Redhead Quickie – Depression Era Series – Pt 2

More music and movement from Langston Hughes.

Song for a Banjo Dance

by Langston Hughes

Shake your brown feet, honey,

Shake your brown feet, chile,

Shake your brown feet, honey,

Shake ’em swift and wil’—

Get way back, honey,

Do that rockin’ step.

Slide on over, darling,

Now! Come out

With your left.

Shake your brown feet, honey,

Shake ’em, honey chile.

Sun’s going down this evening—

Might never rise no mo’.

The sun’s going down this very night—

Might never rise no mo’—

So dance with swift feet, honey,

(The banjo’s sobbing low)

Dance with swift feet, honey—

Might never dance no mo’.

Shake your brown feet, Liza,

Shake ’em, Liza, chile,

Shake your brown feet, Liza,

(The music’s soft and wil’)

Shake your brown feet, Liza,

(The banjo’s sobbing low)

The sun’s going down this very night—

Might never rise no mo’.

Our featured redhead is Christina Hendricks, best known for her role as Joan Holloway on Mad Men. The show takes place in the 60’s, but the main character, Don Draper, grew up as Dick Whitman during the Depression, the product of a prostitute mother who died when he was a young boy, and an abusive father. Joan, limited by the attitudes of her times toward women, uses her sexuality to advance her career, but not without emotional consequences.


The featured popular song from this period is “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter” by Young and Ahler which became a standard after it was first recorded by Fats Waller and released on May 8, 1935. I’m not sure which cover I recall from my Grandpa’s collection, but the melody was catchy and the lyrics always tickled me.

I’m gonna sit right down
And write myself a letter
And make believe
It came from you.
I’m gonna write words
Oh so sweet,
They’re gonna knock me
Off my feet,
A lot of kisses
On the bottom –
I’ll be glad I got ’em.

I’m gonna smile and say
“I hope you’re feeling better,”
And close “with love”
The way you do.
I’m gonna sit right down
And write myself a letter
And make believe
It came from you.

Giants and McAdoo at Crossroads

Giants coach Ben McAdoo is at the intersection of Route 74 and Nowhereville. His legacy will be defined by how he manages his floundering left tackle Ereck Flowers. Despite all of the drama contrived by the New York press this week, McAdoo’s negative comments about the performance of his QB Monday night will have no effect on how Eli plays. No amount of criticism can faze Manning. Don’t let the Opie Taylor appearance and demeanor fool you; Eli is tough as nails inside and out.

Still, the Giants have real problems as they teeter over the abyss, facing a must-win situation in Philly this weekend. McAdoo has already backed off some of his negative statements about Manning from earlier this week. There is talk of turning over the play calling to offensive coordinator, Mike Sullivan, but McAdoo is still noncommittal.


While McAdoo’s reputation as an offensive innovator is questionable—as quarterbacks coach of the Green Bay Packers, he was the beneficiary of an offense that featured Aaron Rodgers at QB, and the play calling of head coach Mike McCarthy—Sullivan’s resume is interesting. Sullivan’s NFL career began in 2002 as former Giants head coach Tom Coughlin’s defensive quality control coach with the Jacksonville Jaguars, later assuming the role of offensive assistant. Following Coughlin to the Giants, Sullivan served six seasons as wide receivers coach, then two coaching Manning in the 2007 and 2011 Super Bowl championship seasons. As the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ offensive coordinator in 2012, Sullivan’s offense set franchise records with 5,820 yards and 389 points. The offense featured QB Josh Freeman and RB Doug Martin, hardly household names. The attack was balanced, ranking 10th in passing yards (248.9 per game), 15th in rushing (114.8) and ninth overall (363.8). Sullivan didn’t have Ereck Flowers at LT, but the results achieved with Freeman at QB were impressive. On the other hand, McAdoo’s early success as offensive coordinator with the Giants was inflated by the emergence of superstar wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and a weak schedule.


Whoever calls the plays, all eyes will be on Flowers as he goes against the formidable Eagles pass rush of Vinny Curry at defensive end, and Fletcher Cox at tackle. Flowers has the commitment and full support of his head coach, usually a good thing, but there is a sense that McAdoo believes that with enough encouragement and praise he can talk Flowers into playing well. The reality is that Flowers seems ill-suited to the position and should probably be moved inside to tackle, or benched. With the injury to Hart, the line is already thin, so the latter is not an option.

NFL: New York Giants-Ben McAdoo Press Conference

Which brings us to general manager Jerry Reece; much of the blame for the lack of talent on the offensive line falls to the patchwork that I’ve labeled Reece’s Pieces, a term Giants beat writer for the New York Daily News, Ralph Vacchiano, has used in the past as well. Flowers was chosen 9th overall in the draft three years ago, and any decision that McAdoo makes that doesn’t include Flowers at left tackle will place him firmly nose-to-nose with the man who hired him. McAdoo’s resolve to coach on his own terms, even if his philosophy flies in the face of his boss, will define McAdoo’s future as a head coach in the NFL.

Redhead Quickie – Depression Era Series

This is a spin off of the “popular” series Redhead Record Review. It is a celebration of the poetry of Langston Hughes and popular American music of the Great Depression.

For those of you who are of the belief that there is nothing new under the sun, this may help to explain why we sometimes feel we are born into the wrong period in history. The post-hippie conservative inflationary 70’s I grew up in probably had a lot in common with the edge of the Jazz Age Roaring Twenties leading into the Great Depression of 30’s America. Some of my earliest and most lasting memories are of my grandfather sharing the music of his youth on old 78’s, Hi-Fi records and reel-to-reel tapes.

The poetry of Langston Hughes, from his 1935 collection The Dream Keeper, echoes the popular music of the times.

langston hughes

Negro Dancers – Langston Hughes

‘Me an’ ma baby’s
Got two mo’ ways,
Two mo’ ways to do de Charleston!’
Da, da,
Da, da, da!
Two mo’ ways to do de Charleston!’
Soft light on the tables,
Music gay,
Brown-skin steppers
In a cabaret.
White folks, laugh!
White folks, pray!
‘Me an’ ma baby’s
Got two mo’ ways,
Two mo’ ways to do de

Our featured redhead is Mae West. I think she was actually platinum blond, but since photos and movies were in black and white, I can take some liberties. Besides, I already featured Shirley Temple in an earlier post.

Just kidding; representing the period is the great Katharine Hepburn with her performances in Little Women and Morning Glory for which she won an Oscar in 1933.


To lift the spirits of a nation suffering under the weight of desperate times, many of the popular songs featured optimistic and dream inspired melodies and lyrics.

On the Sunny Side of the Street is credited to Dorothy Fields and Jimmy McHugh, but there are some who claim that it was actually written by Fats Waller who sold the rights. The song has been covered so many times, with slight variations. I’ve selected an excerpt from a Billie Holiday recording.

On the Sunny Side of the Street

Grab your coat and get your hat
Leave your worry on the doorstep
Just direct your feet
To the sunny side of the street
Can’t you hear a pitter pat
And that happy tune is your step
Life can be so sweet
On the sunny side of the street

I used to walk in the shade
With those blues on parade
But no I’m not afraid
This Rover crossed over

If I never have a cent
I’d be rich as Rockefeller
Gold dust at my feet
On the sunny side of the street


This is not a record review… 


Anger, he smiles,
Towering in shiny metallic purple armour
Queen Jealousy, envy waits behind him
Her fiery green gown sneers at the grassy ground

Blue are the life-giving waters taken for granted,
They quietly understand
Once happy turquoise armies lay opposite ready,
But wonder why the fight is on
But they’re all bold as love, yeah, they’re all bold as love
Yeah, they’re all bold as love
Just ask the axis

My red is so confident that he flashes trophies of war,
And ribbons of euphoria
Orange is young, full of daring,
But very unsteady for the first go round
My yellow in this case is not so mellow
In fact I’m trying to say it’s frightened like me
And all these emotions of mine keep holding me from, eh,
Giving my life to a rainbow like you
But, I’m bold as love, yeah, I’m bold as love
Yeah, yeah
Well I’m bold, bold as love (hear me talking, girl)
I’m bold as love
Just ask the axis (he knows everything)

Bold As Love

Songwriter: Jimi Hendrix

Bold as Love lyrics © Reach Music Publishing

 irma satellite


Played against the terrifying backdrop of satellite photos of Hurricane Irma, Hendrix’s acid-trip inspired lyrics begin to make sense. The color imagery especially ties in with the forces of nature and the forces of human emotions.


Recently posted on Mind the Dog Writing BlogReading, Writing, Dog Food, and Validating Emotions, places value on individual experience and personal emotional response. For me, and my ongoing battle to understand my own powerful emotions, it explains much, but excuses little. Anger is like a storm, often forming from nothing. It gains intensity, fed by panic, uncertainty and fear. For all its force, the core of anger is weakness.

Understanding anger and recognizing personal triggers is a small step toward controlling it. If there is one recurring theme of regret in my life, it is the bitter taste of shame that lingers after losing control over a relatively insignificant setback. I care deeply about how my actions and outbursts affect the people I love and care about most, and how they view me as a result. I want to give them the best of me, not leave them with images of anger and frustration.

At times I feel I am making progress. Life’s larger events, illness, personal loss, a physically exhausting task, these things I can handle. But, my reaction to a traffic jam or clogged toilet would make one think we are on the verge of a meteor strike. Not quite a Joan Crawford Mommy Dearest moment, but shameful nonetheless. There is a total loss of perspective. It is the small and seemingly innocuous events that sneak up on me.

I ask that my loved ones look into the content of my heart and to understand that I want to be a better man. For my wife, who has learned to ride out the storms, and to ignore the childish outbursts, I love her for her patience, but seek a peaceful alternative. For my children, I want them to think of me as a friend, and to remember me in those happy moments we’ve shared, just hanging out, doing simple, or silly little things, not yelling out of frustration over some small transgression. I think I’m more in my element when I’m not in parenting mode, not playing the Dad card.

I’ll part with a Gandhi quote I hold close to my heart:

“The goal ever recedes from us. The greater the progress, the greater the recognition of our unworthiness. Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment. Full effort is full victory.”

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