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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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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“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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She sent me an email. She wanted to go to a uke festival on a weekend in May. It wasn’t far away, but it was a way to get outta town. That sounded great. I mean, we don’t really need to travel to a uke fest, we have one of our own. But this one was SOMEWHERE ELSE.
I sent back an answer, “Let’s do it!”
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Using the word alto in Scrabble the other day led to an interesting conversation with the grandkid. In English, alto is a middle range voice or instrument. In Spanish it means high (or tall) or stop. In French it refers only to a singing voice. The Latin altus meant both high and deep. This is what happens when your grandkid knows all the best web sites for translating words.
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I coulda been one of those people whose vinyl record collection was still an everyday part of their lives. I coulda kept my turntable and my stereo components. I shoulda. Now I have an iPod that cuts off the end of songs and a batch of cassettes that need to go wherever all that old vinyl went. I can’t even insert a CD into my computer anymore to put new songs into iTunes. I woulda loved having all that old vinyl around.
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Have you got rhythm? Can you keep the beat? Sometimes I think I needed my own private drummer (or perhaps a bass player) to follow me around and keep my tempo up to a steady “get ‘er done” speed. Make everything a dance step and think of what you could accomplish.
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Sometimes you hate those ear worms. Like when you come out of It’s a Small World at Disneyland and can’t sing anything else for 2 weeks. But sometimes you get a song in your head that’s so pleasing you enjoy the ear worm. “Christmas Island” is mine today, and I’m really digging it. Can you hear me humming?
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It was an ordinary day in the park. I was sitting on a bench in the sunshine, reading “The Museum of Extraordinary Things.” A group of about 20 young people walked down the path, humming “Dance Me to the End of Love.” They set up in an open space, formed a semi-circle and began to sing in earnest. I put my book down and listened for almost an hour. They sang nothing but Leonard Cohen songs. When I got home I learned he died. I felt like I’d been in the park of extraordinary things.
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This is how old I am. When I was growing up and obsessed with the top 40 tunes on the radio, the songs were by Sarah Vaughan and Frank Sinatra. The rhythms of rock and roll were a few years away. Sarah Vaughan sang songs that rocked my soul. One was “Autumn Leaves.” Each year when the leaves turn yellow and orange around me, I think of this song and her magnificent voice. It’s a good memory to have.
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