Archives for posts with tag: music

Last year I finally got to Okemah, OK, home of Woody Guthrie in his youth and site of the annual Woody Guthrie Festival. Last year was his 100th birthday celebration. It’s going on right now, this weekend, for his 101st! Somehow, I know he would like the way they do it up in Okemah!

Okemah would probably be lost without their native son, whom they didn’t talk about for years because of his controversial ties to the Communist Party. Time heals and history becomes more clear and now they’re so proud of Woody and his roots. Rightfully so.

When you get out of your car on the Main Street, you can find someplace with a map…at least during the festival you can. You’ll want to see the park with the statue of Woody, probably life size. He wasn’t very big.

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During the festival there are concerts throughout the day at the old Crystal Theatre that has been restored. Not very cool, so bring a fan…

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Last year I listened to Ronny Cox, movie star, musician, and watched him visit with fans as he sold his CDs on the hot street after he played.

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The old Main Street was open for the visitors who came from all over, many fans of folk festivals who travel from one to the other. You can see concerts in the theater and in the bar a couple of blocks down…

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Last year, I saw Carolyn Hester, one of my favorites from my 60s love of folk singers. She is a little less now, but there were traces of her beautiful voice and I was able to get a CD of the album that had been my favorite back in college. Way back…

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There were lectures from experts on Woody Guthrie and time to visit with his sister, who was a delight and had just written a book. Everything was pretty down home and friendly.

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Then I toured Okemah. The Main Street and a bar that hasn’t changed, screen door still swinging…

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A mural proclaiming the town’s claim to fame these days…

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Old houses tucked into the neighborhoods, showing days past…

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And the site where they are raising money to rebuild the Guthrie’s original home…

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The unique water towers are also a source of pride and a move is on to restore them…or at least not let them be destroyed…who else has Hot, Cold and Woody Guthrie towers?

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In the evening, there are concerts in the Pastures of Plenty and RVs, campers, tents hold the faithful and the fans who wait for the cool of the night to listen to those glorious sounds. It’s a bit, a big one, of Americana that will surely touch your heart with its simplicity and its love for the messages Woody left us.

I headed home, stopping to watch a typical Oklahoma cloud forming on a hot July day, rising into the sky. This Land is Our Land.

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I recommend you visit the festival, if not this year then some year, and then drive over to Tulsa to tour the Woody Guthrie Center and walk through the Guthrie Green. You’re sure to run across a musician or two or three, some young, some old, that will make you tap your feet and smile. I think Woody would like it all…

It’s been 49 years since I first saw Paul. I was a freshman in college and he and his friends in the band with the funny name, The Beatles, were on Ed Sullivan and we watched him on a small television hanging out the window of our dorm to get reception from Oklahoma City to Stillwater. He was the cute one, the one who has always looked so young. Their hair was longer than the preppy boys we knew and even longer than the real cowboys studying at Oklahoma State University. We loved them. We wanted to hold their hand, yes we did.

I love music – can’t sing at all but love to anyway. At that time in my life, I was equally divided between my love of folk music – Peter, Paul & Mary, Joan Baez, The Kingston Trio – and rock & roll. The Beatles came right after President Kennedy was assassinated, warping the innocent world we had lived in. They were fun, irreverent, witty, and talented beyond belief, a welcome respite from contemplating the horrors of the new real world. Their songs and the beat locked into our hearts. Love, love me do.

After college, The Beatles and I moved on. I started having kids and being a kind of grown-up. I still listened to their music, but it got lost in Sesame Street and Burl Ives sings for children. They married and had kids, too. We all went on with our lives, but they were always there. They were such a part of our times, our culture and we lived every dramatic event with them, watching their music evolve just as all our lives did. They broke up just as the first of our friends were getting divorced. Their drama was our drama on public stages. The Beatles were the background of our lives, our youth continuing as we got older.

Paul married Linda and lived and loved, just as many of us did. She got cancer, just as many of our friends did. She died exactly a month to the day after my husband died of cancer. Katie Couric’s husband died around then too…we all had the same sad bond. Life goes on and we all went with it.

Earlier this year, I happened on a PBS special, “Kisses on the Bottom,” with Paul McCartney in the old Capitol studio singing an intimate concert of the old standards that his parents, my parents too, had listened to and included one new song, “My Valentine,” that he wrote for his new wife. It was such a wonderful concert, showing the man at his best and most gracious with other great musicians. His generosity to other performers, his love of the music, his humor all showed in this wonderful hour. He sang my mother’s favorite song, “Always,” and touched my heart. I downloaded the album immediately and saved the program.

When the announcement was made that Paul was coming to Tulsa, I grabbed a friend, one I’ve known since we were 9, and got tickets. A splurge – they’re not cheap – but a kind of bucket list thing. We were going to see Paul, one of The Beatles, in person!

Last night was the concert. It was amazing, he was amazing. How many millions did it cost to design and create the incredible staging? Lights, video, photos, sound, a crew of hundreds. It took a long time to get in, we got a t-shirt because you had to do it, didn’t you? When he finally took the stage, it was instant rapport with the audience. He took a minute to drink it all in. The show was incredible…the music, the fun! I took pictures with my phone, fuzzy but proof that I was there, memories of the evening.

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Here are my thoughts…

*Paul McCartney still looks like a kid. Granted, he looked older by the end of that incredible almost three hour show after never leaving the stage for over two hours and then returning for two long encores, but he looks terrific for 70.
*He still seems to genuinely appreciate what has happened to him, is still a little bit amused and honored by it. This doesn’t come off as fake at all. He is very personable.
*Paul is a fabulous musician, not to mention songwriter. Paul’s music is classic. He plays piano, lots of guitars, ukelele and plays them well.
*This is what rock & roll is all about. He is great, a real rock & roller – he can scream with the best of them. Woo!
*He appreciates his audience and never quits thanking them, acknowledging them. This is a sign of an accomplished pro who knows what it’s all about.
*The songs of our youth are locked in our brains and hearts. You may not have heard them for decades and all the words come back and you sing along. I can’t remember much of what I hear today – some is great, some just doesn’t stay with me.
*The concert was not just old people, but all ages. What fun to share with your kids and grandkids or with your parents and grandparents.
*Paul sang for his new wife, “My Valentine,” sang a song he wrote for Linda, sang for John and George. I was touched when he turned to look at photos of George while singing. He didn’t have to do that, but seemed to want to see his old friend, to remember.
*This concert was not an old man doing the music that made him famous. This was a concert that seemed new and fresh even with old songs. Music for the ages.
*You’re never too old to rock, apparent by the legions of white haired fans rocking the music. Cool! Still got some moves left…
*I had the feeling I was in the presence of greatness. He IS a legend after all.

So, after the pyrotechnics during “Live & Let Die,” the thrill of the crowd singing “Hey Jude” at the end before the two encores, we left the concert after 11:30 and headed home.

Thank you, Paul. You are just so dang cute! Maybe cuter than when we met when I was 18. 49 years ago.

Today I was in the check-out line at Sam’s Club and watched a man holding a little boy talking to the elderly woman behind him.  Then he had the boy give her a high five, which was cute.  It also made me think of something my mother said when high fives were first getting started, “what will happen to shaking hands?”  She wasn’t against high fives, but she saw the writing on the wall as to the next generation of greetings.  Little boys were taught to politely shake hands when they met adults in the old days.

Then, the line being slow, my mind went to her lessons in manners.  And the music started in my head.  She had a record, a 78 rpm, called Manners Can Be Fun by Frank Luther.  I looked him up and he was a country singer, songwriter, etc, who gained a lot of fame with children’s records way back when.  The record was based on the book of the same title by Munro Leaf.  Anyway, this was one of my mother’s favorites and we sang it all the time.  She laughingly swore later that she played it for us in our sleep.  And I can still remember all the words the minute the music starts.

When I had my own children, I found the new version on 33 rpm, and played it for them.  I hope it sank in – I’m sure it did.  They all have good manners, although I’m not sure the parts about picking up their rooms was so effective as they grew up.

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One of the most fun things I ever did for my mother was to dig out the record and send it off to have it made into a CD.  It must have been the original 78 because i couldn’t find anyone in town to do it at the time.  The man in California who transferred it for me was so entranced that he wrote me that he had made a copy for his kids.  I gave copies to my children for my grandchildren in hopes…

I played it for my 3 year old granddaughter in the car the other day and she seemed fascinated as I watched her in the rearview mirror.  Maybe it was the fact that I was singing along and knew all the words.  If I ever want her to know her great-grandmother, this is the perfect way to start.

Hope this link works so you can enjoy it, too.

Thank you!

01 Manners Can Be Fun

One of those lazy Mondays when sometimes a song gets into my head and I’m full of the memories.  If I were a whole lot younger, this might be a confessional, but I’m not, so it’s just a memory.

I was a junior at Oklahoma State University in May 1966, and had a brand new silver Impala with white leather seats that I had gotten for my 20th birthday.  Probably for being a pretty good kid, making good grades, not causing problems.  I was actually embarrassed that my father had spent that much money on me, but he was pleased he could do it.  Not many of us had cars in 1966 so it was easy to find people to cruise with.

A popular movie a few years back was “Where the Boys Are,” which featured a group of college kids on spring break in Florida.  Spring Break wasn’t as much back then – I’m not even sure we got a week.  The idea of going somewhere was also pretty new to us – not an entitlement of youth.  Anyway, the title song hung around and we still had romantic visions of meeting a young Jim Hutton on a beach (at least he was the one I liked).

I’m not sure where the idea came from or how we suddenly became obsessed with going to the beach, but we did.  It wasn’t even the right time.  A bunch of us just decided that would be the coolest thing ever.  The closest beach was in Galveston, Texas, and there must have been a rumor of something happening there.  What were we thinking?  I’m not sure if we told our parents or just took off, but four of us left Stillwater after classes on Thursday and drove to Norman to pick up another friend at OU.  I’m not a drinker, so it’s a good thing I was driving my car, cool as it was.  We spent the night at someone’s apartment, meeting a bunch of guys there and everyone drinking beer before we fell asleep on the floor, couch, etc.  Did I also mention that I was engaged at the time and not looking for guys, just looking for a fun adventure.  In fact, we tried to get my fiance (future husband) to fly in from California where he was in the Navy and join us for the weekend.

We stopped in Dallas to find out that my guy couldn’t get there, visited the JFK Memorial and headed on to Galveston.  How many miles/hours was that?  We had the music blaring in the age before cell phones or even 8 tracks.  Just the radio and us.  And, we made it there.  We must have driven all night.

Nothing looked quite like the movies.  It was a dirtier beach than Florida and there were no people.  We had a motel room right there, but there were no people, much less college students.  But we were here.  On Saturday, we hit the water – it wasn’t even sunny.  And, suddenly, there was a group of guys.  They had cute southern accents and had come over from Monroe (pronounced MON roe) Louisiana.  Better than nothing.  We also befriended the lifeguard, who took this picture.

Galveston - May 1966

That night, the group drank and we danced, some of us on the table in the room.  It was pretty innocent, actually.  Very innocent, when I look back.  You’d think I’d remember more since I was the sober one, but it’s just a blur of silliness now.  Nobody ended up together, nobody did anything illegal.  Just kids meeting other kids for fun.  We didn’t make any stupid mistakes – maybe the movie taught us the consequences of that.

And, back to my point.  We drove back to school, arriving Monday in time for some of our classes.  As we drove, we kept hearing the Mamas and the Papas singing “Monday, Monday,” on that rainy Monday at the end of our big adventure.  Back to normal lives, finishing finals, planning my wedding.  The Louisiana guys came to see us, but it wasn’t quite the same.  Nice guys, but…

So, I randomly remember this trip when I hear that song.  When my own kids wanted to do things, I tried to remember what it was like to want to break out of the norm.  I tried to not worry since I had done the same with nothing bad happening.  Of course, I knew better and did worry.  I’m a Mom, after all.

I have to smile when I think of this really not so wild adventure.  It was still fun!  “Monday, Monday” always brings it back to me.

I started my morning watching the incredible Paul McCartney’s “Kisses on the Bottom,” originally shown on PBS Great Performances.  One of the songs he sings is “Always,” which was my mother’s favorite song.  She sang it to us as a lullaby and then sang it all the rest of our lives.  The lyrics make me teary…”I’ll be loving you, always.  Not for just an hour, not for just a day, not for just a year, but always…”  I hear those words when I make my bed the way she taught me, when I look at my own children and grandchildren.  I always smile..

Today, I’m having breakfast with friends from Kindergarten, grade school, junior high, high school, college.  We’ve been through playgrounds and birthday parties, boyfriends and proms, classes up through college, marriages and divorces, births and deaths.  We laugh, share, gossip, cry and wrap our arms around each other.  These are Always friends and I treasure them.  We mean more to each other every year.

I sing “Always” to my youngest granddaughter, Eliza.  All the other grandkids are too big to listen to me right now.  I sing it in my heart when I watch my children and grandchildren.  Everyone needs someone in their life to sing this song to them…

I’ll be loving you, Always
With a love that’s true Always.
When the things you’ve planned
Need a helping hand,
I will understand Always.

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