Posts Tagged ‘Conway Twitty’

My Life: The First 35 Years

While it’s not a milestone birthday, like my first, another one is approaching.

My life’s longevity has surpassed both of my parents (my mother died at 47 and my father at 55) and I’m grateful for that.

Maybe it’s just me, but I feel that as we get older, we pontificate about life more.

We think about the past — good and bad — and wonder what the future holds. And, Good Lord, with 2020 and Covid-19, I hope it’s an improvement!

With that in mind, I started thinking about the events and the songs that have influenced me most in life.

So, today, I’m sharing the 13 most memorable events of my first 35 years (1964-1999). Why 13? It’s my favorite number and I was born on the 13th!

EVENTS THAT SHAPED MY FIRST 35 YEARS

#13 KENT STATE MASSACRE (MAY 4, 1970)

While I was only five years old when this happened and I didn’t understand the Vietnam War or the protests, I vividly remember the news that evening and this iconic photograph.

As you may recall, the Ohio National Guard opened fire on unarmed students killing four and wounding nine others.

On the 30th anniversary of the deadly shootings, I covered the story for a television station in Mansfield, Ohio.

#12 MADONNA MARRYING SEAN PENN (AUGUST 1985)

It’s no secret that I love Madonna. I’ve seen her in concert four times and I remember buying her first album at Terrapin Station in Murray, Kentucky, in 1983, before she was a household name.

But, I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I shed tears the day she married Sean Penn in 1985!

Not because I was happy. I just knew it wouldn’t last and it was my “Madonna”! 🙂

#11 JEFFREY DAHMER & MY MILWAUKEE SUMMER (1990)

Back in 1990, I moved from Kentucky to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. While I was only there for the summer into the early fall, I enjoyed my job as a bartender at “Partners”, one of the oldest LGBTQ bars in the city.

OMG, I was so young — in stone-washed jeans and a New Kids on the Block t-shirt! 🙂

On a slow Sunday night, a couple came in and ordered drinks.  Jerry was a good-looking man and his lady friend, who was older than him, was D’nell. 

While Jerry flirted with me, it was my bond with D’nell that would stand the test of time. She became my “Mom” and I called her that until her death in early 2009.

One night I went out drinking with my friends and co-workers in the seedier part of the gay district at C’est La Vie and Club 219.

Needless to say, I had way too much to drink and the scary alley, while unsavory, was a great place to puke before we moved on elsewhere!!!

I didn’t think too much about it at the time, but when serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer was arrested, I got chills. Club 219 was one of his favorite haunts and he picked up many of his victims there!

I used to keep journals and my night at Club 219 coincided with the stalking and murdering timeline. He very well could have been lurking in the corner that night I was totally wasted!

#10 VANESSA WILLIAMS TURNING OVER HER MISS AMERICA CROWN (JULY 1984)

It was a beautiful night in 1983 when Vanessa Williams became the first black Miss America.

It was a very sad day in the summer of 1984, when the 21-year-old turned over her crown after artistic (and unauthorized) nude pictures surfaced in Penthouse. (Even as a gay boy, I bought the magazine to see what the fuss was all about!)

Another admission: I was saddened and cried watching this press conference! I was hoping that she’d fight to keep her crown and tell the Miss America pageant to “f*ck off”, but that didn’t happen!

But, Vanessa has gone on to a very successful singing and acting career with numerous Grammy, Emmy, and Tony Award nominations!

As a bonus, my favorite Vanessa Williams song!

Here’s my blog from earlier in 2020 dedicated just to Vanessa! (It’ll open in a new window.)

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2020/03/18/vanessa-williams-still-reigns/

Along with the events that impacted my first 35 years, I’m sharing my 35 favorites songs from those 35 years!*

Casey Kasem is my inspiration. I still recall all the weekends I spent listening to Casey count down the 40 biggest songs in America!

As I compiled my comprehensive list, it started out with 236 of my favorites!!!

As a teenager, I remember telling my grandmother Helen that a certain song was my “favorite” and she replied, “they’re all your favorites”!

But, when I was a youngster, there could only be one winner!

So here goes… enjoy the countdown and the videos!

#35 “GLORIA” (LAURA BRANIGAN) (1982)

#34 “SUGAR SUGAR” (THE ARCHIES) (1969)

#33 “LIZZIE AND THE RAINMAN” (TANYA TUCKER) (1975)

#32 “YOU ARE” (LIONEL RICHIE) (1983)

#31 “NEVER SURRENDER” (COREY HART) (1985)

MORE EVENTS THAT SHAPED MY FIRST 35 YEARS

#9 “JOHN WAYNE GACY’S CHICAGO MURDER SPREE (1970s)

Just before Christmas 1978, John Wayne Gacy was arrested in Des Plaines, Illinois (near Chicago), for the murder of 15-year-old Robert Piest.

During his confession, police would learn there were many other bodies.

Gacy is known to have killed, at least 33 young men and boys. Of those, 26 were buried in the crawl space of his home!

When the news of this serial killer broke, I was a 14-year-old gay boy living in western Kentucky, just six hours away.

This had a very chilling effect on me since I was the same age as some of his victims. I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that people could kill others just for the thrill of it!

#8 KAREN CARPENTER’S DEATH (1983)

Karen and Richard Carpenter were on “top of the world” in the 1970s topping the chart with their amazing melodies and her incredible voice.

After years of battling anorexia nervosa, the music world was shocked on February 4, 1983, when Karen died of a heart attack. The years of starvation had destroyed her body.

Karen’s battle with an eating disorder brought that subject to the forefront for America. I know the awareness has saved many lives.

#7 AIDS EPIDEMIC (FROM THE SUMMER OF 1981 TO NOW)

For almost 30 years from the 1980s through the early-2010s, I strongly despised, even hated, President Ronald Reagan.

In the summer of 1981, a new “gay cancer” (it would be called AIDS later) was attacking and quickly killing homosexuals in alarming numbers.

However, President Reagan didn’t mention the deadly disease publicly until a press conference in 1985. And, it’d be six years into the AIDS pandemic (1987) before he gave his first speech on AIDS — after more than 20,000 Americans had already died!

What a terrifying time for a 16-year-old boy that wasn’t even sexually active yet.

Four decades later, by the grace of God, I’m still HIV-negative, but I have friends that are positive and I’ve know people that have died of AIDS.

Thankfully, we now have drugs, when taken properly, make it impossible to spread the virus!

National Institute of Health: “U=U means that people living with HIV who achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load—the amount of HIV in the blood—by taking and adhering to antiretroviral therapy (ART) as prescribed cannot sexually transmit the virus to others.”

#6 “HALLOWEEN IN HOUSTON” & ELECTING BILL & HILLARY CLINTON (1992)

My first time on a plane was in October 1992 when I flew to Houston to celebrate Halloween with my friends Steve and Dennis.

There were so many amazing costumes in the big city including 1992 presidential candidate Ross Perot!!!

That pretty much summarizes the PG version of our nights on Montrose in the gay district.

There are many more scandalous pictures of that trip elsewhere in my blog’s history, including ones of yours truly!

Remember I was in my carefree 20s and it was before Facebook!!! 🙂

Clearly, there was boob admiration going on here between the two of us — he won!

Since my outfit was rather risque, I didn’t drink much that night and maybe that was a good thing! 🙂

However, after an intoxicating Sunday night with vodka cranberries, we flew back to Kentucky Monday and on Tuesday, I cast my first vote for the Clintons, which sent them to the White House for what would turn out to be eight years! 🙂

Now, back to the countdown!

#30 “MERRY CHRISTMAS DARLING” (THE CARPENTERS) (1970)

#29 “SOS” (ABBA) (1975)

#28 “DREAMS” (GABRIELLE) (1993)

#27 “YOU MAKE MY DREAMS” (DARYL HALL & JOHN OATES) (1981)

#26 “SO EMOTIONAL” (WHITNEY HOUSTON) (1987)

#25 “TARZAN BOY” (BALTIMORA) (1985)

#24 “EMOTIONS” (MARIAH CAREY) (1991)

#23 “BORDERLINE” (MADONNA) (1984)

#22 “ONLY IN MY DREAMS” (DEBBIE GIBSON) (1987)

#21 “I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY (WHO LOVES ME)” (WHITNEY HOUSTON) (1987)

EVENTS THAT SHAPED MY FIRST 35 YEARS

#5 THE DEATH OF MY FIRST IDOL — MY GRANDFATHER (1978)

My first two idols in life were my my mother, Dessie, and my grandfather, John Henry Peoples.

Sadly, my life with my grandfather was cut short since I had just become a teenager when he died in early 1978.

I’ll never forget his last Christmas as he was dying from colon cancer, it was remarkable how he stayed in good spirits.

I’ll always cherish the weekends we spent together at Kentucky Lake camping out and fishing.  Also, all of the memories of just piddling around in the back yard and in his work garage remain vividly clear in my mind.  He made me feel loved and appreciated.

I never really liked the taste of beer.  But, as a kid, it was so cool that he would let me suck the suds off his beer cans when he’d open them. 

Maybe it’s because of the suds that I’ve now moved on to bubbly champagne as an adult (along with vodka and wine)!

When I finally get to heaven, I can’t wait to say “thank you” and let him know how much I idolized him.  I know, as a kid, I never told him.

There was also talk that I was almost named after my father.  I’m grateful that I wasn’t.  However, it would have been an honor to have been a “John Henry” Junior!

#4 JIMMY CARTER BECOMING PRESIDENT (1976)

In November 1976, as a 12-year-old boy in Kentucky, I cast my first presidential vote for the Democratic candidate Jimmy Carter, and four years later, at 16, I voted for him again. 

So, you might be thinking, that’s impossible.  Many things go on in Kentucky that aren’t talked about in other states, but kids still can’t vote. 

Well, since my Grandmother Helen was not very literate, I accompanied her into the voting booth and I got to vote for the candidates of my choice.  Even then, I knew what I was doing.  🙂

Now, you might be thinking, why Carter?  Maybe it was because he was a Southerner and he talked like me!  I’m kidding.  I just liked him.

At age 12, I didn’t know anything about “gay rights”, but then again, there was no such thing as “rights” for those kind of people in the mid-1970s!

While Carter was a deeply committed Christian that taught Sunday school and prayed several times a day, he was the first president to address gay rights and his administration was the first to meet with gay rights activists.  He was opposed to the Briggs Initiative in California that would have banned gays from teaching in public schools.

In the summer of 2017, while living in Panama City, Florida, I drove through the darkness of night and across the backwoods of the Southeast to hear President Carter give a sermon at his church in Plains, Georgia, and I got to meet my idols, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter!

#3 MY DECADE LONG STRUGGLE WITH BULIMIA (1986-1995)

Over the years, I’ve written many times about eating disorders from Karen Carpenter’s anorexia nervosa to my own battle with bulimia.

Just know that eating disorders affect men and women, girls and boys, the young and the elderly!

I wrote, “In early 1995, I was down to 116 pounds and I thought I was fat… I’m still obsessed with weight gains and losses, eating too much, and fighting the urge to binge and purge.”

Another time I shared, “… I fight the food demon of overeating every day.  A few pounds to the average person is a huge burden, a catalyst for insecurity, and a path for destruction to a food addict.”

While I was a practicing bulimic for nine years from 1986-1995, I got my act together for more than two decades.

Beyond the scope of this blog, I’ve fallen off the wagon a few times and then I just get up and start over again!

Like other addictions, it’s a daily struggle and not something that’ll just go away.

Let the countdown roll on….

#20 “AIN’T EVEN DONE WITH THE NIGHT” (JOHN COUGAR MELLENCAMP) (1981)

#19 “DIM ALL THE LIGHTS” (DONNA SUMMER) (1979)

#18 “ON MY OWN” (PATTI LaBELLE & MICHAEL McDONALD) (1986)

“ON MY OWN” (REBA McENTIRE, MARTINA McBRIDE, TRISHA YEARWOOD, & LINDA DAVIS) (1995)

#17 “NO FRILLS LOVE” (JENNIFER HOLLIDAY) (1985)

#16 “I AM WOMAN” (HELEN REDDY) (1972)

#15 “TWO OF HEARTS” (STACEY Q) (1986)

#14 “FASCINATED” (COMPANY B) (1987)

#13 “I LOVE MY RADIO” (TAFFY) (1986)

#12 “TOP OF THE WORLD” (THE CARPENTERS) (1973)

#11 “MISSING YOU” (JOHN WAITE) (1984)

“TAINTED LOVE” (SOFT CELL) (1982)

“WE DON’T HAVE TO TAKE OUR CLOTHES OFF” (JERMAINE STEWART) (1986)

“ONE PROMISE TOO LATE” (REBA McENTIRE) (1987)

“OH L’AMOUR” (ERASURE) (1986)

“DON’T YOU WANT ME” (THE HUMAN LEAGUE) (1981)

“HARPER VALLEY P.T.A.” (JEANNIE C. RILEY) (1968)

“ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU” (MARIAH CAREY) (1994 ORIGINAL)

“ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU” (MAKE MY WISH COME TRUE EDITION) (MARIAH CAREY) (2019)

EVENTS THAT SHAPED MY FIRST 35 YEARS

#2 MOVING TO CHICAGO (1994) & KICKING OFF MY TV CAREER (1996)

In November 1993, my grandmother Helen (the last of my living parents and grandparents) died.

I was still in my hometown helping to take care of her and since Tammy was young and had her own family, I had no reason to stay in Kentucky any longer.

I often wondered “Is There Life Out There?” (the title of a huge Reba McEntire song in 1992), and I struggled through the 1993 holidays and the early winter months of 1994.

In the spring of 1994, my friend Steve shared with me the PBS series, “Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the Cities” and Mary Ann Singleton (Laura Linney) became my inspiration to make a change in my life!

Over Memorial Day 1994, Steve, Dennis, and I went to Chicago to party for the weekend and we had a blast.

At Gentry’s on Rush, the owner started sending over free cocktails and the boys (and the music) were so hot!

It was there that I fell in love with “Dreams” by Gabrielle (back at #28) and Sarah Brightman’s “Once in a Lifetime” from the “Dive” album!

It was also that weekend that I decided I was moving to Chicago!

Six weeks later, over the Fourth of July weekend, I moved to the big city and it was the best decision I ever made!

It was an interesting two years — bartending in a country gay bar, meeting a psycho on my 30th birthday that ended up trying to kill me several times, and then meeting someone that would become my longest relationship (9 years).

It was also during my first residency in Chicago that my television news career took off in the spring of 1996. My first network-affiliated television weather job was in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, that summer. And, from there, jobs in Texas, Ohio, Maryland, Illinois, Florida, and Minnesota followed!

#1 MY MOTHER’S DEATH (NOVEMBER 7, 1990)

My beautiful, wonderful mother, Dessie, died of a heart attack on the morning of November 7, 1990.

While I’ve lived more than half of my lifetime without her, I’m grateful for the 26 years we had together.

She was there to see me make my theatrical stage debut in “The Curious Savage” and saw me present weather at Murray State University’s television station that was only broadcast on cable systems in two cities.

My mother was there in the spring of 1989 when I became the first college graduate in our family.

One of the funniest stories I have of my mother happened in the spring of 1990. I took her to Sunday brunch at 101st Airborne in Nashville, Tennessee.  

She didn’t drink, but her champagne glass was empty every time the server came by and mine was always full since I kept switching glasses with her. I’m sure the waitress thought Dessie was such a lush and I was so innocent allowing my mother to drink so freely while I just sipped my champagne! 🙂

There have been so many times over the past 30 years that I’ve wanted to grab the phone to share something with her and then realize that I couldn’t do it!

As I reflect back on my life with my mother, I was so fortunate to be loved. She wasn’t just my mother — she was my biggest supporter, she was my rock, and she was my friend!

When I think of all of the things I wrote about today and not having a chance to talk to her about them, I can still smile and feel warm inside.

I know that my mother is with me — in my heart and in my memories!

P.S. The #38 song at the bottom of the blog was played at my mother’s funeral!

To quote Casey again, back to the countdown because “we don’t stop until we get to the top!”

“XANADU” (OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN) (1980)

“IMAGINE” (JOHN LENNON) (1971)

“LET IT BE” (THE BEATLES) (1970)

Casey, take us home, “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars!”

I appreciate you taking time to check out my fun little walk down memory lane.

Anthony

*Okay, since I ❤️❤️❤️ LISTS & COUNTDOWNS, I’m really sharing my 101 favorites!

Why 101? There were “101 Dalmatians”! 🙂

#101 “SO MANY MEN, SO LITTLE TIME” (MIQUEL BROWN) (1983)

#100 “LOVE WILL KEEP US TOGETHER” (THE CAPTAIN & TENNILLE) (1975)

#99 “DREAM WEAVER” (GARY WRIGHT) (1975)

#98 “KISS AN ANGEL GOOD MORNIN'” (CHARLEY PRIDE) (1971)

#97 “OBJECT OF MY DESIRE” (STARPOINT) (1985)

#96 “EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE” (THE POLICE) (1983)

#95 “ANOTHER SAD LOVE SONG” (TONI BRAXTON) (1993)

#94 “I’LL TUMBLE 4 YA” (CULTURE CLUB) (1983)

#93 “CHAINS” (PATTY LOVELESS) (1989)

#92 “FAITH” (GEORGE MICHAEL) (1987)

#91 “HIGHER LOVE” (STEVE WINWOOD & CHAKA KHAN) (1986)

#90 “CAN’T FIGHT FATE” (TAYLOR DAYNE) (1989)

#89 “SAD SONGS (SAY SO MUCH)” (ELTON JOHN) (1984)

#88 “EDGE OF SEVENTEEN” (STEVIE NICKS) (1982)

#87SAY YOU, SAY ME” (LIONEL RICHIE) (1985)

#86 “IT MATTERS TO ME” (FAITH HILL) (1995)

#85 “DO YOU REALLY WANT TO HURT ME?” (CULTURE CLUB) (1982)

#84 “I KNEW YOU WERE WAITING (FOR ME)” (ARETHA FRANKLIN & GEORGE MICHAEL) (1987)

#83 “JESSIE’S GIRL” (RICK SPRINGFIELD) (1981)

#82 “EXCEPT FOR MONDAY” (LORRIE MORGAN) (1991)

#81 “LOUISIANA WOMAN, MISSISSIPPI MAN” (CONWAY TWITTY & LORETTA LYNN) (1973)

#80 “I LOVE ROCK & ROLL” (JOAN JETT & THE BLACKHEARTS) (1982)

“I LOVE ROCK & ROLL” (BRITNEY SPEARS) (2002)

#79 “HEAVEN’S JUST A SIN AWAY” (THE KENDALLS) (1977)

#78 “OPEN YOUR HEART” (MADONNA) (1986)

#77 “WITH EVERY BEAT OF MY HEART” (TAYLOR DAYNE) (1989)

#76 “TAKE ME AS I AM” (FAITH HILL) (1994)

#75 “1999” (PRINCE) (1982)

#74 “MAMMA MIA” (ABBA) (1975)

#73 “I CAN DREAM ABOUT YOU” (DAN HARTMAN) (1984)

#72 “EMPTY GARDEN (HEY HEY JOHNNY)” (ELTON JOHN) (1982)

#71 “ONLY IN MY MIND” (REBA McENTIRE) (1985)

#70 “NO MORE WORDS” (BERLIN) (1984)

#69 “WEST END GIRLS” (THE PET SHOP BOYS) (1984)

#68 “MAGIC” (OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN) (1980)

#67 “I GUESS THAT’S WHY THEY CALL IT THE BLUES” (ELTON JOHN) (1984)

#66 “I RAN (SO FAR AWAY) (A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS) (1982)

#65 “TRUE” (SPANDAU BALLET) (1983)

#64 “IS THERE SOMETHING I SHOULD KNOW?” (DURAN DURAN) (1983)

#63 “DREAMLOVER” (MARIAH CAREY) (1993)

#62 “THIS WOMAN AND THIS MAN” (CLAY WALKER) (1995)

#61 “COLD HEARTED” (PAULA ABDUL) (1989)

#60 “COME GO WITH ME” (EXPOSE) (1987)

#59 “IT’S NOT RIGHT BUT IT’S OKAY” (WHITNEY HOUSTON) (1999)

#58 “YOU GOT IT (THE RIGHT STUFF) (NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK) (1988)

#57 “FLASHDANCE (WHAT A FEELING)” (IRENE CARA) (1983)

#56 “FRIENDS & LOVERS” (GLORIA LORING & CARL ANDERSON) (1986)

#55 “SUNGLASSES AT NIGHT” (COREY HART) (1984)

#54 “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR ME LATELY” (JANET JACKSON) (1986)

#53 “LOOKING FOR A NEW LOVE” (JODY WATLEY) (1987)

#52 “DANCING ON THE CEILING” (LIONEL RICHIE) (1986)

#51 “LET’S HEAR IT FOR THE BOY” (DENIECE WILLIAMS) (1984)

#50 “IF YOU LOVE ME (LET ME KNOW)” (OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN) (1974)

#49 “MAKING LOVE OUT OF NOTHING AT ALL” (AIR SUPPLY) (1983)

#48 “(THEY LONG TO BE) CLOSE TO YOU” (THE CARPENTERS) (1970)

#47 “LET ME BE THERE” (OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN) (1973)

#46 “HOW WILL I KNOW” (WHITNEY HOUSTON) (1985)

#45 “WHAT MADE YOU SAY THAT” (SHANIA TWAIN) (1993)

#44 “KARMA CHAMELEON” (CULTURE CLUB) (1983)

#43 “BLAME IT ON YOUR HEART” (PATTY LOVELESS) (1993)

#42 “TOO SHY” (KAJAGOOGOO) (1983)

#41 “BELIEVE” (CHER) (1998)

#40 “THE REFLEX” (DURAN DURAN) (1984)

#39 “FOREVER YOUR GIRL” (PAULA ABDUL) (1989)

#38 “WIND BENEATH MY WINGS” (BETTE MIDLER) (1989)

#37 “I’LL BE YOUR SHELTER” (TAYLOR DAYNE) (1990)

#36 “KIDS IN AMERICA” (KIM WILDE) (1981)

Michael Ray Could Bring Me Back To Country Music

Growing up in Kentucky, I was raised on country music — Tanya Tucker, Conway Twitty, Loretta Lynn, and Dolly Parton.

In the 1980s when I went away to college, it was all about pop and dance music (Madonna, Janet Jackson, Taylor Dayne), and the second “British Invasion” (Erasure, Duran Duran, Culture Club).

While I stuck with dance and pop music in the 1990s, I also started listening to Reba McEntire and Patty Loveless and they brought country music back into my life.

I’ve always been more of a fan of female singers.  However, I’ll admit that in the music video age, a good-looking singer in a cowboy hat could grab my attention long enough for me to listen to the music.

That turned me on to Clay Walker’s music.

Clay Walker

From his debut hit, “What’s It To You” in 1993 that topped the chart to his last Top 40 country hit, “Where Do I Go From You” in 2010, he’s scored 29 Top 40 hits.

Of those, 17 made the Top Ten and six topped the country charts.  As a matter of fact, five of his first six were #1 hits.

“This Woman and This Man” is still my all-time favorite Clay Walker song.

It topped the chart for two weeks in early 1995.

Once country radio started cutting back on airplay for Reba, Patty, Pam Tillis, Lorrie Morgan, Martina McBride, and females no longer in the younger demographics, I lost interest in the format.

In the past fifteen years, the only male country singer I became a fan of was Keith Urban.

keith_urban

However, with the recent crossover of Sam Hunt’s “Take Your Time” and the anticipation of Reba’s concert last week in the Quad Cities, I glanced at the country chart.

I watched a few videos and I liked “Make Me Wanna” by Thomas Rhett (I actually interviewed his father, Rhett Akins, back in 1997).

MICHAEL RAY — ALBUM PICK HIT 

I also came across Michael Ray’s “Kiss You in the Morning” video.

Being honest, his striking good looks and tattoos caught my eye.  So, I took a listen and the song was upbeat and fun.  It’s also the most played country song in the U.S.

“Kiss” was a strong enough song to make me take a listen to more of his music and I ended up buying his self-titled debut album that came out last week and I’m so glad I did.

michael-ray

This is definitely one of the most solid debut albums I can recall.

Michael has been working on his craft professionally since appearing on The CW’s reality series/singing competition show, “The Next:  Fame Is at Your Doorstep” in 2012.

The Florida native won that completion performing songs by Luke Bryan, Eric Church, and Jake Owen and now he’s competing against those same men for radio airplay and I know he’ll do just fine.

Now that “Kiss You in the Morning” has topped the country airplay charts, Michael already has his second single, “Real Men Love Jesus”, ready to go out to radio in mid-September.

It’s a mid-tempo song that touches on some of the core elements of country music: fishing, fast cars, football, sexy women, Mama, and Jesus.

One thing that Michael excels at is slower and mid-tempo songs.

My choice for the third single is “Run Away With You”, one of my favorite songs on the album.

Other slower choice cuts are “Everything In Between”, “Wish I Was Here”, and “Think A Little Less”.

And, when he’s ready to rock, he brings life to the party.

If I worked for his label, I’ve already got the fourth single picked out.  “Livin’ It Up” is a fun upbeat song that will be on “repeat” once you get the album.

I mentioned a third and fourth single, but I’m being modest.

This album is solid enough that it could go five or six singles deep for country radio.

If you’re a country music fan, you’re going to love this album.  If, like me, you’ve been away from the genre for some time, this is a breath of fresh air.

michael-ray

“Michael Ray” is a fun album that isn’t too heavy on the current country rage, “bro-country”.

GRADE:

A

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — August 14, 2015

The weekend is almost here and after working the past eight Saturdays, I’m back to having my weekends off again!

I plan on having a fun one and I hope the same for you.  Let’s kick it off with my “Random Friday Thoughts”.

As always, let me know what we agree on and what we don’t!

FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER HAS CANCER

My favorite President, Jimmy Carter, who is now 90-years-old, revealed Wednesday that he has cancer.

Jimmy Carter

It was discovered during a recent liver surgery.  He also stated that the cancer had spread to other body parts.

He plans to undergo treatment and says he’ll share more details next week.

I’ll say an extra prayer for President Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, for a speedy recovery.

President-Jimmy-and-Rosalynn-Carter1

I’ve been a huge fan of his since I was an 11-year-old boy growing up in Kentucky when he was running for President in 1976.

I even devoted a full blog to him in March 2012 that I want to share again with you.  (You can click on the link below and it’ll open in a new window so you don’t lose your place in this week’s blog!)

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2012/03/08/forget-marilyn-i-want-my-week-with-jimmy/

REPUBLICAN RACE SHOWDOWN

After a television debate last week with most of the Republican candidates vying to become the next President of the United States, most people talked about Donald Trump and his rude comments.

Fox News commentator Megan Kelly started a question with “You’ve called women you don’t like ‘fat pigs,’ ‘dogs,’ ‘slobs,’ and ‘disgusting animals’, and Trump replied, “Only Rosie O’Donnell”.

Rosie O'Donnell

While a sad expression of honesty from a man who wants to run this country, it must be working for him.  An NBC News poll after that debate showed Trump as the front-runner with an increasing lead.

Donald Trump had 23% followed by Ted Cruz (13%) and Ben Carson (11%).

Carly Fiorina surged to fourth place (8%) and is now tied with Marco Rubio.

The rest of the top ten: Jeb Bush and Scott Walker (7%), Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee (5%), and Rick Perry and John Kasich (2%).

santorum

Rick Santorum and George Pataki are in last place with 0%!

THEY SAID WHAT???

REPUBLICAN FRONT RUNNER FOR PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP

(about Fox News commentator Megyn Kelly after her questioning in that debate):  “there was blood coming out of her eyes … blood coming out of her wherever.”

MORE TRUMP

(after an uproar accusing him of being sexist with the hormonal overtones to his comment about Kelly):  “Do you think I’d make a statement like that? Who would make a statement like that? Only a sick person would even think about that.”

Kelly Trump

FOX COMMENTATOR MEGYN KELLY

(speaking about the personal attacks from Trump):  “Mr. Trump is an interesting man who has captured the attention of the electorate. That’s why he’s leading in the polls. Trump, who is the frontrunner, will not apologize. And I certainly will not apologize for doing good journalism, so I’ll continue doing my job without fear or favor. And Mr. Trump, I expect, will continue with what has been a successful campaign thus far. This is a tough business and it’s time now to move forward.”

POP ICON & ACTRESS CHER

Cher Dressed to Kill Tour

(About going back out on tour after having to cancel the second leg of her “Dressed To Kill Tour” because of an acute viral infection affecting her kidneys):  “You know, I’m hoping that I’ll be able to do this. That’s my wish. But I can’t say that I actually will be able to… My will is pretty strong, so… I don’t know.”

MARVIN GAYE’S SUE HAPPY FAMILY

The family of late R&B legend Marvin Gaye sure loves to sue people.

They successfully sued Robin Thicke and Pharrell over the mega hit “Blurred Lines” claiming that it ripped off “Got To Give It Up”.  Gaye’s family was awarded $7.4 million in damages for copyright infringement, but this is being appealed.

Empire

Now, a son is ready to sue the makers of Fox’s very successful #1 drama, “Empire”, claiming that it was his idea.

I’m thinking two things:  First, they don’t want Taraji P. Henson’s “Cookie” to come down on their asses and secondly, that family needs to get a life – their own!

MORE “MARVIN GAYE”

Singer and songwriter Charlie Puth topped the charts earlier this year with “See You Again” with Wiz Khalifa.  The song was featured in “Furious 7” and was a tribute to the late actor Paul Walker.

Puth is now racing up the charts with “Marvin Gaye” with a little help from Meghan Trainor.

The song is already one of 25 most played songs at Top 40 radio in the U.S.

I especially like the fun, sexy, and LGBT-inclusive video!

REBA — YOU TAKE THE GOOD, YOU TAKE THE BAD

Sadly, since my last “Random Friday Thoughts” in late July, my idol and country superstar Reba McEntire and her husband Narvel Blackstock announced they were separating after 26 years of marriage.

On a more positive note, I saw Reba in concert for the 13th time when she played the Mississippi Valley Fair last week.  She also announced last week, “Until They Don’t Love You”, would be the second single from her album, “Love Somebody”.

Reba Until They Don't Love You

This song sounds amazing live and she also performed it on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” Wednesday night.

You can click on this link to see it:  http://www.nbc.com/the-tonight-show/video/reba-mcentire-until-they-dont-love-you/2890917

“YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE”

If you listened to music in the late-1970s, you probably know that’s part of a lyric ( “You have to believe we are magic, nothin’ can stand in our way”) from Olivia Newton-John’s #1 smash “Magic” from the motion picture, “Xanadu”, that hit theaters about this time in 1978.

Now, Olivia has re-recorded part of that song with her daughter, Chloe Lattanzi and DJ extraordinaire Dave Aude.

Olivia and Chloe look incredible re-enacting the vibe from “Xanadu” in and around Las Vegas.

I believe that this song and remix will return Olivia to the Billboard Dance chart.  Her last appearance on that chart was back in 1988 when “The Rumour” peaked at #17.

Olivia’s last Top 40 on the Hot 100 was “Soul Kiss” back in 1985.  It reached #20.

“HANNIBAL”

I’m truly saddened that there’s only three episodes of “Hannibal” left.

Hannibal-NBC-Poster-2012

This was definitely one of the most intelligent, thrilling, artistically creative, and well acted shows on television.  Maybe it was too intelligent!

I’ll especially miss Gillian Anderson as Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier!

However, I’ll still see Anderson in “The X-Files” in January 2016 and I’m really enjoying her as Metropolitan Police Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson on the BBC hit show, “The Fall”.

It also stars Jamie Dornan, best known as Christian Grey of “Fifty Shades of Grey”.

If you haven’t checked out the two seasons of “The Fall”, it’s a must see!

“MR. ROBOT”

Another show I highly recommend is my new summer favorite, the incredibly intelligent “Mr. Robot” on USA Network.

MR. ROBOT

Rami Malek is the breakout star as Elliot Alderson, a computer hacker by night and a security technician at a cybersecurity company by day.

Elliot suffers from chronic depression and social anxiety disorder, which makes him quirky and very awkward in social situations.

Christian Slater stars as Mr. Robot.

This is definitely a thriller drama you need to check out and it was renewed for a second season even before the first episode aired!

FALLING IN AND OUT OF LOVE WITH COUNTRY MUSIC 

This part will be very familiar if you read my blog earlier in the week!

Growing up in Kentucky, I was raised on country music — Tanya Tucker, Conway Twitty, Loretta Lynn, and Dolly Parton.

In the 1980s when I went away to college, it was all about pop and dance music (Madonna, Janet Jackson, Taylor Dayne), and the second “British Invasion” (Erasure, Duran Duran, Culture Club).

While I stuck with dance and pop music in the 1990s, I also started listening to Reba McEntire and Patty Loveless and they brought country music back into my life.

I’ve always been more of a fan of female singers.  However, I’ll admit that in the music video age, a good-looking singer in a cowboy hat could grab my attention long enough for me to listen to the music.

That turned me on to Clay Walker’s music.

Clay Walker

From his debut hit, “What’s It To You” in 1993 that topped the chart to his last Top 40 country hit, “Where Do I Go From You” in 2010.  In his career, he’s scored 29 Top 40 hits, 17 of which hit the Top Ten, and six topped the country charts.  As a matter of fact, five of his first six were #1 hits.

“This Woman and This Man” is still my all-time favorite Clay Walker song.  It topped the chart for two weeks in early 1995.

Once country radio started cutting back on airplay for Reba, Patty, Pam Tillis, Lorrie Morgan, Martina McBride, and females no longer in the younger demographics, I lost interest in the format.

In the past fifteen years, the only male country singer I became fan of was Keith Urban.

keith_urban

However, with the recent crossover of Sam Hunt’s “Take Your Time” and the anticipation of Reba’s concert last week in the Quad Cities, I glanced at the country chart.

I watched a few videos and I liked “Make Me Wanna” by Thomas Rhett (I actually interviewed his father, Rhett Akins, back in 1997).

MICHAEL RAY — ALBUM PICK HIT 

michael-ray

Michael Ray’s “Kiss You in the Morning” is the most played country song in the U.S. this week.

I just bought his self-titled debut album and I’m so glad I did.  Here is the link to my review of the album and you’ll get to hear more of my favorite tracks from it:

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2015/08/12/michael-ray-could-bring-me-back-to-country-music/

And, it’s pretty cool that even with his busy touring schedule and with radio and television appearances, Michael had a chance to read my blog and review of his album and tweeted back at me.

Michael Ray Tweets

“THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL”

As much as I love movies, it’s crazy that I still haven’t been to the theater this calendar year.  The last theater movie for me was “Unbroken” back in late December!

I’ve been waiting to see “Jurassic World”, but my summer work schedule nixed that.  And, I’m definitely going to see “Everest” on the big screen (the release date is now September 25, 2015).

Now, I’ve found another one that looks amazingly funny and bold and it has a 95% positive rating on the site, “Rotten Tomatoes”.

“The Diary of a Teenage Girl” is the story of a 1970s teenager, Minnie Goetze, played by British actress Bel Powley, and her affair with her mother’s boyfriend told from her diary.

Kristin Wiig, who’s been in two of my favorite movies over the past year, “The Skeleton Twins” and “Welcome To Me”, plays Minnie’s mother and Alexander Skarsgard (“True Blood”) stars as Wiig’s boyfriend.

The movie is only playing in selection theaters now, but will be expanding in August.  Hopefully, it’ll be in the Quad Cities this fall!

“UNDER THE DOME” — THE END?

I loved the first season of “Under The Dome” on CBS and suffered through the end of season two.

under-the-dome

After watching just a bit of the season three premiere, I’d had enough.  And, I guess America has, too.

The show premiered with 13.5 million viewers (17.76 million with DVR figures added).  Last week’s episode was down to an astonishing 3.88 million!

I highly suspect that the show will be cancelled (along with “Extant”).

CBS entertainment chairman Nina Tassler at the Television Critics Association’s press tour earlier this week told reporters that the dome will come down in the finale.  “Entertainment Weekly” reports that “producers have written the finale to serve as a potential series finale or a season finale”.

Regardless of the fate of the show, two great things came out it — one gorgeous and one gory!

600full-mike-vogelCOW UNDER THE DOME

Sorry, I couldn’t resist!  I still try to catch the show’s opening just to see the dome split the cow in half!

FALL IS GETTING CLOSER

Okay, let me get that taste out of your mouth!  Look what’s new from M&M for this fall season: Pecan Pie M&Ms!

Pecan Pie M&M

Yum!  I can’t wait to try them!

While I love spending time floating in the pool and I love snow (but not the extreme Midwestern cold), fall is my new favorite season.

Fall

That all sounds incredible, but it’s really all about…

“THE WALKING DEAD”

On August 23rd, “Fear The Walking Dead” premieres on AMC and hopefully that’ll hold me over until October 11th when the sixth season of “The Walking Dead” begins.

Here’s the incredible new trailer for “The Walking Dead”!

THAT’S IT FOR NOW

Thank you for checking out my “Random Friday Thoughts”.  Let me know your thoughts on anything I wrote about today.

Have a great weekend.  I’m going to relax and enjoy the pool.

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.

HONORABLE MENTION (#22)

 “SO MANY MEN, SO LITTLE TIME” — MIQUEL BROWN

HONORABLE MENTION (#21)

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

20

“DIM ALL THE LIGHTS” — DONNA SUMMER

 

19

“NO FRILLS LOVE” — JENNIFER HOLLIDAY

18

“ON MY OWN” — PATTI LABELLE & MICHAEL McDONALD

#17

“I LOVE MY RADIO” — TAFFY

16

“ONE PROMISE TOO LATE”  — REBA

15

“DELTA DAWN”  — HELEN REDDY

 

#14 Movie

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

13

“TWO OF HEARTS” — STACEY Q

12

“MISSING YOU” — JOHN WAITE

11

“BORDERLINE” — MADONNA

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