Thank you for the music

I first heard David Bowie while watching the film “Detroit Rock City” well before I should have ( I was 10 or 11, and it’s definitely rated R). I was being babysat by older cousins who let me watch it. In one of the scenes, I heard a song in the background of a scene that stuck in my head.

That song was “Rebel Rebel” by David Bowie.

I managed to acquire the soundtrack, which opened me up to bands like KISS (obviously), Van Halen, Black Sabbath, The Runaways, Thin Lizzy, The Donnas, and David Bowie.

It opened a door to a world of music that helped me through those formative teen years of angst and feeling like an outcast. Anyone who has listened to Bowie’s music knows, there’s no one better to make you feel like you’re not alone.

I soon after purchased the album “Best of Bowie” which I listened to to the point of scratching it to high hell and having to buy it digitally. The hours spent driving around between the ages of 17 and 21 with that CD as my soundtrack are immeasurable, and irreplaceable. Even to this day my favorite getting ready song is “Rebel Rebel”.  Listening to David Bowie gives one a sense of the infinite, of something so much more than what we are.  There’s no other way to describe it. Just as he proclaimed:

“I always had a repulsive need to be something more than human. I felt very puny as a human. I thought, “F**k that. I want to be a superhuman.”

Listening to him makes you feel that superhuman quality, and inspires a sense of personal freedom and expression in the listener.

So this morning, when I opened my social media and saw an onslaught of salutes, I instantly teared up. I texted my best friend, the biggest David Bowie fan I know, who confirmed that most devastating truth that he had passed away.

Immediately, my thoughts and heart went out to his family. It’s devastating to lose someone, and he was someone’s person.

I then thought about how much his music had impacted me. How he put something out that resonated deeply not just with me, but with people all over the world.

My best friend and I exchanged texts of sadness. I put on that CD as I got ready for the day. I topped off my professional work look with a line of green glittery eye liner. Today called for something a bit more fabulous, hopeful I wouldn’t cry it off during the day.

Anyone who doesn’t believe in the power of being true to oneself and the transcendence of that into artistic expression need not look any further than David Bowie’s music. He serves as a shining reminder to be who we are and not to water ourselves down. One of my favorite quotes of his was when he said:

“I’m just an individual who doesn’t feel that I need to have somebody qualify my work in any particular way. I’m working for me.”

And:

“All my big mistakes are when I try to second-guess or please an audience. My work is always stronger when I get very selfish about it.” (Quotes via this Huffington Post article).

As someone who has long been fearful of sharing my writing (the stuff in the actual journals, not what’s written here) for fear of rejection, I think it time to mull over these words.

The grace and honesty that David Bowie has exuded over the years is a testament to his art and has touched countless lives throughout the world through that medium. I raise my words and my glass to his legacy and I am inspired to live as he did: true to myself  through to the end.

 

 

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The Struts – An electric current

Sitting here, thinking about going to work tomorrow, and I feel the electric current still running through me from last night. The kind of electricity that can bring you back from the brink of a flat line and that can only be experienced front row at a rock concert.

Not just any rock concert.

The Struts

It continues to amaze me how my life is unfolding this year. My original plans for Sunday night had been very different and had been planned for months. When said plans changed (fell demonstrably to pieces- such is life),  my friends mentioned going to see The Struts at Asbury Park in New Jersey.

I immediately bought my ticket. I’d been listening to their EP for weeks and that alone had been a breath of fresh, rock n’ roll air. I remember downloading it while at work, and immediately sending it to several friends, exclaiming the immeasurably good mood the songs had put me in. I also remember trying not to shake my ass at my desk, or while walking home.

I’ve been enjoying that high the last few weeks. Now, after hearing and experiencing the band live last night, I anticipate that the feeling will not be waning any time soon. Today, driving around and listening to the album, it was different- I had a live performance to associate it with, and I smiled so hard, my eyes were watering, remembering the night before.

We drove from New Haven, CT to Asbury Park, NJ and it was worth every mile.

We arrived in Jersey after several hours, one rest stop (miraculously, with 3 ladies traveling together) and made our way to the venue. Well nourished by not only decent drink specials and food, but the Wonderbar’s “Yappy Hour” where patrons are encouraged to bring their dogs to the bar to hang out. Overloaded with cuteness and Yeungling, we passed the time until the doors opened at  7.

Once inside, we secured prime viewing from stage right (our left) and settled in. The opening band, Highly Suspect, was great, and made me reminiscent of my days going to metal/ rock/ hardcore shows at Daniel Street. Once warmed up, we were ready for the main event.

Enter:

The Struts, a rock quartet from Derby, England with all the regal and glamour of Queen, David Bowie, and the Rolling Stones wrapped up in a perfectly brilliant and well oiled package.  Though the influences are there, their sound is entirely their own.

It’s always astounding to me when I go see a band play and they sound even better than the recording. These are musicians who give a shit, who care about their music and their art. They’re good because they accept no less than their best. Also, they love to play. You can just tell from the way they perform, the way they engage with each other on stage and also how they engage with the audience.

They’re an electric force of nature, and from the moment they begin playing, you trust them completely to show you a good time. Everyone knows their part and plays it to perfection.

I danced my ass off, sang my throat raw, and smiled until my face hurt. Every single aspect of the show made my heart start up with the vigor of 10,000 volts that will carry me until next I see them perform again, whenever that may be.

All I know, is their performance and their music is the kind of music that gives me life. As I was experiencing all that The Struts had to offer, I couldn’t help but recall the words of a very dear (and most unfortunately departed) friend,

“My music? *My* music? It is not mine; I did not build it! I am not its creator; rather, it created me. It transcends time, place, genre, and person…it is I and I am it. ‘My’ music is the sound of the world as it hits my ears and collides with my mind, it is everything I know. The world has a rhythm and a pulse, and who but man would seek so lavish and lofty a goal as to organize the heartbeat of the world and scorch it into miles of plastic ribbons and coasters? I receive all that I can- a definition as circular as the world, far less useful than her life’s tempo.” – Mike  Altieri

I received all I could from the guitar, bass, drums and vocals that collided with my every sense that night, and I cherish the beautiful memory it has burned in my mind. I didn’t take many pictures during the show, because I knew there would be no recreating the magic of such an individual experience, and I wanted to experience it presently and first hand, not through a lens.  (though I didn’t pass up the photo op with guitarist Adam Slack after the performance was over.)

When the show was over, I was surprised to see Luke (lead singer/ front man) behind his own merch table, posing for photos and signing CDs, and being an ever gracious front man. My friends were thrilled to be able to get a picture of this performance master who had just rocked their faces off, and I was thrilled to see him so accessible, something that I’m sure going forward will require a back stage pass.

I was delighted (okay, I was ecstatic) when Adam (guitarist) emerged, and I was able to have a quick chat and get a photo with him. His playing was remarkable, and it was a trip getting to tell him so. In a moment I attribute to Amanda Palmer’s “Art of Asking”, when Luke had at one point jumped off the stage, averting everyone’s attention, I had a moment to smile at Adam, who smiled back. I then made the snap, random decision to give him a bracelet off my wrist. In the spirit of audience / band member dynamic that so seldom occurs these days, it was a brief moment to say, “Thank you, your music gets me through the day, and this performance is outstanding.”

His playing was amazing to watch and his brilliant skill had me completely enamored. It was my idea to just say, “Thank you” and wanting to give more than just my attention or ticket money. It wasn’t planned and it probably didn’t make much sense. But I did it, and I’m glad, because I am quite sure, I’ll never have the opportunity to do it again. It wasn’t about trying to be a groupie, or touching a “rock star”; it was more to do with wanting to show appreciation for music that has come to mean a great deal to me, and in many ways, set me free.

It’s a wonderful experience when bands play smaller venues and you can have that amazing intimacy with the music you love. To once again quote Amanda Palmer, “For most of human history, musicians, artists, they’ve been part of the community. Connectors and openers, not untouchable stars. Celebrity is about a lot of people loving you from a distance, but the Internet and the content that we’re freely able to share on it are taking us back. It’s about a few people loving you up close and about those people being enough.”

There’s something that goes along with seeing a band right before they blow up,  when you see the powder get lit and watch the fuse travel toward the impending barrel of dynamite. I hope this band reaches as many people as possible, and find their success and place in rock n roll.

I think it’s less about lamenting rights to say, “I saw them before they were big” and more about being able to quietly enjoy the fact that you had an up close and personal experience with music you love.

The Struts gave me a jolt I didn’t know I needed until I left their show with electricity coursing through my veins; the kind of music you don’t realize is missing from your life until you listen to it and feel it fill in the gaps. I will always need music and friends who share a love for music like that in my life- it’s the only thing that makes it worth it to keep going.

It was a top night, and I’m curious on what will top this night next.

Friday Play List #2

It’s Friiiiiiiiiddddaaaayyyyy!

I don’t know about you, but it’s got me feeling like

mighty ducks

So as promised, here is my playlist from this past week.

Fire Meet Gasoline, Sia – Album: 1000 forms of fear *The video for this song came out today (or yesterday) and it’s everything. Absolutely everything I have ever wanted in a music video. Hits you right in the feels.  I’ve been jamming to the song for weeks at the gym, and in the car, but this song is definitely my #1 today.

The Kids, B.o.B. (feat. Janelle Monáe)- Album : The Adventures of Bobby Ray

Wild Heart, Bleachers- Album Strange Desire

Walkashame, Meghan Trainor, Album: Title

Madness, Muse : Album The 2nd Law

Fooled around and Fell in Love, Elvin Bishop- Album: Guardians of the Galaxy Soundtrack (i’ve been playing this soundtrack a lot lately, so much good music).

Like Real People Do, Hozier- Album: Hozier

The Walker, Fitz and the Tantrums- Album More than Just a Dream (awesome song, even if the radio tried to kill it).

Can’t Pin me Down, Marina and the Diamonds- Album: Froot *(I love her music, electra heart is another great album as well as family jewels).

Pray to God, Calvin Harris (Feat. HAIM)- Album:Motion *(LOOOOOOOVE HAIM)

Wishing everyone an awesome weekend, good tunes and some sunshine!

Friday Playlist

Music is an everyday absolute necessity. Whether I’m going to work out, walking on my lunch to get coffee, driving in the car, etc, there is always music.

My library has recently passed the 5,000 song mark. I’m quite picky with my music, but still manage to have a range from current top 40 pop to indie folk to metal to classical. It all depends on what kind of mood I’m in. Obscure is good, weird is even better, danceable is the best, but so is vibey music (definition: music you can just sit down and chill with).

I want to keep blogging, and with the worry of becoming too one note (pun!) I wanted to instill a weekly play list. As of late, I’ve also been missing my college DJ days where i got to make a playlist every week. The best is when I get to turn people onto new music that they then enjoy (plz see blog about The Still Tide).

So this week’s playlist sounds like this:

In the Sea by Ingrid Michaelson, Album: Human Again

Say Hello, Wave Goodbye by David Gray, Album : White Ladder

The Water in the Pipes by The Kissing Club Album : Hooks

Sing by Travis, Album: Singles

Signs by Bloc Party, Album : Intimacy

Beating Heart by Elle Goulding Album: Divergent Soundtrack

Different Names for the Same Thing by Death Cab for Cutie, Album: Plans

The Curse by Josh Ritter, Album: So Runs the World Away

Closer Apart by The Still Tide, Album: Half Empty Rooms

Through My Teeth by Yet Cut Breath Album : Hinges

Sidekick by Walk the Moon, Album: Talking is Hard

These are just songs I’ve listening to at length this week, or songs that came on that stood out. I’ll try to keep it fresh every week for ya! I hope you’ll look some up and enjoy.

Yet Cut Breath Hinges on this Tindered heart in a Half Empty Room

I awoke this morning to my companion leaping from the bed and dashing for the door. Startled, I roused and opened the door for him to escape. This is pretty much par for the course, as Finley usually excuses himself this time every morning. He exited in a flurry of fur. Still exhausted, I fell back into my sheets and slept a bit more. Upon waking a second time, my faithful companion had returned, and was quietly snoring at my feet.

Coffee was a must. I grabbed the book I had been trying to read all week and sat down. After 4 pages, I realized I wasn’t paying attention- I was still reeling from last night, and couldn’t fight the need to write it down.

The lovely Brittany Sanchez (of Sanchez Family of Two blog- link on the side  of my page) and I embarked on her first Brooklyn adventure last night. Scurrying from work half an hour early, we caught the train and our night began. Fortunate enough to have our paths cross when we were hired 7 months ago, we have been kindred spirits from the start. A bright, warm and sweet to the core soul, Brittany has an adventurous spirit and a knack for capturing and preserving moments.

We  arrived, we took the subway to Brooklyn, and for the first time, I didn’t get off and walk the wrong way for two blocks. Our first mission was FOOD, glorious food! We stopped in randomly to a place called the Northern Bell, and were delightfully surprised. Bellies full, we continued on, our destination on the left- The Living Room.

I started listening to the band The Still Tide when they were known as Yet Cut Breath a few years ago. It was one of those amazing moments when you heard a band’s music and felt like they understood absolutely every feeling you had. The sounds that come forth from these brilliant musicians blend and dance together- like a perfect ballet dance for your ears.

Jake’s echoing chords and riffs compliment Anna’s perfectly soulful voice that knows how to pluck your heart strings just right, and Aaron’s perfectly constructed and meticulous percussion provides the backbone of the whole operation. When you listen to their music, live or on CD, you’re left open-hearted and full.

And I didn’t even touch on the lyrics. As I’m writing this, the song Field of Bells off their new EP ‘Half Empty Rooms’ is playing- “If you can’t always find it, put your head against our hearts, look inside them/ If you worry that it’s broken, put your hands against your ribs and let ’em open you up/ let ’em open you up.” (Song Credit- Anna Morsett and Jake Miller).  For your own discovery, please see their website and get acquainted. TheStillTide.com

We arrived at the venue- a beautiful brick establishment with high ceilings, fairy lights and a cozy atmosphere. We checked in, and walked through a velvety red curtain to a cabaret style room. To our left, a bar up on a landing, and before us, tables and chairs laid out before a stage. The Still Tide was just beginning, so we quickly got our seats and settled in. I kept looking at Brittany, checking her reaction. I had sent her the band’s website to listen to some of their music ahead of time. Just as two people never read the same book, two people never listen to music the same way.

I love going to shows not having heard the music beforehand. I knew the band had a new EP, but I hadn’t heard it yet. There’s also a sense of joy as a an audience member going up to the group afterward and buying the music from them directly. (See the Amanda Palmer TED  talk, the Art of Asking). This band and their art has comforted me through break ups, new loves, sleepless nights, and long drives. The generosity of this group goes so far that they mentioned to the crowd in between songs, that people could just take the EP, even if they didn’t have the cash to pay for it.  They were really proud of it and wanted people to hear it.

After the band played their last song and broke down the stage, Brittany and I chatted, sharing our feelings and thoughts about everything that just happened. Loving that they covered a song from Grease, adoring the song with the guest xylophone player, giggling at Anna’s jokes, Jake’s perfect dancing, Aaron’s joyful facial expressions as he drummed. We gave what we had to the donation jar, and walked away with the new EP,  a beautiful poster and amazing experience for each of us.  When they disembarked from the stage, hugs and love and “so happy to see you’s” and “Thank you for comings” were exchanged, and carried on for a bit in the bar.

Eventually, we said our good nights, our final thank yous and collected the last of the hugs. Embarking for home, Brittany and I practically danced down Metropolitan ave to the subway. It made me so happy to hear that she’d loved the entire experience, and that she loved Brooklyn and hoped that we could have an adventure like this again. (You can read her account of the night on her blog!)

The Still Tide is currently headed to Europe for the next seven weeks. If you’re reading this from over there, please, please, go see them.

Before last night, it had been quite a while since I had jumped a train and gone to a show. The nights that I spend going to shows and seeing bands play are the nights I always remember the best, the fondest- the connections made, the way certain songs made me feel  (based on whatever was happening in my life at the time), and the exchange of love between audience and artist is something that is absolutely priceless.