Magical Realism

The House of the Spirits is a semi-autobiographical novel by Chilean author Isabel Allende that was first published in 1982.  Clara del Valle the main character, has paranormal powers and she starts keeping a detailed diary of her life after the priest accused her of being possessed by the devil.  Clara can predict the future, interpret dreams, and move furniture around telekinetically.  The temporal structure of the novel is a flashback of a family saga that spans four generations of the Trueba family, however events are not recorded chronologically, which makes following the plot a bit complicated.   It focuses primarily on the lives of two women in the clan, Clara del Valle and Alba de Satigny, and the connection between them.  The story of this family is pieced together over fifty years, from the early twenties to about 1974, after Clara’s husband Esteban and her granddaughter Alba refer to these journals.

Clara starts out as a young girl, and she receives a new pet, which is an enormous dog that she names Barrabás.  Clara gets a premonition of an accidental death in her family, and not long after, her sister Rosa the Beautiful dies, after accidentally poisoned by a swig of brandy that an assassin intended for her father to take, a hopeful Senator running for office.  Clara watches the autopsy that is done on her sister and she is traumatized and stops speaking.  The man Rosa was about to marry, Esteban Trueba is a miner who lives in poverty.  Esteban is broken when Rosa dies, and he devotes his life to rebuilding his family’s no longer occupied estate and plantation.  The tenants fear Esteban’s iron fist, quick temper, and voracious sexual appetite, which tempts him to rape every peasant girl on the property and one of them is Pancha Garcia, who gives birth to their son, Esteban Garcia.

Esteban spends time at a local brothel where he meets an ambitious young prostitute named Tránsito Soto.  He lends her 50 pesos to seek her fortune in the big city, and she promises to repay him some day.  Esteban the elder goes back to the city after he receives a letter from his sister Férula with the news that their mother Dona Ester is dying.  When she passes away, he resolves to fulfill her dying wish for him to get married and have children in a nuclear family.  Esteban approaches the del Valles to request Clara’s hand in marriage.  Clara accepts, having just predicted her engagement two months before, and she finally comes out of the mute spell she was in for the last nine years.

Clara’s muteness and her psychic powers kept her from having any friends, but she grows up to be a charming but very odd young woman.  Clara and Esteban get married and they seem to get along OK, but Clara’s constant companion the dog Barrabás collapses with a knife in his back in the middle of their engagement party.  He dies in Clara’s lap, and gets blood all over her dress.  Clara becomes close friends with Esteban’s sister, Férula, and invites her to move into their new house, a colonial-style mansion that Esteban designs to look as European as possible.  Clara gets pregnant and has a baby girl named Blanca.  Clara gets pregnant again and she announces that she’s going to give birth to twins named Jaime and Nicolás, and Esteban gets mad that she doesn’t want to name one of the boys after him.  Esteban goes to a brothel in town called the Christopher Columbus and meets Tránsito Soto there, to his surprise.

Clara’s parents die in a car accident, and Clara’s mom Nívea is beheaded in the crash.  Pregnant Clara drags Férula out to find the head, and they return to the house just in time for Clara to give birth to her first child, Blanca.  Nana, the del Valle family maid, comes to live in the big house on the corner.  Clara starts to hold weekly séances, attended by all sorts of spiritual eccentrics, like the three Mora sisters, who become her close friends.  Férula’s feelings for Clara border on passionate love, and she and Esteban develop a rivalry over Clara’s affections, both being obsessed with Clara, and start to get jealous of each other.  Eventually Esteban catches Férula sleeping in bed with Clara, and kicks her out of the house.  Férula puts a curse on Esteban and disappears.  Blanca meets Pedro Tercero García the son of Pedro Segundo and they fall in love, but decide to keep their relationship a secret from Blanca’s family.

Blanca gets pregnant, but Esteban tells her there was a huge earthquake that he has killed Pedro Tercero and he forces her to marry the French count Jean de Satigny.  Blanca leaves the count and she gives birth to her daughter Alba.  Férula’s ghost appears to the family at dinner one night, so they know she’s dead.  Clara and Esteban find her body in the run-down apartment in which she’d been living.  Clara dies on Alba’s seventh birthday, after making all the necessary preparations, holding little Alba’s hand.  Alba grows up to be a solitary child, enjoying painting and imagining stories.  Having little money, Blanca joins a pottery shop to make ends meet by teaching handicapped children and she starts dating Pedro again.  I have had enough and if this story interests you, then go get the book.  I never read House of the Spirits and I probably never will, but mostly I hope that I didn’t make too many mistakes in my synopsis.

Today is the find Clara & Esteban from House of Spirits love theme on Love Is In Da Blog and we are asked to find an exotic love song and/or write a Katauta poem.  I think it would be exotic to bathe with someone in the sea, so I am choosing the Savage Garden song ‘Truly Madly Deeply’.  I would like to go to Belize and check out a Mayan sweat bath, which was a type of sacred sauna that they used to help keep themselves healthy and treat myself to this exotic purification ritual.  Savage Garden is a duo that formed in Logan City, Queensland, in 1994, and they achieved international success in the late 1990s and early 2000s with their two #1 hit singles, ‘I Knew I Loved You’, and ‘Truly Madly Deeply’.  Their other hits ‘To the Moon and Back’ reached #24, ‘Crash and Burn’ also got to #24, ‘The Animal Song’ went to #19 and ‘I Want You’ peaked at #4.  Savage Garden’s ‘Truly Madly Deeply’ is a great love song and the duo of Darren Hayes and Daniel Jones recorded this song in Sydney

After spending eight months away from his family and his then-wife while he was living in a one-bedroom apartment in Kings Cross with Daniel Jones to record this debut album, Hayes was inspired him to write a song that would express his feelings about life, but this song actually started out long before they began recording this album and it was originally called ‘Magical Kisses’, which the pair wrote together and then reworked into this tune.  The name Savage Garden was taken from the Anne Rice novel Memnoch the Devil (The Vampire Chronicles #5), specifically the passage, “In the Savage Garden you shine beautifully, my friend,” which describes the landscape inhabited by the vampire.  Darren Hayes and Daniel Jones had a seemingly uncanny ability to create pop hits, because of their shared devotion and love of music which brought the pair together, and their unique collaborative effort led to the creation of truly eclectic and exciting material.

Hayes writes melodies and lyrics, and Daniel Jones, the band’s guitarist and keyboardist, creates instrumental sound.  This passionate love song took off in America after a radio station in Dallas added it to their playlist and when it hit #1 in the US, it was the first Australian record in 15 years (since Men at Work) to achieve the US top position.  Savage Garden were one of the most successful Australian bands of all time, but in 2001 the band went out on top when they felt that they had lost the magic in their musical relationship.  Jones walked away and he has avoided the limelight ever since.

I’ll be your dream, I’ll be your wish, I’ll be your fantasy
I’ll be your hope, I’ll be your love, be everything that you need
I love you more with every breath truly, madly, deeply do
I will be strong, I will be faithful ‘cause I’m counting on
A new beginnin’
A reason for livin’
A deeper meaning, yeah

I wanna stand with you on a mountain
I wanna bathe with you in the sea
I wanna lay like this forever
Until the sky falls down on me

And when the stars are shining brightly in the velvet sky
I’ll make a wish, send it to heaven and make you want to cry
The tears of joy for all the pleasure and the certainty
That we’re surrounded by the comfort and protection
Of the highest powers
In lonely hours
The tears devour you

An’ I wanna stand with you on a mountain
I wanna bathe with you in the sea
I wanna lay like this forever
Until the sky falls down on me

Oh, can you see it, baby?
You don’t have to close your eyes
It’s standin’ right before you
All that you need will surely come

Ooh, yeah

I’ll be your dream, I’ll be your wish, I’ll be your fantasy
I’ll be your hope, I’ll be your love, be everything that you need
I’ll love you more with every breath truly, madly, deeply do

I wanna stand with you on a mountain
I wanna bathe with you in the sea
I wanna lay like this forever
Until the sky falls down on me

I wanna stand with you on a mountain
I wanna bathe with you in the sea
I want to live like this forever
Until the sky falls down on me

Written for Love Is In Da Blog 2021 Great Love Stories Clara & Esteban from House of Spirits love theme where we are asked to find an exotic love song and/or write a Katauta poem.

Shrouded in Mystery

Beatrice becomes one of Dante’s guides in his masterpiece The Divine Comedy, but is this the same Beatrice Portinari who resided in Florence.  Dante reveals that he saw Beatrice for the first time when his father took him to the Portinari house for a May Day party.  They were children at the time, he was nine years old and she was eight.  The second time they met while walking on the street in Florence, they were adults, and Beatrice the emerald-eyed beauty, turned and greeted Dante before continuing on her way.  Dante was instantly smitten and never forgot her after this meeting even though he married another woman, Gemma Donati, in 1285, with whom he had three sons and one daughter.  Dante loved Beatrice from a distance, they had little to no contact with one another and Beatrice Portinari probably never had any idea of the depth of his passion for her.  Beatrice died at age 24 in 1290 without Dante ever seeing her again.   Rarely has a woman served as such profound inspiration for a writer, and yet he barely knew her.  Yet she was to become one of literature’s most famous figures, as Dante dedicated most of his poetry and almost all of his life to her.  Beatrice is more than a simple muse.  She is an idealized love, the kind of love that transcends physicality.

Dante wrote a chronicle of his relationship with her in La Vita Nuova, which translates from Italian to be The New Life that was published in 1294.  It is an expression of the medieval genre of courtly love in a prosimetrum style (a text composed in alternating segments of prose and verse).  The work tells the story of Dante’s encounters with and love for Beatrice, culminating in her early death and its effect upon him.  Dante tells of his meetings with her, praises her beauty and goodness, describes his own intense reactions to her kindness or lack of it, tells of events in both their lives, and explains the nature of his feelings for her.  When Dante was informed of her death, he vows to write nothing further of Beatrice until he writes “concerning her what hath not before been written of any woman”.  Dante was able to fulfil this promise many years later, when he composed The Divine Comedy where he articulated his exalted and spiritual love for Beatrice.

Poet and politician Dante Alighieri was a Guelph, when the Guelphs split into two factions, the moderate but disaffected faction (White Guelphs) and the pure papal extreme faction (Black Guelphs), so the Blacks continued to support the Papacy, while the Whites were opposed to Papal influence, specifically the influence of Pope Boniface VIII.  The White and Black Guelphs were rival parties in medieval Germany and Italy which supported the Holy Roman emperors and the papal party respectively.  Dante was one of the supporters of the White faction opposed to Pope Boniface VIII., and in 1302 he was exiled when the Black Guelphs took control of Florence.  He ended up on the losing side, and he was ordered to pay a large fine, after he was accused of corruption and financial wrongdoing.  He did not pay the fine, in part because he believed he was not guilty, and in part because all his assets in Florence had been seized by the Black Guelphs.  He was, therefore, condemned to perpetual exile, and if he returned to Florence without paying the fine, he could be burned at the stake.

Dante wrote The Divine Comedy poem in 1306, because he was alone, after being banished from Florence, probably trying to get his head around everything that has happened.  He wanted to explain how it feels to be kicked out of your own home and lose your family and all your possessions.  He must have felt incredibly lonely and lost during those months, and it must have been hard for a man like him to lose his freedom, his financial independence and to never be able to go back home again.  He started off his poem explaining the misery of a lost man, and he ended up leaving us with the most incredible analysis of all sorts of political and ethical problems of his time, so much so that today we can still relate to what he wrote.

Beatrice becomes Dante’s reason for continuing his journey through hell, and she is why Dante made it through the underworld in the first place, by sending Virgil, the Latin author of The Aeneid as his guide down to help him.  Her love for him got him through hell and on to the next chapter of his journey.  Beatrice is seen in Dante’s Purgatory when she comes to him in a griffin drawn chariot.  She comes down to Dante wearing a white veil representing faith, a green cape symbolizing hope and underneath the cape she wore a robe of flaming red signifying burning love.  When she first arrives, she comes to Dante in a harsh approach, trying to get a confession out of Dante, and she mentions to him that he cannot continue his journey if he is not happy and cleansed.

Beatrice comes to him and lets him know that Virgil can no longer help on his quest, and he cannot leave limbo.  Beatrice speaks to Dante and tells him to not weep about the fact that Virgil cannot help him on his journey anymore, but that he should look forward to the next point in his journey.  She tells Dante to wash himself in the waters of Lethe around the cave of Hypnos and through the Underworld where all those who drank from it experienced complete forgetfulness.  This will cleanse him and take away his sins.  She also mentions that the waters of Euone the fifth river of Eden at the top of Mount Purgatory will help restore good in Dante as when someone bathes in them, this will strengthen the memories of the good deeds that they accomplished in life.  Beatrice guides Dante through the nine celestial spheres of Heaven, to the Empyrean, which is the abode of God.

Today is the Dante & Beatrice love theme on Love Is In Da Blog and we are asked to find an Italian love song and/or write a Palindrome poem about love.  I am going to write about the Billy Joel song ‘Scenes from an Italian Restaurant’.  In this song ‘Scenes from an Italian Restaurant’, Billy Joel recounts an evening out at his favorite joint, which blossoms into an examination of life.  This seven-minute epic came out on his 1977 studio album The Stranger.  The middle part of this song was called ‘The Ballad of Brenda and Eddie’, who were these two people that happened to peak a little too early in life.  Billy composed the music first, which in this case was inspired by The Beatles, specifically the suite of songs on their Abbey Road album where a few unfinished tunes were put together to create the coherent piece titled ‘Golden Slumbers’, which was linked with ‘Carry That Weight’ and followed by ‘The End’.  Particular chords and other bits and pieces of the song ‘Scenes from an Italian Restaurant’ slowly came together to eventually culminate in one of Joel’s most enduring classics, which was produced by Phil Ramone.

This song was never released as a single, even though is a beloved Joel classic by his fans, and largely considered to be one of, if not, his best songs.  The average marriage in the United States lasts 8 years, which is the average time from marriage to divorce.  The average time between marriage and separation is 7 years.  The math just doesn’t seem to add up in this song, as Brenda and Eddie were going steady in 1975, and then they got married and saved up some money for a couple of years, so how could they have gotten divorced in 1975.

The song opens up with a couple on a date in an Italian restaurant, they are old friends from school and they look over the wine menu.  After they catch up on what is going on in their lives, talking about their jobs, families, old clothing styles, music, cold beer and reminiscing about romantic teenage nights, they start talking about Brenda and Eddie who were a popular couple that everyone knew from their High School.  They recount how Brenda and Eddie were madly in love, and they were the king and queen of the prom and they were going steady involved in a teenage romantic relationship where both partners committed to date only each other.  Brenda and Eddie decide to marry, but everyone said they were crazy, thinking that Brenda was much too lazy, and that Eddie would not be able to support her in the lifestyle that she was accustomed to, but they got married anyway.  Their marriage starts with everybody wavin’ Brenda and Eddie goodbye.

Unfortunately, Brenda and Eddie’s marriage falls apart, after they spend a lot of their savings on an apartment, which they decorated with plush carpeting, some paintings and a water bed.  The lack of money causes a big strain on their relationship, so they begin to fight and then the tears of regret sink in, where they both feel like they made a mistake.  After their marriage fails, Brenda and Eddie are still friends, but they are both out into the dating world again, which is why the “king and queen went back to the green”.  They realize that they can “never go back there again”, things have changed so much since the times when they were both greasers, all they can do is try to pick up the pieces of their broken lives.  The couple in the Italian restaurant, are wishing the best for Brenda and Eddie, but they don’t know any more about them.  They have covered everything they know about Brenda and Eddie and they figure that it is time to wave Brenda and Eddie goodbye, so they can concentrate on which wine they should select for their meal.

A bottle of white, a bottle of red
Perhaps a bottle of rose instead
We’ll get a table near the street
In our old familiar place
You and I, face to face

A bottle of red, a bottle of white
It all depends upon your appetite
I’ll meet you any time you want
In our Italian Restaurant

Things are okay with me these days
Got a good job, got a good office
Got a new wife, got a new life
And the family’s fine
We lost touch long ago
You lost weight I did not know
You could ever look so nice after
So much time

Do you remember those days hanging out
At the village green
Engineer boots, leather jackets
And tight blue jeans
Drop a dime in the box play the
Song about New Orleans
Cold beer, hot lights
My sweet romantic teenage nights

Brenda and Eddie were the
Popular steadys
And the king and the queen
Of the prom
Riding around with the car top
Down and the radio on
Nobody looked any finer
Or was more of a hit at the
Parkway Diner
We never knew we could want more
Than that out of life
Surely Brenda and Eddie would
Always know how to survive

Brenda and Eddie were still going
Steady in the summer of ‘75
When they decided the marriage would
Be at the end of July
Everyone said they were crazy
Brenda you know you’re much too lazy
Eddie could never afford to live that
Kind of life
But there we were wavin’ Brenda and
Eddie goodbye

They got an apartment with deep
Pile carpet
And a couple of paintings from Sears
A big waterbed that they bought
With the bread
They had saved for a couple
Of years
They started to fight when the
Money got tight
And they just didn’t count on
The tears

They lived for a while in a
Very nice style
But it’s always the same in the end
They got a divorce as a matter
Of course
And they parted the closest
Of friends
Then the king and the queen went
Back to the green
But you can never go back
There again

Brenda and Eddie had had it
Already by the summer of ‘75
From the high to the low to
The end of the show
For the rest of their lives
They couldn’t go back to
The greasers
The best they could do was
Pick up the pieces
We always knew they would both
Find a way to get by
That’s all I heard about
Brenda and Eddie
Can’t tell you more than I
Told you already
And here we are wavin’ Brenda
And Eddie goodbye

A bottle of red, a bottle of white
Whatever kind of mood you’re in tonight
I’ll meet you anytime you want
In our Italian Restaurant

Written for Love Is In Da Blog 2021 Great Love Stories Dante & Beatrice love theme where we are asked to find an Italian love song and/or write a Palindrome poem about love.

Two Tributes from District 12

I watched the first Hunger Games movie which came out in 2012, but I never watched the other three movies, the Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013), The Hunger Games: MockingjayPart 1 (2014), or The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 (2015).  I guess that I am just not interested in science fiction dystopian movies, although I did watch all of the Terminator movies, all of the Mad Max films, and all of the Matrix movies, because they were filled with lots of action.  I guess that Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World might have started this off, followed by George Orwell’s book 1984, as they would both be considered to be dystopian literature, but I never read either one, however I do have a good idea what they are about.  Another noteworthy book would be Fahrenheit 451 which was written by Ray Bradbury.

I never tried watching the Stanley Kubrick 1975 movie A Clockwork Orange, but I did see the other Kubrick movie 2001 Space Odyssey which came out in 1968.  The next dystopian movie that I remember seeing was Blade Runner with a young Harrison Ford and I did watch some of the Death Race movies also.  Technically, a dystopian movie is one that involves a “bad place” according to the Ancient Greek translation.  It is the opposite of a utopian society where everything is perfect, and it is one where society is in decline, whether that is through war, tyranny, or any type of disaster, so dystopias are places that could exist in the past, present, or future, where freedom and equality have been compromised.

I know that The Hunger Games was written by Suzanne Collins and the movies became enormously popular and I think Katniss and Peeta are the main characters and that they develop a strange friendship, where they help each other to cope with all of the traumatic things they’ve been through, which is not easy for either of them.  They are probably meant to be together, but I am not going to write any more about this, as it does not hold my interest, I don’t watch Harry Potter and I am not a big fan of Narnia either.

Today is the Katniss & Peeta love theme on Love Is In Da Blog and we are asked to find a love song from the “Hunger Games” films and/or write a Tricubes poem about love, but I am taking a different path by going with the Van Morrison song ‘Hungry for Your Love’.  Van Morrison’s ‘Hungry For You Love’, is a heartfelt ballad that is perfect example of beauty in simplicity, because of the mellow-sounding feelgood love that it exudes.  This song was from his 1978 Wavelength album, and it appeared in the 1982 mega-smash American romantic drama An Officer and a Gentlemen.  In the movie, it appeared as background in a scene when stars Richard Gere and Debra Winger wake up the next morning after their initial romantic tryst.

‘Hungry for Your Love’ is a throwback to Van’s earlier work as it was done nearly a decade earlier, and it doesn’t really meld with the rest of Wavelength which was released during the height of the disco era.  In An Officer and a Gentleman, Morrison plays electric piano accompanied by Herbie Armstrong’s acoustic guitar on this song.  The song gives us a rare demonstration of Van playing the electric piano and it has become one of the more enduringly popular songs on the album.  Musically gifted and instrumentally versatile, nonetheless, it’s one of the few released recordings with Van on the keyboard.  Wavelength is the tenth studio album by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison, and was released in the autumn of 1978.  Wavelength was Morrison’s best-selling album at the time of the original release and the album has a different musical sound from his previous albums, leaning towards a pop rock sound with prominent electric guitars and synthesizers.  Morrison included this song on his compilation album Van Morrison at the Movies – Soundtrack Hits (2007).  Near the end of ‘Hungry For Your Love’ Morrison sings, “I love you in buckskin, yeah”, and I guess he has plans on seeing her dressed like that and because he has created so much sexual tension by repeatedly growling how hungry he is for her, that simple line becomes overwhelmingly erotic, although it also makes me laugh.

I’m hungry for your love
I’m hungry for your love
I’m hungry for your love
But I can wait now

I’m on the telephone
And I am all alone
I’m on the telephone
And we’re connected

I got such a lot of love
I want to give it to you
I got such a lot of love
I want to give it to you
I got such a lot of love
I want to give it to you

And though we’re far apart
You are here in my heart
And though we’re far apart
You’re part of me now

And after all the years
And after all the tears
And after all the tears
There’s just the truth now

I got such a lot of love
I want to give it to you
I got such a lot of love
I want to give it to you
I got such a lot of love
I want to give it to you

Well, I’m hungry for your love
Hungry for your love
Well, I’m hungry, yeah, well, I’m hungry
For your love now

I love you in buckskin, yeah, yeah
I love you in buckskin, yeah, yeah
I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you
I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you
I love you now

I’m hungry for your love

Written for Love Is In Da Blog 2021 Great Love Stories Katniss & Peeta love theme where we are asked to find a love song from the “Hunger Games” films and/or write a Tricubes poem about love.

Two Men Sharing Very Real Feelings

The topic of sex was difficult to avoid if you were in ancient Rome, as phalluses were on display everywhere and they were seen as being good luck charms, so you really couldn’t go anywhere without seeing a penis.  The penis became ingrained into the social lives of Romans and their religion accepted acts of sexuality as a method for improving their lifestyle and any erotic deed would define a male’s power.  Their men were free to have intercourse with other men as long as they are taking the top position, and they were not allowed to take a willing role in passive sexual behavior by bestowing their anal orifice to another man.  Only those males of a lower class or slaves could act in a submissive or passive manner.  Sexuality for Roman males is not defined by the preference of whether or not their partner was a male or a female, it is all about being active or passive, where active means that they are the one doing the penetration and passive means that they are being penetrated.  Most Romans felt that fellatio was much worse than anal sex.

It is thought that the 47-year-old Hadrian probably first saw Antinous while he traveling in Bithynia which is now part of modern Turkey, when Antinous was a 12-year-old boy.  The beautiful boy was sent to Rome to be educated at the imperial court.  Within a few years, he had blossomed into an exceptionally handsome youth who, according to ancient sources, became Hadrian’s lover and traveling companion.  It was acceptable for a Roman Emperor to take a male lover, as long as Hadrian appeared to be the ‘Top’ and there was no real emotion involved, the rest of Roman society could tolerate the affair.  When the sex object was a foreigner, as Antinous was Greek, then it became even easier to accept.  Foreigners were like animals, simply not as important as Romans and thus they were suitable to be used for human sex toys.

Hadrian married Trajan’s grand-niece Vibia Sabina, who was his second cousin once removed, but their marriage was purely political and is almost universally described as having been an unhappy one, especially since it failed to produce a son.  Not getting his wife pregnant let the whole empire down and fanned the flames of gossip about him possibly being a complete homosexual.  In the year 130 AD, Hadrian and Antinous were sailing on the river Nile, when Antinous fell into the water and drowned.  It is thought that he may have thrown himself into the water to put an end to their relationship which may have been ruining Hadrian’s reputation.  It could be that Antinous was drowned on purpose, as this may have been a simple case of murder on the Nile.

Hadrian’s reaction to the death of his boyfriend was nothing short of absolutely epic.  He founded a Roman city in Egypt close to where his lover died and named it Antinopolis in his memory.  He turned Antinous into a god so others could worship him building temples to his memory across the empire, commissioning up to 2000 statues of his beautiful deceased lover.  Hadrian hired Greek sculptors to recreate the stunning beauty of his departed sweetheart.  When the Roman Empire converted to Christianity, most of these temples were destroyed, and many of the beautiful statues disappeared.  Hadrian was a fan of fake news and alternative facts and he built a wall in Northern England to keep the violent and barbarous Celts out, which may remind you of a ruler which we just got rid of.

Today is the Hadrian & Antinous love theme on Love Is In Da Blog and we are asked to find a metal ballad about love and/or write a Rispetto poem about their love.  I am not a big fan of metal music, because I don’t think that music should be defined by loudness, shouting voices, Satanic lyrics, mosh pits, but it is all a matter of personal taste.  When I think about metal music, I think about AC/DC, Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, Alice Cooper, Kiss, Korn, Slayer, Alice in Chains, White Zombie, Van Halen, Judas Priest, Marilyn Manson, Rage Against the Machine, Metallica, Motörhead and of course Black Sabbath.  Ozzy Osbourne rose to prominence during the 1970s as the lead vocalist of the heavy metal band Black Sabbath, during which period he adopted the nickname “Prince of Darkness”.  As far as heavy metal guitarists there is no one who is more larger-than-life than the Black Label Society shredder Zakk Wylde who wields his guitar like a Viking weapon, bashing out thick riffage and squeezing expressive squeals as if his life depends on every note.

I am going with the Ozzy Osbourne song ‘Mama I’m Coming Home’ which was released on his 1991 No More Tears album.  It charted #46 in the UK and made it to #28 in the US and aside from ‘Close My Eyes Forever’, a duet he did with Lita Ford in 1989 which peaked at #8, and his 2019 Post Malone song ‘Take What You Want’ which also went to #8, this is Ozzy’s only US Top 40 hit.  The lyrics were written by Lemmy Kilmister from the group Motörhead and he helped Ozzy write many of the songs on the album.  The music was composed by Ozzy Osbourne and Zakk Wylde.  Ozzy sang vocals, Zakk Wylde played guitar, Bob Daisley played bass and Randy Castillo was on drums for this song.

In 1979, after a long run of increasingly erratic drink and drug fueled behavior, partying like a rock star, Ozzy Osbourne was finally sacked by Black Sabbath, because he wasn’t showing up at the studio.  This was more of a release for Osbourne, who felt that he wanted to go in a different musical direction anyway.  Sharon Arden the 17-year-old daughter of Black Sabbath’s promoter Don Arden became Ozzie’s manager after his departure and in 1982 she became Ozzy’s wife.  This song is about Ozzy’s wife, Sharon.  After they married, Sharon bought out Ozzy’s contract and became his manager.  She runs the Ozzfest.

Lemmy wrote this song about Ozzy getting back with Sharon after the end of each tour, as he would always tell her, “Mama, I’m coming home!”, because he was missing being at home with her and he wanted to return, despite what ever happened out there on the road.  Ozzy gave up drugs and alcohol before recording this and he credits Sharon for helping him make this lifestyle change, and he said that he would be dead if he did not become sober.  “Mama” is Ozzy’s pet name for his wife.  Lemmy wrote the words for this song in less than two hours one afternoon.

Times have changed and times are strange
Here I come, but I ain’t the same
Mama, I’m coming home
Times gone by seems to be
You could have been a better friend to me
Mama, I’m coming home

You took me in and you drove me out
Yeah, you had me hypnotized
Lost and found and turned around
By the fire in your eyes

You made me cry, you told me lies
But, I can’t stand to say goodbye
Mama, I’m coming home
I could be right, I could be wrong
It hurts so bad, it’s been so long
Mama, I’m coming home

Selfish love yeah we’re both alone
The ride before the fall yeah
But I’m gonna take this heart of stone
I just got to have it all

I’ve seen your face a hundred times
Everyday we’ve been apart
I don’t care about the sunshine, yeah

‘Cause mama, mama, I’m coming home
I’m coming home

You took me in and you drove me out
Yeah, you had me hypnotized
Lost and found and turned around
By the fire in your eyes

I’ve seen your face a thousand times
Every day we’ve been apart
And I don’t care about the sunshine, yeah

‘Cause mama, mama, I’m coming home
I’m coming home
I’m coming home
I’m coming home

Written for Love Is In Da Blog 2021 Great Love Stories Hadrian & Antinous love theme where we are asked to find a metal ballad about love and/or write a Rispetto poem about their love.

Reluctant to Embrace the Spotlight

Five years after the assassination of her husband President John F. Kennedy, American socialite, writer, and photographer 39-year-old Jacqueline Lee “Jackie” Bouvier Kennedy got married to the Greek shipping magnate multi-millionaire Aristotle Onassis who claimed to be 62.  They married on October 20, 1968 on Onassis’ private Greek island, Skorpios.  Onassis offered Mrs. Kennedy three million US dollars to replace her Kennedy trust fund, which she would lose because she was remarrying.  Jackie spent much of her adult life in the spotlight and many people were shocked when she got remarried, but to most Americans, this marriage symbolized a goodbye to an era and the end of Camelot.  Jackie still had a life to live being only 34 when she lost her husband and she had two young children, so it shouldn’t have come as a shock that she would eventually marry again.

There was a lot of speculation about what exactly drew the two together.  Some people thought that as she was a target for the paparazzi, she became attracted to his private security detail.  He owned a yacht and they could sail away together from all of her troubles and go to his private island, a place where she could be reclusive, which must have been incredibly appealing.  Some say that he had had his eye on her for a while, being one of the first visitors to the White House after the assassination.  People believed that Onassis was always looking for an angle with Jackie, and it wasn’t until after Robert Kennedy’s assassination that the window opened for him to put the moves on her.

Aristotle had a reputation as a womanizer and he reportedly had a relationship with Jackie’s younger sister, Lee Radziwill years earlier.  Jackie Kennedy first met him in 1958, when she and her husband boarded his yacht for a meeting with Winston Churchill.  They didn’t seem like two people who would date, much less wed, but the widow of JFK was the ultimate trophy wife.  Jackie was only married to Onassis for six and a half years when he died in 1975 from complications of myasthenia gravis, a debilitating neuromuscular disease and much of that time, they lived separate lives.  She became “Jackie O.”, a nickname that first appeared in the pages of TIME a few months after the wedding, and the public fascination with her life never faded.  In fact, as a symbol of grace in times of sadness, her personal struggles perhaps in the end made Americans love her even more.  Jackie’s beauty and style captivated the world and she died of cancer in 1994 at the age of 64.  Jackie kept the Onassis name for the rest of her life, and no one was surprised that after her 1994 death Jackie was buried next to JFK at Arlington National Cemetery.

Today is the Jackie Kennedy & Aristotle Onassis love theme on Love Is In Da Blog and we are asked to find a love song from 1968 and/or write a free verse poem about love.  I am going with a song that Janis Joplin sang with her group Big Brother and the Holding Company called ‘Piece of My Heart’, which was recorded in 1968 on their Cheep Thrills album.  The single reached #12 on the US charts, and this was her biggest chart success and best-known song until she died and then ‘Me And Bobby McGee’ went to #1 in 1971.  This fervent soul classic was first released by Erma Franklin, Aretha’s older sister.  The song that was written by Jerry Ragovoy and Bert Berns is about a lovelorn woman who is so enraptured by her man that she’s willing to break off yet another piece of her heart if only he will take it.  It was Erma Franklin’s biggest hit and she went on to sing backup on some of Aretha’s songs.

Berns was a late starter in the music business, he had a hand in more than 50 hits in seven years, and succumbed to heart disease just as the careers of his last three protégés, Neil Diamond, Van Morrison and a studio guitarist named Jimmy Page, were getting underway.  Even in his heyday of the mid-1960s, Bert Berns was barely known beyond the obsessives who studied songwriters’ and producers’ credits on records.  After his death in 1967 at the age of 38, something truly odd happened, even though he wrote and produced songs like ‘Under the Boardwalk’ by The Drifters, ‘Twist and Shout’ by the Isley Brothers, ‘Cry To Me’ by Solomon Burke, ‘I Want Candy’ by Bow Wow Wow, ‘Here Comes The Night’ for Them, ‘Tell Him’ for the Exciters and ‘My Girl Sloopy’ recorded by the Vibrations which became ‘Hang On Sloopy’ by the McCoys.  All of these songs proved to be popular and have durability, but as the years passed, Berns’s own reputation receded even further into obscurity.

The story goes that Berns brought ‘Piece Of My Heart’ to Van Morrison when he was in Them and asked for his help to finish the song, but Van declined, so Berns took the song to Jerry Ragovoy, who came up with the immortal opening line and completed most of the verses to go with Berns’ lacerating chorus.  It is a shame that this man who should be a bedrock of modern music, and had his songs recorded by The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, the Isley Brothers, the Animals among many others is not in the Songwriters Hall of Fame, or in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Within months of Berns’s death from a heart attack, Janis Joplin had hits with two of his songs ‘Piece of My Heart’ and ‘Cry Baby’ and on both of these he collaborated with Jerry Ragovoy.  Janis Joplin sang ‘Piece of My Heart’ at Woodstock in 1969 as part of her encore.  Janis Joplin adopted ‘Piece of My Heart’ like it was her own off-spring, and this wounded heart-sick woman had only three years to live from the day of the song was released.

Jerry Ragovoy may never have achieved household name status, but he did write several hit songs and 1967 was a banner year for him and his song writing partner Bert Russell Berns.  They met each other because they both worked in the music industry.  When Ragovoy moved to New York City in 1962, they bumped into each other from time to time to get together and talk, have a drink, on a social basis, not a business one, as they became buddies.  Somehow, they started writing a few songs together and after working on this song called ‘Cry Baby’ for six months, Berns contacted Ragovoy to help out.  Jerry Ragovoy worked mainly with Berns until Bert Berns premature death in 1967, and Jerry died on July 13, 2011 at the age of 80 from complications due to a stroke.  Ragovoy’s solo smashes included ‘Time Is On My Side’ written under the pseudonym of Norman Meade which was a big hit for the Rolling Stones.  He also wrote ‘Get It While You Can’, ‘My Baby’, ‘Stay With Me’, and ‘Try (Just A Little Bit Harder)’ which were all covered by Janis, among others.  In 1969, Ragovoy founded a studio/production company in New York called The Tune Shop, which he sold in 1975.  He produced and arranged music for Bonnie Raitt and Dionne Warwick.

Oh, come on, come on, come on, come on

Didn’t I make you feel like you were the only man? Yeah
And didn’t I give you nearly everything that a woman possibly can?
Honey, you know I did
And each time I tell myself that I, well I think I’ve had enough
But I’m gonna show you, baby, that a woman can be tough

I want you to come on, come on, come on, come on and take it
Take another little piece of my heart now, baby (whoa, break it)
Break another little bit of my heart now, darling, yeah, yeah, yeah (whoa, have a)
Have another little piece of my heart now, baby
You know you got it if it makes you feel good
Oh, yes indeed

You’re out on the streets looking good
And baby, deep down in your heart, I guess you know that it ain’t right
Never, never, never, never, never, never hear me when I cry at night
Babe, and I cry all the time
But each time I tell myself that I, well I can’t stand the pain
But when you hold me in your arms, I’ll sing it once again

I said come on, come on, come on, come on and take it
Take another little piece of my heart now, baby
Break another little bit of my heart now, darling, yeah
Have another little piece of my heart now, baby
Well, you know you got it, child, if it makes you feel good

I need you to come on, come on, come on, come on and take it
Take another little piece of my heart now, baby (whoa, break it)
Break another little bit of my heart, now darling, yeah, c’mon now (whoa, have a)
Have another little piece of my heart now, baby
You know you got it, whoa

Take it
Take another little piece of my heart now, baby (whoa, break it)
Break another little bit of my heart, now darling, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah (whoa, have a)
Have another little piece of my heart now, baby, hey
You know you got it, child, if it makes you feel good

Written for Love Is In Da Blog 2021 Great Love Stories Jackie Kennedy & Aristotle Onassis where today you can find a love song from 1968 and/or write a free verse poem about love.

Mortal Man Loves the Immortal Elf Maiden

Aragorn made his choice the second that he saw Arwen, pledging himself to her when they met in the Lay of Luthien.  At only 20 years old, Aragorn decided that this woman was the one he wanted to be with for the rest of his days.  Aragorn meets Arwen, when he was wandering the woods, humming a folk song about Luthien, an ancient, beautiful elf, who fell in love with a man named Beren and became the first elf to marry a human.  Aragorn and Arwen are actually the great-grandchildren of Luthien and Beren and Elrond, Arwen’s father, chose life as an elf, while his brother, Elros began the line of Dunedain men, becoming a forefather for many kings was an ancestor of Aragorn, so they are distant cousins that share the same bloodline.  Arwen didn’t feel sure about her love of Aragorn until he came back twenty-nine years later, after of fighting for Gondor and Rohan under the name of Strider.  She eventually realized that he was the one and they promised to marry before the war got in their way.  Aragorn was a man, but he could understand Arwen and her life more than the average man ever would, because he was raised as an elf.  Aragorn was raised under the tutelage of Elrond and him and Arwen explored the halls of Rivendell together as children.

Aragorn was part of a special clan whose royal bloodline lived much longer lives than the average human, since he was a half-elf.  Arwen is immortal being an elf and she is thousands of years old and still maintains her beauty.  Their love story spans 190 years, over most all of Aragorn’s life and Aragorn would eventually live to be 210.  Arwen’s maternal grandmother was Galadriel, Lady of Light and she gave Aragorn Arwen’s Evenstar, a beautiful necklace that signified her blessing of the eternal love they shared.  Arwen chose mortality to be with the man she loved and this meant that she would die whenever the thing that she chose over immortality died.  One year after Aragorn’s inevitable passing, she basically died of a broken heart.  Despite their differences, they fell in love and between their devotion to one another and the obstacles they overcame to be together, their love got them through the darkest times that Middle-earth had ever seen and it became a light at the end of the tunnel during the brutal war for the ring.

Today is the Aragorn & Arwen love theme on Love Is In Da Blog and we are asked to find a classical love piece and/or write a poem in your own invented language (With translation please).  I am going with one of the more romantic songs out there and I guess that ‘You Are So Beautiful’ could be called a classical love piece because it is one of the most-recognized songs in America that stands out for its beauty.  ‘You Are So Beautiful’ was written by Billy Preston and Bruce Fisher and it was released in 1974 on Preston’s ninth studio album, The Kids & Me.  It was the B-side of his hit single ‘Nothing From Nothing’.  Later that same year, English singer Joe Cocker released a slower version of the song on his album I Can Stand a Little Rain.  Cocker’s version was produced by Jim Price in November 1974, and the single became one of Cocker’s biggest chart hits, peaking at #5 on the United States’ Billboard Hot 100, and at #4 on Canada’s Top Singles chart.

The keyboardist and organist Billy Preston backed up Little Richard and Sam Cooke, and as a child prodigy he played with Nat King Cole and Mahalia Jackson.  Billy is featured on some of the biggest albums in rock history, including the Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main St. and Sticky Fingers, and he was on The Beatles’ Abbey Road album, although he was not credited however he appeared in their final rooftop performance.  Preston played on most of the Beatles’ solo work and he also worked with The Band, Eric Burdon, Ray Charles, George Harrison, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, King Curtis, Sammy Davis Jr., Aretha Franklin, the Jackson 5, Quincy Jones, Mick Jagger, Richie Sambora, Sly Stone, Johnny Cash, Neil Diamond, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Ringo Starr.

There is a legend that says Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys helped Preston to complete this song, however Wilson never received a songwriting credit for it, but Dennis must have felt that this song was at least partially his, as he sang it for many years at Beach Boys concerts.  The story says that Dennis and Billy Preston were at a party and Preston was at the piano messing around and Dennis sat down and came up with some lyrics for the song.  It seems like Dennis didn’t care about or want the credit, but he created his own framework of ownership by playing it so much.  Maybe, That’s The Way God Planned It.

Billy Preston wrote this song as a tribute to his mother, who worked as a secretary at a funeral home, was a church musician and also worked as a stage actress.  Sam Moore, half of the soul duo Sam & Dave, assumed this was a standard love song and he often performed the tune to attract girls.  Preston was appalled to learn that Moore was using the song as a means to attract young women each time he sang it in concert.  After bragging to Preston about his exploits with the song, Preston finally set him straight, and Moore was very embarrassed and he felt stupid after hearing that.  Preston’s loyal last manager was Joyce Moore, the wife of R&B legend Sam Moore and he relied on her for advice, friendship, and bi-weekly trips to take him for dialysis.  Cocker sang this at Billy Preston’s funeral in 2006.

You are so beautiful
To me
You are so beautiful
To me
Can’t you see
You’re everything I hoped for
You’re everything I need
You are so beautiful
To me

You are so wonderful
To me
You are so wonderful
To me
Can’t you see
You’re everything I hoped for
You’re everything I need
You are so wonderful
To me

You are so beautiful
To me
You are so beautiful
To me
Can’t you see
You’re everything I hoped for
You’re everything I need
You are so beautiful
To me

Written for Love Is In Da Blog 2021 Great Love Stories Aragorn & Arwen where today you can find a classical love piece and/or write a poem in your own invented language (With translation please).

Roll in the Satin Sheets

In 1730, a Parisian prophetess told a nine-year-old girl that she would rule the heart of a king.  Years later, at a masked ball held to celebrate the marriage of the Dauphin Louis Ferdinand, Jeanne Antoinette Poisson, dressed as a domino, danced with King Louis XV, who was known as Louis the Beloved and he was dressed as a tree.  The King was smitten with her and brought her to the Palace of Versailles that same year, providing her with an apartment just above his own, and the delicate beauty was given the title Marquise de Pompadour.  It is said that any man would have wanted her as his mistress.  A secret staircase allowed the monarch to access his mistress’s apartment without being seen.  The couple indulged in their love of art, furniture, and porcelain, with Madame de Pompadour arranging for her jaded royal lover small dinner parties and amateur theatricals in which she would star of course.  While watching her acting in a play, Louis XV declared, “You are the most delicious woman in France”, and then he swept her out of the room.

Madame de Pompadour was more than just the beautiful and adored mistress of King Louis XV, as she was his friend and advisor and she remained with him for 22 years until her death in 1764.   For her Louis XV commissioned the Petit Trianon, which became a private haven of peace.  Her bourgeois, non-aristocratic roots, soon drew harsh criticism from certain members of the nobility in this tense political climate.  By being in close proximity to the king on a daily basis, royal mistresses held a unique position of influence that rivaled even the king’s most trusted ministers.  The court of Louis XV was a generation away from the French Revolution, and Louis XV’s reign is remembered for France laying many of the seeds of that started the revolution, and the King’s favored mistress drew extra criticism for that.  She shouldered much of the blame for France’s failure in the Seven Years War and for the court running into debt.

At the French court, extramarital activities of the royals were common place and married people hopped into bed with one another feeling free of guilt and free of consequences and women tolerated their husbands having affairs, they actually expected them to enjoy sex with others, then move on and there would be no hard feelings.  Many women would do almost anything to remain pleasing in the eyes of their powerful lovers.  Prostitution is said to be the oldest profession in history, but maintaining the position as the chief mistress of a monarch may have been a close second.  Back in the day, a king could merrily lift the skirts of basically any woman (or man) in court, so the female who captured his attention had to possess more than just beauty, she also needed charm, wit, grace, intelligence, and the ability to foresee what her petulant lover might want next.

While kings were often out amusing themselves with other women, mistresses were expected to wait quietly in their apartments, embroidering or planning a gala dinner to entertain their roving lover.  Unlike the queen whose position was cast in stone, the mistress’s world was made of flimsier stuff, since having a mistress was a sign that a king wasn’t a one-woman man, some kings weren’t even a one-mistress man.  There would always be a rival for the king’s attention and she would have no peace, no rest, if she hoped to maintain her status, wealth, and influence.  And given the magnificence of her position, there was very little she wouldn’t do to hold on to the shiny prize of the king’s attention.  Madame de Pompadour molded herself into his perfect mate, even at the expense of her own joy and comfort, fulfilling her role required her to pander to her impulsive lover in every way and tailor her very existence to ensure his pleasure, who had a voracious sexual appetite and wanted to roll in the satin sheets several times a day.

Today is choose your own love theme on Love Is In Da Blog and I selected Louis XV of France and Madame de Pompadour and I am going with The Cure ‘Love Song’, or ‘Lovesong’.  This song was written by Robert Smith and released on Cure’s epic eighth studio album Disintegration, which is considered to be among the band’s gloomiest and doomiest, however this song became the band’s sweetest and most commercially successful singles.  Robert Smith is famous for wearing make-up, having big hair, and writing and singing some of the loveliest songs in the English language.  Smith set the trend for spiky hair and wearing eyeliner and a dash of crimson lipstick, however it never caught on with me.  The Cure’s 1989 Disintegration became the culmination of all of Smith’s stylistic experiments, being simultaneously gorgeous and raw, melancholy and exuberant, grandiose and intimate and that transformed the Cure into stadium headliners.

Smith met Mary Poole when he was just 14 years old at St. Wilfrid’s Comprehensive School in Crawley, England, and he asked her to be his partner in a drama-class project.  Mary lacked confidence in his future as a musician and that instilled in Smith the drive to make the Cure (originally the Easy Cure) successful.  Mary Poole used to work as a model in the initial days of her career.  She then took to nursing disabled and special children.  But both of them were working and they did not get enough time to spend together.  Once Robert became an established name in the music industry and finances started flowing in, Mary gave up her career to be with Robert always.

Robert Smith at 16-year-old, along with Mary Poole started following Alex Harvey in 1973 to virtually all of his shows in the south of England, as Harvey was the forerunner of the punk movement, the guy who was punk before there was such a thing as punk.  The Cure are an English rock band formed in Crawley, West Sussex in 1976.  The band has experienced several line-up changes, with frontman, vocalist, guitarist and principal songwriter Robert Smith being the only constant member.  The Cure first began releasing music in the late 1970s with its debut album Three Imaginary Boys (1979); this, along with several early singles, placed the band as part of the post-punk and New Wave movements that had sprung up in the wake of the punk rock revolution in the United Kingdom.  During the early 1980s, the band’s increasingly dark and tormented music helped form the gothic rock genre.

The song was a rare upbeat moment in the band’s repertoire of gothic dread.  And almost 15 years after they met, a very successful Robert penned ‘Lovesong’ as his wedding present for Mary.  The two exchanged vows on Aug. 13, 1988, and are still together, their rock ‘n’ roll marriage bucking the odds and showing no signs of, well, disintegrating.  Smith was constantly touring with the band and he wanted his wife to know that no matter how much he had to travel and perform, he would always love her.  Robert said that he was finally able to reach the point where he felt comfortable singing a very straightforward love song.  Robert said that Mary means so much to him that he doesn’t think she has ever realized how dependent he has been of her during all these years that they have been together.  He feels that she is the one that saved him when he was being self-destructive, and she’s always been the one that has caught him when he was close to falling apart completely, and if she would have disappeared, he would have killed himself.

Cure lead singer Robert Smith wrote this as a wedding present for his fiancée, Mary Poole, shortly before they got married.  Smith has remained steadfast in his devotion to Mary, and he credits her with saving his life by pulling him out of the abyss when he was pushing himself to see how far he could go.  Although ‘Love Song’, was a hit, Disintegration as a whole wasn’t a very lovey-dovey album, it was actually a concerted effort to return to the more claustrophobically depressing, and presumably less mainstream, sound of the Cure’s earlier material.  The recording of Disintegration was plagued by Robert’s preoccupation with his looming 30th birthday, by his discomfort with his increasing fame, by his regular LSD use, and by original member Lol Tolhurst’s alcohol abuse.  This was not a shiny happy pop album.  And yet somehow, ‘Lovesong’ met unexpected success.  The Cure were just inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2019 (40 years after the release of their first album).

Whenever I’m alone with you
You make me feel like I am home again
Whenever I’m alone with you
You make me feel like I am whole again

Whenever I’m alone with you
You make me feel like I am young again
Whenever I’m alone with you
You make me feel like I am fun again

However far away
I will always love you
However long I stay
I will always love you
Whatever words I say
I will always love you
I will always love you

Whenever I’m alone with you
You make me feel like I am free again
Whenever I’m alone with you
You make me feel like I am clean again

However far away
I will always love you
However long I stay
I will always love you
Whatever words I say
I will always love you
I will always love you

Written for Love Is In Da Blog 2021 Great Love Stories where today you can choose your own love theme.

Medieval Romance

As long as marriage has existed, so too has adultery and engaging in an adulterous relationship was seen as normal behavior by standards of olden times.  Medieval concepts of marriage felt that a woman belonged to man, she was his property, and this created a double standard where women received humiliating penalties if they were deemed to be adulterous wives, while their adulterous husbands were free to have a wide range of sexual relations, providing it was not with someone else’s wife.  The legend of King Arthur is about a warrior king who lived in Camelot and hung out around a Round Table with a fellowship of Knights and this still fascinates people today.  The adventures of the legendary King Arthur were told and retold between the 11th and 15th centuries in hundreds of manuscripts in at least a dozen languages.

Arthur married Guinevere and he had a traitorous nephew named Mordred and also there is a wizard named Merlin.  I don’t think that there is any need to mention the Holy Grail, or Excalibur the sword in the stone as this is about the knight Lancelot and his love for Guinevere.  The very idea of an adulterous relationship between Lancelot and Guinevere comes from the idea of courtly love which was generally held to be true.  The love of the knight for his lady was regarded as an ennobling passion and a relationship like this was typically unconsummated, but in literature courtly lovers had to engage in adulterous relationships if they ever wished to enjoy the fruits of true love.  Love in the fifteenth century is overly sexual in nature and usually once it is consummated, it disappears.

Sir Lancelot was the greatest knight of the Round Table and Arthur’s most trusted ally, but it was his illicit love for Queen Guinevere that made him famous.  Queen Guinevere and Lancelot felt romantic love for one another, but their love was not based on sex, so it was enduring and faithful.  Love in those days was not love as it is nowadays, so Guinevere’s love for Lancelot is a product of a time in which lovers felt respect and admiration for one another.  In some early versions of the legend, Guinevere spurns Lancelot, but later versions of the story extended Lancelot and Guinevere’s love into a full-blown affair, which in the end brought down the Round Table and ushered in the end of Arthur’s reign after the brave Lancelot rescued the queen, who had been condemned to burn at the stake.

Today is the Lancelot & Guinevere love theme on Love Is In Da Blog and we are asked to find a love rock song and/or write a Hir a Thoddaid poem about love.  I am going to write about The Pretenders song ‘I’ll Stand By You’ that was written by songwriting partners Thomas Kelly and Billy Steinberg along with Christine Hynde.  It was recorded in 1994 on The Pretenders sixth studio album Last of the Independents and it charted #10 in the UK and made it to #16 in the US.  Billy Steinberg was a poet and the he started writing songs after he learned how to play guitar and Linda Ronstadt covered his song ‘How Do I Make You’ and she had a top ten hit with it.  Billy had a couple of other songs that were covered by Pat Benatar and he got to know her producer Keith Olsen.  One day in 1981, Keith invited Billy to a party and that is where he met Tom Kelly who was a very prominent session singer in L.A. and he was also a songwriter.  Tom was a musician and he could create melodies, whereas Billy was much better with lyrics.  Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg wrote many hit songs, like the Cyndi Lauper song ‘True Colors’, the Bangles ‘Eternal Flame’ and the Madonna song ‘Like A Virgin’.

Billy and Tom didn’t have a publisher, but the worked with Jason Dauman who, for a commission, was willing to provide some of the service that a publisher would.  Billy said that Jason asked him who he would you like to collaborate with and as a joke he said, “Prince, Bruce Springsteen and Chrissie Hynde”, because they were three of his favorite songwriters.  Jason took it seriously and a little while later he called Billy and said, “Chrissie Hynde wants to write with you and Tom”.  Billy got a phone call from this woman who said, “Billy, this is Chrissie Hynde”, and he thought somebody was pulling his leg, but after a minute of conversation it was quite clear that Chrissie was on the other end of the telephone.  Chrissie told him that she wanted a hit and this song did really for the three of them.  Hynde joined Steinberg and Kelly in Los Angeles and they wrote six songs together.  When Chrissie plays this live, it’s one of the songs that gets the strongest response.

Pretenders frontwoman Chrissie Hynde has been called the “high priestess of badass rock ‘n’ roll” according to Q magazine of Britain, but in this timeless classic about love and faithfulness in times of trouble, she comes off as being caring, sensitive and loyal.  Hynde was initially disappointed with the track, but when she played it for a couple of girls who weren’t in the music business and they ended up in tears, she decided to put it out.  The universality of the lyrics that Steinberg feared were too soft and generic is exactly what makes ‘I’ll Stand by You’ such a special song.  The highlight of the song is the lyrics and Chrissie Hynde’s unique vocals.  People have said that if you can feel love in someone’s voice, that this song approaches something close to what it would sound like.  This song takes quite a musical journey from the beginning to the end, as in the beginning it is a tender love song, but at the end it becomes a full-out rock jam.

Oh, why you look so sad?
Tears are in your eyes
Come on and come to me now
Don’t be ashamed to cry
Let me see you through

‘Cause I’ve seen the dark side too
When the night falls on you
You don’t know what to do
Nothing you confess
Could make me love you less

I’ll stand by you
I’ll stand by you
Won’t let nobody hurt you
I’ll stand by you

So if you’re mad, get mad
Don’t hold it all inside
Come on and talk to me now
Hey, what you got to hide?
I get angry too

Well I’m a lot like you
When you’re standing at the crossroads
And don’t know which path to choose
Let me come along
‘Cause even if you’re wrong

I’ll stand by you
I’ll stand by you
Won’t let nobody hurt you
I’ll stand by you
Take me in, into your darkest hour
And I’ll never desert you
I’ll stand by you

And when
When the night falls on you, baby
You’re feeling all alone
You won’t be on your own

I’ll stand by you
I’ll stand by you
Won’t let nobody hurt you

I’ll stand by you
Take me in, into your darkest hour
And I’ll never desert you
I’ll stand by you
I’ll stand by you
Won’t let nobody hurt you
I’ll stand by you
Won’t let nobody hurt you
I’ll stand by you
I’ll stand by you
Won’t let nobody hurt you
I’ll stand by you
Take me in, into your darkest hour
And I’ll never desert you
I’ll stand by you

Written for Love Is In Da Blog 2021 Great Love Stories Lancelot & Guinevere where today you can find a love rock song and/or write a Hir a Thoddaid poem about love.

Habsburg Monarchy

The emperor falls in love with a beautiful young princess who was also his first cousin, but even though this was love at first sight, it was not a fairytale, as it became an extremely unhappy arrangement for the imperial couple.  The 15-year-old Sisi met the 23-year-old Franz Joseph ruler of the Habsburg empire and even though he was originally betrothed to her older sister, soon after they got married in 1854.  The young girl became the Empress of Austria after the wedding, and had to deal with the strict court rituals and a mother-in-law who interfered in raising her children and this was not exactly a dream come true for her and she crumbled under the strict court etiquette, which left her isolated and friendless.  Soon Sisi’s brand-new and mysterious life became unbearable, so she started traveling.  Her mother-in-law the formidable Archduchess Sophie who never believed that Sisi was the right bride for her beloved son, got on her case from the beginning and Sisi constantly found herself getting embroiled in petty squabbles with her.  Sisi was completely unprepared to be a ruling monarch as she did not know how things worked in the court, so spent most of her days studying languages and history.  Sisi was surrounded by books and tutors to make her the perfect wife and perfect empress at the same time.  The marriage between Franz Joseph and Sisi was allegedly happy, although they did not have much time to spend in private.

A string of tragedies plagued Sisi’s life, as she was isolated in the palace, she suffered through mental illness, mourned her beloved son’s suicide and set off to wander the globe in search of peace and eventually was assassinated at the hand of an Italian anarchist.  Sisi spent her life denying her own appetites, always watching her figure, as she was stalked by the press, adored by the common man and tormented by depression and afflicted with a severe eating disorder.  Sisi became trapped in a role that she didn’t believe in.  The shy and sensitive Sisi who never had a bad hair day captured the hearts and minds of the public in a way that few iconic female rulers have done throughout history.

Today is Sisi and Franz love theme on Love Is In Da Blog and we are asked to find an acapella Love song and/or write a Sestina poem about Sisi & Franz.  The song that I am writing about can be sung in acapella and I included a video below featuring Julia Westlin who does Acapella covers.  In 1967, Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons recorded the song ‘Can’t Take My Eyes off You’ on their album The Very Best Of Frankie Valli And The Four Seasons and the single went to #2 on the US charts after a slow start.  Keyboard player Bob Gaudio wrote this song with the group’s producer Bob Crewe, after Crewe came up with the title.  From there, they crafted the story about a man who is exuberantly in love and he makes a declaration of his love and pledges romantic devotion.  The guy singing this song makes it clear how grateful he is to experience the connection of love, every moment of every day.  Frankie sings that he is unable to stop looking at his girl, because she is so stunningly attractive.  The arrangement was done by Artie Schroeck and Gaudio.

Bob Gaudio said this now universally famous piece of music began life in Bob Crewe’s penthouse apartment which overlooked Central Park with a melody originally penned for a children’s nursery rhyme, but I have no idea what rhyme that is.  The song formed from three different melodies and it didn’t fit any of the formats that radio stations were using at the time.  Gaudio called this the song that almost got away, because radio stations didn’t want to take a chance on losing listeners if they played this incredibly unique song that was so unlike everything else.  Few songs can claim to be as far reaching as the 1967 classic, as this was used for a wakeup call for the former astronaut Christopher Ferguson when he was aboard the space shuttle Endeavour.

Gaudio explained that this was one of the most challenging songs he ever wrote, and he said that only Frankie Valli could have pulled it off.  The song makes great use of Valli’s exceptional vocal range, covering a wide swath of musical ground.  Frankie Valli’s recording of ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’ starts in a ballad style with stately horns drifting a smooth, jazzy beat, then it undergoes a change midway through where the horns and the beat both start to swing in an uptempo, lounge music style and then shifts back and forth between these two feels for the rest of the song.  Valli navigates this tricky set of tempo shifts with graceful style, using a silky tenor croon for the lighter moments and a swaggering baritone in the uptempo moments.  Valli is shouting at the end of this song about how much he loves his baby.  ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’ builds up in intensity, going from the tender verses to the explosive chorus and this creative transition becomes a train wreck that can’t be avoided.

This song was featured in the 1978 movie The Deer Hunter in a scene where the song plays on the jukebox as a group of guys are shooting pool before shipping out to fight in the Vietnam War.  In the scene, Robert De Niro and Christopher Walken’s characters are boisterously singing along to the song, while getting loaded until the song reaches its “I love you baby” climax.  This scene got the attention of the song’s writer Bob Gaudio, who saw how powerful a song could be if placed in the right visual context.  This gave him the idea for the stage production Jersey Boys, which was later made into a movie.  This was the spark that got him thinking about how something could happen visually, and the first thing that crossed his mind was a Broadway show.

You’re just too good to be true
Can’t take my eyes off of you
You’d be like Heaven to touch
I wanna hold you so much
At long last, love has arrived
And I thank God I’m alive
You’re just too good to be true
Can’t take my eyes off of you

Pardon the way that I stare
There’s nothin’ else to compare
The sight of you leaves me weak
There are no words left to speak
But if you feel like I feel
Please let me know that it’s real
You’re just too good to be true
Can’t take my eyes off of you

I love you, baby
And if it’s quite alright
I need you, baby
To warm the lonely night
I love you, baby
Trust in me when I say
Oh, pretty baby
Don’t bring me down, I pray
Oh, pretty baby
Now that I’ve found you, stay
And let me love you, baby
Let me love you

You’re just too good to be true
Can’t take my eyes off of you
You’d be like Heaven to touch
I wanna hold you so much
At long last, love has arrived
And I thank God I’m alive
You’re just too good to be true
Can’t take my eyes off you

I love you, baby
And if it’s quite alright
I need you, baby
To warm the lonely night
I love you, baby
Trust in me when I say
Oh, pretty baby
Don’t bring me down, I pray
Oh, pretty baby
Now that I’ve found you, stay
Oh, pretty baby
Trust in me when I say
Oh, pretty baby

Written for Love Is In Da Blog 2021 Great Love Stories Sisi and Franz theme where today we were asked to find an acapella Love song and/or write a Sestina poem about Sisi & Franz.

Immediately Drawn to Each Other

France decriminalized homosexuality in 1791, which made Paris a sort of mecca for homosexuals, particularly lesbians.  The acceptability of homosexuality and the thriving gay subculture only added to the tourist draw of the “naughtiness” of Paris.  Some people feel that male homosexual acts are disgusting, while females participating in sexual acts was more fulfilling.  It is also more common for heterosexual women than the men to have engaged in sexual activities with members of their same sex.  Gay and bisexual men would not have this freedom till the 1960s.  In 1898, Gertrude Stein enrolled in the Johns Hopkins medical school, where she became friends with a number of women who had become familiar with same-sex relationships and this is where Stein became aware of her own lesbian orientation.  Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas were both California girls, but they met in Paris.

After the death of Stein’s parents, she followed her brother Leo to Paris, in 1903, where he was studying art.  In 1907, Stein met Alice B. Toklas and the two women lived as a couple in Paris for nearly four decades, inseparable companions from the day they met, in September 1907, until the afternoon of Gertrude’s death in July 1946.  They stayed together, through travel, moves, two world wars, the ups and downs of art, life, and love, hosting weekly salons so guests could view their collected artworks.  Stein found a sympathetic spirit in Alice Toklas, and the two women quickly became friends and then lovers.  It wasn’t until Alice B. Toklas moved into the Stein’s household in 1910 and her brother Leo moved out that Stein was able to blossom into the man she truly was.  Toklas has been described as Stein’s housekeeper, cook, typist, secretary, and friend and Alice did not disappoint.  For nearly 40 years, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas were inseparable, famous for their literary salon in Paris, which was frequented by Picasso, T.S. Eliot, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and many more.  Stein popularized the word “gay” in the sense of pertaining to same-gender relationships.

The Stein and Toklas love affair was about sex, they slept in the same bed, they were not merely good friends, they were cohabitating loving partners in a romantic relationship between wealthy women, independent of financial support from a man.  They were united, physically present, enmeshed in family, engaged with property and material things, socially empowered in every sense of the word.  Gertrude and Alice modeled their relationship on that of a husband and wife, butch and femme, “genius” and “wife of a genius”.  Gertrude regarded herself as the “male” in her marriage with Alice, and referred to Alice as her “wife”, breaking sex rules but adhering to gender rules.  They became the most famous lesbian couple of their time, and perhaps even of ours.  Alice Babette Toklas died on March 7, 1967, and is buried beside Stein in the Père-Lachaise cemetery in Paris.

Today is Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas love theme on Love Is In Da Blog and we are asked to find a chanson about love and/or write a Lai poem about Gertrude & Alice.  The chanson dates back as far as 1893, when Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec produced the now famous poster for the nightclub, Le Chat Noir, located in the bohemian Montmartre district of Paris.  It was an infamous cabaret bar where prostitutes, sailors and intellectuals met and mixed freely.  The poets who regularly performed there sang songs which its clientele could relate to.  They were known as a ‘chanson realiste’ or a realist song, which consequently demystified the somewhat tawdry life of a Parisian lady of the night, bringing the profession in the mainstream, through their performances.  A chanson is generally any lyric-driven French song and Jacques Brel changed the chanson in the 60s and he became perhaps the brightest star of the genre and certainly had the largest influence on the chanson of today.

Anyway, I am not going with a chanson today, well not exactly as there is a French-language version of the song that I am writing about today which is titled ‘C’est Ma Chanson’ which was also sung by Petula, who’s fluent in French and this went to #1 in France.  Since I don’t know French, I am going with the Petula Clark song ‘Love This Is My Song’ which was written by Charlie Chaplin in 1966.  Yes, that Charlie Chaplin aka the Little Tramp, the English comic actor, filmmaker, and composer who rose to fame in the era of silent film was the one who wrote this song.  This was intended for the 1967 British romantic comedy film A Countess from Hong Kong, starring Sophia Loren and Marlon Brando which Charlie Chaplin wrote and directed.   Chaplin saw his film as a throwback to the shipboard romances that were popular in the 1930s, and wrote ‘This Is My Song’ with the intent of evoking that era.  To reinforce the evocation, Chaplin was determined to have Al Jolson sing the song and he was so determined that he only accepted the information that Jolson had died on 23 October 1950 when shown a photograph of Jolson’s tombstone.  Ultimately, the song would be featured in the film only as an instrumental.

By 1966, Petula, thanks to hits like ‘Downtown’, ‘I Know a Place’ and ‘My Love’ was one of the biggest singing stars in the world.  She and Charlie had neighboring homes in Switzerland, so Charlie approached Petula.  Petula thought the lyrics were charming, but a bit old-fashioned.  She recorded it anyway, thinking it wouldn’t be more than an album track.  It turned out to be one of her biggest hits when she recorded it on her 1967 These Are My Songs album.  It charted #1 in the UK and went to #3 in the US.  Charlie made a cameo appearance in the movie as a ship steward and this was his last appearance on film.  He died in 1977.

Petula’s composer Tony Hatch declined this song but Clark eventually relented, recording it in English, French, German and Italian.  She asked Chaplin to consider some new English lyrics, but he refused.  It opened with what sound like mandolins, and This Is My Song, like so many other 60s songs that reached #1, features members of The Wrecking Crew as the band.  Petula ended up singing backing vocals on John Lennon’s debut solo single.  Clarke visited him during a bed-in with Yoko Ono and before long she was among the singers on Plastic Ono Band’s Give Peace a Chance.

Why is my heart so light
Why are the stars so bright
Why is the sky so blue
Since the hour I met you
Flowers are smiling bright
Smiling for our delight
Smiling so tenderly
For the world, you and me

I know why the world is smiling
Smiling so tenderly
Its just the same old story
Thru all eternity

Love, this is my song
Here is a song, a serenade to you
The world cannot be wrong
If in this world there’s you
I care not what the world may say
Without your love there is no day
So Love, this is my song
Here is a song, a serenade to you

Music##

I care not what the world may say
Without your love there is no day
So Love, this is my song
Here is a song, a serenade to you

Written for Love Is In Da Blog 2021 Great Love Stories where today is Gertrude & Alice love theme and we are asked to find a chanson about love and/or write a Lai poem about Gertrude & Alice.