Saturday Night Serenade–Need a Do-Over?

In golf, it’s called a Mulligan. It’s a do-over, a chance to fix a mistake, an opportunity to do something better.

Thank goodness life often presents the chance to begin again. Where I am right now isn’t where I have to be a year from now. There are so many options.

If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you know I’m a huge fan of Norah Jones. I’m thrilled that she has a brand new album out. Tonight’s serenade is the title track from Begin Again. There may or may not be a subtle political thought in this jazz-inspired song.

I don’t know in what situation you find yourself, but if you’ve ever wished for a chance to start over, I would just say that as long as you’re on this side of the dirt, it’s not too late. If life is what you make it, why not make it happy. A mistake is not the end of the line, it’s the beginning of you learning what you didn’t know before.

I hope you’re enjoying this weekend. Sunday is Mothers’ Day, so remember to tell your mom how much you love her.

Happy Saturday night!

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Saturday Night Serenade–Royalty

Did you catch the 2019 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on HBO last weekend? I look forward to the show every year. The performers always bring their A-game, and this year was no exception.

This year’s inductees included Radiohead, Roxy Music, Janet Jackson, Def Leppard, The Cure, and The Zombies. While Radiohead and Janet Jackson opted not to perform, the others were outstanding.

The show opened with an electrifying four-song set by the incomparable Stevie Nicks, the first woman to be inducted into the Hall of Fame twice–previously for her work with Fleetwood Mac and now for her solo career. She performed Leather and Lace with Don Henley, but I loved Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around with Harry Styles pinch-hitting for the late great Tom Petty.

But I can’t leave you without a song by the evening’s final recipients, because, well, Def Leppard.

I hope you’re having a wonderful almost-summer weekend. Hug those you love and tell them how much they mean to you.

Happy Saturday night!

Saturday Night Serenade–Sometimes Stories DO Write Themselves

Since February when my most recent book was published, I’ve been hard at work on the follow-up, the second book in the Redheads & Ranchers series, a novel called HUNTER’S PRIDE.

This week as I worked on a scene in which the hero of the story walks into a small-town bar, I wanted to set the mood of the place. As I imagined Hunter McFall walking into the North Star, this song, Gimme Three Steps by Lynyrd Skynyrd began playing in my head.

Writing experts will tell you there are two types of fiction writers: planners and pantsers. Planners create a detailed outline of their entire story before they ever write a single word. Pantsers (as in fly by the seat of) jump right into the deep end and begin writing the story.

I think of myself as more of a plantser. I don’t outline anything, but I do know where the story begins, where it ends, and the major events that happen in between. I keep a notebook wherein I scribble basics like main characters, their names, descriptions, and details, other characters in their orbit, various significant plot points, and setting details. Mind you, these items are added in a haphazard, stream-of-consciousness sort of way. I even sketch out important places so I can get the details right. My notebook more resembles a madman’s manifesto than a novel outline.

But the cool thing about doing it that way is that often the story unfolds for me in much the same way as I hope it does for the reader. And I end up with moments like when Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Gimme Three Steps comes forward and says, ‘I belong here.’

I’m a Southern girl. I grew up in Tennessee, and I’ve always loved Southern rock. So it’s not really surprising that some of those songs are the ones that present themselves to me. I suppose it all goes to a writer’s voice.

So for tonight’s serenade, I hope you enjoy this oldie.
Fun Fact: My mom’s name is Linda Lou.
Could this song be about her? Hmmm… 😉

Be sure to hug those you love. Have a happy Saturday night!

By the way, if you’re interested,
JENNY’S VOICE
is Redheads & Ranchers Book 1,
and it’s available now
wherever you buy digital books.
books2read.com/JennysVoice

Saturday Night Serenade–Easter Thoughts

Happy Easter!
Don’t you just love a long holiday weekend?  And the chance to get together with friends and loved ones to share customs, traditions, and a nice big dinner?

Easter is really a tale of two holidays–one all about hidden eggs, colorful baskets, and fun treats, the other about something a bit deeper.

Mr. R and I consider ourselves to be more spiritual rather than religious.  To my way of thinking, spirituality is more about being grateful for your blessings and wanting to pay it forward, and less about following a rigid set of regulations and judging others who don’t quite measure up.

I love Joan Osbourne’s One of Us.  It poses an interesting question: What if God was one of us?  What if that homeless person asking for spare change was God?  What if that person on Facebook with different politics was God?

Would we treat them differently?  Would we be more kind, more compassionate?  When Jesus was actually on earth, we weren’t especially kind.  Something to think about, anyway.

For Easter, I also want to share my favorite song of the holiday.  It’s a moldy oldie by the late Keith Green.  When I was a teenager, his music meant a lot to me.  Sadly, he died in a plane crash in 1982 at the age of 29.

Whether you celebrate Easter or Passover, I hope this holiday weekend finds you surrounded by loved ones.  Be sure to tell them how much they mean to you.

Happy Saturday night!

Saturday Night Serenade–Winter Is Coming

According to reports, around a billion people are expected to tune into Sunday night’s premiere of the final season of HBO’s blockbuster series, Game of Thrones.  Mr. R and I will be two of those people.  If you’re a fan of the show, you know what I mean.

If you’re one of those who hasn’t seen a single second of the show, I get it.  Normally, I am that person.  The one who bucks the trend and avoids that which everyone else seems to obsess over.  I was that way about Breaking Bad, but I eventually saw the error of my ways.

I was also late to The Sopranos party.  I don’t think I saw a single episode until after the entire series was over.
Fun Fact: Mr. R and I are currently binge-watching The Sopranos for at least the second time, LOL.

When Game of Thrones was first coming out in the spring of 2011, I read a lot about it from a lot of different sources.  It really didn’t sound like my cup of tea.  An epic fantasy filled with kings, queens, knights, wars, dragons, etc?  On the other hand, did I want to miss getting in on the ground floor of the ‘next big thing’?  So I decided to watch the first episode.  Worst-case scenario, I waste an hour of my life.

But then I watched the opening sequence.  In seven minutes and twenty-two seconds, I was totally in.  I had no idea what was happening, but I was hooked.  Eventually after that first season, I went back and read the books.

Game of Thrones is based on A Song of Ice and Fire, an epic fantasy series of books by George R.R. Martin.  And he has worked closely with the creators of the show.  As a writer, I’m fascinated at Martin’s ability to create a whole world–no really, the books include maps, and the locations in the show are based on those maps.  He’s created characters that are rich and diverse and strong and flawed.  Dragons aside, for me it’s the human drama that makes the show the achievement that it is.

Westeros and beyond is populated with strong women, ruthless warriors, noble folk, and monsters of the human variety as well as the supernatural ones.  I was impressed by the fact that dwarf Tyrion Lannister (expertly played by the excellent Peter Dinklage) has a hugely prominent role.

Granted, the show is not for the squeamish–scenes of violence abound.  And there is quite a bit of sex as well.  These are not well-behaved characters, for the most part.  But I wonder if you might see a few things that ring familiar, as well.

Music plays a huge part in Game of Thrones.  In fact, it’s almost a character within itself, setting the mood, identifying the various families and banners.  The opening theme, A Song of Ice and Fire, is iconic, and for tonight’s serenade, I’ve included two versions.  The first one is an acoustic quartet, and the second is an entire orchestra featuring 2Cellos.

And…
If you’re still on the fence about Game of Thrones and haven’t seen a second of it…
Please grant me seven minutes and twenty-two seconds and watch the first sequence of Season 1 Episode 1.
Oh, and rule of thumb for watching GoT–don’t get too attached to anybody.  Just saying…  And be careful online–The internet is dark, and full of spoilers.

I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend.  Be sure to hug those you love.

Happy Saturday night!

Saturday Night Serenade–Wistful

Had enough of the whole ‘Us vs. Them’ mentality? I know I have. What’s happened to us? Seriously.

Remember when we could appreciate viewpoints different from our own? When we could discuss divergent opinions respectfully and in the end, agree to disagree?

How have we come to the place where ‘He who disagrees with me is my enemy’? When the hell did that happen?

This weekend, I’m finding myself wistfully nostalgic for the good old days when cooler heads prevailed, when name-calling was reserved for those simple souls who ran short on vocabulary and long on self-importance. For when civil discourse was, in fact, civil.

Maybe I’m kidding myself. Maybe times were never really that simple. Maybe that’s yet to come.

In tonight’s serenade, Garth Brooks dreams of a time when We Shall Be Free. The song, co-written with Stephanie Davis, comes from his 1992 album, The Chase.

It was not without its controversy. Polite company in the early 90s wasn’t prepared for a song that celebrated tolerance of all kinds.

Of the fuss, Brooks said,

We Shall Be Free’ is definitely and easily the most controversial song I have ever done. A song of love, a song of tolerance from someone who claims not to be a prophet but just an ordinary man. I never thought there would be any problems with this song. Sometimes the roads we take do not turn out to be the roads we envisioned them to be. All I can say about ‘We Shall Be Free” is that I will stand by every line of this song as long as I live. I am very proud of it. And I am very proud of Stephanie Davis, the writer. I hope you enjoy it and see it for what it was meant to be.“–Garth Brooks–The Hits CD Booklet

The song won Video of the Year at the 1993 Academy of Country Music Awards. It’s a shame you can’t find the original on YouTube.

But I hope you enjoy the simple wish for everyone to just live their lives and to afford others the same courtesy. Have a wonderful spring weekend. Be sure to hug those you love.

Happy Saturday night!

Saturday Night Serenade–Feeling Bluesy

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling kind of low-key this last weekend of March.  This past couple of weeks have been absolutely gorgeous.  The last half of March is always the most beautiful time of year here in south Florida.   The sky is bright blue, the sun is golden, it’s neither hot nor cold…

It’s not the ideal time to go swimming–between the migrating sharks and the Portuguese man-o-war, the ocean is a little dicey.  But to sit on the sand and watch the turquoise water at Juno Beach or Jupiter Beach?  It’s a little slice of heaven.

As is this bluesy song by Tracy Chapman.  Give Me One Reason is from her 1995  album, New Beginning.  It’s the perfect soundtrack for a low-key evening.  By the way, did you know you can ask Alexa to play this song?  And thousands of others?  You don’t even have to scroll through YouTube or iTunes.  Ain’t technology grand?

I hope you’re enjoying this lovely spring evening.  Be sure to hug those you love.

Happy Saturday night!

Oh, and P.S.–Between you and me, don’t tell anybody about Juno and Jupiter.  Let’em all go to Ft. Lauderdale and Daytona.  😉