Wandering Down the Road…

This time in music!

“Paul Simon: the life” by Robert Hilburn was one of the few books I’ve started to read but did not finish. I stopped reading about 2/3 of the way through, not because it wasn’t good but because I just lost interest in the story and I have too many other books to read.

Everyone loves Simon & Garfunkel music. I grew up hearing it on the radio and my Mom had a few vinyl albums that my brother and I would play occasionally. I had a vague memory that they broke up and Paul Simon had a solo career. Chevy Chase in the music video for “You Can Call Me Al” was about all I knew about Paul Simon in my teens since MTV was a big thing to me back then. That’s the last I really thought about him until my sons started playing Simon & Garfunkel albums.

I’m not sure how they came across it but suddenly their first albums started showing up on our MP3 player in the truck. It was probably my husband’s idea. When the boys started learning to play guitar, those were some of the first songs they learned to play. It made for a very peaceful house. When you’re learning you tend to play the same parts over and over again. Everyone has those cringing moments when their kids pick up new instruments and have to practice. I missed out on that feeling. I never minded how much they sat and played, alone or together. I never needed a radio!

The only solo album I knew of was Graceland. We picked it up at the music store one day on a whim and I loved every minute of it right from the start and still play it often. Paul Simon doesn’t make a bad song.

So when I saw this book laying on the biography table at the book store a few months ago, even though I had my allotted number of books already in my arms, I picked it up. I love biographies of famous people and I’d love to know more about Paul Simon. I wasn’t disappointed.

Reading about his early life, how he got started, his relationship with Art Garfunkel, it was all fascinating. Famous musicians acting like real people, like everyone else in the world. I think I liked it most because I could hear the songs from the albums in my head as I read. The stories behind the songs, what was going on in his life and the world that inspired them, it all merged together with the music in my head.

Something that really resonated with me, especially right now, was that he never set out to write a song about a specific thing, he wrote what was in his heart. He didn’t think, “You know..wow..that seems really important. I think I’ll write a song about it.” He just felt lyrics and poured them out, then wrote the music to match it. I loved how he brought little things he noticed into the songs. He is an artist.

I was also fascinated reading about record promotion and deals, how songs got on the radio, and how they became popular. It reminds me that we need to keep creating our art. That people know it, love it, and buy it isn’t the point at all. There’s so much beauty out there. We can’t see or hear it all. What comes to our attention isn’t the best of the best, it’s just what one record company thinks it can make money on. It’s one producer’s vision of great. The artist? Well there are millions of us out there making tons and tons of wonderful art.

Something that I’ve always wondered is why famous people tend to have so many problems. Paul Simon was no stranger to pain and suffering, mostly, it seems, brought on by his own actions. Everyone wants to be seen and heard. We spend our lives making a space for ourselves. Some of us do it in quiet ways. Some of us want to be in the limelight. We all want recognition for our efforts. Those of us that crave the limelight though…when we get it, many times it does terrible things to us. It feeds a monster and we spend our lives fighting it, knowing in our hearts that we invited the trouble. Paul Simon, from this book, seems to have fought that fight too. Once we have the fame, we want more. It’s an addiction that we self-medicate to maintain if we need to.

The truth is, even if no one had heard of Paul Simon, even if only his friends and family and the local bar had only heard his songs, he’d still be brilliant. His art is there pouring out of him, regardless of record sales and awards. The fame and the money seem to cause the problems. Or do they exaggerate the problems we already have?

I loved this bit too, speaking of his mother and how she responded to his teachers saying he was a bit of a dreamer and needed to pay more attention in class, ““I think she understood that the ones who are looking out the window are sometimes your best students, not the ones who always raise their hand and want attention,” Paul said. “I always thought that was embarrassing. I wanted attention, too, but I didn’t want to be seen as wanting it. I wanted it to come naturally, by doing something that warranted it, rather than me manipulating people to look at me.” … He wasn’t interested in being a showman; all he cared about was playing the music.”

This is how I feel about writing and the marketing crap I’m encourage to do on social media. I’d rather be quietly writing away and producing better and better posts, than creating sharable content. I don’t want to sit there with my hand up, jumping out of my seat. “Pick me! Pick me!” I want people to be interested in my art because of its qualities, not because of my marketing skills.

Another wonderful book finished and sitting in my collection! I love reading so many different kinds of books for no other reason than they look interesting. You never know what little bits you’ll find to help you on your own journey. It doesn’t matter what kind of book it is or what the subject matter is. Fiction, non-fiction, fantasy, biography, history, self-help, it really doesn’t make a difference. Every book I pick up has something in it I need and I never know what it is until I read it.

Sometimes I think I should curate my reading list a bit better, maybe put some effort into deciding which books to read and when. There is only so much time in a day and so many books out there. I can’t read them all, so maybe being a bit more picky would be more efficient. But then how do I even start to decide? That process seems so time consuming and my current system has served me well already. So I continue on my way, picking up and reading whatever comes across my path. I do have one rule about reading though. I have to like it. If I’m not liking it, if it’s not holding my interest, I move on, even if I bought it new. Books you don’t enjoy are the ultimate waste of time!

This book…it was enjoyable, very much so, but it was no longer serving me. I got what I needed. I was full, so I left the table.

It’s Friday Again!

I’m back! Did you miss me?

I hadn’t planned on writing today, but since we decided to come home early so that he’d have a few days of rest before he went back to work on Monday, I’ve had a day to rest and catch up on things myself. So here I am!

Happy Friday to you!

Thing I learned: Just before I left for our first vacation without kids, I was asking myself “Where do you go when you aren’t trying to show the world to your kids? What places do you visit when you only have the two of you chiming in with preferences?” Since my husband came with a daughter, we’ve always had kids around. Want to know the answer? The same things we’ve always done but without little people dragging along behind!

We were walking along a trail at a state park, stopping to look at animal tracks and wondering about how a fence was constructed, when it dawned on me. We are still doing the same things we did when we had kids, and probably the same things we did before we had kids, before we even met each other. We are explorers! The end of parenting is not the end of our marriage. Kids are not all we have in common!

Thing I’m reading: I started reading “Paul Simon: the life” by Robert Hilburn while we were out on the road. I haven’t always been a fan of his music. I mean, everyone knows the songs he has on the radio, but I didn’t have any albums. My sons introduced me to him, and they always marveled at the poetry in his music. I’m loving the biography because reading it makes me think he, as a person, is similar to his music; down to earth, a bit deep, quiet, and relevant to all times, not just the ones he wrote in.

This quote from him resonated with me.

“I think she understood that the one who are looking out the window are sometimes your best students, not the ones who always raise their hand and want attention,” Paul said. “I always thought that was embarrassing. I wanted attention, too, but I didn’t want to be seen as wanting it. I wanted it to come naturally, by doing something that warranted it, rather than me manipulating people to look at me.”

I can understand that! The book is really speaking to me as a writer. An artist is an artist. We want to be noticed for creating something people want to see, not because we read an article or hired someone that knows about social media ads and manipulating Amazon “best seller” subjects. It has inspired me to keep writing exactly what is on my heart and not worry so much about getting seen. I’ll be visible soon enough. I don’t need to sit in the front row jumping out of my seat with my hand up.

Thing I heard: “Live Life. Take Notes. Tell Strangers.” A couple of years ago, I saw this magnet on the fridge at the pregnancy clinic where I volunteer. Funny thing is that  I took a picture of it, posted it, and then forgot all about it until I was scrolling through my Facebook Memories. This time it struck home. This is exactly what I do on my blog!

I loved it so much that I immediately made it my blog’s profile picture on Facebook. Then I searched the internet for its source. It turns out that it’s from Tim Hawkins! He was asked what the secret to writing comedy was and this was his answer and I couldn’t agree more. I hope he doesn’t mind that I borrowed it for a bit of inspiration! I bought my own fridge magnet and a notebook! Want one? Click here!

Thing I want to do: Change the production schedule of this blog! The last couple of weeks have illuminated something important to me. I cannot produce publishable output every single day, not yet anyway. I need more time. From now on the schedule will go like this:

Every Monday and Wednesday I will put up a finished piece. They will typically be observation articles, things I’m thinking about or have noticed and want to expand on. You know…philosophical stuff.

Friday will always have a “It’s Friday, my Friends!” post like this one.

As they come up, I’ll post my book reviews here as well, but they aren’t scheduled. They’ll just be up as I finish a book and get the chance to write my thoughts about it. I’ll post those to my Goodreads account too!

Tuesday, Thursday, and some Saturdays and Sundays, will be my simply writing days. Every day I’ll schedule a couple of hours to sit at my computer and think, but I’ll only post the output three days a week. I think this time frame is feasible for me right now, but I may just drop to two days a week if it overwhelms me again.

The overwhelm comes, not from the writing itself, but from having to post it. What I’ve been doing is sitting down at my computer, thinking of something to write about, tapping it out, reading it over, and then immediately posting it. It’s not very conducive to coherent writing. It puts too much pressure on me, and I make a lot of mistakes! If I have only two or three days a week to post, the rest of the daily writing time can be better spent writing and then actually editing that writing before I give it to the world. We’ll see how it goes!

Picture of the week:

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It’s me, hiking with my husband this past week. He turned around and took it as I was walking behind him. I’ve always struggled with body image. Even when I was a kid, young and skinny, I thought I was chubby and not that attractive. My husband begs to differ and thinking back, I’ve never lacked for male attention, so doesn’t that mean I am attractive?

So…here I am, boldly making the statement. I like this picture of me. Yes, I’m chubby! But I’m fun. And I love life! My hair is going grey, my skin is starting to show its age, but I’m healthy, strong, and happy. This is what joy looks like in real life!