I am grateful for R. Carlos Nakai. His music soothes me, engenders awe and contemplation, keeps me grounded, and inspires me. He has kept me going through some of the toughest times. If you do not yet know his music, I recommend you begin with Canyon Trilogy. We have been listening to Changes for 35 years. He is a master of the Native American flute and I appreciate his collaboration with world musicians. Here’s his website and a sample of Canyon Trilogy.
When I was a teen, I remember sitting in a friend’s kitchen with the producer of a show on our public radio station. “Are you listening to The Morning Program on MPR?” Um, no. I was listening to light rock, Top 10. I was 16. “You should be,” she exclaimed. “It’s the best thing on radio.” She immediately turned the radio on. We listened while finishing our breakfast. I was intrigued.
Garrison Keillor and Jim Ed Poole (Tom Keith) played folk and classical music and performed skits with characters who became members of the family (Dr. Larry Kyle, B. Marty Barry, Captain Billy). From 6 to 9 am Monday through Friday, listeners were transported to another realm.
When Garrison Keillor left for A Prairie Home Companion, Dale Connelly became Jim Ed’s co-host. Tom Keith was a master at sound effects and voices. Dale Connelly wrote skits and dialogue which the two performed EVERY WEEKDAY. A true feat. Together, their sense of humor and wry observations of life helped listeners be aware of the world without taking everything too seriously. They were a tour de force. The show stopped broadcasting in December 2008, leaving a hole in my heart.
I have a playlist of Morning Show songs including “Rooty Toot Toot for the Moon,” “Lime Jello Marshmallow Cottage Cheese Surprise,” “Across the Great Divide,” “Little Potato,” “Waltzing with Bears,” and “Easter Island.” I play those songs when I need a reminder. But the music, and the voices of Jim Ed and Dale, play in my mind. I am grateful that they are so prominent in the music of my life. As Greg Brown sang, “What good is the radio without you?”
I often think that if I were a song, it would be this one, Mood Indigo, composed and performed by Duke Ellington, with a clarinet solo by Russell Procope. Here’s a wonderful film of Ellington and his Orchestra. I am grateful for the music that connects me to the world, then, now, and always.
My home town had a movie theater, the El Lago, which showed films starring Doris Day and Rock Hudson, nature movies, and anything featuring Elvis Presley. We never missed a show. My friends and I would walk downtown to the theater, buy some popcorn, and revel in people and places outside our daily life. I first saw Blue Hawaii, starring Elvis, Joan Blackman, and Angela Lansbury, when I was eight years old. That last wedding scene is emblazoned in my mind. I immediately developed a fascination with Hawaii. I researched and wrote reports about it during my school years. I read everything I could find, both fiction and nonfiction. I watched every movie and TV show that featured Hawaiian scenery (“Book ’em, Danno.”) I haven’t made it to Hawaii yet. It’s on my bucket list. I’m grateful for the Christmas song, “Mele Kalikimaka,” sung by Bing Crosby and the Andrew Sisters. It transports me to sandy beaches in my Christmas imagination … someplace warm.
We begin listening to Christmas Music on December 15th (when we can help it—walking through a store doesn’t count). We have over 700 Christmas songs on our Logitech Squeezebox, which we’ve been collecting for decades. The more obscure the better. Do you know “The Wexford Carol”? This version, sung by Alison Krauss and accompanied by Yo-Yo Ma, will put you in a contemplative mood. So beautiful! Take a few minutes to listen.
This duet, “Sous le Dome Épais,” known as “The Flower Duet” from the opera Lakmé, brings tears to my eyes. The music is exquisite. Written by Léo Delibes, and performed here by Anna Netrebko (soprano) and Elina Garanca (mezzo soprano), I am grateful for the talents of the composer, the orchestra, and the sopranos for inspiring me to believe everything is possible.
A modern-day bard, Patrick Ball is something of a legend in our family. We listened to his music even before we were married. It has seen us through some of the roughest parts of our lives, soothing, providing a touchstone, connecting us to time outside of time. Then, by happenstance, we met him. Now we are honored to work with Patrick. I am grateful for the stories and music he brings into my world. Listen to his music. Enchanting. Learn more about Patrick Ball.
There are few songs that give me hope for our future the way this one does: “Common Denominator.” Written and performed by Tom Lieberman, Tommy & the Liebermen, this is an upbeat, meaningful song (and video) when you need help adding it all up. Have a listen.