Lots of Clean Laundry and a Nice Surprise…

A strange combination… yes… but a happy one!

Since I was helping my friends with their move, everything at my own house (laundry, cleaning, washing dishes, etc.) got put on hold!  Well, the cleaning part was done prior since I knew my friends were going to stay at my place!  🙂  (I’m not known for being the neatest person in the world and my friends knew this.  So it was kind of funny when the wife walked into the house and exclaimed, “Whose house is this?!”)  😉

Since they left on Tuesday, I’ve been trying to catch up.  Today, the last load of laundry was washed and hung up on the line!  YAY!!!  It is a very nice feeling!

Then I got an email from someone who went to the same school as me.  He’s a VERY talented guitarist who’s touring with a famous musician in Japan right now, working as the music director and lead guitarist for the concert tour.  And I’m going to get to see him tomorrow!  (The “nice surprise” part of the title… 🙂 )

Was hoping to go with a friend who also loves music, but there’s been no response from him… probably extra busy with work.  Therefore, the 6-hour drive will be done alone, but I’ll have lots of music to listen to and will get to see dear friends whom I haven’t seen in too long.

Am looking forward to having a love, laughter and music-filled weekend!!  🙂  Hope everyone has a great one, too!!

P.S.  Not sure if I’ll be able to write anything while I’m gone, but I’ll definitely post something when I get back home.  🙂

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A Very Small Room, Headphones and a Microphone…

A perfect combination, in my opinion!  🙂

I was blessed enough to have three vocal jobs this week… two singing and one narrating.  Words cannot express the joy I feel when standing in front of that mike, receiving directions from talented sound engineers/directors!

Sure, you can turn on the TV and find quite a few shows full of those who long for that spotlight to be on them and stand on that stage, belting their hearts out.  And that’s perfectly fine… more power to them!!  But I’ve learned that even if one’s joy is singing, the spotlight and stage isn’t for everyone.

I just LOVE singing… plain and simple!!

It’s okay if it’s back-up vocals on someone’s CD or singing children’s songs for music to be used at an English language school.  It’s perfectly fine if it’s narrating announcements for a local department store or singing “la-la-la” on a TV commercial for toothpaste.

It’s singing… something I’ve longed to do since as far back as I can remember!!

Don’t get me wrong.  English-teaching is also a job I love to do.  Seeing the progress students make, young and old, can be amazing!  The smile on the face of a child after hearing the words of praise… it’s priceless!

But music… oh, music!  And singing!  Being in that small space, headphones on, speaking into the microphone… adding an “ooh” or an “aah” and harmonizing and having effects put on the vocals, then hearing the finished product… it is better than a bowl of freshly-popped popcorn!  (And if you know me, you KNOW how much I love popcorn!!)  🙂

If I’m lucky enough to keep getting chances like these, I will be a very happy person!  🙂

The Path to Those We Love…

All day today, one song has been playing in my head.  That may be because I’ve been thinking about one particular thought for most of this Thursday…

Are there people in your life that wander out of your life, but always end up wandering back in?  I mean, it could be romantic or purely platonic relationships… it could be that we don’t see or hear from these people for years on end, but when we do, it’s as if no time has passed at all.

Whatever obstacles there are, there are some friendships and loves that seem to move above and around, then the connection is made once again.

Why was I thinking about this today?  Who knows… my mind tends to do what it wants to!  🙂

Anyway, the song which played along with all these thoughts today… “The Long and Winding Road” by the Beatles.  It’s not one that I liked very much when I was younger (thought it was rather boring actually).  As I’ve gotten older though, I’ve come to love it and the feelings for the simple melody and deep lyrics grow.

So, here it is… hope the melody is playing in your head as it is in mine.  🙂

The Long and Winding Road (The Beatles)

The long and winding road
That leads to your door
Will never disappear
I’ve seen that road before
It always leads me here
Lead me to your door

The wild and windy night
That the rain washed away
Has left a pool of tears
Crying for the day
Why leave me standing here?
Let me know the way

Many times I’ve been alone
And many times I’ve cried
Anyway you’ll never know
The many ways I’ve tried

And still they lead me back
To the long, winding road
You left me standing here
A long, long time ago
Don’t leave me waiting here
Lead me to your door

But still they lead me back
To the long winding road
You left me standing here
A long, long time ago
Don’t keep me waiting here
Lead me to your door

♬♪ Be glad that you are free… ♫♩

Well, we finally had a sunny day today and I spent most of this Saturday cleaning, doing laundry, washing dishes… you know, all that fun stuff around the house!  🙂

Also watched a show about slavery and thought how blessed I am to have the freedom to do what I want, eat what I want, go where I want… also thought about how no matter what difficult situation we find ourselves in, we still have the freedom to daydream or think or visualize whatever we want.

And thinking of that makes me think of a Prince song which I love.  If you’ve never heard it, please check for the “1999” album and you’ll find it there.

Free

Don’t sleep ’til the sunrise, listen 2 the falling rain
Don’t worry ’bout tomorrow, don’t worry ’bout your pain
Don’t cry unless you’re happy, don’t smile unless you’re blue
Never let that lonely monster take control of U

Be glad that U r free
Free 2 change your mind
Free 2 go most anywhere, anytime
Be glad that U r free
There’s many a man who’s not
Be glad 4 what U had baby, what you’ve got
Be glad 4 what you’ve got

I know your heart is beating, my drummer tells me so
If U take your life 4 granted, your beating heart will go
So don’t sleep until you’re guilty, ‘cuz sinners all r we
There’s others doing far worse than us, so be glad that U r free

Be glad that U r free
Free 2 change your mind
Free 2 go most anywhere, anytime
Be glad that U r free
There’s many a man who’s not
Be glad 4 what U had baby, what you’ve got
Be glad 4 what you’ve got

Soldiers are a marching, they’re writing brand new laws
Will we all fight together 4 the most important cause?
Will we all fight 4 the right 2 be free?

Free (Be glad that U r free)
Free 2 change my mind (Free 2 change your mind)
Free 2 go most anywhere, anytime (Free 2 go most anywhere,anytime)
I’m just glad, I’m just glad I’m free, yeah (Be glad that U r free)
There’s many a man who’s not (There’s many a man who’s not)
Glad 4 what I had baby, (Be glad 4 what U had and)
Glad 4 what I got, oh yeah (for what you’ve got)
Oh I’m just glad, I’m just glad I’m free,yeah (Be glad that U r free)
Free 2 change my mind (Free 2 change your mind)
Free 2 go most anywhere, anytime (Free 2 go most anywhere,anytime)
(Be glad that U r free)
(There’s many a man who’s not)
I’m so… (Be glad 4 what U had and for)
(what you’ve got)

Carole King on my mind…

Had a busy day and guess there would be a lot to write about today… but I’ve had a certain Carole King song running through my mind all day.  So, here are the lyrics to the song, “Tapestry”.

My life has been a tapestry of rich and royal hue
An everlasting vision of the ever changing view
A wondrous woven magic in bits of blue and gold
A tapestry to feel and see, impossible to hold

Once amid the soft silver sadness in the sky
There came a man of fortune, a drifter passing by
He wore a torn and tattered cloth around his leather hide
And a coat of many colors, yellow-green on either side

He moved with some uncertainty, as if he didn’t know
Just what he was there for, or where he ought to go
Once he reached for something golden hanging from a tree
And his hand came down empty

Soon within my tapestry along the rutted road
He sat down on a river rock and turned into a toad
It seemed that he had fallen into someone’s wicked spell
And I wept to see him suffer, though I didn’t know him well

As I watched in sorrow, there suddenly appeared
A figure gray and ghostly beneath a flowing beard
In times of deepest darkness, I’ve seen him dressed in black
Now my tapestry’s unraveling, he’s come to take me back
He’s come to take me back

A Steak Lunch and Songs from the Past…

Well, it’s another rainy day here in northern Kyushu.  Saturday was the only day in the last week and a half that was actually nice and sunny.  Yesterday, rain.  Today, rain.  Forecast for tomorrow, rain.  Not great weather when one needs to get laundry done.  (And, no, I don’t have a clothes dryer.  They aren’t common like in the States and other countries.)

Yesterday, I got a call from a good friend of mine.  She knew the weather was going to be bad today and asked if I could take her around to the ¥100 shops to look for pieces and parts for handmade jewelry.  (This girl has more talent in the tip of her pinkie than so many people around me put together!  I’ll have to write a post about all the things she can do one of these days…)

So, we drove around to several ¥100 shops (or Dollar stores) and she found what she needed.  Seems she’s going to be teaching a class about making resin jewelry and needed supplies.

Once that was done, we decided to go and get a bite to eat.  We did the usual, “Where are we going to go?”  She and I tend to go to the same four or five places, which doesn’t bother either of us in the least, but today, she said she wanted to eat steak and had heard about a rather good place nearby called Western.

One step inside Western was like taking a step back in time.  There were empty beer bottles on the window sills.  There were American flags hanging here and there… wagon wheels were used to divide sections of the restaurant.  Framed photographs of cowboys and Old West towns were hanging on the walls.  The only odd thing about the place was that the utensils we were given were chopsticks, which my friend and I giggled about.

And the background music was mostly, of course, country and western music.  🙂

We ordered lunch specials and waited for our food.  As we chatted about this and that, I realized I recognized the melodies of every song.  My friend asked what the titles were and I told her I didn’t know.

“That’s unusual for you.  Plus, you’ve been humming along to almost every song!”

Then it struck me.  They were all familiar because my dad had known them!  🙂

I told her that so often he would hum or sing around the house, whether he was cleaning his desk (or more like rearranging the piles on his desk 🙂 ), chopping firewood out in the yard, checking on the veggies in the garden, or organizing receipts for the month.  And it was a very, very wide variety of music, everything from jazz standards to country & western to barber shop quartet songs to traditional hymns to music I listened to on the radio!!

As the music in the restaurant changed to the next song, my friend and I looked at one another as we both recognized the song… “Tennessee Waltz”.

“I’m sure he used to sing this one… right?” she asked.

I nodded and started to get teary-eyed.  (I still miss him something terrible…)

She smiled and said, “You’re so lucky to have had such a strong relationship with your dad.”

I nodded again… because I completely agree with her.  Memories of him are ones I would not trade for anything in the world!  🙂

♬♩Sing… Sing A Song… ♩♬

Well, the Academy Awards are over for another year.  I’ve seen quite a few status updates on Facebook and also blogs here on WordPress.  Thoughts on the winners, the almost-winners, the ones whom were snubbed, the fashion…

And again, I thought I was going to write about the Oscars as many others had today, but blog subjects have a strange way of changing quickly… almost as quickly as the weather changes in Hilo, Hawaii.  (Was there last autumn… trust me, it’s amazing how rain can turn to sunshine to rain to sunshine again with rainbows!)

Anyway… I received two FB messages this morning from a couple of guys I worked with on a recording project earlier this month.  Both included a link for the finished project, which meant I had permission to share it with friends and acquaintances in my “little” world.

This may have been explained somewhere along the way in a previous post… I love singing!!  And I’m blessed and privileged to record from time to time… anything from sound logos to “la-la-la”s in a commercial to children’s songs for an English school to background vocals for local rock/pop artists.

This time, I got to sing a song with another singer… a 70’s style song which will be used for an event to be held for the opening of a new IKEA store here in the city.  Click on the play button, if you’d like, and if you really enjoy the song, you can even download it!

IKEA Spring 2012 Fukuoka Opening

When I Grow Up…

This morning, I had to drive across town to one of the kindergartens where I teach.  English classes are held there for the oldest kids (5 and 6-year-olds) and we see each other once a week.

March is graduation season in Japan and the kids will be starting a new chapter of their lives when they begin 1st grade at the local elementary school.  There were only two more times left for English classes (today and next week) and I had told the kids that for the last class, they could have a “Game Request Day”.

Today, I told the kids to go and get their sketchbooks and crayons.  While they were all settling back into their places, some on their seats and others on the floor, I wrote, “My Dream” up on the blackboard.  When I asked what they thought it said, most of the kids were trying to sound the words out and a few could actually read it with no problems at all.  (Yes, I was happy!)  The task was to write those words at the top of the paper and then draw a picture of what they want to become when they grow up.

Most of the little girls wanted to be models or idols or cake shop and flower shop owners.  Most of the little boys wanted to be soccer players, baseball players and train conductors.  There was the occasional Kamen Rider (an action hero over here) or a Pokemon Master, but most of the dreams were very realistic.

When I was their age, I wanted to be a singer.  As my friends and I got older, their dreams changed and mine didn’t.  All through elementary school, middle and high school, becoming a singer was the only dream I had because singing was like breathing to me.  I was always a part of the school choir, I sang in the choir at church, I sang in my bedroom, while I was in the bathtub, in front of the mirror… music was (and still is) my passion.

But I didn’t necessarily care about being in the spotlight.  If I was singing harmonies while someone else was taking the lead, that was fine by me!  I simply wanted to be singing!  (And that feeling hasn’t changed… and I still want to be a singer when I grow up!  🙂 )

A lot of the kids today asked me what my dream was when I was little and after telling them, I also said that they should never give up on their dreams.  One little boy said, “But, Sensei (teacher), you’re an English teacher, so your wish didn’t come true.”  But I explained that I also sing songs for commercials on TV and radio and have done back-up vocals for local artists.  I told him that anything is possible.

After hearing this, the little boy went to draw his picture.  When he came to show me his completed drawing, there were two separate pictures:  one of a soccer player and one of a baseball player.

“I want to be both!” he said with a grin on his face.  “Anything is possible, right, Sensei?”

Wanted to give him a big hug and cry, but instead, I held his soft face in my hands, nodded and said, “You’re absolutely right!”  (Precious, precious kids…)

So… what do you want to be when you grow up?  🙂

I Love a Rainy Night…

Do you ever find that a song will pop into your head and it may be that you haven’t heard this song for years and years, but it’s there… all of a sudden… and you can sing all the words to the song without any problems at all?

It just started to rain a few minutes ago and this song popped into my mind…

This is NOT a song you’d ever hear on the radio stations here in the city where I live, trust me!  And I cannot remember the last time I heard it, yet I can remember the lyrics, the harmony parts, the guitar solo.  Funny how the brain can store all of this information!  (In my case, there are rows and rows of file cabinets with songs, lyrics, movie titles, musician names… and maybe a very small drawer with stored math equations.)  🙂

Has a song popped into your head today, out of the blue?  🙂

P.S.  Mr. Rabbit may be playing this tune from up in the heavens somewhere… he was such a great singer/songwriter.

No Hands, No Flow

You know how when some people are singing on a TV show or at a karaoke bar, they move and wave their hands up in the air as they sing the melodies?  Have you ever thought that was strange?

I thought it was slightly… well, “fake” is not the word I’m thinking of… maybe over-doing it?  It would often seem like the person was acting and I would wonder, “If the person’s hands were tied together, would they still be able to sing?”

I used to think this way… until today.  🙂

This morning, there was a narration job in my schedule.  (A two-hour job at a recording studio in town)  I’d gotten home after 4am from a separate recording/singing job, slept as long as I could and took off to do my best with narrating.

Got to the studio, called my contact, he showed up a couple of minutes later, had a short meeting with him and the mixing/sound engineer, and into the recording booth I went.

Things started out a bit rough.  For some reason, there was an echo in the headphones as I read.  Told the sound engineer about it and he thought it was something to do with my volume controls in the booth.  Tweaked things a bit… no change.  Continued with the narration and just couldn’t get into the groove at all.

Finally, the sound guy found it was a control on HIS side.  (And the echo disappeared… yay!)  We re-recorded some of the beginning and it all began to flow smoothly.

It was then that I made a new discovery.  As I read a phrase like, “This process will be harmonious to our natural environment,” with as much feeling as I could, I noticed my hands.  They were moving and flailing about, as if they were attempting to be as descriptive as the words on the page!  It was SO comical!  For the next several sentences, I put my hands on my lap and guess what happened?  It was as if the gentle flow of the words started to bump and bounce around.  What?!!  Why?!

I asked the engineer if we could record that part again and once the red cue light flickered, I began to read and let my hands do what they wanted to do.  Once again, they were moving, explaining, describing… and the flow was smooth.

So, to all those people out there who flail their arms around while singing, I apologize for my former opinions and won’t doubt you from this day forward.

Lesson learned!  🙂

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