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Life, Living and Loving: Mrs. Fever’s September Song Project 2022: Gospel Music

There’s a song entitled, “He Looked Beyond My Faults And Saw My Needs” that our church choirs loved singing. It’s set to the music for, “Danny Boy,” a song we’d sometimes play in the orchestral part of being in the school band and usually as the musical accompaniment to the school choir belting it out and in all its harmonic glory.

I found out that when the church finds out that you can play, they want you to play and they expect you to automatically know of every gospel song ever written. My God… that used to make me insane because whenever our regular pianist/organist couldn’t be there, I could expect someone – usually my mother, mother-in-law, or our revered pastor to come ask me if I’d play for whatever choir was singing…

And like I knew what they planned on singing and, yep, I already knew the song and however it was arranged or, as usual in Baptist churches, rearranged. Most of the time, I… refused such emergency requests because I knew that I didn’t know the music even though I could sit at the piano/organ and play a song from the hymnal as written which, when I did step in, yeah, the membership wasn’t happy with the music because I didn’t put the gospel twist on it.

Well, that’s because I didn’t know how to play gospel music. They didn’t seem to understand that, yes, I’m a classically trained musician but that doesn’t mean that I can play music from every genre that exists unless you have the music for it and I have x-amount of time to learn the piece and if I’m to put a twist on it, figuring out how to twist it. What made it “worse” for me is that the pastor’s very young son was a prodigy and, admittedly, played organ way better than I did and he learned on his own which had the effect of people asking me why I couldn’t play church songs like this kid could and not understanding that (1) he was some kind of prodigy, (2) his father is pastor and he’s been exposed to this music in a way that I hadn’t been and (3) this is not the kind of music I’m used to playing.

There were two times when I didn’t mind playing in church. The first was when my baby sister got married and she – and my mother – had asked me to play the “Wedding March” for the service (as well as “churchy” stuff prior to the ceremony. Fine. One thing, though: I had never played it before. Heard it? Yes. Played it or seen the music for it? Nope. And as such things tend to happen, I was asked to do this (expected to) and I only had three days to find the sheet music specifically for organ and learn it. My mom had come over to my place and I was at the organ feverishly hacking my way through the piece and even she asked me how come I didn’t already know how to play it and I will say that at that point, she should’ve been glad that she was my mom because I was on my way to an epic meltdown because it had taken me two of those three days to find the fricking music, leaving me a whole day to learn it.

My sister’s big day comes and… everything went well as far as the music went. The next time was when my mom had been invited by another church to sing at an event they were having which I thought was cool because mom could sing (even though she didn’t think she was a good singer). Here comes the “bad” part: She asked me to play for her at this event and the song was the one I opened this scribble with. I knew this song like I knew the back of my hand but when we rehearsed for this, whew, she would stop singing and ask me why I was playing it that way or complain about some of the notes being too high for her and now I’m “rewriting” and rearranging the whole cotton-picking song to be able to play it the way she wanted me to and she drove me insane with this and being paranoid about singing in front of a bunch of people to begin with.

I’d often stop playing because she was so nervous that she couldn’t sing the song. I don’t know how many times I’d told her that even though I’ve played in front of a whole lot of people, I’ve always been nervous before the fact and sometimes during it but once I started playing, all I’m thinking about is the music and the people listening don’t exist until I’m done playing. If this had been anyone other than my mother, I would have refused to play. No pressure, right?

Her big moment comes. I go to the church’s organ and… it’s a Hammond B3. Uh oh. I can play an organ. I had one in my home. I had never played a Hammond B3 before and the B3 was the variant that had the full pedal manual… that I hadn’t had much to do with in years. And I have, oh, about two minutes to figure it out before mom gets called up to sing. I’m furiously resetting the organ from where the church’s organist had things set up; mom’s being announced and I am not ready because while I know what tabs control what voices, I couldn’t “test” them to make sure I had them right for the way we had rehearsed the song.

She’s at the mic and does what I had asked her to do; when you’re ready, look at me and nod and I’ll play a lead-in just like practiced and when I nod back at you, face the back of the church and find something to fix your eyes on instead of looking at the people… and sing your heart out. Between my mother’s voice and my rearrangement of the song, by the time we got done, there wasn’t a dry eye in the place. My mom is smiling at me and came over to hug me; I whispered in her ear, “I told you that you could do this, didn’t I?” and it was the first time I got to hit my mom with, “I told you so!”

Otherwise? Nah, don’t ask me to play in church. Ever. I can play gospel music like “it’s supposed to be” played but as I learned when I was “forced” to be the director of our senior choir, when you’re dealing with a bunch of people who have had zero musical training – and your mom is one of them – rehearsals usually got ugly because I’m playing the song with gospel twists and they’re telling me that I’m playing it wrong and at one rehearsal, I went ballistic and medieval on them and it was an epic rant that almost got me bitch-slapped by my mom for being “disrespectful” to the choir members who were all way older than I was.

I played and directed them for that one Sunday and told all of them, “Never again.”

I think about that song at times, and it always brings back these memories and more so when my mom passed away; I can still hear how she sang it and I am… comforted. I think about the song and remember – and like it was yesterday – literally sitting at my organ with my manuscript pad and rewriting the song. Playing it later on with my MIDI-connected keyboards and, yeah – I wish I had had them when my mom had to sing that day. Hah – I would have programmed them to play the song without me doing anything other than pushing one button. I would (and still can) take a soulful church song in the gospel mode and turn it into one hell of a song with loads of instrumentation that no real organ can reproduce.

And, oddly, it’s the only church song that I can play without having to think about how to play it. Well, other than “Amazing Grace” – I would sometimes play it for my mom just to hear her sing. I’m getting all choked up at this point so… I’ll leave it this alone for today.

 
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Posted by on 5 September 2022 in Life, Living and Loving

 

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Life, Living and Loving: Mrs. Fever’s September Song Project 2022: “Moon River”

My girlfriend’s father was an imposing man. Shorter than I was but built tough from years working at a local company and messing with concrete. His hands looked like he had hams attached to them and every time he said something to me, like, “Boy, don’t you have a home to go to?” my flight-or-fight instincts would try to kick in.

He clearly didn’t like me seeing (or screwing) his daughter. He wasn’t shy about telling me about it, either. She had told me that her father had chased off all other guys who were trying to get with her and that was fine, but we truly loved each other, and I wasn’t going to let anything stop us from being together… but this man scared the shit out of me. Her mom was openly hostile toward me from the moment I met her but she didn’t bother me all that much because she wasn’t always telling me that she was going to punch me in the face.

One day, I showed up at her house so she could take my braids out and redo them. I spoke to her mom, who gave me yet another evil eye and overhead, I could hear her dad leaving his bedroom and heading for the stairs and when he reminded me that I didn’t live there – and I said that I’d just arrived – he balled his fists up and I thought, “This is it – I’m gonna have to fight him to keep my woman!”

But he sat down in his favorite chair which had the misfortune of being right next to the piano bench I was sitting on while my love was messing with my hair. He’s grumbling and cutting his eyes at me then says, “I hear you can play that goddamned thing…” pointing to the piano.

“Yes, sir, I can,” I said, wondering what this was about.

“I’ll tell you what,” he said with a sly grin on his face that made me want to pee on myself, “If you can play “Moon River” on that motherfucker, I’ll allow you to keep seeing my daughter.”

Here’s the musical problem I’ve always had to deal with: People thinking that because I’m a musician, I can play any instrument and any song that was ever written and regardless to whether or not I’ve ever heard the song, knew who performed it, stuff like that. True enough, at the time, I could play four instruments (and in the order I learned them): Organ, trumpet, piano, drums. Indeed, I had met my soon-to-be girlfriend at church and before a choir rehearsal having been invited by my best friend. I was at the organ and playing my rendition of “Over the Rainbow” and she came over and started talking to me and, well, it was love at first sight for us which led to this moment where I have a few seconds to think about two things:

Do I remember the song… and could I really play it? I’d heard it before and several times, but it was one of those songs that you hear and you… just hear it. I knew my father’s father loved the song and apparently my girlfriend’s father liked it, too.

“Well? What the fuck are you waiting for?” he asked, his voice becoming even more menacing. “Get to tinkling the ivory or get the hell out of my house and never come back!”

Shit. The only thing I had going for me was that I had played this piano a few times before despite it being in need of retuning. I’m racking my brain thinking about this fucking song and with her dad literally standing over me and breathing down my neck, I started playing. I glance up and over at her and she looks… worried. To this very day, I’m still not sure how I pulled that off but, again, that damned thing that has some people believing that if you hear a song, you can play it.

Which is true if you can remember ever hearing the damned song and I knew I hadn’t heard it in over a year. My hands are shaking and it was like I’d never laid my fingers on a keyboard before as I make my way through the song. It didn’t help when I heard him kinda whisper, “You’d better play it with feeling, too, you sumbitch!”

No pressure at all, right? In that moment, the song just… landed in my mind and I played like my life depended on it because it did; I loved her. I knew she was The One and we were already talking about having kids and getting married and knew we were… fated to be together. Being in that moment also reminded me to get some… revenge on my friend because he had admitted that he had set me up to get fixed up with her and I have never forgiven him for it, and I never will… but we laughed about it even though I have never meant something as much as I did this.

No, don’t ask.

I finish playing “Moon River.” The final notes and chords are fading away and I knew that this was now one of those defining moments of my life because if he didn’t like my performance, I had no idea how we were going to keep seeing each other and I was so frustrated that I wanted to cry while I awaited his verdict. Indeed, my girlfriend has tears running down her cheek and I turn to face her father, who is giving me his “death stare” and he’s clenching his hands.

“Not bad,” he finally says after staring at me for one hundred years. “Just as I remember it, too. You must’ve played this a lot of times, right?”

“No, sir – first time,” I said.

“Hmm. Okay, you can keep seeing her… but you’d better keep your motherfucking dick out of her or else!” he said with a growl… and a bit of a smile.

I asked to be excused and if I could use the bathroom… because I had never needed to go so bad as I did in this moment. As I’m running up the steps, I can hear him saying something to her and I hear her laughing at whatever he said to her and, no, I never found out what he had said.

Not long after we were married, we were visiting her parents. Her mom hated me even more because we’d already had a child together before we got married and it just got worse after we got married. Her dad and I got along fabulously after I finally stood up to him when he said he was going to kick my ass because I had knocked her up and I’ll say that I don’t know what the fuck I was thinking about when I got back in his face and pretty much cussed him out while professing my deep love for her and even told him that I was going to kick his old ass – and, yeah, I was fairly sure that I could, at the least, let him know he was in a fight – but I did that and he said, “Oh. Okay.” And we were cool ever since.

On this occasion, we’re talking football and how his Minnesota Viking “weren’t worth shit” when he stops talking, smiles, and says, “You know I was fucking with you that day, don’t you?”

For a moment, I had no idea what day he was talking about since there wasn’t a day in those early days of our relationship where he wasn’t fucking with me. “What day are you talking about, Dad?”

“Moon River,” he said. “I really didn’t care if you could play it or not, but I wanted – I needed – to see if you really loved her or you just loved fucking her.” Yeah, this dude was about as blunt as they came. “But you proved to me that you were willing to do something I knew you weren’t sure you could do because you did love her that much… and the pussy had to be that good, too.”

I was caught up between being a bit ticked off and being embarrassed about the “good pussy” thing (which was true but, still) and he sat in his favorite chair and told me about every time he tested my resolve and why he didn’t give me any shit the day I formally came to him and asked if I could marry his daughter; I had expected to fight for that and he tripped me out when he had just looked at me and said, “Sure. Go ahead. About goddamned time, too.”

“Play it for me one more time?” he asked.

I went to the piano which, by now, was very badly out of tune. The song came back to me, and I played it for him and with a lot of feeling. I kinda looked over my shoulder to see him sitting behind me with his eyes closed and kinda swaying to the music and was he smiling? As I played, her mom came into the room and I saw her roll her eyes at me and heard her mutter, “Damned heathen…” and, yeah, that’s yet another musical story I might share tomorrow.

I finish playing it and turn to him with my “how did I do” look. He nods, smiles even more and said, “Wasn’t that worth being able to keep getting in that pussy?”

Yeah. That man. I had gained so much respect for him even though he had gamed the shit out of me and made me prove that I really did love his daughter (and not just that good pussy). The day he died was a really dark day for me and to this very day, I can’t think about “Moon River” without thinking and remembering how me made me prove to him how much I loved his daughter.

 
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Posted by on 3 September 2022 in Life, Living and Loving

 

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Life, Living and Loving: Mrs. Fever’s September Song Project 2022: “Give the Drummer Some!”

I remember my first drum set. A neighbor was selling his kit and had asked me if I knew anyone who’d be interested and… I was so interested that I might have had an erection. The problem was that I only had $50 and I guess he saw the very sad look on my face and asked me what was wrong and I told him that I’d buy the set if I had the money and all I had was $50 and, well, damn.

He’d asked me what I would do to be able to buy it from him and… I misunderstood what he was asking and, um, it wasn’t one of my finest moments but I wanted that set so bad that two seconds after he asked me this, I, um, I had his dick out and sucking on it like my life depended on it. He didn’t stop me and I don’t know if he had a shocked look on his face because I wasn’t looking at him but five minutes later, his cum was blasting into my mouth and that’s when I learned that I had misunderstood him.

“That was nice, little bro, but, um, that’s not what I was thinking about when I asked what you’d do,” he said with a smile. “I was thinking about asking for your $50 as a down payment and then you pay me when you can but, uh, since, well, okay – gimme the $50 and the set is yours!”

Oops. Man, talk about being totally embarrassed! He showed me how to break it all down so I could take it home with me; the good part was that he lived three doors down from me so I didn’t have far to go and you should have seen the look on my mom’s face when I started bringing it all in. She said, “Oh, no…” I told her that I had bought it – and he had arrived with a bag full of drumsticks and stuff and confirmed that I did, in fact, pay for it in cash and, of course, neither of us mentioned the other part of the, shit, payment.

I practiced every day except for the days my mom was off and at home. The neighbors on either side of us weren’t happy with all the noise I was making but I guess they understood (or mom got them to understand). One day, one of my friends from the old neighborhood came by while I was practicing and he was so excited to see that I had a drum set that he turned right around, probably ran home, and came back with his bongos and… we were grooving together.

One day, he’d helped me lug my kit over to his house and we were in his backyard kicking it together and I had to admit that we sounded good together. We’d drawn a fairly good-sized crowd and from the crowd, three guys approached us and asked if they could jam with us. We said they could and they hauled ass up the street and returned in a car minutes later with their guitars and amps. We got them plugged in and the jam session began in earnest.

The thing that stands out for me about that moment was that the five of us not only didn’t know each other, we had never played together before but there we were improvising and playing songs by Kool & The Gang and other groups of the time – and like we’d been playing together for years. Someone in the crowd had produced a box and people were dropping money into it and… I know I was hyped and I guess the other guys were, too, and we kept right on playing for maybe another hour…

And only stopped when a guy was driving by, stopped, backed up, jumped out of his car and ran over to us asking if we’d be interested in making some money tonight. That got our attention, as you might suspect. Apparently, the band he had contracted with to play a gig cancelled on him for some reason and he’d been running around the city trying to find a replacement band. He was highly excited; the other guys were, too, but, yeah, I wanted to know some details and especially how much money he was talking about. It took maybe a half an hour of bargaining, but we agreed to play the gig for $200 for each of us and he had to provide us transportation since, um, none of us were old enough to drive.

My biggest concern was where we were playing: The local Longshoreman’s Hall which was really more like a club and they served liquor there, and… I was 15. The guy said not to worry about it since we wouldn’t be drinking booze and could we hurry up and get our act together because the gig started in an hour! I had to run home and tell my mother about this and I, um, left out the part that I’d be playing in a bar because she would have forbade me to take part in this. Oh, and I showed her my $200 – the five of us had insisted on being paid now instead of later. I got the okay from mom and hauled ass back to my friend’s house and off we went and it was pretty hectic because now we’re trying to pull a playlist out of our respective asses and, well, we were just going to play it by ear.

We get there and get hustled through a backdoor and onto the stage where we hustled to get set up. The hall had microphones, which was good but, uh, well, I know I could sing and my friend could but I didn’t know about the other guys and, well, let’s worry about that if we have to. As I set my kit up, I could hear the crowd noises on the other side of the curtain and it sounded like a lot of people. Butterflies flew off of their aircraft carrier to land in my stomach and I didn’t know if I wanted to throw up or go to the bathroom on myself. I snuck peeks at my new bandmates and they weren’t looking too sporty either; the guy who hired us was running around us telling us to hurry up and, oh, yeah, what’s the name of your band?

Name? We didn’t have one! Kinda technically, we weren’t even a band; we were just five guys who happened upon each other! The club had been playing music to keep the crowd occupied and I heard, “Well my mind keeps going through them changes…” and the others heard this, too, and we all blurted out that the name of our band was Them Changes. The guy dashes through the curtain and I’m behind my drums and I’m feeling petrified even though this wouldn’t be the first time I’d ever played before a lot of people since, duh, I was in the school band and orchestra, and we routinely played… but this was different. My friend, who was set up to my right said, “I don’t know about this, man…” and before I could tell him that I didn’t know either, a loud voice was introducing us and the curtain was parting and, fuck me – that’s a lot of people!

I think the five of us were… stunned. Okay. Stage fright. The crowd is waiting for us to start playing and we were frozen in place; I couldn’t think of anything and then the only thing I could think of was the begining of Sly and the Family Stone’s “Sex Machine” and I called this out to the guys; our “lead guitar” played the opening notes and now I got to find out how good I could do that seamless and perfect roll that I knew followed those notes and…

We jammed. We got into “Sex Machine” and I know I got hyped when I heard someone in the crowd say, “Oh, shit! That’s my jam!” People were dancing in their seats and quite a few people were on the dance floor; the five of us are looking at each other like, “What the fuck?” We went from one song to another song and the guy who hired us snuck behind us to tell us to play a slow song and it took us a few seconds to decide which slow song we all had heard… and maybe knew how to play and I would remember thinking that the people who were having so much fun listening to us play had no idea that, for the most part, we had no fucking idea what we were doing.

We took a much-needed break and I literally ran someone over getting to the men’s room. A patron was in there and did a double-take to see a kid pissing like a racehorse… in a bar. “Dude, how fucking old are you?” he asked.

I”m 15,” I said as the urine continued to flow – and then I’m trying to pee as fast as I can because our break was only to be 15 minutes and I had to get back so I could help us figure out what the fuck we were going to play after the break. I got back, we put our heads together and hashed out a playlist that would carry us through the rest of the time we were supposed to be there… like we were supposed to close the joint. We played our hearts out. I still can’t believe how well we played together for a bunch of guys who’d just met a few hours ago.

We were playing “Superbad” by James Brown, and we were into it. People were rushing to the dance floor and, man, it was like I was high or something to see them grooving to my and our music when I heard someone yell, “Give the drummer some! Give the drummer some!” I got to know what it was like to be a deer in the headlights because not only was all those people now staring at me, the guys on the stage with me were staring, too, and like, “Well, what are you waiting for?”

And. They. Stopped. Playing. Let’s not talk about that they stopped perfectly and I almost stopped, too, but this was my “solo moment” and… I had no fucking idea what to do. None. I just made it up as I went along and the crowd was losing their fucking minds. My solo only lasted for about a minute and a half but to me, it felt like a couple of hours before the other guys jumped back in and like they had never left me to play for the crowd all by myself.

After the show was officially over, people were coming to the stage and congratulating us and marveling at how young all of us really were. The guy who managed the hall came to us and asked us how much we got paid for this and we told him… and he turned around and cussed the guy out who hired us and said that we deserved much more than a “piddling $200 apiece.”

He paid each of us another $300, packed us up in his van, and took us all home. My mother was shitting kittens because I didn’t get home until almost 3:30 in the morning. I had to explain myself which included where I’d been all this time and… more kittens got shat out along with a couple of cows for good measure. I had showed her the $500 I had earned, and she said that she felt… a little better to know that I didn’t do it for nothing but, still. In a bar? Really? She then asked, “Well, how did y’all do?”

I told her about all the people dancing and grooving to what we were able to do. When I got to the “give the drummer some” part, I could see that she was… proud of me… now take your ass to bed before I decide to beat your ass for not telling me all of this before!

What a day that was for me and the four other guys. We “officially” became a band and one of the many bands that sprouted up in the city. We weren’t the best of them but we were good at what we did and we’d wind up playing… in bars and clubs in and out of the city and we got a chance to play at The Apollo in New York City as one of the “warm up” bands keeping the audience occupied before the main act took over. We had dreams of making records and hitting the big time and, indeed, we cut a record in a local studio and with our original song we’d created called… “Them Changes.” We played together for two and a half years before we just… kinda broke up due to other interests.

My mom had visions of me being a star – but not in what I’d call a selfish way; she wanted me to be the best musician I could be except I didn’t want to be a professional musician in that sense because the five of us had learned how… cutthroat the music business could be and we knew of other guys who took off for LA seeking fame and fortune… and never found it – and those guys were way better than we were. And after a weekend where we had played in three cities in two days, I knew this wasn’t what I wanted to do with my music. This was… a love of mine. More than just a hobby but I just didn’t have any aspirations to be a “rock start.” I just wanted to create and play the music that came from my heart and soul.

While trying to avoid playing in church – but that’s another story for another day. I’d had my “fifteen minutes of fame.” I reveled in it and with our groupies and, yeah, sex. Lots of it. After that first night we played together, I don’t recall there ever being a time after that when, after we performed, we weren’t getting laid. Or I’d be in school and girls who wouldn’t give me the time of day wanted to fuck me and, yeah, guys who wanted to blow me and/or be fucked by me. That “drugs, sex and rock and roll” thing was very damned real… but despite all of this fun, it wasn’t the life I wanted to live.

And here I am, decades later… still playing the drums!

 
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Posted by on 2 September 2022 in Life, Living and Loving

 

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Life, Living and Loving: Mrs. Fever’s September Song Project 2022: “Sheep May Safely Graze (Cantata #208)”

I woke up thinking about this song and the first time I heard it and as performed by Walter (now Wendy) Carlos on an amazing instrument called a Moog synthesizer and on the album, “Switched-On Bach.” That album changed how I looked at music and, yeah, I wanted to learn this. I was already learning how to play both organ and piano but this Moog thing fascinated the shit out of me because it was an organ, piano, and a shitload of other instruments… and none of them.

On the album cover, there’s a picture of the Moog Walter performed on and the thing that blew my mind was that every piece of music performed was done one note at a time! Today’s keyboards are all polyphonic, meaning they can play more than one note at a time but the album was recorded in 1968 and I’d heard it not long after it came out and, again, it blew my mind. We were learning Bach’s music in music class and playing some things orchestrally – as well as going to hear the Philadelphia Orchestra play and I was already in love with Bach’s music but this, wow. This.

I’m in the shower and hearing the piece in my head and remembering my… feeble attempts to play it on conventional keyboards (organ and piano) and, whew; playing it as composed for organ pretty much made me insane and I’m lathering up and laughing at that younger version of myself and thinking, “Yeah, ya didn’t know about MIDI back then, did ya?” I was also laughing to remember how me playing that album over and over drove my mom batty because she hated the “tinny” sound of the Moog synth and compared to the more modern synths, yeah, it didn’t sound all that great…

But my mind was blown just the same. Bach’s music isn’t what I’d call… uncomplicated. Indeed, music of that period tended to be rather complex in composition but seriously expressive at the same time. One other piece on the album, “Air on a G String” stole my heart. I’d heard it played orchestrally but on the Moog? Masterful. Soulful. One frigging note at a time and even more mind blowing when I saw the score for this piece; mind forever blown to see the score for “Sheep May Safely Graze” and, again, I went through some shit learning to play it on organ… but I learned it.

But I wanted to learn synthesis. I wanted to play Bach this way. I would, one day, sit down at my keyboard rig and with some software and a mess of MIDI cables, I played “Air on a G String,” not exactly how Wendy did it in 1968 but close enough for government work. I never tried “Sheep” but I was sure I could have pulled it off. I’m still showering, and this piece is “on repeat” in my head and if you’ve never listened to “Switched-on Bach” – but have heard orchestras play it – it’s… the same but not really. It’s fucking amazing that Walter (before he was Wendy) was able to express Bach in the way he did… one frigging note at a time.

I would read about how the album was produced and the ground-breaking techniques that had to be created; I thought that I would have not wanted to be the recording engineer who had to put all of this together – and get it right.

I had, a long time ago, ripped the CD to my computer and while I’ve been typing all of this, I’ve been listening to the album and… it still stirs my heart and soul. I would get “Switched-on Bach II” and, later, get the “revised” version of “Switched-on Bach” that Wendy Carlos did using modern day synths and it was nice… but I still love the original recording. “Impossibly” done one note at a time. All those patch cords. Understanding that synths like Robert Moog’s had “kinda” been around for a while but no one had used one like this. It was brilliant. Genius. Took classical music and turned it on its head.

Ah, man. Sitting at my keyboard rig with my son who is also classically trained on piano, and we’re both taking turns playing it as written but accepting the challenge of using MIDI and Sonar – the software I used to “put it all together.” Doing some editing to, um, clean up the mistakes I made. Playing it back for the first time and my son and I looking at each other and grinning and as if to say, “Fuck yeah.” Making the challenge of it even harder because I could have just used my Korg workstation to do all of this but to use it and my Technics keyboard? To understand the music as well as the science behind MIDI that would allow me to take two different keyboards and make them work as one?

What a day that was. It tested everything I learned about music and instruments. How to shape sounds and between both keyboards and the Sonar software, it was comparatively easy to do and considering how Walter/Wendy did it back in 1968.

One note at a time. I had it easy since both keyboards were polyphonic and by default. Looking at the sheet music and recording it one piece at a time and with the different voices and as many of the nuances that I could manage, like pizzicato violins. Getting the soulful tones of the oboe just right. What a day. It took me almost a week to put it all together since I was doing it after a “hard day’s work” doing my job and in between my normal day-to-day-at-home stuff. Yeah, I had to explain to my wife and poly wife why I was bothering to do this when, duh, I could just play the CD and, yeah, maybe they couldn’t understand what it meant to me, as a musician, to be able to do this myself.

They thought I was crazy and maybe I was… but I did it. And now I’m trying to remember if I still have that recording. I might and might not. I’ll look for it but don’t hold me to it because it could have gotten lost somewhere along the line. I still have my Korg workstation and enough of the MIDI stuff for it. I’d have to get some software to really make it all work as well as getting my hands on the full score, but yeah, I think I can do the song that is now stuck in my head about sheep safely grazing.

To bring this first offering for Mrs. Fever’s September Song Project to a close, I can easily remember complaining my ass off about practicing when I could have been doing other stuff (like getting laid in particular); I can remember spending hours not only learning whatever music I was trying to learn but developing the proper techniques to get the best out of whatever instrument I was practicing on, like spending x-amount of time with trumpet, then more time with piano. Being reminded by my mother that the only way I can be better at this was to keep practicing and even when I didn’t feel like it or felt that it wasn’t even necessary.

And it paid off for me the day I took on Bach and Wendy Carlos. I remember how I felt to hear the playback once I got it into some kind of decent shape and… fuck yeah.

 
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Posted by on 1 September 2022 in Life, Living and Loving

 

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Life, Living and Loving: Mrs. Fever’s September Song Project 2021: “I Gave to You”

This is a 1970’s song by The Delphonics that is so nice and was “the song” for me and my then-girlfriend; we both heard it for the first time at a house party we had attended and as we danced to it, wow – it conveyed our feelings to and for each other way better than either of us could say.

It’s one of those songs that you could actually use to let your beloved know how much you really loved them… and without saying a word yourself. It was our song but musically and lyrically, it just touched me; it’s soulful in that classic R&B way that, today, R&B has a hard time duplicating. The band I was in also covered this song in one of our “slow dance” sets and as the group’s drummer, whew, the song meant so much to me that I had to make sure that I was playing the music instead of just listening to it; sometimes, during rehearsals, my bandmates would have to remind me to pay attention… and giving me a bunch of shit about my lack of attention or, as our bassist once said, “You can go get that pussy after we finish!”

It’s not one of those “timeless” songs and I’m not sure if there are many folks today who even heard of The Delphonics or any of their other songs although they have one song that is more well-known than this one is: “La-la Means I Love You.” For this song, it wasn’t just about dancing to it; it was also about singing it as you danced, too; R&B in the 1970s had a lot of slow songs that were like this where you could dance – we called it grinding and for a pretty obvious reason – and even if you couldn’t carry a tune if it had a handle, if the song meant something to you, you sang it anyway.

The song talks about being in love, from the joy of it to the pain of it; it’s… a sexy piece of music and even when I listen to it today – because it lives on my R&B playlist – it brings back so many memories of being young and in love and not much else mattered in the world other than that. I have, admittedly, found myself crying listening to it because the song just touches me that way.

I’m gonna give y’all the URL to the lyrics which also appears to have a link to the song itself: https://genius.com/The-delfonics-i-gave-to-you-lyrics

The musician in me loves the simplicity of the song although, personally, there are some spots where I think the drummer is… sloppy with his rolls – I wouldn’t do them that way and when my band played the song, I just didn’t but I understood that’s how it was written for the drummer at the time. The guitar parts are… melodious and fluid; the lead singer’s tenor just gets to you, not so much in the way Eddie Kendrick’s voice did or even Philip Bailey’s (lead singer for Earth, Wind and Fire if ya didn’t know that); the harmonies are… raw in their simplicity and that’s not a bad thing; they’re not overdone and, overall, it’s one of those songs that you can just sit and listen to… and think about being in love.

And it reminds me of being in love in a time where the rest of the world was going to shit and the messages to “Make love, not war!” were very prevalent. Back then, songs had messages; they told a story or expressed feelings of love and pain like music today, while okay, just doesn’t do like it used to. This song, every time I listen to it, takes me right back to the exact moment I heard it; I know where I was, who I was with, what we were doing and even that “wondering” feeling I had when the party’s hostess said, “I got this new song y’all just gotta hear! It’s a slow song so grab your man or lady and get your asses up and dance!”

And we did… and it became our song. The joy of it; the sadness in it. A reminder that love feels good and not so much and, strangely, it’s not a bad thing that love can hurt so bad in that sense. It’s one of those songs where you would have had to been there to be a part of how it not only affected me but everyone else who was there and heard this song that night. You just didn’t hear the song: You felt it. One of those songs that, the next day, had me hauling ass to The Record Museum to get the 45 and one that I had to replace a few times because I’d play it so much that I literally destroyed the grooves in it. The other side, which had the song, “When You Get Right Down To It” was an okay song but didn’t get played all that much and was more in pristine condition.

Thank goodness for MP3s…

There are a lot of songs done by The Delphonics that are more memorable and chart-toppers… but while being good, they didn’t mean as much to me as this one song did… and still does.

 
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Posted by on 5 September 2021 in Life, Living and Loving

 

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Life, Living and Loving: Mrs. Fever’s September Song Project 2021: “Do Me Baby”

I remember when this song by Meli’sa Morgan came out and at a time when R&B was getting more sultry and a tad bit raw. Songs like “Secret Lover” and “As We Lay” were quite popular and along the same “risque” lines but this particular song, wow.

I’d gotten the album after hearing so many people talking about this song; got it home, put it on the turntable and gave it a listen and, okay, musically, it was interesting but I hadn’t really listened to the lyrics all that much until, during a Friday get together with my sister and her husband – and with me playing DJ as we played cards – I put the song on as a change of pace and paid attention to the lyrics… and found myself being aroused by them. What the hell?

It was like she was talking to me, telling me what she wanted me to do and like I never had before and give to her until she couldn’t take any more. The song is playing and I’m trying to pay attention to the cards in my hands… and I’ve got a problem in my pants that wasn’t easy to ignore. Looking around the table, I saw that I wasn’t the only one captivated by the song’s lyrics; my wife (at the time) and my sister were smiling, ah, let’s say, salaciously and my brother-in-law, well, I can’t say where his head was or if he even noticed how my sister was looking at him but he was kinda like me in trying to pay attention to the cards in his hand and maybe with the same, um, problem I was having.

The song was getting down near the end and, shit, I gotta get up to put something else on and thought for a moment how to do that without “flashing” the room with my erection but I thought that we’re all adults here, right? I was going to put on a more up-tempo song when everyone at the table shouted, “NO! Run that back!” and, to be honest, I’d been thinking about replaying it anyway. The card game got forgotten for a moment because our ladies wanted to slow dance with us; the look on my brother-in-law’s face was precious and I thought it was because he didn’t really want to stand up and flash the room and as I wound up doing… but that’s probably why they decided that having a nice, slow, dance was in order.

So… we’re dancing with our wives and you just gotta know that my wife had to whisper in my ear, “Looks like you’re happy to see me…” and if I could blush, I probably would have which would have been silly because, you know, it’s not like she’s never seen or felt me hard before. I mumbled something in reply as it seemed to me that the longer the song played, the more aroused I got and grinding with her wasn’t helping matters any. I could hear my sister giggling over something her husband said to her and continuing to whisper to each other and, jeez, is it just me or is it really hot in here?

I could feel my wife’s breath on my neck, all hot and steamy and now I’m thinking about how to kick my sister and brother-in-law out so I could take care of the growing ache in my balls and, yeah, do her like I’ve never done before. And to make matters even worse, she whispers in my ear, “I know what you wanna do… because I really want you to…” and I think I groaned – well, I know I did inside my head and I must’ve actually done it because she gave me one of those low, sultry kind of laughs that sent chills racing through me. The song hits the high point; the synth drums are banging out the beat and Meli’sa’s singing, “Do me…” over and over and the song reaches its highest point and I shuddered and not unlike I might have had an accident in my pants.

Thankfully, that wasn’t the case but I was sure that I’d had an orgasm as the song wound down and, again, my wife didn’t help matters any by looking into my eyes and saying, “Hmm…” Because I could – and before I knew I had to let go of her to catch the record, I reached between her legs and, how ’bout that? The crotch of her jeans was damp and I just looked at her with a salacious smile of my own. The song ended and to kinda break the spell, I asked, “One more time?”

Everyone agreed that it was time for a different song and we still had a Spades game to finish… and I’d never been more thankful for the diversion. I wasn’t fully erect but I could feel my dick all fat and hot against my thigh and then, if shit couldn’t get any worse, my sister looked at me, shook her head and said, “Get your head outta the gutter or get a room!” We all laughed and of course I had to point out to her that I was at home so getting a room would be easier for me than it was for her. And it wasn’t like she had any room to talk from the way she kinda gingerly sat down.

Man… I couldn’t wait for them to go home! Even though I was playing a lot of different music, this song kept echoing in my head and I still couldn’t shake the very weird sense that Meli’sa was speaking directly to me. I had even mentioned it when we were talking about how good the song was and my brother-in-law admitted that he felt the same way I did and also admitted to thinking that he was just imagining it. Um, no, it wasn’t just his imagination (see what I did here?) and our wives were strangely silent.

And I was thinking about putting the song on tape and the whole tape with just that song on it; there are some songs that are just tailor-made to make love to and to me, this was one of them. As I was thinking this – and as the current hand ended – my wife got up and went to the stereo setup, grabbed a new cassette and handed it to me and said, “You know what to do when they leave, right?”

I’m not gonna say that I did her like I’ve never done before or that I gave it to her until she couldn’t take no more… but she got done and while the song continuously played the whole time.

The next day, my sister and her crew stopped by; apparently, somewhere during the evening, she’d lost her keys and rummaged around the house until she found them in the living room. While she searched, my brother-in-law sidled up to me and asked, “Did you do what I think you did?”

“What do you think I did?” I asked.

“Put that song on tape and…,” he replied.

“Uh, yeah, I did,” I said.

“So did I,” he said and we stood there grinning like idiots and got busted; my sister, who had found her keys said, “Oh, you two need to quit!”

One of the ongoing projects I have is to collect songs from back in the day. I had had Meli’sa’s album, then the CD and had ripped the CD, along with a great many others, to my computer to create playlists and all that and even when I’m in the mood to listen to mood music, “Do Me Baby” is right at the top of the playlist and still affects me the same way it that that day so long ago.

 
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Posted by on 4 September 2021 in Life, Living and Loving

 

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Life, Living and Loving: Mrs. Fever’s September Song Project 2021: 2525

My 13-year-old self had been having a grand time at summer camp despite having the thought that since I’d been going to this camp for years now, eh, maybe it wasn’t going to be as much fun as it had been in the beginning. I had gone back to my original camp activities of archery, riflery, and swimming even though I’d already gained every award/achievement they had to offer for these things – and I did it because over the years, I’d taken many of the other activities and they were okay, like horseback riding and understanding what it was like to be atop of an animal with a mind of its own; yeah, TV cowboys made it look so easy to just hop on a horse, didn’t they?

Going back to the beginning, however, allowed me to meet “Christine,” a green-eye, red-headed, freckled angel of a girl who captivated me on the very first day we hit the archery range. She’d been having a lot of trouble stringing her bow even thought the instructors had demonstrated it quite a few times. Being an old hand at it, I went to help her and the moment our eyes met I, um, I forgot why I was standing next to her. Then she smiled… and I was pretty sure I’d forgotten where I was and maybe even who I was.

To be honest, it wasn’t as if I was inexperienced with girls… and in any way you want to define it. I liked girls but this one? Like any other teenaged boy, my hormones were already redlined but that initial moment of meeting Christine was such an instantaneous rush of emotions that I felt dizzy and had to take a seat after helping her get her bow strung and the dizziness threatened to overwhelm me when our hands incidentally touched, making me gasp and I dimly remember her blinking rapidly, her jaw dropping for a moment. I’d sat down for a moment, breathing heavily and, I guess, so distressed that an instructor came to check on me and having them ask me if I was okay broke the “spell” that came over me. I told them that I was fine and the day’s lesson began… but I wasn’t at my best, not in the form that had gotten me the American Archer award just a couple of years ago.

Maybe it was fate… or purely a coincidence but in every activity I had, Christine was there, too. At the rifle range, jeez, I had the jitters so bad – and because she was in the firing position next to me – that I had a hard time locking in on the target; what the hell was wrong with me and an even better question, why was I feeling this way every time I saw her? Even at lunch, my eyes were drawn to her from across the dining room, picking her out easily from all the other girls in that section; our eyes met – again – and I must’ve blanked out for a moment because I hadn’t realized that instead of taking a bite out of the sandwich in my hand, I ate my napkin instead. I got snapped out of whatever the hell this was by the guys at my table having a good old time laughing their asses off at me for doing just a dumb thing.

As smart as I was (and according to all the tests I’d been taking), I couldn’t figure out what was going on with me; before lunch, we had swimming class which was a “waste” of my time since I had long since achieved the highest level of swimmer and, as such, didn’t need instruction. But there she was again and even with her buddy, I had no problem locating her out of all the kids in the safe swimming area… and not more than ten feet away. My heartbeat pounded in my ears and so loudly that I could barely hear my own buddy asking me something. That got me out of my moment and as I went to answer him, Christine had gotten swamped by a wave and separated from her buddy; the next thing I knew, I had her in my arms and her head above water… and I shuddered, then was embarrassed because I’d just ejaculated in my swimming trunks.

Worse, I think she knew it since my front was pressed against her back as I moved her toward the beach. She didn’t say anything (thank God) but she smiled and thanked me even as the lifeguards came running over to see if we were both okay but her smile was even… brighter than it had been earlier that day on the archery range. Yeah, I thought she knew what had happened with me.

It was going to be a long two weeks. My days were filled with Christine and in the moments where we were separated, my thoughts were occupied by her and my nights, oh, damn, my nights were filled with having to masturbate several times because she just haunted me into having erection after erection and even when I slept, it was fitfully and there were too many mornings where I’d wake up with my underwear plastered to me. What the hell is this? What is wrong with me?

Somehow, a memory showed up to explain it all; I remembered the day I had asked my mother how would I know if I was in love and she gave the answer of, “When it happens, you’ll know it!” I thought, at the time, that it was the most useless answer I’d ever heard from her and had dismissed it… until now. Was this love? Is all this shit I’d been feeling and going through what it means to be in love? I didn’t know and there was no one I would even dare to ask being at camp.

Then came the night of the camp dance, which was always held a couple of days before the end of every camp session and attendance was mandatory. The room was filled with laughing, talking, and dancing kids of all ages and I had felt… weird dancing with other girls and either locking eyes with Christine – and being pissed off to see her dancing with some guy – or just knowing she was looking at me as I danced with someone. At one point, the music changed from being up – tempo to slow and the counselors chaperoning the event reminded us to keep some distance between ourselves and our dance partners. I was kinda standing there when the song, “In the Year 2525” began to play and I heard a voice I knew all too well asking, “Do you want to dance with me?”

I turned and looked and saw Christine standing there but, of course, I’d already known it was her and there was no way in hell that I was going to tell her that I didn’t want to dance with her. And we danced and, perhaps, a bit closer than what was allowed but no chaperone came over to separate us. The song seemed to go on for forever as we swayed on the dance floor and gazing into each other’s eyes and at the part of the song where the singer was talking about the year 2510, Christine said, “I think I’m in love with you… and I think you’re in love with me, too…”

Then she kissed me and the next thing I knew, we were outside on the building’s deck. Wait… weren’t we just inside and dancing? How did I get out here? I blinked and realized that I was holding Christine’s hand and she was smiling and even crying; did I do or say something wrong? I was able to remember that just as the song got to the part about the year 2525, I had told her, “I love you…” and that’s when I blanked out, I guess. Standing there in the warmth of the night, holding her hand, wow – nothing else mattered or even existed. We kissed – totally against the camp rules – and our tongues got together and I could feel our bodies trembling and I was sure we were holding each other up… and I was praying that I didn’t shoot in my pants.

We were both crying now after talking about camp being over for us and that we’d never see each other again and I was so in love with her and so totally heartbroken at the same time and looking into her eyes told me that she felt the same way. We got snapped out of our moment by the counselors saying that the dance was over and the hustle of the various counselors collecting their charges to once more put a lot of distance between the boys and girls. We kissed one more – and last time – and it was beyond amazing; we ended it just in time for some counselors to wrangle us up but not before we had a chance to tell each other where we lived… and the exultation of finding out that we lived in the same damned city! That last kiss wasn’t a kiss goodbye and forever!

We’d become boyfriend and girlfriend despite some… resistance from her parents and over that racial bullshit that existed. It didn’t stop us from sneaking off one day when I was allowed to visit with her and, um, well, we made love on a blanket in the neighboring woods and listening to our song on the radio she had brought with her. If we hadn’t known that we loved each other before, we knew it as our bodies joined and we became one with each other. And, oh, how we both cried in that moment and I understood what “tears of joy” meant as I came in her over and over and over until I couldn’t anymore… and even then nothing mattered other than my love for her and the love she felt for me. I knew what it meant when she’d said that she wanted to give herself to me even if it got us in trouble; I remember my mind giving me a “busy signal” to hear her say that she had to do this because she had been told – and like we all had been – that she should only give herself to someone she loved… so she did. We explored each other’s bodies; I remember how she gasped and shuddered as I kissed her “down there” over and over and how she made me gasp and shudder as she returned that special kiss to me and the rest was… beyond beautiful.

Then she moved away; I remember feeling that same heartbreak I’d felt at camp when she told me about it and how her dad had gotten transferred and made worse because we were only allowed a few short minutes to say goodbye to each other and allowed one last kiss before it was time for me to head back home. I don’t even remember walking back home; to me, one moment I was taking one last look at my beloved Christine and the next moment, I was walking through the door of my home. And to make things even worse, I kept hearing our song on the radio, which made me happy and sad all at the same time.

Today, I don’t know if the song can be found… and even after all this time, I don’t know if I could listen to it even if I could find it… but there are times when I think about it and it makes me think about Christine and the first girl that I ever fell in love with… and it makes me smile at the memories of our short but beautiful time together and, yes, especially the moment we stole to “consummate” our love and defining what it meant to make love.

One of the musical moments I will never, ever forget…

 
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Posted by on 1 September 2021 in Life, Living and Loving

 

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Life, Living and Loving: Mrs. Fever’s Inspiration Project: What Inspires Me to Write

I write a lot about bisexuality and the inspiration comes from the fact that I am bisexual and have been for a large portion of my life… like over five decades. The other thing that inspires me to write about it is knowing that:

  1. A lot of people have no idea what bisexuality is.
  2. A lot of people don’t know how to be bisexual and that it’s not just a thing to do sexually.
  3. A lot of people have questions or concerns and there aren’t that many answers to them that aren’t couched in pie-in-the-sky nonsense and psychobabble.
  4. It’s a kind of legacy thing; I felt a great need to pass on what I’ve learned about this and I’ve learned a lot of shit about this
  5. It’s therapeutic to write. Years ago, I had a stroke that left my whole right side impaired. I had to relearn how to walk and relearn how to do simple things like pick something up with my right hand and other stuff right-handed people normally do and including, for me, being able to type as well and as fast as I could before I had the stroke.

I like to say that I’m “rabidly bisexual” which might sound weird but isn’t; being bisexual is the shit, not just because of the sex that can be had but because it proved to be one hell of an eye-opening thing that, almost right away, showed me the world and the way things really worked. I saw that what we believe about certain things is just the preferred way to do them… but has never been the only way.

Bisexuality liberated me from conventional thinking, beliefs and behaviors. It’s been likened to being blind… then being able to see and now a lot of the things that didn’t make sense started to make sense… and I embraced the hell out of it and, without any shame whatsoever, yeah – the sex is just fucking amazing. Once I started blogging – and blogging about this particular aspect – the thoughts that are forever bouncing around inside my head now had an outlet and if I had a regret, it’s that it took a long time for me to find this outlet and I probably wouldn’t have until a very dear – and now late – friend of mine told me about the blog she was writing and suggested that she thought I’d be good at blogging.

As it turns out, this month is my WordPress anniversary month. I wrote my very first blog on 28 May 2010… and I haven’t stopped blogging and, wow, I’ve had a lot to say about what it’s like to be bisexual and what it means as well as what I’ve observed from others on the topic. When someone asked me, “Why do you write about this?” my answer was, “Because someone has to… and someone has to be for-real about it. No sugar-coating it; no bullshit; tell it as it is and as I’ve experienced and observed it.”

While a lot of bloggers blog to gain an audience and can be all about the stats, eh, I don’t care about that so much; I’m inspired and “driven” to get the word out to anyone who cares to pay attention to it that bisexuality isn’t the non-existent thing everyone seems to think it is. It’s not all about the sex but the sex is just as much a part of it as the emotional aspects are. I’ve heard a lot of people ask, “Why do guys have sex with each other?” and I’m the guy who can answer that question and, nope, being gay has nothing to do with it… and I’m also the guy who is inspired to do some mythbusting and get down to the real and “dirty” answer to that question…

And then to let anyone who cares to read what I write know that the only shame in this is the shame we allow ourselves to feel or allow someone else to foist upon us. Stats aren’t important; the fact that few people ever comment on the things I write about this doesn’t mean a whole lot… but getting the word out there means everything.

I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it for I shall not pass this way again.” Etienne de Grellet du Mabillier is credited with uttering these words and when I first saw this, I was inspired; if I can “set the record straight” about what it means to be bisexual and what it is, then I’ve done some good and, again, someone has to. If not now, when? If not me, then who? I’d not call my the expert in things bisexual… but I know some shit about it and, as one can see when I write, it’s a lot of shit that most people aren’t even aware of because few people ever really bother to dig down deep and as I did to answer a question I asked myself five decades ago: How can something that’s supposed to be so bad feel so good?

Because I know the answer, yeah… inspired like you wouldn’t believe. I know the good of it as well as the bad; I understand the science behind it and if being bisexual didn’t teach me anything, it taught me what it means to be human and no matter what the rules have to say about it. Some bloggers write to excite and stimulate and, well, when I write about, um, certain things, they can excite and stimulate… but that’s not the purpose or reason because if I really wanted to do that, I can and have written erotica and got published (and paid) for it. I am inspired to inform and to the best of my ability to do so and do it in a no-nonsense, no bullshit kind of way because I know, even if no one else does or cares to know, bisexuality is some very real and life-changing shit.

And I remain inspired to be the one to have the nerve and gall to write about it… because someone has to.

 
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Posted by on 15 May 2021 in Life, Living and Loving

 

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Life, Living and Loving: Mrs. Fever’s September Song Project II – Apple Music

Music is a big part of my life, as a listener as well as a composer and performer. There’s no such animal as too much music and to the point where there’s a pretty good portion of my mind that always has music playing, whether it’s something I’ve heard before or something I’m composing.

I have both an iPad and an iPhone and I always made sure that I had my music loaded up from my huge stash kept on my computer – which ain’t even close to speaking to all of the music I still have on CD that I’m too lazy to put on my computer and a project, due to my laziness, I have been putting off for years now.

To be honest, I wasn’t a fan of Apple Music or any of the other services that offers music, like Amazon, Spotify, etc., because, like most people, I have my favorite kinds of music and, at least in the earlier days, none of them had the music that might pop into my head at any given time. So if I didn’t have the CD already and it wasn’t on my computer, bleh – the various services couldn’t be that good and more so when they say they have the music you want to listen to… and then they don’t.

But when I upgraded my iPhone, they were offering a year of Apple Music free and I thought that, well, it’s free so why not? I’d taken a look at the other services and my son-in-law gave Amazon Music some props but, after checking them out, nah – I wasn’t feeling them. So I signed up for the free year, put an entry in my calendar to cancel it before the year was up, and we’ll see if Apple Music really does live up to the advertised hype.

In reality, there’s a lot of music I can think of that Apple Music doesn’t have, either because they can’t or haven’t obtained the rights or, in a lot of cases, the music is literally no longer available – it’s “out of print” and like a lot of books are. When I have music on my mind, it’s usually the music I grew up with; yeah, some of it I do have on CD but, again, I’m just too fucking lazy to pull out my stash of CDs and put them on the computer so I can upload them to my devices. It really is easier to think of a song, pick up my iPhone or iPad, tap the Music icon, and go looking for it and with the thought that, chances are good, they’re not gonna have it.

Then be pleasantly surprised that they do have it and, yeah, often finding new music to listen to. I don’t remember which iOS update changed the way Apple Music behave but I was quite upset to find, after updating, that my music apps – other than the one that came with the phone/pad – could no longer see the music I had painstakingly uploaded from my computer – it was now all in Apple’s cloud. Okay… my music was “safe” in that sense but let’s face it: Apple’s music app just flat out sucks. No EQ to speak of or any other way that enhances what you hear and a reminder of why Apple pisses me off so much given how fucking proprietary they tend to be and, as such, not allowing the apps that gives me the best listening experience to access Apple Music in the cloud.

And there are few apps in the AppStore that meets my needs… and the ones I often see there includes a lot of shit I’m just not interested in, like radio stations that are streaming music I’m very much not interested in: I want to listen to what I want to listen to and when I want to listen to it and how I want to listen to it, damn it to hell!

Still, um, Apple Music, surprisingly, hasn’t disappointed me all that much when I think of a song, search for it, and find it, adding it to my ever growing collection – did I mention that I have a shitload of music? All kinds of music that covers my tastes? The good part in this is that despite whatever Apple has to offer, I still have access to my favorite music to listen to even if it’s now hanging out in the cloud – and it’s still on my computer so I guess it’s really a win/win.

The thing is that, for me, I can’t imagine a life without music. One of my biggest fears, when I had my stroke, was whether or not my ability to play an instrument was going to be lost and if I’d even be able to remember any of the music I love so much. My ability to play an instrument was, sadly, impacted; while I regained a lot of the fine motor skills required, I didn’t get it all back and I can’t begin to tell you how frustrating it is to know I can, say, sit down at my Korg workstation and I know what to do… and I have a problem doing it the way I know how to. It’s… muscle memory as well as being able to remember what’s called for to be able to play a given instrument… but the brain is mysterious: I know how to do it but my hands and feet – because I’m also a drummer – can’t get back on the same page with each other.

I need my music. Even if playing it poses a problem, I need to be able to listen to whatever I feel like listening to and in the moment I wanna hear it. Like, I was watching a movie – or, really, the tail end of it – and I heard Brian McKnight’s, “Back to One,” a song I hadn’t heard, oh, since it came out – and one I knew I didn’t have in my library or on CD. I had my iPad in hand, exited out of the book I was reading and a few taps later, the song is mine… and along with three more of his songs that also happened to come to mind.

It makes paying that $9.99 every month worth it. Oddly enough, I recently signed up for Amazon Prime – something else I wasn’t really feeling so much but Amazon had something I needed right away so, okay, I needed Prime and got it. It comes with Amazon Music… and I haven’t even bothered to check it out… because I don’t need to but maybe I should; they could have something that Apple doesn’t.

Mrs. Fever picked September for a music meme project… but for me? Every day is a musical meme for me; I pretty much live for music. It’s been an integral part of me since I was seven years old, having been bitten by the music bug when our church organist sat me down at the gigantic, four manual keyboard and showed me how I could make it do music. I could barely reach the lower manual but I managed it… and I was hooked after she taught me how to play “Chopsticks.” Today, I think she’d be proud to know that I learned how to play such a big organ and can play something other than “Chopsticks.”

I know music. I can read it. Perform it with and on various instruments. I can compose it, write it using notation that I trained hard to learn and, of course, I listen to it and hear it playing non-stop in my head.

How’s that for a meme?

 
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Posted by on 15 September 2020 in Life, Living and Loving

 

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Life, Living and Loving: Mrs. Fever’s September Song Project II: Two Songs

Since the passing of my mother, there has been two songs echoing through me. The first is Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven” and the other is from the movie, “Avengers: Endgame” and entitled, “The Real Hero” composed by Alan Silvestri.

I don’t think there’s anyone who doesn’t know the story behind “Tears in Heaven” and in case you didn’t know, Clapton wrote that song after the tragic death of his young son. I watched his MTV Unplugged performance when it aired and as he and his guys performed “Tears in Heaven,” I was… in awe of the man and that he could perform a song that so much reminded him of his son’s death and the Unplugged version had me in tears – you could feel the emotion in the song and in his voice as he sang.

This was the first song that popped into my head upon hearing of my mother’s death, followed by “The Real Hero.” If you’ve not seen “Avengers: Endgame,” the song actually appears twice in the movie, once – and in part – during the opening scenes and at the moment Tony Stark died after swiping the Infinity Stones from Thanos and snapping him and his army out of existence.

Had tears in my eyes seeing that part of the movie but the song itself speak of sorrow and hope as well as a sense of what it means to commit one’s self to the ultimate sacrifice. Dr. Strange had told Tony that there was one chance in 14 million to defeat Thanos and, at one point in the movie, he told Stark that if he told him what that chance was now, it would never happen.

Then everything comes to a head… and Dr. Strange looks at Tony and slowly raises one finger… and Tony knew what he had to do. And did what he had to do even though it was the one thing he didn’t want to do.

Pretty heroic stuff and the song by Silvestri embodies it… and is fitting as I remember the hero my mother was to me and even more so when I think about how she faced death with a strength, resolve, and utter fearlessness.

The musician in me loves these two pieces of music. I’ve always liked Clapton’s music and it’s fascinated me that a guy with a very British accent can sing without any trace of that accent in his vocals… and his skill and virtuosity with the guitar is unmatched by few. He performed on Phil Collins’ “Let It Rain Down On Me” and his licks, which opened the song, wow. Just fucking wow. Such emotion in those opening measures, followed by Collins’ vocals, the rest of the musical performance – the bass line is deep and the drum parts – which I took great joy in being able to perform myself – just adds to the soulfulness of the song.

And, yeah, it was the third song that flowed through my mind during this time of grief.

Silvestri and the London Symphony Orchestra performed “The Real Hero” – he did all of the music for all of the Avengers movies. Strings and French horns just reach out and tug on your heart right from the beginning – well, if you like orchestral music. The song starts playing in my head – or I open the playlist I have this song in (available on Apple Music if you got it like that) – and I see the ending scenes of the movie and the two of them together running in my mind just touches my soul – and that was way before all of this happened to my mother.

It’s the last song in this particular playlist and I placed it there deliberately even though I’ve added songs to this playlist; the playlist opens with Eugie Groove’s “In Love With You” and continues with an… odd collection of songs set in a particular and specific order to evoke differing emotions; love, happiness, thoughtfulness, and unabashed toe-tapping and dancing like no one’s watching – and singing. This playlist is a rollercoaster ride of musical fun and ends with the heart-rending soulfulness of “The Real Hero” and a reminder that while all things must end, there is still hope remaining and that the cycle of life continues on…

Plus that playlist is set to repeat itself. In this period of grief, these two songs are… fitting. The first – “Tears in Heaven” – speaks to how I’m feeling about all of this while the second – “The Real Hero” – speaks to my memories of my mother and how she faced the things in her life and stood tall and strong even when life threw a lot of bad things her way.

They are, in a way, my songs in the key of life.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on 12 September 2020 in Life, Living and Loving

 

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