Breathe lighter…turn off the clamor and define the day with a little music!

Simon and Garfunkel Mrs Robinson UK EP

Simon and Garfunkel Mrs Robinson UK EP (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Not Robin Gibb, too! His death isn’t a surprise, of course. He’s been ill for a very  long time, but on top of Donna Summer’s death last week his sad departure is particularly poignant. Not only are two great voices hushed, but for some of us who occasionally need their disco fix, listening to their tunes may now elicit a few bittersweet musical memories.

I wrote about my full Disco appreciation last summer and personal praise for that particular musical era  here.

Whenever I’m feeling a little at odds with myself or the world-at-large I can count on music to feed whatever the need. Classic Rock is good for a little mental head-banging while a day of Laura Nyro, Norah Jones or Tony Bennett–especially his more contemporary duets, easily brings me closer to bubble center.  I have a very large musical library and my tastes run in all directions, so there’s always something from the past or present to accompany mood and complement the current situation.

I began to seriously think about this yesterday while having another Starbucks’ breakfast with Karina.  A wheel-chair bound woman rolled up to our table. I’m accustomed to grandmotherly-types engaging with Karina and fully expected that to be the case here. But instead she caught me by surprise, inviting a conversation about the Starbuck’s music playlist. She had come in from the outside just to listen to the music.

She told me how music was important to her, and that she lamented that younger people don’t appreciate music “like we do,” I guess assuming we were the same age.  I didn’t bother to argue that I think young people DO appreciate music as much as we do.  As Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Boxer” began to play she grew so excited I was a little uncomfortable, wondering why I was singled out of a large Starbuck’s crowd for her morning conversation.

I extended our encounter by mentioning that I recently spoke to one of our university students about Simon & Garfunkel and had been greeted by a look of total non-recogntion. After many attempts to find a way to make the reference relevant to him the lightbulb briefly flashed when he noted he “sort of remembered” the song from the movie The Graduate. I seized the moment and found a youtube clip so he could see the genius musicians–he claimed he’d never heard of them. Yikes!

My new Starbucks friend, I found out her name was Sally, used that story to punctuate her position that young people just don’t know and appreciate music. Oh well…

She was going to sit here drinking in the music, no coffee that I could see, and fortunately for me, I had Karina to care for and moved on. It wasn’t an unpleasant encounter and I thought of her all day, wondering how long she’d lingered at Starbucks and hoping she had a good day. She did love music!

I also remembered one other small story illustrating music’s broad appeal and emotional connectivity. Several months ago I was meeting a friend for lunch across the street from work. I arrived early and was sitting facing the door, as well as all the other customers, waiting for my lunch partner to arrive. The background soundtrack wasn’t memorable and was really more of a drone. I barely heard it. But then! All of a sudden…

Rah, rah, ah, ah, ah

Roma, roma, ma

Gaga, ooh, la, la,

Want your bad romance…

The place lit up! Lady Gaga’s distinct and pounding rhythm had my own toes tapping. I looked to my left and a  woman was shaking her head, surprisingly unselfconscious.  Then I noticed a young man sitting next to her doing the same. It took a moment before I realized that the adults at the table were developmentally delayed. And they were loving this music! They’d been sitting still and non-communicative, but when this song came on, so did they!

The best part of the story was when my eyes locked with the young man’s. When he knew he had my full attention he completely brightened and animatedly began to sing the song–TO ME!  Not so much outloud as lip-synching,  but he wanted to be sure I KNEW he knew those lyrics. If this had been anyone else I’d have been completely uncomfortable, of course, but it was wonderful! He was so thrilled to share this moment with me…his audience. And I only wish I knew a way to tell Gaga this story. I think she’d me proud!

I’m going to be working today and need a little quieter background sound. No Lady Gaga today. My Pandora station of choice will be Eva Cassidy, another songbird gone too soon.  Cassidy died from Melanoma at the unbelievably young age of 33, however, her music has a depth that to me comes from someone much older.

I’ll leave Donna Summer or the Bee Gees for home. It’s impossible to listen to them and  remain connected to my office chair!

Are you in a particular music mood today? Feast–and breathelighter!

Singing very quietly…Debra

51 thoughts on “Breathe lighter…turn off the clamor and define the day with a little music!

  1. Music is so many things to so many people, but I think my favorite thing about it is how it’s a universal language that can form a common bond among otherwise disparate people. My tastes encompass everything from classical to jazz to rock, depending on my mood – and that alone makes music a beautiful thing! :)

    • I think we share an eclectic taste in music! You’re so right, there is something to match every mood. Remember when we were young and it took a lot more to gain access to a new album or cassette or CD…ha! Now, downloads and Pandora and access to music from so many sources; most relatively inexpensive. It makes it easy to try new things. And it is a great way to connect with others…we could all talk musical interests all day long, I think! Does Daisy sing? Some dogs like music, too, it seems! :-) Thanks for sharing your personal interests. I was hoping for a little discussion! Debra

  2. I think raisingdaisy already said it all, Debra. :-) Music is so multifaceted that we can almost always find we have musical tastes in common with those we meet. Thanks you so much for the clip. I hadn’t come across Eva Cassidy before and this is lovely. What a loss.

    • There is no end to the variety of artists, musicians, instrumentalists, bands, orchestras, soloists…you’re right, Perpetua, music is amazingly multifaceted. We are fortunate to have so much available to us at reasonable price if we choose to purchase, or even internet radio. I often listen to a jazz station from France…a friend introduced me to that one and I just love it. So fun to experience music from around the world. And Eva Cassidy is such a lovely artist. When I first began to learn of her many years ago I had no idea that she had passed away–and at such a very yong age. All of her music is lovely and peaceful, very melodic and a worthwhile investment. It never seems to lose its appeal. I’m glad I could introduce her. :-) Debra

  3. Our girls have to listen to more ‘old’ music than they would like when strapped in the car, or when I’m pottering around the house. Girl1 comes after me and turns down the volume :) I’m just hoping the good stuff is sneaking into their minds when they’re not paying attention!

    • I’m sure it is getting into their musical vocabulary, Fiona! My children now laugh that their friends have always wondered how they know so much music from the ’60s and ’70s and they say it’s because that’s all they heard at home when they were young! They now have a very broad musical interest. I was thinking of you this weekend when I was at Disneyland on Sunday. At the end of the day we sat and listened to an Irish/Celtic group named “Sligo Rags” and I just loved them! I have already checked them out on Amazon and plan to purchase. They have recorded a lot and I just have to figure out where to begin! So now I’m off on a whole new genre! :-) Debra

  4. Like you, our house is full of music. My husband plays guitar and played in a band when he was younger. I played piano. We have tons of cds and some dvds of concerts. There is always music in the air and someone singing (maybe offkey but who cares). If nothing is going on, he will pop in a dvd of BeeGee or The Moody Blues or maybe The Traveling Wilburys with Roy Orbison. Nothing better and it’s cheaper than counseling!

    • I love your comment about music being cheaper than counseling! So true! My husband is so good to let me take control of the playlists. I’m very musical, and the poor guy just isn’t! He is a good sport, though. And was I relieved when my children were old enough for me to be sure they had good rhythm and nice voices. LOL! I play the piano, too, but poor Jay did NOT have a band. :-) I’m glad to learn a little bit more about you and your husband and the love of music, Kate. Thanks for sharing that with us. Debra

    • Thank you, David. It is so nice to have these little moments with total strangers who just want to connect on some level. Music is a good way to find a common language, isn’t it. Music and poetry share the same lyrical qualities, and speak to hearts. Debra

    • I’m so glad to learn you know Eva, Natalie! I only recently learned how young she was when she passed…that really got to me. Way too young, of course! And yes, one more thing for us to have in common. We just must have that visit one day! I thought of you this past week when I learned that your Marilyn Monroe statue is now in Palm Spring, California! I commented about it on your blog some time ago because I just thought it was amazing. I don’t know if we’re “keeping” it or it is on loan. I must investigate. If I go to take a picture I’ll do a post and link to you…you first introduced me to her :-) Debra

      • Eva’s voice is heartbreakingly pure, but I’m sure we’ll be able to pick her out amongst the crowds of angels someday… and Marilyn seems to pack her bags and travel on down the road in some mysterious way. I hope you get out to Palm Springs to meet her — she’s really quite amazing, quite an Amazon…

      • Oh I will definitely get out to see Marilyn, Natalie! I would be the one going off the road to find the “world’s largest ball of string”–so an amazon Marilyn? Can’t wait! And your mention that Eva’s voice is heartbreakingly pure…I wish I’d said that! You really caught the essence. I love her voice, and do wish she’d lived long enough to realize a little of the recognition that did come after her death! I’m glad you share appreciation of her talent with me, Natalie. Debra

  5. I had never heard Cassidy sing “Over the Rainbow” before, Debra. And I was shocked to read that anyone thought the “Bookends” album was the best of Simon and Garfunkle — I always like people at the beginnings of their careers and think they go wrong along the way — except Dylan — I think he got better.

    • It is funny that out of all the Simon & Garfunkel albums someone prefers “Bookends.” I will always be sorry that I didn’t see the duo perform at some point…I’m sure the opportunity was there. And I am a very big Dylan fan. I have all my old Dylan albums and occasionally get them out to play them. I only have a few, but I’m glad I held on to them! I think he’s still wonderful :-) I’m glad you appreciate his artistry, too, Sharyn! Debra

    • Simon & Garfunkel are musical poets! I’m partial to those who are true fans and probably just a little suspicious of anyone who doesn’t like them! I’m glad you are fan, Carl! :-) Debra

  6. When I lost hearing my greatest regret was losing the ability to hear music, yikes, but when I regained some of it back, the first thing I did was go to Youtube and listen to Adele sing “Rolling in The Deep”. Aaah, the sweet, sweet sound of music! It lifts the soul, energezises the body, music is a gift to us all! Didn’t realize the younger generation have not heard of Simon and Garfunkel. :)

    • My goodness, Marie. I’m really moved to think what it would be like to “know” the sound of music, and then to lose the ability. There are a lot of things I tend to take for granted. And I can just picture you listening to Adele once you knew you could! That must have been marvelous. Some of the students were more familiar with Paul Simon, of course, and some at least had heard of S & G…I’m sure it depends a lot on the music their parents listened to. I hope it isn’t all young adults :-) Debra

  7. Dear Debra, as your first commenter said and Perpetua reiterated, music is a universal language. It tells a story and we all can picture the first humans sitting around their fires at night weaving grass into containers and clothes and weaving stories of lyrics and melody. So at the deepest level, music continues to speak to human beings around the world.

    For myself, I have an appreciation of music up to around the mid-eighties and then I sort of stopped listening. And when I began again to hear music, I couldn’t understand the words because the background music seemed so loud. So I depend upon music lovers like yourself to introduce me to singers like Eva Cassidy. After listening to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” I went to Youtube and heard her sing “Fields of Gold.” Did she write that song? I so remember Michelle Kwan figure skating to it.

    Thank you once again for introducing me to newness. Peace.

    • I can totally understand how so many new artists don’t hold a lot of appeal, Dee. One of my luxury items is XM satellite radio in my car. I drive a lot! And to keep myself amused and to avoid getting to anxious in traffic snarls I play many channels that I wouldn’t ordinarily choose, and I sometimes discover current artists or music I wouldn’t have otherwise. It become a bit of a game.

      I’m so glad I introduced you to Eva Cassidy. One of her CDs, “Songbird” is just lovely. I think she was truly a gifted artist and you’d enjoy anything she created. I’ve never found a single track I didn’t like very much. Sting wrote “Fields of Gold” but she may have recorded it even before he did. It is a mesmerizing song, isn’t it? You’ll have to let me know if you discover any more of her music, Dee! I think you’d really enjoy. Debra

    • Thanks so much Kristy! I did have a good day…humming as I worked :-) And it’s great to change up playlists to match the mood. I love that I can shuffle the entire iTunes library…it gets a little crazy that way, but it is so much fun! Debra

    • I think it’s wonderful that Eva is still being “found” after losing her life at such a young age. I can’t help but think that her musical legacy moving forward must mean a great deal to her family. Her entire “sound” is timeless…crosses all age groups, I would think. And yes, S & G are just wonderful…young people who aren’t sure of the artist, I’d thinking do indeed know the music! Debra

  8. Thanks for the Eva Cassidy clip – love it. If you ever run into that woman again do let her know that my husband to our son (when he was 17) to a Simon and Garfunkel concert. Not only did he LOVE it, he knew who they were and he knew all the words to all of the songs! There is definitely hope for his generation. xx

    • I’m so impressed that your son had the opportunity to attend a S & G concert! Yea Dad! Wow! I do regret that I never had that opportunity. I’m sure they played here probably many times before they broke up…what was I thinking in procrastinating! I will undoubtedly see Sally again…I’m at the Starbucks every Tuesday morning. I will now look for her! She would be so pleased to hear your story. And I’m glad you enjoyed dear young Eva. I love listening to her when I need to mellow out a bit! Thanks for sharing Charlie! Debra

  9. Loved this post, Debra . . . from Sally to Lady Gaga from Simon to Garfunkle from The Boxer to The Graduate.

    Memories and music march hand in hand . . . as my toes tap in time to the beat!

  10. Excellent post, Debra. Music is a big part of my life, always has been. I don’t know whether the Youth care less for music. The industry has changed so much. In my youth, it didn’t matter so much what a group or singer looked like — or at least not like today. Videos have taken over the industry. If a performer looks good, they can auto-tune even the worst voice until it sounds good. I’m not suggesting one is necessarily better than the other. It’s all entertainment. It’s just different.

    Thanks for introducing me to Eva Cassidy. She has a soulfulness to her voice, reminiscent of Bonnie Raitt. I need to do a little shopping on iTunes before bed. :)

    • iTUnes is dangerous, isn’t it! I agree with you, John, that today’s youth probably does enjoy the music they know…music is timeless. But they don’t know the pleasures of what we experienced in our youth. How about saving up to get that one album you wanted to have. Or spending hours in record store listening and looking…what’s a record store? And boy do you have it right when you mention the overproduced sounds. Just listen to some of the artists sing “live” at the Grammy’s–shocking! I really love the soulful sound of Eva Cassidy, and hope you find time to hear more of her music. I believe that most of it was published posthumously…isn’t that something! I have a little music addiction, too, so I heartily endorse the iTunes adventure! Debra

  11. Great post about music! Music is so wide … actually huge … and no matter how wide-ranging one’s taste, they only capture a small swath. Think about the amount of music created throughout the world, yet one hears so little. Let alone all that has been created throughout the ages.

    As for me, I have very eclectic music tastes as my preset buttons on my car radio would demonstrate. Good post Debra!

    • So true, Frank! I listen to a wide selection of XM channels, public radio music stations and reviews, and just pay a lot of attention to music. I have a large library and a wide interest, but that still stands in very small proportion to music across the ages and from around the world. I enjoy finding new artists and appreciating the old. And there’s nothing better than a live concert! :-) I’m glad to share music-talk with you, Frank. Debra

      • I wish I’d been following your posts when you were originally writing the XM channel reviews! That would have been fun. I agree with you on the ones you wrote about. I do listen to the Message some…I only have XM in my car, so it really all depends. I have other on-line Christian music stations that I listen to also, and like most music, it depends on how I’m doing…sometimes I need it to kind of calm and be still, and in those instances I really enjoy it. When that isn’t the case it can sometimes feel monotonous. That’s true for almost all stations–it’s matching what I need in any given day.

        I loved the Starbucks, but still listen to Coffeehouse…I think I have the correct channel names. I know it when I hear it! A lot of acoustic, and very enjoyable. I enjoy hearing current artists un-plugged. I sometimes listen to Siriously Sinatra, and probably less of the Spa and more the Watercolors. I can’t get too relaxed driving around Los Angeles…it wouldn’t be safe! I sing along to the Broadway channel, and love the Blend. I even listen to the Pulse quite a bit. That’s probably my “outer edge” but there are times I really enjoy the newer artists…and then I can add names to my Pandora channels and listen at work.

        I don’t think there’s any music I have categorically said “no” to…given the right mood I’m good with anything. I’m glad we could share about that…and maybe it’s time to revive your XM posts. I really thought they were a lot of fun! :-) Debra

  12. This is such a lovely and all -encompassing post, Debra, weaving Robin Gibbs and GaGa, Simon and Garfunkle and Tony Bennett all into the universal appeal of music. I’d forgotten how much I liked Eva Cassidy and this rendition. Those of us of a certain age tend to think of Judy Garland when remembering Somewhere of the Rainbow, yet it has been performed by so many over the years in so many beautiful ways, each touching upon differing tastes in music, voices, even instruments. Remember that haunting rendition with the ukulele that was played on E.R.?

    I must admit that tears came to my eyes as I heard this. My mother, dying of cancer, semi-comatose, looked at our Jennifer smiled, and sang “when you wish upon a star”. They were her last words. She passed away two days later.

    • Penny, I read your response while I was at work and couldn’t answer right away. But I kept thinking about what you wrote. I was so touched by the story of your mother and her singing to Jennifer. I can’t imagine that moment, quite frankly. My dad is back in the hospital, and I do believe he will be well enough to recuperate at home, but in the waiting I’ve watched other families “camping out” at the hospital with family members in the last stages of Cancer. It’s even hard to witness…Heartwrenching if it were my loved one!

      And the reference to the Somewhere Over the Rainbow/E.R.episode! I sure do know it! That episode broke me wide open and it was the ukelele accompaniment and the artist’s (Israel ???) clear voice that made it so memorable. I couldn’t get it out of my mind and eventually tracked down the recording. If you watched that show sometime I’m going to ask you about another episode that still “haunts” me. LOL! I do hope you have a good weekend, Penny! Maybe some more garden time? We may get rain for Memorial Day! Bah! Debra

      • Yes, I did watch ER and that heartbreaking episode and think I saw most of the episodes during its run. Ask on . . .

        We did have a good weekend and the hottest Memorial Day on record.

      • OK…the episode that still haunts me is when the schizophrenic law student stabs John Carter, and as he falls to the ground we see Lucy (I think that was her name) dying on the floor under the gurney. That episode was so dramatic and upsetting I have never forgotten it. When you recalled the episode where Mark died, I knew you had to have watched the show. I was really sad when it finally went off the air! :-) D

  13. Debra, what a wonderful post! You’re right: the right piece of music sets the pulse racing: I grew up in the classical fold- Rachmaninov and his charismatic piano concertos do it for me every time – but I love West Side Story, and Sheryl Crow’s Santa Monica Boulevard, and Desiree, You gotta be Tough…I could go on and on and on…

    • I was on Santa Monica Blvd. yesterday, Kate! It’s a long street…the part I was on wasn’t the best for “having fun” :-) I do love Rachmaninov, too, and I could just start listing! It is finding the right piece for the mood. I’ve even had a few periods in my life that were so difficult I boycotted most music. I would get too emotional in response and found that reaction an entirely different burden! Fortunately, that’s not my first response very often! I am very lucky that I can listen to music in my office. It makes every day a lot nicer! I hope you and the family have a very nice weekend, Kate! Debra

  14. Debra, you’re a disco diva too! nothing beats boogying around the house, no-one in sight, letiing it go. and yes I turn to dsico, R&B, dance when I need to be more uplifted or when I’m already feeling uplifted. Times like packing a large 3 bed hosue to Barry Manilow, the Bee Gees, Kylie Minogue etc all spring to mind, there I’d be with boxes, packing papper, bubble wrap, giving it some :)
    we too have a pretty large music collection to turn to, and we used to go and see a ot of live music, we’ve got out of the habit, and need to find some to see. Nothing better than dancing or jumping around !
    Music definitely connects and you described the Lady ga ga moment superbly. Great post!

    • I’m just so glad to hear that you like “dance music,” too, Claire! I wouldn’t consider myself much of a dancer, but that doesn’t stop me! LOL! I always have chores and cleaning to do when I’m home. I have yet to figure out how our house gets so cluttered and in need of cleaning when it feels like we are rarely home during the week. But chores combined with music cranked up nice and loud does make the workload lighter. And we used to go to more live music venues, too, but most of the concerts that most interest me seem to be very expensive these days, and so it’s become a rare occurrence. I have a day off tomorrow…and I’ll have to see what kind of day it is, then choose my playlist :-) I hope you have a very nice weekend, Claire! Debra

  15. I love this post… as you know I love music too and it helps me meet myself everyday… All the artists you mentioned are on my playlist and I love that you featured Eva Cassidy. She did such a powerful rendition of that song…. I once listened to nothing else but her rendition of “Ain’t no sunshine…” for days… be blessed! :-)

    • Yes, I’m not at all surprised that you really appreciate Eva Cassidy. I’ve enjoyed your music posts! There is something so soulful about Eva…and it tears at my heart to think that she died before her more successful recordings were actually published. Her voice lives on, though, and she is still finding new audiences. Pretty remarkable, and does speak to the power of music. I’m so glad you shared! Debra

    • He is an ageless artist, isn’t he? My father and mother loved him, I do, my children do…and it seems to me that he is in a category of artists that every age enjoys, and will for years to come! I’m glad you like him, too. Of course, I’m not surprised! :-) Debra

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