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Welcome back, my friends, to the "Battle" that never ends.
We're so glad you could attend. Come inside! Come inside!
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This is 'BATTLE OF THE BANDS' ('BOTB') where you listen to different recordings of the same song and vote for the one you like best. A new Battle gets posted on the 15th of each month and six days later, on the 21st, I place my own vote, tally 'em all up and announce the winner.
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Friend? Foe? Stranger? No matter, ALL are welcome. So pull up a chair, pour yourself 24 oz. of 'DOG BITE High Gravity Lager' (or the poison of your choice) and turn it up to Eleven!
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[NOTE: Links to the first year of 'BOTB' (#1 - #24) can be found at the very bottom of this page.]

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

A "NOVEL" ALLEGORY FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF MID-CENTURY JAZZ


HiHelloHowdy! I am posting the following music-related review here on my BATTLE OF THE BANDS blog with the hope of "drumming" up a little interest in my new blog STEPHEN T. McCARTHY REVIEWS... 

If you enjoy reading this unique approach to reviewing Jack Kerouac's famous "Beat Generation" book ON THE ROAD, then you might want to take a look at all the other product reviews I am posting at my new digs. I have a new (old) review going up there every day or two.
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ON THE ROAD
by Jack Kerouac
published: 1957 

We'll pick up Hazy Davy and Killer Joe
And I'll take you all out to where the gypsy angels go
They're built like light
And they dance like spirits in the night

(all night) in the night (all night)
Oh, you don't know what they can do to you
Spirits in the night

(all night) in the night (all night)
Stand right up now and let them shoot through you

~ 'Spirits In The Night'

by Bruce Springsteen

I happened to spend a night in Lowell, Massachusetts, while on a road trip some years ago. Being back in Jack Kerouac's hometown, I seized the opportunity to pick up a copy of his most famous book, ON THE ROAD, for a young co-worker. When I learned that he was only halfway through the book after 6 weeks of reading, I pulled my old copy from the shelf to see if it was more complex than I remembered it being -- I hadn't read it since the age of 19 or 20. (*No, it's predominantly high school level writing.) 

I intended to read but a page or two, but found myself sucked in, and I went through the entire book as fast as Dean Moriarty drives through "the fatal red afternoon of Illinois". (For those of you who have never read this cult classic, that translates to 110 mph.)

Ostensibly, the story is an existential look at America played out in the form of multiple cross-country road trips conducted by a variety of "beat" characters or "hipsters" from 1947 to 1950. Of course it also captures the hedonism of the original "Lost Generation."

But in a way it also illustrates the development of Jazz in that era -- something that escaped my notice when I first read it. When Sal Paradise (Kerouac's first-person narrative voice) undertakes his first trip to the West Coast, his plans are all mapped-out, nice and orderly: "I'd been poring over maps of the United States in Paterson for months ... on the roadmap was one long red line called Route 6 that led from the tip of Cape Cod clear to Ely, Nevada, and there dipped down to Los Angeles. I'll just stay on 6 all the way to Ely, I said to myself and confidently started." [pg. 10]

It is not long before Sal's plans get scrapped and he's forced to improvise his way West. This mirrors the movement of Jazz at the time. The rigidly structured musical charts (roadmaps) of the Big Bands were gradually giving way to more free-form Jazz, as musicians began to explore greater possibilites within the genre.

By the book's conclusion, Sal, Dean, and various hangers-on are blasting through the nights and days in a wild frenzy of (sometimes illogical) driving, drinking and womanizing with reckless abandon. Just as the Jazz musicians had gone to the outermost edge of melody and then abandoned all musical structure with wild flights of fancy -- the "Bebop" saxophonists and pianists whose musical aspirations were to create wholly personal, improvisational expressions which often became as self-indulgent as the road trips and misadventures of Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty. And throughout the story we find the two protagonists in smoke-filled Jazz clubs in the wee hours, nodding their heads, banging on tables and exhorting the players to Go cat, go! 

And "GOING" in the pursuit of the unnamed "IT" is another major component of the story: "We all realized we were ... performing our one and noble function of the time, MOVE. And we moved!" [pg. 134] "Sal, we gotta go and never stop going till we get there." / "Where we going, man?" / "I don't know but we gotta go." [pg. 240] "If you go like him all the time you'll finally get it." / "Get what?" / "IT! IT! I'll tell you -- now no time, we have no time now." [pg. 127] "Man, this will finally take us to IT!" said Dean with definite faith. [pg. 265]

But Dean Moriarty never does define "It" because he can't. I believe that Sal Paradise comes as close as they ever get to the object of their quest when on page 147 he relates that "as the river poured down from mid-America by starlight I knew, I knew like mad that everything I had ever known and would ever know was One." But then he gets distracted by illusory, mirage-like pleasures deceptively promising to lead him to "It", and he subsequently loses the scent in an alcohol haze.

It really doesn't surprise me that the first car I actually loved, I had named SAL, after Kerouac's character who was forever on the road. And many aspects of the story call to mind my own LIQUIDATED YOUTH when I cavorted with the spirits in the night (all night, every night) and friends known collectively as THE LEAGUE OF SOUL CRUSADERS, and individually as Napoleon, Cranium, Twinkie, and Pooh. Yours Truly was sometimes referred to as Mr. Intense. And then there was our red-headed unofficial leader, Yoey O'Dogherty, known by the nickname of Torch, who served as our "Dean Moriarty" with his contagious passion for life and his magnificent acts of magic behind the wheel of Tiburon, his 1963 Cadillac. There was virtually NOTHING that Torch couldn't get Tiburon to do (except obey the rules of the road).

I caught the essence of The League Of Soul Crusaders in a 1983 poem that concluded with the lines, TELLING JOKES AND HOWLING / TO NOWHERE. And that could just as easily describe the exploits of our boys in ON THE ROAD.

By no stretch of the imagination is ON THE ROAD truly great literature. It's one of those books that found its niche by coming along at just the right time with a new "language." What makes it interesting is its ability to convey the unharnessed energy of youth and to portray an exuberance for experience that resonates with primarily young readers (and old hippies).

While there are far better and more important books for you to spend your limited time with (and although I always preferred Kerouac's, 'The Dharma Bums'), ON THE ROAD is a somewhat worthwhile read and I can generally recommend the "trip", though I would caution you against emulating the immoral self-centeredness of its principal characters. (And I can tell you from many years of experience that you're never going to find "It" at insane parties and wild bars, nor while crossing the country at 110 miles per hour in a tequila or chemical-induced stupor.)

I'd sum it all up like this: 

They raced madly, wildly, chasing after IT. Looking here, looking there; tracking IT through the loud neon-painted nights and always seemingly one step behind IT. I've got IT now! I can feel IT -- the heat, and hear ITS breathing. I can sense ITS powerful presence here. And yet... IT is gone again; ever elusive, never materializing. And Sal and Dean never realized that IT dwelled within them. The one place they never thought to look. They toted IT with them in their crazy, frenzied and futile attempt to find IT. And with Kerouac's poor body utterly wasted from drugs and alcohol, he died a sad, bloated death in 1969 at the age of forty-seven, never having located IT. And IT died with him.
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Again I say, if you enjoyed reading this unique approach to reviewing Jack Kerouac's famous "Beat Generation" book ON THE ROAD, then you might want to take a look at all the other product reviews I am posting at my new digs. I have a new (old) review going up there every day or two at (link:) STEPHEN T. McCARTHY REVIEWS... 

~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Saturday, January 21, 2017

RESULTS: BATTLE OF THE BANDS -- 2017, JAN. 15 (Or, THE TRAIN HAS ARRIVED)

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STMcC’s Vote On '2017, January 15th: Battle Of The Bands' (Or, 'Regina McCrary Versus William Dobbs') And The Final Tally:
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First of all, my genuine thanks as usual to EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU who took the time to listen and vote on this edition of 'Battle Of The Bands' (BOTB). Without you, this Battle would have ended in a 0 to 0 tie.

I mentioned HERE, how much trouble I had trying to find what I felt were two well-matched competitors for the Gospel song 'IF I GOT MY TICKET'.
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This was my 83rd BOTB installment and I'm not sure if I've EVER had one that seemed so closely matched. I think that at one point WILLIAM DOBBS had a two-vote lead over REGINA McCRARY, and that's the WIDEST the vote margin ever got throughout the contest. For the most part the voting on this Battle was like one for William, one for Regina, one for William, one for Regina, one for William, one for Regina... and so on, all the way to the Finish line. It was INCREDIBLE!

The majority of voters stated that they really enjoyed BOTH versions of the song and that it wasn't an easy decision to make. Only a couple of people seemed to feel that their vote was a slam-dunk for one artist over the other.

Considering that at one point I was about two minutes away from giving up on using this song altogether (I had even picked out a substitute song already) and considering that William Dobbs is a non-celebrity YouTuber who was going up against Bob Dylan's highly professional and excellent Gospel background singers, William came through magnificently in this contest.

As for my own vote... well...
When my Brother, Judge Al "Nappy" Bondigas, posted his vote, he left a comment that PERFECTLY captures my own views about this contest as well. So following is what Judge Al wrote, and it goes for me, too:

Both versions were so great and soulful that I feel bad that someone's gonna take second. I know, I know, there is no crying in baseball and no ties in Battle of the Bands. Hmmm... I slightly rule fer William Dobbs and his choir. Both versions were great, but the whole choir arrangement really moved me. Anyway, rulin' fer Dobbs and background. That's it. That's my rulin'!!!

I wholeheartedly concur with ALL OF THAT. Except for one thing... The Good Judge wrote, "There is ... no ties in Battle of the Bands". But in truth (as Tyrone said in the movie 'Hollywood Shuffle'), "That shit could really happen!"

Regina McCrary = 10 votes
William Dobbs = 10 votes


Alright, at this point I've lost track of how many times "I've kissed my sister" (i.e., ended up with a BOTB tie) but I think this one might be #12.

Anyway, as much as I normally dislike ties, this one doesn't bother me because BOTH artists performed this song so well that it would have been almost criminal to have seen either one of them have to lose the Battle. So, yes, I actually CELEBRATE this draw and commend Regina and William for making it so entertaining and exciting for me. Great BOTB installment, thanks to the contestants!

Incidentally, I want to earnestly urge you all to pay William a visit. He has a YouTube channel where he has uploaded a number of other classic songs that he's recorded for our enjoyment. Please go by and listen and give him a word or two of encouragement. William seems like a super-nice and humble man after God's own heart, and I hope you all will thank him for contributing to such an A-List and E-Ticket Battle Of The Bands installment.
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WILLIAM DOBBS YouTube channel: click HERE.
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My thanks to William Dobbs and my thanks again to all y'all. And I hope you'll return for my February 1st Battle Of The Bands installment on February 1st. (You see how that works?)

~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Saturday, January 14, 2017

2017, JAN. 15th: BATTLE OF THE BANDS (Or, REGINA McCRARY VS. WILLIAM DOBBS)

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Donald Trump Vs. the Mainstream Media & the Clinton Campaign & the Republican Establishment, Male Vs. Female, War Vs. Peace, Light Vs. Dark, Good Vs. Evil, Man Vs. Machine, Love Vs. Hate, Dog Vs. Cat, Sun Vs. Moon, Brain Vs. Brawn, Oscar Vs. Grammy, Angel Vs. Demon, Laurel Vs. Hardy, Beer Vs. Wine, TV Vs. Radio, Pitcher Vs. Batter, Paper Vs. Plastic, Reality Vs. Fantasy, Yeshua Vs. Beelzebub, Conservative Vs. Liberal, You Vs. Me, House Vs. Senate, Offense Vs. Defense, Kramer Vs. Kramer, Spy Vs. Spy, Fischer Vs. Spassky, W.C. Fields Vs. Sobriety, Harold Gimpy, Jr. Vs. Sheldon J. Pismire, Rock Vs. Paper Vs. Scissors, Islam Vs. Everything, Singer Vs. Singer, Band Vs. Band...
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'BATTLE OF THE BANDS' ('BOTB')
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Shoop-Shooby -
Shooby-Duh-Dooby-Doop-Dooby-Dooby-Doo-Wah -
Buh-Doo-Wah!
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Yes, it's time once again for 'Battle Of The Bands' ('BOTB').
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Alright, let's get on it. Let's get ON this thing!...
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This is my 83rd 'Battle Of The Bands' installment. This is also the most difficult time I've ever had in trying to put together a BOTB contest. I'll spare you the details but tell you this:
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I really wanted to use THIS particular song for THIS particular BOTB installment. But just when I thought I had the whole thing set up, I discovered that one of the videos I'd selected would not play in Canada. So, that's how "Plan A" died. 
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No real big deal, right? Just move on to "Plan B" (a different version of the song). Well, "Plan B" wouldn't play in Canada either. Nor would "Plan C", and "Plan D".
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As all you BOTBers know, there are only just so many covers of a song you can use in attempting to construct a competitive Battle. You eventually come to a point where you realize that, using a lesser cover, you're setting yourself up for a blowout if not a dreaded shutout.
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That's the point I had reached. I came to the conclusion that I would need to use a different song for this Battle. And I even picked out the substitute song I was going to use.
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But then I thought I'd take just one more last look at YouTube and... EUREKA! I found it! In my case, "Plan E" was the charm.
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And now, not only do I really like this match-up, but I can't even guess who is going to win. I think it could go either way. So, let's let the New & Improved Magic 8-Ball (now with electrolytes!) take a shot at it:
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Question: Who will win this Battle?
Magic 8-Ball sez:  "You may rely on it"
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Back in his Gospel music phase, Bob Dylan's shows would open with Regina McCrary and the rest of his background singers. They would come on stage first, sans Dylan and the band, and Regina would tell the audience a story about an old lady wanting to ride a train to see her dying son. Then they would all sing the Gospel standard 'If I Got My Ticket'. After that, Dylan and his band would join them and play the rest of the concert.
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So, here's the opening of a 1980 Bob Dylan concert in Toronto, Canada.
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IF I GOT MY TICKET -- Regina McCrary
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EEJDoUfJYZM

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The next competitor is William Dobbs. And honestly, I don't know anything about him other than the fact that I contacted him via YouTube and he seemed like a really super-nice guy. I told him 2 months ago that I was going to use his cover in this BOTB installment and he said: "It is considerate of you to want to use my recording in your contest. I'm so nervous." God bless him!!
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IF I GOT MY TICKET -- William Dobbs
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSfhjXi1dOg

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Alright now, “you know the gig”... I welcome you (whoever you are) to vote for your favorite of these songs in the comment section below. And feel free to tell us WHY you chose one song over the other. 

After voting here, I suggest - actually I insist - you pop over to the blogs of the other 'BATTLE OF THE BANDS' participants to see which songs they have chosen and vote there also. (If their ‘BOTB’ blog bits aren’t posted yet, pour yourself two shots of ‘Grand Marnier’ over ice – do it twice – and then return to their blogs to vice your voice ...vote your vice ...voice your vote.)

Voice Your Vote...

@ ‘TOSSING IT OUT’ by clicking HERE.
@ ‘YOUR DAILY DOSE’ by clicking HERE.
@ 'MIKE'S RAMBLINGS' by clicking HERE.
@ 'CURIOUS AS A CATHY' by clicking HERE.
@ 'THE SOUND OF ONE HAND TYPING' by clicking HERE.
@ 'THE DOGLADY'S DEN' by clicking HERE.
@ 'CHERDO ON THE FLIPSIDE' by clicking HERE
@ 'ANGELS BARK' by clicking HERE.
@ 'JINGLE JANGLE JUNGLE' by clicking HERE.

As I've done in the past, I will continue to return to my 'BOTB' blog bits on the 7th and 21st of each month to post my own votes and announce the winners in the comment sections.
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Saturday, January 7, 2017

BOTB RESULTS (1/1/2017) AND A VERY SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT

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STMcC’s Vote On '2017, January 1st: Battle Of The Bands' (Or, 'Carole King Versus Nils Lofgren') And The Final Tally: 
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Hmmm... Low voter turnout this time. Therefore, I want to thank all of you (who took the time to listen and vote) twice each. Or as we used to say in the "League Of Soul Crusaders" years, "Twice each, individually, in the mornin'!" (And damned if I can remember how that started and what it actually meant.)

Anyway, I like the song 'GOIN' BACK' and I enjoy BOTH of the recordings I used in this Battle. I agree with everything that everyone said about them. That is to say, I can understand all the reasons for preferring Carole's original over Nils' cover, and the reasons for preferring Nils' cover over Carole's original.

For sure, Carole has that bittersweet reminiscing tone which matches the sentiment of the lyrics, and I really dig the guitar and harmonica touches. Nils approaches the song in a more determined, uptempo, rollicking piano way. His arrangement seems more focused on the lines "Catch me if you can. I'm goin' back."

The bottom line for me is that I side -- ever so slightly -- with Nils. Some voters said this installment of 'Battle Of The Bands' was a toughie for them, and it was for me as well. And to be honest, I can't be sure that the "Familiarity Factor" didn't play a small part in my vote: For a long time, I've been a fan of that 1975 Nils Lofgren solo album, even to the point that I may have subconsciously borrowed that album's cover concept when I arranged for a good friend to photograph me in New York in 1983:
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NILS  LOFGREN  AND  GRAND  MARNIER
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STEPHEN  T.  McCARTHY  AND  JACK  DANIELS

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When Carole King jumped out to a 7-3 vote lead, it looked like The New & Improved MAGIC 8-BALL had predicted this Battle's outcome correctly. But Nils absolutely dominated the voting after that and we wound up with this result:

Carole King = 8
Nils Lofgren = 10
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A close Battle (as it should have been), and again I thank you voters "Twice each, individually, in the mornin'!" I hope to see you again for my January 15th BOTB installment.

VERY SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT:

I'd like you all to be aware that I have just started a new blog and I invite you to visit it, 'Follow' it, comment on it. (Just don't pee on it, please. It's not a fire hydrant and you're not a dog.)

This blog is where I will be reviewing all sorts of things -- everything from "Avocados" to "Zevon, Warren". You likely don't know this, but in 2008 I was very nearly a Top 1000 reviewer at Amazon.com (like #1120 or so).

And I don't mean to boast, but very truthfully, on many occasions Amazon.com readers left me comments saying that my review (whichever one they happened to have read) was the best they'd ever seen at that website. More than a few readers left comments saying that they just happened to come across one of my reviews and found it so entertaining and informative that they wound up spending 2 to 4 hours reading ALL of my reviews, even for products they had zero intention of buying!

Again, I tell you this not to boast but to hopefully interest you in checking out my new blog. All 199 of my old Amazon.com reviews were recently deleted from their site at the prompting of a political adversary. So, I will be re-posting them on my new blog, and once I've got them all publicly available again, I will begin occasionally writing brand new reviews for my blog.

If this "advertisement" has piqued your curiosity, then I hope to find you at (Link:) STEPHEN T. McCARTHY REVIEWS... Just think of the fun comment section discussions you and I can have. (But remember, no peeing on anything, OK? :o)
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Sunday, January 1, 2017

2017, JANUARY 1: BATTLE OF THE BANDS (Or, CAROLE KING VERSUS NILS LOFGREN)

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Republican Vs. Democrat, Male Vs. Female, War Vs. Peace, Light Vs. Dark, Good Vs. Evil, Man Vs. Machine, Love Vs. Hate, Dog Vs. Cat, Sun Vs. Moon, Brain Vs. Brawn, Oscar Vs. Grammy, Angel Vs. Demon, Laurel Vs. Hardy, Beer Vs. Wine, TV Vs. Radio, Pitcher Vs. Batter, Paper Vs. Plastic, Reality Vs. Fantasy, Yeshua Vs. Beelzebub, Conservative Vs. Liberal, You Vs. Me, House Vs. Senate, Offense Vs. Defense, Kramer Vs. Kramer, Spy Vs. Spy, Fischer Vs. Spassky, W.C. Fields Vs. Sobriety, Harold Gimpy, Jr. Vs. Sheldon J. Pismire, Rock Vs. Paper Vs. Scissors, Islam Vs. Everything, Singer Vs. Singer, Band Vs. Band...
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'BATTLE OF THE BANDS' ('BOTB')
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Yes, it's time once again for 'Battle Of The Bands' ('BOTB').
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Alright, let's get on it. Let's get ON this thing!
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But first, I want to wish y'all a HAPPY  MARGARITA  DAY!
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No one has ever accused me of being a follower of trends. Heck, I am, after all, the author of #1 Rule Of Selfhood which began with the following sentence: One of the things that every person on this planet has in common with all others is individuality -– uniqueness.

Being an original has not always made me popular. In fact, believe it or not, some people dislike me. (Cheerio!) But being such a weirdo character has led me to some one-of-a-kind traditions. For instance, every Christmas day, I drop a quarter into a body of water and wish that Tiny Tim -- although he's dead and buried -- will someday score a second Top 40 hit song.

Also, every January 1st -- which y'all call "New Year's Day" -- I call  "MARGARITA  DAY", and I get me a couple of those salt-rimmed cocktails to celebrate.

MARGARITA  DAY: "A tradition since 1986... except for 1994."

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Well, this is the first day and first BOTB of 2017. I am actually very hopeful and enthusiastic about 2017, from both a personal and national viewpoint. Nevertheless, being the weirdo character I am, while everyone else is looking FORWARD on this first day of the New Year, I thought I'd take a look BACKWARDS with my BOTB entry. 
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Wackypedia sez: "Goin' Back" is a song written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King in 1966. It describes the loss of innocence that comes with adulthood along with an attempt, on the part of the singer, to recapture that youthful innocence.
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The song has been recorded by many artists, including Dusty Springfield, Goldie Zelkowitz, The Byrds, Elkie Brooks, Deacon Blue, Marianne Faithfull, Bill Drummond (of The KLF), Nils Lofgren, Freddie Mercury (on a Larry Lurex single), The Move, The New Seekers, The Pretenders, Diana Ross, Richard Thompson, Phil Collins and Bon Jovi, as well as by Carole King herself.

King recorded the song twice, first in 1970 and again in 1980. Let's listen to the latter recording...

GOIN' BACK -- Carole King
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWzgbleoZYE

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And now for her competitor, Nils Lofgren, whose cover of the song closed out his first solo album in 1975...

GOIN' BACK -- Nils Lofgren
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJlqNg3x0vU

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Alright now, “you know the gig”... I welcome you (whoever you are) to vote for your favorite of these songs in the comment section below. And feel free to tell us WHY you chose one song over the other. 
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Question: Will Carole King win this Battle?
The New & Improved MAGIC 8-BALL - "now with the Electrolytes that plants crave" - sez:  "Most Likely" 

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After voting here, I suggest - actually I insist - you pop over to the blogs of the other 'BATTLE OF THE BANDS' participants to see which songs they have chosen and vote there also. (If their ‘BOTB’ blog bits aren’t posted yet, get yourself a MARGARITAdo it twice! – and then return to their blogs to vice your voice ...vote your vice ...voice your vote.)

Voice Your Vote...

@ ‘TOSSING IT OUT’ by clicking HERE.
@ ‘YOUR DAILY DOSE’ by clicking HERE.
@ 'MIKE'S RAMBLINGS' by clicking HERE.
@ 'CURIOUS AS A CATHY' by clicking HERE.
@ 'THE SOUND OF ONE HAND TYPING' by clicking HERE.
@ 'THE DOGLADY'S DEN' by clicking HERE.
@ 'CHERDO ON THE FLIPSIDE' by clicking HERE
@ 'ANGELS BARK' by clicking HERE.
@ 'JINGLE JANGLE JUNGLE' by clicking HERE. 
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I WISH Y'ALL A HAPPY NEW YEAR! 
HAPPY  MARGARITA  DAY! 
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L.A.'s own El Coyote Margarita: Warren Zevon's favorite.

~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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