JBJ is always there

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You say you’ve cried a thousand riversJBJ2008
And now you’re swimming for the shore

I was thinking about this video on the way to work this morning as I sang along to I’ll Be There For You. I taped it from MTV and watched it over and over and over … when it comes to Bon Jovi videos, this one is tops for me. Probably because Jon looks so fine in the brown leather pants, the shirt unbuttoned to his navel, and that hair, oh, that glorious hair, and because I wanted someone to feel that way about me:

I’ll be the water when you get thirsty, baby
When you get drunk I’ll be the wine

Those are some of my favorite song lyrics. Even as a teetotaling 17-year-old, I loved the imagery. Someone loving you so much that he gets a high just from being with you? Back then I understood “getting drunk” as acting silly, giddy, and having fun while nursing a wine cooler. (As an adult, I’d learn more than I’d ever want to know about what it really meant. I’ll expand on that in a later post.) “Getting drunk” was something college kids and grown-ups did, not something high school me did. I just loved the metaphor. And still do.

Twenty-four years later, I could still watch the video on repeat, only now I can see Jon and his leather pants in high-def on my 42-inch flat screen. YouTube through a Blu-Ray player is an awesome invention. <clicks play>

Even at 9, I knew how to rock

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StereophonicThat stereo over there was my pride and joy when I was 9 years old. I got it for Christmas and I played it practically every day until I got a bigger one when I was 16.

This model, from JCPenney, had a tape recorder, a record player, an 8-track, and an AM-FM radio and two speakers. It also had a microphone jack, which I used often while singing along with Olivia Newton-John and other stars of the early ’80s. I would rock out with my permed hair, my headbands and legwarmers. And I have pictures to prove it.

Once I upgraded to a two-tape-deck stereo (bye, bye 8-track), this one was relegated to music duty in the shed, where we shot pool, roller-skated and played basketball.

A few weeks ago, Riley and I were at my parents’ house and saw that they had cleaned out the shed and rescued the stereo. Miraculously, 30 years later, it still worked. We played Charley Pride and Merle Haggard records and Alabama cassettes. We didn’t have any 8-tracks around the house, but maybe we can dig one up somewhere. Only one speaker works; the wire on the second one was likely gnawed by mice looking for dinner.

After leaving the stereo at my folks’ house for a couple of weeks, I finally brought it home with me. It now gives the guest room some character and some tunes. And still looks pretty good.

What was once a 9-year-old’s symbol of growing up has now become a 39-year-old’s symbol of childhood. Funny how that works. Rock on, y’all!

Justin Bieber is cute. My girl watching JB? Cute overload!

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Last night, Riley’s BFF’s mom and I took the girls (and BFF’s little brother) to see Justin Bieber’s Never Say Never 3D. I went into it expecting your typical cheesy Disney/Nick platitudes and overprocessed pop, and was pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t any of that.

It was good, and I came out a Justin Bieber fan. Seriously. The kid can sing and he seems to be a good boy. He exudes happiness on the stage, and he appears grateful for his opportunities. I particularly loved Justin’s grandparents, who helped his mom raise him. His grandfather tears up when describing the day his daughter and grandson left Ontario for the U.S. It’s touching.

The best thing about the whole night? Watching my daughter and her friend freak out over this cute little pop star. “Ohmygosh, we can touch him! Ahhhh!” they said when we got to our seats in the theater. The two of them, nodding their heads to the beat, wearing their 3D glasses was a priceless sight.

It reminded me so much of myself in my early days of discovering musicians and music. For me, it was Shaun Cassidy, then Bon Jovi and New Kids on the Block in high school up through today and Amos Lee and Jonathan Tyler & The Northern Lights.

My friend McLovin said it best via Twitter: Musicians. They start stealing our hearts early and never give it back. They just get new faces.

She is so right.

Rock on, baby girl! Never lose your love for the beat. 🙂

Bon Jovi 45 and other treasures

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When it comes to divorce, it’s about more than a marriage ending. It’s also about splitting up all your stuff! While we’ve taken care of everything in the house, we still need to dig through the boxes of past lives in the attic. So that’s what I was doing when I found this:

Yes. That is a 45 rpm. A record. A vinyl disc with a hole in the middle. You play it on a record player. It cost me $1.63 plus tax at Walmart, probably in 1986.

“Living on a Prayer” was in a box with two old diaries (one from high school, one from junior college), three New Kids on the Block t-shirts (two concert, one fan club), old cassette tapes and VHS videos, old letters (sadly, none about love), high school and college transcripts and other memorabilia.

One of the aforementioned cassette tapes contained some rare gems mined from Top 40 radio back in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Like this:

And this:

And my theme song:

I’ve been rocking like it’s 1992 in my truck (the location of the only cassette player I have) on the way to and from work every day. Man, I love these songs … and the memories they bring … before I got serious about a boy, before responsibilities, when the possibilities of life were endless …

Then the tape stops and I’m snapped back to reality. But only until it flips to the other side and I hear this (Dude? Cornrows? Really? SMH):

And this:

Peace out, y’all!

Beer and ball

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For me, music and sports go together like milk and fresh-from-the-oven brownies. Whether it’s hearing Alabama’s Rammer Jammer cheer or “Crazy Train” when Atlanta’s Chipper Jones steps up to the plate or “I’m Bad” while working out, music gets me fired up.

So as the Boys of Summer get ready to make a run for October and the Boys of Fall kick off their season, I’ve got singer/musician Chris Blake here to talk about how music makes the sports we love even better.

Chris, whose latest EP Girl is just out, explains why sports and music are so intertwined. “Music does so much to bring the game to a new level–particularly baseball,” he says. “Music accompanies celebration, loss, traditions like the 7th-inning stretch. It adds to the tension, like when the organist plays Charge! during a two-out, bases-loaded situation.

“Music also keeps us entertained in a big way during the breaks between innings–like when the little kid starts playing air guitar to Don’t Stop Believin’ at Dodger Stadium!”

While Chris enjoys a few college football match-ups each year, baseball is his real love. The Southern Cal Trojan says, “The only reason I ever really watched football games back in college was to drink beer.”

However, he figured out that baseball was much more conducive to beer-drinking. “You could lose an entire inning waiting in line for a Coors Light and still come back to your seat and not have missed anything.”

A Chicago White Sox fan, 2005 was a big year for Chris and his family as the team won the World Series. “Along the way (catcher) A.J. Pierzynski brought (Journey’s) Steve Perry along for the ride, and now, even though I had such strong childhood memories attached to ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ ’, all I can think of when I hear it now is how amazing it was at that moment when the Sox somehow managed to go all the way.

Want to know more about the 7th sexiest man on Twitter? RSVP for The Music Mamas Twitter Party happening Friday night from 8-9:30 Central, and join us for a chat with Chris and a chance to win an iPod touch and his CD Girl.

Below is a playlist of Chris’ favorite get-pumped songs. What tunes do you crank up when you want to get your adrenaline pumping?

Hard times, good tunes

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Everyone has hard times. And when they come, music can help you feel the pain and then find a way through it.

Today I’m doing Breakup Songs. What are your picks? Next, I’ll do Get Over It Songs, then maybe Makeup Songs.

Summer Breeze

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Summertime and the living is easy … mostly. Riley’s at day camp every day while Ryan and I work (this week she’s in Town Creek with my parents), we’ve been spending lost of time with friends, and we’ve spend lots of time at the softball field since she made all-stars. (We played two tournaments and didn’t do so hot, but the experience was so good for Riley’s confidence and her desire to win. But that’s another post.)

Anyway, these are the songs we’ve been listening to this summer–some old, some new. Riley enjoys most of them, but don’t worry, I keep the dirty words to myself. And I’m not including her HSM songs, because, really, when they’re playing year-round they don’t make the Summer Playlist.

Pardon Me–Jonathan Tyler & The Northern Lights

Baby, Baby–Justin Bieber

All I Do Is Win–DJ Khaled, et al

Baby Jane–Rod Stewart

Keep It Loose, Keep It Tight–Amos Lee

Not Afraid–Eminem

She’s a Bad Mama Jama–Carl Carlton

I Want A Love I Can See–The Temptations

Carryout–Timbaland, Justin Timberlake

The Ballad of Jayne–L.A. Guns

Your Love is My Drug–Ke$ha

Love Uncompromised–Jason Castro

Show me your hearing

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So I got this email the other day from Jennifer with the Hear the World initiative about a photography contest, sponsored by Phonak, called “Show Us Your Hearing.” The project wants to see you in a “conscious pose of hearing” (hand cupped behind your ear) and aims to raise awareness of hearing loss, which affects 16 percent of the world.

Each year in the United States alone, 12,000 babies are born with hearing loss, and the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery reports that 1.3 million children under age 3 have a hearing impairment.

Clearly, hearing loss affects every aspect of a child’s life, from academics to developmental to social issues. Most of you know our story: Our daughter, Riley, was diagnosed with profound deafness when she was around 18 months old. We were devastated, but with education and information we made the right decision for our family. Just before she turned 2, she had cochlear implant surgery and now at age 8, she is a bilateral CI user headed to the third grade, an all-star softball player and an incredible dancer.

Some big names in music are part of this initiative including Annie Lennox, Rod Stewart, Common, Billy Idol, Harry Belafonte, Joss Stone, Lenny Kravitz. Singer-songwriter and photographer Bryan Adams captured each ambassador in the “hearing pose,” which “demonstrates the importance of being aware of your hearing at every age.”

Check out the Hear the World photographs—including ones of Annie Lennox, Peter Gabriel, Moby, and Amy Winehouse.

Now the initiative wants you to submit your own photo! Details are below.

Show Us Your Hearing
Photography Competition

WHEN IS THE CONTEST DEADLINE? Monday, July 12th
HOW DO I ENTER? To enter, follow these 5 easy steps:

1. Register: You will receive an email registration confirmation from Hear the World. If you don’t receive an email, please check your Junk Mail folder.

2. Visit: Click the “enter the contest” button, and enter the entry form.

3. Upload a photograph of you, a friend, or family member in the “Conscious Pose of Hearing.” The photo must be high res (300dpi), between 1MB – 3MB.

4. Give your photograph a title and provide a description of up to 100 words describing the importance of being aware of your hearing at every age.

5. Click “Send.” Your Entry will not be officially entered into the Competition unless you click the final Send button and receive a confirmation screen that states that your Entry was accepted.

WHY SHOULD I ENTER?

  • To take a moment to think about your sense of hearing and the sounds you are grateful to hear every day.
  • To support the Hear the World initiative, which is dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of hearing, while also educating the public about the consequences of hearing loss and the available solutions.
  • For a chance to win a Polaroid 300 Instant Camera and for a chance to see your photograph published in the award-winning Hear the World magazine.

WHAT ARE THE JUDGES LOOKING FOR?

  • Most visually appealing–50%
  • Originality–30%
  • 100 word description–10%
  • Self-explanatory–10%

HOW AND WHEN WILL THE GRAND PRIZE WINNER BE DETERMINED?
1. The public will vote on their favorite photo between July 13 – August 3.
2. The top five entries that receive the most votes will be judged by a panel of judges between August 4 – August 10.
3. The grand prize winner will be announced on August 16 on the Hear the World website. Winners will be notified by phone and email.

Disclosure: Riley wore Phonak hearing aids before she received her cochlear implants, but that was in 2003, way before this contest was even a twinkle in the marketing department’s eyes. Heck, before I replied to the email, they didn’t even know I had a child with hearing loss.