The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

Always a work in progress--welcome to my blog...

Friday, September 6, 2013

Pam Williams Book Tour / Battle of the Bands Results




         The recent release of A to Z Devotions for Writers by Pam Williams has been pleasing to me for a number of reasons.  Firstly Pam Williams has been a blogging friend of mine for a couple of years now. As one might expect, her blog 2 Encourage uplifts with its positive messages and helpful suggestions.

        What Pam has accomplished with her book should also excite any of you who have been participants in the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge.   The book was inspired after Pam's participation in the 2011 Challenge.   She realized that her April posts could be the basis of a book for writers.  She pursued the idea and the book is now a reality.

          Particularly pleasing to me is that Pam mentions me in the Acknowledgments and Foreword sections.  I also contributed a blurb for the bookcover.   I feel like a partner of sorts in her publishing venture and I hope she does well with the book.

          A to Z Devotions for Writers was written with Christian writers in mind, but I think the contents of this book have a far greater reach than just Christian writers.  Firstly, non-Christians who are open-minded enough to go along with the program presented here will get a lot out of the contents.

          Each chapter corresponds with a letter of the alphabet and a theme based on that letter.  A Bible verse leads each entry with a follow-up Bible passage to be read for study purposes.  Then Pam presents a brief anecdote or thought to go along with the passages read and the chapter theme.  She continues with helpful writing suggestions and prompts where the chapter theme can be practically applied to a writing exercise.

          In essence this is a work book concerning the craft of writing, telling stories, and communicating ideas.  Christian writers will find it useful, but all writers can find a value to what is contained within the covers of this short book.

         I think that the book could work wonderfully in a group session whether participants were writers honing their craft or just students of life or the Bible itself.  In other words it could actually serve as a supplement for writing education.   It would not be unthinkable to me to see a book of this nature used in a Christian classroom setting.  And whether completed with a group or on ones own, the book offers activities that are fun, useful, and highly rewarding.

          And so again another writer shows us that the Blogging from A to Z Challenge can be more than just a blogging diversion in April.   A book can actually result from those A to Z posts.  Be sure to check out A to Z Devotions for Writers by Pam Williams.  If you have a copy don't forget to leave reviews wherever you can.  Get the word out!

Available from:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Tower Books

 Follow the Tour!  

         Pam Williams has a blog book tour underway currently which includes stops at some blogs you may already know and visit.   You can support Pam in her tour by visiting the following stops:

9/2 Dawn at The Write Soil
9/6 Arlee Bird at Tossing it Out
9/11 Me (LOL) Right Here for another sample chapter!
9/16 Denise at Warrior for Jesus
9/23 Janis at Heart-Filled Moments
9/26  Wanda at The Watered Soul
9/30 Brianna at Faith Laces

         Be sure to check out Pam's blog 2 Encourage for additional information on her book, the virtual tour, and general words of encouragement and inspiration.

Battle of the Bands (Round 3) results!


        Last Friday I joined in with Far Away Series and Ferret-Faced Fascist Friends in the 3rd installment of the Battle of the Bands.   If you missed my selections you can review the match-up here.

         To summarize, I pitted Neil Young's original version of "Down By The River" against the version by the group McKendree Spring.  The outcome as voted by readers was decidedly in Neil's favor 11 to 3.

         So what's my pick?

          This is a very tough one for me and since I can't just say it's a tie, I have to come up with a final call.  Neil Young is one of my all time favorite songwriters and musical performers.  I own a good many of his albums.   His version of "Down By The River" is a masterpiece of rock music.  With the backing of Crazy Horse the song is performed exactly as I think they should have done it.  The chunky ragged sound of the instruments and plaintive vocals gives this rendition a down home quality that evokes memory and sadness.  In all respects Neil Young's version is outstanding.

          However, from the standpoint of my personal listening pleasure and my judgement of technical superiority, I'm going to give this contest to McKendree Spring.  The vocal is purer and the instrumentals are masterful.   I'm in agreement with Robin's comment last week:
 I liked the arrangement better. McKendree Spring saved their instrumental section until the end and it had PURPOSE (aside from showing off the skill of whomever was rocking it out). I actually felt the tension of the song building to a crescendo as it raced toward the end.
        That's pretty much how I see it.  I'm a fan of orchestration and the Spring version has a very orchestrated sound with the synthesizers.  Instead of Neil's telegraphing guitar solo, Spring's Martin Slutsky's guitar soars with exquisite etherealness.  Then there's the violin.  As a violin player I tend to gravitate towards rock music that uses the violin and the playing by Michael Dreyfuss is superb.  If nothing else Spring's version wins me over with the violin.

         My first round in the BOTB competition goes to Neil Young according to your vote.  My choice is McKendree Spring.   Anybody care to rethink their vote in retrospect?    Do I make a good case for McKendree Spring?

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26 comments:

  1. Good luck to Pam with her book, as a first time A to Z blogger at the onset of the challenge in 2010 I certainly hope to purchase the book.

    Yvonne.

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  2. I'll have to pick up the devotional. The cover is really well done.
    It's cool how many have turned their Challenge posts into books!
    And I'll always be a fan of guitar solos, but I definitely see Robin's point. That was my favorite version.

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  3. Good luck to Pam - hope her book does well! :)

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  4. It sounds like a wonderful book.

    I liked the McKendree Spring version better. Guess we were in the minority.

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  5. What a wonderful idea, congratulations Pam. I love a daily devotional book and to add to that a writing prompt - really awesome!

    And to think it came from the A to Z, love that. And believe it or not the subject for next year's challenge came to me in the shower the other day! Starting on it now!

    Happy Friday!

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  6. It's cool that Blogging From A to Z has inspired others' projects. I'm sure you're almost as proud as the author is.

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  7. Yvonne -- I'm thrilled every time I hear about an A to Z inspired book.

    Alex -- I've heard some flack from guitarists about Neil's simple solo on the song. I think Slutsky does an excellent solo on his version.

    Jemi -- Me too!

    L.Diane -- I guess I'm not surprised that Neil came out on top.

    Yolanda -- Let us know when your A to Z book comes out and I'll feature it too!

    Kelly -- Yeah, I feel kinda like a proud uncle or something.

    Lee

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  8. Violin is always a great instrument in a rock song. :)

    Love that Pam's book is out!!! Congrats and Best Wishes to her!

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  9. This sounds like a really good book to me, hope that it goes well for Pam.

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  10. Best of luck to Pam and every song has a plus and minus.

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  11. That's very cool...I always like seeing someone take something (such as blog posts/ blog hops, etc.) and turn them into something else (a book, or what have you).

    Great stuff and best of luck to Pam :)

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  12. Congratulations to Pam and I'm so glad you inspired her. Someday I'd like to put some of my blog posts together and see she's inspiring others. It's a chain....

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  13. Go Neil!

    Just a few days ago his (Neil Young's) car broke down just outside of Reno, he was around locally signing autographs and visiting with folks. (Not me, just folks.)

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  14. Rachna-- Thank you!

    Tyrean -- I'm always looking for rock bands that feature a violinist.

    Yeamie -- I hope there are many who will find Pam's book useful.

    Sheena-kay -- We can find plusses and minuses in everything can't we.

    Mark -- I'm extra excited when a book results from A to Z.

    Desert -- Hang onto that dream! You can do it!

    Faraway -- Which car? Doesn't he have a collection of them?

    Lee



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  15. BOIDMAN ~
    I saw your reply to my BOTB comment days ago, and I've been thinking about it ever since. To refresh your memory, here's what you wrote to me:

    >>... [...] To make the comparison you've made seems a bit off to me since Dylan is mainly about the words and for Young it's the effect of the music. Your comments on the comparison make me wonder how closely you listened to the MKS version. The are similar in tempo and arrangement to some vague extent, but there is no mistaking one for the other. Spring's vocalist is far better technically than Young and the orchestration takes the song to a very different level.

    I'd been intending to return and defend my original analysis. After all, I DID listen to both versions from beginning to end and I knew what I heard.

    My perception was that McKendree Spring had simply gutted the long guitar solos and shortened the song to 3 & a half minutes, trying to score a hit single.

    I have often read that Neil Young is supposed to be a top-notch wordsmith (who "won't stumble over a metaphor"), but without batting an eyelash I could rattle off over 10 lyricists in Rock who I think are head and shoulders better than Young. Hence the "poor man's Dylan" assessment.

    In preparation to defend my earlier comment, I re-listened to both versions of the song. Your blog says I posted my comment after 7 PM. Not so. It was very early in the morning, before I took a shower and went to work.

    In listening a second time, and this time fully awake instead of half a(deep)sleep, I realized how mistaken my first, sleepwalking ears and comment were.

    First of all, McKendree Spring was NOT gutting the song for a hit; their version is nearly 6 minutes long. (How did I get the idea it was "hit single length"? I thought I even saw the video timed at, like, 3:34 or thereabouts.)

    Secondly, there is quite a bit of difference in the arrangement! I have no idea what I was hearing, but that'll teach me not to try this again first thing in the morning.

    I liked the McKendree Spring version much, much better the second time. I'd still vote for Young's original, because I do like his edgy, frayed guitar work on it. (It's almost even "funky" in a "White Canadian" kinda way. Ha!)

    But your response to me was correct, and the McKendree Spring version was plenty different enough from the original to justify the re-recording of the tune.

    Never let it be said that Stephen T. McCarthy can't admit when he's made a mistake.

    By the way, have you ever noticed how much America's 'A Horse With No Name' sounds like a Neil Young original?

    About 6 months ago, I heard a DJ here in Phoenix make that observation just before playing 'A Horse With No Name'. I thought the DJ must be insane, because it had never occurred to me that America's biggest hit was reminiscent of Neil Young's singing and writing.

    But from the beginning of the song, with that thought in mind, I was floored: HOKEY-SMOKE & HOO-WEE! America was definitely laying their "Neil Young" on thick!

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

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  16. Thank you for the admission. You are a man of integrity.

    I have often read that Neil Young is supposed to be a top-notch wordsmith...

    I've never been overly impressed with Young's lyrics. I mean they're okay for what they are most of the time. Like for some reason this morning the song "Ohio" started running through my head. What simplistic lyrics. And the lines that really puzzle me are "Soldiers are cutting us down/Should have been done long ago". That always bothered me. Is he defending the soldiers shooting the students and wondering why it hadn't been done before then? Very poorly written I think. I'm sure I could come up with many examples, but his music and the sound of the songs is so wonderful to me that I forgive his sometimes weird lyricism.

    I thought I even saw the video timed at, like, 3:34 or thereabouts.)

    This is funny because a while ago I went back to listen to the 3:14 (or wherever it was) point in the Brian Auger tune where you were pointing out the licks. I was surprised to see that the song time was showing over 11 minutes because I had thought I originally saw that it was just under 7 minutes. Our minds play strange deceptions I guess.

    By the way, have you ever noticed how much America's 'A Horse With No Name' sounds like a Neil Young original?

    When I first heard this song on the radio (around 1972 I think) I thought it was Neil Young. I immediately became a big America fan because of the similarity to Neil Young.

    Thanks for the elucidations and miscellania.

    Lee

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  17. BROTHER LEE ~
    Regarding Neil Young's lyrics: I've always thought they were adequate and nothing more. The one real exception, for me, is 'SUGAR MOUNTAIN'. I like everything about that song, including the lyrics, in which I thought Neil really "did NOT stumble over any metaphors".

    I agree that, with Neil, it's really about the mood he sets. That album 'Tonight's The Night' - man, I don't own it now, but I had it in the days of "Licorice Pizza, and I played it quite a bit. The mood of that really did capture the theme he was working with. And his album 'Rust Never Sleeps'... Whoa! Hey, hey, my, my! Talk about setting a "mood" with the sound of your guitar. Especially on that "Johnny Rotten" song!

    >>... And the lines that really puzzle me are "Soldiers are cutting us down/Should have been done long ago".

    Interesting! I never caught that line, although I've heard the song countless times. I'm going to guess and say he was shifting perspective at that point and speaking a line on behalf of "the establishment", "the average, short-haired citizen", or whatever you wanna call it. Regardless, it wasn't clear, therefore it was poorly done.

    >>... I was surprised to see that the song time was showing over 11 minutes because I had thought I originally saw that it was just under 7 minutes. Our minds play strange deceptions I guess.

    No, sir! My mind was knocked out, but yours was OK, because I can actually explain that:

    Sometime after I posted my BOTB #3 installment, YouTube deleted the Brian Auger video I had selected. When that was pointed out to me in the Comment Section, I went back to YouTube, found a different, still active video for the Auger cut, and replaced the original with it.

    For whatever reason (must be an Airheadzonan), the person who posted the video for Auger's 'A Day In The Life' also included some other thing at the end, which extended the video's playing time. But you were CORRECT, the first video I posted was much shorter because it ENDED when 'A Day In The Life' ended.

    You were truly thinking; I was truly asleep the first time I listened to McK Spring.

    When that DJ pointed out how similar America's 'Horse...' was to a typical Neil Young song, I mentioned it to my Brother.

    In return, my Brother told me a story: While he was working on a movie set as an 'Extra', circa 1980, some guy on the set had a guitar with him. A girl asked him to play "a Neil Young song" and he played 'A Horse With No Name'.

    From that day until the day about 6 months ago when I told my Brother Nappy what I had learned from that Airheadzona DJ, Nappy had been under the impression that 'A Horse With No Name' was by Neil Young. He'd been hearing it for decades and thought it was Young singing. (Who can blame him?)

    I'm actually embarrassed that I never made that connection. But then, I knew very early on that it was America, so my mind never bothered to ask me: Dude, don't you think that sounds like Neil Young?!

    Sheesh! Is the mind fascinating or what?!

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

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  18. Cool idea for her A2Z posts -- why not, right?

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  19. Thank you, Lee, for the glowing review of my book! Much appreciated, my friend!
    And thank you to each one who commented on Lee's post. Your encouragement and kind words keep me writing. :)
    Blessings to all!
    Pam Williams

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  20. StMc -- Thanks for the added comments.

    I'm going to guess and say he was shifting perspective at that point and speaking a line on behalf of "the establishment",

    Looking at all of the lyrics taken together I see what Neil is saying here, but the lines are put together in a way that they don't related like they should. In typical rock/pop music style Neil is using sound bites and terseness to express himself lyrically whereas Dylan is speaking with poetry and connected commentary. They are both good at what they do.

    you were CORRECT, the first video I posted was much shorter because it ENDED when 'A Day In The Life' ended

    Okay I remember that now. I wasn't imagining things after all.

    Horse With No Name

    Wikipedia (I think this entry is accurate) says regarding Dewey Bunnell's song: "
    The song's resemblance to some of Neil Young's work aroused some controversy. "I know that virtually everyone, on first hearing, assumed it was Neil", Bunnell says. "I never fully shied away from the fact that I was inspired by him. I think it's in the structure of the song as much as in the tone of his voice. It did hurt a little, because we got some pretty bad backlash. I've always attributed it more to people protecting their own heroes more than attacking me."

    Back then especially groups and artists were always tried to emulate whoever was popular. Think of all the sound-alikes of Elvis, Beatles, and beach music.

    I remember after CS&N came out a group called Redeye released a song called "Games". I mistook it for the more famous group I already knew and took to this new song. I bought Redeye's album thinking it would be more stuff that sounded like CS&N. When I really like something I'll try to find as much as I can that's similar. I think that's what a lot of other people do as well.

    Yes, the mind is fascinating. Weird.

    Lee

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  21. Neil Young is super, and I must have missed this one, Lee. I would have voted for him. Although Alabama (the group) didn't appreciate his 'Southern Man' song.

    We all seek something different in music. I love the violin, too, which was used to great effect in some of Bob Dylan's newer songs.

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  22. Milo -- Just goes to show that what can be done with 26 letters is limitless.

    Pam -- Glad to have featured your book here. Hope my efforts have helped some.

    DG -- I remember Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" knocking Neil Young's "Southern Man", but then later read where Young loved the Skynyrd song and the group and Young were mutual admirers.

    Lee

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  23. Lee -

    Just a small comment pulled out of me by your conversation with Stephen McCarthy

    I, too, always thought "A Horse With No Name" sounded like Young, and recognized that many people though it was Neil Young song. Although it certainly has a similar style, I have always thought that part of that error is that the song has the word "horse" in the title. With Crazy Horse as the name of Young's band, I think it adds to the confusion, subconsciously.

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  24. Sheboygan -- A good observation. This connection might have also been made my Dewey Bunnel when he wrote the song. I think the connection to Young was made with a purposeful intent to emulate one of his songwriting heroes.

    Lee

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  25. Congrats to Pam on A to Z Devotions For Writers! It's great that you appear in the acknowledgements Lee! You have inspired many authors.

    Julie

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Go ahead and say something. Don't be afraid to speak your mind.
I normally try to respond to all comments in the comment section so please remember to check the "Email follow-up comments" box if you want to participate in the comment conversation.

For Battle of the Bands voting the "Anonymous" commenting option has been made available though this version is the least preferred. If voting using "anonymous" please include in your comment your name (first only is okay) and city you are voting from and the reason you chose the artist you did.

If you know me and want to comment but don't want to do it here, then you can send me an email @ jacksonlee51 at aol dot com.

Lee