The Only Living Gal in the 70’s

Honda is using the Simon and Garfunkel song THE ONLY LIVING BOY IN NEW YORK in one of their commercials. I think it is so awesome when a company picks an old song like that. When I first saw the commercial it stopped me in my tracks. I was like, “I know that song – what the heck is it?” And after running it through in my head a few times, I figured it out.

Of course, then I had to download my S&G 4 CD box set. Previously, I had only downloaded a few of their songs onto my iTunes. You know how it is (maybe) – you want to put the new songs on your iPod and show how cool and current you are with today’s music – especially when your kids are going to peruse your playlist. Right?

It takes something like Honda’s commercial to jolt me back to the music I loved when I was growing up. Once I get started with a tune in my head like THE ONY LIVING BOY IN NEW YORK it is only a matter of time before I’m reliving the days when I used to listen endlessly to groups like S&G, The Beatles, Elton John, Neil Young, The Rolling Stones, Boston, Cat Stevens, and all those other wonderful artists. Oh, for the old days of putting an LP on the record player, flopping into my yellow beanbag chair, gazing endlessly at my yellow and orange bedroom walls, burning incense, and singing along ‘til I was exhausted. Where have those days gone? If I tried doing half of those things today, would it feel the same as it did back then?

Sounds like a good segue to songwriting itself. Come on, people – pull out your guitars or pianos or whatever and start writing a song about the old days and reliving them through music. Pump yourselves up – put on some great old tunes and remember what you were doing when you first heard them. Put yourself into the song and then let yourself out and then start writing that song!

Yeah, man … cool! Maybe I’m THE ONLY LIVING GAL IN THE 70’S!

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David Rakoff, You’re a Hoot! (Part 1)

"Half Empty"

"Half Empty"

I’m reading the book, HALF EMPTY, by David Rakoff.  Oh, it is so funny in a life-as-we’ve-all-experienced-it-at-some-point kind of way.  I’m not even half-way through it, but I just had to write these thoughts down.

First, let me say that if you become inclined to read it, consider purchasing the audio version of the book.  The author narrates the book, and I truly believe there is no one on the face of the earth who can do a better job of reading this book out loud.  His inflections, the subtleties of his words and the meanings behind his words make this even more enjoyable that reading the print version.

Sometimes insightful, sometimes outrageously funny, sometimes saying out loud the things we think but often don’t say – Mr. Rakoff weaves satire and honesty with personal experiences and the hopes and dreams of life that we all have (and are sometimes afraid to admit).

Well … I’ve got to go and read some more …

You can check out the book here.

What More can I Say (or Sing)?

I love music.  Most genres (rock, classic rock, alternative, bluegrass, folk, classical, new age, some country), not all – although I’m not so closed-minded as to not listen to something if it’s striking in any way.  I admit I used to be one of those who just said no to hip-hop and rap, but then one of the results of having a child (if you’re anything like me) is that you listen to what your son or daughter listens to.  And that can change your mind if you’re open to listening, if just for one or two songs.

I remember growing up with the music of The Beatles and how my parents (especially my dad) tried desperately to keep my sister and me from listening to them.  Luckily, my uncle (only four years older than me) would play Beatles and Rolling Stones until the LPs and 45s (yes, LPs and 45s) would, I assumed, get scratched and unplayable.  I understand what my parents went through because I almost fell into the same trap – I wanted to keep my son from listening to what I categorized as “not worth listening to.”   But do you find that if kids what to do something they will, no matter what their parents say?  Well, one day I found myself listening to my son’s music and thinking, “hmm … that’s not really so bad.”

I admit that sometimes I can find messages in music I would have ignored years ago.  Eminem is a prime example.  My pre-teen son was adamant about listening to him, and at first I blocked the music out, but slowly, I started listening to the words.  Read that again – to the words.  Maybe you don’t particularly enjoy the type of music others do, but sometimes you might find that there really is a message behind the “noise.”

Of course, some people like rap but hate bluegrass.  Or like country and despise heavy metal.  But if you can open your mind for even one or two songs, a new dimension of the music may find its way into your mind.

So why the theme of music for this blog?  Well, last Saturday night I was at Birdie’s Café in Westminster waiting for Transcendent Third to take the stage.  Okay, it’s more a corner of the room than a stage, but all the same … in my opinion, T3 is really, really good.  Check out their website if you’re so inclined (www.t3music.com).  What makes them good?  They write their own music; they play multiple instruments (guitar, violin, bass); their lyrics are insightful; and just as important – they know how to connect with the audience.  Did I mention that they’re identical twins?  Matthew and Michael.  Folksy.  Simon and Garfunkel-ly.  Good music, good lyrics.  Time well spent.

But even more than all of that, I’ve got the bug.  I want to play the guitar and sing and connect with an audience.  I used to love doing that when I was in my late teens and early twenties.  There is something so damn cool about connecting with people.  The hesitation to get up there and do it is that I don’t know if I can any more.  It’s been thirty years and I’ve changed a lot.  I have to give presentations at work sometimes and I get nervous in front of people I work with everyday.  So what would it be like getting up in front of strangers?  Is it that it’s easier to perform in front of people who I don’t know and may never see again than it is to give a presentation in front of people I know?

In 2006 I was making plans to take the guitar out if its case and sing at The Pour House (now Birdie’s Café).  I was pulling myself up and out of a shell I crawled into in 2005 (a very long story for another time).  But The Pour House closed towards the end of 2008 and I was devastated.  I put the thoughts of singing back into the case with guitar and stood them all against the wall in my living room.

Now Birdie’s is open and T3 is singing and the bug is back.  Will it become a reality this time?  Time will tell, I suppose.

I’m a Gleek, and I’m not Afraid to Admit it!

GLEE has to be one of the best programs on TV.  My opinion.

The people who arrange the songs used on GLEE are phenomenal.  When they do the mash-ups (two songs into one), well, all I can say is that they set a new stage for music.  What they have done is bring songs from my generation to the new generation, and there is something incredible about that.

Let’s talk about UMBRELLA and SINGING IN THE RAIN.  My son had never heard the latter song (my fault, I know, for not introducing him to the movie), and the weekend after the show we went to F.Y.E. to get the movie.  He watched it and loved it.  Understand, we both like UMBRELLA too … so the mash-up was all the more special.

TEENAGE DREAM?  Wow, how can anyone not absolutely L-O-V-E the Warbler’s a cappella version of Katy Perry’s song?  I’ve probably worn a spot in my iPod listening to it over and over.

My best experience has been as a chaperon at my son’s high school dance.  When the DJ started playing DON’T STOP BELIEVING by Journey, almost every kid there started belting out the song.  I stood there almost in tears because it was such an emotional and mind-boggling thing to listen to these teenagers sing a song I saw Journey play in concert in the 1980’s.  And all because the world is becoming acquainted (or re-acquainted) with some of music’s best.

Trust me, there will be much more to write on the subject of GLEE …

Sunday’s Random Thoughts

A nice sunny Sunday morning in Westminster.  Snow is sparkling, birds are flocking to the bird feeders under the deck, and Buddy is barking at a black cat that is curled up on the wicker chair on the front porch.  A great start to the day!

I got my hair done Friday night at Freestyle.  My hairdresser, Lisa P, is the best.  She listens to what I try to describe and does it perfectly.  I’ll admit I’m probably not her ideal client sometimes – I’ve been known to get a little freaked out if the color isn’t what I expect or if I don’t immediately see the shaping around my neck.  She’s cool, though, and bears with me.

One thing I like at Freestyle is that they play a good range of music.  I don’t know who makes up their mix CDs, but they’re really good.  I always enjoy hearing music, especially if it’s something I don’t know.  I like to expand my musical horizons.

One of the songs was really interesting – I didn’t recall ever hearing it.  I was trying to catch some of the words above the hair dryers and conversations, and all I could grab onto was the phrase “what did she say.”  I figured I’d do a lyric search when I got a chance so I could find out the name of the song.

So yesterday evening I turned the TV on and flicked through the channels.  I stopped on a rerun of Saturday Night Live.  And wouldn’t you know, in one of the skits the same song was playing.  Freaky.  I grabbed my phone and clicked on the VCast Song ID app.  It did its thing and returned “Hide and Seek” by Imogen Heap.

Isn’t technology like that absolutely mind blowing?  I mean, how cool is it to be able to take your phone, point it towards the music, and have the phone app tell you who the artist is, the name of the song, and the album’s title?  Freaking awesome.  I downloaded the song from iTunes this morning.  Cool song.  Oh yeah – and now it’s my ringback tone.

Super Bowl Sunday and a new Glee tonight.  I’m more excited about Glee (I love that show!) but Glee would have been tied with the Super Bowl if my beloved Chicago Bears had made it there.  Ah, well – there’s always next year.

“One Day” by David Nicholls

"One Day"

"One Day"

I first caught a glimpse of this title before it was published and knew right away it was something I wanted to read.  Sometimes you just get a feeling that a book is going to be really good.

The tale spans 20 years starting in 1988 and recounts one particular day (July 15) and how the two main characters’ lives intertwine and release and how find their ways back to each other.  Emma and Dexter are the types of characters that are easy to relate to.  I mean, who doesn’t have an Emma or a Dexter in their own lives – someone who you’ve known for years and no matter how awful things might get between you, you still find that friend you need in them.

The author, David Nicholls, truly knows how to weave a tale that is heartwarming, realistic, and humorous.  I don’t want to give the story away, but I will tell you that Dexter has some family issues to deal with that are stressful at times and that he seems to be the perpetual child who keeps searching for something and who is never satisfied.  Emma is a little more level-headed but she, too, is pursuing dreams but gets continually sidetracked.  Their experiences both separately and together are a full range of emotional twists and turns.

The ending – well, I will only tell you that I was listening to the audio book while driving to Vermont, and upon hearing the unexpected event towards the end of the book – and picture this – I’m in my car on the New York Thruway shouting “No, no, no”.  It’s a stunner!

I was thrilled to read the Random House Films/Focus Features/Vintage Books announcement that the book is being made into a movie.  It’s being directed by Lone Scherfig and will star Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess.  It will start in select cities on July 8 and will expand to other cities during the summer.  I can’t wait!

This is definitely one of those books that once you pick it up, you won’t want to put it down.