Friday, December 24, 2010

My Gift

A woman I know just came up to me in CVS. I should say right off- she doesn't really KNOW me, I am quite sure she doesn't know I am a musician.

I had seen her shopping a little while before, but she didn't meet my look and I moved on. Now, though, she stood in front of me as I went to the check out and looks up at me with a smile.

She reminds me of Marilyn on that old show, Northern Exposure- she is instantly recognizable as a Native American and she speaks with a slow measured cadence and a slight accent. She presents always as someone who Considers Before Speaking-

But now, she looks at me and smiles and immediately says, in her gentle way, 'I want to sing you a song', and starts, slowly and beautifully, to sing soft words I don't know, but a very familiar melody.

When she finishes, she tells me, 'That was Silent Night in my language', smiles and hugs me and with a 'Merry Christmas', moves to go back to her shopping-

What a Gift!!! Truly a spirit gift......

Thursday, December 23, 2010

This Night

The stars cut through the night
They twinkle and glow and shine their light
The light that left that star so long ago
Some before the stories that are told
About this night

The air is sharp and chills the bone
The music of the season tells a story well known
Of peace for all the human race
It was the promise, but's not been the case
Even tonight

So what is the meaning of Christmas Day
How can we let peace try and find a way?
I think it starts here in my heart
And like each star, I can add my part
Of light in the night.


Peace is often hard to find
There's more to it than just being kind
But I have seen it in a simple gift
Of time, or song, thats meaning to lift
The dark from a night

So my hope for you on this Christmas day
Is that you let peace try and find a way
That you feel the song in your heart
That you find a way to live your part
Of lighting the night

Lighting the night....
A light in the night.....

Happy Holidays!!!
C. 2010 Marilyn Miller

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Holiday Sing Along

If you know me personally, or have been reading here or FB for any length of time, you know that I have a BIG THING for the healing power of music, and the ability of music to bring people together.

Some of you also know how I just think music is FUN.

Last night was a bit of all of that, as various folks from different parts of my life gathered in my TINY house to sing carols together, eat lots, and laugh more....

I am not a religious person, but I LOVE Christmas. I love what the holiday represents to me (peace and joy born into the world), using the subjects of the holiday (giving, light and music). It really is the only holiday in the USA that is celebrated around a special bunch of music that is only performed/listened to/enjoyed in the season.

I like that.....

....and a lot of the music is about what a gift music is!!!! (Little Drummer Boy is one of only two Christmas songs that I have 'performance ready', besides my own (see top right on this page for an mp3 of my song, This Night)....the other is 'Do You Hear What I Hear'....hmmmmm-see the theme?)

Well, I was MAJORLY gifted last night. Connie and Renee came first, way earlier than everyone else, but that was great, because I got time i cherish to just talk to them.....then came Betsi and Abby and many many instruments.....too many to list, but believe me, there were many!!!

OH!!! and let me not forget the spinach/pepperoni/cheese pie that Renee brought and the mac and cheese that Abby and Betsi brought!!! oh MY.....the perfect additions to my meatballs and we ate....and ate.....and ate....

....and settled down to music. Connie played some songs for us while I was trying to get settled (~sigh~the joys of being but we soon launched into Christmas songs. By then, Deb had arrived and we had the room rocking with bangers, shakers, singers and guitars....what a Joyful Noise!!!!

Very soon, along comes Mike, Liz, Simon and their baby.....and a LOT more instruments!!!! LOL.....I was a little worried, because at that time, I thought the room was full!!!!(the instruments in this house have a room to themselves, yeah, i have a resident 'green room'....but it is blue!!! it was not them that worried me!! but seating another three +baby DID worry me!)

By time everyone was settled, it was clear that we could do it, and we started back at the songs....this tme with young Simon joining in the singing AND the percussion....and doing a great job of it too!!!. And seems he can play something to anything and on any insturment that has strings or keys....just amazing.......i SO appreciate that he comes to my gatherings....

I don't believe I have heard Abby in the past, but I did this time, and her joy and voice makes my heart soar!! Betsi (see further down on my blog) has the voice of an angel, and a catchy style to boot.....Connie is the Rock, supported by Renee, and gave us a great lesson on demolished, diminished chords. And my friend Deb, well she just HAS to sing more, I love to see her enjoying herself and she sings well!!!

At some point during the evening, I turned on the recorder and got this Recording of Holiday SingAlong.....enjoy it!!!  (click the link)

After a while, people got tired and wandered home or to the next party (Note to self....early party's this time of year get folks who have obligations to other things to come to your thing too...).....and Todd and Brother Ed came....they got the tail end of the music, but we sat until the wee hours of the morning, talking about life....what a wonderful end to a GREAT DAY!!! I thank ALL of you!!!


I wrote this, this morning, discussing a sticker on my fridge that a wonderful musician, Betsi Krisniski, took a picture of and posted on Facebook....I want to record that discussion here because FB only keeps things just so long....and I like the story....

There is a story about that sticker that you may be interested in......

Every year in October, I go to California and play Neil Young Songs with a bunch of people from all over the world. Part of that week is an 'open mic' type set up at a bar that Neil once had some shows in to warm up for a concert (so, you know, you get to stand on the same stage as your hero did once, sort of thing.....).

This particular year, several years ago, the woman who would be harmonizing had laryngitis, so I quickly recruited another. Also, the drummer had not practiced with me since the year before (He used to live in Boston and play with me often, but then moved to CA, so this is the ONLY time every year I get to play with him).....well!!!

I am extremely stage shy, and those nerves will ALSO ensure mistakes that I never made in practice.....LOL....

Well, we played a few songs ok, and got to a tune called 'White Line' i don't know what got into the drummer, but he took off like he had DONE a couple lines (no, don't worry, NONE of us do that sort of thing, i am just making a joke) and i didn't have the confidence to stop and start over......and for the whole song, i could not find my guitar part, the vocals, remember the words (so i made up my own....remember, i am singing to a group of 200 people who all know every word to every song that neil has ever done!!!), NOTHING!!!!


Needless to say, I finished my set out, got off the stage, and wanted to run away, but did not (i did bite the heads off my friends who told me what a good job i did....'hey, say that now, and i won't believe you when you mean it!'....i was terrible)

the next day we went shopping at a really cool store (betsi and abby, the throw on the couch you were on is also from that store) and i was still feeling know.....i am no good at this, i am too old for this, why do i even try,.....felt embarrassed and stupid and you name it.....and of course, everyone is going back and forth between trying to console me and distract me, because i am so disgusted with myself that they just can't win.

then the woman who was singing harmony on stage with me for the fill in, found that saying on a button and she bought it and gave it to me as we left the store. When i read it, the light came on in my head, and i realized it was all part of 'the process'. I was so appreciative that she lifted that cloud from me in one simple little act that i shed some tears and will always have a very special place for her in my heart.

Then, last christmas, the woman who had the laryngitis found the sticker, above, and gave it to me.

I keep it there on the fridge so I can remember.....Art is human, and human is not perfect, and i don't need to apologize for being human....

 i think now that restarts at the very beginning of a song, when it is not feeling together is perfectly alright!!! LOL....but when i am in the middle of song, always end it with respect, as a flawed but human piece....LOL!!!! I try to see the song, any song, as it's OWN thing, not MY thing....that is taking ITS own form through me, not BECAUSE of me.....don't know if that makes any sense to anyone else, but, there it is.....that helps me keep the focus on helping the song present itself, and not focus on MY presentation of the song....Keeps the ME out of the way....

.for what it is worth....

Thursday, December 9, 2010