Thursday: George Wilson, our grandson, has written about the music that a 26-year-old is following. I asked him, and he came through, overnight. His comment is around 23rd in the queue. GV
Ever since the pandemic began – seems like decades – I had been mourning the music I stashed on my beloved MiniDisc Recorder and Player.
Something was wrong – not batteries, not one bad diskette, but serious mechanical stuff, or so I thought.
My music. For some people, music is the heartbeat of life, the faithful companion, in our ear, as we exercise or daydream.
The MiniDisc allows some obsessive types to download and program favorite songs, favorite concertos – (I plead guilty.)
Bad enough my wife and I have not dared see friends or go into the City. But no MiniDisc library, either?
I was told via the Sony support site that this device from 1998 was neither being manufactured nor repaired – the story of our throwaway times.
But the other day, I gave it a try, and for some obscure reason, when I popped in two new AA batteries and a trial disk, programmed by moi, familiar sounds flooded into the taut little headset, and my ears.
A miracle cure.
This meant, first of all, that I could re-visit treasures I had recorded live from the radio, back in the day –particularly treasures from Peter Fornatale’s weekend show on WFUV-FM. Pete is gone now; he was a friend and neighbor, and we used to take walks together along Bar Beach, and he would talk about thematic shows he was preparing:
*- One entire two-hour Sunday show about flying – including, of course, Arlo Guthrie’s classic, Coming Into Los Angeles.
*-- Another two-hour special all about the Sunday papers -- including Adam Carroll’s homage to Blondie and Dagwood, that eternally married couple, with loving tribute to hard-working Blondie (“You’re looking pretty good for a girl of 82.”)
* -- Plus two entire hours of “Ladies Love the Beatles,” – with Pete lavishly lingering over the title. The highlight, a cover of “All My Loving,” (linked here), by the great Christine Lavin. (Pete introduced us, and that wise, generous troubadour is still out there on the hustings.)
I know there are other sources of music. I've got pop and classical music on my iPod, but have no clue about more recent sources.
The joy of the MiniDisc is that you can be your own disk jockey, on your own whim or wisdom. In my little shoebox of sound I have gift disks programmed by Laura from Upstate, including a classic by Keb Mo’ – “More Than One Way Home” – listen to me, play this once a day, for your health -- and from Kathleen in Texas, a collection including “La Bamba,” by the real Ritchie Valens.
So now, by some miracle cure from the great deity of out-of-supply MiniDiscs, on a warm Presidents’ Day, I went for a walk and chose a diskette I had programmed a few decades back:
1- Lovin’ in My Baby’s Eyes by Taj Mahal.
2- Room Off the Street by Suzanne Vega.
3- Fanette, with Shawn Elliott, from original “Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well. (evoking memories of the late 60s when my wife drove into the Village for a Sunday matinee.)
4- Estate, Susannah McCorkle, the late polylingual singer-writer, about gloomy endless Summer (“Estate,” Italian for “Summer.”)
5- Along the Verdigris, Tom Paxton and Iris Dement. I was writing a feature about the latest album by the Oklahoma-born folk singer, and he and his wife Midge delivered the cassette, and I was touched by this song, plus the backup by an unforgettably piercing voice. “You don’t know Iris DeMent?” they asked.
6- “Sweet Is the Melody,” by Iris DeMent, from Paragould, Ark. her ode to a dance hall, “A Friday-night romance, forgetting the bad stuff and just feeling good.”
7- “Like Everyone She Knows.” James Taylor.
8 –“Talk About It.” Anna and Kate McGarrigle. Another weekend/dance song. (I’m still mourning Kate.)
9 –“I Can’t Make You Love Me,” with Bonnie (3 Grammys) Raitt, and Bruce Hornsby, memorably.
10 – “Twenty-Third Street,” by Bill Morrissey, with his raspy voice, a man in a bar missing a woman who is living somewhere uptown.
11 – “I Will Always Love You,” by Dolly Parton. When I first saw her, backstage at the Opry, she was a shy mountain girl, still singing with Porter Waggoner. The legend is, she wrote this about moving on from Waggoner. Whatever. Doesn’t matter. Dolly aces all the other versions.
12- “Last Man on Earth,” by Loudon Wainwright. A declaration of manhood.
13– “The Scent of Your Cologne.” By Christine Lavin – on an elevator, catching a whiff of the fragrance used by her late, adored father. (On Christine’s “Shining My Flashlight on the Moon” album.)
14- “Raglan Road,” by Roger Daltrey and the Chieftains – about the pangs of love in Belfast, during the Time of Troubles. (You could also find a classical-sounding version by the great Loreena McKennitt, Irish-Canadian.)
15 – “Forever Young,” Bob Dylan and the Band. The Thanksgiving ritual.
I know, I know, there are more contemporary ways to program music -- including my iPod with thousands of classical and folk, samba and soul. But that collection has been swallowed up in the mysteries of Apple Music, so no way for me to edit. Whatever. I'm now back in business with all those disks, two decades old, containing Dvorak, Britten, Stevie Wonder, Bocelli, Loretta Lynn. Grateful Dead.
No matter what comes down…outwalk the pandemic....put one foot in front of the other.
My overnight thought: Do the people a favor and put Keb Mo' right here, one click away.
Measuring Covid Deaths, by David Leonhardt. July 17, 2023. NYT online.
The United States has reached a milestone in the long struggle against Covid: The total number of Americans dying each day — from any cause — is no longer historically abnormal….
After three horrific years, in which Covid has killed more than one million Americans and transformed parts of daily life, the virus has turned into an ordinary illness.
The progress stems mostly from three factors:
First, about three-quarters of U.S. adults have received at least one vaccine shot.
Second, more than three-quarters of Americans have been infected with Covid, providing natural immunity from future symptoms. (About 97 percent of adults fall into at least one of those first two categories.)
Third, post-infection treatments like Paxlovid, which can reduce the severity of symptoms, became widely available last year.
“Nearly every death is preventable,” Dr. Ashish Jha, who was until recently President Biden’s top Covid adviser, told me. “We are at a point where almost everybody who’s up to date on their vaccines and gets treated if they have Covid, they rarely end up in the hospital, they almost never die.”
That is also true for most high-risk people, Jha pointed out, including older adults — like his parents, who are in their 80s — and people whose immune systems are compromised. “Even for most — not all but most —immuno-compromised people, vaccines are actually still quite effective at preventing against serious illness,” he said. “There has been a lot of bad information out there that somehow if you’re immuno-compromised that vaccines don’t work.”
That excess deaths have fallen close to zero helps make this point: If Covid were still a dire threat to large numbers of people, that would show up in the data.
One point of confusion, I think, has been the way that many Americans — including we in the media — have talked about the immuno-compromised. They are a more diverse group than casual discussion often imagines.
Most immuno-compromised people are at little additional risk from Covid — even people with serious conditions, such as multiple sclerosis or a history of many cancers. A much smaller group, such as people who have received kidney transplants or are undergoing active chemotherapy, face higher risks.
Covid’s toll, to be clear, has not fallen to zero. The C.D.C.’s main Covid webpage estimates that about 80 people per day have been dying from the virus in recent weeks, which is equal to about 1 percent of overall daily deaths.
The official number is probably an exaggeration because it includes some people who had virus when they died even though it was not the underlying cause of death. Other C.D.C. data suggests that almost one-third of official recent Covid deaths have fallen into this category. A study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases came to similar conclusions.
Dr. Shira Doron, the chief infection control officer at Tufts Medicine in Massachusetts, told me that “age is clearly the most substantial risk factor.” Covid’s victims are both older and disproportionately unvaccinated. Given the politics of vaccination, the recent victims are also disproportionately
Republican and white.
Each of these deaths is a tragedy. The deaths that were preventable — because somebody had not received available vaccines and treatments — seem particularly tragic. (Here’s a Times guide to help you think about when to get your next booster shot.)
From the great Maureen Dowd:
As I write this, I’m in a deserted newsroom in The Times’s D.C. office. After working at home for two years during Covid, I was elated to get back, so I could wander around and pick up the latest scoop.
But in the last year, there has been only a smattering of people whenever I’m here, with row upon row of empty desks. Sometimes a larger group gets lured in for a meeting with a platter of bagels."
--- Dowd writes about the lost world of journalists clustered in newsrooms at all hours, smoking, drinking, gossipping, making phone calls, typing, editing.
"Putting out the paper," we called it.
Much more than nostalgia.