Tuesday, April 30, 2019

X – "The Have Nots" (1982)


Here we sit
A shot and a beer
After another hard-earned day

I was never a shot-and-a-beer kind of guy.  I was more of a beer-and-another-beer kind of a guy.  (Then another beer, and then maybe a couple of more beers.)

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The first line of the chorus of today’s featured song is “Dawn comes soon enough for the working class.”  Ain’t that the truth, bub!

Dawn came soon enough for me when I was a college student and had a succession of summer jobs that started at seven o’clock every morning – unloading trucks, unloading rail cars, driving a water truck on a road construction job . . . you get the picture.

Dawn comes even sooner if you’ve been up until all hours the night before drinking beer at Nina’s Green Parrot in, Galena, Kansas – where it was legal for 18-year-olds to imbibe 3.2% beer.  

The late lamented Nina’s Green Parrot bar
Legally, 3.2% beer was considered to be a non-intoxicating beverage, but let me assure you that if you drink enough – I usually drank two quarts in the bar, and got a tallboy can to go for the drive back home – it does the job.

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I didn’t grow up poor, but almost.  My family had enough to take care of the necessities, but there was no money for luxuries like fancy restaurant meals or vacation trips.  

My parents grew up during the Great Depression, and their families were poor – especially my father’s family.  (My father’s father died in 1934, when he was only 38 years old.  He left behind a widow and eight children – ages 15, 14, 12, 11, 9, 6, 3, and 6 months. )

I don’t think my mother – whose family lived on a farm in northwest Arkansas – had it quite as bad.  But the early part of her life was difficult.  (Her mother got pregnant when she was only 16.  She and my mother’s father were married a few months before my mother was born in 1926, but he died in an influenza epidemic before her first birthday.)

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I’ve always been fascinated by books about people living on the margins of homelessness and hunger.  George Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London is one such book.


Orwell moved to from London to Paris in 1928, when he was 25.  His economic situation started to become difficult when became seriously ill the next year and couldn’t work.  Then a young woman he picked up and brought back to his lodgings stole his money. 

To get through periods of unemployment, Orwell had to pawn his clothes.  For example, he would pawn his overcoat for a few francs when spring arrived, hoping that he would be able to accumulate enough money to redeem the coat before cold weather returned.

He eventually got a job in a restaurant, working almost eighteen hours a day, seven days a week to earn a pittance of a salary.

Orwell was so poor that he only owned one pair of black socks.  He applied bootblack to his feet so the bare skin wouldn’t show through the holes.

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“The Have Nots,” which was released on X’s third studio album (Under the Big Black Sun) in 1982, is about blue-collar types – perhaps unemployed, or perhaps making just enough to get by on – who spend too much time and money in bars.


We’re talking about the kind of regulars who spend so much time drinking that they not only know the barmaids by name, but who play cards with them when the bar isn’t busy.  

(Come to think of it, a friend and I used to play cards at the house where the two cousins – one male, one female – who were bartenders at our regular Kansas bar lived after that bar closed at midnight.  But I was a college student, and the dead-end summer jobs I had would last only a couple of months before it was time to go back to school.  My life was nothing like George Orwell’s.) 

“The Have Nots” is notable for its recitation of the names of a number of dive bars in Los Angeles and elsewhere – most of which have been closed for years.

For example, there’s the One-Eyed Jack, and the Hi-D-Hi, G. G.’s Cozy Corner, the Stop & Drink, the Get Down Lounge, and a Detroit joint called The Aorta Bar – which called itself “Detroit’s Main Vein.”


One final note about “The Have Nots.”  The last line of the song’s chorus – “This is the game that moves as you play” – is the epigraph to the precocious Bret Easton Ellis’s first novel, Less Than Zero.  (Ellis was a 21-year-old college student when his novel was published in 1985.)   

The title of Less Than Zero was taken from Elvis Costello’s famous 1977 song. 

Click here to listen to the “The Have Nots,” which I usually listen to several times in succession when it comes up on my iPod.  It’s just that good, boys and girls.

And click on the link below to buy the song from Amazon: 

Friday, April 26, 2019

Marianne Faithfull – "Come and Stay With Me" (1965)


The promises I made most faithfully 
I'll keep them still should you decide to leave

Monday was truly a red-letter day for 2 or 3 lines.

(FYI, the custom of highlighting especially important calendar dates in red ink goes back to at least to the Fasti Antiates Maiores, the calendar of the Roman Republic.)

That’s when I appeared on Rock Continuum, a WOWD-FM (94.3) radio show hosted by legendary DMV DJ Steven Lorber – a dedicated vintage musicologist if there ever was one.

(FYI, “dedicated vintage musicologist” is how the legendary Niagara – frontwoman of Destroy All Monsters and first-class femme fatale – described 2 or 3 lines after I wrote about her a few years ago.)


I picked a dozen truly great songs from the almost 1500 songs that have been featured on 2 or 3 lines over the nine-plus years of its existence, introducing each with some of the expert commentary and witty repartee that has made 2 or 3 lines such a wildly popular little blog.

(FYI, if you don’t believe me, just ask any of the loyal fans who have visited 2 or 3 lines over one million times since I gave birth to it on November 1, 2009 – which was clearly another red-letter day, n’est-ce pas?)


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I’m a novice when it comes to radio, but Steven held my hand and led me through the minefield that live radio can be.

(FYI, he didn’t literally hold my hand, of course – after all, we’re both married men!)  

That’s not to say the show went off without a hitch.  Somehow I managed to give Steven a numbered playlist that didn’t match up with the order of the songs on the CD I brought for him to play.  So when I talked up what I thought was song #4 on the CD, it turned out to be song #6 on the CD.  


It was an unforgivable rookie mistake, but Steven graciously brushed it off as no big deal.  He even invited me back to do the Rock Continuum show again in the future.

I immediately accepted his offer of a return engagement – which I’m setting down here in black and white for all the world to see in case he comes to his senses and tries to withdraw the invitation.

What’s the next rung on the ladder to fame and fortune for 2 or 3 lines?  Television, no doubt.  After all, it would be a shame to waste yours truly’s  good-looking mug on radio.

Until then, watch this space for more details about my next visit to the Rock Continuum show.

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Before turning the microphone over to me on Monday, Steven opened Rock Continuum by playing an enjoyable set of sunny sixties records – including today’s featured song.

Steven Lorber with a small
part of his record collection
As we were listening to “Come and Stay With Me” in the studio, he asked me if I recognized the singer.  I didn’t, so he told me it was Marianne Faithfull – who met the Rolling Stones at a party when she was not quite 18 years old (if Wikipedia is to be believed) and went on to have a major hit with “As Tears Go By” and a major love affair with Mick Jagger.  

I told him I thought the record sounded a little like Jackie DeShannon.  Later, I found out that Jackie DeShannon had written “Come and Stay With Me” (which was the initial track on her eponymous debut album).

*     *     *     *     *

Marianne Faithfull
Years later, Marianne Faithfull’s manager told an interviewer that DeShannon wrote the song in Los Angeles when she and Led Zeppelin guitar hero Jimmy Page were a couple:

One night I couldn't get into our hotel room because Jimmy and Jackie were shagging.   So I yelled, “When you've finished could you write a song for Marianne”?

Click here to listen to “Come and Stay With Me.”

And click on the link below to buy the song from Amazon.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Johnny Cash – "The Man Comes Around" (2002)


Hear the trumpets, hear the pipers
One hundred million angels singin’
Multitudes are marchin’ to the big kettledrum

In 2003, Rolling Stone reporter Evan Wright was embedded with Bravo Company of the 1st Marine Reconnaissance Battalion – the unit that was the “tip of the spear” in Operation Iraqi Freedom.  


Wright’s book about his experiences, Generation Kill, was made into an HBO series with the same title.  Having never served in the military – much less experienced combat – I really have no basis for judging how accurate Generation Kill’s portrayal of life in wartime is.  But the show struck me as almost wholly authentic when I recently watched it.  

I say “almost wholly authentic” because I thought that the depiction of a couple of the Marine officers was a little cartoonish.  (I can’t imagine that those officers could have really been that stupid.)

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The Marines in Generation Kill spend most of their time fighting not the enemy, but boredom and frustration.  Their missions rarely resemble the kind of tasks they were trained to perform, and the command hierarchy does a poor job supplying their needs.  (Batteries for their night-vision optical equipment are always in short supply.)

But they are accustomed to living in a world that is largely FUBAR, and they have learned that the best way to deal with that FUBARness is to joke about it.  The jokes are usually racist, sexist, or  homophobic, but they are as funny as they are politically incorrect.  

Some of the Marines of Bravo Company
Generation Kill does have its share of terrifying moments.  While firefights are relatively infrequent, they are scary as hell when they do occur.  There are a fair number of enemy casualties as the Marines fight their way from Kuwait to Baghdad, but none of the two dozen or so characters who we get to know best in the course of the series die or are seriously wounded.

*     *     *     *     *

The same can’t be said about many of the characters of the sixth and final season of House of Cards.  You would think that being a Marine grunt in Iraq is more dangerous than being a White House staffer, cabinet officer, or Washington newspaper reporter.  But in the world of House of Cards, just the opposite is true.

You’d better sleep with one eye open if you attract the ire of Claire Hale Underwood, the fictional female President who is the dominant character of the final season of House of Cards.  If she learned one thing from her dead husband – who preceded her as President – it’s that assassination can be an effective means of grabbing and holding on to power.  

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I found the ending of House of Cards so unsatisfying that I thought about throwing my shoe at my television.  But big-ass Samsung HDTVs don’t exactly grow on trees, so I left my size 12s where they belonged – on my feet.

President Claire Hale Underwood
Most people agree that House of Cards jumped the shark a long time ago.  But in its last season, it seemed that the show jumped the shark squared.  The sheer implausibility of almost every major event of season six was astonishing.

But I’ve decided that it was wrongheaded of me to expect the show to be realistic.  That never was the show’s intention.

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When I was growing up, I loved political thrillers like Fail Safe and The Manchurian Candidate and Seven Days in May and The Parallax View.  Those movies worked because they had a high degree of verisimilitude.

House of Cards started out that way, but quickly took a very different path.

A number of critics have pointed out the Shakespearean aspects of the series – Macbeth is the play that House of Cards is usually compared to, but you can find elements of Julius Caesar, Richard III, and a number of other Shakespeare plays in the show.

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Macbeth was a real king, but the events of Shakespeare’s play deviate significantly from the historical facts.  


But while Shakespeare fabricated much of the play from whole cloth, his characters act in ways that illuminate human psychology.  Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are very real, even though they aren’t. 

Can the same be said about Claire Underwood?  Maybe . . . although she is such a hyperbolic character that it’s easy to dismiss her as a figment of a screenwriter’s imagination who is no more real than a Marvel supervillain.

*     *     *     *     *

The present and former Presidents Underwood were at least loosely modeled on Bill and Hillary Clinton.  

But Claire Underwood does things that Hillary Clinton’s worst enemies wouldn’t accuse her of doing.  In fact, she does things that Donald Trump’s worst enemies wouldn’t accuse him of doing.

(Actually, I may be wrong about that last statement.)

To me, House of Cards falls short of Macbeth not because its plot is so implausible – President Underwood not only assassinates her enemies willy-nilly but also appoints an all-female cabinet (which is a bit much if you ask me) – but because Claire is about as unsympathetic and one-dimensional a character as you can imagine.  

President Underwood’s all-gal cabinet
At least Lady Macbeth had a guilty conscience about all the bad sh*t she and her hubby did.  Claire Underwood seems wholly untroubled after sticking a knife into an old friend in the Oval Office, and then pinching his nose as he lies bleeding on the carpet so he dies more quickly.

(Oops – I forgot to say “SPOILER ALERT!”  Sorry about that.) 

*     *     *     *     *

While House of Cards may have gone off the deep end in its final season, one could argue that the good ol’ U. S. of A. has as well.

I’m as paranoid as the next guy about how much power our government possesses over us.  There’s no doubt that a lot of people get chewed up and spit out as a result of the malice or incompetence (or both) of government officials.

There have been plenty of other places where governments have kicked over the traces and run roughshod over their citizens.  

(Just because he never said it
doesn’t mean it isn’t true)
We assume that can’t happen here because it never has before.  But I wouldn’t be so sure.  (When it appears that high-ranking law enforcement types were at least talking about how they might nullify the outcome of a presidential election, you have to wonder.)

Let’s face it.  Most elected officials seem to be motivated by one thing and one thing only – winning the next election.  They make decisions based on whether it would help or hurt their and their party’s electoral fortunes.  Principle be damned, and the devil take the hindmost.

Here endeth the reading of the lesson.

*     *     *     *     *

In the final scene of Generation Kill, some of the Marines of Bravo Company sit down to watch a video made by a soldier who brought a handheld camcorder to Iraq.  Click here to see that scene.

That video is accompanied by the title track from Johnny Cash’s 2002 album, American IV: The Man Comes Around – the last album Cash released before his death. 


The song was inspired by a dream Cash had in which he walked into Buckingham Palace and encountered Queen Elizabeth II, who called him “a thorn tree in a whirlwind.”  It’s full of Biblical references – most of them from the book of Revelations. 

Click here to listen to “When the Man Comes Around.”

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

Friday, April 19, 2019

Destroy All Monsters – "Nobody Knows" (1979)


Where I come from, nobody knows
Where I’m going, everybody goes

[NOTE: It’s a red-letter day for 2 or 3 lines!  Steven Lorber, host of the Rock Continuum show on Takoma Park’s WOWD-LP FM, has invited me to appear on that show next Monday, April 22, from 4-6 PM to discuss some of the best songs featured on 2 or 3 lines in the nine-plus years since I gave birth to it.  

If you live in the Takoma Park area, you can listen by tuning to 94.3 on your FM radio. If you don’t, just go to https://takomaradio.org/ and click on the “LISTEN LIVE” link located at the top of the home page.  

For those of you who don’t already know about my wildly popular little blog, the post below – which originally appeared on April 8, 2016 – will serve as an introduction to the wonderful world of 2 or 3 lines.  Once you’ve read it, you’ll mos’ definitely want to tune in on Monday!]

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“Nobody Knows” is the 1000th song to be featured on 2 or 3 lines in the six-plus years of its existence.  (Sort of.)

If you know anything about me, you know that I take milestones like that very seriously indeed.  

For example, the 100th song featured on 2 or 3 lines was “House of the Rising Sun,” which I first heard 50-plus years ago, and which still gives me chills when it comes on the radio.  

The 500th song I wrote about on my wildly popular little blog was another of my all-time favorites, “Shake Some Action,” by the Flamin’ Groovies.

I first heard both “Shake Some Action” and “Nobody Knows” on Steven Lorber’s “Mystic Eyes” radio program, which aired Saturday nights on the legendary Washington, DC station, WHFS-FM.  

WHFS bumper sticker
WHFS played a lot of records that no other radio station in the area played, and Lorber played a lot of records that no other WHFS disc jockey played.  

In the summer of 1980, I recorded a couple of dozen “Mystic Eyes” shows.  A few years ago, I found another WHFS fan who agreed to convert my “Mystic Eyes” cassette tapes to MP3 files and burn those files on to CDs for me.  

I vividly remembered some of those songs on those CDs (despite the fact that I hadn’t heard most of them in 30 years) – for example, The Last’s “She Don’t Know Why I’m Here,” which was the song I chose to feature in the very first 2 or 3 lines post I wrote.

But many of the songs on those CDs were utterly unfamiliar to me – including “Nobody Knows,” which Lorber played only once on all the shows that I recorded.

This post is special not only because it features a fabulous song, but because it includes an interview with the singer of that song – Niagara.

Niagara
Kim Gordon, Courtney Love, Cherie Currie, Wendy O. Williams, Ari Up . . . none of those bitches can outdo Niagara when it comes to being a punk femme fatale.  Besides being the ne plus ultra of rock frontwomen, she’s an artist whose works have been exhibited in Japan, the UK, and Australia as well as in New York, Los Angeles, and her hometown – Detroit, Michigan.

Here’s how journalist Brett Callwood described Niagara in a 2009 Detroit Metro Times article:

Niagara is beautiful and striking in person, ageless even – comfortably sitting somewhere between Audrey Hepburn and Patti Smith.  Indeed, alongside Debby Harry, Niagara was the punk poster girl of choice for any hormone-riddled boy who happened upon a Destroy All Monsters record cover or a picture in an old CREEM magazine.  She oozes a kind of '50s-esque, perfect-skinned glamour, but there's this rough edge, as if beneath a seemingly unruffled exterior there's both an innocent little girl and a worldly woman who just skated on this side of total rock 'n' roll tragedy. . . . The mixture of innocence and worldliness gives her demeanor and her art a mildly intimidating quality.


I’m very pleased that Niagara agreed to be interviewed for this very special 2 or 3 lines:   

2or3lines:  Destroy All Monsters included former members of two legendary Detroit groups, the MC5 and the Stooges.  Who are some of your other favorite musicians? 

Niagara:  Alice Cooper, Nico and the Velvet Underground, Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart, the Bonzo Dog Band . . . and Gilbert and Sullivan.

2or3lines:  Gilbert and Sullivan?  Really?

Niagara:  I liked many Gilbert and Sullivan operas.  I liked "Mikado" best.   "Iolanthe," too.  I hated "The Pirates of Penzance."

2or3lines:  There are a couple of different stories going around concerning where you got the name “Niagara.”  One is that it was given to you by an older sister because you would cry like a waterfall when she shut you in a dark closet.  

Niagara:  My sister didn't lock me in a closet like you envisioned, but she and our cousin – who were were ten years older – used to torture me in quasi-personal-peril-type threatening behavior.  If I cried, they called me "Niagara.”


2or3lines:  You and several other University of Michigan art students formed Destroy All Monsters in 1974.  Tell us about how the group got started.  

Niagara:  My boyfriend Cary Loren and I wanted to start a band and were considering our options.  On the evening of December 29, 1974, we were about to do a photo shoot (as usual) and go to a party (ditto).  [Fellow art students] Mike Kelley and Jim Shaw came over and we were going to take them with us.  Mike suddenly asked me, "Do you sing?"  They had been thinking the same band thing.  We hadn't really considered them because neither played an instrument.  That became beside the point and we practiced the next night so we could show up a day later at this New Year's Eve party at a comic book convention . . . only two days after we formed the band.  

2or3lines: So the plan was that you would perform at that party – just two days after you got the idea of forming a band?


Niagara:  Later, no one in the band remembered how crazy that time-frame was . . . including me . . . but I have diaries (which I read with much amusement, years later).  So . . . we invaded the New Year's Eve party . . . insisted on opening for some band.  They agreed and asked our band's name.  I still have the list of names that we had conjured up but we didn’t like any of them.  We looked at each other blankly until Jim Shaw answered, “DESTROY ALL MONSTERS.”  And it was good.   

2or3lines:  There’s a 1968 Japanese Godzilla-Mothra monster movie titled "Destroy All Monsters."  Is that where Jim Shaw got the name?

Niagara:  Jim had many comic books in his room, and I saw one titled “Destroy All Monsters” there when we first met.  I didn't know about the Japanese horror movie at that time. 


2or3lines:  Let’s go back to the group’s first performance at that New Year’s Eve party just two days after you decided to form a band.  I’m almost afraid to ask this . . . but how did it go that night?

Niagara:  Almost everyone there hated us . . . which I figured meant we were off to a good start.  I remember that we played "Iron Man" for a noisy while.  Our drum was a coffee can, which we beat with a bone until they kicked us off the stage.

2or3lines:  Mike Kelley and Jim Shaw left Ann Arbor in 1976 to attend the California Institute of the Arts in Los Angeles, and both went on to have considerable success in the art world – a couple of months ago, I happened to read a New Yorker review of a Jim Shaw exhibit at the New Museum in New York City.  What happened to DAM when Kelley and Shaw headed west?

Ron Asheton
Niagara:  The legitimate Destroy All Monsters began in earnest in 1977 when Ron Asheton (lead guitarist for the Stooges) and Mike Davis (bass player for MC5) joined the band.    

[Note:  Michael Davis became the bassist for the MC5 in 1964, and played on Kick Out the Jams and the band's other two original albums.  After the band broke up, Davis was convicted on a narcotics charge and did time in a Kentucky federal prison, where MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer  was also an inmate.  When Davis was released from prison, Ron Asheton invited him to join Destroy All Monsters.  After DAM broke up, Davis – who had been an art student At Wayne State University in Detroit before dropping out to join MC5 – played with a couple of other groups and became a painter.  He died in 2012 when he was 68.]


2or3lines:  I first heard "Nobody Knows" on a Washington, DC radio show in 1980 – the year after it was recorded – but I only rediscovered it a few years ago.  "Nobody Knows" is credited to you and the late Michael Davis, the former MC5 bass player who ended up in DAM.  Tell me how "Nobody Knows" was written.  What did each of you contribute to it?

Niagara:  Ron Asheton and I were sharing an apartment with Mike at the time.  It was high up in a huge attic.  I came home from somewhere and Mike wanted me to write lyrics for his new song.  He played it for me on his guitar and I picked out the chorus from scratchings in my song book.  Then I wrote the rest of the song right then.  It usually doesn't happen automatically . . . but sometimes it does. 

2or3lines:  What do you think are the best songs DAM ever recorded?

Niagara:  “Bored” and “You're Gonna Die.”  Many people are dedicated to "November 22nd, 1963,” which other bands have covered.


2or3lines:  You and some art students who didn’t know how to play an instrument started DAM on a whim – but you ended up fronting an edgy and very influential band that included guys from a couple of the greatest punk/rock groups ever.    

Niagara:  I thought DAM would last a couple years.  Being able to be in a band with Ron Asheton – my favorite guitarist – was the best luck.  And after DAM broke up, we both ended up with Dark Carnival.  So I ended up being in bands with Ron Asheton for about 20 years. 

[Note: Dark Carnival was an aggregation of Detroit musicians that was put together in the mid-1980s by a local promoter who went by the moniker of “Colonel Galaxy.”  The next 2 or 3 lines will feature a Dark Carnival song and more of Niagara’s fabulous art.]

Deniz Tek with Niagara
I asked Deniz Tek, the singer/guitarist/songwriter who brought Detroit-style punk rock to Australia in the 1970s, what he thought of Destroy All Monsters generally and “Nobody Knows” in particular:

I was best friends with Ron [Asheton], and after he started up with Destroy All Monsters, I closely followed their musical path. . . . When they came out with “November 22, 1963” and “Nobody Knows,” everything sort of came together in a perfect storm of DAM greatness. . . . ”Nobody Knows" was a well-crafted tune.  [DAM’s bass player] Michael Davis wrote the music, I think – he used that fabulous F# over D chord (which I later stole).  Niagara's vocals hit a new evocative peak of originality, stretching into new areas – growls, cat meows, everything.  (Loved it when she spat out "You go!").  Mike and Rob [King, DAM’s drummer] had the engine room running at full power.  And Ron's guitar playing was probably his best since [the Stooges’] Fun House album.  I found the whole thing inspiring, as I was just starting my own solo career that same year.  It was great to know that my pals were on the right track and hitting new highs.

[P.S. – After reading the above post, Niagara sent me a ringing endorsement and a warm, heartfelt invitation to keep in touch: I finally forced myself to read this.  You're a much better writer than was expected.  You are a dedicated vintage musicologist. Thank you for sending.  Write anytime.  Almost.]

Click here to listen to “Nobody Knows.”

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Chris Tomlin – "Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)" (2006)


My chains are gone 
I've been set free 

It takes a special kind of faith to view death not as something to be feared, but as something that sets one free from his or her earthly chains.

The family of Teressa Rosalind French – a 16-year-old student at Covenant Life School in Gaithersburg, Maryland, who was struck and fatally injured by a speeding car while walking near her school on January 24, 2014 – possesses that special kind of faith.  

Teressa Rosalind French
The Teressa Rosalind French Foundation, which honors Teressa’s life on earth by providing scholarships and grants that enable students to attend Christian schools and camps and participate in worthy faith-based activities, represents the transformation of that faith into something tangible. 

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Among other things, Teressa was a popular member of the Covenant Life basketball team.  A friend of hers told the Washington Post that she was “so exuberant that she even smiled when she once scored a basket for the other team.”


“She was always happy, always smiling,” according to that friend. “Biggest encourager on the team. . . . She would pick everybody up.”

So it’s fitting that the “Teressa French Tip Off Basketball Tournament” is held each year at Covenant Life to raise public awareness of her foundation.  

I first became aware of the Teressa Rosalind French Foundation when I was assigned to referee one of the tournament games last November.

Later I spoke to Teressa’s mother, Monika French, about her daughter and the foundation’s mission.


2 or 3 lines:  Mrs. French, your foundation’s website states that it was established “to honor Teressa Rosalind French for her lively and lovely spirit and to ensure her influence continues for generations to come.”  As I understand it, the money raised by the foundation is used to provide scholarships and grants to young students to encourage their Christian education and spiritual growth.  

Mrs. French:  The Christian schools where we offer scholarships – schools like Covenant Life School and Rock Academy in San Diego, which Teressa attended when our family lived there – encourage students to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ while also providing a distinguished, well-rounded education.  But private schools can be expensive, and many families need financial help in order to be able to send their children there.  We also provide grants to members of church youth groups so they can go on mission trips to share the gospel.

2 or 3 lines:  Involvement is athletics is one of the criteria you use to choose scholarship recipients.  Tell us about Teressa’s involvement in athletics, and why you think participation in sports benefits students.


Mrs. French:  Teressa played soccer, basketball and softball.  She won the “Most Improved Player” award from both her basketball and her softball coaches.  I was raised to play a sport for each semester, and I passed that on to my children.  Being active is important for good health, and Teressa enjoyed the  camaraderie of being a team member.  

2 or 3 lines:  You give special consideration to military dependents when it comes to choosing scholarship recipients.   

Mrs. French:  Yes, we do.  We believe that the children of those who serve in the military serve their country, too, and we want to honor that service.

2 or 3 lines: As the family of a Navy admiral, I’m sure that you moved around quite a bit.  Was it hard for Teressa to always be the new kid in class?

Teressa's high school classmates presented
 this award to her parents at graduation
Mrs. French:  Teressa lived in nine different places in her 16 years.  But moving to new places was never a problem for her.  She welcomed the opportunity to make new friends.  When Teressa turned 16, she wanted to invite everyone in her class from school to a Nationals baseball game – even though she was told by some of her friends that certain people in her class wouldn’t fit in.  But she invited everyone in her class, and all of them came.  It was a great 16th birthday!

2 or 3 lines:  I know you have a fundraising event for your foundation coming up soon.  Tell us about it.

Mrs. French:  On Saturday, May 19, we’re holding the “Sweet-T 5K Benefit Walk” at Covenant Life School in Gaithersburg, Maryland – Teressa’s school – to not only raise money but also to get the word out about the work of the Teressa Rosalind French Foundation.   There will be food, music, and fellowship, and everyone is welcome.  But we especially encourage church youth groups to attend the walk so they can learn more about the scholarships and grants that the foundation offers.  Registration for the walk is now open, and you can click on this link to register for or get more information about the event.

Some of the participants at last year’s
“Sweet-T 5K Benefit Walk”
2 or 3 lines:  Mrs. French, thank you for taking the time to tell us about Teressa and the foundation that you and her father have created to honor her by supporting the education and spiritual growth of other young people.  I wish the foundation much success in its endeavors.

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“Amazing Grace” – which was written by John Newton, a 18th-century English slave trader who later became an evangelical Anglican clergyman and outspoken abolitionist – is a very well-known and beloved hymn.  

Christian recording artist Chris Tomlin’s version of “Amazing Grace” – which combines Newton’s original verses with some new verses written by Tomlin – was a particular favorite of Teressa French.


Click here to listen to Chris Tomlin’s “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone),” which was released on his 2006 See the Morning album.

And click here to if you would like to honor Teressa French’s memory and support her family’s good works by contributing to the Teressa Rosalind French Foundation.


Friday, April 12, 2019

Grass Roots – "I'd Wait a Million Years" (1969)


I’d wait a million years 
Walk a million miles
Cry a million tears 

The singer of “I’d Wait a Million Years” wouldn’t really wait a million years, walk a million miles, or cry a million tears just to have you near him.  

Those lines are an example of what the ancient Greeks called hyperbole – defined as an exaggeration not meant to be taken literally.

People often use the word “million” hyperbolically.  But sometimes a million is just a million – and sometimes a cigar is just a smoke. 

As you can see from the photo below, my wildly popular little blog recently had its millionth visitor.  (I had hoped to get a photo of the counter as it rolled over from 999,999 to 1,000,000, but that was like trying to catch lightning in a bottle – I blinked and I missed it.) 


Who the millionth visitor was and where he or she is from, nobody knows.  (About half of our traffic comes from the good ol’ U.S. of A.  The countries that contribute the most visitors after the U.S. are Russia, the UK, Germany, France, Canada, Italy, Ukraine, Australia and Brazil, respectively.)

What we do know is that 2 or 3 lines continues to blow up after almost ten years in existence!

2 or 3 lines is purt near a stick of dynamite, boys and girls.  That’s as plain as the nose on your face – it don’t make me no never mind if you don’t agree. 

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“I’d Wait a Million Years” isn’t the first Grass Roots song to be featured on 2 or 3 lines, which is as it should be.

If you wanted to pick a quintessential 2 or 3 lines, you could do a lot worse than the Grass Roots.  


For one thing, they had their greatest success during what I like to call the golden decade of pop music – which consists of the years I was in junior high, high school and college.

Second, the Grass Roots’ hits were as eclectic as all get out, combining elements of folk rock, R&B/soul, and “British Invasion” music.  A lot of their singles featured brass instruments, something that was relatively rare at the time.  

Third, 2 or 3 lines has always had a soft spot for studio musicians in general and the Los Angeles-based “Wrecking Crew” conglomeration of studio musicians in particular.  The Grass Roots – who were the creation of P. F. Sloan and Steve Barri (who wrote “Eve of Destruction” for Barry McGuire, “You Baby” for the Turtles, and “Secret Agent Man” for Johnny Rivers) – originally relied on “Wrecking Crew” members like Larry Knechtel and Joe Osborn.

Eventually Sloan and Barri persuaded a Los Angeles band called The 13th Floor to become the Grass Roots.  While those musicians toured, Sloan and Barri continued to rely heavily on studio musicians for the group’s recordings.

Click here to listen to “I’d Wait a Million Years.”

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