Archives for category: music

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In response to the one word prompt; Music

Music sure can take you back to a certain time and place in life – it’s a very personal thing. For instance, anytime I hear Steve Forbert’s “Romeo’s Tune” I am immediately teleported back to my teenage bedroom, while songs like “Nights in White Satin” and “I Shot the Sheriff” remind me of Friday nights driving around New York City with my dad and siblings.

It’s like a song can elicit a snapshot in your mind of a certain time…like a polaroid from the past.

I can’t hear anything off of Van Halen’s 1984 without thinking of my senior year in college. Any song from America’s Greatest Hits or Goodbye Yellow Brick Road will transport me to the living room in my childhood home, hunkered down in front of the hi-fi stereo with humongous headphones on, following the lyrics on the album sleeve.

“My Sharona” and “Betty Davis Eyes” will immediately bring me back to the front seat of my Mom’s Pontiac Catalina, and if I hear “Love of the Common People” by Paul Young or “Feels Like Heaven” by Fiction Factory, I am walking along the Kärntner Straße in Vienna.

More specifically, every time I hear “Owner of a Lonely Heart” by Yes I am reminded of my walk along Mariahilferstrasse in Vienna the day I had to go to the Czechoslovakian Embassy to get my Visa. The video was playing in the window of an electronics store, and I stopped to watch it. Now, every time I hear that song, I am taken back to that long walk during the spring of 1984.

Music is powerful stuff, no?

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On March 24th, my husband and my youngest daughter traveled up to our Nation’s capitol to see The Who in concert. It was to be a real daddy-daughter day…a day off from school, tooling around D.C., topped off with a night of rock & roll with one of music’s most iconic classic rock bands.

They had a great time. The kind of time that they will both always remember. But…

By Saturday afternoon my daughter began to feel ill. By Easter Sunday she could barely get out of bed. Stuffy nose, fever, cough, sore throat; the whole nine yards. I spent the whole day cooking for her Easter dinner and she barely ate any of it.

By the following week hubby had it too…but 10 times worse. His cough was so hacking that he would come close to throwing up. Two very sick family members, both home from school and work respectively…along with me. I felt like a walking target. It was only a matter of time before mommy got clobbered with what I dubbed “The Who Flu.”

But here it is, almost two weeks later and I am fine and dandy, and I can’t help but wonder why. I didn’t even get a sniffle…not a tickle in my throat. Perhaps this was one of those “you had to be there” viruses. Something they both caught in either DC or at the Verizon Center, but miraculously was not transferable to me.

And I’m so thankful. We are super busy at work, and I don’t get sick days. Vacation days? Yes. But I’ll be damned if I’m going to use one of those to lay on my couch with a box of tissues.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Can’t Drive 55.” Take the third line of the last song you heard, make it your post title, and write for a maximum of 15 minutes. GO!

Dog listen to music with a music player

I really listen to very little music. Why? Because the radio where I live in Central Virginia SUCKS. That includes both AM and FM. It all sucks.

The FM stations are super repetitive…The pop station is all Taylor Swift and Maroon 5. The rock station plays nothing but southern rock and Journey, and country music is totally out cause it’s just awful.

Don’t get me started on AM radio…it’s all right wing – I don’t even bother.

CD’s are no use to me either. My car, which is very old, only has a tape deck and even that doesn’t work.

My husband has Sirius in his car. He can listen to Howard Stern, but also has about a billion stations from news to comedy to music that he can listen to. But you know, even Sirius can get repetitive. There are certain music stations he has programmed, and I have to say, I’ve heard “Pulling Mussels from a Shell” and “My Sweet Lord” more in his car than any other place combined.

So, I’m an iPod girl. But just like my wheels, it’s old. Nano 5th generation – my daughter’s throw away when we bought her an iPod touch. It was a step up from my shuffle. Nothing but the best for mom, ha ha ha.

I have about 150 songs loaded on there, but I’ll be honest, they can become tiresome. So I listen to audio books and podcasts. They keep me wonderfully entertained while I walk each morning, and during my drive to and from work.

But for the record, the last song I heard was my daughter singing The Beatles’ “From Me To You” in the shower. Yeah, we are bringing her up on real music. And the third line, (if you skip the da da da da da dum dum dah’s), is “Just call on me and I’ll send it along with love from me to you.”

Which is pretty much a mother’s motto.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Always Something There to Remind Me.”

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I guess I am one step ahead of the Daily Post, because I wrote about this exact thing a few weeks ago. So here it is again…

The Forgotten AM Radio Song

The other day my husband began singing a tune…I’d heard it before, and asked him “I know that song…wait, what song is that?” He answered, “You and Me, by Alice Cooper.” Holy cow. I must have heard that song hundreds of times, yet I had totally forgotten that it even exsisted.

So I YouTubed it, and listened. I was immediately transported back to 1977.

I could imagine sitting in my mom’s mint green Pontiac Catalina, tuned into WNBC and WABC – both on the AM dial; which was all we had in our cars back in those days. When my dad bought a car, he didn’t upgrade anything – you got what the car came with, which usually meant only AM.

When you had to listen to AM, you heard the same top 40 songs over and over again…kind of like half the shitty FM stations that are around now-a-days that play Maroon 5 and Wiz Khalifa every 15 minutes, and Taylor Swift every 10.

But hearing this song again? I could picture days at the pool, hearing the tinny quality of someone’s transistor radio playing this old Alice Cooper song – and possibly the crackle from some far away lightning strike. I love that crackle.

I could imagine myself in the backseat of my dad’s station wagon, driving over the Triboro bridge on the way to one of our Friday night excursions, watching all the twinkling city lights, window down, breathing in the distinctive smell of New York City.

Or a warm night on Martha’s Vineyard, eating a soft serve cone from the Quarterdeck, and keeping my eyes peeled for a glimpse of my summer crush.

How could I have totally forgotten this song? While I didn’t love it or anything when it came out, I had heard it over and over again driving around with my mom, or listening to the radio while I cleaned my room. Or maybe while I did homework.

Listening to it again was almost like opening up a time capsule. Something that was buried in me decades ago was suddenly unearthed by my husband absent-mindedly humming a tune. I know I’m not describing this right, but when I played that song again on YouTube it was like 2015 just melted away.

I was somewhere else for a very short while. It was pretty cool.

1965-pontiac-catalina-dash

The other day my husband began singing a tune…I’d heard it before, and asked him “I know that song…wait, what song is that?” He answered, “You and Me, by Alice Cooper.” Holy cow. I must have heard that song hundreds of times, yet I had totally forgotten that it even exsisted.

So I YouTubed it, and listened. I was immediately transported back to 1977.

I could imagine sitting in my mom’s mint green Pontiac Catalina, tuned into WNBC and WABC – both on the AM dial; which was all we had in our cars back in those days. When my dad bought a car, he didn’t upgrade anything – you got what the car came with, which usually meant only AM.

When you had to listen to AM, you heard the same top 40 songs over and over again…kind of like half the shitty FM stations that are around now-a-days that play Maroon 5 and Wiz Khalifa every 15 minutes, and Taylor Swift every 10.

But hearing this song again? I could picture days at the pool, hearing the tinny quality of someone’s transistor radio playing this old Alice Cooper song – and possibly the crackle from some far away lightning strike. I love that crackle.

I could imagine myself in the backseat of my dad’s station wagon, driving over the Triboro bridge on the way to one of our Friday night excursions, watching all the twinkling city lights, window down, breathing in the distinctive smell of New York City.

Or a warm night on Martha’s Vineyard, eating a soft serve cone from the Quarterdeck, and keeping my eyes peeled for a glimpse of my summer crush.

How could I have totally forgotten this song? While I didn’t love it or anything when it came out, I had heard it over and over again driving around with my mom, or listening to the radio while I cleaned my room. Or maybe while I did homework.

Listening to it again was almost like opening up a time capsule. Something that was buried in me decades ago was suddenly unearthed by my husband absent-mindedly humming a tune. I know I’m not describing this right, but when I played that song again on YouTube it was like 2015 just melted away.

I was somewhere else for a very short while. It was pretty cool.

Lonely Boy

When Andrew Gold’s “Lonely Boy” came out in 1976, I dug it. The tune is catchy, and it tells a story – a genre that was popular back in the 70s. Story songs ran rampant on AM radio back then – “Wildfire,” “Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl),” “Billy Don’t Be a Hero” – hell, I could go on.

My husband likes this song a lot, so it gets played on a somewhat frequent basis. But I began to realize a few months ago that the song “Lonely Boy” makes no sense whatsoever. The story it tells? It’s weak.

Let me show you what I mean.

The song starts out with:

He was born on a summer day, 1951
And with the slap of a hand
He had landed as an only son

Ok fine. Welcome to the world Lonely Boy. All’s well and good, until, in verse two:

In the summer of ’53 his mother brought him a sister
And she told him we must attend to her needs
She’s so much younger than you
Well he ran down the hall and he cried
Oh how could his parents have lied
When they said he was an only son
He thought he was the only one

Okay, so in the summer of ’53 our little boy would only be two years old. I could see him being petulant at first – having been pushed aside for his new baby sister. But come on, do you really think a two year old boy would be capable of such deep, inner thoughts?

Wasn’t he pretty much still crapping in his Pampers at that point? I doubt a child with just enough teeth to gnaw on a Zweiback would have the mental capacity to realize that his life was now cosmically altered – that now he was not an only child. Don’t you think that after seeing his newborn sister he might have just toddled off and played with his Tonka truck?

But wait, it gets worse…

He left home on a winter day 1969
And he hoped to find all the love
He had lost in that earlier time

So he leaves home at 18 all pissed off and bitter. Am I supposed to believe that since the age of two this kid has harbored a long standing grudge just because his parents had the audacity to have a second child? That’s just ridiculous! It’s doubtful that as a adult he would even remember the birth of his younger sister, let alone recall it as the time his life changed for evermore.

And with that last line –  “all the love he had lost in that earlier time…” Are we to further believe that his parents totally blew him off once his precious sister came into the act? Did they show him no love whatsoever afterwards? Did they never speak to him? Was he locked in his room and ignored?

It’s so freaking stupid! If the sister had come along when he was 9 or 10 I might be able to buy this story. I could see him being perturbed at not being the golden child anymore and having to share mommy & daddy’s affection (If he were a narcissistic psychopath, anyway.)

But at two? No way.

Listen for yourself, and tell me what you think. Unless it’s to tell me that you don’t give a crap and that I should find better blog topics. That you can keep to yourself.

RAdio

This morning when I was out walking, Todd Rundgren’s “I Saw The Light” came on my iPod. This song has a very special meaning to me – you see, it was the very first song that my first-born daughter ever heard.

It was August of 1995, and we were in the car driving her home from the hospital. “I Saw The Light” came on the radio. I have always liked that song, so I stopped my husband from changing the channel, and sang along. When it was over, I turned to him and said, “That was Sam’s first song. That’s her song.”

Now before I go on with this story, you need a little bit of background information. My husband is a musicaholic – it’s his passion. His true love. Have you ever asked the question of whether you would rather be blind or deaf? I always sided with deafness, because I would need to see my girls grow up..to see them graduate, walk down the aisle, have kids of their own.

Hubby? He would opt for blindness because he couldn’t imagine not being able to listen to music. I mean I love Springsteeen, but I’d rather be able to see than hear Rosalita.

But music goes a lot deeper with my husband, because it’s been a part of his life for so long. When he was young, he decided to get into radio. He went to a broadcasting school in New York City, and got a job working for WNEW, who had both AM and FM stations. While the AM station was news, sports and tunes from the 30’s & 40’s, the FM station was all rock. Classic rock – and a big wheel in the New York radio market.

He wasn’t on the air, because he said his tape that he made at broadcasting school sucked. But he worked with a popular DJ as an intern, then in the newsroom, and then a remote producer. However that didn’t mean he was tied to a dark studio. There were concerts and lots of them. And when you worked at the top rock radio station in a town like New York? You get to see EVERYONE.

He would go to concerts to hand out promotional items to fans, and then help backstage with live interviews. Can you imagine that? BACKSTAGE at Madison Square Garden, Giant’s Stadium or the Brendan Byrne Arena (now the Izod Center) for every show imaginable. He has a collection of backstage passes that would blow your mind.

A very young Hubby, on the far left in the yellow tee – and yes, that’s Pete Townshend. Fun Fact – he still has that exact T-Shirt.

And he’s seen everyone. I can’t name them all, but if it’s an artist or band that had any musical cred in the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s – he’s seen them. He’s got a pretty massive collection of ticket stubs too. He always tells me if I wrote about his musical exploitations rather than ramble on about my goofy life, I’d have a million followers.

But even after his time at WNEW ended, he’s managed to stay involved in music. Right now he works at two entertainment venues where he still gets to be behind the scenes, although it’s on a much smaller scale. So far this year he’s worked the Snoop Dogg concert and helped Dwight Yoakam with his meet & greet. And let’s not forget, it was through this job that I got to meet Springsteen, where I got a kiss on the cheek from the Boss himself, followed by backstage passes to his concert that very same night.

It was one of the best nights of my life, and he did shit like that a few times a week.

He’s also managed to turn our youngest daughter onto all sorts of classic rock bands. She loves ELO, The Beatles and Chicago. When he does dishes or cleans the house, the iTunes goes on, and the songs blast out…everything from Supertramp to Sinatra, from Manilow to Manhattan Transfer – his tastes are beyond eclectic – they are scattered wider than the universe.

Yeah, it’s safe to say he lives music.

And sports – but that’s another blog post.

So when I turned to him in the summer of 1995 and said, “That was Sam’s first song. That’s her song” maybe now you can understand why he immediately began a frantic channel search to find a song he could embrace. Because his first daughter’s first song was way too important to him, and fate had chosen Todd Rundgren.

He claims it’s not her song even to this day, but it is.

And it’s fitting as well. With the exception of a few lines here and there, it really can be the story of a mom looking into her childs eyes for the first time. Take a listen and see what I mean. Listen to my daughter’s very first song.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Opening Lines.”

What’s the first line of the last song you listened to (on the radio, on your music player, or anywhere else)? Use it as the first sentence of your post.

Trip, Stumble & Fall

That’s the first line of the last song I listended to. I hadn’t heard that particular Mamas & Papas song in quiet a while, so I Spotified it, and was glad I did. So glad that I purchased it on iTunes this morning. But this blog post is not about the musical stylings of The Mamas and The Papas. It’s about falling your ass down.

Now let’s talk about falling…I’ve done it a few times in my adult life and I wouldn’t file it under the “good times” category. In fact, it sucks. It’s embarassing and painful, and something totally foreign to the average adult body. Kids fall – kids who run amok and risk life and limb climbing and jumping…they fall. Not me. Well, not often anyway.

Below is a post that appeared in an earlier blog that is now defunct. However, it’s one of my sisters’ favorite stories from that blog, so I will share it again with my Typical Tracy followers.


FALL FROM GRACE 
Originally published 9.14.10

Yesterday I left my office during lunch to go for a walk. I began on a route I had never taken before, and as I looked around at office buildings and unfamiliar scenery, I spotted a Coke bottle cap on the ground.

I am always on the lookout for coke bottle caps. Each cap contains a code that is worth points on their website. Our family collects these points and trades them in for stuff. Over the past few years we’ve obtained a toaster, a set of pans, a t-shirt and a free ticket to Kings Dominion. So I bent over to picked the cap up.

It was at this point that my day radically changed.

I’m not quite sure what happened to be honest with you. My feet hit some imaginary rope strung across my path. I tripped. I stumbled. And then I fell.

I remember trying to recover from the stumble. I remember attempting to right my body as I careened wildly towards the ground. My attempts were fruitless and I landed with a hard thud in the street. Not on the sidewalk, mind you, but in the street. You know, where the cars are?

I did not put my hands out. I had my cell phone in one hand, and the blasted Coke cap in the other. So I landed hard on my left forearm, while my right hand, conveniently shaped like a fist as I strived to hold onto that cap, punched me square in the mouth.

Dazed, wincing, and mortified, I popped back up on my feet and continued walking like nothing had ever happened. After a few seconds I sneaked a peek behind me and was relieved to see that nobody was around. Had I really been spared the added humiliation of witnesses?

I glanced at my elbow and forearm to assess the damage. Dirt and gravel was intermixed with bits of loose skin and blood. It hurt so bad I was surprised you could not physically see stars and lighting bolts radiating from it. I ran my tongue over my lower front teeth. Yep, they were still there, but man, did my lip hurt.

As I continued my walk, I replayed the mishap in my head. I fell in the fucking street. Hard. I am grateful there were no cars coming. Or a bus. I am glad all I did was skin my elbow and punch myself in the face. I could have broken a bone or knocked out a tooth.

Who falls down like that? What am I four years old?  I wasn’t skiing or mountain biking. I was close to standing still. Who does that?

Apparently I do. And let me tell you, falling down is no fun when you are, well, chunky. The thud was not a pleasant one. I’m wondering if the U.S. Geological Survey saw a blip on the Richter scale in Virginia yesterday. I cringe just thinking about it.

Today I am very sore. Not just my skinned elbow and forearm, but a variety of muscles are angry with me today. I am keeping my arm wrapped intermittently in an ace bandage. Funny how few of my unfriendly co-workers have asked about it. But that’s a blog for another day.

Be safe everyone, and watch your step for goodness sake.

45 art

I was introduced to a ton of music when I was a young child compliments of my Aunt Carol’s collection of 45 records. They were stored in boxes just like the ones shown above, and when we were in the mood to jam to some tunes, my sisters and I would pull the boxes out from the cabinet in the “stereo console,” find as many insert adapters as we could, and stack ’em up on the turntable.

david-bowie-space-oddity-picture-sleeve-45-original-1973-rca_8096841Her collection was impressive. She had a ton of Beatles singles, not only on the Capitol label but also on the Apple label. There was lots of Elvis, which my sister loved. Me, not so much. She had a lot of odd tunes; weird little ditties that had to have been one hit wonders. She also had a fair share of surfer music, which I still find odd. And as long as we’re talking odd, she had the 45 to David Bowie’s Space Oddity. That’s a record I can’t see her buying at all – that was a little far out for my Aunt Carol.

Part of the beauty of these records were the labels. Decca, Bell, Atlantic, RCA – many times it was the easiest way to find your favorite songs in the boxes and boxes of records. Those labes were so recognizable – if I wanted to find “Knock Three Times” by Tony Orland & Dawn, all I had to do was look for the silver Bell label. I might find the Partridge Family instead, but that was fine too.

mOg1os7DgpqHlW686dyIRhQMy favorite of all the 45s was one by Gary Lewis and the Playboys. It had not one but TWO songs on the same side – “This Diamond Ring” and “Little Miss Go Go.” Everyone knows This Diamond Ring, but the best was when you got to the little known song two. Little Miss Go Go is just a kick ass song.

In keeping with the surfer-style music, my sisters and I used to love “Surfer Joe” by the Surfaris because it was a story song – you know those…like “Billy Don’t Be a Hero” or “The Night Chicago Died.” You can’t beat a good story song.

Another favorite of ours was Dizzy by Tommy Roe. My sisters and I would spin round and round while the song played so we could be dizzy right along with Tommy.

We always had to play Tracy by the Cufflinks. While I’m glad I have a song named after me, I wish it wasn’t so über dorky. And speaking of dorky…that lead singer? Yikes.

When it came to name songs my sister Judy had “Hey Jude,” but my sister Wendy had nothing. So, she adopted another 45 favorite of ours, “Windy” by The Association, as her own. Then Springsteen came along and put her name in the best song every written. Sigh. And I’m stuck with the Cufflinks.

Typical.

There were some real oddball songs too. One was “Surfin’ Bird” by the Trashmen. I don’t know who had the idea to put that record on for the first time, but I do believe after hearing it, it was the first time my tiny little brain registered a thought along the lines of what the fuck.

That wasn’t the only song straight out of the WTF Files. An insanely bizarre 45 is “They’re Coming To Take Me Away (Ha-Haaa)” by Napoleon XIV. It’s hard to describe, but as a small child I always found it creepy as hell. His voice changes pitches and there’s a siren in the background and this stomping/clapping back beat throughout the whole song and his voice echos and it was just really, really sccaaary!

And I can still remember all the words. What was even more wacked out was the B-side; it’s the same song played backwards.

My sister Wendy thankfully still has all these wonderful 45s because she realizes the value of them…not just on the commercial market (although it would be fun to take them on Antiques Roadshow), but because they were a real part of our childhood.

One day I’ll have to blog about MY 45 collection…and how I don’t have it anymore. See, my husband isn’t quite so sentimental about old 45s.

podcast-headphones

For the past few years I was a devoted downloader of audio books from LibriVox.org – it’s a site that has tons of books that have been released into the public domain.  Through that site I discovered a stockpile of great reading material that I might have overlooked simply because the books were “old.” I discovered authors like Horatio Alger, Jr., and Lucy Maud Montgomery, and wonderful books like “The Enchanted Barn,” and “Dandelion Cottage.”

But after a few years, I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve listened to all the good ones. I’ve downloaded dud after dud the past month or so – either the story sucks or the reader does, and I give up after a chapter or two. I needed something new, and fast.

Enter the podcast. I found that there are tons and tons of podcasts on iTunes – all free, and just sitting there waiting for me to download and enjoy. I mean, there are so many it’s almost overwhelming. It’s like I’d stumbled into an audio goldmine.

Here are my favorites so far:

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 12.03.43 PMReal Time with Bill Maher: We recently had to cancel HBO in order to save some money on our ever-rising cable bill. Therefore, I was thrilled to see that I could download new episodes and listen to them while I walk. Who needs to see the panel? It’s what they say that’s of any interest anyway.

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 12.09.22 PMRadio Diaries: This was the first of the story-telling podcasts I stumbled across. They are stories on seemingly random topics – like when a plane hit the Empire State Building back in the 40’s, or the Miss Subways contests, which I never even knew existed.  There were only ten episodes available for download, and I listened to every one of them. I’m hoping for more to be available soon.

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 12.16.53 PMCriminal: Stories of crime – like a guy who went to jail for murdering his wife, when actually they think she was killed from an owl attack. Or a girl who spent a few months passing off counterfeit $20 bills with her shiftless boyfriend. Or, a young hacker who pretty much shut down the internet back in 1999.

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 12.45.38 PMUnfictional: I’m not sure how to describe this one. It’s just stories on random topics…a gravedigger in England, the Salem Witch Trials, the story of Dog Mountain. Perhaps it seems like a snooze to you, but they are really well-crafted and super interesting. They remind me of when CBS Sunday Morning runs a story on some person you never heard of, but it’s still very entertaining.

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 1.59.36 PMPorchlight Storytelling Series: This one’s a wee bit wacky. These two San Francisco gals invite 6 people to an open mike to tell their stories relating to a specific topic. These can be delicously awkward, especially when the story teller is hoping for a response from the audience—aka, a laugh—and gets none. Plus they never know how to end the story gracefully. It’s great.

I really dig these podcasts – maybe because they remind me of my blog. I’m just telling my stories to anyone who cares to listen. I, in turn, like hearing their stories. It makes the world seem wonderfully chaotic – filled with all these people who all have their own tales to tell.

I’ll tell you, it makes my walks and my morning commute much more entertaining.