Random Friday Thoughts — October 24, 2014

The weekend is almost here and I hope you have fun plans.

The nice thing is that temperatures will be near 70° for Iowa and Illinois.  If you recall by this time last year, the Quad Cities had already had its first measurable snow of the season! (0.4″ fell on October 22, 2013, in Moline, Illinois.)

Snow

Yes, I have a few random thoughts to share and I hope you enjoy reading them.

EBOLA FEARS & BLAME

As of now, one person has died here in the United States from Ebola, a disease that has killed close to 5,000 people in Africa.  However, the World Health Organization says that the true number may be three times that official number.

Twice recently, while traveling, I had the unfortunate experience of watching Fox News in the hotel room and I was disgusted that the talking heads were blaming President Obama for not doing enough.

Maybe they need to step back for a moment and look at this fact!

EBOLA - AIDS

If you think that’s just some Democratic, liberal slant of the facts, read a full article that I blogged about that in July 2012.

http://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2012/07/05/president-reagan-i-no-longer-hate-you/

REBA IS READY FOR A COMEBACK

It’s sad to say that when you have more Top Ten hits on the country chart than any other woman in history and you’re tied with Dolly Parton with the most #1 country songs by a woman that you’re staging a comeback, but that’s what Reba McEntire, my idol, is doing.

REBA_ATWIA_COVER_500

Reba’s last album, “All The Women I Am” was released almost four years ago and it featured her last #1 song, Turn On The Radio”, which topped the chart on New Year’s Day in 2011.

Here’s Reba performing that song in Moline in October 2011.

Since then, the next three singles faltered at country radio peaking at #22 (the remake of Beyonce’s “If I Were A Boy”), #40, and #44.  Thanks country radio!

Nevertheless, she’s back with a new label and she’s making new music.

Earlier this week, Reba announced that she signed with Nash ICON Music, a joint venture between Big Machine Label Group (Taylor Swift’s label) and Cumulus Media, the broadcasting giant that owns 460 AM and FM stations in the United States.

Reba

Reba is working with her longtime friend and producer Tony Brown, who’s behind her biggest hits albums from the early-to-mid-1990s including my favorites, “Rumor Has It” (1990) and “Read My Mind” (1994).  James Stroud is also co-producing the album.   Stroud has produced some of  Clay Walker and Tracy Lawrence’s biggest hits.

Reba has already cut 11 songs for the new album and six are finished.  She adds, “I’ve got three more to record that I have found.  I’m always trying to beat out what I have already, so we just keep looking.”

While there’s no date set for the new single and new album, Reba promises it will be “soon”!

“GONE GIRL”

The latest David Fincher masterpiece, “Gone Girl”, is amazing.

The movie is based on the New York Times best seller and critically acclaimed novel of the same name by former “Entertainment Weekly” writer Gillian Flynn.

In just three weeks, the movie starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, and Neil Patrick Harris has grossed more than $216 million worldwide with more than one-half of that domestically.

While I plan on reading the book in early December, the movie was incredible.  It really helped that Flynn also wrote the screenplay for the movie.

Here’s the trailer, which tells you what you really need to know about the movie.

Affleck was very solid just as he was in “Argo” and Pike definitely has a future in Hollywood.

Harris is so versatile as an actor and this is one of his most revealing and vulnerable, naked performances he’s given.

Let’s just say that he was definitely acting on Broadway in his critically acclaimed role in “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”, because there is much more there!!!!!!!!!!!!!   Okay, that’s my way of saying you see more of Harris in this movie than you’ve ever seen before! :)

GRADE:  A

WE’RE HEADING TO THE CHAPEL AND WE’RE GOING TO GET MARRIED…

Marriage equality is sweeping the nation as court challenges and the Supreme Court of the United States are giving more Americans the freedom to get married.

Marraige Equality

Yet, that idiot and Fox News mouthpiece Mike Huckabee, the failed Presidential candidate, will not let it drop.

Check out this tweet and a Twitter response to his assessment of what Jesus probably thought.

Huckabee

While that might have offended some, that wasn’t my intent.  However, it made me smile and I couldn’t have said it any better.

PARIS AND TEL AVIV HIGHLIGHTS

Last week, I turned the big 5-0 and we saved our pennies and dollars and celebrated the milestone birthday with a trip to Europe (Paris, France) and the Middle East (Tel Aviv, Israel).

Here are some of the interesting things we experienced on the trip.

My birthday present from Ray was dinner cruise on the Seine River, followed by a trip to the Eiffel Tower at night.  We paid the extra 12 Euros to go to top and it was amazing to see the sprawled out city of Paris twinkling in the distance.

And, the night didn’t end there.  It was then off to the historic Moulin Rouge for a show and champagne.  I actually turned 50 during the show.

AP R Moulin

Thanks Ray!!!!!!!  You’re incredible.

We also had duck and goose a couple of times and while I’ll not make it a regular part of my eating habits, it was rather tasty.

The oddest thing I saw in Paris was a Chinese buffet near our hotel that we kept eyeing on our walks.  We finally gave it a try and you actually had to microwave your food that was sitting out on the buffet!  I wasn’t a fan of that.  Osaka Buffet in Moline, you have nothing to worry about!

But, then again, who goes to Paris and has a Chinese buffet?

It’s a small world after all.  As we were waiting in the line to go through customs at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, all of a sudden I heard “Hey Moline” and it was a sweet little, older couple that was coming back from a European River Cruise.  You never know who or where you’ll see your peeps! :)

TLV Sunset

Then it was off to Tel Aviv for three days.

It’s absolutely gorgeous there and from our hotel room, we could see the sandy beaches of the Mediterranean Sea!

We were amazed at how beautiful, healthy, and in shape most Israeli men are.  Note to self:  eat better and work out more!

The morning Israeli breakfast our hotel, Prima City Hotel, was very tasty.  However, our favorite meal was at בני-הדייג, which translates to Benny The Fisherman, right on the Sea.

Starter

That was just the salads and “starters” that they brought out.  Yes, fifteen of them, including the bread basket!

Incredible!  I wanted to go back again, but we didn’t.

TEL AVIV SCARE

Sadly, we didn’t get our a stamp on our passport from Israel.

The customs agent was so flustered from ranting a woman in front of us for sticking her passport in her mouth that he forgot.  He refused to let her go through his line because he wasn’t going to touch her passport.  And, I really don’t blame him.  However, his approach was a little abrasive.

As for us, our only scare was when we happened upon the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv on the way to dinner.  It was dusk and we decided to take a picture of it for our photo album.

However, three guards came out (one with a large weapon) and told us not to take pictures and took my driver’s license and called it in since we weren’t carrying our passports.  After a very long five minutes or so, they let us go and told us not to take pictures.

It’s very interesting because last month in Ottawa, Canada’s capital, the guards there had no issue with photo-taking tourists.

And, on our return flight home, the snow-covered Alps were beautiful!

Alps

PICK HIT

While in Tel Aviv, Israel, I was delighted that VH-1 showed music videos all the time.  There was no filler programming or reality crap, just real videos like in the old days of MTV and VH-1.

I fell in love with the song, “Stolen Dance”  by the German pop/rock/folk duo, Milky Chance, made up of singer Clemens Rehbein and DJ Philipp Dausch.

What I was surprised to learn is that the song is #1 on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart (six weeks) and #1 on the Rock Airplay chart (four weeks) in the United States.

And, it’s already topped the charts in Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Ireland, and Switzerland, and it peaked at #2 or #3 in Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Slovakia, and Sweden.

So far, it isn’t a Top 40 hit on mainstream radio in the U.S., but it’s catching on.

THE CALENDAR SAYS HALLOWEEN, BUT…

I’m already in the Christmas spirit.

However, I plan on watching “Hellbent”, a gay horror movie, from the people who brought us “Halloween” and “The Nightmare on Elm Street”.  It’s a movie that I watch every October.

Now, back to Christmas.  There are many upcoming holiday releases coming out including LeAnn Rimes, Darius Rucker, and Earth, Wind, & Fire.

But, I’ve already bought two new CDs.

Idina Holiday Wishes

I just got Idina Menzel’s “Holiday Wishes” this week.

While I believe that “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is a tired Christmas song and it’s becoming one of my least favorites, Idina’s version with sexy crooner Michael Buble, is fun and enjoyable.

Other standouts on the disc are “Silent Night”, “Holly Jolly Christmas”, her remake of the Joni Mitchell classic, “River”, and the aforementioned duet with Buble.

I admit that it did take several listens to her version of the Mariah Carey classic, “All I Want For Christmas Is You”, before I could like and appreciate it.   Carey’s version is perfect!

It wasn’t Menzel’s voice that threw me for a loop.  The arrangement is all over the place and the song is over five minutes long.  Once I “got it”, the song was more enjoyable.

GRADE:  B+

And, another one you definitely need to add to your Christmas music collection is actor, singer, producer, writer, and Oscar host Seth MacFarlane, “Holiday For Swing”.

seth-macfarlane-holiday-for-swing

He has an amazing voice and brings an old-time Rat Pack feel to Christmas on “Holiday For Swing”.  If you love jazz and Christmas music, you’ll love it.

Sadly, there are no snippets that I can find online to share with you.  What’s up with that, Seth?

I’ve listened to the album countless times and it could definitely become a standard!

GRADE:  A

THAT’S IT FOR NOW!

It was nice to share my random thoughts with you again.

As I promised when I stopped doing it weekly, I’d do one every once in a while.

I really miss writing, but I just can’t find the time to do with my crazy work schedule.  Work just seems to get in the way, but I do need that small paycheck.

Have a great weekend!

Anthony

The Soundtrack Of My Life – 50 Years of Music

I like most genres of music, but I pass over hardcore rap and heavy metal.

In Kentucky, in the 1970s, I grew up on country music.  In the 1980s, British new wave, dance music, and Madonna became my music of choice.

In the 1990s, I found country music again when I moved to Chicago.  (Thanks, Charlie’s).

After much thought and deliberation, I put together a list of my favorite songs of all time — the soundtrack of my life.

These may not be the best songs ever, but they are the ones that will make me stop what I’m doing and listen when they come on.

20

 “LOUISIANA WOMAN, MISSISSIPPI MAN” — CONWAY TWITTY & LORETTA LYNN

19

“DIM ALL THE LIGHTS” — DONNA SUMMER

18

“NO FRILLS LOVE”JENNIFER HOLLIDAY

#17

“ON MY OWN” — PATTI LABELLE & MICHAEL McDONALD

16

“I LOVE MY RADIO” — TAFFY

15

“ONE PROMISE TOO LATE”  — REBA

#14 Movie

“DELTA DAWN”  — HELEN REDDY

13

“AIN’T EVEN DONE WITH THE NIGHT” — JOHN COUGAR

 

12

“TWO OF HEARTS” — STACEY Q

11

 

“MISSING YOU” — JOHN WAITE

10

“FASCINATED” — COMPANY B

#9

“HARPER VALLEY P.T.A.” — JEANNIE C. RILEY

8

“WE DON’T HAVE TO TAKE OUR CLOTHES OFF” — JERMAINE STEWART

#7 CD

“TAINTED LOVE” — SOFT CELL

6

“DON’T YOU WANT ME” — THE HUMAN LEAGUE

#5 MOVIE

“OH L’AMOUR” — ERASURE

4

“XANADU” — OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN

3

GREATEST HITS MEDLEY — THE CARPENTERS

BIRTHDAY-CAKE-2-year-old

“IMAGINE” —  JOHN LENNON

1

THE BEATLES — “LET IT BE”

So, there you have it.

Let me know what you think and what your favorite song is.

Anthony

Fall Television & New Movies That Excite Me

When I was younger, I always looked forward to the fall television season.  It was fun seeing my favorite shows return and to check out some new ones.  Now that the television landscape has changed and shows return at different times throughout the year, it’s more exciting.

Usually, I don’t get too excited about new shows.  The ones I like usually get cancelled (“Commander In Chief”, “Invasion”, and “Eli Stone” to name a few.)

However, last weekend, we checked out the series premiere to “Red Band Society” (Fox), “Getting Away With Murder” (ABC), and “Madam Secretary” (CBS).

After just a couple of episodes, I gave up on “Red Band Society” and I don’t think I’m alone.  It might be the first cancellation of the fall season and all shows haven’t even debuted!

Tea Leoni was great in “Madam Secretary” and it is well written and acted.  But, Oscar nominee Viola Davis is incredible in “How To Get Away With Murder” and it’s my early favorite — so intelligent and sexy.

I’m still waiting to see “Gotham” (Fox), “Transparent (Amazon), “Stalker” (CBS), and “Gracepoint”(Fox).

Of course, I can’t wait for the new seasons of “The Walking Dead”, “American Horror Story”, “The Following” and “Hannibal”.

Hannibal

Whether it’s cancelled or renewed for a third season, I’m done with “Under The Dome” after the season two finale.  Sorry, Chesters Mill!

under-the-dome

With summer behind us and the days getting shorter, I’m making a list of the movies and the Oscar contenders that I want to see this fall and winter.

Here are the ones that I plan on seeing on the big screen with a large popcorn!

popcorn

“Gone Girl” (October 3)

“Unbroken”

“Exodus:  Gods And Kings”

“Into The Woods”

I’m really intrigued by this Nicole Kidman thriller, but I haven’t decided if it’s a theater movie or one that I’ll wait to see at home.

“Before I Go To Sleep”

And, here are the ones that I’ll likely be curled up on the couch and popping my own popcorn to watch when they come out on DVD.

“This Is Where I Leave You”

“Left Behind”

“Pride”

“The Guest”

“Maps To The Stars”

“The Best of Me”

“Horrible Bosses 2″

“Foxcatcher”

“The Imitation Game”

“The Interview”

“Wild”

Which ones are you interested in seeing and what new shows are you excited about this fall?

Anthony

It’s Not Too Early For Christmas Thoughts

So, Christmas is now less than three months away!

That should come as no surprise because I saw Christmas decorations in the “seasonal” aisle at Walgreen’s with the Halloween costumes and candy this past weekend!

notchristmasyet

The good news is that we’re going to be seeing very warm temperatures for this first weekend of autumn in the Quad Cities and across much of the country.

But, now that I’ve mentioned Christmas, I want to talk about my favorite holiday of the year!

Christmas Outside

The first thing I do is look ahead to see what new Christmas albums I want to buy for the season.

Erasure Snow Globe

Last year, my favorite Christmas album was “Snow Globe” by Erasure.

Erasure is my favorite band and this week, they just released a fantastic new dance album called “The Violet Flame” and I’m excited to see them in concert in Chicago next weekend, October 4th.

My other two favorite Christmas albums last year were “Wrapped In Red” by Kelly Clarkson and “Christmas, With Love” by Leona Lewis.

Idina Holiday Wishes

Idina Menzel, who had huge success last year with the motion picture and soundtrack, “Frozen”, and the hit “Let It Go”, is releasing her first Christmas album in mid-October.

It was produced by Grammy Award-winner Walter Afanasieff, who has worked with Celine Dion, Barbra Streisand, Mariah Carey, Josh Groban, and so many more.

The track list reportedly includes “Do You Hear What I Hear?”, “All I Want For Christmas Is You”, “A Holly Jolly Christmas”, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” and many more classics and non-traditional songs.

seth-macfarlane-holiday-for-swing

Seth MacFarlane is behind some of the biggest shows on television (“Family Guy” and “The Cleveland Show”), the blockbuster movie, “Ted”, and, in 2013, he hosted the Oscars.

He also sings!  In 2011, he released “Music Is Better Than Words”, an amazing jazz album and on September 30th, his first Christmas album, “Holiday For Swing” comes out.

It’ll feature holiday standards like “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” and “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”, plus many other classics.

MacFarlane gets some assistance from Norah Jones and Sara Bareilles (“Baby, It’s Cold Outside”).

jim-brickman-on-a-winters-night

Jim Brickman is one of the best-selling pianist of all-time and he’s collected 27 hits on the Billboard Adult Contemporary charts!

Not only is he his getting his latest collection of Christmas songs ready for release on October 7th, but he’ll be playing at the Adler Theatre in Davenport, Iowa, on December 28th!

“On A Winter’s Night” features appearances from John Oates and Kenny Rogers and holiday classics like “All I Want For Christmas Is You”, “Blue Christmas”, and “Away In The Manger”.

Also, the album will have many less familiar tunes.

ABBA Christmas Card 001

I also love writing out Christmas cards to my friends across the country and I always look forward to the new Christmas stamp selections.  This year, the United States Postal Service will celebrate the 50th anniversary of “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” with a stamp.

hermey-rudolph01

But, the ones that I’m going to purchase are called “Winter Fun Contemporary Christmas”.  Those definitely look fun!

14-WinterFun-4designs

And, I’m still deciding on what flavor cheesecake to make this year.

A couple of years ago, I made a red velvet cheesecake for Christmas.  While it was beautiful and tasty, I want something new and exciting this year.

Red Velvet 2

Finally, my Christmas shopping list is smaller this year because Ray, Gretel, Tammy and I are getting away before the holidays for some fun in the sun and on the high seas.  That is our gift to each other this year.

So, in honor of that, here’s a little less wintry-sounding Christmas song.

Merry Christmas!  Oh wait, that’s still about three months away.

Anthony

Getting Our Freak On With Enrique & Pitbull

My big birthday celebration to Paris, France and Tel Aviv, Israel is now about two weeks away.

However, we’re getting the party started early as Ray and I celebrate our wedding anniversary and both of our birthdays with Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull in Rosemont (Chicago) on Friday, October 3rd, and with Erasure the following night in downtown Chicago!

This will be our first Enrique and Erasure concerts and our second Pitbull show.  We saw him last year with Ke$ha.

Pitbull

Before I get into today’s love fest with Enrique, I need to quote our 13-year-old daughter, Gretel, because of some of the less than stellar reviews of his recent concerts in Washington D.C., Montreal, and Toronto.

Enrique Iglesias

Several years ago, we were discussing a movie she wanted to see that was earning poor reviews.  In her youth innocence, she said, “that’s just one person’s opinion.”  And, I’m going to keep Gretel’s words alive in my head as we head to Rosemont to see Enrique on October 3rd.

I know we’re going to have a blast at the concert in Chicago.  Enrique, we’re center stage right, so feel free to drop by, wish us a happy anniversary and birthday, and bring the shots!

Enrique Seats

I’ve been a huge fan of Enrique’s since he crossed over to the pop charts in 1999 with “Bailamos”, which topped the Billboard Hot 100 and the dance charts.  That song was also his eleventh #1 on the Billboard Latin singles charts.

Since then, Enrique has topped the Billboard Latin singles chart 25 times.  He’s also collected a total of 14 chart-toppers on the Billboard Dance/Club Songs chart, more than any other male artist and Billboard has named him the “King of Latin Pop” and “King of Dance”.

“Be With You” is Enrique’s other #1 Hot 100 hit from 2000.  It’s also one of those 14 #1 dance hits.

And, he’s sold more than 60-100 million records worldwide!

Enrique Iglesias

His voice is incredible and he’s so talented.  And, being drop dead gorgeous doesn’t hurt any.

Just the other day, Ray and I were talking and we’re quite baffled that he’s never been named “People” magazine’s” “Sexiest Man Alive”!  Maybe when the magazine makes its announcement in November, it’ll be Enrique.

At 39, he’s stunning, as is his long-time girlfriend, Anna Kournikova.

Anna Enrique

But, I’m writing today to express how thrilled I am to see Enrique and Pitbull on the “Sex and Love Tour”.

By the time we see the show in Rosemont, October 3rd, it will have already played Washington D.C., New York City, Montreal and Toronto in Canada, Boston, and Detroit.

The tour will trek across the U.S. and wrap up in Orlando in late October and then head over to Europe in November and December.

Enrique SEX AND LOVE

Earlier this year, in March, Enrique released his latest album, “Sex and Love” within days of Kylie Minogue’s “Kiss Me Once”.

Kiss Me Once

The gorgeous duo even sings a song together, “Beautiful”, and it appears on both albums.

All spring and summer, I’ve listened to both albums and, at this point, Enrique’s album has the slight edge.  It probably doesn’t hurt that “Bailando”, is one of the ten most played songs on American radio today.

Like me, even if you don’t know Spanish, you can definitely feel the love, passion and energy in the music and the words of Enrique’s non-English songs like the number one smash, “Loco” with Romeo Santos.

Two of the first few releases from the latest album failed to ignite at American Top 40 radio and that is definitely their loss, because “I’m A Freak” and “Turn Up The Night” are definite party hits and Enrique and Pitbull have too much fun in the “Freak” video playing naughty men!

And, then there’s Mr. Worldwide, Pitbull, who’s a bundle of energy when he’s on the stage.  What an entertainer!

My two favorite songs from him are “International Love” and his duet with Ke$ha (now Kesha), “Timber”.

10.02.14-Enrique-v1-620x330

Enrique and Pitbull, we’re excited to see you for a night of crazy beats and fun on your “Sex and Love Tour” in Chicago!

Peace!

Anthony

Why not have another one here for just fun!

Erasure Is on Fire With “The Violet Flame”

The countdown is on and I’m getting so excited.  The new Erasure album, “The Violet Flame” comes out next week (in most of the world Monday, 9/22, and Tuesday, 9/23,  in the United States).

The Violet Flame

And, I get to see Andy Bell and Vince Clarke in concert for the first time in Chicago on October 4th!

The Violet Flame Erasure

I’ve been a huge fan since I fell in love with “Oh L’amour” in 1986.  The duo has now dazzled us with the most incredible dance music for almost three decades and their latest, their 16th studio album, is no different.

The lead single is the amazing “Elevation” and Andy has never sounded better.

Now, the dark-haired young man in the video is beautiful, but where is Andy and Vince?  I’ll get over them not being in the video because I know they’ve been busy preparing for “The Violet Flame Tour” that kicked off last weekend with shows in Miami, Orlando, and St. Petersburg, Florida.

Before we got the first listen of “Elevation” in July, our last set of new music from Erasure was “Snow Globe”, their first holiday collection, last November.  It was one of my favorite albums of 2013.

Erasure Snow Globe

Now, while it featured their unique interpretation of holiday classics and some deep, dark holiday tunes, you knew their next full length dance album would be spectacular based on “There’ll Be No Tomorrow” and “Loving Man”, which still had me playing “Snow Globe” this spring and summer!

Here’s my blog from last November about my love for Erasure and “Snow Globe”.

http://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2013/11/14/erasure-takes-us-to-the-dark-side-of-christmas-back/

Now, back to “The Violet Flame”.  While it doesn’t come out until next week, “Gay Times” and “USA Today” is giving us a sneak peek at the entire album on their website.

The album kicks off with “Dead of Night” and it gets your pulse pumping after only about a fifteen second build-up.  Andy’s voice is crisp and he’s in total control and is ready to take you on a journey.

“Elevation”, the first single is the album’s second track and that is followed by one of my favorite songs based on the first couple of listens, “Reason”.

This is from Sunday night’s show in St. Petersburg, Florida.

“Paradise”, the next to last song on the album, is another amazing, mesmerizing Erasure song.  It sounds more like a modern-day EDM or trance song stolen from the disco era.

“The Violet Flame” is a classic Erasure dance album and it will become a classic!

The Violet Flame

Even when Andy and Vince slow things down on the beautiful love song, “Be The One”, it’s almost four minutes of bliss.  As that song moves into the album’s sixth song, “Sacred”, it only takes Vince Clarke less than a minute to create another thumping dance track.

Unfortunately, outside of “Elevation”, the songs on the album are not on YouTube yet for me to feature in this blog.  But, you can check them out here today with this link.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/music/2014/09/15/erasure-violet-flame-album-premiere/15529401/

And, don’t forget to buy the album!

With  “The Violet Flame”, I know Erasure is going to add to their hit tally back home in the U.K. and on the American dance charts.

“Elevation” debuted this week at #44 on the U.S. Billboard Dance chart and will become the group’s 23rd dance hit.  Of those, 16 of them have reached the Top Ten and two topped the charts.

Back home in the U.K., Erasure has had 32 hits with 15 of them reaching the Top Ten.

erasure3

Andy & Vince, I’m counting down the days until Chicago.  Until then, I’ll have to put “The Violet Flame” on repeat.

GRADE: A

Why Helen Reddy Will Always Remember Moline

International superstar Helen Reddy has won a Grammy, been a star on the stage and in movies, and has performed at some of the biggest venues across the world.

Back in the 1970s and the 1980s, she played shows in Iowa and Illinois.  She even performed in Davenport, Iowa.  While she may not have sung on stage in Moline, Illinois, the second largest of the Quad Cities, she’ll always remember Moline.  More on that shortly.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I was fortunate to see Miss Helen Reddy in concert last year just outside of Chicago and I almost got to meet her.

I just finished reading her very entertaining 2006 autobiography, “The Woman I Am”.

The Woman I Am

While the book covers the highs and lows of her entertainment career, she also talks quite a bit about her love of genealogy and tracing her family’s history, her beliefs in reincarnation, and acquiring Addison’s Disease, which also affected President John F. Kennedy.  It’s a failure of the adrenal glands that will require treatment for the rest of her life.

The books traces Helen’s life from her childhood in Australia growing up in a vaudeville entertainment household, having her kidney removed as a teenager, her first marriage (also as a teenager) to an older man (33), who turned out to be an alcoholic and abusive husband.  However, one good thing came out of that failed marriage, her daughter, Traci.

And, this was all before Helen appeared on the television show, “Bandstand” in Australia and competed against 1,357 other people.

She couldn’t decide whether to perform a ballad or an uptempo song in the finale.  She lucked out and found a song, “Strangers and Lovers”, by Petula Clark that was both.  It worked because she won the contest that brought her to the United States to record a song for Mercury Records.

Unfortunately, it was the mid-1960s and women were still referred to as “girl singers” and labels were afraid to promote the careers of too many women.  Success in America, the creme de le creme of the world music market, would have to wait.

Helen sang wherever she could in the United States and Canada to make ends meet for her and her little girl, Traci, all alone and a world away from her family “down under”.  While the song would come later (in 1974) and reach #15 on the Hot 100 and #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart, this is a perfect time for one my favorite Helen Reddy songs, “Keep on Singing”, since I mentioned the phrase “make ends meet”.

It’s included here in a medley with two other big Helen Reddy hits, “Leave Me Alone (Ruby Red Dress)” (#3, 1973) and “Delta Dawn” (#1, 1973).

Interestingly enough, Helen now condemns the song “Leave Me Alone” as repetitive and points out that you hear the title of the song 43 times in the single.  I bet you’ll go back and listen to it now and count along. :)

On the tour last year when I saw Helen perform, she told an audience that it is “one song I will never ever sing again” and “that sort of songwriting doesn’t do much for me, but it was a hit. However, I don’t have to sing it anymore if I don’t want to, and I don’t want to.”

HelenReddy2

Although I jumped ahead of myself to work in “Keep on Singing”, we have to go back to the man who made Helen Reddy the international superstar and legend she is — that is, outside of Helen’s immense talent and charm that kept her at the top of the chart in the 1970s.

His name is Jeff Wald, a younger man who Helen met a “surprise rent party”/25th birthday celebration in New York City thrown by two of her friends to raise money for Helen to pay her rent when she was a struggling singer in the 1960s.

What’s funny is that Wald crashed the party and didn’t even pay his five dollar entry fee.  In her book, Helen never refers to him by name, just “Number Two”, meaning her second husband and manager.  And, that totally made me smile.

In 1971, in a one-off deal with Capitol Records, Helen recorded “I Believe In Music”, an Adult Contemporary hit for country singer and actor Mac Davis.  For the “b-side” of the single, “I Don’t Know How To Love Him” from the musical “Jesus Christ Superstar” was chosen.  The song had been rejected by superstar Linda Ronstadt and even Helen didn’t much care for it.

Nevertheless, it was the song that radio warmed to and it reached #13 on the Billboard Hot 100 become Helen’s first hit in America.  In her native Australia, it hit #2.

Helen talks at length in the book about Jeff’s demons, including a long history of cocaine use.  While they were in love, it wasn’t enough with drugs and an increasing temper involved.  They would eventually divorce in the early-1980s.

It was also in the 1980s, after the divorce and her radio airplay and record sales cooled, that Helen realized how vindictive “Number Two” had been in closing doors for her in the music business and the games he played with her involving their two children.  If that wasn’t bad enough, he also swindled Helen out of most of her earnings that took her much of the two decades to recover from financially.

Helen’s last hit on the Billboard Hot 100 was the #18 smash, “You’re My World” in 1977.

Helen spent much of the next phase of her life acting on television and on stage.  She also started making plans for a life that did not involve the entertainment business and eventually became a clinical hypnotherapist.

In 2002, Helen gave a farewell concert performance in western Canada and announced in 2008 that she was done with singing and entertaining.

Lucky for us, in 2012, she made an appearance at a jazz club in San Diego, California, and did a benefit for a school outside of Los Angeles, and decided that she felt the joy of singing and performing again.

That’s how I got to see her in early 2013 outside of Chicago.

Helen Reddy Autograph

While Helen was on top of the world in 1973, there was a lot of turmoil going on in her life dragging her in many different directions.

As 1972 ended, “I Am Woman” hit #1 in the United States in December and Helen gave birth to her second child, Jordan.

In May 1973, after becoming the first Australian to score a number one song in America, she won a Grammy Award – another first for an Australian.  Helen got people talking at the Nashville, Tennessee, ceremony when she closed her acceptance speech with, “I want to thank God because She makes everything possible.”

And, that summer, she had a successful variety television show on NBC thanks to her good friend, comedian Flip Wilson.

But, things then turned dark for Helen as her mother died in July and she traveled the 9,000 miles to Melbourne for the funeral only to have her father die ten weeks later.

Helen was raised to know that “the show must go on” and she continued to tour around the funerals.

At this point, I bet you thought I had forgotten about the Quad Cities’ connection and why Helen would always remember Moline, Illinois, where I’ve lived for the past nine years.

Just around her 32nd birthday in late October 1973, she and her band were heading back to California after playing a show in Philadelphia on a leased private jet.  It encountered an intense thunderstorm in the Midwest and the plane started going down.

Helen says they were losing altitude so fast that it felt like they “hit a brick wall” and that “interior paneling started to snap out of its moorings” and cabin baggage was flying through the aircraft.

Moline from the air

The pilots were able to get out of the storm’s downdraft and they regained control of the plane and they made an emergency landing at “a little airfield”, as Helen called it.

That “little airfield” ended up being in Moline, Illinois!  And, that, my friends, is why Helen will never forget Moline!

HelenReddy Airport 1975

Interestingly enough, one year later Helen would star as a nun in the box office blockbuster disaster flick, “Airport 1975″, which you know almost crashed!  But, she got to sing an original song of hers, “Best Friend”, in the movie.

By now, you can tell that I absolutely love Helen Reddy.

I’ve blogged several times about her and if this is the first time you’ve had a chance to check out blog or you missed the others, check out these two entries.

This one is more about Helen Reddy and my discovering her as a little boy.

http://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2012/10/25/helen-heres-to-many-more-happy-birthdays/

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And, this one is about her shaping me to be an advocate for equality.

http://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2012/02/19/helen-reddy-thank-you-for-making-me-the-advocate-i-am-now/

Helen was always and is still an advocate for women, gay men, and equal treatment for all.  In the book, she covers the AIDS epidemic and homophobia.

Helen, thank you for the memories and for all that you’ve done for us.

Anthony

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 152 other followers