Abba – Super Trouper

The decade of the 70’s was nearly a year gone when on November 29, 1980 Abba, one of the biggest international pop artist, scored their ninth and last UK No.1 single with ‘Super Trouper’.

While the song and the Album with the same name was a big seller in the UK in the United States the single only managed to reach reached No. 45

It was their 25th Top 40 hit in the UK.

The name “Super Trouper” referred to the gigantic spotlights used in stadium concerts.

John Lennon’s Last Concert Appearance with Elton John

It was on November 28, 1974 that John Lennon made his last ever concert appearance. Elton John was playing at Madison Square Gardens in New York City. Lennon joined him on stage and performed three songs; ‘Whatever Gets You Thru The Night’, ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ and ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.’

It was Thanksgiving Day and I’m sure that there were many fans that fondly remember that Thanksgiving Concert.

‘I Saw Her Standing There’ was the B side of Elton John’s hit ‘Philadelphia Freedom’

Stories About Some of Our Favorite Christmas Songs

When should Christmas music be started to played for the Holidays? One thought is after Halloween, another is as soon as the weather starts turning colder (living in Maryland this would be around Mid-October) but for most that time starts just after Thanksgiving.

We all know and love the following songs, but did you know that they also have interesting stories. Here are brief stories about six of our Christmas favorites. Oh, and for me I start playing them anytime after the first of October, sometimes even earlier.

White Christmas
Everyone knows that the song was introduced in the movie Holiday Inn, but many don’t know that it was a song about being stuck in sunny and warm LA and dreaming of a White Christmas. The original first verse is:
The sun is shining
The grass is green
The orange and palm trees sway.
I’ve never seen such a day
In Beverly Hills LA.

But it’s December the 24th
And I am longing to be up North…

This part is rarely performed with the song (The Carpenters version does) and was never recorded by Bing Crosby.

Have Yourself A Very Merry Christmas
This Judy Garland song was written for and first introduced in the movie Meet me In St. Louis. The original intent for the song was to say that by next year things would be brighter. The original lines were;
Have yourself a merry little Christmas
May your heart be light
In a year our troubles will be out of sight

From now on
Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Make the yuletide gay
In a year our troubles will be miles away

At the request of Judy Garland it was changed to:
Have yourself a merry little Christmas.
Let your heart be light,
From now on our troubles
Will be out of sight.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Make the Yule-tide gay,
From now on our troubles
Will be miles away.

Then in 1957 when Frank Sinatra was recording his Christmas Album A Jolly Christmas he requested another change to the lyrics. Later in the song there was the line;
If the Fates allow
Until then, we’ll just have to muddle through somehow
And have ourselves a merry little Christmas now.

Sinatra wanted a more jolly song and asked for this to be changed. It was to:
If the Fates allow,
Hang a shining star
On the highest bough,
And have yourself
A merry little Christmas now.

This sure makes for it to be a merrier, Merry Christmas song.

I’ll Be Home for Christmas
he song was written in 1943 and recorded in that same year by Bing Crosby. Placing it in that time period it’s obvious that the song was about a soldier at war and his Christmas wish. If it wasn’t for White Christmas this would probably be considered Bing’s Christmas song. (Although his version of Silent Night sold more copies) The song remained on the charts for 7 weeks and well pass Christmas.

Silver Bells
The song was written by the prolific movie composers Jay Livingston and Ray Evans for the movie The Lemon Drop Kid, staring Bob Hope. It was originally going to be Tinkle Bells, until Livingston’s wife told him that to millions of american women the word tinkle meant something else and not something that would generally go over good in a Christmas song. The word tinkle was replaced with silver. Now the next time you hear the song replace the word ‘silver’ with ‘tinkle’ and see if it doesn’t seem like a slightly different song.

Frosty the Snowman
Frosty the Snowman was written with one thought in mind. Just before it was written Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer had be a huge commercial hit and the team of Jack Nelson and Steve Rollins wanted to write the next ‘Christmas Classic’. By the end of the winter they had put together two holiday songs to pitch to Gene Autry. Autry was sold and recorded Frosty for the next Christmas season.

And, the other Holiday song they pitched. It wasn’t a Christmas song, but the Easter song Here Comes Peter Cotton-tail.

A Christmas Song
In the hot heat in the summer of 1945, Mel Torme visited his friend Bob Wells. Earlier in the day Wells had written phases in a notebook in an effort to stay warm. A couple of these were; “Chestnuts roasting … Jack Frost nipping … Yuletide carols … Folks dressed up like Eskimos.”\

Torme also in an effort to try to cool off, thought that maybe writing a winter song would help. They took these phrases and in 40 minutes much of the music and some of the lyrics of one of the most recorded Christmas song was completed.

JFK Assassination, A Conspiracy?

As the Presidential motorcade of John F. Kennedy passed the Texas School Book Depository Building on November 22, 1963 at 12:30 pm CTS, three shots came from the sixth floor, fatally wounding the President. Kennedy was pronounced dead 30 minutes later at Dallas’ Parkland Hospital.

Fifty-five years later there are still those who feel that the assassination of John F. Kennedy was not the crime of a lone gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald, but was a conspiracy. A conspiracy with Oswald as only one of the participants, even as one of several gunmen.

When I first started looking in the assassination nearly 40 years ago, I had many questions. The stories were out there. And there were doubts in my mind. Enough doubts that when Gerald Ford ran for President in 1976, who was a member of the Warren Commission, was a factor on my decision on who would get my vote. I felt then and still feel now that the report was incomplete.

Was there people who wanted him dead? Sure there was. He was working to bring an end to organized crime, wanted the removal of Fidel Castro from being the leader in Cuba, and he had just a year before stood his ground against the communist Soviet Union.

There’s even the thought that Oswald would have had to be lucky to fire three accurate shots from a bolt action rifle in approximately 8 seconds and there had to be a second gunman. And why two days later, on November 24th, did Jack Ruby murdered Oswald as he was being transferred from City Jail to County Jail. Why would Ruby do that? Luck and chance happens all of the time. Ruby may have just snapped that morning, perhaps due to an expression on Oswald”s face.

Now more than 40 years after I first started researching and reading about the assassination, the theories of conspiracy, my views have changed. At first I was pretty certain that there was a conspiracy and that even if Oswald had acted alone, others were involved. Today I believe that Oswald did act alone and he was the lone gunman and that several strange and unusual factors came together to make the impossible possible.

The Plymouth Pilgrims

"The Landing of the Pilgrims" (1877) by Henry A. Bacon
“The Landing of the Pilgrims” (1877) by Henry A. Bacon
During the first part of the 17th Century a group called the Separatists felt a need for a complete separation from the Church of England. They wanted to worship in a very simple manner without all of the ritual and symbols which were used in the Anglican Church. This group first went to Amsterdam and then in 1609 to Leiden, Holland. By the end of 1619 the Leiden Separatists asked King James for a Royal Charter, which would allow them to establish a colony in the New World. Although James refused to give them a Charter, he promised that he would not try to stop them from settling abroad.

It was originally intended for the entire Leiden congregation to move to America, but they decided to send only sixty or seventy of their most able members to establish the community with the others to follow at a later date.

Before leaving England, the Separatist leaders went to talk with Captain John Smith, who had been to the New World and had made some extensive surveys of the New England area. Captain Smith would have been willing to sail with them on the Mayflower as an adviser. However, the Pilgrim Fathers did not have the money to pay for his service. Instead, they purchased his book, which included a detailed map of the New England region.

The Mayflower made her final departure from Plymouth, England, on September 16, 1620, with 102 passengers aboard and a crew of about 30. Of this number only 41 were members of the Leiden church. The remainder of the passengers were hired men, paid servants, or “strangers” who wanted to make a new life in America.

The sea voyage lasted about two months before the Pilgrims arrived at Cape Cod. For the next few weeks they explored the area as well as creating the Mayflower Compact. The Compact was an agreement signed by all the men on board agreeing to abide by laws that would be drawn up and agreed upon by all male members of the community.

The Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock on December 31, 1620. Of those who left England only 53 people were alive to celebrate the first “Thanksgiving”. Even though none of the women would die during the voyage to the New World only 4 of the 18 women survived into the first summer.

Genesis – Lamb Lies Down on Broadway

It was in 1974 on November 18th that Genesis released The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. The album was their sixth studio album and the last album with involvement of singer Peter Gabriel.

The concept album centres around a journey of self-discovery of Rael, a Puerto Rican youth living in New York City and the bizarre incidents and characters he meets along the way.

After the release of the album the group went on tour begins on November 20th in Chicago, and ended on May 22, 1975 in Besançon, France. The band knew that Peter Gabriel was planning on leaving the group at the end of the tour.

Even though it wasn’t a big hit for Genesis when it was first released it peaked at No. 10 on the UK Album Chart and No. 41 on the US Billboard 200, it is now considered one of their best albums.

Thanks to US Veterans

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, World War I ended with the signing of the Armistice. November 11th since that day has been referred to as Armistice Day.

President Woodrow Wilson in 1919 was the first President to proclaim this day.

“To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”

The United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926, with these words:

Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and
Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and
the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a legal holiday: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.

In 1954 Congress declared that November 11 would be a day to honor Veterans of all wars and not just WWI. They did this by using the official designation of Veterans Day and not Armistice Day.

In 1968 as part of the Uniforms Holiday Bill, Veteran Day was made one of the holidays that was moved to a Monday, for people to have a 3 day weekend. However after protests by veterans groups the holiday in 1978 reverted back to November 11th.

Veterans Day is largely intended to thank veterans for their service, to acknowledge that their contributions to United States national security are appreciated, and to underscore the fact that all those who served – not only those who died – have sacrificed and done their duty.

Leaving Daylight Saving Time

For those who don’t know the rhyme we spring ahead an hour in the spring and fall backward one hour, in the fall. Some people mistakenly call it Daylight Savings Time, but it is Daylight Saving Time. In 2007 with the Energy Policy Act of 2005 that President George Bush signed into law in 2005, the new dates for Daylight Saving Time will begin on the second Sunday of March and end the first Sunday of November.

Daylight Saving Time is not a modern idea. Benjamin Franklin first mentioned it in a letter to the Journal of Paris in 1784. He didn’t really say that the clocks should be changed, but that to take advantage of the extra daylight, one should arise from bed earlier.

It wasn’t put into practice until the German government put it in place in 1916 between April 30 and October 1. In the same year the United Kingdom adopted it from May 21 to October 1.

The U.S. Congress established it at the same time they formally adopted the Rail Road Time Zones in 1918, observing it for seven months in 1918 & 1919 It became so unpopular that the law for DST was repealed in 1919.

In 1942, during World War II, DST was reinstated in the U.S. although from the end of the war in 1945 until 1966, there wasn’t a Federal Law that addressed DST.

In 1966 DST was established and has been in place since, although the law gave states the capability to exempt themselves and a few, such as Arizona and Hawaii have. Many countries follow some sort of DST plan.

A Little About Halloween

Halloween has many different names such as: All Hallows Eve, Samhain, All Hallowtide, The Feast of the Dead, Haloween and All Saints Eve.

All Hallows Eve has its origins as a pagan celebration that dates back over 2000 years to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. The Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred and on the night of October 31 the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. The tradition of wearing masks deals with hiding from the dead.

Orange and Black are used as Halloween colors. Orange represents the fall harvest while black is for the coming dark winter.

When the Irish immigrants came to America in the 1800s They brought with them the traditions of Halloween and the use of Jack-O-Lanterns. The lantern, carved from a turnip, potato, or beet and lit with a burning lump of coal or a candle, represented the souls of the departed loved ones and were placed in windows or set on porches to welcome the deceased. They also served as protection against malevolent spirits or goblins freed from the dead. Since turnips and gourds were not as readily available in the Americas the pumpkin was used as a replacement.

One possible origin of Trick-or-Treat may come from the Druids who believed that the dead would play tricks on mankind and cause panic and destruction. They had to be appeased, so country folk would give the Druids food as they visited their homes. Another is an old Irish practice of going door to door to items in preparation for the festival of St. Columb Kill.

Candy doesn’t have to be the only treats given out to those young ghouls and goblins that come knocking on the door. A couple of welcomed but not ordinary treats are packages of Hot Chocolate (great for those cool night) and small bags of microwave popcorn.