Random Saturdays – Is Country Music Sadder Than Rock Music?

Malcolm Gladwell did a podcast on Bobby Braddock, the man behind some of the saddest country songs of all time.  Mr. Gladwell’s interpretation of American pop/rock music charts versus country music was interesting to me.  He’s Canadian and I’m from Texas.  I’m not a fan of much newer country music.  I listened to alot of popular country music in the 90s because I was in Texas and my friends’ families all listened to it.  Before that, I had only listened to older country music from people who weren’t from the suburbs.  My favorite country songs, just like my favorite rock, jazz, pop, blues, rap, R&B, hip hop, classical, etc. have one of two things in common – they are either so sad that you want to throw your heart on the ground and hit it with a sledgehammer or they are so happy that your heart feels like it will burst with joy.

Anything in between is not good enough to be a favorite for me.

Since I listened to that podcast, I can’t quit thinking about Mr. Gladwell’s comments on “Wild Horses” by the Rolling Stones.  I like the Rolling Stones’s version and, yes, the lyrics are not quite as sad as “From Boulder to Birmingham” by Emmylou Harris, to which Mr. Gladwell compared it.  They’re both connected since Gram Parsons apparently wrote “Wild Horses” and his death inspired “From Boulder to Birmingham”.  However, part of the sadness and heartache emoted in a song is in the music itself – the melody, the specific notes, the key of the song.  While I think “From Boulder to Birmingham” is pretty heart-breaking, The Sundays‘s version of “Wild Horses” saddens a deeper part of me.  Something about the fragility in Harriet Wheeler‘s voice shatters my heart.  “From Boulder to Birmingham” is a finely-tuned piece of music, but The Sundays’s “Wild Horses” is something you sing to yourself while rocking back and forth and weeping in a corner.

While we’re on the topic of cover songs, we should talk about “Hurt“.  Nine Inch Nails put out this song while I was in one of the deepest parts of my depression and it helped me.  It made me feel a little less alone, like Trent Reznor understood what I was feeling.  If Trent Reznor could feel that way, then maybe I wasn’t quite as alone in the world as I felt.  When I first heard that Johnny Cash was doing a cover of the song, I felt the same way that Trent Reznor says he felt.  The song just didn’t seem to fit.  Johnny Cash is a country music legend, but Nine Inch Nails was filed under “Industrial Rock“.  It just seemed so weird.  Then, Johnny Cash’s version of “Hurt” was released.  If the song itself wasn’t heart-wrenching enough, then the video would certainly make up for it.  Whereas the Nine Inch Nails song moved me because of how I felt, Johnny Cash’s version moved me because of how he felt.  We all know Johnny Cash’s story.  We know his pain is real and he feels every word he sings, every chord he strums.  You can see this clearly in the faces of Johnny and June in the video.  There is no acting here, just memory.

I really don’t think that country music has more power to make me cry than rock music.  Although, I have been moved to tears by many songs in both genres.  For me, it’s more of the combo of lyrics, music, and personality that determine whether a song makes me cry.  I know some people who feel the same as I do.  I also know people who would agree with Malcolm Gladwell.  There are also those who have never been moved by music in that way.  I’m just sad for them because there’s a certain magic about being moved so deeply by a song that you cannot hold back your tears.  It’s cathartic and also makes you feel connected to the world around you in a very unique way.

With that, I leave you with one more beautifully sad song.  It’s from one of my favorite artists, Sara Bareilles.  She was supposed to repeat the chorus to the end of the song, but was crying so hard while recording in the studio that she could no longer sing.  If you love NYC the way I do, then you may find yourself tearing up at her broken-hearted sacrifice along with me.


Random Saturdays -Christmas Songs

I LOVE CHRISTMAS SONGS!!!  I do not love listening to them before Thanksgiving.  The day after Thanksgiving, I listen to 90% Christmas music until the new year.  Here are some of my favorite versions of some of my favorite Christmas songs.

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – Judy Garland.
Most of my Christmases growing up were a bit sad.  It was just my parents and me, and they were usually doing their own thing.  Other than opening presents, I was alone.  My grandfather passed away right before Christmas when I was finally old enough to earn money to buy him a Christmas gift.  I’ve spent many a Christmas day completely alone, with no family or friends.  Anytime I have been lucky enough to spend Christmas with my loved ones, I truly appreciate the time because I know how precious it is.  This song completely sums up all of my emotions about Christmas.  It is my absolute favorite Christmas song.

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings – Bare Naked Ladies & Sarah McLachlan
These were always solid Christmas songs, but it wasn’t until I heard this version of them that I really fell in love with them.

Santa Bring My Baby Back to Me – Elvis Presley
Elvis.  Christmas.  What’s not to love?  This song is just da jam and makes me wanna sing and dance.  It really gets me into a celebratory mood.

Carol of the Bells – Straight No Chaser
I was trying to figure out which version I should put on here because I also love the Vienna Boys Choir performing this.  Straight No Chaser does such a clean and pure version, though.  Since the song was originally meant to be acapella, it seemed like the best choice for this list.

That’s What Christmas Means to Me – Stevie Wonder
Have you ever worked retail at Christmastime? It’s not fun. Mostly, it’s the Christmas songs that drive you crazy, even if you love Christmas songs as much as I do, because they play the same 10 songs while being open longer hours than usual. I have had to work retail at Christmastime with this song on the playlist and it was the only song that I was happy to hear every single time it blared in the store.

Blue Christmas – Porky Pig
It’s hilarious!

Random Saturdays – This Happens All The Time

Got a newsletter from my employer this week that used the word “ideate”.  It rhymed with the other words in the sentence, but I didn’t bother reading past that first sentence because “ideate” bugged me so much.  I know that we all make up words here and there, sometimes by accident and sometimes on purpose.  Jokingly, I will add multiple endings to words like “fantabulosity”.  More often, I will be at a loss for words and stumble over syllables until something that seems like the length of a real word has been reached.  And oldie but a goodie – phototography.  I must remind you, this is not the norm.

Most importantly, I never use these words in a business setting.  My boss and coworkers are pretty laid back, but any time I have to address someone formally in the work environment, I reach back into the far corners of my brain and dust off college, high school, middle school, elementary school, and Sesame Street English.


Formal written English is a dying art.  We can blame it on the schools, but that brings up a whole slew of different issues such as funding, testing, etc.  I prefer to blame it on pop culture.  Even when I was a kid, products and shows marketed towards kids used misspelled words like “kool” and “Xtreme” so that we’d know that they were meant for us Xtremely kool kids.  Now, I see kids and young people text each other and write blogs using misspelled or very short versions of already-misspelled and pre-shortened words such as “kewl” or “kk”.  Did we really need to shorten “ok” to “kk”?  (I still write, “okay”. because I’m old and set in my dang ways.)

I suppose it’s fine if the youths want to have some fun with their hip lingo daddy-o.  My problem is that this extends into the workplace now.  There is no reason for a Fortune 500 company to use a word like “ideate” in a newsletter to all employees.  It doesn’t make the employer seem hip, cool, relateable, or even amusing.  It seemed more desperate and lazy to me.  Granted, I’m a word nerd and it drives me nutty buckets when people send me emails at work telling me about how something “effects” them.  Still, I think that work media meant to be dispersed to hundreds of thousands of employees can make an effort to use formal written English.

In that specific newsletter, I believe the newsletter writers were going for amusing since the other words ended in “-ate” and were verbs.  However, nobody “ideates”.  We can develop ideas, brainstorm, or come up with new ideas.  We can write down our ideas, expand upon our ideas, and even trash our ideas.  Whoever “ideated” that word should be “fireated”.  What bothers me most is that I’m sure that person makes at least twice as much as me, but probably three times more than me.  With all of that money, you would think that a person could afford high-end tools like dictionaries and thesauruses, but who am I to tell someone how to spend his or her money?

Then, I used my dictionary and realized that “ideate” is a real mo fo word.


There are multiple companies that use the word in their name.  Know what they do?  They ideate.  Yeah, because it’s a verb.  So, I’m going to shut the hell up about “ideate” now, but I stand by what I said about all the other stuff!

Random Saturdays – RQ Sqool (Baba Yaga, Kali, and Japan)

Years ago, the RQ Babes came up with the idea of starting RQ Sqool (I know, “q”, but it’s funny to us to see how often we can use “q” in the English language).  We debated on learning something together and discussing via email or doing text chats (not sure if Skype was even a thing at that point, but I know that Google Hangouts weren’t.)  Recently, Cathy stumbled upon one of those emails and we decided that we would all love to finally do RQ Sqool.  We would each develop a lesson of sorts to share with the others via Google Hangout.  Then, we could put the chat up on Da Debediah (remember him?) since that was supposed to be our central RQ social networking hub.  Teresa had some last minute crap happen and Heather had some sinus issues (but she sent us this link in lieu of her lesson on hot dudes).  So, it ended up just being Lauren, Cathy, and me.  We still had alot of fun.  The recorded part of the hangout is quite a bit more serious than the after show chat.  If we start to get ones of followers on Da Debediah, I’m thinking that we should start recording the after show bits.  We’ll have to make people sign wavers, though, because the stuff we say there is really just a bunch of friends joking around and is not appropriate for children or kittens or grown men.  When I created Debediah’s account on Google, I got all of these warnings that since Debediah isn’t a real person, I had to create a page for him instead of just a Google+ account.  In trying to make sure that RQ Sqool was on Debediah’s Google+ and Google Page, I discovered that it’s a pain in the ass to post anything to or to see any posts on the Debediah Page.  Good job on that Google.

So, here is the First RQ Sqool Google Hangout.

Admittedly, it’s very long (almost an hour).  So, I don’t expect anyone other than an RQ Babe to watch the whole thing, if that.  If anyone does watch it, though, let me know what you like, don’t like, how it can be improved, etc.

Random Saturdays – Music Edition: Sara Bareilles “Stay” and Damien Rice “Delicate”

I’m a sucker for songs that have certain instruments (i.e. string orchestras, pianos, nylon brushes on drums) or mention certain topics (ex. breathing/air, oceans, souls, rebirth, etc.)  I’m discovering that I also like songs that say something along the lines of, “Stay tonight and we’ll make the most of it because in the morning one of us will be gone.”   I’m not sure why I like songs about the last topic, since they don’t tend to be relevant in my daily life.  Then again, there are the songs that are just about hooking up, and there are the songs that rip your heart out of your chest, throw it on the ground, and jump on top of it a few times;  I prefer the latter.  So, I suppose I just enjoy songs that evoke a strong emotional response.

About a month ago, I discovered that Sara Bareilles released “Once Upon Another Time” in 2012, an EP of which I was not previously aware.  When I heard “Stay”, I knew I had to buy the album.  The song reminded me of something, but I couldn’t figure out what.  After listening to it four or five times, I realized that it reminded me of the Damien Rice song, “Delicate”.  Now, I can’t listen to one song without thinking of the other.

Sara Bareilles “Stay” (lyrics video)
The beginning of the second verse really gets to me:  “My hands are shaking/This is a/complicated love affair”.  Then, my heart breaks just after the second chorus with the way she sings, “I don’t wanna cry/I know we’ll get to tomorrow/And say goodbye/That’s why I’m asking for tonight”.

Damien Rice “Delicate” (lyrics video)
The lyrics in this video aren’t completely accurate, the major flaw being that the song says, “I might take you home” instead of “We might take it home”, but I like the image used and the way the lyrics fade in and out throughout the video.  The part that really throws my heart on the ground is the last refrain of the chorus, when Rice’s voice goes into falsetto and cracks.  That’s kind of his thing, but I like it.

Now that your heart is thoroughly broken, I think it’s a good time to end this Music Edition of Random Saturdays.  Tune in tomorrow for Sorrowful Sundays, when I’ll feature all of those SPCA videos of homeless animals as Sarah McLachlan plays in the background!

Random Saturdays – My Temika Weekend

Since I started this blog, I’ve gone from posting three times a week to twice a week to once a week.  Last week, I didn’t post at all.

It was a combo of being busy, being exhausted, and being lazy.  One of my best friends was visiting me from out of town last weekend, so I spent last week procrastinating about getting my apartment ready for her visit.  Then she visited, so there was no time for blogging.  I’ve known Temika since 1988, but we didn’t become (best) friends until 1992.  Since then, we’ve been inseparable, except for the fact that we haven’t lived in the same city since 1996.  It doesn’t stop us though!  We have been through international plane trips, marathon road trips in the Texas summer without air conditioning, towed vehicles, and, as of last weekend, running over giant sheets of metal on the highway.  No matter what, we stay in touch and visit each other.

Temika, her girlfriend, and her son came to visit me last weekend.  I hadn’t met Melinda before, but she turned out to be one of the coolest chicks both sides of the Mississippi.  My precious little Zakk is turning into my goofy kid Zakk, which simultaneously breaks my heart and makes me proud.  When I was little, I always thought it was lame how adults always said that kids grow up too quickly — I completely get it now.  Friday night, we met up at my apartment.  Amanda met us, too, so that we could all get dinner together.  We went to Cafe Brazil, which made such an impression on Zakk that he kept asking to go back for every meal afterwards.  Zakk fell asleep on the way back from dinner, leaving Temika, Melinda, Amanda, and me to talk and laugh to the point of exhaustion.  We also learned that Temika developed a zebra impersonation after hearing the noise on some show.  Then Amanda did her version.

This is the sound that a zebra makes (skip to the 1:00 minute mark).

This is Temika doing her imitation of a Zebra, followed by Amanda doing her version.

This is Amanda making a second attempt at the sound.

Saturday morning, I made biscuits and a potato, sundried tomatoes, and feta frittata for breakfast.  Afterwards, we headed to the Ft. Worth Zoo.  I’m not actually a fan of zoos because I think it’s sad to keep animals caged.  Then again, some zoo facilities are safer from human destruction than animals’ natural habitats.  I am a fan of taking kids to zoos, though.   On the way to the zoo, I ran over a big piece of metal in the road.  Actually, it flew at me after a giant truck passed it, then flew into my bumper and got stuck under my car.  Due to construction, there was no shoulder and I was in the far left lane.  I had to slow down, ease over four lanes, and drive until I could find a bit of shoulder where I could stop.  Once I pulled over, Melinda and Temika tried to pull out the metal, but it was stuck.  Melinda used a jack to lift the car while I crawled beneath it and pulled out the metal.  Thankfully, nobody was hurt, the car was still safe to drive, and I have full coverage.  (As I type this, a rental car sits outside of my apartment.  I had to get up two hours earlier than normal to drop my car off for inspection/repair, but the rental car guy looked like a much cleaner and less skeezy version of Shia LaBeouf, so that was cool.)

It actually turned out to be a great day to go to the zoo – too hot for my taste, but not too hot by most people’s standards.  All the animals were out and about, curiously exploring items in their areas, bathing, eating, and playing.  When we were ready to head back, we took the toll road to avoid more construction, but there were multiple things in the middle of the road there too, all of which gave me mini-heart attacks.  We grabbed dinner at Eddy’s Pizza.  Then, Melinda and Zakk went to Main Event to play games while Temika and I tried to find a dress for a semi-formal event she needed to go to back home.  It was our lucky day because she found it at Burlington Coat Factory, the first store we tried!  Since we still had time, we also made quick runs to Ross and Old Navy.  Temika found great deals at all of the stores.  I think she bought enough clothes for her, Zakk, and Melinda to wear for a weekend, plus her semi-formal dress, for less than $100 in less than an hour.  We made a quick stop at Yogurtville for dessert before coming back to my place to end the night with some Redbox movies.  We watched Pitch Perfect (which was way funnier than I expected), but were all too sleepy to watch Hotel Transylvania (which we had all seen before anyway).

Sunday morning, we had breakfast at The Original Pancake House.  This time, I was told that I couldn’t make any substitutions on the combo meals, so I ordered á la carte.  I still don’t understand why I can’t substitute bread for meat — the restaurant saves money this way.  We said our goodbyes, and then Temika, Melinda, and Zakk headed back home.  It was a busy weekend with lots of food, lots of driving, but mostly lots of love & laughs.  We were all exhausted, but in a good way.  So, that’s why I never got around to blogging last week.  As an additional penance for missing last week, I offer you, dear reader, Amanda’s impression of a goose.