Banish sadness and strife. #PlagueSongs, no. 22

Bringing you the words of Buddy DeSylva and the music of Jerome Kern to — as the song says — “banish sadness and strife.” Written in 1919, this is the earliest in my Plague Songs series and the last regular weekly Plague Song. Appropriately, perhaps, this song dates to the pandemic of a century ago. Written for…

Mann, wer hätte das gedacht, dass es einmal soweit kommt #PlagueSongs, no. 21

The balloons are not red, and there is no toy shop. The narrator doesn’t dream of red balloons either. But, like its English-language counterpart (“99 Red Balloons”) Nena’s “99 Luftballons” (1983) is about an accidental, apocalyptic war triggered by 99 balloons. Luft means air, and ballon means balloon. So, literally, a luftballon is an air…

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…

What’s Your COVID-19 Routine? Part 4

At long last, here is Part 4 of “What Is Your COVID-19 Routine?” (Links to Parts 1 through 3 are at the end of this post.) I did the first three every other week, but… that was not sustainable. So, I have switched to roughly once a month. Since the U.S. has no plan to…

If you just call me. #PlagueSongs, no. 9

Some of Bill Withers’ songs seem always to have existed. It is as if they were always out there in the ether, but needed him to bring them into the world. “Grandma’s Hands,” “Ain’t No Sunshine,” and “Lean on Me” — the song I’m performing for this week’s #PlagueSong. Here’s the late, great Mr. Bill Withers…