A Musical Way to Deal with Disappointment

I was looking forward to getting together with friends tomorrow, but for various reasons the gathering was canceled.  I’m disappointed, certainly. However, I’ll see them all again soon.

Anyway, the Gershwin tune “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” came immediately to mind and helped me to smile inwardly on a day that only got more hectic as it went on.

The song is from the film Shall We Dance, starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. I’ve never seen it, but one day soon I will. The first version is from two favorites–Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. The second is a scene from the film.

 

 

Andy M. Stewart–A Tribute

Damn! Damn! Damn! Yesterday, I was listening to Andy M. Stewart’s version of ‘The Loch Tay Boat Song” on YouTube and then later cranked it up for “The Queen of Argyll.” I hadn’t played any Silly Wizard for a long time, and I missed the music. I started reading the YouTube comments. One person wrote: “RIP Andy.” I wanted to cry. I did not know until I read this obit from TheScotsman that he passed away on December 27, 2015 after numerous health problems. He was only 63.

I discovered Silly Wizard’s recordings just a few years after they disbanded. It all started at a Schooner Fare concert during their Signs of Home tour. That CD has a gorgeous  cover of “Golden,Golden.” Before they performed it, Steve Romanoff asked, “Has anyone ever heard of Andy M. Stewart, the Scottish folk singer?” I hadn’t, but after the song I decided to find out. That led to owning all of Silly Wizard’s recordings, his own By the Hush. and Johnny Cunningham’s Fair Warning. I still have them.  Stewart’s version of “Golden, Golden” is best; after all, he wrote it.

It wasn’t just his interviews, his humor, or the beauty of his singing voice. His concert with Manus Lunny was the first concert I attended by myself–ever. It was November 1990, and I heard they would be appearing at Ireland’s Four Provinces, a pub in the Cleveland Park neighborhood of Washington, D.C. (This location closed several years ago; now there’s one near where I live.) Anyway, they were doing two shows–at 7:30 and 9:00 p.m. I wanted to go to the early show.

I was 26, so I knew I would likely be okay because I tried my best to be watchful and wise. However, as a motorized wheelchair user and a woman, so many people feared (and still fear) for my safety at night. I told my aunt of my plans, and she was against it. We had a prolonged disagreement for about three days. But I couldn’t let go. She didn’t want to go with me, and no one else was available to ask. No way could I manufacture a boyfriend out of thin air to go with me. I thought about hiring a bodyguard, and then wondered exactly how to do that. I knew it was up to me. The next day at work, I made the arrangements. That evening at dinner, I told my aunt: “I’m going to the show.” She didn’t like it, but relented.  “For God’s sake, be careful!” she said as she hugged me on concert day.

The workday was typical. After I left the office I rode the Metro to Cleveland Park. It was raining, but I had my red rain cape.The line was long getting in, but several people assisted me with directions and answered my questions. I went in, put my purse, cape and the novel I was reading on a nearby chair and looked around. It was crowded, but felt very homey. A server handed me a menu. I ordered an Irish coffee–for the one and only time–with dinner. I chatted about folk music and Celtic instruments with the people around me.

Then the show started. It was great seeing Andy in person!  He did many of the familiar songs, including “Dublin Lady” and Silly Wizard songs, but much of the program was from the new recording, At It Again. I bought a copy, and I still have it, too. He was so funny!  My only regret is not attempting to approach him to say hello and “great job!” Once the show ended, I gathered my stuff, went to the Metro to ride to my bus stop to get the bus home.

When I got home, I couldn’t stop talking about how great it was. My aunt enjoyed my running commentary, and said she was glad I had a good time. That led to many other concerts, plays, night classes and events by myself. But I liked it better going with my aunt and other people. As a friend says, “Concerts are better shared.” A few years later, my aunt and I saw Andy M. Stewart again–this time with Gerry O’Beirne–as part of Wolf Trap’s Irish Festival.

I also miss his bandmate Johnny Cunningham, whom I had seen at The Barns of Wolf Trap once, with Christian LeMaitre and the fiddler from The Chieftains.. Johnny appeared with his brother, Phil, at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, which would have been around 2001. Johnny died in 2003.

Here’s a recording of “Golden, Golden”:

 

Here’s Silly Wizard’s 1988 live performance of “The Banks of the Bann/Willie Archer.” The other day while doing errands, tunes from Live Wizardry were in my head as I went up and down the sidewalk.

My own concert days are limited now for various reasons. But I still would like to go to something special one day again. I would love to go to a concert with my aunt again, but it’s not something she finds enjoyable now. But I keep hoping…

And I also think of the Righteous Brothers’ song about rock-and-roll heaven. Much sadness and loss is happening in the wider world these days. Music may not heal in some situations. But it is comforting to think that musicians who are no longer here of every stripe have a hell of a band.

Ghana Evening Song

Our assistants taught me this song one evening as they were helping me get in bed. It was a school song, one they sung in the early grades after the end of each day. I felt compelled to set it down:

Now the day is over;

night is drawing near.

Shadows of the evening soar across the sky.

Amen.

 

 

Reflections on Rain, Part 2

Well, yesterday was sunny, and now it’s pouring again. (Sigh.) Of course, it made me think of  “Rain, Rain, Go Away.”

I thought this video was cute.

 

 

I haven’t heard “Rainy Night in Georgia” in years. I recalled it today as I was staring out the window:

 

 

Now, onto another theme….

I’m Already There –Lonestar

My assistant was humming this song this morning. When her daughter was young, she used to sing it to her. I was glad for the reminder. Here is background on what inspired the songwriters. I always enjoyed hearing it on the radio.

 

Musical Reflections on the Rain

Here it is, almost the middle of May, and it doesn’t feel very warm. It’s been oppressively cloudy and rainy for over a week. We all need the sunshine and the rain, but sometimes it feels a bit much. At least I have my raincoat and umbrella in my wheelchair bag, just in case.

There are so many songs about rain: “Rainy Day People.” “Laughter in the Rain.” “Rainy Days and Mondays.” “It’s Raining Men.””Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,” and so many others.

Since I’m hoping for a day without rain, I kept thinking of a title track from an Enya CD. The piano tune is very pretty. Here it is:

And here’s a happy song from my favorite movie musical, Singin’ in the Rain.

I love to see Gene Kelly swinging from the lamppost. You cannot feel down when watching this film!  I’ve seen it in local DC movie theaters, on PBS, on TCM, and I’ve had my own copy for many years now. It never gets old. The stage musical a friend and I saw some years ago at Wolf Trap was great as well. Appropriately enough, there was a thunderstorm that night.

And I just like “Come Some Rainy Day,” by Wynonna Judd. above.

So many people have covered “Come Rain or Come Shine” that I can’t pick a favorite. Here, Eric Clapton and B.B. King perform it.

The Birmingham Sunlights are a family gospel singing group–all brothers. I’ve seen them over the years at different places. Here they are at Strathmore in 2009. “It’s Gonna Rain” is from their CD For Old Times’ Sake.

 

Two Favorite Spiritual Songs from a Current Read

I recently discovered the work of Christian author Jane Myers Perrine. My aunt and I are already on the second volume, The Matchmakers of Butternut Creek. In today’s chapter, “Wade in the Water” and “Oh Happy Day” were mentioned in a visit to a neighborhood church. I hadn’t heard either song in a while, so I thought I would present them here.

I’ve felt scattered lately, so “Oh Happy Day” helped to get me back on track a bit. Here’s the version by the Edwin Hawkins Singers.

I can’t decide which version of “Wade in the Water” I like best. The first version is by Ella Jenkins; the second, The Staples Singers.

 

 

 

 

Music from “About Time”

Sometimes, music presents itself when you least expect it. I watched the 2013 romantic comedy About Time, which I found rather charming. In it, a man born into a family of time travelers changes history for good. Yeah, I know it sounds hokey, but it also makes you think. The film’s message: Live your everyday life–the good, the bad, and the mundane. But take time to really notice the small things, the little details about people, places, and experiences–that make life worth living.

As with most modern films, there is a soundtrack. Here are two songs that made an impression on me. Enjoy!

“How Long Will I Love You?”

“The Luckiest” (by Ben Folds)

Singing, For the Joy of It

One of my assistants likes to sing hymns in twi.  She’s originally from Ghana, and that is one of the five languages she knows. Sometimes my aunt will hum along with the melody, and my assistant will translate for me. I asked her recently if she was in her church choir. Unfortunately she is not; her schedule doesn’t allow it. “I just love to sing,” she says. “I always have.”

When I was growing up, I liked singing hymns, and I remember my aunt singing all the time–with the radio and without, and just about anything. As my mom and all her siblings were growing up, they sang together as well–as entertainment in the evenings. This was in the days before television, and some people didn’t have radios.

Music and singing bring out a range of emotions; mostly, I think, music is here to make people happy,so that they can bring that joy and enthusiasm to others. My aunt always says that it would be a very dull world without it.

These conversations and memories made me think of  “How Can I Keep From Singing?” Here’s Pete Seeger‘s version:

My life flows on in endless song
Above earth’s lamentation.

I hear the real, though far off hymn
That hails the new creation

No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that rock I’m clinging.
It sounds an echo in my soul
How can I keep from singing?

What though the tempest round me roars
I know the truth it liveth
What though the darkness round me close
Songs in the night it giveth

No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that rock I’m clinging.
Since love is lord of Heaven and earth
How can I keep from singing?

When tyrants tremble, sick with fear,
And hear their death-knell ringing,
When friends rejoice both far and near,
How can I keep from singing?

In prison cell and dungeon vile
Our thoughts to them are winging.
When friends by shame are undefiled,
How can I keep from singing?

Copyright: Figs. D Music Inc. O.B.O. Sanga Music, Figs. D Music Inc.

I’m also remembering the saying, “He who sings, prays twice.” Here is its interesting history.

Image result for free clipart sing

Songs for a Monday that Didn’t Go Well….

I had a fall today, and everything hurts. That’s all I’ll say regarding the incident. I tried to make myself laugh so it wouldn’t hurt as much, but it didn’t work. I thought of the “Only When I Laugh” routine. Today also reminded me of “The Bricklayer’s Lament.” The Corries performed a version years ago. But I also like this one that includes the lyrics.

Here’s Gerard Hoffnung‘s spoken-word version:

Years ago, a former co-worker always sang “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen” when she was joking about a frustrating day. I sing this (badly) sometimes as well. Here’s Louis Armstrong’s version:

Armstrong deserves his own separate entry one of these days.

Finally, here’s “We Are Bangor” a song for everyone who’s experienced someone getting their own name, city, or town wrong. Great job, guys! This made me smile. Seen originally on NBC Nightly News. I’m also sending a shout-out to everyone in Bangor, Maine. I’d love to visit sometime!

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