Luck of the Irish…Music?

 

I realize I’m several days past St Patrick’s day but I really wasn’t inspired to write this post until this past weekend. On Friday evening, my husband and I bought a pizza for our daughter and her babysitter, drove 45 minutes to our state capital and attended a concert given by the Irish Rovers.

Earlier this month I heard on our local NPR station that they’d be stopping in our small New England state during the “farewell to rovin” tour. I decided I would buy tickets for us to attend the show as my husband grew up listening to their music and he has been singing the same songs to our little one since she joined us in this world nearly 2 years ago. Prior to the concert, to fully embrace our first date night in months, we went to a bar that I hadn’t been to since my days in law school. We had a couple beers, smoked some cigarettes (gasp!) and met several people who were also attending the show. (Most of whom were decades older than us.).It was fun to talk to other folks as excited about the show as we were.

The concert was wonderful, the group played for about 2 hours. The band formed in the early 1960s and has changed over the years and replaced members who have moved on to greener pastures or to the great pub in the sky, but the current accordion player is one of the original rovers. They played new songs and old songs, well known hits and less known drogues. People of all ages enjoyed the show, multiple generations were in attendance.

When it was all over, the band sat in the lobby to do a meet and greet. We were lucky to speak to all of the members of the group and we bought a compilation of their greatest hits and they all signed the CD cover. (What’s worth noting here is that neither my husband nor myself could remember the last time we bought an actual CD!!!!) My husband told the lead singer how much it meant to him that he saw them play, as their music had come full circle in his life with his father singing their songs to him and he now sings them to our child. The lead singer seemed very flattered and moved by this comment and took a few minutes to chat with us which really was nice.
It was great to hear some live Irish music again. I have had the opportunity to travel to been to Ireland a couple of times as a good friend of mine from college pursued her PhD in Dublin so I had a free place to stay and an insider to show me the city. On each of my trips we frequented many pubs and I got to hear a lot of real authentic Irish music which was a real treat. So anyway, on our drive home from the Irish Rovers show that evening (around 11pm–the latest we’d been out in years!!!) I got to thinking about bands from Ireland and wanted to write a post about them. Groups like U2 and the Cranberries came to mind (those are the obvious ones), but I did a little bit of research as to other Irish bands. I’ll use the most well known songs of the Irish groups I chose just to make the list more familiar and thus maybe more enjoyable. Let’s get started.

U2: “Where the Streets Have no Name”

So clearly we can’t discuss bands from Ireland without mentioning the powerhouse of U2. The Joshua Tree is in my top 3 favorite albums ever and would be one of the CDs I bring to the desert island should I ever become stranded! This is one of U2’s most famous songs and is the first track on The Joshua Tree. The song was released in 1987 and has been used frequently in sports, including on a commercial for the 2010 World Cup and as the entrance song for the Baltimore Ravens football team and the Vancouver Canucks hockey team. I have never been lucky enough to see U2 in concert, but apparently the band still plays this song during nearly every performance.
Snow Patrol: “Chasing Cars”


This song was very popular during my first year of law school. It is on Snow Patrol’s 4th album and to be honest, I never even heard of Snow Patrol until I heard this song. I actually purchased the album, “Eyes Open” but wasn’t too impressed with the rest of the tracks. Other popular songs by Snow Patrol include “Signal Fire” (featured on the Spider-man 3 sound track) and “Run” (from their 3rd album).

The Cranberries: “Linger”

The Cranberries have also been around forever and are one of the better known groups from Ireland. I remember them most well from the early 90s, when their album Everyone Else is Doing It so Why Not me? was released. They reigned the alternative music world for several years and in 2003 decided to separate and pursue individual careers. The band reunited in 2009. I picked “Linger” as the song to feature here because it was one of the first songs released in the United States and it’s the one I like best.
VAN Morrison: “Brown-eyed Girl”

Here’s a really well-known song by an Irishman! Van Morrison wrote this song in 1967 but he started his career in the late 1950s. This song has been covered by countless groups, including the elderJ’s high school band, whose version of course is my all-time favorite. Great fact about Van Morrison: He’s known as “the Belfast Cowboy.”
The Irish Rovers: “Drunken Sailor”


This is an old favorite of mine. My parents also used to sing it often. This song has been performed by several artists in addition to the Irish Rovers, including Pete Seeger. The Rovers play this song as their encore song in their shows and it calls for some pretty fun audience participation. We heard this song at the show last Friday, participated when they asked and sang along with the group. It was a lot of fun and the audience was lively and excited!
Seeing the Irish Rovers was a great experience and I am happy that I felt inspired to write this after thinking about Irish music and artists on our drive home that evening. Brothers, friends and random readers, feel free to add your thoughts or songs to this list!

Tribute to a Friend

My brother and mother experienced a devastating loss today. They had to say goodbye to a dear member of the family, the loyal golden retriever Remy. Remy was my father’s best friend and when our father passed away, Remy became the younger J’s dog. I like to think that the spirit of our father lived on through Remy.

He was a good dog, very faithful and loving. He was always patient and was great with people of all ages. He tolerated my daughter pulling his tail and chasing him screaming “DOGGIE!” over and over and he didn’t flinch when my niece repeatedly asked “Pet Doggie???” one Thanksgiving, and then ran away after a second-long pat on his body, only to start the whole process over again. Remy was well-known throughout the town; my mother’s and brother’s friends and neighbors would frequently play with him on their visits and would even dog-sit if his owners went out of town.

Remy sleeping with The Sister's dog Morgan

Remy sleeping with The Sister’s dog Morgan

I think that several folks will be affected by the loss of our good friend Remy. The loss was sudden and was a tough blow, but we can take comfort in the fact that he lived a great life. The dog lived days full of love and provided warmth and joy to my brother and mother daily. Some people don’t have the connection to their pets as others do, and to many, a dog is simply an animal. But Remy truly was a member of the family, an important member of the pack and he will be remembered forever.

I wanted to write a tribute for Remy to help my brother and mother remember the good times and know that folks everywhere are thinking of them and Remy. So here are some songs to get it started…most are silly, and I do this intentionally to try and keep the mood light in a tough time…there are plenty of sad songs out there about dogs, mostly country, and I tried to stay far away from those.

Cat Stevens: I love my dog

The lyrics in this song are a little silly but I think they hold true. Remy was deeply loved and was always there when you needed a smile.

The Beatles: Martha My Dear

This is a song about Paul McCartney’s pet sheepdog. This song is also a little bit silly, but it’s appropriate here for a couple of reasons. First of all, Paul clearly loves his dog dearly, just like my mother and brother loved Remy. Plus, Mom and the younger both like the Beatles, so why not include this?

Elvis Presley: Hound Dog

So Remy was not exactly a hound dog…he didn’t have the greatest sense of smell and certainly didn’t bark all that much, but when he did, he made it known that he wanted something! I wanted to include this song because how can someone really write a post about dogs and NOT include it?

George Clinton: Atomic Dog

Up there in doggie heaven, our boy Remy will spend a lot of time with dancin’ dogs, countin’ dogs and funky dogs. Hopefully he isn’t exposed to too many “nasty dogs.”

Norman Greenbaum: Spirit in the Sky

Not a song about a dog…but this is appropriate given the fact that our boy Remy is joining our father in the afterlife. Plus our dad loved this song probably as much as he loved Remy.

So there you go, brother. Feel free to list other songs about dogs. Listen to these songs and think about Remy, know he is in a place where there are unlimited treats, leash-less walks and lots of dog toys. He’s out there somewhere, keeping our dad company.  I’ll close with a quote, and I think this sums him up:

To call him a dog hardly seems to do him justice,
though inasmuch as he had four legs, a tail, and barked,
I admit he was, to all outward appearances. But to those who
knew him well, he was a perfect gentleman.

-Hermione Gingold

Yearning for the Ukeladies!

This post has been a long time coming. Last summer I told the elder J I would write this entry, and several months later, I finally am getting it done!

Last summer I was driving down the highway listening to the local NPR station when I heard an advertisement for a performance of an all-female musical group in my state called the “Ukeladies”. Each member of the group spoke her name and said a little about herself and much to my surprise I heard the voice of a former professor of mine from law school!

I contacted her that very day when I got home and she told me when her group was performing again. A couple

Ukeladiesof weeks later on a very hot Saturday afternoon in August, my little one and I went to a ukelele festival at a local park and heard several ukelele groups play, including the Ukeladies. They played several songs including “Over the Rainbow” from the Wizard of Oz and a Beatles medley. The crowd at the park was like nothing i had ever seen. The ukelele culture is very unique and ranged from infants to elderly.

There were ukeleles of all colors and sizes. Now I took guitar lessons back in the day and my former law professor knows this and urged me to join the ukelele world, but of course I tried to change the subject as she tried to convince me. I sent a text to my brother while at the festival and his response? “Sounds like a blog post.” So here I am.

I really enjoy the sound of the ukelele. It isn’t an instrument I’ve heard too often in my life, but when I was thinking about which songs to use in this post I realized that some of my favorite songs feature the ukelele. Now a little bit of background for those of you who are not familiar with the instrument: According to wikipedia, the ukelele originated in the 19th century in what is now Hawaii. The ukelele is sometimes referred to as a “uke” and its name roughly translates as “jumping flea”, creating some both beautiful and amusing imagery. However, again according to Wikipedia, the last Hawaiian monarch claimed that “ukelele” means “the gift that came here.” Legend has it that Portuguese immigrants brought the instrument to Hawaii, so this interpretation of the word also makes sense. The ukelele comes in 4 sizes according to its tone: soprano, concert, tenor and baritone. This explains why I saw several different sizes of the instrument at the festival I attended.

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Hail to the Champions!

On the evening of October 30, 2013, the elderj and I were able to see our beloved Red Sox win their 3rd World Series championship in 9 years. My daughter and I left the frigid north to visit him and his family down in their adopted southern state. It was the first time in recent history that I was away from New England while the Sox were playing in the fall classic, but it was a nice treat to be able to watch the games with my older brother. We hadn’t watched a playoff game together in 8 years, and we’d never seen a World Series game together. Our kiddos were all asleep as we sat glued to the television during game 6 in Boston, and when Boston badass closer Koji Uehara struck out St. Louis’ Matt Carpenter, we rejoiced, watched a little bit of post-game celebration coverage, then said goodnight to the TV to head off to dream about yet ANOTHER Red Sox World Series championship.stay strong

What a crazy several years it’s been for the Sox and their fans! After an 86-year drought, the team won championships on the road in 2004 and 2007, then finally clinched it at home this year for the first time since 1918. What a way to pay tribute to Boston, the greatest city on earth, after a hellish year. Boston and its baseball team belongs to the entire region of New England, and throughout the country, fans basked in the glory of baseball dominance. The 2013 Sox had the odds stacked against them and came through to deliver a well-deserved championship to its club and all of its fans!

As my little one and I flew back from the south back to the north, I started thinking about how I could pay tribute to the 2013 team on my brothers’ blog. I thought about which songs I could discuss, and composed a brief draft of this entry in my head while attempting to keep my squirmy toddler in our seat. There are some obvious songs that come to mind when thinking of the Red Sox–“Sweet Caroline” (Neil Diamond), “Dirty Water” (Standells), and “Shipping up to Boston” and “Tessie” by the Dropkick Murphys. Those are the obvious ones and the ones I WON’T mention further in this entry. I’ll dig a little bit deeper and choose some other ones…here we go!!!!

“Baby, I grew you a Beard.” –Neil Halstead (I couldn’t find a video of him actually singing it–this is a cover)

Anyone who watched even one Sox game this year would be able to tell you about the scruffy beards each player sported. Some of the most obnoxious beards belonged to Jonny Gomes, Mike Napoli, Dustin Pedroia and David Ross. Others kept them short and close to the face–Jacoby Ellsbury, Xander Bogaerts and David Ortiz. Rumor has it that Dustin Pedroia and Jonny Gomes didn’t shave during the entire season!!!!! Even if the beards were short, every single player grew one. The guys bonded together, and the beards represented team unity. This team may not have been the best team to ever play in Boston, but they really knew how to play as a unit and each guy could be described as a team player. While most of the beards looked ridiculous and even disgusting, they represented a team and showed the world that the Red Sox players would do whatever it takes to win the trophy!

“Three Little Birds”–Bob Marley

This song was Shane Victorino’s entrance song and it got to a point where the fans would sing along as he came to the plate. His acquisition during the offseason was frowned upon, many were shocked by the money spent to bring this mediocre player to Boston. He knew this team was special. He knew that despite losses, errors and odds against them, that everything would be alright and that this team could and WOULD come through. Victorino delivered a game-winning grand slam in Game 6 of the ALCS, securing his spot in Boston Red Sox fans’ hearts.  He sat out Games 4 and 5 of the world series due to back pain, but he came through again in Game 6 of the World Series, when he hit a bases loaded, bases-clearing triple to put the Sox on top once again!!! During Game 6 of each best-of-7 playoff series, Victorino showed everyone he was worth every penny and that every little thing would be alright!!!!!

“We’re not Gonna take it”–Twisted Sister

When I think of the 2013 Red Sox, this song comes to mind because so many sportswriters and experts were against the team, spouting off stats that Game 3 losers only won the World Series twice in history, or that teams finishing in last place the previous season had no chance of taking it all the following year. (These are 2 examples of several odds stacked against them–and these aren’t the exact stats, just stated in general terms). But this team didn’t care about the negativity spouted by so-called experts. They weren’t gonna take the shit thrown at them, and they were going to be strong and play through the haters! And what did they do! They said screw you all, we can do this, AND THEY DID!

“Keep it Together”–Guster

I have to include this song because the Sox really kept it together and pulled off the World Series win. This was hardly the prettiest World Series ever played–it was full of errors, an OBSTRUCTION CALL TO END GAME 3,  and a pick-off to end game 5 (though this was in Boston’s favor!) Despite the errors made in the outfield and by seasoned players in the infield (Dustin Pedroia), these bearded ballplayers managed to keep their shit together and produce runs and play defense when necessary. The team knew what was at stake, and the outcome was exactly what they wanted.

“Hangin’ Tough”–New Kids on the Block

Because I am unable to think about any music without thinking of NKOTB, I had to include this song. However, it’s appropriate for several reasons. First of all, again, The Sox hung tough and pulled through to win the big prize. They overcame errors, injuries and negativity to capture Baseball’s most coveted trophy. But also…the members of NKOTB hail from Dorchestah, south of Boston, and are some of the most famous Sox fans out there! So how can I not include a New Kids song in this situation? The New Kids have played at Fenway, they wear Sox jerseys during their shows, and they, like my brother and me, grew up rooting for Boston sports teams. They experienced loss and heartache just like we did, and just like us, they have been lucky to see THREE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS IN A DECADE!!!!! This song is also a tribute to the entire city of Boston. After the marathon bombing tragedy in April, the city hung tough and got through all the bad times. Boston Strong, bitches, and Keep hangin’ tough!!!!!!!

“We are the Champions”–Queen

Does this song really need an explanation?????

World Series MVP David Ortiz said that the 2013 World Series was the best of the recent 3 championships. He is the only current member of the team who has played on each championship team in the past 10 years. My brother and I disagree with him and believe that the 2004 championship was the most special, after Red Sox Nation waited for years for a championship. Some people lived and died without seeing their Sox win a World Series, and now, my daughter, niece and nephew live in a time when the Sox are nothing but winners! What a crazy few years it has been for Boston baseball and Boston sports in general. We are lucky to be Sox fans and every playoff win feels a little bit better.

What about you brother? What songs come to mind for you when thinking about the 2013 Team???

My love for Guster: Lost and Gone Forever?

Now that my daughter is getting older and is starting to recognize music, I’ve been making a point to introduce new and different music to her. Her tastes have started to change as she has grown, though Queen remains her number one choice, as it has been since about 3 months of age. She now loves Tom Petty and Johnny Cash, but doesn’t like the Aladdin soundtrack or anything by Bruce Springsteen. She currently favors Tchaikovsky over Mozart.

gusterMuch to my dismay, she does not seem to like New Kids on the Block—however, we’ve got lots of time to change that. Most recently, while driving around in my “Grocery getter”, as my husband refers to my SUV, during a fun errand-filled day with my toddler in the backseat, (as a brief aside—I sometimes think it’s easier to defend those charged with murder than be a full-time mother, wife, housekeeper and errand runner—but that’s a different story for a different day),  for some reason, still unknown to me, I decided it was finally time to introduce the little one to Guster.

I plugged my trusty hot-pink iPod nano (which I received for my birthday in 2006 7 ½ years ago and it STILL works—not sure what the deal is with my older brother and his iPod problems!) into the “Aux” cord and let the sounds of Guster fill the car. I was very pleased to see how my mini-me reacted. She clapped her hands and relaxed into her carseat and a very content smile spread over her face, and she sat remaining in that state, calm and happy, as we continued to drive around town.  I mentioned to my brother the elder J that his niece is a fan of Guster and he encouraged me to write about this and to inspire him to finally write about Guster!

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25 Years of Boy Band Love

In the movie Fever Pitch, during an argument following the only Red Sox game he did not attend in 23 years, Jimmy Fallon’s character said to Drew Barrymore’s character: “Do you still care about anything you cared about 23 years ago? How about ten? How about five? Name me a single thing that you’ve cared about for 23 years.”

This quote came to mind after I recently attended my 4th New Kids on the Block concert in 4 years. I never was lucky enough to see them in concert as a child, so the fact that I’ve seen them so much in such a short period of time suggests I’m trying to make up for lost time. Or maybe I’m hanging onto my childhood by a thread—the same way I honestly think the majority of my fellow concertgoers were.

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Songs for a Baby

The elder J discussed in a recent entry that this blog is about a year old. He mentioned that I (The Sister) had written for the blog more than once. One thing I’d like to do in 2013 is to contribute more to this blog. I don’t have ideas like my brothers do, but once in awhile something pops into my head and I feel inspired to sit down and write. Frequently my brothers have mentioned our father’s unexpected passing and have discussed how the two of them have grown closer since that happened and since they created this blog. Sadly, I feel more detached from my brothers since my father passed, rather than feeling closer to them, so my thought is if I stay more involved in this blog, I may be able to enhance my relationship with them. So here goes.

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