A Day In The Life

Musical DownsizingMy brother gave me three CD’s fo…
December 28, 2006, 4:02 am
Filed under: Music
Musical Downsizing

My brother gave me three CD’s for Christmas. Nothing too surprising about that. He always asks for a Christmas “wish list” and the selections he gave me were taken from my list. I was, however, I bit shocked with my own musical requests. I tend to like lush, melodic, ‘large’ music with a myriad of instruments and beautiful harmony. Puccini operas, Mozart, Beethoven, the Beatles, the Eagles, Guns ‘n’ Roses, vocalists backed with an orchestra, large choirs singing intricate harmonies.

I am the first to admit that I am a bit of a musical fanatic. I teach music. I think about it a lot. I am immersed in it. I love music. And I have very strong musical opinions. I am totally appalled by many of the musical offerings available to the public in this day and age. It seems we have reached a point where talent, musical knowledge, musical technique and even musical ability are no longer a requirement for superstardom. So many vocalists and bands sound exactly the same to me. I firmly believe their ‘sameness’ derives from the fact that so many of today’s “artists” are not really musicians. Or maybe I should say that so many of today’s “musicians” are not really artists. Regardless, and before I really get into a major sermon based on my musical views, I think a lot of the so called music on the market today is just commercial crap. I mean Paris Hilton a musician? Give me a break.

Now….back to what I began to write about in my first paragraph…..I know, I know…I get carried away. What can I say? I’m a classically trained musician. I could discuss and debate music for days. I surprised myself with my musical wish list because I strayed from my usual listening tastes and, no, I did not ask for the Paris Hilton CD.

I was a Kris Kristofferson fan in the 70’s. He wrote some great music and I was totally into the Barbra Streisand/Kris Kristofferson flick A Star Is Born. Kris played an aging rock star on his way out and his character in the movie seemed rather prophetic for what was happening in his real life musical career. His voice was sort of rusty and abused. And he pretty much had a personal and professional meltdown in the 80’s. I wanted to hear what he had to offer as a solo artist twenty-something years later so I asked for his 2006 release “This Old Road”. I am not disappointed. His voice is cleaner than I’ve ever heard it. Kris isn’t a very melodic singer and most of the songs on this CD are very sparse. Mostly just Kris and a guitar. His lyrics are layered with nuance and wisdom. Very powerful. A sample from “In The News”: “…Burning up the atmosphere and cutting down the trees; The billion dollar bombing of a nation on its knees; Anyone not marching to their tune they call it treason; Everyone says God is on his side. See the lightning, hear the cries; Of the wounded in a world in Holy war; Mortal thunder from the skies; Killing everything they say they’re fighting for…..”

Next on my wish list was the soundtrack from Brokeback Mountain. No discussion of the subject matter of the movie…..maybe we’ll do that in another post. The music from this movie is excellent. Again, very sparse. Most of it is guitar, pump organ and pedal steel guitar. Haunting melodies with unexpected harmonic twists here and there. Some excellent collaborations between Gustav Santaolalla and Bernie Taupin. Great vocals by Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris and others.

Last, but not least, my brother gave me Dwight Yoakam’s “Blame The Vain”. It is a 2005 release, but I didn’t have it yet. Again, I am not disappointed. Classic Yoakam with a few quirky surprises thrown in for good measure. Not as sparse as Kristofferson and the Brokeback Mountain soundtrack, but I love that Bakersfield sound. We lost Buck Owens this year so it is up to Dwight to keep it going.

Hope you had the merriest Christmas ever and Happy New Year! I’m gonna listen to some good tunes now……..


I’ve been thinking a lot about the Christmas ques…
December 23, 2006, 4:36 am
Filed under: Family

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Christmas question and answers I’ve seen in so many posts. One particular question has been stuck in my mind: Your favorite Christmas gift? There are so many gifts to choose from. I thought of the antique rocking chair, the pink doll cradle and the china tea set. I remembered countless dolls. I named them all. I dressed and undressed them, combed their hair, hugged them before going to sleep, spent hours playing with them. The farm set was a definite favorite. My first real cat, Sunshine, and later as a teenager, another cat named Kitty Blue. The Lane cedar chest, the birthstone ring, sweaters, skirts, a pair of white majorette boots with tassles. The list goes on and on because Christmas with my family has always been such a wonderful time of giving and receiving.

But to narrow the list to my very favorite Christmas gift seemed almost impossible until late one night it occurred to me that my absolute favorite gift, the most precious gift of all was years. The 19 years I had with my Grandpa T., the 29 years I had with my Grandma W., the 30 years I had with my Grandma T., the 36 years I shared Christmas with Grandpa W. and the 42 years I shared Christmas with my dad. Some of these years were spent physically far apart, but never were they not shared.

The sad thing about the gift of years is that sometimes the realization of how awesomely precious that gift is only comes when the gift is no longer received. The marvelous, happy thing about the gift of years is that you had all that time with people you loved in the first place. And all the experiences of those years are stored in the heart and soul.

So in this special season, I am so thankful for the gift of years that I am still receiving from those I hold dear and I am also thankful that I can give the gift of another year to those I love. I am thankful for the memories of gifts of the past and I look forward to the gifts of the future. Cherish each moment with those you love. The years are the true treasures of giving.

“The most vivid memories of Christmases past are usually not of gifts given or received, but of the spirit of love….the cherished little habits of the home….Christmas, my child, is love in action…..When you love someone, you give to them, as God gives to us. The greatest gift He ever gave was the person of His Son.”

Songbird…….The Early YearsMy cousin has been…
December 19, 2006, 2:31 am
Filed under: Family

Songbird…….The Early Years

My cousin has been going through her mom’s old pictures and she (my cousin) enclosed these family photos in the Christmas card she sent to me.

I was 11 days old when this picture was taken. My dad is holding me and you can see a picture of my mom in the background. Mom wrote this on the back of the picture: “She’s sure heavy. See the muscles and veins standing out.” I weighed nine pounds and I can’t remember how many ounces at birth. Knowing me, I had probably already gained 3 or 4 pounds in eleven days!

I am eight months old in this shot. Dad is wearing his Cities Service uniform. He eventually bought the service station where he worked at the time this picture was taken. That is my grandparent’s house. We lived with them until I was three. I don’t know a thing about that little backpack seat I am in. It’s a nifty carrier, isn’t it?

Ahhhh…..one of many lovely dresses with a pinafore that my Granny W. made for me. Look at those starched ruffles! This is an Easter picture taken when I was two. What a princess!!

One of my favorite photos of all time. This family portrait was taken in the summer right before I turned three. My dad was 24 and my mom 22. We moved into our new house later that year. The dog is Togo. He belonged to my grandparents. I still love black and tan Dachshunds!!

Why I Like Matthew He isn’t necessarily my fav…
December 17, 2006, 4:56 am
Filed under: Matthew McConaughey
Why I Like Matthew

He isn’t necessarily my favorite actor and I definitely don’t know the man beyond what I’ve read about him, but based on what I have read, seen and heard of Matthew McConaughey, I believe he would be a wonderful person to know. We have things in common, Matthew and I, and for that reason alone, I can identify with him. It makes him seem more real to me. And, no, I don’t have some sort of mid-life crush on a celebrity. Although he is undeniably handsome, there seems to be a lot more to the man than just his rugged good looks. His favorite causes are anything that deals with kids. He did all the decorating and landscaping for his home in Los Angeles. He also owns a working ranch in Texas. By his own admission, he cries a lot. He loves music and animals. I could go on, but instead I will let Matthew speak for himself. “We make a choice every day; to live or not. I want to live life–to see it, smell it, touch it, breathe it, savor it, feel it, be it. I think of life as a river, hopefully a long river…..we are the navigator, we are the oar, we’re steering….I’m thanking Him instead of asking Him for something. Look at my life: I’ve got a house and food. So many people out there don’t have that. I’m grateful to God every day for my life. I’m blessed to have the ability to work, and I try to do the best that I can. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. I never want to be complacent or take it for granted. I want to just keep livin’!” (Cowboys and Indians, October 2006)

I TriedI was so excited to have some time at home …
December 15, 2006, 2:32 am
Filed under: School Buzz

I Tried

I was so excited to have some time at home this evening to catch up on reading and commenting on blogs. Blogger, however, has other ideas. I have been reading, but I can’t comment as Songbird, as Anonymous, or as Other. Who knows? Maybe after I get this posted, I will suddenly be able to comment again. In the meantime, here is a picture of my senior high choir, The Bearcat Chorus, at our Christmas concert on December 5. Aren’t they a good looking group?! The ladies in red and the men in tuxes are also members of The Spotlight Singers and Sweet Harmony, my two auditioned ensembles.

The large wreath was part of the decorations for the second grade musical which was held the night before our concert. The wreath is made out of little second grader “hand prints”. They traced their hands on green paper, cut out the hand prints and their music teacher fashioned all those little prints into two lovely wreaths. The second grade music teacher has two children in the Bearcat Chorus and she also plays piano for the middle school choir and she played two pieces for the senior high groups. She is a busy woman this time of year, too!

This is me and one of my students. Her mother took the picture after the All Region Honors Choir concert several weeks ago. ( I had to show my front side since all you can see in the group shot above is my backside!! )

Deck the hall with boughs of holly, fa la la la la…
December 8, 2006, 3:16 am
Filed under: Odds and Ends

Deck the hall with boughs of holly, fa la la la la la la la la!
‘Tis the season to be jolly, fa la la la la la la la la!
Don we now our gay apparel, fa la la la la la la la la!
Troll the ancient Yuletide carol, fa la la la la la la la la!

The Tuesday night concert was magical. Caroling tonight for our local Christmas Tour of Homes was also wonderful. I’m having so much fun!!

It is nineteen degrees outside and almost as bright as day with a big ole moon hanging in the sky and a multitude of bright, twinkling stars keeping it company. Oh, how I love life!! I think I could sing all night.

Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright.
Round yon virgin, mother and child,
Holy infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace, sleep in heavenly peace.

The Season of SingingIt’s here! One of the busiest…
December 5, 2006, 1:55 am
Filed under: School Buzz

The Season of Singing

It’s here! One of the busiest times of the year for those of us in the entertainment business….oh, excuse me….I mean for those of us who teach choir and music in a public school. Who am I kidding?! It’s a busy time of year for all of us. Anyway, you may have noticed that my posts have been few and far between lately and they will more than likely be even fewer and farther between for the next two weeks. My high school/middle school concert is tomorrow night. My two senior high auditioned ensembles have two community performances Thursday night. I sing in my church choir and we have our final rehearsal Wednesday night for the cantata we will present Sunday morning. Next Monday is the elementary choir concert. Next Thursday is my fifth grade Christmas musical and next Friday I travel to Little Rock with my 40-member fifth grade choir to sing in the rotunda of our State Capitol. Then back home that evening with the senior high choir to sing the National Anthem at a basketball game. The following Monday I have two more performances with school groups for community organizations. So I have a few things to do, but it really is a lot of fun. Just a lot to stay on top of and a lot of behind the scenes planning and organization.

In weather news…..we didn’t get much snow last week in the part of Arkansas where I live. There wasn’t enough to run out and take pictures of, but I truly wanted to post snow pictures so here are a few from years past.

This is Jasper posing in his first big snow. You can barely see a bit of snow on his nose because the first thing he had to do was dig in it.

Cherokee at the end of the drive. We were heading out on the road for a walk. I am not sure what she is looking at so intently.

The river bridge about a half mile from my house. It was actually snowing when I took this picture. I love this old bridge. Isn’t it pretty all decorated with snow?!! For more pictures and some information about the bridge go here and here.

Last, but not least, my front yard. Those are bird feeders lined up on the left. They have red Christmas bows on them. The dead cedar tree is no longer in the middle of my yard. I thought it was a potential hazard to my roof so I had it cut.