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–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–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–Beautiful Moments

I think the most beautiful moments in life are the ones you don’t plan.  They’re the ones that just happen, and you know in your heart it’s a one-time thing and you just have to appreciate it.

Mr. R’s birthday is this week.  Years ago, I surprised him with a trip to Univeral Studios in Orlando.  This time of year, they celebrate Mardi Gras and they have a whole schedule of performers throughout the season.  To which I paid no attention as I made my plans.  I just picked the weekend closest to his actual birthday.

So on the day we went, the Bonnie Raitt show was included in our admission ticket.  Which we thought, okay, no big deal.  Maybe we’ll hit it, maybe we won’t.  After all, roller coasters await.

However, when it came time for the show, we ended up near the concert venue and we thought, why not?  I think a lot of people thought the same thing because for a while it was crowded.  Little by little, though, people drifted away.   It was cool if not actually cold.  And we were all just standing there on the pavement.  But as space opened up, we moved closer and closer to the stage for what turned into an intimate concert experience.

Then she began to play I Can’t Make You Love Me.  Which is a beautiful, sad song, really.  But her voice, on that night, with me standing in front of Mr. R, his arms wrapped around me to keep me warm, was magical.  I’ll never forget it as long as I live.

Here’s to Mr. R and his birthday.  I love you more!

I hope you’re staying warm this winter weekend, and that you’re surrounded by those you love.  Be sure to give them a hug.

Happy Saturday night!