What a long, strange trip it’s been…
The Grateful Dead
Growing up, music was an integral part of our everyday lives. Mom was a brilliant musician and gifted teacher. Dad was self made man and a creative powerhouse, and though he did not play an instrument, he exposed us to a wide variety of music. Much time was spent gathered around the piano with my mother and sisters. I played the clarinet. My twin sister Cheryl played the flute, and my sister Jill played the French Horn. We all played the piano as well. Sometimes we’d play our instruments, other times we’d sing together. It was great fun!
But the school administrators almost didn’t let me play.
Back then, prior to entrance to the 4th grade music program, there was a true/false aptitude test. I answered all of the questions wrong. The administrators sent me home with a note saying I was not suited for music instruction. I was devastated. I returned home and handed the rejection letter to our mother, sobbing. To make maters worse, my twin was accepted in the program and I was not.
Mom refused to accept their verdict and marched me back to school, insisting that, “No child of mine is going to be refused music instruction. “ The administrators verbally asked me the questions and this time I got them all right. It turns out I completely misunderstood the test. I was admitted in to band and eventually, I earned the seat of first chair, first clarinet. My school life centered around band and chorus.
When I was 18 I had my wisdom teeth extracted. The dentist hit a nerve and I never regained the feeling in the lower left part of my face, just below my lip. This nerve damage greatly affected my ability to hold a clarinet embouchure and I quit playing the clarinet.
About that time I entered my wild years and I let go of all my creative activities. It would be 20 years before I would pick up the piano again and even more before I approached the clarinet.
At age 38, I woke up one morning knowing I had to play the piano again. My twin mentioned that there was an old upright grand piano for sale for only $500.00. I had to have it. I drove down to Hollister from San Jose to check it out and I fell in love . I hired a piano mover and brought it home.
The first song I attempted to play was Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven. (Mom had purchased the sheet music for my sister and me.) I couldn’t get through the song. I sobbed and had to stop. So much grief, so much gratitude wrapped up in that piano and the song. There still is. I still can’t get though it. My skill level has not caught up with what’s in my head but my emotions are powerful. When I play I get lost in the piano. It’s magnificent!
11 years later, at age 49 I wrote my first song. I was a vendor at the Sock Monkey Festival in Rockford IL. That year they had a Sock Monkey film festival and the theme was Sock Monkey Music Videos. I was going to make a video and use the music ‘Cover of the Rolling Stone” but didn’t have time to get the license. So I thought, “I’ll just write my own song.”
I wasn’t going to record it myself, but the lead singer for the band I was working with had laryngitis. I needed to get it done, so I decided to record it myself. It’s called “ I Was Made to Cover You.” If you hear the song on the radio, you’d think it was a woman talking to her lover. It’s actually about my Monkey Made of Sockies golf club headcover being the perfect headcover for the driver.
I Was Made to Cover You opened the doors for my music and I haven’t looked back. I have since released a CD called Hot Coffee Red Lipstick.
I am so grateful that in this stage of my life, I am able to write a different tune and end on a high note. I’ve found it’s never too late to start your life over. Currently, I have picked up the guitar and I am working on my third CD…