Tag Archives: music

(I’ll be loving you) Always

My grandfather, who I affectionately refer to as “Deda,” passed away just about a month ago.  As I’ve already mentioned, Mom and I have been staying with Grandma.  Today would have been their 65th Wedding Anniversary.

The song in the title has been swimming in my head for almost two months.  You see, it’s their song.  My connection with music has always been one I’ve shared with my grandparents, who taught me to dance the foxtrot at age 10 (they tried to teach me the lindy and others, but I didn’t take as well to those unfortunately).  A few years ago, I’d dressed up ’40s style and came to sing to them on their Anniversary.  And of course, I sang “Always.”  (This site has a nice explanation and lyrics of the song.)

I spend a lot of time now remembering; but I know the biggest and most important lesson I’ll learn was the last one they taught me together, summed up in that old familiar song…

It was the lesson I learned when my 92-year-old grandfather, the night before he was rushed to the emergency room, had to take the extra steps– walker in hand and aide behind– to kiss my grandmother goodnight, because he couldn’t let her go to sleep without kissing her.  As he walked into the bedroom, he told us– my mother, the aide and I– that she was his life.

It was the lesson I learned when, on a respirator, unable to speak, he mouthed “I love you” to my Grandma.

It was the lesson I learned when my Grandma, who’s been very sick herself for about a year, forces herself to get dressed and out of the house every day for two weeks straight, and still after, several times a week, to visit Deda in ICU: An old woman, sitting in a wheelchair, near the bedside of an old man, on a respirator, on a feeding tube, IVs scattered about: holding hands.

And even though it was difficult, she’d force herself to stand almost every night, just to look into his eyes, touch his face, brush his hair back with her hand, maybe kiss his shoulder.

For a single 25-year-old, I don’t think there could be a stronger image of what it means to be there for someone “in sickness and in health, for better or for worse.”  And I sat there for days and stared at the epitome of “in sickness” and “for worse.”

But my grandparents meant those vows when they said them.  And they meant them every time they danced them as well. “Not for just an hour, not for just a day, not for just a year, but Always.*”

Happy Anniversary, Grandma and Deda, even though this year you’re spending it apart.  And Thank You, for every moment, lesson, and story- big or small.

[The picture is my grandparents’ engagement photo– one of my very favorites of them.]

*Irving Berlin, Always, 1925

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Food Network and “bright” lemons

Yesterday marked my 101st post.  I’ll get around to details eventually, but in the 3 months since I last posted, I’ve spent the past two living in my grandmother’s house.  Due to Grandma and Deda (what I call my grandfather)–and now Grandma since Deda passed away– needing some extra help, Mom and I have decided to stay here.

I mention this because the biggest creative longing in my heart lately– something I’ve blogged about here before– is: cooking!

Grandma loves the food network, so although we’d normally gravitate to HGTV, we watch a lot of food now.  I’ve come to love it, actually.  Food allergies and all, I’ve come to be excited about the different ingredients.  To wonder about all the tastes I’ve never experienced.

We watch “Chopped” and I’m excited to figure out what all the mystery basket ingredients are. “Is that a fruit? A meat?”  I’ve learned about geoduck and buddha’s hand.  And, slowly, I’d like to think I’m learning about things I don’t usually cook– like fish or new and different meats.

The most exciting thing so far, was last night I realized I’m gaining vocabulary.  There are words and phrases we associate with art.  We talk about light, brightness, contrast, texture.  I can use all these visual words easily to talk about music.  I can easily tell you (or sing to show you) what’s a bright sound.  It’s not really a pitch thing, but a timbre thing– and vocal brightness can often be controlled by the shape of your mouth when you pronounce your vowels.  One of the judges on “Chopped” talked about citrus fruits like lemon adding a “brightness” to the food– and suddenly, it clicked.  I understood something about it I hadn’t before.  I’m moving from fingerpainting to learning technique!

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Music, Movies, and More

(Disclaimer: this was written yesterday, and somehow didn’t get posted– sorry!)

This has been a fantabulous week.  And I do not often use words like fantabulous.  Well, at least I don’t usually write them…

I got some good family news, had another super-successful meeting at school regarding my research, and sorted through some old clothes that were in my closet (this resulted in a pile of clothes I can now donate and my “rediscovering” some things I haven’t worn in quite a while– or never– and love).

Finally, the weekend was off to a great start with a Thursday night visit to The Witches Brew (after watching about half of Tangled, which I really need to finish still).  Then after my meeting yesterday, I ran to the store to pick up some extra flour, went home and made a crumb cake to bring to Movie Night!  This consisted of an awesome group of people gathering together to watch The Goonies outdoors on a beautiful summer night as two of our hosts had not seen it!

It was an amazing couple of nights– out late and completely comfy and joyful.  I woke up today late, which felt as amazing as the sleepiness that took over my body last night as I went to bed at 4:30am… Unfortunately another stomacheache kept me from continuing my weekend in the same fashion– as today was my church’s Beach Day that I was left with no choice but missing… But the day in has been good.  I’m trying to learn that when my body says “stop,” I should take the opportunity and enjoy the day in instead of moping about feeling sorry for my cancelled plans.  I tend to run my body into the ground, so at some times, it will need a rest.  I don’t have to let it ruin my day.

It is also harvest time at my place as the tomatoes are ripening by the day, with any remaining green ones being ready to experiment with and enjoy this new flavor!  The corn is ready and needs to be collected as well, which I may do tonight if my stomach lets up.

Finally, returning to something I haven’t talked about in a bit, here are the first two audio clips from my 52 Songs in 52 Weeks project! This project has been slightly neglected, but I’ve been doing a little singing every week, although perhaps not as seriously as I’d intended.  That said, I’m still committed to working through this list (and there’s still room for suggestions– which continue to trickle in!).  I might post an updated list soon, not sure.

Also, I did not realize that I cannot post mp3’s directly, as WordPress only makes this available with a space upgrade, which is not in the budget right now.  So if you want to listen, I’ve put these in .pps format so you can download them to listen.  I’m much happier with the second track than the first, but part of this journey is about honesty and being fearless enough to try new things, even if imperfectly– so without further ado:

Smackwater Jack
(Goffin/King; from Carole King’s 1971 Tapestry album)

Cheek To Cheek
(Berlin; from the movie Top Hat as performed by Fred Astaire, 1935)

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Unexpected Concert

So Wednesday was a pretty ordinary day.  I had my first meeting up at school about my research, about which I was excited, but mostly nervous.  I’ve felt very stagnant in my intellectual ideas.  Mostly because I’m probably the slightest bit still burnt out from undergrad, which ended just about 2 months ago.  But I do feel ready to take on a new project and look forward to the new adventure and learning.

The meeting went well and I stopped in to visit my friends at my now “old” job.  I wound up staying for quite a while, ate lunch there, and read some of a book that Molecular Sheep was carrying.  It was fun, but eventually it was time to leave as I had a couple more on-campus errands to do.

So I’m printing in the library, when my dad calls.  Mom’s birthday is next week and he informs me that Aretha Franklin, who mom and I love, is playing at the beach that night.  We scurry and wind up getting these amazing tickets for an amazing price.  VIP and the whole bit.  Since neither Mom and I drink, the VIPness was mostly lost on us, except for the free parking and– again, amazing seats.  But I digress.

It was an amazing show and whenever I go to a show lately, I remember how important it is for me, as a singer, to go to shows.  It really is inspiring and you learn something every time.  She did a whole little jazzy section, as well as a gospel section that felt like she was holding church up in there.  And really, she’s Aretha Franklin, who’s going to stop her?  I give her credit for being true to her roots and herself, and not caring about those who may be offended or put off by her beliefs.  Not to say that that’s always the way to go, but it’s refreshing to see someone who’s bold about it as it’s easy, as a Christian myself, to see how oftentimes, people of faith try to sugar coat their faith when speaking about it.  Or even more, to avoid the topic altogether, lest they spark a disagreement.  I’d rather disagree with someone personally.  Let’s disagree and discuss.  Let’s have a dialogue.  And in the same breath as she “held church” singing and shouting “Hallelujah!” she partied down and got the crowd dancing like mad with some old favorites and newly written pieces.  This is why the woman gets (and deserves) the R-E-S-P-E-C-T.  And this is why we love Aretha.  (In addition to her talent and amazing voice.  That woman is sixty-freakin-eight.  And her voice is just as strong and amazing as you could hope.  She really must take care of her instrument right).

So an amazing night was had– a perfect night for a concert with the beautiful sky and weather and a light breeze coming off the water in the outdoor theatre.  And a reminder that, even when you’re having a rough week or an ordinary day– anything can happen.  Anything.

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Hands and Mouths

So one of the things I’m thinking about today is how we can be creative with so many parts of ourselves– it is, in fact, part of our very essence.

We dance with our feet, our legs.  We cook, paint, draw, or sculpt with our hands.  We sing and speak with our mouths.  And that’s if we don’t count every other system that’s involved in these actions.  Muscles, bones, skin.  All of our senses and sense organs– eyes, ears, noses, tongues.  And, perhaps, most of all, our powerful and awesome brains.  And, of course, I’m leaving out a slew of other creative activities and bodily parts.

I’m thinking of this because I want to focus on my singing for a bit, but I also need another outlet to replace my dance class.  And I’m thinking the combination of cooking and singing is a good one.  When I first thought of this today, I thought– oh, I’ll be doing two creative things with my mouth.  And then I realized that I wasn’t thinking about cooking– I was thinking about eating.  🙂  But how cool that I can use this summer to try to be more creative– all over!  (I’m even looking to see if I can find a bellydancing class nearby. I’ve been dying to at least give it a try).

I think I’ve got “Cheek to Cheek” mostly down, completing Song 1 of my 52 Songs in 52 Weeks challenge.  My song for this week, although it was not on my song list, is Natalie Imbruglia’s “Torn.” Now, technically, this is the song for this past week, but I plan on making up the time I lost due to icky stomach feelings.  I already know this song fairly well, so it’ll just be an issue of remembering which verse is which and where it sits in my voice.  Hopefully by next week I’ll get a video or audio clip up.

As for cooking, I bought some packages of yeast last week.  And I’ve been wanting to make something bready– mostly because I feel like I want to work with some kind of dough and bread products seem like, first, a really good way to get your hands dirty, and two, such a simple pleasure– such a basic staple of human existence.  I’ve got in mind something hearty and crusty, maybe something to make a nice sandwich on.

So the question really is:  bagels, pasta, or bread?  I’m leaning towards a simple bread first, then bagels, then pasta— but I’m open to opinions on which you think I should try first.  Or if you have any good recipes– hook me up!  copy and paste, link, or even comment right here!

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Song #1.

So my first song to be covered is Cheek to Cheek.

Some life craziness and a potential stomach bug have been slowing my progress on my first song (thus pushing back the start of Song #2), but I’m not losing hope yet.

I know most of the words and melody now, so it’s more a matter of putting things together when my stomach stops hurting (if any singers are reading– am I being wimpy that I can never seem to sing properly with a stomachache?  If my “support” is compromised this way I just can’t seem to do it…).

So this is just a short post today… but I wanted to be sure to write– and also make sure that I’m not giving up before I even learn one song!

Hope everyone else is having a happy, healthy day!

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Song List

So here’s the list for my 52 songs in 52 weeks project!  I have 13 songs and 12 other artists who I’d like to cover, but have not yet chosen a song.

That only brings me to 25 songs– just about half the number of songs I’ll need. Which means there’s still time for you to weigh in! So if you want me to learn a particular song, comment and let me know!  Or if you see an artist you like and I haven’t decided on a song yet, feel free to give me some ideas– or if there’s an artist or show I’m covering and you think I’m crazy for picking that song, tell me.  And give me another idea!

There is no order for this list, each week I’ll just pick a song I feel up to tackling that week, based on how I feel (and also any encouragement or opinions you post).  Things that come out well will be recorded and posted.

This week’s selection is “Cheek to Cheek” originally sung by Fred Astaire.   More updates to come!

Song List: 
Edge of Seventeen (Fleetwood Mac/Stevie Nicks)
Landslide (Stevie Nicks)
I Love Rock N’ Roll (Joan Jett)
Me and My Bobby McGee (Janis Joplin)
Material Girl *OR* Like a Prayer (Madonna)
You’re So Vain (Carly Simon)

Don’t Know Why I Didn’t Come (Norah Jones)
Cheek to Cheek (Fred Astaire)
Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy (The Andrews Sisters)

The Wizard and I (Wicked the Musical)
Take Me For What I Am (RENT the musical)
All That Jazz (Chicago the musical)
Warm All Over (The Most Happy Fella- musical)

Janet Jackson
Whitney Houston
Barbara Steisand
The Beatles
Bob Dylan
Billie Holiday
Peggy Lee
Joan Baez
Mary Chapin Carpenter?
The Carpenters
Aretha Franklin
Spice Girls?

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