Song Lyric Sunday — Coffee Time

For this week’s Song Lyric Sunday, Jim Adams gives us “cappuccino,” “coffee,” “espresso,” “latte,” and “mocha” as our theme words. When my son was in college he belonged to an a cappella group and they sang jazz classics as well as contemporary pop and rock. Among their jazz classics was the song by The Ink Spots “Java Jive.”

“Java Jive” was written by Ben Oakland and Milton Drake in 1940 and was recorded by The Ink Spots. It reached number 15 on the Billboard Hot 100. The Ink Spots performed it for years, and there have been numerous other recordings by other artists, including The Manhattan Transfer’s popular 1975 version.

“Java Jive ” is a high-spirited ode to coffee in which the singer enthusiastically professes his love for “java” (and tea too, but it’s really about coffee). The love is mutual: “I love coffee, I love tea / I love the java jive and it loves me.” The singer also loves coffee’s “jive” — meaning foolish, playful talk in the jazz slang of the era, as well as a popular style of 1930s big band jazz. The song lyrics themselves are a great example of the jive — lots of silly rhymes, including “Oh, slip me a slug from the wonderful mug / I’ll cut a rug till I’m snug in a jug,” and everyone’s favorite, “I love java, sweet and hot / Whoops, Mr. Moto, I’m a coffee pot.”

When the Ink Spots recorded the song in 1940, audiences knew that “Mr. Moto” was the Japanese detective played by Peter Lorre in eight movies released in 1937-1939. Likewise, everyone knew that “cutting a rug” was slang for dancing, popularized in the 1920s and still current when “Java Jive” was released.

Here are the lyrics to “Java Jive.”

I love coffee, I love tea
I love the Java Jive and it loves me
Coffee and tea and the java and me
A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup (ah)

I love java, sweet and hot
Whoops, Mr. Moto, I’m a coffee pot
Shoot me the pot, and I’ll pour me a shot
A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup

Oh, slip me a slug from that wonderful mug
And I’ll cut a rug, till I’m snug in a jug
A slice of onion and-a draw one
Draw one
(Waiter, waiter, percolator)

I love coffee, I love tea
I love the Java Jive and it loves me
Coffee and tea and the java and me
A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup (ah)

Boston bean (soy beans)
I said, them little itty bitty green beans (cabbage and greens)
I’m not keen about a bean
Unless it is a chilly chili bean (talk it boy)

I love coffee, I love tea
I love the java jive and it loves me
Coffee and tea and the jivin’ and me
A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup

I love java, sweet and hot
Whoops, Mr. Moto, I’m a coffee pot (yeah)
Shoot me the pot and I’ll pour me a shot
A cup, a cup, a cup (yeah)

Oh, Slip me a slug of that wonderful mug
And I’ll cut a rug that’s snug in a jug
Drop your nickel in my pot, Joe
Takin’ it slow
Waiter, waiter, percolator

I love coffee, I love tea
I love the Java Jive and it loves me
Coffee and tea and the java and me
A cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, boy!

As a bonus, here’s the version by Manhattan Transfer.

Rory’s Got Questions — 22 to be Precise

Rory, the King of Questions, asks many, many questions. Here are seven from Rory’s Season 4 – Game 5 Fun Questions.

1. What really makes you angry?

These days, Republicans.

2. What is your preferred mode of transport from the following: walking, driving car, train ride, riding a bike, or something else entirely?

If I can walk or ride a bike, that would be my preference. When I lived in the city, I would take the bus if wherever I was going was too far to walk, but now that I live in the ‘burbs, it’s driving a car.

3. Which would you rather do: wash dishes, mow the lawn, clean the bathroom, or vacuum the house?

I’d rather do none of the above, but of those listed, I suppose washing the dishes.

4. If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Breakfast.

5. How many pairs of shoes do you own?

Three: my everyday sneakers, a pair of “dress shoes” that I rarely wear, and a pair of slippers for inside the house. I also have a pair of hiking boots.

6. How long does it take you to get ready in the morning for the rest of your day?

Maybe ten minutes to go to the bathroom, take a quick shower, and brush my teeth. Then another 45 minutes or so for coffee, reading the morning paper, and my daily bowl of cold cereal. Only then am I ready to face the rest of my day.

7. What three items only would you take with you on a deserted island to survive for a week?

My iPhone and a charger. What else would I need?


And here are 15 more questions from Rory’s “Ima Hear Becuz Ima All Ear!

1. What or who got you into listening to music first?

My transistor radio.

2. Who were some of your favorited bands/artists as a youngster?

The Four Seasons, The Beach Boys, Smokey Robinson and the Miracle, The Four Tops, The Temptations, Simon & Garfunkel, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Supremes, The Drifters, Sonny & Cher.

3. Which decades of music influenced you the most as a youngster growing up?

The ’60s and ’70s.

4. Did your parents listen to a lot of music when you were living with them in your younger years and did any of their listening influence your own musical tastes?

No and no.

5. Can you list your Top 5 musical genres that you listen to frequently today?

  1. Classic rock
  2. Classic rock
  3. Classic rock
  4. Classic rock
  5. Classic rock

6. Aside from listening to music, have you ever learned to play a musical instrument or sing or take part in the musical entertainment industry?

No.

7. What is it you most like about music and how does it make you feel when listening?

The music itself and the lyrics. Because I listen mostly to classic rock, the music elicits memories and feelings from my youth and from when I was a young adult.

8. Which decade of music throughout your years to date has influenced you the most with regards to your listening today?

The mid ’60s through the late ’70s.

9. Do you listen to music daily? If so, is that all day or only at certain times? If not, when do you listen to music?

Yes. I play the Music Choice classic rock channel available from my cable provider virtually all day long as background music.

10. Do you ever sing, whistle, hum, or dance to any of the music that is playing?

Sometimes. But more often, I’ll just stop what I’m doing and listen when I hear a song I love or which triggers a vivid memory.

11. Do you have music playing when you are writing or creating? If so, does it further inspire you and help to juice up your imagination, or do you find music can knock your concentration levels off?

As I said, I have music playing in the background most of the time. I can’t say that it inspires me when I’m writing, but it also doesn’t adversely affect my ability to concentrate.

12. What was the very first concert you ever attended and also the last one and how many concerts have you seen from the first to the last in total?

I honestly can’t remember my first ever concert. It might have been when my older sister took me to see the Kingston Trio playing at the Carter Barron Amphitheatre outdoor music venue in Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C. The last concert I saw was Don Henley (of The Eagles) at the Greek Theater in Berkeley. As to how many total concerts, it has to be a hundred or more.

13. Do you prefer to listen to music and appreciate it that way or are you more likely to be more physically involved as in dancing?

These days it’s mostly just listening.

14. What sort of system do you have to listen to music at home and do you “collect music” or purely listen?

At home I listen to music mostly on the Music Choice channel through my cable TV and my surround sound system. I will also listen to my iTunes music on my iPhone while wearing my AirPods. In the car it’s the classic rock channel is SiriusXM.

15. How important is music to you?

I enjoy listening to music, so because being able to enjoy things is important to me, I suppose, therefore, music is important to me.

Song Lyric Sunday — Both Sides, Now

For today’s Song Lyric Sunday prompt, Jim Adams gave us “breeze,” “cloud,” “sky,” and “wind” for the theme words. For me, it was a toss up between Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” and Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides, Now.” I’m a fan of both artists, but I really love Joni Mitchell, so I decided to go with “Both Sides, Now.”

“Both Sides, Now” was the first hit song written by Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell. It was first recorded by Judy Collins and her version appeared on the U.S. singles chart during the fall of 1968. The next year it was included on Mitchell’s own album, Clouds, which was named after a lyric from the song, “I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now.” In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked “Both Sides, Now” at number 170 on its list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Joni Mitchell said the song came to her while she was reading Saul Bellow’s Henderson the Rain King on a plane. “Early in the book,” Mitchell said, “Henderson the Rain King is also up in a plane. He’s on his way to Africa and he looks down and sees these clouds. I put down the book, looked out the window and saw clouds too, and I immediately started writing the song. I had no idea that the song would become as popular as it did.”

Joni Mitchell had been through a very difficult time when she wrote this song’s lyric. In 1965, she gave birth to a baby girl, but after the baby’s father, an old boyfriend, left her soon after she got pregnant, Mitchell struggled as a single mom. She married a musician named Chuck Mitchell that year, but shortly after the marriage, she gave up the child for adoption. Soon, her marriage was on the rocks, and in 1967 they split up.

Mitchell described the song as a meditation on reality and fantasy, “an idea that was so big it seemed like I’d just scratched the surface of it.” Like Neil Young’s song, “Sugar Mountain,” which Mitchell answered with “The Circle Game,” “Both Sides, Now” ruminates on the subject of lost youth. At first it’s a meditation on clouds, the whimsical way a child sees them, as “ice-cream castles in the air,” but there are two sides to everything, and as we mature, we stop seeing clouds for their simple beauty, but as a sign of rain or bad weather.

Here are the lyrics for “Both Sides, Now.”

Rows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I’ve looked at clouds that way

But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s cloud illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all

Moons and Junes and Ferris wheels
The dizzy dancing way you feel
As every fairy tale comes real
I’ve looked at love that way

But now it’s just another show
You leave ’em laughing when you go
And if you care, don’t let them know
Don’t give yourself away

I’ve looked at love from both sides now
From give and take, and still somehow
It’s love’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know love at all

Tears and fears and feeling proud
To say “I love you” right out loud
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
I’ve looked at life that way

But now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads, they say I’ve changed
Well something’s lost, but something’s gained
In living every day

I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all

I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all

If you’re interested, here’s the song sung by Judy Collins.

Song Lyric Sunday — A Long, Long Time Ago

For this week’s Song Lyric Sunday prompt, Jim Adams has given us “long,” “short,” “small,” and “tall” as our themes. Just the other day in one of Rory’s Random Questions posts, he asked about something that touched me in a deep way. And the song “American Pie” from Don McLean, which is based on an event that took place a long time ago, did just that, so I included a video of the song in my response. That specific video is included later in this post.

“American Pie” was a song by American singer and songwriter Don McLean. Recorded and released on the American Pie album in 1971, the single was the number one U.S. hit for four weeks in 1972.

The repeatedly mentioned phrase “the day the music died” refers to February 3, 1959, when Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper were killed in a plane crash after a concert. McClean said that he loved Buddy Holly’s music and that Holly’s death was, to McClean, a personal tragedy. He said, “When that whole crash happened, it was a real ache in my heart. So, I ended up bringing back all those memories of 1959 and the things that happened later.” McLean’s description — the day the music died — eventually became the popular name for the plane crash.

McLean said that he wanted to write a big song about America and about politics, but to do it in a different way. He was fiddling around, and started singing this thing about the Buddy Holly crash. What came out was, “A long, long time ago, I can still remember how that music used to make me smile.”

The meaning of the song’s other lyrics have long been debated, and for decades and McLean declined to explain the symbolism behind the many characters and events mentioned. He eventually released his songwriting notes in 2015, explaining many of the symbols in the lyrics. The overall theme of the song is the loss of innocence of the early rock and roll generation as symbolized by the plane crash that claimed the lives of three of its heroes and various other events over the course of the 1960s.

When I saw this video below, which attempts to put images to the references McLean made in the song, I was deeply touched. As someone who grew up in the “American Pie” era, the song actually brought tears to my eyes as I listened and watched. And it made me sad to think of about the shape of politics in America today.

Here are the lyrics to “American Pie.”

A long long time ago
I can still remember how
That music used to make me smile
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those people dance
And maybe they’d be happy for a while

But February made me shiver
With every paper I’d deliver
Bad news on the doorstep
I couldn’t take one more step

I can’t remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride
Something touched me deep inside
The day the music died
So

Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die

Did you write the book of love
And do you have faith in God above
If the Bible tells you so?
Do you believe in rock and roll?
Can music save your mortal soul?
And can you teach me how to dance real slow?

Well, I know that you’re in love with him
‘Cause I saw you dancin’ in the gym
You both kicked off your shoes
Man, I dig those rhythm and blues

I was a lonely teenage broncin’ buck
With a pink carnation and a pickup truck
But I knew I was out of luck
The day the music died
I started singin’

Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die

Now, for ten years we’ve been on our own
And moss grows fat on a rolling stone
But, that’s not how it used to be

When the jester sang for the king and queen
In a coat he borrowed from James Dean
And a voice that came from you and me

Oh and while the king was looking down
The jester stole his thorny crown
The courtroom was adjourned
No verdict was returned

And while Lennon read a book on Marx
The quartet practiced in the park
And we sang dirges in the dark
The day the music died
We were singin’

Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
And singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die

Helter skelter in a summer swelter
The birds flew off with a fallout shelter
Eight miles high and falling fast

It landed foul on the grass
The players tried for a forward pass
With the jester on the sidelines in a cast

Now the half-time air was sweet perfume
While sergeants played a marching tune
We all got up to dance
Oh, but we never got the chance

‘Cause the players tried to take the field
The marching band refused to yield
Do you recall what was revealed
The day the music died?
We started singin’

Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
And singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die

Oh, and there we were all in one place
A generation lost in space
With no time left to start again

So come on Jack be nimble, Jack be quick
Jack Flash sat on a candlestick
‘Cause fire is the devil’s only friend

Oh and as I watched him on the stage
My hands were clenched in fists of rage
No angel born in Hell
Could break that Satan’s spell

And as the flames climbed high into the night
To light the sacrificial rite
I saw Satan laughing with delight
The day the music died
He was singin’

Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die

I met a girl who sang the blues
And I asked her for some happy news
But she just smiled and turned away

I went down to the sacred store
Where I’d heard the music years before
But the man there said the music wouldn’t play

And in the streets the children screamed
The lovers cried, and the poets dreamed
But not a word was spoken
The church bells all were broken

And the three men I admire most
The Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost
They caught the last train for the coast
The day the music died
And they were singing

Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die

They were singing
Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die

Song Lyric Sunday — Gray Matter

For this week’s Song Lyric Sunday, Jim Adams gave us the themes of “brain,” “mind,” and “think.” It didn’t take my brain much time to think about a song that I had in mind for this prompt. Ha! Did you see what I did there? Anyway, I digress. I decided to go with James Taylor’s classic song, “Carolina In My Mind.”

“Carolina in My Mind” was written and performed by singer-songwriter James Taylor and first appeared on his 1968 self-titled debut album. When it was released as a single, the song earned critical praise but did not receive commercial success.

Taylor, who grew up in North Carolina, wrote the song while he was overseas recording for the Beatles’ label, Apple Records. The song reflects Taylor’s homesickness at the time, as he was missing his family, his dog and his state. Released as a single, the song earned critical praise but not commercial success.

There had been a great deal of speculation as to the identity of Karin, the woman he sings about in the line, “Karin, she’s a silver sun.” Until 2009, Taylor would not reveal her identity, but in a concert shown on BBC Television in March 2009, he revealed the identity of the Karin alluded to in this song. Taylor met Karin on the island of Formentera, where he had a fleeting relationship with her, but never saw her again. She was Scandinavian, about twenty-four years old, and had shoulder length blonde hair. Taylor said that her ghost was still haunting him 35 years later, and with the advent of the internet, he commissioned a police artist to draw a sketch of what she would look like after all this time. The artist e-mailed him a most unflattering sketch the next day as a joke. Though Taylor was pleased with the real sketch, he said that try as he may he couldn’t stop thinking of her now as a criminal. Sadly, he was unable to reunite Karin.

Here is an interesting interview with James Taylor about the song. It was conducted by late night talk-show host Seth Meyers last year.

Here are the lyrics to the “Carolina In My Mind.”

In my mind I’m gone to Carolina
Can’t you see the sunshine?
Can’t you just feel the moonshine?
Ain’t it just like a friend of mine
To hit me from behind?
Yes, I’m gone to Carolina in my mind

Karin, she’s a silver sun
You best walk her way and watch it shine
Watch her watch the morning come
A silver tear appearing now
I’m cryin’, ain’t I?
Gone to Carolina in my mind

There ain’t no doubt in no ones mind
That love’s the finest thing around
Whisper something soft and kind
And hey babe, the sky’s on fire
I’m dying, ain’t I?
Gone to Carolina in my mind

In my mind I’m gone to Carolina
Can’t you see the sunshine?
Can’t you just feel the moonshine?
Ain’t it just like a friend of mine
To hit me from behind?
Yes, I’m gone to Carolina in my mind

Dark and silent, late last night
I think I might have heard the highway call
And geese in flight and dogs that bite
The signs that might be omens say
I’m goin’, I’m goin’
I’m gone to Carolina in my mind

With a holy host of others standin’ around me
Still I’m on the dark side of the moon
And it seems like it goes on like this forever
You must forgive me, if I’m up and gone to
Carolina in my mind

In my mind I’m goin’ to Carolina
Can’t you see the sunshine?
Can’t you just feel the moonshine?
Ain’t is just like a friend of mine
To hit me from behind
Yes, I’m gone to Carolina in my mind
Gone to Carolina in my mind
And I’m goin’ to Carolina in my mind
Gone to Carolina in my mind
Gone, I’m gone, I’m gone
Say nice things about me ’cause I’m gone South now
Carry on without me, I’m gone