Monday, March 10, 2008

Mondays are for Music

In our culture, music is a funny thing. Reserved for those with the approval stamp of the big-time, or those who have somehow garnered the title "musician" or "singer", most Americans are literally petrified at the thought of making music. One of my biggest pet peeves is how making music has been taken away from individuals, from communities, and awarded to those anointed by big media.

I'm a musician. I've had years of training, and have put a lot of effort into it. Many people have told me I'm talented, or that I have a gift. But it's not that. I'm a person--no more or less valuable in the eyes of God than anyone else. I have strengths and weaknesses (boy howdy, do I ever), and loves and dislikes. What makes me different from people who turn strange colors and lose the ability to speak when asked to make music of their own is simply that I love it. Wholly, unabashedly, completely and passionately. I love music--for all of it's power and subtleties, nuances and surprises. It has been a vehicle for my sanity for decades now, and I've only just completed my third here on earth. I had plenty of red-faced moments when I first attempted to actually perform or accompany, but it's something that can be conquored--even by a shy, socially awkward and unpopular, poor farmer's daughter.

There is an organizational power to music, working on a cellular, and even energetic, level in the human body. Studies have shown that music with a heavy and slow beat (such as rap) can retard the human heart, rousing powerful aggression while deadening the emotions. Music employing counterpoint has been used in the classroom during tests and math lessons, increasing the students' ability to both learn and apply the lesson material.

When hideously nauseaus with my second pregnancy, I belonged to a women's a capella chorus in the Sweet Adeline International organization. Making it to the evening rehearsal was difficult, but I made it most weeks. One week in particular I had made it there, but by the end was too tired and icky to sing. The director closed the evening's work with everyone singing "Friends", standing in a circle. I pulled up a stool and sat in the circle, closed my eyes and let the sound literally work its way through my entire body. As I listened to the consonant harmony, and felt the reverberation of the music, the nausea abated, replaced with a feeling of well-being and and energy that I hadn't felt in months. It amazed me.

Being a wordsmith adds a fun dimension to music . . . clever, moving or funny lyrics are the crowning glory of really good music to me. That's what prompted me to share Cheri Magill's song late last week, and what has sparked Mondays are for Music. (It's a terribly blasé title, I know. Maybe one of you can come up with something better. ;o) On Mondays, I'm going to post the lyrics and a link to some of my favorite pieces of music. Most of the artists I really enjoy aren't big-time RIAA darlings, and I believe are the better for it. Today's band has a short-term RIAA record label deal in their past--but they produced several albums independently first, and made the decision to sign with a label in order to open doors that had been shut to them before. Like the Dave Matthews band, Ryan Shupe and the Rubber Band came to the record company with a completed album, and set a lot of their own terms to the deal. They have since signed a new deal with an independent record label, one not tied to the RIAA. You can listen to most of their music at by clicking on the "Jukebox" link. You can select any album, and any song, listed. My kind of musicians. ;o)

And with that little intro, here is today's song. (One that harks back to my rural upbringing, surrounded by large cities in California. It's music with country elements, a fun beat, and mostly spoken rather than sung.)
Banjo Boy

I want to be a rock star and travel really far and buy me a big expensive car.
And make lots of money and find me a honey
And live in a nice big house where it's sunny
With a pool and I'll be cool
I'll always have a gig 'cause I'll be big
I'll have parties and friends and places to go
The only problem is
I play the banjo

I'm a post hee-haw mover
A funkadelic punk rock groover
A cross between Bela Fleck and Eddie Veddar but better
I'll win a Grammy for the way I pick
I'll be an instrumental monster with tons of new licks
And all the babes will love me, sell out shows
The only problem is
I play the banjo

2 x I play the banjo, play the banjo
Play the banjo, I play the banjo

Hear me boys, hear my rhyme
I'm Picking on the banjo all the time
Hear me boys, hear my song
Picking on the banjo all day long
I say pick it

I'll have a leer jet and a limousine
And everywhere I go my fans will scream
"Hey banjo boy we love you
I wish that we could all play the banjo too"
And you'll see me on the TV talk show
With Dave and Conan and Jay Leno
The only problem is
I play the banjo

2 x I play the banjo, play the banjo
Play the banjo, I play the banjo

You oughtta see my kids dance to this one. ;o) Have a great Monday!!!