It’s Okay, I *AM* the Band….

Today while I was deleting old files to make space on my hard drive for more photos, I stumbled over this draft that I started…..who knows when….of course, I’m not going to finish it now. Just posting it, because it’s all true……

I lived a very sheltered life until my divorce at the age of 31. I didn’t drink alcohol, I never learned to smoke, didn’t use foul language and I didn’t know what the world was like outside my small circle of friends. Of course I saw these things on TV, but I couldn’t visualize living in that world.

My life changed one day when I answered an ad for a band that was looking for a piano player. I played piano, I should be able to do that, I thought. I auditioned on a borrowed keyboard, and even though I had never played with a band, had no idea what to do I got the job. This meant I had to acquire a piano and an amplifier on my minimum wage paycheck. That was no small feat right there. They also asked me to sing backup harmony, since there was another girl who sang lead. Yikes…..most of the singing I had done was at church and a few times at a local Opry show. I managed to fake my way through that also. I was beginning to get good at faking things.

The name of the band was “Burgundy and Lace”. Catchy and descriptive….Burgundy was the masculine part and Lace was the other girl and me.

The band picked up a few gigs locally, and I gained more and more confidence and experience. I also began drinking, simply because that is what people do in a bar or nightclub. You go there to drink, to mingle, to dance; to live the nightlife. Ah, the nightlife.

I will admit to being quite conceited in those days. I admit it now, but not then. My mother told me once, when she was annoyed and disgusted with my new hobby, that all I wanted to do was “get dressed up, go out and let men tell me how pretty I was”. I was appalled that she would say such a horrible thing to me, I was a “professional” musician now, and I was going to be famous! It was a few years before I could acknowledge the stark truth in what my mom said to me. It was the truth. I loved it, I was thin, didn’t look my age, I was cute and the men liked me.

Even on my off nights from the band, I couldn’t just sit at home. I would go out to a club with my new girlfriends; I learned to dance, sort of. For a musician, I’m not a very good dancer, but I loved trying. The most popular place in the 1980s was Calhoon’s, on Breezy Hill between Denison and Sherman. Thursday was “Ladies Night”….which meant no cover charge and maybe even free beer. If not free, then it was 25 or 50 cents. That was my price range in those days. At a place like Calhoon’s, the crowd was constantly moving, back and forth from one end of the club to the other. We never, ever sat down at a table; that was for the married people, or the ones on dates. As single ladies, we were there to “see and be seen” by all the (hopefully) single men. The three of us heard every lame pick-up line ever uttered, and some never heard before. My favorite was the obviously drunk guy who came up to us right before closing time and said he’d been watching us all evening long, but was so intimidated by our beauty that he had to work up the nerve to approach us. Sure, buddy, sure. We know; we all get prettier at closing time! But, you didn’t get better looking or smarter…..take a hike!

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My Love Affair….with the Piano….

I’ve written a lot about my musical background, including my shady days as a bar-fly, but music still is my heart’s desire, even at my age. I grew up with piano music in my house, and as a small child, I think I just assumed everyone’s mother played the piano like mine did. I must have thought every house had a piano, just like a sofa or dining table. I didn’t know that not everyone heard the music of Chopin, Beethoven or Rachmaninoff being played in their own living room. What wonders these kids missed out on, for sure!

So, of course, I think the piano is the best musical instrument ever invented by mankind. The piano, under the right touch, can produce any style of music, from classical to ragtime to country to pop. Nothing against guitarists, because I do know some really awesome players, but I feel the piano outshines them all. My mother, who is a mere 18 years older than me, has such a lyrical, melodic style that I have tried to emulate for 50+ years, without success. She was classically trained and it shines through in whatever she plays. Someone once described my style as “Broadway”, but I think it’s Broadway meets country meets Southern Baptist……it just depends on where and what I’m playing.

My talent is just a shade past its prime these days, as arthritis has made my hands slow and my fingers clumsy; and my style has become simpler, less adorned….playing safer means fewer mistakes. It breaks my heart at times, because I love to sit down and play; and now I get a little frustrated because of the limitations. Ah, well….such is life, though. I’m still blessed to be able to play and I’m thankful that my mother shared her knowledge with me at an early age and instilled in my heart my love of good music.

Midnight Lady

In 1985 I was playing with the band “Burgundy and Lace” in my hometown and having a blast, learning the ropes, learning to drink, etc. The drummer was a laid back guy named LaVaden (LV for short) Reynolds, and one night at rehearsal, he told me about a song he had written. He had a page full of lyrics with a good premise, the title was “A Midnight Lady named Sadie”…….I saw potential and asked if I could work with the words and see if I could come up with something. He was excited that I was willing to try, so that’s how “Midnight Lady” was born.

I tweaked the lyrics, condensing them to make them more cohesive, and came up with a melody and some chord changes that I really liked. The band learned the song, we performed it regularly in clubs and it was well received. Of course, it was sung by the lead singer, Randy, with me and Linda singing harmony. The version at the top of the page is mine, made with Band in a Box, with my vocals. I really think it could have been a great song in the right hands. I suppose we’ll never know.

LV died about 4 years ago, much too young. It’s a shame that he never got to hear our song on the Internet…….he would have said “wow, man, that’s really cool”. I can hear him saying just those words.

Midnight Lady

She’s a midnight lady, always on the go
sometimes saying maybe, sometimes saying no.
She’s always on the dance floor, at a local bar
living out her fantasy of being someone’s star.

She never goes home before midnight,
but always goes alone
running from the spotlight
never a diamond, just a rhinestone.

She’s a midnight lady, living all alone
looking out the window, listening for the phone,
but when the phone is silent and she cannot sleep
she remembers all the promises that he just couldn’t keep.

Now the midnight lady recalls a love gone by
but the memory is so faded now, she finds it hard to cry,
’cause now that she is older and wiser than before
she realized a broken heart doesn’t matter anymore.

She never goes home before midnight,
but always goes alone
running from the spotlight
never a diamond, just a rhinestone.

ooh..midnight lady
sad and lonely lady
ooh midnight lady
all alone…….

Dreamin’ Jeannie

The story of Dreamin’ Jeannie is a simple one. It’s my life. My middle name is Jeanne, easy enough to turn that into Jeannie….then use the play on words from the old Stephen Foster song “I Dream of Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair”….Because, it seemed I was always day-dreaming about things that I could never have, or could never be…I dreamed of being a musician, not necessarily being famous, but of being known for my music. I was a *stay-at-home-mom* long before that became a popular catch-phrase; what it really meant was, I had never worked, had no education or job skills, and a controlling husband. My (ex) husband didn’t like it when I would get lost in music, probably because he wasn’t musical, and he just didn’t understand. He did buy me a lovely piano once, but didn’t like for me to play when he was in the house; only if we had company would he say “play something”…..most of all he was jealous of my love of music because it took me away from him. It was my escape. I escaped a lot.

I wrote this song in 1979…I was sure that it could have been a big hit if the right artist would record it…..(I’m still dreamin’ about that)…..I had all of my original songs from that era copyrighted in the early 1980s thinking I would someday do something with them. So far, all I’ve done is sing them over and over to myself, and record a few for my satisfaction.

Below is the video slide show I set to the song a few years ago……filled with photos of the house we lived in once, my kids, and my days in the clubs….and the last frame is my daughter Kelly and me, performing together on a local talent show.

Dreamin’ Jeannie

Breakfast dishes sittin’ on the table till noon,

dirty clothes piled up in the hall so soon,

the kids are outside playin’, she knows her mama’s prayin’,

that someday she’ll grow up and stop dreamin’ all the time;

Her husband’s workin’ hard and extra hours these days,

to try to pay the bills and get ahead some way,

he loves her all he can, but he just don’t understand,

only hopes that someday she’ll stop dreamin’ all the time.

But Jeannie can’t stop dreamin’ when the music’s in her head,

cause if the music ever stops, she might as well be dead;

Well, someday they’ll remember how they teased her years ago,

when they hear her music playin’, on the radio…………………

She’s livin’ in a fantasy, well that’s what they all think,

just cause she’s not worried ‘bout dishes in the sink,

the telephone is ringin’, but Jeannie keeps on singin’,

and hopes she won’t ever stop dreamin’ all the time;

She knows the house is dusty, and the beds have not been made,

and the ironing’s where she left it, sometime yesterday,

so she gives a little smile, when he says he’ll be gone awhile,

and he knows she’ll never stop dreamin’ all the time..

chorus

second chorus:

They’ll say “Jeannie keep on dreamin’ makin’ music all day long”

someday the world will recognize, Dreamin’ Jeannie’s songs,

and her friends will say “oh yes, I knew Jeannie way back when,

wonder if she thinks about us every now and then”?

I can say that I have accomplished one goal, because most people who have known me for more than a short time, know my love for music; they know I love to sing, to play piano, to record, and to write songs. New people I meet are always surprised, no, shocked to learn that I once played in a country band, in bars and honky-tonks. I sure don’t look the part now. I just laugh and tell them “I wasn’t always this old”!

Copies of my labor of love, my very first hand printed lead sheet for Dreamin’ Jeannie…I’m still impressed that I was able to do that without knowing “how”…..

I’m still waiting for someone to discover my music ……..the dream has never died.

Jeannie is still dreamin’…..

Techno-geek-wannabe…that’s ME!

Until 1998, my hubby and I did not own a computer at all. We entered into the technology world very hesitantly. When we bought our first PC, we didn’t even know what to ask for or look for, we just bought one that had a printer and a scanner, and it was almost $2,000.00. Now we are on our third desktop model and third laptop…..in 13 years. Prices have gone down considerably, but they are still not cheap. The current desktop is acting strange lately and I’m afraid it’s going to crash completely; I mean I am truly afraid! This is the computer we use to record music with, burn and print CDs and even though I now have an external hard drive for (hopefully) safekeeping of important documents, I’m clueless about how to retrieve anything from said hard drive. Everything I have learned in 13 years, I have learned by trial and error. Lots of errors!

Our very first computer....and the monstrous desk we thought we needed! Every home office/recording studio should also have a saddle.....
Much smaller desk, much larger monitor, and yes, more recording equipment! Lots of clutter, too.....one of my many faults!

Last week, my faithful laptop crashed and I’ve been lost without it. I dropped it off today at the local techno-repair place, entrusting it to the care of a nice young man who’s probably younger in age than most of my shoes. He assured me that he could even retrieve all my music, photos and documents from my last laptop that crashed 3 years ago, that is sitting forlornly in my closet. My husband, Mike tried to give that one away and I fairly screamed……NO!!!!!……all my stuff is in there! I know it’s still in there. I watch C.S.I.  I know that nothing is ever really “gone” from a hard drive!

Mike has a smaller laptop which he has tried to get me to “borrow” from him while mine is out of service, but I declined. It’s like driving a strange car, you know? I’ll just do without my laptop until the nice young man calls. I know I shouldn’t be so lost without my laptop, I have an iPhone, a Kindle Fire and my desktop; it’s just like a security blanket to me. Even while we are watching TV, I am constantly looking up facts and trivia on sites like IMDB, one of my favorites, so I can impress Mike with all the information.

I confess I have a love/hate relationship with technology, I love how easy it is to make music digitally, but I hate it when things don’t work like they should. I’m forever saying “but that should WORK, I know it should”! Just this morning, I was trying to print a label on a CD, like I have done hundreds of times, and the printer kept spitting the tray out and telling me it was not in place correctly. I beg your pardon, Mr. Epson Stylus, but it WAS in place correctly. You are not doing your job! You’re fired!

So, how did I function before computers came into my life? My phone was wired into the wall, my pictures were printed and kept in an album (or shoebox), my music was on cassettes or CDs, I played a lovely Yamaha acoustic piano and I sang without a microphone.

My gorgeous Yamaha......such a beautiful sounding instrument.
Band-in-a-box.....really cool software!
Cakewalk Music Creator recording software.....

But, now, I can record semi-professional sounding tracks, make videos with the songs and post them on youtube, or my blog; I can email them to my parents, I can burn and print music CDs to mail to my parents (see a theme here?) … or I can just keep them on my computer forever.

Until I die.

Or until my computer crashes.

Whichever comes first……

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Here’s a song that my daughter Kelly is singing….she asked me to make the piano track for her so she could sing this Gretchen Wilson tune…..

“I’d Love to Be Your Last”

……..and THIS is why I love technology…….