My father’s favorite movie was the Godfather. I remember he made me watch it one afternoon, sitting on his bed in one of the immaculately furnished apartments he rented after my parents divorced, one of the lovebirds he used to keep perched on my shoulder as the grisly horse head scene played out before my eyes. I was 12, maybe 13, and I remember feeling like I was in a mafioso family as well, because my father was just as intimidating, just as imposing a figure to me as the Godfather in the movie. When he was angry, he would fix you with one eye, the pupil quivering in the eye socket, with such a glare that you felt riveted to the spot and couldn’t move. You just waited for whatever horrible fate he decided to assign you to be issued, for your punishment to be meted out with the coldness and impartiality of a judge, for all that his visage spoke of such anger. And yet, I was my father’s daughter – I saw in the Godfather what he loved so much about it. It was the music. I think the theme from the Godfather was probably one of my father’s favorite melodies, and I would often hear him humming it to himself as he went about his day. And when I hear it now, I am gripped by a many-faceted melancholy: for the passing of time, for the passing of opportunity, for a misunderstood life, and for the finality of death experienced and inflicted.
Category Archives: Music is My Life
Speaking of Inspiration
I’m so effin busy, this post has been half written since back during the Xanadu Days. But I finally finished it. Enjoy!
What inspires you?
I’ve had my head full of Muses and heavenly Inspiration for the past few weeks, you see. And of course the moment anything stirs that messy glorious soup wherein my creative juices smolder and bubble, percolate and stew, my first thoughts turn to music. Yes, there’s this writing thing. And the photography thing. And now this whole producing thing…but music is the first thing I think of.
I know. I realize that I am writing about music. Hush up and read on.
A while back I wrote about some of my favorite songs. Now, with all this talk of inspiration, I thought I’d share with you all some of the musicians who inspire me as a musician.
I started my musical career as a classical guitarist at the age of 6, so that’s where I’ll start. Probably one of the most amazing classical guitarist I’d ever seen was Andres Segovia. I used to watch him and try to copy all the mannerisms and fingering that he would do on the few occasions I was lucky enough to see him on television. I couldn’t find any videos of him playing these two songs I practiced endlessly back then, so here’s a few talented performers doing their own rendition: Malaguena and Aranjeuz Mon Amour . I’d never say I ever got it down as good as these guys, but I rocked it in my own right.
“For me, the sound is only half of music – the space between the notes is also vitally important. I gave a speech at Berklee College of Music a couple years ago and talked about silence. As musicians, all we do is create a frame for silence, because silence is the perfect music.”
Without inspiration the best powers of the mind remain dormant, there is a fuel in us which needs to be ignited with sparks. – Johann Gottfried Von Herder
Sax and Violins
I try very hard to live my life with no regrets. I’m happy to say that I have largely succeeded.
When I was 6, I started taking guitar lessons. I still remember begging my parents to make that happen. I went through several guitar instructors, entered some competitions (which I won) until the ripe old age of 10, at which point I told my parents I was done, for reasons I won’t go into right now. I’ve never really regretted my decision, since I have worked hard to continue to have music play a large role in my life.
There was one teacher in particular who to this day, I will never forget. He lived in a grand house with sweeping staircases, and we would have lessons in his library. His library was an actual room with BOOKS in it. He was very sweet and kind, and encouraged me to branch out into other musical pursuits, such as the violin and hawaiian style or slide guitar. I thought he was the best thing ever. My parents let me practice violin for a week, at which point my violin career ended.
So the other night, it suddenly occurred to me that I wish I had insisted to my parents that I wanted to continue branching out my musical training to other instruments like the violin. And I also wish my guitar teacher who encouraged that hadn’t died of a stroke so soon after I began training with him. I think my life would be very different now had he lived longer.
I think I’ll dust off my saxaphone.
Old friends, reunited.
There are a handful of musical artists who epitomize my childhood. The singers and albums that defined my teenage years. The ones whose voice can instantly transport you to that time, like it was just yesterday.
For me, that short list includes names like the police, the cure, husker du, sinead o’connor, berlin, til tuesday. The songs, the voices, they are like old friends who always know just the right thing to say to make you smile, who remember what you were like when you were younger, more idealistic.
Imagine my delight when I was reintroduced to one of these old friends with whom I’d lost touch. The moment her voice drifted from the speakers to my waiting ears was like running into one of those old friends who you’d lost touch with, and finding that friendship, that connection is still going strong even after all this time. It’s comforting, yet unsettling a little bit. Much like going home and finding your parents have kept your room exactly like you left it after years have passed…
It’s good to see you again, Aimee.
The Fair Returns.
I have very important news to tell you, interwebs. You best sit down.
So, I tend to scoff at screaming squealy fangirl/fanboi displays. And when I say tend to, I mean seriously people, have some dignity, would you? Just because someone has achieved success in music or film, doesn’t mean they are any better a person that you or I. Assuming you and I aren’t serial killers or pedophiles or psychotic lunatics, of course.
(Damn. Now I’m gonna get google hits for pedophiles and serial killers. One can never win this google war, fer fuck’s sake.)
Now, mind you, I have my favorite public figures. And as you may or may not know, one of the people on top of that list is Sarah McLachlan. I’m sure I’ve mentioned her? Once or twice? No? Lies! You OBVIOUSLY never read my blog, EVER.
Yes, so I’m a big Sarah fangirl. I think she’s not only talented, and driven, but she gives of herself and goes out of her way to help women and children and puppies and kittens. You’ve seen the ASPCA/BCSPCA spot she did? Yeah, I get teary EVERY TIME, dammit. Hello, manipulation…. But I don’t get swoony-all-over-shit-and-be-generally-pathetic when she comes to town. Oh no sirree. I buy my ticket, and bask in her awesomeness, frame my ticket stubs, travel to Vancouver BC just to visit the Nettwerk Records offices, and nearly get kicked out of places for taking a bajillion pictures of her.
No, because I’m an amateur PHOTOGRAPHER. Get your mind outta the gutter, interwebs. Just cause I mentioned …oh never mind. And hey, there’s lots of great bands on the Nettwerk label. Like…um…hmm…like….huh.
No no really, I kid. Like Ladytron, Guster, BNL, Jars of Clay, Manufacture, Delerium, Severed Heads, Skinny Puppy, etc to name a few that I like off the top of my head.
So of course I’m on Sarah lists, and I get Sarah notifications. And because of this, I have news, interwebs. NEWS OF THE GREATEST IMPORT. If any of these apply to you:
1. You like Sarah Mchlachlan
2. Enjoy indie women’s music
3. Think girl rockers kick ass
Then hold on to your hats, interwebs. Sit down. Take a deep breath.
LILITH FAIR IS BACK ONCE AGAIN.
Yes, Lilith Fair, the paragon of women’s music festivals, will be hitting the tour maps in 2010. Last time, I followed it for three days, from Portland to the Gorge and back. Three days of Erica Badu, and Natalie Merchant, and Tara McLean (who gave me a free ticket to the portland date!), and K’s Choice and Suzanne Vega and The Pretenders and Dar Williams and Bonnie Raitt and and andand! It was three days of pure hedonistic drunken women’s music bliss. I can’t even imagine who will be on the bill this time. Let the speculation begin! Plus, we all know that Portland has traditionally been one of , if not THE first stops, because Sarah loves Portland. I know, she told me. There was this dream, and…
Now I’m not saying I’m gonna get all squealy and screamy and stuff…But when I heard this news of awesomeness I did let out a huge SQUEEEE!! of happiness. In the privacy of my own home. Where no one can see me.
Don’t tell anyone, ok?
Can I buy tickets yet?
I try to be a good blogger. As such, I take time out to review my blog. You know, read it. For my dear interwebs’ sake. Making sure my stuff it still as funny as when I wrote it (it usually is), that I’m staying on message based on my About page (I mostly am) and that it’s all true (uh, sure. Mostly). Not because I think I’m hilarious and crack myself up, oh no. Not that! Not because I enjoy the heck out of my stuff! I do it for YOU. For my lovely, kind, intelligent readers, who evince such good taste as to have my blog in their blog feeds and aggregator-type gadgetry and such. Thank you readers!
So I was checking out my About page, and I noticed that I said how much music was important to me, and that I’d most likely be blogging about it a bunch.
Except…well…I haven’t. Have I? Not really, no. I checked. Out of 140-odd blog posts, I have a total of 4 posts under my music category. FOUR. WTF, me? Seriously? That’s like…6%! Music oughta be way higher than that, right?!
DAMN FRAKIN STRAIGHT, IT OUGHTA!
You can tell I’m perplexed. Music is so important to me. It has always been there, sometimes in the background, but most of the time a central part of my memories. It was a constant in my life, from the Turkish songs and operatic stuff my dad would sing to me as a little tot, to the 60’s and 70’s music that I would groove to with my mom as a kid. My mom and I would bond over music a lot, until I hit my teens and veered off into the punk, industrial and alternative stuff I preferred as I moved into adulthood. My mom, on the other hand, remained solidly in her top 40 R&B stuff. Pshaw. (ok not totally pshaw, some of it is ok I guess. Meh.)
Anyway! I intend to redress this EGREGIOUS oversight. Tout de suite. Witness:
I think about music a lot. No really, a LOT. I like talking about it, and thinking about it, and listening to it, and playing it, and sometimes even creating it. I find it nearly impossible to drive without music playing. If I don’t have some sort of musical pursuit in my life, there is something missing, a large gaping hole in my existence. In case you’re wondering, the current venture is DJ school, which is progressing quite nicely, thank you very much.
One topic I think about often is this: if I had to pick a song as my ‘theme’ song, my go-to song, the one that in some way encompasses my life or my outlook in some way, what would it be?
My answer: I can’t pick just one. I’ve thought and I’ve thought, and tried and tried, and I Just. Can’t. Pick. One. Sorry, annoying FaceBook questionnaire application writers. Sorry. Two reasons why:
- I am far too multi-faceted a person for just one song to truly address all the different aspects of my life or outlook, and
- I identify with too many songs; if I pick this one, that means I leave out all the stuff I identify with from that one, and on and on it goes.
So I think I’ve narrowed it down to THREE. I think. Well maybe four. But for now, let’s just say three, ok? I reserve the right to add a couple more down the line. (YouTube-y goodness linking ahead! You’re welcome.)
- Fumbling Towards Ecstasy | Sarah McLachlan: Anyone who knows me knows I have to have a Sarah Mclachlan song in here. It just goes without saying. I can’t tell you how clearly this woman writes to my soul. Or what a fangirl I am. But to pick one…this is it. No question.
- Orpheus | David Sylvian: I remember the first time I heard this song. Forever thanks to my friend Ariana, who lives in Eugene now, for introducing me to the album this is on, Secrets of the Beehive. This song lets me breathe when I can’t. It taps into my emotions at a basic level, where words alone cannot reach. The whole album is phenomenal, but something about this one…this is the one that came closest to being The One. Note: David Sylvian was the lead singer of the band Japan, in case you’ve never heard of him. Not that you necessarily heard of the band either.
- Solsbury Hill | Peter Gabriel (Sorry, couldn’t find a decent youtube vid of this one): If Sarah is my female singer/songwriter idol, Peter is my guy. All of his stuff (with the possible exception of Sledgehammer and Big Time) is just beautiful*. And he picks the best people to duet/collaborate with! Every time my life has got me down, listening to this song reminds me that I’ve always come out better in the end.
There it is. I’ve poured my musical soul out to you, my dear interwebs. But herein lies a challenge: Can you pick just one? Well can ya…punk?
*Note: If you click on just one link in this list, click this one. Trust me. Do it. Amazing video.
And she was just here, too. Damn.
This is OMFGMF hot. That is all.
Lykke Li @ NTBR Part 4 - "Hustlin'" from Drew Innis on Vimeo.
Oh, and yeah. She was just here last Thursday. I found out about her show when I drove by the Hawthorne Theatre half an hour after it started, for dinner with friends a block away. So sad. Here’s the KNRK interview.
Old Model Army, or Why I’m Not Emo Anymore
I was an angry, disillusioned, totally emo chick in college.
I’m not exactly sure how it happened.
(Translation: it would take far longer than this blog post to explain, and I’m not sure we’re at the stage in our interwebs relationship where I open up that much. )
Right. So, angry. Emo. My writing 101 prof called me a nihilist existentialist.
Wow. Really? No, really?
Well. What sort of music does a nihilist existentialist listen to?
Why, New Model Army, of course. My favorite album of theirs, The Ghost of Cain.
They were angry. Oh, so very angry. I submit the following selections from the track list as evidence:
The Hunt – Vigilante-ism at its finest:
“No police, no summons, no courts of law | no proper procedures, no rules of war | no mitigating circumstance | no lawyer’s fees no second chance”
“We can spend our whole life waiting for some thunderbolt to come | Or we can spend our whole life waiting for some justice to be done | Unless we make our own”
Lights Go Out – The worker’s lament:
“I went to my father, said please make me king… | He said son, well you gotta do your time | I’ve done 53 years and I haven’t yet done mine | You’re just one of the millions waiting in line”
“Though we asked for the money, and money they gave | God how that made us easy to enslave | So today at the office, we picked up the check | A chain of gold, a stab in the back | The old men went home, silent and bowed | And the young men went drinking, drowning it out”
51st State – Great Britain’s anti-american anthem:
“Yeah tip your hat to the Yankee conquerors | We’ve got no reds under the bed | We’ve guns under our pillows”
“Here in the land of opportunities, hah | Oh watch us revel in our liberty | Well you can say what you like, but it doesn’t change anything | Cause the corridors of power, they’re an ocean away”
All of This – Western foreign policy rant:
“Frustrated and impatient and intelligent sharp and twisted like a child | Death is an aphrodisiac now | There’s fuses on the table slowly wired”
“Soldiers out at the discoteque pick up a girl and drink to home afar | Spending money like water on the watered drinks available at the bar | The ones who never were given much never asked much of anything in recall | But there’s a black bag in the corner and it doesn’t bel0ng to anyone here at all”
“In the name of the people, all of this done | In the name of the people”
Western Dream – i.e. the american dream, uh, is a dream, but media is gonna shove it down your throat:
“Gather round and listen and I’ll tell you how it’s done | How they managed to make idiots out of everyone | Take a human population with their hunger and their pain, and the weaknesses that cripple them again and again”
“All lies all lies all schemes all schemes | Every one of you is a loser in the western dream”
Ballad – Most depressing “we fucked up the world” song EVAR, complete with sad harmonica:
“When they look back at us and they write down their history | What will they say about our generation | We’re the ones who knew everything | Still we did nothing | Harvested everything | Planted nothing”
“Floating in comfort on waves of our apathy | Quietly gnawing away at our body | Till we mortgaged the future | Buried our children”
“Well I stand on this hill | And I watch her at night | A thousand square miles and a million orange lights | Wounded and scarred she lies silent in pain | Raped and betrayed in the cold acid rain”
“Not foolish and brave, these leaders of ours | Just stupid and petty, unworthy of power | Just a little leak here, and a small error there | Another square mile, poisoned forever”
“And the opposition, well we ain’t doing so well | Our understanding is weak here, and knowledge is small | Though the kids scrawl frustration on a backstreet wall | Well most of them can’t even spell ‘bastard'”
Ouch. Ouch ouch ouch. Sometimes, it’s hard to listen to this album.
So where am I going with this?
I listen to this album still. And I enjoy it, for the memories, and the emotion, but so many of these songs just don’t ring true for me anymore. And that makes me glad…nay, grateful. Thankful. To be perfectly honest, I really must give some of the credit to our newly elected president for laying much of those feelings to rest. Not that last year I was all RAWR I HATE MY COUNTRY, but it sure was painful to watch the things that were happening. They’re still happening, it’s true, but there’s a pervading sense of hope now.
Thank you, my country. I’ve always loved you. But as Michelle Obama said, I’m once again proud to be an American.
This is a post about cleaning house. Not like, you know, vaccuuming and mopping and dusting, although that is where it starts; more like cleaning out all the random thoughts and stuff lingering around in my head that I’ve been wanting to share. Stuff that just didn’t warrant a blog post of its own.
One of the things that sold me on my house was the wood floors throughout nearly the entire thing. They’re so easy to clean, right? I mean, with carpet, you never know what can be lurking beneath the surface of those little fibers. They remind me of cilia. Or, you know, the ocean floor. And we all know what sort of beasties can hide under there, right?
Ok ok maybe I’m exaggerating a touch. I don’t hate carpet. I quite like it in fact. But I digress. (I do that a lot, though. Oh look shiny! Anyway…)
So when I bought my house, I also bought myself a fancy shmancy vaccuum cleaner that claimed to do wonders with wood floors. I used it religiously for the first couple years. And then I quit. I don’t know what it is, but one time I just didn’t want to drag the whole thing out, deal with the cord leapfrog game, yell at my dog for attacking it, which 1. she’d been getting much better at, having figured out how to attack the switch that kept the bagless dust collector compartment attached and flipping it – I’m telling you, my dog’s a Freaking Genius, and 2. loudly, since of course the vaccuum is running, etc. I just whipped out the broom and swept. And discovered something interesting: sweeping is kinda cathartic. I find that my floors feel cleaner, since I know the broom didn’t spray crap out the back vent. I also start thinking about stuff while I sweep. Anyway. I swept my floors tonight, and starting thinking of all those little things I’d like to mention, such as…
What? It’s a new year?
Whoa, where did the year go? It’s been a year of lessons for me, emotional ones. A lot of growth, which is never bad. I may go into more detail at a later date on that. And I found out I’m going to get my very own nephew, complete with a Baby Decoder Ring and Binky accessories! How awesome is that? I’ve made some career decisions that may or may not have been good for me, but that remains to be seen. My dog somehow found herself on the news, Live @ 7 with Steph Stricklen, but then she is pretty damn cute. I bought an iPhone, restarted my blog after a 2 year or so hiatus, and met oodles and gobs of cool Portland tech and blog folk. Not a bad year. I wouldn’t put it on the top 10, but certainly the top….err..30. Ok ok 20.
Happy birthday to my adorable little pup!
Yes, the jessinator turned 3 this week. Happy birthday to this fuzzy little creature, my little life saver / loyal companion / partner in crime / exercise slave driver. You are one in a million! For her birthday, I took her to our doggy daycare, Dogs Dig It, and she got to pick out a free toy of her very own when I came to get her. She picked out a duck, which she’s been carrying around ever since. Well, as much as she carries around toys. It’s not quite like a ball, I guess. But she did carry it all the way out to the car before she forgot about it, and carried it all the way into the house before depositing it on the kitchen floor. It’s love, I tell you.
I had my mad skillz affirmededed
After much convincing from @djtv, (ok really not *that* much convincing), I signed up for a class on DJ Mixing at SPUN Academy. Taught by the one and only @MrBallistic, that veritable icon of old skool DJness and a fellow Twitterer along with @djtv, the class had us on turntables the first night. At first I was all, you know, thumbs. Or well, jerky. As in not smooth, and clueless. But by the end of the class I was mixin up some killer tunes and had the pitch control nearly figured out. Mad skillz, I tell ya. Mad. Skillz. Crap. Now I need a catchy DJ name. And Nita, if you read this, for the last time NO. Suggest that one more time and no mic for you!
I enter this new year full of hope for the future, fearful of being disappointed once again, but determined to not let that stop me now, as ever. I leave you with a few words from those lovely English boys, the Chameleons, ever the thoughtful blokes:
It’s just coincidence / Well you can talk that way / But I have to say / I don’t believe in it / And with the chill of chance / I decided to dance / The days away… / But I wasn’t worried at all / Dreams are what you live for /
Here’s hoping dreams come true in spades this year.
eTown PDX, or How I Nearly Got Ejected From the Schnitz.
If you know me, you know that my personal muse is Sarah McLachlan. I regularly abase myself at her feet and quiver with inspiration and yes, lust. Figuratively speaking, of course. Oh if only… Seriously, to my knowledge I have been to her show every time she has graced our beloved P-Town in the past 6-8 years or so. I never miss a chance.
So imagine my amazement and excitement, listening to NPR in late October/early November, when I hear that she’s going to be in town at some radio show taping PRACTICALLY ON MY BIRTHDAY. omgomgomgomgomg!!!!
After I peeled myself off the ceiling (you have to understand, I haven’t seen her in quite a while, I’ve been overdue!) I looked into the details. She was going to be one of the guest performers on eTown, a radio show syndicated on NPR (I wake up to NPR these days, although I’m thinking of switching back to 94.7. Gotta switch it up, right?). Whatever, I thought. eTown shmeTown. It’s Sarah, and I’m goin.
So a friend and I got tickets, and showed up at the appointed hour, for a live taping of this eTown show. Turns out it’s normally taped in Boulder, Colorado, but they occasionally go on the road and do live tapings in other cities. Their mission statement is as follows: “etown’s mission is to educate, entertain and inspire a diverse audience, through music and conversation, to create a socially responsible and environmentally sustainable world.” Ok, cool. Nifty. Very Portlandy, in fact.
I had no idea just how Portlandy. Apparently they give out an award called an e-chievement award during each show. Listeners from all over the country send in tales of individuals making a difference in their communites, and from these inspirational people they select one each show to win this award. At this particular taping, they invited all the prior Portland winners of this national award to attend, and stand up as they were named. I swear, half the audience were winners. The hosts, Nick and Helen Forster, informed us that there are more e-cheivement award winners in the greater PDX area than ANYWHERE IN THE COUNTRY. Yeah. Portland Rocks. I knew I loved it here for a reason! The winner during that particular broadcast was Ed Kerns, who started the Lents Springwater Habitat Restoration Project. The man is wheelchair bound, and he has single-handedly organized and fostered this fabulous effort, and one which impacts not just my city, but my neighborhood, in a truly meaningful way. I love the Springwater Corrider Trail, and I bike it often during the summertime.
But back to Sarah and me nearly getting kicked from the Shnitz. I mean…hello, iPhone right? You expect me to sit in the presence of my muse, one of the elite few who musically inspire me, and not take pictures? Me, amateur photog girl? Shyeah. Not gonna happen. I gotta try. A few fruits of my labor: