Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Heart of Saturday Night

Blue Landscape With Trees, 2005, Oil on Panel, 8x10

It's possible that I am one of the most musically untalented persons ever. I played flute for several years as a kid and despite enjoying it and working hard at it, I was perpetually last chair. I tried to learn how to play piano, but just couldn't get past the basics. Even when my kids were toddlers, they would either cry or laugh when I would sing. If I am in public and have to sing, like Happy Birthday for instance, I fake it. No need to bring everyone down.

But the thing is I love music! I love to sing and you should hear me in the car- I am Janis Joplin! Joan Baez! Aretha Franklin! The first songs I remember hearing on the radio were Riders on the Storm by the Doors, Walk the Line (I thought he was saying lime which seemed odd to me) by Johnny Cash and A Horse with No Name by America. Did I mention that I grew up in Minnesota, listening to AM radio? So it's true my musical tastes do tend towards the mainstream, I admit it. As a teenager, I liked the popular music: ABBA, Kiss, Pink Floyd, Supertramp, The Knack, The Police, Queen, Eagles, Blondie, The Go-Go's, Peter Frampton. I had an obsession for several years in high school with the Doors and still know every word to every song on every Doors album. In college I liked Van Halen, Triumph, U2, R.E.M, INXS, The Cult, 10,000 Maniacs, Bon Jovi, Marc Almond, Tears For Fears. Prince, Billy Idol, (unfortunately, yes, I did like Billy Idol). Later when I moved to Philadelphia, I found my everlasting true love, Tom Waits. I was hanging out with some friends, after a night at the bar and somebody put on The Heart of Saturday Night. Actually I remember exactly, Tom Leonard and I were at Laura's dark little apartment at 3am and she put the album on. I interrupted the conversation and asked who IS this? I was blown away. I still listen to and buy his music. I think Alice may be the most perfect song ever. Soon I found Billy Holiday and she and Peggy Lee were perfect to get depressed with while sitting alone at the bar at Dirty Frank's (landmark dive bar at 13th&Pine, Philadelphia, it's still there and hard to believe it's gone on without me!).

In the last 10 years or so I have moved away from the mainstream a bit, but the depressing, melancholic music still has a hold on me and it's what I prefer to listen to while I work in the studio. My husband gave me an ipod last year and it is loaded with many of my old favorites, no ABBA though, (I do have to draw the line somewhere!) and I love adding new music to it. In the past few years I have been listening (obsessively) to Jeff Buckley, Mary Gauthier, Shelby Lynne, Rick Danko, Ray LaMontagne, Lucinda Williams, Damien Rice, Bob Dylan. I recently added Sean Hayes, Iris DeMent, Joshua Radin and Amos Lee. A few pop songs are squeezed in once in awhile, just so I can keep a connection to my AM childhood. I still feel like crying when I hear Seasons in the Sun by Terry Jacks and Love Hurts by Nazareth. Oh the sadness of childhood! And right now I am totally loving You're Beautiful by James Blunt .

So despite my lack of actual musical talent, music is a huge part of my painting. I never work in silence, I need the music to touch my heart and that is (hopefully) what I express visually. I wish I could say that my work is all me, but the truth is, it's me AND whatever I listen to, read, see, think and feel.

Now, if I could just have a studio with some privacy so I could sing along with Tom without hurting anyone!

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