Saturday Morning

Late morning cup of coffee
Favorite blue jeans and
James Taylor t-shirt
Quiet music playing
In the background
My busy thoughts
Speeding toward
The upcoming week
While simultaneously
Revisiting the previous
Another sip of coffee
Suddenly I remember
Today is Saturday
Time to breathe
Slow my thoughts
Allow difficult moments
To become tiny specks
Obscured by splashes
Of bright colors
On a large canvas
A reflective painting
Of the past week
Where encouraging moments
Cause trying ones to fade
All on a Saturday morning

You Could Hear a Pin Drop

I’ve always thought that was an interesting phrase. Yet, even more interesting the situations it describes. Intently listening as someone shares words of wisdom. Witnessing a momentous occasion.

No matter the situation, this phrase describes a specific kind of silence. One which leaves everyone waiting with anticipation for what is to come. Unknowingly holding their breath. Walking away with a lasting impression.

I had the pleasure of witnessing such an event this past Monday evening…

Previously I shared about my daughter, Rachel, and I attending a James Taylor concert. Bonnie Raitt was also performing that evening. Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect. Such an unmistakable voice and style. However, I am not as familiar with the whole of her music.

Following a warm introduction by James, she took the stage, commanding with energy and passion. Her raspy voice was strong and guitar licks impressive. The rest of the band? Phenomenal.

This particular concert venue is large, arena-style. Not exactly the type of place you think of for intimate musical performances. Oh, my goodness…after several upbeat, rocking tunes, the lights went down and most of the band exited the stage.

A single spotlight, a stool, Bonnie and her acoustic guitar was front and center. She said something like, “Let’s turn this place into a nightclub for just a moment,” and began to play and sing the blues. My eyes scanned the audience, motionless. All I could think was, “Wow! You could hear a pin drop in here!”

Witnessing this one seasoned performer command this entire space with her voice and guitar-An experience I won’t soon forget.

Now if you will excuse me, I am going to go add some Bonnie Raitt to my Apple Music playlists. 🙂

Country Road

My daughter, Rachel, and I saw James Taylor in concert yesterday evening.  This was my sixth JT concert over the past 26 years, Rachel’s first.  I can truly say he never disappoints.  His songs are timeless and his sound seems to grow stronger and warmer with age-kind, genuine, personal.

Me and my girl!

Listening to his songs has a way of lifting my spirits.  Obviously, he did not write any of them for me. 😉 Yet, particular ones remind me of specific times and places from my own life.  Country Road immediately comes to mind.  Hearing it again last evening…beautiful.         

I guess my feet know where they want me to go
Walking on a country road

Just the thought of this song makes me smile.  Hearing it live and in person transports me back to my childhood.  Riding my bike and going for walks down our country road.  Always with the specific instructions, “Do not go past the red clay hill!”  

This winding road from my parents’ house to the highway is only about ¼ of a mile long.  As a kid, however, it seemed much longer, mysterious.  Thick forest on each side of the pavement made for limited visibility.  Any rustle in the leaves had the power to trigger our wild imaginations.  Although there have been rare sightings of bears and big cats in the past, I’m certain most of our unexplained noises came from birds and lizards.

I walked down that road many times for many reasons.  Playing with my cousins, getting some fresh air, eating too much Thanksgiving dinner, spending time with a special aunt or a friend.  Walking, talking, running, riding…a foundational place in my growing up. 

Some things have changed over the years.  The forest thinned.  A few houses now scattered in the woods, visible through the trees.  No more red clay hill.  Yet, there continues to be something special about taking a walk down that road. 

Memories may fade over time.  Great songwriters have the power to bring those memories back to life.  Singer/songwriters like James Taylor.  Songs like Country Road. Take a listen. https://youtu.be/2Dsph5uikX0

A Calvin-n-Hobbes t-shirt & James Taylor

My first memories of listening to music on my own involved carrying around my Bicentennial ’76 transistor radio. There were no headphones. I just walked around the yard holding this little treasure up to my ear. I’m certain I heard James Taylor’s “You’ve Got a Friend” and “How Sweet it is” many times on that tiny device.

My first memories of actually playing James Taylor songs came from a pink songbook entitled, “Contemporary Sounds of Music of Today.” “Fire and Rain” & “Country Road” graced this collection, and quickly became two of my favorites. I would play them on piano and quite often an aunt or cousin would be standing behind me singing along.

Fast forward through high school. Although I heard some of JT’s new releases, I was busy working on my bachelor and master’s degrees in music. Much of my time was spent in a practice room or rehearsing with other musicians. Very little time was left to simply listen to music for pleasure.

But there were moments…a concert in Fayetteville, AR during grad school comes to mind. Here I heard “Your Smiling Face” live for the first time. This was like a second beginning of my love for James Taylor’s music, and the first of many concerts I would attend.

Though it feels like a lifetime ago, there is one song, one small moment in time, which stands out above the rest. Grad school again, my future husband, Gart, and I had just met. My life was kind of a mess.

He introduced me to the song “Like Everyone She Knows” (by James Taylor, of course.) I listened to it on repeat one entire weekend while visiting my family. The more I listened, the more it seemed to be talking about me.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/like-everyone-she-knows/169612785?i=169613674

The more I listened, the more I realized Gart was someone special.

I often tell people Gart rescued me. He would say I’m being overly dramatic, but I would have to disagree. Somehow, he was able to see through the mess and here we are twenty-six years, three kids, and six cities later.

I’m thankful for the way he encourages me while challenging me to stretch myself. He likes to say things like, “Life is hard, life is messy, but it is also awesome and beautiful.” And if feelings of doubt or guilt creep in, he reminds me that the difficult times helped make me who I am today.

I’m thankful for the beauty of poetry and music, creating a song with the power to touch my heart. A song which somehow felt like it was written just for me. A song written by my favorite singer, James Taylor (in case you haven’t already figured that out), and introduced to me by a cute guy wearing a Calvin-n-Hobbes t-shirt who was willing to take a chance.

Merry Christmas, Gart. Thank you for continuing to rescue me. I love you!