Thursday, July 29, 2010

Take me out to the ballgame....

Last Wednesday night was a perfect night for softball. All of the girls are great softball players. I'm proud of each of them! Elle has really improved from last year to this year. She is still learning, but she listens to her coaches...and does EXACTLY what they tell her to do...even if they tell her to throw on a 4th ball.

Here are a few videos of Elle Mei.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Sir Paul McCartney

I know that I have already blogged about Blackbird, but I have waited my whole life to see Paul McCartney (truth be told, I really wanted to see the Beatles, but if all I've got left is Paul, that's fine by me), and I think he is worthy of more than one blog post. Plus I have lots of rocking videos and pictures to share. Let's start with this:
This is me and the concert way early. The tickets said 7:30 PM, but the show didn't start until 8:10 PM. And how about this....

The crowd was over 24,000. Views from our seats.....

There were lots and lots and lots of people there. We observed that there were all kinds of people and all ages of people. As previously stated, I fell in love with the Beatles in the 80s as a teenager long after they had disbanded and long after John had died. There were some in the crowd who were definitely more endeared to the Beatles bee-bop stuff...others who loved the Wings stuff. Paul did a great job of mixing the multiple stages of his career and playing tunes that appealed to all 24,000 of these people.
There is no really easy way to chronicle this concert, so I decided to take the set list, add some videos that I took...add some pictures that I took...add some thoughts that I have.
One thing to note about the videos. We had really good seats. I like to sit on an aisle...for a whole host of reasons. Unfortunately I picked the wrong aisle to sit on. Our aisle was one of the few ways to get to the "floor" or the stadium field. There were literally people walking CONSTANTLY during the concert. Many of the videos have people walking through them. Because of that frustration, most of the videos are snippets as opposed to a song in its entirety. It's unfortunate about the crappy view, but it is what it is. Next time, I know exactly what seats to choose with an unobstructed view and no foot traffic up and down the aisle.

There isn't much rhyme or reason as to why I videoed some songs and not others. Some of them I wanted to just enjoy. Others I wanted video of but was fiddling with the camera...was being rudely walking in front of....or a whole bunch of other factors. There is also no good explanation as to why I cut off some videos and not others. Random.

Also, you need to be aware that every once in a while, I start to sing a long in the video. I'm also notorious for singing the wrong lyrics at the wrong time. Oopsie!

1. Venus & Mars
2. Rock Show

3. Jet 4. All My Loving
**Near the beginning of the concert, there were some women down in front who had a sign that said, "Paul, will you marry us?" He retorted, "It is Utah. All of you??" Cheeky. I love it!
5. Letting Go
6. Drive My Car
**This is a dippy thing about this song, but I always think of Dean when I hear this song. The first time we met, I let him drive my car. He probably doesn't even know this, but his song reminds me of him everytime....and come to think of this day he still drives that car. It's his now!**
7. Highway
8. Let Me Roll It/Foxey Lady **This was Paul's homage to Jimmy Hendrix. He said that Sgt. Pepper's (the album) came out on a Friday and that Hendrix and his band had picked up the record, memorized Sgt. Pepper's and opened their concert with it the next Monday...three days later. Paul said it was the greatest tribute ever to him and the Beatles. He really, really admired Hendrix, and he said so in the concert.** 9. The Long and Winding Road 10. Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five
**This song is not on itunes, and I'm not familiar with it. If anyone knows where to get a copy, let me know.**
11. Let 'Em In 12. My Love **Paul's dedication to Linda, the love of his life.** 13. I've Just Seen a Face
**I'm not overly familar with this song, but I really like it! I've downloaded it and added it to my "Paul" playlist. It's sure to become one of my favorites.**
14. And I Love Her
15. Blackbird **I won't upload this again. If you want to access it, click HERE to see the blog post with the video.**
16. Here Today **I have a short snippet of this song, but it in no way does justice to it, so I will not add it. Paul explained that he wrote this song after John's death. He explained how he got the phone call that John had been killed and how shocked he was. Paul said that this song was written as a conversation that he wanted to with John. It was a very touching tribute. He did a whole narrative bit about John and dedicated the song to him. The big screen showed pictures of Paul and John during the song. It was very sincere and touching. Lennon and McCartney....icons. I've got nothing more to say about that.** 17. Dance Tonight
**Ashamedly, before the concert, I was not familiar with this song. I now LOVE this song. I've played it over and over again.** 18. Mrs Vandebilt 19. Eleanor Rigby **This song kind of creeps me out. It always has. I honestly think that I just don't get it. I have a video snippet, but it's super short. I decided not to post it.** 20. Ram On 21. Something **This was Paul's tribute to George. I think that George Harrison is a phenomenal musician. Paul began by playing "Something" on the ukulele. He mentioned that one day he was at George's house and George started playing the song on the ukulele...that it was written on the ukulele. Then Paul held out the instrument and said that George had given him that very ukulele.** (BTW...this is not a ukulele in this photo.) 22. Letting Go 23. Sing the Changes **There were some wonderful visual effects at the concert carefully planned to correspond to songs and their lyrics. This song began with what looked like a pixelized verison of Obama's image. I thought to myself....I must be seeing things....why would there be a reference to Obama. The song is about change...well, maybe. Then at the end of the song, the images of Obama were undeniable. I leaned over to Dean and said, "Those are images of Obama." He nodded in agreement. At the end of the song, Paul said, "Obama...that's what change looks like." Um....Utah is the reddest of red states. There was no reaction from the audience...which I'm sure was a stark contrast to the same comment made a few nights before in San Francisco. ** 25. Band on the Run 26. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da **Know all of the words, shamelessly sang along.** 27. Back in the USSR
28. I've Got a Feeling 29. Paperback Writer **This is my second favorite Beatles song (after Blackbird). I don't know if it is the harmonies or what, but I really like this song. I stood and danced...which pissed off about 40 people, but that's OK. I sang and danced with Paul McCartney to my second favorite Beatles song. Check.** 30. A Day In the Life/Give Peace a Chance
**I have always really liked "A Day in the Life." My favorite part of the song: Woke up, fell out of bed. Dragged a comb across my head. Found my way downstairs and drank a cup. And looking up, I noticed I was late. Found my coat and grabbed my hat. Made the bus in seconds flat. Found my way upstairs and had a smoke. And somebody spoke and I went into a dream....Ahhh....ah...ah...ahh.....*** 31. Let It Be
**This song should be my theme song: Let it Be. I'm working on it....** 32. Live and Let Die **I have no video of this, and my pictures don't do it justice, but I'm posting them anyway. This number was the single best concert moment I have ever, ever, ever had. Dean said that I was shaking during the song. It was so freaking AWESOME! It's the crescendo with the pyrotechnics and the fireworks that is just freaking awesome. Elle texted me during this time and asked if the concert was over because of the fireworks (she could see them from the house.) Seriously. Best concert moment EVER. I'm still talking about it!**
**After the song, Paul joked about how loud it was. And it was REALLY, REALLY loud!"
33. Hey Jude
**This is Elle's favorite song. She actually discovered the Beatles this year. In jazz band, they played "Hey Jude." She played it for me, and we chatted about tempo. We downloaded a slew of Beatles tunes to her ipod, and the girl is hooked. Dean took her to see a tribute band called 1964 as the Beatles (which I actually saw at the fieldhouse when I was student at Bradley a long, long time ago...same band, really). She is in love with the Beatles. She said that she could hear this song IN THE HOUSE (doors and windows shut). She said that she could hear the crowd singing, I bet she could. I taped the whole thing for her. I have tried twice to upload this video, but blogger hasn't been cooperative. It was long, anyway. Perhaps this is the way of the universe saying "don't you think you've got enough videos on this post already?"**
34. Encore: Day Tripper **This is Dean's favorite song. He played my favorite song and Dean's favorite song! So lucky!**
35. Lady Madonna 36. Get Back 37. Encore: Yesterday 38. Helter Skelter **The crowd was on its feet. This is an interesting song choice for an encore. It's also an interesting song when you consider its time and place in music history (and the obscure Manson connection). I was grooving in dancing to this song. I was [literally] the only person in view dancing to this song according to Dean. It's hard to dance to, but...come on! It's Paul McCartney singing Helter Skelter! Just to add insult to my age and generate an injury...all of that dancing on the concrete in my new shoes strained my knee. Oj! Lame!** 39. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (reprise) / The End **My only disappointment with this song was that I wanted to hear "It was 20 years ago today....Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play..." Aside from that....excellently predictable way to end the show. Dean thought he would play "Twist and Shout" before the concert was over, but not this time. Maybe next time.**
This concludes my detailed account of the concert. If you can't tell, I thoroughly enjoyed myself and the experience. I guarantee I will be talking about this for a very long time. If you haven't listened to some Beatles tunes lately, bust out the vinyl, the 8 tracks, the cassettes, the CDs or download some from itunes. I guarantee you'll smile. It's just great music. Peace out!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

All your life, you were only waiting for this moment to arise...

I have loved the song "Blackbird" since the first time I heard it. It must have been in the late 70s or early 80s when I first discovered the White Album. It happened to be in my mother's record (as in vinyl) collection. It still baffles me as to how it came to be in my mom's record collection. She is more of an Elvis, 50's bee-bop, "At the Hop" kind of gal. The White Album was cool, and no offense if you're reading this mom, but my mom is just not cool enough to have the White Album.

Honestly, I think I can say with full confidence that the White Album is one of the greatest records of all time. From the first track of "Back in the USSR," to the George Harrison masterpiece of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," to the quirky story-song "Rocky Raccoon," the gritty "Why Don't We Do It in the Road," to the endearing, "I Will," a perennial favorite "Birthday," a song that defined my 17th year: Revolution(1), the seemingly misplaced "Helter Skelter," and a song that resonates to my soul: Blackbird. I love, freaking, love that Album. Just reminiscing about it makes me realize how truly great it is. I used to play Revolution 9 again and again...stop the turn table and spin it backwards to see if I could hear back masked messages. That was the thing to do back then. (BTW, if you listen to "Another One Bites the Dust" by Queen backward....eventually you will hear, "It's fun to smoke marijuana." It only took us trying 37 times at Susan Bryan's sleepover to hear it.)

A long, long time ago when I was on my mission, I learned a few guitar chords. No other instrument speaks to me like the acoustic guitar. I love it's simple construct that can create beautiful music. I was determined to learn how to play the guitar properly when I came back to the states. I hired a guitar instructor, and the very first song I wanted to learn was Blackbird. I had to quit my lessons (no cash) before I ever learned to play it properly.

If you've ever tried to play this song, you'll realize that it is not an easy task.

"The structure of the song is quite uneven, featuring a good amount of free verse phrasing, with the timing varying between 3/4, 4/4 and 2/4 meters. It is in the key of G, with the bass and melody lines on the guitar progressing mostly in parallel tenths, all the while maintaining an open G-drone on the third string. The song is played with a unique combination of fingerpicking and (a kind of) finger-strumming, though the bass notes are always played by the thumb on the downbeat." Source: Wikipedia

I have always loved this song. I think it is beautiful.

When I heard that Paul McCartney was going to be playing at the soccer stadium less than a 1/2 mile from my house, it was not a question of if I was going to go. I was going. How can you not go? McCartney is a legend. Good heavens, he was a Beatle! He's getting up there in age, and you never know if this opportunity will ever come again. I jumped at the chance.

I was hoping that he would play Blackbird, and he did. As he introduced the song, he told us his inspiration for writing it. He said that in the late 1960s he watched as the Civil Rights Movement was unfolding in America. He wrote the song in 1968. You might recall that Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated in April of 1968. Paul said (at the concert) that he wanted to write a song that would make people feel good about the situation. What he wrote was Blackbird. He has said that Blackbird is one of his two favorite songs. That is saying much when you consider just how many songs he had to choose from.

He is quoted in other interviews as saying that the Blackbird symbolizes a black woman. That imagery is so powerful when you consider the time, the place, the circumstance, the condition and the revolution of rights that was happening in America at the time. I was not even alive, but that historical moment deeply impacts me today.

When I learned the history of this song last night, it endeared me even more to this song. I have always been a student of American history. Our history is a complex, and it continually incorporates human struggle and triumph. That is one of the things that I love most about my country, my heritage and my history. To find out the true genesis of this song...from the mouth of Paul McCartney himself....had so much meaning for me. In an odd way, "it all made sense." I know that I am not the only person who loves Blackbird. I'm certain that there are millions who love it. But to know that it is Paul's favorite know why he wrote the song...and how much it means to him....well, "it just all made sense" to me. It was kind of like a bit of an epiphany. I felt the song and loved it. To understand it's meaning only makes me feel it more.

So, I will conclude this deeply personal and revealing post with the lyrics of Blackbird and a snippet of the live version I heard last night at the concert.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
All your life You were only waiting for this moment to be free.

Blackbird fly
Blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night.
Blackbird fly
Blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night.
Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to be free
You were only waiting for this moment to be free
You were only waiting for this moment to be free

Monday, July 5, 2010

Family, Friends, Food and Fireworks!

Dean LOVES to have people over, and he loves to cook out. I dread the work that comes with getting the house ready for guests and prepping all of the food, but as the kids have gotten older, the burden has been shared, and I dread it less and less. This 4th we had a cookout with our neighbors and some friends. It was a really nice time...even if it was so chilly that we needed JACKETS. Yes, jackets!
Dean at the grill..

Teriyaki Chicken. Yummy!

Julian and Carolyn Jesse

Adam and Carrie (posing with all of the food!)

Chilling...waiting for the fireworks....

Dylan made a lovely cake!

The kiddos and the fireworks...they were all paying homage to the blast zone.

Dominique was all into the pyrotechnics this year...

Dom and Dylan...doesn't Dom look thrilled?

They look happier in this picture.

This is Mariah's boyfriend, a momentary lapse of judgement holding what I can only assume from the size of the flames was an entire box of sparklers!