Battle of the Bands: Losing My Religion by R.E.M. #BOTB

It’s June 1st and in another 30 days 2017 will be half over already! But let’s stop the clock for a minute or two and groove on another Battle of the Bands. My battle today features R.E.M.’s 1991 hit Losing My Religion

“Losing My Religion” is a song by the American alternative rock band R.E.M. The song was released as the first single from the group’s 1991 album Out of Time. Built on a mandolin riff, “Losing My Religion” was an unlikely hit for the group, garnering heavy airplay on radio as well as on MTV due to its critically acclaimed music video. The song became R.E.M.’s highest-charting hit in the United States, reaching No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and expanding the group’s popularity beyond its original fanbase. It was nominated for several Grammy Awards, and won two for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal and Best Short Form Music Video.

Interesting tidbit: About the lyrics, and in particular the song title: “In the song, R.E.M. singer Michael Stipe sings the lines “That’s me in the corner/That’s me in the spotlight/Losing my religion”. The phrase “losing my religion” is an expression from the southern region of the United States that means losing one’s temper or civility, or “being at the end of one’s rope.” Stipe told The New York Times the song was about romantic expression. He told Q that “Losing My Religion” is about “someone who pines for someone else. It’s unrequited love, what have you.” Stipe compared the song’s theme to “Every Breath You Take” by The Police, saying, “It’s just a classic obsession pop song. I’ve always felt the best kinds of songs are the ones where anybody can listen to it, put themselves in it and say, ‘Yeah, that’s me.’

That was pretty cool: I never really understood what the song lyric “losing my religion” meant or to what it referred. I had no idea it was a southern expression!

The music video for “Losing My Religion” was directed by Tarsem Singh. This battle actually came to me after researching the Pepsi commercial featured in Mike Spain’s May 15th Battle (using Queen’s We Will Rock You song). I hadn’t seen the commercial before and wondered when it was produced. It led me to discover Director Tarsem Singh’s works, one of them being the award-winning R.E.M. music video for Losing My Religion. More specifically, “the music video was nominated in nine categories at the 1991 MTV Video Music Awards. The video won six awards, including Video of the Year, Best Group Video, Breakthrough Video, Best Art Direction, Best Direction, and Best Editing. “Losing My Religion” also ranked second in the music video category of the 1991 Pazz & Jop poll.” (Source: Wikipedia)

I love this song! This is the R.E.M. official music video. But don’t vote for this version! This is for your enjoyment only. TURN IT UP!

 

THE BATTLE

Contender #1:  PASSENGER

Michael David Rosenberg (born 17 May 1984), better known by his stage name Passenger, is an English singer-songwriter and musician. Previously the main vocalist and songwriter of Passenger, Rosenberg opted to keep the band’s name for his solo work after the band dissolved in 2009. His most successful single, “Let Her Go”, has topped the charts in many countries. In 2014, the song was nominated for the Brit Award for British Single of the Year, and he received the British Academy’s Ivor Novello Award for Most Performed Work.

Passenger just came through my town last month, Austin TX, on his North American Tour. About Austin he said, “One of the tour highlights without a doubt. What a fun town and the bbq was outstanding as ever 😉 thanks to everyone at Stubb’s Austin for the amazing hospitality !!!!”

Austin is such a cool town! And Stubbs is this really awesome outdoor venue downtown that hosts so many brilliant bands. I’ve been to several events at Stubbs: Great music, great barbecue and cold beer on a gorgeous spring evening: Ah, it just doesn’t get any better…  (And Stubbs Bar-B-Q Sauce is THE BEST (and it’s the only brand I buy! I purchase it at my local grocery store but you can buy it at amazon as well. Try it, you’ll like it!). Unfortunately, I did not attend the Passenger concert last month.

Here is his cover of Losing My Religion:

 

Contender #2:  JACQUI NAYLOR

About Jacqui Naylor, Jazz Times writes: “Jacqui Naylor is the new voice of jazz-pop.”

“In the never-ending “next big thing” sweepstakes, bet on Jacqui Naylor to be a frontrunner. She bears a striking resemblance to Diana Krall and echos the Canadian diva’s roundly rich sound. Naylor’s voice suggests, though, a slightly deeper sensuality and is charged with a strong jolt of Norah Jones’ folk-jazz electricity. Her originals are Joni Mitchell good.”

On Jacqui Naylor’s site, her biography states: “Jacqui Naylor is not an easy artist to categorize. There are times when she performs straight-ahead vocal jazz, but at other times she favors more of a folk-rock/adult alternative approach. Depending on the mood she is in at a given moment, the northern Californian can bring to mind anyone from Cassandra Wilson or British jazz vocalist Claire Martin to Sarah McLachlan or Shawn Colvin — she is as comfortable among jazz improvisers as she is in the singer/songwriter world. During one of her live performances, Naylor has no problem singing smoky jazz one minute and folk-rock or adult alternative the next — and there are times when she blurs the line between the two…”

This performance is Live at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley, Seattle WA:

 

TIME TO VOTE! Which version do you like better and why? When you’re done voting, please visit these other BOTB participants and check out their cool battles:

 

Thanks for your participation! I’ll be back in six days to post the results…

Catch of the Day: Great White Shark Jumps on Fisherman’s Boat! #shark #GreatWhite #CatchOfTheDay

Yikes. What a day for this Australian fisherman!

In this Sunday, May 28, 2017 photo released by Lance Fountain, a 2.7-meter (9-foot) great white shark lays on the deck of a fishing boat at Evans Head, Australia. Fisherman Terry Selwood said Monday, May 29, that he was left with a badly bruised and bleeding right arm where the airborne shark struck him with a pectoral fin as it landed on him on the deck. (Lance Fountain via AP)

As reported by ROD McGUIRK, Associated Press on May 29, 2017:

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — A 73-year-old Australian fisherman said Monday that he caught a far bigger fish than he hoped for when a 2.7-meter (9-foot) great white shark leapt into his boat, knocking him off his feet.

Terry Selwood was left with a badly bruised and bleeding right arm where the airborne shark struck him with a pectoral fin as it landed on him on the deck of the 15-foot power boat Saturday off Evans Head, 450 miles north of Sydney.

Selwood sprung up on the gunnel at the bow of the boat to avoid the thrashing shark and steadied himself by clinging to the tubular metal frame of the sun shelter, known as a bimini.

“I didn’t give it a chance to look me in the eyes. I wanted to get up and get on top of the gunnel because it was thrashing around madly,” Selwood told Australian Broadcasting Corp.

“Flash Gordon wouldn’t have caught me,” he said, referring to the athletic science fiction comic book hero of the 1930s.

Selwood used a hand-held radio to call the Evans Head coast guard and stayed on the gunnel until a rescue boat arrived.

In this Sunday, May 28, 2017 photo released by Lance Fountain, a 2.7-meter (9-foot) great white shark lays on the deck of a fishing boat at Evans Head, Australia. Fisherman Terry Selwood said Monday, May 29, that he was left with a badly bruised and bleeding right arm where the airborne shark struck him with a pectoral fin as it landed on him on the deck. (Lance Fountain via AP)The coast guard took Selwood to paramedics at Evans Head, where his badly swollen arm was cleared of any fracture.

Coast guard skipper Bill Bates said he misread the danger when Selwood reported his predicament.

“He said, ‘I’m injured, I’ve broken my arm, I’ve got lacerations and there’s a shark in my boat,’” Bates said.

“Often a fisherman will bring a small shark on board — maybe 2 or 3 feet (up to 1 meter) — and they’re still ferocious. That’s what I was expecting, but I was totally wrong,” he added.

The coast guard crew rescued Selwood, but left the shark alone. The shark was estimated to weigh 200 pounds.

“The shark was thrashing inside the boat, taking up the entire deck area — there was no way you’d put a foot in there,” Bates said.

The coast guard later towed Selwood’s boat with the shark into Evans Head just before nightfall.

“We think it was already dead at that stage, but no one was game to put their finger in to find out,” Bates said.

Why the shark flung itself over the motor and into the anchored boat is a mystery.

Selwood said he was sitting on a cooler, known generically in Australia by the popular brand name Esky, with two hand lines off the port and starboard sides of the boat when he saw one of the lines move as if a fish was hooked.

“I hopped up off the Esky, I touched the hand line and I just caught a blur coming in the corner of me eye and just out of instinct,” Selwood said. “I threw me right arm up and this thing hit me in the forearm and spun me around and knocked me off me feet.”

“This thing was beside me and I looked over and thought, ‘Oh, a bloody shark.’ So I just climbed — he was doing a mad dance around, he was thrashing everywhere,” he added.

Selwood said he’ll have to replace destroyed equipment, including buckets and coolers, before returning to the fishing spot he’s visited for more than 50 years.

“He didn’t do anything structural to me boat, it just smashed anything that was in his road. You can understand, he was a wild creature out of his comfort zone,” Selwood said.

* * * * * 

It’s too bad that they didn’t get that shark back into the water. Sad that he/she died. But how could they have pulled 200 lbs of thrashing Great White off the boat? I don’t know. Could they have??

On another note: Apparently there’s a new movie a la Jaws coming out next month. I haven’t seen it advertised at all but I definitely want to see 47 Meters Down!

 

How do you feel about sharks? Have you ever been up close and personal with a shark? Are you a fan of the Steven Spielberg movie Jaws? Do you plan to see 47 Meters Down?

 

Gregg Allman of the Allman Brothers Band dead at 69

photo from alchetron.com site

Another huge loss to the music industry, Gregg Allman has died today at the age of 69. Such a talented musician. I’ve always been a fan of the Allman Brothers and in fact saw them in concert a while back here in Austin at an outdoor venue that I can’t remember (it was that long ago…). The photo above is how I best remember Gregg Allman. And here he is back in 2011, arriving at the 45th Annual CMA Awards:

Gregg Allman

FILE – In this Nov. 9, 2011 file photo, singer Gregg Allman arrives at the 45th Annual CMA Awards in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Evan Agostini, file)

At the end of this post I’ve included a playlist of my favorite Allman Brothers songs. Here’s an interesting tidbit that I came across regarding their 1971 Live album, “At Fillmore East”, considered to be their #1 album:

“Typically, we tend to stay away from live albums on our Best to Worst lists. But ‘At Fillmore East’ isn’t a typical live album. Before its release in 1971, the Allman Brothers were a fledgling southern-rock band with a growing cult interest but little mainstream support. The double live ‘At Fillmore East’ changed all that. The band became huge overnight, and their dynamic performances on this monumental release pretty much set them up for life. It’s a career-making and -defining live album, and arguably the greatest concert album ever made by a rock band.”                  (Source: Ultimate Classic Rock site)

 

 

But first, let’s honor Gregg’s solo work with his most successful single on his own. I’m No Angel, released in 1987 from The Gregg Allman Band’s studio album of the same name. It was an unexpected hit, reaching #1 on Billboard’s Album Rock Tracks chart:

 

I read the sad news in this AP article, as reported by RUSS BYNUM and KRISTIN M. HALL, The Associated Press:

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Music legend Gregg Allman, whose bluesy vocals and soulful touch on the Hammond B-3 organ helped propel the Allman Brothers Band to superstardom and spawn Southern rock, died Saturday, a publicist said. He was 69.

Allman died at his home in Savannah, Georgia, publicist Ken Weinstein said. A statement on the singer’s website says he “passed away peacefully.”

Allman had cancelled some 2016 tour dates, announcing on Aug. 5 that he was “under his doctor’s care at the Mayo Clinic” due to “serious health issues.” Later that year, he canceled more dates, citing a throat injury. And in March 2017, he canceled performances for the rest of the year.

Born in Nashville, Tennessee, the rock star known for his long blond hair was raised in Florida by a single mother after his father was shot to death. Allman idolized his older brother, Duane, eventually joining a series of bands with him. Together they formed the nucleus of The Allman Brothers Band.

The original band featured extended jams, tight guitar harmonies by Duane Allman and Dickey Betts, rhythms from a pair of drummers and the smoky blues inflected voice of Gregg Allman. Songs such as “Whipping Post,” ”Ramblin’ Man” and “Midnight Rider,” helped define what came to be known as Southern rock and opened the doors for such stars as Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Marshall Tucker Band.

In his 2012 memoir, “My Cross to Bear,” Allman described how Duane was a central figure in his life in the years after their father was murdered by a man he met in a bar. The two boys endured a spell in a military school before being swept up in rock music in their teens. Although Gregg was the first to pick up a guitar, it was Duane who excelled at it. So Gregg later switched to the organ.

They failed to crack success until they formed The Allman Brothers Band in 1969. Based in Macon, Georgia, the group featured Betts, drummers Jai Johanny “Jaimoe” Johanson and Butch Trucks and bassist Berry Oakley. They partied to excess while defining a sound that still excites millions.

Their self-titled debut album came out in 1969, but it was their seminal live album “At Fillmore East” in 1971 that catapulted the band to stardom.

Duane Allman had quickly ascended to the pantheon of guitar heroes, not just from his contributions to the Allman band, but from his session work with Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett and with Eric Clapton on the classic “Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs” album. But he was killed in a motorcycle accident in October 1971, just months after recording the Fillmore shows. Another motorcycle accident the following year claimed Oakley’s life. .

In a 2012 interview with The Associated Press, Gregg Allman said Duane remained on his mind every day. Once in a while, he could even feel his presence.

“I can tell when he’s there, man,” Allman said. “I’m not going to get all cosmic on you. But listen, he’s there.”

The 1970s brought more highly publicized turmoil: Allman was compelled to testify in a drug case against a former road manager for the band and his marriage to the actress and singer Cher was short-lived even by show business standards.

In 1975, Cher and Allman married three days after she divorced her husband and singing partner, Sonny Bono. Their marriage was tumultuous from the start; Cher requested a divorce just nine days after their Las Vegas wedding, although she dismissed the suit a month later.

Together they released a widely panned duets album under the name “Allman and Woman.” They had one child together, Elijah Blue, and Cher filed for legal separation in 1977.

The Allman Brothers Band likewise split up in the 1980s and then re-formed several times over the years. A changing cast of players has included Derek Trucks, nephew of original drummer Butch Trucks, as well as guitarist Warren Haynes.

Starting in 1990, more than 20 years after its founding, the reunited band began releasing new music and found a new audience. In 1995 the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and won a Grammy Award for best rock instrumental performance for “Jessica” the following year.

In 2000, Betts was ousted from the band via fax for alleged substance abuse and poor performance and he hasn’t played with the band since.

Butch Trucks died in January 2017. Authorities said he shot himself in front of his wife at their Florida home.

In his memoir, Allman said he spent years overindulging in women, drugs and alcohol before getting sober in the mid-1990s. He said that after getting sober, he felt “brand new” at the age of 50.

“I never believed in God until this,” he said in an interview with The Associated Press in 1998. “I asked him to bring me out of this or let me die before all the innings have been played. Now I have started taking on some spiritualism.”

However, after all the years of unhealthy living he ended up with hepatitis C which severely damaged his liver. He underwent a liver transplant in 2010.

The statement on Allman’s website says that as he faced health problems, “Gregg considered being on the road playing music with his brothers and solo band for his beloved fans essential medicine for his soul. Playing music lifted him up and kept him going during the toughest of times.”

After the surgery, he turned music to help him recover and released his first solo album in 14 years “Low Country Blues” in 2011.

“I think it’s because you’re doing something you love,” Allman said in a 2011 interview with The Associated Press. “I think it just creates a diversion from the pain itself. You’ve been swallowed up by something you love, you know, and you’re just totally engulfed.”

The band was honored with a lifetime achievement Grammy in 2012.

 

R.I.P. Gregg Allman! Thanks for the memories…

 

More info on Gregg Allman’s life can be found at the Biography.com website.

And here’s a video tribute by music journalist John Beaudin:

 

 

 

 

Melania is rocking my world right now! #MelaniaSwat

Hahaha. Ah, for the second time in two days, Melania once again rejects Trump’s hand.

Here’s the first time, dated May 22, 2017:

First Lady Melania Trump refused to hold her husband’s hand and then slapped it away as they arrived in Israel as part of the President’s first travels abroad in office.
News cameras captured the cold gesture as the couple walked down the tarmac at a Tel Aviv airport to kick off Trump’s two-day trip in the Jewish holy land.

 

And here’s #MelaniaSwat 2.0, shot yesterday, May 23, 2017:

For the second time in two days, the first lady appears to refuse the offer of the president’s hand. The pair were walking down the steps of Air Force One when they landed in Rome on Tuesday.

 

LOL! Once again, Melania makes my day. You Go Girl!

Luca and His Yogurt

My guy Luca loves yogurt. So does Picasso. I usually give the boys a big spoonful of Kirkland’s Non-Fat Greek Yogurt on top of their breakfast kibble a few times a week.

But once in a while, they get a little treat with some flavored yogurt.* They like to lick the empty yogurt container until there isn’t a smidgen of yogurt left. Luca is usually successful at pushing Picasso’s face out of the container and he takes over. And boy, does he take over!

 

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*If you’re wondering if dogs can eat yogurt, Yes they can!

In fact, it’s good for them! If your dog isn’t lactose intolerant, yogurt is a great treat and supplement to their diet. And for those dogs with food allergies to meat, yogurt is a great replacement for protein in their diet; yogurt is high in calcium and protein, plus probiotics that boost immunity and help aid digestion.

This includes Greek yogurt as well! Greek yogurt is strained to remove liquid whey and lactose, and ends up having double the protein and half the sugar and salt than regular yogurt, making it an even better choice for canines. It contains more concentrated levels of probiotics (live cultures of bacteria), which do good things for a dog’s gut. Greek yogurt is particularly helpful for dogs taking antibiotics, which kill off some of the good bacteria in a dog’s gut. The probiotics in Greek yogurt also fight yeast infections, which can help dogs with recurring ear or skin infections.

What to Look for:

Only choose yogurts that are free of sweeteners and flavors; plain yogurt will do just fine. Artificial sweeteners can be toxic for dogs, especially xylitol which can lead to drops in blood pressure, seizures, and even death. Stevia, aspartame, and sucralose aren’t good for your pup either, so make sure the yogurt is pure and plain.

Choose yogurts with live active bacteria in them so your pooch gets all the probiotic benefits such as digestive balance and overall immune defense.

Look for low fat or fat free plain yogurts. Excess fat in foods can cause multiple problems in dogs – everything from weight gain to pancreatitis.

So how do you serve yogurt? You can go simple with a spoonful of it on top of their food, mix it in, or you can use it as an ingredient in treats and homemade dog food. You can also freeze plain yogurt in ice cube trays for a cool treat. Generally, one to two teaspoons of yogurt a day is a fair amount to give your dog. (Source: Healthy Paws Pet Insurance blog)

Do you give your dog(s) yogurt? If so, what kind is their favorite?