Category Archives: Music

Wordless Wednesdays: The 80s Strike Back

Our ’80s party.

Getting Back On the Running Horse

I didn’t want to do it. The sun was shining, the birds were singing and the iPod was fully loaded. Everything was ripe for good run, but my stankitude.

The past few weeks I’ve been running away from running. I didn’t realize how my tough 8K kinda affected my attitude toward running. I know I didn’t train as well as I should have for that race, but it was only 5 miles and for a long time I’d been cranking out 3 mile runs with ease, so figured I could grind out the other two. I certainly didn’t expect to start hurting after mile 1.

My running since that race has been spotty at best. A couple weeks ago I tried to give myself a kick in the arse by signing up for Chicago’s Rock N’ Roll Half Marathon. I feel obligated to run it because it’s on my Bucket List. And, hell, I told everyone I would. (Me and my big mouth…)

The only progress in the Get She’sWrite Running Movement was that online registration. Then today rolled around. In a moment of strength (insanity?) I got dressed to for a run. I packed up the jogging stroller. Meanwhile, Ethan fell asleep.

I kept prepping. Water bottle. An extra diaper. Burp cloth. New playlist. Cell phone. Then I did the unthinkable: I woke up my son. I put on his jacket and tossed him in the stroller with hopes he’d go back to sleep. I had to run now or I didn’t know when I’d find the chutzpah to do it.

Thankfully Ethan dosed back off and we hit the road. You can connect your iPod to my stroller and it has speakers so you can listen to music and hear if your baby is crying. The bad thing is that everyone else can hear your music too.

When we breezed past the local elementary school with Rihanna’s S&M ringing out, more than a few ladies chatting outside their minivans stopped their yapping to ogle. I just smiled and waved. I like being unconventional in my conventional ‘burb.

Besides, it’s not like Ethan *knows* what S&M is. The run was good, very exhilarating and though pushing the stroller, which weighs about 30 lbs and Ethan is about 14 lbs, I never got tired.

So I’m going to claim that the Get She’sWrite Running Movement has begun. I got bucked off the running horse but I’ve climbed back on and am ready to train for this half. Even if it’s for no other reason than I said I would.

From Technotronic to Tupac: I Love The 90s

Did I tell you that my new car is a time machine? No, Doc didn’t let me borrow the Delorean. But I’ve been back to the 90s: Cross Colours. Daria. The Chronic. My car even Smells Like Teen Spirit.

I’m talking about my new satellite radio. When we bought my car weeks ago, it came with a three-month free subscription. And I must say, I’m in love. I’ve been listening to all things great (and not so great) from the 1990s, the decade of my wonder years.

I love how music can take you back to priceless moments.

Wondering what Prince was talking about when he said 23 positions in a one night stand. (After all the night stand by my bed only had one position.)

Listening to the QuietStorm on the radio to see who dedicated Keith Sweat’s “I’ll Give All My Love To You” to her boyfriend.

Whipping out my air guitar for the passionate riffs on the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s “Give It Away Now.”

Also, Boys II Men’s” End of the Road” was our song and by “our,” I mean my high school sweetheart and me. Who knew how prophetic those four harmonizing boys could be?

Loving “Baby Got Back” because there was finally a song that praised my, ahem, asset.

Sitting in my room, proud that I could spit all the lyrics from Tupac’s Me Against the World album.

Skipping a last minute cram session for my college biology final to attend the Fugees concert at the Blue Note. I got a B on the test, but the concert was so good I would have taken the C.

And Usher’s “You Make Me Wanna” used to make me think a lot about my relationship and indeed I left the one I was with and started a new relationship with my now husband.

I love the music from the 90s, and listening to it the radio each day has been like getting reacquainted with an old friend.

Owning His Fear: He’s ‘Not Afraid’

Like many Americans, we hit the sidewalk yesterday all dressed up with a bucket in tow to go knock on strangers’ doors and beg for candy. Halloween, what a fun holiday!

It also can be horribly scary, especially through the eyes of a 3 year old. Logan was a fireman and a mighty happy one at that. In the suburban land of the homemade costumes, my kid’s was bought from the store, but hey he was ecstatic over it and so was I. He had an inflatable fire extinguisher on his back and an Elmo pail for hauling candy.

Some of the houses had groaning ghouls, cackling witches and moaning mummies. Whenever we’d walk up to one of these haunts he’d clutch my finger tighter and his steps would get tinier.

“It’s OK, it’s just pretend. There’s no need to be scared. I’m right here. It can’t hurt you. You’re OK.” I’d say over and over again.

Remember how terrifying it was to be a little one? All those strange noises that adults didn’t seem to notice? The nightmares? Scooby Doo? (I remember one of my babysitters always watched Scooby Doo and it scared the crap out of me.)

In our house we’re working with owning our fears. A few months back, Logan started saying how he was afraid of monsters, so we talked about how monsters weren’t real,  they couldn’t hurt us, and we can always tell them just to not scare us.

Somehow that became part of our nighttime routine. We now have a Monster Speech where after we turn out the lights, we stand in the hallway and command the monsters not to scare Logan. He gives the speech, and with much gusto. Over the months it’s morphed into telling the monsters not to scare him, not to break his toys and to leave his family alone.

He’s always so proud of himself when it’s done. And we haven’t had any monster scares since. I’m hoping we help him own his fears.

Back on the Halloween trail after about an hour of trick or treating, we start up the driveway of a house with scary decorations and he begins to sing:

“I’m not aaffffraaaaiiiddd…” a la Eminem. (I’d been listening to that song a lot several weeks back.)

Hubby and I looked at each other, realized what he was singing and jumped in with him with wild excitement: “To take a stand! Everybody! Come take my hand!…”

We were very proud of our firefighter and we certainly rattled the chains of the little old white lady who was waiting with bewilderment at her door at the approaching rapping family.

From Gaga to Jay-Z: How Are We Shaping Kids’ Musical Tastes

Last weekend we stumbled upon a music festival at a microbrewery and naturally, we had to stay awhile. What a family we were, devouring barbecue and buttered corn only to be followed by a jam session that featured us three rockin’ out on our air guitars.

We drew a few stares and many smiles in this conservative enclave that’s closer to the Wisconsin state line than Chicago. But it didn’t matter, music lovers that we are, we were in our element.

The craziness started with Kings of Leon‘s “Use Somebody,” Logan’s favorite song. Later it was Led Zeppelin, Metallica, Train and even the Strokes. I took a moment and just watched my husband dance next to my little guy who was going ballistic on his air guitar. And I wondered, how much as parents do we influence our children’s musical taste?

Some studies have found that preschool aged kids are influenced by their parents’ musical preferences. While anyone who’s ever been a teenager will tell you if a parent tries to push them to like something, it usually backfires.

Think about it, what did your parents listen to and how did it affect you?

My dad played a lot of blues and jazz and we’d go to festivals soaking in impossible guitar riffs. Much of the gritty music I heard as a kid are the same tunes that inspired rock and roll, it’s no wonder I’m such a big rock fan.

It’s funny, some of my friends are astonished at my indifference to the hallowed Beatles or Elvis. It is good music, but the sound is different and it’s never spoken to me.

Now if you want to talk Motown, I can do that. We cleaned house Saturday mornings to The Four Tops, Gladys Knight & the Pips, the Chi-lites and Miss Ross. I even remember when I first discovered rap, my dad introduced me to The Last Poets’ “Niggers are Scared of Revolution.” I was never the same.

So what about Logan? We play tons of music in the house that ranges from Beyonce to the Killers to Depeche Mode. (Hubby’s a huge fan of DM as well as all the great staunchly European groups.) What’s my little guy going to prefer? I have no clue, but it’s certainly going to be interesting watching his musical ears take shape.

The Genius of American Idiot

Praise be to Jesus of Suburbia. Saw American Idiot on Broadway with my hubby and loved it. I’ve always been a fan of Green Day and their American Idiot album was a large part of my playlist for Chicago’s marathon in 2006. So I know every riff and word in that album.

But this musical, this musical made me think of the album in ways I hadn’t before. I love how the songs were strung together to tell a tale of American angst, anger, apathy, averageness and alienation.

Inside the lobby next to St. Jimmy's bar in American Idiot

First, the cast was wonderful. When going to a Broadway show, you want show-stopping performances and numerous times the cast members hit notes that gave my shivers shivers. Rebecca Naomi Jones (I thought it was physically impossible for someone to be that talented), Tony Vincent (I had to read up on the boy after falling under his bad boy spell. *Of course* he was Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar.) After Alyssa Umphress finished belting, I heard someone say “wow.” A half a second later I realized that someone was me. Also, Joshua Henry’s powerfully smooth and controlled voice moved me so much I snagged him after the show to wish him a successful future. He looked honestly appreciative.

I would think that as a performer, the musical had to be special in that this album really speaks to our generation. It’s the alienation of an average generation. Though it’s undoubtedly rewarding to perform anything on Broadway and especially the classics (i.e. Bye Bye Birdie, The Sound of Music, West Side Story) This seemingly would have an asterisk by it because there’s a truthfulness here that’s only universal to this generation.

Also, the set wasn’t some over-the-top get up, but seemingly unfinished, raw like Americans, so it was perfect. Gritty with pop-culture images without being too kitschy and the clever use of television further drove home the point of “being controlled by the media.”

There’s a lot of well-heeled Broadway types who didn’t like American Idiot and it’s fine because that’s part of the genius of it all: differing opinions help make us Americans, not idiots.

‘Take on Me’ and more

The whole reason my hubby and I came to New York was so that he could go to their farewell concert. Yes, you read that right. A-ha. Yes they’re still around. No, they’ve never stopped making music. They’re actually quite a big deal in Europe and have been for decades. They’re not big here largely because of differences between them and a record company. Anyway, the real a-ha has matured past the ’Take On Me’ of the ’80s (not that there’s anything wrong with that…) But I always describe them as a dark mashup of U2, ColdPlay and Keane. Good stuff.
Last night was the concert and it was amazing, great songs (The set list was wonderful, my fave is Manhattan Skyline) and we were about 5 feet from the stage.

a-ha frontman Morten Harket at Time Square's Nokia Theatre

It also was so cool to meet the fans. Imagine loving this group for 25 years and finally getting to see them. We connected with a couple folks like that and just before Aha took the stage, I turned around to watch their faces. It was like watching a child get his first glimpse of the real Santa Claus. It was magic. My hubby and I saw them here in NYC in 2005 and I saw the same thing then. Women in their early 40s magically turning 15 again. No botox necessary. Think about your favorite artist that would do that to you. Mine? George Michael. I know, stop smirking.

An unexpected, yet exceedingly bright spot was Sondre Lerche. What an amazing opening act. I was suspicious at first. Though his hair had that wild and greasy Curt Kobain thing going on, which seems to be a requirement for musical genius, he looked 14 and 104 lbs soaking wet. I kid you not the guitar was bigger than he. But once he picked it up, his nimble fingers were a blur. He ravaged that guitar with upbeat folksy jaunts that plunged into guttural moans _ all in one song. He was also witty, very funny and a regular kid with a very unregular dose of talent.

Sondre Lerche at Nokia Theatre

Tonight we’re going to American Idiot on Broadway… Well, if they reopen Time Square in time because there was a suspicious package, but that’s another entry for another time. Until then.