Music and Flowers
What a difference one week can make. 💛
Song For You Far Away by James Taylor Kelley Morris, piano
Thoughts from the girl behind the piano
What a difference one week can make. 💛
Song For You Far Away by James Taylor Kelley Morris, piano
A jeans and t-shirt girl
That is what I call myself
Oh, I enjoy getting dressed up
For the occasional night out
But if you ask my preference
The answer never changes-
A comfy pair of jeans
And a favorite t-shirt
Now, those jeans can’t be comfy
Without a little wear
Walking down a rugged path
Resting on a large rock or two
Carrying smooth pebbles in my pocket-
They find their purpose that way
Not just a protective covering
No, much more
A reminder of where I’ve been-
Legs crossed sitting by the fire
Those jeans feel like an old friend-
And the t-shirt?
Well… if it’s my James Taylor t-shirt
There is no contest-
Today was a virtual/distance learning day for students in our district. Yes, we know in-person learning is best. But when so many teachers, staff, and regular subs are out sick, it makes in-person learning pretty much impossible.
That meant I pushed out music lessons/activities for students on an online platform. I receive a notification each time a student submits a response. They always make me smile.
After lunch, I noticed a stack of boxes near my classroom. I quickly discovered they were the new keyboards recently ordered for my piano class! Ten of them, complete with stands, headphones, pedals. I’ve got some work to do tomorrow!
This may not have been an ideal teaching day. But there were bright spots. And here I am, sitting on the floor in front of those beautiful boxes, wearing a favorite pair of jeans and a school t-shirt. It was a good day…
It’s all a matter
Full of love
Full of love
It’s all a matter
In its own right
In its own space
But those sweet
The school hallway
Provided a harmony
My birthday celebration this year was topped off with a special treat. My husband surprised me with tickets to see James Taylor and Jackson Browne in Kansas City, MO last night. Road trip! ❤️
Four hours of life’s soundtrack from these two artists who are still going strong. Both in their seventies, I was amazed at their energy. Inspired by their love for what they do. Sharing the power of connection that lives in their music.
I hope to write more about this event. But right now, I want to bask in the harmony beyond music. It started with those sweet kindergarteners and continued right until the final note of last night’s concert.
So close your eyes
You can close your eyes, it’s alright
I don’t know no love songs
I can’t sing the blues anymore
Oh but I can sing this song
You can sing this song when I’m gone-James Taylor
Of my own
In the Berkshires
Under blue skies
Each one holding
Its own history
Of joy and pain
Places once alive
Only in songs
Now alive anew
As music and
In my mind
This afternoon the sun was shining! It has rained steadily for the last four days. My mood instantly changed as soon as I walked outside after school.
On my drive home, I decided to listen to one of the “created for you” playlists on iTunes. No surprise, the very first song was by James Taylor-Angels of Fenway. As you might guess, it is a song about baseball, life, family, never giving up. The melody is happy, the music energetic.
How is it then that two simple phrases from this song instantly caused me to choke back tears? Again, the song is about baseball! Yet, here I was, driving down the highway, about to cry.
What were those phrases?
Grandma watched from her hospital bed.
It doesn’t feel like a long time ago.
Now, I don’t recall ever discussing baseball with my Grandma Mahar. But I did spend a lot of time with her growing up. She and my Grandpa lived next door.
Grandma did not have much formal education. She took care of her parents. She also married young and raised nine children. But Grandma loved to read! It seemed like she could discuss anything. Her set of Encyclopedia Britannica was the Google of my childhood. And the bookshelves in her laundry room were always full.
Today, when I heard that first line, an image popped into my head.
It was my Grandma sitting up in her own hospital bed. She had suffered a stroke. But on this occasion, her bed had been rolled out into a waiting area. And she was surrounded by her kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids.
It’s funny how some details are forgotten. I’m not exactly sure what occasion we were celebrating. But I know we were celebrating Grandma. ❤
The second line gave me a different thought. So many years have passed. Oh, how I would love to have one more visit. So many questions I would ask. So many things I would write down.
My heart is grateful for the memories of my Grandma. And thankful for the beautiful mix of words and music that brought them to the forefront of my mind today while driving home in the warm sunshine.
Our Sunday evening Chinese take-out was more yummy than usual. Although the day started on the dreary side, the sun came out this afternoon. Only a few clouds and the early evening temperature was perfect.
So, what does that have to do with the take-out? Well, we decided to eat dinner outside on the deck. The fresh air felt so good. And while we ate, my feet were soaking up the sunshine. The combination helped ease the tensions of the day.
Once we were done eating, my family went back inside. I decided to linger awhile. Moving to another chair, I turned directly toward the sun. Head back, eyes closed, sweet warmth covered my face.
Those few moments alone in the sun were just what I needed. Soon, the sunshine was hidden by the clouds, so I went inside. My daughter asked if I’d like to go for a walk. Off we went.
As we walked through the neighborhood, we noticed birds singing. Ducks were swimming in a pond, and there was even a turtle sticking its head out of the water. There was a family playing frisbee. Neighbors waved from their front porches.
We rounded a corner, and guess what I felt on my face once again? That warm sunshine. And now it was beginning to set. Not only providing warmth but also beauty.
Back home, it was time for reflection. These are unsettling days. Keeping our distance, missing my friends, missing my co-workers and students. Wanting answers to questions. Wondering how long this will last. And on and on and on.
Sometimes, the simplest things make the biggest difference. Take-out on the deck. Sunshine on my face. A walk with my daughter. Food, sun, and family-It is amazing the power of a little warmth.
Oh, I almost forgot. And music-music helps, too. 😉
Won’t you look down upon me, Jesus
You’ve got to help me make a stand
You’ve just got to see me through another day
My body’s aching and my time is at hand
And I won’t make it any other way—James Taylor
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. 🙂
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.
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
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.
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!