Music for Really Scary Times

Everyone is scared of COVID-19 and all the uncertainty it brings. Stay safe everyone, and be well.

While we are staying at home, I hope these videos will make you smile.  Friends sent these to me. First up is “Do, Re, Mi– the COVID 19 Version.”

 

The second is “Family Lockdown Boogie”–hilarious!  A family in Wellington, New Zealand created this. I bet it was a lot of fun!  I was suggesting to someone before the world turned upside down that everyone should make it a point to dance during the day–whether it’s at breakfast, during commuting, arriving at the office, on your way to a medical appointment, an errand, lunch hour, etc. I think it would make people a whole lot happier, and have a better outlook. People may stare, but who cares?

In these times when most everyone is at home for work or school, there may be times when everyone must blow off steam in a healthy way. Why not create your own family dance?  Enjoy!

 

In Praise of Hummingbirds

I was shopping recently for greeting cards when I saw one I liked from the Papyrus Company. Its symbol is the hummingbird. For the first time, I actually took time to read the description inserted with every card. I like it so much that I want to remember it. Here it is:

“Legends say that hummingbirds float free of time, carrying our hopes for love, joy and celebration. The hummingbird’s delicate grace reminds us that life is rich, beauty is everywhere, every personal connection has meaning and that laughter is life’s sweetest creation.”

I have always liked hummingbirds, but I’ve only seen a real one once. We were visiting family in West Virginia, and my cousin had a bird feeder hanging in a small tree near her garden. As I was sitting outside relaxing, a hummingbird came by for nourishment. I enjoyed watching it for a few minutes. Its coloring wasn’t spectacular, but it was cute.

The sentences above also made me think of the Seals and Crofts song “Hummingbird,” from 1972. I heard it as a kid, from a favorite album. Here it is:

Morning Song

I heard this this morning….beautiful!!  The composer is Arthur Foote. I don’t know this nineteenth-century composer’s music well yet.

What a wonderful way to wake up.  Enjoy!

 

Happy 2019!

Today is New Year’s. So begins another year of doing the best I can, living life, looking ahead, and just being glad to be alive. Every day is a gift–even though, on the surface, it may not seem that exciting or special.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lions are another of my themes for the year. In them, I see strength and fighting spirits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I never miss the Tournament of Roses Parade. This year’s theme is music. Today, I watched it twice. Each year, the floats get more beautiful. When I think of all the work and effort that people put in, it’s just amazing! I also like the marching bands and the horses. Heck. I love everything about it! My favorites (if I had to pick one or two) were the carousel float and the float of elephants on vacation. The white peacock on another float was also very pretty.

I love all flowers. For a time, though, I couldn’t look at a flower without crying. My aunt was troubled by this. She didn’t want me to give up on flowers, growing things, and learning flowers’ names. For her, I didn’t. Now I have two ficos, a philodendron-like plant, and a window box of fall mums. I also take pictures of flowers when I see a arrangement somewhere. I took these impatiens this past summer.

 

The thing about flowers is that they are only around for a short time, so appreciate and really look at them while they are here.

For some reason, the other day I kept thinking of favorite songs. I learned “Wildflower” by Skylark when I was eight. The words and music made a big impression on me at the time, and they still do. Unfortunately, they don’t play it much on the radio anymore.

To me, the lady in the song has been through very hard times. Yet, she is still surviving; she won’t give up. Even so, it’s still okay to cry sometimes.

 

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.

 

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