Monday, July 22, 2013

Soundtrack: Volume Five - Summertime in Waco

I was the firstborn grandchild, the first of six Martin granddaughters. There was probably some disappointment that none of us were boys to carry on the Martin legacy, but you wouldn't have known it, because all we ever knew was love. Every day spent with my grandparents in Waco, Texas was like magic. Sadly they are no longer around to see the girl that they helped mold into the person I am today, but they are with me all the time and I know they're smiling down with pride.

My Grandfather coached me in the art of being a good tomboy. He took me to the dirt track races and the rodeos. We'd go to the fairgrounds and he'd let me ride as many of those rickety carny rides as I wanted, time didn't matter, we went home when the sun went down. He caught me a "pet" armadillo, showed me how to shoot beer bottles off a fence post and taught me to drive his red and white El Camino, while I sat on his lap, steering the wheel, while he worked the pedals. Had we ever gotten into some kind of accident, I'm sure he would have just brushed me off and told me that was God's way of toughening me up.

My Grandmother, she was strong as nails, but as close to a genuine southern belle as I've ever seen. She was glamorous, with the perfect Texas drawl, it sounded like melted butter and brown sugar. She always smelled amazing, I can't describe it, but I'd know that scent anywhere. She taught me the pretty side of being a girl. When I wasn't allowed to keep a wild armadillo as a pet, she gave me a kitten. I caught frogs in the backyard all dolled up like a little debutante in sundresses and pig tails. Every time we drove through a yellow light, she'd kiss the palm of her hand and press it to the ceiling of the car for good luck, something I still do to this day.

In me they instilled a wicked combination of elegance, brawn, brains, good solid Texas roots and an appreciation for great music.

Long before I worked in a record store, I learned about music from an old radio that sat on a nightstand between two twin beds at my grandparents house. By day it was all Country. Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Tammy Wynette, George Jones, all the greats. I heard of Elvis Presley's death on that radio one hot August afternoon. By night it was tuned to a Big Band/Jazz station, that is the music that I can still hear when I drift off to sleep. It was the perfect soundtrack for slumber.

The radio sat directly under a mounted deer head. The glow of dial lit up the six-point buck's face in a gentle, calming way. My Grandfather told me that the rest of the deer lived behind the wall. As a child, I imagined it watching over my sister and me as we slept. Nothing could hurt us, if any potential harm came our way, I just knew that brave deer would bust through the wall and save us all. As a child it made perfect sense. That glass-eyed stag was my hero and every night before getting under the covers, I'd stand on my bed and kiss it on the nose in a gesture of thanks for keeping us safe.

Summers in Waco, that is where it all began. Tomboys, girlie girls and fine, fine music.

Soundtrack: Volume Five July 22, 2013

Destination Moon - Dina Washington
Let's Get Lost - Chet Baker
Knock Me a Kiss - Louis Jordan
It's Raining - Irma Thomas
Got My Own Thing Now - Squirrel Nut Zippers
Miserlou - Dick Dale
Feeling Good - Nina Simone
What'll I Do - Rosemary Clooney
Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered - Ella Fitzgerald
Begin the Beguine - Sheryl Crow
Someone to Watch Over Me - Ella Fitzgerald
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes - The Platters
Me and Mrs. Jones - Billy Paul
Night and Day - Ray Charles
A Kiss to Build a Dream On - Louis Armstrong
The Girl From Ipanema - Astrud Gilberto/Stan Getz
De-Lovely - Robbie Williams
Too Marvelous for Words - Frank Sinatra
Melodie d'Amour - Dean Martin
Beyond the Sea - Bobby Darin
Mr. Sandman - The Chordettes
Que Sera Sera - Doris Day
Wishin' and Hopin' - Ani DeFranco
Let's Do It - Alanis Morissette

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Let the Music Play

It's a typical girl meets boy story. They meet online, boy asks girl out, girl asks boy to make her a mixed CD of significant songs that capture pieces of his life. Not necessarily his most favorite songs or artists, but songs that mean something, the ones that remind him of where he's been and how far he has come. Oh, and she asks him to have this prepared and recorded to present on their very first date, in return she'll do the same.

Sound familiar?

Of course not! Who does that?!

I do, a girl who put off college to work in a Record Store, because not only was that quite possibly the coolest job in the world right out of high school, but that is just how much music influenced and continues to influence my entire life. The sounds, the beats, the instruments, the voices, the dissection of the lyrics, I cherish it all. That job was no summer fling, it was true love! I ended up working there for 14 years as a store manager.

"How can you just leave me standing
Alone in a world that's so cold
Maybe I'm just too demanding
Maybe I'm just like my father, too bold
Maybe you're just like my mother
She's never satisfied..."

It was a first. I'd never challenged anyone to a first date mix tape before, but with this one, it felt like the the right thing to do. And it was, I got two pretty solid mixed CDs out of it... on date number two. To be fair, mine weren't ready on the first date either, only because the date itself took place sooner than I had expected.

Long story short, we didn't go the distance. Don't be sad, we're still cool, just not cool "like that." And I have some pretty great souvenirs to show for it. His musical taste was almost, almost as good as mine and that's pretty swell in my book.

I'm old school, I grew up in the age where we actually painstakingly made mixed tapes. And even now, in this day of iPods, I still prefer a mix CD to a playlist. Anyone can throw a playlist together, but making a mix CD with limited space, getting the perfect playlist in 20 songs or less is a lost art and takes some serious thought and skill. It's an amazing gift to get and receive.

As a music lover, if you haven't read "Love is a Mix Tape" by Rob Sheffield, you're missing out. It's a book that I've actually highlighted passages in, because his thoughts on music so closely reflect mine.
In it he writes, "There are all kinds of mix tapes. There is always a reason to make one."

Ummm, yeah!

"I have built my entire life around loving music, and I surround myself with it. I'm always racing to catch up on my next favorite song. But I never stop playing my mixes. Every fan makes them. The times you've lived through, the people you shared those times with - nothing brings it all to life like an old mix tape. It does a better job of storing up memories than actual brain tissue can do. Every mix tape tells a story. Put them together, and they add up to the story of life."

Seriously, how perfect a paragraph is that? I wish that I had written it before Rob did!

"Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end..."

Some things take pause, but the music never stops. You get over yourself and move on.

Press Play.

Soundtrack: Volume Three 06/20/13

Just Like Honey - The Jesus and Mary Chain
Darlin' One - The Replacements
We've Been Had - The Walkmen
Miss Misery - Elliott Smith
It's All Alright - fun.
Better Be Home Soon - Crowded House
Everybody Here Wants You - Jeff Buckley
Aint' That Lonely Yet - Dwight Yoakam
If I Had a Boat - Lyle Lovett
Bad Things - Jace Everett
Creepy Jackalope Eye - Steve Earle
I Saw You First - John Mellencamp
You Belong to My Heart - Old 97's
You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb - Spoon
Idiot Kings - Soul Coughing
Someday I Suppose - The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover - Sophie B. Hawkins
Boys of Summer - Don Henley
Feel the Pain - Dinosaur Jr.
What is Life - George Harrison
Closing Time - Semisonic

Soundtrack: Volume Four 07/04/13

The Galway Girl - Steve Earle
Stubborn Love - The Lumineers
Pulling Back the Reins - kd Lang
First Glimmer - Paul Westerberg
Every Day is Like Sunday - Morrissey
Black Coffee in Bed - Squeeze
Take it on the Run - REO Speedwagon
Crime Scene, Part One - Afghan Whigs
Remedy - The Black Crowes
You Got Lucky - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Landslide - Fleetwood Mac
6th Avenue Heartbreak - The Wallflowers
All the Young Dudes - World Party
The Whole of the Moon - The Waterboys
Change - Churchill
Special - Garbage
So Much For the Afterglow - Everclear
Here's Where the Story Ends - The Sundays

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Only Exception

By all accounts, she is a risk-taker. Otherwise known as a thrill-seeker, an adrenaline junkie, a hot shot and/or a show-off. She is always up for a dare and is occasionally a bit reckless.

She has jumped out of airplanes, raced stock cars, climbed mountains, rode rapids, plunged into the deep end more than once and puts her innermost thoughts out here in cyberspace for all to see, without giving it a second thought.

She is a little warrior.
She is fearless.
She is fierce.

Ehh, so that's not entirely true. While she is indeed all of the things (and more) in most aspects of her life, matters of the heart aren't so carefree and open minded.

Her life love story is no different than anyone else. She has loved and she has lost, Her heart has been broken and she's broken a few. She has experienced happiest of highs and the gut wrenching lows.

The good memories far outweigh the bad, but why is it always that little bit of pain and uncertainty, lying dormant most of the time, that prevents her from moving forward?

Why does she allow her past to dictate her future? When is it worth the risk? When will she stop living like a fucking Paramore song was written with her thoughts in mind? When will she figure it all out and stop second guessing it all?

Unlike all of those other adventurous things, love is something, that even at her age, she hasn't quite figured out how to do properly. It's one of the few things that she finds herself apprehensive about. Like a dumb, doe-eyed deer, she just stands there in the headlights unable to move.

Why can't she find the words to tell you what she really thinks and feels? Where is that brave little girl? The girl with the personality the size of Mt Everest, the one who is always smiling and laughing. She is confident and true, she is amazing! But in a matter of moments, when her heart beats just so, that girl is reduced to an awkward wallflower, stumbling around trying to get it right. Surrounded by some unseen barricade that she can't figure out how to get over. So comfortable at keeping a certain distance between her and her tell-tale heart.

Who is that girl?

How does that little darling dispense advice, good advice to anyone who will listen, but can't be bothered with listening to her own thoughts?

What she needs a better approach. Instead of living with the anxiety that it will all crash and burn, how about concentrating on actually taking flight first. Worry about the loose ends later, carry them with, but don't let them tie you down.

Someone needs to tell that bitch to chill. Seriously, bitch be cool. Oh, and stop talking about yourself in third person and figure shit out.