Posts Tagged ‘Music’

Twenty-one years ago I met a boy — well, two boys to be specific. They were best friends and I was with my best friends and after a very strange first night we all ended up becoming friends for a short time and one of them became my boyfriend for an even shorter time — so short that my own mother doesn’t even remember him. I’ve seen him exactly once since then, and that was nearly two decades ago, too.

And yet to this day, he has left an indelible mark upon my life. You see, I grew up in a place and time where country music was verboten. You just didn’t listen to it if you wanted to be thought of as some version of “cool.” I think we still said that back then. But this boy and his friend — with whom I spent a great deal of time — loved it. I don’t think they listened to anything else. I was in the boy’s bedroom the first time I heard John Anderson’s Straight Tequila Night, which is still one of my favorite songs. (Fast-forward another dozen years to the first months of dating my fiance and we went to see Anderson play at a little bar called The Barn in Sanford, Florida. I guess old Johnny is a pretty big musical deal in my life.)

Garth Brooks, Veterans Memorial Arena, Jacksonville, FL, Oct. 18, 2014. ©Renée M. Liss

Garth Brooks, Veterans Memorial Arena, Jacksonville, FL, Oct. 18, 2014. ©Renée M. Liss

So the country thing stuck. It isn’t the only music I listen to, but it grew on me. I find it fun but also it can be pretty poignant. After all these years, it finally came full-circle when a friend mentioned one night that the legendary Garth Brooks was going to be in Jacksonville, Florida, for one of his new world tour stops.

I have a couple of his CDs, and like most of America, I love his iconic Friends in Low Places. Even so, I never really thought myself a particularly huge Garth fan. Regardless, he’s Garth Brooks. He’s a legend. I had to see him. And I did — last Saturday night with my best friend of way-too-many-years (who was there when I met the boy and there when I met my fiance and has just always been there for just about everything that has ever mattered whenever possible) and my fiance. I couldn’t wish for two better companions for that night.

Despite my belief that Garth was no more to me than a casual interest, sitting in that arena listening to him play 26 years worth of his music, I realized just how much he had been a part of my life’s soundtrack. Every song held a memory — most good. I was nearly in tears by the end. I barely sat down at all through the entire concert. I have never enjoyed myself that much at another concert ever. Had Garth played every song he ever recorded, we would have been there all night and it still would have been too short.

Others had mentioned that this man puts on a great show, but I had no idea what that meant until I actually experienced it. Every person walked out of that concert with a smile. I don’t think anyone left disappointed.

Garth isn’t young. I’m not sure his exact age, but he’s been recording music since 1988 or 1989 — I was in middle school then and I’m pushing 40 now. Yet he spent hours on that stage, playing guitar, singing, running around, climbing props like he was 5 years old.

I hope I get another chance to see him one day and if you do, go. Just go. Even if you hate country music, even if you have to spend your last penny. Go.

An addendum: I have been listening to Brooks’ music for the last couple days on CDs and MP3 and I had to add that you haven’t experienced him if you haven’t heard him live. He’s 100 times better in person.


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Sometimes in a person’s life, this is the best song ever:

And this is a close second:

One more:

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Sunday, driving back from visiting my best friend and her fiancé in Jacksonville, I pulled out some old mixed tapes I’d made years ago and listened to them in my car Very Loudly. One of those tapes consisted of music by women who appeared at the original Lilith Fair music festival and I thought about how I titled this blog “Lifeissweet16’s blog” for months until I finally figured out how to change it. That is also my e-mail address and remains the web address for this blog.

But it’s not self-explanatory, I guess. I’m sure most people wonder about the origin. So, here it is:

OpheliaLife is Sweet by Natalie Merchant

It’s a pity
It’s a crying shame
Who pulled you down again?
How painful it must be
To bruise so easily
It’s a pity it’s a downright crime
It happens all the time
You wanna stay little daddy’s girl
You wanna hide from the viscous world…
But don’t cry
You know the tears will do no good
So dry your eyes
Your daddy he’s the iron man
Battle ship wrecked on dry land
Your mama she’s a bitter bride
She’ll never be satisfied
You know, and that’s not right
But don’t cry
You know the tears will do no good
So dry your eyes
They told you life is hard
Misery from the start, it’s dull
It’s slow, it’s painful
But I tell you life is sweet
In spite of the misery
There’s so much more, be grateful
Well, who do you believe
Who will you listen to, who will it be
Because it’s high time that you decide
In your own mind
I’ve tried to comfort you
I tried to tell you to be patient
That they are blind and they can’t see
Fortune gonna come one day
It’s all gonna fade away
Your daddy the war machine
And your mama the long and suffering
Prisoner of what she cannot see
For they told you life is hard
Misery from the start, it’s dull,
It’s slow, it’s painful
But I tell you life is sweet
In spite of the misery
There’s so much more, be grateful
So who will you believe
Who will you listen to
Who will it be
Because it’s high time that you decide
It’s time to make up your own
Your own state of mind
They told you life is long
Be thankful when it’s done
Don’t ask for more, be grateful
But I tell you life is short
Be thankful, because before you know it
It will be over
Because life is sweet
Life is all so very short
Life is sweet
And life is all so very short
Life is sweet
Life is sweet


Natalie Merchant

This is one of many songs that inspired me both in life and in my writing. I try to live out the words of this song, the philosophy behind it. I hope that I do as much as possible, although I know I don’t 100 percent of the time. No one can. I do feel, though, that life is indeed sweet and far too short. I’m not concerned with what comes after death because I enjoy living in this world far too much. There’s beauty everywhere. Just look around. Slow down, stop and smell the roses as much as you can.

I know it’s cliché to say this, but, really, what do you want to be remembered for? Working 80 hours a week and having a big house, fancy cars, $300 purses? Not me. Not ever. I want to be remembered for making the most of my time here, for loving my friends and family and enjoying all this precious planet has to offer.

And so, that is why Lifeissweet16.

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Lyle Lovett live

Lyle Lovett

What an amazing concert. I don’t know if there’s anything else I can add to that. Lyle Lovett was incredible. His band was alive. His backup singers (three older black men who could sing and move!) were inspiring.

And Lyle totally missed his calling as a standup comic. Oh, yes. The man can sing, write and play, but he can also crack a joke with the best of them, which he did several times between songs, keeping the energy of the audience turned up high. To say I was impressed would be an understatement.

I knew before that I loved Lyle. If I hadn’t, though, I would now. He’s playing in Atlanta soon, and I am seriously thinking of taking a trip up there to see him again.

I probably won’t, but the time and expense would be more than worth it.

Julia Roberts is an idiot. You shouldn’t be. If Lyle comes to play near you, even if you have no idea who he is, go!

Lyle Lovett and his Large Band

Lyle Lovett and His Large Band, Tallahassee Civic Center, Wednesday, October 28, 2009

So, apparently there are some people in this city who lack a sense of humor. Let me preface this quote from an anonymous person in the local newspaper by saying this was kept to a minimum, has occurred at every concert I’ve ever attended and the people doing it were perfectly quiet and respectful during Lyle’s musical performances. It only occurred between songs:

Bought a ticket to see Lyle Lovett and got to hear the hoots and hollers from inconsiderate, self-absorbed rubes for free.


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