28 December 2012

You’re a tough old gal, but a dog is just a pal, And believe me, my dear, I’m not complaining….

So I'm just going to say it: 2012 was a shitty year for me - both personally and professionally. I am so glad to see this year come to an end. Though to be honest, I'm not sure I have the faith right now to believe that the New Year will be any better. I thought that same thing at the end of 2011 (which wasn’t entirely all bad) and where did it get me? A worse year. I'm trying, but it's just not there for me right now. To be clear 2000 & 2001 were THE worst I've ever experienced - this wasn't nearly as bad - and believe me - I do have a fair measure of perspective. As I watch my neighbours suffer the loss of their children and teachers a few miles away I'm reminded that life can always be much worse and, in fact, it is right now for twenty-seven families. Not a day goes by where there isn't some story that brings the degree of separation ever closer; thus serving as a reminder to love the people we love with all we have and to not hold back, or waste time – just in case....So much has already been written about Newtown that I will spare you any more of my thoughts and feelings - but I do want to say one thing: civilians don't need automatic, military grade weapons. If you have any doubt about that come for a visit. I dare you to look in the eye of one of these families and tell them to their face that you support the NRA 100%. I'm guessing you'll get a swift kick, a punch in the eye, and then get run out of our state. As well you should.

Aside from this recent madness it's also been a tough year for a number of people that I love and care for who have lost family members or otherwise had a difficult time of it. Whether it was loss, underemployment, financial stress, or a rough break-up I have to say I know very few people for whom 2012 was a good year. Hell - for most people I know it wasn't even a decent year. Maybe I know the 'wrong' people - or maybe it was just something in the water. I don't understand it but I hope it gets better for all of us and that time will heal. When I am going through a hard time there is a sense of powerlessness watching people I love experiencing rough days. It's almost as if when I'm feeling good I have more strength to be there for others - I feel like I have more to give to them. Basically, I don't like this feeling of powerless one bit. I like being that person that my people can come to and lean on. I don't know that I've done a good job of that this year, though.

Despite my current feelings of failure, throughout my life I have been blessed with some tools that have helped me navigate the highs and lows, the hills and valleys, the roller coaster of life, however you put it - these things have helped me to not entirely loose my shit. No matter how long this current valley seems to be at least I have running (I got up to 7.3 miles a day this month), the outdoors (kayaking, hiking, camping) and music to clear my head and balance my brain - writing, playing and listening. While I didn't have a ton of disposable income this year to be buying a lot of new music I did have Spotify, fellow music lovers, and the most awesome WFUV (90.7 for you locals to NYC or wfuv.org if you live elsewhere) to at least expand my horizons and open my ears.

Since I always do an end-of-year posting of favourites - albeit past years were full of much less bitching - here are some videos that I hope you will check out.

I started with Aimee Mann…good lord! I’ve been a fan since ‘Til Tuesday and if anyone gets better with the years and is as fine as aged whiskey - it’s her! This video of “Labrador” (one of my favourite songs from her new CD, Charmer, and today’s title quote) is a send-up of “Voices Carry” which, for shits and giggles, I included below for a fun comparison. By the way – if you ever have a chance to see her live…run don’t walk! No matter how many times I see her it’s never enough and it’s always a different show! One more thing…hands down she’s one of my favourite musicians I’ve had the pleasure of meeting…super nice and as cool as she appears!

What can I say? Dave Matthews Band just always finds a way to get to me. Maybe it’s his jazz influenced notes, the timing of this song, or maybe he’s got the key to my inner thoughts - but more than likely he’s just a damn good songwriter! Another long-time favourite band of mine this year’s latest release, Away From The World, does not disappoint! The live tracks on this CD are particularly hot as is this tune “If Only”; a sultry, sexy number that in some ways says it all! Also, this video was shot at one of my all-time favourite venues - The Hollywood Bowl - save for Tanglewood you don't get much better than this for a place to hear music and feel the nature surrounding you.

As always I end with Vince Gill's song "What You Give Away" - a humble reminder of all that surrounds us and all that we should strive to be. Call it my religion, my edict, or just wise words to live by. Whatever you call it – just listen….

Some other people whose music I’ve enjoyed this year (but whose videos I’m not posting): James Taylor, Sharon Van Etten, Passenger, Beth Orton, Dawes, Rodriguez, Brandi Carlile, Bonnie Raitt, The Avett Brothers, Glen Hansard, The Tallest Man On Earth, Shawn Colvin and on…..

No matter what you listen to, here's hoping 2013 is a better year and that peace will prevail – both inner and outer. Since I was raised by eternal optimists no doubt it will…and no doubt my existential malaise will wane and be replaced by optimism – it’s how my Mama would want it and I always try to do right by her….

Thanks for tuning in...Until next time...CHEERS and Happy New Year!

24 May 2012

If you break down I'll drive out to find you, if you forget my love I'll try to remind you, stay by you when it don't come easy...

It's been nearly three years since I left Los Angeles. This morning a friend posted this song on Facebook and reminded me that we were there at this show. In the audience were musicians, stars and every day people who were all witnessing this great night of music. I had forgotten about this duet - Patty Griffin and Melissa Etheridge singing live "It Don't Come Easy" for a Lifetime Network benefit show for cancer. It's always been a favourite song of mine from Patty but this is a truly special version and one that has moved me this morning. Hearing this and viewing it brings back a lot of fond memories and reminds me that I lived a good life out there. I didn't always see it that way but I do now. Distance and change since my departure have a way of making me see that the moment I was experiencing in the past may have been one of the best. I am not saying this with any regret. But I do ask myself - did I really appreciate the moment while I was living it? Is it possible to appreciate every moment you are in?

While I ask myself that question I can say with certainty that it does not apply to the people in my life. I've lost many who are close to me and I am no longer shy about telling those I love that they are important and how much their presence enriches my life. I try not to overdo it - but I rarely hang up the phone without saying I love you. Those were the last words I ever said to my mother a mere 6 hours before she died unexpectedly. You never know when life will change so why fuck around and hide from our feelings? In many ways that's the easy part. If you take the time to look at those around you and really assess the people in your life - you will feel that there are many who are worthy of these emotions. I don't give them away easily but I don't wish to deny my feelings, either. I spent much of my twenties and a good deal of my early thirties living in denial and thinking with my head (and which possibly led to the perception that I was playing games). It took someone very special to break through all those walls and show me that it was OK to feel again. It was OK to trust the living instead of only the ghosts that had inhabited me. It wasn't an easy task but somewhere inside of them they must have felt I was worth the effort. I have become more emotionally fearless in the years since we met and much less wasteful of time. For that I am truly grateful to this person.

But yet I wonder - when I was at this concert did I fully appreciate those hours in that small hall? To be honest, I'm not sure I did. I can tell you that it was a great, energizing show - not just Patty Griffin's part - but Sophie B. Hawkins and 'several others'. See? I remember the feeling of that night but I don't remember the details of who else was there. Pathetic. But it says a lot about how little I appreciated the moments I was IN. Over the years that has been one of the things many close friends have pointed out to me as a failing of mine. I know they are right - I know I didn't always appreciate my time in Los Angeles - though I will say the last seven years I was there I did - or most of the time (save for this night). I can say I did because I wouldn't have stayed so long if it weren't worth it. Believe me when I say that I feel I was truly blessed for those years. If I hadn't met that special person of which I speak I would have left a lot sooner and I never would have been at this concert. Everything does happen for a reason and while I don't want to over think anything - it's important to see where a moment began and how you got to where you are. Maybe for that reason alone it's important to be more present.

I'm not sure if I'll ever get the equation right: presence + awareness + living-in-the-moment = immediate appreciation but I'd like to think I've gotten better in the years since this concert was filmed (2006?). I'd like to think that I am least trying to be more present, more appreciative. Sure - it's easy to remember that first kiss leaning against my Cannondale on a monday night - or a first camping trip...or a last one. But it is much harder to remember some of the every day moments. Moments I wish I could get back - moments I would trade for a last hug - or even knowing it WOULD be a last hug. Maybe the trick more is finding that balance between total and complete awareness - thus over thinking while experiencing an event - and living in the present so as to have fewer regrets. (Because no matter how much I think we figure out - I believe it's impossible not to have a regret or two along the way). So many lessons to learn in this life but maybe the real trick is figuring out which ones we NEED to learn. Indeed this is one of them for me.

No matter what - I think at least I got the love part figured out....if nothing else.

Thanks for tuning in...until next time...CHEERS!