Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom (And Whimsy)

Posted on April 10, 2024 under Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom with no comments yet

How will they dance?

 

There’s no tiptoeing around it. I’m a lousy dancer.

“Let’s dance that old dance once more,

Still move as smooth on that old ballroom floor,

I’ll wear my Sunday best, you wear your favourite dress,

Lock up the door, and let’s dance that old dance once more.

Renaissance – Valdy

My music posts always get a big response because the majority of my readers are Baby Boomers, and we’re suckers for nostalgia. I’m quite certain that I could simply post 20 songs from the 60s and 70s every week on this site and that would be enough to satisfy my adoring (?) fandom.

Last week in this very space, I talked about performing music for children in schools and for the elderly at a local nursing home. I wondered aloud about the songs that a troubadour might sing when the boomers take their rightful place in homes for the aged. The feedback from this piece was very positive. My readers are very charitable people. Mind you, I suspect most of them were crashing from the sugar high of consuming inordinate amounts of chocolate on Easter weekend.

Speaking of which, I was thrilled to receive a large chocolate Easter bunny on the holiday weekend. You know the ones. Wrapped in gold with a red ribbon and a bell around the neck. I must confess that I ate the arse of the rabbit, and every other part of the lagomorph. I was on the bus on my way back home from Halifax after visiting with family and friends. Somewhere near Shubenacadie, I took the rabbit out of my backpack and took a small bite. And then, the “arse came out of ‘er”. In a way, it’s like opening a freshly popped bag of Orville Redenbacher’s buttery popcorn. Once you eat the first handful, you’re doomed.

I proceeded to eat the entire Easter bunny. I am not proud of this feat but I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who overindulged on chocolate a few weekends ago. As I finished, I pulled out my hanky to remove the evidence from my hands and lips. Later on, when I actually had to use the hanky to blow my nose, it had a decided chocolatey aroma. Maybe I could patent this.

I digress. Back to the dance floor.

Here is one of the responses that I received from last week’s post: “I have thought about this before in terms of dancing. Before rock and roll, dancing was often an elegant spectacle, with couples gliding about the floor. (Cue Valdy’s Renaissance. Ed.) Then came Led Zeppelin and Kiss, and people of our generation considered dancing to be gyrating to their own beat, without consideration of what their partner was doing, if they even had one. A “slow dance” consisted of sweaty teenagers clutching each other as close as they dared, shuffling around in a small circle. It has occurred to me over the years that we’re all going to look pretty undignified in our geriatric years when we’re expected to take a turn on the floor. But, what the heck? We’ll have fun while we can, refinement be damned.” (With thanks to CG).

“We may do the bump and grind,

Shake around our little behinds,

Do some things that you normally do,

On a Saturday night,

And that’s alright.

You Feel The Same Way Too – The Rankin Family

 

When you’re born with two left feet, it’s hard to become an accomplished ballroom dancer.

Or square dancer.

In my teenage years, I was once invited to go to a square dance in Heatherton. Once being the operative word. It is one thing to learn a new, complex skill while perfectly sober but when you and your date are both toting a mickey of Captain Morgan, which was de rigueur at the time, all bets are off. I stumbled, kicked, and tripped my way around the floor, leaving my dance partner battered and bruised.

Of course, our high school dances at the Parish Centre in Antigonish were legendary. You went to see a fight or two and eventually the dance broke out. The boys, the vast majority of us who were abject losers when it came to picking up girls, paced the dance floor like crows in heat, moments before the last waltz, praying to God (and The Captain!) that the girl of our dreams would deign us worthy of her hand for the final dance of the night. At the first strains of Hey Jude, we made our way to the grandstands only to be shot down. It was the first lesson in rejection and certainly not the last.

“Dance with me, I want to be your partner,

Can’t you see? The music is just starting,

Night is calling, and I am falling,

Dance with me.

Dance With Me. Orleans

I’m sure that many of you have your own dance story, some glorious and some best left buried in the closet of your memory.

How will they dance?

I, for one, will not have to risk the humiliation of dancing in a nursing home.

I’ll just sit in a corner singing the refrain from Hey Jude.

“It’s my life, it’s better left to chance,

I could have missed the pain,

But I’d have had to miss the dance”.

The Dance – Gart Brooks

Kick up your heels.

Have a great weekend.

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Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom (And Whimsy)

Posted on April 3, 2024 under Wednesday’s Words of Wisdom with no comments yet

Tunes for the young… and the young at heart

 

“There’s something happening here,

What it is ain’t exactly clear.”

For What It’s Worth – Stephen Stills

What will they sing?

It seems like my life consists of one long soundtrack. If I’m not listening to music, I’m humming a tune or playing my guitar. Oxygen. Water. Music. The three key components of my life.

Rather than let rust creep in, I’m trying to stay active in retirement. I do chair yoga every morning and I try and walk at least 90 minutes a day. But most importantly, I try and keep engaged. On average, I substitute teach three days a week and this allows me to interact with today’s young people. I have developed a bit of a reputation as the teacher who sings and plays guitar. Just about every day, I am asked if I know a certain song. I confess that I don’t know any modern music. Taylor Swift and Morgan Wallen are not on my set list.

The good news is that most of these young people have grandparents who are my age, and it is obvious that they are influenced by grandpa and grandma, grand- mere and grand-pere, Oma and Opa. In recent weeks, I have been asked to play “American Pie”, “Hey Jude”, “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” (Apparently this John Denver tune is often played before a tug-of-war match in 4H), “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” (CCR) and “I Want it That Way” (Backstreet Boys).

Last week, just before classes started, an 11-year-old boy came up to me and asked me if I knew how to sing “For What It’s Worth”. My head swiveled. Of all the requests I received, this was the most unusual. I wasn’t 100% sure that he was referring to the old Buffalo Springfield protest song released in 1966 so I sang a few bars a Capella to make sure this is the song he meant. Indeed, it was. I didn’t have to ask him where he heard this song. I always thought that this was an antiwar anthem but apparently Steven Stills wrote the piece (in 15 minutes) about a youth gathering in L.A. (Los Angeles – not Lake Ainslie!) protesting anti-loitering laws and the closing of a popular Hollywood night club. Not sure if there are many nightclubs in Lake Ainslie!

On or around that very same day, I was asked to play some songs for the folks at the R.K. MacDonald Nursing Home. Several years ago, I had a regular gig at the home, performing music five afternoons a week. It was one of the best experiences of my life. Of course, in the five years since I performed there last, there was an almost wholesale turnover of residents. I did notice, and not surprisingly, that more people my age, are starting to show up. There’s no doubt that we are in the “on deck” circle. If you’re not a baseball aficionado, it refers to the next batter up.

Most of the residents were older so I stuck to many of the old standard war era tunes, a few religious songs and some country and western. I was told that one of the “younger” residents was a big Stan Rogers fan, so I sang “Forty-Five Years”. Overall, I had a great time, but it was also sobering to see people of my vintage, robbed of their memories, staring into space.

All of this got me to thinking, which is extremely perilous.

The Boomers will soon flood if not inundate nursing homes in the very near future. Not all of these folks will remember “The White Cliffs of Dover” or “Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree”. There will be new troubadours coming to play at nursing homes in the years to come.

What will they sing?

Boomers can be a pretty cynical lot. If I was performing, I might be tempted to open the first set with “Stairway to Heaven”, followed by “Stayin’ Alive”. Or how about Ray Charles’ classic “You Don’t Know Me”? Or, possibly “Heaven’s Just a Sin Away”!

There is no doubt that the soundtrack will be very different than the one our parents knew and loved but that doesn’t matter.

Music moves the soul.

For what it’s worth.

Have a great weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

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