Saturday Night Serenade–A Song and a Movie

To say Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen is a great song is to be simply redundant. Taken as a whole, their body of work is sublime, with stand-out nuggets like Fat-Bottomed Girls, Under Pressure, and cult-classic Bohemian Rhapsody.

But I really like this one. I can’t get it out of my head. It’s currently featured in several television commercials. And with the success and acclaim of the movie Bohemian Rhapsody, all these songs are getting new life. Take that, Millennials, who believe if something didn’t happen in their lifetime, it didn’t happen at all.

As promised, though, this week’s serenade comes with a movie recommendation. While there are countless versions of Don’t Stop Me Now, this is one of my favorites. It comes from a fantastic little horror-comedy from 2004 called Shaun of the Dead. It’s a smart, funny, and yes, okay, gory at times, take on Dawn of the Dead. Just the title cracks me up.

The story follows hapless Shaun and his slacker-pothead wingman Ed (played the the hilarious Simon Pegg and Nick Frost) into what appears to be the beginning of the zombie apocalypse. Only we’re not using the zed-word.

Complicating matters is the fact that Shaun’s girlfriend Liz has just broken up with him, and he’s perpetually at odds with his stepfather (the brilliant, if low-key in this role, Bill Nighy).

Once he realizes that the end of the world is here (and it takes him an hysterical amount of time to figure it out–watch him pop out to the shop for a Diet Coke), Shaun cooks up a scheme to save Liz from the undead, and thus win her back. Of course, nothing is ever that easy.

At one point, Shaun’s intrepid band of survivors finds itself holed up in his favorite pub. The fight scene set to this Queen classic is a marvel of choreography and comedic editing.

I’ve checked–you can stream Shaun of the Dead for about $4 from nearly any streaming service. So what are you doing tonight? Saturday Night Live is in reruns until Fall.

By the way, happy Memorial Day! I hope you enjoy your long weekend. Be sure to hug those you love and tell them that you love them.

If you’re remembering someone who paid the ultimate price in service to their country, please accept my deep respect and gratitude. Freedom isn’t free. It never was.

Happy Saturday night!

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Saturday Night Serenade–Dance the Night Away

Have you noticed that they’re playing the best music now all over town? The grocery store, the car dealership… Maybe it’s just that I’m getting old, LOL.

I just remember shopping with my mom when I was a kid and all they played was elevator music. And my mom used to listen to Perry Como and stuff in the morning while we got ready for school.

This week, Mr. R and I were running errands and I heard this song. I can’t remember the last time I heard Van Halen’s Dance the Night Away. What a great song. We even commented on how they were playing awesome music. The young man assisting us just nodded blankly.

That’s okay, Skippy. In the age of Auto-Tune, you just don’t know any better.

Tonight, I hope you’re enjoying the countdown to summer. I, for one, can’t wait. I love summer!

Be sure to hug the ones you love. Happy Saturday night!

P.S. I’m leaving you with my all-time favorite Van Halen tune in tonight’s two-fer. ❤

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!

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!