A Little MCC in Person

“This shirt is old and faded
All the colors washed away
I’ve had it now for more damn years
Than I can count anyway
I wear it beneath my jacket
With the collar turned up high
So old I should replace it
But I’m not about to try” (Mary Chapin Carpenter).

I can cross one off the ol’ bucket list. I saw Mary Chapin Carpenter at the CMA Theater inside the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in downtown Nashville.

To say it was amazing sounds cliched but was really an understatement. It was a kind of clinic on songwriting by one of the best around.

I think that a good writer, whether it’s songs or books or movie scripts or anything else, has the ability to say your feelings and thoughts better than you ever could. You can hear a song or read a book or hear a line from a movie and say, “Yes, that’s exactly how I felt!”

It’s hard to believe she’s been in the business for 30 years. You don’t get that kind of longevity unless you’re really good at what you do and really love what you do.

I hope there’s lots more good songs to come from Mary Chapin Carpenter. I may just have an MCC road trip with all her albums as my soundtrack. Maybe one day soon.

Obsessed

As you probably figured out by now, I’m a bit of a music nerd. I likes me some music.

I never got into the newfangled digital downloaded stuff and I’m not quite hipster enough (or wealthy enough) for vinyl. So I stick with CDs like any good respectable old fogey would.

When it comes to artists or groups that I really like, I tend to become more than a little obsessive. As in I must go and buy their entire catalog as soon as possible.

The latest case is Mary Chapin Carpenter. I love her songwriting and her voice. Her music takes me to a calmer, happier place– even in the middle of rush hour traffic on I-65 South.

I confess I pre-ordered her newest album, Sometimes Just the Sky, slated to be released on March 30. I have no shame in my game. I know there will be quality music playing in my car on that day.

Here’s the link if you want to check it out for yourself:

https://smile.amazon.com/Sometimes-Just-Mary-Chapin-Carpenter/dp/B0794M5M7X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1517285377&sr=8-1&keywords=mary+chapin+carpenter

 

 

 

When Music Was King

I caught a Journey concert in Houston from 1981 on PBS. It was back when the band was in their prime, when Steve Perry was at his peak as a vocal performer.

But man, they weren’t exactly GQ, were they? Neil Schon had some interesting facial expressions while playing guitar, including some that looked like breathing exercises. Steve Perry had the whole head tilt to the right whenever he went for a high note. And they all looked like they were wearing Mom jeans.

But none of that mattered because the music was great.

Lately, it feels like image is everything and the music has become secondary. The result is that you get a lot of ear candy pop music that is utterly disposable and instantly forgettable.

There’s a reason why a lot of great bands in the 70’s didn’t have videos or their faces on their album covers. They weren’t exactly the prettiest people in the world, but man did they make some great and lasting music.

I still think the best decade for music was the 70’s, even though I’m a child of the 80’s. Just thought I should state that for the record, in case you were wondering.

 

 

 

 

Check One off the Bucket List

I can (almost) officially check one off the bucket list.

My bucket list is a bit vague and indefinite, but one very clear and definite goal of mine has been to see U2 live in concert. I missed out in 2014 when they played at Vanderbilt Stadium here in Nashville.

I’d decided then that I’d probably missed my chance. I mean, these guys have been around for nearly 40 years. How much longer will they go through the grind of a world tour?

Well, this time came around and I grabbed my chance. Actually, I grabbed, missed, almost gave up again, checked back, grabbed for good, and succeeded.

The first time I tried to purchased a ticket, I couldn’t find any that were under $200, counting fees and taxes. That was where the part about almost giving up again came in.

Tonight, I decided to give it one more shot.

I went to ticketmaster.com and looked for tickets. Lo and behold, I found one that was under $100. I supposed for a bucket list item, that’s reasonably cheap. Also, it’s in the extreme nosebleed section of Bridgestone Arena. But at least it’s inside. I’m going.

There would be a happy dance right now if I weren’t so frickin’ tired. But I’m celebrating on the inside.

I’ve been a fan of U2 since The Joshua Tree in 1987. I own every one of their albums (including the new one, Songs of Experience, which arrived in the mail today) and a few of their concert DVDs. I admire Bono’s outspokenness about the causes he believes in– and most notably, about his faith in Jesus.

I can think of very few other bands that have not only survived but remained relevant for as long as they have. I can’t think of a single other band that has lasted as long with the same lineup.

My next bucket list (in case you’re wondering) is to dine at an In-N-Out Burger restaurant, which will probably also mean me traveling out west.

 

Just This

I went to Goodwill today and came away with a few treasures. I even found a CD of Rachmaninoff concertos played by Mr. Rachmaninoff himself.

I’m sometimes amazed at what people decide to give away. I suppose that it’s true that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

You might feel like that some days. You feel like something in a thrift store– overlooked, unwanted, and worthless. But God sees you.

You might feel like a total screw up some days. You might feel like you’re close to 100%– for messing up everything you touch. But God knows you.

Today, in the middle of another long week, God both sees and knows about you. He is actively moving on your behalf.

I’ve discovered that there are also people who see and know you. They will be the ones God uses to remind you that you are not alone. They will be the ones to speak life and healing and hope into you when you need it most.

You generally don’t find these people by looking for them. They tend to show up when you least expect it. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t hold on to them once you find them. Treasure these people for as long as God puts them in your path.

Remember, friends. You are seen. You are known. You are loved. You are treasured.

The Allman Brothers Band for the Road

One of the joys of having over 100 people a day move to Nashville is the most enjoyable and fun commutes I’ve been having [said with copious amounts of sarcasm].

I really enjoy creeping along I-40, then for a brief moment to speed up, only to run into more traffic and slow down again. I really have nothing better to do than idle in traffic for an eternity. [sarcasm continued].

The one glimmer of goodness in all the gridlock is that I have ample time to listen to quality music. It’s not like I have anywhere else I can go during that time, so I might as well put it to good use.

Today, I spent a lot of time with The Allman Brothers Band, specifically the deluxe edition of their second album, Idlewild South. There’s a 45-minute version of the song Mountain Jam that’s not for the musically faint of heart.

Their music is ideal for cruising down the highway with the windows rolled down and the summer breezes blowing in. It still works for windows rolled up and inching along the interstate, but really it makes me want to find a deserted two-lane road, throw the map out the window, and just drive wherever the road takes me. One day I just might do that very thing.

I do think good music is good for the soul. There’s something healing about hearing the right song at the right time that goes along way toward detoxing from the stresses of the work week. I recommend old-school country, southern rock, jazz, blues, or just about anything from the 70’s.

PS It helps a lot if you crank up the volume and roll down the windows (but not so much when it’s sweltering and humid outside). Then maybe just crank up the A/C.

 

 

My Multimedia Adventure Continues

It’s been a while since I updated you on my latest music and Netflix intake, so here goes.

I picked up a live Bob Marley and the Wailers album from the clearance section of Target. It’s called Easy Skanking in Boston ’78 and it’s classic reggae from my favorite decade, musically speaking. The title’s a little weird, but the music’s great. It helps if you have speakers with lots of bass.

I pre-ordered the new Lindsay Buckingham/Christine McVie album from amazon.com. I’m very much intrigued by the pairing and I’m hoping for a little old-school Fleetwood Mac vibe on this one.

Right now, I’m reliving my high school glory days with The Best of Both Worlds, a Van Halen best-of compilation. It’s amazing how those songs take me back to when I first heard them. And for the record, I prefer David Lee Roth over Sammy Hagar, but I like ’em both.

I foresee some serious Allman Brothers Band marathons in my future. I do believe that southern rock is good for the soul, especially when that soul has a lengthy commute to and from work.

Currently, my Netflix mainstays are Gilmore Girls (halfway through season 6) and Bates Motel (just started season 2). Gilmore Girls still has that fantastic dialogue that reminds me a lot of the old movie His Girl Friday (with some similarities to one of my favorite John Cusack movies, Better Off Dead). I have a fairly decent idea of where Bates Motel is headed, having already seen Psycho (and Bates Motel is the backstory to that movie).

I’m always open to suggestions for what to listen to and watch next, especially when it comes to Netflix. I’d really like something that has a similar vibe to Stranger Things and The OA, but I’m pretty much open to any kind of shows or movies out there.

More to come at some later (and probably randomly picked) date. Stay tuned.

 

 

Jeff Buckley on the Brain

I’ve been listening to a whole lot of Jeff Buckley lately.

I’m well aware that most people probably have no idea who he is (or was, since he died in 1997 in an accidental drowning).

He was the son of Tim Buckley, a very famous and accomplished folk musician. Jeff was very gifted in his own right with an amazing voice. Although he only released one official album during his lifetime, he left behind a wealth of music that begs the question of what he might have become had he lived.

All of us have known people who died with untapped potential and unrealized talent. So many died so very young, way before it was their time. Too many who could have contributed beautiful things into the sometimes grey world we live in.

In Jeff’s case, he did leave behind that one fantastic album which features his cover of the Leonard Cohen song “Hallelujah,” which became famous in the wake of the 9/11 attacks four years after his death. That’s the one song that most everybody knows but which very few know who sang it.

I myself know very little about the man. I only know that though he’s dead, his music still speaks to those who are discovering his unique artistry.

What’s the point? Don’t die and leave behind unfulfilled dreams because they were dangerous and scary. Step outside of what’s safe and pursue what’s in your heart, even if it doesn’t succeed like you want it to. At least you will have tried.

Also, listen to Jeff Buckley’s music. It’s great. Some of it has a raw and unfinished quality, but even then there’s beauty to be found. It’s not safe and predictable radio-friendly music, but it’s good. It’s sometimes a little scary, but it can also be haunting and ┬álovely as well.

 

 

 

 

Ryan Adams for the Road

I’m officially a fan of Ryan Adams. Well, his music anyway. I don’t really know Ryan Adams the human being, so I can’t really comment either way, but I’m working my way toward owning his entire music catalog.

I was listening to Heartbreaker in the car tonight. It’s one of those that I consider worthy road trip music. I almost felt like I needed to hit one of those open highways, roll down the windows, throw the road map out the window, and just drive.

I didn’t. Plus, I don’t really have an actual road map to throw out the window.

Ryan Adams is one of those rare artists whose music feels crafted rather than manufactured. It feels more like art painstakingly created by people than a commodity that’s mass produced by machines.

I’ve stopped caring whether the music is rock or country or jazz or pop or indie. I only care that it moves me on a deep soul-level and paints images in my mind and speaks to my condition.

I have a wide variety of musical tastes, not all of which fall into the hipster category (and some of which probably fall into the “I know, please don’t judge me” category).

I’m eagerly anticipating the new Ryan Adams album, due to arrive very shortly from the good people at Amazon. It will immediately go into heavy rotation in my Jeep.

I also look forward to the next Patty Griffin album, which I hope will arrive sooner than later. Fingers crossed.

 

 

Taking a Break from Reality

I had some quality old-school music playing on my trek home this afternoon. I have the smooth, velvety baritone voice of Johnny Hartman singing me home.

I confess I know next to nothing about this artist. I know that he made a fantastic album with John Coltrane and apparently had a lengthy recording career that started around 1947 and lasted until his death in 1983.

I’m all for staying current with world events and being informed when it comes to issues and politics, but I firmly believe that occasionally we all need a break from reality. As in a good fantasy novel or a fun movie or, in my case, old school jazz crooner music.

I suppose if I had to pick between music, books, and movies, I’d go with music. Nothing seems to calm and quiet my soul quite like the right song at the right time. Especially when driving on a warm summer night with the windows rolled down and the volume cranked up. It’s magical.

There’s also the therapeutic effect of having a cat (or a dog) camp out on your lap. If you don’t have one, you should definitely look into it. They’re great for lowering blood pressure and reducing stress and generally helping you to find peace.

My advice is to limit your news intake. First of all, I’m not convinced that what you’re seeing is accurately represented of what’s actually happening out there in the real world. Second, a steady dose of it can only serve to stress you out and make you angry.

Find your medium that relaxes you. Set aside time for to read or Netflix and chill or to put on the headphones and let the music carry you away, even if it’s only for when you’re driving to and from work.

You won’t regret it.