Looking through the rear-view mirror with music

Question: Am I the only one who hears voices in her (his) head? No? I didn’t think so. Wait. Was that just one of the many voices in my head speaking? I’m so confused.

I’m not sure if I am feeling anxious because of the countless voices in my head, or if the countless voices in my head are trying to ease the anxiety I feel. Recently, while watching a program about ADD, I heard someone compare ADD to driving. When driving, the driver needs to focus on the road ahead of him/her, glancing at the rear-view mirror occasionally. However, those with ADD tend to become distracted with looking at the rear-view mirror and are unable to focus on what is ahead of them.

While driving home from work today, I realized the voices in my head are louder when I don’t want look at what is in front of me. On days like today, I don’t want to see the road ahead; instead, I want to look through the rear-view mirror and see what is behind me. I want the option to relive the happy times and reflect on the happy memories. And, by looking through the rear-view mirror, I have greater control with keeping myself in a happy place.

When I am looking back, I find music is the best way to recall the happy times. For instance, I was listening to some incredible music today. The music was off a CD I purchased years ago, consisting of cover songs performed by local musicians. Sadly, I loaned the CD to a friend, and the friend never returned it. Happily, I had friends with the same CD, and they made me a copy of it. Anyway, I found myself looking in the rear view mirror of my life, recalling some great memories, all triggered by the music.

I was in this same crazed-state of mind a few weeks ago, when my friend James was ill and nearing death. When he died, as Rob and I drove to Savannah for the burial, I needed a release from all the voices in my head and all the sadness I was feeling. I found listening to Ozzy Osborn’s ‘Crazy Train’ quite effective. Appropriate, eh? Yes, well, I also found a nice release listening to Evanescence’s ‘Going Under’.

Today, my friend is flying to North Carolina to be with her Mom before her Mom dies. And, as I type, my heart begins to race with the anxiety I felt when I did a similar thing over 16 yrs ago. Please excuse my repetitiveness, because I know I have written about this in a previous post or two…

I flew from Washington, DC to Atlanta, hoping to make it home before my Dad died. To this day, that flight was the longest flight I have ever taken because the time seemed to crawl. As I type, my friend is boarding a plane, carrying with her the same hope I carried with me. And, as I think about my friend, I become overwhelmed with sadness. Cue the music!

Today, four songs off the previously mentioned CD helped me drown out the sadness and/or distract me from the crazy. All of the songs off the CD are cover songs, originally performed by other musicians. The songs, Whole of the Moon, Weakness in Me, Piece of my Heart and The Dutchman, were performed and recorded live at Eddie’s Attic, a music venue in Decatur, GA. Eddie’s was a refuge of mine. A place I would go to hear some of the best acoustic music and hang with the best of friends. Prior to Eddie’s, these musicians, my friends and I gathered at Trackside Tavern. (Eddie managed Trackside before he opened his own place.) Great memories, and great additions to the soundtrack of life.

Have a listen:

 (Whole of the Moon, originally performed by The Waterboys)

 (The Dutchman, originally performed by Michael Peter Smith)

  (Weakness in me, originally performed by Joan Armatrading)

 (Piece Of My Heart, originally performed by Janis Joplin)

Andrea with her Mom, Dad, husband and kids, June 2010

My friend has reached her parent’s house by now. I hope to find out that she made it in time to have several good conversations with her Mom. And, when my friend finds herself overwhelmed with the road ahead, preferring to look through the rear-view mirror instead, I’ll try to help quiet her voices with a soundtrack of happy memories. I’ll probably start with one of Andrea’s favorite songs from the ‘old days’, Seal’s Crazy. It’s a perfect song for the soundtrack of life, because “we’re never gonna survive, unless we get a little crazy.”

Be Part of the Band

Saturday morning, we loaded up the boys and headed to an awesome music venue in Decatur, GA. Late last year, The Verve Pipe released a family album, and the band is promoting the album by doing live shows for kids. I am a fan of The Verve Pipe (TVP) and Brian Vander Ark (BVA), and I was given the family album as a Christmas present.

When I heard the band was going to do a show at Eddie’s Attic for the kids, I snagged four tickets immediately. I admit, I hadn’t actively listened to the CD with my kids. Nor, did I ask the kids if they were interested in going to hear the band. In fact, when I told the boys we were going to hear live music, Joe, my oldest, was not too thrilled with the idea. He asked if he could stay home with Daddy. Little did he know, his Dad was also a fan of TVP and BVA.

I decided to spend a few days playing the CD in the car – frequently. Instantly, the boys took to the first two songs, though Joe was not too keen about the third song; he asked, “Can we just stay for the first two songs?”

While at a red light, I handed Joe the CD holder. My brother and sister-in-law had gone to a BVA show, and purchased the family CD for me. They asked BVA to sign the CD for my kids. So, as any manipulative parent would do, I showed Joe (and Charlie) where Brian wrote their names on the CD holder. “Have I met Brian?” Joe asked. I could tell the manipulation worked, as I watched a smile come across his face when he asked the question.

Over the course of a week, we listened to the CD in the car. If Joe was in the car, he would ask me to turn off the CD after the first two songs. And, he insisted he didn’t like it much, hoping to leave after the first two songs. Charlie, on the other hand, loved the CD. And, when he was the only one in the car with me, we listened to it over and over again. Then came the day of the show . . .

Pre-show Snack. Notice Charlie eyeing the freshly tapped Guinness.

As we left the house, Joe was still playing hard to get. You could tell from his smile, he was having a good time ‘fretting’ over the concert, still he wasn’t backing down from his ‘stay for only two songs’ request. And, when we entered the venue, Joe wasn’t impressed with the scenery. Again, tapping into my manipulative talents, I asked the waitress for some chips. [The boys rarely eat ‘junk’ food at home. Letting them have chips was my ace in the hole.] Oh, I also asked the waitress for a Guinness. This manipulative Mamma ain’t gonna pass up an opportunity to enjoy a freshly tapped Guinness, thank you very much.

Sitting at the ‘bar’ table and eating chips, the boys began to get more and more excited about seeing the band. I noticed BVA from across the room, and I pointed him out to Joe. “That’s the lead singer, Joe. He’s the one that signed your CD and came to play at Mommy & Daddy’s house.” Joe smiled. I smiled. This was going to be great.

Rob's chin, Joe, Charlie and me. Picture taken by BVA

While waiting for the show, Brian came close to where we were sitting; so, I said hello and introduced him to the boys. Brian told Joe about how he played at our house. It was neat. Brian also asked if he could snap a picture of us. “Of course!” We said.

Shortly after getting our picture taken, the guys hit the stage and started to jam. And, just like the CD, they started out with their song “Wake up!”. Joe settled in to listen, dance and enjoy, as did Rob, Charlie and I. For the record, Joe did ask – at one point – how many more songs he had to hear, but he was in no true hurry to leave. He had a fantastic time.

Some of TVP (Craig, Brian and John) with Rob, Charlie and Joe

After TVP did an encore of The Monkees “I’m a believer” [an awesomely done cover], the show ended. Joe and Charlie were bouncing around, singing various lyrics from various songs they had just heard. Rob and I looked at each other, and we agreed it was one of the best shows we had seen. How great it was to hear really good adult rock and roll, spun for kids’ ears. I wish more rock bands followed the lead of bands like TVP. Many parents want to expose their kids to music; but – are The Wiggles music? Really?

Parents – if you have kids – you must buy The Verve Pipe’s Family Album. Nope. Scratch that. If you like The Verve Pipe, you must buy the family album – no kids kids necessary to enjoy this music. Our kids sang the songs from the CD the ENTIRE drive home. [Note: the drive to (and from) Eddie’s Attic in Decatur, GA to our house is about an hour.] And, we continue to listen and rock out to this music. “Be Part of the Band” (track 4 on the TVP Family Album) is one of the boys’ favorite. (Yes, Joe is over his ‘two song’ limit phase.) I hope this song, among others, inspires the boys to pick a favorite instrument and do the best they can. Give it a listen:

Brian, Rob, Charlie, Joe and me

If any rock stars are reading this blog (because I know I have many rock star followers), please consider making a kids’ album. Put out some music that parents can rock to with their kids. No offense to The Wiggles, Barney and Baby Einstein, but we want to rock! And to Brian Vander Ark and the rest of The Verve Pipe, thank you so much for taking the time to write and sing to ‘the little people’. We salute you! Rock on! (Please.)

A song in my head

Dear Blogary,

Uncle Mark Reynolds

I didn’t intend on writing today. And, I don’t know a great deal about music, so don’t ask me who is currently topping the charts. That said, I love music, and this morning I have the same song playing over and over in my head. The song, “Hammer’s Hum”, was written and sung by Uncle Mark Reynolds. Uncle Mark was a West Virgina native, but he spent many years of his life in Georgia. He had a huge following in Decatur, watching him perform at Trackside Tavern and Eddie’s Attic.

Uncle Mark died in September 2004. Though I met Uncle Mark countless times, I didn’t really know him, personally. Still, he was a fixture in my life for years. while listening to him at Trackside Tavern or getting my hand stamped by him and hearing him perform at Eddie’s Attic.

Blogary, I am amazed at the power of music. Life is literally a soundtrack. As I said earlier, I cannot tell you who is popular in music today, but I can rattle off countless of [now] oldies that still trigger memories galore for me. And, I love when my boys ask me to play John Denver, while riding in the car. John Denver is another lost musician, whose songs will remain in my head and heart forever.

[Please note for no reason other than I want to write it down: my boys like Alan Jackson, Anne Murray, John Denver, Brian Vander Ark, Moby, Evanescence, Mozart, Joplin, Pachebel, Corelli, etc.]

Me, Brian Vander Ark and Rob - Lawn Chairs and Living Rooms Tour 2008

Blogary, this weekend The Verve Pipe is playing at Eddie’s Attic. Brian Vander Ark is the lead singer. Brian came to our house in 2008, and he played a private concert for us. We’ve also enjoyed watching him perform live at Eddie’s Attic several times. The performance on Saturday is promoting The Verve Pipe’s CD for children. I just bought four tickets, and I look forward to hearing the band play live. I know the boys love music, and I want to expose them to live music.

If Uncle Mark were still alive, I’d load the kids up and take them to see him. And, I’d take them to see John Denver, too.

Blogary, I’m not sure what my point is today. As I sit here missing Uncle Mark and the songs he sang, it reminds me of the incredible local talent that exists all around us. There is so much music to be heard. One does not need to know who is Billboard’s Top 25 artists to know great musical talent; instead, one just needs to head to their local music venue.

Hope you’ll go support your local music this weekend. And, I hope you are resting and singing in peace, Uncle Mark.