Posts Tagged 'Music'

“I’m Dappled and Drowsy And Ready For Sleep”

Between work and homework and a late-wake-up-morning, and allergies (just shoot me) it’s been a long day.  But not in all a bad day; namely a tiring one.  But there is always, always a silver lining.

This morning, whilst looking for my “photo of the day,” I found myself at a loss and turned once again to knick-knacks, of which I have many.  I closed in on the image you see above.  It’s a tree, with the branches made of wire and the leaves made from stones.  There used to be more of it, but I cut off one of the branches and gave it to a friend when I was younger.  I won this knick-knack in a raffle in sixth grade, and I saved up tickets for it for months.  I wanted it so very badly.  I was bidding for it against a friend, whom I liked, but not enough to just surrender.  In this end, obviously, I got it, and I cut off one of the branches and gave it to her.  My sixth grade teacher said she brought it from Brazil (where she had lived, briefly) and I think that the idea of owning something from a different continent allured me more than anything else, though the tree is truly lovely.  As you can see in the image, it has amassed a lot of dust over the last nine years, but it’s still one of my favourite knick-knacks.  Thinking about it and it’s simplistic beauty and middle school this morning made me happy.

This evening, I looked out the window at work shortly before sunset, and the sky was marvellous.  There were huge cumulus clouds perched in the sky, and they were tinted not just one colour, but a rainbow of colours.  The upper tips of the clouds were gold, and that faded down to a soft pink.  In front of them, there were splashes of darker cirrus clouds.  It was really beautiful, and they looked that was for nearly an hour.  I wanted to kick myself for not having my camera with me.  I wonder if anyone else noticed them?

The last few minutes of a night often present themselves with the greatest challenges.  After dealing with a few people who I’d rather punch than smile at, I was able to leave and I stepped, flustered, into the sticky, humid night.  My summer coolant is the driver’s side window rolled down (something’s wonky about the passenger’s side), so I impressed upon that and tried to position myself so the headlights of the impatient driver behind me weren’t in my eyes.  Even though the humidity and the bright lights bothered me, I was comforted by the music.  Usually, I don’t have a lot of faith in my Zen’s shuffle feature (it likes to play the same few songs every two or three songs) but tonight, it was great.  It started with “Echo Park” by Ryan Cabrera, a song that reminds me of the image of standing on a ledge by the ocean and feeling the wind in my hair.  Second was “To Life” from Fiddler on the Roof.  That song has many memories attache to it, all good.  Third was “Kodachrome” by Simon and Garfunkel.  The first line of that song always makes me grin: “when I think back on all the crap I learned in high school, it’s a wonder I can think at all.”  I sometimes feel that way about life in general.  Fourth, also Simon and Garfunkel, was “Feelin’ Groovy”.  The title of this entry comes from that song, as well as the telling line “slow down, you move to fast”.  A good reminder.  And as I pulled into my driveway, “Curve of the Earth” by Matt Nathanson, one of my top five favourite songs, came on.  So, after a long, flustered day… Zen- thank you for the music.

I had a peculiar dream last night that has been haunting me all day.  See, I never have recurring dreams, but I have a few very vivid recurring places and faces.  Last night’s dream was a recurring place and face.  I guess I’ve taken too many psychology classes, or maybe Inception still has me thinking about dreams… but I can’t get the images out of my head.  I can only remember glimpses, in bright, beautiful colour, and feelings.  Very few words, and definitely no “plot”.  I really enjoy dreaming because it gives me a beautiful world to escape into and harp on all day.  And, thank goodness, I rarely have nightmares.

Tonight, I hope that same dream visits me again; which it’s sunshiney neighborhood and the big grey house, the tall man with brown hair, and the fields of blueberry bushes.  In my dreams, I feel like a queen, and there’s nothing to bring me down or hold me back.  I am completely free.

Thank You For the Music

Taylor Swift, Ryan Cabrera, Matt Nathanson, Serenity, Off Kilter.

“Thank you for the music / the songs we’re singing. / Thanks for all the joy they’re bringing.” ~ Thank You For the Music by ABBA.

I have been working on a project for ActingOut that we do at the end of every year called Secret DJ.  Basically the point of this is to share our music with other people, thus spreading love of artists, songs, and genres.  I like to go a little over-the-top with it, and I design a CD cover and insert.  In my insert this year I have been using SongFacts.com to include random facts about the songs or artists.

As I was looking around, I found that three of my favorite artists had virtually nothing on them.  I grew up on well-known oldies, and it has only been in the last seven years or so that I have begun to branch out and listen to different kinds of music.  I always listened to artists who were well-known, or showtunes, which I don’t expect to be well-known.  So when I find out that groups I love are practically unknown, it’s a shock to me.

So, inspired and enraged by the lack of love some of my favorite modern artists are getting, this entry is entirely for them.  See, I’m a song person.  I hear a song I like, I check out the artist, but generally don’t like much else by them, and I stick to the song.  The five people below, I like every song I’ve heard by them.  I can honestly say that they are some of my absolute favorite artists.  My top five artists, in no particular order, I just want to say, thank you for the music.

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1. Taylor Swift

I was excited when Taylor Swift came out with Fearless, because at that time, I totally knew her music.  She is one of the only artists I can say I knew fairly well before she became mainstream.  I remember hearing “Tim McGraw” on the country station when I was in my brief country phase, and loving it.  So I looked up the rest of her Taylor Swift album.  I was amazed by her- she is two months younger than me, writing her own music (she was eleven when she started handing out demos to labels), and she had a beautiful voice.  To look at pictures of her, you wouldn’t believe that she’s only twenty.

The reason why I loved her was because I felt like I could relate to her songs.  The song “I’d Lie” felt like the story of my entire middle school and high school life.  I was in love with so many people who hardly noticed I existed.  And when they did notice me, I was just Amber.  Nothing special, even though it felt amazing just to be acknowledged by them.  Looking back now, it feels a little silly and childish, but it was perfect for me then.  Because I loved them to pieces in that immature way that high schoolers and middle schoolers love other people, but if you ever directly confronted me about it, I’d lie.

Her first album really reached out to me, and I felt like she was a normal everyday person that I could meet on the streets and have a conversation with.  I don’t feel that way about most of Fearless, but I’m a loyal fan of the Taylor Swift album.  But now that she’s a big name, she does feel bigger than life to me, and I don’t need to talk about her anymore.  There are other artists who need the love and attention more.

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#2.  Ryan Cabrera

An artist that I discovered came up with only two results on SongFacts.com was Ryan Cabrera.  I fell in love with Ryan Cabrera’s music after looting my boyfriend’s mp3 player.  I always assumed he was pretty mainstream.  I mean, Bryan used to sing the song “True” all the time, and that was indeed one of the two songs that popped up on SongFacts.com.  I don’t listen to the radio, I assumed that he was popular all-over.  But as I discovered when I looked him up on Wikipedia, Ryan Cabrera appears to have a sole purpose:  to have an extra page to talk about the song “On the Way Down”.  While I will admit that I enjoy “On the Way Down,” “True” is not one of his better songs.  The only other one that can be found is “Shine On”.

My favorite songs by him are none of these.  Ryan Cabrera is an artist that helps me through the hard times.  Whenever I’m upset by something, I find myself listening to “Kinds of Sadness”.  When I find that the world is just too much for me, I drone it out by listening to “Echo Park”.  Both of these songs are escapes for me, but particularly “Echo Park”.  I like the opening stanza the most:  “Today it rained in L.A. / smog’s been beaten down for awhile / drove up a hill where I could feel the ocean / and see for miles. / Feels like the top of the world / right here the world’s all mine.”  Those lines seem to give such window into the artist and while I live in the country (not the city, where there’s smog) I’ve definitely had days when I just need to drive away into a sanctuary to get away from all the clouds around my world.  Who doesn’t?  But for one reason or another, this song never was very popular.

I have an affinity for artists who play the acoustic guitar.  The first three of these five are all acoustic players.  There is something to the sound of an acoustic guitar that helps the song reach to the heart, instead of flooding the brain.

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#3.  Matt Nathanson

My love for Matt Nathanson is simply proof that the Pandora Music Genome Project works.  I was listening to my Ryan Cabrera radio station on there, and Matt’s song “Curve of the Earth” came up.  I immediately got the song and listened to it over and over.  And over.  I loved it.  I still do- it’s a song I never get tired of.  Even a year after I discovered him, it is my favorite song by him.  I like almost all his music, but “Curve of the Earth” still makes me want to dance.  And I.  Don’t.  Dance.

Matt Nathanson’s one really big hit was “Come on Get Higher,” which, I believe, is not the best of all his songs.  However, that song is one you will still hear on a lot of radio stations.

Like Taylor Swift, Matt Nathanson is an artist who seems real to me.  On his official website, he keeps a blog.  Wow.  Like me.  Cool.  The only other celebrity blog I’ve ever stumbled upon that is actually kept up by the celebrity and not a trained team of ferrets (sorry people who actually do these things) was Alyssa Milano’s.  Matt talks mostly about music, as is to be expected with any musician.  He’s currently going through a rather detailed explanation of his top ten favorite artists and why he likes them and how they inspire him.  Every once and a while, who posts things not directly related to music, but definitely still incorporates them.  In May of 2009, he even wrote a not-quite-haiku about fried dough, which made me smile because I loath haikus and he said he was “taking liberties with the form” and it isn’t a haiku at all.

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#4.  Serenity.

When most people hear the word “serenity” they think of the movie by Josh Whedon that was supposed to be a closure to the Firefly series that Fox cancelled.  There are many things I could say about that movie, most of them not-so-nice, but that is not the point of this right now.  The Serenity I am talking about is an Austrian group.  They classify themselves until Melodic Progressive Power Metal.

When most people think of metal, they think of a lot of loud music pressed together and screaming and high adrenaline pumping.  Serenity is a little different.  I found them by listening to my Sonata Arctica station on Pandora.  I was introduced to Sonata Arctica by my friends in middle school, and I loved the Reckoning Day, Reckoning Night album.  That album told the story of a struggle between vampires and werewolves.  None of their other stuff was quite the same, and so when I discovered Serenity, I was thrilled.

Serenity has such a sound that you feel like their music belongs in a fantasy movie.  Their latest music video is “Velatum”.  I haven’t been able to hear a lot of their music, unfortunately, since they are still in the shadow of bands like Sonata Arctica and Kamelot, but every single song I have heard, I’ve loved.  There are so many layers to their music, it’s amazing.  And their music videos are beautiful.

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#5.  Off Kilter

This band is incredibly difficult to find things by.  While I love Disney animated movies to pieces, I get a little frustrated with their hogging of talent.  Disney is well-known to find people when they are just starting out in the entertainment business and to keep them tucked away doing television shows or performing in the parks, and they won’t let them do anything else.  Ever.

Off Kilter is a Disney band.  Disney doesn’t own them, no, but the only things you can find about the band are from Disney and their unfortunate, not very well-designed website.  They have been performing regularly at Epcot for the last thirteen years.  They’re not a very “pretty-looking” band, but they are unique.  They play Irish folk music with a progressive rock twist.  Also?  They have a bagpipe and they wear kilts.  I’m not sure if that’s classic or weird, but I do know that it’s awesome and unique.  Good for them!

They do a lot of stuff, including covers of well-known songs, but by far my favorite is a traditional Irish folk song:  “Danny Boy”. I know it’s not the “traditional way the song was played,” but the way that Off Kilter plays it definitely brings life into the song. The band is talented, and it is a shame that the haven’t (and probably will never) achieve popularity.

Angel of Music?

November 11, 2006:  La Mancha Rehearsals

“When people hear good music, it makes them homesick for something they never had, and never will have.” ~ Edgar Watson Howe.

I think that in a previously life, I may have been a French opera singer who got laryngitis on the opening night of La Vestale and then the career went spinning out of control into oblivion.  I like to think this explains my inability to sing well by myself, as well as my inability to sight-read vocal music.  There is a deep, dark black part of my soul that is hiding away all there terrible, imprinted memories of lives past, and therefore my future life is affected.

Yesterday I was handed a ten-page piece of sheet music to learn to sing.  Some of it is solo, and the rest is duet.  The last time I had a solo, I was in fifth grade (I think) and I had to sing “Shenandoah” to a group of elderly people on Memorial Day.  That was about eleven years ago.  Since then, I have been in two musicals (“Groovy,” wherein as long as you hit your cues, the director was happy; and “Kiss Me Kate,” for which I was in the chorus and could match my voice with others).  But for “A Christmas Carol”?  Oh no.  I’m flying solo.

It’s exciting, because it’s a new musical written by a talented local composer for me.  Because he works with Small Pond Productions, and he loved the show and was absolutely inspired by it.  I’m touched that he loved it so much.  I was one of the first to know that it was becoming a musical, and it’s been a blast hearing about new developments, but I always assumed I wouldn’t have to sing a solo.  Okay, no.  That’s a lie.  I assumed I’d have a duet, but I hoped I wouldn’t have anything where I’d have to pave my own way in the music world.  But I do.

I’m melodramatic.  The show is in December, and Tracy (the director) says we can cut the song if I can’t do it.  But that’s just it.  I want to be able to do it.  I want to learn how to sing well so that I can do musicals.  So that I don’t feel like I have to play Rock Band in a quiet, secluded corner.  I will have JoJo, who is one of the jolliest, most amazing and talented and patient people I have met, to help me when I need it.  She taught Isaac for “Dracula” so I can only hope that I’m not a tougher case.

Right.

Breathe in, breathe out.

In my avoidance of pulling out the keyboard and practicing this morning, I have managed to write a ficlet for the first time in… a significant period of time.  It’s Reaper’s Rock, and I’m actually incredibly pleased with it.  Sean is a character I’ve always had a little bit of trouble with, but he’s clouded in intrigue, and so I’ve never dropped him.  I feel like the piece is insightful for me as a writer.  I keep telling myself that I’m going to get back into the ficlets, but then I don’t.  I think that my favorite excuse is that the Word of the Day from the Oxford English Dictionary has been horrible.  I mean, honestly, “detent”?  Makes my writing options pretty narrow, especially because I only have one character who may (and probably doesn’t) know what a detent is.

This has been my day so far.  Picking up sheet music, striking terror into my own heart, and picking up a pen instead.  May the rest of the day be just as eventful.


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something to think about

"You know, I don't know if you'll understand this or not, but sometimes, even when I'm feeling very low, I'll see some little thing that will somehow renew my faith. Something like that leaf, for instance - clinging to its tree despite wind and storm. You know, that makes me think that courage and tenacity are about the greatest values a man can have. Suddenly my old confidence is back and I know things aren't half as bad as I make them out to be. Suddenly I know that with the strength of his convictions a man can move mountains, and I can proceed with full confidence in the basic goodness of my fellow man. I know that now. I know it." ~ End of Act I in the musical You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

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