My 2021 #atozchallenge Theme

For the past few years, I’ve used themes for the A to Z Challenge that involve words roughly chosen at random based on a given pattern, e.g. portmanteaus, eight-letter words, words that start and end with the same letter, etc. I even had one year where I simply said I wasn’t going with a theme, which was kind of like trick-or-treating in your street clothes.

This year, though, I wanted to do something different. I thought about using stock symbols and writing a little bit about the companies behind them, but I thought better of it. I was worried that people (that’s you) would take one look and move on to the next blog. Then I had an idea that I thought might work…

On of my regular features on The Sound of One Hand Typing is Top Ten Tuesday, which used to be The Friday 5×2. The idea is that I go out to an archive of radio station surveys such as Oldiesloon or The Airheads Radio Survey Archive, select a survey on that day in some past year, and re-create the station’s Top Ten with videos on YouTube, which I then share for your entertainment.

What I decided to do was to select a random survey from a North American radio station every day in April (except for Sundays, of course) and build its Top Ten list. Radio stations here are assigned a three- or four-letter callsign: the first letter for stations in the US is W or K (generally east or west of the Mississippi River, respectively); in Canada, the first letter is C; and in Mexico, the letter is X (and the callsigns are five letters long). The second letter of the callsign will be the letter of the day according to the official A to Z Challenge calendar.

There will be a couple of exceptions to this rule: I’ve selected a Japanese radio station (whose callsign starts with a J), and one of the offshore radio stations in Europe (Radio Veronica, off the Dutch coast at Hilversum).

I will do my best to hold to the format that I use on Top Ten Tuesday, including some remarks on the song, although they might be abbreviated. Also, the dates I choose might not be in April, to simplify things a little.

So there you have it: my theme for the 2021 A to Z Challenge. Hope to see you all there! Don’t forget to enter your theme on the official form and be sure to get a copy of the final spreadsheet after registration closes on March 20.

Monday’s Music Moves Me: Introducing Paola Hermosín

Paola Hermosín. Source:

This young lady knocks me out. An incredible guitarist, wonderful singer, and very talented young woman, Paola Hermosín is from Seville in Spain. The biography on her YouTube channel tells us (as translated by Google Translate):

Paola Hermosín (1995) is a guitarist, singer and composer from Alcala (Seville) who began her musical guitar studies at the García Matos Elementary Conservatory of Alcalá de Guadaíra at the age of 8. She continued at the Francisco Guerrero Professional Conservatory of Seville, obtaining an Honorary Award and finished at the Manuel Castillo Superior Conservatory of Seville with an Honorary Degree and End of Degree Award. She combined her musical studies with the Degree in Primary Education with a Musical Mention, ending with a brilliant record, so she also dedicates herself to teaching. In 2019, she finished the Master in Flamenco Research and Analysis with the best grades and makes her music known through concerts and social networks such as YouTube, Instagram or Facebook, as well as sells her guitar arrangements and original compositions on her website.

She has quite a few videos on her YouTube channel. I chose ten of my favorites. She explains on most of these what she’s playing and some of the history behind the piece and some notes about technique. Be sure to turn on subtitles unless you speak Spanish, and even then it might not be a bad idea.

  1. Cuando sabes que estás soñando (When you know you’re dreaming) – An original composition.
  2. "Bohemian Rhapsody" – Yes, she arranged Queen’s song for solo guitar. She does a little shredding on electric guitar at the end of the video.
  3. "The Four Seasons" by Vivaldi: Spring I. Allegro – An orchestral piece she arranged.
  4. Tico-Tico No Fubá – A Brazilian choro (which she explains before playing it) written by Zequinha de Abreu in 1917.
  5. Capricho Arabe by Francisco Tarrega – Tarrega is often called "the father of classical guitar." Some beautiful photography in this.
  6. Mas, que nada! – Jorge Ben’s bossa nova piece that’s been covered by Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66 and The Black-Eyed Peas. Paola sings this and plays a solo in the middle of the song, which you see on an inset.
  7. La vie en rose – Edith Piaf’s classic song. Paola sings both the French and the Spanish lyrics here.
  8. "Harry Potter" – She arranged John Williams’s opening theme to the Harry Potter movies for solo guitar.
  9. "Skye Boat Song" – A traditional Scottish song (I played it on the bagpipes) that was used in the movie Outlander. She sings in English very well, as you’ll hear.
  10. "On The Sunny Side Of The Street" – Yes, she plays ukulele, too. The song was written in 1930 by Jimmy McHugh with lyrics by Dorothy Fields.

I hope you’ll look for Paola on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Spotify as well as YouTube. That’s Monday’s Music Moves Me for March 8, 2021.

Monday’s Music Moves Me is sponsored by X-Mas Dolly, Cathy, Alana, and Stacy, so be sure and visit them, where you can also find the Linky for the other participants.

Song of the Day: The Monkees, “I’m A Believer”

Happy 76th birthday to Micky Dolenz, singer, drummer, and member of the "Prefab Four," who along with Peter Tork, Davy Jones, and Michael Nesmith starred in the 1966-68 music and comedy series The Monkees. As the members got more comfortable in their roles, they turned into an actual rock band, even writing their own songs and playing their own instruments. "I’m A Believer" was written by Neil Diamond (yes, that one) and was recorded in 1966 as one A side, the other side being "Stepping Stone." We went on a ski weekend (where we didn’t ski) shortly after my father died, and the restaurant attached to the hotel had that single in its jukebox, and between the three Holton boys we played the grooves off of it. It reached #1 at the end of December 1966 and stayed there for seven weeks.

Song Lyric Sunday II: Jimmy Gilmer & The Fireballs, “Sugar Shack”

Seems that most of us (or a good number, anyway) had the same bright idea for today’s Song Lyric Sunday, the great standard "Java Jive." I went out this afternoon and looked at YouTube, and before I got too far this song popped into my head…

Thus spake Wikipedia:

"Sugar Shack" is a song written in 1962 by Keith McCormack. McCormack gave songwriting credit to his aunt, Faye Voss, after asking what are "those tight pants that girls wear" to which she replied "leotards". The song was recorded in 1963 by Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs at Norman Petty Studios in Clovis, New Mexico. The unusual and distinctive organ part was played by Petty on a Hammond Solovox, Model J. The original instrument is on display at the Norman Petty Studios today.

"Sugar Shack" hit No. 1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 (where it spent five weeks from October 12 to November 9, 1963) and Cashbox singles charts (where it spent three weeks from October 19 to November 2, 1963). It ended up being Billboard’s number 1 song of 1963. ("Surfin’ U.S.A." was originally listed as the number 1 song of the year, but later lists place "Sugar Shack" at number one). Its run on the Billboard R&B chart was cut short because Billboard ceased publishing an R&B chart from November 30, 1963 to January 23, 1965. "Sugar Shack" has the distinction of being the last single to make it to No. 1 on the Billboard R&B chart because Billboard did not publish an R&B chart for fourteen months. In Canada the song was No. 1, also for five weeks, from October 14 to November 11. On November 29, 1963, the song received RIAA certification for selling over a million copies, earning gold record status. In the UK, "Sugar Shack" also reached No. 45 on the Record Retailer chart. Gilmer and The Fireballs were the last American band to chart before Beatlemania hit.

The lyrics, from

There’s a crazy little shack beyond the tracks
And ev’rybody calls it the sugar shack
Well, it’s just a coffeehouse and it’s made out of wood
Expresso coffee tastes mighty good
That’s not the reason why I’ve got to get back
To that sugar shack, whoa baby
To that sugar shack.

There’s this cute little girlie, she’s a’workin’ there
A black leotard and her feet are bare
I’m gonna drink a lotta coffee, spend a little cash
Make that girl love me when I put on some trash
You can understand why I’ve got to get back
To that sugar shack, whoa baby
To that sugar shack, yeah honey
To that sugar shack, whoa yes

To that sugar shack.

Now that sugar shack queen is a’married to me, yeah yeah
We just sit around and dream of those old memories
Ah, but one of these days I’m gonna lay down tracks
In the direction of that sugar shack
Just me and her yes we’re gonna go back
To that sugar shack,
Whoa uh oh
To that sugar shack, yeah honey
To our sugar shack

Yeh, yeh, yeh, our sugar shack

One day, I guess the world will figure out it’s espresso, not expresso, but anyway… That’s Song Lyric Sunday, Part 2, for March 7, 2021.