I’m A Fan Fridays! (Saturday edition) Jardin D’hiver

Stacey-KentThere has never been a better time to be alive! I’ve said it before, and I don’t mind repeating myself when something this good happens.

In what other age could you be driving in a car, listening to the radio streaming through your phone, hear an artist who is brand new to you and someone you most likely would never have heard of otherwise, park at your destination and look that artist up on that same phone via this unlimited library of information in about ten seconds?

Only THIS age, I tell you!!

I’m so glad I found Stacey Kent.  Her voice is hypnotic and very special.  Enjoy this beautiful cover of a fantastic song!

 

 

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Follow Scott on Twitter– @scotylang

 

I’m A Fan Fridays! A little Red & White & Blue & Gold

aoife4I happened onto the marvelous voice and musicianship of Aoife O’Donovan a little over a year ago and have been a super-fan ever since.

For this edition of I’m A Fan Fridays! I’d like to share with you one of my favorite cuts off of her latest album, Fossils.  The song is called, “Red & White & Blue & Gold” and is just the right number to get you looking forward to that summer holiday relaxation mood.

Enjoy!

 

 

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I’m A Fan Fridays! A most brilliant lament

Sir_Nathaniel_Dance-Holland_-_The_Meeting_of_Dido_and_Aeneas_-_Google_Art_ProjectDido and Aeneas is one of the truly great early operas.  Written by the English composer Henry Purcell it had its world premiere in 1688. The piece tells the story of the love of Dido, Queen of Carthage, for the Trojan hero Aeneas, and her deep despair when he abandons her.

One of the most enduring mezzo-soprano arias of all time is Dido’s Lament which is sung by Dido to her sister/handmaiden Belinda.  She sings:

When I am laid in earth, may my wrongs create no trouble in thy breast.  Remember me, but ah, forget my fate!

It is such a moving piece, but through the absolutely mesmerizing artistry of British soprano Sarah Connolly this aria is nothing short of heart-stoppingly brilliant.

I would’ve liked to have shared with you a clip of her in a performance of the opera, but I couldn’t find one that shows the entire piece.  So, I bring you her 2009 performance from Royal Albert Hall in which she sings the full aria.  Her solo is then followed by the chorus, which sings the finale, “With drooping wings ye cupids come.”

Enjoy!

 

 

 

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Follow Scott on Twitter:  @scotylang

On running with the Florida bobcats…

MaMaBobcatSitsSo, a week ago today we landed in Vero Beach, Florida, ready to begin work on How To Succeed. The cast got settled into our wonderful living accommodations, and after a cursory glance around town, I had in mind a few different routes I thought I might try to run while I’m here.

I’m in the middle of a Lenten Run Streak where I’m running at least one mile per day, every day, through Easter (I might extend it after the holiday…we’ll see), and finding new routes isn’t always the easiest thing to do when working out of town.

Several of us in the cast are being housed in some newer condos on the west side of the city, which has just recently seen some development into the more “wild frontier” type lands that Florida has away from the coastal habitations.

So, Friday evening after a long day of rehearsal, I decided to venture out a bit from the confines of our beautiful if not slightly regrettable gated community to the main road and beyond.  The main road is relatively quiet, especially at dusk, around 7:00ish.  After a straight shot of a quarter mile or so, I came to a traffic light and took a left.  This direction was sure to take me to some more interesting territory by the look of things.

After another mile, a second intersection presented me with another left onto a road which looked extremely interesting.  I made the left, and within a few hundred yards, bid adieu to the confines of pavement for the much more pleasant dirt road.

It wasn’t very long before I saw a woman walking in my direction with her leashed canine companion heeling very nicely alongside.  I had my earphones in, and was concentrating more on the Dave Matthews Band in my earbuds than what she was attempting to tell me.

“Waaa waaa waaa waaahh, ” she said, as she approached.  I removed my headphones to hear her more clearly.

“Hi! I’m sorry.  What did you say?”

“Watch out for the bobcats up ahead, ” she said rather casually, I thought.

“You mean, like a kids football team?” I answered, trying to amuse. I was sure she would chuckle.  She didn’t.  “Bobcats? Really?”

“Yeah, they come out around this time of night, around dusk.  Also, not too long ago a raccoon got a guy.” Again with the casual.

“Did you say a raccoon got a guy?

“Yeah. There was rabies and everything.  It was terrible.  That’s why I always walk with my dog.  Have a great night!”

“Thanks.  I will.”  I stared for a second in the direction of my certain doom.

How would they break the news to Malisa?  I thought to myself.

“Hello, Mrs. Langdon?  Yes, we have some news.  Your husband…Well, your husband had an encounter with one of our bobcats down here in Florida.  Yeah, actually he was able to evade the feline, but in the end it was the raccoon that got him.”

I turned around, turned on the jets and waved politely to the woman and her dog as I left them in the dust.

I’ll stick to the pavement.

 

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Follow Scott on Twitter: @scotylang

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m A Fan Fridays! Get Busy Living…

andy

Welcome to another edition of I’m A Fan Fridays!  Today I’d like to take you to a movie you might know and even might know very well.  I used to teach this film in my Humanities course when I taught at East Brunswick High School some years back.

This film is easily on my Top 5 list, and this scene is perhaps my favorite in the picture.  Hope, even in the midst of the most dire circumstances, is a beautiful thing, and music can remind us of that in ways that few other things can.

If you’ve never seen The Shawshank Redemption, see it immediately.  If you have seen it, then sit back and nibble on this little nugget.  Enjoy!

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Follow Scott on Twitter:  @scotylang

I’m A Fan Fridays! — Fall In Love Easily

PJ-1222_1Just about every night as I attempt to wind down at the end of the day, I turn on my stereo and dial up my favorite Pandora radio station—Chet Baker Radio.

A few years back, I discovered the music and vocal stylings of one of the great jazz men of the mid twentieth century.  The late Chet Baker had a way of blowing his trumpet and singing the old standards that moves me like few other artists can.  His voice goes deep down inside me and hits the bulls-eyed mark on my heart with every simple, straightforward phrase.

He left us way too soon.  But thanks to the modern world of digital recording and YouTube, his artistry can be shared all around the world.

So, for this edition of I’m A Fan Fridays, I share with you my favorite rendition of one of my favorite songs of all time.

Ladies and Gentlemen… Mister Chet Baker.  Enjoy!

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Follow Scott on Twitter:  @scotylang

I’m A Fan Fridays! A little acoustic sunshine on a cloudy day

214 Tommy Emmanuel

My brother, Danny, introduced me to Tommy Emmanuel a few years ago via a YouTube clip, much like I’m about to do for you right now.  I can’t remember the exact piece my brother shared with me, but as soon as I experienced the one, I got lost down the rabbit hole of videos of Tommy that are on the site.

To get you started, here is one of my favorites.  It’s a brilliant arrangement of a couple of Beatles tunes that you might be familiar with.  I hope you enjoy this edition of I’m A Fan Fridays!  

Have a great weekend!  Enjoy!!

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Follow Scott on Twitter: @scotylang

I’m A Fan Fridays! Two minutes and twenty one seconds of pure happiness

illus11I’m A Fan Fridays was born out of my desire to share with the world a few of the things I think are simply out of this world–performances or works of art that have reached out and touched something deep within me, giving me pause to contemplate all of what life can truly be.

What an amazing time it is to be alive!  I will most likely never get the chance to meet Matthew Auerbach, the young man who gives this life affirming and joyous performance, but through the absolute magic of modern technology, I found this, it thrilled me, and I can now share it with all of you.  Enjoy!

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Follow Scott on Twitter: @scotylang

“I’m Him!”: Thoughts on being an example to children

04It never ceased to amaze me how many lessons I would learn from teaching young children. Not too many years ago, I discovered something quite fascinating about kids that I believe to be universal. I guess I should say, something occurred to me, because I’m sure I didn’t discover it.

Early in my career in public education, I was an elementary school music teacher. I enjoyed my job, traveling from room to room with my guitar in one of the inner city schools of Elizabeth, NJ. The students always greeted me with such enthusiasm, probably because they only saw me once a week, and I wanted to give them something new whenever I came to their room to teach. I wanted them to be exposed to as many experiences of music as they could get in the time we had together. I liked to change things up, and they were always game for something new.

One day, I was showing a video to my students in one of the first grade classes. It was a video with real human characters, as opposed to animated, and right from the get go, the kids, one by one, started to call out, “I’m him!” or “I’m her!”

That really struck me. The first thing they felt compelled to do was stake their claim on who they wanted everyone to see them as being. Every student wanted everyone else to identify them in some way, and that was how they articulated it.

I say they wanted everyone else to know because every declaration was out loud and quite clear.  Some, of course, made the same claim to a character as another, and that caused some difficulty before I could reel everyone in.

“I’m him!”

“NO! I’m him! You’re her!”

“I’m not a GIRL!  MR. SCOOOOOTTT!!”

“Whoa! Ok kids. Let’s chill. Relax. We can all just be ourselves today. How’s that sound?”

Children look to anyone, everyone and everything for some kind of guidance on how to be.  I realized that teachers are on the front lines on a daily basis.  Who do our children want to be?  Not “what” do they want to be, but “who” do they want to be?

Learning how to be is sort of like buying a pair of shoes: quite a few people wear your size, but you try on a pair that you think look good. If they feel good, you wear them and break them in with the way you, and you alone, walk. Then, after a while, they truly become yours. No one else can wear them because you’ve got them just the way you like them for your feet.

I thought to myself how it would be nice if my students would point to me and say, “I’m him!” I’ve just got to make sure that I’m as prepared as I can to be a worthy example. Whether I want it or not, kids may look at me and want to try me on for size.

I look at kids now and wonder: How would I fit? 

Follow Scott on Twitter- @scotylang

Questions, pain, demons, compassion, and love, always love

Philip_Seymour_Hoffman-1024x802-650x509I wasn’t sure how to, or even if I could, write about Philip Seymour Hoffman and how his death has affected me so deeply.

I just made a link from his name to IMDB.  See for yourself the way his prolific work impacted your life in some way.  Seen any of those movies?  Have any of them moved you at all?  Any of them have an impact on how you look at the world?  Well, several of them did for me.

The day he died, a friend of mine posted this on Facebook:

Oh, Philip Seymour Hoffman… Your performance in “Capote” single-handedly changed my opinion of the death penalty. No, we never met, but your authenticity made me feel as though we had and based on what I’m reading today, I’m not the only one.

The word that struck me in that last sentence was, authenticity.  In all of his work, Hoffman was definitely that–Authentic.  I heard several interviews with him over the years and he always spoke about making choices for his characters that were honest.  Honesty and authenticity in his acting were hallmarks of what he left behind to the world.

He also left behind a great deal of confusion.

I’m going to do a bit of assuming here, but I’m not sure Hoffman meant to die; I don’t think he wanted to.  There was no note, no goodbyes as far I’ve read or heard.  I could be wrong, but as I grasp for answers regarding why this could happen, I want to hope.  I want to hang on to a hope that he never lost hope, but just lost his way and couldn’t get back.

Almost immediately after he passed, I read things on my social media feeds like, “How could he do such a thing?  He had it all!” or “How selfish!  Why do people feel like they have to turn to drugs?”  I understand the questions, however short-sighted they might be, but those are not the questions that came to my mind.  Among many were these:

What triggered you?  Did you know how much you were loved and admired?  Could you possibly know what kind of hole you would leave if you couldn’t come back from that needle?  If you did, did you just not care or were there just too many voices in your head keeping you from hearing how much you were needed here?

You were NEEDED here, Phil!

There are so many questions when anyone dies so tragically like this.  We ask the questions because we want answers.  We want sense to be made from the things that happen that are so senseless.  But the more questions I ask, especially about this particular death, the more I know that I don’t know shit.

Goddammit, Phil!  I’m so mad right now!

I want answers!!  I want answers that will not come, and I’m so sad.  I’m sad for your partner and your children; for your family and friends; for all of us who will never see the brilliance of what you were becoming.  You made the world better.  What you did mattered.  Can you hear me where you are?

I pray that you still had hope, Phil.  I pray that you had visions and dreams for your future right to the end.  I pray that you didn’t die in despair, not knowing if anything you did made any difference in this world, not knowing if you could keep on fighting the demons inside of you.

I know the urge to run away, to give up, to escape.  I know how it feels to need peace so badly that the consequences of getting just a moment’s worth of it make no difference if only that moment could come.  I pray that you have that peace now.

I don’t know what was going through Philip Seymour Hoffman’s head the day he took the heroin that took his life.  I do know that he lost his way, and I weep for him and for everyone who loses theirs.  This life is not easy.  It is so hard sometimes to even think about what it’s going to take to make it even one more day.  But all we can ever do is live this day while it’s here.  Tomorrow will come, if it comes, and then we’ll take that day.  One day and then another.  Just take this day.

If you’re still reading this post, dear reader, I want you to know that as I sit here typing this on my computer, I’m fighting my own particular demons.  And I know you are fighting yours.  You being alive is so vitally important in ways you do not even know, what you do matters, and you are never separated from love no matter what you might think.  Please look around you and if you can’t see it immediately, look harder.  Seek love out and it will find you.

I’m still here only because, somehow, the grace of God has allowed me to remember how much I’m loved and needed today.  Today.  We’ll see about tomorrow when tomorrow gets here.

Follow Scott on Twitter- @scotylang