Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Dork 'n' Roll

Several weeks ago some cherished friends now Facebook faces, Stacy Quaid and Mike Kloppenburg to be exact, did one of those tag things on me. Time has escaped and I never responded until now. I apologize up front at the time lapse. When you spend the majority of your days in swirls of terminal boredom and primal fear, in Piscean double time, a straightforward time line is impossible.

This “tag” concerned the simplified over complication of listing 15 albums in your collection. Still unsure of exactly what the instructions were, most influential, most recently listened to, burned in effigy in the park, something along those lines. When completed it was supposed to be cut and pasted somewhere and the cooties were to be spread somehow on the Facebook playground at recess or during math class. Once again, I have forgotten the instructions.

For some reason, much of it embarrassment, remorse, and guilt, the thought never left my head. I can only say that obsessions led me elsewhere. As it seems all in my life always leads me back to things not picked up and put in their proper place, this particular pencil point down finally screamed sharpen me so I can be pencil point up, ready to use.

Confession is good for the soul. Put not off until tomorrow what can be done today. Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clear to the bone. Does a former drill sergeant make a bad psychiatrist? Here it goes, in my own psychotic manner:

First let me say, or is that finally, my musical choices are kind of my artistic privates. I don’t usually flash them to just anybody. When it comes to music, you are definitely Goldilocks and I am definitely all three bears, my choices ever the reflection of my refined Piscean Schizophrenic Obsessive Compulsive Chameleon with Southern Baptist tendencies personality.

The first song I ever remember being taught the words to was “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” by the Beatles in the back seat of a car driving somewhere with my neighbors Bonnie and Lonnie when I lived in Havre de Grace, MD. I remember, not quite fondly, the repercussions of singing said song on the pew in church the following Sunday. I was four maybe five, but learned swiftly that the Beatles and Southern Baptist worship services in the 60’s were a less than perfect blend.

The first song I ever chose to learn is still my all time favorite, Gale Garnet’s “We’ll Sing in the Sunshine”, desecrated in the 70’s by Helen “I Am Woman” Reddy. We had just moved to a trailer park in Port Deposit, I had to have been six or seven at the time.

Our neighbor trailer always had the radio on and I could here it playing while I was playing in the yard. This is where I was really first exposed to music. Sandy Posey, Herman’s Hermits, Lesley Gore and, for some odd reason, Jerry Vale always evoke very distinct memories of that yard and my dog, Tippy.

As I grew up, my tastes grew eclectic and odd, much like me. My “dorkification” was cemented by either a sick day or a snowstorm, when I was stuck inside watching television, specifically the old Merv Griffin show. This particular day he introduced a new singer by the name of Gloria Loring. Even now, I feel goose bumps recalling her sing “The Other Man’s Grass Is Always Greener”.

Ms. Loring, most of you would now know as the mother of one Robin Thicke. Some will recall her turn as Liz Chandler Blah Blah Blah on “Days of Our Lives”. Some will remember her as the woman who sang (and co-wrote) the theme to “Facts of Life”, or from from #1 single “Both to Each Other (Lovers and Friends)”.

I recall her as the voice that made me stop in my hyperactive tracks and for the first time in my life be moved emotionally. Needless to say my musical choices all now are about a moment in time frozen by a chord. Each choice in my collection, like the endless notebooks or bits of paper scraps, recall a specific moment vividly recaptured for the time it takes to listen to it.

Like, Ms. Quaid, anything by the Carpenters floors me. Granted the last few albums were at best merely uses of vinyl. Karen Carpenter was my John Lennon. I actually wore black for three days when she died. Skipping the two first biggest hits, everything from “Rainy Days and Mondays” to “Solitaire” skipping lots of okay stuff to the final “Make Believe It’s Your First Time” (the one on her solo album, not the one her brother ruined for the posthumous album) makes my heart sigh.

I have to throw in here near the top “Katy Lied” by Steely Dan. This album was given to me as a Christmas gift by my high school girlfriend, Dawn Miller. (Dawn wherever you are thanks for the Steely Dan addiction) This is probably one of my few albums that doesn't read “dork” from miles away.

Now I guess I must admit my obsessions for the BBC. The two CDs I seem to play most often these days are the soundtrack to “Torchwood” and a collection of John Barrowman show tunes. Barrowman is no Sinatra, but I love it when he takes the actual stage show arrangements and just records them, which he tends to do like no other. As for the soundtrack, the Torchwood theme is my ring tone.

I am also stalking loving Kristin Chenoweth, her album “As I Am” a particular favorite. I love the fact that she’s a Christian, and this being her gospel tinged album, feeds a specific place in my heart and CD rack. “Borrowed Angels” makes me cry. “Upon This Rock” gives me faith. “The Song Remembers When” gives me hope and “Taylor, the Latte Boy” gives me giggles. Couple that with “Bernadette Peters Live at Carnegie Hall: Sondheim, etc.” And my stage diva quotient is happily filled.

(BTW Miss Chenoweth, I am the man of your dreams, you just haven’t met me yet and I fear the coming restraining order.)

Next, I must take my dork taste internationally. Anything from Tina Arena or Robbie Williams can be found, in alphabetical order then by release date thank you, in my CDs. I am particularly fond of Williams “The Ego Has Landed”. I know I’m one of the three Americans that buy his music, but good or bad (i.e. Carpenters) his music stirs me.

The character of London Chamberlain in my novel is patterned somewhat after him. I know, in the first part of the trilogy it’s a nasty character but later on he becomes a vibrant positive stroke on the canvas. Mr. Williams, you are my “Rock DJ”.

Bringing it back, I obviously have a large swath of Contemporary Gospel. Michael English’s “Gospel”, Jonathan Pierce’s “Sanctuary” and Jody MacBreyer’s (nee Avalon) self-titled CD are usually at hand. These collections as a whole just continue to supply strength and purpose. These are the one’s I sing along with. I love to sing, not very well unless you turn off your hearing aid, but the cuts move me and I can belt along badly with all my heart.

Then there’s Glen Campbell. I have much of his songbook. I think when more time passes, he will become the music historian’s Elvis Presley. (Throw stones here) From country to pop to gospel the man can just sing it all, and nail it every time. Ironically my favorite of his is “That Christmas Feeling”. Like watching “Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol” and “Rudolph”, the year is not complete until I’ve experienced it a dozen times.

Kudos as well to “The Best of Bubble Gum Volume One”. I’m a sucker for this bouncy, cavity inducing stuff. The Brooklyn Bridge, The 1910 Fruitgum Company and Lou Christie lead this pack of factory-produced confections. Volume One is my favorite because it contains the unforgettable bouncy “Simple Simon Says” (put your hands on your hips, let your back bone slip, Simon Says…)

Whatever happened to music like that? Fun bouncy stuff no deeper than candy bar wrapper but hardy enough to keep you smiling for hours. Yeah, yeah today’s music is superficial, too, but “Slap dah ‘ho” and explicative deletive repeated ten times to thump thump thump doesn’t make me smile for hours. I find it the equivilent of Rush Limbaugh and Christine O’Donnell having a child together. The thought makes me stop and then hurl until I can strangle myself with my large intestine.

Speaking of awful, I do love my REALLY bad albums. Burt Reynolds “Ask Me What I Am” is particularly so awful it’s fun. He does two patter songs “Slow John Fairburn” and “Room For a Boy Never Used” that are actually wonderful. The rest is a freight train speeding over a 4/4 time cliff. I always have much more confidence about my musical abilities after a listen.

Mac Davis, The Chi-lights, Jason Mraz, Billie Holladay, Gordon Lightfoot and Breathe (Whatever happened to them) all have earned spots on my rack. Along with such Who? Non-legends as The Kurth and Taylor Band, Dee Jones, Dr. Alban and Brian and the Nightmares have warranted shelling out some cash to fill my stash.

I haven’t bought any music since I left Maryland. In fact I think the last CD I purchased was either Robbie Williams “Rudebox” or Michael Buble’s whatever it was called. It’s Michael Buble for crying out loud! The dude may be an obnoxious jerk, but he can sing!

Even though most of you have died laughing at the revelation of my musical taste or shook your head in pity, one or more of these acquired tastes are a part of my world each and every day. Music and song are my bread and water. Okay, so I like peanut butter and butter instead of jelly. They’re my tastebuds.

I will end this wordy musical blog by thanking Ms. Quaid and Mr. Kloppenburg. Once again, maybe it’s only my taste, but I enjoyed chewing and swallowing these CD’s that have earned a place in my life.

As a thank you, I have decided to name my first son Quaid Kloppenburg. I will, of course, refer to him by his initials, making him QK Beebe. He will join myself and my fictional daughter Bobbie Pheobe Beebe and the three of us will listen to cringe worthy albums together forever.