I’ve never been a huge fan of the Beatles. To be quite honest, I’ve often thought of their music as overrated. The truth is, is that I never really gave them a fair chance. I held a lot of spite towards them, probably because as soon as their music became more popular, people sort of dumped the 1960s pop that I’m always talking about. Yes, the Beatles’ music was very popular and well-liked by the public, but that doesn’t necessarily make it “bad” music.
“Here Comes the Sun” came on my Pandora radio station the other day as I was cleaning. At first, I was about to skip to the next song, however, something stopped me. I was dusting the blinds in my bedroom, looking at the dismal sky and the endless white snow, and this smile came over my face. Yes, a smile! Something that hasn’t happened in quite some time.
The song really is quite lovely. It’s so delicate. It has this air to it that just kind of brings these happy and nostalgic thoughts to mind. ”Little darlin, it’s been a long cold lonely winter/ Little darlin, it feels like years since it’s been here/ Here comes the sun, here comes the sun/ And I say it’s all right./ Little darlin, the smiles returning to the faces/ Little darlin, it seems like years since it’s been here/ Here comes the sun, here comes the sun/ And I say it’s all right.” That amiable chord progression used in all three verses could bring a smile to anyone’s face, and it’s that acoustic guitar playing the melody that provides that delicate touch. And then of course by the second verse, after the heart-strings have been yanked, that “Moog synthesizer” is added and just tickles the entire body, perhaps bringing a smile and maybe even some tears. To top it off, the lyrics make the song even more touching. That idea that happiness is gently shining through, finally, after those hard, smileless times. I can’t help but think about the climate in Great Britain. Supposedly, the winters can drag on, creating that dismal middle-of-winter scene that nobody wants to deal with. After months and months of gloomy weather, the sun delicately shines through the remaining clouds; the people stop and take notice of it, feeling tickled by its soft rays. Happiness has returned, slowly but very surely.
We all have our winter moments that never seem to end. Whether these moments occur during the winter, or any time really, we can all feel unhappy at times. However, the sun is always there, hiding behind the clouds. Most of us, in our times of sadness, grief, anger, frustration, seem to forget that the sun is there and we block it out. Rather than block it out, search for it, and if found, allow the sun back into your life, slowly but very surely.
-Live and love your life!
Time. Oh time. How is it so easily able to slip away from us? Thanksgiving has come and gone. Christmas has come and gone. June and July might as well just come and go… let’s just get it over with! Haha, maybe not. Last Friday, I thought about blogging, about this site, about how much joy I get out of receiving comments on my “song of the week” posts. I realized that my last blog post was before Thanksgiving! How did that happen??? Talk about time slipping away, I couldn’t believe it!
Even though Christmas has already passed, I’m still thinking about the idea of Christmas past, present, and future. Christmas is the one time of the year where these three major aspects of time blend together. I guess I never realized how big of a role traditions played in Christmas. Now that I’m older, I’ve realized that next to the birth of Christ, it’s the traditions that make Christmas/the holiday season what it really is. Christmas Eve mass at five o clock, followed by dinner and presents with dad’s side of the family, followed by presents with my immediate family at my house (a fairly new tradition – we used to do immediate family gifts Christmas morning), followed by Christmas morning breakfast with my crazy cousins, followed by dinner with mom’s big Italian family in my grandma’s basement, and then of course New Year’s Eve a week later in my mom’s uncle’s basement. The entire process is second nature. Given that my parents have recently divorced, and my cousins from New York didn’t make it in this year, I thought for sure this Christmas would feel wrong. Well, I was wrong in thinking that because nothing about it felt wrong. Sure, mom may not have been with dad’s family, dad may not have been with mom’s family, and the cousins may not have been over for Christmas breakfast, but in the midst of this novelty existed familiarity. I still felt the joy on Christmas Eve, I still felt the happiness on Christmas morning, and I’m sure I’ll still feel the excitement on New Year’s Eve. It’s the fact that even though things have changed, drastically, we still followed the same traditions that I’ve known my entire life. And that’s where my happiness and joy lied this past Christmas.
I’ve spent the last month reading a wonderful classic for my literature class, Great Expectations by Dickens. I don’t think I’ve ever learned so much from a character than I have learned from Pip. Dickens just takes this innocent, simple young boy and turns his life story into a brilliant masterpiece! Dickens is able to pack the feelings of Victorian England into one person’s life story. The dramatic economic and societal class distinctions, the hardships of the lower class, the hardships of the upper class, the “hardships” of the entire middle class – lower and upper middle class, but also the neutrality and contentness of the middle class, and of course that ever-present struggle of holding onto one’s values and morals. It’s this last topic that I’ve found fascinating, especially how obvious Dickens was about it. We see it so clearly as Pip loses touch with everything from his youth (values, morals, sense of self) and we see it even more as he embarks on his dramatic journey through adulthood, rediscovering little by little all that he’s lost. The most beautiful part about this, is that we all go through this journey, it’s called growing up! Of course most of our journeys probably don’t involve a strange old rich woman rotting away in her house, or some mysterious benefactor who gives us all the money we want. That’s just the beauty of Dickens’s craft! I can’t wait to finish the last three chapters tonight!
I could go on and on about what has happened to me these past few months, but I just want to finish this up with a song… of course! So I’m obsessed with American Horror Story, and on one of the episodes a month ago, there was this lovely 1960s pop song playing in one of the scenes. I fell in love with this song as soon as I heard it, but unfortunately I could not find it. I spent weeks trying to find it – Shazam, Google, YouTube, my knowledge of 1950s and 1960s pop. Nothing worked! Just as I was about to give up, I revisited an American Horror Story blog that I posted the question on. Sure enough, and not to my knowledge, somebody answered my question with the title of the song!!!!! I was overjoyed (and shocked)! Here’s the song…..
-Live and love your life!
Scar Tissue by Red Hot Chili Peppers
Not only was this song one of my songs of the summer, but it was one of my favorite songs when I was a little kid. This is actually one of the first songs that I recollect listening to as a child. My parents had almost every Red Hot Chili Peppers album, and this one, “Californiacation,” seemed to have always been playing in the car.
This song has such distinct vibes. They’re very mellow and subdued. In a way the picture on the album cover parallels to these vibes. I do think of California when I hear this song. I don’t necessarily think of the dozens of palm trees among that sunset backdrop, but I do think of a crystal blue in-ground pool shimmering in the sunlight (similar to the album cover). What lovely lyrics too, “with the birds I’ll share this lonely view.” Depressing, but so deep! Oh how I’d love to fly over California….
It may seem strange that I chose this song at the beginning of fall, however, it’s been in my head over the last few days. And of course, it was a song of my childhood! I miss the ’90s.
On a random note, has anybody been watching Dancing with the Stars – All Stars??? It is SUPERB this season. I really like how they decided to bring back stars from seasons past. Very interesting. I am rooting for Kirstie (even though I hate Maks), Melissa, and KELLEY (I LOVE HER). Gilles is pretty awesome too. I can’t wait for my weekly date with Hulu and my DVR this weekend! Hopefully I’ll have time – busy, busy weekend. I missed Revenge on Sunday – heard it was awesome. I wonder how Modern Family season 4 is coming along… I have to finish season 3 via Netflix. That show is HILARIOUS! I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much at a TV show!
Of course there are Ryan Murphy’s other shows – Glee (2 weeks behind on that one), and The New Normal. I really like The New Normal! Definitely one that I look forward to every week. Go On is another good one – definitely not as funny as Modern Family or The New Normal. I also started watching Revolution. That’s the new one portraying our world if all of the electricity stopped working. It’s a very interesting storyline, but the plot seems to be moving slow. It’s hard to tell if that one will make it into another season.
And just a friendly reminder, American Horror Story starts in 14 days…. GET PUMPED!!!
-Live and love your life!
Blue Velvet by Bobbie Vinton, rendition done by Lana Del Rey
This past weekend as I was catching up on my Fall TV shows, an H&M Fashion commercial came on featuring this artist, Lana Del Rey, and her rendition of the song, Blue Velvet (originally done by Bobbie Vinton). The commercial was quite strange. It wasn’t scary, but it was sort of “disturbing.” There was just something about it that unsettled me, however, I really liked it. Its obscurity and its darkness lured me in. Here’s the commercial that I saw.
I can definitely tell that there’s some art form portrayed here. I’m unsure of what it is, but my gosh, it’s just so strange! When I first saw the commercial I thought of that movie Insidious. It’s that horror/supernatural thriller movie that came out a few years ago – Barbara Hershey is in it…. Anyway, the art form featured in this video seems to be the same art form used in Insidious. I showed my friend this video over the weekend and she said it reminded her of American Horror Story! Clearly, this cover is getting some strange responses. I’m just wondering why H&M Fashion went with this theme. Perhaps it’s a Halloween thing?
I know I’m quite judgemental about modern music, but I actually liked this rendition. I love Lana Del Rey’s voice, and her interpretation of this song is quite interesting. Bobby Vinton’s version is actually more up-beat.
Well, I hope you all enjoyed your Monday! Time sure has been flying by these past few weeks, and unfortunately I don’t think it’ll slow down! Oh, Happy Fall by the way. All of the trees’ leaves on my street are beginning to change colors – so pretty! I really miss the big old tree that used to stand in our front yard It was here since the neighborhood was first established 50+ years ago. Unfortunately the city came and chopped it down last September because it was dying and was a hazard to the community. It’s so depressing not having the leaves all over our yard. Although the breathtaking sunrises I see on my way to school every morning kind of make up for it!
-Live and love your life!
New York State of Mind, rendition done by Glee Cast
I always know when Fall arrives because of the immense amount of advertisements for Fall TV shows and movies. I have already started my Fall TV obsession. I spent this past weekend glued to Hulu and my DVR, a favorite Fall sport of mine. When I got to Glee, I was actually hesitant to watch it.
The past few seasons of Glee have been kind of boring. The storyline wasn’t going anywhere, and the music was all the same. As I turned on the first episode of this new season, I realized that Kate Hudson joined the Glee cast. I was hysterical!!! For those that don’t know, I absolutely love Goldie Hawn and her AMAZING family. They are all awesome!
Kate Hudson is not the only reason though that I am so fired up for this fourth season of Glee. After watching the first episode, I was blown away by the new characters. Ryan Murphy, the writer of Glee, as well as American Horror Story and The New Normal, really gave a fresh twist to the Glee storyline. In addition to the new characters, Murphy still seems to be keeping tabs on the old characters, like Rachel Berry (Lea Michele) who has since graduated from high school and the glee club, and has ventured off to NYADA in NYC. Kate Hudson plays Rachel Berry’s dance instructor at NYADA. I find this new layout fascinating. Most of Murphy’s shows exhibit fresh, realistic storylines. After all, if Murphy booted Lea Michele off, one of the main characters, the show would have definitely lost that profound reality.
In this performance of “New York State of Mind,” a song sung and made famous by Barbra Streisand and Billy Joel, we see Rachel Berry performing in her singing class at NYADA, and we see the newest member of glee club, Marley, auditioning to become a part of the glee club. I find it fascinating that Murphy has tied Marley to the one and only Rachel Berry. For those that watch Glee, you’ll probably agree with me when I say that Marley and Rachel are quite different, in fact they’re foils of each other. However, to our surprise, their minds must think alike! They both chose the same song, and they both sang it with similar styles. This idea really adds to the emotional appeal of this performance. We see the once-famous glee club star at the bottom of the pack – for once – trying to find her place in NYC, and we see the quiet, down-to-earth “newbie” who, like Rachel, is also trying to find her place.
I encourage anybody who hasn’t watched Glee from the beginning, to at least watch Ryan Murphy’s new shows: American Horror Story and The New Normal. American Horror Story will be returning for its second season and The New Normal just started (two episodes in). And don’t worry if you didn’t catch American Horror Story, season one! Murphy has decided to give each season a totally new storyline with new characters, a new plot, and a new setting! I will warn you that this show tends to get graphic, and is definitely NOT for young kids. But it still is brilliant!
So set those DVRs, and let Fall be the season of exploration and novelty!!! Oh, and HAPPY FALL (almost).
-Live and love your life!
Symphony No. 5, Finale by Tchaikovsky
No, this is not a mistake. I have purposely chosen Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony as my song of the week for two weeks in a row. I guess I just really love this song, and I hope all of you do as well!
When I posted this song last week, I didn’t hit on the primary motif as much as I wanted. If you read my post from last week, I mentioned that this piece reminds me of sadness beautifully and gracefully transforming into happiness. I strongly believe that that was, kind of, sort of, Tchaikovsky’s intent. He begins this symphony with that very same melody we hear at the beginning and end of this video. Except when we first hear it, it’s depressing and dark. He paints this image of a dreary, cold, stale day. I think of the setting in Orwell’s novel, 1984. I also think of the underworld, in Greek mythology.
However, by the finale, the melody has completely changed. And it’s this very fact that I find so beautiful and appealing about this piece. Tchaikovsky was certainly not the only composer to accomplish this brilliant feat, Beethoven and Brahms did it all the time - crafted distinct melodies that painted such illustrious pictures and evoked such feelings that lurked in the recesses of our minds. However, it was how Tchaikovsky did it. He used the same melody. And it’s that one melody that he presents to us, that metamorphosizes from this drab being, into this beautiful and majestic being. I say being, because by the end of the finale, at 10:06 to be exact, this melody is something more than just music. At that point, we literally hear that metamorphosis taking place.
Tchaikovsky was a very depressed man for most of his life, so his introduction to this symphony really doesn’t surprise me. However, like many depressed people, he longed to find happiness. He longed to find that sense of completeness. Unfortunately for him, he died a young man at about 50 years old, and even at his death, he never found that completeness. He was definitely an ideal romantic character. With that being said, his purpose behind this piece had to be a message to his audience – the idea that happiness can come from sadness, if we allow it to. We realize after the melody’s last appearance that the only reason it’s so beautiful, is because the key changed and the style changed. In all reality, it’s still the same depressing melody we heard in the first movement. Just take a listen to the first few minutes of the first movement.
So different, right? But really, everything needed to make that melody happy was there the whole time! It was just a matter of changing a few things around. We can use this lesson in our lives. Everything we need to feel happy or “complete,” is right there. We have the tools, we have the power, we just have to search. Once we find it, we have to learn how to use it. I don’t think anybody has ever mastered the power. I think it’s a power that we spend our lives trying to figure out, but never can totally figure it out. You’d have to be perfect to totally figure it out, and nobody is perfect! What counts, is that you put forth the effort to learn about and grow from that power. In other words, “change a few things around,” and see what happens!
I’d love to hear comments from others about this piece. How do you feel after listening to it?
-Live and love your life!
P.S. I’m trying the Monday thing now – just to add novelty in my life I guess. Hopefully it works out! Enjoy the rest of the week
Symphony No. 5, Finale by Tchaikovsky
I sit here and write on this final night of summer vacation. I feel so many different emotions right now – anxiety, excitement, sadness. I spend this last summer night every year thinking about all that’s happened over the summer. I might not have gone on any vacations this past summer, but I feel like a new person. I’ve spent this summer doing the things that I love to do. I read for my literature class, I listened to some wonderful and brilliant music (like this piece), I discovered some great TV shows, and most importantly, I got to know myself more.
To me, everyday this past summer was special. Earlier today as I thought about the summer, I realized that most of the things that made my summer so wonderful were the little things. Floating in the pool, the sun beating down on me, warming and numbing my body, while listening to music. Sitting outside at sunset as the lovely summer breeze softly touched my body, smelling that “summer” smell, listening to the crickets and the fountain in my pool circulate the water. Becoming more mindful on a daily basis, realizing that I can just relax and not worry about homework, listening to myself breathe and feeling my breath circulate throughout my body, just like the water in the pool fountain. I didn’t worry about time. Instead, I focused on every minute, on every choice I made, and noticed that I was in control.
Yes, this summer, like all of the others has certainly been fantastic. And to wrap up a perfect summer, I’ve chosen this beautiful and brilliant song to reflect on. Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony has certainly been one of my closest companions this summer. Over the weekend as I struggled to choose a song for this week, I did not even realize that the perfect song was sitting right there the whole time. In fact, as I was thinking about what song to choose, I was probably listening to this one. This symphony goes through many different phases. To take us through the phases, Tchaikovsky has written that lovely melody which we hear at the beginning of this video.
I love this symphony because of that very distinct motif Tchaikovsky has brilliantly crafted. We hear the motif at the begging of this video, throughout the development section of this movement, and of course at the end of the video. We also hear it in the first movement, in which it’s presented to us as this dark, depressing melody. Tchaikovsky’s technique is brilliant. But what is he trying to tell us with this motif and its paradoxical appearances? I think by portraying that one theme in so many ways, Tchaikovsky was trying to tell us that we can find happiness in the depths of our sadness. For example, at 10:38 when we hear the motif for the last time, Tchaikovsky makes it so dream-like and majestic that it seems as though we’re listening to a totally different piece of music. In fact, it seems that we are listening to something more than music. We’re listening to the sadness rising up from the depths of the human soul, and transforming into happiness literally before our ears. This final portrayal leaves us with a sense of hope, completeness. It tickles us. It inspires us.
Perhaps I’ve subconsciously linked this piece to my experience this past summer. Everything I needed to enjoy my summer, and to realize who I was, was right there. It was a matter of realizing this and then allowing it to help me that was so wonderful. Just like the happiness in Tchaikovsky’s symphony, it was there the whole time, it was just a matter of realizing it.
-Live and love your life!
Here’s to a man who has inspired me in so many different ways over the past seven years. A man whose brilliant career spanned nearly five decades. A man who presented classical music in such a way, that everyone who had the blessing of hearing it was impacted. A man who was not only a brilliant conductor, but a teacher, a composer, a loving father and husband. And finally, a man who left such a legacy that music theory and appreciation textbooks have chapters dedicated to the one and only Lennie Bernstein.
Now I am not fond of musical anecdotes (nor was Lennie), but thanks to Lennie and his legacy, my life has been changed in so many ways. Yes, because of Lennie, I grew to love classical music and the art of conducting. I remember it vividly. My cousin was over and the two of us were on the computer sharing music with each other. I was sharing my usual big band/swing, movie scores, and wind ensemble arrangements, and he was sharing his usual Mozart, Beethoven, and Bach. To be quite honest, I was quite bored with that “type” of music. I didn’t understand it. I didn’t even try to understand it. My cousin finally asked if I had ever heard of Leonard Bernstein. I was like, “WHO?”
My cousin started to type in “Leonard Bernstein conducting Beethoven 9 finale.” “Oh no,” I thought. “Not more Beethoven!” I had never heard the Ninth prior to that day, nor had I ever seen Leonard Bernstein conduct. When the video loaded, I watched as Leonard Bernstein aggressively cued the timpanist and winds. I became mesmerized as he softly executed the “Ode to Joy” theme. And of course his dramatic finish during the last five minutes of the finale speaks for itself.
As the finale progressed, I realized something wonderful. I realized that I was opening up and allowing this brilliant and dramatic conductor (whose name I forgot at that point) to take me through Beethoven’s greatest masterpiece. At the moment when Lennie conducted that last thundering chord of the finale, I instantly said to my cousin, “Rewind the last five minutes. I NEED to see that again!!!!!!” I fell in love with the charismatic conductor, who helped me to open up my heart and understand, just a little bit, what these musical gods had to say. Thank you for that Lennie.
Here are some of my favorite Leonard Bernstein performances!
And finally, here’s probably my favorite video, a look at Leonard Bernstein – the teacher.
So here’s to a man who may not physically be on this earth, but whose legacy continues to inspire and impact the lives of many. Happy Birthday, Leonard Bernstein, and thank you.
- Live and love your life!
Overboard Film Score by Alan Silvestri
Not only is Overboard one of my favorite Goldie Hawn films, but it’s also one of my favorite films of all time. It was one of the first movies that I remember watching as a little kid. I always thought my mom was just like Goldie Hawn’s character – after she fell off the boat. I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that everyone has seen this movie. If not, PLEASE WATCH IT! It really is a wonderful movie. Definitely a tear jerker. It wasn’t a major hit when it came out, but the message it portrays is very inspirational. And what better actress to execute such a role than the one and only Goldie Hawn??
This video contains some of the main sections of the film score. I’ve always found the score to be so touching. It’s definitely one that tugs on my heart strings. Alan Silvestri is a favorite film composer of mine. He’s composed scores for many movies, like the Back to the Future series, Death Becomes Her (another Goldie Hawn film), the Father of the Bride films, Lilo and Stitch, The Bodyguard, Stuart Little, The Parent Trap, The Polar Express, and the one and only Forrest Gump.
I hope everyone enjoys this lovely score as I much as I did and continue to do! I also hope that everyone is enjoying these last few weeks of summer… I know I am!
-Live and love your life!
What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong
Rendition done by Goldie Hawn, Meryl Streep, Olivia Newton-John, Bette Midler, Cher, and Lily Tomlin
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about time. Time spent learning. Time spent meeting new people. Time spent getting to know myself. Time spent growing up. Time certainly is a mysterious concept. When we think it’s going by slow, it’s really going by fast. Time slips away from us, just as sand slips through a sifter. And once the sand lands, it is covered by even more sand. Eventually, the grains which we started with become totally covered with new sand grains. It seems that those original sand grains have disappeared into some abyss. A place unknown to man.
I remember singing this song what seems to me many years ago, at my kindergarten graduation. That is one of the few memories I have of my childhood. I remember all of the parents gathering in the cafeteria and all of us kindergarteners up on stage preparing. When the song finally started and the kindergarteners began to sing, all of the parents began to sob. One of the meanings behind this song is that all living beings start off as innocent, young beings. As time goes on, that young being grows physically and mentally into what seems like a new being. But the truth is, that young being never goes away. That young being will always remain inside of the new being. Inside each one us, still exists that innocent, sweet, five year old kindergartener that needs to be nurtured and cherished. We must not let that being get lost under time, because that being is our soul. That being is the one thing we have untouched by the burdens of time.
Find that inner being, and yank it away from time. Keep it with you. Grow with it, don’t part with it. Let it be an instrument through which we see the world. Let it show us how blue the sky truly is. Let it help us discover the meaning behind those bright blessed days and dark sacred nights. Let it act as a light to guide us through life, through time. Never stop learning from that being, because it always has something to teach us.
I also wanted to share this video of some of my favorite actresses performing this song. Here’s to some women who have allowed that inner being to guide them through their lives and careers.
Enjoy the world, enjoy the weather, and enjoy the music – one of God’s greatest gifts of all to mankind.
Live and love your life!