One of my favorite television games shows of all time has to be “Let’s Make A Deal”. Who can forget Monty Hall walking through his studio audience, filled with zany costumed contestants, all clamoring to be chosen for the opportunity to choose between the ‘box Johnny is bringing down’ or the curtain? What made it fun was sometimes, the prize wasn’t the car, the trip or the luggage. Sometimes it was a ‘Zonk’. And more often than not, ‘Zonk’ meant a 12-foot rocking chair or a rusted collection of scrap metal. The pressure on the faces of the contestant confronted with their choice gave new meaning to the expression, ‘Careful what you wish for‘. As Forest Gump so aptly observed, ‘Life is [in fact] like a box of chocolates…you never know what you’re gonna get‘.
It was certainly the case for Miss Emma Anderson, an 82-year old woman who loves singing old gospel songs. I don’t know Ms. Anderson or what her life has been, but I can understand why she sings. But last month, she was unceremoniously dragged off a Miami train for doing just that. Witness for yourself:
For as long as mankind has drawn a breath, we’ve exhaled in ways that make music. Singing has been the time-tested way we’ve celebrated this Life as often as it’s been our songs providing our only source of solace in times of death, darkness and fear. One of the strongest proofs to the power of song is how often others try to silence it. While everyone can appreciate the power of a fight song at a football game, it’s that same potency that links song to a labor strike or a group of citizens sitting on the floor outside the doors of a city council chamber. And while I can understand the role of a rule to limit unruly noise on a commuter train (aka blaring i-phone speakers or obnoxious conversations on a cell phone), I don’t accept the overwhelming show of force dropped on an 82-year old woman for no other reason than the joy seeping out of her heart found its way to her lips. Would the security officer have responded the same way had the musical offenders been three or four Ivy League crooners doing a tight four-part harmony rendition of ‘Fascinating Rhythm‘? I think not.
Song is a powerful force.
Aboriginal tribesman sang their history as a way of passing down their cultures’ values to the next generation in the days before there was a written tradition. American slaves sang songs to help make the work pass in the hot fields of the South. But they also relied on singing as a way to telegraph code as much as they depended on the sound of music to keep their Souls intact in the face of incredible hardship and brutality. In the 60’s, huge crowds gathered in a field to listen and sing. They called it Woodstock. Other places, there were like-minded folks who gathered to flip their fingers at injustice by doing something as dangerous as singing, ‘We shall overcome‘. It may have been non-violent, but it was anything but passive.
Music brings us together. Singing can give voice to what only our heart is reeling to feel. Music does not kill. It does not maim. But tunes do carry. And this week, song has carried me. My move to claim my emotional stability sprang from a very simple thought. “Sing!”
There was a lot I couldn’t control this week. As much as I tried to influence positive outcomes, there were plenty of people who weren’t demonstrating they thought nearly as much of what I was trying to accomplish as I did. And there was nothing more I could do than what I did. And that’s when it hit me. There was something I could do. It was within me to reclaim some measure of emotional well-being and it came from a simple place. “Sing”. And I did. I strapped on the headphones and sang lead on some of my favorite tracks.
Having collected tunes for quite awhile, there are just some songs I love as anthems of power for my Soul. While they may not be nearly as elegant as a heavenly chorus penned by Bach for some auspicious cathedral and its well-tuned choiristas, my songs have never failed me. So I did what any troublemaker worth his salt would do; I spit in the face of my adversity and sang some of my songs – loudly. A day or two later, I had just started my shower and the ‘Sing‘ thing came over me again. So I did what Ferris would do (WWFD). And yes, while I suspect someone may have wondered if I was in pain if they were standing in the hallway outside the bathroom, I can assure you, I was not. It felt good to be civilly disobedient for no other reason than the simple act of opening my mouth and exercising my larynx.
And guess what? There’s actually quite a bit of hard science behind this whole cockamamie idea of singing.
Researchers marvel when the brains of autistic kids light up like a video game when they listen (or play) music. Serotonin and a whole host of other brain enzymes flood our craniums when people can find a song to sing. If it’s true that everyone sings the blues, then who knew it was particularly healthy to do so if you’re depressed, down-in-the-dumps or similarly despondent? While music is busy soothing the savage beasts, it is hard at work doing so by changing our chemistry – at a molecular level. Such shifts are particularly notable in that it has nothing to do with anything we have talked ourselves into believing. It’s just singing. And the body responds. Slip some Brahms or Mozart into a hypertensives’ play list and watch their blood pressures return to earth. Right now, I’m typing in rhythm to some Vivaldi like it were a harpsichord. And while he may not be on American Idol, the man did good work and I treasure him for it.
That being said, I would share the same simple proposition with you as something that might prove helpful to you in your battles there this coming week. Sing. You say your Life sucks? So what. Hate to break it to you, but at one time or another, everyones does, even amateur crooners. So sing. No reason to? Sing anyway. What’s the worst that can happen? Are you going to be any worse for having opened your mouth and belted out the one part of the chorus you know? I seriously doubt it.
Maybe your concert hall is your shower like it was for me. Maybe it’s while you’re doing the laundry. Or maybe it’s sitting in traffic in that moment when you and the driver next to you realize that not only are you listening to the same radio station, but you both L-O-V-E the same song. It happened to me this week. Too cool. So if you catch yourself feeling like everyone in your life is hell bent on reminding you of your shortcomings, commit your own act of civil disobedience. Sing.
Sing something…anything…even if you don’t know all the words. Who cares! You do and it’s your song in that one moment of selfless courage when you declare your independence from fear and open your mouth. Even if all the dogs in your neighborhood join in, so what. At least you’ve started a choir, right?
Sing like your name was VonTrapp and it’s time to go.
Will a song solve your problems or put food on your table? No. But I seriously suspect it will give you a fighting chance at doing both.
I truly believe we were not created to live in fear or silence. We’re supposed to be making joyful noises. So who cares if you’re in tune. Sing. Sing all day long if you have to, but you can hum silently to yourself. That counts. So if you need to, then you know what to do. Open your mouth and let the sounds out like Ms. Anderson did. They may have thrown her from the train, but they can’t throw her from her own kitchen table. She’s still singing. Amazing grace indeed. We can all learn to hum a few of her bars.
Claim your courage and try singing this week. Who knows? Your very life might depend on the difference you’re humming to yourself right now.
Pick your doors. Pick your battles this week. Pick your own songs. See you at choir practice. I’ll be the loud one in the back.
Live from dan4kent productions, here’s your own game
of ‘Let’s Make A Musical Deal”. Pick which door you want
and click on it. I promise there are no zonks on the other side.
Enjoy. Peace out.
February 19, 1940 – March 3, 2013
“…Born the same day and in the same Detroit hospital as fellow Miracles member Smokey Robinson (although the two would not meet until 15 years later) Robert E. Rogers died on March 3rd, was an American soul singer and songwriter, notable as a member of Motown Records’ first signed act and first million selling group The Miracles from 1956 until 2011. He was inducted along with the other members of the Miracles – with the exception of Smokey Robinson – in 2012 to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Rogers was the grandfather of R&B singer Brandi Williams from R&B girl group Blaque.
SOURCES: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobby_Rogers; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/03/bobby-rogers-dead-dies_n_2802879.html and Bobby Rogers (Image Credit: Gilles Petard/Redferns): http://music-mix.ew.com/2013/03/03/miracles-bobby-rogers-dies/ and http://www.nme.com/news/the-miracles/69004
Roy Brown, Jr.
October 30, 1916 – February 24, 2013
“Roy Brown Jr., the defiantly proud designer of the Ford Edsel, the chrome-encrusted, big-grilled set of wheels that went down as one of the worst flops in automotive history, died Feb. 24 at a hospice in Ann Arbor, Mich. He was 96. He had pneumonia and Parkinson’s disease, said his wife, Jeanne Brown.
More than five decades after Brown’s creation debuted and promptly vanished from dealerships across the United States, the term “Edsel” remains practically synonymous with failure. Among auto enthusiasts, however, the car generates deep nostalgia for a bygone era of American motoring — and a degree of affection that perhaps has proved Brown right in the end.”
Sources: http://www.mainlinemedianews.com/articles/2013/03/08/main_line_suburban_life/life/doc51360af72ea43511852836.txt and Read more athttp://www.inquisitr.com/559895/roy-brown-jr-dies-ford-edsel-designer-passes-at-96/#lVp8tj0WhHmTdTD5.99 [Image by Brian Snelson from Hockley, Essex, England (Ford Edsel Ranger) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons] and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edsel
Dawn Clark Netsch
September 16, 1926 – March 5, 2013
“In 1977, when a young reporter asked Dawn Clark Netsch — then a second-term state senator from Illinois — to explain her most satisfying achievement in the General Assembly, she had to stop and think.
“I guess it would be that despite my numerous legislative defeats, I’ve helped to bring some sense of enlightenment or reason to various debates,” she said in an interview with Illinois Issues magazine. “A lot of the legislation I get involved with is difficult to pass, but I think someone has got to tackle it.”
More than 35 years later, she might have said the same thing. Many of the causes she championed, such as government ethics, have been watered down shamelessly by the politicians whose behavior they were meant to check. In Illinois, reformers have to claim their victories in tiny increments.
Netsch, 86, died Tuesday of Lou Gehrig’s disease. She never gave up the fight. Assigned to a task force to monitor a new state campaign finance law, she took part in meetings by telephone when she became too frail to travel….
…After serving as a delegate to the 1970 Constitutional Convention, Netsch spent 18 years in the Senate as part of a group of independent Democrats known as the Crazy Eight. She was the first woman elected to statewide office (comptroller) and the first woman to win a major party nomination for governor. She lost to Republican Jim Edgar, who later embraced her tax-swap proposal — higher income taxes offset by lower property taxes — to fund education. That idea hasn’t crossed the finish line either. But Netsch was able to celebrate progress. She was proud of a recent law that created meager campaign contribution limits, the first for Illinois. She was an early supporter of gay rights, and “the last couple of years have just delighted her,” Canary said.”
Sources: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-03-06/news/ct-edit-dawn-20130306_1_first-woman-lower-property-taxes-dawn-clark-netsch; http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-03-05/news/ct-met-obit-dawn-clark-netsch-0306-20130306_1_patricia-dawn-clark-straight-shooter-statewide-office; and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dawn_Clark_Netsch
PHOTO CREDITS and ATTRIBUTIONS: Let’s Make A Deal – Monty Hall, who co-created and co-produced the show with Stefan Hatos. [lets-make-a-deal-doors]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Let%27s_Make_a_Deal; Emma Anderson: http://hiphopandpolitics.wordpress.com/tag/emma-anderson/Video Source – Live Leak: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNPhCYGvlyQ; Ferris Bueller Singing in the Shower: http://radioadelaidebreakfast.wordpress.com/2012/01/; LBJ singing with his dog in front of his grandson (Photo by Yoichi Okamoto/Johnson Library): http://www.archives.gov/calendar/features/2004/december/index.html; ; lets deal and the box: http://timstvshowcase.com/makedeal.html; lets_make_deal_zonk: http://davidgoad.wordpress.com/2012/01/31/lets-make-a-deal/; Von Trapp Family Singers in the “Sound of Music”: http://www.thehistorybluff.com/?p=540; Let’s-Make-a-Deal-Doors-reflect: http://donnaklinenow.com/investigation/instagram-scam; Door Art Source: http://expectreferrals.com/blog/the-big-deal-about-the-one-time-deal/; LMAD inset: http://www.letsmakeadeal.com/
And before I go, I read the following editorial by our 42nd President in the Washington Post and his Op/Ed on his feelings about the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The link is shown below. I’m just sayin…
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