Saturday, April 30, 2016

Songs I Love in 88 Words or Less: “The Loving”

Number one with a bullet on Pollyanna’s playlist—ladies and gentlemen, I give you the happiest song ever!

"The Loving," XTC

A friend of mine once said that all songs have balls—some are enormous, some are small, some are hardly there at all. This song boasts a veritable bunch of balloons, big and birthday-colored, filled to a breath below bursting and delivered to you by a troupe of Siamese kittens. In lederhosen!

Seriously, though, I’m blown away by that big, fat ujjayi-breathing guitar chord in the chorus that makes you feel all oceanic. Freud might’ve really dug it if he could get past the whole ball-sizing thing.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Songs I Love in 88 Words or Less: "Salvation"

“Salvation,” Elton John & Bernie Taupin
The latest installment in my little series—for my mom on her birthday.  (It’s not the first time my card has arrived a day late. )

At the bottom of the hill I  met a man with a cane, carrying a pack of Dunhill Blues.
“I’m going to quit,” he said, "when I get to the end of the street."
“Good luck,” I said.
“I’m going to quit today.”

I saw my mother fall at the bottom of the hill.
She couldn’t talk, eyes shut to light
the path
She squeezed my hand when she got there:
A developing Polaroid of a shy ingenue,
a violet on her first day in the world.

I don’t think I’ve shared my own video here before—it was a limited release, and supposed to be as close to a minute as possible : )

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Songs I Love in 88 Words or Less: "Glam Slam"

“Glam Slam,” Prince

10 years ago or so I performed a solo completely of my own design to this song in a student bellydancing showcase. I was so naive that at the time I didn’t realize my teacher disliked me, even when all she said when I was done was that my hair was nice (super-high pony tail like Pebbles Flintstone).

If songs were flowers, this is what grows when you plant horny goat weed in the Garden of Eden. Comes up something whose name I’m not sure of, blooming and blushing in the moonset, dropping her petals like a stripper and shaking butterflies out of her efflorescent ass.

P.S. In that dorky musical genealogy tree that traces everyone back to the Beatles, this is the Spandex-wearing cousin of It’s All Too Much.

Here’s the video for Glam Slam--I don’t know how to embed this one, ping me if you do!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Songs I Love in 88 Words or Less: “Jesus Children of America”

“Jesus Children of America,” Stevie Wonder

I’ve listened to this a gajillion times, and I’m embarrassed to say I thought he was doing a call-and-response type thing with some back-up gospel singers. Turns out he did all the vocals and played all the instruments on this song, and most of the album it came from, himself. Genius stuff going on, and I hear something different every time. 

At 18, I stole my grandmother’s crucifix, pink-purple stones blushing like sunrise, and wore it to a club I lied to get into and hitchhiked home from. Alas, a fool and her crucifix soon parted…if only I’d heard the delicate tingle-jangle when it fell from my neck.

This song is that loss,
the loss of a hundred mumbled Hail Marys,
the loss that I can’t ever go home and see my mom and dad…

and the mystery that a different iteration of them will always be there.

More in my lil' series here:
"Songs I Love in 88 Words or Less: All the Children Sing"
"Songs I Love in 88 Words or Less: "Rock And Roll"

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Songs I Love in 88 Words or Less: “All the Children Sing”

"All the Children Sing," Todd Rundgren

A muttering, stuttering woman in Riverside Park once called me a “grinning idiot” as I passed by, wearing a smile big as a dinner plate.

This one’s for you, Muttering Woman, and all grinning idiots out there—a song written by an overgrown baby in the key of Kitten. Clowns and puppies, you’ll like it, too!

The Greek philosopher Pythagoras believed a bell was the sound of a daimon—a tiny spirit-god inside going ding-dong. This ain’t the first Todd song with bells ringin' in heads. Coinky-dink?

A music video before there were music videos! Made, like the entire album, all by his own self!

Here are the other 4 posts in this series:

Monday, February 22, 2016

Songs I Love in 88 Words or Less: “Rock Around With Ollie Vee”

“Rock Around With Ollie Vee,” Buddy Holly

The third installment in my bimonthly series. Some songs are good to dance to, some songs you have to dance to. Buddy and the band are doing some serious gravity-busting here that gives me the same kind of dance-y cosmic jitters I've only ever gotten from a couple Michael Jackson songs. Weird, but for reals.

This ain’t no sock hop, bud. The punch is spiked, the pants are tight and your corsage is a black dahlia and bleeding hearts…

You dance—squirm, a thrust, gasp—until your palms are pomade-wet. Dreams thump and grind to a hiccuping guitar, caress curves of the stand-up bass. This is the realm of the half-man, half-boy, and I’m just along for the ride because sitting still for  2 minutes 18 seconds is impossible. 

P.S. Ollie Vee’s twin baby sisters: future muses for "Teenage Head" and "Orgasm Addict."

Well, I sure hope you want to listen to it now! Here you go.

Also in the series:
"Rock And Roll"
"Over the River"

Sunday, February 14, 2016

A Letter to My Dad About Some Important Things

Dear Dad,

Remember the day of Mom’s funeral? It was glorious, mid-August, and if you wanted a word to describe the space between the sunrise and the sunset as a noun, I would say exultation. Butterflies and hawks, all things light and bright and airborne, accompanied us, the yang to the yin of your day…

How many times did you say it doesn’t snow like it used to? Well, you got a beautiful, magical nor’easter that shut down the town. I walked around the block in the morning before the funeral Mass, the first to make tracks along Main Street in the kind of snow that whispers and sparkles.

As we drove to the cemetery, we were the only ones on the road, save for your distinguished guides lining either side of the street—those elegant old East Hampton trees, heavy and proud with snow like kindly wizards.

Three members of the Honor Guard were waiting for us at the cemetery, standing at attention in their dress blues, snow on their eyelashes. I can see now the white gloves that folded your flag with such love and care…I bet you know, of course, it takes 2 officers and 12 different folds, ending in a triangle of white stars on a blue ground, a sliver of starlit sky to guide you on your way.

And their faces, so full of reverence for a member of their Navy family. I saw in their eyes what your service meant to you—and I’m sorry, and kind of embarrassed, I didn’t understand sooner. My feelings about the military were colored more by what I had seen about Vietnam, but everyone says, and you should know, how special the WWII veterans are. My friend Kathy told me that her father, who would have been 91, enlisted in the Navy when he was just 17. “You probably didn’t get it back then," she said, “because these veterans didn’t talk or boast about their service at all.” I am making you a promise that I will submit your name and a photo to the online World War II National Registry.

I can see you nod and smile… I think that means I have the go-ahead : )

After the flag was presented to George, a bugler played Taps. I also think you told me, though I mustn’t have been listening, how beautiful and perfect that song is. The notes shimmered through the snow like golden leaves becoming, swelling, not wanting to leave quite yet, the first notes ever played of the last song in the world.

Day is done, gone the sun
From the lakes, from the hills, from the sky
All is well, safely rest
God is nigh.

And the snow, it kept coming, swirling and whirling like we were inside that most beautiful mystery with you. It fell on the white roses that we left for you, blossoming in the middle of winter in your enchanted forest. Each snowflake a koan, and each petal an answer..

Is being the same as to be?
Or is becoming bigger than being?
Was the first song heard by the listener or the musician?
Did you hear the roses bloom in the snowfall?

One easy answer: What we decided to sing to you in closing after Father said the prayers. We sang loudly. We sang strongly. I sang it like I always sing this song, like you’re right there next to me and singing it with me…

Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,
I don't care if we never get back.
For it’s root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win, it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
At the old ball game!

So you know, we were also joined at the cemetery by a couple who was wandering by the church and attended your Mass. Afterward they came up and hugged me and said that even though they didn’t know you before, they felt like they did now (Confession: During Mass, several of us kind of talked a whole lot about you and shared some of your best stories.)

Leave it to you to make new friends at your funeral. : )

All my love,

I love this song, and especially this version. A honky-tonk cellblock “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” kinda.