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A Berry Rainy Day

Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry

It’s been five months since I have put together a podcast or compilation and some of you may have been wondering where the hell I have been.

After a three year battle with cancer my dad died in May. Naturally I miss him terribly, but there has been so much to do in his post mortem, that I haven’t had much time for anything so quaint as blogging. I have been working steadily for the last several weeks on a memorial garden for him here at home, and I had planned to put some finishing touches on things today (laying sod) when a thunderstorm dropped by for a visit. So I am rushing to put up this post before it clears so I can get outside and finish the job.

Back in 2011 I put together a compilation called The First Day of Summer. I still get nostalgic for my childhood near the end of June. As Sarah Silverman said in the opening of her 2012 TED talk, “I am 39 years old and I still get excited that I don’t have to go to school.” So I suppose the pending month of July has something to do with that for me.

The weather here in Toronto has been splendid for the last several weeks. Sunny days in the high 60s and low 70s (yes, I still think in Fahrenheit), and cool breezy nights. The lettuce that volunteered in my garden from last year’s seed has produced more sweet salads than I can count, and I am grateful to just sit on my patio, munching on one with a nice cold beer.

But naturally the loss of my father has put a damper on all this. Our family knew he was going to die – there were just too many tumors to treat – but we had hoped he would have enough life left in him to enjoy the spring and perhaps early summer. What a shame it is too, as the weather hasn’t been like this in nearly twenty years. He would have loved it.

In going through his things, my sister and I discovered some photos of him from his 1960 tour of North America. He travelled with friends, financing their adventure by working as ranch hands and odd jobs along the way.

Try to imagine adventure at a time like that. World War II is fifteen years past and the cold war economy is booming. Large corporations are on the rise, but family businesses still make up the most of the economy. Roads are mostly two lanes (many are still dirt or gravel) and the first major freeways are still under construction. Jet technology is just getting off the ground.

It was the demarcation point between old and new worlds where any path seemed possible.

Despite the rising tensions of the cold war, the world was full of promise. The impact of the new industrial boom was bound to rear its ugly head, but Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” was still two years away.

The New Deal was working alongside what is now called the “meritocracy”. I remember my dad saying how easy it was to find a job and have a decent standard of living. Food and rents were still relatively cheap, and if you didn’t like a job, you could just quit, walk across the street and find another one waiting for you. On the job training was common and only professionals (doctors, lawyers, nurses, teachers, engineers, etc.) needed college educations.

Materialism and mass consumer culture were still in their infancy. The new tele-electro technocracy was only just beginning, and so people were still interested in learning about each other the old fashioned way — up close and personal.

With several decades of the mass suffering of depression and war behind them, people were eager to live, love and explore.

“The pill” had just become available as the “dangerous” sounds of Be-Bop, R&B and rock-and-roll were pumping from every jukebox and radio station across the land.

Everything had a new shine upon it, even on a….

A Berry Rainy Day:

  1. Untitled — 2:24
  2. Rock At The Philharmonic — 3:24
  3. Deep Feeling — 2:20
  4. Night Beat (take 3) — 2:59
  5. Ingo — 2:30
  6. Blues For Hawaiians — 3:25
  7. Long Slow Jam — 11:14
  8. Blue On Blue — 3:00

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