I’ve been really loving my record player this week.
Yesterday, after seeing The Hunger Games (a little long perhaps, but I greatly enjoyed it), I ventured over to Amoeba for some new (old) vinyl. (I feel like that’s the way cooler people than me would describe it.)
I really love the sound of jazz on a record player. I mean, I’ve begun to prefer listening to a lot of things on vinyl, but on this particular day, I was in the mood for jazz. I needed more jazz.
I got really lucky in the used section. (That’s what she said, hey-o!)
Right now I’m listening to Miles (Kind of Blue). (One of the guys got it from behind the counter for me because I was unfamiliar with Bill Evans and how could someone who loves piano not know – and love – Bill Evans?!) Last night it was Ella and Louis. (Full disclosure, I listened to them a lot this morning and afternoon too. I had been looking for that album and was excited to finally find it. I mean, listening to this song on Itunes doesn’t compare to listening to it crackle. Love.) But I feel like with records it’s like this whole thing wherein I find myself enjoying and partaking of the music with a different way than just listening to it on my computer. Maybe it’s the memory of sitting there all those years ago with my Winnie the Pooh player listening to Da Doo Ron Ron* over. and over. and over. Or maybe it’s because I’ve really adapted to life without the constant tv visuals and can better appreciate my other senses being more properly entertained.
Whatever it is, I’m in a very music frame of mind as of late…so yesterday when I got an email from my 826la contact saying she needed more volunteers for a Songwriting Seminar, I decided to skip yoga and sign up.
Today I second-guessed it a little when she sent an email saying we didn’t have to bring our instruments this first class. Wait, what? I mean, I wanted to participate in a songwriting seminar because I love song lyrics and music. But a musician I am not.
I went anyway. And I’m so glad I did.
Did I make a joke about only being able to play the kazoo or tambourine? You betcha. Was I the only one standing on one side of the room when they asked everyone who either had performed in front of a crowd (or wanted to) to walk over to the other side of the room? Why, yes I was.
Of course I didn’t tell them about the failed oboe solo of 7th grade. But I think there’s a reason I didn’t remember it until just now.
The guys leading the workshop (who own/run a small label here in LA) commented that I would be what everyone needed. A fan. And I said I am a very GOOD fan. And that I am an even better WOO!-er. In my experience, every band/performer likes a WOO!-er.
After doing some meet-and-greet and getting-to-know-you games, we listened to Joe Tex’s “If I ever Do You Wrong.”
So great. And – beneficial for this situation – so formulaic.
We worked as a group to write another verse in Tex’s style.
Then we did the same in our smaller groups.
My small group consisted of me, another volunteer who is a Dad-age man who may have composed some tv theme songs, and three high school guys. Two of the kids are in a band together and then we added the third kid from another table.
I can’t tell you how much fun we had coming up with a – things we didn’t want to happen in relationships and b – things that would suck to happen to us if those things did happen.
Admittedly, I don’t hang out with high schoolers very often. Much less high school guys. Yet here we were, bouncing ideas off each other. Supporting and encouraging everyone’s ideas. I seriously don’t know who got the most from the experience. And if one of them hadn’t spoke up in a line or two, I would address them directly and be like, what’s the worst thing that could happen in a relationship? And they were forthcoming. And participatory. And frankly not at all what I expected of high school boys.
Then again, they were there by choice.
We were all very proud of our finished product. And then two of the guys in charge walked around to each table and played guitar while each table (or in our case a representative) sang the new verses. In our case the other volunteer sang and ended up having a very impressive voice. We were all like, “Hey! Our table’s got skills, y’all.” (Don’t worry, I didn’t say this out loud. Just because I’m old enough to be their teen mom doesn’t mean I want them to realize that.)
One of the boys loved the Joe Tex song so much he downloaded it, and asked one of the guys for the guitar chords, which of course the guy walked him through right there.
I loved it. Every bit. It’s not my usual thing. I mean yes, have I written random song lyrics? Sure. But this was a new venture for me.
The best part was when it was over, my boys were like, are you going to be here next week? (It’s like a 4-part seminar.) And even tho I have plans next Weds night, I had already decided that I would come for as much as I can (about half the class). Mostly because it’s lyrics night and I don’t wanna miss a thang. (Sorry.) So I said yes.
It just goes to show you. I went in thinking maybe I would relate to a girl writing Taylor Swift-esque things, and found myself meshing well with a demographic I haven’t related to or interacted with in more than 15 years. And let’s face it, I wasn’t great at doing it then.
Excited to see what comes of this. The seminar ends with a performance of original songs at a little place in the neighborhood. I’m already working on my WOO!
New experiences: Love you, mean it.
*Foot note: My mom said they may still have their old records in the basement?! After at least 6 (maybe 7) moves since I recall listening to them, I would be more than ecstatic to find that to be true.