A Smile Amid Chaos

All you had to do this week was turn on the news, check your social media page, or surf the internet to see the chaos going on in the world. As an American, it makes me sad to see the state of the country. The division within the country is just sickening. Abraham Lincoln quoted scripture when he said:

Facebook was full of friends who stated that they were leaving Instagram, Facebook, and other social media platforms to go to MeWe and Parler (whatever those are!). I utilize the “snooze/mute” and “unfollow” features so I don’t see a lot of the content that aggravates me. However, even taking advantage of those features, I still end up seeing things I don’t want to.

When I am feeling angry or upset at the world, politics, or whatever, I need only turn to the smile of my little girl…..

Ella is oblivious to all the craziness in the world. She loves playing with mommy and daddy. She watches Elmo and reads books. She chases the cat and gets into things she isn’t supposed to. She finds joy in simple things, like me making a stuffed dog “bark” at her.

She got to go outside and sit in the snow for the first time in her life. Even though she wasn’t quite used to the snowsuit and boots – she smiled at the peacefulness of a winter day!

Having her in my life is better than any medication a doctor can prescribe! I love my daily dose of Ella – her smile is contagious!

Keep Smiling!!

We Need A Little Happy…

Let’s face it, 2020 has kinda been a crappy year. As it draws to a close, many of us will be glad to see it go! Sure, there have been high points, but the bad has outweighed the good throughout most of the year. Covid-19, quarantine, the election, political ads (on TV, radio, and via text message), politics in general, loss of income, unemployment, businesses closing, to mask or not to mask, hate everywhere, and the list goes on and on.

The things we experienced this year have messed with the mental health of all of us. Depression and anxiety diagnoses have skyrocketed. We are going bananas being cooped up in our homes. We miss the interaction with friends and family. We miss being able to go and fellowship with our church friends. Our children are lacking personal interaction with friends. This year has left so many of us scarred for life!

I don’t know about you, but I am physically exhausted by it. I “snoozed” so many friends who were posting countless political things on Facebook. I had to. Come on, how many times has someone’s post on Facebook about an issue changed your mind or your belief about something? I understand that everyone has a right to their opinion, and I am entitled to mine. The wonderful thing about our country is that you and I can share different opinions and still be friends!

What amazes me is how there are some people who just can’t be happy unless they are voicing their disgust about something. Those things don’t even have to be “hot topic” things, like what I mentioned a few paragraphs ago. Here’s an example:

A friend of mine posted the following on Facebook:

“What the hell is the matter with people? I can’t believe that people are already putting up Christmas decorations! Trees are lit and in front windows, lights are strung along the gutters, and the blow up Santa’s are sitting on lawns! Radio is already playing Christmas music!! Stop the madness, people!!”

My response to this is simply this: why is this such a big deal to you? Is it hurting you? How does a blow up Santa on the lawn of someone who doesn’t even live in your neighborhood affect your life? It seems like you were just looking for the next thing to complain about, and this was it.

2020 has so many things to look back on in disgust, so I welcome anything that would bring happiness! We could use a little happiness. We could use something to brighten our world. We need happy songs. There’s a song that says “give the world a smile each day.” Maybe if we spent a little more time smiling at one another, there wouldn’t be so much hatred in the world.

You know what? I’m not going to live my life like Debbie Downer (or whatever that SNL character was called). It’s pretty easy to find things to bitch and complain about (pardon my French), but it’s just as easy to find things to rejoice in. If you can’t find happiness – find a way to spread it! Be nice. Be kind. Smile.

To those who are already spreading joy with holiday lights – bravo! Thank you for making me smile!

To those who are walking around grumpy, angry, and looking for something to complain about…. take some advice from Bobby McFerrin:

Saturday Songs

This is the first of at least two blogs today.  I chose to write this one first.  Amidst all of the chaos in the world, I was reminded of a song that I often turned to when things in my life were less than stellar.  Michael Buble’ has been doing video messages on his Instagram page.  In one, he began to sing this song … and I felt that it was, indeed, a perfect song for today.

Smile – Nat King Cole

I may have posted this song once before in a blog about Nat King Cole.  The song is based on an instrumental melody written by Charlie Chaplin (loosely based on Puccini’s “Tosca”) for his 1936 movie Modern Times.  Lyrics were added in 1954 and they were based on lines from the film.

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You know what’s difficult to do in difficult times?  Smiling.  Try it.  It’s pretty damn hard.  While you and I are sitting in quarantine, knowing what’s going on outside, try smiling.  Not the easiest thing, but it is possible.  That’s what the song is all about. It tells you to cheer up, tomorrow will be better if you just smile.

You have probably heard that it takes more muscles and it takes more work to frown than it does to smile.  So, why work so hard?  Smile.  Give it a listen:

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What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong

This song is from 1967.  There are some conflicting stories about who was originally offered the song first.  Some say that Tony Bennett was offered the song, but refused.  Others say that the song was written specifically for Louis Armstrong, whom the writer of the song was inspired by as he felt Louis was good at bringing people of various race and color together.

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I first came to know this song because of the film “Good Morning Vietnam” starring Robin Williams.  It is interesting to note that the song was actually recorded 2 years after the film takes place (Williams’ character, a DJ, plays it on the radio).  What made me think about this song was the scene from the movie in which it was played.  While it plays, we see soldiers marching, bombs exploding, fighting and chaos in the streets, and more.

The contrast of the music of the song over these scenes are etched in my memory.  When I thought about the craziness in the world today, I couldn’t help but think of how, despite all of this, we truly live in a wonderful world.  One could easily play this song over scenes from what is going on in the world today.  It is important to find the happiness among the sadness.  It is important to notice the blue skies, green trees, white clouds, and red roses that are there to enjoy.

The only line that doesn’t fit today – is the line about shaking hands.

 

I see trees of green
Red roses too
I see them bloom
For me and you
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world

I see skies of blue
And clouds of white
The bright blessed day
The dark sacred night
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world

The colors of the rainbow
So pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces
Of people going by
I see friends shaking hands
Saying, “How do you do?”
They’re really saying
“I love you”

I hear babies cry
I watch them grow
They’ll learn much more
Than I’ll never know
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world

Yes, I think to myself
What a wonderful world

Oh yeah

 

 

Tune Tuesday – Nat King Cole

 

nat_king_cole-studio_bw_4-c_capitol_photo_archives_0While driving into work this week, I heard part of a special on Sirius XM honoring Nat King Cole in honor of his 100th birthday.  The part that I heard was from a special done on WNEW radio in New York.  It was some DJ interviewing Nat, having him sing songs and play piano.  For Tune Tuesday, since his 100th birthday would have been March 17th, I thought I would share a few of my favorite Nat King Cole songs. I guess this blog should be titled Tune(s) Tuesday.

Before I post my favorites, let me say that Nat King Cole was truly one of the great voices in American music.  He was first known for being a jazz pianist (he had some classical training), and then began singing with the Nat King Cole Trio. His dad was a Baptist pastor and one of Nat’s early hits “Straighten Up and Fly Right” was inspired by one of his dad’s sermons.

In the 1950’s he became a solo performer and had many pop hits.  When Rock and Roll music came on the scene in the mid-1950’s, his career began to dwindle, but not for long.  He, like many, poked fun of Rock and Roll and often did a song in his live act called “Mr. Cole Won’t Rock and Roll”.  In the 60’s he reached the charts again with a couple hits.

He was the first African American performer to host his own TV Variety show in 1956. He had many stars on the show, but the lack of a national sponsor led to the demise of the show.  He appeared in movies Istanbul, China Gate, St. Louis Blues (playing blues legend WC Handy), and Cat Ballou (with Jane Fonda and Lee Marvin).

Nat was a very heavy smoker.  He often credited smoking for giving his voice the unique baritone sound that it had.  He even mentioned in the special I heard on Sirius XM how important it was to smoke, and even told the host that if smoked more, it would improve his singing voice.  Sadly, smoking is what led to his early death.  In 1964, he was diagnosed with lung cancer.  It was only a few months after the diagnosis that he succumbed to the disease (February 15, 1965) at the very young age of 45.

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Route 66 

With the Nat King Cole Trio – probably my favorite version of this song.

Answer Me My Love

Beautiful song about a guy who has lost his one and only.

Mona Lisa

Yes, it’s about the painting.

When I Fall In Love

WOW!  One of his best right here.  I could listen to this over and over

Autumn Leaves

One of those songs from Nat that you rarely get to hear.  It is really a wonderful arrangement and pretty song.

A Blossom Fell

My great uncle actually recorded this song when I was a kid at some local recording studio.  That was how I was introduced to this song.  I often think of him when I hear this song.

Those Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Summer

This one always reminds me of my days at Honey Radio.  We often played summer songs when the season changed and this was one of those songs.  It’s a feel good song – gotta love the banjo!

Smile 

A song that was written by the great Charlie Chaplin, this is one of those perfect songs.  Many have recorded this song, but Nat’s version remains the one that remains my favorite version.

L-O-V-E

Nat’s last recording.  It can be heard in many movie soundtracks and one of his best!

Nat had so many wonderful songs.  He was a talent that was taken from us much too soon.  Give a listen to his other hits Orange Colored Sky, Ramblin’ Rose, The Very Thought of You, I Love You for Sentimental Reasons, Unforgettable, and, of course, The Christmas Song.

Happy 100th Birthday, Nat!  Thanks for the music and melodies!