10 March 2018

40 Years 40 Songs: 1978 - 1981

When I was a kid, one of my most prized possessions was the mini-boombox I would use to play my cassette tapes and record my favorite songs when they came on the radio. Then as a teenager, after being given my guitar for Christmas, I started writing songs and recording them on blank tapes. Now, of course, there's an app for that. I just press the record button and three minutes later I'm done and my mp3 is ready for uploading.

This definitely falls short of my husband's recording engineering standards, but we are talking about 40 songs here. So, live one-track recordings are the name of the game. That means there might be some flaws. I might cringe a little listening to occasional voice croaks and little stumbles on guitar. Being a non-professional, though, and in the spirit of documenting reality, I'm going to keep the tracks with a couple stumbles. Major screw-ups will get a re-do; I do have some pride.

And now the tracks!

1978 - One Way or Another - Blondie

This is a fun creepy song that I like a lot. It is full of barre chords and my hands are aching by the time I get to the end (more practice and exercises would probably help, but you know, life). Anyway, it is worth it. My research tells me Debbie Harry has sung this song as recently as last year. She is 72. I also found out she went to Centenary College in Hackettstown, NJ. WHAT? (I went to high school a few miles away from there and my first jobs were in the fast food strip of Hackettstown.) Hell yeah!

1979 - (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding - Elvis Costello (Nick Lowe)

So Elvis Costello recorded and released this song in 1979, but I found out that it was actually written by Nick Lowe, and the way he plays is much more chill and soulful. I tried playing this song multiple ways at multiple speeds and finally decided to go with the faster punchier version. I like the earnestness of songs like this, but have a hard time writing them myself without sounding like a schmaltzy fool.

1980 - Love Will Tear Us Apart - Joy Division

So a lot of people know that Joy Division were these post-punk pioneers that were maybe on the verge of being the biggest band in the world and then Ian Curtis, the singer, committed suicide. The remaining members formed New Order, who became even more successful, adding some electronic music to the mix. This song is straightforward garage depression rock, I guess, if that's a thing. Their recording has a repeating keyboard part plus grungy guitars and I am missing that cool combo. So you should listen to the original if you haven't.

1981 - Talk of the Town - The Pretenders

Chrissy Hynde is my homegirl. If I have learned anything from this project so far, it is that I love her and every incarnation of The Pretenders. I would maybe form a The Pretenders cover band if I thought I could pull off the effortless cool swagger. Anyway, this is one of their songs, and I like it. I played it on electric in an attempt to capture the warm sound of the recording, but yeah whatever I played it and it was fun.

All right all right all right. I am now 10% complete with my goal. The next installment will have 80's pop front and center plus I'll cover some gritty legends.


04 February 2018

40 Years 40 Songs

I am turning 40 later this year. I didn't plan to make a big thing about it, because--you know--it's just a number, and I'm busy momming it up and don't need to make a big deal about MY stuff because there are constantly big deals to be made about their stuff.

But then we were talking about Chris' birthday (he's also turning 40, sooner in fact), and I had this sort of "pillow talk" epiphany. It was probably birthed out of years of neglecting my prior self and a desire to make the me then relevant to the me now. Also, I think we all need to make peace with aging. Celebrate it, even. Enter my 40 Years 40 Songs project.

The idea is for me to learn how to play one song released each year of my life, starting with 1978 (I'm calling that one song zero). I want to learn them well enough to be able to play them out somewhere if I so choose and then record them. Someday when I am dead my kids can listen to who I was. Thus far I have learned 4 or 5 songs to a decent level, but they need a bit more practice before recording. Once I do start recording them, I will share them here on the old super-neglected bloggity-blog.

I have already learned a few things on this new journey. 1) Callouses are just as painful to acquire the second time around (oh yeah I've played very little guitar in the last eight years). 2) Learning 40 songs is going to take a LOT of woman hours, and the kids are not always going to like it. On the other hand, 3) The kids are starting to get old enough to truly appreciate music in general and guitar in specific and even ME as a musician. I hear the eight-year-old singing the songs I am learning sometimes. She and the five-year-old talk about wanting to learn guitar. Even the three-year-old SOMETIMES wants me to play; she just wants me to play songs from her favorite kid movies. And she has been picking up the guitar to strum a bit herself since it's always laying around. I hope it may inspire them to work on not-for-pay personally enriching projects of their own someday.

So here's the line-up so far!

0. 1978 - One Way or Another - Blondie
1. 1979 - (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding - Elvis Costello
2. 1980 - Love Will Tear Us Apart - Joy Division
3. 1981 - Talk of the Town - The Pretenders
4. 1982 - Atlantic City or Mansion on the Hill - Bruce Springsteen
5. 1983 - 99 Luftballons - Nena
6. 1984 - Hold Me Now - Thompson Twins
7. 1985 - Time - Tom Waits
8. 1986 - There is a Light that Never Goes Out - The Smiths
9. 1987 - Wanted: Dead or Alive - Bon Jovi

I reserve the right to change these, but I have already started learning most of them. Stay tuned for future developments if you like. Or, if not, at least I will have this project good and documented for the children and stuff.

14 October 2014

October 17th

My baby is now scheduled. And it's only three days away.

10 September 2014

Quotable Quotes

"Me not a person. Me a boy!" -- Munchkin #2

"Me want cookie! Me want cookie!" -- Cookie Monster and Munchkin #2

"I didn't hit her. I pounded her all over!" -- Munchkin #1, at age 3?

"Only God can make a sphincter." -- A colorectal surgeon

22 July 2014

Updates! I got your updates here!

If the 1-5 of you are curious, things are happening. Sort of big things. Not huge things like we discovered an ancient civilization, but things.

Like thing #1, which should maybe be labeled #3, is that another child/parasite is growing inside me. Yup, we have a little girl coming in October. I'm about six months along, and other than the pretty dang debilitating pneumonia I had for a couple weeks in early April, everything has gone very well. I think we are ready for our family to grow one more, though I will not be surprised if I have a short and intense crying fest to mourn the loss of our current family unit on the way to the hospital. Just because I really like those kids. The new one is nameless, which is fine, but I feel like we start this naming thing later every time. We might just have to go with the nurse's name in the hospital or something. Poor kid, we do very much want you. I think you might just complete us.

Thing #2 is I guess what the heck I do with my copious spare time (aka 9-11 pm). I had been basically googling for a living, but I eventually got canned for not thinking enough like all the other googlers. It's an okay gig if you can get it and stick to it. Not incredible pay, but somewhat steady if you are just trying to make up a small income deficit. I worked with a company called Leapforce. Anyhow I have now started something completely new that may or may not pay anything. I am attempting to write things. Like articles. For the internet. I just wrote an article about gardening tonight, because you see

Thing #3 is we have a garden in our back yard. It has required a lot from us up front, but less recently. The yield has been lackluster so far, but still there is something magical about washing your own dirt off your own lettuce. We have two very pretty sunflowers blooming right now and some tomatoes ripening, so that's something. But anyway I figured I'd try to recoup some of our investment by writing an article. I'm not even near to approaching trying to be an expert on the subject, but I have learned a lot and figured I may as well spew all of that out in written form, which ended up being a 20-point annotated checklist.

A kid update probably deserves its own post, but how about just one adorable picture?

10 April 2014

how to play dead monsters

Run around shouting "AAAAAAAAAA" and then fall down. Repeat.

Another fun game to play is turn on some music and run around your mom in circles while chasing your sibling.

12 March 2014


It's been a while.


Watch the neck, sister

Okay, that's better