‘Old School’ Christmas Playlist

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I have a number of favourite Christmas music videos saved in emails. Yes, emails — a whole file of them and mostly YouTube links. Since I have a YouTube channel that I created to upload my “16 mm film archive project“, I thought I might as well make further use of that account. I don’t have Spotify or any other music sharing app, so I thought it made sense for (old school) me and I was excited to make my very own first public playlist online 🙂 At our house, we often like to have interesting or live music videos playing on the screen while we are doing other tasks nearby. My playlist is quite eclectic so I thought I would share on my blog as there might be something for everyone there: Christmas Favs. There are three that didn’t make the cut… yet. They poke fun at families at Christmas, but maybe there is one that might give you or your family a good chuckle or be needed at some point. Here they are as well:

Sampling

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No, not in the food sense of sampling. I only recently learned that it is also a term used in the music industry. Not sure how I missed that. Whereas covers of songs don’t require permission from the copyright owner, sampling does. I found a full explanation here: How Music Sampling Works.

From the article,

Few deny that it takes talent to sample a classic song effectively and use it in a new, creative way. And the practice has played a major role in shaping the entire genre of hip hop. But sampling has had a longer history and more complex legal implications than many people realize.”

Why did I get so curious about this? A Melanie song that was “sampled”, of course! It started with a video shared to a Facebook group for Melanie fans. It was an Australian hip hop band, the Hilltop Hoods, performing a song live that sampled an original Melanie song (The People in the Front Row). From what I gathered, it might be their signature song. I have never been much into hip hop and maybe it is just the pandemic isolation, but I want to be on this boat at a dance party singing along with music that includes Melanie lyrics! 😀

Such fun!

About a name

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I love stories about how people got their names. My mom told me she had a different name picked out for me, but my 3 older siblings liked Sheila better than her choice (Beverly). It hasn’t been confirmed, but I have a suspicion that this popular hit song in the early 60s influenced the choice of my siblings:

I recently listened to an older Tommy Roe singing it and I think I prefer his older voice (and some happy dancing here!):

I don’t meet many Sheilas, and if I do, the spelling is often different. I have learned that my name is of Irish origin and that a sheila means a woman in Australian slang (an internet search confirmed that it is not derogatory). It doesn’t seem like there are very many famous people with the name Sheila, but I remain fine with that. I like that there is a song of my name.

Readers, were you named after a song or a famous person? Your children? Do you have a good story about how you were named, or any good story about a name to share? How about a favourite song that is based on a name?

A conversation with Melanie

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Stephen Hurley and I first connected online, then later in person, because of education advocacy events and gatherings. Even though my involvement in education has lessened since then, I have continued to connect with Stephen because of music! Most Saturday nights for a number of years now, I have “met” Stephen on The Dock — his specific music related broadcast on VoicEd radio. (More recently, Sara Candela, has joined him in hosting this fun and interactive global gathering around a topic or theme in music.)

Over this time, Stephen became well aware of my favourite singer, Melanie. I would like to think that he now loves her music as much as I do! But it still came as a big surprise when he contacted me that he would be interviewing Melanie in March! Yesterday was the big day! I listened to the full recorded interview as soon as it was available. Well done, Stephen and Melanie! Some great stories were captured about the music industry, Melanie’s career over the decades, and her current musical pursuits and performances in spite of a pandemic!

Having said all that, I am so excited to link this interview on my blog! Here is the link to information about the interview and the recorded audio from Stephen’s podcast segment, On The Edge: https://www.spreaker.com/user/voicedradio/melanie-safka

Thanks again, Stephen! Here’s to more musical connections and journeys!

Time is the…

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Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

I stumbled upon this song and video recently: Time is a Killer. It features REM’s lead singer, Michael Stipe, so that might have been the draw for me, or the pandemic is drawing me to certain songs. The song is written and also sang by Rain Phoenix, River Phoenix’s sister. The song is likely a part of her healing from her loss. At first it seems a bit dark, but also soothing in a way. The lyrics start on a sad note and perhaps speak to some sad realities of our times too, but I was happy to take it all in. I ended up really appreciating the last few statements about time in the lyrics (below in bold). But, here are the lyrics from the beginning:

Everybody’s dying
To know
Where we go
When we die

Everybody’s crying
For those
Who go
Before their time

Time is the killer
Time is the killer
Time

Everybody’s lying
When we say
We are not
Afraid

Everybody is trying
So hard
To be
So brave

Time is the killer
Time is the killer
Time

Time is the killer
Time is the killer
Time

Time.

Everybody is blaming
The other
When things
Don’t go right

Everybody’s judging
Each other
And picking
Fights

Time is the killer
Time is the killer
Time is the mirror
Time is the healer
Time is the teacher

(Songwriters: Kirk Hellie / Rain Phoenix)

I have written thoughts about time inspired by a song before on this blog: Who Knows…?

Readers, feel free to share a song or quote that resonates with you about time.

The Day After Groundhog Day

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As 2021 rolls along, as well as a pandemic, I still aim to find some celebratory moments in the special days on the calendar. Although every day can seem like “Groundhog Day” lately, the actual Groundhog Day yesterday had slipped my mind until I saw mention of it on social media!

Since I am a big Melanie fan, the day after Groundhog Day also has significance to me — It is Melanie’s birthday. This past weekend she live-streamed a performance just shy of her 74th birthday! Her commitment to making music is quite remarkable and all three of her children have musical careers. Speaking of which, Melanie also wrote a song called Groundhog Day, but it is an expression about returning to her career after a few years of being more focused on motherhood.

People will most likely remember Melanie with the mention of her pop-style hit in the 70s, Brand New Key. Fans know there is so much more to her musical palette. I often suggest listening to the contrast between Brand New Key and Beautiful People.

If you would like to do so:

A early version of Brand New Key:

A couple of other ways to enjoy Brand New Key: One of her daughters who is an established country singer covers it here; and for a different experience, the music of the song on a 100 year old organ here!

I have posted to my blog before about her song, Beautiful People (If you look for it…). What is more beautiful than Beautiful People?: Watching her record the song — from the initial attempts to the final product!

Melanie has had different styles of music over the decades and her songs continue to be an important part of the stages of my life — and now during a pandemic. I hope she has many happy returns of the day!

My Vinyl

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Photo by Eric Krull on Unsplash

Music has been of great comfort during this Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic has also led to a lot of going through boxes and collections of things and making some decisions — keep, donate, or toss?

I have written before about my “45” vinyl collection and I think I might be ready to let it go now. From time to time, I pull out the index card in the storage tote to check if I really did buy a certain title or not when different songs or bands come up in conversation. I could probably keep that list. But as I look through my collection of forty-three 45’s, I really don’t think I would ever play many, if not most, of the songs again (on turntable or otherwise). There is a lot of high school in that little tote!

I have two that I think I would listen to again for sure — my first purchase and my last!. I mentioned those two in my first “45” post — From Melanie to Squeeze! But I can find both on YouTube for a good listen or a live performance.

So I may finally weed this old collection down to few and figure out where to donate the rest. Muskrat Love, anyone? Bohemian Rhapsody? Oh, but I do have a stack of Beatles 45’s that I got from older members in my family so maybe I will hang onto those…. Will I get to this same stage of letting go with my “LP” collection?

Do you have a song or two that makes you instantly think of high school? Good or bad, or both? Do you still have the song(s) handy? If so, in what format do you listen to them? Did you ever play the B side of 45’s? Do you have any “45” advice for me?

When it all comes together…

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When it all comes together for a good cause…

I came across a 2020 Pittsburgh Earth Day anthem by Voices for the Earth a little late for the day, but I enjoyed checking it out nonetheless.  I enjoy listening to many covers or remakes of songs in general, but this particular anthem is a Melanie Safka original, Lay Down (Candles in the Rain).  I can’t say the song is in my top 5 favourites of Melanie’s, but it was a breakthrough hit of hers in the U.S. in 1970.  She wrote it after performing (in the rain) at Woodstock (1969) and being inspired by the experience and the audience.

I thought the video of the “behind the scenes” in the making of this new version (50 years later) was very impressive and well done.

 

Melanie’s 1970 recording of it was a collaboration with the Edwin Hawkins Singers (usually known for their 1969 hit, Oh Happy Day).  This video starts with an interview about her inspiration for the song and her vision to include a gospel choir, followed by a live performance in The Netherlands:

 

Hope you enjoyed both (Melanie fan or not 🙂 )  I think it is cool how and why both recordings of the song came together — 50 years apart.

“And we all sang the songs of peace… “

Old Music and Lyrics

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Full title could be, “Old music and lyrics that align with current times now”.

In my previous post, I linked my thoughts and writing about the current pandemic to a Melanie song.  It turns out that I am not the only one who has had lyrics of Melanie’s songs come to mind during this pandemic.  I am a member of a Facebook group of Melanie fans and at some point I noticed others posting “Melanie-isms”, as in songs and lyrics that resonated with them since self-isolation and physical distancing.

Although many of Melanie’s songs can be on the melancholic side, I still had a few playing to cheer me up and fill my time at home lately.  I decided to collect and share more of the lyrics that came to mind and matched the current times for me.  Many of these songs were written decades ago, of course (although Melanie is still performing many of them).  I will include YouTube links for my own archive and in case anyone else wants to listen to the whole song.

I would have to start with Alone Together (a favourite live performance here)

We’re believers, we’ve been hurt by believing
Needing people, we know looking’s not seeing
I see needs that might be answered by forever
Together on our own
Let’s be together alone

Next, Ring The Living Bell, because the title of the song and chorus have a positive vibe that cut though some of the sad news. I first heard it on an album, but this is a great live version.

Ring the living bell, ring the living bell
Shine the living light

Beautiful People is beautiful any time.

Beautiful people
You ride the same subway
As I do ev’ry morning
That’s got to tell you something
We’ve got so much in common
I go the same direction that you do
So if you take care of me
Maybe I’ll take care of you

I just realized that the title of my previous post could connect to two songs: Here I Am and Again.

From Again,

Nothing for me to do
But be alone
Tonight
Maybe I’ll sit and write
‘Cause if I don’t
The ones I met won’t
Be my friends for life

I love singing out loud to this one:  The Good Guys.

But if we keep on trying
Though our purpose isn’t clear
We just may move the universe
We’ll learn to really care

Eventually the whole facade
Becomes more than a whim
By starting to build on the outside
We’re gonna fill up the walls within

It was easy to think of this one, title and lyrics:  Save Me.

Take my dreams on vacation to a room with a view
Out the window all I see is the space inside of me
That could be filled with you

And easy to think this at times: We Don’t Know Where We’re Going.

And we don’t know what it is
And we don’t know where we’re goin’

Bound together by something
But we don’t know what it is
And we don’t know where we’re goin’

I think this one comes to mind more when I listen to White House briefings 😀 — Stop! I Don’t Wanna’ Hear It Anymore.

Now all the things that you defend, are what you hide behind…. Oh, Stop…

Although a song about dying, it has an upbeat vibe about life and living, Life Will Not Go Away.

You can’t take it with you but there is this little part
That goes and continues in the realm of the heart
So rejoice in living and let the music play
Life will not go away!

And for fun, Jigsaw Puzzle.  It was originally written by Mick Jagger, but I have always preferred Melanie’s cover of it.

I’m just trying to do … a little jigsaw puzzle…

I am going to end with, Smile.

Wear it well and it could appear in your heart
Indelibly printed on someone a world apart
Lights in the window all through our darkest day
Human kindness outdistances being afraid

And I love people who smile
If everybody smiles, we’ll have a hometown all over the world

If you have made it to the end of this “playlist”, I would be happy to hear about your connections to old songs or lyrics that may have comforted you recently.

I thought this was an interesting article about something else that is going with lyrics of songs now.  Sub-headline:

Snippets of songs are often becoming popular faster than the songs themselves….

 

 

Here I Am Again

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I have had mixed feelings about posting on this blog during a pandemic.  I no longer post regularly, so I wasn’t sure what would be appropriate.  I have done some personal writing as I often do to process events and clarify emotions, but nothing I would post online at this point.  Writing is important to me, but I think I will always remain shy about it — posted publicly or not.

I did appreciate Doug Peterson’s approach and nudge in his post, 10 Things I’ve learned.  Soon into this alarming COVID-19 situation, I said to my family, “We will probably learn a lot about ourselves and others, and the world.”  But then, this is all new territory to navigate and our emotions and behaviours will be confusing.  I shared a quote on Facebook recently (via @thereisgoodinstore) that resonated,

There is no right way to feel right now.”

I am trying to take one day at a time, one feeling at a time, and trying to reserve judgement of others in their own struggles.  The focus is often in the short term, as with many emergencies.  I still have moments that I wonder what we will learn about the virus, our communities, and our world.  Will we learn more compared to past pandemics?  What will change?  Will there be a lasting imprint?  Yet, preoccupation with my own life and health quickly takes over, as well as worry about family members.  This pandemic has overshadowed everything.

There will definitely be much learning.  There will also be mistakes — mistakes made because of fear and also out of love for our family.  This is only human, I believe.

I have been finding comfort in music a lot lately.  The title of this post is taken from the title of my first post to this blog, Here I Am.  I didn’t give proper mention/credit of that title at the time — it is also a title of a Melanie song.  The lyrics came to mind and really hit me this time:

Here I am, standin’ still
Knowin’ I’m not goin’ nowhere today
And maybe not tomorrow
No no, maybe not tomorrow
Maybe not tomorrow
But that’s okay …

Here I am, dear I am, standing still
With a lot of time to make a rhyme
And a lot of time to kill …

If you want to hear her sing the whole song:

 

Take care, everyone!

 

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