep into the planning until Friday when after a wild and wearying month I finally began to crash.  What finally did me in was forgetting to save the bulletin which I had been working on with Commander Judy for like two hours before I closed the stupid thing out.  I had deleted the thing and both the document and I were done.  It was last nail in the camel. Thank God for Commander Judy and Chaplain Franklin who took over when I hit tilt.

Anyway what was cool about this was seeing all those who loved Pam and the stories that they shared.  Captain Bonnema our acting commander had served with Senior Chief as his Leading Chief Petty Officer at Naval Hospital Pensacola.  His words, filled with emotion were touching and inspiring as he talked about how Senior Chief was what every Chief should be.  The heartfelt genuineness of Captain Bonnema set the tone for the memorial. Others spoke; Master Chief McNulty talked about having Pam as an instructor at Field Medical Service School at Camp LeJeune.  Pam’s best friend Lisa, spoke of Pam’s friendship and example in her life while also talking about Pam as a leader of Sailors.  Another friend, also named Pamela, a retired Chief who has served with her in Kuwait and Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom shared some touching and humorous sea stories about Senior Chief.  The two became known as the Ella’s.  They were big “E” and little “e” Ella.  Senior was the Capital “E” Ella.  I guess little Ella hated the Bee Gees and while in Iraq some Marines or Sailors were playing the progenitors of the Disco era at a fairly loud decibel range.  Little Ella complained and sent Senor Chief to quiet them down.  Later, little “e” Ella was invited by senior into a tent before chow.  Little Ella notice that there were too many people in the tent and about that time Big Ella had someone start the Bee Gees.  One of the last things that Little Ella was given from Big Ella, which she got shortly after Pam died, was a CD of the Bee Gees.  Somehow I think that the Deity Herself used Pam to get little Ella one last time.  I guess in heaven that little Ella will get her back.

Chaplain Cynthia Kane from San Diego who will be doing Pam’s memorial in Tennessee tomorrow and her burial in Arlington National Cemetery in August delivered the homily.  Cynthia traveled her at her own expense. Our last couple of memorial services for active duty Sailors at the Medical Center I have done.  Each has been emotionally draining and since I knew Pam better than I knew the others I was relieved when I found out from Lisa that Pam wanted Cynthia to do this.  Pam and Cynthia were deployed to the Medical Facility for the Guantanamo Bay Cuba prison back in 2005-2006.  Pam was the Senior Enlisted Leader and Cynthia, being a Chaplain was naturally the Chaplain.  They also became good friends and as Cynthia said, Pam made her a better officer and chaplain.  Later, when Cynthia was about to lose her unborn baby, it was Pam that she turned to for advice, counsel and comfort.   From personal experience I can say that there are certain Chiefs or Marine Corps Sergeant Majors that I would go to in a crisis of such proportions.  Command Master Chief Gerry Pierce and Sergeant Major Kim Davis would be my “go to” guys. It is truly a remarkable Chief who cares for their chaplain in the chaplain’s time of need.  As a chaplain I can say that this is remarkable.  In our business it is often the case that we have no one to go to when we are not doing well.  I’m fortunate in my current assignment, but this has not always been the case.

Pam was promoted the Senior Chief on the day that she passed away.  She had been selected by the board which had not yet be released and because of the unusual situation the Navy decided to honor posthumously her with the promotion while the command awarded her the Meritorious Service Medal in the same manner.  Both the promotion and the award were read today.  An article about the promotion in the Virginia Pilot online can be found here: http://hamptonroads.com/2009/06/portsmouth-corpsman-died-day-her-promotion

The most touching moment for me was when Lisa read a letter from a Corpsman currently deployed in the Middle East.  The Corpsman had a rough time early in his career. Senior Chief Branum helped not only to save his career but to teach him lessons that made him a better Petty Officer and Corpsman.  The Hospital Corpsman  Luis E. Fonseca Jr. had been in trouble and it was Pam that helped him out.  In 2003 at the Battle of Al Nasaryah during Operation Iraqi Freedom this young man was a hero.  He saved 5 other Marines wounded when their vehicle was hit.  Under enemy fire the young Corpsman organized their recovery under fire and despite taking fire treated them and got them evacuated to safety. Hospital Corpsman Fonseca was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions.  This is the Navy’s highest award apart from the Congressional Medal of Honor.  Now Petty Officer Fonseca’s wife delivered a letter from him to Lisa during the viewing last night.  He credited her with not only saving his career but also credited her with teaching him to be a better “Doc.”  He gave his Navy Cross to Pam.  For a understanding of what the young man did in Iraq please look at this article:

http://www.news.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=14707

The ceremony was concluded by the reading of “I am the Flag” and passing the National Colors from person to person in an honor guard.  In an unusual twist the honor guard was composed of Junior Enlisted Sailors, Petty Officers, Chief’s and even two Nurse Corps Officers.  The flag was presented to Lisa. A similar flag will be presented to Pam’s parents.  After this the benediction was said by yours truly, and I have to admit that I had a difficult time in spite of using the Book of Common Prayer.  I have done a lot of these services and this was the most difficult time doing a benediction that I have ever had.   As I ended the benediction I posted the “Side Boys’ which is a Naval Tradition done in conjunction with “piping over the side.”  This is a rite where a sailor departs his or her ship or command for the final time. The Boatswain piped Senior Chief over the side and I am sure that her spirit made the trip down the aisle smiling and probably joking with her fellow Chiefs, Sailors and Officers who filled the auditorium.  This completed the mournful tones of Taps played by a Naval Bugler ended the ceremony.

As the crowd of friends mingled with each other, shared memories, hugs, tears and laughs, a slideshow of Senior Chief Branum’s life played on the large screen.  It was a fitting tribute to a wonderful person, shipmate, confidant and friend to so many people.   I consider it an honor to have served with Senior Chief Branum even for the 5 and a half months before she deployed on USNS Comfort on which she passed from this life into the next.  I will never forget her cheerful smile and professional manner; even as she helped her sailors conduct field days and work around the ICU.   Her loss will be mourned by many even as with joy people whose lives that she touched share their stories and memories.

SCPO3D

O God of grace and glory, we remember before you this day our sister Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman Pamela Branum.  We thank you for giving her to us, her shipmates and friends, to know and to love as a companion on our earthly pilgrimage. In your boundless compassion, console us who mourn.  Give us faith to see in death the gate of eternal life, so that in quiet confidence we may continue our course on earth, until, by your call, we are reunited with those who have gone before; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Peace, Steve+

6 Comments

Filed under Loose thoughts and musings, Military