Category Archives: Music

Time for a Musical Interlude

The following was written by me on 7/18/22.

Hubs and I put an offer in on a house. It’s a fixer upper but it’s on a river. Waterfront, baby!

The offer hasn’t been accepted yet, and I’m all kinds of anxious about it. I need to slow my roll. Be patient and not get ahead of myself by imagining how we’re going to fix the place up.

Because for all I know, it won’t end up being “the one”. House-hunting is a strange experience in this life. While I appreciate the fact that Hubs and I have the ability to be homeowners in this country, it requires some serious grit. It’s torturous.

This is why, my friends, you are getting a post about the wonderful distraction of music from me today. I need to focus on something other than this house hunting bullshit. If you’re a regular reading of my ramblings who appreciates music even half as much as me, you might like a break such as this too.

Update: Still 7/18, just much later on. Some other dope offered cash to the seller. I imagine one of those wealthy investors. They must have seen all the potential that we did in that house. Back to it, I guess.

Now back to the point of this post: which is A) introducing you all to a unique and talented artist, B) musing about the earworms in my head, and C) sharing song related anecdotes.

The one musical group on a loop in my head since this summer began is ABBA. It’s probably on account of us having the 70’s channel on Sirius XM on regular rotation while we are tooling around Wisconsin in the Tacoma.

“Knowing me, Knowing You” is especially embedded in my brain.

Something I realized listening to the 70’s channel and regular old radio this summer is just how many simply gorgeous songs came from that era and beyond. Like “Suddenly” by Billy Ocean, “Sail On” by the Commodores, and “Oh Girl” by the “Chi-Lites”. Just sweet, lovely songs that get forgotten over time.

In other music-in-my-head news, the song “I Just Haven’t Met You Yet” by that corny crooner (“cornoner”?) Michael Buble, is a major earworm for me these days.

Clearly, this song is in reference to our house-hunting journey. Maybe the song will get out of my head once we actually close on the home we purchase here in beautiful northwest Wisconsin.

There is a fantastic radio station, The Current, which is owned by MPR and based out of the Twin Cities. Hubs and I had sort of forgotten about this station when we were still in Colorado, despite being able to stream it. We were listening to it in our camper the other night and a song came on that really caught my attention. It’s by an artist I don’t think I’d ever heard of: Orville Peck.

Of course I had to google him out of curiosity and learned he is an artist like “Sia”, as he keeps his face covered when in public . I think it’s sort of odd, but yet cool. The mystery of it intrigues me, though his voice intrigues me much more.

I think the song “Unconditional (Look Out Kid)” by Arcade Fire is awesome. It feels to me like a love song from Gen X to Millenials and Gen Z. I would love to be in the audience at one of their concerts, singing along with the “Do do do do do do do do do do do” part. They are playing in Minneapolist this fall, so maybe I’ll get that chance.

Our daughter and grandson recently moved to a nearby town where the writer of Daughter’s “go to” Karaoke song grew up. I love “coincidences” like that, don’t you? Below is a video of that song.

The biggest item on our wish list, besides a place to live that isn’t mobile, is a pontoon. I’m not much of a country music fan (especially the newer stuff), but sometimes there’s just a song that I love despite myself. We all have those, right?

Please tell me: what are yours? Or how about your current playlist and/or earworm in your head these days?

What Sticks

I’ve decided to put a pin in the post I planned to publish today. It’s about this guy:

Radar, snoozing in our camper. Isn’t he a beaut?

I want to take my time with that post and get it right. Give it the love and attention it deserves.

Anyway, what this post is actually about is words. Lyrics, specifically.

Now, as the melophile I aspire to be (because I mentioned it in a sort of recent post but quickly realized that many, many, other people are way bigger melophiles than this gal who needs to fricking catch up), I’m going to share with you some song lyrics that have stuck with me from the moment I first heard them.

From Alanis Morissette’s “Isn’t it Ironic?”: “Life has a funny way of sneaking up on you when you think everything’s okay and everything is going right… and life has a funny way of helping you out when everything’s gone wrong and everything blows up in your face”.

It’s like, we make plans and God laughs, which I wholeheartedly believe is true. We have the illusion that we are in control, then, in an instant, we are reminded that is not the case at all.

Gotta love that little “boop” on the nose!

Not necessarily “ironic”, but as you are reading this, there is approximately an 8.8% chance that I, at that precise moment, am rocking out to a live version of Alanis singing “Hand in My Pocket”. This is on account of the fact that Hubs and are will be seeing her perform tonight, on the first day of fall, in Denver.

Here’s a great cover of the quintessential song to usher in this new season.

Now, back to those lyrics…..

From the Avett Brothers “Head Full of Doubt”: “Decide what to be and go be it”. Very inspirational, while simplistic. But maybe that’s the point.

Liz Phair was supposed to be touring with Alanis this year, but a couple of months ago suddenly pulled out for personal reasons (I hope she and her family are ok). That really, truly bummed me out. I was so looking forward to seeing her play live as I’ve been a fan of hers for years now. The song lyric I’m choosing here isn’t from a song on her critically acclaimed and wildly popular “Exit in Guyville” album, but a track from a later one.

From “Somebody’s Miracle”: “There goes somebody’s miracle, walking down the street”.

Why do I love this lyric? Because it makes me happy to think that it’s true: that when I’m engaging in one of my favorite activities-people watching-I can think of this line and imagine that every soul I’m seeing is somebody else’s “miracle”. That someone in their lives adores them that deeply, no matter what they look like, how they behave, or even how they smell. I know it’s corny, but I think if we can all try to do this when in public, we can soften our hearts and suspend judgement.

So, I ask you, fellow readers and/or melophiles, what lyrics have stuck with you? Please don’t overthink this-that takes the fun out of it! I look forward to your comments.

***Header image courtesy of https://www.bigwhite.com/events-activities/events-calendar/dont-forget-the-lyrics

Good Vibes Playlists

As a melophile, I am an enthusiastic believer in the power of music. It can reach into your soul and capture it, if only for a moment. It can speak to you in a way you can’t put into words. It can set the tone for your day and it can comfort you when the day is done.

Some music has the ability to improve your attitude. Give you a little boost of energy. A little pep in your step. Compel you to do a little jig in your kitchen. Put a smile on your face and leave you humming it’s tune for the rest of the day.

That is what my “Good Vibes” playlist, which I created for myself on Spotify, does for me. When I put it together, I decided to simply go right off the top of my head, thinking of the songs that tickled me and finding them via the search option on Spotify. I told myself to not overthink this playlist, not to judge my choices, especially since it could easily be edited at a later time.

Do you all have something akin to a “Good Vibes” playlist to turn to when you need a pick-me-up? If you do, please do this gal a favor and share what’s on yours. If you don’t have one, I highly recommend you invest a bit of time to create one for yourself. You’ll thank me later.

I would be remiss if I didn’t share what’s on my personal “Good Vibes” playlist. I won’t give you the full list, because that would take away from the time I’d rather you spend making your own custom playlist.

Header image courtesy of https://www.quotemaster.org/Happy+Music

Update on My Purge Exercise

I told you guys I was chicken shit.

So of course I chose the least dangerous PEW (acronym for “purge emotional writing”) path and wrote all my negative emotions out on a word document and then when the 12 minutes was up, I deleted it. For 5 days, though not in a row. Read further to learn why.

This exercise made me feel emotionally lighter. Though in between PEW sessions I thought about all the things I was angry or sad about, the things and people that piss me off and why, so I would have an idea of what I was going to write about. Not sure if that was a good thing or not. Maybe it just showed me that I tend to keep negative emotions buried deep inside me and they need coaxing. Or maybe it was because I knew I’d be filled with anxiety if I didn’t ponder those unpleasant thoughts and feelings ahead of time. Because then I might eat up half of my 12 minutes staring at a blank page.

Another take away is that unlike other things I have vowed to start and finish, I started and finished this one. I’ve always believed myself to be a very determined person, the kind who hitches themselves to an idea and follows it through to the bitter end. However, as I’ve gotten older, my follow through is lacking. So this exercise gave me a (albeit weird) sense of accomplishment.

I think this is a practice I’m going to come back to in the future. When I’m feeling irritable and negative. But instead I will employ the fire method. Perhaps when we’re camping and Hubs has made a fire. Maybe I won’t do it five days in a row. Maybe just once. Or two times in a row. Whatever feels right at the time, I suppose.

Now back to why I didn’t do my PEW exercise 5 days in a row.

On Day 4, Hubs and I had ourselves the Best. Time. Ever. Purging the emotions that had been disturbing my peace onto a computer screen just wasn’t a priority that day.

On that Saturday, we attended a concert at Red Rocks. We saw The Avett Brothers live. After almost two years of pining for the days when we experienced the joy of live music, we got to see one of my favorite bands play at the best venue of all.

It was spectacular. The temps were perfect, the views spectacular. The crowd was in good spirits and their was such a feeling of love in the air for not only the music, but humanity as well. We chatted with the folks on either side of us, talking about which Avett Brothers songs we were most looking forward to hearing and sharing other music-related recommendations. I am especially looking forward to watching the Avett Brothers documentary the strawberry blond millennial from Los Angeles gushed on about.

Here are some pics:

It doesn’t seem right to not include a bit of The Avett Brothers music with you all in this post, especially for those of you who are not familiar with them. Here’s the tune I was looking forward to hearing live the most:

Header image courtesy of ***https://tenor.com/search/angry-typing-gifs

You Should be Watching This

Quite some time ago, one of my blogger friends suggested I watch “The Umbrella Academy” on Netflix. She shared that it was about a group young adults who all had superpowers who were adopted as babies by an eccentric millionaire and raised together. Christie said she and her husband really enjoyed it, and knowing me, thought it’d be right up my alley.

It took me a while, but I finally got around to checking it out. Of course, Rabbie had already binge-watched and was quite enthusiastic about watching it again, but with me.

Now, in my opinion, the term “binge-worthy” is tossed around far too much these days. But this show is the best example I have found to exemplify the term. I have never watched a series as quickly as I did this one.

It is mind-blowing, terrifically entertaining, quirky as hell, trippy, romantic and comedic at just the right times. If you haven’t caught it yet, do so now. It is the definition of escapism, I swear.

Allow me to attempt to describe this show. “The Umbrella Academy” follows six unique individuals who were all born on the same day: Luther, Vanya, Allison, Klaus, Five, and Diego. There is a seventh, Ben, but he’s actually a ghost who only one character can see and interact with. All born to different women who didn’t know they were pregnant until the day they gave birth. An eccentric rich guy, Reginald Hargraeves, adopts them. He is, mysteriously, aware that each of them possess super powers. He raises them together, creating the “Umbrella Academy” within which all but 1 (not giving you any spoilers) undergoes rigid training to hone their superpowers and beef up their physical and mental capabilities. They are groomed specifically to utilize their powers to fight crime.

The show starts with them as adults, all convening in the creepy mansion in which they grew up, mourning, or should I say, coping with the effects of Reginald’s unexpected demise. The six (or should I say five-that anecdote will make sense once you watch it) are in their late 20’s and have not kept in touch or seen in each other in many years. They have a lot of familial dysfunction to deal with along with solving the mystery of their father’s death as well as why he did what he did in terms of raising them.

One of the six pops in from the future as the rest of them are gathered in the mansion, trying to make sense of Reginald’s sudden death. He tells them that the apocalypse is coming in 5 days and they must work together to change the timeline to prevent it. We soon find that he’s got assassins sent from another dimension to kill him.

There are twists and turns galore throughout the two seasons of this show. The show was created by one of the guys from the emo rock band my kids loved in the 90’s, “My Chemical Romance”. As a result, the soundtrack is killer. There’s even scenes where the characters dance.

If all of the above is not enough to convince you to start watching this show asap, there’s also a talking monkey butler, a robot mother, and wonderfully comedic scenes, many of which feature the actor Kate Walsh (from Grey’s Anatomy and The Practice). She plays a wicked character who looks like she came off the set of “The Hunger Games” movie franchise. She must have an absolute ball playing this character!

See what I mean?

I couldn’t find the actual clip online of two of the characters dancing together to end this nerdy #fangirl blog post, but boy, was it a delightful scene. The video with this song is pretty damn cool though.

As a musicophile, I would like to note that this song is a cover. The original was performed by King Harvest the year that I was 6 years old.

Check it out!

***Header image courtesy of https://filmdaily.co/news/the-umbrella-academy-s2/ ****

Sometimes Gems Are Gents

I knew back in February of this godforsaken year when I watched David Byrne and his crew perform on SNL that I wanted more of it.

It wasn’t until I saw another blogger posting about it then read the Esquire interview with Byrne and Spike Lee and realized they collaborated to bring Byrne’s Broadway show “American Utopia” show to the masses via HBO, that I was able to actually get more of it.

I watched it at home with Rabbie and I was enthralled. I hope you all have the good sense to watch it yourselves. I’m not going to even attempt to explain what it was all about, mainly because I know I’d miss something important.

But I will say this: David Byrne’s “American Utopia” is weird. In the very best of ways. There’s of course the music, which is so jubilant. There is the oddly intriguing interpretive dance. There are the wonderfully talented, multi-cultural musicians and dancers backing it all up. There is much food for thought. It’s cerebral. But it’s not so cerebral that it’d be over anyone’s heads if that makes sense. Ultimately, it’s a celebration of humanity and community.

This phenomenally cool show along with the uplifting and worthy-of-your-time website David heads up, is part of what makes him a “Gem” to me. A national fucking treasure.

Within the website, https://reasonstobecheerful.world/, you will find well-written, thoughtful, fascinating, and inspiring articles. It’s essentially the good news we all need these days. I’ve known of this website for probably a year now, but hadn’t kept up with it. I allowed myself to instead pay attention to Facebook, Twitter, MSNBC, and NPR to keep current on things. That is going to change, as I’m re-committing myself to reading an article or two daily on this website.

Because of David Byrne, I’m also doubling down on focusing on the positive. The good stuff that will expand my understanding of things and leave me feeling more hopeful. While by nature I am an optimist, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t take a bit of work to maintain that optimistic outlook, especially with the plethora of bad news and bad attitudes lurking in every corner of the internet and in the news.

I think we need more people in the world like David Byrne. The people who think outside the box. The intelligently quirky ones. The question askers. The forward thinking folks who have a sense of genuine curiousity about the world and the people who inhabit it. The creative problem solvers who generously share their talents and insights to make the world a better place for all of us.

Let me leave you with what is probably my favorite Talking Heads tune.

***Header image art by none other than Mr. Byrne himself courtesy of http://www.davidbyrneart.com/?portfolio=love

Alphabet Soup Challenge: X Factor Classic Rock From a Gen X Perspective

I think of the term “X Factor” as being the “special sauce”. An indescribable quality in something or someone that you can’t quite put your finger on. Something or someone that is original and delightful. Something or someone who is memorable to you. Something or someone who is super freaking cool.

Last week I was listening to one of my favorite channels on Sirius XM, Classic Rewind, when DJ Kristine Stone announced in her smooth-as-silk voice the “My Perfect 10” challenge. She explained that subscribers were invited to email them their “perfect 10” tunes from the classic rock “cassette era”.

Side note: do you remember those? Those pieces of cheap plastic you could pop into that old cassette player to listen to your favorite tunes? Or maybe you were like me as a Gen X’r who would put a blank cassette in, position it next to your boom box, and tape your favorite songs that played between all those commercials on your local (it was all local in those days, kids) rock station.

Anyway, the idea with Classic Rewind’s “Perfect 10” challenge is that provided you emailed your list to them, you could potentially hear your specially crafted “perfect 10” tunes on the channel on, you guessed it, 10/10.

My first thought upon hearing this was that this was an idea I can get behind. Listening to rock songs during the cassette era (mid-70’s through the 80’s) was what led me to become such an enthusiastic rock and roll fan.

What qualifies these songs as having the “X-Factor” for me is that for every single one of them, I pause my thoughts, crank up the radio and sing along. Until the bitter end. I marinate in these songs. Feel their beats pulsing through my veins. Jam out in my truck to them. Dance around my living room to them.

So here’s my “Perfect 10 X -Factor” classic rock song list:

  1. The Load Out/Stay by Jackson Browne
  2. Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad by Meatloaf
  3. You’re my Best Friend by Queen
  4. Turn the Page by Bob Seger
  5. Young Americans by David Bowie
  6. Life’s Been Good by Joe Walsh
  7. All My Love by Led Zeppelin
  8. Free Fallin’ by Tom Petty
  9. Band on the Run by Paul McCartney and Wings
  10. Carry on Wayward Son by Kansas.

I realize that despite being a teenager in the 80’s, all but one of these songs (Free Fallin’) was produced in the 70’s. I suspect that’s on account of being a Gen X’r who adored her older brother and sister (one graduated high school in ’75 and the other in ’77) and their taste in the music of the day. Perhaps I would have been better off compiling a “Perfect 10 X Factor” list of songs from the Classic Vinyl (another one of my favorite Sirius XM channels)?

But I’ve always been one who tries to stay in the current. I am a big fan of newer and younger musical artists, ones who have put out music during my adult life. Like Jack White.

I think he is absolutely amazing. He commands the stage. He is such a gifted guitar player and performer. As an appreciator of well done rock and roll and cool characters, allow me to share the epic performances by this cool cat, performed last Saturday night on SNL:

So, what musical artists and/or songs possess that “X Factor” according to you?

***Header image courtesy of https://www.quotemaster.org/Rock+And+Roll

Alphabet Soup Challenge: Z Is For Zumba

On the off-chance that you’ve never heard of this fitness craze, let me break it down for you.

Zumba is a group dance workout that utilizes world music. It’s high energy and fun. It gets your heart pumping and tends to cause profuse sweating.

I participated in Zumba classes for a few months back in Wisconsin about 8 years ago (mentioned in this post). I absolutely loved it. That’s not to say that I was “good” at it. I’ve been told that I’m a great dancer-but not on the Zumba floor. Because Zumba requires one to mimic the moves of the instructor. At a very rapid pace. My arms and legs don’t work together very gracefully unless I’m doing my own thing. Free-styling, if you will.

During the few weeks between my last job and my current job, I made a pact with myself that I was going to use that time for some self-improvement. I decided that I would start with improving my physical self by getting in some regular exercise.

So I found some videos of Zumba classes on YouTube, pushed my coffee table back a bit, and got my groove on.

Things did not go as I hoped they would.

There didn’t seem to be as many full class videos on You Tube as I thought there’d be. So I was going from dance to dance, different instructors each time, with ads between. Plus Radar was around, getting in my way. In fact, one time while I was “zumba-ing” I jumped on his paw because I didn’t see him there and he yelped in response.

After three attempts at my in home Zumba experiment, I came to the realization that it was just not gonna work.

But I have hope for my future with Zumba. One of my WIPs (Wildly Improbably Goals, a coined termed by writer Martha Beck) is to become a Zumba instructor. With the caveat that the classes I lead are only for those 50 and up. Who are beginners.

I would include simple choreography. Not too much jumping and not too fast-paced. I would have the best soundtrack, but it would not be dominated by world music. Maybe some, here and there. Mostly we would be zumba-ing to a variety of classic rock with a little adult alternative in the mix. The songs we all grew up with and the cool songs of the moment. The ones that have a good beat, making them easy to dance to.

Free-styling will be part of each number we do.

This WIP of mine is obviously not going to happen anytime soon, thanks to Covid-19 restrictions on group gatherings. But that’s just fine by me. I’ve got my plate just full enough at the moment, with running the new food pantry and this blog.

Lucky for me, I’m able to get in plenty of exercise in my work day at this point in time.

***Header image courtesy of https://www.pinterest.com/pin/194006696430951042/

Alphabet Soup Challenge: F is for Fascination

When I started to ponder what word beginning with “F” I wanted to write about, I started with “Fashion”.

I was going to write a fun post about how, because of this damn pandemic , I miss having places to go where it isn’t out of place to wear a cute summer dress (like the one below purchased from Kid #2’s online store). I was going to share how my parents owned a women’s clothing store in the 80’s and early 90’s which clinched my love of fashion.

Citrus skater dress from my kid’s online shop

But my favorite 80’s song kept coming up in my “songbrain”.

This song got me thinking about Lisa, the foreign exchange student from the UK who lived with us for the ’83/’84 school year. So I decided to pivot on my word choice for this post.

That school year was the only one that came anywhere near being fascinating for me. Lisa’s placement in our home shook up our family dynamic. I was suddenly not the only child in our home. I now had someone my age to talk to, laugh with, and engage in shenanigans with.

Lisa and I in 1984

Lisa was always up for having fun; that is what made her extended stay with us such a bright spot in my life. Sometimes she’d sneak off and create a weird display on my bed with random items found in my room for me to find later. She was so excited when she made us “Shephard’s Pie” for the first time. It was a favorite of the Brits, she said.

Then there was that time when she surprised me with a stiff cocktail using my parent’s liquor when they were out of town. Despite having a British teenager who was of legal drinking age back home, they foolishly kept all of their liquor under the kitchen sink. It’s amazing how trusting Bonnie and Babe were.

Do you ever look back on your youth and think that about your parents?

Speaking of liquor, I’ve always been fascinated at the idea of having a pint or two at a traditional English pub. Hearing all those lovely accents and soaking up the atmosphere.

It seems to me such a laid back, lovely place to visit. Touring castles and checking out vibrant markets in little villages would be my jam. As a life long Beatles fan, I would be especially fascinated by touring Abbey Road or any other Beatles themed venue.

The most fascinatingly ridiculous thing is that I am 53, have both my “sister” Lisa and her husband, along with a lovely niece (and her two daughters and charming Puerto Rican husband) who all live in England and yet I’ve never been.

Do any of you have places you’ve always been fascinated with but have yet to travel to? Please share in the comments!

Header image courtesy of https://www.vexels.com/vectors/preview/187516/flower-letter-f-typography-design

Alphabet Soup Challenge:”J” is for Jerilyn

August 17th would have been my friend Jerilyn’s 60th birthday. She passed, suddenly and unexpectedly, in Wisconsin, shortly after Hubs and I moved to Colorado, 4 years ago.

She left behind her husband of 25+ years, 2 young adult sons.

Jerilyn, ready to start volunteering at a food bank during a mission trip, circa 2007 ish

I was reminded of her birthday when I checked Facebook that day. Some may feel it’s morbid to keep someone’s Facebook page alive after they have passed, but I don’t. It warmed my heart to see all the comments from the many folks who loved her.

I think we should all strive to touch people’s lives in a way that they can’t help but honor them in some way on the anniversary of their births after they are gone. Like I saw with the feed on Jerilyn’s Facebook page the other night.

Jerilyn was a creative, intelligent, witty, kind, spiritual, playful, ambitious, loving, charasmatic, and strong woman. She was a force of nature who lit up a room. I will never forget her. I was so appreciative of her supportive words when Hubs and I were struggling with the challenges our teenagers presented us with. She was a great sounding board for us, especially because she had taken the time to know us and to know and love our kids.

Jerilyn was one of those people with the rare ability to question one’s thinking in a loving and respectful manner. I think that was due to her great sense of curiosity.

She and her husband Brad were the most dynamic of duos. They were the people at the party who you sought out to converse with. The couple who knew how to laugh together, work together, and play together.

One of my fondest memories of the two of them was at an outdoor concert. That weekend we were celebrating our wedding anniversary and I seem to recall theirs was coming up soon as well. When the 80’s cover band played George Michael’s “Freedom” the four of us laughed and danced like we were the only ones at the party. I think if Heaven is real, she’d be dancing on the clouds with George Michael to this song. Along with David Bowie, of course.

The woman had fabulous taste in music. She loved many of the artists that I did (and still do), like Elle King, Alicia Keys, and the aforementioned British gents.

Jerilyn was the Director of Christian Education at our church during our kids middle school and high school years. She loved each of those kids and they loved her. She listened to them without judgement. She mentored them and guided them. She was a talented planner of things such as youth mission trips. She had terrific communication skills with both the adult chaperones and the kids, so everyone understood what was expected of them.

Jerilyn was a very talented artist, on top of her many gifts. As a person who essentially has two thumbs when it comes to creating tangible pieces of art, I admired/envied this about her. She did a lot of tapestry art. Beautiful works made with colorful pieces of different textured cloth and other materials that could be hung prominently on a wall.

I had this vision in my head that I would commission her to create a work of art using the well-worn but still beautiful hand-made quilt made by Hubs’ then-boss’ wife as a wedding gift. I know she would have done a spectacular job with it. I kick myself for not jumping on that idea while I had the chance.

I took this picture at a gift shop in Minnesota a couple of years ago because it reminded me of her. I thought it was amazing that there was another “Jerilyn” who created beautiful pieces of art using cloth. I think our Jerilyn would have gotten a kick out of this too.

There’s so much more I could say about this truly awesome human being. She was a treasure and my life is better because she was in it. For that I am so thankful.