Friday, March 29, 2019

Clara Engel – "Anubeth's Song" (2017)

Inner world, outer world
All the same to me 

Clara Engel’s 2017 album, Songs for Leonora Carrington, was released by Wist Rec, an independent record label dealing in “handmade” music.  

Leonora Carrington
The album was inspired by a 20th-century surrealist artist and author who was born in England but spent most of her adult life in Mexico.  “Leonora Carrington was not very well known to me at the outset of the project.  I chose her largely because I wanted an excuse to explore her work more in depth,” Clara told me.  “I was particularly drawn to her sculptures and her 1976 novel, The Hearing Trumpet.” 

*     *     *     *     *

Leonora Carrington was born into a wealthy English family.  She met the surrealist artist Max Ernst at a party when she was 20, and the two hit it off – and then some.  Ernst was married, but left his wife tout de suite after meeting Carrington.

The couple set up housekeeping in the south of France.  Life was good until World War II broke out and the Nazis arrested Ernst on the grounds that his art was “degenerate.”

Carrington’s “Portrait of Max Ernst” (1939)
Ernst managed to escape to the United States, leaving the devastated Carrington behind.  She fled from France to Spain, then had a nervous breakdown.  Her parents had her put in an asylum, where doctors put her in restraints and administered powerful psychotropic drugs.  

Carrington eventually escaped from the asylum and made her way to Lisbon, where she entered into a marriage of convenience with the Mexican ambassador, which enabled her to move to Mexico.  

She later married Emerico Weisz, a Hungarian who had worked with famed Spanish Civil War photographer Robert Capa.  The couple had two sons.

Carrington died in 2011, when she was 94.  I’ll tell you more about her life in the next 2 or 3 lines.

*     *     *     *     *

I first heard today’s featured song when I heard Clara Engel perform in Washington, DC, last December.  It’s the final track of the Songs for Leonora Carrington album.

Clara Engel
“Anubeth’s Song” was inspired by one of the characters in Carrington’s novel, The Hearing Trumpet.  According to Clara, 

Anubeth is a very magnificent wolf-headed woman who appears at the end of The Hearing Trumpet, which is a surreal novel with many twists and turns that left a very strong atmospheric impression on me.  While it has humorous and ridiculous elements, it also deals with serious topics such as the destruction of the environment and the failure of patriarchal power structures.  It’s quite a subversive book in its own way.  

“Anubeth’s Song” has a simple structure and doesn’t utilize a lot of musical tricks, but it manages to cast a spell nonetheless.  Clara Engel has learned that speaking softly is sometimes the best way to get people to listen to you.  

*     *     *     *     *

In 2016, BeyoncĂ© was the highest-paid musician in the world.  But only about 10% of her income came from the sale and streaming of her music.  The remaining 90% came from touring, merchandising, and endorsements.

If you’re an independent musician, you’re not selling out 20,000-seat arenas at $100-plus per ticket.  So how do you make money?  

Not from streaming.  Streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music are great for consumers, who pay only a few bucks a month for an almost infinite supply of music.  But when you divide that money up among the thousands of musicians who are supplying that music, there’s not a lot to go around.

Musicians like Clara Engel have to scramble to make enough from their music to support themselves.  Some of them turn to crowdfunding websites like Ulele to raise money for new albums.  Click here and you’ll be taken to Clara’s Ulele page, where Clara is hoping to raise $1500 to fund the production of a pressed CD of the forthcoming album, Where a City Once Drowned.  

Clara’s very close to attaining that goal, so I’d suggest you visit Clara’s Patreon page instead.

 Patreon is a website that allows musicians, artists, writers, and other creative types to provide exclusive  content to their followers – or “patrons.”

A drawing from Clara’s Patreon webpage 
You can become a patron of Clara Engel, have access to exclusive blog posts, and have the satisfaction of knowing that you are helping to support her music and art for only $1 per month. If you spring for $7 a month, you will also receive a copy of each new album that Clara releases.  Just click here and you’ll be taken to Clara’s Patreon page.

If you’re afraid of commitment, I understand – believe you me, I’ve been there.  In that case, just click here to be taken to Clara’s Bandcamp site, where you can download Clara’s digital albums for just a few bucks each.

By the way, Bandcamp allows you to stream Clara’s music without paying.  I don’t mind if you dip your toe into the waters of Clara Engel’s music for free from time to time.  BUT FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, LET’S NOT ABUSE THAT PRIVILEGE!

Click here to listen to “Anubeth’s Song” and the rest of Songs for Leonora Carrington.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Clara Engel – "It Becomes You to Vanish" (2018)

You melt in my mind 
It becomes you to vanish 

It’s been exactly eight years ago since I wrote about Clara Engel’s 2009 song, “Madagascar” – a song that I found extraordinary then and still find extraordinary today.  (You can click here to read what I had to say about that song.)

I shouldn’t have waited eight years to feature another of Clara’s songs on 2 or 3 lines, but that’s water over the dam – or water under the bridge, if you prefer.  Or both.

*     *     *     *     *

Since releasing the Secret Beasts album (which includes “Madagascar”) in 2009, Clara has released over a dozen digital albums and EPs containing roughly a hundred songs.  If you’d like to stream or download any of those songs, just click here and you’ll be taken to Clara’s Bandcamp website.

Clara is about to release a new album titled Where a City Once Drowned, and would like to release that album on a pressed CD as well as in digital form.  If you'd like to contribute to that effort, just click here and you'll be taken to Clara’s crowdfunding page.  (You can contribute as little or as much as you want.)

Here is the cover Clara created for Where a City Once Drowned:

You’ll see some of Clara’s other album covers below.

*     *     *     *     *  

Clara’s most recent release is the five-song A Shore Far From Any Prison, which includes today’s featured song, “It Becomes You to Vanish.”

I heard Clara perform that song live earlier this year in Washington, DC, one of the stops on their recent “microtour” of the northeastern U.S., which also included stops in New Haven, Brooklyn, Philadelphia, and Cleveland.  

Clara Engel performing in Washington, DC
[Note: I used “their” instead of “her” in the previous sentence.  That’s not because I don’t know the difference between singular and plural pronouns, but because Clara prefers gender-neutral pronouns.  It’s unnatural for me to use “they” as a singular pronoun, but I’m happy to accommodate Clara’s preference.  As far as I’m concerned, politeness takes priority over grammatical punctilios.)

You can click here to view a short documentary about Clara’s tour, which was recorded by tour manager Ander Swift.

*     *     *     *     *

After the tour was over and Clara was back home in Toronto, I spoke to them about A Shore Far From Any Prison in general and today’s featured song in particular.

As you’ll see, I tried to pin Clara down as to the meaning of some of that song’s lyrics, but I failed.  

Clara refuses to assign a specific “correct” meaning to their lyrics.  “I’m drawn to ambiguity and mystery,” they told me.  “I like for people to find their own way into my songs.”

Given that, it’s not surprising that the following quote from the novelist Siri Hustvedt appears on Clara’s website:

That feeling of nearness to the shapeless ghost, ambiguity, is what I want most, what I want to put inside a book, what I want the reader to sense.  And because it is at once a thing and a no-thing, the reader will have to find it, not only in what I have written, but also in what I have not written.

*     *     *     *     *

2 or 3 lines: Clara, welcome back to 2 or 3 lines.  I enjoyed seeing your first performance ever in  Washington, DC and I’m glad we had the chance to sit down and talk after that performance.

Clara Engel: It was great to meet you in person as well.  Thank you for coming out to my show and for giving me and Ander a bit of a tour of Washington.  I hope to be back in DC soon.

2 or 3 lines: The title of your new album is A Shore Far From Any Prison.  That’s also the name of one of the songs on the album.  How did you come up with that title?  Is it a quote? 

Clara: I can’t remember exactly where the title came from.  I’m always writing down little phrases that come to me – sometimes partially overheard conversations, or a fragment of something I’m reading.  There was a moment when I had a fear that I’d unconsciously copied it, so I did some searching – but I couldn’t find it anywhere.  

2 or 3 lines: Does the title have a particular significance or meaning?

Clara: A shore is a place where the boundaries are in constant flux, and water itself changes state and temperament all the time.  Also, a shore is a dangerous place that won’t submit to human authority – it almost exists in a different realm from a prison.  It doesn’t bend to systems of human control and brutality, and it has a much more elemental and dispassionate power.  It doesn’t care who you are or what your social status is.  It’s also where we ultimately came from – where our first ancestors crawled out of the sea.   Those are my thoughts about the the significance of the title today – they may change in the future. 

2 or 3 lines:  The album is dedicated to Nicholas Kenji Field.

Clara: Nick is my partner.  We went through hell together in the last year and a half: we both unexpectedly lost our fathers to cancer, within six months of each other, and we also lost several good friends.  It felt like every time we would regain our equilibrium a little bit, another disaster would strike.  These songs were written during that time period of so much loss, and it felt loving and in a way life-affirming to dedicate the album to him. 

2 or 3 lines:  There’s an old Dan Hicks song called “How Can I Miss You When You Won’t Go Away?”  Today’s featured song – “It Becomes You to Vanish” – seems to me to be expressing a similar sentiment, although it uses language that’s not as blunt.  Is the singer in your song essentially telling the other person that they finds them the most attractive when they are absent?  That absence makes their heart grow fonder?  

Clara: That’s one interpretation, but I like my songs to be open to different interpretations – I don’t like to assign a specific “correct” meaning.  I work intuitively and try to let imagery reveal itself to me.  I’m drawn to ambiguity and mystery.  This particular song, for some reason, makes me think of Haruki Murakami’s novels – people are often disappearing in those novels, and there’s a strong magical realism element.  It’s not a missive directed at a particular individual – I don’t tend to write songs directed at individual people – and has a more melancholy and a standing-outside-of-the-world sensation about it than any sort of romantic love or passion.  I would say that song, for me, has more to do with mortality and finitude, and how we can feel hemmed in by the trappings of our identities.  

2 or 3 lines:  The following lines from the song – “As hammers strike the cold clay/You crumble to dust/I blow you away” – made me picture the singer performing a ritual to purge their mind or heart of someone.  Instead of sticking a needle into a doll, the singer takes a clay figure of someone, hammers it until all that is left are small dust particles, and then blows those particles away so there is essentially nothing left.  Is that the idea behind those lines – purging the memory of someone from one’s mind?

Clara: That’s an interesting interpretation and I don’t want to say the song is not about that . . . but it wasn’t my conscious intention.  Of course, I think our conscious intentions play a much smaller role that we’d like to believe.  So the song could be about that on some level.  Or it could be about the impossibility of holding onto any person or memory, or even a static sense of one’s own self.  If the song’s narrator isn’t wielding the hammer, is more of an observer, it becomes more of a lament for our lives, forms, and entanglements than any sort of vindictive spell.  I do know it wasn’t me wielding the hammer – I was reflecting more on changes of state.  There’s dust, clay, a burning shoreline, stone, bones in that song.  We all come into being and then fall away.  Our brains can’t even fathom the state of not being, but it stretches out behind and ahead of us in an unfathomable expanse.

2 or 3 lines:  “It Becomes You to Vanish” incorporates a short sample from the song “Mille Cherubini in coro” by Franz Schubert, which is a lullaby to a dead child who is being rocked by his mother.  Did you choose to include that sample because of its subject matter, or simply because you liked the sound of the music?

Clara: That song is on a collection that I picked up in a used CD store a long time ago.  I chose it because I love the melody of that particular piece, and because I wanted to incorporate something from another time and place into my song.  I actually didn’t know what the lyrics of the song were about, but that adds an additional layer to my song, I suppose. 

2 or 3 lines: How would you characterize the guitar accompaniment on this song?  It reminded me a little of the sound of Chris Isaak’s guitar on “Wicked Game.”  

Clara:  My accompaniment is a cyclical pattern that is quite delicate and depends on me not forcing or pushing the tempo at all.  I love the song “Wicked Game” – I recently re-watched Wild at Heart, which is probably why I like that song so much.  I think it’s the way that I’m sliding my fingers audibly down the neck of the guitar on one of the chords that made you draw that comparison.  

[Note: Wild at Heart is a 1990 movie directed by David Lynch and starring Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern that features “Wicked Game” on its soundtrack.]

*     *     *     *     *

The next 2 or 3 lines will feature another Clara Engel song.  

In the meantime, please visit Clara’s page and help make the Where a City Once Drowned CD a reality.

Click here to listen to “It Becomes You to Vanish” and the other songs on A Shore Far From Any Prison.  

Friday, March 22, 2019

Mitch Miller – "The Children's Marching Song" (1959)

With a knick-knack, paddywhack
Give a dog a bone

In 1715, the French built Fort Michilimackinac, a supply depot for fur trappers and traders that overlooked the Straits of Mackinac, which connects Lake Michigan and Lake Huron and separates the Lower and Upper Peninsulas of Michigan.

The British took over the fort in 1761 after its victory in the French and Indian Wars.

On June 2, 1763, a large group of Ojibwe Indians got together in an open field in front of the fort to play baaga’adowe – a traditional Native American game that eventually developed into modern-day lacrosse.

The British residents of Fort Michilimackinac enjoyed the spectacle of hundreds of nearly naked Indians running to and fro, tripping their opponents or knocking them to the ground with their sticks  as they pursued the ball.

But as 19th-century American historian Francis Parkman explained in his 1851 book, The Conspiracy of Pontiac and the Indian War After the Conquest of Canada, the game suddenly took a surprising turn:

[F]rom the midst of the multitude, the ball soared into the air, and, descending in a wide curve, fell near the pickets of the fort.  This was no chance stroke.  It was part of a pre-concerted stratagem to insure the surprise and destruction of the garrison.  As if in pursuit of the ball, the players turned and came rushing, a maddened and tumultuous throng, towards the gate. . . . 

The amazed English had no time to think or act.  The shrill cries of the ball-players were changed to the ferocious war-whoop.  The warriors snatched from their squaws the hatchets, which the latter . . . had concealed beneath their blankets.  

Some of the Indians assailed the spectators without, while others rushed into the fort, and all was carnage and confusion.   . . . Within the area of the fort, the men were slaughtered without mercy.

A British trader named Alexander Henry, who had decided to stay in his room and write letters rather than go outside and watch the game, was startled by the war-cries and ran to his window to see what the commotion was all about:

I saw a crowd of Indians, within the fort, furiously cutting down and scalping every Englishman they found . . . I saw several of my countrymen fall, and more that one struggling between the knees of an Indian, who, holding him in this manner, scalped him while yet living.

*     *     *     *     *

Henry grabbed a fowling piece, expecting to hear the garrison’s drummers beat the call to arms.  But the British soldiers had been caught completely off guard by the surprise attack, and the massacre continued unabated.

At length, disappointed in the hope of seeing resistance made to the enemy, and sensible, of course, that no effort of my own unassisted arm could avail against four hundred Indians, I thought only of seeking shelter amid the slaughter which was raging.

Fort Michilimackinac as it looked
at the time of the massacre
The Ojibwe didn’t like the way the British had treated them after taking possession of Fort Michilimackinac, but they had no beef with the many Frenchmen who lived within the fort.  So Henry ran next door to seek help from his French neighbor, Monsieur Langlade.

Henry explained that he was in danger of losing his scalp, hoping that the Frenchman would offer to hide him until the danger had passed.  But he was sorely disappointed.  

Langlade merely shrugged his soldiers and said, “Que voudriez-vous que j’en ferais?”  

In other words, “What the hell do you expect me to do about it?

*     *     *     *     *

A Pawnee woman who was a slave to the hardhearted Langlade took pity on Henry and led him to a garret where he could hide.  But the Ojibwe eventually ferreted Henry out, put him and several other Englishmen into canoes, and headed for a nearby island.  But a group of Ottawa Indians intercepted the Ojibwe canoes and set the captives free.

The Ottawa chief greeted the Englishmen warmly, and told them that the Ojibwe had intended to kill and then eat them.  Henry learned later why the Ottawas had intervened on their behalf:

They were jealous and angry that the Ojibwes should have taken the fort without giving them an opportunity to share in the plunder.

*     *     *     *     *

The origins of today’s featured song – which I chose to feature today because the name of Fort Michilimackinac reminded me of the lyrics quoted above – are more than a little obscure.  

There are versions of “This Old Man” in several early 20th century folk-song collections.  Pete Seeger and his stepmother, Ruth Crawford Seeger, included it in their 1948 collection, American Folk Songs for Children, and Pete recorded it a few years later.

The song became popular after it appeared on the soundtrack of the 1958 Ingrid Bergman movie, The Inn of the Sixth Happiness.  The Mitch Miller recording that I’m featuring today was a top-20 single in 1959. 

There are a number of theories concerning the meaning of the lyrics, none of which are very persuasive.

Click here to listen to “The Children’s Marching Song.”

Click on the link below to buy the song from Amazon:

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Ozzy Osbourne – "Bark at the Moon" (1983)

And when he finds who he’s looking for
Listen in awe and you’ll hear him
Bark at the moon

Legislators in my home state of Maryland apparently believe they can save the planet by banning the use of foam coffee cups and “to go” containers and allowing restaurants to provide plastic straws only when customers request them.  Really?

But in our neighboring state of Virginia – which is actually a commonwealth, not a state – legislators are keeping their eye on the prize and passing laws that really matter.  

Never on a Sunday . . . until now!
For example, thanks to Virginia’s solons, it’s now legal to hunt raccoons with dogs on Sundays.  (It’s about time!)

Sadly for Virginia hunters, it is still against the law to hunt deer or bears on Sundays.  But deer and bears aren’t nasty, rabies-filled little bastards who sneak into attics and pee on the ceiling until it becomes too weak to support their weight, and then come crashing down into your bedroom.  

*     *     *     *     *

A Washington Post reporter recently accompanied an experienced hunter – I’ll call him “Glenn,” because that is his name – as he and his coonhound searched for raccoons in the Virginia woods late last Sunday night.  

In the old days, farmers were happy when Glenn knocked on their doors and asked if he could hunt on their farms – after all, raccoons are notorious chicken killers.  Raccoon pelts fetched as much as $25 back in the seventies, so Glenn went coon hunting as often as he could. 

Glenn and his coonhound
Today, no one’s buying pelts, and many of the farms in northern Virginia have been turned into subdivisions.  But Glenn still enjoys spending time in the woods with his hound, and he and his wife still eat raccoon meat – it’s “a little bit strongly, but not bad,” she says.

Glenn’s dog eventually treed a raccoon the night he went hunting with the Washington Post reporter, and Glenn dispatched the 20-pound male with a well-placed shot from his .22 rifle.  (By the way, raccoon males are known as boars, and females are sows – like pigs.) 

*     *     *     *     *

Some animal-rights activists are appalled by Virginia’s decision to allow raccoon hunting on Sundays.

“The last thing that we need in a society wracked by violence is for yet another day of the week to be allotted for people who enjoy killing to go out into the woods and destroy animal families,” a People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals spokesman told the Post.

But Glenn makes a compelling argument in favor of the new law.  “I can go get beer on Sunday and get drunk and kill you with my car.  I can go to the racetrack and lose my house,” he told the reporter. “Why can’t I go out in the woods with my dog and get a raccoon?”

Some of the people who have gone coon hunting with Glenn – which usually involves hours of slogging through the woods, sometimes in foul weather – think they know why Glenn spends so much time pursuing raccoons.

“They tell me that my wife must be ugly.” Glenn says. “They say, ‘Why would you be out here doing this unless you’ve got an ugly wife at home?’”

That's a good question – one which Glenn does not answer.

*     *     *     *     *

Some of the folks living in the McMansions on the edge of the Virginia woods where Glenn looks for his quarry have tried to deal nicely with the raccoons who occasionally invade their attics.

One suburban couple tried blasting the varmint who invaded their home with Ozzy Osbourne.  “Do they really think playing music is going to bother that boar raccoon who’s found him a nice warm place to sleep and eat?” Glenn asked the Post reporter.

If you have a raccoon problem, I’d suggest going the .22 route.  But if you want to give the Ozzy Osbourne method a shot, I’d suggest playing “Bark at the Moon,” his 1983 single from the album of the same name.  

(I bet some of you are surprised that I’m not featuring the Beatles’ “Rocky Raccoon” in this post.  I thought about doing that, but decided to take a pass.  Like at least half the songs on the so-called “White Album” – which is officially titled The Beatles – “Rocky Raccoon” sucks bigtime.)

Click here to listen to “Bark at the Moon.”

Click on the link below to buy the song from Amazon:

Friday, March 15, 2019

Ronettes – "Be My Baby" (1963)

So won’t you say you love me
I'll make you so proud of me

The famed studio drummer Hal Blaine died earlier this week.  He had just turned 90.

Blaine, who was the drummer on some 6000 records, coined the name “The Wrecking Crew” to describe the group of brilliant but largely anonymous Los Angeles-based studio musicians that he worked with on a regular basis.  

Hal Blaine
Blaine was the drummer on no fewer than forty #1 hits by an amazingly diverse group of artists, including the Beach Boys, the Byrds, Captain & Tennille, the Carpenters, John Denver, Neil Diamond, the 5th Dimension, Gary Lewis & the Playboys, Jan & Dean, the Mamas & the Papas, Paul Revere & the Raiders, Johnny Rivers, Simon & Garfunkel, Frank Sinatra, Nancy Sinatra, and Barbra Streisand.

The secret to Blaine’s success was his versatility and his willingness to take a back seat to the singers he worked with:

I’m not a flashy drummer.  I never wanted to be a Gene Krupa or Buddy Rich.  I wanted to be a great accompanist, and that was my role on this song.  A song is a story, and if you interrupt the story with your playing, you’re not doing anybody any good at all.

*     *     *     *     *

In 2011, an interviewer asked Blaine to list his very best recordings.  

He came up with the following eleven:

– “A Taste of Honey” (Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass)

– “Strangers in the Night” (Frank Sinatra)

– “Up, Up, and Away” (The 5th Dimension)

– “Mrs. Robinson” (Simon & Garfunkel)

– “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” (The 5th Dimension)

Blaine with “Wrecking Crew” pal Glen Campbell
– “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” (Simon & Garfunkel)

– “Love Will Keep Us Together” (Captain & Tennille)

– “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’” (Nancy Sinatra)

– “Everybody Loves Somebody” (Dean Martin)

– “A Little Less Conversation” (Elvis Presley)

The last record Blaine named as being one of his very best was – get ready for it – Richard Harris’s “MacArthur Park”:

It’s a work of art, but what’s amazing is that it even happened.  Richard Harris got me on a plane to England, but instead of doing any recording, I wound up having a 10-day party with Richard and his actor friends, all of them big names, wonderful people and world-class drinkers.  We finally had to fly back to L.A. to get with “The Wrecking Crew” and record the song. . . .

Everybody used to laugh about this song. . . . But this was Jimmy Webb’s poetic genius.  I thought it was a masterpiece when we were doing it.  I really did.  And here’s the really mind-blowing part: the basic track was cut in one take!

Haters gonna hate, but Blaine was right: “MacArthur Park” is a masterpiece.

I would think the opinion of a legend like Hal Blaine would be enough to persuade you of the truth of that statement.  But if it isn’t, don’t forget that 2 or 3 lines also holds a very high opinion of that record.   In face, “MacArthur Park” was one of the eleven members of the inaugural class of the 2 OR 3 LINES “GOLDEN DECADE” HIT SINGLES HALL OF FAME.  

Case closed, motherf*ckers!

*     *     *     *     *

So today we’re featuring “Be My Baby,” the 1963 Phil Spector-produced hit that opened with an instantly recognizable Hal Blaine drum riff.  

Click here to listen to “Be My Baby,” which Brian Wilson once declared to be the greatest pop record ever made.  Beach Boy Mike Love has written that Brian was “entranced” by “Be My Baby,” which represented “pop perfection” to him: “When we’d go to Brian’s house, he would play that song over and over again, comparing it to Einstein’s theory of relativity.”  

Brian Wilson and Hal Blaine
So it should come as no surprise that Wilson chose Blaine to play drums on his masterpieces, Pet Sounds and “Good Vibrations.”

Click on the link below to buy “Be My Baby” from Amazon:

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

E-Types – "Put the Clock Back on the Wall" (1967)

I’ve been away where the night meets the morning
Flashes of gray bring the day and it’s warning me
Hey! Put the clock back on the wall

Do you find that changing your clocks to keep up with Daylight Saving Time is a major pain in the ass?  Or is it just a minor pain in the ass?  (Yes, I said “Daylight Saving Time” – “Daylight Savings Time” is NOT the correct name.)

Your answer to that question may depend on whether you have mostly old-fashioned analog clocks with hands, or digital clocks.  It’s easy to change the time on a clock with hands.

The digital clock in the car I drive now adjusts automatically when DST begins and when it ends.  That wasn’t the case in my previous car – which is one reason why it became my previous car.

My mother has two digital clocks in her assisted-living apartment.  One changes automatically, one doesn’t – so the clocks show different times from the time she wakes up on the second Sunday of March (and the first Sunday of November) until I arrive for Sunday lunch and make the required adjustment.  You wouldn’t believe the confusion and angst that causes her.

*     *     *     *     *

There’s a lot not to like about Daylight Saving Time.  

A Pennsylvania state legislator recently wrote a memo to his colleagues that makes the case against DST:

Daylight Saving Time (DST), launched during World War I as an attempt to save energy, has outlived its usefulness.

Energy savings from changing clocks has historically been negligible at best.  Due to the proliferation of air conditioning, energy usage during DST may actually increase.  The phase-out of incandescent bulbs further minimizes energy differentials. . . .

In fact, there are more negative side effects from changing clocks than benefits.  Studies have shown that automobile accidents, workplace injuries, heart attacks, strokes, cluster headaches, miscarriages, depression, and suicides all increase in the weeks following clock changes.  

These government-mandated interruptions of natural biological rhythms and sleep cycles can wreak havoc on job performance, academic results, and overall physical/mental health.  Clock changes require farmers to make needless adjustments, as crops and animals live by the sunlight.

A 2016 study of 300 US metropolitan areas based on evidence from peer-reviewed academic journals found that $434 million in annual economic losses are realized in those metro areas due to DST.  A 2008 report by the Independent Institute estimated that the annual US “opportunity cost” of changing clocks could be as high as $1.7 billion.

*     *     *     *     *

The federal Uniform Time Act of 1966 imposed DST on the country, but allowed individual states and territories to opt out if they wished.  Two states – Arizona and Hawaii – don’t observe DST, and neither do Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa.  

Bills currently under consideration in Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and other states would get rid of DST and keep standard time in effect all year round.  

The main opponents of such legislation seem to be golfers and golf-related businesses.  After all, more people play golf after work than get up to play before work.  So golfers are opposed to taking an hour of sunlight from the end of the day and adding it to the beginning of the day instead.

*     *     *     *     *

Eliminating DST is one way to avoid those pesky twice-a-year clock changes.  But there’s another way to accomplish that goal: keep DST in effect for the entire year.

Opting out of DST and staying on standard time has the effect of making sunrise an hour earlier from March until November.  

Opting out of standard time in favor of year-round DST makes sunset an hour later from November until March.

The problem with that latter solution is that the federal law that created DST only allows states to opt out of observing it – not opt out of observing standard time.

*     *     *     *     *

In 2018, about 60 percent of voters in California said “yes” to year-round DST – pending the required amendment of federal law.

The Florida legislature passed a similar bill last year, and Florida’s two United States Senators have introduced a bill that would allow states to choose year-round DST. 

President Trump is on board with that proposal.  He recently tweeted that “Making Daylight Saving Time permanent is O.K. with me!”

Of course, his support means that the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives will never pass pro-DST legislation.  (Mark my words: the repeal of DST will be a major issue in the 2020 campaign!)

*     *     *     *     *

Even if legislation allowing states to observe DST all year round fails to become law, the six New England states may have come up with a loophole.  

Some New Englanders want to move their states from the Eastern time zone to the Atlantic time zone – which is one hour ahead – and then opt out of DST.

That would have the same effect as staying in the Eastern time zone and observing DST all year round.  But it wouldn’t necessitate a change in federal law.

*     *     *     *     *

In 2011, Russia decided to adopt year-round DST.  

Some of you are already thinking to yourselves, “No wonder Trump likes permanent DST!”

But you are jumping to the wrong conclusion.  In 2014, Russia did an abrupt about face and went back to 365-day-a-year standard time.  In other words, President Trump’s position on DST is in direct opposition to the Russkies.

So there!

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The E-Types were formed in Salinas, California in 1965.  I’m guessing that they named themselves after the iconic Jaguar E-Type sports car (known as the Jaguar XK-E in the United States) – but that’s just a guess.

Jaguar E-Type
The E-Types were very popular in northern California, where they appeared on tour with the Jefferson Airplane and Paul Revere and the Raiders (among others), but they never broke out nationally.

“Put the Clock Back on the Wall,” their third single, was written by Alan Gordon and Gary Bonner, who also penned “Happy Together” for the Turtles and “Celebrate” for Three Dog Night.

Click here to listen to “Put the Clock Back on the Wall.”

Click on the link below to buy the song from Amazon: