Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday Five: play that funky music, white girl

Mary Beth of the RevGals writes:

The sad news of Michael Jackson's untimely death has me thinking about music and its effects on us - individually, as cultures, as generations. Let's think about the soundtracks of our lives...

1) What sort of music did you listen to as a child - this would likely have been determined or influenced by your parents? Or perhaps your family wasn't musical...was the news the background? the radio? Singing around the piano?

Mmmm...earliest memories include my Close-n-Play, guitar lessons, hearing my mom's accordion ("Lady of Spain," anyone?) all through the house, and looking forward all week to music class at school. Mrs. Ewald, my teacher, was really creative about getting us "hands on" with a variety of instruments, and we sang all the time. In fact, the first songs I ever really took notice of, listening to the words and how they fit with the music, I learned in music class. Here's one of them:
There's a land that I see where the children are free
And I say it ain't far to this land from where we are
Take my hand, come with me, where the children are free

Come with me, take my hand, and we'll live

In a land where the river runs free
In a land through the green country
In a land to a shining sea

And you and me are free to be you and me

Which says to me that I was a sort of utopian, social-justice oriented kid from w-a-y back, ready to be part of the Lesbian Musical Earnestness Wave, a la Indigo Girls, from age 7! :-)

2) Going ahead to teenage years, is there a song that says "high school" (or whatever it might've been called where you lived") to you?
So MANY. So much CHEESE. :-) The list is long and embarrassing. This is more 6th grade, really, but I remember dancing around my bedroom, singing into my Tickle deodorant, to this one. I was pretty sure that I'd grow up to be one of her backup singers.

3) What is your favorite music for a lift on a down day? (hint: go to and type in a performer/composer...see what you come up with!)

Hmmm...again, LOTS.

Stevie Wonder--Sir Duke
Elton John--Tiny Dancer
Gustav Holst--finale from St. Paul's Suite
Aretha Franklin--Natural Woman
Indigo Girls--Get Out the Map
Beethoven--last few minutes of last movement of 9th Symphony ("Ode to Joy" part)
Billy Joel--Just the Way You Are
Captain & Tennille--Song of Joy (no link, sorry)
Patti LaBelle--Ready for a Miracle
Sarah McLachlan--Ordinary Miracle

And, of course, any really good choral music (soft spot for spirituals), cranked up LOUD. Beloved and I used to sing with this group, and had the privilege of singing this particular piece under the baton of its composer, in his guest stint with us. We had a group of friends sing it at our wedding.

4) Who is your favorite performer of all time?

There's been so much brilliant music...where do I begin? I love Jessye Norman's ability to completely mesmerize an audience; YoYo Ma's joy; the way music seeps from Bobby McFerrin's pores; the Indigo Girls' laid-back honesty; Bonnie Raitt, Lyle Lovett and Keb Mo's effortless cool and amazing musicianship, Aretha Franklin's willingness to leave everything on the stage. Basically, anyone with the chops to write a lyric that says something honestly and poetically, pair it with an evocative musical setting and present it unabashedly and artistically has something to offer that I want to hear. I can't possibly pick just one.

5) What is your favorite style of music for worship?

Almost all of them...from great, crashing organ music to soaring choirs to joyful Latin/African drums to gospel to one little kid lisping out "Jesus Loves Me" to jazz to Taize to a whole congregation cranked up on "Amazing Grace" to the sound of silence. I can't do a steady diet of vapid, simplistic stuff, and I don't really get the rap thing--but I'm willing to try almost anything once, as long as it points to God instead of itself and finds that taproot of reality and joy. I'll leave you with this:


Shalom said...

Okay, now "Lesbian Musical Earnestness Wave" is my new favorite phrase. :) And great answer to the music worship style question. Thanks for a wonderful play!

Sally said...

WQow, what a great list. Very cool!

Sue said...

Oh my goodness, how could I have forgotten the Captain and Tenille. Definite cheese-fest, but so much a part of highschool. Oh, and the Bee Gees too. Good times. :)

mompriest said...

Yes, some really great selections listed here!!!

Mary Beth said...

Cannot stop smiling! Can't wait to come back and listen to all of your songs, either!

The Close & Play is great! I think I remember that, but we didn' have one.

daharja said...


Can I meme this list and steal it for The Chorister? It's fabulous!

Diane said...

of course, you're the best! too bad it too so long to get over here!

I was in a high school production of Free To Be.... oh my ,brought back memories.

Holly M said...

Hi Choralgirl:)
A great list --it's amazing how I would never have seen myself listening to (or singing) sacred choral music. I listened to Alice Cooper and Elton John, then met my hubby in University and he got me singing Christmas carols. I think you would like our music. Our choir has been together over 30 years now and we raise funds primarily for local charities with our music. Here is my Blog about our choir with links to our videos
Holly M from The Stairwell Carollers:)