Monday, October 31, 2011

The One Where I Hit My Head on a Rock

It is 1:30 a.m. and I need a break from mixing songs. I just spent a half hour in my car over at the lake. Why? Because it has a nice Bose sound system (the car, not the lake), and I wanted to hear a burn of the whole CD to check for problems. Did I find problems? YES. It is kind of an eye-opening... or maybe ear-opening experience. So I have a list of things to work on for every song. But I need a short break, so I am going to throw two random thoughts out there.

The first one is that when I am tired I do strange and sometimes not-so-good things. For instance, I just hit my head on a rock hard enough that it is bleeding through my hair. Yes, a rock. We have a pillar on the way into our house, right by the front door, that is paved in rocks, which have sharp edges that stick out. I bent over to pick something up in the dark just now, and misjudged where the edge of the pillar was, and just about knocked myself out when I stood up again. I don’t think that is something I would do if I was caught up on sleep.

Next random thought: I have some favorite moments on this new CD. Not just songs... yes, I have favorite songs too. But there are some “moments” that are pretty much amazing. There is one in the duet that Rachel and Kevin sing called “What Would You Say” where they are singing in full voice, and Rachel’s vocals carry out and Kevin does this kind of “flip” on the end of his, that just gets me. Another one was a surprise that happened just yesterday. “Santa’s Really There” is a song I have been dreading because I wasn’t sure what I could possibly do to give it the cool jazzy sound it needed. And then yesterday a Marine named Charlie Arbalaez showed up on my doorstep with his saxophone. He gave this song so much attitude. When I am listening to it I almost feel like I can play sax, or like I AM playing it. And there are two or three “moments” in that song where no matter how tired or down I am feeling (and believe me there have been plenty of both this weekend!) I find myself smiling... almost laughing, because it is so fun, what Charlie did with it. Away in a Manger... this one has two “moments.” The first one is the vocals on a key change. It makes me smile every time I hear it (I decline to mention why at this moment), and the second is right after the key change, where the song almost starts sounding like Riverdance, thanks to some awesome post-production by Kevin Anthony.

The last “moment” that comes to mind right now is in the song “That’s My King.” This one got a rescue from the Marines as well. Bob Siletzky (I think Sergeant Bob Siletzky) from the San Diego Marine Band lent his trumpet skills to this one. I am kind of proud of the arranging I did on this one, with the trumpets. Garry knew since the middle of summer that he wanted horns for it, and so I have been coming up with this arrangement in my head, and to hear it with real trumpet... wow. But the moment. Okay, so the moment comes right before the last chorus. Garry sings from the point of view of a man in Bethlehem the night the Savior is born, and he spends that night searching for the baby, but without ever finding him. Right before the last chorus, the music builds as he sings, “Though I didn’t get to see the babe, or hold him in my arms, I can marvel at the gift he freely gives...” and for me that may be the best moment of the whole CD. There are times when I am listening to a live music performance and when the sound is so big that it just seems to live in me, rather than being something at a distance, then I feel this swell of emotion. That is what happens every time I get to that moment in the song. And believe me when I tell you I have listened to this song probably sixty times just this weekend alone... and it still works, every single time. Or maybe I just got hit in the head by a rock. Oh, yeah.

Well, it is now 1:47. Fifteen minutes’ break, over. Time to finish this thing. I know this sounds crazy but I have to make all the changes I wrote down, burn another CD and then go sit in my car and listen again. Edit, burn, listen, repeat.... and repeat. I am so tired, but we are going to make our deadline tomorrow! That means you will have CDs to buy a week before Thanksgiving! And I think I can safely say that it is going to be good enough that you might have a few “moments” of your own when you listen. Thanks everyone, for being so supportive as we have attempted to do this crazy task of writing, recording and producing a CD this year, and the crazier stunt of putting on concerts as well. It has been a wild ride.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The One Where Steve Changed My Life

When I was a young mother, only twenty-one years old, Steve Jobs changed my life. He made it possible for me to quit my full-time job as a legal secretary and stay home with my babies. This was my computer:

Don’t laugh... it was a magical time for personal computing. I rode the leading edge of what was lovingly named “desktop publishing.” Over the next eight years, while raising five small boys and trying to keep my house in one piece, I worked hours every day and night, setting type and designing graphics for individuals, small businesses, and even the Irvine Company, which was, and is, quite large in Orange County.

I learned a lot of things. I learned to work well with men. In fact, one day Donny Osmond came to my little apartment and met with me about typesetting his fan club newsletter! (I know, weird fact, right?) I learned that when a two-year-old puts multiple floppy disks into a computer disk drive, that the disk drive must then be replaced. I learned that I was a hard worker, and if that I had to, I could pull all-nighters and finish a job in order to feed my family. I learned that there were few people who shared that work ethic, and that I could not duplicate myself... no matter how hard I tried to find motivated individuals who wanted to make extra money, they would likely not pull an all-nighter, even if it meant making a few hundred dollars in a night that would help make ends meet for their own family! Those years of crazy hard work at a young age helped to make me a very strong, independent and entrepeneurial person, and made me realize that I never want to work for someone besides myself. I learned that I could always think of a way to earn money when it was necessary.

I also learned that I love the written word. I actually enjoyed setting type on the computer and I love fonts and typefaces of all kinds. I haven’t been a typesetter in many years, but I still love those beautiful letters. I have been working today on the typography for the CD cover. Here are some of the ideas I came up with. I can’t wait until you see the artwork that my friend Claudine is creating (think European stone angels!) but as you can see from these samples, there is also art in the words. Which do you like?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The One With the Missionary and the Song

A friend of mine is serving a two-year full-time mission for our church. If you are not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) then you may not know that missionaries don’t get to call home or have much contact with their families while they are gone. A weekly letter by e-mail is the usual permitted contact. I read the letters that my friend sends to his family each week, and he is such a humble young man that I often find his letters to be thought-provoking and moving.

This week’s letter was so profound that I kept it in my e-mail inbox, and I have found myself re-reading several times since I received it on Monday. Since I don’t technically have Elder M’s permission to forward it, I won’t use any names or identifying information, but I really want to share this with you tonight.

“We got to have a really cool experience this last week, we met a girl named K____.  Unfortunately we met K in the Hospital.  When i first walked in it frightened me. We didnt know what to expect because some one called us and just told us to visit the hospital.  Both of K’s eyes were black and all the white in her eyes were replaced with Blood red.  She seem week as she sat in her bed.  Her mother began to tell us what happened.  K was assaulted in her home, the suspect choked her till he thought she was dead.  She had two strokes and is left partially blind and has memory problems, she cant remember the last two months of her life and the doctors say it will not come back.  Now i know this is graphic and sad but i want to tell you about our experience.
This Girl, a sophmore in high school, is one of the sweetest people i have ever met.  She has such a positive attitude it was astounding.  I was shocked at how happy she was even in her situation.  My companion said, "If you ask just right, Elder M will sing a hymn for you"  she then said, "Will you sing for me?"  So i did.  I sang the song i am a child of God and she mouthed every word as i sang all the verses.  K was in her high school choir and loved to sing but because of what happened she cant just yet.  I felt as i sang that i was her mouth.  That she was singing the words through me.  It was an amazing experience,  words can do no justice.  K’s spirit was so overwhelming and i came away from our meeting as a changed person.  you and i are so  blessed.
     one of my blessings is you... whoever is reading this.  I  am blessed to have you in my life.  I am grateful for your prayers and support.  For you love and your letters.  You have blessed my life beyond measure.
  I love You!”

There is not much I can say to add to that. It just makes me so grateful for this missionary, and for all that I have. I am so grateful to be working on music right now and to be creating a really amazing Christmas CD that will honor my Savior Jesus Christ. I am so lucky to have a voice, and ears that hear and fingers that make music. I am so blessed to have a family who loves and supports me. I am so blessed to have my music partner with whom I could write so many great new songs and produce them into something that will be meaningful. I pray K____ will make a full recovery, and that she will find her own voice again soon.