Let’s Take A Moment Day 180

Hi everyone.  Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing.  But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?

Jane Austen Music Quote

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are in a serious situation, but I need a break from the gloom, doom and bullying by way of hoarding. Music has always been my refuge and watching those beautiful Italians singing to each other from their balconies reaffirmed my belief that music is the answer. So until the old normal returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day.  And if this helps anyone else, even better.

Six months have now passed since the pandemic came into our lives. I will refrain from using the terms that have become our new language and just say as difficult as this time has been, I am thankful for this outlet because it has given me back the magic of music. Listening to songs and artists I somehow lost track of or denied myself the joy of because I felt obligated to put others first in enabling ways or because of work or domestic monotony or anything else “I was supposed to do”. Well this time has taught me I come first-finally-and I will no longer deny that nor will I apologize for it. In the middle of a pandemic, I found me. How can I not be grateful for that? So, to quote Casey Kasem, on with the music. And a virtual road trip to clear out the cobwebs.

The voices I have heard in music have affected me in different ways. Some were subtle, some were intense and some were massive. Today’s singers fall into the last category. The first time I heard The Band, I fell in love with not one but three distinct beautiful voices-the ones belonging to Rick Danko, Levon Helm & Richard Manuel. Danko’s vocal on “Long Black Veil“, Helm’s vocal on “The Weight” (see day 60) and Manuel’s vocal on “I Shall Be Released“, with each of the other singers providing harmony on those songs, is some of the most remarkable music I have ever heard. After the original group broke up in 1976, the three singers along with fellow bandmate, multi-instrumentalist Garth Hudson, reformed as a band in 1983. And despite the heartbreaking loss of Manuel in 1986 to suicide after an ongoing battle with drug & alcohol addiction, the other three members carried on.

Every time I heard their music or saw one of the singers, I felt at home. I remember sitting in a movie theatre watching “The Big Chill” and doing an internal cartwheel as soon as I heard the acoustic guitar intro to “The Weight” during the breakfast scene where every one gets their running shoes. Or when I was in the same theatre watching “Coal Miner’s Daughter” and seeing Levon Helm on the big screen as Loretta Lynn’s father, Ted Webb. Or whenever I needed to see “The Last Waltz” just one more time.

Danko died of heart failure in 1999 which is when this stunning group ended their career for good. Helm kept acting, performing and making music on his own, right up until he died in 2012 from cancer. With all three of these beautiful voices gone now, there is a place inside my soul that just yearns for them. Their contribution to music in general and my world specifically, is immeasurable, despite the efforts of others to downplay or forget their roles in one of the most extraordinary bands to ever make music.

Everything dies, baby, that’s a fact
But maybe everything that dies someday comes back
Put your makeup on, fix your hair up pretty
And meet me tonight in Atlantic City
“.

The Band 1969

The Band: “Atlantic City” (1993, written by Bruce Springsteen).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.

Stay well.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 32

Hi everyone.  Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing.  But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?

music heart

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are in a serious situation, but I need a break from the gloom, doom and bullying by way of hoarding. Music has always been my refuge and watching those beautiful Italians singing to each other from their balconies reaffirmed my belief that music is the answer. So until the old normal returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day.  And if this helps anyone else, even better.

Today marks the 104th birth anniversary of my beloved grandmother Ida, or as I affectionately called her, Idie.  I think about her and miss her everyday, but even more so since we have been dealing with this pandemic.  She would not have handled the self-quarantine well at all.  She barely went two days in a row without going to bingo so not being allowed to play it for all this time would have undoubtedly put her in a straight jacket by now.  But still, I wish she was still here, for all the obvious reasons.  And so I could have seen the look on her face when she found out that my dream of spending my time listening to music and watching TV all day long not only came true, but is government mandated!!!  Ha!!!  Take that, Idie!!!  LOL.

While I was growing up, we always had music on in the house and usually it was from my records.  Idie learned to like many of the songs I played including “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac and “Factory” by Bruce Springsteen.  But one hour a day, usually while we were cooking together, she made me turn off my albums so she could listen to the local country music radio station.  And that is how I discovered legends like Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Don Williams, Merle Haggard and the singer of today’s song, Johnny Cash.

He was usually referred to by his nickname “the man in black” but since I first heard him on the radio, that did not really tell me anything other than his preferred garment color.  But his voice and his songs told me all I needed to know about him.  Yes, he was one of the greatest musical talents to ever exist but he was also my first introduction to a true crossover artist.

He sang everything from country songs to religious hymns, to Americana music (like “The Battle Hymn of The Republic”) to covers of  songs by rock artists like Bob Dylan (“It Ain’t Me Babe”), The Rolling Stones (“No Expectations”) and The Band (“The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”).  He was also on TV and not just as a musical guest.  He appeared in an episode of  “Little House On The Prairie” as a bad guy turned good guy after meeting the pious people of Walnut Grove.  And he was mentioned in a few “Golden Girls” episodes.  My favorite one is a quip by Dorothy after she & Sophia walk in the house wearing dark clothes and Rose is, as usual, confused.

Rose:  “Why are you both wearing black?  Did you just come from a funeral?

Dorothy:  “No, Rose.  We were singing back up for Johnny Cash”.

He continued to make incredible music for the rest of his life, on his own and as a member of the supergroup, The Highwaymen.  He also covered more rock songs by Neil Young (“Heart of Gold”), Nine Inch Nails (“Hurt) and U2 (“One”).  And he continued to act, most notably on “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” with the great love of his life, June, by his side.  I grew up believing there wasn’t anything Cash could not sing or do.  He proved me right.  I am so thankful I discovered his music, all because my grandmother brought country songs into my world.  Thank you, Idie.  And happy birthday.  xoxox

Johnny Cash "Folsom Prison Blues" 7 inch Album Cover

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Johnny Cash:  “Folsom Prison Blues” (1955, written by Johnny Cash).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.

Stay well.