Saturday, July 9, 2016

Taking Breaths

Happy Birthday!

On July 9, 1868 the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted. It was part of a package known as the Reconstruction Amendments, ratification of which was required for a southern state to be re-admitted to the Union.

Although it has been the basis for some cock-eyed decisions by the United States Supreme Court (what hasn't been, really?), on balance the amendment's due process and equal protection clauses have strengthened the liberties of all American citizens.

As it happens, those of us resisting the call for restrictions on the constitutional rights of citizens often use the 14th Amendment as the first line of defense.

Cruise Update

My best friend Skip and his wife Elaine were at sea today, heading back to Iceland on the final leg of their latest cruise...

Seven Seas Voyager heads back toward Iceland

I'm not too worried about them, as they get to eat stuff like this all the time from the ship's many restaurants...

Lots of delicious entrees...

...and although Skip says they're usually too stuffed to order dessert, every now and then something like this crème brûlée for two looks too good to pass up...

...and a wee dram (or two) of Glenmorangie is the perfect toast
at the end of a perfect day!

"Nice of him to send you all that gourmet food porn."

I know, right? I've been gaining weight just from reading my emails...

Gnome Ann's Land

From the delightfully off-kilter webcomic xkcd, by Randall Munroe, which you should read every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, as I do.

Until Next Time...

As I've mentioned before in this space, one of the most frustrating aspects of becoming a fan of a particular musical artist or group is when they decide for whatever reason to call it quits. That it happens all the time doesn't make it any less disappointing.

I became a fan of the English rock band The Police when I heard their Grammy Award-winning hit single "Roxanne" from their debut album in the spring of 1978. Each subsequent album they released had at least a couple of songs I really liked, but my appreciation for their music spiked with the release of their 1983 album Synchronicity.

It was one of the first albums I purchased after moving to Casper, Wyoming in the summer of 1983 for a teaching gig. I listened to it pretty obsessively for awhile, since it was by far the strongest album the group had released, and there wasn't a lot of other new rock music around that I enjoyed.

So naturally, the band broke up not long after the world tour they did in support of the album ended. Synchronicity was quite a creative swan song: It was their only album to reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart (it spent a total of 17 weeks at No. 1), driven by their only U.S. chart-topping single.

Original 1983 45 rpm single
On July 9, 1983 "Every Breath You Take" hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart, a position it would hold for eight consecutive weeks. The song wound up as the best-selling single of 1983, topping two of Michael Jackson's biggest hits ("Beat It" and "Billie Jean") among others.

Although the song's lyrics make it clear that it is about a controlling man's obsession with spying on his former paramour, for some reason the song came to be thought of as a sweet love song. People even chose it for the "first dance" at their weddings.

Composer Sting expressed puzzlement over this development in several interviews, but concluded that people hear what they want to hear in music.

"Every Breath You Take" won Grammy Awards for Song of the Year and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals, and was a nominee for Record of the Year. It is ranked No. 84 on Rolling Stone magazine's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list, and Billboard ranked it No. 25 on its Hot 100 All-Time Top Songs. It was also selected for inclusion on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll list.
In 2001, RIAA selected it for the prestigious Songs of the Century list.

Today's send-off is the official video of the song from the band's VEVO channel. It is just a simple "performance" video, so the usual '80s music video disclaimers aren't necessary. Enjoy...

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