“…people understand” – a quote by Jim Croce

In reference to a foreign exchange tour he and his band made, Jim Croce once said:

We just ate what the people ate, lived in the woods, and played our songs. Of course they didn’t speak English over there, but if you mean what you’re singing, people understand.

Music truly is The Universal Language.  Music conveys emotion, which is part of the appeal of Classical music…no words, just well-conceived, well-played music that tells its story magnificently.

More to Jim Croce’s point, he’s right about language not being a barrier to understanding and appreciating songs. You don’t have to speak the same language.  If the singer has any talent and puts any passion into their singing, you can feel the emotion.  In small, intimate settings, the singer’s facial expressions and body language take us one step further toward understanding.

Meaning what you’re singing leads to pouring your heart and soul into your music, which leads to universal understanding of your message.

The End of a Legacy

Funny how you can be having a great afternoon, jamming along at work, knocking things out, pop over to Facebook (yes, it’s the Devil) for a quick break, and get a case of the Blues.

What makes this really weird is that it doesn’t really affect my life.  The sad news was a post by the band teacher of my daughter’s middle school band in his closed group.  He announced that all the band students were called down to the auditorium this afternoon where he informed them that he will be leaving the school to take a job in a different area of the state.  This is my daughter’s last year at the school, so it’s her last year with this teacher anyway.

I guess what makes it emotional is that for the last six years, this teacher has been a rock star at this school.  Nothing but Superior ratings for the bands, including the Jazz Bands, and the Music in the Park competitions, at which his bands always brought home the overall points trophies, as well.  If I recall correctly, more than half of the All-City Band (middle school) was made up of his students, and he had the highest number of students make All-District, as well.

This amazing teacher, who won Teacher of the Year at his school and for the district this year, has instilled discipline and a passion for music in his students which is why they have grown and achieved so much under his guidance.

In his six short years, he’s built a legacy of music and a reputation for greatness for this school.

While we are sad to see him go, we wish him well in his future endeavors!

Music Monday – Clap Along

Anyone who knows me knows that I gave up on contemporary, popular music back in the early days of the new millennium…back when Jason Mraz, John Mayer, and other singer-songwriters strumming their guitars began really boring me on the radio.  When it wasn’t the strum-you-to-sleep music on the radio, it was clubtastic, hip-hoppy crap…or the DJ and commercials jabbering away on the airwaves.
I went exclusively to my CD collection for my commutes.  Friends would occasionally tell me about songs or artists that I “had to hear”.  Some were good.  Others weren’t for me.
I used Yahoo Music and while I played it enough that most of the playlists managed to play artists I already listened to, other I hadn’t heard would pop up.  That’s how I found Evanescence. Now I use Pandora and iHeartRadio and have found a few more artists this way.  Slippery When Wet Radio on iHeart is a great station, by the way, and I’ve found myself getting back/more into metal over the last couple years listening to it.
Interestingly enough, a song and group that I’ve never seen posted by anyone was one of the included songs on my phone: “Trippin’ at the Disco” is a jamming tune by People Under The Stairs.
Having kids that like music and movies and their soundtracks has also lead to some stuff I like.  I like a number of Taylor Swift‘s songs (and find her to be a fantastic role model), a couple One Direction songs, some Selena Gomez, and have seen Hot Chelle Rae in concert at an amusement park.  Surprisingly, they can play some fairly good rock stuff, but it seems their pop-ish songs are what they are more known for.
Through social media, I found some other artists when friends posted songs…Clairy Browne & The Bangin’ Rackettes being my favorite artist I’ve discovered this way.
All this being said, over the last decade or so, I’ve not been overly impressed with the music and artists I’ve heard on the whole.  In April, a friend posted a YouTube video on Facebook of people dancing around my hometown (or what I think of as my hometown) to Pharrell Williams‘ “Happy”.  I didn’t realize I’d heard the song on Despicable Me 2, but was instantly hooked on it.  I easily found the live version and Despicable Me version of the video on YouTube and posted the link to my wife’s wall.  We may be a wee bit ‘minion’ obsessed.
This is my pick for best song from the last decade or so.
While this song gets played at least once every time we go somewhere as a family, it still hasn’t changed my listening habit.  I’m still radio averse…but while I wait for the music scene to morph again, I’ll be Happy and clap along because I know what makes me happy.
Happy by Pharrell Williams

Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do

Music Monday – It’s [likely] the End of These Posts as We Know It

I’ve been making my weekly Music Monday posts for over a year and a half now.  In that time, some of them were hours to a number of days late, but it was very rare that I missed a post completely.  My interest in music hasn’t waned a bit, but my “free” time in the evenings to write these posts is getting less.  I understand that most of the posts aren’t chock full of ground-breaking information that anyone interested couldn’t find on their own, and I’ve enjoyed putting them together, but I rarely get comments or likes on them.  According to Word Press, I have followers…but maybe no one reads these posts.

So, here’s the deal:  If I get any comments back about how much emptier your lives will be without Music Monday, about how much you love the videos I embed, or about how you simply enjoy the weekly posts, I’ll continue on with Music Monday.  I have to be honest, though, and mention that it may become a bi-weekly posting.


It’s The End of the World as We Know It by R.E.M

(released 1987; peaked #69 US Hot 100, #16 US Mainstream Rock, #22 Ireland, #39 UK)

It’s the end of the world as we know it (It’s time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it (It’s time I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine (It’s time I had some time alone)

Cool, jammin’, rappish song.


Music Monday – No Valentines

No Love for Valentines

Everybody wants a box of chocolates
and a long stem rose.
Everybody knows.
–from “Everybody Knows” by Leonard Cohen

It’s nearing Valentine’s Day.  No pressure on those in love, right?  Every Kiss Begins with Kay.  Diamonds are a girls best friend.  A dozen long-stemmed roses at two or three times the normal price.  If you love her, you’ll buy her a Lexus, or maybe that’s just at Christmas.  And these are just the examples of what commercialization dumps on those in love, and maybe lust, too.  Who knows what kinds of pressure the loved ones are really putting on each other.  But not everyone has someone at this time of year.  For those who’ve never found love or who’ve had it (once, twice, three times a…) and lost it, or even worse, lost a loved one, Valentine’s Day is a reminder that they (generally) are missing something.  The pressure the commercialization of this “holiday” puts on people, both in and out of love, can be daunting.  With this in mind, this year’s Valentine’s Day Music Monday is about/for those having trouble finding love.
No Valentines by Elton John
(released 1996 on the Love Songs album, not as a single)

But keep my Valentine
I’ll keep my bleeding heart
Just let me out of here
Before that sentimental music starts
And your regrets
Fall like empty lines
Like the lies we write on Valentines

Specifically written for his ‘Love songs’ album, it was never released as a single.  It probably wouldn’t have been a huge hit.  It’s not got the catchy chorus or uplifting message or chipper beat…but I like it…and it fits this post.

Mixed Emotions by The Rolling Stones
(released 1988; #1 US Mainstream Rock, #5 US Hot 100, #9 Netherlands, #20 Germany, #24 Switzerland, #25 Australia)

You’re not the only one
With mixed emotions
You’re not the only ship
Adrift on this ocean
You’re not the only one
That’s feeling lonesome
You’re not the only one
With mixed emotions

From their ‘Steel Wheels’ album, Mixed Emotions is certainly not their biggest hit, but it still has a good sound and it fits this weeks theme.  I almost titled this post “Mixed Emotions.”

Under Pressure by Queen
(released 1981; peaked #1 UK & Netherlands, #2 Ireland, #5 France, #6 Australia & New Zealand, #10 Austria & Switzerland)

Insanity laughs under pressure we’re cracking
Can’t we give ourselves one more chance?
Why can’t we give love that one more chance?
Why can’t we give love, give love, give love, give love, give love, give love, give love, give love?..

‘Cause love’s such an old-fashioned word
And love dares you to care for
The people on the edge of the night
And love dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves
This is our last dance
This is our last dance
This is ourselves
Under pressure
Under pressure

One of my favorite Queen songs.  The video begins with Freddie doing a bit of call and response with the audience before moving into the song.  The album version with David Bowie is great.

Music Monday – Non-standard Scorpions

I very much like the Scorpions music.  They’ve been around for a long time and made some great music, with lots of driving bass, pounding drums, screeching guitars, and soaring vocals.  And while their mainstay has been the hard rockin’ sound, they’ve also played some quite lovely ballads and socially conscious lyrics.  The two songs on this Music Monday are departures from that sound, but still incredible.

Where the River Flows
(released 1996; peaked #97 Germany)

I still keep coming here
To that old river
To find my roots just where
The future lives forever

You find me, you find me
You find me by the river
You find me, you find me
You find me, you can find me

By the river
Where dreams will never die
And by the river
Under suburban skies

And by the river
Where dreams have never died
By the river
I look through children’s eyes

The hard rockers jamming on a folksy sounding tune.

Still Loving You
(released 2001 as part of the Acoustica live album – not as a single)

Try, baby, try to trust in my love again
I will be there, I will be there
Love, our love just shouldn’t be thrown away
I will be there, I will be there

If we’d go again, all the way from the start
I would try to change the things that killed our love
Your pride has built a wall, so strong that I can’t get through
Is there really no chance to start once again?

If we’d go again, all the way from the start
I would try to change the things that killed our love
Yes, I’ve hurt your pride, and I know what you’ve been through
You should give me a chance, this can’t be the end

I’m still loving you

This has always been my favorite song by the Scorpions and this version gives me chills.  Fantastic!

Music Monday – Free Your Mind

It’s the holiday celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthday so this week’s Music Monday is overcoming prejudice.  Anyone with half a brain could write about the problems that exist in the world between people of different races so I won’t spend much time on this.  I’ll just say that we’ll never completely overcome racism and prejudice.  As long as people look and sound different, come from different backgrounds, etc., there will always be people who dislike them.  As a society, though, we have made great strides in squashing it.  As a society, we have become and continue to become less tolerant of those who are racist, sexist, etc.  That being said, on with the music…

Free Your Mind by En Vogue
(released 1992; peaked #8 US Hot 100, #12 New Zealand, #13 US Pop, #15 Netherlands, #16 UK, #19 Canada)

Why oh why must it be this way?
Before you can read me you gotta learn how to see me, I said
Free your mind and the rest will follow
Be color blind, don’t be so shallow… FREE YOUR MIND!

This song is easily my favorite by En Vogue.  It has a great beat and the vocals are outstanding, tinged with anger, but not quite shouted.  The lyrics are very pointed, as well, challenging stereotypes and asking the listener to see the person, not just the color.

I Believe by Blessid Union of Souls
(released 1995; peaked #8 US Hot 100, #2 US Pop, #5 US Adult Contemporary, #6 Canada, #7 New Zealand)

I’ve been seeing Lisa now for a little over a year
She said she’s never been so happy but Lisa lives in fear
That one day daddy’s gonna find out she’s in love
With a nigger from the streets
Oh, how he would lose it then, but she’s still here with me
‘Cause she believes that love will see it through
And one day he’ll understand
And he’ll see me as a person, not just a black man

A well written song about overcoming social issues.

The King by Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five
(released 1988; not released as a single)

We have to bring the whites to the black man’s side
walk hand in hand and show we have black pride

This song begins with King’s “Dream” speech and then rolls into Grandmaster Flash’s verses.

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