Tuesday, May 01, 2007


Some years ago, there was a PBS televsion show starring James Burke, called Connections. Burke would come out, and through a series of fascinating links, show how something like the flying buttress on a medieval castle wall had a direct-through line to the invention of the picture tube in a TV set.

Something like the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon ...

Our younger dog is named "Layla," after the Eric Clapton song. (Actually it was the Derek and the Dominios song, but that's another story.) We've always loved the tune and the name.

If you don't know the story behind it, Clapton wrote Layla for Patti Boyd, who was, at the time, married to his best friend, George Harrison. He had fallen in love with her, but since she was married to Harrison, that was a problem. Supposedly he also wrote Bell Bottom Blues, from the same album, because Patti gave him a pair of flare-leg jeans ...)

Harrison, meanwhile, had written his wife a song: Something (in the Way She Moves) which wound up on the last Beatle album, Abbey Road.

Later, Harrison and his wife divorced, and Clapton and Boyd got together and were married. Whereupon Clapton wrote another song for her, Wonderful Tonight.

I had known about the genesis of Layla for years, but only discovered the other songs connected to Boyd whilst doing some research into the name. My wife and I found some old pictures of Boyd in a Beatle book we have, and were puzzled: She was attractive enough, but wasn't a stunning beauty or anything as a young woman; what was it she had that drew two of the biggest rock 'n' roll artists ever to the point they married her? (She was married to Harrison for eleven years, to Clapton for a decade.)

Actually, both John Lennon and Mick Jagger confessed to having serious crushes on Patti, as well ...

Meanwhile, Patti's sister, Jennifer, was the singer/songerwriter Donvovan's muse, most notably in the song Jennifer Juniper. And she went on to marry Mick Fleetwood ...

Something about the Boyd girls ...

Saturday was my daughter-in-law's birthday, and we went to her house for a barbecue. Her parents, Tim and Angela, were here, visiting from England, and we sat on the new deck my son had built, drinking wine in the cool-but-sunny spring evening and chatting.

The subject of music education for children came up. I allowed as how I had been exposed to the ukulele in junior high, which led the conversation to a British entertainer well-known for playing one of these, George Formby, who died in 1961.

Yes, I'd heard of him. Which led me to speak of George Harrison, who, I had heard from Paul McCartney's onstage patter during one of his concerts, had been a fan of Formby's, and who had amassed a great collection of ukuleles. Harrison had given one of these ukes to Paul and taught him how to play Something on the instrument. Which he then did for the audience.

Which led to Angela -- I'm not sure what that our legal relationship would be -- an in-law once removed? -- telling us that she had gone to school with George Harrison's first wife, Patti. They were classmates and friends.

Which led to me wondering aloud what it was that Patti had that caused so many rock stars to orbit around her. Well, she said, Patti wasn't gorgeous, neither was she the most intellectual of young women. And while Angela, being very circumspect, actually never said aloud what it was, I think I got the gist of it, and it was most likely what I had guessed -- being a man and all ...

Connections. Gotta love 'em.


Anonymous said...

Hi, It is terrible you drink wine. I would never drink alcohol. A grown adult should be WELL PAST the age where they want to consume a mind-altering drug. And alcohol IS a drug. Just because it's legal doesn't make it right. I suppose you think drinking wine is all romantic and cool and sophisticated, right? Figures. My husband and I never drink wine or any other booze.

Cindy said...

Hi, It's me again. I'm sorry, I keep thinking about your blog, how you just mention casually that you were drinking wine, as if this is the most natural thing in the world, all glamorous and sophisticated. It just drives me BONKERS that people drink wine and other booze! Do you realize that alcohol is a toxic chemical that affects every hormone in your body, and poisons cells? It has been linked to cancer and birth defects. And it is a psychoactive drug! You are a grown adult! Why do you feel the need or desire to consume a psychoactive drug??? My husband and I would NEVER drink wine or any other booze! We experimented with alcohol in our younger days in college in the 70s, but we outgrew all that by the time we were 20 or so! Here I write to wineries and breweries and restaurant review shows and travel shows and cooking shows and newspapers and magazines, all who promote and glorify alcohol, and I try to talk some sense into them, trying to help them realize they should not promote and glorify a toxic, psychoactive drug, and then people like you just negate everything I try to do! You drink wine! And you write about it on the World Wide Web, and make it look all romantic and glamorous! What kind of example is THAT to set? I just don't understand why you drink it. I suppose you think drinking wine is all cool and romantic and sophisticated, right? Because that is how the media portrays it. Well it is not! I wrote a paper on why alcohol is unhealthy and unwholesome, and would like to send it to you. Maybe you could use it here in your blog. But I suppose you won't want to read it, right? Because you don't WANT to know why alcohol is unhealthy and unwholesome. You want that good feeling you get from alcohol, so you will justify it in any way you can. It figures. I have heard it all before, all the excuses people give, like "everything in moderation" and "Jesus drank wine." I address all that in my paper. Which I HOPE you will want to read. But I suppose you won't. Anyway, feel free to email me at cindybin46@yahoo.com and I'll send it. Take care, Cindy

Steve Perry said...

Ah ... Cindy --

As most people who know anything about medicine will tell you, often the only difference between a poison and a medication is the amount.

A lot might kill you. A little might cure you.

In the case of wine, especially red wine, medical research has determined that a glass or two a day is more beneficial than harmful -- it helps prevent heart-disease, certain cancers, aids in lowering blood pressure and has all kinds of anti-oxidants which help in scavenging free radicals, which are bad things in your system.

I'm not making this up, there are plenty of studies out there that show it thus. Without any disrespect to your paper on the subject, if you had evidence that ran to the contrary, I expect it would have been all over the news. I don't recall seeing it.

If you and your husand choose not to drink wine, that's your business, and I wouldn't encourage you in that direction. (Probably not a good idea for people who are alcoholics, either.)

But for me, it is the most natural thing in the world, and insoar as psychoactive drugs? Wine would be the least of these I have had experiences with.

I might go at any time, of course, but I don't think a glass or two of wine is going to kill me; more, it might help me live longer. The evidence certainly points that way.

You are entitled to your opinion, of course. But your opinion and hard evidence carries a bit more weight.

Bobbe Edmonds said...

Ummm...I was gonna post a bit about how "Wonderful Tonight" has a line "We go to a party...Everyone is turning thier heads to see"

The story being they were saying "Isn't that George Harrison's WIFE??"

But, what's going on with Cindy? Is she a friend of yours? Or did a raving psychotic somehow attach herself to your underbelly like a remora?

Cindy, you speak as if you are talking to ("Lecturing" is more correct) a group of teenagers. Idiot teenagers at that.

It's great that you and your husband don't drink. I myself never drank at ALL, even as a teenager, until I was 34, at which point my taste in some things changed. Now I enjoy alcohol in various forms (Scotch, Beer, Wine, Rum, Absinthe) and in moderation. It doesn't have anything to do with "Sophistication" or "Romance" as you put it. IT TASTES GOOD TO ME. And...Yes, I DO enjoy the toxicity of the drink, it gives me a warm buzzy feeling.

The reasons you list for abstinence are...Paltry, at best. You can get that same toxic environment from other sources without trying (i.e. living in L.A.) Now, if you overdo it, and wind up in the grip of alcoholism, then YES, IT IS BAD FOR YOU. But you could say that about anything! Why don't you lecture on Steve's proliferation of violence in his books, aimed at young people? And what about the guns he writes about, also all over this blog? Also, I don't think he's Catholic, shouldn't we hang him for that? And isn't he friends with some Blacks, Muslims, Asians, etc? What, is he trying to glorify the "Other Than White" crowd? Why not point these things out as well?

You sound suspiciously like someone who has in some way been affected by alcoholism in your family, and perhaps a bit preachy-self righteous as well. I don't give a rap if Jesus drank wine or not, I LIKE it, ergo I shall CONSUME it. People with no self-discipline or control should stay the hell away from it...Perhaps you should alter your rant to focus on the virtues of moderation and understanding the world around you. Because Steve's right: Studies (VERIFIABLE ones) are more for his argument than yours.

And to be honest, I've met my fair share of people who could use a stiff drink. Or a whack upside the head. Sometimes both.

Unfortunately, you chose to shoot at people who are well armed with information of thier own, and it trumps your unfounded ramblings.

Next time, try picking on someone still in high school, they seem to be more your speed.