Thursday, December 22, 2016

Music That Died in 2016

Leonard Cohen
(Sept 21, 1934 - Dec 7, 2016)

Leonard Cohen was a Canadian poet, songwriter, singer, painter and novelist.

 In the 1950s and 1960s, he pursued a career as a poet and novelist. In a letter to his publisher, he wrote that he was reaching out to "inner-directed adolescents, lovers in all degrees of anguish, disappointed Platonists, pornography-peepers, hair-handed monks and Popists."

He loved the great blues performers -- Sonny Boy Williams, Robert Johnson, Ray Charles. He once proclaimed, "I had girlfriends who really irritated me by their devotion to the Beatles.... they didn't seem to be essential to the kind of nourishment that I craved."

In 1967, at age 33, Cohen launched his music career. He had been a published poet and novelist, but was still a novice with music. However, he wasn't making any money as a novelist, so he turned to songwriting. He was living on the 4th floor of a hotel in Montreal where he filled notebooks with his songs during the day and performed his songs at night in clubs, where he met people in the music scene, including Lou Reed, Janus Joblin and Patti Smith. One night, Jimi Hendrix jammed with him on his song, "Suzanne."

Over the decades, Cohen and Bob Dylan became friends -- they were both Jewish and had a penchant for the same type of musical imagery.

Cohen's music was literary, highly spiritual, profound, eerie, brilliant and simply wonderful. His albums include:

Songs of Leonard Cohen (1967
Folk Music: Songs from a Room (1969)
Songs of Love and Hate (1971)
New Skin for the Old Ceremony (1974)
Death of a Ladies Man (1977)
Recent Songs (1979)
Various Positions (1984)
I'm Your Man (1988)
The Future (1992)
Ten New Songs (2001)
Dear Heather (2004)
Old Ideas (2012)
Popular Problems (2014)
You want It Darker (2016)

He has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Songwriter's Hall of Fame.

He died at his home in Los Angeles, at age 82, from cancer.

(I'm Your Man)

If you want a lover
I'll do anything you ask me to
And if you want another kind of love
I'll wear a mask for you
If you want a partner
Take my hand
Or if you want to strike me down in anger
Here I stand
I'm your man
If you want a boxer
I will step into the ring for you
And if you want a doctor
I'll examine every inch of you
If you want a driver
Climb inside
Or if you want to take me for a ride
You know you can
I'm your man

* * *

(June 7, 1958 - April 21, 2016)

Prince Rogers Nelson was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

He developed an interest in music at a young age. At age 18, he signed with Warner, Bros. and his debut album, For You, was released in 1978. He went on to become a singer-songwriter, record producer and multi-instrumentalist.

He was flamboyant, with a wide variety of musical styles, including soul, psychedelic, eclectic, funk, rock, R&B and has sold over 100 million records worldwide. He has won seven Grammy awards, a Golden Globe Award, an American Music Award, and an Academy Award for the film, Purple Rain.

Prince died from a Fentanyl overdose, at age 57, at his home & recording studio, called Paisley Park, in Chanhassen, Minnesota.

(Purple Rain)

I never meant to cause you any sorrow
I never meant to cause you any pain
I only wanted one time to see you laughing
I only want to see you laughing in the purple rain
Purple rain Purple rain
Purple rain Purple rain
Purple rain Purple rain

* * *

David Bowie
(Jan 8, 1947 -- Jan 10, 2016)

David Bowie was a British singer and actor.

Bowie was interested in music as a child, eventually studying music, art, design and embarking on his musical career in 1963. In 1969, Space Oddity became his first top-5 entry on the British Single's Chart.

He was flamboyant and androgynous during the "Glam Rock" period of the 1970s and has sold an estimated 140 million records. His final live performance was at a charity event in 2006. After a 10-year absence, he returned to release The Next Day album.

Two days after the release of his final album, Blackstar, he died of liver cancer.

(Space Oddity}

This is Major Tom to Ground Control
I'm stepping through the door
And I'm floating
in a most peculiar way
And the stars look very different today
For here
Am I sitting in a tin can
Far above the world
Planet Earth is blue
And there's nothing I can do

* * *

Glenn Frey
(Nov 6, 1948 - Jan 18, 2016)

Glenn Frey was a founding member of the rock band, The Eagles.

He was a songwriter, actor, and the lead singer & frontman for the Eagles. He and Don Henley (also a singer & frontman) wrote most of The Eagles songs.

In 1980, Frey broke away from The Eagles and embarked on a solo career. Combined with his time with The Eagles and his solo records, Frey had 24 Top-40 singles on the Billboard Hot 100. As a member of the Eagles, Frey won 6 Grammy Awards and 5 American Music Awards.

He died from complications of rheumatoid arthritis and pneumonia, while recovering from gastrointestinal tract surgery.

 (Smugglers' Blues)

You see it in the headlines, you hear it every day
They say they're gonna stop it, but it doesn't go away
They move it through Miami and sell it in L.A.
They hide it up in Telluride, I mean it's here to stay
It's propping up the governments in Columbia and Peru
You ask any D.E.A. man, he'll say there's nothing we can do
From the office of the president right down to me and you
Me and you
It's a losing proposition, but one you can't refuse
It's the politics of contraband, it's the smugglers' blues
Smuggler's blues

* * *

Keith Emerson
(Nov 2, 1944 - March 11, 2016)
Greg Lake
(Nov 10, 1947 - Dec 7, 2016)

Emerson, Lake & Palmer was a British "progressive" rock group, formed in 1970.

Keith Emerson was the keyboardist -- Greg Lake was producer, singer and bassist -- Carl Palmer was the drummer and percussionist.

The group sold an estimated 48 million records worldwide.

Keith Emerson died on March 11, 2016 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, ruled to be suicide.

Greg Lake died on December 7, 2016 from cancer.

Carl Palmer is the only surviving member of the group

(Lucky Man)

He had white horses
And ladies by the score
All dressed in satin
And waiting by the door
Ooooh, what a lucky man he was
Ooooh, what a lucky man he was

* * *

Leon Russell
(April 2, 1942 - Nov 13, 2016)

Claude Russell Bridges, aka Leon Russell, was a songwriter and musician.

During his 60 year career in the music business, he was into country, blues, folk, bluegrass, gospel, surfing, standards.

He has recorded 33 albums, some 430 songs, and has had 6 gold records. As a pianist, he played with The Beach Boys, Eric Clapton, Jan and Dean, and produced & played in recording sessions for Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, Rolling Stones, Ike & Tina Turner, and many others.

He died in his sleep, in his Nashville, Tennessee, home at age 74.

(A Song For You)

But I love you in a place where there's no space and time
I love you for my life, you are a friend of mine
And when my life is over
Remember when we were together
We were alone and I was singing this song for you
We were alone and I was singing this song for you
We were alone and I was singing my song
Singing this song for you

* * *

Merle Haggard
(April 6, 1937 - April 6, 2016)

Merle Haggard was a country singer, songwriter, guitarist, fiddler who helped create the Bakersfield sound, characterized by a traditional steel guitar and the twang of Fender Telecaster.

He was incarcerated several times in his troubled youth, but managed to get his life together with his songs about the working class and counter to the anti-war sentiment during the Vietnam Era. Between the 1960s and 1980s, he had 38 number-one hit songs on the U.S. Country Charts.

He died on his 79th birthday at his home in northern California, after recently suffering from double pneumonia.

(Mama Tried)

Dear old Daddy, rest his soul
Left my mom a heavy load
She tried so very hard to fill his shoes
Working hours without rest
Wanted me to have the best
She tried to raise me right but I refused
And I turned twenty-one in prison doing life without parole
No one could steer me right but Mama tried, Mama tried
Mama tried to raise me better, but her pleading I denied
That leaves only me to blame 'cause Mama tried

* * *

Paul Kanter
(March 17, 1941 - Jan 28, 2016)

Paul Kanter was a songwriter, singer and guitarist.

He was a co-founder of Jefferson Airplane and its spinoff group, Jefferson Starship -- psychedelic rock bands. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.

He died in San Francisco of multiple organ failure and shock, after he had suffered a heart attack a few days earlier.

 (We Built This City)

Say you don't know me or recognize my face
Say you don't care who goes to that kind of place
Knee deep in the hoopla, sinking in your fight
Too many runaways eating up the night
Marconi plays the mambo, listen to the radio
Don't you remember?
We built this city
We built this city on rock and roll

* * *

Mose Allison
(Nov 11, 1927 -- Nov 15, 2016)

Mose Allison was a jazz and blues songwriter, singer, pianist.

His songs were moody, quirky, with subtle humor. Pete Townshend, Leon Russell, Bonnie Raitt and John Mayall were among those who recorded some of his songs.

He died 4 days after his 89th birthday in his home in Hilton Head, South Carolina of natural causes.

(Your Mind is on Vacation)

You know that life is short and talk is cheap
Don't be making promises that you can't keep
If you don't like the song I'm singing, just grin and bear it
All I can say is if the shoe fits wear it
If you must keep talking please try to make it rhyme
'Cause your mind is on vacation and your mouth is working overtime

* * *

Also passing from the music scene and Planet Earth in 2016 were Bobby Vee, George Martin (Beatle Producer) and Frank Sinatra, Jr.

And the beat goes on.

Quote for the Day -- "If you don't become the ocean, you'll be seasick every day." Leonard Cohen

Bret Burquest is the author of 11 books. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a few dogs and where music is food for the soul.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

High Anxiety

I have been hospitalized twice in recent years -- in 2005, for blood clots on my lungs, and in 2012, for blood clots & congestive heart failure. After the 2012 experience, I went through a few months of high anxiety and panic attacks.

This was a life-altering experience for me. I began a self-help prevention phase of life that included proper dieting, ample exercise and delving into medical & natural remedies for various afflictions.

Scientific studies indicate that anxiety may run in families through genetics and conditioning.

Gamma-amino butyric acid is also called GABA is an amino acid -- a major neurotransmitter, widely distributed throughout the brain which acts like a natural tranquilizer by slowing down brain signals, keeping you calm. It can also help to lower blood pressure and strengthen the heart muscle.

GABA is the most important anti-anxiety neurotransmitter in the brain. Low levels of Gaba in the brain is associated with several neurological disorders brought on by anxiety, such as depression, irritability, panic attacks and insomnia. GABA induces relaxation and enhances sleep. It is also used to treat and prevent epilepsy.

According to Dr. Amen, "GABA can be taken as a supplement in doses ranging from 250 milligrams - 1,500 milligrams for adults and from 125 - 750 milligrams daily for children. For best effect, GABA should be taken in two to three divided doses."

According to Dr. Orloff, anxiety is linked to a deficiency in three main neurotransmitters. Chemical compounds that enhance communication between brain cells, thereby lowering levels of anxiety, are GABA, Serotonin and Dopamine.

  • GABA -- those with panic (anxiety) disorders may have abnormally low levels. A natural source of the compound of GABA is tomatoes, which also contain an antioxidant called lycopene that may be beneficial in preventing certain types of cancer. In studies, men with low amounts of lycopene in their diets had more the triple the risk of a heart attack or stroke than men with higher amounts. Other sources of lycopene include watermelon, grapefruit and guavas. Magnesium and vitamin B6 also boost GABA.

  • Serotonin -- a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, such as anger, anxiety and depression. If low on serotonin, it's more difficult to be relaxed and affects bowel function, mood, clotting nausea, bone density, sexual function.  Foods that increase serotonin include eggs, cheese, pineapple, tofu, salmon, nuts, seeds, chocolate and turkey.

  • Dopamine -- a neurotransmitter that blocks pain and is linked to the brain's pleasure centers, creating feelings of joy. Being low on dopamine causes fatigue, apathy, procrastination, low libido, sleep problems, memory loss, lack of concentration, inability to feel pleasure. The reason cocaine is so addictive is because it increases dopamine. Foods that increase dopamine include almonds, apples, avocado, bananas, beets, chocolate, coffee, fava beans, green leafy vegetables, green tea, lima beans, oak meal, turmeric, and watermelon.

Other methods of relieving anxiety recommended by Dr. Amen include daily multiple vitamin & fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids), exercise, balanced diet, positive thought patterns, meditating, breathing exercises.

Life is to be enjoyed, not endured -- a positive, fearless attitude and a proper diet are essential to physical and mental stability.

"If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are going." Lau Tzu

The purpose of life is to live, learn and love.

I highly recommend the following references which I utilized for the above information.


Amen, Daniel G. (M.D., Neuroscientist & Psychiatrist) -- Magnificent Mind at any Age

Duke, James A. (PhD) -- The Green Pharmacy Guide to Healing Foods

Orloff, Judith (M.D., Psychiatrist) -- Emotional Freedom

Quote for the Day -- "The journey to self-knowledge is an exhilarating yet humbling one." Dr. Judith Orloff

Bret Burquest is the author of 11 books. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a few dogs and where the journey to self-knowledge is a daily endeavor.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Daniel Tammet -- Autistic Savant

Daniel Tammet was born in January of 1979 in London, England -- the oldest of nine children, he is an autistic savant

When he was a baby, Daniel would constantly bang his head against the wall. His mother was deeply concerned and breastfed him for two years.

One afternoon, Daniel was playing with his brother in the living room and went into an epileptic fit. His father's father had epilepsy and had died because of it. Soon thereafter, Daniel was put on medication to control the seizures.

Autism is a neurological disorder characterized by restricted behavior, weakened communication skills (speech impediments) and impaired social skills. It is usually an inherited issue, often noticeable before age three. It affects about one or two per 1,000 people globally and occurs four to five times more often with boys than girls.

A savant is a person with extraordinary mental ability. Scans of the brains of autistic savants suggest that damage to the left side of the brain may be causing the right side of over-compensate for the damage. They struggle with comprehension (left brain hemisphere) but often have amazing skills in memory and mathematics (right brain hemisphere), which also accounts for a lack of empathy.

For example, a blind autistic savant, Leslie Lemke, was able to play Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 after hearing it for the first time, even though he had never had so much as a piano lesson.

Daniel Tammet is fluent in German, French, Spanish, Icelandic, Lithuanian and Esperanto. He has also invented his own language, called "Manti." He is able to figure out cube roots faster than a calculator. He does not see "numbers" -- he sees them as shapes, colors and textures.

The mathematical constant "pi" is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter -- its value, to the first 11 decimal digits, equals 3.14159265359. In 2004, Daniel broke the European record for recalling the value of "pi" to the furthest decimal. He had memorized this number to 22,514 decimal digits and can also recite it backwards.

"I do love numbers. It isn't only an intellectual or aloof thing that I do," Daniel contends. "I really feel that there is an emotional attachment, a caring for numbers. I think this is a human thing -- in the same way that a poet humanizes a river or a tree through metaphor, my world gives me a sense of numbers as personal. It sounds silly, but numbers are my friends."

The 1988 movie, Rain Man, starring Dustin Hoffman as an autistic savant, won four Oscars at the Academy Awards in 1989:

  • Best Picture -- Rain Man
  • Best Original Screenplay -- (Barry Morrow and Ronald Bass)
  • Best Director -- Barry Levinson
  • Best Actor in a Leading Role -- Dustin Hoffman

Barry Morrow created the character of the autistic savant based on a real-life savant he had met, named Kim Peek, who is able to read two pages of a book simultaneously and recall in exact detail the 7,600 books he has read. When at home in Utah, Peek spends his afternoons at the Salt Lake City Public Library, memorizing phone books.

Daniel Tammet is also an avid reader. His favorite book is a good dictionary and the works of G.K. Chesterton, because he likes Chesterton's humorous aphorisms.

"Poets have been mysteriously silent the subject of cheese." G.K. Chesterton

During his early school years, Daniel was a shy loner, unable to make eye contact. He would hurry outside during the recess time, but not to play with the other kids. "The place was surrounded with trees," he pointed out. "While the other children were playing football, I would just stand and count the leaves."

After his schooling, Daniel wanted to be a teacher. Initially, he worked as a volunteer in Lithuania. Later, he returned home to London to live with his parents and found work as a tutor of mathematics.

Eventually, Daniel had set up his own business. He works at home, creating e-mail courses in numeracy, learning languages and literacy for private clients. Working from home via e-mail has allowed him to minimize human interface and also gives him time to work on his own language of Manti.

Daniel Tammet is definitely an odd and wonderful specimen of the human species -- but then again, incredibly intelligent people always seem odd to those who aren't.
Quote for the Day -- “Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy.” Albert Einstein
Bret Burquest is the author of 11 books. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a few dogs and where a chicken is the egg’s way of making more eggs.