Saturday, April 4, 2020
What I Thought Versus What Is Real
When I was a kid, I sometimes thought about where I would be, who I would be, on a particular year in the future. For example, by 1995 I would be elderly and my life would be for all purposes over (I would be forty). In 2020 I would turn sixty-five if I even lived that long. My hair would be a wiry silver and I'd perhaps have taken up knitting, which would occupy my muddled mind as I creaked in my wooden rocker, peering over bifocals at the fuzzy TV screen.
Well, here I am and I still have all my faculties. Thanks to good genes, I barely have any grey at all. I've battled with weight since sometime around age fifty-five, but up 'til now I've mostly won.
Life can be roughly separated into decades. In my twenties and thirties life was being a mom and I embraced it wholeheartedly. In my forties (when I was old and decrepit) my career seemed like the most important, vital, essence of my existence.
When my fifties rolled around I suddenly became a songwriter. I'm not a bad writer, but my aspirations far outweighed reality. No, my husband and I did not hit the big time. Sometime around age sixty I thought, hey! Why not write a novel? Shoot, I'd been blogging for years; I knew how to write. How hard could it be? My two completed novels were sub-par, to be generous. I still have one in the works that holds promise, but I've temporarily lost my computer and thus my manuscript, so that little dream remains incomplete.
Now 2020 has arrived and surprise! I'm still here. 2020 was supposed to hold the promise of a new chapter, albeit the last chapter of my life. I would retire, I'd cry at my going-away party, realize how much I would miss people I've known for twenty years. Some of them would shed a tear, too. My send-off would appropriately fit the occasion.
Well, I'm sitting here tonight two months away from that momentous event and I'm confined to my home. I don't know if I'll ever return to the office.
Far worse, I lost my best pal two weeks ago and I've dreamed about her three times so far, which should be a comfort, but just causes me to awake depressed. Josie has been on my mind all day -- sometimes I think I'll alight the stairs and there she'll be, resting her chin on the landing, her fluffy tail waggling in anticipation. Saying goodbye to her and seeing her lying as if asleep was the hardest thing I've ever had to endure.She was my buddy for seventeen years. I pray to God to take care of her every night.
Everything brings me to tears now. SiriusXM is playing "John Deere Green" by Joe Diffie and I mourn the loss of him, too.
Maybe rather than sad, I'm simply angry. Life sure isn't fair. I knew that in theory, but in practice, reality sucks.
This wasn't how it was supposed to be. I'm searching for hope, but tonight that light is dim. This new reality is a dystopian hell.
I thought about adding a song that was hopeful. I'm too exhausted to do an extensive search. This is what came to mind:
Monday, May 21, 2018
What Makes A Good Song?
As one who has toiled and sweated over songs, I know how hard it is to come up with a good one. I know what constitutes a good one; it's just that I don't know how to create it.
While there are time-tested elements that go into their construction, good songs, too, are subjective. I thought about that while my husband and I were watching a documentary about Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. CSNY are revered, yet I don't get it. They maybe have one song that I semi-like. As the documentary tripped along, clips of the various incarnations of the four guys splashed across the screen. Crosby and Nash at one point formed a duo, and as the commentator stammered that these two guys "were so...were so...", I blurted out, "boring?"
Granted, I don't see the point of acoustic music. I like a good beat. And if I'm looking for introspection, shoot, I can do that on my own dime.The early seventies were like that. Because music fans were lame. "You just call out my name...and you know wherever I am...I'll come runnin'". Okay, thanks. Old dudes like John Kerry think this kind of bad poetry is revelatory. And don't even get me started on Joni Mitchell ~ another "icon" whose songs are like fingernails on a chalkboard. My cat warbles better tunes than Joni ever did.
While I'm primarily a lyricist, I don't put a lot of stock in lyrics. Few songs have ever compelled me to really hear the words. And those that did, just said what they needed to say. They didn't tie them with a baby blue bow and proffer them to me like bewildering puzzles.
Here are two that touched me:
I don't ascribe to the theory that "if you don't understand it, that means it's deep". No, that just means it's self-indulgent.
As far as CSNY goes, here is the (indisputably) best song any of the four guys ever did. And I don't give a rip about the lyrics:
Music is feel. That's why it's music and not poetry. Feelings are non-verbal.
Figure out that formula and you've roped me in.
Thursday, July 3, 2014
My Country Music Novel
I took that advice to heart, and therefore I am writing a country music novel.
As with all inspired ideas, it started out with a song - a George Strait song, by the by - and it turned into something a bit - okay, a lot - more involved.
My protagonist is an overnight disc jockey. She's landed in a dead-end town and she spins records in the wee hours. Meanwhile, she's being stalked by someone. At least everyone has convinced her that she is.
I am halfway through my story, and, oh yes, I do have a playlist. All inspired novelists have playlists - don't they?
Sometime, in the future, I'm going to link videos to my playlist - just because the visual medium helps me stay focused - but for now, here's what I've got:
1. Heartland - George Strait
2. There Goes My Heart - The Mavericks
3. Fast As You - Dwight Yoakam
4. Up! - Shania Twain
5. Does He Love You - Reba McEntire and Linda Davis
6. I Breathe In, I Breathe Out - Chris Cagle
7. I Cross My Heart - George Strait
8. Need You Now - Lady Antebellum
9. Mama Tried - Merle Haggard
10. A Better Man - Clint Black
11. Indian Outlaw - Tim McGraw
12. T-R-O-U-B-L-E - Travis Tritt
13. Crazy - Patsy Cline
14. Mama He's Crazy - The Judds
15. I'm Movin' On - Rascal Flatts
16. I Hope You Dance - Lee Ann Womack
17. Wagon Wheel - Darius Rucker
18. I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry - Hank Williams
These don't necessarily represent my "favorite" songs. But they're songs that fit within the story. I guess you'd just have to read it.
And here's the deal - if I don't manage to land an agent - and that's pretty hit or miss, to be honest - I'm going to self-publish. So, if you're a country music fan, you can still read this thing. One caveat - it could take me another six months or so before I finish it, and another 30 days before I figure out how in the hell to turn it into an e-book. But I'll get there.
Just a hint - number 15 is the one to watch for. That's the one that pretty much seals the deal.
Friday, September 9, 2011
The World Did Not Stop Turning
It never really does, does it?
If I was asked what my most powerful memory of September 11, 2001 is, I would say, it's not a memory. It's that the world changed, while I was just living in it.
I was born long after Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. My parents knew it, though.
I was in the third grade when President Kennedy was assassinated. They used to always ask, where were you when the President was killed? They don't really ask that anymore. Maybe it's because most of the population wasn't even alive back then, so the question would be moot. They'd probably look at you quizzically and ask, "President Kennedy? Was he the one after Lincoln?" (They don't quite teach US history as comprehensively as they used to).
But maybe it's because something much more horrific has overtaken that moment.
You see, when President Kennedy was shot, everybody was horrified, but they didn't think, my life is in danger! I could be next! That would be silly. He was the President; we were just "people".
On September 11, 2001, our blase attitude toward random violence was shattered. "Oh yea, those things happen overseas. Too bad for them, I guess", were things we couldn't utter anymore.
Tom Burnett was just trying to get home to his family. It was an average day; an average business trip.
The traders at Cantor Fitzgerald were just trying to get through their eight hours. Another long slog; just like every one of us endures every day.
Average, everyday stuff. We're preoccupied; thinking about what we have to do when our shift is over; looking forward to spending a few hours with our families. Writing out a shopping list. Sharing a laugh with our co-workers.
Then, in an instant; less than an instant, really, everything changes.
No, the world didn't stop turning that day. It would have been better if it had.
I think about the people who found themselves in unspeakable circumstances. Tom Burnett and his fellow passengers knew that they were going to die. Yet, they fought it to the end. We, as humans, have to do something. We're not going to sit and cry and accept that this is our fate. This thing, that was thrust upon us, as if we didn't have any say in the matter.
Those firemen knew; yes, they knew, that they were trudging up the stairs to face an inevitable conclusion. Yet, they still did it. They were going to fight this thing until the end.
The thing about September 11, 2001 is, we are stronger than you (al qaeda) can even comprehend. We don't go down without a fight.
And the world did not stop turning.
You may, or may not, remember the songs from that year, 2001. Some of them are prescient, in retrospect. Some of them are sad, even if we're not sure why they're sad. Maybe it's just that 2001 was a sad year.
Maybe they speak to us now in a way that they never did before that day. I don't know, but here are some of the top songs of the year 2001. You can make your own judgment. Or you can just relive the year in song. Whatever you choose.
(I apologize for the ads attached to some of these videos, but I have no control over that. I wish I did.)
And let's talk about country. We're more straight-forward in the country world. You don't have to wonder what the song means. It means what it means.
I find that these songs are very fitting:
Thanks, Alan. Somebody had to say it:
As much as I can get on board with Alan's song, THIS ONE is the song that sums up September 11, 2001 for me:
When you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance.
Cuz the world never does stop turning.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Artist of the Decade
I just watched the ACM Artist of the Decade show today. Yes, I DVR'd it (I have no patience for commercials).
Wow - what an entertaining show!
Why don't they have stuff like THIS on TV more often? As in, ever.
I won't even quibble that they waited until George's THIRD decade before giving him the honor. Hey, a decade is a decade. Who wouldn't like to have a whole decade devoted to them?
Surprisingly (to me), the performances that I enjoyed the most didn't come from the "icons" of the industry, for the most part.
Here are some of my favorites:
Blake Shelton & Miranda Lambert - IT AIN'T COOL TO BE CRAZY ABOUT YOU
What George said to Blake: "I thought you were standing on a step."
What Blake thought George said to him: "Get your ass out of here!" (ha ha - priceless!)
Jamey Johnson ("I don't even think you like me very much") & Lee Ann Womack - GIVE IT AWAY
Dierks Bentley giving George a CD of one of his songs (another stellar moment!) - BLUE CLEAR SKY
LeAnn Rimes - DOES FORT WORTH EVER CROSS YOUR MIND
Brooks & Dunn "I have every George Strait album ever made" - THE COWBOY RIDES AWAY
I don't know if Alan ever gets comfortable on the stage, even after all these years, but hey, who better to do THE FIREMAN?
Sugarland - ADALIDA (although it was a bit odd for Jennifer to be singing a love song to a gal, but whatever; it's still a good song and a good performance).
There were four tributes to the previous "artist of the decade" winners. One of those performances was good, two of them were AWESOME. The other one I'm not going to even bother to include, because this gal (who shall remain nameless) is more wooden than the ash tree in my front yard.
Here's the good one:
Mongtomery Gentry - tribute to ALABAMA - MOUNTAIN MUSIC
Martina McBride's AWESOME tribute to GARTH BROOKS - THE DANCE (and this made me cry)
***Keith Urban's*** AWESOME AWESOME tribute to Marty Robbins - MEDLEY OF HITS (Wow, Keith - I had no idea you were such a great singer!) HANDS DOWN my favorite performance of the night.
Worst performances of the night? Taylor Swift, with her thin, reedy voice. Jamie Foxx (whatever), that wooden gal singer with her tribute to Loretta Lynn (I think she was thrown off by her hair falling in her eyes). The wooden gal's husband. Conspicuously absent were a couple of the so-called biggest acts in country music. Karma will get you, boys.
Garth Brooks (gotta love him) presenting the award to George:
THE MAN - OCEAN FRONT PROPERTY and THE GANG, with TROUBADOUR
I love the look on Garth's face. He isn't even singing along. It's just a look of pure joy. The same look that we have when we hear a George Strait song.
All hail The King.
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