Great Song Friday: “Anything You Want”

Roy Orbison

I was in Borders last night and people were doing slam poems and singing in the coffee area. A young teen-age kid sang and played “Anything You Want” on guitar, and I was blown away. Especially when his voice broke or he went a little off key. I love this song. And I love it especially when it’s not perfect, because the feeling and the words are already so amazing. And I loved it that a young guy would want to learn it and sing a song created by the one and only Roy Orbison. Enjoy!

From Songfacts: “You Got It” was written by Roy Orbison and was the chart-leading single from his 1988 comeback album Mystery Girl. Tragically, he died of a heart attack in December of 1988, before he could see just how successful his comeback was.
The most remarkable thing demonstrated by “You Got It” is that Roy Orbison’s signature style not only wasn’t out of date for the 1980s, but actually fit right in. While you can hear the updated musical conventions in the instrumentals and handclaps, Orbison’s trembling, vulnerable voice and poetic lyrics remained faithful to his 1950s style, and also managed to be as fresh as any teen pop idol of the 1980s.”


Week 22: Every Picture Tells a Story

This morning’s spin song that’s still sitting in my head is Rod Stewart’s Every Picture Tells a Story. It’s always so hard to get going in the morning, but it’s great exercise and doesn’t take much coordination or much thought (both good for me). Once you get on the bike, you’re on automatic pilot — you can even close your eyes.

The song reminds me that there are lots of pictures inside my head, and lots of stories. This week I learned that another poem has found a home (if it ever gets finished). It was selected for an anthology of poems about collections. I’m going to include the poem here now because there are no worries about the poem “being published” and because I’ve waited for almost two years to hear from them about publication.

So here’s the picture that tells the story: an old priest opens the door to his rectory after a little girl in a school uniform knocks on the door.

How differently might the picture be interpreted today …

Offering Up the Collection

The Irish priest had pure white hair,
a black cocker spaniel named Rasputin,
and a glass jar of children’s teeth.

An odd collection amassed from years
of tiny gap-smiled visitors bold enough
to cross the street to his brick-faced rectory.

They offered up wadded handkerchiefs,
cradles for bloodied milk-white kernels
that Father praised and plinked into the maw.

In return, he doled out holy trinkets:
small plastic statues of empty-handed Mary
or Jesus pointing to an painted ruby heart.

A cursory sign of the cross over an open mouth,
and the child raced back to the playground
to prove how brave she’d been to go alone.

When confessional boxes murmured dark secrets
and tongues burned down the priest’s creed,
his collection hummed like a choir of cherubim.

Rasputin died first, then the priest, far away.
His jar was flung into the alley, its bits scattered.
All night the wind sang across drifting snow.


Week 20: I’ve Been Everywhere

Still making it to spin class regularly — and heading into the five month zone (can’t believe it). There are always lots of road songs in spin class, and this one, “I’ve Been Everywhere” comes up quite often. Well, I haven’t been all that many places, but this Johnny Cash song seems to list quite a few of them. I think I’ve spent a good portion of my life in a car …

I’ve Been Everywhere

I was totin’ my pack along the long dusty Winnemucca road,
When along came a semi with a high an’ canvas-covered load.
“If you’re goin’ to Winnemucca, Mack, with me you can ride.”
And so I climbed into the cab and then I settled down inside.
He asked me if I’d seen a road with so much dust and sand.
And I said, “Listen, I’ve traveled every road in this here land!”

I’ve been everywhere, man.
I’ve been everywhere, man.
Crossed the desert’s bare, man.
I’ve breathed the mountain air, man.
Of travel I’ve had my share, man.
I’ve been everywhere.

I’ve been to:
Reno, Chicago, Fargo, Minnesota,
Buffalo, Toronto, Winslow, Sarasota,
Wichita, Tulsa, Ottawa, Oklahoma,
Tampa, Panama, Mattawa, La Paloma,
Bangor, Baltimore, Salvador, Amarillo,
Tocapillo, Baranquilla, and Perdilla, I’m a killer.

I’ve been to:
Boston, Charleston, Dayton, Louisiana,
Washington, Houston, Kingston, Texarkana,
Monterey, Faraday, Santa Fe, Tallapoosa,
Glen Rock, Black Rock, Little Rock, Oskaloosa,
Tennessee, Hennessey, Chicopee, Spirit Lake,
Grand Lake, Devils Lake, Crater Lake, for Pete’s sake.

I’ve been to:
Louisville, Nashville, Knoxville, Ombabika,
Schefferville, Jacksonville, Waterville, Costa Rica,
Pittsfield, Springfield, Bakersfield, Shreveport,
Hackensack, Cadillac, Fond du Lac, Davenport,
Idaho, Jellico, Argentina, Diamantina,
Pasadena, Catalina, see what I mean-a.

I’ve been to:
Pittsburgh, Parkersburg, Gravelbourg, Colorado,
Ellensburg, Rexburg, Vicksburg, Eldorado,
Larimore, Admore, Haverstraw, Chatanika,
Chaska, Nebraska, Alaska, Opelika,
Baraboo, Waterloo, Kalamazoo, Kansas City,
Sioux City, Cedar City, Dodge City, what a pity.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Tiny

Another difficult photo topic this week. So I thought of tiny from a different perspective. Last year when I visited Chicago with a group of friends, we took photos at the top of the Hancock Tower. When I looked at the photos tonight, I was surprised to see our reflections in this photo. Thought it offered an interesting comment on “tiny.”

The poem below is tiny, too. It’s about an evening a few years ago, when I went to a concert in Fargo, ND.  I had never heard of Ralph Stanley, but I went anyway. He sang the song called “O Death,” which is on the soundtrack of the movie, “O Brother, Where Art Thou.”

I still remember how haunting the lyrics were as this very old and frail man sang to death, asking for one more year of life. So this is my “tiny” poem dedicated to Ralph Stanley.

Song for the Devil
for Ralph Stanley at the Fargo Theater

Your ancient keen
rattles the rafters
as you wind your way
through a plea to Death
for one more year.

You stand alone
on a stage of yellow wood
with fiddle hands folded,
while one beam of light
traps you in white fire.

We hold our breath
in a shadowed balcony
until Death stomps
downstairs and slams
an exit door behind us.

published in Prairie Winds, Spring 2007

Week 17: “25 or 6 to 4”

Music can take you anywhere, even when you’re stuck in a dark room with 20 people spinning their brains out.

Case in point? This week’s memorable song — Chicago’s “25 or 6 to 4.” Who else played this song in pep band … sitting in freezing football stands or squeezed into bleachers during basketball games.?

Who played clarinet — or pretended to? Who had no desire to move from the third chair section because they shared a music stand with their high school crush during band practice?

Who has a great marching band uniform story? Whose pants were as wide as they were long?

Who went on band trips? Who got stuck in a motel room window while trying to sneak out the back way after curfew?

Who still has their high school instrument? Who gave it away to a school band program so that young students today could get involved with their schools’ music programs?

If you do have an instrument moldering away in your attic, consider giving it to your local school band program. They could use your help and support to keep music in the schools.

Last question — What would our world be like without music?

Post a week challenge


It's May and it's GREEN!

It’s May and the world has suddenly — and lusciously — turned green!

Also, I have been spinning and writing at least one blog post a week now for four straight months. I began 2011 with the WordPress Post-a-week Challenge and my goal to lose weight for my daughter’s wedding in July.

 Somehow, my spinning and blogging have become intertwined. I can’t believe I am still doing both — especially since all other writing and exercise goals (poem a week, exercise DVDs) have bit the dust after just a few short weeks.

So, what do spin and blogs have in common? Any ideas out there? Here are a few.

1. You write and spin in the dark. I like that. I can sweat and space out and lately I find that I can take my mind elsewhere as long as my legs keep moving. Writing’s the same. I write TO this black void that I never see and rarely hear from. Nonetheless, I’ll check my daily stats and find out that 40, 50, 60, even 89 pair of eyes have visited my site in the past day. That, for me at least, is truly amazing! Welcome, silent visitors!

2. You write and spin for yourself. Someone asked me where I find the time to write on FB and blogs. I didn’t know how to respond. I do have a full time job, but I enjoy writing so it’s something I do because I WANT to. My kids are grown, rather not watch TV tonight, so I worked on other projects. Same with spin. For years, I said I couldn’t find time to exercise. Now I’m up and out of the house by 5:45 for 6 a.m. spin. Always tired, but I always feel great afterwards.

3. Writing and spinning get you “out of your lane.” That’s something I heard this morning at spin. The teacher said that one of the spinners said he liked coming to spin because it got him out of his music lane — 70s, 80s, 90s, country, rock, heavy metal. You can spin to anything — and we do. Writing does the same thing for me. It helps me think a problem through or play with an image or see the world through new eyes. We all need to get out of our lanes more often.

4. To spin and write you’ve got to sit your butt down and pump it out.  No lie. Both are hard work — and no one’s going to do it for you. And if you crap out one day, just get back in the saddle again. Who cares? No one but you.

That’s it for now. Night!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Lines

A portion of Dad’s painting on the barn door

My dad always enjoyed drawing and painting. We had a chalkboard in our kitchen and there was always something doodled there. He also painted around the farm place. He painted the barn door back in the 1960s, when it was considered so different that a photographer from the Des Moines Register traveled three hours to our farm to take a photo. This is how the barn door looked the last time I saw it in 2006. Sometime after that, the barn and most of the buildings were bulldozed.

The weekly photo topic is lines, so I guess these old warped boards offer an interesting perspective. As do the lines below:

What Remains

In this emptied-out place
of hot white light and rich black earth,

in this hallowed place
of giving up and moving on,

in this sacred place
of remembering and returning,

only the wind remains
to tell our stories,

to whisper our names,

to save our souls.