Archive for ‘Of Music’

August 6, 2015

Thursday Quote Du Jour

by Janie Jones

I’m not a huge Crow fan, but I do like some of her stuff.  Lately they’ve been playing this one on the internet radio station I listen to at work a lot.  I can’t decide if it’s inspirational or depressing, but end of the first verse really sticks in my head.

From Sheryl Crow’s Soak Up the Sun:

It’s not having what you want,
It’s wanting what you’ve got.

 

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April 3, 2015

Guess it’s going to be a Howie day

by Janie Jones

Arrgh!

Earworm.

So, to make a simple tale convoluted, when I bought my “smart” TV, it came with some streaming links to things like Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu.  Stuff I recognized.  But it also came with a link to iHeartRadio.

Well in my enthusiasm for my new TV I tried out the iHeartRadio and found the Coffee Shop Radio station.  I liked it.  I found out that I can listen from my little netbook that I take to school every day, too.  So, I’ll put it on low volume while I’m at work measuring seeds; it’s great soft background noise while I’m doing mindless work and it won’t offend anyone else in the lab who happens to not have their own headphones on (I tried headphones, but I do have to move around a lot and so the cord kept getting in the way).

As it would happen, it plays the song, Collide, by Howie Day, quite often.  I find it very catchy, and I rather like it so it’s no hardship.  But, eventually I decided I had to know what Howie was actually saying as the first verse and the chorus was about all I could decipher.  Now I can’t get the tune out of my head.

One might say, my lab was quiet, you know.  It’s made a first impression and I find I’m scared to know it’s always on my mind.  Although not all the song words rhyme.  Out of the doubt that filled my mind, I some how find, Howie Day and I collide.

Collide

-Song by Howie Day

The dawn is breaking
A light shining through
You’re barely waking
And I’m tangled up in you
Yeah

But I’m open, you’re closed
Where I follow, you’ll go
I worry I won’t see your face
Light up again

Even the best fall down sometimes
Even the wrong words seem to rhyme
Out of the doubt that fills my mind
I somehow find, you and I collide

I’m quiet, you know
You make a first impression
I’ve found I’m scared to know
I’m always on your mind

Even the best fall down sometimes
Even the stars refuse to shine
Out of the back you fall in time
I somehow find, you and I collide

Don’t stop here
I’ve lost my place
I’m close behind
Even the best fall down sometimes
Even the wrong words seem to rhyme
Out of the doubt that fills your mind
You finally find, you and I collide

Don’t know the song I’m talking about?  Check out Howie on YouTube.
October 20, 2014

Mental Health Monday: Thoughts on Home

by Janie Jones

“I’ll be home for Christmas.”

“Hey it’s good to be back home again.”

“Sweet home Alabama, Lord I’m coming home to you.”

“Our house, in the middle of our street.”

“Home, where my thoughts escaping, Home, where my music’s playing, Home, where my love lies waiting…”

“Take me home, country road, to the place I belong…”

Just a few song lyrics from the top of my head about the concept of home, and I’m sure there so many more I probably can’t think of right now.  Home is an important concept to me and a lot of people.  Home, they say, is where the heart is.  And to me, a home is like a second skin.  It holds me in, holds me together, it provides safety and security in every sense of the word.  To me, having no home is like having a painful burn on my whole body.  Sure I’ll survive, but every moment will be painful.  My home in Small Town Great White North USA might have been a rental, but I loved it all the same.  I repainted every room.  It reflected me.  It was me.  It was my second skin.  And, while there were other homes I had to leave that I loved, this one hurts more than all the rest.  Possibly because I hoped against all hope that it might be my last home.  But that was not to be.  I had to leave and let go.  But a piece of me is still there.  Leaving ripped off a huge layer of skin.  And it hurts.

A real home, in my opinion, has a soul.  It lives and breathes like any other entity.  To lose a beloved home is like losing a loved one, someone who loved you no matter what you did, who gave you strength when you were weak, who sheltered you when you were cold and tired, who shared years of happiness and sadness, who had a history with you.  Knowing I had to leave it has been like watching someone you love more than life itself die a slow painful death from some hideous disease these last few years, knowing you can do nothing but try to love every last minute you have with it.  Knowing each moment is tainted with sadness as it might be the last time you do whatever together was sad and depressing.  A terminally ill loved one can’t live forever, and I couldn’t live in that house forever.

So, for those of you who worry about my depression, know what I’m going through feels a lot like I imagine it would be like coming to terms with a deforming accident like being burned over 90% of your body, or grieving a death of a family member.  You have to accept that there’s things you can no longer do after you heal or you have to accept that you’ll never see that person again.  Now I have to come to terms with it and accept that I have to start over.  But starting over can’t happen until I have some income to start over on.  So it’s not just the grief of loss, but the grief of knowing I can’t fully move on until I am done with school and hopefully land a real job again.

I was at the farm this past weekend, and I was thinking about my belongings out there that I will have to decide to leave behind for the winter.  My bed.  My furniture.  My brand new washer and dryer.  While we are not the sum of our material possessions, many of them do act like anchors for me in the craziness that is my life.  With all the stress of school, my tumor, being broke, cars falling apart on me, sending my daughter south to live with her dad, and all the other mundane daily trials of life, I relied on the consistency of a beloved home and familiar objects to keep me together, centered and feeling secure.  When you’re tired and stressed out the simple things like not being able to find your cookbook, or that box of envelopes, or the fact that it takes 15 minutes of digging through boxes to find something that always used to reside right there at your fingertips is bad enough.  But now I have to decide which things I can fit in my room in town and what I can live without for several months.  The knowing I can’t have access to things that are mine, and used to be ever available for whenever the need might arise, is its own kind of stress.

I think about what it might be like to lose everything to a fire or a natural disaster.  Those people must be devastated.  And perhaps it’s wrong of me to say this, but in some ways perhaps really losing everything would be better.  I could blame it on acts of God or Nature.  I could file an insurance claim and resettle.  But I’m in a limbo.  I have things I just can’t have them.

It’s like life is teasing me.  “Here’s your favorite chew toy, Fido.  Whoops!  No you can’t have it.  It’s going to stay up here on this high shelf where you can see it but you can’t touch it.  Now, just try to forget about it until I get home from work.  And, if you’ve been a very good dog Fido, maybe, just maybe someday I’ll take it back down and you can have it again.”  So Fido can either knock over the trash can and make a huge freaking mess, or he can try and forget about it.  But, you never know when he might catch a glimpse of that toy and he’ll start howling for it.

I’m trying to move on, to accept.  It feels like I’ve been maimed, I’m grieving a death and fighting the anger of not being able to move on.  It’s a tough road to travel.

“Go home, said the man in the moon, go home.  We didn’t know who we were, we didn’t know what we did, we were just on the road.”

 

May 4, 2014

I’m surprised Hallmark hasn’t grabbed on to this one yet…

by Janie Jones

“May the fourth be with you!”

Today is Star Wars Day.

Yes, you read that right.  A day has been specifically designated for celebrating the Star Wars franchise.

Don’t believe me?  Check it out on Wikipedia.  Also, according to Holiday Insights, the origin of the holiday began with a German mistranslation of the franchise catch phrase “May the force be with you” as “We are with you on May 4th.”

If some how you have lived at any point in the last 30+ years and not seen a single episode of the Star Wars saga, take some time today and honor the holiday by doing so.  I recommend combining your viewing with a drinking game to enhance your ability to forget Hayden Christensen’s horrible representation of Anakin and totally obliterate any memory at all of Jar Jar Binks.  Or better yet, just skip the “first” three (Episode I: The Phantom Menace,  Episode II: Attack of the Clones, and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith) and stick with the original “middle” three (Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, and Episode VI: Return of the Jedi) which rocked a generation.  While Luke’s whining is a bit tedious at first, the original three are a “force” of culture you shouldn’t miss.  And, they have something for everyone; action, romance, and a star cast including a snarky, young, attractive Carrie Fisher for the guys in the house, a handsome, if arrogant, young Harrison Ford for the ladies, and “muppets” for the kiddies.

Don’t have time to watch the movies?  Check out Weird Al Yankovic’s “The Saga Begins,” or “Yoda.”  For a combined total of approximately 10 minutes you can get a good idea of what you’re missing, and enjoy a good Weird Al tune to boot.

Happy May 4th, and may the force be with you!

 

February 21, 2014

The memory of a song

by Janie Jones

This semester I have a creative writing class I am helping with as a teacher’s assistant.  I’ve never taken a creative writing class personally, but I gave a stab at the Creative Non-Fiction project as part of a tutoring project.  This is what I came up with:

I can smell the heating curling iron; a mix of burnt hair, old curl enhancer and that electrical smell that defies description but is so familiar with hot wiring.  The curling iron is ready.  I look at the clock.  6:45 am, I better get moving or I’ll be late.

I flick on the radio.  “Coming up next:  La Isla Bonita, by Madonna,” the DJ’s silky voice announces.

I smile.  I hate school.  I hate getting up early and fighting for the bathroom.  I hate having to walk to school, and on cold and wet days my hair style gets ruined and all my hard work on my hair will be for nothing.  But this song is catchy.  It’s… it has a… a certain quality.  What is it about this song?  I don’t even like Madonna.  But I’m not thinking about this right now.  I’m in the moment.  I sing along.  It feels good.

The air coming through the open window is cool and damp.  Late last night someone in the neighborhood mowed and the fresh cut grass scent is aerosolized on the moist, dewy air.  It clings to my skin, it seeps into the pores.  I feel my skin pucker, the hairs on my arm rise into goosebumps.  It doesn’t make me cold though, despite the chill, despite the fact that I’m holding back a shiver.  I want this feeling.  I deliberately dressed light today.

I breathe in deep between bars.  Filling my lungs with the fragrant dew I reach for the curl enhancer and cut back in on time.  I’m in tune, and it gives me a thrill to my core.

“All of nature wild and free this is where I long to be…”

The dew, mixed with the smell of grass seems fresh, it is full of spring on the cusp of summer, newness, promise, rebirth.  It is the smell of a gentle rain shower, heady with newly turned earth; rich, heavy, real.  It is filled with heady notes of brilliant flowers.  A visual and olfactory assault of shocking yellow and fuchsia alongside a delicate whisper of lavender, rose and white, as burgeoning buds fight to thrust their expectant faces to the sun.   The smell, the color, the tingling on my skin, as I sing to the hauntingly beautiful tune is somehow exhilarating, refreshing.  I know it is the harbinger of a beautiful day to come.  The sun will rise and the humid, clammy air will blow off on the morning breeze.  I’ll be left feeling clean, awake and energized, stretching for the sun like those flowers.  As the sun heads toward the zenith, I will drink in its golden promise:  My future is just a few weeks away.  I can graduate and shake off childhood.

I start to curl my hair.  The sensation of more cold and wet; I spritz curl enhancer on the ends of my long hair.  The smell of the curl enhancer combines with the fresh scent wafting in the window.  My nose tingles and twitches as the curl enhancer’s potent blend of perfume attempts to mask the alcohol and chemicals, but all it masks is the realness of nature’s fragrance drifting in on the breeze from the open window.  The curl enhancer’s obnoxious odor screams fake, contrived, artifice.  I feel a vague sense of surprise to discover the contrast is jarring to my nerves.  The goosebumps tingle on my skin.  I feel anxious, I want to be done with this arduous chore.  I want to sing unfettered.

“Ring through my ears and sting my eyes…”

My hair sizzles as I roll it up in the curling iron.  The lingering presence of goose bumps rise up my neck in response to the cold air it is now exposed to, but within an instant I feel the familiar micro-climate of hot humidity as the iron vaporizes the curl enhancer.  The tingling of the goose bumps change in intensity but don’t go away.   I pull on the iron just a bit as the heat from the iron starts to irritate my scalp and neck.  Sometimes I pull too hard and it hurts.  I can feel the hair follicles straining.  But I don’t slack off.  Sometimes I want to feel that pull.  I don’t know why.

I begin to smell that pungent, acrid smell of overheated hair just before it scorches.  So, I squeeze the handle on the iron and let the hair go.  It falls from the iron, brushing against the over stimulated skin on my neck.  I feel a rush of sensory input as hot hair lands on my cold skin.  Crispy from being cooked with the curl enhancer, the ringlet of hair hits my shoulder or the base of my neck with a surprising bit of weight.  The feeling is hard to describe.  It doesn’t quite tickle and yet it sort of does.  Sometimes the hair is so hot it burns my skin for the merest fraction of a second.  Mechanically I repeat the process.  Cold then hot.  Damp then dry.  Pull, release.  The battle of my hair mirrors the battle in my head.  The turmoil between childhood and adulthood.  The smells of frustration: harsh, hot, choking, painful, versus the smells of hope; cool, clean, gentle, cloying.

I’ve done this every day for years, but today as that stupid song plays in the background I feel like I’m in a daze as I work the hair brush to coax and tease the curls into the latest fashion.

“Beautiful faces, no cares in this world…”

I hum along, dousing my coiffure with yet more masking, offensive smells.  Aqua-net.  Sharp, chemically pungent, fake.  It glues my fluffy, big-hair curls.  Who is that girl in the mirror?  She doesn’t smell real.  She doesn’t look real.  I suddenly realize I feel uncomfortable.  The goosebumps thrill my body in a way that is frightening and yet leaves me both exhilarated and nervous all at the same time.  At home in my own room I feel a like stranger, I don’t belong here.  I feel anxious to get through this ritual, to start something new, to find where I belong.  I put the iron and the brush away.  My heart races, just a few more weeks and summer will be here.  I put the sticky bottles of stinky hair product away.  I need to get outside.  It will undo all the curls in my hair, and the dampness will intensify that horrible Aqua-net stench but still I feel the need to get out right away, even if it means walking to school, to get more of that fresh air and envelope me in what is real.  I long to wash those artificial smells of hairspray and burning hair from my nose, from my life, and from my memory.  Today I need that foggy morning air in me as well as all around me.

“La Isla Bonita.”

The song has long since ended on the radio, but the melody haunts me.  I cling to it as I leave the house and walk through the fog.  I store that cool clean feeling of damp, spring air and flowers and cut grass deep in my soul.

“I want to be where the sun warms the sky…”

***

Some 25 years later La Isla Bonita no longer plays much on the radio.  If anyone had asked I doubt I’d even remember the lyrics or much of the melody much less the last time I heard it play.  But a whiff of damp spring air brought it all crashing back.

“A young girl with eyes like the desert
It all seems like yesterday, not far away…”

Thinking of that song just now I still get goosebumps, and feel that mixture of excitement and renewal slowly replacing the oppression of an unhappiness.  I remember that stupid hair curling ritual and how it was the one problem in my life I could control.  I couldn’t fix my problems between me and my parents.  I couldn’t suddenly become the girl everyone liked.  I couldn’t be the smartest kid or get the lead role in the play.  I couldn’t go to prom with the suave drum major, or even that funny guy in my art class.  But I could make my lanky, dull, stick straight hair curly.  And with my job and my own money no one could deny me the gallons of hairspray to do it no matter how much my parents complained about the wastefulness or the smell.

“Hey,” I would say tartly, “At least I don’t waste my money on cigarettes, alcohol or drugs.”

I remember the softball fields I passed on the way to school, covered in freshly mown grass, dripping with dew.  Some mornings near the end of that spring I would tromp through, the grass and it’s scent sticking to my sopping shoes.  Despite the grass stains on my white Keds, which I had to buy for myself and the discomfort of wet shoes, I marched through desperate for the simple elation of the smell of wet dewy grass.  And there was the satisfaction of knowing that they were my shoes.  Shoes that I earned the money for and paid for myself, there was a deep sense of satisfaction in that.  It was my prerogative to ruin them with no one to reprimand me for being wasteful or irresponsible.

It was a strange year, that year “La Isla Bonita” hit it big on the radio.  I threw out my curling iron after graduation, I didn’t need it anymore.  I had control of my whole life now.  Early that spring I got suckered into buying sleek looking, steel bodied, black bucket of bolts called a Ford Thunderbird, which died on the way home from the used car dealership and caused a family row that lasted until I graduated high school.  You would have thought I wasted someone else’s money and not my own.  But I managed to get that car to limp me through my first year of college before wrapping it around a fire hydrant. It taught me a valuable lesson about the value of comprehensive auto insurance.  I managed to get a big enough cash payout to buy a real, albeit economy, brand-new car.  I remember the freedom those cars gave me, the sense of opportunity within my grasp.  I remember playing the radio and listening to this song.  I went to community college.  My parents laughed but I became mistress of my own destiny.

After all these years the memory of this stupid song still reminds me of that first thrill of facing the future, of the first time I realized I had hope that I could find something better.  Ironically, perhaps, but I don’t think that’s really what Madonna’s song is about.  It seems more of longing for the past, which I don’t do at all.  But still it is somehow indelibly linked to that beautiful island of hope for a better future that I created for myself.  That island of hope still keeps me going after all these years.

*****

August 5, 2013

Spudisms #17 Carsacks

by Janie Jones

First, some back story is called for…

Some weeks ago Leif got in a Corb Lund jag.  On nearly continuous loop we’ve been listening to all Leif’s favorite Corb tunes for weeks now.  While Corb is infinitely preferable to his last musical artist jag (Dropkick Murphys) one does get a bit tired of hearing the same 8 songs or so over and over and over.  So, it didn’t even dawn on me which particular song was playing in the background at dinner.

Now, on to the Spudism…

Spud:  Momma, do you know what a carsack is?

The spud is into making up her own words, foreign languages and signature silly phrases, so this question, while bizarre, is not so much so in our house.  Still, one should verify what one thinks one hears.

Me:  What did you say?

Spud:  Do you know what a carsack is?

Me (carefully enunciating):  A carsack?

Spud:  Yeah.

Me:  No, I guess not.  What is a carsack?

Spud:  Like in the song, a carsack on the run.

Suddenly, the light goes on, Horse Soldier!  Horse Soldier! is playing.

Me:  Oh!  You mean a Cossack!  Like in the song, “I’m a Cossack on the run.”

Spud:  Yeah.

Leif:  I’m a Carsack on the run.  I like that.  I’ll have to get a big fleecey hat in the shape of a car.