Category Archives: Music

Nap Time

Our grandson is 4, and is at that stage where, if he takes an afternoon nap, he can’t go to sleep for the night until after 10:00, and if he doesn’t nap, he is a real pill until bedtime.

When Son and his family visited over Memorial Day weekend, we put on a vinyl recording of Beatrix Potter’s The Tailor of Gloucester narrated by Meryl Streep, with music by The Chieftains, for grandson to listen to one afternoon. Son listened to the same recording when he was a small boy, usually at bedtime. I was tickled to find Son and Grandson sound asleep on the sofa shortly after starting the recording. They didn’t even get to the part where the Tailor sets free the mice that Simpkin, the naughty cat, had imprisoned under the tea cups, before they dozed off. I have always liked Simpkin. Grandson was so tired after traveling to us that the nap didn’t interfere with his usual bedtime.

What helps you sleep? Who is your favorite Beatix Potter character? What do you remember about naps as a child?

Summer of Love

Today is the first day of “Summer of Love”.  Ten years ago, the owner of my company unveiled a summer employee appreciate program.  The main components are no dress code (seriously – the printed instructions say “if you can’t get arrested wearing it, it’s good”), 7 half Fridays off with pay, food trucks on Wednesdays and dogs allowed on Fridays.  There are usually three summer concerts as well on the big lawn of Building One, complete with snacks and beverages (of the alcoholic sorts).  Most years we’ve received t-shirts or hats.  It’s a lot of fun.

For opening day of Summer of Love I’m in shorts and one of my State Fair t-shirt collection.  YA actually went to the Memorial Day Mini State Fair yesterday.  Friends had gone the night before and said it was more robust than last year.  But in looking over the website, it didn’t look that much more robust to me, so I passed.  I don’t need any pretend state fairs… I can’t wait.  (I already have tickets for this year – bought them in January.)  YA has reported that the mini state fair was exactly that – mini.

And, of course, zories (flip flops).  To get ready for spring and Summer of Love, I got my zori bin out and straightened it up and re-organized it by color.  My current zori count is 45, although unbelievably enough I don’t have any red ones; the red ones bit the dust last summer.   Guess I’ll have to make a trip to Old Navy soon!

What are you looking forward to this summer?

A Comedy of Errors

I was told this story on Sunday by a member of our Bell Choir. I thought is was pretty funny.

A couple of weeks ago, a member of my Bell Choir was playing the organ at a local Catholic wedding. She was under the impression that all she had to do was accompany the singer. Well, when she got to the church the day of the wedding, the priest informed her that she needed to play for the whole wedding service, including the liturgy. She had no music for the service, and had to rummage through the organist’s files until she found it. It wasn’t in the right order, however, so she just tried to wing it.

The organ in the church she was at is in the balcony at the back of the sanctuary, and unless people looked back, no one could see her. She phoned her cousin, who had played at several Catholic weddings, and her cousin talked her through the service. It came time for communion, and her cousin remembered that there had to be a hymn as the bread and wine were brought to the altar. She told my friend to just open the hymnal and play something. My friend hurriedly opened the hymnal and played the first chord of the song on the page to which it opened, which was in D major, and realized that she had opened the hymnal to Oh Come, All Ye Faithful, which wouldn’t have worked out for a Spring wedding. She sustained the D major chord with the foot pedals as she flipped through the hymnal to find another hymn in D major, and finally found one. I guess the rest of the wedding service went ok.

I can only imagine how nerve-racking that must have been. I sort of wish she had played Oh Come, All Ye Faithful. That would have really made the wedding one for the books.

Any comedy of errors you can tell about? What are some songs you would like to hear at a wedding?

Mystery Musical Score

Over the weekend, I watched “Bunny Lake is Missing” with Lawrence Olivier and Carol Lynley.  It’s about a woman whose daughter has disappeared and many folks seem to think she has made up the daughter.  I hadn’t really intended to watch it but the opening credits listed a handful of characters and then I noticed “The Zombies”.  My curiosity about how you get American actress Carol Lynley, British legend Lawrence Olivier and The Zombies into one movie got the better of me.

At one point, Olivier, who plays a police inspector, takes Lynley to a pub to get something to eat.  The tv above the bar is tuned to a channel playing a broadcast of The Zombies.  They are not identified at all.  Then in another scene, they can again be heard on a radio playing in the background.  There is no reference to the band at all – and no indication of why The Zombies.   I looked it up after the movie was finished and apparently 3 of the songs in the movie were written by them.  But I couldn’t find anything that suggests how Otto Preminger (producer and director) hooked up with the band.  I guess since the movie was shot over 55 years ago, we’ll probably never know.

How long do you think you’d survive in a zombie apocalypse?

Deep Folk

Because we are sustaining members of MPR and the pledge drive gets tedious, and because we always have some sort of music playing, I put a random CD on the other night, The Child Ballads by Anais Mitchell. I learned about it from Dale and TLGMS and Radio Heartland, and I was somewhat surprised to see Husband’s reaction to it. He was entranced by the music and stories. He charged downstairs and brought up a massive document he had printed off after purchasing the right to do so, of English Folksongs of the Southern Appalachians compiled by Cecil Sharp and Olive Campbell. Some of the Child Ballads were in that compilation.

Husband has always been fascinated by any music that has come from the British Isles to the Appalachian region, as that is the region his mother’s people from Scotland and the north and west of England, settled. We have a vast collection of old and obscure hymnals and song books that he has found on our travels and brought home. We both love folk music, but that music from that time and region holds special meaning for him. He took the The Child Ballads CD with him this week to his job in Bismarck so he could revel in it in the drive there and back.

What are you listening to in the vehicle these days? What folk music are you drawn to? Did you know Anais Mitchell wrote the lyrics, music, and book of the Broadway musical Hadestown? Why is folk music important?

The Age of Aquarius

I was listening to the Broadway channel in the car on my way home from work the other day when The Age of Aquarius came on, a recording from the most recent Broadway revival of Hair. The Broadway cast recording came out in 1969, and I remember buying it at the record store in Sioux Falls not long after. I was about 12, I think. I never saw a production of it until I saw the Milos Forman movie from 1979.

Our public library had a set of Broadway Yearbooks that I just loved to look through. It was so fun to read about these productions through the decades. I read all about Hair, and felt a sort of affinity to it, as my zodiac sign is Aquarius and it made me feel like I was part of the whole anti-war, hippie culture as a Middle School student from middle of nowhere Southwest Minnesota. My parents hated long hair on men and the anti-war protests, but they also hated the war, and never minded what books I read or what music I listened to. Oh, for the time when I could really believe in:

Harmony and understanding Sympathy and trust abounding
No more falsehoods or derisions
Golden living dreams of visions
Mystic crystal revelation
And the mind’s true liberation

Things like this musical and the popular music and literature of the times fueled my youthful idealism that I try to maintain at least a bit of in these most trying times.

What fueled your youthful idealism? What were your favorite Broadway musicals in the 1960’s and 1970’s? What did your parents think about your choices in dress, music, and literature when you were a teenager?

RIP Michael Nesmith

In 1966 I was at a difficult age.  I was a little too young to have ridden the Beatles wave, but old enough that I knew I wasn’t a little kid anymore and wanting to connect with the rock `n roll world.  When the Monkees hit the scene, they were just my speed.  Like most of my girlfriends, I loved the pre-fab group (although at the age of 11, I didn’t really understand that part to begin with).  Since most of my friends adored Davy, I resisted that tug and settled on Peter Tork.  I knew he was the oldest Monkee, but he played a lovable goof who came off as the youngest, most vulnerable.  I was a loyal Monkees fan until the band broke up 1969 (if you are a fan, you might protest this date, but I count the breakup as early `69 when Peter resigned.)  I won’t go so far as to say that I went to Carleton because Peter has also attended, but it would be a lie to say I wasn’t aware!

I was sad to see that Michael Nesmith passed away on Friday.  He was never my favorite but I did like the “twang” that was in the songs that he penned and sang.  His signature wool cap came about when he wore it to the first audition for the tv show and one of the producers remembered it.  It was also said that he was very calm at that audition, giving off an air of not caring whether he got a part or not.  He carried that aloofness with him throughout his Monkees’ career; there were a few times that he did not appear with the group in later reunion gigs, although he had just finished on a tour a few weeks before his death.   He wrote many of their songs; my favorite is probably “You May Just Be the One”:

In a side note, I found out many years later that his mother was the inventor of Liquid Paper.  In this day and age of the computer and word processing software you might not know what Liquid Paper is, but if you were a secretary or typist during the 70s and 80s, you certainly do.  It was a lifesaver back then. 

With Michael’s death, there is only one Monkee left – Mickey Dolenz.  Davy passed away in 2012 and my Peter passed away almost 3 years ago now.  I know that their music is now considered a little on the bubblegum pop spectrum, but they are still my first love.  I got out all their CDs and played them over the weekend.

Did you have any hero worship when you were younger?

Unprepared

Last evening, our handball choir performed in a musical holiday extravaganza put on by the local college at our church. We played along with the Community choir, college vocal ensembles, college band, and smaller vocal and instrumental ensembles for a very ambitious 90 minute program.

Our practice schedule was interrupted by COVID early in the fall, and we never caught up. We weren’t prepared for all our pieces last night, and our main goals were to not get lost in the music and to end together. Only an experienced bell ringer would have caught our mistakes, but we each felt our individual errors keenly. I made mistakes and got lost in places I never got lost in before. Husband described it afterwards as a musical ordeal. I believe it was Gustav Holst who said that if it is worth doing, it is worth doing badly. We are just relieved it is over and now we can focus on our last two performances on December 17 and 19.

Any performances you would like to forget about? What pageants have you participated in?

Happy Birds

The warm weather the last several weeks has given us a glimpse of some fun bird behavior.

We have a bird feeder in our backyard that Husband fills with black oil sunflower seeds. We are the only people on the block who feed birds, so our yard is pretty popular, especially given the tall lilac bushes where multitudes can perch. They also like weaving in and out of the twisty grapevines on our deck. There is a very large flock of about seventy sparrows, with several Red Polls, House Finches, Chickadees, Rose and White Breasted Nuthatches, and Junkos who frequent our yard. There are often seven Eurasian Collared Doves on the ground under the feeder, eating what the other birds knock down. A Downy Woodpecker also makes an appearance now and then. They are all really greedy, and feast and gobble as fast as they can. The Chickadees alert the others after Husband refills the empty feeder to let them know that dinner is served.

I cleared out the rhubarb bed the other day, leaving a large area of smooth dirt that the rhubarb leaves had formerly covered. Last Saturday I noticed about twenty Sparrows rolling around in the exposed dirt, digging into the earth, making little indentations in the soil. I guess they were having dust baths, a luxury in North Dakota in late November.

Even more luxurious was the shower they and a migrating flock of Cedar Waxwings had a month ago on the last really warm day of autumn. I set up a sprinkler to water our rhododendrons, bleeding hearts, fern bed, and hydrangeas before freeze up, and we saw the birds flying repeatedly through the spray and huddling on the ground, letting the water cascade over them. The Waxwings made a point of drinking copious amounts of the water that collected on the walkway. The next day, they were gone.

What are your favorite birds to watch? Tell your bird stories. What is your favorite bird-inspired music and visual art?

Royal Mail

Husband and I ordered some classical audio cd’s from Amazon recently. I usually like to order from Archiv, but everything there was on backorder.

Our selections were fairly eclectic, ranging from choral music by Arvo Part and Henrik Goreki, to a cd by Brooklyn Rider, a string quartet, playing with an Irish fiddler.

When you order from Amazon, you never quite know where the products are coming from. Three of the cd’s we ordered came from overseas. A London /Decca recording of Chopin nocturnes played by Vladimir Ashkenazy came from Japan. It arrived speedily, several days before even the US cd’s arrived. It is a lovely recording, but all the liner notes are in Japanese!

Two of the cd’s are coming from England. One is from Banbury, Oxfordshire. The other is from Stockport, in Cheshire. That particular cd is being shipped by Royal Mail. I have no idea what that means in terms of speed of delivery, but it sounds so impressive! I imagine it being delivered by someone in a Beefeater uniform.

Any interesting shipping or delivery stories? What music have you discovered lately? What would you like to receive via Royal Mail?