In honor of his son, my friend, who turns eighty today, here are some Hoagy Carmichael tunes I love: Skylark, Stardust, Winter Moon, Bessie Couldn’t Help It, Memphis in June, The Nearness of You, Georgia on My Mind, Baltimore Oriole, Old Man Harlem, Up a Lazy River, Rockin’ Chair, Billy-a-Dick, Two Sleepy People, How Little We Know, Heart and Soul.
Sunday, September 30, 2018
I have a Trader Joe’s bag in my back room filled with (mostly) jazz CDs I poached from my father’s collection, which I assume will never be missed: Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Art Tatum, Sarah Vaughan, Benny Goodman, Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Diana Krall, Rodgers and Hart, Irving Berlin. Also Casal’s Bach: Cello Suites, which we played his last day.
The day Mlle Vague (whose first album was Ziggy Stardust) died, I fulfilled my dream of watching Seu Jorge perform his Bowie songs from The Life Aquatic and was so moved by that timing that I rushed a CD to Deloney, but he moved the day before it arrived, and, as far as I know, never went back for it.
In May, I was in a bar in Portland, and a new Courtney Barnett song came on, and I lamented I’d never get to see this Australian, and I looked up tour dates, and she was COMING TO PORTLAND IN JULY, and I bought tickets and fulfilled that dream, but the one song she didn’t perform might be my favorite.
I dream of Jeannie with the light brown hair. Dream a little dream of me. Last night I had the strangest dream I’d ever dreamed before. I know you, I walked with you once upon a dream. I can’t make you open your heart, but I can dream, can’t I? Dream on. The dream police—they’re coming to arrest me.
I dream of having enough time to touch the rented upright bass that has been here for almost two years. Tim surprised me with it—one of my alternative-life dreams—the day of the women’s march. For a few months, I tried. But life’s been so crazy. It costs less than monthly flowers, and it’s pretty. Still, it haunts me.
“The lyrics of the song are in many places extremely obscure, and present an unusual mixture of Christian catechesis, astronomical mnemonics, and what may be pagan comsmology.” So says Wikipedia about the camp song my brain was playing upon awakening: “Green Grow the Rushes, O.”
Three, three, the rivals . . .
One is one and all alone
And evermore shall be so.
I’d been talking with my sister-in-law on my cell phone. I hung up, dropped the phone in my purse. I heard screaming. I traced the sound to the phone—I must not have hung up. I dug it out, listened to the screaming, felt helpless, panicked. I woke up. The room was cold, I was congested, my nose was whistling.
I know almost nothing about music theory. I may think a song is in minor key, and maybe it isn’t. I think of almost all blues as being minor, but I could be wrong. A lot of traditional fiddle tunes are in minor keys. When I go contradancing,* there’s no doubt there’s more dancysexy energy when minor keys are played.
*There are shifts from minor to major keys within the piece and back again. Maybe helpful for understanding, maybe not. But when that fiddle gets going, it’s minor.
Benny Goodman, “Sing Sing Sing”*
Talking Heads, “Slippery People”
Justin Timberlake, “SexyBack”
Bruno Mars, “Uptown Funk”
Aerosmith, “Walk This Way”
Art Blakey, “Dat Dere”**
Robert Johnson, “Come On in My Kitchen”
Led Zeppelin, “Whole Lotta Love,” “Dazed and Confused”***
Joan Jett, “Bad Reputation”
Bob Dylan, “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat”
The Go-Go’s,**** “We Got the Beat”
Flight of the Conchords, “Business Time”****
*By the great Louis Prima, but oh, the Goodman performance.
**Check out the cover by Rickie Lee Jones. Sigh.
***Almost anything Zeppelin.
****[sic], as properly noted in their Wikipedia entry.
*****For Mali. Conditions are perfect.
I know that Dona asked what a minor key was. That’s hard to explain and for some people, hard to hear. Here is an entertaining explanation of the difference between major and minor. But of course, I should probably share some examples of what I meant by minor key and a beat. If it has both, I will love it.
I dream of cleaning this damn office, going through files, getting rid of so much paper. I dream of cleaning out closets, of purging stuff, of having time to purge stuff. I dream of catching up with work. I dream of catching up with blogging. I dream of Blogger not glitching (argh). I dream of accomplishment, of lightness, of light.
All year I dreamed of going to yoga class at the dojo then walking two doors down to Susan’s brewery, yogabrew Wednesday, and at last she opened her doors, and I went to yoga, then met Tim and Karl for beer and backgammon, but then the yoga class was canceled for good. Yogabrew Wednesday happened once. I’ll always have once.
Saturday, September 29, 2018
Several friends were in a production of the operetta Candide, and I went to see it, and I’d never seen it before, and I’m glad I saw it, and it was odd and fun, plus Bernstein, plus some great talent, but it was too long, 3.5 hours with intermission, and there were moments when I wanted to scream Enough already!
Tuesday, September 25, 2018
I thought of Kim yesterday, and of Dayna Kurtz and her song “Invocation” (to the Muse). It rips my heart out every time. From where I stand, it seems that the Muse always lets Kim come home, and for that I’m grateful. This song is for all of you. (Check out this Peter Mulvey cover when you can. It’s fantastic.)
Wednesday, September 19, 2018
When I first heard about Andrew Weil’s 4-7-8 breathing technique to help me get back to sleep, I was skeptical, but in trying it, I find it often works. (Unfortunately, sometimes I forget to try it.) It’s great for someone who wakes up a lot. Watching this video again, I realize I should be incorporating the practice into the day.
Sometimes I think I’m not sleeping, but when I jar awake, I realize I must have been. Other times I judge it this way: Was my brain watching something, taking it in, or was it controlling what was happening? By controlling, I don’t mean lucid dreaming; I mean churning its own stuff. Maybe a watching brain is a sleeping brain.
Tuesday, September 18, 2018
One favorite minor-key song is Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way.” On Thursday, I discovered that Jimmy Fallon performed his kids-instruments thing with them, which I loved, and I posted it on Facebook. Three days later, a 2-years-ago memory post came up: “It's a little scary how much I love ‘Walk This Way.’” Maybe especially in September. Just give me a kiss.
If it has a minor key and a beat, I will love it. I can almost guarantee this. Go ahead. Name a song with a minor key and a beat. Any era. Renaissance. Punk. Pop. Medieval. Rock. Old-timey. Go ahead, name one. I’ll wait. I mean, drop a beat behind a Gregorian chant, and it’s booty shaking. Am I right?
My parents must have been afraid of silence, because when they weren’t talking, they were humming, humming, humming all the time, often simultaneously, and it made me batshit crazy and I didn’t want to be out in public with them and I don’t even think they were aware of it but believe me I was and so was everyone else.
I’ve had recurring dreams (thematically, anyway, if not recurring in detail) of trying to get together with former loves, not in a romantic way, but to catch up, to spend time together, because we really cared about each other, after all, and I must be traveling, because we are geographically close somehow, and yet we just keep missing each other.
Monday, September 17, 2018
I’m a fan of reflexivity, so it’s no surprise that I think the greatest TV theme song ever is the one written for It’s Garry Shandling’s Show: “Garry called me up and asked if I would write his theme song. I’m almost halfway finished. How do you like it so far? How do you like the theme to Garry’s show?”
Tuesday, September 11, 2018
A Carolina wren has been singing his heart out, teakettle teakettle teakettle tea, a song so perfectly sweet, but the weather change is bitter, turning his call bittersweet, this little wren who will be leaving so soon, and it rips my heart out a little when I hear him, and it will rip my heart out more when I don’t.
“What’s she singing? Does she think it’s French?” “It’s like fake French. She always sang like that when we were growing up.” “I don’t remember that.” “Really? You moved out early. Maybe you blocked it. It always embarrassed the hell out of me.” “God, it’s so annoying.” “I think she stopped for awhile. But it’s back.” “Where are my earbuds?”
I don’t have a dishwasher. But I’m a great dishtime DJ, always finding booty-shaking music to get through the task. When the dishes are really dirty, I might pair them with Prince: “Sexy M.F.” and, especially, “Gett Off.” (Twenty-three positions in a one-night stand!) It’s hard for me to say what’s right when all I do is wrong. Gett off.
Monday, September 10, 2018
I never realized that others experience dream flying like swimming. I do. It’s slow moving, like swimming without the weight of water against me. I wonder what one has to do to get the other kind, the fast-moving-not-like-swimming kind. Is it impossible to dream something so foreign? When we fly, it’s not on our own accord, but we understand swimming.
doesn’t mean that much to me to mean that much to you told me love was too plebeian told me you were through with me and is there a meadow in the mist where someone’s waiting to be kissed yes I know sometimes my lyrics are sexist but you lovely bitches and hoes should know I’m trying to correct this
Tuesday, September 4, 2018
“Everybody here has a right and left ear, but nobody here has an aardvark.” My brain wakes up Sunday with this earworm. WTF? I try to remember what kid’s show it’s from, but can’t. An Internet search reveals Wonderama, Bob McAllister. Sunday mornings. I used to watch it before I went to church. I didn’t want to go to church.
It’s dark. The floor’s trap door rises; a figure emerges. It’s got a man’s body but a moose’s antlered head. I am terrified.
It’s the living room of my 1965–1971 house, but there is no furniture. Bare wood floors, a fireplace.
My mother reports my fear of Captain Kangaroo’s Mr. Moose. Hard to imagine. I wonder which came first?