Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Happy Music

So yesterday, my guest blog was published on and it's out there in front of a new audience that I am utterly unfamiliar with.  I'm feeling very exposed.  To balance out the sad darkness in that posting, I spent the morning listening to Marshall Crenshaw's eponymous 1982 debut album.

When I was in college, I was in an a capella group called the Virginia Belles.  At first, I wanted to be in a different, co-ed group.  I was devastated when I did not even get called back to that group.  It never occurred to me that my voice part (alto verging on tenor) wasn't needed in that group.  Then, one day, my next door neighbor, who had just joined the Belles, told me at dinner that they had lost an alto and would be holding auditions.  In one of my most self-serving moments, I thought, "Okay, I'll audition and use it as practice so I can get into the other group the next time."  My dear Belles who may be reading this now, I am sorry.  I signed up and told NO ONE that I was doing it.  My neighbor, Becky, knew, but that was all.  Then I went to the first part of the audition, and after I ran through the exercises for the Musical Directors and Assistant Musical Director, I started singing the solo piece I had prepared for it. I wanted to do something unexpected and that no one else was likely to have sung.  I chose a song called "I Want To Walk With You" by Toni Childs (  I sang to the bridge, and then I FORGOT THE REST.  That doesn't happen to me.  Completely blank.  I was mortified, and certain that I'd blown it.

Luckily I had not.  I was called back, and managed in the group callback to do two important things: 1. I managed to fool them all by literally BARELY singing aloud during the "blend" segment.  2. I sang the WHOLE song.  Before I started singing my solo piece in front of the whole group, I told those who weren't present the first time what had happened, and then sang it all. 

Longish story short - I was invited to join, and I did, happily.  They found out soon after that I was considerably louder than they thought.  Luckily for me, they kept me in, and I made some of my best, best friends there.

In my last year, one of our guest groups sang a song called "Mary Anne" that my attached-at-the-knee friend and I loved.  However, we did not love the guest group that sang it, so we floundered about for years wondering who wrote the song originally.  Two years later, when I worked at Borders running the music section, someone picked out a CD to play in the store one day that I had not heard of, the debut album of Marshall Crenshaw from 1982.  It's a pop confection, it's beautifully written - very Beatles-ey, Joe Jackson-ey, etc.  Not my normal, harder rock cuppa, but I have always been a sucker for great pop songs.  There it was.  "Mary Anne" - finally!  I called my friend, bought the CD, and lived happily ever after, sonically. 

Sometimes, music draws me down.  This album lifts me up, and I love knowing there is something I can pull up and listen to that is guaranteed to brighten my spirits. 

Here's some more information on Marshall Crenshaw, who is phenomenal.  I hope you have something just as simple and beautiful that picks you up when you are down.

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