Here’s To Life

 

“Here’s To Life” is a song I recorded with pianist Doug Hammer many years ago

It was written by Phyllis Molinary and Artie Butler and first recorded by Shirley Horn in 1991.

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Sometimes people say, “They don’t write songs like they used to.”

I respond that many great songs ARE still being written.

But the era of different pop stars each recording their own version of a particular hit — with different versions of the same song riding up and down the charts simultaneously — are long gone.

So a song like “Here’s To Life” is savored by a few rather than beloved by multitudes.

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I had not known anything about Mr. Butler and Ms. Molinary until I started poking around on the internet.

Mr. Butler is a composer, arranger, songwriter, music director, and record producer who has worked on an extraordinary range of songs — including Janis Ian’s “Society’s Child,” Louis Armstrong’s “What A Wonderful World,” and Barry Manilow’s “Copacabana.”

For a more complete list of songs with accompanying stories, you can visit his web site.

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He was inspired to write the tune for “Here’s To Life” after watching Johnny Carson interview George Burns on The Tonight Show.

He gave it to a few different lyricists before Phyllis Molinary (about whom I have not been able to learn much of anything…) wrote the set of lyrics which became “Here’s To Life.”

And now we are all blessed with this wise and elegant song…

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It reminds me of a birthday party I recently attended for a vibrant eighty-year-old who has lived much of her life in western Massachusetts.

Before dessert was served, many of her friends shared stories about their relationships with her.

In her understated, thoughtful, generous, organized, humorous, and wide-minded — as one woman from South America described her — way, this woman has touched thousands of her fellow human beings in significant ways.

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She taught for many decades at her local college, serving as the head of the psychology department (if I am remembering correctly) and also overseeing the college’s counseling center.

She has advised several generations of students, mentored countless faculty members, led the campus teachers’ union, been very active in town politics, and on and on and on…

I know her mainly as a very faithful cousin-in-law.

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She always visits during the winter holidays, bringing gifts for everyone and sharing stories about a web of family and friends she has accumulated around the planet.

And she shares her perspectives on what is happening locally — what options her town is exploring to mitigate an underground plume of contamination that the water department has recently discovered, for example, or how a new local restaurant (which she, of course, is eager to support) is faring.

She has a gentle finger on the pulse of her town…

Her birthday party was held at a local retreat center which is run by a very ecologically-minded order of nuns.

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As the festivities were winding down, we were invited and encouraged to explore the property.

They have converted a huge carriage house — originally built in the late 1800s by the Crane family, who earned a lot of money making paper (including the paper which is still used to print US currency) — into a function hall.

On the second floor of the carriage house they have created many different areas where guests can make art, meditate, read, pray, explore eco-spirituality, marvel at the miracle of evolution, and rejuvenate their souls.

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Outside the carriage house are fruit trees, free-ranging chickens, a labyrinth, a cathedral of very tall pine trees, a huge community garden, and lots of flowers.

To me it felt a little bit like heaven on earth.

Here’s a link to the Genesis Spiritual Life and Conference Center if you are curious to learn more.

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I found these great photographs on Pixabay, and I am grateful to all of the photographers who have shared their images there.

I am also grateful to Doug Hammer, for his exquisite piano playing and terrific engineering skills.

And to the birthday woman whose life is an ongoing inspiration for how to move through the world with empathy and wisdom and generosity and balance.

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And to the Genesis Spiritual Life and Conference Center for inviting us to roam around their property after her birthday gathering.

And to Art and Phyllis for writing such a lovely song.

And to you for reading and listening to another blog post.

A healthy and happy summer to you — full of berries and flowers and friends and family (unless you are reading this from somewhere in the southern hemisphere, in which case I wish you delicious winter adventures instead…)

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May all your storms be weathered, and may all that’s good get better.

Here’s to life…

Here’s to love…

And here’s to you!

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28 thoughts on “Here’s To Life

  1. Thank you Will, it’s songs and sentiments like this that can help us get through these strange times. 💜👏

    • You are welcome, Jane. I am still not sure if songs like this (and making music in general) help us or simply distract us during these strange times. Music IS one of the things that can touch our hearts and connect us with other living beings, but it can also become a place to hide away and do nothing when there is SO MUCH to be done to respond to our current national leadership. However, certain songs have been vital to various human and civil rights movements over the past decades/centuries. ps: I have been in a tent for the past three days writing new songs; so I haven’t completely given up on the poser and value of music…

  2. Just lovely, Will…I have always believed we should all follow our dreams ..You have chosen some lovely images which compliment your lyrics wonderfully 🙂

    • Thank you, Carol! I love going to Pixabay and free-associating from the lyrics of the featured song and from the text of my post to find these wonderful photos. Thank you for reading and listening!!! I just wish that there were a line in the song to acknowledge that not all dreams (ie: those that harm/disrespect other living beings and/or damage vital ecosystems that need to be in balance here on planet earth) are necessarily worthy of being acted upon…

  3. What a beautiful song! It is reminiscent of the 40’s and the 50’s, smooth and feeling, and a darn good song. I can see why this reminded you of the vibrant woman in her 80’s and the beauty of Western Massachusetts. The photos are stunning. Thank you, Will!

    • Thank you for all of the love and respect you packed into a fifteen-word comment, Paul! I am in one of my favorite places on planet earth right now (the North Of Highland campground in Truro, MA with lots of scrubby pine trees, birds and chipmunks + a 10-minute walk to the Atlantic ocean where there are seals, great white sharks and swimming…although not at the same time) and am mostly focused on writing new songs. If I am very very very lucky I may some day create something as resonant and wise as “Here’s To Life!”

    • You are very welcome, Paula. I awoke an hour ago from a very sweet dream in which I was working in some sort of middle management position (very much like my later years at CCAE) as part of the Trader Joe’s empire and very fun higher-ups were visiting to do trainings and quality control and near the end of their several day stay I realized that all of my co-workers had simultaneously planned a surprise party to honor me. I awoke after I walked into the party space and found loving faces (from my first job at a company called Illuminations, from CCAE, and from other former jobs) all looking up to sign Auld Lange Syne to me. A wonderful way to start the day! And here you are, one of the connoisseurs of dream awareness and interpretation AND a beloved former co-worker, to share it with online…

  4. Beautiful song, and your interpretation is lovely.
    The birthday woman sounds like a remarkable person.
    The photos are beautiful, too. Hope you’re enjoying your summer, too! To dreamers and our dreams!

    • Thank you for reading and listening between writing wonderful poems!!! The birthday woman is truly inspirational in a very old-fashioned, low-key way, bless her. To dreamers and our dreams!

  5. Thanks KS for your comments. Seems.yonhave been rroeatead a number of times so hope it’s not spam. Yiurnsometime legit and nice though, so you’re a musician, cool. I want to play again bitntiennownhave too much tondo. That’s too bad about the typo, I wonder was that site MakeItUktra or could you help me find it so it could be fix d? Thanks.again for reading. Telle about yiurncyckimg, I don’t see any posts on that.

  6. It is music which renews our soul when the stresses of life take their toll. Whether it be beautiful manmade music or the sounds of nature, music is definitely food for the soul. Thank you.

    • THANK YOU for listening! As you probably know, when one is singing a song which has wisdom/value in the lyrics, one’s spirit can get mysteriously become involved in the recording process… which then affects how one sings! I look forward to trying more of your recipes when I get home from camping.

  7. This is beautiful Will and I enjoy this on so many levels. The song, the pictures and your words reach me at the perfect time and I always leave your site with faith restored. Thank you so much my friend. Xo

  8. The song is soulful! And the pictures, ohh the pictures are so pretty!
    Here’s to smiling more, singing often and breathing at ease, here’s to life. ♥️

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