MAKE THEM SING!!! (P.S.)

A friend who read yesterday’s blog sent me this today—have not heard it in almost 40 years.  That’s me singing the title song.

. . .and time flies………

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EXTENDED PLAY (EP)

     His first name was Eldridge but that wasn’t the unusual part.  I was in Nashville, sitting in a large room packed with aspiring country songwriters.  They were a mixed bag; all ages from all walks of life.  Ponytailed men in dress slacks, a biker with more tattoos than skin, a teenager fresh off the cover of Taylor Swift’s last CD, a Dolly Parton wannabe, a guy with a crew cut who never stopped texting, a high school kid in flips flops and Hawaiian shirt, and a man who was clearly homeless. 

     What they all had in common—perhaps the ONLY thing they had in common–was their desire to impress the guest publisher that night with their self-penned songs.  The demos they brought ranged from tinny sounding, cat-like, wailing recordings done at home to professionally, produced records with string arrangements.  The publisher politely played the first verse and chorus of each and then went on to the next.  If he heard something he really liked, he kept it, garnering a round of applause. 

     Several hours into the evening he pushed the PLAY button for the umpteenth time.  As the demo began I was immediately intrigued.  The words were clear.  The form was good and the melody was catchy.  It was so good in fact, that I was already singing along as the 2nd chorus came around.  The title?  “I’m a Six-Pack Away From Loving You.”  This writer had a great sense of humor AND the audience loved it!!  However, the publisher suddenly clicked STOP and tossed the demo into the reject pile. 

     But I wanted to know WHO wrote that song, so asked that he be pointed out.  As the audience began to applaud, I strained to see where he was.  There, in the very back row, an older man with white hair shyly put up his hand.  Now ask yourself this:  how many people of an age long past retirement are not only writing songs but out there trying to pitch them?  Most people his age are dusting off their old trophies, not trying to earn new ones.  I was smitten and even scrawled a one-line fan note which said, “You are AWESOME!”  Now I’d tell you his last name.  It’s as unforgettable as his first and as memorable as his song.  But in deference to his seeming shyness I will merely say this:  his initials spell EP.  That’s right.  It’s the phrase in music meaning “extended play.”  And that is exactly what I hope he gets!!   (http://www.helen-hudson.com). 

HELEN HUDSON HERE: BABY BOOMER SANDWICH ON WRY

     I never made it to Woodstock.  I was too young, didn’t drive and lived in the Arizona desert.   I listened to the music though, with a volume guaranteed to blow out eardrums for miles.  Couldn’t get enough of the music.  Dragged the needle back, over and over, to replay my favorite songs.   Wore lovebeads, went braless and flashed the peace sign to total strangers.  Pretended I WAS Janis Joplin in the shower with the door closed.  And while my generation did sing its share of romance & heartbreak songs, the REAL message of that era was:  FREEDOM. 

     At Woodstock, Tim Hardin sang, “A Simple Song of Freedom.”  Joan Baez, AND Joe Cocker sang “I Shall Be Released.”  The Who cranked out, “I’m Free.”  Crosby, Stills & Nash even asked us to, “Find The Cost of Freedom.”  My all time fave was Richie Havens,” singing “Freedom” with a passion and abandon that shook up my insides.  But who would ever have guessed that those barefoot, pot smoking, long-haired, free love children would find themselves so unfree 40 years later? 

     Our generation is not only finding their own kids still at home but now are facing the prospect of Mom or Dad also moving into that spare room over the garage.  Why?  You might blame the economy for the 20 something’s moving back.  You might shake your fist at science for making sure we live longer but the truth is we really didn’t prepare for the prospect of aging.  Nursing homes have long waiting lists & the price tag is steep. 

     Every 70 seconds someone will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.  No, it wasn’t the drugs.  It’s our high tech, lazyboy lifestyle and it’s catching up with us.  What to do?  Move pops into that spare room.  You’ll save a ton of ‘bread.’  The kids are ‘free’ to keep their music blasting.  He might be a bit hard of hearing but music is good for the soul.  Feel free to put some black light posters up in his room.  Visual stimulation is healthy for the aging brain.  Take him everywhere you go & listen to his stories, no matter how often he repeats them.  Nothing makes an old heart happier. 

Then, if you’re real lucky, YOUR kids will put up with YOU when you start telling those Woodstock stories over and over and over again.  I finally found the cost of freedom the day we moved Granny in with us and it was worth every, single penny.  (From “Kissing Tomatoes,” http://www.helen-hudson.com)  P. S. Just read that 20% of us should EXPECT to get Alzheimer’s.