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Whatever rings Mel's bells

Posts Tagged ‘music’

I’m All About that Bass too!

Yeah, I’m gonna weigh in.  (See what I did there?)  Love it or hate it, “All About that Bass” is all over the news.  And as a singer-songwriter, I’m gonna throw my two cents into the ring.

So why has an infectious and bubbly pop song intended to promote body positivity caused such a royal stink on all sides of the social spectrum?  First, it’s an infectious and bubbly pop song, which means it has repetitive and simplistic lyrics.  Personal taste accounts for a lot of the dislike, which is fine.  The song doesn’t resonate with you.  Hey, it takes all kinds of kinds, people.  So instead of bitching about how it’s such an awful song, say, “Nah, not my style,” switch stations and get over it.

Second, some people take issue with the message, saying that instead of supporting “heavy” or “large” or “big” women, it demeans and insults “small” or “thin” or “skinny” women.  Well, let’s analyze for a moment, shall we?  Trainor calls out 2 problems in particular – unrealistic body standards in magazines (Photoshop comments in the first verse) and scorn from thin women (called ‘skinny bitches’ in the second verse).  So what about them both?  I think we can all agree that the vast majority of women’s bodies that we see in the media are altered a ridiculous amount and made totally unrealistic.  From this video courtesy of iGirlTelevision (warning: it’s a mostly-nude woman, so don’t get your knickers in a twist) to side-by-side comparisons of photos before and after digital alteration, it’s plain to see that fakery has gone mainstream.  So this is an extremely valid point.  Come on, now, make it stop!

What about the skinny bitches then?  Isn’t it awful that she calls out thin women in such an insulting manner?  Uh, no, I don’t think it is.  Why?  Because she says it herself – skinny BITCHES.  Not skinny WOMEN in general.  I think we can all agree that there are, in fact, image-obsessed women out there who condemn their heavier sisters for their weight.  Haley Morris-Cafiero is an Associate Professor and Assistant Dean at Memphis College of Art, and her photo series Wait Watchers is composed of photos that speak volumes about the way women look at each other.  The glares, the sidelong glances, the superior looks, all speak to an attitude which openly demeans heavy women, and which is distressingly socially acceptable.  The thing I find endearing about the lyric in question is that, addressing those who fat-shame her, she immediately turns it around and points to their own insecurities as the probable cause of their bad behavior.  I like to paraphrase it as saying, “It’s awful for you to hate on me like that, but remember that you are yourself beautiful as well, and you don’t need to be so mean when you should love your own wonderful self.”  Almost Buddhist, really.

Third, the overall theme breaks down to “It’s okay that I’m not thin because guys actually like heavy girls better.”  This critique I agree with.  We should be happy with ourselves because we’re happy, not because we have a better chance of landing a potential mate.  Really, this argument feeds right back into the insecurity advertising engenders in the first place – You aren’t good enough, so you’re going to end up lonely.  FEAR FEAR FEAR Buy our product!  Some people will say that men really do prefer heavier women, and that fact should be called out openly.  In my (admittedly brief) research on the matter, I didn’t find any consensus on the matter, so I’ll let it lie.  And no matter what, men’s desire aside, the point of healthy body image shouldn’t be to attract a partner, it should be about finding how you want to be for yourself.

Some of you are surely going to call me out for inferring more thought and intent than Ms. Trainor put into the song.  And maybe you’re right.  But consider that she’s been a professional songwriter for 2 years, with songs recorded by Rascal Flatts and other artists.  Also, the interviews I’ve seen (video on the page will start to play automatically) demonstrate that she is a thinker, and while her self-expression is still undeveloped, it’s at least heartfelt.  So I’m inclined to think that, despite her youth, she chooses her words with a purpose in mind.  I can tell you as a fellow songwriter that turns of phrase can be extremely specific and meaningful.  So don’t dismiss phrasing or word choice so easily.

Overall, I wish her well.  Unfortunately, she’s getting lambasted by people who’d probably complain if you hung them with new rope.  But hey, that’s life.  The song’s all about haters and how to get past them, so I guess she’s on the right path already.

Songwriter’s block

I blog when I can’t write a song
‘Cause the words are all coming out wrong
The rhythm and rhyme
All end up out of time
And the meter in one line always seems to end up way too long for the rest of it, but I can’t seem to cut it shorter because I really want to say what’s already in there, you know? And I can never find a good way to restate it more concisely while retaining the meaning I tried to get at in the first place. So it really screws up the whole intent and the – um… Yeah.

No NaNo

Not this year.  Nope, I’m skipping NaNoWriMo this year.  I turned in my ML card and threw in the towel.

It feels strange, but not bad.  I mean, it turns out that noveling is just not my thing.  And that’s good information to know – that it’s not my strength.  I learned a lot about myself from trying NaNo 3 years in a row, and I’m glad I did it.  But I’m not gonna do it again.

Instead, watch for FAWM – February is Album Writing Month!  Yep, the shortest month of 2014 will spawn enough material for an album.  (Not that I expect it all to be good enough to publish!)  The goal is to write 14 songs in 28 days.  I did it this year and I got 9, which falls short of the goal but is 9 more songs that I would have otherwise.  And it gets me writing, even collaborating with other writers!  So it’s really a great thing.  Like NaNo, there are no prizes, and their website connects you with other songwriters all over the world.  I haven’t been writing much lately, but I have been collecting ideas to work on in Feb.  In fact, I’m having to remind myself that I’m allowed to write the other 11 months too, not just save everything up for Feb!  LOL

So when that rolls around, I may (if I’m feeling bold) share a link or two here for you to enjoy.

Or maybe not.

Conventionality

I had a moment today, as I was leaving the pet store walking behind a happy couple with a toddler in their shopping cart, when I wished for a conventional life.

I wished for the normalcy of a 9-to-5-working husband and house with a white picket fence.  I wished for a moment of being like everyone else, with 2.4 kids and a dog and church on Sundays.  I wished for a firm place in the community, clear social expectations, and neatly defined behavioral roles.

For just a moment there, I really wished I could sink into apathy and mediocrity and just be part of the faceless masses.

Then I shook my head and decided I’m going on tour next summer as a solo act.  If Gumby’s not still around, I can just rehome Princess and put all my stuff in storage, you know.  Have to give up my waterfront view, but I’d get to see a lot more of the country from the road.  And I bet I’d get a whole lot of songs written, too.

Onwardo.

It’s not about me

I’m really excited about the song I finished yesterday.  Why?  Because for once it has nothing to do with me.

Yup, I was inspired by the feel of a different song, and the first lyrics I came up with led to the second lyrics I came up with, and that set the tone for the whole shebang.  It didn’t exactly write itself, but it definitely didn’t come from my own life.

So now I need to polish and finish it up, and then I can play something that doesn’t make me feel like Taylor Swift.  😀

Watershed

This is going to be a VERY brief recap of my weekend at the Watershed Music Festival at the Gorge.  Let me begin by saying that I’ve never camped in a trailer before, and it was a really strange mix of primitive and everything-at-your-fingertips convenience.  For example, we had a very finite water supply, but we had air conditioning.  Kinda strange.  But I digress (already).

I don’t generally sleep well in strange places, and also I’m used to white noise and having all the lights out.  But I was pretty tuckered by 4 or so when it was time to hit the hay every night, so I did sleep pretty well while I was there.  Woke up with half the morning gone (normal for me) and decided that what with it being vacation and all, I definitely wasn’t going to feel guilty about sleeping late all weekend.  😀

One of the first things we noticed on arrival was that the people across the path from us had a giant inflatable pirate ship bouncy house set up.  Yes, you read that right, a pirate ship bouncy house.  So on Friday we went over to satisfy our curiosity and made some new friends, including this big corn-fed fella named Root.  Yes, Root.  (I know, I could hear the banjos too!)  He was really nice and invited us to come join them whenever.  He asked that we bring our own beer, since they’d be happy to share but would eventually run out themselves.  And when I refer to “they,” I mean Root and the 20 or so others who came with him and had their trailers and tents all circled around a central gathering area.  One of them had hauled his trailer with a Peterbuilt.  Oh, and about that bouncy house?  Apparently they’d looked into renting it, but since it would have been $600 to rent and was “only” $1200 to buy…  That’s right, they bought it.  I guess it lives in somebody’s back yard.

Friday we played volleyball for a bit, then we decided to head into the festival and check things out.  They have very strict limitations on what you can bring into the festival – no weapons (duh), or alcohol, or food, and only one SEALED bottle of water per person.  One of our sealed bottles of water was flavored (“That’s not water.”  **confused look**) so we were actually forced to chug the bottle before we went inside.  But shortly after entering we won weekend passes for free alcohol AND WATER in Margaritaville, so it turned out okay!  (We also won “backstage passes” to meet Kix Brooks of Brooks and Dunn, but that was less than impressive.  “Hi, nice to meet you.”  **shakes hands**  “Smile for the photo!”  **click**  “Bye!”  The end.)

Now, I’ve never been to the Gorge before, but I’ve wanted to for a long time.  Let me tell you…  it was amazing.  The sight of 20,000 people (a good number of them half-naked with nice bodies, might I add) and the majesty of the Colombia River laid out down below us in the gorge, put together with the amazing talent we saw…  Damn.  Just…  Damn.  I’ve always said that I’d like to play the Gorge.  In fact, it’s one of those dream/benchmark gigs for me – if I ever get to headline the Gorge, I’ll be utterly satisfied with my success level.  (Not that I’ll stop then, but it will be enough, if you know what I mean.)  And laying under the stars while watching Dierks Bentey on a big screen, standing elbow-to-elbow in a huge crowd of people in the pit singing along with Miranda Lambert, dancing to Dwight Yoakam in the twilight, hearing new artists like Thomas Rhett, all came together to make an incredibly sweet and special memory that I’ll never forget.

So every day we wandered around the festival, catching the musical acts on both stages, baking like a couple of lizards in the heat and the sun, hanging with friends, and just generally having an absolute blast.  Every night we sat around Ron and Brian’s campsite with the guitars making music for them and each other and whatever random passers-by wanted to stop.  (And for the security guys too, who laughed their asses off – and stopped telling us to keep it down – when they heard me sing the extra verse to Before He Cheats!)

In a word, it was fantastic.  I could go on and on and on about all the funny things that happened, but I’d probably bore you and I don’t want to do that.  (I’d also probably get in trouble for telling tales 😉 and I definitely don’t want to do that!)  So I will end by saying that I will move heaven and earth to go back next year, even if I have to pack a tent, park in general parking, and sneak in to camp with the Canadians!  The whole experience was incredible, and I hope it will become an annual tradition.

Tho next year we gotta remember to bring a can opener.

Great weekend

This weekend was really quite lovely.  Not what I expected in many ways, but lovely nonetheless.

Friday Shawn and I were planning on playing the Life Care Center in Port Orchard, but it was moved to next week.  So we got together and worked on some originals instead – finding harmonies and working out the arrangements, that sort of thing.  Then we put together a full 3-hour set list so we’ll be ready for gigs.  I was once again struck by how much I value these musical friendships that I’ve made recently.  There’s something so special in having at least a few people around you who share the same feelings and joys, and with whom you can share the crazy excited thoughts that run through your brain when you get random song ideas!

Well, after a couple of hours we headed for the Alderbrook, which was fabulous as always.  The crowd was good, the drinks were great, the scenery was incredible.  We played about a set and a half, then Robert Poole and Robert the flutist jammed for a bit.  The band actually went outside and sat down near the water while the guys did their thing!  😉  Then we headed back in to take over again and, lo and behold, Mike Pratt was in the house.  So when we got back up I dragged Mike on stage for a few songs, including a Travis Tritt duet and a group jam on Mustang Sally that had so many people we didn’t all fit on stage!  Before we knew it, it was time to shut down, but the party didn’t stop there.

Since several other musically inclined folks had showed up by then, we all ended up out on the patio around a fire pit, passing around a guitar and making up harmonies to all kinds of wonderful songs.  It wasn’t heaven, but it was pretty damn close, being outside with the music and the dancing and the people and the fire and the water and the stars…  Unfortunately, as the night wore on a very well-lubricated individual showed up and began making too much noise.  This of course Cannot Happen at a respectable establishment like the Alderbrook, so we were promptly removed from the scene.  That’s right, the BAND got bounced!  Priceless, eh?  It’s okay tho, I really had to get home to give Gumby his meds.

By the by, I got refills for him yesterday and I’m really happy!  See, I have to cut one of his three meds in half, and the pill is large and round, hence it tends to crush rather than break clean.  So every 4th pill or so ends up wasted.  (It’s still cheaper than getting the next smaller size and giving him 2 morning and 2 night!)  Well, to make a short story long, the pills are shaped differently now, so they cut easily and cleanly.  *happy dance*

Okay, back to the weekend…  Once again I missed my swim lesson, but this time it was because I had a class to teach at the same time, not because I’d been up too late the night before.  So I did my class, which went very well indeed.  Hopefully I will see my students back for project classes!  I’m really on the fence about teaching up there.  It’s hard to schedule, since my calendar changes around so often.  And the classes are set around 3 months in advance!  So it’s difficult.  And when I end up canceling other plans to drive 17 miles and teach a single student…  Well, let’s just say that the cost-benefit equation isn’t favorable.  But lately I’ve been having lots of multi-student classes, which makes things more palatable.  As you can see, I have reasons for wanting to quit before the next session starts.

But my class did go well, and after that I had a good chat with Jon about Navy issues while we moved more of Albert’s things out.  I’m going to sit down with Jeff the recruiter (Should I go all Mr. Rogers and capitalize that?) about the officer programs.  Jon suggested I go in as a yeoman, spend the first year getting my Bachelor’s, then go for a commission and the big money.  Not a bad plan!  And worth considering, since the band thing doesn’t seem to be happening.  }:-(

Saturday night we were at the Man-Pub, which was not nearly as busy as it usually is.  Perhaps everyone was nursing sunburns, what with the beautiful weather!  Honestly, it felt like we were a little off…  Not sure what the deal was, but to me it felt like we were trying too hard and it just wasn’t working.  I know Shawn was – he pretty much lost his voice by the end of the night!  We were both struggling to get some of those songs at the end.  But we (once again) overfilled the stage area – Tim and Kim Silke came out, so of course we had to drag Tim up front to join us.  We ended the night with Southern Cross and Seven Bridges Road, which was absolutely fabulous.  I love singing with these guys – the harmonies make me sooooooo happy!

Today I had anticipated playing at the Downtown Market, but as it turned out they had entertainment lined up already.  So…  I slept in.  😀  Can’t argue with that, huh?  Got down to Evergreen in time for my set at Kitsap Pride, but unfortunately that didn’t go as well as I anticipated.  First of all, the audience disappeared just as I started.  (The drag queens performed, then Michael spoke, then Derek Kilmer spoke, during which many people departed.  *phooey*)  So I stood up to a greatly depleted audience – and promptly started playing in a different key than I was singing.  *facepalm*  And more people left.

The rest of my set went well, and in fact they kept me for a couple of encores, which was sweet.  But the best part (aside from having friends come out specifically to see me play, which always gives me warm-and-fuzzies) was that I met some gals who live right down the hill from me!  So I made some new friends, and we’re gonna get together and jam some time.  How cool is that?!?

Went home, stopping on the way to drop booth stuff in storage for daMama and to hit the grocery store for a few things, and commenced with the domesticity.  In particular, the making of chili and the baking of various breads.  I was planning on white bread, wheat bread, corn bread, and banana bread.  Unfortunately, I did not realize that my milk was nasty – so much for the wheat bread!  And I took too much time on the other things, so the white bread wouldn’t have time to rise before I went to bed.  So that was out.  And then I ran out of cumin, so knowing that my chili wouldn’t be ready tonight I said “to hell with it” and put the cornbread off till tomorrow.  So…  Um…  I has banana bread muffins.

All in all, the weekend was lovely and fun and filled with many wonderful memories.  Not at all what I expected…  But isn’t that just how life works?  Tomorrow morning I’ll be meeting a couple of the other vixens at the garden, and we will break our fast with banana muffins and coffee, and then work our ass ends off to feed ourselves and our families.  So I guess it’s time that I put the last nail in this weekend’s coffin and hit the hay.  Good night all, and let’s all enjoy another week filled with unexpected surprises!

Wow, has it really been a month?

Apparently it has.  So here we go with the updates:

I have yet to hear back form the Navy Band about whether I’m accepted or not.  My recruiter hasn’t heard anything either, and he may or may not be getting tired of me calling him.  😉

Albert has moved back in with family in anticipation of me leaving.  It’s really weird to be broken up, but I am enjoying the peace and quiet.  Not to mention the lack of TV in my home!

I’m trying to get out more, especially spending more time with musical people and friends who I’ve neglected.  I’ve said “Sorry, I can’t” to so many invitations over the past few years, it feels great to say “I’ll be there” instead!  It’s running me a little ragged, but mostly because I’m not managing my time well enough.

My workouts have been inconsistent at best, though I’m seeing a little bit of improvement in the holding-of-breath-when-swimming department.  The brain is still NOT PLEASED with the fact that I’m doing hard physical work and am unable to breathe whenever I want.  Kinda turns me into a gasping mess at times…  So I go play mermaid and wear flippers and swim around underwater so I can’t cheat and take a breath when I’m not supposed to.  It’s hard, but still kinda fun.  And I try to go with daMama and Rosi instead of alone.

I’m back into too-busy-to-bother-with-food mode, so if I turn into a skeleton just buy me a sandwich k?  Make it a club with cheddar and light mayo please.  I’m not starving myself on purpose, it just kinda happens…  I’ve been watching the Food Network while on the treadmill tho, which makes me hungry for two reasons and then I’ll eat something.  Plus, it gives me all these great ideas which makes me WANT to cook later.  Not that it helps all the time!

Spending more time with musical people has made me want to write better.  In fact, I spent some time with Mike Pratt last week, and I’m basically feeling shamed into improving!  LOL  Not that he’s less than gracious about his own abilities, but he’s a very talented and skilled songwriter and I’m feeling motivated by exposure.  In fact, tomorrow I’m going to a songwriters’ show and (if I can get the cojones up) I’m going to play a few of my songs – to a room full of other songwriters.  This, my friends, is a very frightening prospect for me.  All y’all people who don’t want to sing in front of me?  I’m in your shoes now.  I have to take my inadequate, half-written pieces that need more help than I’m presently able to give them, and present them not only publicly, but to a group of people which will include at least a few folks who have done this for much longer than me and are consequently much better at it.  I am not looking forward to it.

I’m going to leave things there, since I have to jet to Silverdale and teach a class now.  I know I say this all the time, but I’ll try to update more often going forward!

Announcement

Big changes are a-coming…  There’s no way to work up to this, so I’m just gonna pull the bandage right off in one yank.

I’m auditioning for the Navy Band.

Yep, I’m going to enlist in the US Navy and join the band and be a Navy rock star for the next few years.  Didn’t know the Navy had rock bands?  They do.  In fact, they have 11 fleet bands around the world, each of which has 2-3 vocalists.  One of those fleet bands is stationed at NBK-Bangor, right here in my backyard.  If they station me there, I’ll only be gone for about 7 months (8 weeks of basic, 21 of A school) and then I’ll be back home again for most of my tour.  If they don’t, I could end up in California or Europe or Hawaii or on the East Coast.  Who knows?

At any rate, I’m offering what I feel is my greatest talent and skill in service of my country.  It’s a decision I have not made lightly, and in fact one I was on the verge of making two years ago.  In 2010 I decided to stay here, but I guess it was just a matter of time!  I keep telling people that if I’d known at 18 that I could do this, I’d only be a few years out from retirement right now.  But no, I had to talk to the Army recruiter…  And the Army doesn’t have a dedicated vocalist position.  You know, it never occurred to me to walk out the door and into one of the other branches.  But hey, life is funny that way and playing the “what if” game is stupid and unproductive.

So this is the plan:  I serve for 5 years, and if I like it then I stay in until I want out.  If I don’t like it, then I’m back here in 5 years buying a house and picking up where I left off.

Either way, I’m excited and ready for a change.  Both Etsy stores will remain open for sales in my absence (big thanks to Albert who will be shipping packages out for me until I’m able to take back over) tho there obviously won’t be any new items available until I get to my duty station.  Keep an eye out for future communications as to when I go – it’ll be business as usual for the next couple months, or however long it takes for me to get on the road.

Back on the horse again

Isn’t it funny how a few little experiences can change your whole perspective on life?

Last week I was feeling pretty low.  I don’t want to relive it, so I’m just going to say I wasn’t feeling like myself.  In fact, I haven’t felt like myself for a while.  But Saturday night I had a GREAT show at Moondog’s with Trademark – we really rocked the house, and I even played China Grove without screwing it up too badly!  I almost felt like a guitar player!  😀

Sunday I practiced with the Z-Rex crew at the “snake pit.”  Honestly, it was pretty frustrating.  I had plans that day, which I canceled because it was the only time we could get together.  I rushed out of my seeester’s house to get there on time, and then they spend two and a half hours setting all the gear up before we even played.  Jeez, people!  But once we finally started, it was kinda fun to play different (VERY different) stuff from what I normally do, and they said some really complimentary and flattering things that boosted my ego.  So overall I can’t really complain!

Monday morning Shawn and I got together and did some recording, and planned out some of the songs we’re going to do together in our duo shows.  We shared some originals and got to know each other better, and it was really awesome.  I showed him one song I was soooo close to having done, except for a few lines that I couldn’t figure out.  He made a great suggestion for the ending and we did a scratch recording of it, too.

I got up yesterday and decided that I was going to dress up.  Understand that I go to the office for like three hours a day, and usually I’m the only one in there.  But hey, what good is having silk blouses in the closet if you never wear them, right?  So I got gussied up and (may I just add) I looked damn good.  Got home, packaged up an internet sale and took it to the post office, then came home and baked bread in my finery.  (Good thing Albert got me an apron for my birthday!)  And guess what?  While it was rising, I finished that song!

Then last night, we had an incredibly fun practice with NW Chill.  The smokers stayed on the other side of the room from me, and even when we screwed things up it was funny instead of frustrating.  We just took another crack at it and got it (mostly) right the next time.  😉  Afterward, Randy and Shawn and I went out for a drink and talked about plans for the next few months.  Today we’re getting together to work on our demo CD (in fact, I need to hustle or I’ll be late) and I’m really looking forward to it.

Maybe it’s hormonal, maybe it’s just a run of good circumstances.  But I suddenly feel like my old self again.  You know, that gal who knew she was going to succeed.  The one who didn’t have the entire plan laid out in perfect detail, but who knew in her heart that she could figure it out on the fly and make it work if she had to.  I feel energized and capable and accomplished!  I feel like I could leap tall buildings and outrace speeding bullets!  Oh, and I have another song idea already…  😀