cUz I’m JuSt HolDiNg On FoR tOnIgHt

This is by far one of the most incredible arrangements I have ever heard.  I guess now is the time to tell you how much I fucking love a cappella.  But this takes the cake.  Her voice gives me chills, the whole arrangement gives me chills.  It so passionate and beautiful.  And the original of this song is near flawless so it’s good that they killed it on their cover.

Voila:

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(oH mAmA)

This song is everything.

I heard it on 88.9 the other day and my jaw dropped.  I love the whole journey musically.

I am including audio only because I HATED the video and I think it completely undermines the power of the song with its sexuality.  You can watch it on your own but this post is about the music.

HoLy ShiT

I don’t know if this is the most brilliant song ever written or the worst song ever.  I feel such strange averse yet amazed reactions… I love Nikka Costa but haven’t listened to her in years and a different song of hers played on a Pandora the other day so I Shazam-ed it to save it and remind myself, and now I’m listening to an album but I don’t remember ever hearing this song.  It’s like an amazing and wonderful atrocity.

So I felt compelled to post it.  😉

Enjoy! (?)

pOsTcArDs

So this post is less about a specific artist than it is about a theme.  Your postcards made me think of my two favorite songs with “Postcards from…” in the title.

The first is “Postcards from Hell”

This is one of my favorite intros to any song in all of music.  It is so nostalgic yet happy but in a calm way.  I always get tingles when I hear it.

I saw The Wood Brothers live at Shank Hall with Tyler two years ago and they were fantastic.  Amazing.  Awe-inspiring.  We couldn’t believe they weren’t at a larger venue like Turner Hall at least, though they should fill the Pabst or Riverside in my mind.  They were so creative and funny and confident in their musicianship (one of the brothers was the creator of Medeski Martin & Wood) without being cocky, though the lead singer definitely has a snarky sense of humor.  And for a good portion of the night, one of them played the shuitar, which was hilarious.  They also incorporated an old-timey radio mic for some of their music, and at the end turned off all the mics and everyone shushed down and they played 100% acoustically which was beautiful.

This is definitely one of my favorite songs.

This live version is great too:

And then, of course, is “Postcards from Italy” by one of my all-time favorite bands, Beirut.

I have too much to say about Beirut, so I’ll save that for another post.  This post is about the theme and it’s therefore a perfect song.  And I love that he utilizes the ukulele.  🙂

Thanks for the postcards from Nashville.  Maybe that’ll be a song one day too.  🙂

i WiSh ThAt I wAs YoUr WhIsKeY (sWeEt PeRdItA)

Here’s my favorite Seeso song, also probably one of my favorite songs of all time.  The first time I heard it was at UWC in June, and I have a clip of it on my phone that I was lucky enough to catch, that has our friend Tim as a fourth singer adding another layer of gorgeous higher harmony.  I remember being excited and happy and distracted and drunk, running around this field in the dark with hundreds of other uke players who were also excited and happy and distracted and drunk, and then I heard these four men singing this gorgeous song during the open mic, their voices ringing clearly in the air of the night, and literally just stopped in my tracks to listen and finally got my senses together to get out my phone and capture some.

I found out afterwards that it was a Seeso original, and it is amazing.  This first video is Alex Holmes, Matt Lindahl, and Seeso playing at a cabin that a few people rented at a UWC a few years back.  I don’t know Alex that well but I spent a lot of time with Matt at UWC and holy shit is he a hilarious piece of work.  He was a finalist on Nashville Idol or something like that (I just messaged him to tell him you’re in Nashville too, I totally forgot till this post that he’s there as well), and his voice is absolutely gorgeous, I love it.  He’s also just funny as shit and the end of this video cracks me up so hard when he messes up.  And true to Seeso form, it doesn’t even phase him (Seeso) one bit.  I love that they end acapella, even though it’s kind of a goofy finish.  Also true to Seeso form, that “Alriiight!” at the end is how he ends everything, especially when he’s playing with other people.  It’s so great and encouraging and triumphant.

The song was written as a response to a friend of Seeso’s who came “Every Monday night [and] every other Wednesday” to the open mics that Seeso ran for years in Chicago.  She covered Nina Simone among others, but also wrote and performed her own music.  One song was called “The Whiskey Song”, in which she says “I wish you were my whiskey” or “If you were my whiskey” or something like that.  Seeso was inspired and wrote the song whose secondary title is “I Wish I Was Your Whiskey” but the original title is “Sweet Perdita,” as her name on MySpace or some site where she posted her music was Perdita. Here is a more current recording from just this year where you get to see more of Seeso’s face (which is extremely expressive and entertaining), and has the original ending line of the song.  I hated it when I first heard it, I felt it ruined the song for me, but this time when I listened I couldn’t help laughing.  It’s pretty brilliant.  I prefer it as a moving song though with the ending line from the first video.  He played it that way last night too, which was nice.

Speaking of last night, that was actually one of the highlights of the whole evening.  When it was time for “Sweet Perdita” in the set, Seeso goes “Alright, I know a lot of you out there know this song, and know harmonies to this song, so if you do–” and we all thought he was just gonna say “be sure and sing along” but instead he shouted “C’MON UP HERE!!”  So we all looked at one another and shrugged “fuck it” and got up on stage.  It was awesome.  The pics don’t do it justice, there were like 3 more rows of people behind us but you can’t see from this angle.  There were like 8 or 10 different harmonies going at any given time (if that’s even possible) and myriad different vocal arrangements, because everyone has their favorite versions of the song that they added as layers.  It was really magical and quite moving.  I hope there’s video of it somewhere, but if not then it was meant to just live in the moment.

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There you go.  Now you have a Greg song and a Seeso song to add to your repertoire.  I hope you like them.  Regardless, there are tons more songs out there of varying genres by both of them, which is awesome. You can be my whiskey.  Cheers.

TiReD aNd HuNgRy AnD pOoR

Well here’s something I can definitely bring to the table: my friends’ originals.

This is one of my favorite songs, and I feel it especially appropriate to post Seeso’s and Greg’s music after this weekend.  Seeso’s the one on the left.  Greg, on the right, wrote the song.  I love his voice so much.  Like I told you over the phone, the two have been friends since they nearly landed an acting gig together, not knowing one-another at the time, and when asked to cut their at-the-time very long hair, they looked at each other, then back at the casting agent, said “Nope” and left the building together.  And so begins their friendship and musical partnership that has spanned more than 20 years.  Pretty effin cool.

This song is from 2000 and the first time I watched the video this year I didn’t even realize it was Greg–he now has short hair and an intense beard–I was halfway through the song when I realized “Holy shit that’s GG’s voice–holy shit THAT’S GREG!!”  (His name is Greg Golden so the BOAs call him GG).  He played it last night and the first time I heard it live was back at Milwaukee Ukulele Fest, and both times it’s been sung more like an anthem and EVERYONE in the room knows the words and joins in and goes nuts on the chorus and it’s more triumphant and defiant than sad.  This recording is more beautiful and bittersweet, but either way it’s an awesome song and I’m learning it so I can play it.

It’s been a really emotional experience–in the best way–getting to know these people.  The ukulele community is the most welcoming, fun, endearing, open community I have ever been a part of, and after part of a life trying to make it in the theatre community, at once beautiful, challenging, but phenomenally judgmental, it was a welcome shift in my social networks.  I have never met such encouraging people who are so supportive of each other and one-another’s successes.  Last night was a great testament to that.  So many people came out to see Seeso play, to see I’m a Dog reunite, to see the other bands that Seeso knows through his life in music, and it was a room full of love and excitement of the awesomest fucking party people ever.  I have recently been wanting to delve more into that community and start working on my own songs, so I’ve started spending more time going through Seeso’s and Greg’s music and it’s been a really fun adventure.

Anyway, even though last night was really about Seeso, he wanted it to be about everyone and I’m sure would be in full support of me sharing his best friend’s music first over his.  Greg played this song in the opening act, and like I said, everyone went nuts.  It was a great way to kick off an evening of both nostalgia and looking forward.

Here’s to being Tired, Hungry, and Poor, because sometimes that’s what you have to go through to get what it really is that you want, whatever that may be.

i WaNnA dO bEtTeR / i WaNnA tRy HaRdEr

So this post is a little sad so be forewarned and I’ll be posting a perkier one later but it’s a moment I experienced the other day that I really want to hold onto and really wanted to share with someone, and felt like this is a good place for it.

My mom had a friend Carey who she knew for years and years and years through the art community, and they were part of this little group who called themselves the Art Force and they all had fantastic nicknames for each other (Carey is Private Puff, Mom is General Chaos…I can’t find Judy’s and John’s nicknames though I’ve been sorting through old forwarded emails now…) and after they all moved away in their later 20s and 30s and started lives and families, they’d send sketchbooks in the mail that they’d take turns creating art in, and later they mailed each other artist trading cards, and it was always long stretches of time in-between but they still stayed in touch.  I have clear memories of these streams of art trade painted throughout my youth.  I remember sketchbooks being mailed, being kept by someone too long, getting lost.  There is a painting in our house that is forever burned into my long-term memory of my childhood: it is parrots on a branch in a lush green setting and there are random brushstrokes that make up the jungle behind them, and two or three in particular that as a 4-year-old I was convinced was a blonde woman in a pink dress pulling weeds but no one could see it but me.  Carey painted it.

And then just two years ago he and my mom and their friend John started becoming more in touch again, and the magic of music and SPECIFICALLY THE UKULELE brought them together because Carey played and my mom and dad had a few weekends here or in Chicago where they would get together with Carey and his wife Jill and drink and play ukes and mandolin and sing and do art all weekend.  It sounded pretty magical.  My mom has turned my old bedroom into her art studio over the last few years and I have never seen her so happy, but she is also struggling to find her artist’s voice again after being out of the game for so long and Carey had organized a few “Boot Camp” weekends for the Art Force, where he taught his painting methods and everyone got whipped back into shape.  One of them took place in my parents’ basement and I was home and I got to meet him once in passing.  I had a Skype date with my French roommate, and Carey was in the zone teaching and was very diligent about his art and he seemed serious and shy and I didn’t want to interrupt their weekend so I introduced myself and went back upstairs to babble in French.  In person in those few moments he was stoic and focused.  But through his quiet calm he was also phenomenally clever and wildly funny; Mom shared a lot of their email exchanges over the last few years.  He was clearly a wonderful person.  Their mutual friend Johh, a talented potter, has a daughter Kerri who, according to an old email from Mom, was named after Carey; the two men were best friends and Carey clearly left a mark.  Since those Boot Camps, I have never seen my mother so motivated to paint and study and create art and play music.

Then last year around this time, Carey suddenly passed away.  He was in the kitchen making coffee for breakfast and just collapsed.  It was really horrible, because he and my mom had just recently reconnected and as she said, they could have been having these art and music double-date weekends and Art Force Boot Camp weekends for the next ten years.  Which is the part that makes her incredibly sad.  But she is also incredibly thankful for the two music-with-spouses weekends they did have, and the Boot Camps and all of the art exchanges they created.  You have to look at it that way or you’ll go mad.  And you better spend the time you have creating something beautiful because you really never know when you’re gonna go.

It’s been a really bizarre thing to witness, watching someone reconnect with a loved one only to lose them so shortly after.  His wife told my mom to come get his music books and his unfinished paintings, as they would be more use to her than anyone.  John was a close friend but my mom is a painter (potter-turned-painter) and he is a potter and she would be able to make something of the unfinished canvases.

So I was home the other day and my mom was showing me the latest painting she was working on in her studio, and then said with a smile, “I’m working on a painting with Carey, want to see it?”  “..What?” “I’ll show you.  It’s in the basement.”

We went down to the basement “studio” (tarp spread out on the ping-pong table covered in canvases and brushes and paint) and there were two canvases she was stretching and working on.  “Carey was working on these before he died.  I’m going to finish them.”  We took a closer look at them.  “Look at the subject matter–It’s candles and birds flying away.  And it was his last painting.”  We were both silent a moment.  She looked really sad for a moment, then took a breath and started working.  She was suddenly so calm and happy with it and at peace about everything, and it was so beautiful and I quietly started to cry.  She finished showing me her plans for them, and the stack of about 6 or 7 other half-finished canvases standing against the wall that she has plans to be working on next.  It’s a way their 30-year friendship doesn’t have to end.

I had things to work on and wanted to leave her alone for a bit, and then later on she was going to drive me back to my apartment.  I went to my room upstairs and after awhile I finished what I needed to, then walked into the hallway and yelled “Mom are you ready to go?”  I was really confused because I heard music like it was coming from another room in the house, then realized it was coming up from the vent in the basement.  It was really haunting and beautiful and I remember stopping in my tracks because my mom almost never listens to music.  Not totally true–she listens to it plenty but she’s a very active listener.  She only listens to music when she wants to really hear it.  She’s never been a background-music type of person, she prefers silence.  So I never pictured her painting with music playing.  I was really drawn to it and moved by it and I wanted to hear it so I walked to the top of the basement stairs.   This is what was playing.  I don’t even think she realized how fitting it was, I think this was one of those rare times she was just painting to beautiful background music.  But it was strangely perfect for the moment and it moved me:

The lyrics made me tear up again because I realized they fit perfectly with the situation.  The title alone is perfect: Long Lost Brother.  They found each other again later in life and it was as if no time had passed.

“I wanna do better / I wanna try harder”- I listened to that as she was painting with her friend who taught her so much and watching her work hard at improving her own art.  I walked all the way down the stairs and watched her for a bit–I felt like I was interrupting a private moment, but she knew I was in the house and she knew I would be coming downstairs eventually so I wasn’t really spying, it was more like I didn’t want to interrupt the moment.  There was such a magical energy and it seemed very healing.  And it wasn’t just a lyric for that moment.  We all want to do better at something, try harder at something…

“Into the arms of forgiveness”  We all have to remember to forgive ourselves for things.  For not getting things done, for not making the right decisions, for not being brave enough, for not being kind enough, for not being true to ourselves enough, for not spending more time with someone when they were around.  “I thought that we’d be further along by now”–for the times when we feel we need to forgive ourselves for where we are in life if we’re not satisfied with everything in that moment.  And then put all that aside and be thrilled with what we can bring to the table.  The times we got more than enough done, the times we made tough decisions, the times we were courageous and bold, the times we went out of our way to make someone happy, the times we stuck to our guns, and the good times we made with the people who mean the most to us.

I feel lucky I got a chance to meet him. This post is dedicated to Private Puff.