It’s not like I’ve been hibernating this winter, but there are certain friends I just hadn’t seen in a long time. Life just gets away from you sometimes I guess. Now that many of them have kids and live out in the suburbs they see each other more frequently than I see them, but now it’s a lot harder to find the time to get together.
Even friends without kids can sometimes be hard to meet up with. I saw my friend Darra at a wedding shower Saturday and she mentioned that it had been almost 2 months since we had seen each other. It was hard to believe but she was right. I didn’t realize it had somehow been that long. She’s one of my best friends and we still somehow managed to let that much time go by. After the shower we grabbed a quick drink (tea because we are too wild and crazy) along with our husbands and got a chance to catch up a little bit more.
Then yesterday realizing that it had been a long time since I’d hung out with a particular group of friends I had planned a ladies brunch. Miraculously I managed to find a date when all of us could make it. That alone is a minor miracle. I got everyone to drive into the city for brunch, though in all fairness someone else suggested the restaurant. I won’t complain about being able to walk to brunch though. It was nice to have a couple hours to spend catching up with everyone.
Although I’d like to see my friends more, part of being adult is realizing that sometimes that just can’t happen. Trying to make sure too much time doesn’t slip away is also important though. I’m glad this weekend allowed for some good friend time.
I’ve heard this song a few times recently on one of the NPR music stations I tend to listen to. As far as I can remember these recent times are the first instances I’ve heard the song, so I sort of assumed that it was a new song. After looking it up I found out that it’s not in fact new but is from back in 2012. Much to my surprise and delight I also found out that the singer is a Baltimore based artist. It may have taken me a few years, but I’m really glad I found. It’s a lovely song and I’m happy to have it in my life now.
Apparently it is uncool to like Billy Joel’s music. I however am not afraid to be uncool when it comes to my love of music. I can hipster with the best of them, and I certainly know and love far more bands than most people I know have ever heard of. However I’m not one of those people who insists I don’t like music just because for whatever reason it doesn’t fit the definition of cool. New pop music? Sure why not. Older pop music? Give me some of that too. If I like it. I like it. No need to apologize or do that annoying thing I hate where people claim to like things ironically as if that’s something that can even be done.
I’ve always been a fan of Billy Joel. I grew up in his heyday so his music is practically baked into my blood and the 70s music that wasn’t ingrained in me through it’s ubiquitousness in the 80s I definitely caught up with in the 90s. The first dance at my wedding was even “Just the Way You Are”. I do like that song, but it’s not actually going to wind up on this list nor is “Piano Man” which being the most popular Billy Joel song has just made me tired of hearing it over the years.
Yesterday I was driving home and heard “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” on the radio. That’s actually a rarity. It’s not one of the Billy Joel songs that tends to get a lot of radio play. I immediately thought you know I think this is my favorite Billy Joel song, but within a matter of seconds had come up with a bunch of other ones that I like at least equally to that song. Realistically after thinking about it for a minute I decided I don’t think I could pick a favorite Billy Joel song. So here’s the handful of ones that come to the top of my list. It’s interesting I never really thought about it before, but I apparently seem to gravitate towards one that have some sort of historical meaning or that create a sort of nostalgia for a working class life that doesn’t exist anymore.
- “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant”
Obviously I’m going to start with this song because it’s the one that kicked off the whole idea in my head. I love that it’s actually really almost 3 songs in one and how you’re hearing a story within a story within a story. I also have fond memories of it from my sophomore year in college when some friends and I were momentarily obsessed with it. I’m pretty sure I have a picture somehow of me and one of my friends standing on top of chairs in someone’s dorm room singing and dancing to this song.
2. “Goodnight Saigon”
I just really love the opening piano part of this song and how it really evokes the awfulness that awaits the kids that are being sent over to Vietnam to fight. Despite the not so cheery topic of the song, I have good memories of it as well. I remember falling in love with this song my freshman year of high school and having a friend play it for me on one of our other friend’s pianos at a party. I’m pretty sure I actually have a picture of him playing it in a scrapbook somewhere.
I don’t have too much to actually say about this song except that I really love it. Again I feel like the music perfectly works with the lyrics to evoke the feeling of town that’s dying but that is leaving behind a proud people.
4. “Downeaster Alexa”
“Downeaster Alexa” feels like a sort of companion song to “Allentown” just shifting the look at a dying working class job from factory work to fishermen. It’s haunting melodies really evoke the image of being out on the water for me. I love it too.
Last night I saw Tony-winning actress Sutton Foster perform with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. If you’re not familiar with her Broadway work you may know her from the sadly short-lived television show Bunheads or from her current show Younger. I’ve seen her a few times in Broadway shows, Anything Goes and Violet and had seen her perform at the Cafe Carlyle. I was surprised that we were somehow even closer to the stage last night than we were at the Carlyle given that’s a tiny cabaret venue. Granted we were about as far away from the stage as we could have been there, but since I bought these tickets last August I had forgotten how close to the stage they were.
She sang a number of the same song she sang when we saw her at Cafe Carlyle, which makes sense since people are obviously wanting to hear her perform songs from the Broadway shows she’s starred in. This of course was more of a production with the backing of a full orchestra in the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
She started off with a couple of numbers from Anything Goes, which is still one of my all time favorite Broadway musicals. I’m always happy to hear Sutton Foster sing songs from it. The only thing that would have made it better is if she did the tap dance along with it. Long time readers with awfully good memories may recall that I was once inspired to take tap dancing classes after seeing Sutton Foster in Anything Goes. The fact that I have zero rhythm and can’t remember dance combinations to save my life should have made me think twice about that decision, but I did it. Let’s just say it did not end well. Of course I can’t complain too much about the lack of tap dancing during “Anything Goes” because I totally got some tap dancing, which I would not have expected had I not seen her tweet a video of the rehearsal for it.
I’ll never know, but part of me wishes I had been completely surprised by the tap dancing since I totally wouldn’t have expected her to break it out during a stint with the BSO, but on the other hand I was super excited and looking forward to it all week. So I’m not sure whether anticipation beats surprise, but it’s what I got. The tap dance number was actually performed with the actor who plays her boyfriend on Younger, Nico Tortorella. He apparently used to do musical theatre in high school, but hasn’t done anything in the past ten years. Let’s just say that came across. They performed “Fit as a Fiddle” from Singin’ in the Rain. It was fun, and think Nico Tortorella held his own fairly well for the tap dancing, but it’s just not fair to put someone who doesn’t sing professionally on a stage with Sutton Foster and expect him to keep up. It wasn’t bad during the parts of the song when he was singing alone, but at the points where they sang simultaneously it felt a little like someone in a high school musical trying to sing with Sutton Foster. Despite that it was still my favorite part of the show.
My other favorite number was “Rose’s Turn” from Gypsy. Sutton Foster was joking that despite her television show she isn’t actually getting any younger and so she’s started thinking about the classic roles for older actresses. She’s got a long way to go before she’s old enough to play Gypsy Rose Lee, but after seeing her perform this last night it’s kind of all I want to see on Broadway. The tap dancing may have been my favorite, but this was probably the best number of the night overall.
Also big props to my husband who didn’t get to enjoy the night nearly as much as I did. Some horrible old woman sitting next to him pretty much decided that she needed to be part of the show as well. When she wasn’t trying to conduct the orchestra from her seat and whacking him repeatedly in the process she was singing along as if anyone wants to hear her sing. Luckily he blocked most of the noise of that so I only had to hear her sparingly during some of the quieter numbers. Shushing from people around her did not dissuade her from that or repeatedly talking to her daughter throughout the show. She even pulled out her phone and started playing with it at one point. So thanks for ruining people’s night awful woman. I’m sorry my husband didn’t get to enjoy the show as much as I did thanks to her, but I thought it was excellent.
Last night I went duckpin bowling with some fellow librarians. ACRL MD is the academic libraries division of the Maryland Library Association. We try to host a happy hour or some sort of social event a few times per year. This time we rented a few lanes at a duckpin bowling alley.
If you’re not familiar with duckpin bowling, which I’m guessing you’re not if you don’t live in Maryland, the pins look like regular bowling pins except they are smaller. The balls are also smaller. Probably a little larger than a softball. You can hold them in one hand they don’t have finger holes in them like a regular bowling ball. Because everything is smaller than normal you get three rolls per frame instead of just two. Even then it’s still harder than regular bowling. Given that and the fact that I’m a pitiful bowler I was pretty pleased with my 78.
This bowling alley was real old school as most of the duckpin alleys tend to be. There was no electronic scoring and you had to hit the reset buttons yourself between every roll. Nothing happened automatically. It was almost surprising they didn’t have to have someone back behind the lane resetting the pins. That was about the only automated thing about the place. I’m glad someone else was keeping score. I know how, but I much prefer when it’s done automatically for me.
It was a fun night out. Hopefully we’ll do it again in the future.
If you’re paying close attention you may recall that one of the acts that I raved about from last year’s Newport Folk Festival was a Houston based soul band called The Suffers. They were such a powerful presence that it’s hard to imagine that they haven’t been doing this for a long time. In reality though they’ve only been playing together for about 5 years and just last week put out their first full length album.
It is a wonderful album all around, but “Midtown” is probably my favorite song from it. I love its groovy, smooth R&B vibe. This band is fantastic and if they are ever anywhere near you I can’t recommend seeing them live highly enough.
I’m getting this post in with a few hours to spare. It’s been 40 years since my parents walked down in the aisle in these snazzy outfits. I know you’re all wishing your wedding clothes were that cool.
I’m very lucky that after 40 years my parents are still very much in love with each other. They’ve been great role models for a marriage, and I hope mine is as happy as their’s is 40 years from now. Happy 40th anniversary Mom and Dad! Love you!