Memorizing Lyrics

As you may have read once (maybe twice) I've gotten very much into Green Day lately. I have Dookie, American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown in the car and listen to them all just about every time I drive somewhere. What is interesting is that, even after all this time, I still stumble over a lot of lyrics. I realized a very important reason why. 

I'm not 11 or 12 anymore. Also, I'm not listening to records on a record player.

Not sure if this is a girl thing or a tween/teenage thing in general, but think back (those of you of a certain age) to when you were a tween/teenager and we had to listen mostly to records -- actual records. And this generally meant you loaded up the records and put the needle on and you listened to the whole side, then turned it over and listened to the other side. (Actually, even when cassette tapes came out there was a time before the "stop between songs" technology came about and you did the same thing.)

I remember spending what seemed like HOURS lying in my room, listening to music, writing in my diary journal, writing letters to family or my German pen pals or just studying the album covers -- inch by inch. I'm sure I also spent time copying the song lyrics into notebooks or on book covers. That connection of fairly focused listening for hours at a time and writing down the lyrics over and over made memorizing the words so ingrained. For example, I think I could still sing most of the way through most of the songs on this album:


For good or for ill, I could. Hey, if a picture paints a thousand words, then why can't I paint you? The world will never know the you I've come to know, etc. I can do the same with Jim Croce and John Denver and Carly Simon and Carole King and some (not all) of the Carpenters.

So I find myself frustrated that I don't know the lyrics to Green Day like I know the lyrics to any of the above. I'm a little nostalgic for that beautiful free time we had when we were able to just listen and take in all that music, getting to know the words like we had written them. 

I'll keep working on my Green Day memorization. And I'll keep feeling 12 (which is a good thing on so many levels.)

Green Day Saves My Soul

Tuesday night was Green Day at the Forum.

I'll be honest. I cried. More than once.


I've never been to a concert this big (approx. 18,000 people) and I've never been to a proper "rock concert." The hardest concert I've been is, Police? This was new. But walking in I knew it wasn't going to be some mosh pit stage diving insanity. There were tons of people our age and older and tons of people our age and older with their kids -- young kids, 8, 9, 10 year olds. That was awesome to see. Green Day has been around for 22 years so it makes sense.

We got to our seats just as the opening band, Franz Ferdinand was finishing their short set. They ended with a scottish pipes and drummer group on stage. Then the stage was reset and shortly after 9pm Green Day walked from the very back of the floor area to the stage, along the sides. They started with 21st Century Breakdown, which set me off crying immediately, along with jumping up and down and waving my arms around, like you do. Then they played Know Your Enemy and that was great. 


Everyone was on their feet the whole time and we had binoculars to watch up close (thanks Debra and Chris!). We lucked out on seats, not in their location so much (you can see how high/far we were) but because there were just two seats together in that particular spot. Even though we were far, I didn't feel that far away from the show, because the the entire place is the show, the people around you, the energy, the joy, the noise, that is all part of the show and it was tremendous.

For a perfect example, they started the song Boulevard of Broken Dreams, which is slower song and Billie Joe (the lead singer for you non Green Day fans) sang the first line and then the crowd took over. Everyone (including me) sang almost the whole first part of the song. Billie Joe just stood there, holding the microphone up, then just listened, then bowed down, then walked back to the middle of the stage and got on his knees, listening. It was a really cool, dare I say, powerful moment. Thousands of people singing a song about loneliness, together. Phenomenal. 

When Basket Case started, the crowd went wild, but not more than the guy in front of us. Oh man. There were two kids in front of us, 15 maybe? The taller one practically went into convulsions, putting his hands to his face and bending over yelling "Oh my god! Oh my god!" (and I couldn't hear the rest.) "Stoked" doesn't seem to come anywhere near to covering what he felt. I tapped him on the shoulder and handed him the binoculars. He was beyond crazy happy. He handed them back after a short time but I then handed them to his friend, who watched for a few minutes then handed them back to me, also stoked. I know they probably wouldn't like to hear it but they were adorable.

When the opening drums/bass riff to Longview started, the kid went into convulsions again and I wished he were at the front of the stage because for Longview, Billie Joe said "Who knows the words to this song? Seriously, who knows all the words?" He then picked out a kid from the front of the floor gang and had him pulled up on stage. The kid was maybe 14 or 15 and hugged Billie Joe first off. Then Billie Joe handed him the mic and let the kid rip. And the kid ripped! He sang that song and ran around the stage like he'd been doing it his whole life. Oh man. It was great to have the binoculars then so you could see how crazy happy the kid was. When the song ended, Billie Joe had him stage dive into the crowd. Awesome!


Later he did a similar thing with Jesus of Suburbia, saying to the crowd "Who can play the guitar?" and he pulled a 21 year old guy with long hair up to play on the song. That guy also worked that stage like he had been on tour for ages. But looking close with the binoculars, you could tell it was not pre planned or anything. That guy was over the moon. He also got to stage dive off.

The show was three hours total, which amazed me because it all just flew by. Billie Joe talked a lot between songs, yelling at the crowd to get up, get your hands up. Saying that we are all here right now, there are no tvs, no computers no cell phones -- just this moment right now. This moment of hope. (No really, that's what he said!) He talked about how awesome California is and how happy they were to be here. In fact, after the crowd sang the whole first part of Boulevard of Broken Dreams, he said, and it sounded and looked like he was pretty stoked, "That's Los Angeles!" Later he told a funny story about being on Sunset Blvd, outside a bar, arguing with his wife on the cell phone one Friday night last year and a guy driving by yelled "Hey Billie Joe! Fuck You! Fuck Green Day!" Then the guy's car was stopped in Friday night Sunset Blvd traffic and Billie Joe said to his wife "Can you hang on a second?" and then he ran over to the car, dove through the window and started beating the guy up. Then he dove back out the window and into the bar and finished the call with his wife, saying "I love you." I can't quite explain why, but I love that story because it is SO LA.

The bass player, Mike Dirnt, ran around the stage a lot, but generally stayed pretty low key. I loved it when he would walk out onto the small catwalk part of the stage into the crowd and would touch the end of his base to people's heads and hands, like he was anointing them with the music. Tre Cool is just kind of a spaz, throwing his drumsticks behind him after every two or three songs. He would occasionally get up and run around the stage. Next to his drum kit was a small table with a fan and a plastic drink cup with paper umbrella. And Billie Joe -- just all over the place, yelling and swearing and tearing it up, but in such a positive, funny, good spirit.

We had earplugs, but I couldn't use them the whole time, I would take them out and put them back in. My ears are still ringing a bit, but it was worth it. The music wasn't so bad, it was the screaming crowd that really hurt the eardrums!

They did the usual "good night!" and then came back for another 40 minutes. The encore started with American Idiot (gawds I love that song) and ended with just Billie Joe on an acoustic guitar playing three slower songs, ending in Good Riddance. Now, Good Riddance will make me cry EVERY TIME because of one of the most touching moments I remember on tv. It was when ER was good in the 90's and Jeanie Boulet was friends with the chief surgeon's son who was 12 and had cancer. The kid listened to Green Day and when he died, she sang Good Riddance a capella at his service. It was mind blowingly moving. (Yes, I am a pop culture junkie, FYI.) Add to that my sister dying of cancer and damn, I'm reduced to a puddle when that quiet guitar starts up. 

This was how it looked for those last slow songs at the end: 


Green Day has been saving my soul this year. I have hooked into their music because it allows me to express anger and fear and rage in a "healthy way" while I drive along, yelling the lyrics, pounding the steering wheel. I mentioned this to a friend recently and he asked "what are you angry about?" and without hesitation I said "My sister dying." Quite frankly, I'm fucking pissed. So Green Day has helped me, continues to help me express myself out loud. I don't know how I'd be doing it otherwise. 

Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go
So make the best of this test, and don't ask why
It's not a question, but a lesson learned in time

It's something unpredictable, but in the end it's right.
I hope you had the time of your life.

So take the photographs, and still frames in your mind
Hang it on a shelf in good health and good time
Tattoos of memories and dead skin on trial
For what it's worth it was worth all the while

It's something unpredictable, but in the end it's right. 
I hope you had the time of your life. 

I had a great time, Green Day, thank you. Thank you for saving my soul.


(There's me telling the world (well, Facebook and Twitter) how happy I was after the concert. All photos by Kurt Frey taken on his iphone. Kurt was a good sport for going with me!)

Punk Rock And Me

Yeah. I'm not really that punk rock. More of a poser really. But listening to Green Day (I know, I know, bear with me...) has really made me feel good. I think it's because I can sing/shout and pound my hands on my steering wheel to the music, which is "acceptable" in our society. Really what I want to do is scream and yell and break things and run and run and run until I can't run anymore, until I can barely breath. 

Most of it is my sister being dead. How could she leave me and my mom and her kids this way? How could she be so selfish? The preppie-square in me says: Stop it. You are the one being selfish. I say: Fuck you, square-preppie me, I'm pissed off, leave me alone.
I want to pound on the drums, which really means I want to break things. There is so much to get out. But in moments of mellow-ness, when the volume on 21st Century Breakdown is not rattling the windows in the car, I think: Okay, I can't suddenly be a rock and roll drummer and sit down at a drum kit and beat out some cathartic rhythms. What can I do? How can I express all this? Writing. How can I be a punk writer? Wait, do I have to be a punk writer? Doesn't that mean I just want to be HONEST? 

Yes, that's it. Honest. True. Harsh even, in some situations. My punk side says: Stop being such a pussy and write what you feel! My preppie-square side says: ooooh, scary!

Time to really get over it. Stop being so afraid. 

Time to bang out some truth.

Friday Musings on Music and Grief

@traviskoplow tweeted:

When I'm stressed I listen to the same music over and over. This week, Gang of Four. Over and over. I think it's some mild autism thing.

I think it's perfectly normal. 

Though lately with grief, it's almost harder to listen to music because it opens up so many floodgates of memories and emotion. Sometimes you need some distance. But when I worked at Imagworks in the 90's and especially on the two big FX Producing jobs I did here, Contact and Godzilla, I listened to comfort music. 

On Contact I would come in really early, like at 5:30, to get three hours of uninterrupted work time in. (I shared a big office with three other people.) I might listen to classical or movie soundtracks -- soothing background sounds. But there were days when only "Southern Cross" by Crosby, Stills and Nash would do. Not the album it's on. Just that one song. Over and over and over. It made me think of Hawaii and the ocean and night time. Specifically it reminded me of going on the trip to Kahoolawe my senior year of high school when we took a huge catamaran over at 3am and you could see the southern cross on the way over. That was a strange and great trip.

On Godzilla it was Madonna Ray of Light -- the whole album this time. I would just play the whole thing on repeat most afternoons. I love that album to this day. It's my favorite of Madge's.

Now, of course you know of my current obsession with Green Day. There are days when I most love the song with the first line "I'm Not Fucking Around!" If you are in a mood, that is a great one to sing along to. Anger issues much? Perhaps and I'm working my way around to expressing them better in writing. Just not today. Thanks Green Day. 

(We got our tickets to the concert, by the way. YAY!)

Whitelotus    Whitelotus  Whitelotus  Whitelotus  Whitelotus  

Speaking of grief, a blogger friend's mom died a few weeks ago, unexpectedly. I have been thinking about him and how he's doing almost every day. Then yesterday I heard here at work that Jesus, the maintenance guy who's been here since I was here in 1996, his father died. Someone was taking a collection of money to help him get back to Mexico so I ran down to throw a bunch of money in the pot.

Because it's been ten years since I've been here full time, I hardly know anyone in the building anymore and they don't know me, which is fine. What is pleasantly surprising is that the parking attendants, the maintenance crew and the recycle collectors are all the same and I know them and often chat with them, catching up about their families, etc. They are like the foundation here, the one constant that doesn't seem to change. It's comforting. Which is why when I heard about Jesus, my heart was in my throat thinking about him going home for his dad's funeral. 

Loving Green Day

Here's a funny, unexpected thing about marriage: I listen to a lot less music than I used to. When I was single, I would buy and listen to music on weekends and in the evenings. Now we go and do more stuff or we watch movies or, you know, talk. Somehow music fell by the way side. I've worked at home a lot these past 8 years or have had a very short commute to wherever the work was. And since I don't read newspapers, I usually listen to NPR in the mornings while getting ready or in the car to get news. And when I write, I can't have music playing, or if I do, it's classical for a soothing background.

But something about Green Day has really turned me on. I bought American Idiot when it came out but haven't listened to it thoroughly (yet). Last week I bought the new one, 21st Century Breakdown and am LOVING it.

It might also help that I have a car now where I can play and actually HEAR music. The Acura had a CD player and it got stolen out of the car a few years ago so I just put the old radio/cassette player back in and only listened to the radio. Then I've been driving the Honda and it only has a cassette player and radio, AND only about 1 1/2 speakers. You have to turn it up all the way to even hear at a normal volume. 
Now we have the GTI with 10 (TEN!!!) speakers and an iPod adapter. Dude. I feel like I'm about 20 again, driving with loud music playing. But it's not just the car. Green Day makes some good tunes and I love to sing along and play air drums as I drive. LOVE IT.

And one more thing? I'm going to buy tickets to see their concert in LA in August. I can't even tell you the last music concert I went to. Seriously. I've seen Eddie Izzard in concert 3 times in the last ten years, but music? Hmmmm. Oh, we've seen the Dan Band. Does that count? Last actual band seen? Uh.... Um....seriously, can't remember.

So why not jump start it with Green Day? Don't want to be an American Idiot.

John Denver Trifecta

Today I'm doing bloggy maintenance chores, downloading photos sent to me by friends of Safety Grahpic Fun, adding new posts so I'm covered for a few weeks, setting up the Google Analytics on that site (and this one), etc etc. Actually, it's not a chore at all, it is fun. While I'm sitting here, I like to listen to music but couldn't decide what I wanted. I need something that I know well enough that I wouldn't be trying to hear/understand the words, I can already sing along. Often I listen to classical so I can be entertained but not too distracted. 

Today I had a hankerin' for John Denver. I only have his Christmas album on my iTunes, so I used up the rest of my gift cert from my birthday to buy the three most important albums to me: 

Back Home Again



I make no apologies for my love of these albums (and others of his). They represent some of my best early childhood memories spending time with the Rivas side of the family in the summers, Dor playing the guitar and all of us singing like mad around a campfire or picnic table or living room. But mom had the records too and we listened to them plenty on Oahu and Maui. We even went to see him in concert at the HIC. That was an awesome experience with Mom and Jen and Sloane and Jackie. 

These albums make GREAT road trip music because I know all the words and the time just flies by. They are happy songs, toe tapping songs, philosophical songs, sad songs. And silly songs. They are all good to me. Okay, there is one song I don't love. "Sunshine On My Shoulders". There, I said it.

Did you know he wrote one of the all time great sad songs about life on the road, "Leaving On A Jet Plane"? It was Peter Paul and Mary's only #1 hit.

Love is everywhere I see it
You are all that you are can be, go on and be it
LIfe is perfect, I believe it,
Come and play the game with me.

It Goes Around and Sound Comes Out!

Recently got the 30 year old Technics turntable fixed and we plugged it in today. Now we're spinning a few oldies.  Started with Talking Heads. 

As I type this I'm listening to The English Beat, Special Beat Service. NICE. I don't have this one on CD. I miss it. And playing records on this very high tech appliance always makes me think of Paul (and Matt and Joel) as they were music gods and had a GREAT stereo system back then in Sugar Cove. Fun fun fun.

UPDATE: Just finished listening to all of Carole King's Tapestry, skips and pops and all. Made me very melancholy and even teary eyed when it got to "So Far Away". 

Classic Tunes

7113My attitude is coming slowly back to "normal." It's been a long week these last four days. I've sent out emails and made phone calls and set up appointments to find work. We had a great evening of chinese take-out and wine and laughing and tears last night with friends.  That helped with attitude as well as with the jetlag.

This past week I've been listening to a bunch of old music I had loaded into iTunes before leaving. Today I'm listening to George Michael's Listen Without Prejudice. It's almost 20 years old and I still am loving every song and not surprised to find I know 98% of the words.

Listening to Jagged Little Pill is great if you are angry. Awesome songs to yell along to no matter what the topic. 

My plan (while looking for work) is to do a major clean and re-arrange of my office here.  Clean out the cobwebs, file all the bills that have been paid but stacked in an inbox for months, store things that are not being used on a daily basis, make room for lots of good new things to come.

And Facebook now has actual Scrabble so I can waste time while learning new words.