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Reelin’ in the Years – 1999

Sonny & Cher during a rehearsal break at ABC T...

Sonny & Cher during a rehearsal break at ABC Television’s Wembley studios on 26 May 1966. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s 1999 and I’m having the same problem I had with 1998. I don’t connect with most of the pop charts this year. But I respect Cher for coming back with “I believe.”

She was big in the 70s TV show Sonny and Cher. To resurface with the foresight of where pop would be going… dance, dance, dance… is impressive. But I’m not inspired by the song.

With David Bowie, I respect the artist and happen to like the song “Somebody Up There Likes Me” on the album Young Americans.

Young Americans? Isn’t that another 70s relic?

Well, yes but it was r-e-m-a-s-t-e-r-e-d-i-n-1-9-9-9. Sorry folks, I have to do this remastered trick because maybe I am getting old and just not digging the charts like I used to. 37 years old, moving back to Toronto this year. I bought Bowie’s 1999 CD Hours and was mildly disappointed. But this old hit remains a fav.

Come to think of it, I don’t think my not liking tunes released in ’99 was an age thing as much as an out-of-sync thing. I’ve enjoyed a lot of pop since the EDM explosion. So either I’ve changed, the times have changed or maybe both.

1970s UK Sci-Fi TV show depicting an imaginary 1999 where an explosion breaks the moon free of its orbit – Image http://projectswordtoys.blogspot.ca/2013/08/

Technology is marching forward in ’99. People are burning CD-R/RWs and checking out digital photography. I was a bit slow to shell out for these tech advances so was still pretty old skool in ’99. Film camera. Tapes, CDs and Vinyl.

Earthpages is getting search engine recognition and I’m learning what I’m still learning today. How to get out there and be noticed on the web. Transitioning from an academic to a popular writing style has not been easy. In ’99 I’m either coming off too serious or too glib.

Striking that balance when you’re primarily a religious person who goes to Mass several times a week is not as straightforward as one might think. Ironically, I find that going to Mass enhances rather than squashes my creativity.

I still receive the Eucharist several times a week, something I’ll probably talk about more in years not yet reeled in.

Reelin’ in ALL the Years

 Billy Bragg’s Bratty Brother (ask.metafilter.com)

 Cher Concert Tickets for Lubbock, Austin, Corpus Christi, Bossier City… (prweb.com)

 Technology shaping the future of music but its soul remains the same (triblive.com)

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


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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 – 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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Reelin’ in the Years – 1984

The foreboding song “1984” appears on David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs album of 1974.

It’s 1984 and I’m 22 years old. 1984 was a slightly strange year because of George Orwell’s literary masterpiece by the same name.

Before 1984 the year was often mentioned as an ominous warning about how we did not want the future to go.

David Bowie had released the haunting song “1984” back in 1974.

They’ll split your pretty cranium, and fill it full of air
And tell that you’re eighty, but brother, you won’t care
You’ll be shooting up on anything, tomorrow’s never there
Beware the savage jaw
Of 1984

Well, it turns out nobody listened to the alarm. We’re desensitized to the new world disorder and no one really cares about Big Brother or Sister.

Strange, indeed, to someone who was a young adult before 1984. We did not want this. But here it is.

Let’s hope we can wake up before things get worse.

“People are People” came out in 1984. The song is more about base conflict than reprobates sifting through your personal stuff. But both really go hand in hand, do they not?

By 1984 music was back on track. The 80s as a cultural era were in full bloom and the 70s were so dead it wasn’t funny.

What strikes me about this song is how young the band members are. Depeche Mode are 22 and 23 years old, about the same age as I was in ’84.  To be that youthful and talented just leaves me speechless.

21st-century music listeners will be familiar with the sonic landscape of this song. But in 1984, the sounds were fresh and progressive.

These guys were the Skrillex of the 80s. If you don’t know who Skrillex is, maybe it’s time to do a little homework. 🙂

Reelin’ in ALL the Years

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

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

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Reelin’ in the Years – 1975

Bowie and Cher, 1975 via Wikipedia

It’s 1975 and I’m a whopping 13 years old. A young teen and everything is changing. New school. New emotions. New interests. Looking over the charts for this year I’m torn between David Bowie’s “Fame” and Van McCoy’s “The Hustle.”

I admire Bowie. To me, he’s like the Sibelius of pop music. If you don’t know who Sibelius is, shame on you! (I’m just as much into classical as I am into pop).

Bowie has hits but also innovative, fringe stuff. Most millennials probably don’t realize just how influential he was.

Since his saddening death, I think his image is suffering from oversaturation. But I know he’s great. I’ll have to get one of his songs on this list, somewhere.

Today I’m choosing Van McCoy’s “Do the Hustle” for my fav song of 1975.

Suddenly we had a new thing on the block. Actually, around the world. And I’m not talking Daft Punk. No, I’m talking about…


Bowie did disco songs too but his, I think, synthesized the original form with other jangly bits. A lot of Bowie’s work is like that. He takes all these different elements, throws them into the blender of his musical soul, and a real smoothie comes out.

“The Hustle” by Van McCoy and the Soul City Symphony is the real deal. The airy flute (or whatever that is) and 70s strings bring out the best of the USA. This is happy, optimistic, and dancin’ Americana as no other nation can do it. I almost feel like an American listening to this song!

You can also hear elements of smooth jazz, likewise taking shape with John Klemmer’s Touch. Smooth jazz would become even more commercially successful with George Benson and Chuck Mangione, a few years later.

People either mocked or loved disco in the 70s. Disco has aged well. Looking back, it’s obviously a precursor to EDM. Several EDM hits are just remixes of Donna Summer and other stars like her.

Long Live Old Skool!

Reelin’ in ALL the Years


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Reelin’ in the Years – 1972

The original David Bowie album came out in 1969 but “Space Oddity” is often compared to Elton John’s “Rocket Man” of 1972 – Image: badgreeb RECORDS via Flickr

It’s 1972 and I’ve completed ten full solar orbits on spaceship Earth.

I just realized that I overlooked David Bowie’s influential song “Space Oddity” for 1969. When I was seven in ’69, “Space Oddity” was too far out for me. I didn’t discover that until high school.

“Rocket Man” (1972) by Elton John is another story.

Elton hit the scene with a big splash. Suddenly we had a superstar who rivaled the Beatles in popularity and talent. And he was just one guy. Actually, that’s not quite right. Lyricist Bernie Taupin adds a lot to the picture. And Elton’s backup musicians make the perfect 70s band.

Publicity photo of Elton John and Bernie Taupin.

Publicity photo of Elton John and Bernie Taupin. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some felt that Elton was just a flash in the pan. Well, they got the flash part right. But Elton has weathered ups and downs and is still in the spotlight.

He just hasn’t gone away. Always adding his two bits on some controversial topic, be it Billy Joel’s lack of productivity, his own dislike of religion… Whatever.

Elton is touring again. His Farewell Yellow Brick Road show is being billed as his last-ever tour.

“Rocket Man” is usually seen as Elton’s take on Bowie’s “Space Oddity” theme. Of course, Bowie did it first. But I like both songs. “Rocket Man” is a bit more human and ironically, down-to-earth. I have related to this song in different ways through life’s changes. I got it at 10 years old. And it holds up now.

Elton and Taupin wrote songs accessible to fans of all ages. Isn’t that what superstars do?

Mars ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids
In fact it’s cold as hell

Reelin’ in ALL the Years

 Observatory Spots Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster Zooming Through Space (Video) (space.com)

 Watch the live feed from SpaceX’s Roadster-driving Starman in space (feedproxy.google.com)

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

 Super realistic animation shows Falcon Heavy launching Tesla Roaster into space (mashable.com)

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

 A car ad in space finally brought the country together (businessinsider.com)

 Elon Musk’s Roadster Launch Sparks Sales of Hot Wheels Toy Tesla (space.com)

 Where Is Elon Musk’s Space Tesla Actually Going? (theatlantic.com)

 SpaceX poised to launch ‘world’s most powerful rocket’ (vanguardngr.com)

 David Bowie book club launched by his son, Duncan Jones (telegraph.co.uk)

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The late, great David Bowie’s “‘Tis a Pity She Was a Whore”

Poor David Bowie. I think of him often. Anyone who rises that high and then slowly burns out – artistically, I mean – well, it must be hard. Classical composers generally get better with age. But it aint necessarily so with pop stars. I guess pop music is all wrapped up in the hopes, dreams and angst of youth. So when the star isn’t a youth any more, it gets harder and harder to connect.

Bowie’s final album had a beautiful song, “Lazarus,” which to me seemed heavily influenced by an 80s band called The Cure. Most people who remember rotary dial phones have probably heard “Lazurus.” And if they were listening to pop in the 80s, I think they’d recognize The Cure connection.

But today I want to talk about another song on the final Bowie album, “‘Tis a Pity She Was a Whore.”

I don’t like this song very much. When I first saw the title I thought Bowie was just being rough and crude for the sake of it, like a relic from a different age trying to be cool. After all, today we talk about “sex-workers” and the term “whore” is totally inappropriate and probably illegal to use in public.

Image via Wikipedia

Image via Wikipedia

But on Googling the song I found that, as often happens, there was more to Bowie’s work that I’d realized. Turns out there is an English play from 1629 by John Ford called “‘Tis Pitty Shee’s a Whore.” No doubt this influenced Bowie and I have to apologize to his enduring spirit for having judged out of ignorance!