Archive for April, 2013

Under the Influence – the finale!

All right, it’s time to wrap this puppy up!

It’s time for the big finale….of act one, anyway. (That will only make sense to you if you’ve seen Wicked.)

Last on my list of five songs that have influenced my life…..

Defying Gravity – Idina Menzel/Kristen Chenoweth (Wicked)

I love musical theater. A lot. And Wicked is one of my favorite shows. I have seen it at least four times – it’s possible I’ve lost count – and will see it anytime I have a good opportunity.

It’s not unusual for me to love a show without having any personal connection to it, but with Wicked I identify strongly with Elphaba (the green girl who becomes the “wicked” witch from The Wizard of Oz, for those unfamiliar with the story).  True, I don’t have green skin, and that is primarily why Elphaba is ostracized. But as I mentioned back when I was talking about song #2, I definitely felt not quite like everybody else during my formative years. Hell, I still feel that way some of the time. That whole hippie parent thing, being Jewish, feminist, opinionated. I feel like anyone I went to high school with would agree I didn’t really quite fit in. And Elphaba is waiting to find a place where she belongs – I was waiting for that too, certain I would find my people when I went to college – and I did. So I feel a connection.

Also, one of the reasons I just generally love Wicked is because it’s about two strong female characters and their friendship. There are men in the story, there’s a romantic triangle, daddy issues, but the meat  is about the women and their relationship, which is very rare in pop culture. The song at the end, ‘’For Good’’, where they apologize for their wrongdoing and marvel over how they’ve touched each other’s lives? Chokes me up almost every time.

But ‘’Defying Gravity’’ is my favorite song in the show. It’s when Elphaba says screw everybody and realizes it’s time to go off and be a badass on her own. She’s not going to let people hold her back. I like to listen to it when I want to get really fired up about something and kick some ass of my own.  Plus, she’s super principled and she takes the difficult path to do the right thing, which of course is something I think everybody needs to be reminded of from time to time. And it’s Idina Menzel. Love her. (And hi, she’s married to Taye Diggs. Swoon.)

And I’m pretty sure my dog loves it when I really belt it out, as I’m prone to do.

PS, you can’t say ‘’kick some ass’’ on NIPR. Just FYI.


How have I never seen this video clip before? I just got goosebumps watching it. It won’t let me embed it, but trust me, it’s worth the click. It’s Idina and Kristin Chenoweth performing it at the Tonys. (Although this comment under the video makes me want to….cry? Beat my head against a wall? ”lol wasnt that announcer guy in the beginning in the 5th season of buffy the vampire slayer?”  Sigh….yes, Joel Grey was on Buffy. And clearly THAT is why he’s famous….)

Or, if you prefer the soundtrack version, this is for you.


Some songs that almost made the list…something from Little Earthquakes by Tori Amos. Fisherman’s Blues by the Waterboys. Something by ABBA. The world needs more ABBA.(That’s a joke for a loyal reader who was convinced I was going to have an ABBA song on my list. Although a little ABBA Gold never hurt anyone.)  Something by R.E.M., because they’re maybe my favorite band ever. Something off of Laid by James. But thhose didn’t make the final cut, and I’m happy with my five, and I was satisfied with the end result.

It was definitely a fun experience from start to finish (other than, you know, the anxiety). Thanks for coming along for the ride.

Oh yeah, and now I totally want my own radio show! 😀


Under the Influence – #4

No inane introductory chat!  Figure it out or go back to the beginning.   😀

Song #4 is…..

Tusk –  Fleetwood Mac

I love this song. I don’t have a good story about this song. I don’t associate it with anything or anybody, I don’t know what it’s about, I’m not sure what the words are. I just really, really love it. I can listen to it over and over and over again, loudly – and I usually do.  It makes me want to learn to play the drums.

I like to use music to promote and/or enhance a good mood. If I’m already in a good mood, I enjoy music that I really love, music that makes me happy. If I’m not in a good mood, I chose to listen to happy songs to try to offset the mood, rather than finding something to wallow in. I’m not a wallower by nature. I have a playlist in my iTunes library called, amazingly enough, ‘’Happy’’. I was perusing it when I was trying to select my five songs to see if anything seemed like a good choice; Tusk is on it, and I was mulling it over as a selection, and I started thinking about the origin of my happy playlist.

A long time ago, boys and girls, back before iPods and playlists, before CDs even, we made mix tapes. My happy playlist is a direct descendent of a mix tape I made about twenty years ago called….’’happy mix’’.  I had broken up with a boyfriend (or rather, he had broken up with me) and I was bumming hard, and trying not to be. We had “’our song” and the damn thing was following me around – it seemed like it was constantly on the radio. So one day I said enough! I wanted to control my environment better than that, rather than being subjected to the whims of the radio. I made a tape of songs that didn’t make me think of anything that made me blue. And this technique has served me well for half my life now. So while contemplating my song choices, I went looking for the original tape. The handwritten song list was faded and hard to read, but there it was, on the very first happy tape I ever made: Tusk.

I loved it then. I love it now.

Who knew Stevie could twirl a baton? Must be the precursor to swishing her skirts to and fro.

This was a short one! See, not much story, just dig the song…and apparently I really do love marching band music, even when they’re from USC?

Under the Influence – #3

These are lame post titles, I know that, but I figure I should make them easily identifiable and consistent at this point. I promise when I’m done there will be one called ”Butter Wrestling”. And if you don’t know what’s going on here, read this and this and this.

Moving on to song #3….

I’m Free – The Soup Dragons

This was a difficult decision for me to include on the program, because I was worried about how it would come across. Wait. I’m getting ahead of myself.

Firstly, this is a cover of a Rolling Stones song. I had no idea until a few weeks before recording the program, while discussing my song choices with a friend and he mentioned it. I promptly looked it up on YouTube, and did not care for it at all (which surprised me exactly zero %). The Soup Dragons’ version I love lots. I think my college roommate Charles (who no longer speaks to me, but that’s a story for a different day) introduced me to it back in the early 90s. It’s fun and funky and makes me want to chair dance (which I’m doing right this second, as I’m listening to it – Ruby is giving me her ‘’What the fuck are you doing?’’ look).

So one day a few years ago I was in a store, possibly in the mall, which is odd because I hate the mall, and I heard I’m Free being played on the store’s soundtrack, which was also odd, because it wasn’t 1994. It made me happy and I probably started bouncing my head or store dancing or something, and then something with the words just clicked:

I’m free to do whatever I want any old time.

That’s deep, man.

I had just split from my husband, and the song was like a revelation: I’m no longer accountable to anyone. And here we can circle back to why I was hesitant to use this song for the program. I didn’t want it to sound like I was at all restricted when I was married, or like it was a controlling relationship, or in any way reflect negatively on my ex-husband. Honestly, it had nothing to do with him – it was about me. I grew up, went to college, had roommates, a live-in boyfriend, a husband – I had never lived by myself or been completely on my own before.

I’m free to do whatever I want any old time.

When I got divorced, it was a delayed coming-of-age time for me. I think most people go through this when they’re younger, but I’ve always been somewhat of a late bloomer.  I lived with my dad when we first separated, but eventually I was able to move into my own home and it was fucking awesome. (Couldn’t say that on the radio.)  And to be clear, these aren’t crazy things I’m celebrating that I can do now. It’s things like I stopped making my bed every day. When I was married, I got up later than he did, and I made the bed every day. Not because he made me, but because when you’re in a relationship like that, you’re considerate of the other person (hopefully). But I’m kind of lazy and I don’t really care if the bed is made, so I still do it sometimes, but it’s not longer ‘’required’’. I fall asleep with the TV on. I leave dishes in the sink overnight.  I let the dog sleep on the bed. BECAUSE I CAN! Did I do some dumb things? Maybe. Did it matter? NO!

After having that light bulb moment in the store, I went home and made a playlist anchored by the Soup Dragons, built upon that ‘’footloose and fancy free’’ theme. It was called Phase 2. Phase 1 had been a playlist of angry songs. It was good to move on.

I’m free to do whatever I want any old time.

Under the Influence – Song 2

Welcome back! This was a bit larger break than I intended to take, but the weekend was BUSY! Continuing from where we left off, let’s talk about song 2 on my list of five songs that have influenced my life. Of course, I feel now like it should be Song 2 by Blur, which ps I love, but it’s not.

2. The Victors – The University of Michigan Marching Band

I think it’s safe to say that everyone’s college experience helps shape her, and I thought long and hard about choosing a different song from that time of my life. This song might have been the most difficult choice on my list. But then I realized that it wasn’t just that era of growth and independence that shaped me; where I went to school was a huge part of it, and nothing represents that better than the greatest fight song ever. Oh yes, should I mention that I went to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor? (Wooo, Go Blue!)

And that right there, that parenthetical, is partly what this is all about. I have a pride and allegiance to my school that is part of my fiber. The Michigan experience creates a common bond, a community, a family of literally hundreds of thousands of people around the world. If I see someone wearing a Michigan anything, I know I can walk up to that person and say, ‘’Go Blue!’’’ and those two words will be an instant icebreaker. And I have, many times. In the grocery store. In airports. And it never fails – connection established.

I know everyone feels like a misfit in high school, that she doesn’t quite fit in, but for me it was true. (You were probably popular, admit it.) It wasn’t that I had a bad experience; I had friends and fun. But I was kind of a nerdy bookworm, and remember those liberal hippie parents of mine rubbing off on me? Some of that didn’t really jibe with my peers. Plus I was one of only two Jewish kids in the school – just a lot of not really being like everybody else.

When I got to U of M, I felt like I had finally found my people. People who got my sense of humor. People who shared my values. People who helped expose me to new things. It’s not that everyone at U of M is the same – that’s ridiculous – but I had finally found people who spoke my language and understood me, who were open-minded and inclusive.  There was diversity galore – it was very, very, very different than what I’d known up to that point, and it was what I’d been looking for.

And football Saturdays? Hello, is there anything better? I didn’t go to a rah rah

high school, didn’t have a rah rah

family –

my parents went to Michigan, but weren’t not superfans (although they try now, for my sake, and my dad loves to watch hoops). I developed a passion for college sports. There is nothing like being in the Big House  with 100,000 (+) of your best friends on a crisp fall afternoon. When the band high-steps out of the tunnel and onto the field (‘’Band…..take the field!’’ Rum pum pum pum pum pum pum pum!) to the driving drum cadence and they line up to play the fight song, it is thrilling. Sometimes, as we go all Pavlov’s dogs and begin to clap and pump our fists in unison, I feel like maybe I joined a cult, but it’s a really, really awesome cult.

I know this is not necessarily unique, what I’m describing. But it was special for me, and still is. I’m proud to be a Michigan Wolverine, and Ann Arbor is maybe my favorite place to pass time. And who doesn’t love marching band music? So here you go, enjoy!

OMG. Was searching on YouTube for a good clip of the band in the stadium (to no avail) but now I am trying to refrain from sharing with you all these other amazing Michigan moments….that’s not why you’re here….ok, maybe just this. Come on, it gives me goosebumps every time! THIS IS MICHIGAN!



After beating Ohio State in 2011. :)

After beating Ohio State in 2011. 🙂



Under the Influence – part deux

OMG, I just listened to it! It was soooooo much fun!!!!!!!!! I’m high on radio right now! Thank you to my friends near and far who listened – it was a blast hearing from you.


What the hell is she talking about?

As mentioned previously, I recently had the opportunity to be a guest on a local radio program, Under the Influence, to talk about five songs that have left their mark on me in some fashion. There’s no podcast available at this time so you don’t get the fun banter here, but I did promise to share a recap.

It was tricky, picking the songs. I love music. (That seems like a really stupid, obvious thing to say –  I mean, doesn’t everybody? Except I’m not actually sure everybody does; I’m always sort of surprised when I discover that not everyone listens to music all day long. Talk radio? Pass. Books on tape/cd/other? Never listened to one. Silence? What’s that? Music. Music in the car, in the office, at night to fall asleep. Music always. Oops. I just digressed all over the place.) I have about 5000 songs in my iTunes library, so limiting myself was a bit difficult. The flip side being, a lot of my very favorite tunes don’t have any particular significance to me – I just like them. You can’t really spend an hour talking about, ‘Yeah, that song sounds cool. I like piano.’ Or I can’t, anyway. Plus, my memory is abysmal. My parents have two daughters. One of them remembers every detail about every thing that has ever happened, ever. The other one is me. So remembering something that moved me twenty or thirty (or forty) years ago proved to be a big challenge.

And, of course, there was self-imposed public pressure – this was for a radio show. Did I really want to subject people to listen to things like a marching band or a Broadway show tune? (Um….apparently!!  🙂 ) But yeah, I want you to think I’m cool, so I had to consider that factor also. Although as I said before, there also were no wrong answers, so I tried not to get too hung up.

We’ll talk later about some that almost made the cut, but now let’s get on with it!

Song 1:  Free to be you and me – The New Seekers
A looooooooong time ago, back in the early 1970s, Marlo Thomas pulled together a groovy project called Free To Be You And Me. It is a compilation of songs and poems and stories gathered in a book and recorded on a record (a RECORD!) and there was a TV program as well but I only remember the book & the record, which lived in our house. And according to the foreword, a book was Marlo Thomas’ original objective; the rest was gravy. She wanted a book to read to her niece that didn’t tell her what she should be, but rather, “a book of stories and poems and songs that would help boys and girls feel free to be who they are and who they want to be.”  There’s one about a boy who wants a doll. And one about not judging a book by its cover. And one about how the moms in commercials on tv look happy when they’re cleaning because they’re in a commercial, and NO ONE likes cleaning (except my friend Heather and she is CUCKOO) and so everyone should pitch in and help out.

And I have these super cool, liberal parents who also wanted that for their kids. I grew up thinking I could be or do anything, and it’s not just because of Free To Be You And Me, but I can remember sitting with my sister on the floor in our brightly colored basement listening to the record and reading along in the book over and over again. Hey, here’s my book!

My book!


I had kind of forgotten about all of this and then Marlo Thomas came to speak at Tapestry and I was planning on attending, and I thought how cool it would be if I could have my old book signed….if only I knew where it was. We had a house fire when I was growing up. And then in early adulthood I was storing a bunch of stuff in my mom’s basphoto 2ement and we had a flood. So I wasn’t even 100% sure I still had the book. But lo and behold, I did, on a bookshelf with some other surviving remnants of my childhood. (I’m pretty sure my sister has the record.) Anyway, finding my book and getting it signed put it all back on my radar. It’s available on CD now, so I bought a copy for myself and another one to send to a friend’s kids so I know another generation will learn to love it.

I didn’t realize at the time that not everybody growing up in Indiana was listening to this. Not everyone had hippie parents who raised them to be open-minded, idealistic, and full of GIRL POWER. I’m so thankful that mine did. And Free To Be You And Me is part of the solid foundation that made me the optimistic, idealistic, independent, badass chick I am.

Here, for your listening pleasure: Free To Be You & Me. I’ll be singing along at my end.


So, I was reading a really, really long blog post over the weekend and maybe I have a short attention span, but I lost interest and started skimming. To cater to my fellow OOH, SHINY! Syndromers, we’re going to split this up. Telling four more stories like that all in one post just seems too long. So that’s all you get for tonight.  See you back here soon  for song 2! 🙂

Under the Influence – part 1

Hey guys and gals! Have you (those of you who don’t know me) ever wondered what my voice sounds like? (Somehow I doubt it, and if you have, I might think you’re a little creepy.) Regardless, here’s your chance! I’m going to be on the radio. What??

Northeast Indiana Public Radio has this cool program called Under the Influence. Every week they invite “regular people” into the studio to discuss five songs that have had an impact on their lives.  And I am the regular person of the week!

I was charged with identifying five songs that have had an impact on my life, songs that have affected me to do something big or small, and songs that have shaped me into the person I am today.

Gah! Pressure!

Fortunately they never used the word ’’favorite’’ because that would have sent me into a full-blown panic. I’m not good at picking favorites. But songs that have helped me through a rough time or bring back special memories or help me fire up for something? Sure, I can come up with that list. Limiting to five was tricky, but I’m pretty sure there are no wrong answers (although I fully expect some of you to critique me).

I will share the songs and the stories behind them, but not until after the
program airs on Thursday, because duh, you should listen to it, and they stream it online so don’t give me grief about not being in the listening area. 😉  And we recorded it a few weeks ago, so you can’t call in to heckle me, sorry Charlie!

Thank you to my friend Samantha for referring me to Sarah & Rob, the hosts – it was definitely a fun experience, other than the anxiety about picking great songs and being prepared to talk for an hour. And worrying what I sound like on the radio, and whether or not I talk too fast or slur my words too much. Although once you put on those headphones, it does kind of bring out one’s inner public radio voice. 🙂  I think. I guess we’ll find out on Thursday!

Tune in: Thursday, April 4, 9:00 pm. www.nipr.fm.

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