Category: music

Fiddling in the Holidays and a New Governor

I believe I’ve written before about Tomas entering into the Franklin County Fiddlers. (Just checked: yup.) For those of you who never click links and don’t know who the Fiddlers are, they’re our school’s musical pride and joy. Tomas has been going to rehearsals and performances since the beginning of the year, and there are many of them.

Over the holidays, we got to go to the best musical concert I’ve heard our school district have so far: Home for the Holidays. It was a three hour show that consisted of small groups, large groups, solos, alumni performances, and more. I was really impressed by the amount of skill and enthusiasm shown, and this is coming from a self-confessed musical snob. I was just sad I hadn’t started going earlier. If you’ve made the same mistake and live locally, you should definitely check it out next year. (And come early–that place fills up!)

The second big Fiddler performance of the holidays was last night, when they were invited to perform at the inauguration ceremony of Janet Mills, Maine’s new governor. (The first woman to be elected, and the first person from Franklin County to be elected, as well.) She lives right in Farmington (we trick or treat at her house every year), and she’s a big Fiddlers fan. The invitation was significant: only two other musical numbers were invited, and the Fiddlers were the only school group.

They streamed the performance live, and it was shown on MPBN and WCSH television (though a short aside to gripe about WCSH: they spoke over 2/3 of the performance, even going so far as to say “We know some people are mad at us for talking over the fiddle performance” and then continuing to blather on anyway. That was very frustrating and rude.) If you want to see the full video of their performance, head over here. Their spot starts at the one hour, nine minute mark. (Though the site was pretty slow to load for me, as a fair warning.)

It was fun to talk to Tomas afterward and hear how excited he was by the whole thing. A great experience for him and the other Fiddlers, and I was so happy they had the chance to go and perform. A huge shoutout to Steve Muise, their director, who does a tremendous job building that musical talent and camaraderie locally. You all were wonderful!

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If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Music Appreciation

I’m on carpool duty for early morning seminary this month, and I realized this morning what a position of power that puts me in, I’ve got three fourteen year olds in the car, trapped for a good ten minutes’ drive each morning, and all of them are way too tired to object to whatever music I decide to play.

Complete control, people.

And you better believe I’m not playing any of that newfangled music that’s been made in the last decade or so. No, for the first few times, I just had my phone play all of my music on shuffle, but I decided that was too sporadic. (Especially when I heard rumors that some in the car might think my taste in music left something to be desired . . . )

This morning, I set it to shuffle music from the 70s. We had some Yes, a bit of Jim Croce, and The Cars. (I took pity on my passengers and skipped The Carpenters, but I might reconsider that for a future trip.) Even then, I felt like it was all too sporadic. How in the world can they get proper appreciation for that music if they’re hopping around like that?

So I’ve decided to take a different approach. Each morning, it’ll be a different group. My taste is very eclectic, so one day it might be Beethoven. The next day it might be The Cure, followed by No Doubt.

I’m with these kids as their ride, every other month, for the next four years. Imagine the sort of impact I can have on their musical tastes over that time. They might not appreciate it that early each morning, but sometimes it takes someone to sit people down and really show them that friends don’t let friends just listen to . . . Taylor Swift? What are all the new kids listening to these days? (New Kids on the Block! I could do that for a day . . . )

Whatever keeps me awake and entertained as I drive each morning . . .

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve been posting my book ICHABOD in installments, as well as chapters from UTOPIA. Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Living Under a Rock

I came across this list of the top 100 one hit wonders the other day, and so of course I had to go through it to see how many of them I recognized. (Seriously. I’ve got a problem with lists. I see one, and it’s like I have to stop and see how I rate. If I were ever in an action movie, that would be my secret weakness. “This bomb needs to be defused right this second!” “I know, but there’s this list here of the top 50 most intense bomb-defusing scenes, and I need to know how many of them I’ve watched . . .”)

One hit wonders are sort of supposed to be ubiquitous, in my understanding. They’re just omni-present. You can’t avoid being exposed to them, almost. So I was surprised that there were seven songs on that list that I just kind of stared at blankly, wondering if they were on there as some kind of joke. So that you can laugh at my pop culture music blind spots, here they are:

  • Kiss the Rain
  • Return of the Mack
  • Mexican Radio
  • In a Big Country
  • I’d Love to Change the World
  • Joey
  • Under the Milky Way

I mean, does *anyone* recognize those songs? I’m half-convinced they were put on there just to check if people actually read through the whole list. I’m also kind of happy I haven’t heard some of them. They seemed annoying, which in turn makes me wonder how many of the songs on there I know and like would actually seem annoying if I’d never heard them before.

And the list made me think of another question: Which would you prefer, if you could choose? To have one work of art that became fairly ubiquitous and famous, but to have nothing else that ever really became known at all, or to have years of middle-of-the-road success, with works that are well received but never make any best seller lists or bring you the sort of fame where people line up for your autograph? For the purposes of the hypothetical, let’s assume both avenues end up making you the same amount of money, so it’s not like cash can enter into it.

My first instinct is that the fame would win out, because you’d have to think in today’s world you’d be able to leverage that for further success. But we know from the premise that isn’t the case. The one hit wonder remained just that. So in that case, I think I’d prefer just steady, solid success as opposed to one brief burst of glory. I would think having had the taste once, it would make everything else feel kind of hollow.

What would you go for? And how many of those songs have you never heard before?

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve been posting my book ICHABOD in installments, as well as chapters from UTOPIA. Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

In Search of a Good Used Violin

Thought I’d throw this out there to the interwebs. TRC is loving violin and still really into it, but the kid just keeps on growing. So we need to buy him a full-sized violin at last. There are some places I’ve gone to online to get one in the past (Shar Music is one), and that’s worked fine, but I thought one of you lovely people out there might have a full size kicking around that you aren’t using anymore. Or perhaps you know of someone who’s in that situation.

I’m not looking for a handout. Happy to pay for it. I just thought that it would make more sense to buy a used one than a new one. That said, we’d need a case for it as well. (Though do any instruments come without a case? How would you store the thing without one?)

I’ve blogged before about never really imagining being the father of a string musician. Woodwinds all the way, baby! But in the end, I’m just really happy TRC has so much fun playing the violin. It doesn’t take too much arm twisting to get him to practice some every day, and he’s to the point where he likes listening to violin music, and can appreciate the hard work and effort it took for those musicians to get where they are.

Anyway. I’m not on the hunt for anything too extravagant. If he ends up sticking with violin for life, he can buy that Stradivarius on his own dime. Just a solid workhorse instrument that he’ll be able to use and depend on for years to come. If any of you have a violin or know of someone who does, or know of a good place to buy a decent used one, pipe up!

Thanks in advance.

Earworm of the Week: Somebody, by Depeche Mode

Last week, Denisa and I took the kids down to Portland and places in between to run a few errands. As we were driving, I had my iPod on, shuffling through my music, when I came across a strange song I didn’t remember putting on there. It started out with what sounded like a heartbeat and some odd ambient noise. Typically, I’d just hit Next and go on to something more immediately rewarding, but I wondered what the song was. My guess was that it was Halloween sound effects I loaded on about 10 years ago, and I wanted to know if my guess was right or not, so I let it play.

Then singing started, and I was disappointed to discover I had been wrong. I hit Next without thinking, and then paused as the beginning of the actual singing caught up with my brain. I knew that song, didn’t I? (It’s a sign of how much music I have when I can put favorite songs on my iPod and then forget they were favorites in the first place.) I hit back to listen again and asked Denisa to read off what song it was.

“Somebody,” by Depeche Mode

It’s been stuck in my head since Friday, playing pretty much non-stop. I don’t particularly mind in this case. It’s a nice song, and I did some research into it to find out more about it–that it was written by the singer, for one thing (I’m always a bigger fan of a song if I know the performer wrote it as well as performed it), and it’s a really interesting contrast between saccharine and sarcasm.

You’ve got this very nice vocal/piano track from a group where I’m much more used to hearing synthesizers and drumbeats. The sentiment is all lovely, but then at the end it adds “Though things like this make me sick, in a case like this, I’ll get away with it.” That just confusing enough to make you wonder if he was serious or not the whole time, and to me it’s thrown in there to give the group an out. To let them have a sincere song that’s full of longing and hope for what they want in a relationship, but to be able to maintain there image of a new wave pop band. In many ways, it reminds me of Extreme’s More than Words:

Really, “Somebody” expresses a lot of what I was looking for out of a relationship, both when I first heard it back in the day and now when I heard it again. The modern day Bryce felt very connected to the 80s/90s Bryce for a moment. Interesting how a thing like a song can do that so quickly and so easily. No need for anything messy like time travel–songs can work so much better. Here are the rest of the lyrics, in case you’re curious:

I want somebody to share
Share the rest of my life
Share my innermost thoughts
Know my intimate details
Someone who’ll stand by my side
And give me support
And in return
She’ll get my support
She will listen to me
When I want to speak
About the world we live in
And life in general
Though my views may be wrong
They may even be perverted
She will hear me out
And won’t easily be converted
To my way of thinking
In fact she’ll often disagree
But at the end of it all
She will understand me

I want somebody who cares
For me passionately
With every thought and with every breath
Someone who’ll help me see things
In a different light
All the things I detest
I will almost like
I don’t want to be tied
To anyone’s strings
I’m carefully trying to steer clear
Of those things
But when I’m asleep
I want somebody
Who will put their arms around me
And kiss me tenderly
Though things like this
Make me sick
In a case like this
I’ll get away with it

And that’s your bit of sappy 80s nostalgia for today. Enjoy.

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