Archive for February, 2010

Yer Blues

February 28, 2010

I’ve spent a lot of time at the hospital this week, visiting my uncle. He fell and cracked a rib and his face. He looks like a real tough Irishman now, black eye and all. It’s a drag to be in the hospital, not for me because I can leave, but for him. You go in for one thing and they keep you there for something else. I suppose it’s fortuitous┬áthat he fell when he did. They said he’s got a blockage in his artery which they wouldn’t have found had he not tumbled into the flower pots at the Venetian Club. He doesn’t have kids so I’ve been visiting everyday, bringing him magazines to pass the time and smoothies from Starbucks to fill his belly. Hospital food is rather bad and he can’t chew food right now. People tell me I’m so kind for looking after him, but he’s always been very kind and generous to me. I think he’s earned it. Aside from that, he’s alone. Who wants to be alone in the hospital?

Here’s a picture of Uncle Ed with Brenda Lee from a convention in Nashville in 1986:

That brings me to the 19th song of this 9th day, 172 days into the White Album project, Yer Blues. I think it’s a great song and tons of fun to play. Especially the drums. Although I don’t do the blues shuffle very well…I think you have to be born with it in your feet. I changed the key so I wouldn’t be shouting and screeching my way through the verses. I also simplified the guitar parts since I’m a whack guitar player. I’ve realized through this project that it’s easier for me to play or connect with John Lennon songs more so than Paul McCartney songs. Who knew? I’ve a newfound appreciation for John Lennon too. I mean, let’s just say, they both are/were ridiculously amazing song writers. Damn! I love this project!!! Even though it’s hard to find the time to do this, and sometimes I’d really rather sleep-in than get up and work on music while Jim is in the shower or eating cereal. I steal whatever time I can to practice and record and try to fit it in between Jim’s work schedule and visiting all the seniors in my life. I’ve been applying for jobs every week since I’ve been unemployed, but I don’t think I have time for one…!

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Birthday

February 19, 2010

February is a big month for birthdays on my calendar – the first one being mine, of course. The all glamazon rock band (The Sirens) that I played in for 5+ years is playing a show (I’m not allowed to call it a re-union) in March for someone’s birthday. Apparently the birthday boy is a fan, and we being five kindly genies that like to dress up like drag queens, have granted him his birthday wish. Would that make us “queenies”? I talked the girls into playing Birthday for the set list and most of us agreed that this song is what you might call “a jam”. Which is why I’m utterly disappointed in my own rendition. It’s so lame. It started out well enough, the drums and bass, tambourines, shakers and handclaps. But the guitar and vocals just about suck. And I’m having a bad day, so listening to it makes me feel even worse. The day, like the song, started out well enough. I want to go to sleep and wake up again. Start a new day. Start a new song. I’m glad I have cats. I always feel comforted by their presence and I think they sense when I’m not feeling well. They lay down on my lap and somehow the weight and warmth of their soft, furry bodies makes me feel better. They’re like an electric blanket that purrs. Hmmm…that’s not a bad idea. I’m glad Jim is around too. He’s nicer to me than anyone else is and I don’t even know if I deserve that, but I’ll take it. I need it today.

Julia

February 10, 2010

Michigan finally got a big snowstorm yesterday. It was all cold and grey and exposed dead grass before that. In other words, mid-winter ugly. My Christmas tree is still laying on it’s side in the backyard driveway, ornaments and all. Now it’s covered in snow, so hopefully it won’t bug the neighbors too much. Speaking of neighbors, we have one that likes to rip out his snow blower at midnight every time it snows. I don’t know what his work schedule is, but I think most people (fortunate enough to have a job) on our street are asleep at that time and have to get up for work around 6am. I remember when I was a kid and my mom would say things like, you don’t mow the lawn at dinner time, or you don’t park your car in front of someone else’s house, and you don’t let your dog sit outside and bark for an hour. Oh, and you don’t snow blow your sidewalk at midnight. What happened to these unwritten, common neighborly courtesies? Does it have to be a law for people to be considerate?

People generally do whatever they feel like these days. I talked to a friend, a university professor, who told me that some of her students text in class. I suppose it’s the technologically updated version of passing notes in class, difference being you’re an ADULT now and you have to pay for these classes. I told her that when I recently took a course at the local community college I remember people eating their breakfast in class – their whole breakfast. It would be all spread out before them on the table, juice and coffee, yogurt parfait and egg McMuffin. Everyday. I could understand if you got up late and you had to shovel something down your gullet so you had the energy to focus in class, but, come on.

Perhaps I need more sleep. Maybe I’ve become a grumpy old person…

Julia is such a pretty song, although I think the lyrics are a bit hippie-dippie – my apologies to John Lennon. The chords are lovely and they sound better on a guitar than a piano, but I couldn’t learn how to play it on guitar in 9 days. The piano has some fluid moments and clunky ones too. I played this song about 60 times last night (I’m not exaggerating) and finally gave in to what was there. I added a bass line on the acoustic guitar because Jim said it was one part of the original that stood out to him and he wanted to hear it. To him, the song has a haunting quality and I agree. I remember playing the cassette tape player next to my bed and falling asleep to I Will and Julia when I was younger, although I never understood the lyrics until I sang them last night. At number 17, this song marks the end of side two.

I Will

February 1, 2010

February 1st is my birthday and there’s nothing better than spending your birthday eating sushi with someone you love. A little mackerel, a little vegetable tempura, some hot tea on a frigid winter afternoon. Perfect. Jim & I went ice skating in downtown Detroit last night at the Campus Martius rink. Every birthday is cold and grey so I just figured, why fight it? I might as well learn to enjoy my gloomy February birthday in some way. ┬áThe good news is that many friends and neighbors came out and braved the bone chilling weather to help celebrate. I haven’t been on skates in over ten years, but I’m proud to say that I managed not to fall, and that’s quite a feat, considering how high my center of gravity is. For as long as I can remember, Detroit has been in a depressed state of mind. Overwhelming poverty, empty buildings, wide open spaces, a dwindling population brought on by poor city services and high unemployment, all add up to a sad little city. This economic downturn has made things worse. Despite all that, I love Detroit. I don’t live there anymore. It’s too frustrating for me. I leave that to the ones with stronger constitutions and less fear. I think that the ice rink at Campus Martius is ingenious. I’m so glad it exists. If there’s one thing this city needs, it’s a little recreation. It was Sunday night and there were a lot of people there. And young kids too! Most people were unsteady on their skates, but everyone was out there, inching along, falling and getting up again. The spirit of Detroit.

This arrangement of I Will was inspired by my inability to play the guitar with any kind of skill and by what sounds like Paul singing the bass line in the original. I thought, why not just sing the whole song, make it a vocal only arrangement. That’s not to say it was easy. It’s a confusing way to put together a song. I slowed the tempo a bit too, so it’s a little longer than the original. I had to figure out the chords and try some different harmonies, record and re-record parts. Harmonizing doesn’t come naturally to me. I have to work and work at it. For this song, I think I did ok. I hope you think so too.

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