Classic Southern Gospel Music

My alltime favorite Gospel singer-songwriter-performer is without doubt the Reverend James Cleveland. He may not have been the best singer ever, nor the best pianist, nor the best arranger . . . but he was pretty darn good at all three things, had character to burn, and his music moves me in ways that few other performers do.

About 12 years ago, I was thrilled to visit one of those “overstock” music stores, where they sell tapes and CDs and (once upon a time) vinyl records at ridiculously low prices, and to discover a whole box of Reverend Cleveland’s classic old Savoy Records albums on cassette, I think being sold for 99 cents a piece. I picked up one of everyone they had, and there are some amazing, incredible performances on some of them. My favorite: Rev. James Cleveland Sings Songs of Dedication.

His CD catalog is not quite as broad, alas, although I just found a couple of his records online for download (legally, money exchanged), and have happily dumped them on my machine, glad to hear him doing his thing in all the amazing ways that he did it. Unfortunately, though, most of what seems to be available on CD is the more polished, orchestral sorts of material, and the same cuts appear on a variety of greatest hits compilations, over and over again. But Reverend Cleveland’s best work is his grittier stuff, where it’s just his voice, loads of wheezing church organ (Billy Preston played with him for a while, before he started playing with the Beatles and the Stones), maybe a snare drum, maybe a piano, and a mass choir accenting the choruses.

If you like classic Southern Gospel Music, then Reverend James Cleveland is a must-listen. And if you don’t like it, then Reverend James Cleveland might make you change your mind. Give him a chance. He’s good, good, good.

Space Nerd Are I

Had a great International Space Station viewing tonight, which was surprising because it was kinda cloudy out. I actually got Marcia and Katelin to come out and see it during its pass over us, almost 90 degrees altitude at its highest point (from our viewing perspective), then passing into the southeast and fading out as it moved into the Earth’s shadow and was no longer lit by the Sun, with a waxing moon just beyond its blink-out point. We have another good overhead pass due Saturday night, then a long dry spell here.

40 Pounds for the 40-Something

210 pounds was definitely the first “plateau” point where the weight loss paused for a few days, regardless of what I did or didn’t eat or do. Breakthrough finally occurred: I weighed 208 this afternoon. That’s 19 pounds lost in 24 days, 21 pounds to go in 68 days. One pound to go to the half-way point, weight-wise, and 22 days to go from the mid-point, time-wise. That’s still about five ounces a day to go, just over two pounds a week for almost seven more weeks.

It’s getting harder. My body is definitely shifting gears into an energy conserving mode. It’s easier to sit still and do nothing for longer periods of time, and I find I move slower and with more purpose than I did when I was eating 3000 calories or more a day. Living on one third of that, max, you learn to appreciate every bite of food you take much more. Each taste is to be relished and enjoyed. I find I’m more picky about what I eat, too . . . it has to be exactly the thing I want, because I don’t want to waste calories on something that I don’t really, really have a hankering for.

My mom sent a “fall fun” package for us this week that contained, among other things, two bags of boiled peanuts. Such decadence . . . 660 calories per package, but worth every one of them. That was my main meal of the day. It was a good one.

It’s easier, by the by, to diet that way, where you just set a calorie level and live with it, but eat whatever you want within that calorie level. I’m not eating any dull, same dishes every day diets. Some days I get most of my calories from carbs. Some days from protein. Some days (like today, boiled peanut day) from fats. The bottom line is: if you use more calories than you consume, you will lose weight. Period. No fads required, no foods banned, no boring, repetitive fare. That’s my theory, anyway. And it has always worked for me . . . and hopefully will continue to do so with my forty-something metabolism.

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