This Is Me--2019 A to Z Theme

This blog is part of my life journey. I've got places to be and people to see along the way. Hope you'll join me and maybe join in the discussion...

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


Friday, May 7, 2021

And It's Over Again ( #BOTB Results )


    It ain't over until it's over some would say while others might say something to the effect of saying it ain't over until Brünnhilde sings and if you don't know what I'm talking about with that then look it up.  I just don't want to be raising any hackles for saying "lady" or describing how big she is.  People get their hackles raised too easily these days and I don't want to be known as a "hackle raiser"...

Battle of the Bands Results

       As Stephen T McCarthy pointed out in the comments of my recent Battle of the Bands post, the bands I used, Badfinger and Electric Light Orchestra, both have a Beatle-esque sound.  That's one reason why I liked both these bands.  Back in my early days of interest in pop music the Beatles were one of my top favorite groups and this held true for many in that era.  There is little doubt that the Beatles influenced so much popular music after they arrived on the scene and their music continues to have influence to the current time.

       This Beatles influence hit me as soon as I began listening to Badfinger in 1970.  After all they were four musicians recording on the Beatles' Apple record label and they sure sounded kind of like the Beatles.  In fact for quite some time I actually thought they were the Beatles recording under the guise of a fabricated imaginary group.  Later after I discovered another similar sounding Brit group called Grapefruit I thought that they might be the same group as Badfinger/Beatles for the same reasons I thought Badfinger was really the Beatles.  And at the time the Beatles had been playing around with all sorts of weirdness that one might not be ridiculed for believing what I did.  

       Eventually I did come to a realization that the Beatles split up and Badfinger and Grapefruit were their own groups and not some incarnation of each other or anyone else.  Sadly both groups faded away and now have been mostly forgotten by later generations.

       Electric Light Orchestra managed to maintain a longer active history than those other groups and this can be mostly attributed to the driving creative force of Jeff Lynne.  He has appeared with many other artists and produced a number of albums. Lynne's style often reflects the Beatles influence.  Perhaps even a greater influence of Beatles producer George Martin can be heard in the sound of Electric Light Orchestra.  The band has managed a long successful history without much attention grabbing drama.

        I'm a fan of both groups.  The "orchestral" sound of ELO is especially pleasing to my musical tastes.  However the over all quality of songwriting on the Badfinger albums is better in my opinion.  Badfinger had some fantastic songs on their albums and I have listened to far more Badfinger over the years than I have listened to ELO.

       In the match of two songs named "It's Over" by Badfinger and ELO the preference was in the bag for me.  As much as I like ELO's song and wonderful recording production, Badfinger's song is the one that resonates with me the most.  Love that song!  Badfinger got my vote, but they didn't get the win.

Final Vote Tally

Badfinger                   5 votes

ELO                           7 votes

Next Battle of the Bands on Saturday May 15th

        As I've been doing over the past years I'll be slacking off blogging during the summer.  I'm not saying it's over for my blogging, but I might take a break.  But in the meantime don't miss my next Battle of the Bands!

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Just Sayin' ( #IWSG & #AtoZChallenge Reflections )


     In this post I'll be addressing the May 2021 edition of The Insecure Writer's Support Group and tie that in with my Reflections on the 2021 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge.  Yeah, everything is connected--or at least I can find a way to connect one thing to another.  It's the story of life...

The Insecure Writer's Support Group

Join us on the first Wednesday of each month in Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group--a forum of writers who gather to talk about writing and the writer's life. For a complete list of participants visit Alex's Blog

The co-hosts for the May 5 posting of the IWSG are Erika Beebe, PJ Colando, Tonja Drecker, Sadira Stone, and Cathrina Constantine.

May 5 question - Has any of your readers ever responded to your writing in a way that you didn't expect? If so, did it surprise you?

Unexpected Reactions

        When I was taking fiction writing classes in college I poured so much into the stories I created that I regularly thought that I had created a masterpiece that my professor would rave about.  Well, he might have raved sometimes, but not in the positive ways that I had expected.  That's what writing professors are supposed to do I guess.  And more likely I was too invested in my own sense of genius and a bit blinded to the fact that my writing needed more work.  Why should have I expected otherwise?  My professor was supposed to instruct and guide me and not be an adulating fanboy.  

          Other than teachers, my writing didn't fall into the hands of many readers other than close friends and few of them read much of my writing.  It was not so much any fear of mine that they might say something bad about my writing, but it was a simple matter of getting them to read anything I had written.  Besides, I wasn't especially pushing my writing on others.

           After I discovered that blogging would be a way of putting my writing out in a public way where I might find an occasional reader of my work, my blog became my forum for presenting what I had created to others in hopes of getting some kind of reaction.  Mostly I received positive comments and encouragement that made me want to keep writing.  No longer did I have to submit writing to publications that would end up sending rejection letters.  I could just write what I pleased and my work would be out there for public consumption and I might get some nice comments now and then.  

         For the most part it's been all well and fine and blogging continues to provide us all with a platform to present our words as we want to say them. Unfortunately there is such a strong divide within society about this or that and some people get so disturbed about reading anything other than opinions they share.  This has presented a problem for a blog like mine which by the nature of the title Tossing It Out  suggests that I will be presenting my opinions and views about just about anything.  And that's the course I set out upon from the beginning.

        I've lost readers because of certain opinions that I've shared and at times those readers have departed with nastily deprecating comments as they faded off into their own corners.  We live in odd times of "I'm not gonna be your friend anymore" not just because of differences of opinions, but more due to a belligerent attitude of not even going to listen to the other side if it doesn't agree with one's own opinions.  

       Writing is all about opinions and an author expressing those opinions.  Whether it be fantasy, romance, mystery, or whatever the genre an author injects themselves somehow into the story which means an author's opinions and views about life and the world are mixed up in all that conveyance of the thoughts and imagination of a story being told.  Sure, that's my opinion, but I don't see how it could be otherwise.

        Expectations are figments of our own minds.  They are often shattered as we are directed toward a greater reality--whatever reality is.   When I'm pouring myself into my writing I sometimes get a sense of the exhilaration that I am going to change the world--or some small portion of it--with the genius of my words.  I am my own biggest fan until my words hit a different fan.   Reality sets in.  The clarity of my writing becomes muddled in the confusion of differences of opinion that result in a negativity towards me or my ideas or my writing.

        In the end, it's all okay.  Writers have always had their critics as well as their fervent admirers.  That is how it should be and likely always will be--at least I hope.  In today's world many are quick to cancel, censor, or criticize depending on a writer's opinions.  At least give a fair hearing of what a writer has to say.   The beginning of a story is not the whole story just as the end of the story makes little sense if you don't know what came before.

Blogging from A to Z April Challenge 2021 Reflections

Reflections 2021 #atozchallenge

         As Frank Sinatra once sang:  "It was a very good year".

         Not that 2021 has been all that great, but it sure beats last year.  I think that would my summation of A to Z as well.  I barely remember A to Z 2020, but that year is a big blur for the most part anyway.  The baloney pandemic hit my life at an okay time since I am retired and mostly stay home anyway, but still it was all absurd.  But that was then and this is now, which is kind of like then but with some kind of hope ahead.  I guess.
         You'd think that me being retired would mean that blogging would be all that I have to do.  Apparently not though since these days I'm a rather half-hearted blogger.  Like the last few Challenges, I fell way short of making rounds to other blogs or even devoting much time to my own posts.

         Nevertheless I'm happy with my 2021 posts on Rivers of America.  I actually learned a lot in my research and my readers seemed to enjoy the series.  The idea for this theme kind of seemed to come out of nowhere.  When I suggested my theme in my March Reveal post I wasn't even sure where I was going with it.  So a few days before the start of the Challenge I started coming up with river thoughts in an A to Z fashion.  Through the month of April I basically wrote my posts anywhere from a few days ahead of time to the night before the post was to go up.  As they say, I winged it.  Or floated it or whatever.

         And so I'm done.  Great job me and everyone else that I was keeping up with.

         And very special thanks to the ever dedicated A to Z Team of J Lenni Dorner (captain) @ Blog of Author J Lenni Dorner,  Zalka Csenge Virág @ The Multicolored DiaryJohn Holton @ The Sound of One Hand Typing,  Jayden R Vincente @ J R Vincente Erotica Writer, and Jeremy Hawkins (graphics) @ Hollywood Nuts.

          Don't forget to check the Blogging from A to Z Blog for the survey which will help us in the future and for other fun things coming up. If you haven't gotten your T-shirt to display your A to Z bragging rights you can find info on how to obtain one.

        Thanks to everyone who played along and hope you'll be back for the 2022 Challenge!

Saturday, May 1, 2021

It's Over ( #BOTB )

       And just like that another Blogging from A to Z comes to an end.  It's over, but then not entirely so.  Still, to celebrate an end to another Challenge, let's play a thematically apt Battle of the Bands...

Battle of the Bands

        Battle of the Bands is the blogging event started by Far Away Series and now hosted by StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands.   This event happens each month on the 15th and on some there is also a Battle on the 1st of the month.  My blog is one of those with a second Battle excepting over these summer months.   The premise is simple:  Listen to the songs presented below and then in the comments vote for your favorite and tell us why you liked it.  Then visit the links listed near the bottom of this                                                                                 post for more Battle action.

It's Over

      There are several songs with the title "It's Over" and if any song seems appropriate for this Battle, a song with this title seems like a good one to use.  I've decided to use songs from two of my favorite groups from the past.  As we all know, it ain't over until it's over, but as far as this Battle is concerned "It's Over" sounds like a nice sentiment after another April Challenge.

Badfinger   "It's Over"   (1971)

       This song comes from the album Straight Up which is my favorite album by Badfinger.  This song along with several others on the album was produced by Todd Rundgren.  


Electric Light Orchestra   "It's Over"  (1977)

        ELO had a wonderful big sound with overtones of the Beatles.  As a fan of strings and orchestras I was drawn to ELO as soon as I discovered them.   Their song "It's Over" has their signature sound that gave them so many hits on the charts--big production and lots of drama.  

Time to Vote!
          A to Z may be over, but voting for this Battle of the Bands has just begun.  Please join in and play along in this Battle of the Bands.  I hope you'll at least give the versions a listen to discern your favorite.   Which version do you prefer?   Hopefully you have an opinion of some kind.  You don't have to know about music to have an opinion since it all comes down to your own personal taste.

        Please vote on your favorite by letting us know your choice in the comment section and tell us why you prefer the version you chose. Then after you've finished here, please visit the other blogs listed below who may or may not be participating this time around. And if you've put up your own BOTB contest let us know that as well so we can vote on yours.

Here are some other places where you might find BOTB posts:

 StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands


'Curious as a Cathy'

Sound of One Hand Typing

Jingle, Jangle, Jungle 

Winner of this Battle Announced on Friday May 7th.

           I'll be here on Wednesday May 5th with a post for #IWSG but the results of the Battle will show up a couple days after that.  And somewhere in those posts I'll include some Challenge Reflections.  It's all slowing down, but it ain't over until it's over...

Friday, April 30, 2021

Zigzag River ( #AtoZChallenge )

 Rivers flow hither and yon, round and about, fast and slow.  Rivers go where rivers go and then the cycle begins again...

#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter Z

Zig Zag River

The Zigzag River flows from its headwaters on Mt. Hood( Photo by instagrammer tomgolfkam).

          Zig zagging across this continent as well as continents throughout the world, rivers are everywhere.  The rivers come in all sizes and appearances.   They wind, they snake, they crawl, and often they rampage with an apparent frenzied rage as they persist in getting to their ultimate destinations.
          Some rivers move in a zig zag path while one river is named "Zigzag".  The Zigzag River in Oregon is only 12 miles long but it boasts some formidable whitewater rapids in its final 3 miles before it reaches the confluence with the Sandy River.  In this part of Oregon the Zigzag name is everywhere from the Zigzag Glacier where the Zigzag River begins to the Zigzag Falls along the river course to the small community of Zigzag at the merging of the Sandy River.   You get a larger than normal dose of Z's in this part of Oregon.

         To close my A to Z Rivers of America series let us look at a final river running through New Mexico and Arizona--the Zuni River.   Considered sacred by the Zuni tribe, their namesake river struggles for survival in the arid desert where it sometimes flows.  In drier seasons the river might go from a trickle to apparent nothingness.  Yet the river persists as it has persisted for seemingly as long as the Earth has been around.  From the fossils that are found in the surrounding river basin to the Zuni people who lived on this land long before Europeans arrived, the Zuni River exemplifies the longlastingness of rivers.

        Dream of rivers.  Experience rivers.  Watch the rivers flow and imagine what has been and what will be.  The rivers belong to all of us.  They help economies thrive and ecosystems to survive.  You can't hug a river, but you can love them.  Love them for the life they provide.   Rivers are life.

      Can you think of a river that is more harmful than not?   Do you think it is good to control rivers with artificial measures like dams or channels?    If you could name a river, what name would you like to use?

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Yellowstone River ( #AtoZChallenge )

One of the spectacular aspects of rivers is the presence of waterfalls.  Some rivers have none while some have many. Some waterfalls tower while others merely cascade.  The water flows when, where, and how it must and goes where it will...

  #AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter Y

Yellowstone River

Yellowstone Falls on the Yellowstone River (Wikipedia)

      Rivers are everywhere.  We might tend not to notice the rivers because they have always been there and they are always there.  One river leads to another and another until that one final river merges into the sea.  The Yadkin River of North Carolina joins the  Uwharrie River, to become the Pee Dee River which continues into South Carolina.

      Go to Mississippi and you will find the Yalobusha River which eventually joins the Tallahatchie River to become the Yazoo River.  Mississippi has a number of rivers with names derived from native languages that make for interesting pronunciation challenges.  How about the Yockanookany River – can you say it quickly three times?   Then there is the Youghiogheny River in West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania.  Maybe it's time for something simple instead.

       I give you the Yellow River.  Oh wait, there's the Yellow River of Alabama and Florida, and the Yellow River in Indiana, or the Yellow River in Iowa. Apparently that was a popular name back in the river naming days.  And it is easy to say and to spell.

       Thinking of Yellow I turn to one of my favorite rivers--the Yellowstone River running for 692 miles though Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota.  The river runs through Yellowstone National Park where there are some impressive sights such as Yellowstone Falls.  Interstate 94 follows along the Yellowstone for much of the way across Montana as the river heads to its final destination of the Missouri River.  

        Yes the rivers just keep on rolling, one river to the next.


         Have you visited Yellowstone National Park?  Do you have a favorite waterfall?  Which rivers have you followed for considerable distance as you drove a highway?   


Wednesday, April 28, 2021

X: You Pick a River ( #AtoZChallenge )

      Since X doesn't really have a river that I can think of then maybe we'll let readers have a break from my thoughts and hear what you have to say... 

#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter X

          In my A to Z series on rivers I've been mainly discussing rivers that mean something special to me.  How about some of you?   Do you have a particular river that is a favorite of yours or one that has a special meaning to you?   Let us know your thoughts in the comments...

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Whitewater ( #AtoZChallenge )

        Whitewater presents a thrilling challenge to some while to others it might be the threat of danger or even death.   I mean, seriously--after watching a film like Deliverance do you really want to go down a treacherous whitewater river?

#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter W


Scene from "Deliverance"  (Metrospirit)

       After watching the movie Deliverance with my friends in 1972, we were psyched up to find our own whitewater adventure.  Well, they were--maybe not so much wimpy me.  Floating down a river was one thing, but I wasn't sure that I was ready to risk life and limb going through torrential waters.  It looks fun, but living a long life seemed more important to me.  Bottom line is that I never tried shooting any whitewater rapids and now at this stage of my life it is unlikely that I ever will.

        But if I did try whitewater rafting where would I go?   In earlier posts I mentioned the Ocooee, Tellico, Snake, and James Rivers.  They all offer whitewater opportunities along with outfitters who will rent you the necessary gear to shoot the rapids those rivers offer.  Then for an ultimate thrill I might go to the Grand Canyon for a teeth-on-edge trip down the iconic whitewater stretch of the Colorado River.  That one sounds heart-stopping indeed!

        However, since this post is for "Day W" of the A to Z Challenge, let me stay within the parameters of this letter.  One place where I would not go is the Wood River of Illinois.  At only 2.4 miles long running though urban areas near St. Louis MO, the Wood River sloughs along until dumping into the Mississippi River.  This is probably a river not even conducive to a quiet downstream float, but I wouldn't know since I've only crossed this river in a car while driving and didn't pay any attention that a river was there.

        The nearly 300 mile long Washita River passing through Texas and Oklahoma looks like a wonderful waterway for a peaceful float and for a short distance there is even a respectable stretch of rapids through a canyon.   Likewise the over 500 miles long Wabash River of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois allows for a lot of calm drifting upon the waters though in Indiana there is a decent stretch of whitewater that draws many enthusiasts of the sport.

         For the truest whitewater experience one might be better off going to the state of Washington to tackle the Wenatchee River.  Many tourists and serious whitewater fans visit the Wenatchee River region every year for thrilling river experiences.  This river is only 53 miles long but it has more whitewater than many rivers of a far greater length.

        I'll leave the whitewater adventures for those with more daring than I have.  I'm sure it's a lot of fun, but I'll take their word for it.

        Have you ever gone whitewater rafting, kayaking, or canoeing?    What is your favorite film that features whitewater adventures?   Is there something that other people do that you would never try?


Monday, April 26, 2021

Verdant Valleys and River Banks ( #AtoZChallenge )

 The presence of  an abundance of water might make one expect an abundance of greenery and that is typically the case.  Water is an essential ingredient for photosynthesis in green plants hence the greenery along so many rivers...

#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter V

Verdant Valleys and River Banks

Photo by Aitor Olaskoaga on Unsplash

         When traveling across the United States from Los Angeles to points eastward one cannot help but notice the striking differences in the vegetation of the more arid West and the lush lands of the East where rainfall is far more abundant.  And with the rain comes rivers.

          Driving toward the Atlantic coast one begins to see larger rivers in Oklahoma when traveling I-40.  Greenery begins to abound from spring bloom to the falling of autumn leaves.  The change is striking after driving in the drier desert landscapes to a world that becomes ever more verdant as one nears the Mississippi River.  Arkansas seems to be a vast carpet of green dotted with cities and towns.  Then after crossing the bridge over the Big Muddy Mississippi the verdancy is profuse in the spring and summer. 

           The rivers of the eastern United States abound with vegetative growth and the wildlife that come with those areas.  Passing on the highway, one can look down upon rivers to see them lined with a array of green trees, plants, grasses, and all that contributes to the beauty of the Earth.  Now and then the passerby might see someone floating down a peaceful looking river through a jungle-like wonderland.

          Down on the river the relaxed floater must be in a state of blissful nirvana.  When I've floated down a river beneath over hanging trees with dense vegetation all around, there was a peaceful solitude that was intruded upon only by the chorus of hidden life among the plants on the shores.  One can daydream and be carried away from the normal troubles of the world.  And if the river itself is not threatening then there doesn't seem to be a care that can interfere with one's sense of sanity.

         Verdant valleys and river banks abound in the more rain saturated climes.  The green is worth saving so we can all enjoy this peaceful beauty with all of our senses.  But it's also worth taking care of for the future health of the Earth.   We need to love and respect our rivers.  They represent a Green cause that is very real.

          Where is the lushest most green place that you have been?   Do you have a favorite plant that might be considered to be mostly a river plant?    Would you like to float down a river this summer?

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Underwater Contemplations ( #AtoZChallenge )

       Ever wonder what might be found under the waters of a river?   Sunken vessels?  Lost valuables?  Dead bodies?   Maybe any of these and more...

#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter U

Underwater Contemplations

Underwater scenery  (pinterest)

              Decades ago I shared a cabin near the Great Smoky Mountains with three of my friends. We were within easy walking distance of the park boundary which gave us ample opportunity to hike some amazing secluded trails that were not frequented by many hikers.  

            One trail that began near our cabin went to the top of Kelly's Ridge where we found a large spring or outpouring of water that disappeared into a very deep sinkhole.  The waterfall was perhaps 50 feet high or so and the hole maybe was as much as a hundred feet deep.  Relying on memory it's difficult to say.  The water vanished into what appeared to be a cave.  Due to the great depth we never attempted to descend into this sinkhole.  However, along the trail that led up to the sinkhole we found a number of potential entrances into a cave system.  Most of these entrances were far too small to get through, but there was one point near the bottom of the mountain with a large opening that seemed to dead end until we realized that there was a narrow crevice that one could crawl through in order to descend into the cave system that likely connected to the spring some distance away.

          Crawling on our bellies we descended though this crevice for perhaps thirty feet until we could hear what sounded like a rushing of waters.  At the bottom of the passage we found ourselves at the top of an approximately eight foot waterfall that seemed to be coming out of the ground at the higher level and descending into a larger room with a sandy bottom where the pooling water from the fall was draining into the ground presumably to reemerge somewhere further down the mountain where the stream most likely emptied into nearby Laurel Lake.  We never bothered to continue following the stream but it seemed obvious that this waterway had descended mostly underground from the spring at the mountaintop.  

         The waterfall was the highlight of that particular cave.  There were tight passageways that continued for a considerable length, but none of us were particularly enthusiastic about pursuing the exploration.  It was an interesting experience that I did with various friends about three times until I started having nightmares about being trapped underground.  That was it for me.  And anyway, soon after those spelunking treks we moved from the cabin and I never went back there to hike.

        My experience was with what I would call an underground stream, but there are a number of underground rivers that are quite similar.  There are also rivers that don't necessarily go through cave systems, but they just disappear under the ground.  In my research for this River Series I even ran across stories about rivers that are under the ocean or under other rivers.  What we might not fully know the full extent is whether there are layers of rivers that descend deep into the Earth.

      When I think about rivers--especially the larger ones--I am more apt to think about what is under the river waters.  Some rivers are dredged and most likely some of the debris at the bottom is cleaned up in that process.   But what about those rivers that are not cleaned in some such way?   What secrets do they hold?

        A few years ago in East Tennessee the Chilhowee Lake was drained in order to do maintenance on the dam holding back the waters of the Little Tennessee River which formed the lake. Most of the lake bottom was exposed during this maintenance project.  As a result many remnants of the past were exposed such as vehicles dumped in the lake, old building foundations, bridges that had been inundated, and a vast assortment of other refuse and oddities.  

        Shortly after the dam work had been completed and the lake was beginning to fill up again, my brother and I went to check it out when I was visiting Tennessee.  We didn't find much other than a lot of discarded beer and soft drink cans and bottles.  Some of them dated back to the fifties or sixties judging by their designs.  We left the trash where we saw it. I guess we could have gotten trash bags and cleaned some of it up, but that wasn't on our agenda that day.   I guess that stuff went back to being under the water once again.  I'd say that what we saw would be fairly representational of what one would find under the waters of most rivers.

          Still, I dream of underwater treasures and mysteries that I will likely never find.

         Have you ever been underwater exploring in a river?  What would you expect to be the most common items to be found in a river?    Did you ever see a river or other body of water in the depths of a cavern?  



Friday, April 23, 2021

Tennessee River ( #AtoZChallenge )

      Tributaries are the streams and rivers that feed into larger rivers.  Many of the rivers that I've mentioned in my Rivers of America series are tributaries that feed into other larger rivers that are also tributaries of other larger rivers.  It's an example of the motto of the United States "E pluribus unum" or "out of many, one"...

#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter T

Tennessee River

Toms River
By John F. Peto - Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Colección Permanente, Public Domain,


         Not too far from my old home in Maryville TN runs the Tellico River which  starts in the mountains of North Carolina then runs into Tennessee where it dumps into the Little Tennessee River which in turn is a tributary of the massive Tennessee River.  All these rivers have TVA dams for flood control and power generation.  It makes for a network of lakes used for all sorts of recreational activities.  

          Back around 1972 I borrowed my mother's station wagon so my friend Vernon Clouse and I could drive down toward where the Tennessee River heads toward Chattanooga. I'd seen on the map where there was a ferry crossing--near Dayton perhaps--and since at that time I'd been trying to find every ferry crossing within a 100 mile radius of where I lived we decided to take that adventure.  We found that ferry and rode across what seemed to be a very wide river with a rather swift current at one point.  It was a small boat that only carried 2 or 3 vehicles.  I'm sure it no longer runs, but if it does I'm not sure that I'd want to cross it again.  

         In the fall of 1974 I set out walking westward from Maryville and the first night I camped under the Hwy 411 bridge spanning the Little Tennessee River near where it is joined by the Tellico River.  This was before the new bridge had to be built when they dammed the river to form Tellico Lake.  I walked onward after the first night encampment, but that's a bigger story to be told elsewhere at another time. 

          If I were to tell a river story in a song then the Tippecanoe River of Indiana might be a nice choice.  It's a musical sounding name with a lot of rhyming possibilities.  After all, Bobbie Gentry found river name magic in her "Ode to Billy Joe" in which she sings about seeing a couple throwing something off a bridge spanning the Tallahatchie River in Mississippi.  Even the Trinity River off Texas offers a lot of potential--I think there's a good country song in that name.

                       This summer I'm hoping that I'll be able to visit my three daughters who live in or near Toms River  in New Jersey.  This city sits along the Toms River.  What a surprise! One of my sons-in-law who grew up in Toms River (the town, not in the river) is named Tom.  Never asked who he was named after.  He did grow up in Toms River so I guess it could be so.  And I named his wife (my daughter) after a street in Knoxville.

              Have you ever traced tributaries to the final destination of one leading to the other?  Have you ever tipped over in a canoe?   Do you know anyone who was named after a place?

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Swanee River ( #AtoZChallenge & #BOTB Results )

       Happy Earth Day!  It's a good day to celebrate rivers which are the circulatory system of our planet.  Sing a river song if you know one.  Or just read on to hear about some river songs or some rivers with other musical connections.  There is music in the rivers...

#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter S

Songs, Songs, Songs  (BOTB Results)

        Since we're on the subject of songs let's start right off with the winner of my most recent Battle of the Bands.  The song picks were the similarly named "(Floating) Down by the River" by the group Beast from 1969 and "Down by the River" a 2014 release from German group Milky Chance.

         As for my preference I like both of these songs a great deal.  Either one fits my musical tastes, but the song by Beast definitely is the song and performance I like best.  Back in the early 70s after my friend Vernon Clouse picked up the Beast album on 8 track cartridge we listened many many times as we drove around the mountains (often along rivers).  My friend Marvin Lowe was able to find the LP version in a cut-out bin and he tells me that the album remains a favorite to this day.  I would agree with that assessment.  So many wonderful memories of younger days!

       It was a close race and my vote for Beast puts the contest at a tie!

Final Vote Tally

Beast                    6 votes

Milky Chance      6 votes



More Songs, More Rivers

Jefferson County, West Virginia, State Route 9 bridge crossing the Shenandoah River.
                                                                   (Raymond Whitacre)

           A popular song by Stephen Foster is "Old Folks at Home" or more commonly called "Swanee River".   You probably at least know of the song if not able to sing most or all of it.  The song was a huge hit in its day (1850s) and remains the state song of Florida (with lyrics revised for modern sensibilities).  When the song first came to him Foster was stumped about which two syllable southern river name to use.  His brother first suggested the Yazoo or the Pee Dee but neither of those sounded right to Stephen.  Then, looking at a map, they found the Suwanee River in Florida. The spelling was changed for the song to reflect the way the name sounds when spoken.  Go ahead and say "Suwanee" three times quickly and you'll see what I mean.

           Over the years many other songs have used the Swanee River name in them.  It's a name with a lyrical sound that evokes memories of old times even though maybe those old times were a bit glamorized for music audiences.  Because of the songs this river has gained fame as a U.S. river even though most people probably couldn't even tell you where it is or point it out on a map.  When I was a kid living in San Diego far from the Florida river and having no idea where the river was, I used to often play "Old Folks at Home" on my harmonica or violin.  Undoubtedly you have heard this song or other Swanee songs many times in your own life since they have become so ingrained in popular culture.

           Another river that has been an inspiration for many songs is the Shenandoah River of Virginia and West Virginia.  The most widely known song is the beautiful "Oh, Shenadoah" which is an authentic American folk song with exact origins unknown.  This song has been recorded by numerous artists over the years.  There are many other lesser known songs that refer to the Shenandoah River or region. Even a popular country music group has called itself Shenandoah.  The Shenandoah River and the river valley area are stunningly beautiful places that are deserving of the music they have inspired.

           Across the continent in the wild west of  Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon and Washington one can find the Snake River which travels for over 1000 miles through some wild scenic territory.   There are a number of songs that mention the Snake River and some of those refer specifically to the crazy rocket cycle jump that daredevil Evel Knievel attempted over a deep portion of the river canyon.  He survived the stunt though he wasn't totally successful either.  The event became the stuff of  legend so that it inspired mention in a number of songs.

          There are probably at least a few songs that celebrate San Antonio River in the Texas city of the same name. In any event, if you are strolling the famed Riverwalk of San Antonio or riding on one of the boats that are available to visitors you will hear a lot of music playing in the many restaurants, bars, or other establishments situated along this renown river trail in the heart of downtown San Antonio.  This is a must see destination for anyone visiting the Texas city and well worth a leisurely stroll.  

           In the early 20th century composer Percy Grainger wrote a musical piece called "Spoon River" inspired by the popular poetry work Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters.   The much beloved collection of poetry takes place in the fictional town of Spoon River sitting along the real waterway of Spoon River which runs 147 miles through west central Illinois. It's a river I've crossed over a number of times as I've toured the country.

         Near Havre de Grace Maryland traveling down I-95 crossing the  Millard E. Tydings Memorial Bridge  over the Susquehanna River which passes through New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland I always marvel at the grand sight of this wide point in the river and the large bridge that crosses it.  It's a rather breathtaking view that I never tire seeing.  With such scenic beauty and a musical sounding name it would be no surprise to find some songs that mention this river.  I can't think of any extremely well known songs that mention the Susquehanna, but be assured that there are some.  Saying "Susquehanna" kind of sounds nice to me. The name is like a song in itself.

       Another river near where I live is San Gabriel River in California.  Like the other Los Angeles rivers near where I live much of it is lined with concrete and flood control devices.  Seemingly it wouldn't be much to inspire many artistic souls and yet looking on Google I find a few songs that refer to the San Gabriel River.  In fact there is even an EP called San Gabriel by the duo Joseph Bradshaw & Natalie Nicoles with songs about the San Gabriel River.  I guess I'll start looking at this river from a different perspective whenever I cross it.  And I cross this one a lot these days..

         Is there a river near where you live that you've never appreciated much?   What is your favorite river song?    Which river would you like to hear celebrated in song?