Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Thirty Days of Songs - Day Five

A Song That Reminds You Of Someone

The first few answers that come to mind are too personal to post in public. There's another answer that would lead me to write screens and screens of acidic horribleness that might be entertaining to read, but could lead to a lawsuit for slander. (Then again, it might be worth it, hmmm...)

When I worked as a camp counselor, the counselors had a song we listened to only when the kids (and the people in charge) could not hear it. It is the single most filthy song I've ever heard, and just thinking about it brings me back to the utter insanity and the sheer fun of that job, and being with that group of people. I refuse to post a link, but if you google "Eat, Bite" you'll probably find it.

One summer in my youth, my best friend and I, both quite broke, spent a lot of time doing whatever we could to get out of the house that might also be cheap. Loosely translated, this meant a lot of movies at the dollar theater and nursing cups of coffee for as long as possible. "Hands to Heaven" by Breathe


seemed to be constantly on the radio, and we went mad trying to figure out the words to the chorus. It took us far longer that we'd care to admit, but I will never forget being in the Burger King parking lot when he yelled, "tonight you calm my restlessness!"

I miss those days, and wish we now lived less than several thousand miles apart.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Thirty Days of Songs, Day Four: A Song that Makes you Sad

There are many songs that make me cry tears of sentimentality. I don't think that's what this question wants us to ponder.

Harriet's post about her (now deceased) friend from college I think may be the best I've seen on this topic. I've lost family and friends, far too early and far too soon, but no one with whom I ever so strongly associated any piece of music.

Many moons ago, my mother took me on a trip to Washington, D.C. The Vietnam Memorial was still new, and was among the places we visited. My mother went straight to the part of the wall that she knew would have the names of her high school classmates.

I have seen my mother cry. I have seen my mother sob.

My mother put her hand on the panel with the names and wept, the first and only time I have ever seen her do this. She ran her fingers over the name of every man she knew in high school who didn't make it back home. She stood, very still, and stared at the names, and then made rubbings of the names for their parents, people she hadn't seen in twenty-five years, but she knew that the rubbings would bring comfort when she mailed them to parents, keeping alive the memories, knowing that their names were not lost, would make a difference, that this recognition had been accorded to them in death.

I already knew the song "Goodnight Saigon" by Billy Joel, but it's had a deeper significance ever since seeing my mother, on that sunny day, weeping.


I didn't plan this (I'm not good with schedules) but as this is Memorial Day, thank you to the men and women who left this country to fight for the protection of what is good, and a particular thanks to the families of the ones who didn't make it home.

At eighteen one might be physically fittest, but that doesn't mean that you have the maturity to handle all that war entails. I felt pretty clueless at eighteen (and nineteen, for that matter) and my biggest challenge was getting to class on time. Faced with jungle, with a war no one seems to have understood, with an enemy not always visible... these men (and some brave women!) "clung to each other/ like brother to brother" and they did their jobs, they did their duty, they tried to do the best, even when it wasn't clear what "best" might be.

I like the opening of this song more than the conclusion - the opening suggests a man who is very much trying to find his feet, to know what to do, how to do it. The end of the song suggestions resignation, knowing that one will die, and however hard life might be, I refuse to give up.

As a slightly older person than I was when standing with Mom at the Vietnam Memorial, what grabs me now is thinking about this song in the context of World War I. I think about the charge at Gallipolis, and the men who left behind their personal possessions and wedding rings, knowing that they were about to die.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Day #3 - A Song That Makes you Happy

Again, I just get to pick one? Sheesh. :-)

When I was a junior in college I ended up in a dormitory with the best shower ever. I want to emphasize this point. Fantastic shower. Plenty of hot water, plenty of room for your shampoo, conditioner, soap, etc. - and this shower stall just cried out for you to sing in it. I probably annoyed the heck out of everyone else on my floor, but I sang in that shower every day, all year. This shower might have been the reason that I actually passed my biology class.

I am definitely NOT a morning person, but that shower got me up and moving six days a week. (Hey, Saturdays are for sleeping in, right?)

In my sophomore year, my college did a production of Gilbert & Sullivan's The Gondoliers. A year later, I was still singing this song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LgJSIKhqHGE in the shower. It's been (cough) years and I still sing it in the shower. I refuse to sing it in public, (let alone while dry) but it's an awful lot of fun.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Day Two - Your Least Favorite Song

Again, there are many possible answers.

My first choice would be "Jesus is the Rock and He Rolls My Blues Away," a song I only sang because I was a camp counselor and was being paid to be chipper. This song is even more horrible than the title suggests.

It goes on for five verses. Five.

Harriet chose "And We Danced" by the Hooters for her answer to this question. This startled me. It might be a moral failing on my part, but the same part of me that hates the above mentioned song like a bit of mindless fluff to which one can dance. I liked the Hooters' MTV videos. I wish their music turned up on the radio. The funny sounding mouth organ-type instruments make me grin.

Second choice would be anything by Paul McCartney, with "Silly Love Songs" pretty high in the pantheon. He's trying too hard. He's better than all of us. Mock him if you will (and I will) but he's far above the rest of us. I will go grovel in shame and misery at the sheer thought of this song.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Thirty Days of Songs - Day One

Day One: Your Favorite Song:

OK, I'll start by saying that this meme will probably take me sixty days, rather than thirty. I don't blog every day, I'm going to be out of town for a week, I tend to procrastinate... but enough apologies. I've been challenged, so I'll jump in.

As has been said by so many, it's hard to pick just one song. There's a lot of music that is part of my soul, and that I will probably still be singing in the shower long after I have forgotten much else. I could list endless hymns, random anthems, and any number of lullabies.

I confess to having a weakness for Sondheim, so in the end I went with the song that always makes me cry and makes me feel brave - "Sunday" from Sunday in the Park With George.


Monday, May 16, 2011

grocery runs

I did the usual Monday morning run to the mega-grocery store today - bread, milk, pizza, pickles, all lemming staples - and noticed, yet again, just how many of the shoppers alongside me were Dads with toddlers. Said Dads obviously had not woken up, realized that today they had to bring snacks to pre-school and panicked, but had shopping lists and obviously planned to get everything their family needed for the week.

I'm all in favor of stay-at-home dads, but we all know that the economy has generated quite a few dads who now stay at home without ever having planned on doing so.

What really struck me this morning was how many of the dads were laughing and joking with their toddlers. None of the kids had a screaming fit when told they couldn't have fruit snacks, all wore clean clothes and most of the girls had ponytails, braids or other hair accessories. Some of the older children tried to make out letters on the grocery lists.

OK, I confess - I spent much more time people watching than finding pickles; it just struck me as a wonderful bit of humanity at a hard time in our history.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Lord, what fools these mortals be

Two people whom I know slightly seem to be headed toward a court battle. I've tried to clap on my "historian research hat" (sorry, Necromancy, but no feathers) in being aware of the situation, steering a clear path of being involved... but I admit that the part of me that loves People Magazine is fascinated by the mutual mess. Here are the lessons I have observed - already knew, but am now reminded of, yet again:

1) Always always always have a thoroughly legal contract. Do not trust anyone at their word. Write it all down, get it signed and witnessed.

2) For the love of pete, keep your mutual friends and acquaintances out of it.

3) Hanging up on people is immature and only exacerbates the situation. Take a deep breath, be adult enough to say that perhaps you two are misunderstanding each other, and try again.

Had these two people followed these three basic steps, their lives would be a lot less messy, and their legal bills much less expensive, than they are right now.

None of this involves me personally, and I'm hardly cut up about it - I'm just fascinated that three steps which, to me, seem like basic common sense, got so badly over-looked.

Monday, May 02, 2011


Sometimes you just have to square your shoulders and keep on going.