As I approached the border, I couldn’t help but notice the exit called Montée Glass/Montée Guay.
Immediately, I was transported back to the uncountable times we took this highway and this exit to go to my father’s boat, docked at Rouse’s Point, on Lake Champlain. I could see the map in my head clearly: take the exit, turn, almost in a circle to drive along Montée Guay until we reached a road, the name of which I don’t think I ever knew, which would take us to the smaller (and often less busy) border crossing. Those days of sailing were great. It would have been fitting that I had been listening to “Come Sail Away” by Styx – which was, to my surprise, in my box of CDs. However, as I was still in Canada, my radio station was still nice and clear, and CDs far from my mind.
How often we stopped at Sandy’s Deli to pick up sandwiches to go… Mmmm…. Hey, maybe I would snake across on my way back? The timing would be right and I would come home with supper all ready!
I was brought back to the present thanks to the fuzz of a disappearing station. I reached over into my box and what does my hand land on? Blues Traveler’s “Straight on Till Morning”. When putting my box together, I just had to take this one. It was one of Mick’s favourites for road trips. I often wonder at the Universe’s sense of humour. I mean, here I am driving towards my lover while my late husband keeps me company. And it wasn’t weird at all. It was an odd sort of right.
After that moment of nodding to the Universe, I burst out laughing when Canadian Rose came on because, well. Ironic. My American, however, isn’t ugly, and I live very far from Vancouver and we are not young and naïve and meeting in Burlington, but yanno, the spirit of it all…
And just as that high-pitched keyboard thing that is their signature sound was getting on my nerves, it also came at the end. What next?
The I-87 is not the most exciting of highways and one I have taken many a time. Pink Martini’s “Splendor in the Grass”, one of the two albums of theirs I did find (though not the ones I wanted) kept me company as I passed by all the familiar: Plattsburgh, where we occasionally went to the beach (I was never big on doing my Christmas shopping in the States, unlike many peeps I know), Lake Placid, remembering our climb up Whiteface in 2013. Our training for the following year when we did Mount Washington.
About two hours in, I need to make a pit stop and I ended up at the very lovely High Peaks Rest stop. Some of these places are worth visiting!
Necessaries done, I hit the road, passing by more familiar signs, Fort Ticonderoga, Lake Moreau, Lake George… Gosh, how old were we when we went to visit Frontier Town ans Ausable Chasm? I can still see our (my sister’s and me) jean jumpsuits with the STP logos on the front. Hah! When I hit the Twin Bridges (officially Thaddeus Kosciuszko Bridge), I knew I was approaching Albany and not all that much further to go.
The miles rolled by as the tunes kept me company. I was now on A.J. (son of Jim) Croce’s debut album that I’ve been listening to since it came into being way back in 1993. He was all of 22 when he recorded it, and sounded like an old black blues singer. I remember being in Sam the Record Man and this song was playing and I boogied and bopped my way to the cash to ask who this was and where to find a copy.
Much as the tunes were great, I was looking forward to getting off the I 87S and into more scenic territory…
As I left the house, I came face-to-face with this note from my son stuck to the front door
I’m one of those peeps who has zero songs in her phone. I know, I know, it’s ass-backwards in today’s world. I just don’t listen to music on my walks or runs so why use up space? Plus, I am weird (according to my kids) as I love listening to my CBC Radio.
So, what to do when you know a long drive is ahead of you in mountains where signals can be weak and all you get is fuzz in your ears and you watch the numbers scroll round the dial (so to speak), not landing on any station? You go old school. Yessiree. I cannot believe I had the presence of mind to grab a bunch of CDs – some from my bookcase in my living room, some from one of the boxes yet unpacked since my move three years ago. I know I have a second box somewhere hidden amongst the other yet-unpacked boxes but I was not gonna go foraging there, so I made do with what I could reach; and even then, I did not dig too deeply. You must understand I have hundreds of them. I could not find our handy little booky thingamagig where you slide in your CDs, so I just put them into a small box that sat on my passenger seat.
I don’t quite know how I managed to get the variety I did since my CDs were all organised by genre in their racks, ergo, in the same sort of order in the boxes. It ended up being a selection of more bluesy-jazzy-crooner with an odd rock album or two. Excellent.
I planned to leave the house by 7:15 and by Jove, I did! I planned to drive through the car wash as well, and durned if I didn’t do that as well. I amaze me sometimes 😉
I got to the border by 8:10 then waited. And waited. It felt like ages but if I’m honest, it was just half an hour – forty-five minutes, maybe? I was just impatient to be on my way and at my destination.
8:16: 12-15 cars ahead
8:35 – third in line
I hand over my passport. “Where ya goin?”
“Pratts– what? Why?”
“It’s in the Catskills. Meeting my guy. It’s the halfway point.”
With a sweet and goofy grin, he returned my passport and replied, “Well, you enjoy yourself.”
“Oh, I plan to…”
Not long after I cross the border, my station starts going AWOL so I reach over and grab the first CD.
I so wanted to do this one last night but Yellowstone won over on my time! Lillian has chosen to honour Björn Rudberg, one of the facilitators/keepers of the Pub of dVerse, who happens to be of Swedish descent and when you think of Sweden, what music comes to mind? ABBA, of course! So we are to take one line and one line only – word for word – from the song Dancing Queen and build our poem around it. How cool is that?
Living in the Now
Gone the crunch of newly fallen snow beneath my running feet
Gone the rustle of the marcescent leaves holding on to the oak trees
Gone the scrape of shovels on sidewalks, the screech of snow ploughs
For now, we are baking in the Mexican sun, discovering pyramids
We are snorkeling in Roatan, discovering brightly-coloured fish
We are drinking Champagne cocktails and eating like royalty
We are dressed to the nines, far away from the office grind
We are at the back of the boat (the stern for the purists)
Where they play the right music
And the wind dries our sweat as we dance with a frenzy
A word prompt to get your creativity flowing this weekend. How you use the prompt is up to you. Write a piece of flash fiction, a poem, a chapter for your novel…anything you like. Or take the challenge below – there are no prizes – it’s not a competition but rather a fun writing exercise. If you want to share what you come up with, please leave a link to it in the comments. Short and sweet! Just like I like ’em. Thank you for hosting, Sammi.
It’s Wednesday. It’s time to try to write a 100-word story with beginning, middle and end using this picture as inspiration. Some days a bunch of ideas get jumbled together only to be tossed aside by an earworm. Go figure. Sometimes, you just gotta go with the flow! If you want to play along, just click on my singing frog below and add your link. G’head, you know you wanna….
Welcome to Wednesday evening. I could not very well NOT participate this week as this is my own photo, right? Thank you, Rochelle, for enjoying my photos enough to reproduce them in paint and to use for Friday Fictioneers. I’m truly honoured. This photo was written about here, so I had to think up something else. I was inspired by a favourite movie of mine…
Do click on the frog below to read other wonderful stories, or, should you feel inspired, to write your own!.
Cello Him Home
Marcy leaned over from the edge of her seat, resting her arms on the railing. She loved the buzz of the the theatre filling with patrons and it thrilled her to imagine how it would feel should she be the artist all were there to watch.
She was Lyla Novacek, playing her Adagio-Moderato from Edward Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E Minor, convinced it would bring her long-lost son back into her arms. She was so into the beautiful music she nearly jumped out of her skin when the announcement boomed over the speakers:
When Marc and I talked about doing our Mount Rushmore of musicians, I had no idea what that would mean. I thought, easy-peasy, choose four chicks and voilà. Joni and Dolly were quickly selected. But who would get the other two slots? And so began my research because I realised that I had no friggen clue. I also realised that most of my favourite singers are men. Well hell. I shoulda turned the tables on Marc and said you do women and I’ll do men! He he he… that sounds wrong but right, right?
Since I was not deadset on anyone, I had to do some serious research. Limiting ourselves to those within the last fifty years helped some. I Googled “Women songwriters of influence” or “Women singers who write their own songs”, etc. I was rather pleased that my two original ladies made every list. So did Carole King and Madonna and a few others.
Full disclosure: Not a fan of Carole King! Well no, that’s not the right thing to say. Not anymore. As I did my research, I came to realise just how much I already did know and enjoy her work and enjoy pretty much all her songs – the ones she sings or sung by others.
As for Madonna, I surprised myself by finally adding her. Research again said I had to. We know how much she has influenced the next generation of women singers. Her ability to entertain is without question. She has been innovative and pushed the limits. And I hadn’t realised that she had a part in the writing of most of her songs – no, she’s no Joni Mitchell or Carole King but I could not dismiss her.
There were wonderful side-effects to this project. There were great discussions in the comment sections. Since I share my posts on Facebook, more discussions took place there. Some even got their own Rushmores going. How cool is that?
A fellow blogger, Trent McDonald, from Trent’s World, decided to do his own Mount Rushmore of Female Musical Artists. And what an eclectic mix! Do check it out here.
Marc was further inspired. His posts on Freddie, Bowie and MJ were all fabulous. But then he did a series of side posts, each one more wonderful than the next. His What If? post looked at what could have happened if John Lennon had NOT been shot that fateful night.
Next, he was inspired to create a delicious sandwich and name it the Rushmore. All I know is I want one!
Following his fabulous post on Prince, Marc wrote a fictional story Raspberry Beret – inspired by the song but giving us the woman’s side of the story. Delicious.
I hope he gets further inspired… hint, hint, Marco!
I’m also thinking that I shall be further inspired in the near future …
I was a late bloomer. Musically speaking, that is. When it comes to appreciating Joni Mitchell, to be more precise. There was a time when I thought her singing was closer to caterwauling. I know, I know. What the hell am I talking about? What can I say? I knew no better. Or maybe, just maybe, I can say that my taste in music has evolved over time and that which I could not fully appreciate then, my life’s experience has enabled me to, now. Whatever it was, Joni’s place in my musical roster is firmly established.
My second-favourite movie is “Love, Actually”. One of the characters, Karen, played by Emma Thompson, loves Joni. To her husband’s (Alan Rickman) disdainful comment: “I can’t believe you still listen to Joni Mitchel”, Karen responds: “I love her, and true love lasts a life time. Joni Mitchell is the one who taught your cold English wife how to love.” I would say my love for Joni started just before this movie came out in 2003.
The radio station I listen to (yes, I still listen to the radio), CBC Music, has a little thing every weekday morning called “Under the Covers”, which, as the title implies, means they play a cover of a song. Just this past week (I love serendipity, don’t you?) The Joni Mitchell song “Circle Game” was being covered by Buffy St. Marie. That was fine and dandy but what the DJ, Saroja Coelho shared is what grabbed my attention. Until Joni saw Buffy in concert in 1964, she was singing other people’s songs. Buffy taught her that women can write songs, too. Intelligent songs. Songs that mean something. That very day, she wrote her first song, “Day After Day” and was off and running. Joni gave a tape of her songs to Buffy who carried it around with her on tour, playing it for everyone. As Buffy says:
“Most of the people I played Joni’s tape for – friends and musicians – loved her music, but not the business boys. They were into Peter, Paul & Mary vanilla folk songs, and Joni and I were both originals… and Canadian (not so cool at the time). I played her tape for Joel Dean, my agent at Chartoff-Winkler Agency, and got a “no thanks”. But a younger guy in the same agency agreed to go see Joni play at a Greenwich Village coffee house. That was Elliot Roberts. He and Joni built a great career together and I’ve always loved him for that.”
Joni Mitchell has had her share of accolades: nine Grammy awards, inducted in the Juno Hall of Fame (Canadian Music) and in 1997 she became the first Canadian woman named to the US Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She also received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002 – the first Canadian to earn this recognition. Not too shabby, I say.
And she’s been an influence to the likes of Bob Dylan, Suzanne Vega, Alanis Morissette, and Prince. I mean come on, Prince? Doing a cover? “Drink a Case of You” is a lovely version by him.
My second favourite song of hers is her later version of “Both Sides Now”. Her voice is deeper and richer (smoke-altered) and she brings it down a notch – gives me goosebumps. For those of you who prefer the original, you can click here. For the others, here you go.
All of Joni’s songs tell a story. Her album “Blue” was so personal that Kris Kristofferson, when she played it for him, said: “God, Joan, save something of yourself.” He might have had a point because, as she said, while recording this album, they had to lock the doors to the studio because she was in a state of mind that today would be called a mental breakdown.
“It begins with a sense of isolation and of not knowing anything, which is accompanied by a tremendous panic. Then clairvoyant qualities begin to come in, and you and the world become transparent, so if you’re approached by a person, all their secrets are not closeted.”
When one creates such an album, it cannot help but become a classic and, in this case is called a “bastion of artistic expression”.
None of Joni’s music is meaningless. She mixes her voice (which has shifted from mezzo-soprano to contralto over time) with her superb guitar or piano playing to create music that ranges from folk to jazz to pop to rock to classical. Her songs reflect social and environmental ideals as well as her feelings about romance, confusion, disillusionment, and joy.
And, since Christmas is next week (what?), I had to bring in Joni last, because my favourite song of hers is sort of a Christmas one, which just so happens to belong on that wonderful album that is Blue…
Joni Mitchell definitely deserves her place on MY Rushmore.
Do please go visit Marc over at Sorryless to see who he put as his fourth member of HIS Rushmore. I know one thing for sure. You won’t come away untouched by his beautiful writing.
I was raised on country music. Not that I’d admit it. Then. Neither would my sisters. We’d occasionally get caught by friends when we sang along to songs that we weren’t supposed to know. It may have garnered us more than one disbelieving or bewildered look, followed by a “how come you know this stuff?” We might have blushed and stuttered some inane reason as to the why we knew ALL the words… Truth is, I always loved it and am now not shy to admit it, either! Now.
I always knew when my mother was ironing (NOT a regular occurrence, I assure you) because, when I got off the bus on the other side of the field next to our house – back before four houses were added to the lot – I could hear the music blaring through the open windows. Conway Twitty, Merle Haggard, never Johnny Cash coz she just didn’t dig him for reasons unfathomable, Loretta Lynn and, of course, Dolly Parton. No way in hell you can list the best of the best of country without including Dolly!
Then again, it is unfair to box her into only one genre, singing for one generation. Who else, except maybe Cher, can claim to be an intergenerational celebrity, loved by both the religious right and the gay community; by octogenarians and twenty-somethings?
When you look beyond all the fake, all the make-up, the wigs, the sparkles, you find a proficient businesswoman, accomplished songwriter, brilliant performer and generous philanthropist. You can’t get more authentic inside all of the outlandish packaging. Packaging about which she maintains to have never pretended to be anything but honest about. Her professional career was built on it and she will continue to maintain it until her last breath. Asked by Barbara Walters why she dressed as she did and wore the wigs when she is naturally beautiful, got this response:
“No, It’s certainly a choice. I don’t like to be like everyone else. I’ve often made the statement that I would never stoop so low as to be fashionable. That’s the easiest thing in the world to do. I just decided that I would just do somethin’ that would at least get the attention. Once they got past the shock of the ridiculous way I looked and all that, then they would see there was parts of me to be appreciated. I’m very real inside. And that’s where it counts… Showbusiness is a money-making joke and I’ve just always liked telling jokes.”
You tell ’em, Dolly! And really, such an interesting interview, it’s worth the listen, if’n you’re so inclined.
Her first real hit, ironically not written by her, though it could have been, says it, she may look it, but she ain’t no dumb blonde…
Dolly has been writing songs since before she could even write (age 5 and her mother wrote them for her). She was performing at ten on TV and bought her family a set with her earnings so they could actually see her. And, she made her debut at the Grand Ole Opry, introduced by Johnny Cash, by age 13, earning three encores. As if writing over 3,000 songs – each of them a little story – and being nominated and earning all sorts of awards (Country, Pop, British, Canadian, Grammy, Emmy, Oscar Tony…), she holds two Guinness World Records! She has had a top twenty country hit in six consecutive decades and has had 107 hits to make the chart. Seriously.
Porter Wagoner really put her on the map, though. She replaced the “girl singer” Norma Jean in the late sixties and was practically booed off the stage. I wonder how she managed not to gag every time she was introduced as the “pretty little gal”? She won them all over, of course, and by 1974 was ready to chart her own course. She wrote “I Will Always Love You” as a parting gift.
“If you don’t like the road you’re walking, start paving another one.”
Speaking of that song, she would dearly have loved to have Elvis Presley sing it. However, Presley’s peeps wanted to own her song and she plumb turned them down, stating it’s her song and no matter how much I would have loved to hear it from his beautiful voice, she would not give it up. Talk about knowing her business! That song would make her mucho moolah thanks to Whitney Houston’s goose bump-inducing version, which she adored.
Dolly managed to cross over from country to pop and back to country, finally dipping her toe into bluegrass, which, let’s face it, is where it all began. But singin’ ain’t all this pretty little lady can do as her roles in movies can attest. Did you know Jane Fonda insisted Dolly be brought in for Nine to Five? Can anyone picture someone else playing Doralee? Or Truvy in Steel Magnolias for that matter? I sure can’t. Little tidbit: while in between scenes, Dolly came up with the theme for Nine to Five by “playing” her acrylic fingernails! I kid you not. Move over washboard, there’s a new instrument in town. I wonder if they include them as one of the ten instruments she plays? Usually, she uses her banjo when writing songs but hey, if nothing else is available…
“Find out who you are and do it on purpose.”
She never hid her desire to become a superstar and is the epitome of generosity when it comes to her fans. She will never gripe about any demands made on her time because she knows this is part and parcel of the deal. She is ferocious in keeping herself and her views private and will never speak ill of anyone. No matter how many times she has been asked her opinion on politics, we have been left in the dark. I admire a star who keeps herself far away from any potential scandal.
She is gracious and while never officially stating being a feminist is always there to support her fellow women performers. Her theme park is fine and dandy but I’d rather focus on her causes: Imagination Library, which gives books to children from birth till they start school, Buddy Program to help students resist dropping out of high school; fundraising to help with fighting fires, fighting for animal rights, donating $1,000,000 towards the Coronavirus vaccine research and more.
Ohmygosh! I have overstayed my welcome! I’ll spare you more (even though I keep thinking of more things to say!) Dolly Parton’s place on Mount Rushmore, as far as I’m concerned, is not to be denied.
Please make sure you go over to see Marc’s choice for the Male side on Sorryless.
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