Dixie Darr

Archive for the ‘music’ Category

What the Heart Wants

In creativity, Finding Your Calling, Learning, music, solitude on October 5, 2017 at 7:23 am

Some words of wisdom on work, solitude, and love.
by Wendell Berry
It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.

How to Find Your Mission in Life by Dick Bolles
Rule #3. to exercise that talent which you particularly came to earth to use — your greatest gift, which you most delight to use, in the places or settings which God has caused to appeal to you the most, and for those purposes which god most needs to have done in the world.

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs are people who have come alive.” Howard Thurman

“For many people, being alone with their thoughts puts them in enemy territory.” Barbara Winter

“The best thinking has been done in solitude. The worst has been done in turmoil.” Thomas A. Edison

“In order to be open to creativity, one must have the capacity for constructive use of solitude. One must overcome the fear of being alone.” Rollo May

“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” Albert Einstein

“If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph: The only proof he needed for the existence of God was music.” Kurt Vonnegut, Man Without a Country

“Someday, someone is going to look at you with a light in their eyes you’ve never seen, they’ll look at you like you’re everything they’ve been looking for their entire lives. Wait for it.” Author unknown


Sing, Sing a Song

In creativity, Learning, music, spirituality on September 28, 2017 at 10:50 am

I give today’s post to two songwriters, who express things much better than I can. First, India Arie.

“I Am Light”
I am light, I am light [x4]

I am not the things my family did
I am not the voices in my head
I am not the pieces of the brokenness inside

I am light, I am light [x4]

I’m not the mistakes that I have made or any of the things that caused me pain
I am not the pieces of the dream I left behind

I am light, I am light [x4]

I am not the color of my eyes
I am not the skin on the outside
I am not my age, I am not my race, my soul inside is all light

All light, all light [x2]
I am light, I am light [x2]

I am divinity defined
I am the God on the inside
I am a star, a piece of it all
I am light

And to close, a piece from Joni Mitchell’s Woodstock

We are stardust, we are golden, and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.”

Far Out, Man

In creativity, Learning, music, Prejudice, Resistance, spirituality on September 26, 2017 at 9:40 am

Peace, love, and rock ‘n roll is how I like to remember the 60s, and I expect envy from younger generations when those of us now mostly in our sixties wax nostalgic.

Of course, we didn’t really have peace although we demonstrated against the war in Vietnam endlessly in protests that remind me of the repeated protests today. We did have the peace sign.

Love? Yes and no. Free love was never on my agenda, and that was about sex anyway, not love.

Rock ‘n roll, yes indeed. Not only did we have the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Chuck Berry, Janice Joplin, and Aretha Franklin, we also had the early 60s girl groups and doo-wop and Motown. We had the best music.

Peace, love, and rock ‘n roll were always set against a backdrop of neverending war, vicious racism, and unchecked violence.

It’s why, when a friend asked me to go to the exhibit titled 1968 at History Colorado a year or so ago, I said, “No thank you.” I remembered the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy and thought, “I can’t go through that again.”

It’s why I won’t watch the current PBS series, “The Vietnam War.” The creator, Ken Burns, is a genius, and I’ve enjoyed many of his previous documentaries. Not this one. People tell me it’s wonderful and they’re learning so much that they didn’t know when it happened. Many can only watch it in small chunks without feeling overwhelmed. I had to watch it on the news the first time around. I don’t want to go there again.

For me, the quintessential song about the war is Country Joe and the Fish “Feel Like I’m Fixing to Die Rag.”  “Be the first one on your block to have your boy come home in a box.”

Maybe I’m sticking my head in the sand (or a box, if you prefer) when I choose to remember the good times and forget the bad. I’d rather listen to Give Peace a Chance than the Eve of Destruction. And I have to wonder, in fifty years, what we’ll (well, you’ll) remember about 2017.

White People Clapping

In Church, creativity, Learning, music, spirituality on September 18, 2017 at 6:26 am

My favorite thing about church other than seeing my friends is singing. A friend who was a music director for a couple of churches said it’s also one of the things people complain about the most. They want more contemporary songs, they prefer the traditional hymns, the pianist plays too slowly, they want a band, they don’t want a band. It’s always something.

Pastor Brad avoids African American spirituals because he thinks we do them badly. “If you’re going to engage in cultural appropriation, you need to do it well.” Apparently, we don’t.

I have heard visitors from other churches say they’re impressed that we actually sing as some Methodists are too reserved to make noises loud enough to be heard. We try to clap, but I guess we do that badly, too. “There’s nothing worse than white people clapping,” some people (you know who you are) say. We clap on beats one and three in 4/4 time when we’re supposed to clap on two and four.

How do we know which beat is which? I’m asking for a friend.

Who makes these rules? I looked it up and this is what I found. “Most contemporary 4/4 music emphasizes the first and third beat. This is why clapping on 2 and 4 creates syncopation and sounds good.”

In 4/4, the drummer almost always hits the snare drum on 2 and 4. That is what the rest of the band is listening for. When a bad audience is clapping on 1 and 3….or 1.25 and 3.67…it is disorienting.”

Traditionally, rock rhythm is based on the upbeats (2 and 4). Clapping on 1 and 3 will sound off for that kind of music.”

That’s fine for you musicians out there, but what about the rest of us? Give us some credit for reading the words AND the music while holding a hymnal and trying to clap. Whaddaya say we take a few minutes in our next service for a lesson in clapping?

Two musically inclined friends told the story of Harry Connick, Jr. who simply adds a beat to dupe audiences into clapping on the right notes, showing both leadership and creativity.

Luckily for me, I usually sit near a professional music director, so I just try to follow her lead. Friends don’t let friends clap incorrectly. When she’s not there, I’m a lost cause.

Under the Big Top

In Church, Friends, music, neighborhood on September 11, 2017 at 6:00 am

Sometimes church is just too much fun. Going to church always makes me happy. I love seeing my friends, singing and praying in community, and hearing uplifting words from our pastor. But sometimes, it’s an exuberant celebration of life and love and, yes, God. Yesterday was one of those days.

Once a year, we leave the sanctuary to have our service in a big tent in the parking lot. A local bluegrass band, Thunder and Rain, provides the music. People wander by because it’s that kind of neighborhood and also because there’s a farmer’s market just down the street, and some of them join us for a song. Being outside makes us much more relaxed as does keeping our three or four dozen kids in the service with us. It makes us louder, too.

Many people, not all of them kids, danced in the aisles as we sang “May the Circle Be Unbroken,” “Just a Closer Walk With Thee,” “Amazing Grace,” and my favorite, “I’ll Fly Away.” Abby and Scarlett, both about four, played with Abby’s doll carriage and stuffed animals. Several people strolled to the back of the tent for refreshments before returning to their seats.

We learned that the United Methodist Church, with which everyone in our congregation disagrees on at least a few things (*cough* social principles), encompasses members as diverse as George W. Bush and Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren and Jeff Sessions. It’s a big tent. We acknowledged the founder, John Wesley, with a bobblehead doll.

Afterward, just about everybody there helped fold and stack every chair we own to haul them back to the church. We’re a family; we all pitch in. Note to self: We need to buy more chairs because the family is growing.

Then, since it was also bike to church day, people took off on their bikes for a short communal ride around the neighborhood park. A glorious good time was had by all.

Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying

In creativity, Home, Learning, music, solitude on August 22, 2017 at 6:01 am








The day started out pretty well with a visit to my doctor. She beamed at me and took me off one hated medication and reduced another. Good news, which she had to spoil by scheduling me for both a mammogram and a colonoscopy. Ugh. It didn’t help when she told me she had recently had her first colonoscopy and learned first hand how awful the preparation for that is. “I can’t believe I tell people all the time they have to do that.” Wouldn’t you think medical science could come up with a less dreadful test?
Things went downhill from there. I felt put upon, ignored, and misunderstood, all of which increased my pique about the over-hyped eclipse. Geez, people. It got a little dark. I dutifully took my stupid glasses out on the balcony and looked at the mostly covered sun for 30 seconds. So glad you all enjoyed it. Now can we get back to normal?
As my mood tanked, I tried a few of my standard remedies to cheer myself up. I played my eclipse-themed music, which was fun. My favorite song was “Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying” by Gerry and the Pacemakers (remember them?) although it made me cry. It was that kind of day. I finished reading a book by my second favorite mystery author, Marcia Muller, so I could read the latest by my favorite mystery author, Sue Grafton, today.
I wrote an email telling someone to “back off” as nicely as I could while feeling pushed around.
I ate a couple of dark chocolate Hershey’s Kisses.
I pulled myself together for a mostly unproductive interview for the church history I’m working on, and then I was done. No TV for me because seeing that orange monster preening and congratulating himself for his non-existent accomplishments would only worsen my disposition. Have you seen the tee shirt that superimposes a graphic of the twin towers against 45’s silhouette and says “The worst days in U.S. History—9/11 and 11/9? My sentiments exactly.
This morning I’ll take myself out for pancakes. Then I’ll continue my self care with reading, writing, and listening to music, trying to find my way back to an even keel and banish the darkness.
It could work.

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 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.