Tag Archives: music

Catching a man

I met my husband at an indie rock show in Brooklyn.  I almost didn’t go, all of my friends bailed, I had a headache, I’d already taken out my contacts and put on my glasses, usually sure signs that slipping on my PJs and breaking out my book was just around the corner.  But my little brother had told me about this band, they were playing just two subway stops away, so I dragged on my bulky winter coat and forced myself out of the house, stopping to check my reflection only to make sure that I was indeed fully dressed.

I got there early, I’m early for everything.  One other girl was already waiting.  We chit-chatted because it would have been more awkward not to say anything.  I don’t have any recollection what she said except she was from New Jersey and she really liked the band.  I thought she was weird.  Other people started showing up.  I scanned the collected group dispassionately.  I was most concerned with going inside before I got so bored of waiting with this weird girl that my headache turned into a bad mood.  Then T-shirt guy came up to us and started talking.  Great.  Now he and my new friend from New Jersey were buddies and I was standing close enough to them that I had to contribute to this conversation.  God damn it, why did I have to play chaperone to these weirdos who meet at shows and then become friends on Myspace or whatever?  I hate not being able to relate to my own species.  ‘Stop it,’ I told myself, ‘don’t scowl, act like one of those normal people that’s allowed to leave their house unattended!’  The doors opened.  I was just about to be relieved, but I’d forgotten that as one of the first people in I was facing an empty room.

Though I’d decided not to drink so as not to interfere with the Advil I took before leaving the house, I immediately went downstairs to the ATM for money so that I could buy a beer.  T-Shirt was pocketing his money and heading back up as I approached the machine.  I got my money and went back as well.  Jersey-freak had skittered away somewhere, not old enough to drink; T-Shirt was at the bar.  Do I conspicuously sit as far away as possible at this empty bar?  ‘Quick,’ I thought,’ what would a normal, not hating all of humanity and loathing social contact type person do?’  I left one bar stool between us.  ‘Why don’t I just be a friendly person, I’m bored, the band will take forever and if I don’t talk I will drink WAY too fast.’  So I said hi again, introduced myself, chattered away about something, he chatted back but broke off his participation now and again to look over my shoulder.  He finally hopped up having spotted the person he was looking for.  By then the room had a crowd, his seat was quickly filled.  ‘What a relief,’ I thought, finally safe with my drink and the dim light, the anonymity, and eventually the music.

I ran into T-Shirt throughout the show.   I stood outside with him between sets as he smoked.  The conversation was pleasant enough that I wasn’t too annoyed that the cigarette caused us to miss half a song.  We exchanged phone numbers, at which point I had to confess that I’d paid no attention to his name.  He told me it was Aaron (*facepalm, so simple!), made it worse by remembering my name, Analía (A nawhata? Who the hell remembers a name like that?), and proceeded to add insult to injury by getting the spelling either right or really close.  I chuckled sarcastically to myself, ‘yeah, this is going well.’

Apparently it did go well because he actually called me.

A couple of weeks later we went on a date that essentially lasted all day, and a year later he married me.  So here’s to letting go of expectations and plans and just letting life happen to you, headache or no.  Happy anniversary, Aaron.

Oh, how she sings

I sing when I do yoga.  Not demure incantations in Sanskrit, I crank CCR and wail along.  Death Cab for Cutie makes me bounce through sun salutations, The National helps me delve into the depths of my hips.  With Simon and Garfunkel I spill into the sweet ache of a forward bend.  Yoga is supposed to be all about linking breath with movement and at home I’m terrible at this.  Probably because I’m yodeling the whole time.

I have never been one to sing around the house or really belt it out in the shower.  I loved singing, and as a kid I think I had a nice voice.  But I was shy.  Shy and convinced of my own inadequacy.  I established that I would sing in front of others when I was certain that it would sound amazing and they would heap praise on me.

Once in awhile I would tentatively sing along with the radio in the car.  No response.  I sang a little louder.  No heads turned, no eyes widened.  My breathtaking talent remained insufficiently developed.

Like most adolescent emotions, my thoughts on song were confusing.  I waited with bated breath for recognition of my natural talent, but when I was asked to sing something or praised by my meager fan base (read: parents) I revolted.  Don’t say anything!  I’m great, I am (or could be?), but I’m not ready to burst onto the musical scene quite yet.

One night, heading to the room I shared with my little sister, I heard a melody.  My mom, singing Raquel to sleep.  She sang softly.  The low notes faded into whisper, her voice cracked ever so slightly at the higher notes.  It was so beautiful!  And so sweet.  Why couldn’t it be like that for me?  Gently singing something as simple as a lullaby. Why couldn’t I just raise my pretty little voice to the sky and tenderly, unselfconsciously, tease out a tune?

With the melodramatic mind of the pre-teen girl I bemoaned the burden that made me unable to participate in such small pleasures.   Tender lullabies could never be for me;  I would have to hit every note perfectly or resign myself to silence!  I nursed this strange, paralytic need to be sensational.  I was so isolated in my powerful expectations for myself.

What I missed out on over those high-strung years was the joy of singing.  These days my husband faintly rolls his eyes as he maneuvers around his wife, singing and contorting herself in the middle of the living room.  I am perfectly OK with this.  It matters very little to me that I sometimes make up words or can’t actually harmonize.  I’m having fun!  What a novel idea!  Life is not a performance, the preparation for a test.  It just is.  And hell, I’m going to caterwaul to my little heart’s content.

An unlikely review

We interrupt your regularly scheduled blog experience for a bit of an experiment: I’m going to review an album I have absolutely no business reviewing. It will be awkward and out of place, and you will be glad you read it!

First off, a confession, I am incredibly out-of-touch and incurably uncool.  In preparation for writing this I googled “what’s the difference between rap and hip hop” because I honestly couldn’t figure it out.  Still can’t.  The internet is useless sometimes.  Those more in the know will have to forgive me if I sound ignorant, but despite a penchant for folksy indie-rock, yoga, and veggie burgers, I feel compelled to share my impression of the first studio album of Hartford’s own Joey Batts & Them, Bowtie Chronicles.

“Boom Bap” is my favorite selection off of the album, probably because of its great rock edge.  It makes me want to ball up my tiny fists, punch a wall, and tear around town on my bicycle like I mean business.  More than just a bad-ass beat, Boom Bap has plenty of the signature Joey Batts word play, so sophisticated (dare I call it high brow?) that you might need a college degree to prepare for it.

The final track, “Spaceship”, is an incredible, autobiographical piece.  Raw and unflinching, it’s the story of the quotidian tragedies that go unseen, the angry pain of people who life kicks the shit out of, but they can’t or won’t roll over and play dead.  You know people like this, they are your friends and neighbors and lovers.  Your heart aches because you hope they get to take a break from fighting to find a little peace one day.

If you live in the Greater Hartford Region, this might be your one and only chance to hear your area code memorialized in rhyme in “860”.  As a former 305-er I found this pretty amusing (I mean Miami is legitimately cool, but Connecticut…?)  Still, if you are a resident of New England’s “Rising Star” you are in the enviable position of being able to see Joey Batts & Them live.

Joey Batts is a phenomenal performer.  In the dim, grim, and frankly more than a bit sketchy cave of Sully’s Pub, he circulates through the crowd , talking to everyone, before exploding onto the stage with a superhuman energy and enviable charisma.  He’s not far off base in “Best Friend” when he claims he’s cooler than anyone you know.  Talk to him for five minutes and you’ll find yourself hoping he’ll hang out with you later.

In the interest of full disclosure, I love Joey.  I used to live with his sister in Brooklyn, and he’s family.  What’s wonderful about having talented people in your life with interests that diverge from your own is that it opens up your world.  If someone said to me, “Come see Hartford’s greatest alternative hip hop act!” I would have responded, “Rap? Huh? Who? What?”  But it’s Joey!  So I’ve been to a couple of shows.  I’ve listened to music that I didn’t understand, listened to it carefully and more than once because I wanted to get more out of it than a paltry first impression.

And look at that!  When you wander outside of your comfort zone, out of your knee-jerk responses, you find brilliant things!  You find poetry and emotion and @*#!ing humanity in ways that you never could have imagined.  I, for one, am grateful for a life filled with unexpected discoveries.

Check it out, here.  http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/bowtie-chronicles/id566409634  And here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0ZLdZqFQS0