Mar. 15, 2015

The Shoveling Shuffle: A Lyrical Journal

At this point I feel like I need to ease up a bit and throw you a bone; a nugget of something savory and maybe a little sweet.  No need to always be bludgeoning you with my pathos.  That sounds like a real effective way to build readership, depress the hell out of people. 

No, today I’m sitting down to write a blog that’s been brewing since that last big storm we had, the ten plus incher.  Storms worthy of double-digit measurements are right up my alley, I love to shovel snow.  With that kind of accumulation, you can get quite a workout in, (and when there’s that much, you have to admit, the stuff is beautiful.)   That last winter blast, here in our aromatic burg, was a doozy.  Probably more than a foot.  We had to go out twice in one day, I was in my glory.  

But I’m not quite as nuts as you might think I am, beyond the exercise and beauty of it all, there’s a factor that makes shoveling desirable ~ music.  In the midst of the delightful deluge, I was happily scooping my way down the driveway, like a contented sled dog on a trek, as my iPod was shuffling away for itself at a blaring decibel level.  Ahhhh.  The picturesque workout was good, but the solitude with music made it even better.

Anyone who knows the Fab Five, knows that music is a big part of our family.  Not only do we all love listening to music, but there are three legit musicians out of the quintet, and two of the five graduated from music colleges.  We don’t mess around. 

Just about everyone can relate to music though.  There’s that song that immediately transports you back to a specific place and time, a kind of a transcendent reminiscence.  John Lennon’s, In My Life, always takes me back to that luckiest of days when I married my soul mate.  Or the one that no matter how often you hear it, it always makes you well up.  Rickie Lee Jones, Skeletons, gets me every time.  Or the song that ignites you, I can rarely fight back the urge to dance when Mary J. Blige’s, Family Affairs, shuffles into my ears.  The woman moves me.   

But the songs that grab me the most are the ones with great lyrics, no matter what the genre might be.  If the songwriter had a heart for the message and some musical chops to go with it, I’m hooked.  

My musical musings aren’t only limited to massive amounts of snow, I regularly put my ear buds in, crank my iPod, and head out for a walk with Jeter, our ravenous Beagle.  (Never have I seen anything, man nor beast, eat with the gusto that our dog employs.  He doesn’t limit his options either, from the trashcan to the refrigerator, which he learned to open with his nose, his palate appreciates a broad culinary stroke.  He regularly dines on grass as well.  Doesn’t matter if he’s just polished off a five-course meal, the dog is always famished.  But, I digress, back to the music.)  For me, walking with music, especially on a brisk, sunny day is akin to finding nirvana.

Between my recent shoveling bliss and the glorious, basking walks over this past week, I started taking note of lyrics that move me.  I’ve actually been keeping a list.  I must have opened the floodgates when I shared, Here Comes the Sun, because lyrics have been reaching out and tapping on my soul lately.  Here’s a few from the list:

I’ve never really been a huge U2 fan but, One, shuffled on and by virtue of the lyrics alone, it made the list.  (Speaking of Mary J., I prefer the version she sings with Bono.)

 …One life, you got to do what you should,

One life with each other

Sisters, brothers.

One life, but we’re not the same,

We get to carry each other, carry each other

Now, Collective Soul, is a personal favorite and they have several songs on the list.  This first one, In a Moment, takes me back to when the kids were young and impressionable and I hoped the musical messages pulsing through my car stereo, as we traipsed around town to all their lessons and sporting events, would make a mark. 

But we’ll never walk hand in hand

Until we let old wounds mend

And we’ll never sing songs as one

Until we find love

In a moment some wisdom could be learned

In a moment new voices could be heard

In a moment we could make heads turn

In a moment we could change

My son, Sean, turned me on to, Nada Surf, they’re also now a favorite.  I’ve seen them live and they’re a band that sounds as good in person as they do on a recording.  The mark of truly good musicians.  Always Love, is a song I regularly turn up when it comes on.  (Are you detecting a theme here?) 

Self-directed lives
I want to know what it'd be like to
Aim so high above
Any card that you've been dealt you...

Always love, hate will get you every time

Always love, don’t wait till the finish line.

There are quite a few names on my current and ever-growing list of lyrics to live by.  Artists like, Yusuf Islam, (aka Cat Stevens,) Peter Himmelman, Pete Townshend, and Jason Mraz, to name a few.  But I’ll finish this tasty goulash of music with just one more.   I mentioned that Collective Soul was on the list a few times and I’m bringing it home with a song that relates to my last blog. 

I was walking down the street after I posted the blog and, Better Now, got a turn in my rotation.  I guess I always knew what the song was about but at that moment, it had a new meaning for me.  Why?  Because I’m better now.  The sun came out and, as the song says, “The world’s done shakin me down.”

Oh, I’m newly calibrated

Oh, shiny and clean

I’m your recent adaptation

Time to redefine me

Let the word out, I’ve got to get out

Oh, I’m feeling better now 

The response to the last blog was unexpected.  There are a lot of kind people, does the heart good.  Although the past year might have been strange and challenging, things are looking up.  We’re not going to be stuck in this pungent purgatory forever, we’re only renting here.  We’re building a house that’s nowhere near any mushrooms.  Above the garage in our new house, we’re building a recording and music space.  A place for the musicians in our family, for our friends and, hopefully, some musicians we haven’t even met yet, to create some new tunes.   I'm  looking forward to being able to add to the list.