Fantastic Music Machine

The first time I saw this was many many years ago on PBS.  It was a quick filler in between shows.  I’m not sure what made me look it up on You Tube recently.  This type of music making reminds me of The House On The Rock and all the musician-less music machines they have on display.  

 

 

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John Williams

You don’t have to be a classical music lover to be able to identify famous music masterpieces. Sometimes all you have to do is go to the movies (or watch Bugs Bunny cartoons).   It is the outlet that exposes the majority of the population to this genre of music.
In my lifetime I don’t think there will be any greater composer of film scores than John Williams.  

I was lucky enough to be able to see him conduct the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra last Saturday night.  The concert was so popular that it sold out within 4 hours of tickets going on sale. Yeah…..I missed the boat and didn’t get a ticket.  Its not like you can go and find classical music ticket scalpers that easy.

Friday, one hour before the box office closed, I saw a post on facebook that 30 seats had been released and were available til 5pm.  I crossed my fingers and dialed the phone.  Success! !  I got a seat in the 2nd row.  That’s a lot closer than I’m used to sitting.  It feels like you are sitting at the feet of the musicians.  However I think it was a better deal that I missed out and got in on the extra sale because I figure I probably would have been in the balcony so far back that you cant see a thing and it feels like you’re just listening to loud music.  So sitting I the 2nd row was a blessing in disguise.  I could really see him conducting and commanding the notes to flow from the instruments the way that he wanted them to.

Its hard to pick a popular movie without John Williams putting his musical mark on it.   According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article, John Williams wrote the film scores for all but one of Steven Spielberg’s movies.  How exclusive !

The listing of songs, was not initially what I had thought it would be.  I was not complaining though as the number of film scores he wrote is more than I can count.  It must be difficult to decide what to play from city to city.   I made a list of movies that I have seen, but this is not even half of what he has done.  

  1. The Towering Inferno
  2. Jaws 1 & 2
  3. Star Wars  (all 6 and including the next in the series #7)
  4. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  5. Superman
  6. All the Indiana Jones Movies
  7. E.T.
  8. Space Camp
  9. Hook
  10. Jurassic Park
  11. Schindler’s List
  12. Saving Private Ryan
  13. Fiddler on the Roof
  14. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban
  15. Catch Me If You Can
  16. Lincoln
  17. The Book Thief

This is what Saturday’s line up actually contained. 

 

 

John Williams 1

Normally, during the concert I’ll watch my favorite musicians.  But this time I couldn’t see many of them so I just kept on watching John Williams.   He didn’t spend a lot of time talking to the audience, but when he did he had witty anecdotes such as when Steven Spielberg and he watched Schindler’s List together.  Williams said to Spielberg after a quiet moment alone that he deserved a better composer for such a compelling film.  Spielberg agreed…. and then added, that anyone better (than Williams) was dead. 

It’s different to hear film scores as opposed to going to hear a regular symphony.  My mind wanders all over at regular symphonic concerts.  I think that’s what makes classical music so appealing to me is because I can take a walk through my mind and day dream for 2 hours.  But with the film scores, my mind becomes the movie screen and once again I’m a little kid at the theater watching (and crying) through E.T. or I’m running along side Dr. Jones trying to escape the gigantic boulder.  

He came out for 2 encores.  First he played a song he composed called With Malice Towards None from the film Lincoln and it was at that time that he played his most popular themes- The Imperial March (Darth Vader’s Theme) and Indiana Jones.   It was fantastically amazing.  I’ve heard the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra play these before, but to hear it come from the man whose mind created these songs was indescribable.  

I will not soon forget this concert.  It’s hard to say it tops seeing Itzhak Perlman play, or hearing my favorite symphony “The Rite of Spring” live because those experiences are all so different compared to going specifically to see a composer conducting.  All I know is that I haven’t stopped talking about it since that night.  

What I didn’t expect was to see the Stage Door outside barricaded.  There were dozens of fans, and more arriving as I was leaving, standing outside waiting to see him.  Most were holding Star Wars memorabilia.  I tried to imagine if this is what it would have been like during Mozart’s time with people scrambling to get seats to see him.  

John Williams is 82 years old.  His full biography, discography and compositions can be found at this link.

 

 

John Williams 2

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

Ragged Old Flag













RAGGED OLD FLAG BY JOHNNY CASH

I was feeling rather patriotic today and decided to spin my playlist of that genre to take me through at least 2 hours of work up to lunch time. This included all 66 tracks of Fife and Drum songs on Frederick Fennell’s “The Spirit of ’76/Ruffles and Flourishes” cd. (The cd also has bugle calls, drum solos, marches everything you’d expect to see in a parade or when Union soldiers come marching over the hill) At one point my co-worker turned around and asked when exactly the Calvary was going to show up. I took the hint to turn the volume down a notch.

All the songs are truly fantastic and could easily keep me posting lyrics after lyrics for the entire set (see scroll box below for my Patriotic mix list), but I chose to share “The Ragged Old Flag” by Johnny Cash for the reason that it sounded very much like a poem and because the story takes you through the early history of America.

I walked through a county courthouse square
On a park bench, an old man was sittin’ there.
I said, “Your old court house is kinda run down,
He said, “Naw, it’ll do for our little town”.
I said, “Your old flag pole is leaned a little bit,
And that’s a ragged old flag you got hangin’ on it”.
He said, “Have a seat”, and I sat down,
“Is this the first time you’ve been to our little town”
I said, “I think it is”
He said “I don’t like to brag, but we’re kinda proud of
That Ragged Old Flag
“You see, we got a little hole in that flag there,
When Washington took it across the Delaware.
And It got powder burned the night Francis Scott Key sat watching it,
Writing “Say Can You See”
It got a rip in New Orleans, with Packingham & Jackson
Tugging at it’s seams.
And It almost fell at the Alamo
Beside the Texas flag,
But she waved on though.
She got cut with a sword at Chancellorsville,
And she got cut again at Shiloh Hill.
There was Robert E. Lee and Beauregard and Bragg,
And the south wind blew hard on
That Ragged Old Flag

“On Flanders Field in World War I,
She got a big hole from a Bertha Gun,
She turned blood red in World War II
She hung limp, and low, a time or two,
She was in Korea, Vietnam, She went where she was sent
By her Uncle Sam.
She waved from our ships upon the briny foam
And now they’ve about quit wavin’ back here at home
In her own good land here She’s been abused,
She’s been burned, dishonored, denied an’ refused,
And the government for which she stands
Has been scandalized throughout out the land.
And she’s getting thread bare, and she’s wearin’ thin,
But she’s in good shape, for the shape she’s in.
Cause she’s been through the fire before
And I believe she can take a whole lot more.

“So we raise her up every morning
And we bring her down slow every night,
We don’t let her touch the ground,
And we fold her up right.
On second thought
I *do* like to brag
Cause I’m mighty proud of
That Ragged Old Flag”

Patriotic America- Through the Years- Maggie’s Compilation

I tried my best to put them in chronological order

“Star Spangled Banner” by Ricochet
“Johnny Freedom” by Johnny Horton
“George Washington” by Oscar Brand from the CD Presidential Campaign Songs
“Presidents’ Birthday” by Heywood Banks (awesome song and now I know all the Presidents in order by first name!)
“Ruffles and Flourishes” Instrumental from the Alan Menken Lincoln Soundtrack
“Thomas Jefferson” by Oscar Brand
“Hail to the Chief”
“Millard Fillmore” by Oscar Brand
“Battle of New Orleans” by Johnny Horton
“Martin Van Buren” by Oscar Brand
“Recruiting Bugle” Instrumental from the Alan Menken Lincoln Soundtrack
“The Girl I Left Behind Me” Instrumental from the Alan Menken Lincoln Soundtrack
“Lookout Mountain” by Brother Phelps
“Gettysburg Address” spoken word from the Alan Menken Lincoln Soundtrack
“Johnny Reb” by Johnny Horton
“Goodbye Reb” by Grandpa Jones
“Good Old Rebel” by Hans Olson on The Wild West soundtrack by John McEuen
“Billy Yank & Johnny Reb” by Grandpa Jones
“Are You From Dixie?” by Grandpa Jones
“Rally Round the Flag”
“Where the Stars & Stripes & Eagles Fly” by Aaron Tippin
“Over There” by Jimmy Cagney from the Yankee Doodle Dandy Soundtrack
“Sink the Bismarck” by Johnny Horton
“How About a Cheer for the Navy” by All Soldier Chorus from the movie This is the Army
“Remember Pearl Harbor” from the Soundtrack Remember Pearl Harbor, Classic Songs of WWII
“Der Fuehrer’s Face” from the Soundtrack Remember Pearl Harbor, Classic Songs of WWII
“Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition” by Ivan Dixon
“Washington Post March”
“Waking Up in the USA” by Dale McBride
“American Eagles/With My Head Up In the Sky” by All Soldier Chorus from the movie This is the Army
“Point of Light” by Randy Travis
“Ragged Old Flag” by Johnny Cash
“Are You Proud of America?” by
“Taps” spoken story by John Wayne
“Song of the Presidents” by Oscar Brand
Images of the rare cds










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

Me Without You

I wonder
Just how long it will be?
Me without you
You without me

It’s so much easier when you’re riding on the bus to have a conversation with your feelings than it is with a computer keyboard 5 hours later.  Lots of people have a hard time with celebrity death.  Some people sobbed over the assassinations of President Kennedy or John Lennon.  The world mourned Michael Jackson or even Whitney Houston.  Mine just happens to be Davy Jones.  However, I can’t rationalize why I am grieving with the same heartache as a wife, daughter or other family member.  I can list the obvious reasons, but I don’t feel like they’re really the answers:

         Davy was my first love at the age of 9

         34 minus 9 means I’ve loved him for 25 years

 I’ll love you this year
I’ll love you next year.
And then forever.
I’ll always need you.
I’ll never leave you. 
I’ll love you forever…
You’re my first love. 
You are my last love. 
You are my everlasting love.
You are my first love.
You are my last love.
You’re my forever.”

         He was a tremendous talent, and an icon to others besides me

         Thinking about him and the other fellas links me to my childhood

When the world and I were young,
just yesterday,
Life was such a simple game a child could play”

         I was supposed to see him in concert March 11th

Reading earlier today I took a quote on death to relate to the context of Davy in order to try and understand.  This is it in part- “I would guess that most people would say that a stepfather probably knows the same pain of loss as a natural father, but will never be credited with it.  But time is a remedy for everything- for grief, for lack of understanding.”

First let me say that I shouldn’t have to hide my feelings as I am. 

February 29th.  Leap year.  A day that doesn’t exist.  Doesn’t that mean this shouldn’t happen then?  I could hear my cell phone ringing at my desk, but by the time I got there it had stopped.  I tried twice to call my mom back, but she was in the process of leaving me a message.

 

I guess I should have stayed in bed
My pillow wrapped around my head 
Instead of waking up to find
a nightmare of a different kind 
She went away 
This just doesn’t seem to be my day

“Maggie?”  She questioned as if she didn’t know that I was on the other end of the phone.  I tried to explain about not getting to the phone in time, etc.  “Maggie, Davy died today.  I just heard it on the radio.”  There was no need for her to say Davy Jones, for there is only Davy in my life…. like a Cher or a Madonna. Just Davy. 

I completely lost control right there at my desk.  My intern was just across the room so I had to act fast because I couldn’t tell him the real reason I was crying.  people just wouldn’t understand.  We had a vendor on site who also found me crying in the breakroom.  I swear if I was auditioning for an acting role, I certainly would have gotten it with the story I started telling.  Lucky for me, no one else knew what was going on so I didn’t have to perpetuate the lie any further. 

I realized then I had to get out of there and took off for the Lake front.  I sat on the bluff overlooking Lake Michigan and the Meier Festival Park.  August 27, 1987 I was down there at my first Monkees concert with my dad.  Yes 1987.  I’m a second generation Monkees fan.  My mom gave me her records when I started liking the Monkees after their TV show marathon on MTV.  Like coming full circle, I would be at Summerfest again in August, but this time 2011 when the final reunion tour stopped in Milwaukee at Summerfest.  I didn’t like it at the time, and I still remember, how they were marketing it.  They urged people to buy tickets now as it may be your last chance to see them in concert.  It just sounded so grim. I got the chance to see Micky in concert (solo) twice.  Davy once in Waukesha, but never Michael or Peter. 

Throughout my life thus far, there would be times when The Monkees were more or less important depending on what was going on at the time.  I wanted so bad to be a jockey too, and didn’t realize until years later that growing up in Milwaukee that wasn’t going to be possible.

Always pretending that everything’s fine when it’s not
Oh, why do you lie when you know that you always get caught?
Why don’t you come out of your dream world?
 It’s not real It’s not the way it seems to be

When the texts and messages from friends started coming in saying they were thinking about me or that I was in fact their first thought when they heard the news was comforting.  Then again, people were contacting me as if it were a personal death in the family, not like they were spreading gossip.  But I can’t share any personal stories about him.  I have a manufactured image of him that I keep in my imagination, but seems as though from all the stories and memories shared on tv and the internet that it isn’t far from the truth.   

 Something unknown to me
Makes you what you are
And what you are
Is all that I want for me
 And it’s good to feel that way girl
 Thank you girl, for making the night time nicer
Girl, for making the daytime brighter
Girl, for making a better world for me

They say it’s better by far to smile and forget then to remember and be sad.  I hope tomorrow might help.  I didn’t get to attend the memorial in Beavertown, so this would be a small pilgrimage for me to hopefully bring closure.  My sister had suggested that we take the trip out to The Dells to see the Crystal Palace venue where Davy was supposed to perform.  I was going to drive 3 hours to get there and had front row tickets for the show.  Front row, center.  There was no way that the stars in our eyes wouldn’t connect this time.  Not being that close.  I suppose we’ll carry on the day as it was planned out prior to the tragedy.  Get to The Dells late morning, go horseback riding, clean up (so I don’t stink like horses) and eat at the Pizza Pit.  But I guess now I’ll have to pop a cd in truck around 3:00 at show time. 

Love can make the tears in the rain
And the brightest flame can fade away
When you look into the eyes of a friend
There’s a feeling in your heart that will never end
After all the songs I sang you
 There’s no doubt in my mind
Anytime, anyplace, anywhere
I’ll never forget what we shared
Comes a day there’s a knock on your door
And maybe I’ll be standing there
Another road’s ahead of me
The night moves on
This heart never lies
These tears in my eyes
Say carry on

 

I’ve enjoyed and appreciated all the posts mostly as I find them on facebook (the commiserations from the songwriters, family, celebrities) and interview from Michael in Rolling Stone, and Micky and Peter reminiscing on live TV celebrating Davy.  It was nice to be able to go to The Ranch (twice) and be with other friends to watch the tributes to Davy at the Rio Drive-In.  The weekend passed quickly with the two day marathon on antenna TV of all the Monkees episodes including the movie Head (which I had only seen once before as a child).  I can get through all this ok; it’s just sometimes alone when I start to cry.  Or I notice my voice shakes when I talk about it. 

So after all this, I still can’t find a solution nor a raison d’être for all this grief.  Maybe I just don’t know when to let go.  I’ve always been over emotional.  Heck I cried during The Muppets movie.   Maybe the answer is simple.  I’m just emotional.  I just have to let the remaining tears out and I’ll be fine.  Or

Let’s run away from life together
Leave behind the stormy weather
Let’s find out what fantasy can do
Where we’ll go to, they can’t touch us
Life is perfect, nothing more to do
Nothing more that we’ll be needin’
Life is paradise in Eden
Eatin’ grapes and makin’ love with you

Speaking of the video tribute at the ranch, they played a song of Davy’s that I had never heard before called Rainy Jane.  The lyrics resonated with me as a farewell from Davy, and an instruction to get over it, and I feel if I hadn’t heard this song I might feel lost. 

It’s true your heart’s been broken

And you’ve got the right to cry

But if you’re gonna keep it up

The sunshine’s gonna pass you by

Hey Rainy Jane

You gotta stop your crying sometime

Come on Rainy Jane

It’s up to you to make your own sweet sunshine

You can change the weather

No one loves a rainy day

Come let’s get together

Clouds will clear up when you cheer up

Take each raindrop

Make the rain stop

Hey Rainy Jane

You gotta stop your crying sometime

Come on Rainy Jane

It’s up to you to make your own sweet sunshine

 

 

This is the video I took of Davy’s last concert in Milwaukee.  It’s a combination of both still pictures and video.  I was in the front row on the left side and got so nervous when they saw me taking pictures.  I wish I had a better camera at the time, but this is all I have left.  He looked so good.

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.