The phoenix has risen!

We left Ashton, ID at 7 AM with Grand Teton looming in the distance. It continued to loom in the distance for much of the morning. For a while we aimed straight for it, then turned to parallel the range as we head for Teton Pass. The sky was clear but dark clouds loomed over the pass. They seemed to funnel forebodingly toward the pass.

Grand Teton. We’ll be closer next week.

As we approached it turned blustery and the headwind made it seem that we had started climbing miles before the actual climb, though we did gain elevation steadily throughout the day.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the day. This was decision day. If I rode the whole day and cleared the pass, I would cancel my flight home tomorrow. If I was not able to make it, I might be outta here. A staff member (also COVID+) assured me that I could be picked up at the last water stop before the climb if I wasn’t “feeling it”. Before that, the COVID bus rule was “once you’re out, you’re out. We don’t have time to come back for you and you can’t get in the other sag wagons.” This became the day’s mantra:

The entire song was apropos, but the key was “Every time that wheel turn round/Bound to cover just a little more ground.”

At home we have some rides that I call “big ring rides”. The route is flat enough that I can stay in the big chainring using the higher gears. The past three days I’ve kept myself in the small ring, limiting my speed so I would recover and not get weaker. I only allowed myself into the big ring on descents, then back to the small ring as soon as the road leveled out. Today was a small ring ride until we cleared the pass. To celebrate I stayed in the big ring until the turnoff to the Teton Science Center.

After our picnic the climb began. It starts gradually, with some flat(ter) sections, then becomes gradually steeper as you go. The dark and heavy clouds began to leak a bit. As long as it was a few drops, it would just keep us cool. If it turned into actual rain, I had a jacket in reserve, since I needed a jacket and full finger gloves in the morning. The sky gradually cleared. When it got steep, the sun came out fully. Instead of a chill, it was now hot. I stopped at every paved turnout (eschewing the gravel ones) for photo ops, water, and rest breaks. By the last one I had to pour water on my head to stay cool. Other than a few coughing breaks, I fared well. It was definitely a slower ascent than 4 years ago, but it was an ascent.

Somehow our cue sheet said we hadn’t yet reached the 10% grade, but looky here. If the past two miles were 10% what’s the steep section ahead?! Seems that happened 4 years ago as well. Fool me once…
If proof is needed, here it is. Your blogger at Teton Pass.
In Jackson Hole, Grand Teton still waiting.

The descent was exhilarating. A couple of times I went into turnouts to allow cars to pass but, for the most part, I stayed with traffic (which was very light). Unlike 2018, the winds were not swirling and the bike felt stable at all times. In the valley, a shot of espresso was waiting, courtesy of my former co-workers. Aside to you: I think of you every time I swipe that gift card. I hope you’re having half as much fun as I am. Thanks again!

There is no cell service here at Teton Science Center, but we were granted wi-fi access. Once we had access, I canceled my flight home tomorrow. I’m back! I think my eyes got wet as I made my way through the valley.

Blue-eyed Soul

My friend Angie in Ireland (corrected from original) is a fan/student/blogger of classic rock. I’m just an old guy who was around then. If I could, I’d just send her my ideas and get her to research/write them; but I’m home from work early on a rainy day and this came to me on the ride home.

Homage/cultural appropriation/minstrelsy is a topic/continuum I won’t tackle here. Angie touched on it while writing about Led Zeppelin and others, Craig Werner delves into it in A Change is Gonna Come: Music, Race, and the Soul of America. The New York Times Magazine’s 1619 Project published Wesley Morris’ essay on the topic. The Berklee School of Music offers a course on the topic. Some artists (e.g. The Beatles) openly acknowledged their sources and inspirations, others (e.g. Led Zeppelin) did not. Willie Dixon is credited with writing hundreds of songs, including some that Led Zeppelin stole. Dixon himself has been accused of putting his name on the songs of others. Picasso is credited with saying “good artists copy; great artists steal.”

Sometimes a great song (Willie Mae Thornton’s “Hound Dog”) gets turned into a novelty (Elvis Presley’s version) – though both versions were written by the white writers Leiber & Stoller, who weren’t afraid of a novelty tune. (They wrote “Poison Ivy”, “Yakety Yak”, “Love Potion #9”, and “Charlie Brown”. “Poison Ivy” isn’t so much a novelty tune as a warning about what might befall you if you”feed” that hound dog snooping around your door. )

Actual soul music would take a book, not a blog post. David Bowie referred to his music as “plastic soul”, but that didn’t stop him from making money from it. As for me, I just want a reason to listen to some old music on a rainy day.

Originally a BeeGees song; can’t get much whiter than that.
Steve Winwood when he was still “Stevie” as a teenager
While The Grateful Dead always mixed originals and covers, The Jerry Garcia Band gave Jerry an outlet for more covers, and he tended toward soul/R&B, having other bands to indulge other aspects of his roots and influences.
She wrote the song for Aretha and later sang it herself. A lot of R&B was written by white writers for black artists (e.g. Goffin & King, Leiber & Stoller, Mann & Weill), which makes the whole issue a bit more complex than just the simple notion of white singers stealing from black artists. Note that the teams that were mixed gender list the man first.
A cover of The Supremes hit
Delaney and Bonnie were better known for their “Friends”. They had quite a group of friends. You can find them playing with Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Duane Allman, and many others. Check out Bonnie Bramlett and Tracy Nelson duets some time.
with the famously mis-heard lyric “You and me endlessly groovin'”, heard as “You and me and Leslie…” by folks who thought it was about a threesome. This video lacks their early gimmick of costumes from the Little Rascals TV show. (Now that could be another post, Angie – costumed bands, like Paul Revere and the Raiders.)
Tracy Nelson vocal, Michael Bloomfield guitar, song by Memphis Slim. (I can’t find an online version of her singing “Time is on my side”, which is what I wanted to post. I have it on cassette, which is hard to upload.)
featuring Dave Mason, the “other” singer in Traffic
1945 tune by Buddy Johnson
Like Traffic, more than one of them could sing lead.
From Charles Brown’s “I Want to Go Home”, to Sam Cooke’s “Bring it on Home to Me”, to Van the Man, still going strong on this recording 53 years after his first charted single.
Where Blue-eyed Soul started for a lot of us. Two great voices and The Wall of Sound.

I’m a bike rider, not a music writer. This is not meant to be definitive, but it got me through a rainy afternoon.

The tyranny of numbers

My first Wednesday Night Bike Ride of the season is over. I can’t tell you how fast I rode, or how many watts I produced, or my maximum heart rate, or anything else you datameisters like to measure.

I can tell you I had fun, but I can’t quantify that. I can tell you that my heart and respiratory rates remained non-zero. I can tell you I rode enough miles to get back to where I started, and fast enough not to fall over. I can tell you that the winter wheat is bright green and makes a nice contrast with the pale spring greens of the tree blossoms. I guess that’s bad news to those who are allergic to tree pollens, but I’m not. It felt good to get out of town and on the road again.