Thursday, January 30, 2014

Where Old Kissam Once Stood

Have you wondered what it looks like inside those new residential halls being built on campus where the old Kissam Quadrangle once stood?

Here's a YouTube video Vanderbilt has just posted and I must say these new upper class living quarters (for sophomores, juniors and seniors) are very, very nice and are a great compliment to the freshman Commons built a few years ago on the back side of the Peabody campus...

Now it will be some months yet before these new dorms are in use. I am sure they will look a little different once the students (and the resident faculty members) move in and it's gets that "lived-in" look. But as compared to what we had back in the day in old Kissam or Branscomb or McGill or even the Towers, all I can say is : Get Jealous Early! These are very, very nice!

Of course, our room and board costs (and tuition) were a good bit lower back then, even if we (and/or our parents) thought it was expensive at the time.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Beginning A New Decade

As we brought our lava lamps back to the dorms for the second semester of our freshman year at Vanderbilt in January, 1970, the number one hits of that first month of the new decade reflected our movies and our weather (it seemed to me it rained quite a bit during our winter months at VU). The end of January, 1970 also reflected the beginning of a pop music sensation that only grew in the years to come.

"Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" was a box office sensation at the movies. It also won the Academy Award for Best Original Song. "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head",written by Hal David and Bert Bacharach, was sung by B.J. Thomas on both the silver screen and in the Number One pop hit that topped the Billboard charts for 4 consecutive weeks in January, 1970...the first number one song of the new decade of the '70s. The recording also spent seven weeks on top of the adult contemporary charts!

But the film and record performances were not the same. The screen version, seen and heard at the link below, had a seperate instrumental break where Paul Newman (one of the major stars of the movie) did some bicycle stunts. The movie version of the song is also different because B.J. Thomas recorded it while still recovering from laryngitis which made his voice a bit raspier than in the record version. Listen closely.....

According to Wikipedia (for what it's worth) both Ray Stevens and Bob Dylan were offered the chance to record the song for the film but declined. B.J. Thomas recorded the pop hit here in Nashville, the beginning of so many frequent vists here he told THE TENNESSEAN (January 12, 2014) "We feel like Nashville is our hometown too." One of his most recent trips was for a party to celebrate "Raindrops" being introduced into the Grammy Hall of Fame this year. In 2008, Thomas' recording was ranked the 85th biggest song on Billboard's Top 100 All-Time Top Songs...

On January 31, 1970, B.J. Thomas gave up a month's run at the top of the pop charts for "I Want You Back", the first of four consecutive Number One hits by the Jackson 5 (followed by "ABC", "The Love You Save" and "I'll Be There").  "I Want You Back" was the first Jackson 5 hit released by Motown and spent four weeks of its own as Number One. It's ranked 121st on Rolling Stone's list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and 9th on the magazine's list of 100 Greatest Pop Songs since 1963.....

Of course what the Jackson 5 is best remembered for today is as the lauching pad for its youngest member, Michael Jackson to become the ultimate "King of Pop" whose solo career made him perhaps the most popular entertainer in the world before his untimely death. This is the number one song that began that rise to the top in January, 1970......

As you might expect, "I Want You Back" was inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame back in 1999.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Dr. John Compton Has Passed!

Another of the wonderful professors from our days at Vanderbilt, Dr. John Compton has died.

According to his death notice in today's TENNESESSEAN (January 21), he joined the newly formed Philosophy Department at the University in 1952 and began 46 years of teaching as well as serving as Department Chairman for many years.  I was fortunate enough to have Dr. Compton as my teacher in a couple of classes and I fully agree with his obituary which states that he was "known for his infectious exberance and ability to connect with students."

His wonderful teaching was recognized during his career as he won both the Chancellor's Cup and the Sarratt Prize for excellence in teaching. He assumed professor emeritus status in 1998 but remained active (as he did while teaching)  as a "determined civil rights activist" and "to champion social justice and environmental causes. "

Here is the full obituary which includes the interesting fact that his father (Arthur Holly Compton) was a Nobel Prize winner in Physics.....

Dr. Compton was 85 years old. May he rest in peace.

Friday, January 17, 2014


Vanderbilt's difficult (but fortunately brief) nightmare, in first being deserted by its football coach, then finding a new (and perhaps even better one), is over.

The new coach, hired after less than a week's national search, has a background (Stanford) that should fit very well at VU and allow the program to continue the great succees of the past three seasons (annual bowl games, back-to-back 9-win seasons and end-of-year national rankings).

Welcome, Derek Mason! Onward and Upward! Here are the details from ESPN....

Monday, January 13, 2014

It's Always Darkest Before The Dawn

Following one of the most difficult weeks ever in Vanderbilt athletic history, which included the desertion of our head football coach and the dismissal from the squad of the leading scorer on an already depleted VU men's basketball team, leave it to the Vandy women to provide a much-needed and appreciated lift for  Black & Gold fans.

The Lady Dores's nationally televised (ESPN) upset Sunday afternoon of the #8 Tennessee Lady Vols (74-63)  was the second conquest of the Orange in their last three meetings in Memorial Gym. Is this is perhaps an indication of how this long, one-sided rivalry might be turning in the games and years to come?

Regardless, for Vanderbilt fans nothing sucks like the Big Orange and no victory is sweeter than defeating UT especially in a sport they have dominanted for so many years (even if it's an area of competition that didn't even exist on the varsity level until a few years after we graduated).

Here are the game highlights, which included a crowd of nearly 10,000 fans which was loudly for Vanderbilt especially as the Dores rallied in the second half to prevail.....

Vanderbilt guards Kristina Foggie (seen above) and Jasmine Lister (photo below) sparked the victory over UT with 22 and 21 points respectively. The women's team also defeated Auburn on the road last Thursday making its 21 straight over the Lady Tigers. Lister had 23 points in that win with her work in both games garnering her the SEC's and ESPN's National Player of the Week....

The Vanderbilt women have also vaulted back into the national rankings this week, coming in at #24 in the Associated Press poll and #15 in the all-important RPI numbers (used to some degree for NCAA Tournament seedings). The ESPN poll is due out later in the week while the rest of a rugged SEC regular season still awaits for Vandy. Then comes the post-season with the SEC Tournament and the NCAA Big Dance looming, including the national Final Four being held in downtown Nashville this coming April, just a few short miles from the Vanderbilt campus. What a trip that would be.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Another Record-Setting Season in Football

Behind a record setting performance by Wide Receiver and COMPASS Bowl MVP Jordan Mathews, the Vanderbilt Commodores won their second straight post-season game, tallying 17 unanwered
points in the 4th quarter to defeat the Houston Cougars 41-24 at Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama on Saturday, January 4.

The win was also a school record because it marked the Dores' second consecutive year with 9 wins and its third straight bowl appearance. Here's a writeup and highlights from ESPN which televised the game nationally.....

The game had its highs and lows with the Black & Gold racing out to a 24-0 halftime lead only to see Houston rally to tie the score at 24 going into the fourth quarter, Then Vanderbilt, behind a strong running game and increased defensive pressure added two touchdowns (plus a field goal) and two interceptions to salt the victory away.

All of this puts the Vandy football program in a positive position unseen in modern times (post the early 1900s). In fact it has put the program in a national spotlight with its head coach James Franklin being rumored for almost every major colllege and pro coaching vacncy around....

We should know about Coach Franklin's status one way or another in the next week or so (maybe sooner). Hopefully, it will not be a repeat of the history that began our senior year and occurred again less than two years later.

That's when a young, outgoing, agressive new football coach, Steve Sloan was hired by VU in early 1973. He's energized the program and the fan base, doing so in some ways not seen since Franklin came to Nashville three years ago.

During his two seasons on West End, Sloan sparked the Dores to a 7-3-2 record in 1974 along with only its second bowl berth ever (a 6-6 tie against Texas Tech in the Peach Bowl in Atlanta) before deciding to take the head coaching job with the Rdd Raiders. It was a crushing experience in some ways for the Vanderbilt football program since Sloan at first announced he was staying at Vandy before changing his mind less than 24 hours later (a move he later said he regretted).