Saturday, June 26, 2010


Welcome to MusicLIFE
I had no inspiration at all this week. And then it happened.
I went to put my dog out in the evening and the yard was full of what we always called
"lightening bugs". I had actually seen one earlier in the week. I went to put the dog out late at night. There was a bug on the screen and not wanting to let it into the house, I flicked my finger against the screen. The bug fell off and landed on it's back. AND IT FLASHED ME! Tonight I went out again, with the dog, and was admiring the moon which is somewhere near full. I saw the dog nervously looking around and realized the yard was flickering with "lightening bugs." Now, the only song I have ever heard that might apply is "Glow Worm" - but are lightening bugs glow worms? Yes, indeed they are the same. Only the female glows. Isn't Wikipedia wonderful? If you want to know more about those luminous creatures just Google them. If you're as old as I am, you will remember catching them in a mayonnaise jar. They smell awful if you touch them with your fingers. Anyway, speaking of remembering, if you want a nice video about the way things used to be go to "www.closeyoureyes.wmv" . You will get some other videos, but if you scroll down a bit you will find the one I mean. It begins with an ad for "Duck Hunt" but stay there a few seconds and some reminders will come up along with some nice music.

Back to "GLOW WORM" ~ the song we know is an adaptation of the 1908 song from the German operetta "Lysistrata", and the Broadway musical "The Girl Behind the Counter". The original words were by Lilla Carley Robinson and the modern words were by Johnny Mercer. The music adaptation is by Paul Lincke.
Several performers have used it including the Mills Brothers and Spike Jones. The Hal Leonard Publishing Co. has it in EZ-Play Bks. #32, 33,138, 183, 231, 264. Dennis Awe has also put it in some of his collections. It's a fun piece to play, and now when you play it you will know it is not a "he-bug" lighting up for his love, but a little "she-bug" just happily flitting about.

I got a fake book of Gospel songs this week. I only recognized a few of the songs, which tells you something about my religious background. We sang "Jesus Loves Me, This I Know" and "Tell Me The Stories of Jesus" and Christmas Carols. I like the Gospels. They have a lot of rhythm and a lot of joy in them for the most part. I am looking forward to playing them both at home at when I "play out." There is one piece called "Would He, Could He, Did He" which has a wonderful beat. That's my musical goal for this week. Stay tuned! If I ever get the capability of putting sound in my blog, I might just make that my first piece. Meanwhile -

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


Friday, June 18, 2010

Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly ---

The Broadway Show I chose to do this morning at the radio station was Showboat. As I was listening to the lyrics I thought it would be an excellent theme song for the Gulf rescue operation. "Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly,
I gotta do my best so they won't die, Can't help trying to save our Gulf. --
Crabs gotta crawl, Dolphins gotta play, They need clean salt water every night and day. Can't help trying to save our Gulf. I'm here to stay, 'til the oil's gone away, ---" well I can't think of any more words but you get the idea.

SHOWBOAT is a wonderful American story. It was adapted from the book by Edna Ferber in 1921 by Oscar Hammerstein II and Jerome Kern. The opening night of the show, the audience was seemingly unresponsive. The applause was scattered, laugh lines barely got a chuckles. At intermission, when the producers, directors, and other interested people usually keep an ear open for comments, the patrons were largely silent as they mingled in the lobby. Quite naturally everyone connected with the show was downhearted. Commonly after shows people go to late dinners, to bars and private parties where they discuss and critique the performance and performers. Amazingly, the papers the following day had rave revues. The audience was so overwhelmed by the social statement, the open dialog, as well as the music, they were fairly speechless until they had time to assimilate it. The plans went into high gear to make movie - a silent movie, of course, which would have the performers live to the voice-over. They spent a whopping $25,000 to put the wheel in motion. Then - "talkies" happened and the plans had to be remade. NOw the cost was going to $125,000 plus percentages for everyone involved. Music was rewritten, songs that didn't seem to work were deleted, new songs were composed to pick up the pace. Backtracking a bit, Ms. Ferber did not think it would work because her book spans 60 years. She felt it could not be far too long, and of course, she was right. So they adapted the story line to compact it. That was all in the 1920's. It was remade in 1951 and starred Katherine Grayson, Howard Keel, Ava Gardner. Marge and Gower Champion were the dance team. I think it is time to remake this colorful story with today's enhanced sound and color capabilities. Who would you cast in the leading roles?

Dennis Awe, or maybe his sister DyAnne, made a medley of SHowboat music. It is fun to play as the mood of the music changes. There are a lot of songs in the movie version that are not in that arrangement, and still it is quite lengthy. I personally do not play those "showcase" pieces because there are a number of people eager to play and I don't want to take up too much time.
O'lyn Callahan also has a showboat medley. Hal Leonard has EZ Play versions of the separate selections. NO matter which might chose to play, you will have fun with them Jerome Kern got the music just right to convey the moods.

Remember the words - "...I can be happy, I can be sad ..." Chose you music to fit your feelings, but keep a song in your heart and keep the music playing.


Monday, June 14, 2010


I missed the boat completely this week. Today, the 14th of June, is Flag Day.
In these uncertain times it would be remiss of me to neglect this special day honoring our country's standard.

For more than 200 years the Stars and Stripes with (with a star for every state)
has been our national symbol. In recent years it has been desecrated by those who would scorn it's representation of Purity (white) Blue (vigilance) and Red (valor). It was in 1776 that Betsy Ross reported she had sewed the first American flag.

I believe every school child should salute the flag daily. But then, I still think children should be exposed to a moment of thoughtful devotion every day. I believe the words to the Star Spangled Banner should be regularly sung and other patriotic songs should be a part of the assembly programs and music classes across the country.

What is more inspiring than the aspect of a red,white and blue flag waving "o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave"? or "You're a Grand Old Flag're a high flying flag" ~ "There's a star spangled banner waving somewhere..."

This is my country, land that I love ....
This land is your land, this land is my land ....

If these songs are not taught in school I hope the Boy and Girl Scout leaders are using them around the camp fire. (Do they still do campfires?)

Since my purpose is to encourage music at every opportunity, I might suggest our group - and yours - have a patriotic music event. It would certainly be inspiring.

Please, keep the flag waving, keep a song in your heart and keep the music playing.

thanks for the do-over. jem

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Where Is Love?

From the musical "Oliver", the song "Where Is Love?" asks "...does it fall from above it underneath the willow tree....?" Of course, that is a love song, which goes on to ask if there will ever be a love just for him/her. That kind of love is limited between two people.
But WHERE IS LOVE? Surely it doesn't fall from the sky or found beneath a tree, but it is everywhere that music is heard. Whether you play for yourself, for one other person, or for an audience of many you cannot help but feel the love music generates. When someone says "I love that song", - there is love. If an aging man asks for "Daddy's Little Girl" he is experiencing his love for his child over again, and you cannot help, as you play it to sense the feeling. Songs of romance - "My Romance", "I Love How You Love Me", "If I Loved You" are a pleasure to listen to and a joy to play. And then there are "fun" songs of love: "Love Makes the World Go 'Round", "Sparrow In The Tree Top", "I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now?". "Side By Side" are favorites at senior facilities because of their easy-to-sing lyrics. I cannot imagine singing these songs and not feeling a sense of love. I cannot imagine playing them and not experiencing the love they generate.

WHERE IS LOVE? It's wherever music is being played, being listened to , being sung. Music and Love go hand in hand so --

Keep music and love in your heart and keep the music playing.


Thursday, June 3, 2010

My How Times Have Changed -

I was getting ready to "get ready" for my radio program "Let's Visit Broadway" which I will tape tomorrow. Looking over the CD's on hand, I chose "Call Me Madame." There are fourteen songs, written by Irving Berlin. the "book'' was written by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse. It was produced on Broadway in 1950 and earned a Tony Award for Best Original Score.*

The story, if you aren't familiar with it, is of a Washington D.C. Hostess and Democratic Party fundraiser, Perle Mesta, who was appointed the Ambassador to Luxembourg in 1949. (The playbill noted with tongue-in-cheek humor "neither the character of Mrs. Sally Adams nor Miss Ethel Merman resemble any person living or dead." The story is a satire on the politics and foreign affairs tht spoofs America's willingness to loan millions (with an M) dollars to needy countries (hence the title of this blog!). America now is borrowing billions (with a B) from other countries.

I find it interesting that so many Broadway musicals are based on the politics of the times, the state of the nation, its growth and its people. Perhaps the talented writers and composers could separate themselves from the day to day trials to see the overall picture more clearly. I think if one had the will to do it, many musicals could be arranged in order of their creation and provide a nice history of the country. Then, of course, there are always those "just for fun" productions like Peter Pan and Lion King which provide wonderful music even if the message is aimed at the juvenile population. And looking at those musicals, I make note - they were movies before they were Broadway productions.

In the book "This Is Your Brain on Music" there are studies cited that indicate music has both short and long term affects on the brain. One of the long term affects is that certain parts of the brain, both left and right sides, enlarge with musical training. I certainly can't verify that from any experience I have had, but I can vouch for the fact that music provides amazing enjoyment, especially when it is enjoyed with friends. If you are blessed to be able to play an instrument, or have a vocal talent, share it with your "friends" at a nursing home, adult residential facility or nursery school. I have never met a kid who didn't love music; and I can honestly say I have only ever met one man who told me he hated all music and wished he could push me and my organ over a cliff. Fortunately he was in a nursing facility and the opportunity to carry out that wish never presented itself. I would hate to see my beautiful organ in a heap of kindling at the foot of a cliff.

*Songs from "Call Me Madame":
Mrs. Sally Adams The Hostess With The Mostest on the Ball
Washing Square Dance Lichtenburg
Can You Use Any Money Today Marrying for Love
The Ocarina It's a Lovely Day Today
The Best Thing For You Something to Dance About
Once Upon A Time Today They Like Ike
You're Just In Love

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