Stella Blue

Have you ever loved a particular song? Loved it for a long time? But after hearing it over and over, never been sure what it is about. What the words say?
And one day, you finally heard the words and got their meaning? Maybe you figured out that the words, the lyrics, were important, full of ideas you had missed for a long time. Or you heard them and they meant nothing to you? Just something that went along with the music, which you loved.

Songs like these, with lyrical content that you like or don’t, still will be favorite songs that you have heard on the radio, on disc or in live concert. Enjoyable or more. Now that you know what the song is about, or not about, it’s still probably OK to you.
And songs from so many eras and genres work this way, I have to say. It’s true, I am certain. Can’t prove it but I am certain. That’s because I love music. Music in many styles. And so many vocals are important to me.
Some of these vocals just sound good. Some are great combinations of words and music. Some are poetry set to music. Wonderfully meaningful.
So I know that your taste in music is different from mine. That our taste ran on the same stream is very unlikely.
And what music is great to you may not appeal to me. My loss, your gain. That’s fair and I’m happy with that.
Take a dramatic song I like called Send in the Clowns. It’s so slow and heart wrenching. So true to life and full of its pathos. Frank Sinatra has a fine version. Judy Collins, Barbara Streisand and Cecilé McLoren Salvant do great versions. These versions range from the ‘60s to 2018. Great work lasts.

But back to the lyrics of songs. And this listener.
The truth is that I often don’t have a good idea of what the singer in a performance is singing. And I still may love the song. And some songs have been meaningful over a long time to me have stayed that way.

So in the last couple of years I’ve made a habit of checking out the lyrics to music I like. I can look on the web for the song’s lyrics and I can use Apple Music very often to get the words quickly.
Recently Bob Dylan released a new album with a 16 minute and 55 second song on it. I listened and by the time the song was over playing I had forgotten the first half of what I had heard. Or more. But Dylan deserves to be checked out with respect. And some of his songs are amazingly meaningful and impactful.
So, Murder Most Foul is the song’s name and it has so many images in it which I can relate to. So I’m glad I read the lyrics. As a matter of fact, this is a song I really don’t think is important unless the listener really hears the words to the song. And pays attention to the lyrics.
I’m working at being mindful of the lyrics to songs in the music that I listen to.
So, the other day I checked out the Grateful Dead song Stella Blue. That’s a song I have “loved” since around 1975. You’d think that I knew what it was all about. But I have never known much of what the lyrics were there to tell me.
What happens is the band starts playing Stella Blue and its a powerful sound. Bobby Weir singing and Jerry Garcia right up there with him on his guitar. The impact of The Grateful Dead band, the band that played better live that almost any other “rock band” I believe, took hold of the live audience.

OK, make a comment below. It’s just me and I went to a lot of Dead shows. It’s music man, we all have our favs.

And Stella Blue isn’t a screamer. It’s one of the Dead’s slow to very slow songs. It drags you into a mood, a tear in the eye song. The music and the dramatic riffs and interplayed exchanges between the musicians.
One minute the song and the musicians take you ascending into the cosmos of twisted spirit and anxiousness and then carries the listeners down to the deepest hell of remorse smothered with drums from Billy and Mickey . A rebirth of meaning will follow the Beethoven like pounding that will be happening from the speakers of the stage-left keyboard. Sure the final semblance of order to the musical story is resolved. But finished off in a diminishing way to leave the fate told in the story in a song to time and mystery and in a dream. It is created satisfying for the audience which which has been wrung out emotionally and now will crave more in the segue to follow immediately.

One line in Stella Blue I always remembered goes like this.

“I’ve stayed in every blue-light cheap hotel. Can’t win for trying.” Some lines are worth a lot. This is one of those. But the story behind this line? Or any other line in the song?

But from beginning to end the point of the song isn’t really apparent, even if you cheat and look up the lyrics as I did. At least as far as I am concerned they aren’t. Yet I love it. (The lyrics to Stella Blue are at the bottom here.)

The story told in the lyrics isn’t of romance or adventure or of a vision or about a place. It’s more about disappointment and its close to despair I suppose. The words in the lyrics are not rousing for the most part, except in it where a guitarist says his rusty guitar strings will shine, one more time. There is hope there.
But mostly the song lyrics lament “dreams… of melted years… can’t win for trying… In a life there’s nothing you can hold for very long… it seems all this life was just a dream”
(sing slowly)… Stella Blue
And more of a similar nature “A broken angel… there’s just a song… broken dreams (again!)… every lonely street… nothing comes for free… seems like all this life was just a dream…”
(sing slowly)… Stella Blue

And there is no telling who or what Stella Blue is or represents. Except when listening to the band play it and the words, the singing of “Stella Blue.” Here it is accompanied by the twisting and pulling of the guitar strings into a crying tone. The tale is lifted, suspended until it is taken to new depths in an electric lament. In a kind of slow wail. And the point of the song is clear. It’s when the point of the song tares into your heart. And then the audience is brought to silence. The hearing of the music has taught the story that gives the audience an understanding. A lesson that the lyrics don’t explain but that the musicians and the instruments do.

These lyrics are a skeleton to the notes covering them, I believe. Necessary and invisible from view.
So, what my thinking is. Taking the time to find the words to old favorite song lyrics will be a bit of an adventure.

Click link below for a 1990 performance of Stella Blue

Stella Blue
All the years combine
they melt into a dream
A broken angel sings
from a guitar
In the end there’s just a song
comes crying like the wind
through all the broken dreams
and vanished years

Stella Blue

When all the cards are down
there’s nothing left to see
There’s just the pavement left
and broken dreams
In the end there’s still that song
comes crying like the wind
down every lonely street
that’s ever been

Stella Blue

I’ve stayed in every blue-light cheap hotel
Can’t win for trying
Dust off those rusty strings just
one more time
Gonna make em shine

It all rolls into one
and nothing comes for free
There’s nothing you can hold
for very long
And when you hear that song
come crying like the wind
it seems like all this life
was just a dream
Stella Blue


There is nothing “normal” about what is going on all around us these days. And in this time, you know it.

For starters I’ll mention Covid-19 and also the current breakdown of our representative democracy. l’ll leave the mention of a few other minor inconveniences for later. 

These are thoughts on traveling in the Covid-19 world.

On a recent Saturday we were having dinner at a lakeside restaurant. It was warm, and still sunny. Saturday was going well. We had planned our visit to the lake, Lake Tahoe, even before the virus hit. Wouldn’t want to cancel now. We needed this trip.

Entry into the dockside hotel and it’s restaurant required that a mask be worn.  We were fine with that. 

Folks getting off their boats at the dock were masking up too. Everyone complied with it apparently. It’s the law. 

But when people were seated in the outdoor restaurant dining area masks were allowed to come off.  Except for those masks worn by the wait staff. 

 At the restaurant we were seated just lakeside from a party of some 30 adults. They mostly were wearing their sun dresses or sporty shirts and shorts and were mingling from table to table. Things were busy, social. They were most often than not tattooed up the arms and onto their shoulders and some were tattooed down their legs onto their flip-flopped feet.

We noticed this nearby vibrant energy as we were seated. We adjusted ourselves to our table. The view of the many fancy boats and the lake view was delightful. Our menus eventually came to us. 

During our meal we noted again the large group. Two tables were being shared. The people there were passing one little blue blanket-wrapped package to each neighboring person in their party.  Everyone got a turn holding, admiring and then passing the tiny bundle. It was passed all along and around the two long banquet style tables.

 A little hand could be seen above the folded blanket that each person, each unmasked person, looked down into.  Up close and personal. 

I don’t know if the baby had its eyes open yet. It must have been just weeks old according to its hand size. The hand wasn’t yet an open hand. Finger movement comes with the months. Too soon for that.

This was a “new baby,” new to the world and its viruses. In the loving arms of its new friends and family. Before passing the package along each diner had their chance to  view the cuteness they saw before them.  And to announce to their fellows their pleasure at the precious site before them. It was being passed, in turn, the little swathed package. Passed from person to person. 

Unmasked smiles were the style of the day. In between the oohs and ahhs and adoring shrieks of the supporters, happy hugging added to the merriment. 

The restaurant wait staff served the meals while the exclamations rang out.  Couldn’t we all celebrate such a happy event? The arrival of the next generation? The son or daughter of our happy friends? The beginning of a new life?

It all looked so normal and special to me and my family as we ate our meal at the neighboring table.

But we were off to a disturbing start on our Lake Tahoe trip.

We took a trip. We drove off into the new abnormality! Which is already all around us. And it was around us at our dinner meal. And it wasn’t our task to tell those around us that we and they were being unwise. So, it’s an unwise, dangerous and unhealthy world at The Lake. It’s unhealthy and poisonous 

At first we saw a lovely sight. We saw nothing but joyousness that seemed appropriate to us as we marveled at the size of such a ”gift.” The gift was being passed along to marvelous shouts of celebration and cheers. 

But looking and turning from our table, an unease very slowly crept into our feelings.  What world is this? Our new world, at this time. Its different. And life, including new life, is at stake when faces and their mouths breath on each other. Into the the air of another person, new to the world or old to the world. It’s different now. We aren’t used to this.

How can we deny ourselves this sharing?

Can I expect to travel into the new normal going anywhere, lake or valley or even in our own backyard? My visions of the future in the  days and years of Covid-19 to come are clouded in my vision. And I have seen abnormal behavior almost everywhere I’ve traveled up to now.  And I haven’t traveled very far.  

Inside my reasonably safe and healthy home we have our habits to fend off the virus. Things have gotten formulaic and slightly ordinary. Outside is, well, out of control. If my understanding of the killer viral agent Covid-19 is on point, even the most treasured behaviors of mankind must be trimmed and even abandoned. What we love to do has to be set aside. This year, probably next year and quite probably for a long time.

At the dinner table the unmasked friends of a new life were excused from protecting the baby which they came to hold. They could celebrate while any unseen virus might be shared amongst all of those friends at the gathering. 

We can’t travel far enough. We can’t vacation and mindfully breathe easily in these times.  Without ignoring the next table sometimes.

One For Hank Hedland

Write like you are writing to a friend. I’m writing to Hank Hedland.

Hank Hedland,
The accompanying mind dribble is sent to you without vindictive intentions. I have nothing but good purposes mixed with a needy desperation to find a destination for this writing. I need to pass it to someone before I put it away forever. Like a pink elephant gift.

As a member of To Live And Write In Alameda I’ve been trying to get into the habit of writing and one prompt in this regard has been the written advice of the sadly recently departed Tom Wolfe. His tip to fledgling writers was along this line. “Write as if you you are writing to a friend,” he said, as I recall. “Why me?”, you may ask Mr. Hedland. Here is what I wrote. It touches on your and Tom’s podcast Talk About The 80s content, a little bit. So that’s why.
Oh, and I don’t know what Mr. Wolfe would advise me about my run-on sentences. And I don’t really know if heavy metal bands are an 80s thing. Which, if they aren’t, could be a bit awkward for my reasoning.


My bedroom window opens up to a view of my neighbor’s backyard. In that yard is the beginning of the construction of a little cottage. It was begun with the laying of a cement foundation. That is how they start.

Continue reading “One For Hank Hedland”

My Grandma, My Nanny and Me

Grandma & Nanny, and me, a brief history v4.1

My grandmother’s hairpiece was in the shape of a “bun” that so many gray haired senior ladies had on the top of their head in those days. When I was a kid it looked kinda funny to me. As I got older I came to realize that the “bun” was a kind of wig that she wore. 

I’ve noticed that this hairstyle seems to have come back into fashion in recent years. Today it looks good. Really. Take it from me. The adult me. Even guys have one sometimes.

Back then, to me – the child, it looked kinda like a doorknob sticking out of the top of her head.

And the adult me and the history buff in me now wonders what I missed knowing about my grandparents in those days. Back in the early “Bun Days.”

So, I’m looking back to my grandma’s days. Stuff that was going on in my family in those days has me curious. There is so little that I really know. But now I’ve run out of time to learn very much about those days and, of course, I’m out of grandparents to ask.

Continue reading “My Grandma, My Nanny and Me”

Satisfaction on a Sunday Morning

In an email one Nick Weaver asked me if I would like to write a review of his product, my newly purchased eero system wifi extender. He asked me in an email yesterday. So I don’t mind. It seems to work fine. I suspect that Nick, “Co-founder and CEO,” is hoping that I would write a good review.

And he can be pretty fairly comfortable asking because I had answered his earlier email questionnaire a week ago. My response was conveniently abridged in 5 easy button selections. And all my selections were all positive. I checked all with the 5 button indicating “Very Satisfied” buttons in all cases I pressed SEND.

Yep, I’m a pretty satisfied customer. Somehow I keep forgetting the product name though. Is it aaro or is it eero? Are business running out of name choices? When it grows up will it use a capital letter? Is this a “branding” issue Nick? No biggie.

Bet Nick doesn’t send any followup requests to the guys who are unsatisfied in even one of 5 categories found in the customer opinion email. So I am pretty much a sure thing. Let’s see if he is satisfied by this.

Really, getting good reviews is tuff as we all know it is easier to want to complain about something you bought than send a nice message for positive results.

I think it’s something like 8 times more likely that a complaint will be sent than a good review on a product purchase. Somehow has figured out a way to defeat this human trait, apparently.

Then again, maybe Nick has only satisfied customers. Wouldn’t that be nice.

You know Kick gave me the chance to start the day in a positive way and I’m pretty sure I didn’t kick a cat at any time that morning. Thanks Nick.
The start of my Review for Amazon, to which Nick provided a convenient link:

So here you go Nick. My Amazon Review of eero system:

This aaro system has been working out just fine at home since I installed it. I only needed to call tech support on a Sunday morning and a very nice person answered and guided me until I realized that I had forgotten to select my new WiFi network. Tip: always makeup a new name for the new network that eero makes. Could be confusing later, otherwise.
The old WiFi network was weaker and wouldn’t range into the back bedroom well. Checking email in bed was “such a problem!” So, after being reminded, I clicked on the WiFi symbol at the top of the screen to select my newly setup network. Of course I had named it differently. It was the step that I had forgotten and it was a cinch, after it was pointed out. Thanks Sunday morning guy.

aaro info (advertising) suggests that you buy the 3 unit system (called an eero and two eero Beacons) to reach around all corners in a 1,500 sq. ft. house or office. At over $300 thats a lot of money spent for buying a lot of invisible waves that might be here or might be there, or not. But the aero app shows great power everywhere so now I don’t have to get out of bed. And bonus, I can even download to my laptop while it’s in my back yard. I need a hammock.

MY REVIEW, it’s working fine. Satisfied customer.

Meeting Howard Cosell

First trip to the New York Subway System
Stamford Train Platform

It was my first visit ever to a New York Subway platform, I walked up a stairway from the metro parking lot to purchase my ticket. The “platform” I climbed to was actually in Stamford Connecticut but I understood it would take us to the New York subway. That would be about 40 miles away.

I was with my cousin Richard who was a local Stamford teenager just graduated from high school. I was about 10 years older than Richard.

My visit to Stamford Connecticut was just beginning after my first night “crashing” at my uncle’s house there. My VW bus had been my sleeping place for most of the nights between the San Francisco Bay Area and Stamford. I drove to my aunt and uncle’s home in Stamford the afternoon before Richard’s and my New York tour.

I was excited to be about to be shown New York City by Richard. It would be fun to get to know him better along the way. And it would probably be far better than getting a different tour from his parents, my aunt and uncle, for sure.

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Following Breakfast, Lunch

I’m not complaining, I promise. After a very leisurely breakfast we had our chance to catch up on family stories and travel stories. It wasn’t long before the comfort food was being ladeled out from the kitchen. The kitchen is to the rear in this picture.               Ajiaco, Colombia’s ultimate warm and welcome dish. The corn, chicken, peas and potato in a broth was a very satisfying start to our trip.


Morning in Bogota

It’s a warm gathering for breakfast that we just finished in Zoraida’s family home. Eggs and bread for us and caldo (broth) for “nonita” (Abuelita, Mama).

The house has two levels and we were provided again a nice ground floor room filled with niece Margarita’s clothing, college books and more. The room has a large window which gives a fine view of my brother-in-law’s carpentry shop in the covered yard. He took it over from his father over 30 years ago. Oscar has an employee today helping finish a large wood shelving piece which will be moved later today in a rented truck.

When it starts to rain the weather predictions are proven correct. Colombia has had the rainiest year in recent memory. There rains have reduced flower production and been the cause of disastrous landslides in three spring.