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Archive for October, 2011

I’m a late comer to the Nada Surf party. They’ve been around since 1992, but I didn’t learn about them until I moved back to Little Rock in 2006. My brother gave me a copy of “Let Go,” which they released in 2003 while I was busy raising babies. I think I listened to it non-stop for four weeks straight.

Full disclaimer: anything on my iPod that is not folk, disco, pop, show tunes or from the 80s probably came from my brother. He’s always had much better taste in music. He’s played guitar since junior high. He went on mini-tours with his punk band “5-0” in high school and again with his band “Il Libertina” in the mid-90s. He’s a legend in the local music scene. I’m the big sister/groupie who comes to all the shows and knows all the musicians because they’re his friends. Yeah, I’m cool like that.

I like the simplicity of Nada Surf’s music, and I love the lyrics. Being an editor, words are important to me. Nada Surf’s songs don’t always make perfect sense (“it’s a lullaby from Wonder Woman’s radio” … wha?), but the way they string words together and turn a phrase, well, it’s just good stuff.

All the songs on “Let Go” move me, but my favorite is “Killian’s Red,” a haunting booze filled love song with a heavy bass line. It’s one of those songs that I feel in my gut:

 I almost believed I was dead,

There’ll be no more waiting.

You’re gonna melt all the ice in my head.

There’ll be no more crying.

You’re gonna make it all better instead.

Does music affect you that way – where you hear a song and it makes your heart hurt? If so, what songs make that list? I’d love to know

I’m going to cheat a little here, but it’s my blog so it’s my rules. Instead of “Blonde on Blonde,” I give you “Killian’s Red.” Enjoy.

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It’s only day two and I’m already presented with a conundrum: My life is full of Widespread Panic stories, so which one to tell here? I suppose I should go back to the beginning.

“Driving Song” is off the “Space Wrangler” album, which contributed heavily to the soundtrack of my freshman year at Rhodes College in Memphis. Rhodes was, and still is, a highly academic school. But the 1989/1990 school year occurred before the dawn of the campus-wide alcohol policy. We took our studies seriously, but we took our partying pretty seriously too. There were no rules against open containers anywhere and keg parties in dorm hallways. Music flowed from open windows and doors all day, every day. Students spread blankets in the quad by the amphitheatre and played bongos and drank beer after class (or before, it depended on your level of rebellion). Quite honestly, I’m thankful most of us made it through that year unscathed.

The majority of the freshman girls lived in Williford Hall, a three-story dorm packed with female angst and drama.  The 2nd floor social room became the preferred hangout for my group of friends. There, we played cards, sang loudly, danced, drank and gathered en masse to watch “The New Twilight Zone.” There were always two or three of us in there at any given time, and on the weekends, it could get pretty packed.

This was actually taken our senior year, but most of these faces graced the 2nd floor Williford Social Room freshman year. I’m in the back left corner with the long brown hair and sleeveless shirt.

Our other favorite activity was to take beer, blankets, Frisbees and a boom box to Channel 3 Drive down by the river. Those times were full of loud laughter and great tunes. We had not a care in the world beyond finishing an assignment, catching the eye of our latest crush, or what was for dinner that night at The Rat (the nickname for the school cafeteria).

Near the end of freshman year, Widespread Panic played a show at The Antenna Club, a small but famous dive near campus in midtown Memphis. I went with some friends, but sadly, I only remember snippets of it thanks to the rather large 40 oz beers sold at the bar and the passage of time. I do remember they played “Coconuts,” which made us very happy, and a great cover of The Dead’s “Women Are Smarter.” We danced with wild abandon.

To this day, when I hear a song off “Space Wrangler,” I can close my eyes and see my friends laughing by the river. I can feel the sun on my face and the breeze on my skin. For a few simple minutes, I can release every stress and worry I’m carrying and recapture the carefree feeling of 1989 all over again.

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Wicked by Geoffrey Maguire is one of my favorite books. If you’ve never read it, you should know it’s really nothing like the Broadway musical. It’s complex, with lots to say about truth, social class and race. It’s a great story, and I re-read it every so often hoping to glean a little more every time.

I first saw the musical Wicked in January 2009 when my mother took me to London. We were only there for three days, and we packed in everything we could. We saw a matinee and were instantly in love with the music, the costumes and the set. It was phenomenal. The only thing that would have made it better would have been to see Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel playing the parts of Galinda and Elphaba.

When I returned from my whirlwind trip, I downloaded the original score and watched You Tube videos of Kristin and Idina over and over. I found the Glee version where Rachel and Kurt do a “diva off” of “Defying Gravity.” In short, I was – and still am – wickedly obsessed with the show.

Of course, Mom and I saw it when it came to Little Rock. We took Emily with us. When Elphaba took flight on her broom during Defying Gravity at the end of the first act, I got goose bumps and tears in my eyes (happens every time!). I looked over at Emily, and she was wide-eyed and open-mouthed. She turned to me and smiled and bounced up and down in her seat. She, too, was hooked.

I love that music spans the generations. I love that a good show tune can lift my spirits. And I love that there is an entire song built around the words “unadulterated loathing.” ‘Cause good vocabulary can take you far in life.

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When I re-launched my blog, I was committed. I was fired up! I was ready to post witty, reflective essays at least two or three times a week.

Clearly, that did not work well for me.

So, I’m going to start stealing good ideas and prompts instead of coming up with them on my own. My good friend Katie McManners is entering week three of “30 Days of Shoes and Stories,” in which she takes a photo of the shoes she’s wearing and shares a story around them. It’s taken her in some interesting directions, and I have loved being along for the ride.

Starting tomorrow, I’ll be spending 30 Days on Shuffle. Each morning, I’ll hit shuffle on my bright pink iPod Nano and share the song and a story with you. I’m sure this has been done before, but I’m looking forward to where it takes me. Hope you’ll join me for the musical journey!

Ready to rock out with the pink iPod?

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