Tag Archives: inspiration

Give Yourself a Break…Election 2016

Greetings Friends,

I wanted to write you all a quick letter because I have something to say that I feel might help one or a few of you. I tend to stay away from politics. As you know it’s a very hot topic right now and it stirs passion and high emotions for a lot of us.  That being said…

Scrolling through my Facebook page today I see a lot of people who are angry, sad, confused and scared. Not everyone feels this way, certainly, and that’s okay. Everyone is entitled to their own choice. I am comforted by the words of Barack Obama as he speaks of tolerance and acceptance and unity. He is so eloquent and I will miss him come January. I hope he will continue to lead with dignity and hope.

Here is what I want to tell you. Are you paying attention?

You need to disengage for awhile.  Look away.

I spent a long time this morning pouring through Facebook reading article after article about the election. I was consumed and couldn’t think of anything else. I couldn’t even focus on the work I was supposed to be doing.

I’m not saying you can’t feel sad or angry. You sure can, but you need to take a break. Pull yourself away from the computer or the TV just for a short time. 30 minutes. Go outside, look at the sun. Watch a bird fly. Take your dog for a walk.

I decided to listen to some music. I picked a song that reminded me how much I love music and how much I love my husband. Then I got to thinking about how much I love my family. No election can take those things away from me.  While listening and writing this to you, I feel like a person again. I’m breathing.  I’m celebrating creativity and love.  My heart is full and I am grateful.

Please, take a break today.

Sending my love to all of you…pass it on.

t4gj3y9jh2x7g

Advertisements

Is This Cup Half Empty? (Dedicated to Ray North)

I’ve been struggling with a thought lately. Here’s my question: Am I living life to the fullest? What does that even mean? I hear people talk about it all the time, but who actually does it? I asked some of my friends and family what they thought.

I have a friend at work. Yeah, can you believe that? His name is Joe. He is a writer. Not only is he a genuinely nice person, but he makes me laugh every day. He’s one of those people that just makes the day better. You can give Joe the most boring topic and he will think of something clever to write about it. He self-published a children’s book, They Don’t Make Books About Uncles and he’s working on a play that I know will be successful…he’s just that kind of guy. Although I’ve only known Joe for a short time, I very much admire him and I know that he has changed my life for the better. He has inspired and encouraged me to write and create and try. That being said, I asked Joe what it means to live life to the fullest. We have the same job and it’s not always glamorous. Yes, we write and create, but there are rules and guidelines to follow and it can get monotonous and frustrating. It’s not always easy to be a creative type in the corporate world. Joe told me that it’s hard to live every moment to the fullest, but it’s what you make of the good things that happen. He said we have to fully enjoy the successes and the happy times. I happen to know that Joe’s family and friends are very important to him and he works to cultivate those relationships. Immerse yourself in the great moments and don’t worry about the small, mundane stuff. Maybe work is just what you have to do to get to the next great moment. I think Joe is on to something. He seems like a happy person to me.

Jeanne and Joe

I also discussed this topic with Steve. You all remember Steve; he’s my husband. You may remember him from such blogs as…you get it. I asked, “Steve, are you living life to the fullest?” He said, “Well, I sure am busy.” That’s not what I meant and I’m sure he knew that. Steve’s passion is music and sound. I believe that when he’s playing music or recording, he is doing what he loves most. In those moments, he is living life to the fullest. In our discussion, we talked about how it may be hard to live life to the fullest when you have to worry about bills and money. One cannot simply travel and take time out to write a novel or produce an album. How can a person be happy when he is hungry or homeless? Well, that’s an interesting thought. Is it only rich people who can really take advantage of a full life?

Jeanne and Steve

I have been listening to a book by Elizabeth Gilbert called Big Magic. In this book, Gilbert talks about living a creative life. It’s a choice one makes to pursue their creative endeavors in a responsible and mature way. She explains that creating is free. It’s for the rich and the poor. She mentions that if only the rich could create, the world would surely be a boring place. She cautions her listeners/readers to never make the artistic craft a burden. Work at it because you love it. Don’t do it to impress other people or even make a living. Do it for yourself; to make you happy. She describes a different way of thinking about being creative and talks about her path as a writer and novelist. She wrote Eat, Pray, Love for herself to work through her own life issues. It just happened to resound with millions of readers. (If you’re a creative type, I would highly recommend listening to or reading “Big Magic.”)

While I’m tossing all of these ideas around in my head, something sad happened. One of my brother’s best friends from high school, Ray North has been battling cancer for awhile. After a brave fight, Ray passed away on November 10th. My brother flew to Texas where Ray was getting treatment to be with him and to ultimately say goodbye. I hadn’t seen Ray since I was in high school. We went to the same school, but my brother and Ray graduated the year before I started. Basically, I knew Ray through Paul. Since I always thought my brother was pretty cool, I knew that Ray was cool, too. He was really cute, he could sing, he was in marching band and he had this killer smile. Oh, and he wasn’t rude to me, his friend’s stupid kid sister. Paul recently talked about when he walked into his new high school as a sophomore, he was very nervous. Ray was one of the first people to talk to Paul and made him feel welcome, including Paul in the “cool crowd.” That’s pretty powerful stuff. That’s a gift you never forget about.

At Ray’s wake and funeral I learned even more about him. He has a lovely family. A beautiful wife and four happy kids. Paul and his friend Eric, (also one of Ray’s good friends from high school,) made a slideshow about Ray. In every picture Ray’s smile shone. There were pictures of Ray goofing around with his family growing up and then enjoying happy moments with his wife and kids. I am not kidding, at Ray’s funeral, the church was packed. Not one empty seat. And it was a pretty big church. I was astounded at all of the lives Ray had touched at church, at work, through Scouting, or just within the community. Everyone in that huge room loved Ray. He wasn’t the type of guy you sorta liked. You could only love Ray. One quote from the homily stuck with me. It’s a quote from Lord Baden Powell, the founder of the Boy Scouts.

“No one can pass through life, any more than he can pass through a bit of country, without leaving tracks behind, and those tracks may often be helpful to those coming after him in finding their way.”

Every person who spoke was touched by Ray. Ray enriched the lives of others just by being himself. He created a happy life for himself and for those around him. He wasn’t rich and he wasn’t famous, but without a doubt, he lived life to the fullest.

I’m not sure what got me thinking about living life to the fullest, but God or the cosmos, or whatever you believe in, brought me an example when I needed one. So, I’ll take a dash of Joe, a pinch of Steve, a generous portion of Elizabeth Gilbert and mix it all up with Ray to fashion my own life from now on. It’s probably not something I will be good at every day, but at least I have some wise and trustworthy guides to lead the way. I wish I could tell you exactly what it means to live life to the fullest, but I’m not still not entirely sure what it means. I think it’s a different story for all of us. It’s about finding contentment and creativity inside of yourself, loving everyone as hard as you can and ultimately leaving behind a legacy of infectious joy. Also, if you have a killer smile, that could really help.

Ray

I’m Just a Singer in a Rock ‘n Roll Band

Being in a band is cool. You get backstage access, tons of drugs, free drinks and people just keep handing you money. Everyone tells you how great you are and the phone is ringing off the hook. Legions of fans come to every gig to cheer you on. They get tattoos of your band logo and wear the band’s T-shirt every day. Private jets, limos and fabulous vacations. “That ain’t working! That’s the way you do it; get your money for nothing and your chicks for free,” (Money For Nothing, Dire Straits, 1985).

Alright, back to installing microwave ovens and moving color TV’s. In reality, being in a local rock ‘n roll band is not like that at all. Maybe life is like that for The Eagles or The Rolling Stones. They’ve certainly earned it. But for the struggling musician, it ain’t so easy.

First, you have to find a group of musicians that you’d like to spend the next several years with. I’ve spent almost 8 years with the four men in my band. There has to be some sort of friendship there right from the start. Luckily for me, there was. I’ve spent countless hours with these four dudes creating a four-hour rock ‘n roll cover show. They are like a second family to me. We do every gig together, for better or for worse. All for one and all that stuff. Every member is crucial to the band and it just wouldn’t be the same without them. That being said, it’s not always sunshine and flowers. There are five different band members and that means five different opinions, five different schedules and five different personalities. Have you ever stood in front of jukebox with a friend trying to pick one song to play? It can be a full-blown argument! Try choosing 40 songs that will be performed over and over, gig after gig. I’ve picked songs to perform that no one else is interested in and vice versa. One must be careful about choosing a beloved song. Of course, our band’s version won’t sound the same as the original and hearing a song repeatedly for years can erase that loving feeling, if you get what I’m saying.

Great! You’ve got some guys and you’ve learned some songs, let’s get out there and play! Before you pack your gear in the car, there are some things you need to do first. It’s important to have fans. How do you get fans? You need to talk about your band non-stop to your family, your friends and even the nice young man bagging your groceries. You definitely need business cards, an email address and a Facebook page. Oh yeah, you also need a demo CD and a press kit. Here’s a tip: get a guy in your band that knows how to record a band, has the recording equipment and loves recording and mixing. Studio time is crazy expensive. You have to play the songs correctly, no perfectly, and then pay someone to mix it all together for you. Then, you have to pay someone to make a lot of copies. You need several paying gigs to pay for your studio time, but no one will book you without hearing your band first. That’s kind of how things work. You should probably keep your day job a bit longer. Okay, the CD is done and sounds great. Get those tunes out on Facebook, Reverb Nation and any other site you can think of. Don’t forget to write a riveting bio of your band for everyone to read. Hopefully someone in your band is a good writer. (Yeah, that’s me.) Someone also needs to pay for a website and update your social media outlets regularly. You need to keep your fans interested and engaged.

Alright, you’ve got your press kit, Facebook page and demo CD. Time to call, email and visit bars in your area. Guess what? Most bar owners and promoters don’t have time to talk to you on the phone. They may or may not return your email and they definitely don’t have time to listen to your CD, but they won’t book you without that CD. (I know, it’s really frustrating!) Maybe they’ll take a quick look at your Facebook page and see how many “Likes” you have and read what kind of band you are. The first question most bar owners/promoters ask is, “How many people can you bring?” If your band can bring 100 people, you’re in. It doesn’t matter if you sound horrible and your guitar player barely knows how to play. If your lead singer forgets all the words and just jumps around the stage spitting water on the crowd, that’s fine, as long as you bring 100 people to the bar. Yeah, that’s right, all that practicing, recording and arguing about song choices…it doesn’t matter nowadays. Many local bands talk about this problem. Bar owners want the band to be responsible for filling the bar and making the bar a ton of money. A lot of bands think that bar owners are responsible for getting people to their bar. The band is the entertainment provided for the bar patrons. I feel that if a band is talented and entertaining, people will stay, at least that’s what I hope for. Sometimes two or three bands will do a show together to get more people to come out. If you’re a cover band, you have a better chance because people will recognize your songs, sing along, have a good time and drink a lot. People have a low tolerance for original music in the suburbs. Playing original music is a whole different blog. Let’s stick to cover bands.

A bar owner has agreed to book your band, now let’s talk about payment. Let’s see…if we charge a $5 cover, the band gets $3 and the promoter gets $2. The band brought 30 people to the gig, which comes out to $150 total. That’s $90 for the band! Hooray! You loaded up your car with all of your heavy gear, set up the PA, did a sound check, performed for 3 hours, bought your own drinks, tore down everything and loaded up the car again. You take home $18! Good job! Those 30 friends you brought drank beer all night and probably spent at least $30 each on drinks. So, that’s about $900 for the bar. Yep, that’s the reality of it, my friends. My band doesn’t play bars too often anymore. It’s tough to do. It’s a ton of work on stage and off. You can be a marketing wizard and it’s still difficult to get people to see the band. Private parties and summer outdoor festivals are ideal, but those are hard to get. You have to play shows to get private parties and people who book outdoor fests need to have at least heard of you. How can they hear of you if you don’t ever play out? Well, you can offer to play benefit shows. It’s rare that we are paid for a benefit show, but it’s rare that we’re paid for a bar show. At least you’re helping to raise money for a good cause and people are appreciative of your talents. Most of the time, we even get to eat some food for free! That’s a nice perk.

Let’s talk about other bands for a moment. My band has had the opportunity to meet and perform with quite a few other local bands. You always hope that everyone will be respectful and supportive. And some people are exactly that. Our friends’ band, Convoy (http://www.facebook.com/convoyinsanity) has always been a pleasure to deal with. We’ve played several shows together. They are gracious people who have no problem sharing a stage with other talented musicians. We can share a drum kit or a bass rig with them without a problem. When they are performing, we are there to listen and support them and vice versa. For the most part, this is a rare situation. I think that we are all in this together and if we could all be nice to each other and work together maybe we could affect some real change in how things are done. One band can’t play every single gig in every single bar/venue every night. It’s not a competition. I don’t really see a reason to be rude or condescending to another band ever. Even if they suck. (No, I’m not naming names.)

So what’s the point? Why bother? Well, it’s important to realize one’s goals and share them with the band. If the goal is to make money, that band will fail. If the goal is to get famous, that takes a lot of work. You’d probably have to quit your day job and focus on playing, recording and getting gigs wherever you can. It’s a hard life, but some people are on board for that. What it really comes down to is love of music and love of performing. It takes a lot of courage to play or sing in front of a room of strangers or friends, so you really have to love what you’re doing. It is a rush to perform a song perfectly and hear applause at the end. It’s fun to watch people dance and sing along and then tell you what a great time they had, especially if it’s someone you’ve never met before. I am lucky enough to be in a band with my husband which makes performing even more special. It’s a unique experience that we are able to share together, the good times and the bad. When a gig goes well, the entire band is invigorated and the sense of togetherness is moving. It’s a special kind of love that is shared with my bandmates and I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world.

That being said, are you looking for a band for your next event? 4th of July party? Do you know someone planning a benefit? Do you know of a bar that books talented bands? Well, I’ve got the perfect band for you… http://www.facebook.com/puddinheadband and http://www.sonicbids.com/puddinhead. ;D 

10 Songs That Changed My Life

When I meet someone new I always ask them what kind of music they like. It shocks and troubles me when a person says, “I don’t know, I don’t really listen to music.” WHAT?? That two-second answer forces me to reevaluate this potential friendship. How does a person even get through their life without listening to music?? That just makes me sad. I have spent countless hours listening to music and discussing music. I suppose being a singer in a band forces one to talk about music, but so many friendships and memories have been made through music. I can’t imagine my life without it. Not even for a second.

One of my friends encouraged me to write a music blog as I’m always talking about my band or music in general. Ok, not “always”, but regularly. That got me thinking. What can I write about music? There are only a zillion topics to choose from. I decided to keep it simple and offer a list of 10 songs that have changed my life. You’d think this would be an easy task, but I must correct you there. Sure, it’s really easy to think of songs I love that are meaningful, but they may not have changed my life. Hmmm…this requires some thought. After much debate, here is my list. I hope you find it interesting and insightful. Perhaps it will encourage you to make your own list enabling you to revisit some important milestones in your life. I’d love to hear your list, too. Don’t be shy about sharing. Here goes!

These aren’t necessarily in any particular order.

1. “More Than A Feeling” by Boston. When CDs first became available, I didn’t have any. I was still marveling over the dual cassette option on my boombox. You mean I can make my own mixes and record songs off the radio? That’s so cool! My older brother Paul was a rabid music fan. I think he has listened to just about everything that’s out there at least once. Of course he had CDs. These were the early days when he only had 10 or 20. I’m sure he owns thousands of discs at this point. One of the first CDs my brother owned was the debut album from Boston. “More Than A Feeling” was track 1. I carefully placed a bookmark in my brother’s CD pile so I could put Boston back in the right place. Of course he would notice it was moved; he had a little sister. Can you hear the acoustic guitar fading in? I can. Tom Scholz wrote the song and played all of those harmonic guitars. And then Brad Delp came in with first a quiet pleasant-sounding voice to explode into those super-high notes that are nearly impossible to duplicate. My mind was blown. After spending my girlhood listening to The Muppets and Strawberry Shortcake, I finally heard real rock ‘n roll. I was never the same again. There’s a whole album after that song, too! “More Than A Feeling” taught me what rock ‘n roll sounded like. It’s an album I’ve never gotten tired of hearing and my brother never knew I frequently “borrowed” his CD. (Well, he does now.) He eventually made me a cassette copy, God bless him. I’m sure it wasn’t to be nice, but to keep me away from his stuff.

2. “Leave It” by Yes. I remember watching the world premiere of the video of this song on MTV. I thought Yes was a new 80’s band and “Owner of a Lonely Heart” was their first hit. Oh, the fun of being an ignorant kid. Being a girl who loved singing, “Leave It” was a jaw-dropping song in my book. Listen to all those harmonies! I didn’t know much about recording back then, so I assumed everyone sang the song all together at one time. One take. You practice until you get it right, right? Over the years I have tried to learn everyone’s part in case they need me to fill in. What a fun piece to learn! I listened to it over and over. “90125” is still one of my favorite albums. When I started hanging around with my husband, I told him I loved that song hoping he wouldn’t think I was a dork. He produced a surround sound version of the album with a version of “Leave It” featuring vocals only. Wow! That is one of the coolest things I’ve ever heard. This song taught me about harmonizing and that singing with a group can be a rewarding challenge. How could I not be a singer after hearing that gem?

3. “You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morissette. I know, I know…quit groaning. It’s not what you think. I know this is the 90’s anthem for girl power and the ultimate break-up song, but that’s not why it changed my life. When this song came out, I wasn’t particularly sad or depressed, but I really liked Alanis’s sound. She could sing quiet and pretty and then melodically yell some biting lyrics. That was pretty cool. Not a lot of chicks were doing that at that time. I seem to remember a lot of Shania Twain going around at that time. She has a beautiful voice, but not very rock ‘n roll. In my early 20’s I started hanging out at karaoke bars. You see, I loved to sing and wanted to try singing in front of people. Drunk people are pretty forgiving audiences. So, I decided to try, “You Oughta Know.” Why not? I had sung it in my bedroom a hundred times. Guess what? I totally rocked it out. My choir/musical theater training was doing me some good. When I finished hollering my song at a room full of strangers, they actually clapped. As I shyly walked back to my seat, people were stopping me to tell me how great I sounded. To quote Keanu Reeves, “Wo.” I loved the attention and I loved knowing that I had the power to do something great. Although I could never sing this song in front of my Mom, I did record it for my very first demo. (I changed the bad word so my Mom could listen to it.) So, Alanis Morissette in all of her anger and bitterness kindly ushered me into the spotlight. That was really nice of her.

4. “It’s Too Late” by Carole King. When I was in my 20’s a tribute to “Tapestry” was produced. Amy Grant sang “It’s Too Late” and I loved it. I loved her voice on the song and the arrangement was smooth. I don’t mean to dis the original as I enjoy that, too. I used to scour the newspapers for audition notices. This was a bit before the internet was a go-to resource. There was a local church putting on a big production. I guess they had been producing this show every year for several years. Not really knowing what it was, I went to audition. I sang, “White Christmas” for about ten people. They asked me to sing a Christmas song. I was selected to be a part of the show. I would be performing at the main attraction which was a live band. There would be a group of about 8 of us who would all perform a song. The rest of us would sing background vocals. The rest of the group already knew each other and I was the outsider. Being a church production, most of the folks were pretty nice to me. I chose “It’s Too Late” to sing for my solo song. We practiced for several weeks and then the big day arrived. This would be the first time that I would sing as myself, not as a theatrical character, with a band in front of a large group of people, including my family. After a few songs, it was my turn to perform. As I was introduced, I walked up to the microphone and looked out among the 100+ people in the room. Once I got going, it was great! What a rush! When the song was over, everyone clapped and yelled and no one threw rotten vegetables. “It’s Too Late” will always hold a very special place in my heart.

5. “Paper Airplane” by Willy Porter. This may be a song that you’ve never heard. That’s okay. I hadn’t heard the song or even heard of Willy Porter until I met my husband. The beginning of our relationship was well, interesting. It was really an uphill climb to be together, but I was willing to fight for it. Apparently he was too. In my quest to show my amorous feelings I did what any normal girl would do and made him a mix CD. Everybody does that, right? I wasn’t sure how he was going to take it, but he made me one in return. Is there anything better than receiving a mix tape/CD from someone else? Most of the songs on his first CD to me were just songs he liked and wanted to share. No real hidden meanings, although I really tried to look for them. As I was getting worried that perhaps my feelings were unreciprocated, “Paper Airplane” played. This song was written and performed by Willy Porter who, in my opinion, is a very underrated musician. His guitar playing is intricate and masterful while his sweet voice could quiet an entire auditorium. You should listen to it for yourself. It’s the live version. There’s a line in the song that goes, “People say I’ve lost my footing, they should look into your eyes.” When that song ended, I knew Steve “like liked me” and my heart swelled. Aww…

6. “Wild Sex in the Working Class” by Oingo Boingo. Oddly enough, this song reminds me of my brother. Alright, alright, before you start gagging, it’s not like that. When I was a kid I looked up to my big brother. I wanted to do what he did, like what he liked and be wherever he thought was a cool place to be. We actually lived together in our 20’s/30’s and really got to know each other as adults. It’s a time I treasure. My brother is not an emotional person, I’m the emotional one. (No kidding??!!) After many years of an estranged relationship with our Dad, he told us that he was moving to California. He did not make arrangements to say good-bye to us, so we went to see him. My Dad bought us dinner and that was it. I said good-bye and walked to the door. I let my brother have his own moment as they have always been closer. Paul came to meet me totally upset. He did not get the farewell that he had hoped for. Their parting was rather cold, actually. I have never seen my brother that upset. Ever. We got into the car and drove away and that’s when “Wild Sex” came on the radio. It’s weird how sometimes the perfect song comes on the radio precisely when you need to hear it. Paul is a huge Oingo Boingo fan, so we turned up the song, rolled the windows down and rocked out. We drove away from the past and into the future with our heads held high and smiles on our faces. It was a side of my brother I had never seen before and I feel like it was a major event in our lives that only we could understand. It was a moving moment, for sure.

7. “Sweet Emotion” by Aersomith. Ok, stay with me. I know this song seems strange, but it will make sense momentarily. I can’t really say that I like this song and I wouldn’t say I’m an Aerosmith fan. I used to be a singer in a local Chicago band called Ruckus. This was actually the first band I was in. I learned a lot with those guys and we had some great times together. I was the last singer to come in after a long line of talented men and women, so the band’s song list was pretty set. Of course they let me choose a few songs of my own. Singing with Ruckus was a wonderful opportunity that I will always be grateful for. They believed in me and made me a member of their family. That being said, I was looking for another band to work with where we would perform more modern songs. I was planning to be in two bands at the same time. I started looking at ads on craigslist to find a band looking for a singer. I came across an ad that looked interesting and set up an audition. Over the phone, I agreed on audition songs with some guy named, Karl. He didn’t sound too creepy so I decided to meet him. I drove about an hour from my house to a stranger’s house to audition. To be honest, I didn’t really care if they liked me or not, because I was already in a band. I met the guys and we got set up in the “band room.” The first song we performed together was…wait for it…”Sweet Emotion.” I was stunned and pleased at how good these guys were. After a few more songs, they offered me the job. So many little details had to come together to get me to that audition to meet my future husband. If you have time someday I’ll tell you the whole story. It’s nearly magical. (As a point of interest, that audition was recorded and I can be heard laughing and joking with Steve, my husband. Pretty cool to have that.)

8. “The Longest Time” by Billy Joel. Anyone who has known me for more than 10 minutes knows that Billy Joel is my all-time favorite musician. I have never wavered in my choice, even through New Kids on the Block, Madonna and N’Sync. When I was a little kid I suppose I knew who Billy Joel was because my Mom or Dad probably listened to him a bit. When I was about 9 years old, again I was watching MTV and saw the video for, “The Longest Time.” It was entertaining enough for a kid to watch, but the part that I loved was at the end of the video when Mark Goodman or Nina Blackwood told me that Billy Joel sang all of the parts himself. What??!! For some reason, I thought that was the coolest thing ever. I had never heard of someone recording multiple vocal tracks. I didn’t think that was allowed. I assumed that Billy Joel had figured this out himself and was creating something brand new. I had to hear everything else this man sang. My Mom was joining Columbia House, if you remember that old mail-order music service, and she allowed my brother and me to choose a cassette or two. Here was my big chance to really dig into some Billy Joel. I picked “Innocent Man” and “Cold Spring Harbor.” I loved all of it. Kinda weird for a little kid, but I didn’t know that. I own every album on cassette and CD and I probably know those songs better than Billy does. His songbook has been the accompanying soundtrack to my life. Certain songs remind me of a time in my life or a certain event. I’m sure most people feel that way about an artist. When I visited New York, I carried around “Nylon Curtain” just in case I ran into Billy. I was hoping he would sign my CD. I never ran into him. I’m not even sure what I’d say to him, as he’s probably heard it all before. I hope I get the opportunity to meet him someday. “The Longest Time” is not my favorite song by Billy Joel, but it always reminds me of how I came to love his music. I’m still impressed that he did all of the vocals. In older brother style, Paul later told me that all artists do that, so that was nothing special. Way to poop on the magic, Paul. That’s okay; I still think it’s cool.

9. “Then” by Brad Paisley. Okay, it’s gonna get mushy here, so if that sort of stuff offends you, please proceed to number 10. If you’re still with me, I thank you. I’m not a country girl in the least bit. I can appreciate the country music world is full of talented musicians and songwriters, but it’s just not a style I can get with. My husband, then boyfriend, has a much higher tolerance for country. If there’s cool guitar playing, he’ll listen. Somehow he came across a special with Brad Paisley and heard the song “Then.” I was scheduled to have major surgery a few years ago, before we were married, and I was pretty scared. In fact, it was the scariest event in my life. I wasn’t sure if Steve was worried or concerned, as he is very good at keeping his feelings in-check. The night before my surgery, Steve told me that he wanted me to hear this great song he had heard. He plays a lot of cool songs for me, so I wasn’t expecting anything like “Then.” I was pleasantly surprised to hear Braid Paisley perform the song, followed by Steve telling me that’s how he feels about me. Basically, during the song Brad talks about meeting his wife. It’s kind of a timeline of their relationship. Paisley talks about events and ends each verse with, “I thought I loved you then,” meaning that he keeps loving her more and more as the years go by. This song was the first dance at our wedding a year after that surgery. It was the only country song played all night. I asked Steve to fade out the guitar solo, so we wouldn’t be dancing so long. As a guitar player, he found that idea to be rather disgusting. Being a non-dancer, he now regrets having to awkwardly sway back and forth during that long guitar solo. (I danced around him.) In any case, I still get choked up when I hear that song and it reminds me of how much Steve loves me. It’s a song that is near and dear to my heart.

10. “Wonderwall by Oasis. This is a tricky one. Although I do really like the Oasis version, it’s really my band’s (Puddin’ Head) version that’s special to me. This one is pretty simple. When the band first started playing this song, I always sang it with Steve in mind. “There are many things that I would like to say to you, but I don’t know how,” and “Maybe you’re gonna be the one that saves me” are lines that are important to me. We eventually recorded this song and Steve and I had a great time recording it together. When we eventually got married a couple years later, I walked down the aisle to Puddin’ Head’s version of “Wonderwall.” It was a pretty cool experience to be hearing my own voice singing to me at my wedding. You can probably guess that this song changed my life, for it was the start of my wedding and married life. It’s still a song I love to sing and it’s even more special now.

Thanks for sticking with this blog. It did get rather long, didn’t it? I invite you to think about the songs that changed your life. I’ll bet you’ll remember happy and life-changing moments that will inspire you to listen to those songs again with fresh ears. I’ll bet you’ve changed and learned a lot since you first heard those songs. Are you a better person? Are you a different person? I’d like to think that I am both. Music and songs are experiences that are so individual, but universal as well. Have you ever been to a concert where the entire crowd was singing along? It’s pretty powerful. Why not get that CD Walkman out of the closet and drop in your favorite CD? Put on your headphones, close your eyes and really listen. What do you hear?