Don’t weaken. #PlagueSongs, no. 35

And now the song that you’ve all been waiting for since I began the “Plague Songs” series in March of 2020 — a song that, despite your eagerness to hear my rendition, you have not requested. Not even once! With thanks for your patience, here’s the song made famous by Maurice Chevalier, back in 1930 —…

I’m lucky to be here. #PlagueSongs, no. 27

This song is a personal favorite of mine, and one I’ve long considered recording for this Plague Songs series. However, in an effort to keep the mood more upbeat, I have — up until now — chosen more uptempo selections. But, as coronavirus deaths in the U.S. surpass 350,000 (and 1.85 million worldwide), it’s time for…

Go tell that long-tongued liar. #PlagueSongs, no. 25

This week’s plague song goes out to that long-tongued liar, his regime, and all who have enabled it over these past four years — whether actively or via silent complicity. The earliest recording of the song is from the Golden Gate Quartet in 1946, but it’s been recorded in many genres, by many artists, and under…

No matter how I struggle and strive. #PlagueSongs, no. 11

Given that I’ve played all of these on an acoustic guitar, you’d think I’d have covered a country song by now. But this song, co-written by Hank Williams and Fred Rose, is the first. Williams recorded “I’ll Never Get out of This World Alive” in June 1952, the single was released in November 1952, and…

The Bright Side. #PlagueSongs, no. 3

This week’s #PlagueSong is dedicated to my mother, Gloria Hardman. This is her favorite song, her motto, and very good advice. The song is funnier when sung as Eric Idle’s “Mr. Cheeky” character (as it is in The Life of Brian). I suspect the song’s mixture of irony and sincerity is one reason it resonates…

Goodbye, Pork Pie Hat

I’m borrowing the title of Charles Mingus’ tribute to Lester Young because my uncle Terry Webb liked Young, Mingus, and this song. To the best of my knowledge, Terry did not wear pork pie hats. Earlier in his career, Terry wore bowler hats. Later, he wore a Tyrolean hat. Or no hat — as in the…

Terry Webb (1934-2019)

Terrence Dudley Webb passed away on 12 April 2019, just over two weeks after learning that he had lung cancer. He was 85. Born March 23, 1934 in Pretoria, South Africa, Terry was the first child of Leslie Ralph Webb and Mona Beatrice Webb (née Schwegmann). Leslie was a mechanic, fixing adding machines, calculators, and…

Just a Shot Away (in Inside Higher Ed)

When the state legislature decides to weaponize our classrooms, how do we respond? What should we do when the phrase “killing higher education” ceases being a metaphor and becomes state policy? I tackle these questions in “Just a Shot Away,” published today in Inside Higher Ed.  Here’s the opening:         Shortly after the Virginia Tech massacre, a mentally disturbed…

Why Campus Carry Threatens Higher Education

Today, I’m joining other members of K-SAFE (K-Staters Against Fatal Encounters) and the KCGFC (Kansas Coalition for a Gun-Free Campus) at the statehouse, in Topeka.  There, we’ll hand out flyers that — we hope — will show our legislators the grave danger the “Kansas Personal and Family Protection Act.” Yes, this is really the name of the…