Kenny Rogers and the Writer in Me

I grew up around music. I’d been singing most of my life. As you can see from this picture, my piano lessons (which didn’t quite take…too impatient) started early, too.

But music was the first art I was introduced to, and it’s what soothes my soul.

My passion, however, belongs to the written word. There’s something about telling a story whether by poetry or by prose that has always captivated my attention. It’s a world in which I have the patience and perseverance to study, to practice, to re-write (you know, the dread word–edit) until you have something of worth and beauty.

Although the first album I ever purchased was Michael Jackson’s Thriller (a classic, to be sure), it was Kenny Rogers who left an indelible mark on my life through his amazing voice and incredible skill at story telling.

The first song of Kenny’s that I recall hearing was The Gambler. The tale had intriguing characters, real life lessons, and a story you could actually see come alive if you closed your eyes. I. Was. In. Love.

Kenny spoke to the writer in me. He fired my imagination. He even made me look at music a bit differently. In fact, music actually features prominently in my writing style. While I can’t listen to it while I’m actually writing (I have a tendency to type whatever words I’m hearing), finding the right music before I start to write helps me effectively convey the correct mindset or emotion for my scene or characters.

For example, if I want to portray a heartless villainess? A song like this one (I’m a military brat, so you do a vet dirty, I’m gonna have issues) will put me in the right mindset to create a real bitch.

Or if I want to convey someone who’s had rough breaks in life, but has always done the right thing, but in his current crossroads, he has to play dirty to be the hero, I’d play something like this one, a personal favorite.

Or maybe the lovers are both dumbasses (because let’s be honest, that happens) and we need them to realize they’re about to lose everything, or maybe that they were never right for each other and it’s time to let go… This one fits the bill.

Or when I need to capture the heart of the relentless soul who dreams big and will find a way to make it happen…

And when my hero is headed the wrong direction and about to eff things up with the heroine because he’s so busy with the wrong things he takes her for granted? This song does it for me…

At the end of the day, it’s his poetry and lyricism that engaged the writer in me so strongly. He made you feel his songs, and they were so relatable.

In fact, in my latest release, A Way With Words, I shared several song lyrics I’d created exclusively for this release and can’t help but feel maybe his energy influenced me. Here’s a taste of one of them…

“Did you see me
Through the haze of desire
The passion and fire
That you shared with someone else,
Did you see me?

Was I stupid?
To believe in promises made,
The foundation we laid
When I gave you my ring.
Was I stupid?

Chorus:

Did your words mean so little
You could throw me away
Tell her you love her,
Worship her body
In the bed where we lay?
Was I so easy to betray?
I deserve more than this.

Will you realize
That my heart can be broken
I deserve more than token
Lies to make me stay, I won’t look away.
Will you realize?

Chorus:

Did your words mean so little
You could throw me away
Tell her you love her,
Worship her body
In the bed where we lay?
Was I so easy to betray?

I deserve more than this.
Did you lose me
Or did I find my rebirth?
Discover my self-worth
In walking away, not looking back
Yeah, I found me.

Chorus:

Did your words mean so little
You could throw me away
Tell her you love her,
Worship her body
In the bed where we lay?
Was I so easy to betray?
I deserve more than this.
Yeah, I found me.”

So I owe a huge debt of gratitude for all the joy and inspiration Kenny’s music has brought me “Through the Years.” (See what I did there?) LOL!

Who inspires you? Is it music? Movies? I’d love to know…

And to close out, I think it’s only fitting I share a song he did with one of his oldest, dearest friends… It’s like they knew. And besides, he felt like an old friend to me, too. Rest in Heaven, Kenny.

Musical Messages

Courtesy of sexphiliac.tumblr.com

Courtesy of sexphiliac.tumblr.com

We all know I have my wily ways for sending messages. Often, music is involved. I blame Carly Simon for putting the thought in my head. I mean, really. Not only did she write “You’re So Vain” about an ex who still remains nameless, but she wrote it the year I was born! The song cracks me up, but definitely sends a clear message… and based on HER past, it could be any number of famous men.

I’ve found myself following in her footsteps over the years. My husband used to joke…Want to know what Kitt really thinks of you? Listen carefully to the lyrics she chooses to play for you. 😉

My bestie can tell you about a time in our youth where people had decided to start rumors about her, so we decided to really give them something to talk about. I’d say “poor guy” about her then-boyfriend in the middle, except everyone thought he was a stud who had both of us…LOL! To be clear, this was NOT the case, but we figured we should at least lead them in the wrong direction if they were going to talk…let it not be for anything mildly innocent. 😉 (Yes, mischief was my middle name, even then…especially when with my partner in crime.)

Then there was one of my exes. After a rocky break up (hey, we were in high school)…This became his song.  Me, not being shy… Well, let’s just say he knew it and somehow the song seemed to come on whenever he’d be around. Go figure!

For me, James Ingram seemed to always have the right lyrics to break a heart of someone I genuinely cared for but didn’t quite reciprocate their intense feelings. Ever dated someone really awesome only to realize that they felt so much more deeply than you did…and you hated hurting them, but to give false hope would’ve been even worse? This was my song for that…

Or have you had a friend who you adore…one of the best, kindest, gentlest souls you know? And they’re in love. With you. Maybe you didn’t even want to have to say the words. You didn’t want to see the hurt or devastation that you knew would be there…even as they accepted your words and you (which somehow only makes the guilt that much worse). I may have even played this song for my husband back in the early stages of our friendship when I was too blind to see the value of what I had. Thankfully he’s patient and stuck around…though he did call me out on my message. 😉 This was one of the few times I was ECSTATIC to be wrong.

For those of you in long term relationships…ever just needed a break? Maybe a little space? This song has been known to blast in my house if I need some alone time…LOL! Hey, at least it wasn’t U + Ur Hand… 😉

Then there are the times where you get sick of the BS… Maybe that friend that does nothing but whine or lie or feel sorry for themselves. We all have our breaking points when you’re just done. Yes, I have sent this message in the past….and if that didn’t work, I’m not exactly afraid of confrontation.

Most important though? The messages you send yourself… Like when you’re a bit scared, apprehensive….and you need to remember how empowered you truly are… How strong…HOW ADAPTABLE… This is my newest favorite….

Do you use music to speak for you? To you? What songs have you used to communicate messages? You know I love when you guys share. It gives me little insights into you guys and what makes you tick…. Nothing thrills me more than that. 🙂 Besides, I’ve got something going on my personal life that could use some fingers crossed and good thoughts….

TV and New Discoveries

I have a long and abiding love affair with music. In fact, music has been a part of my soul even longer than writing. In fact, it’s probably one of the biggest passions my sister and I share.

Me (in the navy blue) and my sister singing together

Me (in the navy blue) and my sister singing together

My tastes in music tends to be as varied as my personal interests, but recently I began to think about TV. We all know that the correct selection of music can enhance the telling of a story. As I sat there working on edits for Three For All, my mind went back to music and artists I’d discovered through tv shows. For me, there’s something fantastic about the right lyrics.

Don’t judge me, but I used to be a bit of a soap opera addict. It was actually through All My Children that I discovered Gloria Estefan. There was a couple, Cliff and Nina…they were one of those on-again, off-again couples with a terrible sense of timing. During one of those off-again moments, Nina was thinking of Cliff and a song with a memory montage played. I couldn’t find a video of that moment, but I thought I’d share the song that helped me discover my love of Gloria.

Thinking back to those songs had me wondering…if I could pick my Top 5 “Discovery” songs from TV shows…what would they be? Think about yours while I share mine…because I’d really love for you to share yours with me afterward.

Do you guys remember Family Ties? Since Alex P. Keaton was probably one of my first crushes, I do. I still remember when he fell in love for the first time. Why? Because Billy Vera and The Beaters immortalized it for me with this song… See if you remember this scene….

Of course sometimes the feelings were of the “tear your heart out” variety. Although I actually knew Janis Ian’s music…mostly from my mom, I didn’t realize I knew it. It wasn’t until I heard this song sung at the General Hospital Nurses Ball that I started to look her stuff up (only to discover, as I said, that I’d known her all along). The Nurses Ball was an AIDS awareness benefit and a much loved part of the show. They had just done a storyline where Stone, a much loved younger character on the show, died of AIDS. Stone is who you’ll see in the flashbacks toward the end…

So I’d been watching General Hospital since I was 3 years old. I saw Luke and Laura get married while we were stationed in Germany. It also helped me discover the music of Toni Braxton since I’d pretty much given up on mainstream radio by the ’90’s. One of my all time favorite characters was Brenda Barrett. Ever fall in love with a character you knew was toxic to you but couldn’t seem to help yourself? That was Brenda’s story back then. She’d fallen in love with a mobster named Sonny and he did nothing but break her heart. In my mind’s eye, she’ll always belong with Jax, the guy who loved and accepted her through pretty much everything. This particular song played as she was remembering her and Sonny together. Sonny had just married someone else.

The next song is from One Tree Hill. There have been a few artists (The Wreckers, Kate Voegele, Tyler Hilton) on the show that I fell in love with during the early years, but none quite like Haley Scott. This scene is the first time she shows the guy she loves her musical talents. It’s not her best song, but it had me hooked on Bethany Joy Galeotti’s music. It also made a great backdrop to the damage of lies between Lucas, Peyton & Brooke (my 3 favorite characters).

Finally there was Dido. Though many discovered her through Eminem, that’s not how I found her. It was back with a show called Roswell where I first heard the lovely, ethereal lilt of her voice. Like on Tree Hill, there was a ton of music to discover, but their opening theme song was done by her…and I loved it! In fact, here’s the song put together with parts of Max and Liz’s love story.

What songs have helped you discover artists you may not otherwise have become a fan of? Where did you discover them?

 

My Brother And George Strait

Music has a way of speaking to almost everyone. It build’s bridges, heals gaps, bonds people. Lyrics can have a very powerful impact on a person. So can a beat or rhythm of a song.

Believe it or not, growing up I wasn’t a country music fan. My passion, like most pre-teen girls of the ’80’s was in pop music, with a little touch of heavy metal. My kid brother was the country fan. His best friend in the apartment across the hall listened to country because of his dad. He came home one day and announced that George Strait’s “All My Exes Live In Texas” was his favorite song. At 10 years old, he found the song hilarious.

I didn’t get it. The music was twangy. Sometimes the lyrics made you feel like your ears were going to bleed. After he died I found myself listening to country more frequently…trying to find what it was that drew him.

And then I heard Dan Seals sing….

Once I heard Addicted, I was hooked. The poet in me back then was pretty dramatic…I loved love songs, especially sad ones, and this one definitely qualified. If it wasn’t love, I was all about anger and revenge. A lot of that was probably part of my grieving process. It would definitely explain how I was drawn to my second song…it resonated with me. Earl Thomas Conley really spoke to my angst, that’s for sure. As I’m listening to it again for the first time in years I’m realizing the message could have a duality to it. Those words could be meant for someone who ended a relationship through a break up, but they could also be directed at someone who died and left him hurt and angry. I’m posting Gary Allan’s remake of the song. Unfortunately the original was not very good quality.

It’s funny…all these years later and I find country is probably my most favorite musical genre now. What genre am I most likely to find you listening to? Why? Have you ever had your perceptions of certain music altered by an experience you’ve had? I’d love to hear about it.

 

David Foster Touched Me…No, Not Literally!

I’m having a musical moment again…shocker, right? Not….LOL!

What kind of musical moment have I been having? Well, the last few days I found myself on YouTube doing searches for some favorite songs of mine. I realized I must have been feeling nostalgic…but there was a theme. Many of the songs I was looking up were from one of my all time favorite composers…David Foster!

So you’re probably asking…who the heck is that guy and why should I care, right? Well, that guy has done some of the best, most memorable movie scores. In fact, initially I thought I’d do a top 5 soundtracks post…but then I thought…let me show you guys  a bit about what makes David Foster so amazing…

For example…many of you are familiar with the Love Theme to St Elmo’s Fire…and the instrumental version is amazing…but I love the words that go with it.

There is also The Prayer…and although this particular singing of it isn’t my favorite…I love this piece because he talked about composing it. It’s funny how similar composing music and writing a book/story can be. Listen to what he says and see if it doesn’t resonate with you. (Plus, Katherine Jenkins does have an amazing voice!)

Remember Casper…when he whispered “Can I keep you?” Loved that movie…and the song David Foster wrote…sung by Jordan Hill (a completely underrated talent). By the way, she also sang the duet my hubby and I danced to on our wedding day…so I truly do have a soft spot for her and the amazing talent she has.

He also wrote this amazing song from Pretty Woman, sung by Peter Cetera of Chicago. Are you surprised yet?

He even wrote the Whitney Houston hit “I Have Nothing” from the movie The Bodyguard. What’s especially cool about a guy like him is that he pays it forward…by discovering and promoting new talents… Can you imagine being given an opportunity the way this lovely young girl, Charice, just got?

My ultimate favorite, though, is one from the movie Stealing Home. David Foster sings this one with Marilyn Martin. Something about it reminds me of the sweet nostalgia of first loves and first times…

Can you imagine that kind of talent and passion? Did any of those songs bring back thoughts or memories for you? I know for me, tons of images come flooding back. Do you have a particular artist or writer or composer who has touched you deeply and never let go? If I ever get a chance, I would love to go to a David Foster event…I think I’m going to put it on my bucket list…he’s just incredible!

 

Major Migraines And A Bit Of Good News

I was going to begin our “Choose Your Own Adventure” story today, but decided to postpone it so that I could do our project justice. (Yes, based on all the feedback and support you guys have given me, I’ve begun to think of it as OURS).

Not only is today my writer’s association meeting, I’ve also been battling a 2 plus day migraine. Today has been the first day I haven’t felt like falling to my knees and weeping like a baby, so I got a few things done around the house. In a little more than a week I’ll be leaving for my anual trek to Dallas to watch my Cowboys play…for those of you who follow the sport, I’ll be watching them play the Giants. (I’ll also get to meet Jay Novacek) Co Cowboys!

Immediately following our trip to Texas, my awesome sister and her husband will be coming to visit.  Since the parental units now live down here, we’ll be having an “early Thanksgiving” during their stay.  This means houseguests…both for when my girl friend comes to doggie sit my babies while I’m in Big D and again when my sis and bro come down.  Clean, clean, clean…that will be me for the next few days.  Never fear, though, it won’t interfere with my blogging. 🙂 I’ve come to really enjoy doing this and consider it my “me” time.

Onto my good news…one of the guys I sing with has written a song.  He has reached out and asked me to collaborate with him and come up with some lyrics. What an honor! He sent me the music this week…now it’s up to me to come up with the rest. Cross your fingers for me!

Anyway, my buddy Emma mentioned Harry Chapin the other day in one of her blogs…and it got me to thinking about his daughter…Mary Chapin-Carpenter. I want to share two songs with you guys from her repertoire.  One is the first song I ever heard her perform…and she knocked it out of the park (no wonder she’s so respected for her talent in the music industry). It is called “Opening Act”.  The second one is about how things can sometimes go wrong. With my headache, I’ve felt like “The Bug” this week, which, incidentally, is the name of the second song.

How has your day been?

Creative Lyrics and Word Games

I’m one of those people.  You know.  Those people who look for the fun or game in everything?  So way back in the day, this song caught my eye.  Why?  Because as I listened to the song I found a cleverness to the lyrics.  Other song titles had been embedded into it.  The songwriters were very cool about how they did it.  And it flowed so naturally.  Lover of music and poetry that I am, it stuck.

So I started counting to see how many titles I could find.  Am I the only person that does that sort of thing?  How many titles do you hear?  Isn’t it such a sweet sad song?  (Yes, I’m also a sap!)  Are there songs that you feel that way about?  What are they?

And speaking of games…there used to be a game a couple of friends and I used to play to get ourselves through gym class back in the day.  One of us would start a story.  The next person would add a part.  Followed by the next person.  You get my drift.  So I’ve been kicking around the idea in my head of playing a similar game on here.  Would there be any takers?  I’d kick it off, then you guys could just add a paragraph through comments…  We could make it as silly or as serious as we wanted, but we’d all have to feed off of each other.  Stuff like this can get very good or very funny…and we’d all just get to go with the flow.  Just a thought…