Friday, January 8, 2010

A Stretch to Something Out Of My Comfort Zone

January 8, 2010
At last the days are falling in proper order again. Routine is a comforting state at this age.
It has been snowing lightly again in Scarborough and the temperature hovers around 28 even as I write this at 2:45 p.m. The little gray backed birds which we always called "snowbirds" have found the feeder in my back yard, for which I am grateful. Now as I look out a large turkey - just one - is happily pecking around getting what the little birds dropped under the feeder. I hope she will be a regular. She is lovely in her awkwardness. My paio is right off my bedroom where I am working and she is just outside my window. But where are the other six who are her usual traveling companions?

Today I had a long conversation with my niece Angela in Florida. Angela is only a few years younger than I, and she has a dementia which may or may not be Alzheimers. She is on medications and her attitude is good. Today was a good day. She is talking of making a trip to Maine this summer to see old friends, her childhood home, and her other aunt in New Hampshire. What I find the saddest is that sometimes she cannot remember who and where her children are. But as we talked today that seemed to become less of a problem. She has a daughter currently in China and told me they will come home in the summer for a vacation.
On the down side, as we spoke of her own children, she lost all concept of her two sisters and three brothers. Maybe next time we will work on them. If you have someone with an age related dementia, you sure understand what her family is going through.

Which brings me to music, as research indicates music has a very therapeutic affect on the brain, especially age related and trauma related deterioration. Music, it is found through new imaging, is sensed in many different areas of the brain. When listening or participating, the activity in the brain is positively observed. As to moods, music elates and uplifts or dampens and saddens, in relation to the tone of the composition. During these darker, colder winter days in Maine I think everyone should get a dose of upbeat, happy music.

I was looking for a "songster" to talk about this week, and thought maybe someone not of my generation would be good. I chose Frank Zappa. I went to the internet to find some background because I really knew very little of him except that he wrote such offensive lyrics that Tipper Gore and some others actually got him before Congress in attempt to control the publication of them. Well, I found a page and thought I would just print it out so I could read it more easily. I hit "print" and went to take a shower. A few minutes later I came back and the printer was still churning out pages and pages of Frank Zappa. Not only did I get his biography, I got all of the songs he every wrote, all that he ever performed that anyone else wrote; his entire performance histroy and several pages of references. I certainly won't pass all that on to you. But I am going to give you a thumbnail sketch of his career and life.

Frank Zappa was born in Maryland to a Greek/Arab father and Italian/French mother. He was a sickly kid. His family, due to his father's career, lived near Aberdeen Proving Ground where he was exposed to mustard gas (there were gas masks in the home in case of an accident); and was once treated with pellets of radium in his nostrils for his sinus problems. This, of course, was a terribly dangerous. The imagery of these treatments appears in some of his music and lyrics, as well as the collage album covers. All I can say is, Poor Frank Zappa. No wonder he was so wild in his creativity!

Musically, he was self taught and once said, "Since I don't have any kind of formal training, it didn't make any difference to me if I was listening to Lightnin' Slim or a vocal group called the Jewels...... To me it was all good music."

Zappa was a very productive artist, and extremely diverse. He wrote dark and dirty music, jingles and themes for television; performed with the London Symphony, the Philadelphia Philharmonic, and other highly respected orchestras. He once play a bicycle for an instrument on television (I think it was the Steve Allen Show). Some comments made about him: "I admisre everything Frank does because he practically created the new musical millennium."
"...a genius...a word I don't use often ... In Frank's case it is not too strong. ..He is extremely literate musically." Mr. Zappa has been awarded many honors both while living and posthumously. He married twice; he had four children whose names reflected his personality and times: Moon Unit; Dweezil, Ahmet Emukha Rodan, and Diva thin Muffin Pigeen. His widow Gail Zappa manages the business of her late husband under the name "Zappa Family Trust."

There is so much more about this musician I cannot begin to include here. But you might want to go to your music server on the internet and listen to one or two of his compositions. Or maybe not. I haven't yet found anything I like but surely he must have written something I will eventually find.

My suggestion is that you find a nice Jerome Kern, Gus Kahn or Irving Berlin site,sit back and enjoy some easy listening.

Well, still snowing lightly. We are doing our best to disprove global warming and prove Al Gore the buffoon he seems bent on becoming.

Keep a song in your hear and keep the music playing.

  1. Janice

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