Category Archives: Music

Musical adventures

Not what I wanted to write about

This past weekend, I went to see David Crosby and Graham Nash perform. And I am just dying to write about the experience! But, as timing would have it, I have a work deadline that is keeping me from doing that just yet. Writing, you see, takes quite a bit more time than many people realize, especially when you want to write well—and I’d like to write something eloquent and moving about the concert if I can, as it certainly deserves that kind of attention.

So, I had intended to not write a blog post today. Fortunately, reading takes a lot less time than writing, and as I was eating my lunch—I still am, actually—I clicked through the Facebook updates and stumbled across a blog. And I just had to share it with you.

The writer’s name is Dr. Kristin Shepherd, and the blog that I stumbled across is the one she’s writing for Yoga Journal’s website: “Beginner’s Mind.” But she also has a blog on her own website, which I highly recommend checking out.

Here are a few of the tidbits that spoke to me from her latest post, Everything I Need to Know I Learn from Theatre:

1. Truth is gorgeous. Trust that your truth is enough. Stop faking anything in the hopes that it’ll make you more substantial, more interesting, more charming, more successful. It doesn’t work.

5. Joy comes from committing to your choices, not from endlessly assessing the merit of those choices with your squirrelly mind, which will never be satisfied and which doesn’t know the first thing about joy.

7. Not knowing is all right. Often preferable.

8. You’ll be an idiot to yourself and others some days. Practice instant forgiveness.

But the previous entry—Who Are You?—was the one that pushed me to share the blog with you, my friends. The message, which brought tears to my eyes and a smile to my heart, is presented in a way that is amusing and fresh and rings with a resounding truth, at least with me.

So, while this is not what I wanted to write about today, it is definitely what I feel compelled to share.

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Love, life, and non-country country music

Today’s post is prompted by my friend—I’ll call her S—who “isn’t a fan of country music” but is generous enough to take her sister to an upcoming Keith Urban concert. Mind you, this is after she saw him on TV. Emphasis on the “saw” (not “heard”). That had to be a difficult purchase to make. 🙂

I thought this video would be a great example for her of Keith’s infectious smile and non-country style when he performs live. (Actually, things get much hotter at his concerts, screaming guitars and all, as I had the pleasure of witnessing back in 2009: evidence below.) Plus, the video’s quite artistic in several ways, which I’m hoping artsy S will appreciate. But if not, she gets to look at Keith, so I’m sure there will be no complaining.

I hope this upbeat song and video can bring a smile to your day too.

Keith Urban’s “Once in a Lifetime” on YouTube

A couple of musings about the lyrics: Do I think love—the romantic love this song talks about—comes along only once in a lifetime? Absolutely not. But perhaps it comes only one time when we’re actually ready for it to be a healthy, long-term experience. I don’t know; it’s just a thought.

What I do believe wholeheartedly is that the opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is fear (and hate stems from fear). When you’re full of love, you are your best self; you feel expansive; you are generous and compassionate. When you’re full of fear, you contract into yourself; you are unable to live up to your potential or make true connections with others. Over the last few years, I have heard a number of very different people—including Jon Bon Jovi and k.d. lang at their concerts—talk about decision-making, about evaluating choices as to whether they are based in love or fear.  I believe you can never feel bad about a decision based in love. Just imagine what could happen if everyone made every decision acting out of love.

As Keith’s song says, “The best is yet to come… Don’t fear it now…. It’s a leap of faith.” Have faith and go for it! Life is what you make of it. Make it fabulous.

Keith Urban concert photo
Seventh row at the Keith Urban concert! (August 2009)

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Thank you, NPR

Who knew? Not me, until recently. But luckily, I have friends in the know.

On its website, NPR shares great videos of musical artists, videos you won’t see on MTV. Well, I can’t swear to that, since I haven’t watched MTV since probably the ’90s (whenever “reality shows” and other non-artistic time-wasters started getting more airtime than music videos). But I’m betting MTV won’t air Adele calmly sitting in NPR’s office and belting out three of her songs. This is a “Tiny Desk Concert” you didn’t want to miss. (Unfortunately, unless I was just experiencing a temporary technical snafu, it appears Adele’s video is no longer up for you to watch. But you can still hear the audio: click on the “Audio Only” link above the video screen.) You can, however, still see the Tiny Desk Concert from Iron & Wine.

And if you were one of the many people watching the Grammys saying “Who in the world is Esperanza Spalding?” you can listen to this 2009 Piano Jazz session with her. There’s interesting stuff about how she got started, and even better, you get to hear her play and sing.

The website also has a fantastic feature called “First Listen,” where new albums are available for listening, in full, for free, before they are released. I’m currently listening to the new Alison Krauss & Union Station album, Paper Airplane. Yesterday, I was listening to the new Paul Simon release, So Beautiful or So What. What is not to love about this?! (Both albums are great, by the way.)

So, if you’re a lover of music, check out NPR’s music website. You’ll be glad you did. And as I haven’t had time to explore the site fully, if you discover any site features that you love, please let us all know by commenting on this post. Thanks!

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Contagious joy

If you haven’t already seen Matt dancing around the world, check this out. And if you have already witnessed it, what the heck, take a few minutes and watch it again.

The video: Where the hell is Matt? (2008), on YouTube

Watch the whole thing. Even though it’s all of four and a half minutes, it does build in intensity and emotional impact. And it will definitely change your day for the better.

The music: “Praan” by Garry Schyman

If you’re anything like me, you’ll feel compelled to have this song available to play whenever you need a boost of peace and joy, so I’ve provided a link to it on Amazon. (You can also get the song through iTunes.)

So now that you’ve just proven to yourself that joy is contagious, go out and spread some!

P.S. If you’re curious about Matt and how he ended up in all these places, check  out his website.

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Starting over

In a post earlier this week, I mentioned the idea of starting over. Nature does it every year, when springtime bursts with new growth, replacing a tired-looking world with one of exuberance and promise.

But it can be easy to forget that starting over is possible for us as individuals, especially during the cold down-cycle of winter. That winter may be the actual one of the physical world, or it may be a metaphorical one. Maybe it’s a divorce or the loss of a job. Or perhaps it’s just the rut of doing the same thing day after day and not finding any joy in it. We all have periods in our lives when we feel we’re in some kind of holding pattern and periods when we feel we’re caught in a cyclone.

During those times, it’s natural to think it’s all beyond our control. In many ways, it is. But here’s the thing: we aren’t supposed to control everything around us.  And thinking that we should be able to only stresses us out (because we usually fail). What we can control is our thoughts, our perceptions about what is happening.

Sometime over the last few years, I read something that stuck with me. It was that everything we do is a choice. We are never forced to do anything; there is always an alternative. For example, do you really “have” to get up and go to work? No, you could stay in bed.  But then you could lose your job, your house, etc. So instead of thinking you “have” to go to work, you may want to think about it as you “get” to go to work. You “get” to be a good provider for your family. And just like that—it’s a privilege, not a sentence. Simply changing that one word in your thoughts can make a significant difference in your mood and subsequently the mood of those around you. And changing moods and attitudes can, and I believe usually does, change the course of what happens.

The options we’re offered may not always be the ones we’d like, but there are always options. So we make a choice. And then—and I think this is critical—we need to take ownership of that choice and its consequences. We can’t blame anyone else for what happens to us when we are the ones who made the choices that led us there. That can seem like a lot of pressure, I know. But the saving grace is knowing that life continuously changes; we will always be making another choice and then another and another. So we’re never stuck … unless we think we are.

We won’t always know the right choices to make or the right roads to take, but that’s kind of the point, I think. Life is a journey, not a race.  There is no prize for getting to a certain destination earlier than anyone else. And, as illustrated in a movie I enjoyed recently (“The Switch” with Jason Bateman and Jennifer Aniston), reality is usually messy.  The important thing is to make another choice, to continue the journey, being as honest as possible. Maybe when you feel lost from time to time, you’ll want to sit in the middle of the road and cry. That’s fine. Just remember to get back up and keep going. Don’t feel bad about not knowing what you’re doing; we all feel that way. It’s all a lovely mess, just the way it should be. And every day, every moment even, is an opportunity to make another choice and start on a new path.

This beautiful song talks about the influence of our thoughts and our ability to always start over. Listen to the words carefully. I find it a good reminder, and I hope you enjoy it too.

Start All Over Again, by Dave Koz and Dana Glover

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No regrets

God bless my friends.

Obviously there are many benefits to having good friends, something I’m learning more and more as I grow older. But one of the many benefits, in my mind at least, is discovering new music through those friends. And being a person of eclectic musical taste, I’m grateful to say that I have a friend base with a wide range of musical preferences.

Just the other day, a friend shared a YouTube video of a band I had never heard of: 30 Seconds to Mars. I was so excited to see the lead singer was Jared Leto, whom I had previously known only as a wonderful actor (with AMAZING, AMAZING, AMAZING eyes). Did you get that?  There’s an example of beauty for you. Anyway, I digress…

The song featured in the video? “Closer to the Edge.”  The energy of this song is amazing. The video pans concert arenas around the globe as 30 Seconds to Mars takes and owns the stage, complete with Jared sporting a fuschia-tipped mohawk and crowd-surfing. I don’t think it’s possible to keep from pumping your fists along with the audience members as they scream “No! No!” This is definitely the song to put on when you need a jolt of energy.

But in the midst of the song’s in-your-face no-apologies attitude, the video includes moments of extreme sensitivity. Kids offer touching, sometimes heartbreaking, statements about the fleeting nature of life, what they wish for the planet (but don’t believe is possible), and what music means to them. One echoes my philosophy exactly:  “My philosophy in life is don’t regret anything you do because, in the end, it makes you who you are.”

No regrets, only learning experiences. The key is to actually learn from them.

Closer to the Edge, by 30 Seconds to Mars (on YouTube)

Warning: Watching this video may cause crazy dancing.

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