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Spendin’ the Nighttime Reminiscing: Padre Steve Remembers the Music of the 1970s and Early 1980s

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I don’t know about you but the music that I really enjoy is the music that was popular when I was in Junior High, High School and College.  For me that period spanned the years 1971-1983.

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It was a turbulent era. The Vietnam War was ending and Nixon was resigning due to the Watergate break in cover-up despite going to China and establishing the beginning of detente with the Soviet Union.  Assassination attempts on political leaders, successful and unsuccessful, were common. Two attempts were made on Gerald Ford.  Prime Minister Aldo Moro of Italy and President Anwar Sadat of Egypt victim fell to terrorists while President  Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II were felled by bullets which did not prove fatal.

gas-lines

The Cold War was tense despite the beginning of detente and signing of Nuclear Weapons treaties between the United States and the Soviet Union. The Middle East was in turmoil even as Egypt and Israel hammered out a peace treaty withe the help of US President Jimmy Carter. In Iran a revolution swept the Shah of Iran out of power bringing the Ayatollah Khomeini into power.  The seizure of the US Embassy and the 444 day hostage crisis punctuated by a failed rescue attempt demoralized the United States. In October 1983 247 Marines were killed in a terror bombing of their barracks at the Beirut International Airport.

Mortar_attack_on_Shigal_Tarna_garrison,_Kunar_Province,_87

The Soviets invaded Afghanistan which would become their Vietnam, as part of the Cold War this lead to US involvement with Mujahideen. The US support with the Mujahideen was a fateful alliance that brought the Taliban to prominence and introduced the world to Osama Bin Laden. The Cubans were fighting in Angola while the Anti-Apartheid movement struggled with its leader Nelson Mandela languishing in a South African prison.

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High profile terrorist attacks became common. The Palestinian terrorist group Black September killed Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. European terrorist organizations including the Red Brigades, the Red Army Faction and Bader Meinhof gang, the Irish Republican Army and the American Weather Underground provided a constant string of terrorist attacks even as Middle Eastern terrorist groups highjacked airliners in daring fashion, matched at times by equally rescues by Israeli and German anti-terrorist units.

The American and the world economies were in a state of recession much of the era. There was a major recession, the American auto industry needed bailouts, inflation was running in double digits as was the unemployment rate. The dollar was weak and OPEC wreaked havoc on world oil markets with embargoes in 1973 and 1979.

Casey Kasem AT40 Ad

However it was music in the 1970s and early 1980s that provided a diversion for many people looking for respite from all the bad news that echoed around the airwaves and in the newspapers.  Thankfully there wasn’t a 24 hour cable news cycle yet otherwise people would have probably been jumping off of buildings.  It was the heyday of AM Top 40 type stations and the beginning of rock oriented FM music stations. Kasey Kasem gave voice to the hits with American Top 40. As for me I had countless 45s and LPs of my favorite groups and artists.

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I listened  Doctor Donald D Rose of KFRC in San Francisco and my car, a 1966 Buick LeSabre 400 had a retro-fitted 8-Track tape player and speakers.

Great groups and artists ruled the pop and rock airwaves and the era produced some of the best rock, pop, R&B, soul, country-rock, disco and new-wave music ever done. It really was an amazing era both in quality and diversity of music .

It was not “message music” like much 60’s music but focused on entertainment.  Power groups like Journey, Starship, REO Speedwagon and Boston made power ballads, while AC/DC and KISS shocked and entertained at the same time.  Groups like the Blondie, the Eagles, Chicago, Paul McCartney and Wings, Abba and the Commodores dominated the pop charts while individual artists such as Olivia Newton-John, Elton John, Carly Simon, John Denver, Lionel Ritchie, Barry Manilow and others satisfied the more mainstream pop crown.  Disco enjoyed a brief heyday with the popularity of Saturday Night Fever and the Bee Gees.  R&B enjoyed a renaissance due to the unlikely duo of the Blues Brothers who helped re-launch the careers of Aretha Franklin, Johnny Lee Hooker, Cab Calloway and a host of others. Country crossovers became big with Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton and Glenn Campbell leading the way.  As the 80’s came along new groups and styles were introduced including New Wave and Rap. It was music that helped us through those times.

I listen to that music all the time and remember those turbulent days well. It certainly wasn’t the fact that things were great in the world. That being said despite bad news there was still some sense of that things would work out okay.  Music helped provide part of that sense of hope. It was an escape and the music of that time is still with us. Many of those those groups haven’t gone away and people look back with fondness to the music of the era even as the artists age and pass away.

Here are some of my favorites with links to the videos, they are in no particular order nor are the representative of all the groups that I have in my library of CDs and DVDs, but I enjoy the heck out of them.  Have fun and enjoy.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

Little River Band “Reminiscing” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZ_3G4xqSDQ

olivia-if-not-for-you-a

Olivia Newton-John “Magic”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7WPwH8Rd6g

and “I Honestly Love You”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zGLSnZGZts 

commodores

The Commodores “Sail On” 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zg-ivWxy5KE

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The Eagles “Hotel California” 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnkJcjBCG88

ac-dc

AC/DC “You Shook Me All Night Long”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lo2qQmj0_h4

KISS “I Was Made for Loving You” 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7fxN3g5sLw

Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton: Islands in the Stream http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=recWNQddJeE&feature=related

Rupert Holmes: Escape (The Pina Colada Song) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DaOXWJKsX-U

donna2

Donna Summer: Last Dance http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cPIT_T3mYU

Roberta Flack: The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9jmusgMgro&feature=related

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Bee Gees “How Deep is You Love

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpqqjU7u5Yc

Dr Hook “Cover of the Rolling Stone” 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJu6Up9w2Hc

John Denver: Take Me Home Country Roads http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukUL_I14GPw

Three Dog Night, Joy to the World http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2x3af_three-dog-night-joy-to-the-world_people

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The Carpenters “Rainy Days and Mondays” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPmbT5XC-q0

Paul McCartney and Wings  “Band on the Run http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Qx2jEfBsqY

The Trammps “Disco Inferno” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_sY2rjxq6M

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Rod Stewart “Tonight’s the Night”

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1p96h_rod-stewarttonights-the-nightgonna_music

abba

Abba “The Winner Takes it All” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92cwKCU8Z5c

and “Waterloo” 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sj_9CiNkkn4

Elvis Presley: Suspicious Minds

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBmAPYkPeYU

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Elton John “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9kMVdazvII4 

Journey “Don’t Stop Believing” 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VcjzHMhBtf0

Albert Hammond: It Never Rains in Southern California http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-pyC7WnvLT4

queen

Queen: Bohemian Rhapsody http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJ9rUzIMcZQ

blondie

Blondie “Heart of Glass” 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGU_4-5RaxU

Neil Diamond: Sweet Caroline

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vhFnTjia_I

Boz Skaggs “Lido Shuffle” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DIu0jQ5TaRQ&feature=PlayList&p=8201408B8B6E42C8&index=2

Katrina and the Waves “Walking on Sunshine” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPUmE-tne5U

Billy Joel “Piano Man” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxEPV4kolz0

barry-manilow

Barry Manilow “Mandy” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AM7SQzq3yHQ

Heart: Crazy on You

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gpNqB4dnT4&feature=related

villagepeople

Village People: YMCA

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CS9OO0S5w2k

Fleetwood Mac “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8arvEzHsA8

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Laura Branigan “Gloria”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tVutw8rjFk

Carly Simon “You’re So Vain”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQZmCJUSC6g

Chicago “Saturday in the Park”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWxA3e9f6rY

linda_ronstadt_usa_11

Linda Ronstadt “When Will I Be Loved”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmE7tTzJkbU

Foghat “Third Time Lucky”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fj1O2KtH4kE

The Captain and Tennille “Do that to Me One More Time”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNHcgk5bf7o&feature=related

kingdingeling_blues_brothers_most

Finally, the Blues Brothers “Everybody Needs Somebody”

http://www.mojvideo.com/video-the-blues-brothers-everybody-needs-somebody-to-love/ac0b631b54ff095fd5c0

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Padre Steve’s Favorite Fun “Good Times” Songs

I love music and there is something about the less serious of songs that make them really fun to listen to.  Since I have written about my favorite songs of the 1970s and 1980s as well as my favorite love songs I started thinking about my favorite funny songs.  Some are connected to movies but other were songs that somehow or someway that found their way into my life.  So here they are in all their humorous glory.

The first on the list is Herman’s Hermits – I’m into Something Good http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxDh2sYQRpo which came out in 1965 and the video from the movie  The Naked Gun with Leslie Nielsen and Priscilla Presley http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zrhzt51UYZA

Manfred Mann Band

Another feel good song was Manfred Mann’s – Do Wah Diddy which came out in 1965 and when it was used in the movie Stripes became a song that in some places was actually used as a marching “Jodie” in some Army units  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oj9fofFGXKc The Stripes version is here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZPIU0wGVkQ It is hard to believe now but this came out about the time I enlisted in the Army and the uniforms take me back to my ROTC pre-commissioning “advanced camp” at Fort Lewis Washington.

Since I grew up in the 1960s and 1970s the drug culture was a part of life. I never was part of that scene being a ROTC nerd but had many friends who dabbled in various types of drugs in that era. Ringo Starr’s No No Song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVGerWFYotQ was a classic of the era.

Not to be outdone by a Brit the American band Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show – produced a number of songs that dealt with all sorts of experimental behavior, many of which were written by children’s author Shel Silverstein.  At the Freaker’s Ball http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hs5MAWinxqQ which came out in 1974 was one of the more outlandish of the mostly outlandish songs that they came out with in the early 1970’s.

One of the classic “feel good” songs ever produced was Three Dog Night’s – Joy to the World which came out in 1970 http://video.nate.com/209973994 I remember this one from back in 5th grade when I lived in Long Beach and it was on the AM radio.

Jim Croce’s Bad Bad Leroy Brown http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VaVPASJmeMU was a fun song which I remember on the radio as well when I was in junior high school.

One song which came out in my sophomore year of college when I first started dating Judy was Rupert Holmes – “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NrcQqCii4Rk This too was a fun song which in some ways epitomized the era.

When I was in high school there were a number of songs that were great to groove to including K.C and the Sunshine Band’s Get Down Tonight http://www.myvideo.de/watch/1959599/KC_And_The_Sunshine_Band_Get_Down_Tonigh, and the Commodore’s Brick House


Blondie’s- Island of Lost Souls http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7gqErYW0K0 is a very quirky song which I fell in love with the first time that I heard it. It is one of those songs that once I get it in my head it is frequently hours or days that I find myself singing it or humming it walking down the halls at work or in my car.

The Johnny Cash- A Boy Named Sue http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n–1wR4L7zg came out when I was in grade school. I think I remember it from at least 5th grade but I am not sure. I think of this song every time North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Il hits the news, instead of a “Boy named Sue” I think of the “Boy named Kim.”

How can I not go without an Abba song? They had a number of quirky and fun songs to match many of their more serious ballads and love songs.  The song When I Kissed the Teacher http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VR4LJjCBWE0 is one of those that I thought about anytime I had a really good looking and nice teacher in high school or college.  Somehow learning is easier when the teacher is a really hot lady with a nice personality. I don’t know why but it is.

Elton John’s – Crocodile Rock http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2Ta0qCG8No hearkened back to the 1950s and was always a favorite fun song for me.

Since I am in the Navy and grew up in a Navy family the Village People’s In the Navy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InBXu-iY7cw has always been a favorite.  The ship featured in the video is the USS Francis Hammond FF-1067 a Knox class frigate. The song still shows up on occasion in things dealing with the Navy.  I can’t remember a funny song about the Army when I was in although we did use Do Wah Diddy on occasion.

The Monster Mash http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9Dz5yui0Rc was always a favorite at Halloween.  This version was produced by the legendary Dr. Demento.

Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=irp8CNj9qBI was a totally quirky song and was featured in the movie Wayne’s World http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nTheG–2NE0

The Go Go’s Vacation http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eo8S3iFdzUc was a great song of its era and is still fun to listen to even almost 30 years later.

Lindsey Buckingham’s – Holiday Road http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nLiQBV6A7c was the into song to the movie National Lampoon’s Vacation and that version is featured here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_a6e0qhfzu0&feature=related

Rocky Horror Picture Show’s Time Warp http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yarYjuN-m8I was one of many fun songs from that cult classic.

The band Sha Na Na was a nostalgia type band which launched not long after the movie American Graffiti during the 1970’s nostalgia for the 1950s. The band was one of a number of acts including movies and the series Happy Days which helped introduce my generation to the music of the 1950s giving us something in common with our parents, imagine that? Their song Sha Na Na http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NyK3df0xaw is a classic of that genre.

The Bangles Manic Monday which came out in 1986 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s48kuKLf0mE was yet another of the quirky classic 80’s feel good songs by a girls band.

Weird Al Yankovic produced many parody songs including Eat It http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HyfcOriVKBM a parody of Michael Jackson’s Beat it.

My dad was transferred from Long Beach to the Bay Area in 1971.  We moved to Stockton the birthplace of the “drive by shooting” which is about 8 miles from a little town called Lodi.  John Fogerty and Creedence Clearwater Revival did this song about being stuck in Lodi California.  The Song Lodi http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ks4PkmoRnMo is one of those songs that you really appreciate if you have ever been to Lodi.

Ray Parker Jr.’s song Ghostbusters became an iconic song from the 1980s when it was featured in the movie Ghostbusters starring Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, Harold Ramis and Sigourney Weaver. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g4uxIo4t7xM&a=fnwJqf_wcQA&playnext_from=ML

Of course when it comes to fun you can’t leave out the Blues Brothers Everybody Needs Somebody to Love http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCTJeT2i9QU was just one of many feel good songs in this classic which introduced many of my generation to the great blues artists and the songs Shake Your Tail Feather http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rN5V-6yCbpg and Aretha Franklin’s Think were classics from that movie.

The Monkey’s Daydream Believer http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xo9pi_the-monkees-daydream-believer_music is one of those catchy songs that once you hear it is hard to get out of your mind.

Katrina & the Waves Walking on Sunshine http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eONhto0x_nI is a great feel good or happy song from the mid 1980s.

Of course no one can ever leave off Elvis Presley’s Jailhouse Rock http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpzV_0l5ILI from any collection of fun songs although I think I like this version from the Blues Brothers better  http://www.myvideo.de/watch/3656690/The_Blues_Brothers_Jailhouse_Rock

So anyway, I do hope you enjoy these fun songs from the past.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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I Miss the Music of the 70’s and 80’s

The Abbess and I in 1980 at Cal State Northridge

Note: Many of the links on this page are now dead. I have done a new article about this which is linked here: 

Spendin’ the Nighttime Reminiscing: Padre Steve Remembers the Music of the 1970s and Early 1980s

If you like this post please see the sequel:  More about Why I Miss the Music of the 70’s and 80’s unfortunately many of the links are dead on this one too, but the article is interesting.

I don’t know about you but the music that I really enjoy is the music that was popular when I was in Junior High, High School and College.  For that period spanned the years 1971-1983.  For those of that were alive back then it was a turbulent era, Vietnam was ending, Nixon was resigning due to the Watergate break in cover-up, assassination attempts both successful and unsuccessful were common, two attempts on Gerald Ford, Aldo Moro of Italy and Anwar Sadat of Egypt fell to terrorists and both Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II were felled by bullets which did not prove fatal. The Cold War was tense, the Middle East a mess, and the economy…well kind of like now in a lot of ways.  There was a major recession the auto industry needed bailouts, inflation was running in double digits as was the unemployment rate, the dollar was weak and OPEC wreaked havoc on world oil markets. Jimmy Carter was ridiculed worldwide for his “malaise” speech and the Iranian revolution led by the Ayatollah Khomeini swept into power and with it the seizure of the US Embassy and the 444 day hostage crisis punctuated by a failed rescue attempt demoralized the United States.

The 444 Day Iranian Hostage Crisis Helped End the Carter Presidency

The Soviets invaded Afghanistan which became their Vietnam.  In Lebanon 247 Marines were killed in the bombing of their barracks, Cubans were fighting in Angola and well. Terrorist groups killed Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics and the Red Brigades, the Bader Meinhof gang, the Weather Underground and the Irish Republican Army provided a constant string of terrorist attacks even as Middle Eastern terrorist groups highjacked airliners in daring fashion, matched at times by equally rescues by Israeli and German anti-terrorist units. As you can imagine there was a lot to be down about.

Gas Lines 1974

However with the passing of the 60’s the music of the 1970s and early 1980s provided a diversion for many people looking for respite from all the bad news that echoed around the airwaves and in the newspapers.  Thankfully there wasn’t a 24 hour cable news cycle yet and had there been people would have probably been jumping off of buildings.  As for me I had countless 45s and LPs of my favorite groups and artists, Doctor Donald D Rose of KFRC in San Fransisco was my favorite DJ and my car had a retro-fitted 8-Track tape player.

Today while much of the population gathered around TVs to watch NFL Wild Card playoff games, I needed some peace, so I started putting music DVDs on as the Abbess and I worked about the house.  First was Blondie’s Greatest Hits and Abba Gold followed by the Eagle’s Farewell Tour I concert album.

Great groups and artists ruled the pop and rock airwaves and save for the disaster known as disco the 70’s and early 80’s produced some of the more memorable music of a generation.  It was not “message music” like much of the music in the 60’s but focused on entertainment.  Power groups like Journey, Starship, REO Speedwagon and Boston made power ballads, while AC/DC and KISS shocked and entertained at the same time.  Groups like the Blondie, the Eagles, Chicago, Paul McCartney and Wings, Abba and the Commodores dominated the pop charts while individual artists such as Olivia Newton-John, Elton John, Carly Simon, John Denver, Lionel Ritchie, Barry Manilow and others satisfied the more mainstream pop crown.  R&B enjoyed a renaissance due to the unlikely duo of the Blues Brothers who helped re-launch the careers of Aretha Franklin, Johnny Lee Hooker, Cab Calloway and a host of others.  As the 80’s came along new groups and styles were introduced including New Wave and Rap. It was music that helped us through those times.

As I listened and watched I mentioned to the Abbess that I missed those times.  It certainly wasn’t the fact that things were great in the world, but despite all of what was going on there was still some sense of that things would work out okay.  Music helped provide part of that sense of hope, even disco as much as I would hate to admit that. It was an escape and the music of that time is still with us, somehow those groups haven’t gone away and people look back with fondness to the music of the era.

Here are some of my favorites with links to the videos, they are in no particular order nor are the representative of all the groups that I have in my library of CDs and DVDs, but I enjoy the heck out of them.  Have fun and enjoy.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

The Eagles “Take it Easy”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ScG0ilS0dgI

“Heartache Tonight”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvJqdudx8cg

and “Hotel California”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FbjKMobts5U


Olivia Newton-John “Magic”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7WPwH8Rd6g

and “I Honestly Love You”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zGLSnZGZts

The Commodores “Sail On”


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zg-ivWxy5KE

Rod Stewart “Tonight’s the Night”

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1p96h_rod-stewarttonights-the-nightgonna_music

 

Dr Hook and the Medicine Show “On the Cover of the Rolling Stone”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-XzGOZHYdA&feature=PlayList&p=AF906570E242A626&index=1

and “Sharing the Night Together”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECyAATeNH3E


Abba “Waterloo”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGs7dTjUsXw

and The Winner Takes it All

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92cwKCU8Z5c


Fleetwood Mac “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8arvEzHsA8


Journey “Don’t Stop Believing”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNB1EUJg1-w


Laura Branigan “Gloria”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tVutw8rjFk


Bonnie Tyler “Total Eclipse of the Heart”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=840B27zYfOk&feature=related

Carly Simon “You’re So Vain”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQZmCJUSC6g


Blondie “Dreaming”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIjxGKLTADE

“Rapture”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xHPikUPlRD8&feature=PlayList&p=F2ED8F30DB2943CD&index=1

and “Island of Lost Souls”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEpPjBG4CJY


Chicago “Saturday in the Park”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWxA3e9f6rY

Linda Ronstadt “When Will I Be Loved”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmE7tTzJkbU


Air Supply “Making Love Out of Nothing at All”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6lE6Htee0sA

Foghat “Third Time Lucky”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fj1O2KtH4kE


Elton John “Bennie and the Jets”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0WCQadt864

The Captain and Tennille “Do that to Me One More Time”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNHcgk5bf7o&feature=related

REO Speedwagon “Keep on Loving You”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-mw1HGJjdA&feature=related

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts “I Love Rock and Roll”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0SOJxNOP37I

Starship “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PP1HEFlkdY

and “We  Built this City”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7flrwE-bZVo

Finally, the Blues Brothers “Everybody Needs Somebody”

http://www.mojvideo.com/video-the-blues-brothers-everybody-needs-somebody-to-love/ac0b631b54ff095fd5c0

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I’m Leaving on a Jet Plane…Reflections on the Islands of Unhappy Travelers

The 80’s group Blondie had a hit called “Island of Lost Souls.”  I love that song; it is kind of quirky and fun.  However, there is a time when you run into a place where the song seems more true than not. Airports are one of those places, they tend to be some of the most angst and anger filled venues known to man, excepting of course Fed-Ex Field where Dan Snyder is doing his best to destroy the Redskins and drive off their fans. However, I digress as I couldn’t care a whit about the Redskins because they are a football team, though I have sympathy for the fans that have been banned from bringing signs into the stadium.  With that exception and maybe the U.S. Capitol building and the set of any Cable Television talk show where politics is being debated the airports have to be pretty close to the top of the hate and discontent list.

I had to travel to Florida in the spring for chaplain conference.  Since I came back from Iraq I do travel a lot less well than I used to and to make matters worse conferences of almost any kind at best come close to pushing me to the edge.  Sleep tends to be difficult for me, especially before I travel on commercial airlines and endure the hell of airports.  The night before I travel, I try to anticipate every contingency, going through my packing list and ensuring I have everything that I need. Then after I go to bed I get up an hour later to make sure that I indeed get everything. Once I am sure that I do I go back and check the multiple alarm clocks that I have set just to make sure I don’t miss my flight.  I know why I do this. Before Iraq I traveled a lot and got good at it.  However in Iraq a did a lot more of this and got into a routine of checking, double checking and even triple checking to make sure that I had everything that I needed.  Over there I knew that if I forgot something, even something simple that it would not be available the places that I was going or places that I might get marooned.  I have carried that experience back with me.  I pack and lay out all my clothes the night before I go to work.  I actually use the same pack that I carried on every mission in Iraq.  It is an excellent piece of gear, made by Blackhawk.

Anyway that day was a hellish travel day. The weather across the east coast was crappy.  My first flight was delayed an hour, my second flight as well. If that was not bad enough the good folks at Delta airlines failed to have people at gates and jet ways when gate changes happened, leaving people to miss flights and nearly miss vacation cruises.  On our connecting flight at Atlanta’s Harts-Jackson Field was delayed, in my case that was a good thing as had it been on time I would have missed it.  While in line waiting for the flight announcements were periodically made, each one either delivering a later flight time or excuse for the delay.  The excuses often were inconsistent.  I began to think that they were lying to us.  Now I’m not saying that an airline would lie, but it seemed to my little pea brain that the excuses conflicted and each new excuse contradicted the last pathetic excuse.  I hate bad liars.  Let’s face it, if you are going to lie be consistent and strive to make it believable, politicians, lawyers and TV evangelists are great at this.  Unfortunately the people lying to us were not very believable.  However it may have been that they actually believed what they were saying which would be as George Costanza once said: “It’s not a lie if you believe it.”

As I waited that day I surveyed my fellow disgruntled travelers.  I was deep into a PTSD induced ass kinking anxiety attack.  By the time this was going on time I had taken both of my extra meds as well as my 8 AM and 1230 PM doses of Samuel Adams Boston Lager.  Normally I’ll wait until dinner for a beer, but I knew that I needed a bit more on that trip.  I try not to self-medicate and over the past year have gotten a lot better in not doing this. However there as something about airports and airline travel that almost inevitably pushes my buttons and so I will do this to take the edge off and keep me somewhat sane until I can get to my destination and hide.

I went to a conference in Orlando in the summer of 2008 shortly after my PTSD diagnosis and that about put me over the edge. If you have PTSD the Gateway to the fricking “Happiest place in the world” is the portal to hell.  Thus only a few months after coming out of a combat zone I discovered that Orlando during the height of the summer pilgrimage to Wally World to see Randy Rodent and Doofey is not a fun experience.

Thanks be to God for her good care during this trip.  She ensured that my doctor had given good drugs and the airport pubs provided good beer not to mention a Chili Dog with mustard.  Thus by the middle of the afternoon I was doing far better than most of my fellow travelers.  It definitely sucked to be them.  It was then that the Blondie song came into my mind.  Atlanta’s airport was not the Island of Lost Souls but the Land of Unhappy Travelers.  I listened to some of the folks around me as they lamented their situation and it sounded like “Lemony Snickets: A Series of Unfortunate Events.” Atlanta had become the vortex of very disgruntled travelers who had missed flights, been bumped from flights or delayed endlessly.  If you don’t believe in the Catholic in the doctrine of Purgatory just try Atlanta on a day like that, which is about 362 days a year.  I looked around, and though barely holding on myself I was able to find some gallows humor in the midst of this agony.  I looked around the people around me and said “Ladies and gentlemen it is my distinct displeasure to welcome you to the land of unhappy travelers.”  I actually got a few laughs.  I then made a comment about the airline, which I had not flown in a couple of years, saying “I’m glad to see that some things stay the same, our airline still has same crappy service that they had a few years ago.”  As we started boarding we boarded by zones as some airlines do.  I personally prefer the first come or first signed in first seated way that Southwest does things, unfortunately the government contract was no longer with Southwest. As they announced “boarding zones one through five,” I commented, “Yep, you guys in zone 92 still have a while to wait.  On each flight we had bad weather, turbulence and on one flight the air condition did not start kicking in until we were getting ready to land.

When I got to my destination I heard stories even worse than mine, all focused around the vortex of doom that swirled around Atlanta.  The only place that I thought it could have gone worse was Washington Dulles, where my experiences have been nearly all bad. I survived but by the time I got to my hotel my ass was kicked. At the end of the day I had survived.  A few beers and a bit of wine with good fellowship with friends made things better.

Saturday I get to fly again and make my third trip to California to see my folks.  I am already making my list and getting mentally prepared for the trip.  I get to fly though Chicago O’Hare and on the way back LAX and O’Hare.  Thank the Deity Herself that Atlanta is not on the itinerary. I’ll do my best to at least find the humor as I pass through these islands of unhappy travelers, so pray for me a sinner.

Peace,

Padre Steve

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