Category Archives: Music

Ability, Doing, Thinking

Dad always said he had relative pitch, that’s a measure of one to know what note to play or hear being played and know it. He was drafted into the Army during the Korean “conflict” and started a band in boot camp. Instead of going to Korea he toured Europe’s greatest cities for the US Army managing a symphony, and arrived home to meet my mother and have four kids and play in local symphonies after work. He played the “fiddle” to get himself through college and called square dances. He was so talented.

He always told me I had perfect pitch, so did all my music teachers, some with disdain. I don’t know that I have that anymore. Dad played every instrument and taught all. I cannot manage to play piano (keyboard was in storage) or my nice guitar. I gave up violin as a kid. “Santa” bought me a cheap guitar at age 12 and Dad taught me basic chords. As I age my voice could not be in a choir, or as a child soloist.

I took up guitar again at age 50 with two private tutors, one was “Oh, Preacher, Where Art Thou” and the other was a drummer who did not care whether I learned the guitar, only that I kept the beat. I quit, after all my husband and I were paying for classes and I was driving myself there. It was my decision, and again we moved.

I’ve many books of free lyrics because I like to guess the chords. I’ve also one of Dad’s “fakebooks.” He has (had) two more for me. I bought a large binder and individual sleeves and encased every page for the first one and will do so for the rest of them. We used to sing a song in harmony then he’d go on his own riff while I sang the melody, it was a song his father taught him. I don’t remember the riff but it was Old Shanty Town, from the 20’s. “Just a tumble down shack, by the old railroad track, like a millionaire’s mansion keeps calling me back.”

A local shop that is probably known for local and other talent was the place to go for guitar restoration. I had mine done and have a personal guitar teacher and a violin professional on hand when they’re needed. I haven’t been well enough yet.

My brother and I are looking for my father’s violin, that I played as a cello at age two. I will see whether it is salvageable, able to be reconditioned by violin professionals and it will go from his family to his alma mater where a violin scholarship has been created in his name.

Music will stay in our family and in our hearts, Dee

Advertisements

Memorials

I pour water on a tree here for both Jake and Wurli. They both loved that tree and are gone. A former neighbor had Jake and I helped the owner’s sister with the latter stages of his life. Whenever his former “dad” invites us to his home for dinner of course I have to make his favorite dessert, but he knows that the first place I want to go is to see Jake’s box of ashes with my dog ornament atop. He was a great dog.

Wurli is another neighbor who loved that tree. Musician’s dog. His owner is famous and much younger than me but he reminds me of my father with the exceptional ability to play multiple musical instruments. He stopped my husband with our old dog Zoe and expressed condolences on my father’s death. How he heard of this event I don’t know.

I water that tree for both. When I was two, I used my Dad’s violin as a cello. I have the photo. My brother (executor) and I are going to look for it. I will recondition it, and have it donated to the Violin Scholarship program funded in Dad’s name at his college alma mater. All for now, Dee

The Day: Homage to Many

The day they drove old Enron down and the people were singing

and the jail doors were ringing

and Ken Lay had his life go ding, that was the end of everything…

Oh, yes that was the day they drove old Enron down

My neighbor hanged himself

His Catahoula made it to another life

The surgeon killed Lay, as was asked, he couldn’t come back and and that was that

Skilling leaves a paltry payment for all Enron took. Now there are books about what they took

That was when we took Enron down, for stealing from widows

The day we took Enron down, for stealing jobs and pensions

end la la la

 

# # #

So Bob Dylan, World Poet, how do I end this. Yes, I know you did not write this, the original or certainly this trifle but the original sounds a bit like you.

Maybe mention Arlo on fishing trip, when he said writing music is like fishing. Just don’t set up downstream from Bob Dylan. I agree. At nearly 60 I’m still a beginner guitar player but have a nice instrument and I can’t play Bob Dylan for the life of me. I understand pitch, music but even with my beautiful guitar I’ve short, stubby fingers that cannot make the most of a violin, piano or guitar, and a body and feet that cannot do ballet. I’ve the mind and the sense to do so but not the ability. It is very frustrating as I see music in my head, even in my dreams, and I cannot make it come true. I look up lyrics and make up the chords I wish to use but to me an F is a misnomer because even when a pro friend helped me choose a guitar and had me take down the action I’m still having issues and at my age my voice is going as well as my dexterity.

Best I can do is get my Dad’s violin that has been in a closet for years before he died over the holidays. I would like to recondition it, if it can be done, try to re-learn it if usable, or give it to his alma mater who now has a violin scholarship in his name.

Thanks to all my cool musical folks. Yes, Robbie Robertson wrote it and Joan Baez and Johnny Cash played it. The night they brought Old Dixie down.

Now I’m looking at The City of New Orleans, written by Steve Goodman (rest in peace, 1984) and covered by several artists including Arlo Guthrie and even the ever graceful Dolly Parton.

I heard from a friend in Houston from way back. I walked to the trial end and stood there with saddened former employees of Enron who lost their lives and pensions due to this scheme. Sadly, another came up with other victims in the name of Bernie Madoff. He made off with a lot of money. I think it was 32 billion. In this case, people also lost life savings and pensions, homes and everything. I’m talking about everything they worked for including reserved newspaper delivery money since they were ten years old. No, I never “invested” my nickels and dimes there.

I always wanted a newspaper route but it would not have paid anything except additional exercise because it was a half-mile to a mile door-to-door up and down hills and by bicycle it didn’t pay. Town did the duty by truck. Yes, of course it was when Walter Cronkite was on TV News and we couldn’t read the NYTimes on the internet.

The City of New Orleans is one of my favorite songs. I may even be able to play a version of it. It’s funny that as a writer remembering lyrics is my weak point as I write. Good morning, America, how are ya? Don’t you know me, I’m your native son….. Cheers! Dee

 

Morning Has Broken

It’s a couple hours ’til that here and we were up late due to fireworks displays that are always done on the 3rd big-time. Nice display, not Pyro Paula but close. I think the “big city” lets the little ones have their displays on the 4th.

Leadership. I was twelve. Everyone in class was a year older and I was a teeny girl. The natives started getting restless. I asked them to stack the chairs in the back of our wonderful light-filled, wood-floored classroom and grabbed the first album I saw and placed it on the record player. The former Cat Stevens sang Morning Has Broken. Then I put on Gordon Lightfoot’s If You Could Read My Mind.

I was a dancer and early gymnast. I had everyone stand an arms’ length apart and we did a light stretching session for 30 minutes. The teacher never showed up. We ended up with a very quiet and relaxed class who got along and went on with their day.

That day, thanks to courage and the right music, I became the leader Dad always wanted me to be. I organized and calmed down 30 kids, all older than me, just by playing music and relaxing their muscles. Lean to the right, lean to the left. Try to reach your toes. Stay ten seconds, nine, eight…..

I wish schools now would do that every day, ADHD would be at a minimum! The chaos that is awakening, dressing and eating a toaster waffle and catching the bus impacts a child’s day, especially if it is me, being taunted on the school bus by three bullies down the street. They did it once, and 12 family members (kids), from them and their cousins, addressed the bullies non-violently and the bullies never spoke to me or harassed me again. I remain in touch with those families. Not the bullies.

We lived in the country, outside a small village. At birthday parties we built hay forts at the neighbors’ and ran around in cattle dung. Of course my sister and I had to wear white blouses, skirts, lace anklets and patent leather Mary Janes to do so when everyone else was in jeans or overalls and boots. You wouldn’t like to be me after the first such party at age eight. Oh no, my little sister couldn’t be blamed at all. I was responsible as the eldest.

Leadership is a gift and a burden. Dad would tell you that, may he rest in peace. I believe it is a presence and a sense of purpose, smarts, and knowing who you’re dealing with at the moment.

Years ago the light from the 2nd floor windows, bare wood floors and the music helped calm thirty unruly students when our teacher failed to attend class. At age 12 I had no teaching certificate, but at the end of that “class” everyone talked to each other and got along. That was my certificate. Happy 4th! Dee

Babied

Today I had a “date” with a gal pal to go shopping with her four month-old son, G. We followed her in the stroller through the shop. I figure she hasn’t been out in the cold weather to get more than groceries these days.

We came back to our place and I played the guitar for G and he was fascinated. Then we went to their place and I held G and Mommy was amazed that she got a break and that G liked me! He even placed his head on my shoulder for a couple of minutes and slept. He is very bright and vivacious, and very strong, was standing and jumping on my legs, and dancing to music when Mom was holding him while I played guitar and sang Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land.”

I came home and an hour later after I fed and took out our dog Zoe I sat back on the sofa and crashed. I don’t know how Mommy does this all day! Just know I’m too old for it. G’s 13 lbs. and a healthy, growing infant.

I do believe he needs to be exposed to music, and I’d like to talk to Mom about sign language. I’ve a friend who did that with her kids. Simple things like change my diaper, feed me, pick me up. Then she taught “I love you.” and when they came to visit when she was six years old she still signed Mom I love you when she went off to play with the dogs.

Before they can vocalize they can do sign language to let parents know if they’re feeling ill, need to be fed or need a diaper change. I think it’s amazing! No, I fear they’ll never ask to be put down for a nap to give Mommy a break! Cheers, Dee

I

Hey There Delilah

I am taking up guitar again and had mine reconditioned and just got my music from storage. Homage to the Plain White T’s for the only song I have that is of this century. Dad was a musician so I’ll take it up for him. His life was more important than me giving up violin after seven years to go to the mall with my gal pals.

Delilah is my computer, my savior ten years ago when we moved overseas. I could get access to bill pay, Skype and talk to home. She was a peach but I’m three OS’s behind and software is blocking me now.  I’ll save you ICE (in case of emergency) but yesterday my husband made me get a new laptop, it’s charging right now. I’m sorry. It’s half your weight and 1/3 the thickness, more oomph for memory, storage and battery life. And my husband is getting me a newer, bigger monitor. I just have to find a new “skin” for my cord-free keyboard.

Sorry for “cheating” on you. You’ve been a stalwart friend who has helped me write, pay bills and taxes, and answer emails. Thank you for your service. It is much appreciated. Thanks, D, from Dee and thank you, reader! Tonight it’s NY Strip and loaded baked potato. I have to figure out how to hide kale. Hmmmm, Dee

3 Amigos + Life Coach

Equal what, exactly? I returned home the day after Dad’s funeral to a room full of flowers. These folks had never met him or knew of his life or career, they just thought he raised a pretty good kid, though I’m no longer a child by any means. I can tell you that he had 58 years of practice and that is how one gets to play at Carnegie Hall.

He played the capitals of Europe leading the 7th Army Symphony. When he was switched to hospice care he only received oxygen and morphine. He was able to sleep, finally. My brother called to say he was waving his arms about, trying to tell him something, and I replied “hon, he’s conducting!” He was, what we will never know.

So of my three amigos two are happily married. One gave me roses and a note. The other stopped by for an hour and marveled at the paintings and photographs on our walls. His eyes are not good and he had to find his way home to get a magnifying glass to see the number on our door.

The third is my tough case. He “allowed me” to make him breakfast. They all knew my husband would not be back from work for another 30 hours so they tag-teamed to give me company during my grief.

Then he showed me his domestic environment. He’s divorced and dating. I said if I was a younger gal (late 30’s, 40) and visited his home I’d be scared to death. It’s too neat. He’s never used the kitchen sink, oven, stove or washer/dryer.

As a friend I offered a few suggestions. Toss an empty pizza box on the kitchen counter. Pour out half a beer (I gave him an expensive dark ale I was going to use for a French stew) and mangle the cap and leave both on the coffee table.

I made good on those. Third is to find the handprint kindergarten ash tray I know his son made, buy a cigar, let it burn a bit to leave some ash, and leave it out. Now he needs saving by a good woman.

Today he’s reading the paper in a public place, watching the snow fall. He says he has a date and he’s going to get everything pre-made at our local grocery. What??? I can teach you how to make a roast chicken, mashed potatoes and roasted heirloom carrots in ten minutes!

I brought him the pizza box and a beer. Now he’s going to order dinner. He says he can’t cook, but I think he doesn’t want to mess up his sink, oven, stove or laundry to actually make a meal for someone he wishes to impress. I asked him to say “You are my life coach” and he replied that he would help me with any advice I needed.

No, sir, that is not what I meant. It’s one thing for me to take the dog out early in the morning, another for him to be sitting there reading the paper, alone. I am d’Artagnan to my aging Musketeers. Cheers! Dee

ps The flower arrangement I love most is whimsical. My florist said keeping a florist means you have someone who knows you and what you like. The “roses” are baby flowering kale. For my Scottish pursuits there are heather and thistles.

pps My husband must be awake by five. Oh, DogMa is going to hate that. It’s snowy and dark. D