Archive for the ‘Odds&Ends’ Category

Song lyrics as writing

I suspect that few radio listeners make a habit of equating song lyrics to the stories in magazines, books, or memoirs.  (And, granted, the limited numbers of words and phrases in most songs would  not  help them make that association!)  However, occasionally, a well-written lyrical composition does manage to hit the airwaves and make a connection between musical words and their written cousins.

Two popular songs have caught my attention over the past couple of months as perfect examples of musical compositions that tell stories: “Ol’ Red”, written by James “Bo” Bohan, Don Goodman, and Mark Sherrill, and “Blown Away”, written by Chris Tompkins and Josh Kear.  If you are not familiar with the songs or lyrics, allow me to provide a few links so you can see and hear for yourselves.

First, the story of “Ol’ Red” has been transcribed by Garrett Holt at  (you can even listen to his cover performance of the song while reading the lyrics).  “Ol’ Red” has been recorded by artists George Jones and Kenny Rogers; though, Blake Shelton has the version that is currently on the charts.  Look up those performances or watch  another cover of the song by rising star Carl Holsher.

Second, YouTube poster NinaHappy Feet  has transcribed the lyrics to “Blown Away” and posted them to a recorded performance by Carrie Underwood on this page:  The lyrics for “Blown Away” have been praised far and wide and have even been nominated (at this point) for the Grammy’s 2013 Best Country Song, an award that recognizes the songwriters.

Enjoy the lyrics and the performances, and think about the stories in (and behind) other lyrics the next time you hear your favorite songs. You might even think of the authors of the compositions—some of the forgotten artists of the music industry.

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Categories: Odds&Ends, Writing

Are you smarter than a fifth grader?

I have never watched the new series Are you smarter than a 5th grader? but I understand it’s turned out to be quite a popular hit. For fun, the Contra Costa Times in Walnut Creek, CA (east of San Francisco and Berkeley), recently asked two fifth-grade teachers to come up with a quiz for its readers. Their fifteen questions are not difficult, but—well, that was a few years ago! See for yourself, and take the quiz (don’t look at the answers accidentally—they are at the bottom of the page). The questions came from the regular curriculum, and the teachers revealed that a score of ten would earn a gold star. I’ll confess to earning only nine!

I’ve always liked silver better, anyway . . .

Categories: Odds&Ends

Daylight Saving Time changing on-and-off dates

Just an aside, but this article in the Washington Post (Thursday, February 1, 2007; page A-1) alleges that few folks know about (or remember) the extension of Daylight Saving Time that was approved by Congress in August 2005. The article’s author, Charles Babington, includes some history and a little trivia about this “American institution” while introducting us to the headaches that are involved in making this simple act happen. Assuming that the world doesn’t end in a Y2K-ish stimy, the important thing to remember, is that we’ll now spring ahead on the second Sunday in March, and fall back on the first Sunday in November.

Categories: Odds&Ends