Friday, April 11, 2008

music & harmony


A couple friends (Jennifer and Monica) and I got together to sing/play a little music together yesterday. It was a short get-together but it was enough to get me excited about singing harmony on a regular basis again and playing the guitar.

Music is something that has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Music has so many emotional ties to pieces and parts of my life. You know what I mean - a song comes on the radio and you are completely stopped in your tracks ~ you are transported for a moment back in time to the place, a person, or a fond memory attached to it. "Maria" (Willy Nelson) - Frank and Katie and their magical wedding weekend... "Landslide" (Fleetwood Mac)- Dad dancing with me at my wedding for the Father-Daughter dance... "Sailing" (Christopher Cross)- the 80's - and family camping trips and specifically ~ Mom and Dad. "Playing with the Queen of Hearts" - Uncle Mark and the Andersons. "Iron Man" (Black Sabbath) - Jamieson, "Give yourself to Love" (Kate Wolf)- Ann's, Holli's & Genevieve's wonderful voices and how sweet Jeff looked on our wedding day 2003......Gosh, the list can go on and on, but you get the point. Almost everyone is touched in some way by music.

All us kids (siblings, cousins) used to put on shows for Mom & Dad, the Grandparents, and all the aunties and uncles in our front room....and I remember one specific song we sang from atop a picnic table at a campsite along the Allagash River. My sister, and cousins Sarah, Ellie, and Christine sang in our church when we were children and took piano lessons for varying amounts of years. I took lessons for 9 years, but never did get all that good - I always had to have music (I wasn't good at on-the-spot ad libbing). I was a part of the Houlton High School music program (Show Choir, Stage Band, Band, yearly musicals, etc).

In college Holli and I got involved with a group of gals who sang accapella tunes and got together quite often to perfect the songs. We'd each bring something that we wanted to work on that week with a copy of the music/lyrics for the other girls. Holli and I also nurtured our love for music by finding random people who were into drumming, playing guitar, and singing to sing out at open-mic nights in Portland. It was a blast.....and in fact, when we headed out on our trip out west in 1997 we sang our way across the country whereever we could find an open-mic venue. We found it to be quite entertaining for us. I'm sure it was entertaining to the folks in the bars too, especially when we forgot the words or got on the wrong harmony part!

When I first moved to Missoula one of my roommates (Rick) who became a good friend of mine was totally into playing the guitar and the keyboard. He had several guitars in his room and many times I would get home late to hear him in his room playing some tune he was working on writing or just playing a familiar tune. He helped me learn a few chords on the guitar...and I would sing along with him from time to time if I recognized the song.

Ricky moved to Portland, OR a year or two later and as a gift he left me one of his guitars. I wish I could say that I have been playing the whole 10 years since I got this wonderful gift from him, but mostly it has remained in the corner of a room or under a bed collecting dust for most of those ten years. Every once in a while I would get it out, dust it off, and play a few chords. Once I even bought a tuner and a "Teach Yourself to Play Guitar" book from the music store. I'm not sure why the guitar doesn't "click" easily for me, but most likely I just haven't been committed enough to let a little time go by for the "AH HA" moment to happen! I always heard that if you played the piano that the guitar would come "naturally". Not for me. It has always been easiest to just use my voice instead. Something I have always been comfortable playing around with (although still a little shy about singing alone).

In 2000-2001 I was in a band that you never heard of called "Tin Can Genie" here in Missoula. We played a mix of funk, folk, rock, well, mostly just RANDOM stuff - covers AND originals. My favorite song was "Road Construction" which my friend Matt (keyboard player) wrote during his bike trip out West. The band dissolved and we all moved on, but I have fond memories of our debut at the old "Jay's Upstairs" bar in Missoula. It was a sight to behold. I was mostly a backup singer who would occasionally would sing lead on a cover tune.

SO, with all this said, I have made a new committment to my guitar. At the beginning of this week I was telling some friends about my aspirations to be able to play the guitar around the campfire as my child is grows up, etc, and to be able to play well someday. (I wasn't really thinking about all the work that it will take to get there). But I said that by the time that my kid is a senior in High School I would love to be able to say - 'hey', I've been playing guitar for 18 years and I've gotten pretty good over these years.

One of them responded -"You could start now, or be saying the same thing when the child is 18, and you haven't started yet." These words spoke volumes.

Thank you Rick for the gift of this beautiful guitar, and for Monica and Jennifer who have lit a new fire of inspiration in me...

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