Wheelhouse – Brad Paisley… My Two Cents

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I listened to this album the way I listen to all new music… with open ears, an open heart, and an open mind.

I had already witnessed some of the controversy surrounding it over the last several days and heard the song that was kicking up all the fuss, but reserved any opinion/judgement until I was able to hear the album as a whole.

I sat and listened to it this morning.

What I heard is what I have come to expect from Brad Paisley… A weird, wonderful mix of humor, romance, heartbreak, lessons learned and honesty about life, love and the human condition wrapped in country music and tied in Brad’s guitar strings. Sometimes neatly… sometimes not so neatly, as the story being told may demand.

I also heard a man whose personal and musical growth has demanded that he stretch out beyond perceived boundaries (his own and his listeners’) and reach toward.. more… and better.

I think he succeeds. I loved it from start to finish. I just let him lead me on his musical journey.

The song Southern Comfort Zone sets the tone for what follows. Gives notice that things might get a bit bumpy ahead. But it’s necessary as you start to look at and learn about the world that exists around you beyond where you were raised.

“And I miss my Tennessee home
And I’ve stayed away way too long
But I can see this world as I go
Outside my Southern comfort zone.”

Brad invites us all to stretch beyond our comfort zones and see what we can see.

And, yes, a couple of times things got a little… uncomfortable.

My first real “uh-oh” moment was the song Karate.

Don’t misunderstand, I am actually all for the empowerment of women. I’m all for taking back control when you have been rendered powerless through abuse. My discomfort didn’t come from the notion of a woman taking back her control and giving an abusive husband a taste of his own medicine. I wish that could happen much more often in this world. I was more uncomfortable that the “humor” would render the message powerless… much in the same way as.the Dixie Chicks’ Goodbye Earl did. But, it turned out to be alright, I think. Certainly a better balance than Goodbye Earl had. And it’s a bonus that no one dies in this song.

Okay… the song a lot of people are talking about and that Brad is taking an ass-kicking for at the moment.

Accidental Racist

I’m finding it difficult to understand what the issue is. Why is this song so offensive to some people and leads them to call him out saying he is a racist and it’s anything but accidental. Honestly, I think they are just re-affirming the point made in this song.

The gist… A man goes into Starbucks with a rebel flag on his Lynyrd Skynyrd t-shirt and the barista takes offense.
The song is his apology to the barista. That the only thing he meant to say by wearing the shirt was that he was a Skynyrd fan. Nothing more. Nothing less.

What I take from the song is this… while we are all the product of how, where and when we are raised. A product of the times, people, places and events in and even before our lives, there’s nothing that binds us to that. We can learn, we can change, and we can move on from the past… especially a past that existed before any of us was born.

“I’m just a white man comin’ from the Southland
Tryin’ hard to understand what it’s like not to be
I’m proud of where I’m from, but not everything we’ve done
And it ain’t like you and me can rewrite history
Our generation didn’t start this nation
We’re still pickin’ up the pieces, walkin’ on eggshells
Fightin’ over yesterday
And caught between Southern pride and Southern blame.”

“Dear Mr. White Man I wish you understood what the world is really like when you’re livin’ in the ‘hood.
Just because my pants are saggin’ doesn’t mean I’m up to no good
You should try to get to know me, I really wish you would
Now my chains are gold but I’m still misunderstood
I wasn’t there when Sherman’s march turned the South into firewood
I want you to get paid, but be a slave? I never could
Feel like a new fangled, jangled dodge in a white hood
When I see that white cowboy hat I’m thinkin’ it’s not all good
I guess we’re both guilty of judging the cover and not the book
I’d love to buy you a beer, conversate and clear the air
But I see that red flag and I think you wish I wasn’t here…”

This is two people (the counterpoint brilliantly provided by LL Cool J) who recognize they have faulty views based on circumstances created long before they were born and they’re trying to get beyond that to some common ground bit aren’t entirely sure how to get there.

Why anyone would think this song is offensive is beyond me.

But it is doing what Brad hoped it would. It’s opened a dialogue for people to share their thoughts and ideas on a subject that, clearly, is still sensitive even after more than 150 years of history.

After hearing the song and hearing/reading some of the reactions to it, I find myself incredibly grateful to have been raised by a woman who taught me to be blind to differences and to always see the commonalities among all people. When it came to parenting… my Mom got it right.

The only other uh-oh moment was with Those Crazy Christians, but it isn’t the slam the title implies. Listen and you’ll see.

Overall, on a scale of 1-5 stars, this one gets a 4.5. Brad’s musicianship is as amazing as ever, but the limb he crawls out on and takes a leap from is what really makes this one a keeper.

I hope the backlash won’t be enough to deter him from taking that leap again in the future.

Brad… you’re doing it right, man.
Keep stretching beyond your boundaries and stepping outside your comfort zone (Southern or otherwise).
I’m more than happy to go with you and learn and grow along the way.

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Barry Manilow World Tour Kick Off In Omaha!

Photo: Rebecca S. Gratz – Omaha World-Herald
Last night was the kick off performance of Barry Manilow’s World Tour (I have no problem writing those words because he actually said them during the performance, though, up until then, he has protested that this is not a tour, but a “road trip”)
I sat dead center of the stage in the front row and had an amazing time.
I know I was holding my breath as the lights went down and the music started and the curtain came up because there was a little uncertainty as to how he would be as just a week ago he posted to his Facebook page that, while he had permission from his doctors and physical therapists to do the show last night, and the shows the next two nights in St. Louis, he was only about 85% post surgery (he had surgery on both of his hips two months ago to repair bursa and re-attach muscles torn completely away from his hips).
He came out on that stage bouncing and dancing to It’s A Miracle and went at full throttle the rest of the show. If that was only 85%,,, he’s gonna be absolutely killing people when he hits 100%!
Photo: Rebecca S. Gratz – Omaha World-Herald
He moved from It’s A Miracle into an uptempo Could It Be Magic and I was thinking… “He wouldn’t dare!”
But… he did! A BAM! And the crowd went absolutely nuts! It was awesome!
Photo: Michelle D. Wampole – Omaha
The above photo was one of the better shots I took, what few I could take before my damned battery died!
It was about a second or two post-BAM and you can see Kye Brackett “passed out” across Barry’s piano and Sharon “Muffy” Hendrix running to his aid. It was a very funny moment and proved to the fans, well, this one for sure, that there was nothing to fear. Barry was fine and was set on having a good time with his “friends” in Omaha!
Photo: Rebecca S. Gratz – Omaha World-Herald
The High Points (other than the opening):
First and foremost, just that he was there and in such obviously great spirits. He appeared to be having just as much fun as we were having in the audience!
He performed several “fan favorites” that he hadn’t done in awhile, including Keep Each Other Warm. One of my personal favorites. ūüôā
When he spoke of his surgery and recovery… Finding a higher power, greater than himself that got him through all the pain he had to endure… and what that higher power was, LOL! Being cooped up in bed and sooo bored! Then he got serious, thanked his fans for their hundreds of cards, letters and Facebook comments that were so encouraging and helped pull him through and then he sang I Made It Through the Rain and you couldn’t help but believe that he meant every single word. It got him one of several standing ovations last night.
Talking about the Manilow Music Project
Reminiscing about Grandpa Joe
When talking about All The Time and feeling like a misfit, he said that he really didn’t have it as bad when he was in school as kids do today, emphasizing that “all the bullying now is just too much. It’s gotta stop”.
There were a couple of miscues and an occasional lyric fumble, but it was the opening show and I am sure as time goes on and a few more performances pass by, the very few rough spots will be smoothed out.
Barry, being the professional that he is, managed to get through those few moments with style and humor.
The only Low Point in the entire show…
Absolutely nothing from 15 Minutes except “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” being played over the sound system as the audience milled out of the arena.
And, honestly, it wasn’t even a real disappointment. The show, as it was, was so great that the realization of any of that album being missing from the show was an after thought.
All I can say, ultimately, of it all is… Well done, Barry,,, and welcome back!
Special thanks, also, to Kye Brackett, Sharon “Muffy” Hendrix, Ron Walters, Jr., Ron Pedley, Joey Melotti, ¬†David Rozenblatt, Russ McKinnon, Mike Lent and… damn, I can’t remember the bassist’s name at the moment.
As great as Barry Manilow is, he can’t do it all on his own. The professionalism and talent of these men and woman are so great, though, they all make it seem like he does just that. Their performances, so seamless and perfect, work to bring out the best in Barry’s performance and spotlight their own unique abilities as well. It was as much fun and entertaining to step back and watch all of them as it was to watch Barry.
Extra special thanks to Dawn Downes, without whom I could not have been at that concert last night. And the seat was sooooo fabulous. Front row, dead center! I was close enough to see the twinkle in those beautiful baby blues and I will never forget it.
Also thanks to my Facebook pals: Pamela. Pattie and Gwen. It was so nice to be able to meet you all. I just wish I could have spent more time with all of you, but it just wasn’t meant to be. Maybe we’ll all meet up again, Somewhere Down the Road. ūüôā
Pattie, Me, Pamela and Gwen
Late addition…
Thank you, also, to my new friend and chief Kleenex supplier (I confess, I cried… A LOT), Lynn Driscoll. Just for being there, for being so sweet to a complete stranger, and for sharing the great photos she had from the show.

Happy Thanksgiving

It’s that time of year again…

Family, Food, Fun… Football!
Whether we realize if or not, and I hope we all do, there’s so much to be thankful for… not just this one day out of the year, but always.
Count your blessings…¬†
And now… it’s time to kick off “the most wonderful time of the year”… The Christmas season.
Enjoy some Christmas music from Barry Manilow… Because It’s Christmas.

When October Goes



When October GoesLyric: Johnny MercerMusic: Barry Manilow
And when October goes The snow begins to fly Above the smokey roofs I watch the planes go by The children running home Beneath a twilight sky Oh, for the fun of them When I was one of them 
 And when October goes The same old dream appears And you are in my arms To share the happy years I turn my head away To hide the helpless tears Oh how I hate to see October go 
 And when October goes The same old dream appears And you are in my arms To share the happy years I turn my head away To hide the helpless tears Oh how I hate to see October go 
I should be over it now I know¬†It doesn’t matter much how old I grow¬†I hate to see October go

You Make Me Feel

It’s been a long day, going into one of those nights
I don’t want to know from anything
I’d like to crawl inside myself and turn the it all off

Instead I slide the disc in
Hit play and wait
No hesitation, no patience

The music fills the room, and I start
To relax and drift away
And soon, there’s a smile

And then there are tears

And then I am dancing

And then I am laughing

And then the tears come again

And I don’t know how you do it
But I’m grateful that you do

When the pressure from the weight of the world
Gets to be too much and I slowly go numb
I turn to you because you make me feel

I feel hurt, I feel pain, I feel anger,
I feel silly, I feel sorrow, I feel joy
I feel passion, I feel love, I feel renewed

Most of all…

I feel alive!

Copyright 2011 Michelle D. Wampole

Thank you, from my heart, for being some of the best therapy money didn’t have to buy.

Jar of Hearts ~ Christina Perri

Jar of Hearts
Music and Lyric: Christina Perri

I know I can’t take one more step towards you
Cause all that’s waiting is regret
And don’t you know I’m not your ghost anymore
You lost the love
I loved the most

And I learned to live, half alive
And now you want me one more time

And who do you think you are?
Runnin’ round leaving scars
Collecting your jar of hearts
And tearing love apart
You’re gonna catch a cold
From the ice inside your soul
So don’t come back for me
Who do you think you are?

I hear you’re asking all around
If I am anywhere to be found
But I have grown too strong
To ever fall back in your arms

And I learned to live, half-alive
And now you want me one more time

Who do you think you are?
Runnin round leaving scars
Collecting your jar of hearts
And tearing love apart
You’re gonna catch a cold
From the ice inside your soul
So don’t come back for me
Who do you think you are?

Dear, it took so long just to feel alright
Remember how to put back the light in my eyes
I wish I had missed the first time that we kissed
Cause you broke all your promises

And now you’re back
You don’t get to get me back

Who do you think you are?
Runnin’ round leaving scars
Collecting your jar of hearts
And tearing love apart
You’re gonna catch a cold
From the ice inside your soul
So don’t come back for me
Don’t come back at all

And who do you think you are?
Runnin round leaving scars
Collecting your jar of hearts
And tearing love apart
You’re gonna catch a cold
From the ice inside your soul
Don’t come back for me
Don’t come back at all

Who do you think you are?

Who do you think you are?

Who do you think you are?