The Blues

“Blues had the pulse beat of the people who keep on going.” By Langston Hughes

Music is your own experience, your own thoughts, your wisdom. If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn. They teach you there’s a boundary line to music. But, man, there’s no boundary line to art.- Charlie “Bird” ParkerI’m a bluesman moving through a blues-soaked America, a blues-soaked world, a planet where catastrophe and celebration- joy and pain sit side by side. The blues started off in some field, some plantation, in some mind, in some imagination, in some heart. The blues blew over to the next plantation, and then the next state. The blues went south to north, got electrified and even sanctified. The blues got mixed up with jazz and gospel and rock and roll. – Cornel West.

The blues are the roots and the other musics are the fruits. It’s better keeping the roots alive, because it means better fruits from now on. The blues are the roots of all American music. As long as American music survives, so will the blues.

Willie Dixon

Everything comes out in blues music: joy , pain , struggle . Blues is affirmation with absolute elegance.

Wynton Marsalis

My mother always told me, even if a song has been done a thousand times, you can still bring something of your own to it. I’d like to think I did that.

Etta James

Once you discover that you can, then you must. And it’s not easy. You have to take direct steps. You really have to count your blessings and you have to make a decided effort to not get seduced by the blues.

Al Jarreau

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Just Google Me….

When you lose all hope in people. In humanity. The disappointments pile up and the hope is pushed to the bottom of the pile. It’s pushed to the bottom of the pile until you don’t see the hope anymore. Despondency.

Disappointment. It’s an important word. It can be the needle in the haystack. It can be the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Or it can be the ending of the beginning or the beginning of the ending.

Last year I went to the big sister/ brother organization to try to be a big sister. I really wanted to give back. I wanted to help another kid. Since I was adopted and came from the foster care system I always wanted to help other kids but didn’t always know how. Anyway I tried to become a big sister. People said when your really sad a great way to get out of that is to help others so I tried. I went to the Big Sister/ Big Brother office for an interview and they really liked me. They liked that I was in the arts and was a singer. The girl who interviewed me was super sweet and we really hit it off.

When I filled out the application I felt the need to be extremely honest when the health part came up. You have to be honest so I told them I had bi-polar depression but I was under a doctor’s care.

They said that shouldn’t be a problem but we do have to check with a therapist if you’re seeing one and I had just lost my therapist because she left the office. They reached out to a woman I had only seen once or twice. Well that was a mistake because she didn’t know me.

She told them no. Don’t let her be a big sister. That was so wrong. This ” therapist” was very odd and after I saw her three times I stopped. She didn’t believe anything I told her. I told her I was a singer. She wouldn’t believe it. All she had to do was google my name and she could see I was a singer. It’s not like I was saying I was Aretha Franklin. I mean just google me for God’s sake. How is she going to help me if she doesn’t believe anything I tell her about myself. She kept talking about Jesus All the time, not even knowing if I was a Christian or not which is extremely unprofessional. She wasn’t gonna he able to help me so I stopped seeing her. She didn’t believe me, she assumed I was delusional for some reason. I wasn’t and the prior therapist knew that.

I asked her why she told the big sister people NO and why I shouldn’t be a big sister and she said because it isn’t about you. I said I know it isn’t about me, it’s about the child and I want to help a child. I think I can offer them something good.

So long story short I was told by the big sister organization that they unfortunately had to decline my application because of what this ” therapist ” said. They said they really thought long and hard about the decision and they were so sorry. All because of Someone I had seen twice or three Times. ..I was so disappointed.

Disappointments.

They came and often. So much that I decided to expect them. I probably invited them after a while. It became what was comfortable. It was like an old friend that I despised but also kept inviting back to my home. Why?

I didn’t know how to stop inviting this old friend. It was familiar. It became part of my routine, a daily occurrence. They were welcomed along with anger and sadness and loneliness and frustration and hopelessness. After a while I knew no other way. I was so tired. All the time I was tired.

Was my lack of success self-imposed?  Something Denzel Washington said in the movie Roman J. Israel Esq. I connected with that statement. Probably partly so although I did try. I did try so hard to succeed. A Great movie by the way if You haven’t seen it yet. So good. Denzel  Washington was at his best playing a “socially awkward” on the Autistic Spectrum Character and what chaos that can bring even with a super-sized heart. He said, “I’m sick of doing the impossible for the ungrateful.” I felt the same way.

There comes a time where you realize you break free from your own chains of chaos and destruction or you drown. You have to find a way out or you don’t. It is up to you.

I went to the office for a training for big sister / big brother and I was just as qualified if not more to be a part of this organization. I had more love in my heart than most of the people in that room, I could feel it.

I could have omitted that I was bipolar on the application form but that would be untruthful. Dishonest.

At the time I was so sad about this decision but I decided to let it go and maybe try again at a different time. I still haven’t found a good therapist. It is almost impossible to find one because I have tried. They are over whelmed with patients. There is so many that aren’t very good and the good ones either don’t take your insurance or they can’t fit you in or they are just too expensive. The rise in people seeking therapy has risen dramatically of late and the market is flooded.

Disappointments. I’ve had a few.

I can say at one time I didn’t think I would make another day. Not one more day. But I kept on truckin’.

I had to let it play out because what if one day something wonderful were to happen.

What if one day a dream would come true. Sometimes I stayed alive to please others. I didn’t want to hurt my parents. If I left the earth the people I left behind would pay the consequences and sorrows of my decisions and the complexity of that stayed in my mind. I felt it not fair to them. So I kept on truckin’.

I’ve always been a Robert Crumb fan. Lol.

Sometimes I tried to indirectly end my life in self-destruction and self loathing. That didn’t work. I was still here.

Disappointments.

I learned people will disappoint you. Almost always. There were a few who didn’t and I will cherish them to the day I do leave this earth. Very few but there were a few. I had a couple of north stars in my life. Thank god.

But even with that I learned that I would have to pull myself up first. There is no one else really. It’s all up to me.

That’s when it changed for me. The light inside turned back on and I decided it’s me and me. We are either gonna do this or not do this. If we are gonna do this we need to do it right.

As Soon as I decided that I realized another level of internal strength I didn’t know I had. It was almost like a door that opened to a new floor that had been locked all these years. A floor with golden doors and plush carpet and lots of purple and kittens and puppies.

Romans 8:18

“Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.”

A door so bright and so vivid that I still needed my sunglasses. This floor was there all the time. I just didn’t have the right key to unlock it.

People say it’s only you that can make you happy. I think that is true because you have to love yourself before you can love someone else but once you get to that floor things are clearer. Love is there. Loving someone and having them love you back is an amazing gift. And as Nat King Cole taught us there is nothing greater than to love and be loved in return.

I thank god every day for the gifts I am receiving now. The love I am receiving. The love I am giving. I am so full of gratitude and on some days I cannot stop smiling. I am so happy I decided to keep on truckin’ because if I gave up and gave in I would never have experienced the gold doors and the plush carpet and the purple colors that are blinding me with righteousness and brightness and glory. I have seen the eye of god and the eye of the devil. I have seen them both. I looked them both dead on and saw the reflection of myself in their eyes. I had to choose… more disappointments or more love. I chose love.

I am a big sister now metaphorically and I am so happy to be one! I am a baby sister. I am a friend and a lover and a daughter. I am me. I am in love. I love my neighbors. I love my brothers and sisters. All kinds. I love all the animals and the trees and all that is living and sharing this planet with me. I am so grateful and full of gratitude.

I hope one day you will find the key to the floor with the golden doors if you have not yet found it. It is there waiting to be unlocked. I know. It is waiting for you.

I love you.

Love and Happiness,

Jloz

A Night at Legends- Chicago Bound

So on my way driving to Minneapolis I stopped off in Chicago. It has been about 25 Years since I’ve been back. I was going to go the same place I went last time I was in Chicago. I was headed over to Buddy Guy’S Legends. One of the best blues bars in the world owned by Chicago’s very own Legend, Buddy Guy. He has always been a blues hero for me. I was hoping he would be there, it was ten days before Christmas so he could very well be there. Good news he was! The last time I went to Legends 25 years ago he was there as well. Just standing against the wall. I didn’t even notice him until he smiled and then I saw his gold BG ring and I realized who he was. There was a private CD release party going on and I kind of crashed it.

Any Way the first time I went I had no camera but I stayed at this Russian owned hotel called the spa motel. Very cheap, very clean. I got to Legends, different location but Buddy’s Bar and I got to Chicago B.L.U.E.S and saw Son seals. I went to Kingston Mines and saw Magic Slim and the teardrops. I also went over to the historic Maxwell Street to soak in some Blues history. Here’s some vintage pictures of Maxwell Street. When I was on Maxwell Street is was like a glorified swap meet and I it was very cold so there were a lot of garbage cans fires burning strong. 

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This time I didn’t have a lot of time but I made sure to spend a night at Legends. The staff was amazing, the wings were so good and the Buddy Guy Beer hit the spot after driving 500 miles. I saw three acts and then Buddy graced the stage with the Lindsey Alexander Band. It was super lucky to have met Buddy Guy and take this picture. I cannot express how much Joy I got from his music and performances.

http://www.buddyguy.com

The line up was:

LINSEY ALEXANDER w/ Dave Weld

Acoustic Set by Fruteland Jackson. I loved him. 

All the shows were so great. I wish I had got more pictures of the second act. I must have been talking. Met some great folks there that night. 

Here are some pictures of the night.

Damn Right I got the Blues!

 

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For those that don’t have Java I posted the pictures in two different ways.

“They say the blues is sad, but when B.B. sings ‘I got a sweet little angel, I love the way she spreads her wings,’ that don’t sound too sad to me!”

— Buddy Guy

“I’ve never missed a gig yet. Music makes people happy, and that’s why I go on doing it – I like to see everybody smile.”

— Buddy Guy

“Listen to the lyrics – we’re singing about everyday life: rich people trying to keep money, poor people tying to get it, and everyone having trouble with their husband or wife!”

— Buddy Guy

Thanks for giving us the Blues Buddy and making us SMILE. We Love you!

Love and Happiness

Jloz

D for Deranged. 

When I started this blog I knew I was going to be honest about my life and mental illness. I knew it would be cathartic and cleansing for me. I also knew there would be some backlash. I told myself to be honest even if it gets scary. I told myself to tell the good and the bad because that’s life. Even when bad stuff happens I know there is a nugget of truth or wisdom I can take from it. God knows that’s the truth. If there’s one thing I learned in all of the pain; I learned that if you survive it;  it produces something genuine and sinuous. There is a gracefulness of movement in my body and my mind. I don’t mean in the traditional sense but a new-found comfort with myself and how I move emotionally and physically. It’s hard to describe but I am doing the best I can.

I went to a Jam the other day to sing. It was the first time going there and it’s was super fun. I will definitely go back. I met a lot of nice people, musicians etc. When it was my time to get up and sing I was telling everyone what key I was going to sing in so I said Born under a bad sign in D like dog.  Then the Drummer looked at me and said, you mean D for Deranged. I said, what did you just say? I said interesting choice of words.

He just had this weird smile on his face. I was smiling, positive and then he said that. It does hurt because I’m sensitive. It hurts because I try so hard to start over and live a peaceful life. I don’t do well with people attacking me. Especially people I don’t know. If your honest about having a mental illness whether you’re in recovery or not you will have to expect this. I don’t know this man and he damn sure doesn’t know me so he had no right to say that because I am certainly not deranged. The other part of this is I am a woman who does speak her mind. I also let others speak their mind and I will listen but A lot of men hate on that. They call you all sorts of names and your just supposed to take it, like woman aren’t supposed to have an opinion. I told a friend the other day; I said no one is letting me be the new me and it’s so frustrating and he told me to write it down. Yeah write that down. So I did.

It took me a long time to realize how to help myself  but I did. It’s a lot of suffering and a lot of work but I’m doing it and that’s why comments like this is so hard to take. So I wrote it down. No one is letting me be the new me.  I looked at it over and over and I realized why he told me to write it down. I think he told me to write that down because he was telling me they don’t get to choose. You get to choose. You get to choose what and who you react too. What and who you give power too. I already know this. It’s up to me; not them. I know this in my brain but in my heart; it is still not sure; its latent and slow. I might be a bit of a Pollyanna and want to live in a world where everyone loves each other. I never thought Pollyannaism was a bad thing.

I have talked about this before that the stigma for mental health is so severe and negative compared to someone who is suffering from cancer etc. I can focus on the wonderful people I met that night or the few guy’s who weren’t so kind. I was warned by some people that there might be some people there to try to hurt me. It’s up to me what to focus on. I am training my brain to focus on the positive people and forget about the angry negative cruel ones.

Everyday I am getting better, stronger and a little less sensitive. I will always be honest, I will probably still say the wrong thing sometimes but my heart is in the right place. I will apologize if I hurt you and I will still love you no matter what. I love the guy that called me deranged and I love the others guys that stood in front of me when I sang and told me how old I looked. I knew they were trying to intimidate me and that’s cool. If that’s how they want to spend their evening so be it. Sometimes I get mad and forget what it is I’m trying to do. But when I am alone and with myself in solitude I realize then again that I love you all.

I have no room in my heart for any hate; it’s puffed up with love. Peace.

Love and Happiness,

Jloz

 

ROOM 203

 

Mark Twain Hotel, 345 Taylor St. Jan. 22, 1949

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This story is the reason I think there is a connection, a destiny, and maybe an existentialist thread from the moment were born to the moment we die. It’s not a big story but it is big story to me and I’ll tell you why. It proves a point, about destiny and how just maybe our subconscious and our dreams  know what we are to become even before we understand it ourselves.

When I was eleven I went on a plane for the first time. It was a pretty big deal. My parents and me were going to California. I remember the trip and some of the stuff we did. It was a big deal because we always went to the jersey shore for a week if we could afford it but this was big for my parents. This trip was the trip of a lifetime for my them at the time. We did all the typical tourist stuff that tourists do. We went to a wax museum and Universal Studios. We saw Alcatraz. We visited my parents friends in San Francisco and they took me on a canoe ride right under the golden gate bridge. That was beautiful. We went to China Town in San Francisco and we drove down that famous windy road. We rode cable cars and we drove on that scary and breathtaking Pacific Coast Highway . We saw the Big Redwoods.  We even went to Carmel, Clint Eastwood Territory. I remember there was a store there that was just for lefties. Everything in the store was for a southpaw.. I’m a lefty I thought that was cool. I remember we couldn’t find a hotel one night and we thought we would have to sleep in the car. Back then we didn’t have computers and or phones to help us know what to do and my parents were not savvy travelers because they never really traveled. It was a great trip but I was eleven and not very present but I had as much fun as I could at the time.   I remember we were staying in a hotel in San Francisco  and we were walking to a restaurant and I guess we were right on the edge of the red light district because there were prostitutes everywhere. I really liked the restaurant because it  had a salad bar and an ice cream bar and a live band and I never saw anything like that before. I mean give an eleven year old unlimited ice cream and well yeah..that’s cool. .My parents knew how much I liked that restaurant so we went back the second night and again we walked past the prostitutes .  .. each time feeling a bit out-of-place but I liked it. My Parents not so much.  I was always attracted to  Gritty ..even as a young kid. I didn’t like that the girls were prostitutes but I liked the feeling in the air, there was life going on, different from the boring suburbs. There was an energy  I felt that my soul was attracted too instantly. I always felt like a prisoner in the suburbs. It was depressing for me.  I used to walk along 42nd street a lot when I was 16 or 17 and I thought it was cool. I would hang out in the village but I would walk down 42nd street to get back to the port authority.  Pimps always thought I was a run-a-way and I would tell them..no I’m just from Jersey.  🙂  Ha Ha.  I will never forget Gypsy the pimp. He was dressed in all red leather, it was the eighties, Eddie Murphy was popular. He had a red leather cowboy hat to match and a lot of gold chains. His chest was showing thru his red leather jacket  Gypsy The Pimp, I never forgot him.  I met up with twice; not on purpose of course. He had a great memory because he remembered me. I of course remembered him.  He would walk me to the port authority and he would ask me questions along the way and he was very polite and very likable..and in there lies the problem. He wasn’t dumb. God bless his next victim. Both times when I got to the port Authority Gypsy would say Au Voir my little friend, and them he would yell. Your too pretty to be from New Jersey and would flash that big smile.

I used to think about how smart and charismatic Gypsy was and what might he had become if he had been allowed to be something else.

So Anyway, back to San Francisco.

The name of the hotel we were staying at was The Mark Twain Hotel.  Now this is the part of the story that freaks me out. I never understood why but I loved that hotel. I mean I really loved it. When we got there we walked into the lobby and the bell hop was super friendly and bent down and gave me a sticker, like an oval one you see on everyone’s cars now a days with initials on them. The sticker was brown and it read the Mark Twain Hotel and it had a clipper boat on it. I loved getting that sticker and the bell man was very nice too me. First Impressions and all.  I really liked the lobby, it was kind of dark, lots of Mahogany I think and it had a feeling ..old ..like stuff happened there…you know like history. I just felt it and I liked it. It was instinctual.

We went up to the room and it was really small. I remember reading that some of those rooms were really small because back in the day they were  made small for the maid or butler quarters. ….for the help that traveled with their uh ..employers or masters…ok I said it….You know rich people would bring their help and the small rooms were for them. So anyway the room was really small. I think I slept on a cot. The bathroom was so small and it had one of those old-fashioned sinks and the bathtub had feet. The walls were covered with small square tiles. I loved everything about that room. My parents weren’t thrilled but I was loving it. Ok so here we are in a really old hotel near the red light district and I was happy and didn’t want to leave. Now I don’t know why I loved that hotel so much, I do like vintage old stuff and was attracted to that even as a young kid. There was something else though….Something I felt about it….I felt that history, I mean it is called the Mark Twain Hotel. The literary history was dripping in the air. The only time I felt that again was when I stayed at the Paramount in New Orleans…when I was there so was AL Gore at the time and you know the story was that historically a ton of politicians would  stay there and wheel and deal. The bar tender told me the Blue Room, bar at the Paramount , was famous for shifty wheelin’ and dealin’ going on over a stiff drink…it had that same feel. I believe you can feel stuff  in the air and the way it moves around you ; like a kinetic science of some sort.

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What’s weird though is what happened after. Years went by and I grew up and I never forgot about the Mark Twain hotel. I would think about it all the time. I made a scrap-book out of some pictures I took there at the hotel and I had that sticker that the bell hop gave me in my scrapbook. I couldn’t forget it. The memories were so vivid to me. I even knew what room we stayed because I wrote it in my scrapbook. Room 203.

I recently checked back into the website to see what was going on with the hotel and it was sold. It is now called the Tilden Hotel. Bummer, that must be recent because I looked at it last year and the website still said The Mark Twain Hotel. So in my twenties is when I discovered Billie Holiday and I of course loved her… I was reading some stuff on a website about Billie recently and then I came across something about the Mark Twain Hotel and I started to feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand up….I got a tingle feeling.  On January 22, 1949 Billie was arrested when a raid occurred by federal Narcotic agents at the Mark Twain Hotel. They raided her room for a very small amount of opium and a pipe that they found in her room. This was an ongoing witch hunt from the FBI on Billie. They would try to do anything to destroy her and I believe in the end..they finally did. They eventually took away her NYC Cabaret card preventing her to work or perform anywhere that sold alcohol.

Billie was heartbreak, Billie was beautiful. Billie deserved better.

She wasn’t the only one in the arts that the feds were to crucify but it was a damn shame. So after reading that article I thought to myself was that the reason?  Was that the history I felt. Every hair was standing up on my arms and neck  when I looked at what room Billie got arrested in. I realized it was the same room we stayed in. Unbelievable …it was Room 203!  Here comes the existential thread. The DE-JA-VU. The come full circle of it all. Is this the reason I loved this hotel so much. Did my sub conscious somehow know that Billie was in this very room. Years later I am inspired by her in a way that is mind-blowing for me and as an eleven year old, did my body, my mind , my spirit already know I was connected to something  in room 203?  Something kinetic again, energy is the motion of waves, electrons, atoms, molecules, substances, and objects right, so it was about the way the air felt or moved or somehow my sub-conscience knew that something happened there. Ever since I was 20  I wanted to sing the blues like Billie. I adore her.

This is why I think our bodies and spirits and antennae that is our living human body is much more insightful than we might want to admit. Do our bodies know our destiny when we are small?  Is our destiny in our blood plasma. Is our destiny in out flesh. Is our destiny in our hearts. Is our destiny in the 65 percent water that makes up most of who we are.  All I know it something about that hotel attached to me just like Billie’s songs of heartbreak attached to me and never let go. I thought about it often and never knew why. Maybe this is why. If not and I am wrong and it’s just a coincidence then so be it but it makes a story non the less. I knew I loved to sing when I was eleven but I didn’t know consciously that I would be on a stage doing it. I never thought that would be an option for me.

Now there is a plaque that lies near the entrance of the room. The Billie Room. I didn’t know who Billie was in 1977.  I don’t know if the plaque was there in 1977  but I was there and I never forgot.

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The pictures above are mostly more current pictures of the hotel. I have some of my pictures and one of my dad in front of the hotel right here. This is what the hotel looked like in 1977.

 

 

 

 

Deflated

I was thinking a lot about my dad recently. I go thru periods where I think of him constantly and then I can go weeks without thinking about him at all. If you told me that ten years ago I would have told you that you were crazy. I guess I get caught up in the day to day business of living. I am  always so surprised that I don’t dream about him more. I always thought he would show up in my dreams more. It’s funny how our dreams work. I don’t understand them. They are so random and bizarre. I never dream about the people I love , why is that?  Anyway I was thinking about the blog I wrote called Monsoon in Chinatown; a letter to my father. I wrote that years ago after he died. It was an exercise to help me get over his death.  I posted it below in a previous post. I was told by a therapist it might help to write him a goodbye letter. So I did. It was a long private letter but I posted part of it. I never spoke about the day he died but It was the worst day of my 38  years of living. I felt like writing about it today. I remember being depressed, vacant, sick, scared and well not very present. I was there but I wasn’t there. I think somehow my brain couldn’t handle all the emotion so it shut off. I wasn’t myself and I was somewhere inside myself. I felt like a turtle who went back into it’s shell. I know this seemed distant and selfish to others but I couldn’t be any different at that time.. My brain was in charge. I was who I was then. My life was in shambles and this was the Main Event.

I  went to my parents house on New Years Day, my dad was still with us. I was living by myself and had slept at my apartment the night before. I would have been there already but my biological relatives invited me to go out for New Years Eve. I didn’t want to go but my mom told me to go. I had just found my biological Aunt and she asked me to spend New Years Eve with her and the family. I went. I had been spending a lot of time at my parents house when I wasn’t working watching my father wither away. It was the holidays and I think my mom thought I needed a break so she told me to go out and have fun so I went.

Have fun, what a strange thought.

I was so happy to find my biological  relatives but it was such a bad time for it to happen. I wasn’t in a good place. For many different reasons.

I had spent Christmas Eve sitting with my dad thinking he would pass…but he didn’t. The Christmas Eve I will never forget. It was me and my mom and two of her friends there in the house that night. I was sitting with my dad in his room and we watched the Christmas Story together. That was the last thing we did before he slipped into a coma. In fact the last thing he said to me was a line out of that movie. He was repeating  one of the lines out of the movie over and over.  I can’t watch Christmas story anymore without reliving that night.

I would doze off and wake to his thin frail bony frame staring at me over the railing of the bed. I don’t know if he knew I was there but I think he did. As I was sitting there with him I heard something down the street like singing. I figured it was Christmas Carol Singers so I looked out the window behind my father’s death bed to find about fifty or so people walking up the street. They were holding lit candles and singing. Next thing I knew they were in the house. The minister of my fathers and mothers church came in between Christmas service with half the church behind him. They were all holding candles. It was like one of those sappy  hallmark movies. They loved my dad, the minister loved my dad, the congregation loved my dad, everyone loved my dad. if dad couldn’t be at church the church would come to dad.

I left my dad’s side and went downstairs to be with my mom and all these people who so kindly came to pay their last respects. The minster and his flock.  My mom let them in and as they filed into our small house singing they formed a crescent in the living room and held hands.  My mom stood there with the poise and strength that her generation seems to have mastered. She was the perfect host; kept her game face on for those divine people while I melted. I couldn’t hold it together and it took every molecule of my being not cry out loud. I could feel eyes on me with their kind sympathy.  My mom on the other hand was a strong upright force that was there for them as not to make them feel uncomfortable. I will never forget the look on her face when we all prayed. Her strength was at its glorious best. She was in the hands of her god.

After the prayers had been said and the songs had been sung they left, the candles burned down and there was one more Christmas Eve sermon to be given and they had to get back. I went back upstairs to sit with my dad, my daddy, my best friend.  He made it to Christmas day. In fact he made it all the way to New Years Day. I spent the New years Eve with my new Aunt and her family and then went back to my apartment.  I came back New Years Day morning to be with my mom and my dad, I was depleted emotionally, tired and totally spent as we all were. I went up to see him and then I went back downstairs.  I remember I was watching the twilight zone so as not to think, trying to distract myself from the pain that was all around me. The craziest thing happened. My favorite twilight zone show came on the TV. The reason it is so crazy is because it’s the one with young Robert Redford when he plays the Grim Reaper. That was such a rare show that they never played. It was one of those 24 hour twilight zone marathons that they do on New Years Day .  As I was watching the Charming Redford as the grim reaper conning that poor old lady, my mom came down the stairs crying and told me he was gone. I ran back up to him and watched my mom finally break down. Her life partner for fifty years or so is gone.  I called the funeral home and whomever else I was supposed to call. I watched Mark, the flustered and devastated minister knock on our neighbor’s door before he realized he was at the wrong house.  He was there minutes after my dad passed to help console us. After a while my sisters started to show up with their husbands.

He finally left us on New Years Day and he waited till I got there. I was so glad I was there. Mom thinks he waited to New Years day so that she would get an extra year of his work benefits. I knew he wasn’t ready to die. He was 73, he wanted to enjoy his grandchildren, he wasn’t ready. I saw the looks on his face as he was dying. He knew the cancer had spread all over his body and even though he NEVER complained in the six months he got the cancer and died from it; he couldn’t hide his disappointment from me.

Everything happened quickly, the Hearst showed up from the funeral home and took him away. My sisters were consoling my mom and I was back in my turtle shell. I was in shock I think. After  a while reality sunk in and I had to go back home, My mom wanted to be alone and I had to get ready for the funeral.

I went outside to drive home and as I walked outside I realized my tires were completely deflated. Someone cut my tires on the day that my dad died. Are you kidding me? I just stood there looking at my tires in a state of shock.

Was I really going to have to get my tires fixed on the day I lost my father. I guess so. No one was offering to help so here it is. It is already starting. The one person that would have helped me with my car was gone. After staring at my car for what seemed like an hour.. I had my god damn deflated car towed down to the tire place and got my car fixed.

At that moment I never felt so alone.

I was in the waiting room waiting while they put new tires onto my car. They were not fixable.

There was a woman and child waiting with me in the waiting room and the child kept crying. I felt like I was in a nightmare. My nerves were shot, the child’s screams were killing me.

Then the guy at the desk decided to make a pass at me. WTF…like some kind of sleazy offer with a wink. I remember thinking  if there is a hell I am in it right now. yes..This is definitely hell.

My tires were fixed and I went back to my apartment alone and there I sat ….still.

Thinking about my mom, my dad, what was to become of all of this.

Yes, that was the worst day of my life.

Knowing then that it was also the first day of the rest of my life, a life that would never be the same without him.

 

 

 

Softly and Tenderly Jesus is calling

I went out to the garage to look for a tape recorder so I can tape some jazz standards I am working on and since I moved out of my last home so quickly I have no idea where anything is, everything is in storage and boxes. I hate being disorganized like that. It is very hard for me to not know where my stuff is.  I feel like I am constantly looking for things; like a cd I want to listen to or a book I want to read.

It’s an annoying problem but not an important one.

Anyway I didn’t find the tape recorder but I did find a Song Journal I started years ago, probably in my late mid thirties.

It’s a book I have, a blank Journal basically and I would write my favorite Songs in there, like Lyrics and maybe some commentary about the song or a picture. I opened it up and there was a handwritten foreword there that I must of wrote a really long time ago. It made me laugh because It said exactly what I just spoke about in my last blog about my love affair with music.

This is what it said.

The Only thing sadder than a life without Love would be a life without Music. For without it I could not take another breath. Maybe for a while I would breath but soon I would fade away. Like a flower with no sun, just shrivel up and die. Like a beautiful Bossa Nova being played in a distant café, as you walk away your hearing the music slowly fading away until there is only silence.

The songs written in this book are songs, music that means something special to me. So special I had to write them down on paper. Somehow this helps me deal with the Joy I feel when I hear these songs, sometimes sadness too, But oh the pure beauty of it, it helps me deal with that.

Whether it be the lyrics or the melody or the message given or the voice, whatever it is; something has struck me, makes me shiver when I hear them. I will always have these songs, no matter what happens around me, things I cannot control. I will always have these songs burned into my memory of my being. No one can ever take that away from me—- signed me. Thank you for the Music.

 

blog music 4Blog music 2

The Journal is only half full today so I still have room to add to the collection. I have Bob Dylan, Louis Armstrong, Sam Cooke. Etta James and you know Billie is in there. Even a Cars song is in there. I have many ideas and canidates for those blank pages. I call them Soul Burnin’ Songs.

One of the songs I wrote in the journal is a Song that I fell in love with as soon as I heard it. It is a Christian hymn called Softly and Tenderly Jesus is Calling. Written by Will Thompson. God it’s a beautiful song. Its a song about going home.

I think the first time I ever heard it was in the soundtrack in the Academy Award winning movie,  Trip to Bountiful  (1985) with Geraldine Paige and John Heard. I loved that movie: I watched it many times. It was about a old woman going back to her hometown, a place called Bountiful one more time before she dies.  After I heard that song I told myself  I would record it some day.  It is so beautiful. When my dad passed I made sure that was one of the hymns we sang in the service. He would have liked it, he was a religious man.

I did some research on the Hymn and I was surprised there weren’t more recordings of the song. What I did find out is that it was sung at the Memorial service for American Civil Rights leader,  Martin Luther King Jr.at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta Georgia. April 8, 1968.

I thought to myself, how interesting since he has always been a hero of mine and has always been such a huge presence in my life and here is this song now that ties back to his life and sadly to his death.

If you watch Trip to Bountiful you will not only see a beautiful Movie but you will hear a beautiful Song.

SOFTLY AND TENDERLY


Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling,
Calling for you and for me;
See, on the portals He’s waiting and watching,
Watching for you and for me.

Refrain

Come home, come home,
You who are weary, come home;
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
Calling, O sinner, come home!

Why should we tarry when Jesus is pleading,
Pleading for you and for me?
Why should we linger and heed not His mercies,
Mercies for you and for me?

Refrain

Time is now fleeting, the moments are passing,
Passing from you and from me;
Shadows are gathering, deathbeds are coming,
Coming for you and for me.

Refrain

O for the wonderful love He has promised,
Promised for you and for me!
Though we have sinned, He has mercy and pardon,
Pardon for you and for me.

Refrain