Tag: 2020 June Group Writing

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So, being a safety professional involves lots of paperwork.* A truly insomnia-curing amount of paperwork, actually. All of my safety jobs involve lots of taking information, analyzing it, and turning it into something worthwhile. This requires some music to keep me going, along with generous application of caffeine. Not just any music – music with […]

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Group Writing: Music To Bury My Mother By

 

June 24, 2020 would have been my mother’s 92nd birthday. She died in September 2014, at the age of 86 after a long struggle with the effects of fronto-temporal dementia. Her death was, in the eyes of her children and others who loved her, a release and a blessing. And for her, peace at last.

She’d fallen away from the faith of her childhood decades before, and her children wished only a celebration of her life, and to say farewell to Mum with words and music that she’d have enjoyed. (I’ve often thought that, in an earlier time, Mum might have lived as a wise woman, or a white witch, in a pretty little cottage in the middle of the forest primeval. She’d have liked that, I think.)

Her interment was my first experience with a “green” funeral. She was buried in a biodegradable coffin painted with the wild birds of England that she so loved, in a lovely and peaceful place (an experience which felt so “right” that it inspired my stepson’s green burial a few years later.)

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I’ve always had a soft spot for old school spirituals.  Simple, straight-forward, honest with no pretenses.  I occasional attend a Lutheran church that interweaves old German hymns with spirituals, partly because of their mixed congregation.  Musically, they laid some of the foundations for jazz and blues, which I also like, and obviously led into gospel […]

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Music That Makes Me Answer the Phone

 

Once cell phones began to move beyond merely being able to place calls and became able to store more and more data, we began to see the rise of ringtones.  Beyond the novelty ringers, now everyone could have a ringtone for different callers.

My first phone allowed custom rings, but you had to program in each note.  This was difficult for someone who is close to tone-deaf.  I eventually got a better flip phone that had a decent system for downloading low-quality ringtones, but the selection was very limited.   Once I got my first smartphone (a Palm Pre +) I could really innovate.  All of my most common callers would get their own ringtone.  It took some work because, by default, my phone was unable to play them at sufficient volume.  I had to boost the volume with audio editing software, which hurt the dynamic range and sound quality, but they were loud enough to get my attention.  Some uploading later, I had an ample array of ringtones.

Member Post

 

We are living in a time when our hearts feel broken, our souls are wounded and we may have many doubts about life and our fellow man. Music is one way that I experience healing and gratitude in the midst of disruption and fear. When I hear religious and/or spiritual music, my heart fills to […]

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Music: Woke War I, Prelude

 

Laurel Canyon is an Epix documentary about a Los Angeles hillside neighborhood and the years when it first became a refuge for like-minded folk and rock musicians. Like a Simon and Garfunkel lyric whose out-of-date-ness always amused me, “Thirty dollars pays your rent on Bleecker Street,” the idea that Laurel Canyon was once a cheap place to get a house with a pool was already long untrue by the time my wife and I moved to the Hollywood hills in 1977, but in the mid-’60s, it was a bohemian paradise.

Laurel Canyon would be a good companion piece for All Things Must Pass, the recent documentary about the Tower Records store on the Sunset Strip. They take place next door to each other in a unique physical environment where busy boulevards, and much of the business infrastructure of the west coast music industry, is only minutes away from bucolic hillsides. The films share a sense of whatever camaraderie the LA recording industry had in the ’60s and early ’70s, when much of New York’s popular music scene was moving to California.

Everyone looks incredibly young in photos and 8mm and 16mm home movies, which brings us to one of the interesting choices of this doc: other than the two elderly photographers who took many of the pictures and provide some connecting narration, you don’t see any people as they look today. You hear them speak, sounding candid and often funny. But since the movie is about a certain long-ago time and place, not about individual lives or careers, it doesn’t distract you with discordant notes of how they—and boomer viewers like me—have aged since those days of Monterey and Woodstock.

The Sound of Melancholy and Nostalgia

 

Released in 1962, “Champa Battambang” was a big hit for the composer/lyricist/vocalist Sinn Sisamouth. But the song would be immortalized in the Khmer psyche in the years following the fall of the Khmer Rouge. We’ll get to that part in a moment, but first the song and its title: champa is the name of a flower (magnolia champaca) and Battambang is the name of a province in northeast Cambodia.