Life – Music and Approaches

Music and Life –

I woke up this morning really pumped.  Though sleepy, I was happy to be able to open my eyes and start a new day.  It’s also great to wake up next to a person you like and love.   We got through the morning “launch”, even dancing through a couple of songs on the radio, and still hit the departure time.  There are a couple of songs that played during this time.

The first one, I like has a simple, repeating,  adhesive melody, but  with oddly dark and menacing words. It is eminently danceable and you can play sensually with the rhythm and each other. It’s fun when you play when you’re dancing and your partner responds even more playfully ( I hope it plays again tomorrow).

“Pumped Up Kicks”  by Foster the People (audio).


The second song is a lively, rhythmic , Jamaican Love Song with light, fun lyrics and it fun and makes me want to dance. Find someone you like and dance it with them. The video is also entertaining:

“Say Hey ( I Love You)” by Michael Franti (audio)

Say Hey – I Love You by Michael Franti – Official Video

The third song was “Some Nights” by Fun.  The energy and strong rhythm of the chorus makes me feel joyful and makes me move. The lyrics are weak and mostly about not knowing what he stands for. It could have been a better marriage if the lyrics were about what he does stand for. But, the music carries the day. The audio version and the  written lyrics, to me, are unrelated to the Civil War theme of the video e.g. “jack my style” and finding a distracting  female “martyr in my bed”, “worried that you’ll forget me again” and “I wake up… and see your ghost…”, “..die in the desert sun…I called you up and we both agreed” don’t  clearly connect for me to a (Civil) war story. Regardless, the rhythm and energy are very danceable.

” Some Nights” by Fun  (Nate Ruess)


Another lively song also has Jamaican musical roots – “I’m on Top of the World” by Imagine Dragons.


Once, I hadn’t gone out with anyone for a long time. Dancing ,which I enjoy, was my socializing, but it ended with the music. I then met someone with potential, and this song came to mind. The music is is fun, but the lyrics are what carry it.  It shows, after a long winter of solitude, the budding feeling at the beginning of a romantic relationship and the combination of uncertainty and the promising chemistry, and the feeling of happiness at the meeting and the pleasant experience of discovery.

Billy Joel – Longest Time


In affairs of the heart, sometimes one can’t “convince” a woman to change her mind. It reminds me of a passage from Bill Joel’s “She’s Always a Woman”

and she never gives out
And she never gives in,
she just changes her mind

Ultimately, she’s the only one who can change her mind. Hopefully, you can give her information she didn’t know and tell her what you’re feeling, what you wanted to happen and why you wanted it to happen, and, if she’s willing to listen, then maybe…

There’s another passage where he sings:

And she’ll promise you more than the garden of Eden
Then she’ll carelessly cut you and laugh while you’re bleeding
But she’ll bring out the best and the worst you can be

From your point of view, she might be wonderful, but she may cut you and laugh if she’s paying attention, or ignore if she she’s not. (Someone once said the opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference- I know that’s true). In all cases, she can inspire you or she can crush you. While this can be uplifting or devastating, you have the ability to uplift her or drain the joy out of her, too.

Here’s the song: Billy Joel – Always a Woman.


I’m a guy. I tend to be quiet, reflective. I see things and do pay attention, but I try not to form an immediate judgement – I think life is a lot like that Indian story where the Chief tells a visitor that his son found and captured a beautiful white stallion and brought it home to train and ride. The visitor responded ” How wonderful that he was to capture such a fine horse”. The Chief responded “Not really. While he was training the horse, it threw him off and he broke his leg.”. The visitor answered” That’s terrible”.  The Chief responded “Not really. Shortly after that, my son had to stay behind when the young braves went out on a war party, and many of them were killed”… and the discussion continued like that.

So, as a quiet, romantic male, I heard this song when a fellow worker got married. She was a blithe spirit and he was good ol’ boy and I didn’t know if he would allow her to fly enough to keep her spirit alive. The song is a wish that people can communicate non-verbally and be able to trust in and count on that communication. Words can clarify, but they may ultimately have the same dependability as non-verbal “feeling”. (On reflection, the non-verbal might be more reliable, especially if you are the more discerning type who pays more attention to what people do than to what they say.) So, here is the song:

Alison Krauss – When You Say Nothing at All.


Another marvelous and uplifting Country song talks about the challenges of life and the daily choices that we make regarding them that shape what we do as well as the joy and quality of our lives. Some great lyrics.

I Hope You Dance – Lee Ann Womack


Another good story told in a country song, is about a bar owner, who doesn’t have anyone in his life, and is cleaning up by himself at the end of the night. A woman comes trying to find her purse that she thinks she might have left in the bar. I liked how the story evolves and how they surprise each other.

We  Danced  – Brad Paisley


In a change of pace, in a movie featuring Richard Gere (I believe), there was a tune that played in the background of one scene in his apartment that was ethereal. I was able to track it down (pre Shazam – what a wonderful application! Its developer should be sainted along with the inventors of air conditioning, the snow blower, and General Zou’s chef) and found it was written by a French composer, Leo Delibes over 130 years ago. It is a duet between a coloratura soprano (the highest range female singer) and a mezzo-soprano  (next highest female singer).  This music is one of my absolute favorites.

Duet of the Flowers – Delibes


I went to a good concert in Chicago where the headliner was Robin Thick singing “Blurred Lines”.  He sang the song well, but disappointed me because he skipped part of his act, confusing his band who didn’t understand that he wanted to just get it over with. His disinterest in being there was obvious to us in the crowd. The last performer was a young woman who’s first songs were very loud and punk-rocky and we bailed to beat the traffic. What I didn’t realize was that she sang a song that I really like and I would have enjoyed hearing it that night. It’s a lively song about how “after all this time”, and things that has passed, she’s telling her boyfriend “she’s still into him”.

Paramore – Still Into You


Blake Shelton’s   “My eyes”
I wasn’t a fan of country for much of my life, but I ended up working in a place where that style was popular, so, I got exposed to it and learned that it has some of the best lyrics of any genre.
My Eyes recently came out sung by Blake Shelton, written by Dorff, Osborne and James (sounds like a law firm), and has a clever line that goes:

Come a little closer, Come a little closer,
Girl the way you look tonight,
My eyes are the only thing I don't wanna take off of you

My Eyes by Blake Shelton

I hope you enjoy some of these songs. Let me know what songs you think are fun or uplifting and improve life.



Life – A Small Miracle Involving A Cello

A Cello

This weekend I was coming back from running an errand and stopped at a pawn shop that I was told was good for finding inexpensive tools.  The main door is offset to the right side of the building. The area you enter into, surprisingly, is dedicated to musical instruments. I like and play the guitar so my eyes went to the collection on the facing wall. I looked around and saw an unusual short necked banjo with four pair of double strings hung next to several mandolins.  Turns out it is called a “manjo” since it is a combination of mandolin and banjo. My father loved to play his mandolin, so this section brought back fond memories of him.

The thing that most surprised me were two cellos hanging on the wall of the entry door.  I asked Erin, the employee who greeted me, about them since I thought it so unusual to see a cello (much less two). My interest prompted him to pull one down and he grabbed a bow. He said he was just learning to play it and shyly started playing a most beautiful piece. It was technically simple, but the deeply resonant tones and the harmonic combinations that he produced were hypnotic. I had never heard a cello up close, and its sound was so strong and vibrant that I appreciated the true  beauty of this instrument for the first time. Erin grew self conscious about his imperfect playing and  put down the bow and started to pluck the strings falling back on his guitar picking skills, Fortunately, I was able to coax him to continue with the bow and I devoured  the music as he played. He finally came to the end of his knowledge of the piece and stopped his solo concert. I was so impressed by the hauntingly beautiful sound of the instrument that I seriously considered buying one. The style of the piece reminded me of Bach’s intricate, woven structure. So, when I got home, I googled Bach and Cello and, searching the results, guessed that it was his cello Concert No. 1 in G Major, and it, indeed, turned out to be the song that Erin was playing.

Tonight, I thought about the odds of walking into a pawn shop in a small town in Florida, and finding cellos there, and then encountering a musician who was learning to play the cello, and who had heard a piece that he really liked, and who was learning to play it, and who loved it enough that he was willing to play it to a total stranger even though his technique and knowledge were very preliminary, and who, also, in spite of his elementary knowledge, was able to convey the beauty of the piece. The odds of all those things coming together was so remote, that I should never have heard the piece, But they did all come together, and it was a transformational. I fell in love with the uniquely full and resonant sound of the cello. I was so grateful for this small  miracle life gave me, and for Erin’s willingness to share his love.

Here’s a link to the piece. It is well played, but it is much better heard – and felt  in your ears and body – in the presence of the instrument and player (the recording takes about 10 seconds for the piece to start, so hang in there).

Bach Concert No. 1 for Cello by Mischa Maisk (audio)


There is a more contemporary take on this piece by the “Piano Guys”. You might like this lighter version expanded from solo cello to eight cellos all played by just one person with talent, technology and patience:

The Cello Song – by the Piano Guys (audio)




A Cellist

Speaking of cellos,  I remember reading about a famous cellist – Pablo Casals. who was reputed to be among the best cellists ever. Born in Spain to a Catalan father and Puerto Rican mother. he was playing violin solos  by six.  At the age of 11 he heard the cello played for the first time, and was so fascinated by it that he dedicated himself to the instrument. Two years later, he found a tattered copy of the same Bach’s Cello Concertos that Erin likes in a sheet music store. He practiced them every day for 13 years before he performed them in public (I’m glad Eric wasn’t fettered by wanting to be perfect).

The image I remember from this article was of this very old, stooped, slow moving man accompanied by his attractive, dark-haired, 20 year old wife and fellow musician. Casals seemed to have a sense of humor. In his article about Casals, writer John Amis said “Casals dismissed concerns that marriage to someone 60 years his junior might be hazardous to his health by saying, ‘I look at it this way: if she dies, she dies.’ ” The article I remember described how this  old man, who, with his many years, had stiffness in his joints, and probably arthritis, slowly took his chair behind his cello. As he began to play, he transformed into a man of supple, quick,  strong movements creating his splendid music. The music  inspired  and transformed him.

Do you play the Body Cello?

If you don’t do this, give it a try. If your partner is about the same size as you, or smaller, lay on your back on a firm bed and have them lay on top of you, chest to chest, and cheek to cheek – like you were dancing. Now pretend that your are going to play your partners body like it is your cello. Reach down and touch the spine where it tapers into the bones just above the tail bone. Press down on each side of the center line of the spine, not on the bumpy ridge of the spine, with the pointer, middle and (if there is space) ring fingers and massage that spot by moving the fingers down holding the gentle pressure and slowly moving outwards. Repeat this moving, again, from the center area outwards. Now move up one vertebrae and do the same slow downward and out movement. After the first few, you’ll move into larger, more sensitive  areas with more muscle and tendons. Keep holding the pressure and then slowly move  outwards. With some luck, you will start getting some music from your cello in the form of suddenly released soft sighs and even moans. Work slowly all the way up your “frets” and see how much music you can make. Take it up to the junction with the skull massaging gently there too. With practice, your partner will be completely limp. I just like to hold her there afterwards.