Posts Tagged ‘#birthday’

Here are a few pictures I took recently in the Red River Gorge, KY area.  We stayed in a cabin for my birthday and the first morning watched the sunrise over the hills and into the valley.  The fog was the best constantly changing eye candy!

Yesterday was my mother’s birthday. The first birthday since she passed away last December.

I spend a lot of time blaming my mother – and parents in general for my musical interests and open minded philosophy.  They each gave me a lot.  But my parents divorced in a day when that was not accepted or supported.  Six children and single mom.  Everything was a struggle.  During all of the less fortunate times she managed to plug away toward her goals with her gentle influence.  We would do a lot of things other kids would not dream of and she encouraged many of them.  But we never wanted to hear her say to us she was disappointed in us…….  Having her disappointed was the worst punishment imaginable.

There is no way to know how she guided each of us through early years and then through puberty, early teens and inevitably into kids who knew it all.   I am just now putting them together piece by piece, here and there.  When my younger brother Chris got really sick I lived close and visited regularly.  I was his medical power of attorney and took care of his end of life affairs.  Radiation, Chemo, feeding tube, surgeries.  Emergency rooms to ICU to Hospice he never lost his smile and wonder.  He appreciated everything.  At the end I described him as mentally, financially, physically and emotionally exhausted.  It takes resources to fight back and he just did not have enough left at that time.

My mother also found out she had a number of cancers.  She chose not to take the normal treatments. She chose not to have the normal tests.  She chose me to help her with end of life like I did for Christopher.  She did not roll over and play dead if that is what you might be thinking.  She read and stayed up on current events. She exercised and researched better foods and diet.  She got out and enjoyed the change of each season and the change in weather.

Pauline was more interested in making us comfortable and taking care of her extended family than she was in complaining or moping.  She controlled her pain and as it got really bad she wanted to be able to have final word; to be able to think and communicate for fear she would have a stroke or complication and not be able to tell them not to resuscitate her.  She feared being a vegetable more than anything.  She was smart and educated and proud.  That was something she did not want to endure.  She did not.

When I grow up, I want to be just like her.  Birthdays don’t mean much to me – ask my kids – but this one did.  Happy Birthday, mom.

I was way to young to know why or when I developed an aptitude for music.  I always enjoyed the musical landscapes around me.  Not just the notes;  with all the talk and technique, notes are still only half the picture.  But I think I can tell you when I developed an appreciation for popular music.  I have many influences but these are different times.  Again, I am not trying to be a learned historian, and as a young kid the timing of events were hazy at best and are not clear to me even now.   You were lucky to have one radio station that played your favorite songs.  Three major network TV stations and no Internet, no cable, no Wi-Fi, no downloads, no digital.  Hard to imagine now.  WE had limited choices.   But there were pockets of musicians and savvy citizens, sharing, listening and teaching, just as there are now.

If you were into astronomy, you could find lens grinders or professors or local enthusiasts that could show you the universe.  Photographers, carpenters, everyone searching for their own needs.  I started searching for new music.  I could say new styles, but in a way they were all new.  I am drifting a little here as I think back.  I have been interested in anything that was beyond ‘standard, normal, traditional, formal or cookie-cutter songs’.  Old movie musicals, TV show and commercial jingles, and the various music cultures (Country, Broadway, Classical, ancient “Pop”…) might have been cute, but after I listened a few times, there was no excitement in listening to the song.  Kinda’ like; I already know the punch line, so why listen to the joke?  I can be a harsh critic.  But fair is fair, I throw stones at my own glass house.

There have been many songs that lead up to this.  I hate to give credit to one song.  I hope I remember the name of a song from Billie Holiday called Strange Fruitrecorded around 1939.  At the time I did not know what it meant.  I was still innocent.  This was devastating poetry mixed with liquid emotion.

From this point on I knew… I knew there was some thing that could reach my core.   I don’t mean to say ‘soul’, but that is the closest and easiest word to use.  Find me at my depth and talk to me.   And that meant I could also talk to others from those depths.   I found a language and at the same time not necessarily a family, but a culture of musicians.  I still have a weakness for female vocalists that make their own way.  I am a succor for a Hammond B3 Organ and a great brass section too.  I would like to share a few of them with you from time to time.

Today as I was driving to work I heard on the radio that my musical mentor turned 65 years old today.  I can remember exactly where I was when I heard my first song by Genesis.  I was in the shower and could not believe what I was hearing on the radio.  It was unlike anything that I was familiar with and I had been a musical sponge for years!  New sounds, a driving intricate beat, lyrics that never once mentioned boy meets girl, boy loves girls, girl leaves boy or other popular themes. I was stunned and delighted.  I got out of the shower and listened to the rest of the song.  Immediately I called my best friend and he had been listening as well.  We were both truly jazzed.  Over the years I have studied and enjoyed not just the music but the recordings and the style.  I have followed Peter Gabriel ever since.  A great musician, talented performer and powerful voice and above all that, he is what I affectionately call a decent human being.

If you are not familiar with his work, I encourage you to take some time out of your busy day and on his birthday, celebrate his accomplishments. I can offer suggestions in a future post and review, but I guarantee it will be time well spent.