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Morning Song – Jam On The Groove

(One in a series of songs sampled by C + C Music Factory on their 1991 hit, “Things That Make You Go Hmmm“.)

Ralph MacDonald was one of those consummate musicians who added something special to just about any and all of the thousands of tracks he played on throughout his long and distinguished career as a percussionist and composer.

The much-sampled breakbeat from “Jam On The Groove” comes in at 3:45, but MacDonald’s virtuosity both anchors and elevates the entire song.

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Beauty All Around Me – Early Morning Mooncatcher

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1492: The End Of Muslim Europe

1492(One in a series of posts about 1492: The Year The World Began.)

January 2: Granada Falls to Christian Conquerors.

For over 700 years—from 711 to 1492—Muslims ruled much of present-day Spain and Portugal.  (That is, as Maria Rosa Menocal notes in her sparkling jewel of a book, The Ornament Of The World: How Muslims, Jews & Christians Created A Culture Of Tolerance In Medieval Spain, over 3 times longer than the current American republic.) With the surrender of Abu Abdullah Muhammad XII (known as Boabdil to the Castilian conquerors), the last Muslim-ruled state in Europe (with the notable exception of the Ottoman Empire) came to an end.

The victory, according to a chronicler in the Basque country, “redeemed Spain, indeed all Europe.” In Rome bonfires burned all over the city, nourished into life in spite of the rain. By order of the pope, the citizens swept Rome’s streets clean. When dawn broke, the bell at the summit of the Capitoline Hill in Rome began ringing with double strokes—a noise never heard otherwise heard except on the anniversary of a papal coronation, or to announce the feast of the Assumption of the Virgin in August…. The pope called the royal conquerors “athletes of Christ” and conferred on them the new title, which rulers of Spain bore ever after, of “Catholic Monarchs”. The joy evoked in Rome echoed through Christendom. (p. 38)

Within a few years, Muslims were forced to emigrate or to convert to Christianity, and even then were discriminated against (e.g., having to pay taxes at higher rates than “old Christians”).

The conquest of Granada and its aftermath changed the profile of Europe for a half a millennium. Outside the range of Ottoman conquests, no Muslim-ruled state ever reemerged in Europe….It became possible—though perhaps not convincing—to claim that the culture of Europe, if such a thing exists, is Christian. The habit of identifying Europe with Christendom went almost unchallenged until the late twentieth century. (p. 44)

Morning Song – Dance To The Drummer’s Beat

(One in a series of songs sampled by C + C Music Factory on their 1991 hit, “Things That Make You Go Hmmm“.)

It’s hard to convey, at a distance of nearly four decades, how utterly important the beat had become in certain musical circles by 1978.

But if you want to get an idea, listen to Herman Kelly & Life’s “Dance To The Drummer’s Beat”. It is what it says it is.

(So do what it says to do.)

1492: The Year The World Began

1492(One in a series of posts about 1492: The Year The World Began.)

If you like your history big, broad and sweeping, you’ll love Felipe Fernández-Armesto’s 1492: The Year The World Began. “The year 1492…refashioned the world” he asserts on the opening page and—with breathtaking scope—demonstrates in the following 300 pages.

Fernández-Armesto adds a throat-clearing and palate-cleansing professional historians epilogue wherein he appends a number of disclaimers to reinforce the following point:  “History has no course…(and) because history has no course, it has no turning points. Or rather, it has so many that you might as well try to straighten a tornado as attempt to sort them out.” (p. 311)

After several pages in this vein , filled with numerous examples snatched from today’s headlines (“Gays can adopt children…. The pope has prayed in a mosque.” p. 315) and perennial historiographical debates (the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, the causes of the French Revolution), Fernández-Armesto returns to his original assertion:

Nevertheless, the world did change in 1492. Events of that year started to change the balance and distribution of power and wealth across the globe, launching communities in western Europe across oceans, empowering a mighty Russian state for the first time, and prefiguring (though not of course producing) the decline of maritime Asia and of traditional powers around the Indian Ocean and its adjacent seas. Until the 1490s, any well-informed and objective observer would surely have acknowledged these regions as homes to the planet’s most dynamic and best-equipped exploring cultures, with the most impressive records of long-term, long-range achievement. In that fateful decade, rivals from western Europe leapfrogged ahead, while the powers that might have stopped them or outstripped them remained inert. (pp. 317-18)

(Note: The following series of posts doesn’t discuss the key events of 1492 in the order Fernández-Armesto writes about them, but it’s the order in which they occurred.)

Morning Song – Flash Light

(One in a series of songs sampled by C + C Music Factory on their 1991 hit, “Things That Make You Go Hmmm“.)

“Flash Light” was Parliament’s first #1 R & B hit (which, among other things, gives you some idea of how mindblowingly far R & B traveled in the 20 years after Danny And The Juniors topped Billboard’s R & B charts in the beginning of 1958).

Most of all he needs the funk;
Help him find the funk.

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Beauty All Around Me – Pollination In The Concrete Garden

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