Tag Archives: music

Tuesday’s Tune – ‘Roam’

Flashback to 1989, I was younger and living in the San Francisco Bay Area. I had roamed west in ’87 away from south Texas – yearning to make it on my own.

Roam if you want to
Roam around the world
Roam if you want to
Without wings, without wheels

Summers are for exploring and roaming. I am fortunate to have a profession where I have summers off and time to rest, relax, restore, and explore. Many folks think all teachers do over summer break is play, but that’s not the case most teachers are busy with learning or rethinking ways to be a better teacher. But that’s not what today’s Tuesday’s Tune is about.

A Farmer’s Market in Good hart, MI

Flashback to 1989, Continue reading Tuesday’s Tune – ‘Roam’

Tuesday’s Tune: Wonderful World

It’s is a wonderful world, indeed. When I first heard Sam Cooke croon,

Don’t know much about history
Don’t know much biology
Don’t know much about a science book
Don’t know much about the French I took

I was watching Animal House with John Belushi and laughing as only a teenager can. I’ve grown up, it’s been almost 40 years since I watched Animal House. I was in high school and dreaming of college, and I didn’t know much about history, or the French I took. I knew everything, or thought I did.

It was the start of my junior year in high school and it was the year which changed my life. Seriously, no kidding.

the photo says it all….really, no Raleigh.

Fast forward and I am much older, more experienced, and I still don’t know much about history and every day I am reminded of how much I still don’t know, and yet I still yearn to learn more and grow each day – to make every day count.

It’s why I am in Raleigh, North Carolina for a social studies conference. I realize I don’t know everything and I want to learn and be a better teacher. Continue reading Tuesday’s Tune: Wonderful World

sometimes you’re the bug

It’s been several months since I wrote a Tuesday’s Tune post. But, I’ve got a song in my head, thanks to some obstacles that popped up yesterday morning.

Yesterday was Monday and like most Monday’s I wasn’t looking forward to getting out of bed and embracing the new week. It had snowed most of Saturday afternoon and Sunday and the cars and roads were coated with snow. AND it was cold.

Sometimes you’re the windshield
Sometimes you’re the bug

As I always do, I get up early. Yesterday I rose around 4:30. And as usual I checked my e-mail while the coffee brewed and discovered the WIFI was down, so I re-booted the system, twice. The re-boot didn’t work. Then, I realized we had a service technician coming to change and upgrade our service and the internet and cable must have been turned off. Yep, the television signal was dead, too. Thirty minutes wasted spent trying to solve the problem. But, the coffee was good.

courtesy of How to Detail Your Car.

Sometimes it all comes together baby
Sometimes you’re just a fool in love

Continue reading sometimes you’re the bug

Tuesday’s Tune: This Old Punk

My friend Scott sent his guest post to me Monday afternoon; and it’s now Wednesday, not Tuesday. It’s been that kind of week or so. I’ve known Scott since our school opened up in ’01.He teaches health education in the building and is a writer, too. He writes at Life is the Future and is planning to ‘Bite the Bullet’ this coming year. We were talking and writing came up – neither knew the other wrote, it’s interesting how that all works. I knew he loved music and collected vinyl. We got to talking and he agreed to guest post here at Making the Days Count. I enjoyed the read and I hope you do, too. I am thankful for friends like Scott, have a Happy Thanksgiving.

vinyl_scott

Some of my favorite memories come with a soundtrack. Of course, almost all my memories come with a soundtrack—the good, the bad, and everything in between.

In teaching discussions, and even in life conversations, I make it no secret that music has helped me stay alive this long. Music has been one of my constants in a lifetime of change. It has seen me age, and awkwardly so. It has seen me make bad decisions, and dread repercussion. It has seen me laugh, cry, and scream. It has taken me across the country on the kick of a dream. It has kept me home in the arms of my family.

While writing, I rarely do any stream of consciousness without it. And even then, when the editing grip finally takes hold, I can hear the echo in the embers. It’s in pieces, in manic-depressant fits of stress and relaxation. Like dust motes in the blank stare of a daydream, music can fill space or demand attention. Depending on the mood, music confirms or denies feelings of self-worth, vents of frustration, and outbursts of elation.

Pop music of my childhood combined with the classics from my parents, which led me to being introduced to other styles of music. The alternative music boom of the 80’s and 90’s paved the way for exactly what I needed: the edgy, angsty hooks of punk rock.

I was about 14 when I found punk music. Coming from a fairly normal and fortunate upbringing, punk rock didn’t represent a distaste for life, necessarily, but it hit home as it satisfied a very natural need of adolescence: to question everything. Question the norm, question the rules, question the answers, question existence… question oneself.

A punk song may never change the world, but I could tell you a few that changed me. Which means, by virtue, punk rock does exactly what it sets out to do.

If you’ve been there, you know; people are drawn to punk for many reasons, all unique to each individual. For me, the attitude of the music and lyrics was easy to relate to. But songs with societal meaning registered just as much as the galloping riffs that accompanied those often-indiscernible words. (Good thing for liner notes.) The punk community is one that offends the mainstream with no mercy but all in the demand for tolerance and equity. Racial and class lines be damned.

Identity in school, as in life, remains just as difficult a topic as ever. In my case, not following pre-set expectations made a lot of sense… classifications, stereotypes, cliques all seemed dumb and immature. Counterproductive. Moreover, why can’t a person be interested in a variety of things, and hang out with lots of different people? Funny enough, finding like-minded friends and having that kinship of a social circle is essential in teenage development.

Cue the music. Continue reading Tuesday’s Tune: This Old Punk

Tuesday’s Tune: Reelin’ in the Years

I’d like to introduce my first ever – guest blogger – Chris White. I’ve known Chris for a over forty years, he was my backdoor neighbor growing up and the leader of all things fun in the neighborhood. There were a lot of boys our age in the neighborhood growing up and only a couple of girls in our age bracket. Chris was a few years older than me, but I never felt that way – we played tackle football in the side yard,  baseball in the vacant lot, and when I got older, he became my boss at Tempo Records and Tapes.  I moved away from Texas in ’87 and he moved, too. We lost touch, but I never forgot growing up in the neighborhood. We got back in touch a few years ago on Facebook and we’ve messaged back and forth a several times catching up. His whimsical sense of humor was inspiration and I vividly remember many of the laughs we shared, many of which are not fit to print. Despite our moves, both of us still root for Houston sports teams. Which, if you know the history of most of Houston’s sports teams, is funny. Very funny.

I let Chris tell you the rest of the story…… 

I first discovered musical idols the day my older sister brought home “Meet the Beatles.” Not yet ready myself to idolize anyone not wearing a cape and tights, I watched fascinated as my sister melted into a puddle while the moptops went about changing popular music forever.

Flash forward a few years, leaping over a Herman’s Hermits infatuation that’s better left unexamined, to my freshman year in high school, when I first discovered that athletic skill wasn’t necessarily a prerequisite for attracting the opposite sex. I began to gravitate toward those girls who’d never heard of Johnny Bench but who could have described Led Zep’s Robert Plant in sufficient detail to satisfy a police sketch artist. It was around that time I discovered the first musical idol I could latch onto and call my own: Keith Emerson, the genius behind Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Keith was a giant of progressive rock, a colossus among multi-keyboardists — it was decades later that I learned he was (and still is, presumably) all of 5’4”. Regardless, Keith seemed larger than life at the time.

Since my family owned a Hammond organ, I began to teach myself how to play, taking baby steps at first. Wrangling a couple of friends who shared a remarkably similar complete lack of musical talent, I formed a band. Or more accurately, a “band.” Clay, the proprietor of this blog (thanks for the guest spot, Clay!), whose boyhood home was right behind my own house at the time, can attest to the fact that no amount of volume can make up for a dearth of musical skill. The amazing thing about lack of ability, though, is that it’s often accompanied by a simultaneous lack of awareness. Not realizing how bad we were, my bandmates and I continued hacking away on our respective instruments until a miracle occurred. Lo and behold, we gradually became mediocre. Eventually we progressed through “adequate” and “not terrible” and by the time we were seniors in high school, ended up somewhere around “pretty damned good,” complete with a record (recorded in an actual honest-to-God music studio) that got a few spins on KLOL, the dominant FM rock station in Houston at the time.

band1976
Chris White on flaming guitar with Rex meredith on vocals and Curtis Peet on guitar

It was on a road trip in 1976 to play a spring break gig in Corpus Christi that I was introduced to the musical idols who would keep all others at bay for the next forty years. One of my bandmates brought along a supposedly high-fidelity 8-track tape of Steely Dan’s “The Royal Scam” album, which we listened to over and over and over in my dad’s Olds Delta 88. By the time I was back in Houston a few days later, the trajectory of my life had been irreversibly altered. No longer would I be quite as satisfied with the bombast glam of Queen or the overwrought noodlings of Kansas. I had discovered complex chord changes, jazz harmonies, guitar solos wicked enough to send the swiftest-fingered rockers back to the practice room, all set to rock songs with lyrics that were literate without being pretentious. A shimmering, gorgeous surface hid the musical complexity underneath, and the lyrics only gave the faintest of brush strokes to the sordid tales they painted, forcing the listener to fill in the details using his own imagination. That some people didn’t “get” Steely Dan, taking them as a light-rock band with glossy songs, only made it that much better. I was in that select group who understood how deep their music actually was. Genesis? Yes? Rush? Don’t get me started with those prog-rock posers, Steely Dan were real musicians playing music that was challenging in a way nothing else I’d ever heard on rock radio was. Continue reading Tuesday’s Tune: Reelin’ in the Years

Tuesday’s Tune: MtDC Playlist

Like most people, music has always been an important part of my life. I tried out for chorus in third grade and didn’t make it, I couldn’t carry a tune, I still can’t but it doesn’t stop me from singing. I played trombone in middle school and gave it up, like scouting and sports and so many other activities I quit in that awkward middle adolescent period between 13 to 16. Music was an important part of growing up – listening to the radio and learning the popular rock and roll songs of the 70’s. I worked in a music store in high school. In 1979, a music store sold records and tapes, the kind of music that was on vinyl.

Pink Floyd's The Wall was released in November 1979 - my senior year
Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” was released in November 1979 – my senior year in high school

At 17, I knew it all. I knew everything. Continue reading Tuesday’s Tune: MtDC Playlist

Let’s Go!

It’s not about what you’ve done
It’s about what you doing
It’s all about where you going
No matter where you’ve been
Let’s go!

The first day has come and gone. I now have four days as an eighth grade science teacher under my belt. The first four days of school were amazing and I have 116 energetic eighth graders who are excited about learning, or at least they seem so. I’ve a lot of work ahead of me and I need to work on remembering ALL of their names, because after four days, I can get about only 60% of their names correct on sight – in the hallways, at lunch, or just sitting in class.

I also have a three-day weekend to sort through the coming days and weeks. I’ve got a lot to learn and a lot to do.

I am past my first day jitters. It rained that first day and the next – we got close to 6” of rain in two days. Last weekend was wet and muggy and then the August warmth rolled in just in time for the first day of school.

I love the first day of school. It’s a chance to learn, grow, and make the difference in a new set of adolescents. That’s WHY I became a teacher. Because, it’s not how much you know that matters to kids, it’s how much you care. That is why I do it, that’s why when I drive to school; I drive to school, and not to work. Yeah, there are days when it feels like work, but most of the time it feels like learning and learning NEVER ENDS.

the first day, first morning, new principal address the student body - 'make difference in our school... make it better... make it happen'
the first day, first morning, new principal address the student body – ‘make a difference in our school… make it better… make it happen’

The week before last when O was getting ready for school, she and I took some time together and distracted ourselves. We had all sorts of diversions – movies, airplane watching, and just plain ignoring the fact that school was about to begin. Continue reading Let’s Go!

Getting it together

my backyard, as I sipped coffee and watched Ivy

It’s the last week of summer vacation. It’s the week peppered with regret and excitement. Regret, because I didn’t lose all that weight or win the lotto, but excitement because school is starting next week.  I am slowly getting back in the groove. I had a meeting yesterday and met many of the new teachers in our district and I even recognized one of the names from my first years as a teacher. The new teachers are getting younger and I am getting older, yeah, I am getting old. Really, I am not old but experienced and wiser. I keep telling myself, when I start acting my age, I’ll need to worry. Continue reading Getting it together