Posts from the music Category

There are few memories in my life that aren’t accompanied by a musical soundtrack. I figure I’ve been surrounded by music since I was born. My dad loved playing records in the morning…Elton John, Doobie Brothers, The Eagles, Foreigner, Journey, Kenny Loggins… My mom loved playing records for us all day long, first on a special fisher price plastic record player, and then on our very own special real player for big girls that played Disney songs on big girl records.


The best christmas present in the history of christmas presents came when I was in elementary school: a radio that attached to my bike handlebars! Now I very literally listened to music every second of the day (except when I was in school, damn them!). There isn’t anything better than biking down the street, hands off the handlebars, listening to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. When I got back home I used a walkman prototype to play tapes, and then at night my older sister and I would turn the radio on low and take turns lip synching songs by Rick Springfield, J. Geils Band, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Steve Perry, and the Go Go’s.

By the time High School rolled around my musical tastes shifted into bands that made my parents and church people uncomfortable. The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jane’s Addiction, Aerosmith, Guns N’ Roses…all these tapes were bought and then smuggled into my room/backpack/tape player. My high school boyfriend expanded my repetoir with every mixed tape he gave me. My favorite one? This:


Not only did I bring it with me on my student exchange trip to the south of France (a month away from him, but at least I had his music!), I held on to it for the next 20 years until uncovering it in a long forgotten box tucked away in my basement. I immediately put it in a tape player and turned 16 again for the next hour.

In a strange twist of improbable, when I got married I let go of music. My now ex and I had dissimilar musical tastes that never quite jived together. We never had “our song”. Never exchanged mixed tapes. Never sat up late into the night taking turns picking music to share and then making out to it. Never went to concerts. Never had impromptu dance parties in the kitchen. Never made special playlists for long roadtrips.

For as much as I lived and breathed music, I’m puzzled as to how easily I let it all go. I look back and call it my musical dark ages. I stopped listening to new bands. Stopped going to concerts. Stopped falling asleep to my favorite songs with earbuds in my ears at night. Stopped blaring anything other than kids songs in the car during the day. Stopped dancing around when cooking.

Is it any wonder I felt so sad?

When I ended up separated, living on my own, letting the kids go to their dads for the weekends, I was a bit lost, lonely, and depressed. I had a forced 2 days to be on my own. At first I didn’t know what to do with myself. “What do you need to make you happy?” I asked myself over and over.

The silence was deafening.

To counteract the deafening silence, I decided that alcohol…previously undrunk until that 37’th year of my life…was what I needed to make me happy. Or at least it made it easier for me to pretend I was happy until I figured it out. So I spent my nights in West Hollywood at the local cafe with a cozy bar and lots of local characters that let me cry on their shoulders. Turns out an ex mormon woman getting drunk at a bar has lots in common with awesome once closeted gay men getting drunk at a bar. The only difference was they drank fancy wine and I drank fancy martinis and other fruity mixed drinks.

Finally in dawned on me. Maybe the silence was telling me something. I used to never hear silence. I was missing something. Music. Living in West Hollywood was the perfect cure. The Troubador, Whisky A Go-Go, The Music Box, The Viper Room, The Hollywood Bowl, The Greek Theatre…so many places with such amazing live music!

Emerging from my personal dark ages felt like a huge deep exhale. And when I inhaled, it was music. It was beautiful and restorative. It filled my heart with awesome. I promised myself to never stop the music again.

I think Annie and Aretha would be proud.

by Jill Greenwood

I’ll apologize first . . . there ought to be new photos here, but there aren’t. These are from two, three summers ago, when I first figured out what the aperture setting on my D40 was and well before I realized that a lighter hand on the processing would be much better than clicking on every button in Lightroom. So, keep that in mind. Also, yesterday was the last day of school for me, so I might have been a little tipsy during the hours of 12:30 to 5:00 PM.

I’ve long been a fan of liner notes, those tidbits of information inside the album cover or on the sleeves. For you whippersnappers out there, you can find these on inserts of CDs. I love how the artists thank those around them. How they provide the lyrics. How they offer glimpses of the thoughts that went into their songs. How they gave their friends cameras to film the recording. Or how they handed over control to an outside party and turned their album into something unrecognizable to their fans. Liner notes make the album (or CD) like a little time capsule and brought the whole listening experience full circle for me.

But when MP3s and iTunes made their debut, the liner notes got lost in the shuffle. All of a sudden, I could purchase a song for 99¢ and be on my merry way and not have to suffer through the crappy “filler” tunes that artists would slap on their discs. It was like my very own Now Music only with the shit I liked. And because the liner notes were long gone, I came up with my own solution: playlist titles.

I would agonize over the titles of my playlists. I’m talking ten, fifteen minutes worth of bullshit sitting at a computer wondering if “Don’t It Make My Big Balls Blue?” would better represent my mood over “So I Think I Fucked Up the Computer” . . . I chose the second one. The first one would take a lot of explaining to my husband. I took pride in my playlist titles. And hell if I know who I was trying to impress since not a single person knew what they were called unless they were in my iTunes account.

But five months ago, when we bought our new computer, I decided that we didn’t need to bring it in and migrate over all of our information. Screw the geniuses! I can do this shit myself! Funny thing is, I could transfer all the information over, just not my carefully curated playlists. Oh, crap . . . genius, right? I can’t seem to sync my iPod with the new computer because doing so would wipe out all my playlists. And so, this summer, I am setting my anal-retentive and slightly OCD ass with the task of rebuilding playlists for no reason other than the fact that I can’t let them go.

Insanity, thy name is Jill.

Here are some of the playlist titles  . . . plus the rationale behind them, kinda like my very own liner notes:

“Bring On the Ark” . . . it rained for what seemed like 40 days and 40 nights . . . probably more like three days

“Conjunctionitis” . . . I was teaching subordinating conjunctions and their purposes for the first time, and clearly it was getting to me

“Death of Chubby” . . . I was watching My Name Is Earl, and Chubby died in that episode

“Dreading the Day” . . . the Girls were graduating from high school. Most of the songs on this list are a mix of melancholy and songs that evoke memories of my kids. I’m 99% sure that Rusted Root’s “Send Me On My Way” is on there since it was their class song

“Haven’t Made One in a While” . . . long time between playlists? Make a playlist!

“I Have to Work Tomorrow” . . . apparently I had to work the next day and thought I needed to commemorate it with some tunes

“MLK in the Rain” . . . day off from school and it was raining (duh)

“Monday Night Shootout” . . . the Girls and I were eating dinner at Boston Market and I told them to ask me whatever questions they had about sex. And they did. And they were 13. And we made a lot of people very, very uncomfortable at dinner. “Lips Like Sugar” and “No One Knows” are the first two songs on this list

“NCBW Sucks Ass” . . . book project at school got you down? Make a fucking playlist to make it all better, my love. Truly, this book projected sucked the fucking life out of me

“Olive Goes Bye-Bye” . . . I was taking Olive to Philly . . . but she’s back so maybe I ought to delete that playlist or retitle it

“Revising Sucks” . . . revising papers for the kiddos on the computer. And listening to music works wonders when I have revisions to do

“Rockin’ Around Conferences” . . . I procrastinate. A lot. Especially when it comes to getting work going.

“Summer . . . Soon” . . . this is the newest playlist on my phone, full of dance tunes

“This Is Going to Suck” . . . apparently something was going to suck, but I don’t know what it was

“Why Am I Not Grading?” . . . self-explanatory

Who knows if I’ll take the time to reassemble all my playlists before I sync this iPod with the computer. I’d like to think that I’ll take the time to do it, but I might get two playlists in and realize that it’s a real pain in my ass to even attempt it. But I know for damn sure that I’ll create a playlist for it. So make me feel a little better and let me know that I’m not alone in this compulsion to categorize my moods and moments in time with a playlist . . . got any good titles for me?

by jess (link happy) lewis

if i were to make a timeline of my life it would most definitely be set to music. in the way that a particular smell can evoke a memory for some, a song, artist and sometimes a genre can instantly transport me to another moment in my life.

my early years are riddled with the sounds of carole king and cat stevens and i can’t help but think of my mom when i hear their songs. she made a painting of joni mitchell’s ladies of the canyon  album cover that i think of every time i hear big yellow taxi. my love for the motown sound and soul music can be directly linked to road trips with my family. i remember the windows rolled down, our hair whipping around and the heat of the sun on my legs. i can practically feel the force of the wind pushing against my arm that is hanging out of the passenger side window as we speed down the highway. i can hear my mom, sister and i singing along to the cassettes and if i try really hard i can almost smell the corn as we’re zipping past the fields on either side of us.

any random top 40 hit from the eighties defines an entire season for me. the mere mention of frankie goes to hollywood or mr. mister and i recall the summers of my childhood and the those first tastes of freedom that came with pedaling my bicycle for miles upon miles seeking out friends and adventure. it’s not the smell of chlorine or hawaiian tropic tanning oil that take me back to the countless days spent at the pool. rather, it’s the memories of hearing  the crackly sound of pet shop boys, the human league and glass tiger blaring from the speakers of the pool house. i can see the teenaged girls with their deep tans and  multiple swatch watches they wore stacked on their wrists and ankles cleverly standing at the top of the concrete steps near the boys’ changing room any time i hear fine young cannibals.

it seems only right that the beatles were there to usher me into my hormonal, boy-crazy preteen years. i immersed myself in everything beatles, from music to books to movies. they were like my musical gateway drug. from the beatles it was an easy jump to any kind of music really. my tastes differed depending on my mood or what day of the week it was (things really haven’t changed in this regard). i became a teenager in the 90’s and there was so much music to be heard. violent femmes’ 1983 self-titled debut album in its entirety brings a mischievous smile to my lips as i recall sing a-longs and trading secrets in my best friend’s bedroom.  led zeppelin’s first 6 albums remind me of my first boyfriend, high school parties and just being a teenager in general. everyone had a led zeppelin phase, right? i spent hours hitting the record button on the tape deck making mix tapes that reflected all of my fickleness. all i need is a glimpse of the cover of where you been and i think of all those nights my angsty teenage self fell asleep listening to WJMU, the local college radio station (i had a crush on one of the dj’s just because of his voice and the music he played).

it would be a fair assessment to say that during my teen years the music was constantly on and often varied. i’m not sure what it says that my 30’s are turning out to be the same. maybe it’s because i consider my 20’s to have been slightly stagnant in the music department. for the most part i stuck with what i knew  and i missed out on some good music. thankfully, my musical palate keeps expanding and in a way i’ve come full circle (i still have serious love for motown/soul music and all those 80’s tunes).  the fact that  a soundtrack was and is continually weaving itself naturally through my life never ceases to delight me. i consider myself fortunate that so many of my musical memories are happy ones, with only a few bittersweet exceptions. i’m forever in awe of the way just hearing a few notes can instantly connect me to so many moments in my past. do you have this same connection with music?

join us this month and see what we have up our (album) sleeves while we talk about music. maybe do a little time traveling of your own. we would love it if you would share with us some of your own musical memories!