For the last few days I have been trying to come up with a better May First post than the one I posted last year... and I simply can't.
Last year's was just so very right, and upon re-reading it I think I need to post it again, especially for those of you who weren't visiting in May of last year.
It's still precisely what I feel. I've even added the four songs from the original post back to the jukebox.
So please enjoy it all again. I mean every word. Just add a year to any time references and read on.
If you had visited the ol' S&P on this date exactly one year ago, you would have seen this...
May you always...
"... walk in sunshine."
Five years ago today, the great Matriarch of the Lennon family, my Gram, passed away at the age of 85.
It was her way to help you walk in sunshine even when she knew times could be cloudy, dark, and unsure, as they often were in her long, storied life.
She was stoic, she was unbelievably strong and resilient, she held the deepest faith in God and in her convictions... and she was one of the funniest ladies I've ever known -- not always on purpose, mind you -- and when it wasn't on purpose it was extra funny.
She was our Rock and our Light so often and for so long that it's still nearly impossible to think she's not in her kitchen somewhere making the world's most perfect pancakes, or using a little tough love and a wooden spoon to teach a grand- or great grandchild how to be a real person.
My Great Grandmother Nana, my Grandmother Sis, and me, July 1968
And as I've written before, she gave me Hallowe'en -- that she passed away exactly half the year 'round from her favorite holiday must have made her soul giggle at least a little bit. It does mine now.
She had 11 children, and really, I've stopped counting the grandchildren and great grandchildren which now number well into the 60s. And never even mind the hundreds of people whose lives she affected in personal friendship, and the many thousands who have been made joyful by the music and art that her children and grandchildren have brought (and continue to bring) to the world.
Much that is beautiful and unique in my life and yours would not be here but for her.
Still... if anything, Gram was a trooper with way too much to do to cave into emotional wreckage. I can hear her right now: 'Oh! Why do you have to get so dramatic? Smile, lighten up, go outside and do something!'
So we'll go outside...
May is Spring with an attitude. The child April has become a bit of a sullen, wild teen, knowing its time will turn to Summer soon enough.
In honor, I have changed the jukebox just a bit. I will only comment on additions -- the songs still there from last month have their comments in this entry.
The first new addition is a natural. Julie Andrews singing The Lusty Month of May from the original Broadway cast recording of Camelot (1960). Perfection.
Then, from the incredible mind of Corky St. Clair comes a song about Spring rains, flooding rivers, storming skies and the water ravaged but defiant generations of Plains folk -- This Bulging River is a moving number from St. Clair's one-night-only 1997 stage production Red, White & Blaine, celebrating Blaine, Missouri's sesquicentennial (that's 150 years).
The last two additions are in honor of my grandmother.
Flashes is a solo piano piece composed in 1931 by the inimitable Bix Beiderbecke, a wondrous work performed here by Dick Hyman in 2008 (Bix never recorded it in his short life). Now this song, and all of Bix's music, reminds me of my father because he was a cornet player who was often compared to Bix, and he was of an era of the great Jazz players.
But Beiderbecke's music also reminds me often of my grandmother -- this one particularly has always made me feel the way I used to when I was at Gram's house alone, or nearly so, and just walking, or laying on the couch, listening to her radio station or hearing the Venice beach breezes rattle the windows and chimes. Like her, it is as complex and subtle as it is warm and inviting... and like her, it is simply one of the most beautiful things that ever was.
Lastly, since we all agree that if it hadn't been for her, the world would never have had these lovely ladies and their incredible voices...
I had numerous images at my disposal, but I HAD to pick this one... I just had to.... then I feel a 'May' song that has become so closely identified with the Lennon Sisters (that's my Mama at lower right) was in order. This version of May You Always was taken from a late '60s episode of The Lawrence Welk Show. I had the honor of performing May You Always with them when they sang it together for the first time in years, on the occasion of their 50th anniversary in show biz...
I hope you all walk in sunshine, now that May, and mid-Spring, have arrived.
Just don't forget, in the midst of all that sunshine, greenery and flowery-tude-inous-ness, that we are halfway around the year from dark, orange-black, undead loveliness...