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Posts Tagged ‘Music’

Farewell to the voice of a generation

11 Feb

The voice of a generation is dead at the age of forty-eight. By now, I’m certain you’ve heard that Whitney Houston died in her hotel room at the Beverly Hilton over the weekend.

The young singer, known for a multitude of hits (of which included “Saving All My Love For You” and “I Will Always Love You”) came into this world on August 9, 1963. A fashion model prior to her professional introduction into the music industry, she was chosen by People magazine as one of the 50 Most Beautiful People in the world in 1991

The talented Ms. Houston was not without her own set of trials and tribulations, waging a personal, ongoing war with addiction (drugs and alcohol) and enduring a relationship with ex-husband, Bobby Brown that was reported to have been abusive at times. (The two were marred from 1992 to 2007 and had one child together during their marriage.)

Whitney’s beautiful voice paid the price for years of drug and alcohol abuse, never more evident than during the attempted comeback tour which produced negative reviews the likes of which the musician never would have faced previously. Even so, she will be remembered for a voice that carried many of her singles to the top of the charts and for a presence that all but took over anytime she was in front of the cameras. She will be missed by many, including family, peers and a vast multitude of fans.

Rest in peace, Whitney.

Namaste,
Michael

Related:  ABCNews.com reports on the death of Whitney Houston.

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Coping Mechanisms

15 May

drawing-artwork (artist unknown) of girl wearing headphones, listening to musicI was nursing a headache last evening; probably the same one that first appeared late Friday afternoon while I was still in the office. This is what happens when I’m dwelling on things that are stressful and emotional in nature (and I’ve been doing that for well over a couple of weeks now, the last two [weeks] having been the worst).

But I can’t really go into a lot of detail about that here; it’s all related to matters of the heart, that’s all I need say.

The last week or so I’ve been revisiting an old coping mechanism of mine for dealing with the loss of anything (or anyone) near and dear to me. In my case, I’ve a tendency to turn to gospel music. I know, it may sound strange since there’s a lot about Christianity that just isn’t consistent with what I myself believe. Even so, there is comfort in going back in time, even if only in my mind and revisiting some of the old songs I used to sing so regularly before my voice changed (and my ears went tone-deaf). LOL

Last night I was thinking of the first guy I ever fell in love with, Paul (PJB). We were both about twenty-two or twenty-three back then and he was a fair-haired boy who played the Alto Sax. Paul had a beautiful voice and sang in church, hence another reason for my love of gospel music during times like these. That is probably also why I have a weakness for guys who sing and play musical instruments (most especially, the saxophone).


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Applauding Steph Jones..

16 Aug

Photo of Steph JonesSometimes I wonder if I’m not too focused on gay rights, etc. (and here I go writing about it yet again).

Perhaps it’s because this is a fight I’ve been involved in for more than a quarter-century and it just [sometimes] seems like progress is just too damned slow to come; it’s frustrating. Also, there is so much going on in my life right now that doesn’t seem to be going all that well — but I don’t want to talk about most of those things on here; not now anyway. So I do the next best thing; I bitch about something I’ve felt comfortable discussing for years. *laughing*


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Joe McElderry: musician first and foremost..

31 Jul

Photo montage of Joe McElderry

It’s always disappointing to see someone who is gay making degrading comments about the LGBT community; comments that may appear to be driven of his own discomfort with his sexuality or simply a cynical attitude toward everyone who doesn’t measure up to his ridiculous, narrow-minded standards.

That is what I’ve grown accustomed to seeing from one or two people I’ve known in recent months. It is no longer a surprise but rather, “business as usual” and perfectly pathetic (imo).


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Late in the competition, Susan Boyle performance

30 May


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My Thoughts on American Idol (2009)

21 May

By now anyone who has followed American Idol this season is aware that Kris Allen was the front-runner in the competition. Adam (Lambert) came in second but the truth of the matter is that all top thirteen competitors were winners to some degree or another, especially the top three.

I generally don’t follow Idol unless or until someone catches my attention. I didn’t start watching it this year until I read something about Kris Allen (and saw a picture of the cute young man from Arkansas). I still wouldn’t have bothered to watch any of the episodes if the talents of Adam and Kris hadn’t caught my ear (they’re both, imo, really quite good). I believe that Adam is the stronger of the two in voice and showmanship; Kris is stronger, I think, at making a song his own vocally – and if I’m not mistaken he has written some of his own material as well. I’m not certain of that last point.

Regardless, it was a toss-up for me as to who was going to win the contest. I sort of expected Adam might [win] but somewhere in the back of my mind I suspected Kris would be the upset. I think Kris’s humble attitude and looks made him the darling of the teeny-bopper girls (and I admit, some of us perverted old men … LOL). For me I admit it was his uncanny resemblance to the first guy I fell for in my life [Paul], right down to the soft baby-stubble mustache above his upper lip. (And just like Kris, Paul was a damn good singer. He played the sax, was cute and had a beautiful voice; it’s no wonder I’ve a weakness for musicians.)

Danny Gokey deserves to be recognized as well. It’s rather sad that he lost his wife only a little over nine months ago but I’m hopeful he’ll receive a contract and will have the opportunity to share more of his music with others. I may not be Christianity’s ideal poster boy but all the same I enjoy listening to good gospel music from time to time (goes back to both Paul AND my upbringing) and I can see myself buying a Gokey CD if he were to release one.

As for some of the “professional” musicians and bands which made an appearance last evening on American Idol, some were impressive while others were not.

I’ll always enjoy Rod Stewart because his voice takes me right back to my late teens when I was working in radio. Granted, his voice is not ‘quite’ what it used to be but I wouldn’t expect that after all these years. I was surprised to discover Steve Martin has a musical side to him. I won’t say a lot about KISS other than to say they put on a good show, just as they always do—but it’d be really nice if the ‘new’ group could take it upon themselves to come up with some NEW material rather than just riding on the coat-tails of those who came before. Actually, this begs the question: SHOULD a band’s name survive unto perpetuity even when few (or ANY) of the members of said band were around when the band came into being – especially when they seem unwilling to do any new material??? Just a thought.

It was nice to hear an old song from Queen as well. (None of you young whipper-snappers will have as much appreciation for these OLD songs as some of the rest of us, I am certain. ROFL!!! Lord, I’m getting old.)

I’m not sure what to say about the “Black Eyed Peas.” As I was watching the show and listening to the lyrics and all at once the audio went silent and the “American Idol” logo started revolving about on the screen it occurred to me that their lyrics were, as are FAR TOO MANY today, too nasty at that point to air. Considering that the phrase that aired just prior to the censoring ended in “swaggot” (or something like that) I speculated that the following phrase was homophobic. At that point I said to hell with it and fast-forwarded the DVR past the group’s shot on the stage. It may not make a damn bit of difference to the promoters but there are some things I won’t tolerate; language, especially that which I believe to be prejudice and degrading, is right up there at the top of the list. If in fact I was correct to believe their lyrics were homophobic (and I suppose only somebody who’s heard the full song can say whether it is or not) than American Idol should be shamed for even including them in the lineup. Doing so may determine whether I EVER take the time to watch the show in the future. Okay, ‘nuff said about that.

Now, as for those who are trying to turn this into a gay vs. straight thing (I’ve been reading a lot of that shit on various “Non-MySpace” blogs across the net), I think that’s preposterous and saying such things cheapens both finalists by distracting us from the awesome talent imbued by both Kris [Allen] and Adam [Lambert]. Yes, it seems apparent that the “New Life Church” of which Kris is a member rallied behind him but the same is true of Adam and his own following. That’s all a part of the game, folks; it isn’t “JUST” about who has the better voice but who [ultimately] motivates the most voters to call or text in. I’m not saying that there aren’t some who allowed their feelings for Adam’s sexuality to taint their opinions of him (see footnote below) but to suggest this was the primary reason that Adam lost is an insult to the man and his talent.

What are some of your thoughts on the show and on this year’s front-runner?

Footnote:

I’ve a cousin who made a comment to me via a social networking site last evening, claiming he felt Adam had an awesome voice but that he (my cousin) was ‘repulsed’ by him for what he only described as “obvious reasons.” I’ve given him an opportunity to explain what he means by this but I’m fairly certain already that his reasoning is because Adam is gay. I can only say “kiss my ass!” in response to that kind of thinking — and if he ever grows a pair and owns up to his prejudice, that WILL be my response.

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For Heroes Everywhere

22 Mar

Photo montage of Billy Gilman

Billy Gilman

A performer with a voice that has commanded respect since even before his debut hit record with the ballad “One Voice” (at age eleven) in 2000. Billy began his career by singing at fairs, festivals and “other events near his Rhode Island home.” He was only 8-years old when someone passed along a demo to Ray Benson, the frontman for Asleep at the Wheel. The musician shared Gilman’s music with Martina McBride and within a month “I was on stage with her, singing at our local fair,” recalls Gilman.

Official Billy Gilman
presence on the web

One Voice” as sung by Billy Gilman

Billy Gilman’s performance during MDA 2009 (1st performance of the telethon)

It’s said there’s a hero in all of us; that we just have to be willing to step into the moment and allow our body and soul to take over, even in the presence of fear (ESPECIALLY in the presence of fear!) Our mind might be screaming that the situation ‘seems’ insurmountable but the drive is there to continue; to take action even if the outcome is uncertain. You might not know if what you are doing is the right thing to do but it’s all that you know to do and to abandon the task at hand is not an option for you.

I believe nothing is impossible so long as you’re willing to keep trudging along. At times your journey may seem hopeless and tiresome and possibly you’ll feel as though giving up would be so much easier (but your heart won’t allow it). Maybe a subtle glimpse of victory on the horizon every now and then is what keeps you in the game or perhaps it’s that others are counting on you. For whatever the reason, those who keep working at it in the face of all adversity are the ones who have my deepest respect.

This blog is written in honor of you, the hero, from the soldier who serves to honor his country… to the doctors and specialists who are “personally motivated” to make our lives better (not because of the money but because they feel a calling to heal people). For the mothers and fathers who may work at a job they don’t particularly enjoy but endure nonetheless so that they might provide for and nurture their families. For those who volunteer time and/or skills to improve the lives of people they don’t even know. For those of religious conviction who attempt to edify and bring hope to others, teaching that love and forgiveness are the way as opposed to judgment and scorn. For those who would oppose the organizations, be they political or religious, whose agenda is simply to deny others (perceived to be different or having dissimilar beliefs) the same rights and safe harbor they themselves enjoy. For the homeless who find it within their hearts to share what little they have with another who is down on his or her own luck. For the child who has survived abuse yet grows into a young man or woman who does not wallow in a lake of self-pity but chooses
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TESLA guitarist Frank Hannon

17 Mar

Even if rock and roll isn’t your thing surely you can appreciate this man’s talent. He shreds this guitar and puts everybody else I’ve seen to shame.

Chain Reaction – Frank Hannon

Related Links:

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The History of "Taps"

26 May

I can’t vouch for this one. I don’t even remember where I stumbled across this but here it is anyway. What is purported to be the history of “Taps.” I just thought I’d post this in honor of all those who have paid the ultimate price over the years. Best and Blessings, Michael

—begin email———

Subject: The history of Taps

I never knew the origin of Taps. Here is its history(??)

We, in the United States, have all heard the haunting song, “Taps.” It’s the song that gives us that lump in our throats and usually creates tears in our eyes. But, do you know the story behind the song? If not, I think you will be interested to find out about it’s humble beginnings. Reportedly, it all began in 1862 during the Civil War, when Union Army Captain Robert Ellicombe was with his men near Harrison’s Landing in Virginia. The Confederate Army was on the other side of the narrow strip of land. During the night, Captain Ellicombe! heard the moans of a soldier who lay severely wounded on the field. Not knowing if it was a Union or Confederate soldier, the Captain decided to risk his life and bring the stricken man back for medical attention. Crawling on his stomach through the gunfire, the Captain reached the stricken soldier and began pulling him toward his encampment.

When the Captain finally reached his own lines, he discovered it was actually a Confederate soldier, but the soldier was dead. The Captain lit a lantern and suddenly caught his breath and went numb with shock. In the dim light, he saw the face of the soldier. It was his own son.

The boy had been studying music in the South when the war broke out. Without telling his father, the boy enlisted in the Confederate Army.

The following morning, heartbroken, the father asked permission of his superiors to give his son a full military burial despite his enemy status. His request was only partially granted. The Captain had asked if he could have a group of Army band members play a funeral dirge for his son at the funeral. The request was turned down since the soldier was a Confederate. But, out of respect for the father, they did say they could give him only one musician. The Captain chose a bugler. He asked the bugler to play a! series of musical notes he had found on a piece of paper in the pocket of the dead youth’s uniform. This wish was granted. The haunting melody, we now know as “Taps” used at military funerals, was born:

Day is done Gone the sun From the lakes From the hills From the sky. All is well, Safely rest. God is nigh.

Fading light Dims the sight And a star Gems the sky, Gleaming bright From afar, Drawing nigh, Falls the night.

Thanks and praise, For our days, Neath the sun, Neath the stars, Neath the sky, As we go, This we know, God is nigh.

I too, have felt the chills while listening to “Taps” but I never have seen all of the words to the song until now. I didn’t even know there were more verses than the one.

I also never knew the story behind the song and I didn’t know if you had either so I thought I’d pass it along. I now have an even deeper respect for the song.

—end email———

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