Look Who’s Walking.

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It’s lilac season, and isn’t that a good thing?

This morning I got an email from Ottmar Liebert with secret links to new music and a photograph he took in Barcelona of what he thinks might be lilacs.

Here’s one link, to a tune called “quietrainmoss,” from his album “three-oh-five.” It’s definitely worth the listen, if only for the groovy sound he made with paper in his strings at about the 4:48 mark.

His email said that he thought the flowers in the photograph were lilacs, but curiously they didn’t have a scent. I wrote back to let him know that they still didn’t have a scent when the photo arrived in my in-box.

So there’s one more person who probably wouldn’t trust me with pointy objects.

In related lilac news, I had a Carly Simon-fest over the weekend that eventually landed me at her video blog on YouTube, where she makes these little snippets of video from her bedroom on Martha’s Vineyard. I love that island.

I dare say that if anyone else made those videos, one might be tempted to hide the pointy objects.

But they’re adorably, unabashedly, quirkily Carly, and I love them.

I also love ukeleles, avocados, pumpernickel bread, chocolate ice cream, Lucy, and falling into bed. And lilacs. Not necessarily in that order.

Today I walked three miles around my neighborhood. A month ago I could barely walk at all. Baby steps. Almost literally.

While I walked I had a Eudora Welty-inspired reverie, the seedling to a short story based on the fictional theory that Carly might be my long-lost mother. By the time I made it to the computer, it was less Eudora Welty and more nonsense.

To celebrate my three miles of baby steps, I took some photos of my neighbor’s lilacs.

They smell wonderful, but I suppose you’ll have to take my word for that.

Peace and lilacs and all that . . .

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Where it began, I can’t begin to knowin’.

Friday, September 6, 2013, approximately 0635 U.S. Eastern:

“So, I’m in a bar in Auckland and they’re playing “Sweet Caroline.” I don’t think you’d like it any better sung in a sexy Kiwi accent.”

Thus begins the text message exchange that finally brought about détente with the song that has been the bane of my existence for decades.

July 2013:

Marc Anthony sings an anemic “God Bless America” at Major League Baseball’s annual All-Star Game.

Seriously anemic. Someone give that man a sandwich.

And then . . .

Marc Anthony  is followed by Neil Diamond.  I know what is coming. I can’t take the moral ambiguity any longer.

I text, “AUGGHHHH!” to my friend, who replies, clearly understanding my anguish: “I thought you loved that song.”

April, 2013:

The nation and the world watch as a terrible, sad thing happens in the city of Boston.

“Sweet Caroline,” a favorite at Boston Red Sox games, rises again as a symbol of strength, perseverance, and Boston pride.

I find myself once again steeped in moral ambiguity. I want to share in the expressions of sympathy and support.  But. Augh.

September 2010 to present:

In the course of a certain friendship, it becomes apparent that the number of Neil Diamond songs on my friend’s iPod is  inconceivably incongruent with his Antonio Banderas-meets-LL Cool J swag.

In a temporary lapse of judgment, I tell him of my lifelong struggle with “Sweet Caroline” (bum-bum-bum).

Bad move. Bad, bad move.

One of the pillars of our friendship is the shared inside knowledge that if I ever find myself holed up in the Vatican embassy in Panama and he is sent on the mission to dislodge me, it will take no more than the first line of the chorus of “Sweet Caroline” to elicit my immediate surrender. Mission accomplished.

Summer of 1990-something:

On a sweltering hot summer day, I find myself serving valiantly as time-keeper at a swim-meet.

In the natural course of conversation between events,  the identity of the time-keeper in the adjacent lane is revealed to me.  While he seems to be a nice, fair-and-balanced time-keeper kind of guy, he is none other than the band teacher / director from my days in  junior/senior high school,  he of the “Sweet Caroline” obsession.

I spend the rest of the day wrestling with moral ambiguity.  On the outside, I remain a calm, cool, fair-and-balanced, you might even say “sweet” time-keeper. On the inside I am running all sorts of Ally McBeal / Walter Mitty scenarios to finally exact my “Sweet Caroline” revenge. Bum-bum-bum.

Do I tell him how much I detest that song because of him?

Do I ask him what the deal was?

Do I “accidentally” trip him when no one’s looking and then hold him underwater while he struggles and gasps for his final breath?  Hands, touchin’ hands . . .reachin’ out, touchin’ me, touchin’ you. . . .(glub-glub-glub)

No. I do not.

I don’t remember how the meet turned out. I don’t remember exactly how hot it was. I don’t remember how much my feet and back hurt from standing all day. All I remember is that I won a small moral victory over my own murderous impulses.  Good times never felt so good.

Friday, September 17, 1982:

Columbia Records releases Neil Diamond’s Heartlight album, with the title track inspired by the sweet alien’s heart (bum-bum-bum).

Diamond calls the song,  “A simple musical statement that we all felt very sincerely.”

I call the song Neil Diamond’s  diabolical attempt to get around my “Sweet Caroline” (bum-bum-bum) embargo. I am not falling for it. No matter how cute that little alien is. Not even if you put him on a pony.

Friday, June 11, 1982:

Universal Studios releases Steven Spielberg’s E.T., The Extra-Terrestrial, “. . .about a stranded alien and his loving relationship with a fatherless boy.”

The alien is adorable. He is sweet.

The boy is adorable. He is sweet.

Enter Neil Diamond.

Diamond, Carol Bayer Sager, and Burt Bacharach attend a screening of the film and are inspired by the story and by  the sweet little alien creature, whose heart glows a  warm, caring red.

November 1980, it ends:

The end of football season in my senior year of junior/senior high school. I vow never again to listen to “Sweet Caroline” (bum-bum-bum).

I move on.  I go to college. My roommate plays oboe but not when I’m around. If “Sweet Caroline” (bum-bum-bum) is in her repertoire, I am blissfully unaware of the fact.

Life is good.

September 1976, it begins:

My sister, the newest Big Shot Seventh-Grader in our family, becomes a drummer in the marching band.  I have to wait for her to finish after-school practice before we walk home from school together. Every single day.

The band practices “Sweet Caroline” (bum-bum-bum) over and over and over and over again. Every single day.

She walks around our house tapping out the rhythm over and over and over. Every. Single. Day.

She sings herself to sleep at night, in the bedroom we share: “Sweet Caroline (bum-bum-bum) . . . “.

I spend way too many sleepless nights plotting an unfortunate bunk-bed accident. Every single night.

I come to loathe the song “Sweet Caroline” (bum-bum-bum) and to rue the day somebody put Caroline Kennedy up on that stupid pony, inspiring Neil Diamond, who in turn  inspired the junior/senior high school band director, whose apparent obsession with that song scarred me (musically) for life .

Some Friday Night, September 1975:

As a Big Shot Seventh-Grader at the junior/senior high school in my town, I attend my first high school football game. I only briefly wonder what “Sweet Caroline” (bum-bum-bum) has to do with football, when the marching band plays it . . .several times.

For the record, I’ve never understood what “Thank God I’m A Country Boy” has to do with baseball or Baltimore, but it’s a seventh-inning stretch tradition that I don’t question out loud. It would be un-American.

There are some facts of life you just go with. So. somehow “Sweet Caroline” has something to do with leading our team to victory.  Ok, fine.

 

Tuesday, September 16, 1969:

Neil Diamond’s single,  “Sweet Caroline” (bum-bum-bum), inspired by sweet little Caroline Kennedy, is released.

Coincidentally, if you believe in such a thing as coincidence, this is about the same time, possibly even the very same day,  that a boy named Jeff chased me around the playground with a caterpillar, eventually slipping it down the back of my favorite maxi-dress and squishing it, forever changing the way I felt about maxi-dresses and caterpillars and Jeff.

I think it’s safe to say that September 1969 profoundly shaped my destiny, not in a happy way.  Caterpillars still haunt me. As does Caroline.

Friday, September 7, 1962:

LIFE magazine’s cover photo show adorable Caroline Kennedy riding a pony.

She is adorable.

She is sweet. She is Caroline.

Can you get any sweeter than a pony called Macaroni? (LIFE magazine, September 7, 1962)

Can you get any sweeter than a pony called Macaroni? (LIFE magazine, September 7, 1962)

Friday, September 6, 2013, approximately 0635 U.S. Eastern:

“So, I’m in a bar in Auckland and they’re playing “Sweet Caroline.” I don’t think you’d like it any better sung in a sexy Kiwi accent.”

We don’t see each other as often or have the chance to catch up as frequently as we used to, which makes me appreciate these random text exchanges from anywhere at any time all the more.

In the silly banter that follows, my world-traveling friend points out that as long as this song plays on in every corner of the world, he will think of me whenever and wherever he hears it  I fire back a silly response. I begin my day. Later I come to realize that whenever I hear the song, I think of him, too, and the times we’ve laughed about this song.

I have to admit to wondering what it sounds like in ‘sexy Kiwi.’ I’m grateful for the friendship that the song now brings to mind and for my new appreciation of the song.

And I suppose I’m grateful that I didn’t drown the band teacher. Bum-bum-bum.

Be The Boss Of Me Poll: The Results Are In.

In what I consider to be a stunning and pleasant — not to mention convenient — upset, the winner of the Be The Boss of Me Theme Song Poll, and my new(ish) theme song, to be played before I enter a room . . . . or whenever I’m doing whatever I do that makes me me . . . or during my Life Moment, whenever that will be and whatever that will be, that theme song  is . . .

Peace Train

Peace Train was on my list of also-rans because I’ve written about it twice before so it seemed like I should at least give it a nod.  The first time I wrote about it was a spontaneous moment one morning a few years ago when I was looking for something else online and stumbled upon a YouTube video of Cat Stevens performing the song in the 1970s.

Peace is joyful.

I was charmed by his youthful exuberance and the feeling of joy I experienced from watching it.  It reminded me of the notion  that music can bring such joy and, to my way of thinking, you cannot be simultaneously joyful and without peace.  Sure, joy can and often should be noisy, but it’s good noise, joyful noise if you will.

Peace is sublime.

In the side frame that morning, YouTube suggested another version of the song, performed by Yusuf Islam, Cat Stevens’ latter day name.  That version is quietly peaceful. You might say prayerful.

The juxtaposition of the two was poignant for me, so I published an impromptu post featuring both.

Peace is versatile.

Last year on the morning of September 11, I decided it was as good a day as any to send out an intention of peace and I published a similar post.  While searching for the videos, I found a third one, where Yusuf Islam is playing on a couch, which looks just like mine and is positioned just where mine is except when you look out my door you see the masts of sailboats in a marina,  so it felt almost as if he were playing in my living room.  In that video, after a lovely acoustic version, he plays a blues version (it starts at about the 2:20 mark).

I love the notion  that peace manifests itself with such versatility.

To borrow from the candy bar commercial, also from the 70s, sometimes I feel like a nut, sometimes I don’t. But I always feel like peace is the word.

When I updated the Be The Boss of Me poll to include your write-in suggestions, just as I was finishing, I felt a sense that Peace Train belonged on the ballot, so I tossed it on as an after-thought. And 33% of you voted for it.

Peace should not be an after-thought.

This is convenient in that it nudges me to follow up on something I started months ago.  I don’t recall how, but I stumbled (I stumble a lot) upon Everyday Guru’s Bloggers for Peace and signed up, committing myself to the goal of writing one post a month focused on the idea of peace.  This month (or maybe last — I’m behind on reading)  there’s a theme to the Bloggers for Peace posts: peace through music.

Two of my favorite things.  Man, you throw a Hershey bar  and a margarita into that mix and I personally will have achieved something close to nirvana.

I’ve been working on a more serious peace/music post, because this is truly where I should get on the Bloggers for Peace train.  For now, though, this technically fulfills my commitment to my monthly peace post. You, the Bosses of Me (BoMs), have chosen Peace Train as my theme song. And I thank you for that.

I like it because it sets a good intention before walking into any room and the version I play can be adjusted to fit the room. I like it because it fits my sometimes silly, sometimes serious, sometimes curled up barefoot on the couch moods.  I hope that whatever my Life Moment turns out to be, it will be a celebration of joy and peace.

Hmm. Turns out maybe I might be a little more hippie than I’ve been letting on. Kumbaya, all y’all.

Here’s how the rest of the voting played out.

  • Second place:  Get Ready, with 17% of the vote.
  • Tied for third: Teacher, Teacher and Powerful Stuff, each with 13% of the vote.
  • Fifth place:  Dandelion.
  • Devil With the Blue Dress, Feelin’ Groovy, Galway Girl, and You Can’t Resist It were tied with an equal vote.
  • And, no one voted for Cynical Girl. I like to think there’s a broader message in that and I kinda dig it

Thanks for playing. I so enjoyed your comments and suggestions.  You are the BoMs!

Everyone should have a theme song.

If you caught this week’s Major League Baseball All-Star game, you may have seen the touching moment when Mariano (“Mo”) Rivera was brought in to pitch during the 8th inning in his final appearance in an All-Star game.

This is what Mo does, usually a little later in the game: he comes in to save the day, sort of like Superman or a home-improvement reality show star who manages to pull off the impossible surprise renovation just in the nick of time.

When he does it in his team’s home baseball stadium, Metallica’s song “Enter Sandman” blasts through the stadium. To honor his final appearance and his career accomplishments,  the other players (except his catcher) stayed off the field as the song played and Rivera took to  the pitcher’s mound for his warm-up pitches.

It was poignantly awesome, even if you’re not a fan of the New York Yankees. Or baseball. Or Metallica.

I rather think everyone should have a moment like that in their lives even if just for a minute or two, to be recognized for something, whatever that thing is, while their theme song plays to a standing ovation.

I like to be prepared, so  I’m working on picking my theme song.

You never know.

I’m not really sure what my moment will be, although I’m fairly certain it won’t be a stroll in from the bullpen to the pitching mound.

About the only thing I do regularly to some degree of personal success is make my way  through Washington DC traffic twice a day.

Until a recent rear-end collision at the corner of 16th and K, I had an accident-free record that might one day have led  to my moment being a solo ride down Pennsylvania Avenue, with no other cars, taxis, or buses and the sidewalks teeming with pedestrians and bicyclists giving me a standing ovation for my lifetime achievement in traffic navigation.

(Note to self: Add  Traffic Jam to the theme song short list.)

 I’ve been trying to decide on a theme song for months now.  Turns out, it isn’t as easy as I’d thought.

I started shopping theme songs several months back when a friend posted a simple Facebook question:

What song would you like to have played every time you walk into a room?

Oh, did I love that question! Thinking of my answer entertained me for weeks.

It just happened that when my friend posed the question, I was preparing to give a presentation to a few dozen serious-minded people in a sophisticated,  state-of-the-art conference center. I instantly envisioned my entrance to be something like this, cape and all:

Of course, that idea was just a cape-adorned  flight of fancy. I needed to choose my own song and since you never know when your moment is going to arrive, I needed to get to work.

Some things to consider when choosing your theme song.

1. There’s only one Elvis.

 One thing about a good personal anthem is that it becomes distinctly  associated with one person so that no one else can use it. I’m willing to bet that if the supermarket music system played Also sprach Zarathustra / See See (aka C.C.) Rider, everyone in the store would expect to see Elvis. Several probably would.

For that same reason I ruled out Hail to the Chief and God Save the Queen, not that I’d expect the President or the Queen to show up at the Winn-Dixie, mind you. Be honest — if you were in line at the deli counter and one of those tunes started playing, you’d wonder if Her Majesty was going to jump the line for some liverwurst and swiss, wouldn’t you?

2. Go with your brand.

My friend’s question also came a time when I was brushing up on all things Oprah via her satellite radio station.  That day’s life class had included the reminder to set your intention before entering any room.

I like to think that I enter every room with the intention of bringing peace and love and maybe a little hyperbole. In a perfect world, my theme song would be Cat Stevens’ Peace Train, which I could have played up big and joyful for certain rooms . . . or played down quiet and meditative for other rooms.

The truth of the matter is that it isn’t a perfect world and there are some rooms I enter where people can smell that sort of intention coming and they will eat you alive.

My intention when entering such rooms is, well, not to be eaten alive.  Which brings us to  . . .

3. Go big even if — or especially if —  you’re not.

Elvis, the President of the United States, and Queen Elizabeth walk into a bar. What do their theme songs have in common? Majesty. Grandeur. Brass. Do these people know how to set intentions or what?

Professional sports teams know this as well.  Imagine the Pittsburgh Steelers entering the stadium to the booming backbeat of Muskrat Love.  Actually, even as I type this, I’m enjoying that image quite a bit. And now that I think about it, it might be an effective way to throw their opponents off their game.  But I digress.

A good theme song — especially for those hoping not to be eaten alive —  is loud and proud.  A nice marching band or symphony commands respect as does a good AC/DC or Van Halen blowout. Heavy metal or arena rock anthems are particularly popular for professional sports teams and they can work for you, too.

I’m not ashamed to admit that my short list of potential theme songs includes some Good Charlotte and Three Doors Down. You got a problem with that?

I’m still working on my list, searching from something between Nirvana and The Carpenters, something that says, “I come in peace. But you don’t wanna mess with me.”  I only hope I find it before my moment arrives.  Speaking of which, I need to get to work.

What about you? Do you have a theme song or a vision of your own moment?

Hippie Cahier: The Musical

Yesterday  was one of those “everything is connected” kind of days when I wander around without a particular plan and then that plan falls into place as if there had been a plan.

In search of a particular book rather than the serendipitous find at the Goodwill,  I ventured out to  a real bookstore,  where I found the book I went in for plus four others and a fall recipe magazine.

One of the full price serendipity items is a book that’s part of a series of philosophy books.  This one is Blues – Philosophy for Everyone (Ed. Jesse R. Steinberg and Abrol Fairweather, Wiley Blackwell, 2012). It’s a collection of essays discussing the universal connections between music and the human condition. Other topics in the series include yoga, chocolate, Christmas, sailing, coffee, fashion, fatherhood, and a few PG-13 topics. It looks interesting.

I think it was the title of the third essay that sold me: “Twelve-Bar Zombies: Wittgensteinian Reflections on the Blues,” by Wade Fox and Richard Greene. Anyway, I can’t wait to read it.

Later I checked out a coffee shop on my end of town that’s been getting great reviews.

As soon as I stepped inside, within hearing two notes of the background music,  I recognized Keb’ Mo’s voice and thought, “This is my kind of place.”

It’s small but has all the classic hipster bookstore accoutrements — overstuffed chairs, reading material strewn about, community announcements pinned to a memo board, scones and other baked goods I shouldn’t eat in the display case, and a younger, non-annoying Russell Brand look-a-like behind the counter.

I told Russell that Keb’ Mo’ playing was a good sign and he didn’t seem to know what that meant but very cheerfully agreed anyway.  Totally cool kid . . .and he makes a mean cafe mocha.

I got caught up on all sorts of new things going on  all around me while I haven’t been paying attention.

Here in the community information exchange, for example, I learned there’s a fledgling theatre group putting on a production of To Kill A Mockingbird. Earlier in the day  a dialogue with my inner Diogenes touched on examples of honorable men, wherein one side suggested Atticus Finch — chosen out of the blue — as an example of an honorable  man and the other side countered that Atticus Finch was a fictional character created by a woman. That side might have been more optimistic after a pumpkin spice latte or cafe mocha. In any event, I liked this TKAM synchronicity. It was a sign.

Keb’ Mo’ it would be for the next music entry.

It was time for a more fun video, so I decided to choose something from YouTube’s selections instead of going in search of a particular song.  That was an experience in itself, possibly a post for another day. Suffice to say that I never imagined POTUS showing up as a featured artist, but it could happen.

There are some more upbeat choices, but I decided to go with this one of “Better Man,” because it’s a good guideline for a Monday, plus it’s connected with Keb’s work with “Playing for Change,” an organization that has brought together an international group of musicians in the hope of spreading peace through music.  There’s that universality of music and the human condition again.

And here’s “Better Man” :

Speaking of change, this post is also a page in my experimental page Hippie Cahier: The Musical. For now it’s a section of this site (one of the page links  at the top). I don’t know whether it will be a new brand or a new separate site.

It just needs to be. That is all.

Peace. Love. Hitchcock’s chin.

Today seemed like as good a day as any to bring back the idea of peace.

For whatever reason, I recently stumbled across two videos of Cat Stevens / Yusuf Islam’s “Peace Train.”  I was fascinated at the difference between the two and how very moved I was by both versions.

My favorite comment from that  post explained that the first was from a time of celebration and the other was a prayer.

I love the youthful joy of the first version and the sweet silliness of the line where he explains the song’s origin, being on a train and thinking about Alfred Hitchcock’s chin:

If everybody could, you know, love Alfred Hitchcock, I think it would be a better world, don’t you?

I’m intrigued by the stories artists tell of where particular works came from and it gives me hope to know that he created such a timeless piece from a seemingly idle thought.

A timeless peace would be nice, too.

I love the quiet maturity and hopefulness, however measured, in the later / latter version.

Wherever you are when you read this, whatever you believe or don’t believe, who(m)ever you love, whatever is your joy, here’s wishing you peace, love, and music. And maybe a little Hitchcock.

~~~

Sunflowers on a rainy day.

One of the first assignments you get in Journalism 101 is the obituary.  I suppose everyone knows that obituaries for the famous and notable are held on file, ready to be published upon the news of the subject’s passing.

In the few years that I’ve been blogging, I’ve thought several times about writing this one. I knew the day would come and I knew I’d want to offer a genuine goodbye. I didn’t attend the official farewell.  I knew my goodbye would have to be done my own way and that would probably mean it would be written.

I’d sit down to write, turn on the music, think about some stories and about how maudlin he would find it to be, look at my favorite picture of him, think about sunflowers, and decide to go out and enjoy the heck out of life the way he did.

I thought about him earlier this week — we all did — when I walked into a music venue and the musician played one of his songs, one (of many) that had particular significance for me. Before the song, he said, “This is for my friend, who I miss,” and I thought I’d missed the very sad announcement we all have expected for years.

I was afraid to ask, but  no one said anything afterward, so I decided he meant that he missed him the way we all miss him, only more so because of their deep friendship. The tall, lanky goofball in the porkpie hat and the silver lame jacket. Kid Folk.

Thinking back it was that night that my stomach started to turn and I had that “hit the wall” feeling that I couldn’t get past all week.

Sunflowers have been on my mind all week, too. They’ve come into my consciousness in no fewer than four seemingly unconnected ways.  One of my “hippie-ish” ways is to believe that everything is connected.  I kept wondering what it was, because it’s not sunflower season. The fifth came this morning when I decided to play my iPod for the first time in months, hit shuffle, and an Alice Peacock song played: “Sunflower.”  Something was up.

sunflowers

If you don’t know him by name, then you don’t know the beautiful, zany, supersmart, kind-hearted, amazingly talented spirit that was Eric Lowen. But you probably are familiar with one of his many fine professional accomplishments. Together with his equally superlative partner Dan Navarro, Eric wrote Pat Benatar’s 1984 hit song “We Belong.”

If you don’t know his name, then you probably never witnessed that song with its Spanish verse and chorus, performed by its creators,  unplugged, strolling through a crowded room, complete with silly improvisations and add-ons from the evening’s accompanying musicians.  I saw it done with a cello once. I’m trying to remember how they did that.  I don’t think the cellist strolled, but with Eric and Dan, anything could have happened.

Unplugged at its best. — Outpost in the Burbs.

Lowen and Navarro, Eric and Dan, were based in Los Angeles, but perhaps their largest following was here in the DC area, where a DJ named Neci played their song “Walking on a Wire” and it became a local hit.  As Eric and Dan said on many occasions, thank you Neci.

Eight years and one week ago, Eric Lowen was diagnosed with ALS, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).  His own words in a 2006 article in “Performing Songwriter” naturally  tell his story better than I could repeat here.  He married his fiancee and they blended their families and he continued to be Eric for a very long time. At first he sat to perform instead of standing and bouncing around the stage.  (I will  never forget seeing him change a guitar string while continuing to play an amazing riff one night. He didn’t even break a sweat and he laughed and sang the whole time.)

Then he used his electric wheelchair.  I never went on one of their famous fan cruises, but I heard stories of wheelchair races. I believe the stories and I still laugh at a memory I was not even part of.

When he couldn’t play the guitar anymore, others filled in. And then he couldn’t sing. In occasional updates, Dan, now touring solo, would report that “Eric is still Eric.” When he could only speak, and Dan was giving Eric a hard time, Eric told Dan to guess which finger he was holding up.  In a later update, when he had lost speech, he was using the computer to communicate and could contribute to the daily family business with such things as ordering the family groceries online.

A couple of years ago, a cd came out with some names you might know covering some of Eric and Dan’s songs, to celebrate their music and to raise awareness of ALS in conjunction with the ALS Association of Greater Los Angeles,  Augie’s Quest, and the Eric Lowen Trust. Contributors include this guy named Severin Browne and his brother Jackson and another fella named Keb’ Mo’. They helped to keep the light alive.

Eric Lowen (sitting) Dan Navarro, Jackson Browne, The Bangles, Freebo & Mike Gormley.
Credit: Markus Cuff Photography

I never got around to writing that post . . . until about an hour ago when a friend called with the news because she knew I’d be out of the Facebook loop.

I didn’t get the sunflower connection (which I’ll keep to myself)  until I was mid-way through writing that third paragraph.

My stomach didn’t stop hurting until just now, when the post I’ve known for years I would write is now written and it is time to say goodbye in my own way to a beautiful soul whose music and life have touched so many people in such a meaningful way.

And now you know his name. Eric Lowen.  In addition to being one of the writers of the megahit “We Belong,” he was a husband, father, friend, substitute teacher, musician, goofball, light in the world who struck a chord in many a heart.  Not necessarily in that order.

A scan of an old photocopy of a pre-digital photo. Still my favorite picture of Eric Lowen.

A scan of an old photocopy of a pre-digital photo. Still my favorite picture of Eric Lowen.

Like most Lowen and Navarro fans, I couldn’t even begin to pick a favorite song or even a favorite album, though there are personal favorites that will go with personal memories forever. This is Eric’s final performance of  “If I Was the Rain,” kind of fitting since it’s been raining all day today. . . . maybe he was the rain.

My twain of thought is loosely bound

I guess it’s time to mark this down.

Nathaniel Hawthorne nudged Jimmy Buffett out of my head this morning and as much as I admire Hawthorne, I find this unacceptable. Hawthorne is for fall, the time of year that I used to (try to) teach The Scarlet Letter. This is Mr. Buffett’s time of year.

For the past few days, the Live From Anguilla cd’s have been in rotation while I drive and think over a lot of things, including choosing the answer to one of those 20 questions that are going around.  I’ve been putting a lot of thought into  what year and place I’d like to go to. One of the top contenders has something to do with a timeless beach in Hispaniola.

It’s not that Buffett isn’t literary.  Maybe Twain and Lewis Carroll crept into my dreams and Hawthorne was striking back.

Whatever the reason, the first thing in my head this morning was a phrase he notoriously penned to a publisher. Frustrated at the lack of his own literary success, Hawthorne complained about the “d****d mob of scribbling women” rising to fame and fortune writing the domestic fiction that was wildly popular in mid-19th century America.

I spent a semester in college studying Hawthorne and the women writers of his time, examining whether Hawthorne’s quote was the rant of a misogynist or just a frustrated writer watching the free market respond to something other than his highly disciplined, carefully crafted work.   It was a whole semester and I came away with many thoughts. I could go on ad nauseam (and you know that’s true), but I won’t.

More to the point is why this was the first thought on my mind this morning, especially given that I fell asleep watching The Hangover.

(Please don’t judge. It was on regular cable and I need to renew my passport. If renewal involves any sort of citizenship test, I want to be as up to speed as possible on American culture and I think I was the only US citizen over the age of 10 who had not seen it. If the test includes anything Kardashian, I will not be crossing international borders anytime soon.These are the things that I worry about. )

Relieved to find the bathroom free of tigers, I set about my morning with the thought of the d****d mob still in my head.  It may help or it may distract you to know that I tried many variations of “ScribblingWoman” when I set up my blog user name and all were taken.  Apparently, there are a lot of us. [The Phrase I Didn't Write would go here.]

Holy cow!  THAT right there is the overriding point that I’d need to muddle us all through for the next thing I say to make sense.

[The Phrase I Didn't Write] is what keeps me from being one of the  popular bloggers. It’s the kind of phrase that haunts me. It’s the kind of phrase that dashed my high school BFF Billy’s dreams of vicariously donning the homecoming tiara. It’s the money line, the kind  that you would laugh at. The kind that would bond us as hip modern women and the men who dig them.  The line that I know goes there but something keeps me from going there.

I’m sorry, Billy.

It’s that something that I came to the keyboard to write about, but I’ve gone on enough for now and the time has come for me to hit the road.  I’ve lost an hour of steel drum reverie this weekend and the work week looms ahead.  Maybe I’ll come back to it in The Phrase I Didn’t Write, Part II. 

Or maybe not.  You just never know with me.