I have a friend who is an aspiring singer and performer.  She’s pretty good.  You can find four of her songs on iTunes (again, I’m technologically unsavvy and can’t post a link) under Chantele – Half Full.

She just posted a couple new songs on Facebook, too.  Check her out.

She kind of let her music fall by the way side for a while after her son was born, but we had a chat the other day about not putting her dreams off and last night, these popped up on Facebook.  So proud of her.


Sing a New Song

It may be somewhat surprising to learn that, despite having grown up in Oklahoma, I was not a fan of country music.  All that twang and depressing subject matter just wasn’t of interest to me.  One of my favorite jokes was always, “What happens when you play a country music song backwards?  He get’s his wife back, his dog back and his truck back.”  This was only made that much better when I once saw a country music video showing an overhead shot of a cowboy lying in the back of his truck with his girl and a dog lying on the ground next to the truck.  As the video progressed the woman disappeared and then the dog disappeared and I burst out laughing thinking, “what happens if you play this video backwards…”

I was forced to listen to, and then eventually came to like, what was then modern country music, in the mid-90’s, when I was dating a girl who I thought I was going to marry and who decided that she was going to become a country music fan and always had it on in the car.  I listened to country music pretty regularly for a while after that and it was only after I moved to the bay area where there is no country music station that I quit.  I had a number of country music albums by that time though and most of them have made their way into my iTunes and therefore, fairly regular rotation in my music listening routine.

Michelle doesn’t dislike country music though it is a LOOOONG way from being her preference.  Our tastes overlap fairly well, though she does like some of the more… urban?  R&B?  stuff.  I’m not even sure what you’d call it.  Let’s just be really tacky and say that her tastes are more ethnically correct…

Michelle also doesn’t like anyone to hear her sing.  She thinks she has a bad voice.  Truth is, she sings fine.  She may not be recording any albums anytime soon, but she shouldn’t be embarrassed for anyone to hear her singing.

On the way to Cache Creek Wednesday afternoon my iPod in my car was, as always, on random and there wasn’t anything that she might object to that came on.  At one point I even heard her singing.  I started to say something, only, every time I tell her I can hear her singing she stops  and I didn’t want to embarrass her or have her stop singing, so I didn’t say anything.  I was surprised at first at the song she was singing, because it was, shall we say, more ethnically appropriate for me…  Also, it was from October, 1994 and it surprised me that she’d be familiar with it.  But she does have a couple of years on me and she was actually far less sheltered than I (I didn’t really come to know the song until about five years ago, so…)

As we were driving through the parking garage at Cache Creek, a song by Terri Clark came on.  The song is called Cure for the Common Heartache.  If you have iTunes (and who doesn’t these days) do me a favor and go listen to the preview.  I tried to find a way to post a sample here, but I’m just not that technologically savvy…  Anyway, the song is quite twangy:  “This mornin’ I’m achin’ all over.  Cain’t eat.  Cain’t sleep.  Cain’t rest….  Is there a cuuuuuure for the common heart ache.  An unknown prescriptiooooooooon, any loser can take…”

(By the way, for the record, there has only been one Terri Clark song, ever, that I didn’t really like a lot, so I’m not saying anything bad about her!)

I turned to Michelle, right before I turned off the ignition and said, “This is a country music song… In case you were wondering…”  I was making a joke, because the song is the epitome of country twang (though I still like it,) but she thought I was apologizing, or in some way making a joke that suggests she doesn’t like country music.

“I was singing that other song,” she said somewhat defensively.

“Which song?” I asked.

“You know.  The one about the cowboy and the horse.”

Now this is not much of a description to know which song she was talking about, except that I immediately thought of the song I heard her singing earlier and had a feeling that’s the one she meant.  I sang a few bars, “I’m a cowboy.  On a steel horse I ride…?”

“Yeah, that one,” she said as I was unable to keep from laughing.

“Honey,” I said a little more condescending than I meant to, “that wasn’t country.  That was Bon Jovi!”

(Also?  Heh.  The clothes!  My Goodness!!!)

Moving Melodies: Save You

SAVE YOU  By. Kelly Clarkson

I can tell, I can tell how much you hate this
And deep down inside you know it’s killing me
I can call, wish you well and try to change this
But nothing I can say would change anything

Where were my senses
I left them all behind
Why did I turn away, away

I wish I could save you
I wish I could say to you, “I’m not going nowhere.”
I wish I could say to you, “It’s gonna be alright.  It’s gonna be alright.”

I didn’t mean, didn’t mean to leave you stranded
Went away cause I didn’t want to face the truth

Reaching out, reach for me empty-handed
You don’t know if I care, you’re trying to find the proof

There were times I’d wonder
Could I have eased your pain
Why did I turn away, away

I wish I could save you
I wish I could say to you, “I’m not going nowhere”
I wish I could say to you, “It’s gonna be alright.”
It’s Gonna Be Alright
It’s Gonna Be Alright (Save you)
It’s Gonna Be Alright (I wish I could save you)

We can pretend nothing’s changed
Pretend it’s all the same and there will be no pain, tonight
It’s gonna be alright
It’s gonna be alright

Save you, I wish I could save you
I’m not going nowhere
I wish I could say to you, “It’s gonna be alright.”

It’s gonna be alright, It’s gonna be alright (save you)
It’s gonna be alright (I wish I could save you)
It’s gonna be alright…

…But Goodies

After my mother, brother, sister and I moved from Ohio where my father lived with his wife and step-kids to Oklahoma where my mother’s best childhood friend lived with her husband, their four kids and successful real estate business, my visitation with my less than perfect father was limited to every other holiday and summer vacations.  Eight hundred fifty miles separated the town my father lived and worked in and the town we had moved to without paternal objection because he felt, however rightly or wrongly, that he didn’t have any right to object.

Fortunately, my father and his wife loved to take road trips (and apparently required little sleep) and he usually opted to cover the distance between us by automobile, driving twelve hours to pick us up, spending an hour or so at or near our home where he would load up the additional baggage of three kids spending a period of time with their father and hit the road again for the twelve-hour drive back to his house.

On some of the shorter visits, or perhaps because we were getting older and would choose working over traveling to visit the old man, he would get a hotel room, or a cabin at a lake and spend the time in Tulsa, instead of dragging us back to Cincinnati.  I always dreaded getting into the car with my father because on one of his first visits, he discovered a radio station that he loved.  They played the music of his youth and apparently a better mix of it than any station he heard around his neck of the woods.  I hated the music of his youth, it was all so outdated and boring and the station was very aptly called “the oldies station” (said with a sneer and a mocking tone, of course!)

Today, as I was on my way to pick up my lunch, I was driving down a frontage road along side the ridiculously crowded highway and I noticed a billboard for a local radio station.  I immediately grimaced at the idea of the station as the billboard brazenly described the station as “classic oldies…”  I mean, ho-hum, right?  How boring!

Wait!  What did that say?  “Classic oldies.  All the best hits of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s!

What happened to the 50’s?  And since when are the 80’s oldies???  Pretty soon it’ll be best of the 80’s, 90’s and the aughts!

I’m beginning to feel the need to drive with two feet, carry a cane and shake my head as I tsk, “They just don’t make ’em like they used to” while Lil’B sits in the back seat and cringes at my terrible taste in music!

Moving Melodies: Welcome To Wherever You Are

I got home late from work today.  It was late because I was writing, not because I was working, but somehow I don’t really think I needed to tell you that.  Anyway, I was in the kitchen making a peanut butter and honey sandwich for dinner, feeling a little bummed because I live alone and don’t have a special someone to make dinner and have it ready and waiting for me when I get home late.  Nor do I have a special someone to make it worthwhile to make a full fledged dinner when I get home late.

While I was spreading and squishing, the iPod was on and played this song by Bon Jovi:

Welcome To Wherever You Are lyrics

Maybe we’re all different, but we’re still the same
We all got the blood of Eden, running through our veins
I know sometimes it’s hard for you to see
You come between just who you are and who you wanna be

If you feel alone, and lost and need a friend
Remember every new beginning, is some beginning’s end

Welcome to wherever you are
This is your life, you made it this far
Welcome, you gotta believe
That right here right now, you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be
Welcome, to wherever you are

When everybody’s in, and you’re left out
And you feel your drowning, in a shadow of a doubt
Everyone’s a miracle in their own way
Just listen to yourself, not what other people say

When it seems you’re lost, alone and feeling down
Remember everybody’s different
Just take a look around

Welcome to wherever you are
This is your life, you made it this far
Welcome, you gotta believe
That right here right now, you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be
Welcome, to wherever you are

Be who you want to be, be who you are
Everyone’s a hero, everyone’s a star

When you wanna give up, and your hearts about to break
Remember that you’re perfect, God makes no mistakes

Welcome to wherever you are
This is your life, you made it this far
Welcome, you gotta believe
That right here right now, you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be
Welcome, to wherever you are

I’m not going to make any big flowery statements about what this song means to me or how it makes me feel.  I have mixed feelings about it (what’s new).  The lyrics are good food for thought, though,  even if it’s sometimes hard to remember.  Let’s just say this was topical, somewhat well timed.

But I Think It’s About Forgiveness

I thought writing this would be easy.  I listened to the song for hours and hours and when I realized I just wasn’t fully getting the lyrics I looked them up so I could read along and then I listened to it for hours and hours more.  I really felt something while I listened.  I was ready to write about it but I needed (or at least I thought I did) to give some back story first.  So I wrote.  I wrote and wrote and wrote and when I was “finished”, I hadn’t written about my feelings at all, but instead wrote about a concert I didn’t enjoy and an artist I had no interest in and then I copied and pasted the lyrics to a song you’ve probably all heard for yourselves before, and I left you with a promise to get to the real point in another post… soon… because I chose to believe that you really wanted to know.

But time has not been on my side and while I enjoyed listening to the song, how many days can you listen to the same song over and over again without going bat-shit crazy?  I moved on and listened to other music, and did my actual job, and wrote brief, relatively meaningless posts about head and pianos… Or something like that… Now I’m sitting at my computer and I’m ready to write this post and I played the song again and I’ve got the lyrics in front of me and—Nothing!

Wait.  I’ll listen a few more times.

Something is happening…

I thought this was worth writing because the feelings were pretty strong and yet not easy to identify.  Now, two days later, that feeling is starting to come back, but it’s slow.

What follows is bound to be more of a stream of consciousness thing than I had intended and if you’re bored already, I won’t be offended if you stop reading here.  I make no promises about the quality of the rest of this post.  For those of you who are gluttons for punishment…

I listen to the song while doing other things and it seeps into my sub-conscious, but the lyrics aren’t readily thought about, and I notice a bit of a melancholy comes over me.  The music is soothing and the singing voice is almost comforting.  Maybe consoling is a better word.  I can feel the emotion of the song.  I do feel the emotion of the song.  A sort of… mournful hope, painful optimism and to be honest it’s not entirely comfortable to feel.  Maybe it’s the juxtaposition of the spectrum of feelings mashing up against one another or maybe it’s because I don’t know how to handle my feelings in the first place and so feeling anything is at once exciting and horrifying.

As the feeling starts to wash over me I become more aware of the lyrics.  A word here: forgiveness, happiness, self-assurance; a phrase there: “The more I learn, the less I understand and all the things I thought I figured out, I have to learn again”, “gotta put it all behind you, ‘cause life goes on.  You keep carrying that anger, it’ll eat you up inside.”

And then, the song in its entirety:

“I got the call today I didn’t want to hear, but I knew that it would come.  An old true friend of ours was talkin’ on the phone.  She said you found someone.”

I can imagine the heartbreak of that moment.  I’ve experienced the heartbreak of that moment.  I hear that line and I think of the day a mutual friend of my ex-fiancé and mine wandered into the store in the mall where I worked and told me that my ex and her new guy were getting married later on that evening.  I knew she had a new guy and I knew they were engaged so it shouldn’t have come as a surprise and yet, it felt more like a kick to the gut.

Then again, that was a lifetime ago and I’m a completely different person than I was then.  I’m over that hurt.  I can relate to and imagine the heartbreak of that moment, but I don’t feel it now.

“And I thought of all the bad luck and all the struggles we went through; how I lost me and you lost you.  What are all these voices outside love’s open door, make us throw off our contentment and beg for something more?

I’ve been learning to live without you now, but I miss you sometimes. The more I know, the less I understand.  All the things I thought I knew, I’m learning them again.”

The last line strikes a chord these days because I feel exactly that way.  I thought I had made such progress in my life.  I felt like I had learned so much from therapy and experience and time, and now, I feel like everything I thought I knew has been a lie, like I’m back at square one.  The more I know about me, about whom I am and the life I’ve lived, the less I understand… pretty much anything.  I’m not even sure anymore what I’ve learned.

“I’ve been trying to get down to the heart of the matter, but my will gets weak and my thoughts seem to scatter.”

It has been a recurring phenomenon for me, in life and particularly in therapy, that when things get tough, my brain shuts down.  Quite literally, when things become too hard to face, or information becomes too complicated and overwhelming, my brain just stops processing.  It’s difficult to even articulate the experience.  I lose the ability to focus on the task or the issue at hand and it’s almost like the mental imagery breaks apart and scatters in all directions like oil on water.  I’ve always felt like I was the only one who felt that so this lyric of the song, in a way, is comforting.

“But I think it’s about forgiveness.  Forgiveness.  Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore.”

It almost seems like this is goes without saying.  Forgiveness is difficult.  It shouldn’t be.  It should be the easiest thing in the world but it just isn’t.  I can’t speak for other people and I’m sure I’m not really the only person to feel the way I do, but I am the only one I have to worry about and the fact is, very few days have gone by in my life where I wasn’t hurt or degraded or let down in some way, by some one.  I’ve had a considerable amount of hurt in my life and have every reason to expect a considerable amount more.  It’s hard to get over.  It’s tough to put behind you and I think no matter how much you wish you could, you don’t forget the hurts in your life.

For me, and thousands if not millions of people like me, the possibility that someone incredibly important in my life might not love me anymore if they knew everything there was to know, is too great to be ignored.  The part that’s so confusing and difficult about all this is they’re some of the same people who have caused the most pain and sadness in my life.

“These times are so uncertain.  There’s a yearning undefined, and people filled with rage.  We all need a little tenderness.  How can love survive in such a graceless age?”

Uncertainty is such a huge part of life and it sucks.  I’ve lived most of my life feeling like I have little or no control over anything.  And it’s not that I’m a “control freak” exactly, although, really isn’t everyone to some extent?  It’s just that, so much of the time, I feel like circumstances just happen to me.  That sounds like a cop-out, I know, but it’s true.  It makes me sound like a victim, and maybe in some ways I am, but it makes me angry… one might say, “filled with rage.”

And it seems like we live in an age of me-ness.  “Graceless”?  That’s just putting it nicely.  I’ve been so disturbed and frustrated over the last several years by the general attitude of selfishness and self-importance in the world around me.  Once upon a time, you could go to a store and the employees would speak to you.  “Excuse me,” they would say before walking in front of you as you examine the products on the shelf.  “May I help you find anything?” they would ask, simply because you walked near them.  (I worked at a store once that had a “four square” policy.  If a customer walked with-in four floor tiles of you in any direction you were supposed to greet them and offer assistance.)

And what about your fellow man?  There was a time when people paid attention to where they were going, when it wasn’t more important for them to get where they wanted to be, than it was to be courteous enough to wait until you got by when there was no one behind you. Now, people turn their carts out in front of you and make you stop short, or cut you off on the freeway, just to get out from behind the slow guy in front of them, even though they’re going slower than you.  I think this sums it up pretty well.

“And the trust and self-assurance that lead to happiness are the very things we kill, I guess.  Pride and competition cannot fill these empty arms.  And the wall they put between us, you know it doesn’t keep us warm.”

I wouldn’t presume to say that I know what leads to happiness.  Most of the time I think that people are either born happy or they’re not; and while everyone has bummer days, tragic moments that temporarily sour their moods, those of us who weren’t fortunate enough to be born happy, probably never will be.

Trust and self-assurance are things that have very rarely, if ever, served me well so I’m not so sure those lead to happiness.  These last few years have been filled with self-assurance and it has only proved to set me up for a huge fall.  Lead to happiness?  I’m not so sure.  “The very things we kill, I guess”?  It evokes a sense of loss in me.  However artificial that trust and self-assurance I had been experiencing might have been, it was still significant and now it’s gone.

I don’t know about “pride and competition” but the image of empty arms and “doesn’t keep us warm” conjures plenty of feeling.  One I’m all too familiar with.  It’s called loneliness.  I’m used to it; one might even say I’m comfortable with it.  Which is not to say that I like it, but when it’s all you’ve known, it’s pretty easy to settle in for the long haul.

“I’ve been trying to live without you now, but I miss you, baby.  The more I know, the less I understand, and all the things I thought I figured out, I have to learn again.  I’ve been trying to get down to the heart of the matter, but my will gets weak and my heart is so shattered.”

All the things I thought I figured out.  It’s just a change in the wording, but it’s so much more accurate.  Clearly everything I thought I knew turned out to be wrong.  Deceiving myself into believing things would be different when they clearly won’t.  All the hope I allowed myself to feel, all the optimism that proved to be groundless…  My heart is so shattered

“But I think it’s about forgiveness.  Forgiveness.  Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore.”

Now check out the bridge:

“All the people in your life who’ve come and gone, they let you down, you know they hurt your pride.  Gotta put it all behind you ‘cause life goes on.  You keep carryin’ that anger, it’ll eat you up inside.

I wanted happily ever after, and my heart is so shattered and I know it’s about…”

At the end of the day, this, right here, is what I think this song is about for me.  I could make lists.  Lists of people who’ve gone, lists of people who’ve let me down and lists of people who’ve hurt me.  Lists of people who’ve made me angry, made me resentful, made me doubt myself and my life and the world around me.  I try everyday to put it behind me, though I’m generally not very successful.  “Life goes on?”  What life?  I struggle a lot with this one and it’s actually prompted what will probably be tomorrow’s post if I can get it together in time.

“You keep carrying that anger, it’ll eat you up inside.”  This evokes thoughts of my mother and to be honest, it makes me angry.  My whole life when I would get mad about something, she would say, “Oh honey, just be quiet.  Don’t be like that.  You’re not hurting anyone but yourself.”  Maybe it wasn’t her intention, but I think it was.  What I got from that is.  “Don’t feel.  It’s not OK to get angry.  You’re not allowed to have negative emotions.”  It’s kind of ironic if you think about it.  “You keep carrying that anger, it’ll eat you up inside,” is true.  It’s so much better to vent your frustrations, to let it out of your system and yet, the words make me think of my mother telling me not to do just that.

My mother and I had a bit of a falling out several years ago and I’m not going to get into it here, but in that conversation she told me “You’ve obviously been holding some grudges you need to forgive and forget.”  Naturally, that just pissed me off more, but what I told her is, “I’m not holding any grudges.  I suppose I can understand why you would say that, but that’s not the case.  When I gave the examples I gave, it was simply that, giving examples.  I learned a long time ago not to make sweeping generalizations (especially within this family) without supporting data.  As far as ‘forgive and forget’ goes, I don’t even know what that means.  Forgiveness is a choice and I’ve made that choice over and over again with a lot of people in my life for as long as I can remember.  Forgetting on the other hand doesn’t make any sense to me.  One can’t control what they can and can’t (or do and don’t) remember.”

I believed that when I said it.  I believed that forgiveness was a conscious decision you make.  I guess the truth is I still believe that and yet this song struck a chord with me.

Maybe forgiveness is a process.  Maybe forgiveness is a decision and a process.  Maybe forgiveness is a process that takes time and you make the decision over and over until – well, until your done.

I’ve been trying to get down to the heart of the matter, but my will gets weak and my thoughts seem to scatter.  But I think it’s about forgiveness…