My summer in music and books

It’s 11 days until summer break.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s been a decent school year, but I’m all in and looking forward to a little break.  With the yearbook distributed, the final issue of the newspaper out, and the senior awards evening gathering complete, my last evening obligations are over. I can finally begin planning for some down time.

It’s actually a busy summer, with some vacationing with Lorri.  No cruises, but a couple of local trips to the San Juans and Astoria.  There’s also journalism summer camp. at the end of July and plenty of preparation before then.  But I’m really looking forward to some peaceful work in the yard, painting figures and general down time.

Chris Cornell Songbook

Chris Cornell’s solo acoustic record Songbook is at the top of my list of future acquisitions. Tough to get in the wake of his death.

I’ll also be looking to add to my record collection (what else.)  The two artists I’d really like to focus on are Chris Cornell and Marvin Gaye. Cornell’s death last month hit me especially hard.  His work with Soundgarden and Audioslave, together with his solo efforts are so interesting and varied, I feel foolish for not paying closer attention to his work before his death. Because some of the vinyl is spendy or non-existent, I may actually have to invest in some CD’s.

Managed to snag What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye and United in which he teamed with Tammi Terrell.  A few more records by this master who left us too soon are on my wantlist 

I finally ordered my first Marvin Gaye record.  That’s silly, because he is another performer with a long and varied career.  He’s probably my favorite Motown performer.  Gaye had a wonderful voice and his musical style really evolved with changing times.  It’s a shame that I’ve neglected him. It’s not a surprise the first record I’ll have is What’s Going On, but I refuse to let it be a token album.  He was just too good to let it go at that.

I’ve also decided to acquire the Motown Anthology series.  I’m generally not big on anthologies, but 1974-76 Motown published a series of 2 X and 3 X LP collections for many of their major artists. Generally they do a good job of covering the careers of their stars up to the press dates.  A few acts that suffer are Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder, who continued to perform well into the 80’s.  The records can be as cheap as $5-10 for performers like the Four Tops or the Marvelettes, to a $25 or more for the Jackson 5 or Gaye. Here are the artists with Anthology albums

Martha and the Vandellas          The Marvelettes

Diana Ross and the Supremes    Smokey Robinson and the Miracles

Gladys Knight and the Pips         The Four Tops

Marvin Gaye                                   The Jackson 5

Stevie Wonder                                The Temptations

My goal is to have at least one album for each artist in addition to the Anthology

Summer Reading 

For me, summer is an important time of year.  I try to get a little exercise.  Listen to more music.  Paint some more figures.  Take on household duties.  Pay more attention to my Aussie buddies.  But I also read a lot more. I have a number of books lined up for summer reading.

On the Road by Jack Kerouac

I’ve never read any of the Beats.  With On the Road set to come out as a movie, thought I’d get a jump start on things.  I’ve started reading and so far am enjoying it thoroughly.  Am anxious to finish and see if it is everything it is supposed to be.

The Wise Men by Walter Isaacson and Evan Thomas

Overview of six men who shaped the post WWII world-Averill Harriman, Dean Acheson, George Kennan, Robert Lovett, John McCloy and Charles Bohlen.  Really intrigued by this group of men and how they shaped America’s post-war policies from Truman to Nixon.  Isaacson and Thomas promise a readable approach to an interesting topic.

Fear Strikes Out: The Jim Piersall Story by Jim Piersall and Al Hirschberg

Jim Piersall passed away a few weeks ago.  He was one of baseball’s “characters.” But his story was magnified by his fight with bipolar disorder.  This is a book I’ll buy as a Kindle e-book, but I’m really excited to give it a read.

Al Francken, Giant of the Senate by Al Francken

Francken’s book has gotten good reviews for his honesty of his appraisal of the workings of the Senate, and, of course, his humor.  Another e-book.  I’ve read some of his other books and they were funny, but quite partisan.  I know this will also be partisan, but I’m hoping it’s subsumed in Francken’s wit.

Hue, 1968 by Mark Bowden

Bowden was the author of Blackhawk Down.  I’ve already purchased this as a Kindle book (because it was so freakin’ cheap.) I am anxious to read this because, like Bowden, I believe 1968 changed the course of recent American history and Hue, as part of the Tet Offensive was at the center of it. The book was only released a couple of weeks ago, and is Bowden’s first book since Blackhawk.



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