Unitarian Hymnal Sing-along

In which Kathryn attempts to sing a different song everyday from the Unitarian Universalist hymnal, 'Singing the Living Tradition'. Earlier posts are based on songs from the Reader's Digest songbooks she found at yard sales as a child, including: 'Reader's Digest Treasury of Best Loved Songs', 'Reader's Digest Family Songbook', and 'Reader's Digest Family Songbook of Faith and Joy'. Bonus Folk song material from: 'Folk Song USA', by John and Alan Lomax.

30 September 2005

"Memory Lane"

Another song that hits my break point in an awkward place. And sure, I could sing these songs in any key I please, but part of the fun, the first time through, is playing and singing together. My piano playing isn't quite up to transposing and sightreading simultaneously.

Ah, memories. I've written in a journal off and on since I was 15, which is to say, quite a while. I haven't written daily the whole time, often just when I felt the urge. And for some crazy reason, I had the urge to read through all those old journals, in order. Eventually, theoretically, I would make it up to the present day. And then I could read just my most recent journals as I finish them, get a snap shot of the recent life of me.

People have often said to me, "How lucky you are to have kept a journal all these years!" Maybe. There are precious tidbits in there, things I treasure having down on paper. But alas, they are surrounded with a oh so much proof of what an idiot I was for oh so many years. At the moment--and I've given myself a little breather the last couple of weeks--I'm up to my late college days. So painful. So striving. So oblivious to all common sense. And since I remember how the story goes, for the most part, I know that I don't get a whole lot of sense any time in the ensuing decade. Ugh.

One of my best, and oldest, friends thinks that I should just burn all my journals. My husband has no idea why I would put myself through this, if it's so painful. But I still want to do it, maybe just this once. It's clear that I can never let my daughter read these, while I am alive; and maybe eventually I will burn them, but just this once, I'm going to read through all the pain, all the stupidity, and try to have some compassion for that much younger me. I think I've turned out better than I would have thought, if I only had these journals to rely on for the evaluation.

Thankfully, I also know that these journals capture only a part of what my life was then. Nothing could ever capture it all, now, or then. And occassionally I do read something, remember something, and ah: the memories can also be sweet.


29 September 2005

"Tip-Toe Through the Tulips"

What a fabulously aliterative title. And the song is very sweet and bouncy. I'll still sing it, even though I hate tulips.

We have a few planted in front of the house, but the yard is not my responsibility, so I'm just glad to have even a minimal input there. And it's odd, when I thought about what I did want in our yard, I thought of lilac, dogwood, rhododendrons, ferns, crocuses: all the plants that were meanful to me from my own childhood. And memories of that time are possibly the biggest reason that I love crocuses (their heads popping up through the snow!) and think tulips are just incredibly boring (when they kind of look like big crocuses in some ways). We didn't have tulips to speak of then. And I still dislike impatiens, bought new every spring by my Dad, and I had to weed the silly things all summer long.

But our childhood does have this wacky hold over us. As a parent, I'm always thinking about this. How will my daughter's life be different than mine because she started taking piano lessons at 5? Because she sees her parents doing yoga, meditating, drinking wine? Because we live in the city, not in the country, not in the woods, and absolutely in America? Because I'm a massage therapist and she can always ask to have her back rubbed by a pro? Because she goes to an alternative elementary school and not the 'Now-art-and-music-free!' public school? Because we have sunflowers, and hollyhocks and yuccas?

But right now I'm thinking lilacs: the smell of the bush at the end of my parent's driveway, the purple fragrant flowers in spring. Dogwood: the perfect tree to climb as a kid, low branches, not too high, flowers for my mother's breakfast on Mother's Day. Ferns, rhododendrons: summers visiting my grandparents in their cabin 'up the mountains', walking up the mountain, drinking from the spring that ran across our path, bringing home tiny plants to plant in our rock gardens. Crocuses: at my parent's home since before they bought it, multiplying for every spring, white and purple and yellow across the lawn.

Even though my parents still live in that house, I can never go back to my childhood there. But it shapes me still, and lives in me in technicolor. I like it.

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28 September 2005


When I was a child music was the thing I loved most. I played clarinet in school, I taught myself basic keyboard skills (and flute, and guitar), but more than all these, I loved to sing. I would walk home from school--down an unpaved, one lane, dirt road in the woods--singing at the top of my voice. I made up songs, sang what I pleased, and if any of the few neighbors heard, they never let on to me, at least.

I wasn't exactly discouraged from music making, but I was made to understood very clearly that music was not a 'money maker', and that it was better relegated to hobby-status in my life. Of course then I pursued music all I could, even into college, though there, at least, I gave a nod to money making by initially double majoring with computer science.

And, of course, music is not a money maker, for most people. I have no particularly fantastic voice, though it isn't usually painful to hear it. It's more that people with fine singing voices who can carry a tune are a dime a dozen, and it takes more than the voice itself to 'make it'. And moreover, I didn't really want to 'make it' in music, as much as I wanted to sing, for the pure joy of it. I wanted to make music with others. I wanted to be the kid in the bandroom playing Styx's 'Come Sail Away', while everyone sang along, which surely dates me.

And here I am now, married with child, with a totally other career, and taking up playing piano and singing again after long hiatus. Ok, it's not as though I haven't sung a note in 10 years, but after half heartedly exploring outlets for music for this long while, I'm taking voice lessons, and applying myself to overcoming any crazy issues I have with letting my voice be heard, whatever that means. So here goes.

"Avalon": schmaltzy, hits my high range in any awkward spot. Still, based on a Puccini aria from Tosca, it's worth knowing. It'd make a good tango song, too.

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