Taking the pledge

It’s hopeful, heartfelt, plaintive and sad. It’s late at night, and he’s all alone, and the late, great Johnny Ace is down on his knees, pleading and praying…and pledging his love.

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Poison ivy

Years ago I spent a weekend clearing brush from a roadside embankment, then picked up the brush in both arms and carried it to where I was dumping the debris — and I was wearing a short-sleeved shirt, and my arms broke out in such ugly welts and gruesome lesions that I had to be prescribed steroids to counteract my skin’s reaction to what the doctor said was a combination of poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac.

Did I learn my lesson? Today I spent four hours clearing brush from the front yard of the house where I’m staying in the Berkshires. And I was wearing a short-sleeved shirt. And I picked up the brush in both arms and carried it to the tractor wagon I was carting it in to be disposed of in the brush pile. And I’ve got poison ivy welts on my both of my inner forearms — although I was smart enough to realize and notice, and quickly washed my hands and arms with soap and hot water, perhaps minimizing the rash.

Anyway…apropos of nothing, really, except that it’s a song title about the vine that afflicted me, here are The Coasters singing “Poison Ivy:”

Bravo! Maestro!

I’ve been distracted by life’s soundtrack. There’s been the usual sour notes, off-key chords and discord. And there’s been, more and more, beautiful musicĀ  — symphonies of souls in tandem, fugues of faith, ballads of belief, happy harmonies.

Distracted…and meanwhile Johnny Maestro dies, at the age of 70, somewhere in Florida…far from the Brooklyn Bridge….

Yes, THAT Johnny Maestro, lead singer of The Brooklyn Bridge, which somehow scored a hit with the chest-puffed, beefed-up, melodramatic “The Worst That Could Happen” right smack in the midst of the FM-oriented, album-rock Beatles and Dylan and Gang musical revolution.

For the record, here’s that song:

But here’s my real point…I never knew that none-other-than a very young Johnny Maestro himself was the lead singer of one of the greatest doo-wop groups ever — The Crests! It’s Johnny Maestro singing lead on one of the greatest doo-wop songs ever.

All I have to say is rest in peace… and “Bravo! Maestro!”