Category Archives: Music

Todrick Hall

If you watch RuPaul’s Drag Race (RPDR), then you likely know who Todrick Hall is. I’ve always found him incredibly sexy, and I do like some of his music. Starting with season eight, Hall became a resident choreographer and occasional judge on RPDR. In addition to RPDR, Hall is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, actor, director, choreographer, and YouTuber. He gained national attention on the ninth season of the televised singing competition American Idol, where he made it to the semi-finals. Following this, he amassed a following on YouTube with viral videos including original songs, parodies, and skits. He aspires to be a role model for LGBTQ+ and people of color, and includes his experiences as a Black gay man in his art. 

As a singer-songwriter he has released four studio albums, including the visual albums Straight Outta Oz (2016) and Forbidden (2018). In 2020 he released an EP, Quarantine Queen, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic featuring “Mask, Gloves, Soap, Scrub,” and was the international host of Global Pride 2020. On June 8, 2021, Hall released his fourth studio album, Femuline, which was preceded by the singles “Boys in the Ocean” and “Rainin’ Fellas.” The album is inspired by gay pride and features appearances from Chaka Khan, Tyra Banks, Brandy, Nicole Scherzinger and Ts Madison. He’s also released trilogy of EPs titled Haus Party, Pt. 1, Haus Party, Pt. 2, and Haus Party, Pt. 3.

I particularly enjoy two of his songs. One of them is his new release “Rainin’ Fellas,” and the other is his 2019 song “I Like Boys” from his EP Haus Party, Pt. 1.


Clair de lune

Clair de lune (English “Moonlight”)
By Paul Verlaine

Votre âme est un paysage choisi
Que vont charmant masques et bergamasques
Jouant du luth et dansant et quasi
Tristes sous leurs déguisements fantasques.

Tout en chantant sur le mode mineur
L’amour vainqueur et la vie opportune
Ils n’ont pas l’air de croire à leur bonheur
Et leur chanson se mêle au clair de lune,

Au calme clair de lune triste et beau,
Qui fait rêver les oiseaux dans les arbres
Et sangloter d’extase les jets d’eau,
Les grands jets d’eau sveltes parmi les marbres.

 _________________

(English Translation)

Your soul is a chosen landscape
Where charming masquerades and dancers are promenading,
Playing the lute and dancing, and almost
Sad beneath their fantastic disguises.

While singing in a minor key
Of victorious love, and the pleasant life
They seem not to believe in their own happiness
And their song blends with the light of the moon,

With the sad and beautiful light of the moon,
Which sets the birds in the trees dreaming,
And makes the fountains sob with ecstasy,
The slender water streams among the marble statues.

 _________________

“Clair de lune” (English “Moonlight”) is a poem written by French poet Paul Verlaine in 1869. It is the inspiration for the third and most famous movement of Claude Debussy’s 1890 Suite bergamasque. Debussy also made two settings of the poem for voice and piano accompaniment. The poem has also been set to music by Gabriel Fauré, Louis Vierne and Josef Szulc.

Paul-Marie Verlaine (30 March 1844 – 8 January 1896) was a French poet associated with the Symbolist movement and the Decadent movement. He is considered one of the greatest representatives of the fin de siècle (“end of century”) in international and French poetry.

Paul Verlaine was born in a town called Metz in northeastern France in 1844. He received his formal education from what is now the Lycee Condorcet and originally found a job in France’s civil service, despite the fact that he had been writing poetry from an early age; he published his first poem before his twentieth birthday.

Poet Charles Marie Rene Leconte de Lisle, who led the Parnassian movement, heavily influenced Verlaine in the beginning. The Parnassian movement was a style of poetry which utilized emotional detachment and a strict adherence to form. Verlaine was also influenced by the many people he socialized with, most of whom made up the intellectual and artistic elite of the day.

His first book of poetry, Poemes saturniens, was published in 1866. Four years later, Verlaine’s life underwent massive changes; he got married to Mathilde Maute de Fleurville and joined the French equivalent of the National Guard, though he later became a supporter of the Paris Commune, a group of anarchists and Marxists that took control of Paris from March to May. When a large number of Commune members (called Communards) were killed and imprisoned after the fall of their government, Verlaine escaped to Pas-de-Calais, returning in 1871.

In 1872, Verlaine began his first homosexual affair, though he had probably had homosexual experiences before then. He received a letter from the younger poet Arthur Rimbaud, and Verlaine’s reply was, “Come, dear great soul. We await you; we desire you.” Though Verlaine’s wife was pregnant at the time, Rimbaud came to stay with the older poet and his seventeen-year-old wife. Later that year, Verlaine and Rimbaud lived together in London, having abandoned Mathilde. Both poets frequently drank absinthe and used hashish, living in poverty and making a living by teaching and getting an allowance from Verlaine’s mother. The relationship grew very strained, and Verlaine shot his lover in the wrist during an alcoholic furor just days after the pair had split and subsequently reunited in Brussels.

Rimbaud originally refused to press charges, but Verlaine’s increasingly violent and odd behavior forced the younger man to seek protection. A judge sentenced Verlaine to two years in prison following testimony from Mathilde. Not even a last-second change of heart from Rimbaud could save Verlaine; the Symbolist poet spent two years in prison in the Belgian city of Mons. While there, Verlaine converted to Roman Catholicism, which spurred him to write further poems. Rimbaud mocked Verlaine’s conversion to Catholicism. Verlaine also managed to release another collection of poems while imprisoned, Romances sans paroles. Upon his release, Verlaine worked as a teacher in various cities in England. He returned once more to France to teach and fell in love with one of his students, Lucien Letinois. When Letinois died of typhus in the 1880’s, Verlaine was devastated and spiraled into drug and alcohol abuse.

Verlaine spent the rest of his days drinking absinthe in Parisian cafes and using drugs, though by this time the public’s love of his work allowed him to draw an income. His peers even voted to bestow the title “France’s Prince of Poets” upon Verlaine in 1894. two years later, Verlaine died from drugs and alcohol on 8 January 1896. He was 51. He was buried in the Cimetière des Batignolles.

Verlaine’s poetry was admired and recognized as ground-breaking and served as a source of inspiration to composers. Gabriel Fauré composed many mélodies, such as the song cycles Cinq mélodies “de Venise” and La bonne chanson, which were settings of Verlaine’s poems. As mentioned above, Claude Debussy set to music Clair de lune and six of the Fêtes galantes poems, forming part of the mélodie collection known as the Recueil Vasnier; he also made another setting ofClair de lune, and the poem inspired his Suite bergamasque. Reynaldo Hahn set several of Verlaine’s poems as did the Belgian-British composer Poldowski.Verlaine’s work was characterized by lurid content and common themes including sex, urban life, and fatality. He often used repeated sounds to evoke certain moods and emotions. Verlaine’s poem “Chanson d’Automne” was used during World War II by the BBC to signal to the French resistance that Operation Overlord was to begin. The 1995 film Total Eclipse was based on Verlaine’s relationship with Rimbaud; David Thewlis and Leonardo DiCaprio played Verlaine and Rimbaud, respectively.

This video of Clair de Lune contains moonlight paintings by the Victorian painter John Atkinson Grimshaw. In this recording, Stanley Black conducts his arrangement of Clair de Lune with the London Symphony. 


What a Friend We Have in Jesus

You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another.

 John 15: 14-17

What a Friend We Have in Jesus

What a Friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge—
Take it to the Lord in prayer;
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer;
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.

“What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” written by Joseph Scriven, is one of my all-time favorite hymns. It has always brought me comfort, and I can remember my mother practicing it on the piano, which is how I learned the tune. Back when I was the song leader at my church, we sang this song quite often, though I always had trouble getting the tempo just right. I had no problem with the melody, but my church tended to sing a bit slower than other churches, so this is one that I would often start and then have to slow it down. I still love the song though.

Joseph Scriven was born in Ireland in 1820. He was educated at Trinity College in Dublin and was engage to be married. The evening before their wedding, Scriven’s fiancé drowned. This tragedy coupled with difficult family relationships, caused Scriven to begin following the practices and teachings of the Plymouth Brethren, an evangelical Christian movement whose history can be traced back to Dublin, Ireland, in the late 1820s. In 1845, at the age of 25, left his native country and migrated to Canada to become a teacher. His reasons for leaving Ireland seemed to be two-fold: the religious influence of the Plymouth Brethren and the estrangement from his family this caused. He only remained in Canada briefly after becoming ill but returned in 1847. 

In 1855, while staying with James Sackville in Bewdley, Ontario, north of Port Hope, he received news from Ireland of his mother being terribly ill. He wrote a poem to comfort his mother called “Pray Without Ceasing.” It was later set to music and renamed by Charles Crozat Converse, becoming the hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” Scriven did not have any intentions of his poem would be for publication in the newspaper and later becoming a favorite hymn among the millions of Christians around the world.

In 1857, Scriven became engaged to Eliza Roche. Tragedy struck again and Eliza passed away from pneumonia shortly before marriage. He then devoted the rest of his life to tutoring, preaching, and helping others. Scriven used the tragedies and hardships in life to empathize with the elderly and poor. He used his time to saw wood for the stoves of those who were handicapped or elderly. Scriven himself began to experience poor health, financial struggles, and depression in his last years of life. 

Scriven drowned in 1886 at age 66. No one knows for sure if his death was an accident or suicide. He was in a serious depression at the time. A friend reported, “We left him about midnight. I withdrew to an adjoining room, not to sleep, but to watch and wait. You may imagine my surprise and dismay when on visiting the room I found it empty. All search failed to find a trace of the missing man, until a little after noon the body was discovered in the water nearby, lifeless and cold in death.” He was buried next to his second fiancée in Bewdley.

If you don’t know the hymn or you just want to hear a beautiful rendition of it, check out this family singing inside of a silo on their family farm. The acoustics are amazing. 

P.S. Tomorrow, I am going down to the Headache Clinic to get my next set of Botox injections. I have a lot to discuss with my neurologist. Even with the new treatment, I am still experiencing headaches off and on throughout the day. Hopefully, we can make a new plan to help improve these headaches. I’d appreciate it if you’d keep me in your thoughts tomorrow.


Moment of Zen: Autumn Leaves

Autumn is here, and in Vermont, we will reach peak leaf season over the next two weeks. The beauty of these few weeks of autumn makes it worthwhile to live in Vermont.

“Autumn Leaves” is a popular song and jazz standard composed by Joseph Kosma with original lyrics by Jacques Prévert in French, and later by Johnny Mercer in English. Paula Cole sings my favorite version (above) and Nat King Cole sings another beautiful version (below).


Moment of Zen: Watermelon Sugar

Being from the South, I love a good watermelon, and this song has been stuck in my head since I first heard it. I find it quite catchy. I decided to show the video of the song with just the lyrics instead of the official music video. Quite honestly, I am not a fan of Harry Styles’ looks, especially him in this video, and considering that this song is rumored to be about performing oral sex on a woman (Ew!), the video just really turned me off. I couldn’t even watch the whole thing. Styles tries to eat a slice of watermelon seductively, and it just comes off as gross, and the video consists of him eating watermelon and singing the song while being surrounded by big breasted women. While I don’t like him, I do like the song, and men can be attractive while eating watermelon. Styles just isn’t.


What a Friend We Have in Jesus

What a Friend we have in Jesus

1
What a Friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

2
Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

3
Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge—
Take it to the Lord in prayer;
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer;
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.

“What a Friend We Have in Jesus” is a Christian hymn originally written by preacher Joseph M. Scriven as a poem in 1855 to comfort his mother, who was living in Ireland while he was in Canada. Scriven originally published the poem anonymously, and only received full credit for it in the 1880s. The tune to the hymn was composed by Charles Crozat Converse in 1868. William Bolcom composed a setting of the hymn.

The hymn also has many versions with different lyrics in multiple languages. The Handbook to the Lutheran Hymnal notes, “In spite of the fact that this hymn, with its tune, has been criticized as being too much on the order of the sentimental gospel type, its popularity remains strong, and the hymn retains a place in modern hymnals.” In some settings, the lyrics have been matched to other tunes such as the Welsh “Calon Lân” (originally wedded to the Welsh poem translated as “A Pure Heart”).


Grammys

I wasn’t going to watch any of it. Then one of my coworkers told me that Ricky Martin was going to be in the opening, I decided I’d at least watch that. But, Ricky came out with a mustache. He looked horrible. I hate the mustache craze. I hate even more the full beard, but mustaches just look stupid. I thought I’d stop it there, but I decided to watch Alicia Keyes and was rewarded by seeing Michelle Obama. After that, I was happy to see Shawn Mendes, who while I like some of his music but more than that, I just like to look at him. He has an amazing smile that makes your heart skip a beat. Shortly after Shawn, I fell asleep. I woke up to the medley of Dolly Parton songs that I thought was fabulous. I really enjoyed her new song about the red shoes. I watched a bit longer but eventually turned it off and fell asleep. I do want to say one more thing, Alicia Keyes is AMAZING. Watching her play two pianos at once was amazing. I’ve seen dueling pianos before, but never when it was one person playing them.

Jose Cuervo

Jose Cuervo
Song by Shelly West

Well it’s Sunday Mornin’
And the sun in shinin’
In my eye that is open
And my head is spinnin’
Was the life of the party
I can’t stop grinnin’
I had to much Tequila last night

Jose Cuervo you are a friend of mine
I like to drink you with a little salt and lime
Did I kiss all the cowboys?
Did I shoot out the lights?
Did I dance on the bar?
Did I start a fight?

Now wait a minute
Things don’t look to familiar
Who is this cowboy
Who’s sleepin’ beside me?
He’s awful cute, but how’d I
Get his shirt on?
I had to much Tequila last night

Jose Cuervo you are a friend of mine
I like to drink you with a little salt and lime
Did I kiss all the cowboys?
Did I shoot out the lights?
Did I dance on the bar?
Did I start a fight?

All those little shooters
How I love to drink ’em down
Come on bartender
Let’s have another round
Well the music is playing
And my spirits are high
Tomorrow might be painful
But tonight we’re gonna fly

Jose Cuervo you are a friend of mine
I like to drink you with a little salt and lime
Every time we get together
I sure have a good time
You’re my friend
You’re the best
Mi amigo
(Tequila)

Jose Cuervo you are a friend of mine
I like to drink you with a little salt and lime
Did I kiss all the cowboys?
Did I shoot out the lights?
Did I dance on the bar?
Did I start a fight?
Jose Cuervo you are a friend of mine

Songwriters: Cindy Jordan


I’ll Be Home for Christmas

I’ll be home for Christmas
You can plan on me
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents on the tree
Christmas Eve will find me
Where the lovelight gleams
I’ll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams
I’ll be home for Christmas
You can plan on me
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents on the tree
Christmas Eve will find me
Where the lovelight gleams
I’ll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams

I’m heading home today. At 5:58 am my plane is supposed to take off for Charlotte then from Charlotte to Montgomery. I hope there is no snow, though I’m fine with some mistletoe. After the last nearly two weeks of being sick, I’m ready to be home so that I can relax.

The Concert

I had a fabulous time at the Lorrie Morgan concert. After about every four songs she stopped and told some stories. She was very funny. She also sang all of my favorite songs, including ending with “Something in Red.” I had so much fun. I wish I could have shared it with someone instead of going alone, but alas, I didn’t have a date. Honestly, I didn’t mind going on my own that much, but it would have been nice to share it with someone. Nevertheless, it was a great concert and I really enjoyed it. I sang along to most of the songs, probably to the annoyance of those around me, but I didn’t really care. I don’t sing that loudly.