I’ll Remember You

I’ve met some big celebrities before.  Of course “Big Celebrities” is a matter of opinion.  However, when throwing names around- it’s best to use the most popular or notable ones to get your point across.  It’s hard to rank them in order of who is the most important because at the moment the encounter takes place, it’s always the most special of all time.  For instance, I’m post 2 Hours 18 minutes from meeting the multi-talented Michael Nesmith, and it’s currently the greatest thing ever.  But I’m trying to remember that just about a month ago I was calling everyone I knew to tell them I had met Micky Dolenz, and Peter Tork, and Davy Jones’ Daughters because that was the greatest thing to ever happen to me.   It was a different feeling of excitement for all of them.

So here’s where I throw my big names around.  I’ve met Bob Uecker, William Shatner, President George W. Bush & Mrs. Laura Bush (I was an intern at the White House, but didn’t get to meet him til after his Presidency ended— ‘nother blog, ‘nother time),  Alan Alda, Rusty Wallace, and many many many more musicians. 

You can hold me to my word- meeting Michael Nesmith was most definitely the best experience in my lifetime, and that statement won’t change.  I mean it runs so close with meeting President Bush that I can’t distinguish the margin of excellence between both of them because of their warmth and welcoming nature, and jovial attitude and engagement  really created an atmosphere that I will always be able to go to as my happy place when I need it.  The feeling of those moments will never go away.

The anticipation of meeting Michael was almost too much for me today….the butterflies in my stomach, the racing heartbeat of what happens if the venue doesn’t have my approval to go back stage, what do I say to Nez, what if the cab driver doesn’t get me there on time??  Too much to worry about !!  I wanted so badly for everything to come out perfect. 

To begin with the concert portion, I really enjoyed the set up of it.  The stage was no more than 15 feet away from the 2nd row of tables.  Behind the tables were cushioned bench seats.  I couldn’t have chosen a better seat, just off middle center. Truth be known, when tickets went on sale, it was such a mad rush to make sure that I had anything, that I clicked randomly on an open single seat.  The stage also seemed a bit cozy, in such that the other 4 musicians and Mike did not have much room to move around.

The show started and everyone cheered and stood up and clapped and clapped past when I’m sure he thought we were going to stop.  When I saw him with the Monkees last November, I didn’t really get a chance to see him.  I was so far away that it felt like I was watching on TV.  Not this time… unless it was a 3D retina TV !  I could hear his coat brush against his pants and his tennis shoes scuff the floor.  I took my seat and looked up at him on stage and the tears, uncontrollably started rolling down my cheeks.  I know the first song he was singing “Papa Gene’s Blues”, but I really can’t remember it.  I kept thinking, “Make it stop !  Your eye makeup will run and You still have to get your picture taken later !”  It was just pure joy though, and I couldn’t stop it.   The more I’d smile and laugh the more that came out.   I was sitting there thinking about him and blogs about his dog back home, or favorite parts from the TV show and trying hard to take in every little detail about the concert. 

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Mike would tell the background story of the song before playing it.  He even had a creative and lyrical way of presenting the inspiration for his songwriting that left me feeling in awe of his imagination and creativity.  Many of the original songs he chose to showcase were songs of love or heartache and were defined by a wide range of decades- even before Mike’s time, such as the 20s for “Rio” and “Casablanca Moonlight” up through the 2000’s and the song “Rays”.  I looked at the set list on time weeks before the show.  I know it was a spoiler, but I wanted to make sure I knew what songs he was going to sing because he has sooooo many albums- and no, I did not expect him to sing Monkees songs.  That’s not what this tour was about.  The two songs that kept playing in my head after the show were “Rays” which he described as pertaining to an astronaut in space and a song called “Laugh Kills Lonesome” from a cowboy painting he saw in Montana. 

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Once the show was over (and it was over too fast!), the fortunate few with backstage (blingy) bracelets stayed in our seats while the general audience people left and the tables were cleaned up.  We were moved to another room that had red chairs around the perimeter of the room.  In one corner of the room was a very small stand for him to use to sign autographs.  I sat with my two friends, but kept  leaning forward and I saw him coming down the hallway from my corner seat, and he was already smiling.  This is what for me started to set the mood.  The air about him was not emitting a feeling of reluctance or this being another chore or something the manager set up for him to do. 

I took note because of two of the above people I mentioned as “Big Names” , their actions put a daper on the experience.  They were almost silent, non-smiling and made you feel like they just wanted to get it done as fast as possible. 

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Mike had changed out of his stage clothes (a button down black shirt and tie, with blue jeans and a blazer) and into a flannel shirt, that I very much wish I were wearing ! 🙂

He greeted everyone and looked around.  This one lady just walked right up to him and hugged him.  What a greeting !  With how shy I am, I didn’t want to have people in line around me hearing what I had to say to him- luckily they didn’t, except for those that were at the end of the line, but near the table.  He started the line on the wall closest to him (3 walls only).  I was in the corner on the 2nd wall talking to my friends who also are recording artists and regulars at Nez’s Video Ranch on the weekends.  We were talking and laughing to pass the time.  Before I knew it, I was up next.

“Whose next?” I remember him asking.

“That’s me,” I said and stood up and walked across the room.  He was watching me walk across the room!  It was as scary as when you have to give a speech in front of the class and no one really wants to listen to you and is scowling.  Well that’s how unnerving it felt to me.

As I got closer, he extended his hand and said it was nice to meet me and thanks for coming, what was my name.  His hands were so soft.  I guess I mention that because I didn’t expect them to be from playing the guitar. 

Now, Mike is much taller than me, and I wasn’t speaking so loud so he kept bending in closer to hear me.

I took the first collage out of the envelope that I had created for my mom’s autograph (she didn’t make the trip to Chicago for this so I wanted to do this as a special surprise for her).  Mom wanted me to just give him the message that she had loved him always.  So I asked him to please sign the picture for her.  He told me I was a very nice daughter to do that.  The pictures were from one of our favorite Monkee episodes.  It’s called “Never Look a Gift Horse In the Mouth.”  I always liked it because it was about Davy and a horse and you saw him racing on the beach, and he and the guys were working on a farm.  Just all things I love.  Mom liked the song sequence when Michael was singing Papa Gene’s Blues and he winked at the camera.  I took some screen shots of that and put them in a collage.  I remember he asked me twice how to spell her name. 

Then I fumbled with the rest of the pictures that I had in my hand, not knowing which to give him.  I decided to bring out the small 5×7 picture of he and I at the Video Ranch from earlier in the year.  He was seated in a chair on the edge of the dance floor and I was dancing next to him.  I had it with me in March when I met his son, Christian.  I never thought I’d get the chance to see Nez in person so I had Christian sign it because he and I were talking about the Ranch.  

Michael looked at the picture for quite a while and thought it was a real cute idea.  He asked if that was me in the picture.  So he signed it, but didn’t personalize it with my name.  That’s ok.  I was so flustered anyway. I have an autograph that he sent through the mail when I bought his books. 

I don’t know if he expected me to bring out the other pictures that I had in my hand, but I didn’t because I didn’t want to take advantage of the situation.  The way I feel and the way I perceive him, is that I don’t want to upset him in any way, by being basically a “pain the ass”, or immature.  I wanted to be conscious of how he was feeling.  I had overheard a conversation (and we all know how reliable hearsay is) that people kept telling him they loved him, and he wanted to know do you love me or the guy I played on a tv show.  So since all the pics I had were from the Monkees TV show, it’s probably better that I didn’t bring them out.

So with nothing on the table to sign, it was time for our photograph together.  He put his arm around my shoulder.  I put my hand on his back and his flannel shirt was so fuzzy and warm.  I just wanted to cuddle up with him the rest of the night.  We stood there for a while to make sure the picture would come out right.  The camera lady was a bit unsure (but she did a good job) so I asked her if she wanted the flash on.  Mike said that the flash really didn’t help or work well in this room. (side note- we still had our arms around each other at this point- sigh)  We looked at the thumbnail pic on the screen before parting… each saying a plethora of thank you back and forth to each other.  I walked back to my seat where my friends “The Pondhawks” were on their way up to meet him.

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They and I waited with two other people until the entire conversation meet and greet session was over.  He waved and said goodnight.  We followed him out of the room and he waited for the elevator, waving so-long.

There were so many more things that I wish I had said to him.  I wanted to tell him to hug his puppy-dog Dale for me.  I wanted to tell him how much I admire him (I love him dearly, but I think he’s more appreciate me being an adoring fan than to say I love him when I don’t really know him), I wanted to ask him how he named the various places at the Ranch, tell him how much I like his lyrics and how certain ones pop out at you even though you’ve sung the song tons of times.  I shouldn’t be so hard on myself though or compare it to meeting the other guys because I was able to handle myself better with Peter, Micky and Christian.  Well, I have to remember that I had a 2nd chance with all of them.  Two days in a row, I stood in line to see the afore mentioned so I had the chance to calm it down.

In all, I’m not disappointed one bit.  I’d still like to do this once in a life time opportunity again.   It’s almost like…. I’ve met Mike Nesmith, my heart is full; I’m content.  I can’t think of many others stars that I can say I want to meet, but maybe I’ll still strive for Arlo Guthrie and David Ogden Stiers. 

Here’s a link  to the rest of the pictures from the concert. https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10200174020168049.1073741830.1077830858&type=1&l=bc8f8ac7f4
 

The title of this blog “I’ll Remember You” is in tribute to a song Nez wrote and recorded on his The Newer Stuff Album.  Lyrics here. http://www.morethanweimagine.com/newerstuff/ill_remember_you.html

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Vincent (Starry Starry Night)

In this section, I have begun featuring song lyrics and other music related topics that I find are really compelling and meaningful.  At least they serve a purpose in my world.  Beyond that, because I do not listen to much mainstream music, I thought it would be a great way to share some of the lesser known songs with others.  That seems like a totally irrelevant statement because what I’m posting today is Don McLean and Don McLean is by no means a lesser known artist.  It’s just that I don’t know ANYTHING of his other than American Pie.

Tonight while I was at “the ranch” (that would be VideoRanch 3D a virtual 3d world on the internet where live musical programs are brought to you by 3 different hosts, as well as musical performances that occur in realtime, attended by a virtual audience (YOU) from all over the world.  – brought to you by your favorite Monkee Michael Nesmith) I heard a song that was new to me.  That’s what I love about spending Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights at VideoRanch.  I not only can dance in a way that I don’t look freakish, and chat with friends, but I am exposed to soooo much new music that every week, I’m finding myself looking up an artists’ catalogs for the songs.

Tonight’s “DoonTube” featured Don McLean’s song Vincent (Starry Starry Night).

The song is basically made up of two things that I really don’t fancy too much- Poetry and Art (because it’s hard for me to interpret the abstract thus those two topics become frustrating).  I feel that McLean was trying to explain the art of Vincent Van Gogh to me so that I could understand his paintings and not be frustrated by it.  I like it when a songwriter can make their music so visual and tell stories in their music, and I think Don McLean did an amazing job with these lyrics.  I’m not familiar with Van Gogh’s background, so the significance of some of the lyrics are lost to me, but that doesn’t make me appreciate it any less.  For some reason, this song stuck to me like a band-aid and I really really like it.

This video from YouTube was put together nicely (by someone other than me) and fits the song well.  Please enjoy as I have.

Starry, starry night
 Paint your pallet blue and gray
Look out on a summer’s day
 With eyes that know the darkness in my soul
Shadows on the hills
Sketch the trees and the daffodils
Catch the breeze and the winter chills
In colors on the snowy linen land
And now I understand
What you tried to say to me
How you suffered for your sanity
How you tried to set them free
They would not listen
They did not know how
Perhaps they’ll listen now
Starry, starry night
Flaming flowers that brightly blaze
Swirling clouds of violet haze
Reflect in Vincent’s eyes of China blue
And now I understand
What you tried to say to me
How you suffered for your sanity
How you tried to set them free
Perhaps they’ll listen now
For they could not love you
But still your love was true
And when no hope was left in sight
On that starry, starry night
You took your life as lovers often do
But I could have told you Vincent
This world was never meant
For one as beautiful as you
Starry, starry night
Portraits hung in empty halls
Frameless heads on nameless walls
With eyes that watch the world and can’t forget
Like the stranger that you’ve met
The ragged men in ragged clothes
The silver thorn of bloody rose
Lie crushed and broken on the virgin snow
And now I think I know
What you tried to say to me
How you suffered for your sanity
How you tried to set them free
They would not listen
They’re not listening still
Perhaps they never will

Besides Beethoven: The 4 other unlikely people I have pictures of decorating my bedroom wall

 My intern at work, asked me today what I was listening to over lunch.  She was polite enough to ask, unlike other co-workers who roll their eyes and give me a puzzled look when I plug in my MP3 player and put it on random.  Any one passing my desk could potentially hear anything ranging from Bluegrass such as “Pig In a Pen” or “Take an Old Cold Tater and Wait” or Glenn Miller and the Big Bands, Irish Jigs & Reels, the absolute best Classical pieces, Oldies, Heavy Metal like Rob Zombie  & Ozzy or even the surprise Lady Gaga song.  It just depends on my mood.

I would say my taste in music is eclectic, but to say that is so cliché and I hate cliché.  But it is false to say that I appreciate all kinds of music because actually I’m really picky.  My country music has to sound a certain (traditional) way; I have to have the right amount of piano (not too much) in my classical music, etc. etc. etc.

My list of favorite singers, artists and bands, could go on and on, but I’d like to highlight four of my favorite story-teller singers that so often get overlooked when they aren’t/weren’t played on the radio. 

Harry Chapin~~~Arlo Guthrie~~~

Lyle Lovett~~~Michael Nesmith

This kind of music seems to be what is soothing to me these days.    And also what caught the ear of my intern as I previously mentioned.    She was sitting across the room scanning documents.  I thought my music was only low enough for me to hear, but I mis-judged that.  Her bewilderment as I repeated the Harry Chapin lyrics for her was as if she had actually just heard me playing some gang-banger, cop-shooting rap song.  (gee whiz, it’s a good thing she didn’t hear the “Sniper” song…. You look up that one yourself if you’re curuious).

 
He barely made the sweeping curve that lead into the steepest grade
And he missed the thankful passing bus at 90 miles an hour
And he said God, make it a dream
As he rode his last ride down
And he said God make it a dream
As he rode his last ride down.
And he sideswiped 19 neat parked cars
Clipped off 13 telephone poles
Hit 2 houses, bruised 8 trees
And blue-crossed 7 people
It was then he lost his head,
Not to mention an arm or two before he stopped
And he smeared for 400 yards
Along the hill that leads into Scranton, Pennsylvania
All those thirty thousand pounds of bananas

So my mom’s got great taste in music and a lot of what I like stems from what I grew up listening to.  I remember when I was in my crib leaning over the side to click the button on the 8-track player.  I think it was just the sound of it clicking and seeing a new number light up that tickled my toddler mind.  Something more stayed in there though because when I started compiling a CD for my mom’s birthday so many songs came back to me.  My sister suggested a  Harry Chapin montage.  Naturally the only song I knew (or thought I knew) was “The Dance Band on the Titanic”, but as I sampled more songs on Amazon.com I realized how many had been tucked away in the filing cabinets of my brain.  “Six String Orchestra”, “Circle”, “Bluesman”, “30,000 Pounds of Bananas”!!!!

Harry’s cool too because he has a cello in the band and that’s my second favorite instrument next to the banjo. 

See Harry answering questions about his songs (and check out other performances too)

Mom also got me interested in Arlo Guthrie too.  I’ve seen him in concert 3 times the last 5 years.  I almost drove up to Lake Superior this year to make it a 4th time, but I couldn’t get off of work. =(   It’s just as fascinating to hear him tell a story on stage as it is to sing.  What is appropriate for me to say here……maybe….I think he’s far out.

Arlo is commonly known for “Alice’s Restaurant” or his more famous father, Woody Guthrie.  (Side note, I still specifically remember learning to sing “This Land is Your Land” in grade school in Mrs. Archie’s music class at the old Maple Grove Elementary School.  I think what made me remember it is the vision that my brain saw while singing it.  I saw the words on the paper in the book, but my mind was seeing a pastel pallet of colors and dust and sparkles)  But Arlo is much more than his father’s son.  He’s a classy hippie and even plays with the symphony !

My favorite songs are “City of New Orleans” and “Rock Island Line” (gotta love a guy who sings to my heart with train songs), “Rambin’ Round”, “Strangest Dream”, “I Ain’t Marching Anymore”, “Guabi Guabi”, “Buffalo Skinners” “Grocery Store Blues” “I’m Changing My Name to Fannie Mae”

I’ve been feeling sort of nostalgic these days.  Can a thirty-something person even be nostalgic?  Have there been enough years to classify it as such?  It started, I suppose, when I found my teenage and high school papers. Then when the Monkees came back to Milwaukee two weekends ago, and I realized I hadn’t seen them in concert in 24 years.  Saying that alone made me feel old! 

I think I started listening to the Monkees because of mom as well.  She at least aided me when I acquired her records when I was a child.  It also could have been the TV show marathons on Nickelodeon.  I remember the one birthday in particular when I got my own first record.  Mom made it into a treasure hunt with clues, that eventually lead me to the stereo where I found the wrapped up LP.  They (minus Mike) were also my first concert experience.  Aug 27, 1987 at the Marcus Ampatheater, and our seats were way in the back.  I’m not going to bring up the story of how I got the free tickets and Pool It, their latest record because that incident caused a mini family feud for a while…. and sometimes I’m not quite over it. 

Michael Nesmith of the Monkees definitely makes my list.  Even independent of the Monkees, I love to listen to Mike’s songs.  He has such a soothing voice that I would listen to anything he sang so it’s hard to pick out just a few of my favorite songs, but if I had to make a list of songs that I think “Michigan Blackhawk” “My Share of the Sidewalk”, “Papa Gene’s Blues” “All the Kings Horses” “Nine Times Blue” “You Told Me” “Daily Nightly”  “Auntie’s Municipal Court” (Peter said Mike sure had a way of naming songs that had nothing to do with them)  And the list just keeps going on and on.  I wish I could name some news songs, older songs or hits that just keep on coming for you, but my package hasn’t arrived in the mail yet 😉  You really have to read his lyrics to understand sometimes.  Not so much in this instance, but my favorite stanza comes from the first song I mentioned.  “Up to the sunlit mountains, down by the silver sea
Well the tale is told from memory of a finely woven symphony
Forever heard without a word to disturb its melody”        http://www.morethanweimagine.com/

Lyle Lovett began to intrigue me in the 90’s.  He doesn’t fit into just one genre of music, but I found him through the country music scene.  Except for one double CD set he put out called Step Inside This House, Lyle has recorded all of his own music and had very few co-writers.  I think that is very impressive. 

He and Harry Chapin have those clever lyrics where you have to stop and wonder if you really heard what he just said.  They have a vocabulary of lyrics that you wouldn’t think to find in songs. 

Again it’s hard to list my favorites, when there are so few that I dislike. “If I Had a Boat” “Church” “If I Were the Man You Wanted” “I Will Rise Up/Ain’t No More Caine” “Up in Indiana”

All these guys are exactly the type that make you wish that you could sit down with a guitar and make the same kind of magic.  So if you really want to be entertained pick an artist, pop in a CD and enjoy. And if you need any advice about which songs are worth a listen, I’d be happy to make up a list for you.