“are you wearing pants?”

Last night, me and my younger brother attended a concert starring none other than the Man, the Musical Genius, a member of my Top Five Favorite Performers of All Time, Stevie Wonder. This was my second time seeing Stevie Wonderful, but I was no less thrilled, excited, and happy to share the event with my bro, who is also a big fan. For what I wore, I decided to keep it simple/dressed up but dressed down: (p)leather leggings that had been lounging in my room for almost a year, still boasting the tag, a blouse, and some short boots.

Concert2  Concert3

When I came downstairs to twirl and show the ensemble to my Mom, she uttered the question you see above. My reaction: I laughed until I could no longer breathe. I then explained that yes, I was wearing pants; in this case, leggings. She commented that they looked very “close to my skin.” (Mom-speak for tight.). So close that it didn’t seem like I was wearing pants. Assuring her that it would never be my choice to leave the house pantsless, I then explained that leggings were made to fit. She gave me the Mom side eye. I smiled and sat down to put on my makeup. That was that. Back in the day, I would have likely changed, believing that I appeared half-clothed and not wanting to incur that look of disapproval. But…

1) the leggings were actually kinda loose.
2) I was very comfortable in them.
3) they looked great!
4) I’m not 14.

Regarding #4, I love and respect my Mom’ opinions, but gone are the days when she dressed me and/or had that kind of significant influence on my fashion choices. That’s not to say that I don’t take her style advice (I’ll share of her gems in another post), but at the same time, I recognize that some of her advice is inspired by a different generation and culture. And, quite frankly, my mother would rather clip her toes with a rusty wrench than put on a pair of leggings. (My friends don’t refer to her as The Diva for no reason.) I get that. But I was (and am) OK with them, and I loved my look. So there you go.

Me and my bro.
Me and my bro.

She wasn’t going to let it go that quickly, though. She also mentioned that she would have chosen jeans, and warned that I may get cold. I took it all in stride, kissed her face until she playfully pushed me away, and left for the concert with my bro. A good time was had, Stevie was amazing, and it was an experience to remember.

How was your weekend?

Restart. (Blogtober #24)

My love for him knows no bounds, as you know. That said, if you assumed that I’d heard every song Sam Smith had sung so far, you’d be right. But, you see, I didn’t buy the deluxe version of the album. So, when perusing YouTube yesterday for something to play on the headphones that would drown out the cacophony of the people I share this office with, I naturally went to In the Lonely Hour with plans to just listen to some of my favorites from the album all over again. That’s when I saw the deluxe album and song titles I obviously wasn’t familiar with. I clicked on Restart. And went a little crazy.

It’s not just Sam’s voice, or the melody, or the rhythm, or how the song takes me back to that awesome feeling of dancing in the kitchen when I was supposed to be doing my chores. I think my passionate response is also borne from experiencing what he’s singing about. Those times in life when you finally get over a person who didn’t want you, when you finally move on, and while resting in the sweet relief that comes from leaving those feelings/people behind…boom. The past calls, and the individual you finally buried back there reaches out to you. The desire to communicate what Sam sings (what do you want from me? Let me restart) becomes acute. I’ve heard many “I’ve moved on/let me go” songs in my lifetime, but there’s something just really powerful about this rendering. Or maybe it’s because I love him more than sliced bread? In any case, listen to the latest song on my autumn playlist and think of all the weirdos that came calling back and how grateful you were when, eventually, they were booted back to the past where they belonged.

 

It was a Monday night when you told me it was over babe
And by the Friday night, I knew that I would be okay
Don’t say it was a good thing
Don’t say it was the right thing to do
Don’t say it was the best thing for the both of us
When I’m the one playing the fool

What do you want from me when I just wanna restart
You keep coming back for me when you’re the one who tore us apart
And the truth is I’m better on my own
And I’m the one to leave it apart
So let me restart

You’ve been lightin’ up my phone
Worried that I’ll be alone tonight
Wanna make sure that I’m fine
But baby you’re not on my mind, no more
I know it was the best thing for the both of us
Cause you’re the one who looks like a fool

What do you want from me when I just wanna restart
You keep coming back for me when you’re the one who tore us apart
And the truth is I’m better on my own
And I’m the one to leave it apart
So let me restart

What do you want from me when I just wanna restart
You keep coming back for me when you’re the one who tore us apart
And the truth is I’m better on my own
And I’m the one to leave it apart
So let me restart

change

“can’t start a fire without a spark…”

From the initial strains of that heart-thumping, powerful melody, I feel like becoming a welder, writing three novels in succession, declaring my love to someone underneath their window, and building 100 cabinets. Joy, inspiration, fist-pumping energy–all from the moment that music starts.

Although I have many favorites by The Boss, I think this one perfectly captures that feeling we all get sometimes: just wanting to do something, no matter the hurdles, the potential obstacles, the dark. Per music lore, Springsteen wrote the song out of frustration from trying to write a hit single for the Born in the USA album. Music lore is music lore–and therefore largely unverifiable–but I think knowing that only adds to those incredible lyrics. The narrator wanting to simply make things happen despite himself, his own limitations, the world around him.

I get up in the evening
And I ain’t got nothing to say
I come home in the morning
I go to bed feeling the same way
I ain’t nothing but tired
Man, I’m just tired and bored with myself
Hey there baby, I could use just a little help

You can’t start a fire
You can’t start a fire without a spark
This gun’s for hire
Even if we’re just dancing in the dark

Message keeps getting clearer
Radio’s on and I’m moving ’round the place
I check my look in the mirror
I wanna change my clothes, my hair, my face
Man, I ain’t getting nowhere
Just living in a dump like this
There’s something happening somewhere
Baby I just know that there is

You can’t start a fire
You can’t start a fire without a spark
This gun’s for hire
Even if we’re just dancing in the dark

You sit around getting older
There’s a joke here somewhere and it’s on me
I’ll shake this world off my shoulders
Come on, baby, the laugh’s on me

Stay on the streets of this town
And they’ll be carving you up all right
They say you gotta stay hungry
Hey, baby, I’m just about starving tonight
I’m dying for some action
I’m sick of sitting ’round here trying to write this book
I need a love reaction
Come on now, baby, gimme just one look

You can’t start a fire
Sitting ’round crying over a broken heart
This gun’s for hire
Even if we’re just dancing in the dark
You can’t start a fire
Worrying about your little world falling apart
This gun’s for hire
Even if we’re just dancing in the dark

By the end of the song, when Clarence Clemons’ sweet saxophone wails as the song dies away, I’m typically walking around with my fists clenched and a plan to scale some mountain somewhere. Inspiration at its best, if you ask me. What song gets you moving/thinking/planning/inspired/wanting to be a welder?

The one and only time I wanted to be Courteney Cox...
The one and only time I wanted to be Courteney Cox. 

The Poetess Who Sings: Random Memory #2

It just came to mind. And so I will share.

In my junior year of college, I took a pretty memorable Poetry course. It was memorable for various other reasons, in addition to what this post is about: I was reuniting with my beloved, favorite professor, Jennifer Atkinson, after having taking a creative writing class with her in my sophomore year that pretty much changed how I looked at my writing style, my voice, etc.; my sister was in the same class with me, which proved to be an exercise in entertaining our peers with our sibling hijinks and so much more; other familiar faces were in the class, so it was even more of a reuniting. Anyway, one morning, I overheard a guy in front of me talking about a CD he had just purchased. I heard words like amazing and poetry in music and so on and so forth. Immediately intrigued and far more open about my ear hustling, so I asked him who he was referring to. “Fiona Apple,” he replied. “Get her CD immediately. It’s like poetry set to song.” Hook, line, sinker.

Fiona
The Poetess Songstress.

I bought Tidal that week.

He wasn’t wrong.

Oh, how Fiona Apple slayed me. She slayed me so easily and quickly and painfully and beautifully and deeply. She was a poetess, yes, weaving her experience and her life into verse and piano. I was a bit crazed by it all. For me, she didn’t have the intellectual rage of Alanis or the ethereal of Sarah McLachlan or the haunting beauty of my Tori Amos. She was wholly different. She had tremor and strength and fragility encased in this rich vibrato that transfixed me and transported me to my own life experiences and thoughts. I couldn’t put her in the same category as my other treasured female musicians, because I simply felt like Fiona Apple was speaking directly to me. Needless to say, I swallowed everything I could find about her. Interviews, televised concerts (her *version of Jimi Hendrix’s Angel on MTV’s Unplugged series remains an utter favorite)–whatever Fiona said or did, I read about it or listened to it or watched it.

Of course, now in my “old age”, the obsession has diminished, in the sense that I’m not minutes from camping outside of Fiona’s house, but I’m still a pretty devoted fan. Any discovery of good music thrills me, so yes, I’m glad that I totally barged in and asked my classmate what he was talking about. And speaking of my classmate, it’s no mistake that Fiona and her music/poetry moved him. I watched him fall in love with poetry in that class. His own work was pretty compelling.

Nice, random memory.

*You knew I’d post it, didn’t you? Enjoy.

The Experience.

As a music lovah, nothing thrills me more than standing in a giant stadium filled with thousands of people, lights, that electric sizzle in the air, and my favorite performer(s) standing on a stage before me. Ever since the ‘rents released their sheltering hold on me during those later high school years (oh, it was tight), I’ve been going to concerts. There’ve been memorable ones, weird ones, times when I’ve been trapped in a mosh pit and driven to the front of the stage, thunder, lightning, and so much in-between. Here are a few that I reminisce about to this day (in no order of importance), as well as some artists I’d push an old lady over to see live (what? I’m owed a push!).

1. Dave Matthews Band, 2000

All the guys together, including our dearly departed Leroi Moore on the far right. Sniff.
All the guys together, including our dearly departed Leroi Moore on the far right. Sniff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was my first time seeing the guys. Having been a mild fan, I nevertheless accepted the invitation to join an old friend to the show at RFK Stadium in DC. During the show, a crack of lightning streaked the sky, followed by a boom, then the heavens opened. It.poured. And Dave and the guys never stopped playing. We were drenched, cold, likely developing pneumonia–and yet as they played, we didn’t stop dancing. It was exhilarating. Needless to say, I became a lifelong fan during that wet evening.

2. Bush, 1999

You see that heart, don't you?
You see that heart, don’t you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The only thing you have to know about this particular rockin’ show was that, after years of loving him from afar, I got to 1) meet Gavin Rossdale after the show and 2) hug him. He smelled like soap and dreams come true. Goodness. (Note: we were told before the meet and greet that we couldn’t hug Gavin or the rest of the band. You see how that worked out, huh?)

3. Stevie Wonder, 2010

Me and my sweet little bro.
Me and my sweet little bro on our way to the show.
The man, the legend, the wonder.
The man, the legend, the wonder.
Stevie in a harmonica-off with another musician. He won, by the way. No surprise there.
Stevie in a harmonica-off with another musician. He won, by the way. No surprise there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ok. There are artists I love. And then there are artists that I feel emotionally connected to. And then there are artists that I have no true, lucid words in describing how they make me feel. That’s Stevie. I have no words. Through sheer amazement and a wonderful friend, I was able to score two free tickets to see Stevie Wonderful. Even sweeter was the fact that I surprised my little brother with that second ticket, he being as much of a fan of Stevie as I am. So…I wept the entire show. I couldn’t believe that the man was before me. I couldn’t believe that that voice, his instrument, was filling my senses. The woman next to me merely patted my hand and said, “I know, sweetie. I know.” It was un-be-liev-able.

4. HFStivals, 1994-1998

You can imagine the refreshing aroma in the air with all those people mashed against each other. (No.)
You can imagine the refreshing aroma in the air with all those people mashed against each other. (No.) I was at this show, by the way. Quite the memory.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These daylong festivals were among the first concerts I attended. Some of the best and prolific modern rock bands in the 90s thrilled us and inspired those evil powerful mosh pits I mentioned earlier. From No Doubt to Everclear to Wyclef Jean to Rage Against the Machine to Jewel (who walked off the stage when a Frisbee struck her in the, uh, chestal area) to tons of others, those sweaty, crazy shows are still pretty memorable. Memorable and completely nothing I would do again. Whew. I’m happily an old lady now. Give me a nice seat during a show.

5. John Mayer, 2004

So groovy.
So groovy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was five girls crammed into my former, ratchet SUV headed to one of the most entertaining shows I’ve been to. We screamed and swooned and laughed and called for him to play out favorite tracks. Maroon 5 opened for him. What a show. Having fallen for Mayer’s incredible songwriting abilities after the release of his first album, to see him play and riff was awesome. Cooler, though, was being around my company of girls and good friends.

Those are a few of the shows that I still tell people about, sometimes against their will. Following are some of the artists I’m slightly frothing at the mouth to see:

  • Adele
  • Emeli Sande
  • Lionel Richie (yes, you read that right)
  • Sam Smith
  • Paul McCartney
  • Bruce Springsteeeeeen
  • Jason Mraz
  • Johnnyswim
  • Billy Joel
  • Sara Bareilles

What memorable concerts do you think about from time to time? And who would you like to see? Tell me….

In the Lonely Hour.

I had an Amy Winehouse moment.

A little history: several years ago, when Amy’s indescribable Back to Black album was released, I had my usual listening party on the headphones. I was on an airplane, en route to visit the bestie in Alabama. And then Tears Dry on their Own came on and I shocked the guy next to me by nearly falling out my chair in response. The melody and lyrics and everything slayed me immediately. I closed my eyes; held out my hands before me–I mean, I was having some sort of religious conversion epiphany moment. I don’t know what it was about that song; I don’t know why, when I played the song for my friends, they reacted in a similar way; I don’t know why when I read reviews about the album, most of the critics seemed to highlight that particular song when discussing the richness of that album. It was everything and it still is and I still squeal under my breath when that song comes on my music mix.

SamSmith
Oh, the talent.

Well, I had another AW moment yesterday when listening to In the Lonely Hour, the first album by new Brit artist Sam Smith. (Seriously, whatever they’re putting in the tea and crumpets in Britain is working; most of the best soul singers that have arrived on the music scene and have quickly established their talent.) The entire album had me in epiphany Amy Winehouse mode; it was one song after the next of mind blowing vocals and lyrics that landed right in the center of my chest and culled up memory and moments in time and swelling chords and just good music. Goodness. Honestly, I would list the songs on the album that stand out, but I can’t do that because they all stand out, each and every one of them. I will say that I’ve Told You Now (couldn’t find the album version to link, but Google it up…or buy the album!) did something to me. I don’t know what it did, exactly; I was exercising when it came on and my knees nearly gave out when I heard the chorus. We could attribute that to my actual weak knees, but I have a feeling it’s the song. Anyway…

Purchase this album. You need it in your life.

The end.

you are full of wonder.

This song came up on the ole iPod shuffle this morning.

Briefly, Emeli Sande is right up there with Lupita in terms of amazing women that I want to have coffee with and talk about our hopes, dreams, and favorite novels. And maybe raid their closets. In other words, I’m slightly obsessed. If you haven’t listened to her music, not sure what you’re waiting for, buddy…

Anyway, I’ve heard the song about 1,000 times by now, but I have to admit that the first strains of the melody and the ensuing lyrics brought tears to my eyes this morning. Was it because of the cloudy, drizzly day? The fact that I was headed to the work, which is always the last place I want to be? Or was it the reminder, by way of song, that there are times when all of us feel slightly less than zero and need to hear that we, as Emeli says, are full of wonder? I think it’s the latter.

So, here you are. You are full of wonder. Even if you doubt yourself, don’t. Because you’re amazing. Happy Friday.

Emeli Sande, Wonder

I can beat the night, I’m not afraid of thunder
I am full of light, I am full of wonder

Woah, oh I came falling under
Woah, oh I am full of wonder

Though our feet might ache, the world’s upon our shoulders
No way we goin’ break, ‘cos we are full of wonder

Woah, oh we came falling under
Woah, oh we are full of wonder

This light is contagious, go, go tell your neighbours
Just reach out and pass it on
This light is contagious, go, go tell your neighbours
Just reach out and pass it on ooh yeah
This light is contagious, go, go tell your neighbours
Just reach out and pass it on ooh yeah
This light is contagious, go, go tell your neighbours
Just reach out and pass it on yeah

Woah, oh we came falling under
Woah, oh we are full of wonder

When everything feels wrong, and darkness falls upon you
Just try sing along, this is a message from Cabana
If your heart turns blue, I want you to remember
This song is for you, and you are full of wonder

Woah, oh we came falling under
Woah, oh we are full of wonder

Johnnyswim

JohnnyswimJust officially declaring my musical love for Johnnyswim, a new husband and wife music duo that I discovered one morning on VH1 while getting ready for work. (Could by why I’m perpetually late every morning.)

Abner Ramirez and Amanda Sudano sing the most heavenly harmonies, my goodness, both armed with powerful voices that will immediately make themselves at home in your ear. Lyrically, melodically–I want to swim (what a pun, huh?) in this music. Speaking of swimming, so far Abner and Amanda have provided three different stories about the origin of the name of their band. I kind of like the revolving door of  tales. And, fun fact: Amanda’s mom is the late, great, my-personal-disco-queen herself, Donna Summer! Anyway, listen to some music below, won’t you?

This is the first song I heard from them. Fell in love pretty quickly.

Here they are performing a live version of my favorite song from the album, Diamonds, with Daryl Hall. Oh, and are you watching Live from Daryl’s House? Please do. Immediately. Please and thank you.