Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Keeping Faith


Memorial at Yordano's home in the Dominican Republic
Yesterday was an extremely tough day for fans of my beloved Kansas City Royals,
as the reality of Sunday's news continued to sink in.

The death of pitching star Yordano Ventura at just age 25 was covered extensively by both local and national media.

Impromptu tribute outside of Kauffman Stadium

I was particularly moved by coverage of the fan reactions, including the spontaneous remembrance at Kauffman Stadium as news of the accident spread.

Tribute outside of Arrowhead Stadium, February 2000
It put me in mind of a similar occurrence back in 2000 when my beloved Kansas City Chiefs lost Hall of Fame linebacker Derrick Thomas, who died of complications from injuries
he suffered in an automobile accident on the way to Kansas City International Airport
on a snowy, icy morning just
a couple of weeks before.

Yesterday was the anniversary of the crash 17 years ago that would eventually end Derrick's life at just age 33.

Me, too, old friend...we must always remember that each day of life is a grace from God, and that no one on this Earth is guaranteed a tomorrow...

Feast Day

Statue in Priory of Vivoin, Sarthe, France
Today is the feast day of St. Francis de Sales,
a French bishop who was a key figure during the Counter-Reformation due to his tireless evangelism. Francis was noted for being both patient and gentlemanly in these efforts.

A significant part of his legacy was his writings, which served to strengthen the devotion of the faithful and recover those who had been turned away from the Church by Protestant preachings.

Francis was also noteworthy for his founding of several religious orders, most notably the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary.

Francis was beatified in 1661 and canonized
in 1665 by Pope Alexander VII. Pope Pius IX named him Doctor of the Church in 1877.

Francis has a number of namesake institutions around the world, mostly schools, and is the patron of journalists (because of his extensive use of "broadsheets" in his evangelical efforts) and of the deaf (he once invented a sign language in order to convert a deaf man to the Church).

The Cheshire President

From the incisive pen of Michael Ramirez, whose editorial cartoons you should read often, as I do.

Until Next Time...

On January 24, 1941 Neil Leslie Diamond was born in Brooklyn, New York to working class Jewish parents. While in high school he discovered a fondness for singing, and participated in school singing clubs (along with classmate Barbra Streisand). When he was 16 he attended a summer camp concert by folk singer Pete Seeger, and when he was given a guitar shortly thereafter he began writing songs inspired by Seeger's material.

Eventually Diamond dropped out of college to pursue a career as a songwriter, and after some time as a Brill Building songwriter for other artists, he got a recording contract
of his own that would eventually land him in both the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He is one of the best-selling artists in music history, with more than 120 million records sold to date.

I was never a big fan of his early Top 40 radio hits like "Cherry, Cherry" or "Kentucky Woman," although "Solitary Man" appealed to me as a shy kid in 8th grade whom the girls mostly ignored. I didn't actually buy my first Neil Diamond record until halfway through my sophomore year of high school.

Just five days after celebrating his 28th birthday Diamond released "Brother Love's Travelling Salvation Show," a song celebrating gospel music and evangelical-style worship services. I was always fond of "story" songs, and this one grabbed me right away. It became a Top 40 hit immediately, ending a year-long drought of seven Diamond singles releases that didn't crack that list.
It peaked at No. 22 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart.

The album of the same name earned Diamond his first RIAA gold record, and within a year's time his album's routinely made the Top 10 of the Billboard 200 and earned RIAA platinum certifications. His 1972 Hot August Night live album (which took its name from the opening lyric of "Brother Love...") was a must-have record during my college years, and remains popular more than four decades after its release.

In an amusing bit of historical revisionism, Diamond's label changed both the album's name and the album cover in late 1969 to capitalize on the success of his follow-up single, the Top 5 hit "Sweet Caroline." The label tacked that song onto late-1969 pressings of the "Brother Love..." album rather than issue a new collection of material. They also changed the album's cover to make it appear as though the album itself were named "Sweet Caroline." Record companies pulled a lot of sketchy crap like that in the '60s.

Today's send-off is the original album track (although the album cover shown is the reissued version). Enjoy...

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