Music


It’s time again for another “Izzy’s Top 5”! 🙂 This time, I thought I would give the 5 best songs to dance to while working in the kitchen. Many of you might be wondering, why in the kitchen? Why not just the 5 best dance songs in general. Well, for one, I’m not fond of doing a “general” of anything. Typically that kind of topic is done and overdone, and I don’t need to add to that overdonedness. Secondly, I practically live in my kitchen. Seriously, I do. When you have to cook 3 meals a day for an army (well…maybe not an ARMY, but almost), you might as well put a cot into the kitchen and be prepared to stay there for a long while. I’ve worn a path on my floor with all the walking around the table I have to do on a daily basis. And I have permanent foot prints in front of the stove. I’ll take a picture at some point to prove it. But for now, you’re going to have to be content in just taking my word for that. Suffice to say, I spend a great deal of time in my kitchen. And since I spend a great deal of time in my kitchen, I also spend a great deal of time listening to music in there….which only means I do an awful lot of dancing around in there, aswell. Dinner just doesn’t quite taste right if I haven’t done some dancing around whilst stirring.
This brings me to my Top 5 topic du jour: Izzy’s Top 5 songs to dance to while working in the kitchen. If you don’t work in a kitchen, don’t despair! You can dance to these anywhere. I’m pretty sure it’ll work….I haven’t tried it out, since I rarely leave my kitchen, but you can try. And then let me know how it works out for you. We can make a study of it! But on to my Top 5:

Song #5:
Bob Marley – Three Little Birds
Ok, who can’t help but dance around to this one? It’s not fast, but it’s just perfect for stirring spaghetti sauce to. And with a couple glasses of wine to go with it, I’m not worrying about a thing… 😉

Song #4:
ABBA – Take a Chance on Me
No top 5 songs to dance to while working in the kitchen would be complete with out a little ABBA…and here is the first installment of that. ABBA songs have the BEST beat, and when their music is playing, you have to dance. It’s almost like a law or something. But it’s best to not be doing something like cooking when this is on….I usually dance around to this one while mopping. I never knew how great of a partner that darn mop could really be. Who knew all those weirdos in the movies had it right all along.

Song #3:
The Dubliners – Rocky Road to Dublin
This one is TOO fun to dance to, even just in general (yeah, I did say it, but we’ll just pretend I didn’t). But for some reason it’s way more fun in the kitchen. Sometimes I get the elder female Izzlets to dance with me, and I try to jig around like they do…it doesn’t typically work, though., so I end up content just dancing like a fool.

Song #2:
ABBA – Dancing Queen
Not including this one is practically a criminal offense. The name says it all. It’s much more fun when you can get wee ones into it with you. But beware!..when you do get others into the fun, the dancing never limits itself to just the kitchen. So if you’re wanting to keep it in one place, it’s best to do this one alone.

And last but not least!!!!!
Song #1:
The Bothy Band – Various stuff
I was going to put their Jig and Five Reels up, but I couldn’t find it on YouTube. I think I do the most dancing to this (including much of what’s on the YouTube clip, so all is not lost!!). There is just something about jigs and reels….my feet just start moving, and the next thing you know, I’m dancing on the table. Oh wait….that’s something else entirely. Forget that last bit. But I do dance all over creation when the Bothy Band is jigging out on my iPod.

This list is hardly complete, but it’s still worthy of an Izzy’s Top 5. These songs and tunes have brought me much joy, and I’m convinced they make my meals much more palatable. A bit of advice…if you are self-conscious about dancing around with an audience (ie: your kids, your husband, your neighbours peeking into the windows), then you might want to do this when no one is around for the first few times. Then you can also sing at the top of your voice, too, without making an utter fool of yourself. Happy dancing! 🙂

One cold morning last winter, I was taking Mr Izz to school so I could have the car. He turned on the radio, and tuned in to NPR. I tend to like NPR (National Public Radio, for those that might be reading and are not from the US). Despite it’s more liberal leaning politics, I find them to be far less unbiased than say, Fox News, which I can’t even tolerate. Plus, they have tons of really cool shows on which aren’t in the least political. Our local NPR (North Country Public Radio) has local shows that are wonderful. Things like String Fever, The Folk Show, and Music for a Monday Afternoon are awesome to listen to. I also love that I can find out what’s going on culturally around the area (and believe me, there are too many to choose from up here in the frozen tundra). But these are just the local shows. NPR itself, which is broadcasted nationally, has quite a few really great shows as well. The Thistle and Shamrock is absolutely one of my favourites and Car Talk is always fun to listen to. A Prairie Home Companion is fun as well…but really only for the music. I don’t tend to like some of their skits, for they can bit a bit more risqué for my tastes.

But the one program that I really love on NPR is The Writer’s Almanac. It’s kind of like a “what happened today in the writing world” and then it features a new poem each day. So on that cold car ride to take Mr Izz to school on that very cold day last winter (you see? I didn’t forget what I was talking about!), he tuned in to NPR just in time for The Writer’s Almanac….much to my joy because even though I love it, I tend to forget when it’s on. I listened to the almanac portion, and then Mr Keillor went on to the poem of the day. That particular day, it was a poem entitled “Briefly it Enters, and Briefly Speaks” by Jane Kenyon. It was a beautiful poem to say the least, and one I’d like to share with you all here. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did.

I am the blossom pressed in a book,
found again after two hundred years. . . .

I am the maker, the lover, and the keeper. . . .

When the young girl who starves
sits down to a table
she will sit beside me. . . .

I am food on the prisoner’s plate. . . .

I am water rushing to the wellhead,
filling the pitcher until it spills. . . .

I am the patient gardener
of the dry and weedy garden. . . .

I am the stone step,
the latch, and the working hinge. . . .

I am the heart contracted by joy. . .
the longest hair, white
before the rest. . . .

I am there in the basket of fruit
presented to the widow. . . .

I am the musk rose opening
unattended, the fern on the boggy summit. . . .

I am the one whose love
overcomes you, already with you
when you think to call my name. . .

I found this awesome blog today. Well worth the visit if you really enjoy Jazz and those who play it.

Cafe Jazz

Go check it out!

and swing/jazz music in particular, I’m feeling a need to post about Bobby Darin, and his tune Mack the Knife. I have no idea if anyone who reads this blog knows anything about this tune…it’s my guess that even if you think you haven’t, you’ve more than likely heard it. It really has been popular enough to musically span the decades since it’s release. It’s one of those tunes that has a great, swinging beat and can’t help but get you dancing around. But there is a problem with this tune….let me elaborate.

There was a study done at one time, stating that the vast majority of Americans don’t listen to the lyrics of a tune they like. If it has a good beat and you can dance to it, that’s more than enough for them to enjoy it. The lyrics are secondary. In most cases, I have found that to be true, even regarding myself. This was undoubtedly the case with the afore mentioned Bobby Darin tune. That has one of the best beats ever in a song, which has always made it a bit endearing to me. That was, until a few years back I actually read the lyrics. Here they are:

Oh, the shark, babe, has such teeth, dear
And it shows them pearly white
Just a jackknife has old MacHeath, babe
And he keeps it … ah … out of sight.

Ya know when that shark bites, with his teeth, babe
Scarlet billows start to spread
Fancy gloves, though, wears old MacHeath, babe
So there’s nevah, nevah a trace of red.

Now on the sidewalk … uuh, huh … whoo … sunny mornin’ … uuh, huh
Lies a body just oozin’ life … eeek!
And someone’s sneakin’ ‘round the corner
Could that someone be Mack the Knife?

A-there’s a tugboat … huh, huh, huh … down by the river don’tcha know
Where a cement bag’s just a’droopin’ on down
Oh, that cement is just, it’s there for the weight, dear
Five’ll get ya ten old Macky’s back in town.

Now, d’ja hear ‘bout Louie Miller? He disappeared, babe
After drawin’ out all his hard-earned cash
And now MacHeath spends just like a sailor
Could it be our boy’s done somethin’ rash?

Now … Jenny Diver … ho, ho … yeah … Sukey Tawdry
Ooh … Miss Lotte Lenya and old Lucy Brown
Oh, the line forms on the right, babe
Now that Macky’s back in town.

Aah … I said Jenny Diver … whoa … Sukey Tawdry
Look out to Miss Lotte Lenya and old Lucy Brown
Yes, that line forms on the right, babe
Now that Macky’s back in town …

Look out … old Macky is back!!

All that time that I was be-bopping around the house to that tune, I was actually be-bopping to an upbeat sounding tune about a serial killer. Good grief! One has to wonder when the tune actually hit the charts back in the ’50s if the vast majority of teenyboppers really listened to the lyrics. I would tend to doubt it…it had a great beat and you could dance to it, remember?

I now read the lyrics to a tune before I decide whether I like it or not. Wouldn’t you, if you had come to love a song because it had a funbeat that made you happy, only to discover the subject matter years later? What’s funny is that my children already are in the habit of reading the lyrics…they know that if the lyrics are too explicit, I’ll more than likely ixnay the purchase of that particular cd. This is the case with Mack the Knife as well. My two older boys despised the song for quite some time…dismissing it as “Ella Fitzgerald music” because of the jazziness. Since then, they’ve also discovered the lyrics and it has become one of their favourite tunes. My eldest son even has it on his iPod. The beat and the lyrics pose such an oxymoron that it reduces them to fits of hysteria whenever they listen to it. But for me, if I’m going to indulge in such vileness, I’m going to listen to a version that’s far superiour. Here’s Ella’s take on the same tune:

{Spoken} Thank you. We’d like to do something for you now.
We haven’t heard a girl sing it. And since it’s so popular,
we’d like to try and do it for you.
We hope we remember all the words.{}

Oh, the shark has pearly teeth, dear
And he shows them, pearly white
Just a jack knife has Macheath, dear
And he keeps it out of sight

Oh, the shark bites with his teeth, dear
Scarlet billows start to spread
Fancy gloves though, wears Macheath dear
So there’s not, not a trace of red

On a Sunday, Sunday morning
Lies a body, oozin’ life
Someone’s sneaking ’round the corner
Tell me could it be, could it be, could it be
Mack the Knife?

Oh, what’s the next chorus?
To this song, now
This is the one, now
I don’t know
But it was a swinging tune
And its a hit tune
So we tried to do Mack The Knife

Ah, Louis Miller
Oh, something about cash
Yeah, Miller, he was spending that trash
And Macheath dear, he spends like a sailor
Tell me, tell me, tell me
Could that boy do, something rash

Oh Bobby Darin, and Louis Armstrong
They made a record, oh but they did
And now Ella, Ella, and her fellas
We’re making a wreck, what a wreck
Of Mack The Knife

{Louis Armstrong imitation}
Oh Snookie Taudry, bah bah bah nop do bo de do
bah bah bah nop do bo de do
Just a jack knife has Macheath, dear
And do bo bo bah bah bah nop do bo de do {}

So, you’ve heard it
Yes, we’ve swung it
And we tried to
Yes, we sung it

You won’t recognize it
It’s a surprise hit
This tune, called Mack The Knife

And so we leave you, in Berlin town
Yes, we’ve swung old Mack
We’ve swung old Mack in town
For the Darin fans,
And for the Louis Armstrong fans, too
We told you look out, look out, look out
Old Macheath’s back in town

Much, much better….at least in my opinion!

I have eclectic taste in music. Frequent readers of this blog will attest to the fact that I dabble in Green Day, often to the point of ad nauseam. But this is only the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. My loves also include Classical, Irish Traditional, some Reggae, jazz, old standards, show tunes, classic rock, alternative…the list is large enough that I won’t bore you with the rest, but you get the idea. I suppose that saying that most music, in general, makes me very happy. It truly does. Even the sad, sappy stuff. I love it all.

Much of what I listen to isn’t received very well among the older faction of children here at Casa Izz. They’re not fond of Marley or Altan…and sure as heck could do with out Ella. And I, being the really nice mom that I am, inflict all of this upon them as often as I can…quite often to the collective groaning of the eldest 3. The rest don’t seem to have quite the aversion, and for this I am grateful. Seems I have done something right somewhere down the line. But I wasn’t aware of how much the littlest ones enjoyed my music, and actually listened to it, until just recently.

I have a playlist on my iPod entitled Only Ella. Ella Fitzgerald is a personal hero of mine (to borrow a far too used, and excessively worn out cliché). I always aspired to sing like her when I was still actually singing, but my voice seemed to be made more for Italian Arias rather than the jazziness that Ella exuded. In other words, no matter how much I tried, I just couldn’t seem to emulate that sound. So I had to be contented to merely listening, and only singing along when no one else was around to hear. But anyway, back to my playlist. I do like to put this playlist on from time to time, and bebop around the kitchen. One of the tunes on it is “A Tisket, A Tasket”…one of her more famous ones. The kids really do love that one, for whatever reason. Maybe it reminds them of the nursery rhyme or something, but when it’s on, they like to dance right along with me. We have a grand time, too. But I didn’t think they really knew who it was singing until recently.

Switching gears here a bit…the kids really love that silly show, The Backyardagins. When it’s on, it’ll calm down even the unruliest child in the house…at least for the half an hour that the show lasts. This is good for me…while I hate to utilise the television in that way (as a babysitter…), it’s nice to have something that can keep them out of my hair while I make dinner, clean the bathroom, or type out an entry for my blog.

One day, Victoria (who turned 6 yesterday) ran into the kitchen and yelled something about the show and Uniqua (one of the characters), and Ella. I waited for her to calm down a bit before asking her to repeat herself, only in a more subdued fashion. She took a deep breath, and proceeded to tell me that they were singing Ella Fitzgerald on the Backyardagins. Hmmm…interesting. This I had to see. When I entered into the living room, I was met with this:

Now, when you first listen to the clip, she’s singing, and the song is quite similar to Ella’s “A Tisket, A Tasket”, but she really doesn’t sound like her. But as you get further into it, you can tell that she’s jazzing it up, “Ella style” in a big way. I was hardily impressed…first that the producers of the show were drawing upon music such as that for their program, but also that my daughter actually knew who the character was imitating. After it was over, Victoria said “That one is my favorite Backyardigans”. I asked her why, and she responded “Because it sounds just like Ella Fitzgerald, and I love her!” Yes…it seems that the apple really doesn’t fall all that far. And it’s good to know that the next time I turn on the “Only Ella” playlist, I’ll have at least one other Ella fan listening, despite the protests of those less enlightened.

No, I’m not crying today, nor am I even sad. I’m not calling this “Lacrimosa” because of my mood (which, quite remarkably, seems to be serene for a change…I guess the tumultuousness has finally subsided; for now anyway). I’m listening to Mozart today; specifically his Requiem. Now, for those who might not know, this was meant to be played at a Requiem Mass…or Mass for the dead, and the Lacrimosa was to be done during the part in the Mass called the Dies Irae (which means “Day of Wrath” I believe). This was during a wonderful time in musical history, when polyphonic music was very much prevalent even during a sombre Mass such as a Requiem. I know many people who would disagree with my positive sentiments regarding polyphony and it’s use in something such as a Mass, but I’m sticking to my opinion. To me, the beauty of the music is very complimentary to the beauty of the Mass itself. But I won’t bore you with why…it tends to get too much into logistics. What can I say, I’m a nerd when it comes to such things.

Back to Mozart’s Requiem…it had been a while since I’d listened to it. I’ve always had a passion for classical music. I think it comes from my somewhat classical background…I tended to migrate toward Puccini and Vivaldi when looking for something to perform vocally…I actually did attempt to perform Whitney Houston once; what a fiasco that was! My Laudamus Te felt so much more comfortable. Anyway… what was I saying? Mozart…right. I’m sure many people would think it odd to listen to a Requiem as a form of enjoyment. But I do enjoy it…immensely even. When the first notes of the Lacrimosa begin, I can already feel the beauty of it. And as progresses, it’s almost as if the music is flowing through me as it builds and builds; like the music is a part of me, or I a part of it. I know this sounds really odd…I’m laughing as I re-read the whole thing. But honestly, it’s not something I can explain. Listening to such wonderful music is sheer ecstasy for me. I really do feel it as it is playing. And this is just from a CD…just imagine how it is for me when it’s being played live. In regards to the Lacrimosa, yes, it was meant to be played for the dead. But that doesn’t take away from the beauty of it all. I could listen to it all day, and not feel the least bit melancholy.

I’m not sure if I even have a point with this post. Sheesh…and it’s not even Monday yet. I think I’m just sensing some kind of a difference in myself as of late. I am feeling a resurgence of parts of my past in some ways…parts that I had long forgotten, and yet never really wanted to. I was always a very musical person (despite my poor attempts in playing the tin whistle, but that’s another story). It was more than something I liked…it was a passion for me. It still is, but I think that there are many aspects of that passion that I’ve ignored for far too long. And I think it’s time to indulge a bit in those passions, even if it is a waste of time in some people’s eyes. The more I’m listening to real music (even if it has been only the past couple of days), I’m remembering how much I loved to sing, and be in a choir and just immerse myself in it all…and I’m realizing how much I really do miss it.

Well, this hasn’t been one of my better postings, that’s for sure. Such is life…you can’t always be witty and brilliant I suppose. Or, in my case, you can’t always attempt to be witty and brilliant, since it always seems to be an attempt rather than an achievement; there will be those days that being introspective is far more appealing and therefore spiritually lucrative. I think that’s what I’ve happened upon here. And with that, I’m off to listen to the rest of Mozart’s Requiem