Little Richard

When Richard was a boy we called him Little Richard because his dad was Richard, too. After a while we just called him Little. He’s a grown man now, over 6 feet tall and big as an outhouse, but everyone in the family still calls him Little. He gets angry and wants us to use his name. The name he wants us to use is Stella. He wants us to use different pronouns, too. It’s very hard to change after all these years.

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Highway to Hell

There was no internet at this lake. Her parents were crazy if they thought this trip was a vacation. She was on the highway to hell and she knew it. She clapped earphones over her ears and refused to talk to anyone. Her little brother bounced up and down in the seat and chattered about deer and squirrels – she hated him! What a jerk!

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Holiday Songs

The most fun I’ve had with a holiday song in a long time happened in my workout class. The instructor changed the words to 12 Days of Christmas to be 12 exercises. One stretch, two leg lifts, 3 bicep curls, and so on. Five was a squat done very slowly. We made it to 12 and we had fun. New life for an old tune.

Happy holidays to you. Thanks for writing with me all year.

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The Playlist

It was Jonah’s playlist. It was full of bouncy tunes perfect for driving. It should make her happy that it was still available on Spotify and she could play it whenever she wanted. She’d get in the car, turn on the music and sob. There was no driving to Jonah’s playlist.

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7 Minutes

She gave us the structure, she told us the form, we listened to Bessie Smith as examples, we played a few 12 bar run-throughs in different keys. Then she gave us 7 minutes to write our own blues song. And we did it. Mine was kind of stupid, but it was worthy of 7 minutes of work. First song I ever wrote. Yea, me!

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Bubblegum

Bubblegum Alley

As soon as the music started, I tapped my foot happily to the beat. “Bah,” he said. “Mere bubblegum pop. Turn on something worth hearing.”

“But I like this,” I said. “It’s happy.”

“It’s simplistic drivel. I won’t allow it in my head.”

I turned it off, but I always remember this as the moment I stopped respecting my dad.

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Autograph

She told a story about a flirty, teasing autograph she received from the author of a book. It brought back memories of my favorite autograph. It was from a singer at a jazz concert. She signed her CD cover with “You were great last night.” I thought that was . . .

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The Dance

The mambo is popular in my exercise class, but the dance I learned early and used all my life for every kind of music imaginable is the two step. Not the country-western two step they do in Texas dance halls. The two step that is two steps one way and one step back. It works for swing, rock, even techno dancing. You know that old saw about how the world would be a happy place if every child was given a ukulele at birth? Well, I add that every child should be taught to do the two step as soon as they are steady on their feet.

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Favorite

Emily Saliers, half of the Indigo Girls, is talking on NPR right now about her first solo album. It got me started thinking about favorite bands over the years. I loved Fleetwood Mac and Gloria Estefan and Dianne Schuur. I just loved women’s voices of all kinds.

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One Thing

“Everything’s wrong and nothin’ ain’t right,” is a line from an old song about singing the blues. I know people who live that line, live that life. I wish they’d find one thing to be happy about – one thing that sustains over time. No a new bauble, but a life-affirming thing that’s right about life. That’s my wish.

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