Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Oldie of the Day: Diamond in the Back's the end of November! The Christmas season's hot breath is curling the fine hairs on the back of our necks.  Maybe we all should've done 30 days of thanks in December instead of November, to help keep us grounded.  This final day of November, one thing I am thankful for - I've already purchased presents for the fam, without going over budget, thanks to Cyber Monday.  And I'm thankful I didn't participate in the fooly-wank of Black Friday.

Here's a final song for November, "Diamond In the Back" by Curtis Mayfield.  This was written and recorded by William DeVaughn, under the title "Be Thankful For What You've Got".  I'm sure those of you that have listened to any rap in the past couple of decades will recognize the hook, "diamond in the back, sunroof top, diggin' the scene with a gangsta lean".  I never knew this had such positive lyrics: "But remember brothers and sisters, You can still stand tall, Just be thankful for what you got." 

I think that sums up November quite nicely.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thankful for Change

This penultimate entry of this month of Thanksgiving is all about being thankful for life and the seasons of change that are bound to happen.  A few years ago, I never thought I'd actually be grateful for change. I tend to be kind of a rigid person, stuck to routine, and a bit scared of anything that's new or requires me to operate differently.  Change, to me, always meant something negative and/or painful was about to happen.  Very pessimistic I know.  But I've learned that change is the one constant in life, and is unavoidably inevitable. Embrace it, fight it, or try to ignore it - change is constant. I've also learned that change can be good and freeing.  There are so many good changes I've jobs, new friends, new house, new closeness in relationships, or newly drawn boundaries that protect me from toxic relationships.

Three songs that are pretty far removed from each other in style came to mind as I thought about life and seasons of change today. 

1. "I Am Changing", from the musical Dreamgirls. 
One huge change in my life happened when I moved from east coast to Okie-ville. I kept this song on repeat during the 2000+ miles drive.  I’ve noticed that it pops up again in my playlist whenever I’m in some type of life transition – job, location, relationship, whatever.  I prefer the Jennifer Holliday version to J-Hudson, since Ms. Holliday originated the role of Effie.

2. "Breaking the Habit" by Linkin Park 

Ironically, this song also pops up during periods of change...mostly when I'm at a frustrated point of change, or I'm just ready for it to be over with already.  After all this time, I still love this band.
3. "A Change Is Gonna Come" by Sam Cooke.

So many artists have covered this song (most recently Afro-Blue from The Sing Off), but there's nothing like the original.  Cooke's tenor voice with this arrangement captures the premonition of his untimely death, and the hope of break-through that he had for his life - his life as a black man in America, his success as an artist.  The hope that life really will change for the better.  I think the positioning of foreboding against hope in this simple melody is what causes this song to be incredibly emotional and unforgettable.      

*Name one positive change you've had in your life in the past year.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Happy Day After Thanksgiving!

Nothing really to say than that...enjoy the weekend! Music will continue Monday, Nov. 28.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanks for the Laughs

Another great thing to give thanks for....humor.

A merry heart does good like a medicine.

It’s been said that a good belly laugh boosts the immune system, exercises the heart, and clears the mind.

Most of all, it just feels good.

Some studies have shown that children laugh a few hundred times a day, while adults may only laugh a dozen times a day.  Whether that’s true or not, it does seem that children find it easier to laugh than adults.  How sad. Ever since reading that I’ve made it my goal to belly laugh more.  I will even seek out a fave song, movie clip or crazy friend to instigate laughter. I already have a pretty silly sense of humor, and am determined to keep it that way.  As I told a friend long ago, it’s better to laugh than cry on any day.

Below are a couple things that make me laugh…

Psych - my latest comedy TV obsession. This clip includes their all-to-brief cover of "Ebony & Ivory". For comparison, afterwards is the original video with Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney.

A Christmas Story - one of my all-time fave movies, and I'm preparing to watch it for the umpteenth time during Thanksgiving. 

*What makes you laugh?

Friday, November 18, 2011

I'm Just A Girl...

Thanksgiving No. ?: Chick-flicks

Last night I squealed when I found Hope Floats on Netflix - and I immediately put it in my Instant Queue. It's not like I haven't seen it a ga-zillion, fa-fillion times.  Not like I don't watch some portion of it every time it's on TV.  Y'all, I think I even have the VHS somewhere.  That scene when that no-good, testosterone-deficient, horrible excuse for a father drives off leaving his daughter sobbing in the street, screaming "DAADDDDYYYYYY!!!"....Oi vey, I'm about to tear up right now. 

For me, a good chick-flick must have humor, likable characters, and a memorable soundtrack. And No VAMPIRES.  That's right, I said it!  Keep yo' fangs & fur for the kiddos.  Ugh.  In that regard, I guess I'm a bit of a traditionalist. Give me Sleepless In Seattle, Runaway Bride, some old Cary Grant movie, maybe I Can Do Bad All By Myself, etc., etc. etc....

Another point about these type of movies....I also had to learn early on that guys usually aren't too keen on them.  Case and point - trying to force my then-guy to watch An Affair to Remember, 20 minutes later I hear this ceiling-rattling "skknnnzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz" in my right ear.  Yep, my man fell straight off to sleep.

No worries though - that punch in the gut woke him right up. 

But he only fell asleep again. 

So, most importantly, I gotta enjoy such cinema with my girls. I'm grateful for the girls that have had my back over the years; some I've known since the adolescent acne years, some I've just acquired.  But all of them are precious.

So I guess today is about being thankful for good chick-flicks, and good chicks.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Oldie of the Day: Mercy / I Want You

This is a part deux of giving thanks for music...and for people in the field that don't follow the norm.  Do you remember this guy?  I guess this is also a pre-cursor to the "Blue-Eyed Soul (a.k.a. "White Chocolate") singers/performers I want to discuss at some point. 

Anyways, I like Robert Palmer, and I always thought he had the kind of voice that made you take notice.  These Marvin Gaye songs he covered are beautiful - and this is a unique medley - Mercy Mercy Me and I Want You. I wouldn't have thought to put those together, but he makes it work.

This is kinda lengthy, but it's from Palmer's interview on The Arsenio Show, which totally fits the Oldie day theme.  It also gives a glimpse into the  musician he was.  So sad that he's gone. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sweet Sleep

Today I'm thankful for sleep. 

Sleep that eluded last I sat up fretting about those horrible scratching noises in my walls. Is that...please...oh sweet Jesus...

A mouse.

I can kill a snake. I will chase a dog and ape-ninja slap a cat. I will mutilate a wasp (and leave my living room dripping in wasp spray, but that's another story). But the one thing that will make me scream like a 4 year old girl is......a mouse.

Sweet sleep was chased away by a teeny, horrid, nasty, germ-ridden rodent.

So perhaps if I give thanks today for sleep, the slumbertime geishas will meet me tonight, surround me and cover me with sleep-dust (not pixie dust thank you), knocking me out cold.

Before the scratching begins.


Lullaby - Take 6

Friday, November 11, 2011

Another thing I'm thankful for is...

Music...well, duh, of course!

There's a quote, one of many, about music - "When you are so strongly drawn to music, you can't 'NOT' be a musician."  That has been my experience. I was hooked on the piano as a very young child...I remember being hynoptized watching Tom & Jerry or Bugs Bunny perform their wonderful (and comical) piano concertos. I remember hearing the harmonies all around me while the church sang, and learning to sing alto that way. I remember riding my bike at a certain pace so the tires would hit the cracks in the sidewalk with a beat, so I could sing.  I remember learning to write out piano charts for songs I was trying to learn by ear....and making the notes backwards (and upside down!) on yellow notepad paper.  How could I NOT be a musician.

So today I am thanking God for music, and the big, wonderful universe that it is. The groove, the emotion, the poignancy, the tears, the imagination, the creativity it gives me, and that it allows me to express.

Today let's mix it up a little bit...THREE selections all about music.

1) Beethoven - Sonata No 8 In C Minor Op 13 'Pathetique' - III, as performed by Glenn Gould. Beethoven is my favorite classical composer, and this sonata brings back memories of the blood, sweat and tears while I learned this for my senior piano recital in college.

2) Old Time Rock & Roll - Bob Seeger. Nuff said.

3) September - Earth Wind & Fire. Ok it's not directly abotu music, but I DARE you to make it all the way thru this song without singing out loud "baaa-di-yah!". Always respect The Elements baby!

Have a great weekend!

*Give me your suggestion of songs about music or musicians.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Oldie of the Day: Thank You

Alright, more songs about thanks that both qualify as oldies.

First of all, who doesn't like Sam & Dave....I wish I had their moves!  "I Thank You" is basically an old gospel song they revamped (like so many R&B/soul artists did in those days).

And I couldn't resist putting ZZ Top's cover of the same song. Isn't it amazing - two completely different genres, backgrounds, arrangements....and both entertaining in their own right.  Like I heard someone say, one group's clapping on beats 2 and 4, the other group's clapping on 1 and 3 -- it just means we've got all the beats covered.  Love it. 

Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Month of Thanks

I’m sure by now you’ve seen the fb status floating around - "30 days of thanks: Day x: I'm thankful for ____".  Well here it is music nerd style. I wanted to participate, but am not foolish enough to think I will remember to post something everyday this month. Cuz then I would have this crazy status: "Days 7 – 16: I’m thankful for insert hurriedly concocted list that makes no sense here".

So I decided instead to feature songs this month about thanks, or gratitude, or even Thanksgiving (are there any?).

Today's thanks - God and family, so here are songs for them, in that order. 

"Happier Than the Morning Sun" I didn't know was yet another wonderful Stevie Wonder song.  I only knew the Jon Gibson version for years. I'd encourage you to check that one out too.  Either way, it completely and eloquently captures my heart's condition since Jesus, in spite of the crazy things life has thrown me.

This clip reminds me of my family every time I watch it.  It brings back memories of us laughing til we cried at Mr. Cosby and his family...and my dad's music-nerd like observations as he explained that was a Ray Charles song that came out in 19xx, etc., etc....and my mom doing an ever-so slight rolling of the eyes. LOL. And how that would sometimes lead to both parents telling me & sis stories about their childhoods, and whatever crazy stuff they did in high school. I still remember them chanting "SOUTHEASTERN!   SOUTHEASTERN! Rah-Rah-Rah! V-I-C-T-O-R-Y!"  Good stuff.

*Do you have a favorite Cosby show scene or memory? What is it?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday - End of Reggae Week (For Now)

Ahhh perfect Friday...not too stressful, not too cool and good music.  To wrap up this Reggae-fest, I debated for a while about which track to use. But this one is just plain out fun.  And I get absolutely tickled watching Bobby Brown (Bobby!....BOBBYYYY!) complete spaz out on this.  Note the sneaky sampled riff from Shanice's 90s hit, "I Love your Smile" and the tune lifted from Des'ree's "Feel So High".

So groove out on this gateway to the weekend. And of course, don't forget to let me know what you think.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Oldie of the Day: Third World

Ok I had to do it....before Heavy D and da Boyz was Third World groovin' out this song. Of course, the O'Jays originally recorded this, but it's reggae week so I'll have to post that version later.  One of the endearing qualities of reggae is the ability of artists to take a rock/pop/R&B song and reggae-fy it. Some drums, guitar and dancing are all that's needed.

Here's "Now That We found love", a nice live concert version....Enjoy!