In the Meanwhile…

I did a solo cabaret show in 2010. I loved every moment of co-creating it, preparing it, rehearsing it, performing it. Every moment.

Then I recorded five songs from the show, also in incredible experience, though quite different.

Here’s a song from the show and from the CD. (I have copies for sale, but at the time, I was too shy about it to share them, and now, of course, no one buys CDs anymore! But I loved creating it, and I feel like sharing it, so here it is.)

The song is “Hey There” from the 1954 musical Damn Yankees by Richard Adler & Jerry. One of my idols, Rosemary Clooney, made it a huge hit. Here’s a video version of her singing it that includes the song’s verse, which is seldom sung. She’s amazing.

My cover of “Hey There” was recorded with Rick Jensen playing a beautiful grand piano and Mark Wade playing his upright bass in the beautiful Laughing Buddha Studios, NYC.

From the show and CD “In the meanwhile…”
Arrangements & Musical Direction by Rick Jensen
Recorded at: Laughing Buddha Studios, NY, NY 2005
Engineered by: Jim Sweeney, Julio Pena

Photography by Joseph Moran
Graphic Design by Dayna Navarro

#cabaret #thegreatamericansongbook #standards #cover #singer #recording #TheGetMyWorkOutThereChallenge #Day Thirteen

Carpe Diem, My Friend

Hello?! This is your life calling!

Stop acting like you’ve got all the time in the world

That those that you love will be there forever for you to tell

That those people you think about reconnecting with will always be around to do so

Start doing those things you think about doing, dream of doing, now

Every passing moment is one less opportunity

Like that old Nike ad says, “Just do it!”

Just do.

– Me to myself

Today I went to the funeral of a very special person.

And as I sat in the church looking up at the stained glass, I was reminded of the many, many funerals of special people I have been to in the last twelve years.

Wakes and viewings in homes, memorials in gorgeous holy spaces and modest church rectories, wonderful music and laughter, beautiful heartfelt stories of love and life, stoic, structured religious services. Quite a spectrum of final acknowledgements or celebrations of the lives of special people.

The one thing they all had in common was that I was struck each time by how quickly such services end.

Something in me gets so angry: how can a person’s life end this way? It always feels so…inadequate. So lacking.

I want to sit and reflect. Linger. Always, I am shooed out before I am ready to leave.

Even the greatest memorials – which in my book are filled with laughter, love and grief with voices raised and tears shed in full view and community – are over much too soon for my heart.

I leave baffled and bereft, with the sense that something is missing.

Then it hits me: oh yes, something is missing. The special person is missing.

Having buried two parents, a brother, a grandfather, three dear mentor father-figures, and two beloved cats over these past 12 years, I have learned and bourn witness to the truth that literally all that remains after a special person dies, in the end, is how they made people feel.

Yes, it is true, they may leave behind other kinds of legacies too.

But really, all that literally remains is how that person loved the people they came into contact with, isn’t it?

My special person whose funeral was today was not a lifelong friend.

I’d drifted away from our friendship the past ten years or so, for reasons that made sense at the time but don’t now. He did nothing wrong to instigate this drifting – he was an innocent in a part of my life that became lost in a kind of wreckage that was indirectly a result from past events. Our friendship was felled by friendly fire in a war I was waging with ghosts. Yet another tally mark on the side of things I grieve, having lost them.

Because of this, I almost did not go to the funeral. I didn’t feel entitled to.

Then I remembered the old adage about people coming into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime, and I realized that showing up for him as someone who had loved and been loved by him for any length of time is all any of us can do. That his current special people would surely only benefit from being surrounded by any and all of those who knew how special their special person was. That I could go for him, for me, for them, and be one of many who loved this special person for a reason, a season or a lifetime.

And there were many of us there. I have no doubt when I pass I will be lucky to have a handful of people. I have lived far too self-contained a life so far. I am still influenced by a deep-seated fear of people that shapes my connections no matter what I do, it seems. (Although I have been and am working to shift this, to be able to have deeper intimacies with people that I care for and who care for me.)

But my special friend was one of those people whose funerals reveal just how many people their life has touched. All kinds of people from all walks of life were there. And all had lost someone very special to them.

My special friend was my special friend for a season of ten or so very special years. He loved me dearly at a time I did not know how to love myself. He gave me unconditional love and support, and he championed my talents and dreams, and mirrored to me someone who had the courage to truly make their dreams come true.

I have so many happy memories of those years, and he figures prominently in all of them.

These years later, I can appreciate him even more with the wisdom of age. I thought of him many times through these years. Thought of reaching out. I foolishly kept putting it off, thinking I had the luxury of time. Hah.

In many ways, the way he lived puts me to shame. He found the courage to really put his talents out there for the world to see, over and over, no matter what anyone thought. I am still struggling to find that kind of belief in what I have to offer, that kind of courage.

He loved to sing so he sang. He loved rock and roll, so he performed in his own rock and roll cabaret shows. He loved what singing was to him, so he did all in his power to help others to be able to sing as well. He was a champion for many, and a power of example to all artists.

He died a senseless, awful death, one that seems ridiculously unfair and absurd for a man such as he was: one of the kindest, most generous souls I have known.

And so today, I leave yet another funeral, baffled and bereft.

But I carry the gifts of his life forever within me: how loved he made me feel, the memories of the music we made together, the inspiration he will always be to me as someone who just put it all out there for the world to see no matter the reception.

And the kick in the pants to “do it” already, no matter what.

There’s no time to waste.

I hear you, John. I get it. Thank you, my friend. I love you.

And I am so grateful we had our season.

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: calling

Easy Go

Before I’d even had a serious love affair, there were things I seemed to understand about them anyway.

There were songs about breakups that for whatever reason captured my imagination and moved my emotions. My heart knew what they were about.

One that really resonated with me then, and still today, is a little known song “Tell Me on a Sunday” from the musical “Song and Dance,” with lyrics by Don Black and music by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

The musical is not great, and it’s not a great song musically (sorry, Mr. Webber,) but what the song says is lovely, and it always comes to me when I think about how difficult it is to end something that was once beautiful.

Tell Me on a Sunday

Don’t write a letter when you want to leave

Don’t call me at 3 a.m. from a friend’s apartment

I’d like to choose how I hear the news

Take me to a park that’s covered with trees

Tell me on a Sunday please

Let me down easy

No big song and dance

No long faces, no long looks

No deep conversation

I know the way we should spend that day

Take me to a zoo that’s got chimpanzees

Tell me on a Sunday please

Don’t want to know who’s to blame

It won’t help knowing

Don’t want to fight day and night

Bad enough you’re going

Don’t leave in silence with no word at all

Don’t get drunk and slam the door

That’s no way to end this

I know how I want you to say goodbye

Find a circus ring with a flying trapeze

Tell me on a Sunday please

Don’t want to fight day and night

Bad enough you’re going

Don’t leave in silence with no word at all

Don’t get drunk and slam the door

That’s no way to end this

I know how I want you to say goodbye

Don’t run off in the pouring rain

Don’t call me as they call your plane

Take the hurt out of all the pain

Take me to a park that’s covered with trees

Tell me on a Sunday please

Here’s a nicely acted version by Marti Webb:

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: zoo

Highway Robbery

Life is a one-way road

Cannot go back, only forwards

So why do I feel stuck in time

At times moving backwards

Or worse yet, stalled

on the side of the road?

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: One-Way

One of my favorite songs from the early 90’s was Tom Cochrane’s “Life is a Highway.” I love the lyric and the music. It always made me feel so full of hope and youthful joy, and still stirs that up in me upon listening today. So when I am feeling a bit stalled, I put it on to wake my hope up!

Life’s like a road that you travel on
When there’s one day here and the next day gone
Sometimes you bend, sometimes you stand
Sometimes you turn your back to the wind

There’s a world outside every darkened door
Where blues won’t haunt you anymore
Where the brave are free and lovers soar
Come ride with me to the distant shore

We won’t hesitate to break down the garden gate
There’s not much time left today

Life is a highway
I want to ride it all night long
If you’re going my way
Well, I want to drive it all night long

Through all these cities and all these towns
It’s in my blood and it’s all around
I love you now like I loved you then
This is the road and these are the hands

From Mozambique to those Memphis nights
The Khyber Pass to Vancouver’s lights
Knock me down and back up again
You’re in my blood, I’m not a lonely man

There’s no load I can’t hold
A road so rough, this I know
I’ll be there when the light comes in
Tell ’em we’re survivors

Life is a highway
Well, I want to ride it all night long
If you’re going my way
I want to drive it all night long
Gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme, yeah

Life is a highway
Well, I want to ride it all night long, yeah
If you’re going my way
I want to drive it all night long

There was a distance
Between you and I
A misunderstanding once
But now we look it in the eye, ooh yeah

There ain’t no load that I can’t hold
A road so rough this I know
I’ll be there when the light comes in
Tell ’em we’re survivors

Life is a highway
Well, I want to ride it all night long
If you’re going my way
Well, I want to drive it all night long
Gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme, yeah

Life is a highway
I want to ride it all night long
If you’re going my way
I want to drive it all night long
Come on, gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme, yeah

Life is a highway
I want to ride it all night long
(Yeah, I want to drive it all night long)
If you’re going my way
I want to drive it all night long
All night long

– Thomas William Cochrane

My Song

Allow me to introduce myself

I am melody created from the stars and the moon

I am brass and timpani

I am birdsong and waves crashing

Sometimes I riff

Tickle, lick, pop and squeel

Then I am silent

Like a deep snowfall

A frosted field at night

I am all that and more

Play me and you’ll see

Improvisation, baby

That’s me

Inspired by TheDaily Post Daily Word Prompt: Riff

Anna & The King & I

One of my favorite songs in musical theatre is the song sung by the character Anna in the 1951 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, The King and I.

I have always loved it, even when I was very young. I watched the movie version with Deborah Kerr, one of my favorite film actresses of all of the many Hollywood movies I watched after school.

Of course I wanted to be Anna. Never mind that she was a widow and having to go to a country far from home to make a living as a tutor and raise her son. Those things went over my head, I think.

She had a wonderful accent and wore gorgeous costumes. And she and the King had such a romantic and special relationship. I practiced talking and moving like her, and sang her songs, preparing myself for the day that I, too, would be a Hollywood starlet like her.

The lyrics of this song have grown more meaningful to me as I age. I feel I can sing this song with real conviction at this point in my life, having known great loves of my own.

Here is the scene from the film. Anna (Deborah Kerr) sings to the king’s many wives, letting them get to know her:

Hello young lovers whoever you are
I hope your troubles are few
All my good wishes go with you tonight
I’ve been in love like youBe brave young lovers and follow your star
Be brave and faithful and true
Cling very close to each other tonight
I’ve been in love like youI know how it feels to have wings on your heels
And to fly down the street in a trance
You fly down a street on a chance that you’ll meet
And you meet, not really by chanceDon’t cry young lovers whatever you do
Don’t cry because I’m alone
All of my mem’ries are happy tonight
I’ve had a love of my own

I’ve had a love of my own like yours
I’ve had a love of my own

Back then, I was not fully cognizant of the seriousness of the situation the lovers in the story find themselves in. They are servants to the King, and their love is forbidden. They indeed must be brave to try to be together, literally risking their lives to do so.

One would think that this ancient story would no longer be relevant. Sadly, it continues to resonate truthfully, reflecting the danger that still can exist between people simply trying to love one another.

I often catch this song floating through my psyche, when times get tough.

Be brave, young lovers, and follow your star. Be brave and faithful and true.

It never ceases to bolster me.

 

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: brave

The Clearing

A mist cloaked the green in a shroud of grey

I could no more discern the sky

No longer was I able to laugh or play

All my heart could do was contract, and cry

 

Then the mist lifted and my shrunk soul awoke

The whole of my heart took wing

I found myself in a new world, bespoke

Wholly alive, alight, at once I began to sing

 

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: cloaked