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A Story About the Kindness of Strangers and Musical Miracles, Told in Song Titles

27 Sep

The picture above is an approximate representation of how I feel. I’m happy. Like, spin-around-in-a-mountaintop-meadow-while-singing happy. Actually, since I’m supposed to be taking vocabulary steroids in preparation for the GRE, maybe I should be using a better word than happy. Gleeful? Ecstatic? Joyful? Thrilled? Jubilant? Elated? Tickled pink? Man, if this turns out to be one of the questions on that dratted test, I am set. 

I know what you’re thinking: Oh my words! Why are you so very happy, Abigail? Well, first of all, I like you’re enthusiasm. You’re all right. Secondly…I’ll TELL you why I’m happy! Because the universe is awesome and I have been rewarded with a stupendous gift! 

You may recall that I have been searching for a special Birthday Song that is part of my family’s birthday tradition. Well, a wondrous, serendipitous event happened. Someone who visited this little ol’ blog (Kasi, if you read this, you’re my new favorite person in the whole wide world) appreciated my desperation and my story, and left a comment that included a link to the MP3 for the song. Isn’t the universe amazing? Isn’t the internet incredible? Is the sky bluer than usual today? Are my dogs cuter? Don’t you just feel like smiling and laughing all the livelong day?

Really, though, I am so happy that a perfect stranger helped me out and am grateful that I now have this song in my itunes possession. I was taking a blogging break to focus on studying and working and other unpleasant -ings, and when I finally allowed myself to return to my blog baby, it was such a thrill to find this long-lost song. See? You can rely on the kindness of strangers. Ask and ye shall receive. Music does make the people come together!

Now, I know what you’re thinking: What’s this about a story told in song titles? Oh my word, Abigail, was this post’s title false advertising?

First of all, woah Nelly! You’re a tough audience, aren’t ya? It’s okay though, I forgive you because a song title poem-story is quite exciting.

Below is my epic hero’s journey–the significance of the Happy Birthday Song, its absence, its recovery–told through song titles, to honor this miraculous musical moment. I’ve linked a few of them to their youtube selves and encourage you to listen and enjoy.

(Note: You may need to read the original Birthday Song post for some helpful context….or you can just muddle through and listen to the music….woah-oh-oh, listen to the music… )

~

Music. Foundations. We Are Family. Songs We Sing. Memories Are Made of This. All the Small Things. Precious Love. Part of My Life. Hooked on a Feeling. Groove is in the Heart. Hidden Away.

I Got Trouble. Something’s Missing. Those Sweet Words. Can’t Find the Words. I Have Nothing. Lost. Harder to Breathe. It’s the End of the World as We Know It. I Hate Myself for Losing You. What Did You Do. Don’t Blame Me.

Heartbreak Hotel. Today I Sing the Blues. Irreplaceable. Incomplete. Inaudible Melodies. Here Without You. Crying Shame. When You’re Gone. I Want You Back.

Help! Rescue Me! Not the Only One. We All Want the Same Thing. Searchin’. Luck Be a Lady. Simple As It Should Be. Needle in a Haystack. Creep. The Things We Do For Love. I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.When You Were Mine. Wasn’t It Good.

Worrisome Heart. In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning. Trouble Sleeping. On My Mind.  I’ll Do Anything. Nothing but a Miracle. Makes Me Wanna Pray. When You Wish Upon a Star. I’ve Got Dreams to Remember.

Takin’ Care of Business. It Ain’t Over Till the Fat Lady Sings. You Can Get it if You Really Want. Never Going to Give You Up. I’ll Find a Way.

People Get Ready. Something Good This Way Comes. Teardrops Will Fall. It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas. Fairytale. Love is All Around.

You Don’t Know Me. Beautiful Stranger. You Give Me Something. The Gift of Song.

Listen.

Oh!   You’re the One.

Back Together Again. Celebrate. I Feel Home. Breathe Again. Oh What a Day. Because of You. You Rock My World. Hallelujah. Wonderful. Bubbly. Overjoyed. Zip a dee do da. This Magic Moment.

From My Heart to Yours. Thanks and Praise. Danke Schoen. Thank You For the Music. Thanks For the Memories. All Because of You. Earth Angel. You’ve Got a Friend in Me.  

What a Wonderful World.


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It’s My Birthday and I’ll Stalk If I Want to!

23 Aug

It’s my birthday today! Yipee! Wahoo! Commence applause, joyful cheering, and prayerful thanks for my existence! It’s the 23rd, I’m turning 23, and it’s a Tuesday, which is the same day of the week I was born on 23 years ago. Clearly, this will be a magical, epic year.

A lot of people have certain birthday traditions that help make their special day memorable–whether it’s a favorite meal, a standing date with friends, or birthday margaritas. My grandma used to take a picture of me sitting in her rocking chair every year on my birthday. When you flip through, you can watch me go from a baby that needed propping up to a 5’10 gal who blocks the chair. I’ve always been grateful for my grandma’s creative idea, and I know it’s something that I will do when I have kids of my own. 

My family has a special Happy Birthday song that we’ve always sung to each other on birthdays. The lyrics go like this:

Today, you’re one year older
and you’re growing up the way we want you to
So we planned a big surprise
walk with me, and close your eyes
Oh look, your friends are waiting here for you! 

[traditional Happy Birthday song: Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday to you etc.]

Make a wish and blow out the candles
wishes for good boys and girls come true
Now hurry and cut the cake, we can hardly wait
As you open your gifts we’ll sing once more to youuuuu

[repeat traditional Happy Birthday song]

Now, since several people in my family are slightly tone-deaf (okay, very tone-deaf–sorry Grandma), we always played the actual recorded version of this song, too. My grandma had the record for a long time and somewhere a long the line, somebody transferred the song to a cassette tape. My little branch of the family has since lost this precious tape.

Nobody remembered who sang the song, or what the album was called. Nobody knew the title of the song, but everyone guessed it was some variant of “the Happy Birthday Song.” I didn’t despair, however, because I knew most of the lyrics and I imagined I could just type them into Google and the song would pop out. I’m a child of the internet age and I trust the mysterious Web to answer all my questions.

I picked a portion of the lyrics and plugged them into the search engine. I got three–count ’em three–results. One led to someone who was also searching for this song, for the same sentimental reasons. (I feel ya brother!) The other two were completely unrelated. Over the course of several more days, I logged hours and hours of internet searching. I tried different variations of the lyrics. I searched each individual line of lyrics. I tried quotations marks around the words, the words by themselves. I thought maybe I’d strike gold with Youtube. There is a lot of birthday music on Youtube. I found the Beatles’ Birthday Song, a tribute by Elvis, and then this odd version. Then there was a great musical birthday moment from Boy Meets World, a diddy by The Three Stooges, and Burt and Ernie’s celebration for the letter U. And of course, who can forget Marilyn Monroe’s breathy performance?

This all made for some good entertainment and hours of distraction, but where-oh-where was MY birthday song? I found dozens of other people who were also searching for this song, but it appeared that no one had been successful. The very fact that this song didn’t seem to exist according to the internet–an impossibility, since everything can be found online–turned this whim of a hunt into an obsession.

Then, by some magical combination of search terms and with some lucky clicking, I found it. Sort of. I found a woman’s ancestral blog, a blog dedicated to her genealogical research and family tree. This woman devoted a blog post to a relative’s birthday and included a lovely slideshow of mostly black and white photographs that highlighted his early years. The slideshow’s background music was–you guessed it–the song I’d been searching for.

Although this woman’s blog was public, I assume that it is intended for her and her family. I felt a little, well, stalker-y as I watched her relative’s childhood flash on my computer screen. I was so excited to hear this music that I actually played it several times and even held the phone to my computer so my grandma could listen.

Now, of course, I could just play this slideshow full of strangers whenever I want to celebrate a birthday with this song. However, I haven’t given up hope of finding my own personal copy.

That’s why I clicked around until I found this woman’s contact information and emailed her with a plea for song information–artist, name of song, album title, anything. I tried to phrase my email as un-creepily as possible. I tried to downplay my musical desperation. Hopefully, since this woman’s blog is devoted to family, she’ll understand how much this music means to me. I don’t know if she’ll read my email or not, but I figured it was worth a try.

So that’s my little birthday stalking story. Okay, so it definitely doesn’t rival Kim “The G is Silent” Pugliano’s Passat Saga. (Check it out if you haven’t already–you gotta love an addicting neighborhood mystery told with wit and humor). But I think I’m at least in the stalker-with-good-intentions minor leagues.

I hope you all will have a bubbly drink or a slice/scoop of a snazzy dessert (my birthday cake is a homemade Baked Alaska, in case you were wondering) to celebrate my birthday. You deserve it.

Oh, and P.S
If  the universe decides to mess with me and one of you reads this and knows exactly what song I’m talking about, I swear I’ll have a freaking heart attack.

Cheers!

Musical Momisms for Mother’s Day

8 May

Happy Mother’s Day!

I heard this song last year on my favorite Los Angeles radio station  (101.1 FM, in case you’re interested), and thought it was so funny and cute. Maybe you and your mom (or you and your kids) could watch it together and have a few laughs. Or better yet–reenact it! Wouldn’t that be a cute (and cheap) Mother’s Day present? You’re welcome.

Have a happy day!

My Fair Lady Redone: I Doubt It Will Be Loverly

20 Feb

Preface:
You may recall that although I’m confused by perky people, I love me a musical. If you are unfamiliar with My Fair Lady (Oh my word! How could that be?), this post may mean very little to you. I urge you to go out and rent the movie. Go ahead. I’ll wait here.

I just found out that one of my favorite movie musicals, My Fair Lady, is going to be redone and I am not pleased. I am against messing with a classic and I am particularly loyal to that musical. At eight years old, I could sing every word of “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?” and because I don’t do musical reenactments halfway, I could sing it with the cockney accent and everything. I would watch the nearly 3 hour movie over and over until my grandma threatened to take away my parasol. (Well, you can’t act out that fabulously fashionable racetrack scene without a parasol…)

Just you wait Henry Higgins! You'll fall for Eliza eventually!

The feminist in me is  embarrassed to admit how fascinated I am with the romance in My Fair Lady. It doesn’t matter how many times I watch Mr. Higgins’ terrible treatment of Eliza. (She ate marbles because of that man! He called her a heartless guttersnipe!) He wins me over by the time he breaks into “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face.” (Incidentally, I believe that’s one of my top 5 favorite musical songs.) That part at the end, after Eliza has left him and he’s at his mother’s house? He looks at his feisty mom and says bewilderedly “She’s gone. What….what am I to do?” Boom. Give me a Team Higgins shirt and fetch the man his damn slippers, I’m hooked.

It’s terrible and I’m ashamed of myself, but there it is. I’ll bet the same side of my brain that goes gooey for Henry Higgins is also responsible for my unreasonable love for the musical Grease–another musical that doesn’ t send the best message for females. I’ll have to ask my cog-sci major friend. Maybe my amygdala is more of a Pygmalion-ygdala.

There’s talk that the upcoming remake of My Fair Lady will feature Colin Firth as Mr. Higgins. In fact, Sony allegedly won’t make the film without him. Now, Mr. Darcy Colin Firth is a fine actor. He is the MASTER of the quiet, emotionally-tortured facial expression. I dig him in Bridget Jones’ Diary. (You could say that I like him just the way he is.) I even liked him in Mamma Mia and What a Girl Wants. Everyone thinks he’s all but guaranteed the Oscar for The King’s Speech. But hear me now: I just don’t see him as Mr. Higgins. He’d have to be arrogant and slightly verbally abusive and “too cool” to joyfully leap out of his chair when the woman he loves comes home to him. Henry Higgins is not quiet and he’s not awkward and cutie Colin will not have the chance to show how sad his eyes can look. I can see him as Colonel Pickering, maybe, but not Henry.

I just think they should leave well enough alone. Can’t you Hollywood hotshots come up with NEW ideas? Remember, trying to re-do an already wonderful film is an uphill battle. If you screw around with the story or the scenes or the characters too much then you’ll have rabid fans after you. (Yes, there ARE rabid musical fans.) And if you stick too closely to the original oldy-but-goody then you run the risk of being accused of copying. The way I see it, you’re damned if you do and damned if you do, so I’ll be damned if I’m going to support you.

…………Okay, yes, there’s a certain twisted irony to my aversion to this remake. The My Fair Lady movie I am stubbornly clinging to was, if you think about it, a remake of the Broadway play with Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison. The Broadway play was an adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion. I’m no Kevin Bacon, but that’s several degrees of un-separation and a history of screwing with the original.

But still. A My Fair Lady remake? No. Just…no.

Even though I know you’ve rushed out and rented and watched the film by now, here’s the ending (with my favorite song) for your viewing pleasure.

Sing-Along With All the Right (Oh My) Words

28 Jan

I recently learned that one of my close friends knows all the words to R.E.M’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know It.” This, as you must know, is an impressive accomplishment—right up there with knowing how to fold fitted sheets and do open heart surgery. This is a pal I’ve known for about eight years and naturally I called her a liar. “Prove it!” I dared. And she did.

My usual reaction to an impressive feat looks something like this. Only cuter, and less naked.

Sure, she missed a few lines because she was laughing at my awestruck facial expression.  But somehow, miraculously, she did know the lyrics. When I sing along to this particular song, my accompaniment ends up being more noise than wordsI’m totally with it at the chorus. I feel fine as I sing that it’s the end of the world as we know it. But the rest of the song? I catch phrases or words. Eye of a hurricane. Book burning. Leonard Bernstein.

I’m pretty proud of the fact that I know all the words to Salt n Peppa’s song Shoop. Random, I know, but it’s something Ellen Degeneres and I have in common. But my friend’s total familiarity with “It’s the End of the World as We Know It” takes the cake. I’m shocked that she can decipher the words, and I’m flabbergasted that she can keep up with the high-speed song. Ever since I discovered her secret skill (maybe I’ll suggest that she put it on her resume), I’ve been thinking about songs that are hard to sing along to. If I met someone who knew all the lyrics to these songs, and could sing them like the real thing, I would be mightily amazed. I think I would even be speechless, which, as the voice of Oh My Words, is the highest compliment I could give you.

*Click the song titles to be taken to a youtube video with appropriate lyrics. I challenge you to sing along!

Dog Days are Over—Florence + the Machine

The radio hasn’t quite ruined this song, and I still attempt to sing along whenever it’s played. Lead singer Florence Welch’s voice is beautiful and mesmerizing but there’s something almost yodel-like about it, no? I’ll admit that during research for this post, I looked up the lyrics and realized that the part of the song that I always thought was just a demonstration of pretty vocal range is actually words. (What do you sing after “the dog days are done?”) That means that I’ve been singing something akin to  Heh oh hee oh heh oh ee la he cooo for no good reason.  

 Dynamo of Volition—Jason Mraz

First off, I love Jason Mraz so if you know the words to this song I’m going to assume that you too are a fan and then I will assume that we have the potential of being best friends or soul mates. I adore Mr. A-Z’s clever lyrics with their interesting rhymes and occasional sexual innuendo. This particular song has the trademark Mraz wit, and it’s fast. In theory, I know the words, but I am incapable of singing them as quickly as him. (There goes my rapping career…darn.)

 Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag—James Brown

I’m not sure why I consider this a difficult song to sing along with. Okay, James Brown’s soul sort of muddies the clarity of the words. But maybe the real reason is that it’s because it’s pretty much scientifically impossible not to dance along to “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag,” so who can spare the brain space and energy to sing too?  I’m not talking about the tapping-your foot-and-bobbing-your-head kind of dancing, but the get-down-and-boogie kind. If you can pay proper dance tribute to this song and sing the words properly you deserve praise, accolades, and a million hits on youtube. (Seriously, could you film yourself singing and dancing because that sounds like a blockbuster to me…..Are you uploading yet?)

One Week—Barenaked Ladies

This song is probably in the same category as “It’s the End of the World As We Know It.” By the time your brain processes the words they’re 12 stanzas ahead of you. I can sing certain parts, but put it all together and I tumble all over myself. In case you’re dying to know, and I’m sure you are, I think my favorite parts of this song that I can never sing along with are:

Gotta get in tune with Sailor Moon/Cause that cartoon/Has got the boom/Anime babes/That make me think the wrong thing.

AND

Like Harrison Ford/I’m getting frantic/Like Sting I’m Tantric/Like Snickers,/guaranteed to satisfy

You Can’t Stop the Beat—from the musical Hairspray

According to the movie trivia on imdb, the cast of the 2007 Hairspray movie called this song “You Can’t Stop to Breathe” because of the speedy singing it demanded. Apparently, Queen Latifah was one of the few who had no problems singing it because of her rapping experience. I found “You Can’t Stop the Beat” with accompanying lyrics on youtube and I’ll tell ya, even when I can read the lyrics as I attempt to sing it’s hard not to gasp for air partway through like a wigged-out fish.

And of course, here’s the song that inspired it all:

Happy singing!