music

amy

I went to see AMY yesterday.

I knew I wanted to see this movie from the moment I became aware of its existence. I knew I would love it. I knew I would leave the theatre angry, frustrated, sad, and smiling.

There wasn’t really anything in the movie that I didn’t already know; no secret confessions; no deep, dark revelations; no surprises. And I’m not anywhere near to being what you would call an obsessed, huge, or even big fan of Amy Winehouse.

There it is: I’m just some average music lover who appreciated the genius of a young singer-songwriter — and I knew all about her.

What is it about us, as a people, that makes us think we have any right to know everything there is to know about celebrities? Why do we build people up to impossible heights, making it equally impossible for them to lead any sort of normal life, and then revel in their inevitable downfall? Listen, I know she had problems, I know she was a substance abuser, I know she had an eating disorder. I know that the general public is not directly responsible for her death, but come on! Truly, I think we all need to take a good hard look at the way we treat the artists we love: actors, musicians, writers. We think someone does a great job, is fantastic at what they do; we admire their artistry, their talent, their gift. Then we harangue and harass them, chasing them down, following their every move, feeling like we deserve to be a part of their lives. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy seeing photos of my favourite artists. But I like to see what they choose to share with us. I don’t like, nor do I or anyone else need to see celeb x caught in an illicit lip-lock with celeb y after midnight in some swanky club, or celeb z stumbling to the curb having been tossed out of a neighbourhood burger joint. It’s none of my business. It’s none of your business. It’s certainly not the business of 142 photographers. We have created this mess. Every living soul has a derailment or two or twenty-eight over the course of their lifetime; we don’t need to try and make every single one of them into a massive train wreck.

Look, I know the drill: the person who needs help has to want the help. You can’t make someone go to rehab and expect that it will stick at all if they don’t want to be there in the first place; but you sure as hell aren’t helping them any by telling them they’re fine and don’t need to go. Amy Winehouse was possessed of a tortured soul. Her struggles gave her the foundation for her artistic expression. She wrote what she lived and I don’t doubt that she relived those experiences every time she breathed life into them on the stage. She was a poet. She was brilliant; she was young; she was scared; she was in over her head. She was sweet; she was funny; she was smart. She was like a firework: we hear the sizzle, the whoosh, the lead-up; then there’s this awe inducing flash, an explosion of colour and light interrupted by the bang/pop that we know came first but just couldn’t keep up; then gone — the absence of the light and colour so stark that you can almost feel it; and we’re left with a lingering puff of smoke dissipating into the atmosphere much faster than we would like.

This movie. I grinned. I chuckled. I grooved. I clenched my jaw. I shook my head. I laughed out loud. I smiled a lot. I cried. I sang. I was prepared for all of the feelings. Some of it was hard to watch, even though I knew what was happening. I had seen it on the news, after all. Some of it was fantastic, simply mesmerizing. I was surprised by what triggered my tears: Tony Bennett. Man, I love this movie.

I do miss you, Amy Winehouse. I would have loved to hear (and feel) whatever else you might have had in store for us.

Categories: loss, love, music, poetry | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

finally!

So here I am, one full week into being 50 years old. Is there any difference to how I felt a week ago? Two weeks ago? A year ago? Ten years ago? Honestly, nope. I know people make a big deal out of these “round” numbered birthdays, some of them having anxiety at leaving yet another decade behind. Not me. I’m 50. #finallyfifity #fiftyisfine #fiftyisfabulous

I feel great, just as I have felt great for the last fifty years. Sure, I have grey hair, but I’ve had that for at least twenty years already. So what? I’m a blonde (albeit dark blonde, so there’s that) so all I do about the grey is get golden highlights added to the silver. That’s actually what I say when I call or text my hairdresser: “I need more gold!” I also have some wrinkles, but you know, I also smile a lot, and those are the ones I have … around my eyes and my mouth. So what? Truth is, if I lost about fifty pounds  I’d probably have a lot more wrinkles —- everywhere! Let’s not jinx anything, but I’m having far fewer migraines than I’ve had in a long time and maybe that’s down to hormonal changes — a benefit of getting older. I have a loving and hardworking partner, a crazy cat and a perfect son. I have an amazing mother and a smart, supportive older brother. Sure, I’ve lost some people and I miss them terribly but I challenge you to find someone who’s been around for fifty years who hasn’t lost anyone. Don’t misunderstand me, it sucks. All the time. But that’s just one part of my life.

Days and weeks fly by like nobody’s business and BoyGenius keeps growing in leaps and bounds, physically, emotionally, intellectually and psychically. I walk my neighbours’ dog, I do laundry, I cook and bake, I work out with a personal trainer two times a week, I’m reading a bit more again, I try to stay involved in the school community and I think a lot. I write in my head (some people call it thinking). I have great ideas for posts, for articles, for letters of complaint or celebration, for poetry (rhyming and otherwise), for artwork. Very little of these come to fruition, not in small part due to the fact that I have these great ideas in the shower or in bed just before falling asleep, or at the grocery store. Those same ideas are really hard to remember — especially now that I’m 50! (JK, LOL) I have a son who keeps me young by forcing me to watch really bad cartoons. In turn, I force him to watch movies and shows that I like .. kind of backfires because he likes most of the same things I do. I have to keep up on video games and their platforms, anime cartoons and graphic novels. I’m busy, I’m healthy and my 10 year old keeps me young.

I had a party for my 50th birthday (while HardWorker tired to keep hers completely secret) but it wasn’t anything big. I just wanted any friends who were able to come have a drink with me at my local pub. My mother wasn’t sure that it was an acceptable form of celebration (she wanted a big bash and had a fancy dress to show off) but by the end she realised it was a good party. My family was there, of course (mom, HardWorker and BoyGenius), my cousin’s son and his friend were here from Germany, my brother and girlfriend came out on the train after work, local friends were there, high-school friends were there, work friends were there. I felt honoured and blessed. One friend who used to work with me drove three hours to have a drink and a visit with me, then drove three hours back home. I hadn’t seen her in almost 10 years. It was magical.

So I’m telling you, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being 50! One of the best things is that I can actually do Molly Shannon’s Sally O’Malley bit without having to fake it. I’m 50! Like Talk Talk said way back in the ’80s: life’s what you make it, can’t escape it …. life’s what you make it, don’t back-date it.

And since music and lyrics play such a large part in my everyday life, even when I don’t want them to, I’m going to leave you with these other words of wisdom from one of my favourite movies (Serendiptiy) as offered by Chantal Kreviazuk: This year is going to be incredible!

Enjoy every year you get.

Categories: family, friendship, music, parenting, words | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

a new year

So here we are, 201213. I’ll get it right eventually. We always do, don’t we?

We had a fairly long holiday season, with a couple of teacher strike days, my mother visiting for three weeks, BoyGenius having 2 weeks off, Christmas and New Year’s celebrations, my brother SkinnyGuy and his girlfriend staying a couple of days, a little bit of  snow, some rain, some fierce winds, a turkey, a toasty warm fireplace and fluctuating temperatures. (Okay, so it probably seemed longer than it was, but still.) We only had one emotional breakdown (me), and it was small. We had four laptops, one desktop, one Wii, various DSes and one (sometimes two) iPads all accessing the internet at the same time. We are way over our usage limit and that reminds me, I need to change that plan. Soon.

I haven’t been here much, writing or even reading. I just haven’t really felt like it. A couple of times I’ve even felt like it would be such a chore to sit down and write something. I hate that. I’ve written and discussed *a lot* of things in my head, they just haven’t traveled down my arms to paper or keyboard. I’ll get it right eventually. Santa brought me some new coloured-ink pens and some new Sharpies! I just bought a new pencil case yesterday so I can keep them out of the reach of others. A friend gifted me with a fancy new writing implement and a gorgeous blank book, with the request that I “keep writing.” But you know what happens with a gorgeous new blank book.

Notebook for writing
Too lovely to use, though; new
Thank you anyway

I have had occasion to scribble a few Haiku here and there in my old, more portable notebook. And lists of songs I want to put on my next compilation CD(s). And grocery lists. And “to do” lists. A few things have even been crossed off. Yes, because they were accomplished.

So, a new year. With the same bills to be paid, the same laundry to be done, the same dinner arguments to have and so on and so on. Don’t get me wrong, good things happened over the holiday season. And a new year comes with all sorts of new possibilities. But when you get right down to it, isn’t every day the start of a new year?

As Chantal says, “This year is going to be incredible….”

Categories: family, friendship, music, words | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Monday’s words — H

So although I’ve been working on a number of posts lately I can’t seem to get to the end of any of them. I hate when that happens. Seriously.

Thankfully, it’s another Monday and so I get to talk about some words since I haven’t even done that lately. This week’s winning entry is the letter H. H is pretty good, it stands on its own and it helps other letters do some really neat stuff.

Some of my favourite H words are halcyon, haberdashery, hyperbole, heart, heartwoodharmony and hoyden.

halcyon — a period of time in the past that was idyllically happy and peaceful. I first heard this word on some television show over 30 years ago. Some campy character blithely referring to those “halcyon days.” My halcyon days were my childhood. Really.

haberdashery — kind of an olde tyme five and dime store, a notions shop. In American english it usually refers to a men’s accessories shop (but not many people even know the term) but in the UK a haberdashery sells buttons, threads, ribbons; in ye olde tymes they might even carry swords or musical instruments. (On Are You Being Served? the haberdashery department is on the ground floor — I love this show.)

hyperbole — exaggeration, intentionally used for emphasis or effect; not to be taken literally. “omgosh, this bag weighs a tonne!” “I waited for days for the cable guy to show up!” (oh wait, that’s actually not an exaggeration at all) “I’m so tired I could sleep for days!”

heart — what can I say? I don’t mean heart as in the muscle, I mean heart as in the place where all our emotions and feelings are kept, where they originate; our capacity for love, caring, compassion; love and affection. You gotta have heart. My heart swells with love and pride when I hear BoyGenius explain how he wants to give his friends some of his favourite things because he doesn’t want them to do without.  My heart aches when I hear of friends who have lost a child to cancer or some other horrid disease. And while the feelings might actually affect my heart (as in the muscle that pumps my blood) it is my heart (as in the repository of my feelings and emotions) that expands and contracts in my chest.

heartwood — while the dense, central wood of a tree is dead and no longer serves to transport water or food to the rest of the tree, it also yields the hardest and strongest timber. It is often darker than the rest of the tree, resistant to decay and sometimes more fragrant than the other wood. I really like the idea that the parts of a tree that have been around the longest are the strongest. I think we need to take a look at people and relationships in the same way. 🙂

harmony — I like harmony in music, harmony in nature, harmony in design. A pleasing combination of elements in a whole; congruity; a simultaneous combination of tones. We see and hear harmony all the time, not paying much attention to it. When we pick colours for our furnishings, carpets and walls, we often create harmony without consciously thinking about it in those terms. When we pick team members for a project at work, we certainly hope for harmony.  If you enjoy cooking you probably work with flavour harmony all the time. Vocal harmonies can be an amazing thing to hear; the Indigo Girls and Simon & Garfunkle are some of my favourite harmonizers.

hoyden — a bold, boisterous and carefree girl; a tomboy. This was definitely me when I was a child …. well, at least the tomboy part. I guess I was carefree as well, but I’m not sure I could have been described as either bold or boisterous; I might be boisterous now, as an adult. You’d have to ask my friends. This is a word that I have come across in literature every now and then, but never actually used in real life. I think I will soon. I like the sound of it and I like what it means, when not being used in a derogatory fashion. ‘Cause I don’t think it should be a bad thing for a girl to be seen as bold, boisterous and carefree … or even a tomboy for that matter.

If you have any favourite H words please let me know about them. I have realized that there are always “new” words to learn and I enjoy finding them, whether I stumble across them on the internet, in a book or in a game like WordsWithFriends or Scrabble or a crossword puzzle.

Categories: music, words | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

thankfulness

Thankfulness. We think about it on Thanksgiving, we might think about it at Christmas and we think about it when a loved one pulls through an illness or gets home safely after a long trip. How many of us give it any thought on a regular basis?

There are many things I am thankful for and there are some that I think of every day. There are some that I don’t think of often enough and there are some thoughts of thankfulness that are triggered daily by songs on the radio or the sound of BoyGenius’ laughter. I am thankful for the opportunities presented by the technology of today. I just had a Skype call with my mom and it was so neat to hear how proud of herself she was and how excited at the thought of seeing all of us on a video call. The internet has given us many good things (sure there’s some bad in there, as well) and one is the sense of community that can be felt and grown just by reading what someone on the other side of the continent has written.

I am thankful that Deborah Bryan over at The Monster in Your Closet has given me the opportunity to deliver a guest post as part of her FTIAT (For This I am Thankful) series. I would be equally thankful if you headed on over there to take a look at my little bit of thankfulness.

Thank you. ♥

Categories: music, words | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

thinking of you

I’ve been mulling something over in my head trying to figure out which could possibly be worse: not missing someone when they’re away or missing them when they’re present. Have you experienced either (or both) of these feelings? Both seem wrong but more importantly both, somehow, also seem right.

There is a poem by E. E. Cummings that states:  carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart) I am never without it (anywhere I go you go, my dear; and whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling) and there is a song that Pete Yorn sings that says: I keep thinking of you, you’re on my mind, for the fifty seven thousandth time this morning. Both of these do well to illustrate why it’s right or okay to not miss someone while they are away. If you are my friend, my lover, my family, you are with me always. I carry your heart with me and I am never without it. You are on my mind and I keep thinking of you. How can I miss you if even when I dream you are right beside me, every step of the way? I talk to you all the time and I can envision just how it will be when I see you again. You may not be here with me in a tangible state but you are always with me. So really, don’t worry if I don’t miss you while you are off somewhere other than here.

whether I miss you or not, I still love you

Now for the other half of the original conundrum; it’s a little bit harder to explain. I don’t have a handy poem or a song that springs to mind to help me illustrate what I mean. But I think you can probably all imagine or remember this feeling. You are with someone, you spend time together but you’re not really connecting. You realize you miss them. You might be sitting in the same room when that overwhelming feeling of, oh I don’t know what to call it, kind of like “homesickness” hits you. This seems like it can only be a bad thing. But I don’t think that’s true. If you are my friend, my lover, my family, you are indeed always with me in my heart, in my mind, in my soul. That doesn’t mean that I always know what you’re thinking or feeling. It doesn’t mean that I get to spend enough time with you. It doesn’t mean that even though you are physically right beside me I couldn’t do with being a little closer to you. I get a “pang” when you and I part ways in the parking lot. I get a little misty sometimes when I look at you over there on the other end of the couch. Sometimes I think it sucks, this idea that I can miss you while you’re right here. But sometimes I let it remind me of just how much I love you, how deeply I care for you. And it makes me smile. It makes me realize that as close as I am to you, I love you so much that I would gladly be closer.

Categories: family, friendship, music | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Response to a musical challenge: It is exactly what it was like.

My friend Chris over at from the bungalow posted a challenge the other day and there was no way I could pass it up.  The toughest thing about it was picking just one song.  So for what it’s worth, here it is:

I was sitting in the passenger seat of my friend’s vehicle while she ran into some store or other to pick something up or exchange something.  “I want you to listen to this song,” she had said just before she got out, setting up a particular track, leaving me with the stereo on and the CD liner notes in my hand.  It was December, cold and snowy outside and I was feeling warm and cozy in the truck.

When she returned I was in tears.  “I’m sorry,” she said, “I just wondered if that’s really what it was like, how true a portrayal this is.”  It is exactly what it was like.

My friend had given me a copy of Karine Polwart’s Under this Earthly Spell CD as a gift months before.  I had read the liner notes and lyrics (as I am wont to do).  I had listened to the CD any number of times already.  How had I missed this?  How did this not knock me flat the very first play-through?  I know for a fact that I had read the bit about this song being written for an AIDS project.  I know for a fact that I had read how it was dedicated to a real mother and a real son.  I know for a fact that I had listened to track 6 already.  More.Than.Once.  Apparently, however, while I had indeed listened, I hadn’t ever heard it.  I’m guessing I just hadn’t wanted to hear it.  It is exactly what it was like.

copyright Karine Polwart / hegri music

This time, this December day, in a month that was still such an enemy to me, while I was safely ensconced in what amounted to a den of love and compassion, this time when I listened to Karine Polwart’s  “Firethief,” I actually heard it.  And hearing it, really hearing it for the first time, I felt it.  I felt it from the tip of my intellectual brain down to the foundation of my very being.  I felt it in my head, in my eyes, in my throat, in my gut, in my heart, in my nerve endings, in my spirit and in my soul.  Had I not been sitting in a cushy heated seat, I would have been flat on the floor.  My brother died of AIDS in December 1993.  It is exactly what it was like.

There was a period of time after my brother’s death that I couldn’t listen to a certain song; it made me cry no matter where I was.  Other selections take me back to long nights of pogo-ing together at university pubs.  There are recordings that transport me to the quiet weeks before BlueEyes was hospitalized.  Music was like a life blood for him; it’s the same for SkinnyGuy (my other brother) and me. I am all about music and lyrics: pick up any scrap of paper in my house and it will have snippets of lyrics scribbled on it; I hear music in the wind rushing through trees and in the photocopier spitting out paper.  I have never before had a song paint a picture for me and take my breath away like “Firethief” does.  It is exactly what it was like.  And I love it.  It’s a glorious song and for all its inherent heartache, it lifts me up.  It courses through me and envelopes me in love.  Thank you, Karine.  Thank you so much for writing this song.

If you would like to hear Karine sing this amazing selection, please follow this link:  Firethief Live

Categories: music | Tags: , , , | 13 Comments

Music. A note to a friend.

Music.  You are music.  You are melody, you are lyrics, you are rhythm.  Music has made so much more sense since you came into my life.  Well, I mean my musical choices, my likes and loves.  I hear music in my head all the time; it can be the wind in branches and leaves, it can be rushing traffic, it can be gulls and waves on the shore, it can be on the stereo or a passing someone’s mp3 player.  I hear it in nature, I hear it in stores, I hear it on the radio.  I awake and hear it in my head.  Sometimes the first thread of lyrics that I hear upon awakening amazes me; I don’t know if that song was playing in a dream I was having or if it was the last thing I heard before falling asleep.

Before you came into my life I had periods of musicality but I also had periods of stillness.  I still kept up with whatever new music was coming out, listened to my old favourites, sang a bit, but I think my soul and my spirit were in a quiet phase.  I didn’t feel music coursing through me the way I did when I was much younger, the way I do again now.  Truth is, though, that I wasn’t aware that it was missing.  There was enough substance, melodically and lyrically, to keep me in a state of existence.  Then you came along and all of a sudden my entire being was humming with tunes and words.  There was a reason I had collected snippets of lyrics, fragments of songs and stored them away.  It all came together.  A vibration began inside of me that had long been laying dormant, waiting for the first string to be plucked.  Now, once again, my soul sings and my spirit flies on wings of melody and lyrics.  You know how much I love the written word and what are lyrics but written words set to music.  How can you beat that?  The real beauty is that I am now finding myself surrounded by music all the time.  It is everywhere; it envelopes me, it cradles and cushions me, it pushes and prods me.  I hear music in the dishwasher running, I hear music in the rhythm of the garbage truck stopping and starting at every house on the street.  It’s not just on the radio or in tv theme songs.  It is everywhere.

I am no longer simply in a state of existence.  I am alive, I am singing and dancing and laughing and crying and you did that for me.  You are my music.  You are my lyrics.  You are my rhythm.  You are my bass line.  You make my toes tap and my fingers drum.  You give me tunes to hum and lyrics to marvel at.  You make my soul sing and my heart dance.  Sometimes it’s too much; it’s overwhelming and I need to withdraw; but even at my lowest, when the tempo of my heart beat has slowed to largo, listening to something, anything, usually brings me back to thoughts of you and even when it has been thoughts of you that took me down, the music and the thoughts that it evokes bring me back to a certain level of bouyancy that allows me to carry on.

You give me the music that is the soundtrack of my life.

Categories: friendship, music | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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