New Blossoms Emerging…

Photo by Alexander Popov from Unsplash.

March has begun!

And I am realizing that it’s been over a month since my last blog post.

Why?

Well… I stumbled into an opportunity to be interviewed by an old acquaintance who writes about the arts for a New England-based magazine.

And after I learned that my mini-profile was going to run in their March/April issue, I decided it was time to re-do my website — which had remained functional but increasingly antiquated in recent years.

So February was devoted to researching website design options, choosing a company, and learning how to use this company’s cornucopia of templates and design features.

Photo by Free-Photos from Pixabay

After all sorts of challenges (which I may share in a future blog post as a case study in hiking up a new learning curve…) I am happy — and relieved — to report that my new site is now up and running at my old website address: willsings.com.

In the process of transferring information from my old site to this new one, I had the opportunity to reflect upon the past twenty years of my musical life — which has been a very sweet and slightly surprising experience.

I had forgotten, for example, exactly how much media coverage I had garnered in past years… and how often certain angels in our local media had written about various musical undertakings, concerts, recordings, collaborations, etc.

Photo by Benjamin Dickerhof from Unsplash.

I also discovered how much I still like various recordings I helped to make in past years.

And this new website makes it relatively easy to create separate pages for all of them, which I can continue to update and improve as time allows.

Deep breath in.

And deep breath out.

Lots of opportunities to practice feeling grateful!

I recorded the musical selection at the top of this blog post with pianist Doug Hammer on his Schimmel grand piano a few years ago when I was putting together an hour-long program of songs created for Disney movies.

Photo by Sunflair from Pixabay.

These three songs were written by the Sherman Brothers — Robert and Richard — for the magical movie Mary Poppins.

Recent weather — very cold with 30 mph winds! —reminded me of this medley.

As usual I have visited the wonderful photographic website Pixabay as well as a new one called Unsplash (when Pixabay was not functioning well) to find some images to grace this blog post and uplift my spirit.

So far the only sign of spring I have seen is ONE snowdrop which has managed to push up through the earth in our tiny front yard and bloom.

Amazing!

Photo by Will McMillan.

Inside the house, a pot of hyacinth bulbs I bought last winter from Trader Joe’s — and then left in the sun on the back porch all summer — has experienced a glorious re-birth.

They are very fragrant.

Another deep breath in.

And deep breath out.

Hurrah!

Spring may indeed return to New England…

This three-song medley is one of many recordings that Doug and I have been finding in his sonic archives — and have been fixing and mixing every Friday afternoon via Zoom.

There is a tiny lyric bobble in this recording which we will re-record when I am vaccinated and Doug is ready to welcome human beings back into his studio.

Did you hear it?

Photo by TheOtherKev from Pixabay.

My favorite song in this medley is the last one — “Let’s Go Fly A Kite.”

I was reminded when looking for images of kites that there are also raptors named kites.

So I am including a photo of this magnificent bird as well.

Even though I live in a suburb of Boston which does not have a lot of green space, I am delighted to see hawks flying overhead on a surprisingly regular basis as I walk around town.

I think this is partly because I do not use a smart phone — so I tend to be looking at what is actually going on around me more than many of my fellow humans — who often seem to be living in a parallel universe defined by their phone.

Image by Stacy Vitallo from Pixabay 

Last week I may have even seen a bald eagle fly around a cemetery where I like to walk which overlooks a neighboring town’s lake.

As many of my fellow bloggers often remind me, there are few things better than spending time outside in/with the natural world!

Yet another deep breath in.

And deep breath out.

I released a new recording at the beginning of March — “Plant A Radish” from the musical The Fantasticks by Harvey Schmidt (music) and Tom Jones (lyrics).

You can click here to listen to it on several digital music platforms if you are curious.

Photo by Romain Mathon from Unsplash.

Now I am looking forward to seeing how many of the crocus bulbs I planted last fall have survived the hungry — and deserving — animals who amazingly manage to survive each winter living outdoors.

And I am waiting for another (warmer) windy day to call up my neighbors and go to a local playing field where we can enjoy a well-masked, kite-flying + pizza picnic.

Thank you to all the wonderful photographers at Pixabay and Unsplash whom I decided I needed to respect by taking the time to credit by name (and whose credits I wish I could figure how to center under their photos…)

Thank you to Doug Hammer for his sublime piano playing and archiving and engineering and mixing and mastering.

Photo by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay

Thank you to the Sherman Brothers for writing so many great songs during the course of their impressive career.

Thank you to my friends in Toronto who gave me a slightly used but still very functional laptop computer several years ago — which has allowed me to blog, lead music classes via Zoom, create a new website, etc.

Thank you to planet earth for managing to support as much life as she does — even as we human beings continue to rip apart, poison, and contaminate ecosystems right, left and center with our wildly hubristic over-confidence and greed.

Photo by Will McMillan

Thank you for — and to — the WordPress community.

The illness of a fellow blogger has reminded me in recent days of how oddly intimate — and deeply supportive — the WordPress community can be.

So thank YOU for reading and listening to another one of my blog posts.

Now…

“Let’s go fly a kite up to the highest height.

Let’s go fly a kite and send it soaring up through the atmosphere — up where the air is clear.

Oh, let’s go fly a kite!”

Photo by Martin Blonk on Unsplash.

Subversive Lyrics

As some of you may know, I recently returned from a sweet trip to visit friends in Shanghai.

Lots of late night biking around the section of Shanghai formerly known as the French Concession, fresh fruits and vegetables on sale everywhere (as well as turtles, frogs, fish, and much, much more…) and music.

One of my friends is a wonderful composer, jazz pianist, and teacher. He and his family have been living in Shanghai for seven years, and a couple of years ago he started teaching music in the school his younger child attends.

I was able to visit some of his classes and was happy to see — and hear — how much his students love to sing.

We even taught them a song that my friend and I had written together (back when he lived with his grand piano above an ice cream shop in Allston, MA) called “Let’s Go To The River.”

They learned it immediately, and sang it with great gusto.

I was delighted.

A few days after I returned home to Boston, when it looked like my friend’s primary vocal ensemble might be participating in a VIP concert for the mayor of Shanghai, two of China’s top conductors came to hear his choir sing.

They listened to three pop/rock/show tunes, responded warmly, and asked, “what else do you have?”

My friend projected the lyrics for “Let’s Go to The River” up on a screen at the front of his classroom, and his choir performed a rousing version for them.

After class, the conductors stayed to talk about having his choir participate in the upcoming concert. One of the maestros tactfully talked about the importance of choosing songs with lyrics that would be totally apolitical. He suggested “What a Wonderful World,” my friend suggested “Singing in the Rain,” and they decided that a song in Chinese would be great, too.

The maestro again reinforced the necessity of choosing lyrics with an eye to political sensitivity.

My friend didn’t think too much about the maestro’s remarks until they left — and he went back into his classroom and saw my lyrics still up on the screen.

The two conductors had had a lot of time to study the message of “Let’s Go to the River,” and my friend realized that it may have made them nervous that he was teaching such ‘subversive’ messages to primary school students AND might try to go public with such a message.

I have typed the lyrics below.

Perhaps they are a bit subversive for our ever-more-wired-and-plugged-in-and-distracted culture in the United Stated of America, too!

Let’s Go To The River

What a day! Let’s go to the river — do something we never have the time to do.

We could say today’s a vacation — a small invitation to wander away.

Leave your phone, your fax, and your datebook…

Yeah, even that great book you never seem to read.

Spread your wings and slide out a window — wherever the wind blows, catch a ride.

Can we be without an agenda? Nothing to remember, deliver, or to do.

It’s okay!

The pavement is humming, and there’s different drumming all along the way.

Right away our energy’s rising; no analyzing what we need to do.

We’re on our way to whatever may happen — a tisket, a tasket — and it doesn’t have to rhyme.

Pick up a papaya, instead of a sixpack.

Dance among the plants.

Just decide; today’s an adventure — zip zap bodilee doh doo day.

Break a routine,

Go fly a kite,

Take a deep breath,

And jump in a lake!