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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

November 26, 1981

Today's Tuesday Timeline is brought to you by an artist whom you may or may not know, but whose songs are quite memorable...and today, I'll be posting a couple of them within this blog.  Part of the reason for this is because the songs have a great message to them that are worthy of discussion.  I'll get to the second reason at the very end.

For now though, let's go ahead with the Tuesday Timeline as it was planned and go ahead with the discussion of the historical significance of November 26 throughout the centuries.

Are you ready?  Let's go.

1703 - At least nine thousand people lose their lives during the Great Storm of 1703 in Great Britain

1778 - Captain James Cook becomes the first European to visit the Hawaiian island of Maui

1789 - President George Washington gets Congress approval to pass the national holiday known as Thanksgiving

1825 - The first college social fraternity - Kappa Alpha Society - is established at Schenectady's Union College

1842 - The University of Notre Dame is established

1863 - President Lincoln proclaims that the American Thanksgiving be celebrated on the final Thursday in November (changed to the fourth Thursday of November in 1941)

1917 - The National Hockey League (NHL) is established

1922 - Peanuts cartoonist Charles M. Schulz (d. 2000) is born in Minneapolis, Minnesota

1927 - Ernie Coombs (d. 2001) - better known by his stage name of Mr. Dressup - is born in Lewiston, Maine

1943 - HMT Rohna is sunk by the Luftwaffe in an air attack in the Mediterranean

1944 - 168 people are killed in a Woolworth's store in the UK after a German V-2 rocket careens into the store

1956 - Band leader Tommy Dorsey (b. 1905) dies in his sleep at the age of 51

1968 - Helicopter pilot James P. Fleming rescues an Army Special Forces unit pinned down by Viet Cong fire during the Vietnam War

1977 - An unidentified hijacker going by the name Vrillon takes over a television station in Britain for just over six minutes 

1986 - Ronald Reagan announces the members of the group that would be known as the Tower Commission

2000 - George W. Bush is certified the winner of Florida's electoral votes and goes ahead to win the election, assuming power in January 2001

2003 - The Concorde makes its final flight over Bristol, England

2005 - Stan Berenstain, author of many Berenstain Bear books, dies at the age of 82

2008 - A series of bombing and shooting attacks in Mumbai, India kicks off and lasts over a period of three days, killing 166 people and injuring nine hundred more

The following celebrities were also born on November 26, and I wanted to wish the following people a happy birthday.  Happy birthday to Rich Little, Tina Turner, Olivia Cole, Daniel Davis, John McVie, Michael Omartian, Susanne Zenor, Marianne Muellerleile, Dale Jarrett, Jerry Schemmel, Marcy Walker, Garcelle Beauvais, Vicki Pettersson, Christopher Fitzgerald, Peter Facinelli, Tammy Lynn Michaels, B.J. Averell, Chris Hughes, and Rita Ora.

Oh, and there's one more person who we have to wish a happy birthday to.  And, as it so happens, she was born the same year I was.

This makes our Tuesday Timeline date November 26, 1981.

Now, on this date in pop culture history, a lot was going on.  The movie "Ragtime" was playing in movie theatres, audiences were adjusting to life without Suzanne Somers on "Three's Company", and the number one song on the Billboard charts was Olivia Newton-John's "Physical".

But it was also on this date that another British-born artist was born.  The place was Sussex, England.  The date was November 26, 1981, and the parents were New Zealand born John and Molly Bedingfield.  On that date, Molly gave birth to a baby girl - one of four children born to the Bedingfields.  And, I imagine that of those four siblings, you've heard of at least three of them.

Of course, some of you might vaguely remember Daniel Bedingfield.  He had at least three hits charting in America which include "James Dean (I Wanna Know)", "Gotta Get Through This", and "If You're Not The One", all of which charted between 2001 and 2003.  But he was born in 1979 and I've already deduced that the Tuesday Timeline topic would focus on a female artist.  So, he's out for now.

Perhaps we could be talking about Nicola Bedingfield.  She did join a band with two of her siblings called the DNA Algorithm (Daniel was another member), and had a couple of solo singles overseas...but her date of birth is 1986, so that kind of eliminates her from contention.

And, Joshua Bedingfield is the only Bedingfield sibling to not enter the music business, so he's out too.

Which leads us to the fourth and final Bedingfield child in the spotlight.  The third member of the DNA Algorithm.  And, who could be considered the most successful Bedingfield of the bunch - well, musically speaking anyway.

And today is Natasha Bedingfield's thirty-second birthday!

I'm going to be honest with you all.  I really enjoy Natasha Bedingfield's music.  Although I've more or less shunned Top 40 charts for the last ten years or so, I have to admit that Natasha's songs are some of the rare gems of the decade known as the 2000s.  And, I think a part of the reason why I enjoy her stuff so much is because it comes from the heart.  I also think that a lot of the lyrics of the songs she writes sort of fit in with where I am with things in my own life right now.  In fact, I'm going to state right now that a lot of what she sings makes so much sense that I almost think that I could sing them myself!

(Don't worry.  I won't though.  Natasha has a far superior singing voice in comparison to me.  Then again, I think that Milli Vanilli could have sang better back in the 1990s than I can sing in present day 2013.)

So, anyway, as far as Natasha's early childhood goes, it was largely uneventful.  Like many musical artists that started out, Natasha's love of music was greatly influenced by her parents, who enrolled her in guitar and piano lessons.  And when Natasha was a teenager in the late 1990s, she, Daniel, and Nikola formed the DNA Algorithm, a band that combined contemporary Christian music with a dance pop beat!

(I'm sure that sounds a lot better than what I just least I'm hoping so.)

Of course, there's one positive that Natasha Bedingfield got out of performing in the group.  A lot of the band's compositions dealt with the themes of empowerment, independence, and learning about yourself.  And, wouldn't you know it?  All those themes would appear prominently in all of Natasha's future solo projects.

Those solo projects, by the way, began as demos in the garages of her friends.  During the late 1990s and early 2000s, Natasha tried to get a recording contract to sign her.  At the time, older brother Daniel had already seen chart success, and Natasha really wanted to follow in her brother's footsteps.

As luck would have it, she was discovered in 2003 by Phonogenic Records founder Paul Lisberg.  And would you believe that Lisberg was initially dismissive of Natasha's vocal chops, believing that she was not the right fit for the record company.

His mind was quickly changed when Lisberg heard Natasha sing - ad-libbing lyrics along the way as she moved through the song.  That summer, Natasha signed on with BMG UK & Ireland via Phonogenic.  One year later, her debut solo album, "Unwritten" was released.  Upon its release in September 2004, the singles "Single" and "These Words" did quite well in the United Kingdom (the latter also charting in the United States and Canada).  But it would be the album's title track and third single that really cemented Natasha Bedingfield's spot as one of 2004's greatest discoveries.

ARTIST:  Natasha Bedingfield
SONG:  Unwritten
ALBUM:  Unwritten
DATE RELEASED:  November 29, 2004

TRIVIA:  There were actually two music videos filmed for this single.  One was meant for the UK market, the other one filmed for North America.  The version above is the North American one.

I would say that "Unwritten" could very well be Natasha Bedingfield's signature song.  It seems hard to believe that the single was released nine years ago!  Though the song only peaked at #5 in the United States, the single was enormously popular, selling a total of over 2.7 million copies overall.  And, here's a rather interesting statistic.  Did you know that "Unwritten" was declared the most played song on American 2006?!?  

Just let that sink in for a bit.  The song was released in late 2004.  By 2006, it was the most played song on American radio.  If that doesn't constitute a hit, then I don't know what does!  She was even nominated for a Grammy Award for this single, but lost to Christina Aguilera.

But all in all, it remains Bedingfield's most successful song in North America.  And what a song it was.

If you listen closely to the lyrics, it talks about how everybody's life is like a story that still has yet to be written.  It's a nice idea to think about.  I mean, I guess you could look at this blog as an ever continuing story, similar to that of a plotline on "The Young and the Restless".  It keeps going and going, the pages still being written as of today.  As of right now, I'm still creating chapters in the book of life, and pages that were once unwritten are still being crafted each day.  

I mean, the lyrics of the song are just so incredibly beautiful and poetic.  "Feel the rain on your skin, no one else can feel it for you, only you can let it in."  Isn't that just so true about life in general?

After all, the only ones who know our lives best is us ourselves.  Why waste time lamenting about the life we wish we could have when we could be out enjoying life right now?

It's a question that I've asked myself as I grew from child to adult.  Hell, it's a question that I STILL ask myself every now and then.  I mean, I suppose I could say that life is fine right now, and in many ways, it is.  I know that there is always room for improvement though, and certainly anyone who is reading this right now is probably feeling the same way.  But when I look back on how I used to be, I certainly didn't have the same feelings about my unwritten book as I do now.  When I look at the future pages of my unwritten story, I have feelings of hope.  Five years earlier, my story was likely on route to becoming a bleak, gothic tale of woe and self-pity.  

But, why the change in emotion?  What happened over the last five years that caused me to shift my focus and start looking at life in a more positive manner?

Well, I think this second song by Natasha Bedingfield best illustrates those feelings.

ARTIST:  Natasha Bedingfield
SONG:  Pocketful of Sunshine
ALBUM:  Pocketful of Sunshine/N.B.
DATE RELEASED:  January 15, 2008

NOTE:  The song "Pocketful of Sunshine" appeared on two different albums.  Although the albums mostly contained the same songs, the "Pocketful of Sunshine" album was the North American title.  The UK release was named N.B. - the initials of Natasha Bedingfield.  

This song happens to be Natasha's favourite (and one of mine too), because its absolute message is all about escaping your troubles and finding the courage to live your life on your own terms.  

Sound familiar?  I know it does to me.  

Look, I'm not going to sugarcoat it.  I lived a life of self-preservation.  I hid from the world because I thought it to be a cruel place where people harassed and knocked people down if they were weak.  Believe me, at my lowest point, I felt extremely weak and cowardly.  Afraid to face the world and the people in it for fear that I would get hurt.  It's why I kept to myself.  It's why I refused to let people get too close.  It's why I never did any social events at all.  I didn't want to face those people because I was afraid of them.

What a difference a half decade makes, doesn't it?

You see...this photo was taken at a holiday party that I attended a couple of days ago.  As you can tell, it was taken in one of those photo booths that you might see at a shopping mall plaza or a funfair.  Now, the old me wouldn't have had a couple of people willing to look goofy with them in the booth.  The old me wouldn't have even gone inside the booth.  Hell, the old me would have skipped out of the party altogether to stay home to rearrange my sock and underwear drawer.

Not exactly the kind of activity that people envy.  

The very fact that I even went to the party at all and had a good may seem like nothing out of the ordinary for any of you, but for me, it was a real victory.  I was afraid to do social events because I had this distorted view of the world (and myself).  But knowing that I was at a party with some of the best friends that I have ever known and met in my whole life so's made me realize that the pocketful of sunshine that Natasha sang about in that music video...I had it all along.  I was just wearing too much sunblock of shame to really take it all in and do the things that other people take for granted.

It was a good time to be had by all, and I'm so happy that I found the courage to do it.  But then, they were there for me when I was sick and recovering from surgery.  They supported me when I made the decision to drop some pounds to get healthier (which unfortunately I gained some back as a direct result of above surgery_, but I can do it again if I put my mind to it.  And, I'm sure that all of us will be supporting each other later today when we bid a fond farewell to the friend who unexpectedly passed away last week.  

But I suppose if there's one thing that I can take from all those experiences - as well as from the lyrics of our birthday girl, Natasha Bedingfield - it's that life is far too short to have a book that is filled with mostly blank pages with nothing of substance on the written pages.  We have control of the ball point pen that will get us through the rest of our story.  It's up to us to write it.

The writer's block that invaded my subconscious as a direct result of abysmal self-esteem is chipping away more and more.  I have a lot of pages to account for.  Better start now while I still have some ink in the pen left to write with.

So, with that, I put away this pen.  Thank you, Natasha Bedingfield...for giving us your songs.  Songs that certainly have made me think a lot about life in general.

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