Flashback: “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Buck Owens

I originally planned to run this piece yesterday but delayed it until today when word broke of Aretha Franklin’s passing on a couple of days ago – so this week, you get two for the price of one.

I confess. I am quite the sucker for a good cover of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and there are so many good covers of this epic tune out there. How can you pick just one?

This particular version I stumbled upon this week – Buck Owens (of Hee Haw fame) took this cover and turned it into a country Top 10 hit in 1971. Buck always seemed to me to be someone who enjoyed himself whenever he was performing, no matter the song he sang. Plus, he had that easily identifiable red, white, and blue guitar of his.

Someone ought to do a collaboration of all of the versions of “Bridge Of Trouble Water” out there for a YouTube video – I think there are at least 50 of them.

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Flashback: “Respect” by Aretha Franklin

Word broke yesterday that the Aretha Franklin had died at the age of 76. Here’s the hit the “Queen of Soul” is probably most famous for, released in the spring of 1967 and reaching the top of the Billboard Pop and R&B charts.

But did you know – the song was originally performed by Otis Redding?

They Get You Either Way

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I’ve been thinking this week about the way various goods get you addicted to them. A couple of decades ago, we learned through a gentleman named Jeffrey Wigand how various tobacco manufactures get people hooked on cigarettes. (Totally recommend the Al Pacino movie The Insider to you from a couple of decades ago – great flick.)

Yes, we make the individual choices to put the cigarettes in our mouths – but once that happens, these “big tobacco” companies make sure you stay hooked. I tried smoking when I was 18, and I think I lasted less than a week, so I suppose I was one of the lucky ones.

You can make that case about sodas, too – which I suspect got me into health trouble. These companies load all that sugar into their drinks, and if recognize that your health is going down the tubes, don’t worry – they have diet soda for you. Of course, they don’t tell you the diet drinks have aspartame in them, which is much worse for most people than a regular Pepsi, or Coca-Cola.

Then there are those sports drinks you see in abundance if you go to a high school football game or some sort of local athletic contest. Take Gatorade – loaded with sugar. They’re probably better off drinking sodas – or how about just plain old healthy water?

But yet, nobody focuses in on how these food and drink industries turn us into addicts as “big tobacco” did to a few generations. Might not be a bad idea to look into it, despite the various political preferences that exist out there.

First, They Came For Alex…

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I think it’s perfectly normal that when the big events of our time and in our lives happen. that it’s fair to seek out answers – even from outlets and people you wouldn’t ordinarily think of.

The first time I ever heard of conspiracy entertainer/talk show host Alex Jones was back in 2004, maybe 2005. I had gotten a DVD through the grapevine of a symposium hosted by actor Ed Begley, Jr. and introduced by Jimmy Walter which had suggested that the 9/11 attacks were an inside job. The theories of the different presenters varied a bit – some were more liberal, some were staunchly conservative, but the purpose was to get your interested in the idea that 9/11 wasn’t what the media represented it being. One of the snippets presented on the DVD was a much younger and less raspy Alex Jones and his “Road To Tyranny” documentary.

I certainly don’t agree with everything Jones has said – for instance, there was a time when he called Rachel Maddow, the MSNBC host, “Mr. Maddow” on his shows. I thought that was grossly homophobic. I also don’t deny that he’s probably 100% accurate when he said he was an “entertainer” in a recent court appearance. Talk show hosts are entertainers by definition – they present premises in a manner that tries to get more viewers than a given host’s competition.

Where I draw the line is what the social media outlets did on Monday – censoring Alex Jones solely from Apple, Facebook, and YouTube among other social platforms. Why just him when there are dozens of other lesser-known hosts on radio stations and the Internet that do exactly what he does all over the world? Making one person a scapegoat when others do likewise – that’s always a slippery slope. Makes you wonder why it happens now, three months before the mid-term elections, and why it didn’t happen two years, five years ago, whatever.

I don’t like playing social justice warrior – but I took my little itty bitty shot at Apple in response. I took their podcast app off of my phone, and don’t intend to listen to any podcast anytime soon. A small gesture, but if they are going to tell me not to listen to such-and-such a show, why listen to any show Apple offers? They should allow me, their consumer, to make such choices.

Never Ever Give Up

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About this time last week, I was saddened to hear that pro wrestler Brian Christopher had committed suicide in jail in the Memphis area at the age of 46 after a DUI arrest. It was widely known that Christopher was the son of Jerry Lawler, the man famous for a feud with comedian Andy Kaufman (which was quite a piece of stagecraft that many had thought for years was real) that hit network TV back in the early 1980’s, and may have been one of the catalytic factors for the boom in pro wrestling that hit in the middle part of the decade.

(Footnote: every once in a great while, there is a suicide that takes place that some people believe was actually a murder made to look like a suicide. The most notable example of this is the July 20, 1993 death of Vince Foster.)

I could never understand why someone would want to end their own life, especially in the last few decades of my own life experiences. My father died nearly three decades ago now – and my mother nearly got remarried to another man in the 1990’s, but in a phase of despondency, he committed suicide with pills and alcohol right before Christmas in 1996. Truth be told, it was the only passing of anyone close to me I couldn’t grieve for. My opinion has always been that it’s not up to me to decide when I leave the world and that this decision is made by higher powers, a.k.a. God. No matter what out there is waiting for you, it is meant for you to face it. You don’t avoid it.

I never cried so hard in my life watching a movie than I did when I watched What Dreams May Come, the 1998 film with Robin Williams and Cuba Gooding, Jr. in it. (The irony of there being a suicide in that movie and Williams himself committing suicide a couple of decades later – chilling.) In the movie, the character Gooding plays points out that (per the “rules” of Heaven according to the film) you go to Hell if you commit suicide.

I’ve never watched the film again, and it’s almost as if I had thought, “Yep. That’s probably how life works. Enough said.” The reward for living a full life is to be reunited with those who have passed on before us. The punishment is probably exactly what the film portrays – Hell.