Dixie Darr

Archive for the ‘music’ Category

Just Like Billy Pilgrim

In music on August 17, 2017 at 5:56 am

My mother used to complain about my dad playing a radio station with big band music. It confused her, she said. She’d forget where and when she was. She liked country music, especially Lefty Frizzell, and I still have a few of her 78 records, so she wasn’t exactly up-to-date, either.

My own musical tastes formed in the 60s and haven’t changed much since 1975. After that, I just didn’t have the interest in keeping up no matter how hip I wanted to prove I was. Predictably, I prefer the Beatles to anyone else, followed closely by Paul Simon and Stevie Wonder. When I ask Alexa the Echo Dot to play music for me, it’s usually 60s soft rock, although my current favorite song is Chuck Berry’s “You Never Can Tell.”

Where music is concerned I think we’re all a little unstuck in time, just like Kurt Vonnegut’s Billy Pilgrim. I’m reminded of the old Rod McKuen poem that starts “I put a seashell to my ear and it all comes back.” Play Bob Dylan’s “Lay Lady Lay” and it transports me to 1969 when I still wear bell bottom jeans and walk to the Mayan theater on Broadway to watch Easy Rider and The Wild Bunch. Not at the same time. That would be WAY too intense.

Of course, I think our music was (is!) the best music ever. My nieces, who came of age in the 80s, think Michael Jackson reigns. Don’t we all prefer the music of our youth?

I was delighted to learn that Beatles music has made a comeback (although it never went away) in the children’s TV show, Beat Bugs. I know a five-year-old who loves what he calls “Beat Bugs songs.” Kid has good taste.

When I’m in a nursing home with all the other old hippies, we’ll sing along to “Hey Jude” and “Still Crazy After All These Years” and “Isn’t She Lovely.”

The hard rockers will have to live in a different wing.

Honky Tonk Angels

In creativity, music on August 2, 2017 at 7:03 am

You’ve seen plenty of lists of the greatest albums of all time published by the likes of Rolling Stone and Billboard. Maybe you noticed that those lists are dominated by men.
The people at NPR noticed and decided to stage “an intervention, a remedy, a correction of the historical record.” They polled 50 women across NPR and compiled a list of the 150 greatest albums made by women between 1964 and the present. Check it out here.
The top ten includes two albums from the 60s, two from the 90s, two from this century, and four from the 70s including the number one, Joni Mitchell’s Blue. Not surprisingly, three of my four favorites hail from this decade – Blue, Tapestry by Carole King, and Pearl by Janis Joplin. Rounding out my top four is Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black just to prove my musical taste didn’t get stuck 45 years ago.
I’ve played all four obsessively and have songs from each on my playlist.
My greatest album list would include Laura Nyro’s Eli and the 13th Confession. You’ve probably never heard of the album or her. Your loss. She makes this list at #82, but not for that album.
Now, I’ll stop dating myself and encourage you to check out the list. It’s fun just to browse through it and there’s bound to be something there for everybody’s taste.
If you start feeling really nostalgic, take a look at this 15-minute video of girl groups from the 60s or this longer documentary The Story of Black Girl Groups in the 60s.
Prefer a movie? Try Selena or Dream Girls or one of the many versions of A Star is Born.
What are your favorites?

Joyful Noise

In music on August 1, 2017 at 6:42 am

Several years ago, my niece gave me a set of twelve Year of Wishes candles. Each one sported a little silver plaque engraved with a wish for that month, including peace, love, adventure, health, and joy. As the candle burned away, it left a small charm symbolizing the wish. Part of the fun was imagining what symbol would illustrate the wish.
The charm for joy was a tiny music note. Music equals joy.
I can’t argue with that.
Scientists have tried to explain the purpose of music, surmising that an activity pursued by all human groups could not be essentially useless. They have been espoused theories from a way to woo to social glue.
I prefer the answer from my candle. Music both expresses and provokes joy.
A couple of weeks ago, a Facebook friend, Megan, introduced me to a video of Bruce Springsteen playing an impromptu version of “Never Can Tell.” Since then I’ve watched it a dozen times or more. Megan described it as an “Incredible musician, surrounded by his friends at the top of their powers, having a blast!”
To me, it’s just plain fun. Pure joy.
It also prompted me to watch the scene from Pulp Fiction where Uma Thurman and John Travolta dance to the original Chuck Berry version of “Never Can Tell.” And then I added that to my favorite playlist. You might say I’m a tiny bit obsessive.
This month I’ll be playing around with the twin themes of music and joy. I need more of that in my life and I wish the same for you.