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Reelin’ in the Years – 2009

Mandisa, finalist on American Idol.

Mandisa, finalist on American Idol. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s 2009 and I’m 47 years old. For those of you just joining my journey through the past, Reelin’ in the Years is an autobiography of sorts thru pop music. When I was a kid music was paramount. Its importance has always been there but my focus has shifted over the years. It’s not always easy to pick a favorite pop tune for a given year when almost none of it speaks to you.

I guess pop is about youth. And when you get a little older you have to branch out. Well, yes and no. These days I’m enjoying pop more than ever. So things have come full circle. But rarely do I feel the magic of the 70s and my AM radio.

In 2009 I’ve pretty much hit a brick wall with Top 40 pop. Lady Gaga didn’t grab me, except for maybe her sociological importance back then. And Taylor Swift hadn’t really hit my radar. No, I had to find something else.

Luckily I did. My girlfriend at the time, Ginger (not her real name), lived in a small city that had its own Christian radio station. She was quite well versed in Christian pop while I was a newbie. One day while visiting Ginger I walked down to the dollar store and bought a Christian pop CD – actually a double CD – for a mere dollar or two.

Turns out I really liked some of it. The songs were older Christian songs but I realized there was something there.

The Christian folk-rocker Bruce Cockburn once said that if the music is no good, the Christian message doesn’t get out. I guess Cockburn’s comment stuck with me and I’d just assumed that all Christian pop was bland crap (musically speaking).

But that’s not true. There is some good stuff. WOW Hits is a good place to start for anyone interested. The artist Toby Mac appears quite often on WOW Hits. And rightly so.

This tune is especially dear to me because it reminds me of a pawn shop down by St. Michael’s Cathedral in Toronto. Until recently, the pawn shop and church were in a downtrodden end of town (now undergoing gentrification).

The other reason I like this tune is the backup vocalists, Kirk Franklin and Mandisa. When Ginger and I broke up, a song by Mandisa helped me get thru some of the rough times.

So for 2009, my favorite tune is by Toby Mac (with Kirk Franklin and Mandisa). I dedicate this to all the beautiful souls down at St. Michael’s Cathedral who “don’t want to gain the whole world, and lose their soul.”

Reelin’ in ALL the Years

 Taylor Swift voices support for March For Our Lives in rare political statement (thefader.com)

 Elton John: I’m Still Standing – A GRAMMY Salute To Air On Tuesday, Apr. 10 On CBS (denver.cbslocal.com)

 K-Pop Stars Red Velvet Set To Perform In Pyongyang This Weekend (gpbnews.org)

 What Is METALLICA Teasing For Monday? (metalinjection.net)

 Red Velvet, other South Korean musicians leave for Pyongyang performance (rappler.com)

 Without a hit song every musician is a rookie- Oshine (vanguardngr.com)

 Author Marcus J. Moore Is Turning Kendrick Lamar’s Impact On Black America Into A Book (bossip.com)

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Reelin’ in the Years – 2003

It’s 2003 and I’m 41 years old. My father would pass away this year so it wasn’t exactly a stellar year. However, my faith saw me through. I remember driving down to St. Michael’s Cathedral and hearing this song by the Canadian duo Appleton come on the radio.

The radio program was called Lovers and Other Strangers, hosted by Don Jackson. It was always nice to listen to this show while driving down to Mass. It dealt with love and spirituality from different perspectives so was a good precursor to receiving the Eucharist.

Sadly, one year CHFI decided to change its format a bit, and the show was canceled. Nevertheless, Mr. Jackson has reinvented his program online.

We can’t always control the Powers That Be but we can choose how to respond to them.

Reelin’ in ALL the Years


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Reelin’ in the Years – 1995

Image – discogs

1995 was a wonderful year for music. So many classic albums and even the singles charts are looking more promising. I’m 33 years old and buying more pop than I have for decades. And I am feeling a bit of a rebirth – finding my groove again – after going deep into Gregorian chants and Renaissance choral music.

Hey, The Rebirth of Cool Phive came out that year, and I was the youngest of 5 kids. Okay, that’s not quite a synchronicity, I admit. But it did strike a chord for that and other reasons. I would love to see her jump out of a sewer grate as I’m walking down to the library on the mean streets of Toronto!

That image (top right) actually has a subtle, spiritual meaning for me too. After moving past the Hindu guru-disciple ideal, which I came to find limiting and obscuring, I thought I’d found all the answers in the Catholic church. Well, yes and no. Yes in that the spirituality there is second to none. But no in that the worldliness of some priests and parishioners also impacted my sensitive soul.

Image – Wikipedia

Spiritually speaking, it felt around that time as if I was being sucked down a rabbit hole, not unlike the image in Alice in Wonderland. It was a strange time of change. All the while I’m doing my doctorate, getting excellent grades and coming to realize that this transformation is an integral part of my journey.

Like any kind of hero’s quest, one needs helpers. And I did meet others along the way – inside and outside of the university – who could relate to what I was experiencing. They’d been through something similar themselves so offered a few words of support, just to let me know I was not alone.

Don’t worry if this is starting to sound obscure and not making sense. It is different. And I don’t expect everyone to relate. The real point I’m trying to emphasize is that you can’t really make it alone in the spiritual life, unless you want to end up a street person giggling at ghosts or talking to invisible extraterrestrials (I met some people like that… more later).

That’s fine if that is what you want or perhaps feel called to become, but it certainly was not something I aspired to be.

After listening to some of my favs from the pop world of ’95, I had to choose the guru. Ironic because I was getting past a former guru relationship, getting that fuzzy vibe out of my system and spiritually speaking, sobering up.

The guru (Keith Edward Elam) died in 2010. I’m not into rap much but he’s different. Instead of glorifying the gangsta life, he’s urging kids to be calm and sensible.

It takes a more intelligent man to squash a fight
Than to set one off

~ Lifesaver

I still like the guru very much, especially “Living In This World.”

Around this time I was also getting into trance. The University of Ottawa college radio DJs played trance and hip-hop all night long. I wasn’t a DJ anymore, as I had been at other universities. But I still had a four-way stereo reaching over two floors of my slightly run-down split-level apartment, and I listened. I liked 90s dance and techno, which was pretty new for me. The French Canadian hip-hop from Montreal was also really good. Much subtler than the Anglo stuff.

Hallo Spaceboy

Hallo Spaceboy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

David Bowie, one of my favorite artists of all time, was coming back into form. “The Heart’s Filthy Lesson” and “Hallo Spaceboy” were important songs for me that year. Although the guru still comes out on top for ’95.

In the tech world, the internet had come to the university. We had a large computer room in the basement which was way less crowded at night. So I’d often walk over to the school and start surfing, playing around with Paint, and generally learning a whole new landscape. It was Netscape back then. I’m more or less a night person so working in the wee hours was no big deal. I actually enjoyed it. Lots of cute women to meet when I wasn’t studying. 🙂

So that’s it for 1995. A year of change and new discoveries.

What’s happening.. check it out
It’s critical, the situation is pitiful
Bear in mind, you gotta find somethin spiritual
We never gain, cause we blame it on the system
You oughta listen whether Muslim or Christian…

~ Living In This World

Reelin’ in ALL the Years

 A male escort sent a 1,200 page dossier calling 40 priests ‘actively gay’ to the Vatican (pinknews.co.uk)

 Vatican revives pope’s sexual abuse panel (rappler.com)

 Australian Cardinal George Pell Appears in Court on Sex Abuse Charges (time.com)

 Catholic Church fearful priests and nuns will have to register as Vatican spies under new laws in Australia (telegraph.co.uk)


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Reelin’ in the Years – 1994

It’s 1994 and I’m 32 years old. Cruising along with my doctorate, living in Ottawa and spending some time in Toronto during the summer while my parents are away.

TLC’s amazing album CrazySexyCool comes out this year

Apartment living in Ottawa got pretty buggy at times, and my parents’ empty house was a welcome respite.

Also, the spacious Toronto Reference Library had The Collected Works of C. G. Jung, whom I was studying, and a lot of related material.

Toronto Reference Library – Wikipedia

So in summer, I would wake up in the morning, get my things together and, clutching my Toshiba 286 laptop, take a long walk downtown to the library. If I had enough energy after my daily thesis write, I would then walk further south to St. Michael’s Cathedral, in the heart of the downtown core.

I was fairly active in younger years, jogging about 30 to 45 minutes most days in my late teens and early twenties. So by my thirties, I was still walking long distances in both Ottawa and Toronto, and loving it.

St. Michael’s Cathedral 2011 (before renovation)

Choosing my favorite tune for this year was a showdown between TLC’s “Creep” and Bass is Base’s “I Cry.” After listening to both songs, “I Cry” comes out on top.

I like TLC but Bass is Base hails from Toronto, my hometown and where I live today. So this one reflects my turf in ’94. Its multicultural groove speaks to me as Canadian delighted that I can meet people from all around the word the moment I step out my front door.

Who needs to travel?

Reelin’ in ALL the Years


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Reelin’ in the Years – 1993

Image Wikipedia

It’s 1993 and I’m 31 years old. Looking at the charts I almost gave up on posting a favorite song for this year, the music is so lackluster. There are a lot of okay songs from older acts on the way out and from promising younger artists not fully matured.

I don’t know if this is my favorite for ’93 but I remember liking it. I’ve searched for “Suffer” on YouTube over the past few years with no luck. Just found it now. Hopefully, it won’t be pulled too soon.

The song seems to be about seeing through and closing the door on manipulative spiritual figures who love playing head trips on vulnerable people for money, power, and self-aggrandizement. This could apply to bad apples in any religion or organization.

Watch out, seekers! Don’t forget what Annie Lennox said in 1983.

David Bowie also released a 2CD retrospective, “The Singles” in ’93.

Pretty much all the songs are good. I remember buying it downtown on Yonge Street (in TO) and thinking it was a nice deal. This was just before the internet took off so having all these Bowie tunes in one collection seemed an attractive option.

Image Wikipedia

I’m converting to Christianity in ’93 after dabbling in just about every spiritual path known to mankind. Soon I’m going to immerse myself in Gregorian chants and choral music, still keeping an eye on pop but putting it on the back burner.

’93 was the year I took down all my Hindu, Buddhist and New Age icons and put up Catholic images and symbols in their place. I’ve never really turned back. Although these days I’m not quite so iconoclastic.

I do not believe all paths are the same. But from my experience, they do seem to work together when all parties are sincere and respect proper boundaries.

Most of Earthpages.ca is dedicated to explaining my beliefs on spirituality so I won’t elaborate here.

Reelin’ in ALL the Years

 Katherine Jenkins – she’s gone up an octave (slippedisc.com)

 Dressing David Bowie As ‘Ziggy Stardust’ (thecut.com)

 Elon Musk’s ‘Starman’ is our new space hero (mashable.com)

 Watch Japan’s ice skating team dance to Ryuichi Sakamoto (thefader.com)

 What reviewers are saying about Apple HomePod (bostonherald.com)


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Strange quirk of fate

I noticed that Valentines Day and Ash Wednesday fall on the same day this year. So shall we be somber or spellbound?

 


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Grinch moment