Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2020

Archive for the tag “culture”

My Playlist For Tomorrow

Over the past few months we have all been pushed into an opportunity to move forward or to retreat backward. Moving forward is the smart thing to do, but going backward is much easier. After all, the easiest thing to do at any time is Nothing. Don’t believe me? Just ask a writer.

What have I been doing during this forced isolation? Not much.

That’s not completely true.

I have resumed churning out this Blog, but at a reduced rate. For five years it was Monday through Saturday. Now you have to put a gun to my head to have it ready once a week. It’s still cheap at the price you’re paying.

One thing that I have started doing that is wholeheartedly a move forward is adding some new singers into my personal playlist. I knew that I needed to expand and update the music coming out of the speakers in the car and the earbuds in my…ears. It really dawned on me when I realized that my “New Artist” was Jimmy Buffett and he is my age.

So, in spite of other seemingly more important things in the world, I began to go on a digital safari looking to bag some new performers for my Personal Playlist. With the sound of faraway drums laying down a good rhythm I started out trekking through the dense undergrowth of really bad music and deadly singers armed with less than minimal talent.

I asked the few people I could speak with through my mask from six feet away, “What current popular singers do you like?” The answers I got back were all pretty much the same, “Mmmoph ang da Sluhphmmp.”

I needed a new approach.

Googling can be both productive and confusing on a good day. I was doing it without the foggiest notion of what to look for. Eventually I typed in, “Who are the best singers performing today?”

To my surprise I got a list of performers to check out. I spent two days listening to a long parade of singers. Most of them were never going to make it onto my jump drives and hard discs. I just can’t relate to a sixteen year old who sounds like a chipmunk with asthma.

But there were a few.

Now, remember these were people who struck a responsive chord with me. Your mileage may vary.

Maren Morris – a 30 year old quasi, semi, kinda Country singer. Here is a link to a live performance. The gal has soul. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x50utV55RQo

The Shires – The Shires are a British “Country” duo who don’t sound Country to me. They have been around for a while but are new to me. I really like this song. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=At8HCMxMils

Dua Lipa – “Dua Lipa (/ˈduːə ˈliːpə/; Albanian pronunciation: [ˈdua ˈlipa]; born 22 August 1995) is an English singer, songwriter, and model. After working as a model, she signed with Warner Music Group in 2015 and released her self-titled debut album in 2017” Go Figure.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oygrmJFKYZY

Everything But the Girl – OK, so they aren’t new but I haven’t listened to them in a long time. Let’s call them “Recycled.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qsRnVtIeLyg

This last addition to My Playlist is an Irish singer who has a voice and performance skill that makes me shiver with envy.

Mary Black – a live performance of a most incredible number https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ao7-X-xqoA

Now if you see me rolling down the road and I am smiling and singing you’ll know why.

The Habit Of Love

IN ANSWER TO A NUMBER OF REQUESTS FROM READERS WHO WANTED TO READ THIS ONE MORE TIME. 

FROM JULY 3OTH 2019

 

THE HABIT OF LOVE

I WAS IN A DISCUSSION THE OTHER DAY ABOUT GOOD HEALTHY HABITS. There was talk about eating the right things, seeing your Doctor regularly, and getting enough exercise. I can’t really argue with any of those things. They all come under the heading of “Duh!”

As this discussion went back and forth with people offering up their own special dietary favorites and exercise routines I sat on the sidelines. I was taking it all in, but not offering anything of my own. I was thinking. That can take some time. My brain has to warm up first. Trying to come up with an idea too soon and I could pull a lobe.

While I stood by listening to the others I noticed that all of their “Healthy Habits” had to do with the heath of their physical bodies, but none for their spirit or soul. That concerned me. My physical habits are generally pretty crappy so I try to take care of my Soul/Spirit/Being – whatever you want to call it.

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There Is No Time For This

A FEW DAYS AGO I SAW a small news item in the local newspaper about an old building that was being renovated. As they were working on the foundation the workers uncovered a Time Capsule. For those of you with no sense of history let me explain about time capsules.

It used to be the practice when public buildings such as Libraries, Government Buildings, and other large structures were built to place a box into the foundation corner stone. In the box they’d put things about the town, their lives, and times. The box would stay hidden until the building was torn down sometime in the future.

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Throwback Thursday From August 2016 – “Hairs Looking At You, Babe”

Throwback Thursday From August 2016 – “Hairs Looking At You, Babe”

6I’VE BEEN NOTICING SOMETHING RECENTLY – Something that the rest of the world may have been aware of for some time. I can be slow on the pick-up at time.

There seems to be a fad, fashion trend, or style, for men that is news to me. I’m seeing a lot of younger men sporting really long beards. I’m not talking Abraham Lincoln beard, but something closer to the ZZ Top band or the late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (Under 50 years of age break out your Google).

2

 

There was a fellow, whom I guess to have been about 30, who came into St. Arbucks for the early services/brewing with a neatly trimmed beard (red, no less) that reached to his belly button. The hair on the top of his head was cut short, but his beard was the size of a fuzzy red placemat. He had the moustache to go with it. When he sipped at his coffee he had to use one hand to lift the ‘stache so he could access his mouth.

I would not want to watch him eat a slice of pizza.

A few days ago he came in with a friend. He also had a most prodigious beard (blonde). I don’t think it’s a cult thing – they both looked sane and neatly dressed in a rather Preppie manner. Aside from the beards they could have been part of the “Up With People” cast (Look ‘em up again.).

1When I mentioned this to the collected Usual Suspects (possibly a mistake) they said that it was a style that was considered “Hot” by the current crop of young ladies. There is no way I can personally verify this without risking getting myself slapped, kneed, or called a variety of names. So, I’ll have to take them at their word.

There has been a beard, in one form or another, on my face for close to 50 years. I first grew on for a part I was doing in a play and I kept it. Right now it’s just a short moustache and small lawn on my chin – all gray.

3

I’ve never had a long beard like is fashionable now. That would be too much work. Taking care of a beard like that is similar to having a small dog that needs constant grooming. Imagine a Chihuahua that, left unattended, grows up to be an Irish Wolf Hound.

While I get some coffee and go on a short fact-finding mission to learn more about these beards take a look at the slides of my trip to Yellowstone.

Slide One: A picture of a bear. I took the picture.

Slide Two: A picture of me. The bear took the picture.

Slide Three: A picture of me and the bear. I don’t know who took the picture.

{Courtesy of the late Jackie Vernon. Thank you, Funseekers}

During my minimal research on this phenomenon I read an article that called these long beards “Hipster Beards.” Do tell? Hipster?4

I have been seeing these guys carrying around their Shetland Ponies for a good year now. That’s a long time for anything carrying the label of “Hipster.” The 1960s style Carnaby Street Skinny Suits came and went. The “Soul Patch” mini-facial hair stayed around longer because it required no effort or cost, but these Ground Cover Beards might call for the hiring of a Professional Landscape Artist to maintain it.

Hmmmm? I’m wondering…could these guys with the Astro-Turf facial hair be wearing fake beards???

Hipster, indeed – more likely made in North Korea by slave labor!

An intriguing possibility, but, on second thought, unlikely.

These two jokers I see at St. Arbucks look more like runaways from a West Virginia Jug Band than some “Hipsters” from Terre Haute (That’s French for, “There’s something moving in your beard.”).

5

The Latest Joy Killers

 

THE LATEST ATTACK UPON HAPPINESS AND JOY IS UPON US. Two “Food Scientists” as they call themselves, (Actually two Dweebs from Seattle) have announced to the world that they have created a “Beanless Coffee” that tastes, they say, “…the way coffee should taste.” In other words these two morons have reinvented “Postum.” (Look it up)

          An article from NPR comes close to orgasm lauding this bit of nonsense.

Read more…

That Has Got To Hurt!

 

Just in case you were wondering:

Muhammad Rashid Naseem holds the World’s Record for Smashing Walnuts With His Head. He set this record in 2014 when, feeling the need for acclaim…and some walnuts to nibble on…he smashed 155 walnuts in one minute with his head. He not only smashed a lot of walnuts he also smashed the old record for walnut head smashing. The previous record was a mere 44 walnuts in one minute.

Muhammad was a driven man.

My guess is that he was also driven to the nearest hospital ER after walnut 155 hit the ground.

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Throwback Thursday from July 2016 – “Aww, For Me? Gee, Thanks.”

 

Throwback Thursday from July 2016 –  Aww, For Me? Gee, Thanks.

4th1Today is July 4th in this country and every other country as well, but it has a special meaning in this one. Yes, yes, yes, I know. It is Independence Day too. A truly sacred day in American history to be sure, but July 4this also important because it is considered to be the Mid-Point of Summer.

Balderdash.

 

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Reblogged from A Teacher’s Reflections: Best Job Ever!

A Teacher’s Reflections: Thirty Years of Wonder

 

Best Job Ever

Friday was a rainy day.  I played the autoharp, and children sang and danced their hearts out.  I love rainy days.  I love music.  More importantly, children love music.  A child came up to me in the middle of the songs and asked, “Jennie, can you play “I Want to Hold Your Hand?”

Did I hear that correctly?
“I Want to Hold Your Hand”, by the Beatles?
Yes, that was exactly the song he wanted to hear.

After I got over my initial shock and excitement, I said, “Better yet, I have the real song, a record album.  I’ll bring it in on Monday.  And I did.  You could have heard a pin drop as I pulled the record out of the album cover with fifteen saucer eyes staring at what was happening.  It was wonderful.

This is as good as it gets.  I’m giving a child a song he wants to hear.  I’m introducing music on a record player.  I’m playing some of the best music from my teenage years, and the children love it.

Jennie

https://jenniefitzkee.com/

 

 

Best Job Ever

Buenas Dias from Thailand

IT WAS JUST THE OTHER DAY as I was driving down the avenue when I noticed that the neighborhood Taco Bell was undergoing some remodeling. I don’t know if they were merely repainting or going full tilt and adding a branch of the Poison Control Center.

While I am not a fan of Taco Bell (I prefer Mexican Food) they are very popular worldwide. The latest figure I could find said that there are 6, 849 Taco Bell restaurants strewn about the globe.

Doing a little (very little) follow-up research I have learned that the number of Taco Bells has grown by one. Last week the first of a planned 40 Thai restaurants opened in Bangkok. And it was a rip roaring success.

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Reblog from the Bluebird of Bitterness – “Blessed Are The Geeks”

Today I offer a Reblog from the Wild and Wonderful Mind of the Bluebird of Bitterness !

“Blessed Are The Geeks”

 

New post on bluebird of bitterness

Blessed are the geeks

by bluebird of bitterness

bluebird of bitterness | January 17, 2019 at 11:28 am | Tags: biting social commentarygeek humor | Categories: circus of life | URL: https://wp.me/p1lW7W-dQa

Reblog: From FIERCEFABULOUSFUNNY – Velma Dunkin

Reblog from – https://fiercefabulousfunny.com/2018/08/24/george-carlin-8-23-18/

VELMA DUNKIN

http://gravatar.com/velmadunkin

FIERCEFABULOUSFUNNY

She’s Fierce, Fabulous, Funny

GEORGE CARLIN 8-23-18

George Carlin’s wife died early in 2008 and George followed her, dying in July 2008. It is ironic George Carlin – comedian of the 70’s and 80’s – could write something so very eloquent and so very appropriate.

An observation by George Carlin:

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life. We’ve added years to life not life to years. We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We’ve done larger things, but not better things.

We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We’ve conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one-night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete.

Remember to spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.

Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.

Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn’t cost a cent.

Remember, to say, ‘I love you’ to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.

Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.

Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.

And always remember, life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by those moments that take our breath away.

Patent # 3, 387, 396

 

SOME PEOPLE LABOR ON IN OBSCURITY while others bask in the spotlight of eternal glory. And then there is the guy who mixed both into a legendary invisibility: Edward Walker – The Inventor of the Lava Lamp.

The Official History of Eddie and the Lava Lamp goes back to the mid-1960s. When else could it be, eh?

The other night we were out with some friends having a burger when, out of the blue, someone asked if anyone still had a Lava Lamp at home. What gave birth to that question I don’t know and I don’t want to know.

To end the suspense – none of our group fessed up to still having a Lava Lamp in their pad.

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“Word By Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries”

 

TODAY’S POSTING IS A BIT OF A DETOUR from the usual stretch of pavement that is this blog. On most days I just write about the speed bumps in my life and my encounters with people who either fascinate, entertain, or appall me. Today I am going to talk about a book I am reading. How exciting, No? A book that really doesn’t rely on pictures, Super heroes, or the secret to quick elimination of Belly Fat. It is a book filled with and about Words. I love it.

To oversimplify it “Word By Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries” by Kory Stamper is about how Dictionaries are written and it is not as simple as one would think. I would classify this book as a Love Letter to Language.

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Thinking To Tomorrow

I AM A BIG FAN OF CREATIVITY. It comes in all sorts of flavors. Some people are creative with words, others paint, while others create the things that make the world operate on a daily basis. Then there are those whose creativity is manifested by seeing tomorrow in new and amazing ways. Me? I crack jokes and hope to make each day a little more palatable.

That’s OK by me.

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Throwback Thursday From Feb. 2015 – “But Wait! There’s More!”

As Seen on TV 2

Throwback Thursday From Feb. 2015 – “But Wait! There’s More!”

IS IT ALMOST CHRISTMAS AGAIN?”

It must be because our mailbox is crammed with catalogs every day. Catalogs from places we’ve never heard of are arriving at a dizzying pace and almost all of them go straight into the recycle bin.

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Throwback Thursday From Feb. 2015 – “People are SO Suspicious”

squinting jack-elam

Throwback Thursday From Feb. 2015 – “People are SO Suspicious”

 

 

 

I’VE BEEN WORKING on a sequel of a novel I wrote a couple years ago and I’m trying to gather some technical information about cell phones to use as a plot device. You’d think I was asking for info on how to construct my own H-bomb.

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Here’s Looking At You, Kid

 

IT MAY HAVE SEEMED LIKE A GOOD IDEA AT THE TIME, but who would want to get a tattoo on their face? It seems to be a permanent response to a temporary thought. And its gotta hurt.

Getting tattooed, at least in Western cultures, used to be solely in the realm of sailors and cheap crooks. Not any more. These days millions of people get a little butterfly or whatever inked on their body usually in a location where only a lover or a doctor would ever see it. However, there are people who just don’t know when to say “Enough.”

The idea of getting facial tattoos still remains largely in the prison/criminal gang subculture. There are others who get facial “tats” who are not criminals. I would put them in the file drawer under “I didn’t know I could drink that much” or just plain “Nuts.”

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Apple Valley, We have A Problem

IF ANY OF YOU KNOW A GUY NAMED MIKE HUGHES please do your best to convince him to either see a Doctor or buy a lot of insurance. If you don’t know a guy named Mike Hughes just consider yourself lucky.

A limousine driver by day the Mike Hughes I’m talking about lives in the idyllic sounding town of Apple Valley, California, but he has his head in the clouds – rather low clouds. If he is not really lucky he might be leaving it there even if his feet are on the solid ground.

You see… I don’t know quite how to phrase this without sounding like I’m… like I’m Mike Hughes. Mike has a plan to launch himself in a steam powered “rocket” up into the sky in order to prove, once and for all, that the Earth is flat. I think you can see now why I am skeptical about standing too close to Mr. Hughes.

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“Do You Love me?” – Reblog from The Immortal Jukebox

Today we offer a reblog from “The Immortal Jukebox” about one of the early Motown Singing groups: The Contours and their hit, “Do You Love Me?”

Everybody dance!

The Contours : Do You Love Me (Motown – The Empire lifts off!)

 

 

‘ You broke my heart ’cause I couldn’t dance
You didn’t even want me around
And now I’m back to let you know
I can really shake ’em down!’ (Berry Gordy)

Roma uno die non est condita.

Rome wasn’t built in a day.

It takes time to found a mighty Empire that will conquer all the known world.

So, from the founding of Rome (let’s say 753BC) to the final defeat of Carthage it was all of 600 years.

It is therefore somewhat remarkable it took Berry Gordy less than a decade from the founding of Motown in 1959 to establish an Empire that colonised the hearts and souls of music fans from Addis Abbaba to Zanzibar and Zagreb!

An $800 loan from his family became a multi, multi million dollar record company which would record songs that will last as long as we have Spirits that need lifting, hearts that need stirring (or consolation) and hips that just gotta move.

First, get yourself a base that you own.

Let’s show our ambition and call this base, ‘Hitsville USA’.

A Studio come Clubhouse where your singers and musicians can find competition and camaraderie 24 hours a day (acording to legend the local beat cop thought 2648 West Grand Drive Boulevard must be an all hours drinking den given the numbers of shady looking characters turning up at all hours of the day and night).

Next get yourself a live and play in the Basement group of musicians with Jazz chops who can fashion a wholly new sound – which is not jazz, not old school R&B, Blues or Rock n’ Roll.

Let’s call them The Funk Brothers and let’s have one of them, James Jamerson on Bass, be a fully fledged genius who will add grace and depth to every recording he ever plays on.

Let’s have a slogan calling that sound, ‘The Sound of Young America’ and let’s make so many great records that the slogan will became an every day reality on the airwaves and the charts.

And, we don’t mean, in still highly segregated America, the Black Music Charts .

No, no, no.

We mean the Pop Music charts.

Where the real money is to be made.

Open for Business and cast a cool appraising eye on all the would be stars who beat a path to your door.

This kid Smokey Robinson’s a Keeper – he’s got a notebook with hundreds of songs and he can sing ’em like a bird and work the Recording Desk too!

Not that I can’t write and produce myself.

You ever heard, ‘Reet Petite’ or, ‘Lonely Teardrops’?

Big Hits but Berry didn’t get the money!

Not going to happen again!

So, in 1960, New Frontier!, we get our first hit.

Barrett Strong with, ‘Money’ (bunch of English guys in Hamburg called The Beatles will learn a lot playing that one!).

Then Smokey comes up with, ‘Shop Around’ and by the end of the year we got a Million Seller!

Here comes 1961 and we get ourselves our first Pop Number One!

The Marvellettes, ‘Please Mr Postman’.

I got my eyes and ears on that Brian Holland – there’s a lot more hits where that came from!

Early ’62 I figure we need to find a song like, ‘Twist and Shout’ that will have all the White Kids, all the Black Kids and everybody who ain’t tied to a chair out on the floor and running down to the record store to lay down their cash.

Let’s call it, ‘Do You Love Me’.

I thought it might suit The Temptations but maybe they just sing too well for this one (I got big plans for them later).

So, what about The Contours?

 

Probably the best dancers of anyone who ever came through these doors!

Come to think of it Billy Gordon got a, ‘Wake the Dead and get ’em up Dancin” Voice if I ever heard one!

Next time they come through I’m gonna sit down at the piano and teach them the song one evening and record it the next day.

Gonna tell James to drive this one like a runaway train.

None of his fancy jazz licks – nail that backbeat to the Basement floor!

Of course, when Benny Benjamin is behind the Drums, the record is going to sound immense.

Immense.

Maybe I’ll start with a spoken intro and then let The Funk Brothers explode and tell Billy I don’t want him to be able to sing this song a second time ’cause I want him to tear his throats to shreds the first time!

Ok – let’s go!

Now, if that ain’t shaking ’em down I don’t know what is!

The Funk Brothers never let up and Billy Gordon’s lead vocal comes at you like a tidal wave.

Hubert Johnson, Billy Higgs, Joe Billingslea and Sylvester Potts make up a chorus that has an irresitble goofball charm. The trilling guitar comes from Huey Davis.

When I’ve managed to master some skill which has previously eluded me (and there’s a lot of them!) I just can’t stop myself singing, ‘I’ m back and I can really shake ’em down – Watch me now!’.

I love the corny spoken introduction, the false ending, the references to the Mashed Potato and The Twist and the bullfrog, ‘Um, Bom, Bom, Bom, brrrmm’ backing vocals.

Of course Berry got his hit!

Top 5 in every Chart and well over a Million copies sold.

They say it was the fastest selling single in the history of Motown.

Malheureusement, it was the pinnacle of The Contours career though they did make a handful of other excellent recordings.

They were simply too low down in the pecking order of Motown Vocal Groups.

And, when you consider they were up against the likes of The Four Tops and The Tempatations that is hardly to be wondered at.

There’s almost always been a version of the group out there driving a crowd crazy with, ‘Do You Love Me’.

And, by some mysterious alignment of the heavens, in 1987 the song gained a wholly unexpected new lease of life through being featured in the world wide hit film. ‘Dirty Dancing’ (even if they did, disgracefully, chop off the ending!).

One of the versions of The Contours got to go on a world tour and enjoy the big time once again.

Not so, for poor Billy Gordon.

For Billy died in poverty after spending time in prison (bizarrely with one time colleague Joe Billingslea being a Corrections Officer in the Prison!).

So it goes. So it goes.

Yet, every day someone, somewhere, has their life lit up by hearing Billy intone:

You broke my heart ’cause I couldn’t dance
You didn’t even want me around
And now I’m back to let you know
I can really shake ’em down!

And then, if they’ve got any blood in their veins they’ll go stone crazy for the next two and a half minutes.

Watch me Now!

Dedicated to :

Billy Gordon (RIP)

Sylvester Potts (RIP)

Hubert Johnson (RIP)

Huey Davis (RIP)

James Jamerson (RIP)

Benny Benjamin (RIP)

Joe Billingslea

Billy Hoggs

Notes:

Britain’s Ace Records has two excellent complications documenting The Contours recorded legacy.

Tracks to look out for –

‘First I Look at the Purse’

‘Whole Lotta Woman’

‘Shake Sherry’

‘Just A Little Misunderstanding’

The Contours : Do You Love Me (Motown – The Empire lifts off!)

Don’t Panic

 

“I REFUSE TO ANSWER THAT QUESTION ON THE GROUNDS THAT I DON’T KNOW THE ANSWER.”

— Douglas Adams

I wish that more people would adopt that practice. As each day slops over into the next I become more and more exhausted by people who think that they have THE answer to, not only every question that people ask, but also to the questions that nobody bothers asking.

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