artist educator, singer songwriter, multi-instrumentalist
I took last week off, partly because I was so busy, but mostly because spring has arrived, turning my thoughts to my yard and gardens. I just couldn't tear my self away and come indoors to write. So, I hope you'll bear with me while I adjust to the nicer weather and figure out how to continue this writing while being called outside.
I started telling you about the albums that have influenced me and why. I started with Tarkio Road by Brewer and Shipley. The next one is Revolver by The Beatles. This album came out in 1966. I was 13 years-old and totally in love with The Beatles, though I was not a screaming fan like so many others. Of course, Paul was the heart throb, and he certainly was nice to look at. John was definitely a songwriting hero, but George was the one I had a crush on. I was a card-carrying member of the Beatles Fan Club and wore a velour olive green Beatles hat. I wore that hat everywhere and argued with my girlfriends about who was the better Beatle. I had a "Help" soundtrack songbook for piano and learned all of the songs from that movie. And, I had seen the movie over and over again at our neighborhood theater, where I could pay $1 and see the same movie all day long.
When Revolver came out, I was already starting to question my parents' values. Taxman and Eleanor Rigby had a profound effect on me. And, the music had suddenly changed. It was with this album that they introduced the use of studio effects to color the music. It opened my eyes in more ways than one. I loved everyone of their albums and loved hearing them grow as musicians. As a young teen, I already had a very eclectic taste in music, due to my father's influence, but The Beatles were teaching me that even within a specific genre of music, I could continue to evolve. There have been other musicians who were successful in that way too, such as Joni Mitchell, but The Beatles were the first for me. Diversity has continued to be a very important part of my music and my songwriting.
In the Facebook game, I was limited to 10 albums. It was so hard to pick. I'm not going to go into great detail for every one , but the rest of them are "Innervisions" - Stevie Wonder, "Overnight Sensation" - Frank Zappa, "Aoxomoxa" - Grateful Dead, "Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys" - Traffic, "Give it Up" - Bonnie Raitt, "4-Way Street" - Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, "Tapestry" - Carole King and "Billie Holiday Sings" - Billie Holiday. Some of the ones that didn't make the list are Rumours by Fleetwood Mac, American Beauty by The Grateful Dead, Dreamboat Annie by Heart, Between the Lines by Janis Ian, Never Letting Go by Phoebe Snow, the self titled Rickie Lee Jones. The list could go on and on. I haven't even touched on the folk albums, Motown or the jazz and blues albums. It was almost impossible to choose only 10. And, tomorrow I might pick completely different ones. I've always said that I don't do favorites very well. It's ever-changing.
Like most people, I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. I hate the lack of security, but I agreed to that. If I'm going to be on the internet, a high-speed highway for information, I'd better understand what I'm getting into, and I do love the ease of reaching a wide audience. I hate when it sucks too much of my time, but I get to choose what I spend my time on and, because it's so addictive, I've had to learn to manage my time better. That's been a huge gift. I love being in contact with a lot of my community, however, I hate the distance Facebook fosters, too. When I say distance, I'm talking about the reduced effort on all of our parts to maintain our connections. We've gotten lazy. We don't bother to pick up the phone and call a friend to make plans or see how they've been. We get regular updates. We can create events on Facebook with no need to extend a personal invitation to friends or family. It's a disturbing reality to me. The only voices I hear anymore are the people I encounter in a day. Although I do get phone calls from my kids, grand-kids and an old friend who lives a long distance away. We message each other and even have a new written slang complete with emojis. :-)
Now that I've gotten that off my chest, I also love some of the games. Not the quizzes, though they are definitely interesting, but the games that people start. Some of them are not that appealing, but once in a while, one will grab me. Currently, I'm posting 10 albums, one a day and tagging someone each day to play along. I know, I know. It's a waste of time. But, is it? It's gotten me thinking about music that I don't always think about. The game rules say there is no need to explain. I find myself wanting to say something about why I picked each one, what was their significance? Do I cover any of the songs on the albums? Do I want to? Did they help me through a rough patch? Do I still listen to them? I'm on day 7 of this game and find myself wanting to just keep posting without tagging anyone. It's been really inspirational and fun. So, I'm going to share them with you here as a blog series. Feel free to comment and tell me what albums you would choose.
Day 1: Tarkio Road - Brewer & Shipley
I was given this album by my dad before it was released. He was the editor-in-chief for our local newspaper and often brought home music, books or other things sent for review. He was a staunch Conservative Republican and huge supporter of Richard Nixon. One of his prized possessions was a photo of him shaking hands with then president Nixon. Imagine my surprise when I started listening to this album. My mom and dad, disdainful of the rock & roll of the day, probably never listened to the lyrics in "One Toke Over the Line" or maybe weren't as familiar with the term "toke" as I was. They certainly didn't listen to the lyrics in "Oh, Mommy." They would ahve been appalled!
I ain't no commie
I'm just doing what I can to live the good all American...Way
It says right there in the constitution
It's really A ok to have a revolution
When the leaders that you choose
Really don't fit the shoes
I ain't no sister
I believe in the bill of rights come on don't you start a fight...Please
I like to wear my hair long
How can there be anything wrong
When you already 'cused me twice
Of looking like Jesus Christ Hallelujah
I'm only gettin' tired of playing Punch and Judy
I'm really half a mind to go and do my duty
Like Mr. Patrick Henry said
I got to be free or dead
I ain't a fixin'
To speak Spanish on a plane or polish off the liberty...Bell
I just want to sit here on the shelf
And watch you finish off the place by yourself
Please let me do what I wanna
I'll just lay around the house and smoke Marijuana oohoo
It says right there in the constitution
It's really A ok to have a revolution
When the leader that you made
Just don't make the grade
I ain't no commie
But I hate to bust your bubble cause there's gonna be some trouble...Soon
That song said it all to me. I was already climbing over onto the left side of the fence, and this song and others nailed it. I felt like I getting away with something important ... a covert musical operation within my ultra-conservative home. I wore this album out and bought one or two more over the course of my life. Then, my dad gave me another copy when I got an 8-track player component for my stereo. He's probably turning over in his grave now. Thanks, Dad.
I'm writing my blog posts later than usual because of a trip to Maine to visit with family over Easter and also because of unexpected delays. I've had quite a week and it's made me very reflective. On Thursday, my usual writing day, I drove 6 hours to come home and spent a good bit of that drive reminiscing, regretting and feeling very angry. It was a good cathartic thing to do, and I'm going to share some of my thoughts with you.
I have three children, all with the same man. They are now 42, 39 and 27. Their father died when our youngest was 16. It was a very quick, though not unexpected, and very gruesome lung cancer death. We were not together at the time, though he was still one of my best friends, one of my oldest friends, and we still loved each other very much. When he died, I lost the details of many shared memories. He was always the archivist but kept it all in his head. I also lost much of the music we had performed and written together since he never wrote things down, and I didn't play instruments at the time. His death shook all of us to our very core. I had never stopped loving him but couldn't live with him any longer. We were destroying each other.
Over the years, we worked together managing many dramas together, even after we had split up. It was always comforting knowing that he was there. Since his death, there have been many more dramas, some worse than either of us could have ever imagined. I've stood strong, dealing with them to the best of my ability, always wishing he was here with me throughout it all and missing him terribly. We have two sons, who have seen their share of troubles. If their dad was here, he would react very differently than me. He would have a way of talking to them that they would actually hear and respect. Not that they don't respect me, but I do it differently, not always elegantly, and I'm a woman. I don't understand how to be a man, and sometimes, that's what's needed.
Now there is turmoil again, and I feel angry. I'm angry that he left me to deal with this by myself. It wasn't meant to be this way. We made these children together and were supposed to raise them together. It is more than one person can handle. Equally, I feel broken-hearted that my children haven't had him when they've needed him the most. I've had other men in my life, but they are not their fathers. They didn't see them come into the world and know them for their entire lifetimes. They didn't have that inescapable bond that comes from welcoming your child into the world. Even adoptive parents welcome their child and experience a special bonding that comes from the anticipation and joy of finally holding their child in their arms.
When my youngest son was going through an unbelievably difficult time, many friends encouraged me to walk away. His father would not have done that. He would have understood that I could never walk away and leave him with nobody. He would never have turned his back on him. Those friends were well-meaning but many of them are childless. They couldn't possibly understand. Also, not one of my friends had ever experienced this particular trauma. Once in a while, I would encounter a stranger who had a similar experience and would encourage me to go with my gut feelings and not abandon my son. Unbeknownst to them, they saved me. I felt sad and missed his dad terribly during that time. My son recovered, and we've been working on mending our relationship, little by little, because it really is that important.
Now here I am again, but this time, I feel enraged that he neglected his health to the point that there was no recovery possible. He knew that both of his parents had cancer, yet he continued to smoke - and not just a little. He came to one of my parties once gasping for breath, walking a short distance, catching his breath then going a little further and stopping again until he reached the smoking area. He joked about the fact that he lived on coffee and cigarettes and that it would kill him someday. I didn't think it was funny, and it turned out to be all too true. He was 51 years old when he died, exactly a month to the day after having gotten his diagnosis. There was not enough time for our children to ask him questions, no time for him to arrange things, and he left me with a mess to deal with. At the time, I just rolled up my sleeves, helped him die with dignity and grace, reminding that I loved him and settled his affairs after he was gone. I did my best to help my grieving children and stuffed my own grief until a better time to let it out. And I did grieve, but now I'm furious, and
... "there's nothing left to do but smile, smile, smile."
On our wedding day, April 5th, 1975, Santa Cruz, California.
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