communication, dogs, ideas, music, travel

Still learning new things from a 1996 trip to Turkey…

Last night, while Bill was enjoying an online session with his American Jungian therapist who lives in Berlin, I was getting annoyed by comments on a Washington Post article I read (temporarily unlocked). The article was about how many Americans are taking their dogs everywhere with them, and how–maybe– the dogs don’t actually want to go. I realize I should have known better than to leave a Facebook comment, since most people didn’t bother to read the article before doing their chiming. But, since I live in a country where dogs are welcome in most places, I felt compelled.

The first comment I got from someone was vaguely accusatory, and their comment got a bunch of “likes”. Below is what I posted, and the response:

Mine loves to go with us, but we live in Germany, where it’s normal for dogs to be out with their owners. He’s a big guy who gets nervous, so we don’t bring him often.

I don’t think anything is wrong with this comment. But, someone responded with this:

Out of curiosity, how does he love it if he gets nervous?

I didn’t actually type what I was tempted to post, which was “Do you not ever have the experience of being nervous and then enjoying yourself, once you’ve had a chance to relax? The two conditions aren’t mutually exclusive.” Instead, I responded calmly and rather politely:

He eventually relaxes. We have a wine stand in our neighborhood. We can walk to it. We will take him to that. He starts out nervous and excited, then calms down. And he always likes car rides and walks to new places, but things like umbrellas and sudden noises scare him. He is a street dog from Kosovo.

We don’t take him to big events because it can be too much for him, and he takes up the entire back end of our SUV. But we will take him to Biergartens or smaller events, and he does fine after a little while. This is a totally normal thing in Germany. It’s less normal to leave your dog home alone. In fact, there are laws against leaving dogs home alone for more than a few hours.

I was relieved when that comment didn’t invite any unpleasantness. But then someone else chimed in with this:

it’s normal in the US too…

I wasn’t sure what side of the argument this person was on, so I wrote this response:

Things in the States must have changed a lot since I left. I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing, as long as dogs are trained how to be in public and people are considerate. Here, people really train their dogs, so even though they are often in restaurants, you’d never know. We don’t take ours to indoor establishments, but we have seen some dogs that were so well behaved that we didn’t notice their presence until they were leaving.

Personally, I’d rather leave mine at home most of the time, but sometimes it’s fun to bring him. It’s the only way he will learn how to behave in public and realize that humans besides us are good. And he does love the change of scenery.

She came back with this:

they’re everywhere here. Ubiquitous

So I wrote:

Well, it’s been nine years since I was last home. Based on the comments, it sounds like maybe dogs in public are a problem.

Then she posted this:

not really. Most people love dogs.

I didn’t want to continue to engage. Fortunately, she got the hint when I wrote this:

Good. I’m glad.

But then another person– a curmudgeon of sorts– wrote this:

more’s the pity

Despite what the woman above posted to me, a lot of people in the USA don’t seem think it’s a good thing to take dogs in public places. They have lots of reasons for their thinking. And, just like a lot of Americans have extremely rigid ideas about topics such as spaying and neutering, and how it must always be done at six months of age (which is not always a good idea, pet overpopulation concerns notwithstanding), some people are equally lacking perspective about the subject of dogs in restaurants and such.

I was getting a little agitated by the hostile and rigid posturing in the comment section, and had just remarked to my friends that Americans need to travel more. But then someone posted that most Americans can’t afford to travel… which wasn’t really the point. The point is, a lot of Americans seem to think our way is the only way of doing things, and they lack any desire to explore different places or discover new things.

Even a lot of Americans who live in Germany with the military are stuck in that US centric mindset, and they see no reason to evolve or expand. A lot of us don’t have any perspective of life beyond two feet in front of us, let alone how things are in other parts of the world. I was trying to share a different perspective in the comment section, even though I know better than to even try. For my efforts, I got a vaguely accusatory comment, and a comment that seemed to imply that I’m somehow naive, or out of touch with reality. That kind of makes me not want to try to share with others.

Why do people have to be so negative whenever someone shares their experiences and perspectives? Why can’t people be more open-minded and willing to listen? So often, we don’t even let people finish their sentences before we interrupt them. Bill did that this morning; he cut in with an inappropriate response before I’d even finished my thought. But if he’d been a little patient and just listened, rather than focusing on coming up with the wrong response, it would have spared us both time and annoyance.

Living abroad has forever changed me. I suspect that when I go back to the United States, I’m going to feel very frustrated. I love my family, for instance, but I suspect that talking to some of my cousins again someday will be disturbing on many levels. A lot of them are firmly mired in Trumpland, southern culture, and conservative Christianity, and no amount of cajoling will get them to broaden their perspectives on certain topics. But sometimes, I do get a rewarding glimmer when another American gets it. That’s what today’s post is all about.


Last night at about 9:00 PM, Bill finished his session with his therapist. He was in good spirits, because he and the therapist have a very good rapport. As he enjoyed the rest of last night’s wine, Bill told me that he and the therapist got into a discussion about music. He said he’d told his therapist about how I had introduced him to a lot of new music, and how sometimes I “drunk download” stuff. I have very eclectic tastes in music, so it usually works out fine. I’ve found some really great stuff that way.

Sometimes I discover some amazing finds while traveling– especially when it comes to music and art. When we went to Latvia last summer, I found a fascinating all women’s folk group (Tautumeitas) when I went into a jewelry store. I liked it so much that I downloaded the album as soon as I had the opportunity. Ditto to Finland, from where the wonderful band, Frigg, hails.

I discovered Frigg when I read an article about traveling to Finland. I was reading the article because I’d just visited Finland myself. Someone in the comment section mentioned discovering Frigg when they went to Finland, and they emphasized what a great band they are. I decided to investigate, and it opened a whole new world to me. I have shared Frigg with Bill, and with people who read this blog, although I don’t think many people have bothered to listen to the links I included in my post. In fact, not many people bothered to even read the post, which is too bad. If you are reading this, I challenge you to click the link in this paragraph, and just listen to Frigg for a minute. See if you don’t agree that Frigg is at least very talented, if not downright awesome! I dare you! You probably won’t be able to unhear the awesomeness. 😀

Anyway, the therapist asked Bill about the kind of music that puts him in “the mood”… for sex, I guess. Bill got a big smile on his face, because we do, in fact, have an album we have historically listened to when we’re in the mood for lovemaking. It’s one I discovered in Istanbul, back in 1996.

My friend Elaine and I had traveled by bus from Yerevan, Armenia to Istanbul. In 1996, it wasn’t so easy to take cheap vacations out of Armenia. Flying on scary Armenian Airlines was way too expensive for me, as I didn’t have any money in those days. Elaine was kind enough to lend me a few hundred bucks so I could go with her on vacation to Türkiye (Turkey) and Bulgaria, which were pretty inexpensive then. It took three days to get to Istanbul, and parts of the trip, while beautiful, were also kind of scary. We were also exhausted when we finally arrived in the city.

After a night in the Aksaray district of Istanbul, which is in the Asian part of the city, Elaine and I relocated to Taksim, which is on the European side. Taksim was definitely more western than Aksaray was, and there was a lot to see and do there.

There was a big shopping boulevard near our hotel, and I remember walking up and down that street a bunch of times during our time there. One day, Elaine and I were passing a music store on that street, and we heard the most intoxicating, enchanting sounds… It captured both of us like Wonder Woman’s golden lasso, and we were compelled to go into the shop and find the source of that gorgeous music. They were playing music by a Turkish folk band called Kizilirmak.

Kizilirmak is the name of a river in Türkiye, but when I see or hear that word, I’m reminded of a band that captured my soul on first listen. Elaine and I both bought cassette copies of their album, Rüzgarla Gelen. We both loved what we heard, just passing by that music shop by chance while we were visiting Istanbul in 1996. On that trip, I also bought a cassette of Bulgarian music by Trio Bulgarka when we went to Bulgaria. Trio Bulgarka has famously collaborated with my musical hero, Kate Bush, but before they did that, they made beautiful folk music. I hadn’t heard the Bulgarian music first; I just knew Trio Bulgarka had sung with Kate Bush. I bought the music entirely based on that fact, and didn’t regret it, even though it was just an 80s production of Bulgarian folk songs.

Years later, when I married Bill, I played Kizilirmak’s cassette for him, and he also loved it. Indeed, it was very good music for moments of intimacy. At least, for us it was. Maybe it wouldn’t be for other people. Still, when I hear the below folk song, I smile and remember the early days of our marriage, when we were younger and much randier.

It’s a folk song, but I find it kind of erotic… or, at least very soothing. The whole album is interesting and timeless, and it never gets old. I hope one or two of my readers will investigate it and be enriched.

So there Bill and I were this morning, learning more about the above song, “Kirvem”, which it turns out is a folk song that has been done by a number of people. If you go on YouTube, you’ll find different interpretations of it. The link below is not Kizilirmak, but it is a very beautiful version of the song I first heard done by Kizilirmak…

Sigh… makes me want to learn this song. Music really is an international language that knows no bounds.

Now, because of that therapy session Bill had last night, and the trip I took to Istanbul in 1996 with my friend, Elaine– who had made it possible for me to go by lending me some money–, we will be passing along this gem to someone else. Perhaps Bill’s therapist’s life will be enriched by hearing “Kirvem” done by Kizilirmak. Maybe he’ll pass it along to another person.

So true…

I realize that my own former therapist, who is now a friend, also contributed something to this revelation. The above photo was posted on his Facebook page, and it struck a chord with me. Because I recently went back to Armenia, and found out that the time I spent there hadn’t been wasted… I had made a difference by spending two years there, and in fact, I made a difference by going back to visit a couple of weeks ago. I exposed Bill to a place that means a lot to me, and he learned new things, which he’s shared with friends at work and his daughter. I’ve learned new things in my travels, which I’m sharing with you, and anyone else who cares to pay attention. Maybe you’ll pass on some of what I’ve learned and am sharing to someone you know… See what I mean?

So, while I find that a lot of Americans– or really, a lot of people– can be stubbornly resistant to having their perspectives challenged, I have also found that if you’re open to it, you can be exposed to some really wonderful things. It’s not unlike leveling up when you play a game.

Are you ready for the next world? You have to be brave enough to take the first step. That means leaving your comfort zone and trying something new. But that can be very scary for some people. I know it’s scary for me sometimes. Change can be hard… but sometimes, change is vital. Sometimes you have to change or you will literally die. Maybe you can’t afford to travel. Can you afford to be influenced by someone who travels and sees the world? Could you expand and evolve that way– until you do have the chance to get out of your comfort zone? Are you willing to listen to someone who’s seen and done things you haven’t seen or done yet? Maybe you can learn something new that way.

Anyway, that was just a profound thought I had this morning, as Bill and I were sharing something I discovered in Istanbul, Türkiye, back in 1996. That trip is still teaching me new things, which I can share with you. That thought kind of blows my mind.

The featured photo was taken somewhere in eastern Turkey in 1996…

communication, complaints, home, music, rants

I think Kate Bush sang it best, back in 1982…

Good afternoon, ladies and germs… Today, on this Wednesday, and the third day my house has been occupied by inconsiderate clods, I have an old Kate Bush song in mind. It’s a song from her brilliant 1982 album, The Dreaming, which also happens to be the very first album I ever heard her do. The song, quite appropriately for my mood today, is called “Get Out of My House”.

Here are the lyrics…

When you left, the door was
You paused in the doorway
As though a thought stole you away
I watched the world pull you away
(Lock it) So I run into the hall
(Lock it)
Into the corridor
(Lock it)
There’s a door in the house
I hear the lift descending
I hear it hit the landing
See the hackles on the cat
(standing) With my key I
(lock it)
With my key I
(lock it up)
With my key I
(lock it)
With my key I
(lock it up) I am the concierge chez-moi, honey
Won’t let ya in for love, nor money
(“Let me in!”)
My home, my joy
I’m barred and bolted and I
(Won’t let you in)
(Get out of my house!) No stranger’s feet
Will enter me
(Get out of my house!)
I wash the panes
(Get out of my house!)
I clean the stains away
(Get out of my house!) This house is as old as I am
This house knows all I have done
They come with their weather hanging ’round them
But can’t knock my door down
(Slamming) With my key I
(lock it)
With my key I
(lock it) This house is full of m-m-my mess
This house is full of m-m-mistakes
This house is full of m-m-madness
This house is full of, full of, full of fight
(Slam it) With my keeper I
(clean up)
With my keeper I
(clean it all up)
With my keeper I
(clean up)
With my keeper I
(clean it all up) I am the concierge chez-moi, honey
Won’t letcha in for love, nor money
(“It’s cold out here!”)
My home, my joy
I’m barred and bolted and I
(Get out of my house!)
(Won’t let you in) No stranger’s feet
(Get out of my house!)
Will enter me
(Get out of my house!)
I wash the panes
(Get out of my house!)
I clean the stains
(Get out of my house!)
(Get out of my house!)
(Get out of my house!)
(Get out of my house!)
Won’t enter me
(Get out of my house!)
(Get out of my house!)
(Get out of my house!)
(Get out of my house!)
Yeah! Won’t let you in
(Get out of my house!)
(Get out of my house!)
“Let me in!”
“Woman let me in!
Let me bring in the memories!
Woman let me in!
Let me bring in the Devil Dreams!
“I will not let you in!
Don’t you bring back the reveries
I turn into a bird
Carry further than the word is heard
“Woman let me in!
I turn into the wind.
I blow you a cold kiss,
Stronger than the song’s hit.
“I will not let you in
I face towards the wind
I change into the Mule
“I change into the Mule.”

God, I love her. She is amazing.

I know not everyone appreciates Kate Bush. I think she’s an incredible singer, songwriter, piano player, and all around goddess. I’ve loved her music for about 40 years– that is, since I was ten years old. Kate Bush is pretty intense for a ten year old, but even back then, I loved how creative and gorgeous her music was, and how interesting and intelligent the lyrics were. “Get Out of My House” even incorporates a mule, complete with braying, which as a former horse girl, I can totally get behind.

I’ve read that this song is really not about a literal house. Instead, she’s referring to her psyche– not letting anyone in to get to know her, or what’s deep inside of her soul. She is the master of herself, and she won’t let anyone in “for love nor money”. She protects her heart and her mind by becoming very stubborn, like a mule, complete with “hee haws”. She keeps everything under lock and key.

Well, I’m not as much like that with my psyche or, at least this week, with my house. Yes, it’s a rental, and yes, as I’ve pointed out, the work being done this week is for our own good. And I have seen a little bit of progress. For instance, the two workmen have stopped habitually leaving the front door open, and they have turned down their god awful dance music, so my head doesn’t pound incessantly.

However, the two guys who have been here all week have really been annoying me. Every day, they make messes that they don’t clean up. They move my stuff and just leave it wherever they put it. Yesterday, they left chocolate on the floor where Noyzi could get to it. I think my landlord brought it over for them with the customary German coffee break, but they just left it on the steps. Fortunately, Noyzi doesn’t eat things he hasn’t been invited to eat. If Arran were still here, we’d really have a problem. He would have eaten that chocolate in a heartbeat. Chocolate can be very toxic to dogs.

This morning, the guy didn’t even ring the doorbell before he came barging into the house. I mean, where I come from, if you don’t live in a house, you don’t just come in without at least knocking. At least not the first time you show up during the day. It’s common courtesy and basic manners. Tomorrow, I won’t be deactivating the door lock before they arrive. They can ring the fucking doorbell like civilized people. I may be a tenant, but this is still my home.

And, sorry, I know this is going to sound really petty and kind of mean, but right now they are outside at my freshly oiled teak patio table, sitting on the chairs with new cushions on them, eating lunch, while listening to their industrial powered radio. Much to my shame, when I saw that, it really pissed me off. I wish I were a more laid back, less territorial person, but I can’t deny that I feel like telling them to get off my patio and get back to work, so they can finish up and get the fuck out of my house. It’s an irrational response, I know… but it’s the one I’m honestly experiencing right now.

It’s not so much that I mind them using the patio or even the table and chairs. It’s the fact that they didn’t even ask, and they have no regard for the fact that they have invaded my home, and are messing with my things. I can’t speak to them, because we don’t speak the same language. I didn’t hire them, and have nothing to do with their employment, other than the fact that I live in this house and they have invaded it, as they take their long coffee breaks. I’m sure it never even occurred to them how annoying they are to me, nor would they even really care. But they can have lunch on my table and chairs without so much as a “do you mind?”. Earlier this week, they ate in their van.

The two guys reek of pheromones, inconsideration, and sexism, and I want them OUT of my life. I feel like I used to feel when I waited tables and was forced to be nice to people who were assholes. But this time, I’m not working for anyone. I just have the misfortune of being a tenant.

And y’all, before anyone leaves me a lecturing or shaming comment (cuz it’s happened before), bear in mind that I do have some idea of how difficult it is to do this kind of work, especially when it’s hot outside. I do have some empathy for that. I wish I were a more compassionate person than I am. I guess it comes from being treated with little consideration for most of my life and, in turn, not necessarily being taught to be considerate myself.

Yes, that’s right. I kind of had to learn from people other than my family to have regard for others. But even when I try to be hospitable, it comes off as kind of awkward and weird. Usually, people don’t accept, anyway. At my age, I figure I might as well be real. And I want these dudes to finish their job and just beat it. Get the fuck out of my house! NOW!

Just one more day… just one more day. Hopefully, I won’t emulate Marguerite Perrin before tomorrow…

“Get the hell out of my house in Jesus’ name I pray!

I’m getting really close, y’all.

book reviews, celebrities

A review of Rememberings: Scenes from My Complicated Life, by Sinead O’Connor

Until very recently, I was not one of Sinead O’Connor’s fans. I remember being in high school when she burst onto the music scene, scoring a smash hit with her cover of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U”. I was aghast by her shaved head and hauntingly beautiful green eyes. I was astonished by her powerful, raw, emotional vocals. But, for some reason, I never bought her albums. It could be because I had little money for music in those days, so what little I did have, I spent on people I really loved listening to, like Kate Bush. I was, and still am, a Kate Bush fanatic.

Still, I watched Sinead O’Connor’s antics, which came to a head in 1992 when she was the musical guest on Saturday Night Live. She made huge waves when she tore up a photo of Pope John Paul II on live TV. She immediately became a pariah and I’m not sure New Yorkers have forgiven her yet, even after all this time. Personally, when I think about all the furor that arose over Sinead’s decision to tear up that photo, all I can do is shake my head. We tolerated a sexually abusive, narcissistic, criminal moron like Donald Trump as our president for four years and people are still clamoring for him to be the president. Yet Sinead tears up a picture of the Pope, and her career goes straight down the shitter… temporarily, anyway.

Seriously? People hated Sinead O’Connor for this? It just seems so ridiculous now.

I don’t know what made me purchase Rememberings: Scenes from My Complicated Life, which was just released on June 1st. I didn’t even own any of Sinead O’Connor’s music until I started reading her book. Well… I did own a few songs she sang on compilation albums. She did a beautiful version of “Sacrifice” by Elton John on the Two Rooms tribute album. I prefer her version to the original, actually…. and I like to sing that one myself. I also have her version of Dolly Parton’s song, “Dagger Through The Heart”, which, in her book, O’Connor writes is one of her favorite songs. She writes that after she recorded her version, Dolly wrote her a lovely thank you letter. Sinead had it framed and gave it to her beloved stepmother, Viola. That’s another reason why I like Sinead. She loves her stepmother. Also, my great grandmother’s name was Viola, although I never had the chance to know her.

Because of Sinead’s book, I have bought several of her albums and am wondering what took me so long. Sinead O’Connor is a wonderful singer and, based on her book, I think she’s a pretty marvelous person, too. She’s certainly a good storyteller, even if her writing isn’t always grammatically perfect, as a British friend pointed out when I delightedly shared one of Sinead’s anecdotes on Facebook. I like Sinead’s writing style. It’s engaging. I felt like she was sitting in a room, talking to me as if I was a friend. That’s the way I like to write, too.

I often laughed at Sinead’s stories, some of which are legitimately hilarious and outrageous. Some of her other stories were very moving. Others were infuriating. Overall, I came away with the idea that Sinead O’Connor is a very complex person who feels deeply and emotes freely. And yes, she also suffers from mental illness, of which she openly admits. I would imagine that Sinead O’Connor is probably not an easy person to be around, especially when her temper is flaring. But she’s probably just as often kind of awesome… especially when she’s smoked weed. Sinead is also a big pothead, which she also freely admits.

It’s not that often that I feel compelled to share quotes from my Kindle on social media. As I read Rememberings, I found myself sharing a number of Sinead’s musings. She writes that she actually started writing her book in 2015, but then had a full hysterectomy in Ireland due to endometriosis. Apparently, the doctors in Ireland did not prescribe hormone replacement therapy for Sinead; they just sent her home with a follow up appointment and a bottle of Tylenol. Her uterus and ovaries were removed, which sent her into instant menopause. She claims that caused her to go a bit bonkers. She also writes that musicians are naturally crazy– especially if they’ve also had head injuries, which she also claims she suffered when she was a child. I don’t know if that claim is true, although I do think that most creative people are a bit eccentric and weird on some level. God knows, people have called me “weird” my whole life. Below is a gallery of some of the more interesting quotes I found in Rememberings. I particularly loved her comments about Mormon missionaries and her story about the “plump old nun” who drew a picture of a penis with huge balls. That’s the kind of story I like to tell.

Sinead O’Connor has definitely had an unconventional life, so there is truth in advertising in her book’s title. She has four children by four men, and she’s been married three times, although she only married one of her children’s fathers. Two of the men who fathered her children are still friends. The other two, she says would cross the street if they saw each other. She writes lovingly about her children… and she does seem to have great pride and affection for them. I do suspect that they’ve had their share of problems, though, because having a mentally ill parent, particularly one who is also a famous musician, is hard. But I don’t get the sense that Sinead is a narcissist, or anything. When Sinead O’Connor writes praises about her children, I don’t think she’s being fake. She openly acknowledges that they’ve had difficulties, in part, due to her career and her mental illness issues. She also suffered tremendous child abuse when she was growing up, and those traumatic experiences have no doubt affected her as an adult.

Sinead O’Connor talks about her book.

Sinead O’Connor has even had dealings with Dr. Phil, who put her in a treatment center. She was already being hospitalized when Dr. Phil stepped in, and being mentally ill, she decided to try his approach because he was “Dr. ‘fuckin’ Phil” and of course he could fix her. It turns out the people she saw at his behest were not helpful at all, and he basically exploited her for television. She says the psychiatrist at the first facility Dr. Phil sent her two offered her a fig bar, which immediately turned her off for some reason. She says fig bars are for “hippies”. It turns out the psychiatrist was a bit of a flake, and she kind of implies that Dr. Phil is in with the MAGA crowd, although he “faked” being disgusted with it. She offers a delightfully profane criticism of Donald Trump, and I wholeheartedly agree with her astute comments. She may have a mental illness, but she’s no dummy. Personally, I think Trump and Dr. Phil are cut from the same cloth.

This book also includes commentary about Sinead’s albums. She writes about her favorite songs, how she came to name her albums and songs she’s written, and why she made certain recordings. I appreciated the backstories to a lot of her music, many of which made me want to buy and listen to her songs. The other day, one of her songs came on my HomePod and I had never heard it before. It was a hilarious song called “Daddy I’m Fine”… and it just spoke to me. And I wouldn’t have heard it if I hadn’t read her book. I love that Sinead was so generous with her stories about how she created her music and the people who inspired her.

Love this.

Honestly, reading Sinead O’Connor’s book makes me want to visit Ireland again and hang out with funny people. Given that so much of my own ancestry is from Scotland, Ireland, and England, it stands to reason that I’d feel at home there. Alas, we can’t go anywhere near the UK or Ireland anytime soon, thanks to the fucking coronavirus. But I sure did enjoy reading Sinead’s book, even if she does seem oddly enamored of American culture and even American healthcare, which she seems to think is better than Irish healthcare. And maybe it is… who knows?

Anyway… I really liked Sinead O’Connor’s book, Rememberings: Scenes from My Complicated Life. I laughed; I sighed; I remembered things; I learned things; I became inspired… especially to spend money on music. Fortunately, Bill thinks music is a good investment. I know some people think Sinead O’Connor is “crazy”. And maybe she is… but at least she’s honest about it. I like her. I recommend her book. And now, I’m going to have to find the next book and hope it entertains me as much as Sinead’s has.

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon on items purchased through my site.

humor, music

Catching the “musical flu” and spreading it around…

My friend Ken Turetzky, pumping his own gas…

I should preface this by saying that Ken and I are only the most casual of Facebook friends. I have never met him in person, although he did reach out to me about twelve years ago, when I wrote a review of musical comedian Red Peters’ album, Best of Red Peters Comedy Hour, Volume 1. Ken’s song, “Her Shit Don’t Stink” was featured on that compilation. It reminded me of Bill’s ex wife, who was at that time, pushing a false narrative that her shit didn’t stink. Anyone with their eyes open and nose unstuffed knew the truth, though, and those who weren’t aware would soon become aware as they came of age.

Years later, I care a lot less about Ex than I used to… Bill’s daughters are now grown women and we’re no longer subsidizing Ex’s household to the tune of $30,600 annually. However, we have become aware that for all of Ex’s gas pumping, she was mostly full of hot stinky air. Enough said about that, although there’s a lot I would really like to write. I won’t, though. Not in this post, anyway. Instead, I want to write about something totally unrelated– except I wish I could have helped spread the musical flu to Bill’s daughters.

Yesterday, my sister sent me a private message, asking if I subscribe to Apple Music. I wrote back that I don’t, mainly because I prefer to own my music rather than renting it. Also, I read some disturbing accounts of Apple Music overriding people’s private music collections. I have some rare stuff that I managed to get from Napster back in the day. Those were the days of dialup, so you know I spent a long time downloading those things. I don’t want to lose them by allowing Apple Music to invade my machine. I would imagine that Apple Music has fixed this issue, but I still prefer to buy rather than rent, particularly when it comes to music. I have so many tracks that it would probably take a year to listen to everything, anyway.

My sister, on the other hand, does use Apple Music. She wrote that she heard a song by the jazz player, Michael Franks. She hadn’t really liked him much, but got hooked on this song that came on Apple Music. I told her that I have a similar problem. I’m the kind of person who remembers really obscure songs from many years ago and tries to find out who did them. Sometimes, it takes years. I got tickled by my sister’s comments about Michael Franks, because it turns out that one of his songs was a track I obsessively “hunted down”.

I was first introduced to Michael Franks’ banal style back in the year 2003. Bill and I hadn’t been married a year. We lived in Fredericksburg, Virginia, in a cheap apartment, because that was what we could afford. We decided to go to the Army Birthday Ball. I needed a formal dress for it, so I drove to a mall in Northern Virginia to go shopping. It was probably Springfield Mall, which is where I used to go shopping when I was 6 or 7 years old.


I was in a department store trying on dresses, and this song by Michael Franks came on. I didn’t know who Michael Franks was, of course. I just remember the song and its monotonous, mind numbing chorus, “Don’t touch that phone.” repeated by female singers over and over again. I don’t even remember liking the song that much. I just remembered the chorus. It stuck in my head for years. I had no idea the name of the song or who sang it, but I relentlessly searched until, finally, I found it. And even though I didn’t love the song, I ended up downloading the album.

My sister and I kept chatting and it occurred to me that she has really had an enormous impact on my musical tastes. It’s almost like she was carrying a kind of “musical flu” bug. Although she is not the sister closest to me in age, I shared a room with her when I was a little kid. I was exposed to a lot of what she liked. My sister famously introduced me to the magic of Kate Bush. She also introduced me to James Taylor, The Police, and Dead Can Dance… as well as the hilarious stylings of Ami Arena, who can’t sing, but is funny as hell.

One of my favorite songs by Kate Bush. I was introduced to her when my sister bought Bush’s 1982 album, The Dreaming, when I was about ten years old. Years later, I bought the album myself, and have since bought it a couple more times.

Back in the early 90s, when I worked as a summer camp as the cook, I had a week off mid summer. My sister invited me to visit for a few days. While I was visiting her in Northern Virginia, she took me to Ellicott City, Maryland. We went shopping, and she introduced me to the band, Dead Can Dance. I remembered one song in particular and liked it, but it was about sixteen years later that I finally broke down and bought the album it came from. It’s still awesome music, even though the album is probably 30 years old by now.

This song stuck in my head for years until I finally bought the album. It’s still a great track… it doesn’t age.

During that same trip, I was exposed to Amy Arena and her sarcastic and very funny brand of music. Amy Arena can’t sing, but she’s witty and snarky and I enjoyed her very much. My sister played Amy’s album and we shared a laugh over the irreverent lyrics. Years later, I bought her CD, too…

She’s a certain king of gap toothed woman… I’m a gap toothed woman, too.

Then my sister told me that both Dead Can Dance and Amy Arena were introduced to her by a guy she used to date– a German dude by the name of Bernd, who played in a band that did live music at a restaurant where my sister used to wait tables. That restaurant, name of Whitey’s, is now long defunct. But for years, it was a great place in Arlington for live music, beer, and junk food. And the funniest part of all is that back in the 90s, when I had to get a food handler’s card to work in food service in Williamsburg, Virginia, I had to watch movies about food safety. One was made by the public health bureau in Virginia and they had actually filmed at Whitey’s. I immediately knew it was Whitey’s, because that place had a big sign that read “EAT”. It was unmistakable.

Both charming songs that you should learn…

When my sister told me about Bernd introducing her to that music, it occurred to me that Bernd had influenced me, too, even though I never met him. Although my sister hasn’t seen Bernd in years, he passed along the musical flu to her, which she then passed to me.

And I have influenced Bill, by sharing the music with him. I have also shared stuff with people on the Internet whom I don’t know. A couple of months ago, I wrote a post about Rush Limbaugh’s death. In that post, I shared a video by the awesome band, Folk Uke, fronted by Willie Nelson’s daughter, Amy, and Arlo Guthrie’s daughter, Cathy. The video was of Folk Uke singing “Shit Makes the Flowers Grow”. I discovered Folk Uke when I lived in Georgia and I had downloaded Willie Nelson’s “children’s” album (quoted, because Willie gave up on the children’s part of that album about halfway through). Amy was featured heavily on that album and I liked her, so I went searching on YouTube for more of her music… and I found Folk Uke. Now, I am a devoted fan…

I used Willie Nelson’s version of “Rainbow Connection” for MacGregor’s memorial video. This song was on Willie’s “children’s” album, which featured his daughter, Amy, half of Folk Uke! I don’t know why, but there’s something about Willie’s take on “Rainbow Connection” that touches me.

When I met Bill, he was pretty limited in his musical tastes. He liked industrial, progressive music, and shunned anything vaguely country. But I think he had the idea that country music was nothing but the pink sequined pop stuff his ex wife listens to… He had not been exposed to bluegrass or classic country music, or outlaw country. It wasn’t long before I had him turned on to people like the Infamous Stringdusters…

I actually discovered them while watching a morning show in Murfressboro, Tennessee. Ever heard a U2 song done quite like this?

And then, thanks to my constant ear to YouTube, I found the likes of Todd Snider and Paul Thorn, both awesome musicians who are entertaining, talented, and fun…

Story of my life… or at least it was when I was at Longwood.
Damn, I want to see him play. If you have a raunchy sense of humor, listen to this.

Last summer, I was on Facebook, and Keb’ Mo’ shared a track that he was listening to. He had played on guitarist’s Lee Ritenour’s compilation album, 6 String Theory. I looked at the album and quickly downloaded it. Then, noticing that there was a cover of Sting’s song, “Shape of My Heart”, I alerted my friend Andrew. I think he was skeptical at first, but then he decided to check it out. Sure enough, I had guessed right that Andrew would like the cover– he’s a big Sting fan, like I am. But this was a great cover done by other people.

Thanks to Keb’ Mo’, I found Lee Ritenour and a new take on Sting.

Speaking of Keb’ Mo’. I’ve been trying to see him play live for years. I have tickets that were supposed to be used on November 16th, 2020. Obviously, that didn’t happen, and the show has been rescheduled three times at this writing. I think it might go on in September, if enough people get COVID-19 vaccines. I was introduced by Keb’ Mo’ by Martha Stewart, of all people. I bought an album she made for new parents. It had really lovely pop music that would appeal to babies and grownups alike, and Keb’ Mo’s song, “Infinite Eyes”, was on it. I liked it fine, recalling that I had heard Keb’ Mo’ on a Lyle Lovett cover of “Til It Shines”, a Bob Seger cover, and liked him then, too. Then one day, when we still lived in Fairfax, Virginia, Bill and I were having lunch at Austin Grill. They were playing some really great music over their sound system, and I heard Keb’ Mo’s unmistakable voice. He was singing “Folsom Prison Blues”, a song originally by Johnny Cash. I loved it, so Bill and I went to a Border’s to see if I could find the album there– it was still the era of CDs, after all.

Well, I didn’t find Keb’ Mo’s cover of “Folsom Prison Blues” until many years later, but on that day, I came home with, like, three of his CDs. And I quickly became a big fan of his music. Now, one of my favorite songs by Keb’ Mo’ is this song…

I love this song… it’s like Bill and me. He gladly indulges my musical obsession. But it’s just one of my favorites by Keb’ Mo’.
This song is more like the reality of my life… 😉 Especially the line about the dog shitting on the floor.

I could do this all day. In fact, thanks to COVID-19, I’ve got little else to do… although I will admit that the above video makes me want to practice guitar. This post does have a point, though. I don’t know how it is for other people, but I tend to catch musical influences like the flu. I hear something, like it, buy it, and use it to find other stuff I love. And then I spread my musical flu to everybody else… even people I don’t know. Just like people I don’t know spread it to me.

I caught Robert Randolph & The Family Band from Eric Clapton. They opened for him at a concert Bill and I attended, and were a hell of a lot better than Clapton was.

And finally… as I sign off, here’s a plug for my alma mater. This morning, I donated $550 to the music department, not because I was a music major, but because the music department at Longwood University literally changed my life. And I really enjoyed this concert, featuring one of my former professors, Dr. Charles Kinzer. His wife is also a professor at Longwood. She used to be my accompanist, and now she teaches piano. This morning, as I watched the jazz concert, it occurred to me that these folks have also spread the “musical flu”, and still do– even 27 years after I graduated.

Anyway… I long for the days of live music again. I love to discover new stuff and spread it around. Bonus points if the music is also funny. And now, it’s time to play with my guitar. Maybe someday, I’ll play it for public consumption, and spread even more musical flu. At least it’s a kind of infection that doesn’t kill anyone.