Prince and the Beautiful Ones

Most people who knew me in high school only knew me for one thing: I loved Prince. I dressed like Prince. I wore my hair over my eye like Prince. I wore clothes with Prince’s face on it. Maybe in some corners of the world, this isn’t so rare. But in small town east Tennessee in the late 1980s, I was the only one openly obsessed with the Purple One. Very few of my peers even knew anything about the real Prince. As it turns out, neither did I.

My feelings for Prince have changed over the years. But inside me there is a brokenhearted teenage girl, sad not only for the death of her idol, but also because the “Beautiful Ones” really do smash the pictures. He was an amazing musician with an intoxicating, beautiful body & style; but he was not so kind to the women in his life. I wish he had lived long enough for me to reconcile this ambivalence I hold for him in my mind. But as it is now, I feel like I am mourning a dream I once I had, a very colorful and exhilarating dream.

“Paint a perfect picture
Bring to life
The vision in ones mind
The Beautiful ones
Always smash the picture
Always every time”

lyrics from “The Beautiful Ones” – Prince




Thank You, Bette

Today for lunch I had a taco, a Pepsi, and all my sadness. I just swallowed my sadness down with every bite but it never left.

I have been questioning the direction my life is taking and trying to figure out if I’m on the right path. I’m trying to figure out if I am sinking or rising. Am I important or insignificant? To whom? Do I care? Should I?


My thoughts have been so heavy I can barely move.

And then, as I was working on my novel (which I did *not* want to do), I wrote these lines which may or may not make it to the final edit:

“I’m sorry I made you have the party when you didn’t want it.”
Seth looked at his mother with uncertainty about how to respond. Cautiously he said, “Don’t worry about it.”
A Bette Midler song came on the radio and Hannah turned it up.

Then I started thinking about Bette Midler because I couldn’t think of anything she sings except Wind Beneath My Wings. So, I searched videos on YouTube. (Did I mention how I really didn’t feel like working on my novel anyway?)

I came across an interview she did in 1984 for Good Morning America. It was cut into two separate videos. I enjoyed them so much. They really helped me take a deep breath about where I am right now in regards to my writing and just being the person I am.

Thank you, Bette.

Songwriter Spotlight: Scott Miller

This is the first of my series of posts highlighting my favorite songwriters.

For me, the most important part of a song is the lyrics. The second most important part is how those lyrics are delivered. I like a raw sound in music which exposes emotion. Intense feeling distracts us from perfection. Therefore, flaws can be beautiful.

Okay, on to my favorite songwriter of the week:

Scott Miller.

I’m not going to write his entire biography (I’ve put a link to his website here), But I will share this from Wikipedia: “Miller’s songs reflect his degrees in American History and Russian Studies, with references to his home, family, history, geography, writers and Appalachia.” By “his home” they mean a farm in Swoope, Virigina.

Here are my top 5 lyrics from Scott Miller, with video preceding:

1. from “Loving That Girl”

Dead as the Moon is,
It still pulls the tide.
Somewhere within
It must still be alive.
Still I don’t think that I can love again
Loving that Girl is too hard on a man.

This is actually my favorite song of his. The video shows him at the Downhome in Johnson City, TN where I have seen him a number of times.

2. from “Lie I Believe”

If you stand naked
The mirror won’t lie
But it has to be filtered
Through the wish of an eye.
All that I needed
Was a reflection of me
You said I was someone
It’s a lie I believe.

3. the entire song The Rain. This song tells a story about a civil war battle and it has actually made me cry (more than once).

Through the trees I heard them coming
By the clank of their canteens.
Since the rain softened the drum-head
You could hear the order screamed,
“There they are, boys. Make ’em bleed.”

4. from Across the Line

Sheets of rain, sheets of silk
Cloudy water, mother’s milk
Swollen gorges filled with blood,
Cannot stop the coming flood.
Overflowing storm filled drain,
Bolts of lightning, searing pain,
Claps of thunder, gusts of wind,
First I’m out and then I’m in.

5. the entire song Red Ball Express, another song about war

I jumped at it when I had the chance,
Joined the Army and went to France,
At Roosevelt’s request.

Two weeks sitting in the mud
Made me lie to the man that I could drive a truck
For the Red Ball Express.

All we do is keep it rolling on,
Trading bodies for the petroleum…

Scott Miller and the Commonwealth at Bristol Rhythm and Roots 2004

Here is a photo I took of Scott Miller and the Commonwealth in 2004 at Rhythm and Roots, a festival in Bristol TN/VA. I don’t know if he was flipping off the crowd because they were jerks, but the people sitting in front of me definitely were. Long story. I’ll save it for another day.

Now it should be obvious why Scott Miller is one of my favorite song writers.

National Tequila Day Reminds me….

I don’t drink. Really. Because every time I have ever been the slightest bit tipsy, I’ve cried like a baby. So, I just don’t.

But in the mid to late 90’s, I followed around The Floating Men, a band out of Nashville. Their lyrics were amazing and each album was an intense story unfolding. The crowd was full of brainy folk who appreciated songs that held up to their intellectual expectations. I loved them and still do.

I loved The Floating Men so much that I gave their CDs away to anyone willing to listen to one. There was a girl named Karen who took a particular liking to them, so I invited her to see them play in Johnson City, TN. She drove in from Roanoke, drank lots of wine and was much happier for it.

Near the end of the night the lead singer, Jeff Holmes, announced that they would be playing the song Long Gone Tomorrow soon. Anyone participating in the tequila drinking ritual should get their shots ready.

I don’t know why, but that night I decided I would do it. Maybe I was influenced by how happy Karen was when she was drunk. When I ordered the shot of tequila, my friends were floored. They were also a bit giddy that they would be there when I broke my no-alcohol rule. I was a little giddy with optimism, too.

At the 2:40 point in the song, when Jeff sang “No more tequila for me…” we all drank the shot.

It took about ten minutes for me to start feeling disconnected, and in twenty minutes I had tears in my eyes which I tried desperately to hide.

The night was soon over, but I sat there at the table until it was just the band packing up and the two of us at a table. I wasn’t sure if I should drive but I also felt a little stuck in time. I was overly cautious and a bit terrified of how numb I felt. Finally, I decided it was safe to go and I was ready to call it a night.

That was my first and last shot of tequila. It proved, yet again, that I am a crying drunk and should avoid alcohol.

But for those of you who are not crying drunks, here is the song. If you want to celebrate Tequila Day by drinking along, enjoy! Remember… 2:40.