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!

Advertisements

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–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–Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

We’ve reached mid-March, and you know what that means!  What better way to start off a celebration of St. Patrick’s Day than with Irish Rover by The Dubliners and The Pogues?

I love St. Patrick’s Day.  One of my favorite memories is the time Mr. R and I spent the holiday at the James Joyce Irish Pub in Ybor City.  Ybor is the historic Cuban district of Tampa, so it makes for an odd choice of places to celebrate all things Irish.

But that day, we were lucky enough to snag a high-top table by the front window and we spent about six hours enjoying great Irish food, a pint or three, and terrific live music.  Mr. R even paid the band to play Dirty Old Town.

Tonight, I’m giving you a playlist of great Irish music.  Here’s the Pogues’ version of Dirty Old Town.

We’ll continue with Galway Girl.  On my bucket list–pay someone in a pub in Galway to play this song.  This is a great video!

Here is one of my all-time favorite Irish bands, The Prodigals.  I first met them when they came to Irish Fest in West Palm Beach, but I had the opportunity to see them in their ‘natural habitat,’ their home bar Paddy Reilly’s on the lower east side of Manhattan.  Weile Weile Weile is a little creepy, but it’s a traditional Irish song.

All of those are great, but I can’t end a St. Patrick’s Day playlist without the boys from Boston.

I hope you are doing well this St. Patrick’s weekend.  Be sure to hug those you love.

Happy Saturday night!

Saturday Night Serenade–Keeping It Simple

Are you ready to ‘Spring forward’?  It’s my least favorite day of the year.  I won’t be right for about a week.  What is it about one little hour that impacts so much?

Time changes and time zones are complex.  I teach English online.  During standard time, China is 13 hours ahead of my time zone, but when it’s daylight savings time, they’re only 12 hours ahead.  I forgot about the time change and now I have a class booked at 9pm next Saturday night.  And military time?  Forget about it.  Even scheduling this post required me to count on my fingers, LOL.

It’s nice to boil all of life down to the simple things.  That’s what Thomas Rhett does in tonight’s serenade, Die a Happy Man.  Ever stop to consider what’s really important to you, those things that matter more than anything else?  I’ll bet they’re not things.

So remember to turn your clocks forward before you go to bed tonight.  Your phone and other electronics will do it automatically, thank goodness.  And say goodbye to that lost hour of sleep.  Sigh.

Be sure to hug those you love.  Happy Saturday night!

P.S. If you’re interested in finding out more about the easiest side-hustle you ever did (you can even do it in your pajamas), hit me up.  😉

Saturday Night Serenade–Guilty Pleasure, But So Much More

We got the sad news this week that we’d lost a bright light from the music world.  Peter Tork was a member of the iconic 60s band, The Monkees.  While the television show ran from 1966-1968, the band itself continued performing until 1971.  And they continued to pop up now and then after that.

The group was a pre-fab boy band in its day, and much has been said about the fact that the members weren’t initially allowed to actually play their own instruments.  But the reality is, pre-fab or not, the members of the Monkees were/are actually talented musicians.  Not the least of which was Peter Tork, who played guitar, keyboard, bass, and banjo, among other things.  He was also an accomplished songwriter.

I loved watching The Monkees when I was a kid.  Back then, it was mostly about the silliness.  And Davey Jones, I won’t lie.  Boy bands are my guilty pleasure.

As an adult, though, I came to appreciate the music.  The songs, many of them written by Boyce and Hart, in a lot of ways encapsulated the times.  Like now, the 60s were about change, discontent, and disunity.

Through the years, The Monkees continued to get together from time to time.  We lost Davey back in 2012.  And now Peter is gone.

But happily, we still have their music.  For tonight’s serenade, I picked the original television version of Pleasant Valley Sunday, The Monkees’ pop anthem against the hypocrisy of the banal.

Kids.  They always know everything.  I remember when I knew everything, LOL.  The Monkees probably do, too.

In addition, I’ve added a more recent version of the song, a solo acoustic rendition by Peter Tork.

I hope this final February weekend finds you well.  Be sure to hug those you love.

Happy Saturday night!