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Archive for November, 2010

Back when I was a teenager, I used to buy ’45 singles of songs I really liked. If you don’t know what a ’45 single is, go ask your parents. They probably have a shoebox full of them getting musty up in the attic. Forty five singles, and later cassette singles, were to my generation and the generation before what iTunes is to everyone now. Only it kind of sucked since you had to leave the house to buy your music and were only able to purchase whatever songs the record labels saw fit to release.

Sometimes, if the song you liked wasn’t even deemed worthy to be slapped on a B-side (again, ask your parents), you were forced to buy an entire album for just that one song.  And if you really just wanted that one song, you were forced, in the case of cassette tapes, to listen through all the crap before you got to the track you really wanted to hear. That or you were stuck with your finger on the fast forward or rewind buttons. We had the primitive misfortune of not being able to skip tracks.

That is why I love digital music and have become a firm believer in the a’la carte system of music consumption. I hear a song on a TV show, commercial or in a movie and am almost guaranteed to be able to find it on iTunes. Television and movies are how I find most of my music, which explains why my library looks like it was compiled buy ten different people.  It’s very rare for me nowadays to buy an entire album from one single artist.

Still, I do have a few favorites, and one of the last full, physical, hold-it-in-your-hands albums I purchased before the whole digital music revolution was Norah Jones’ Come Away With Me. I bought it after hearing just one song on the radio, Don’t Know Why, and listened to the entire thing over and over again. I loved every song and that album became the soundtrack for 2003, the year I lost a ton of weight. Which also, unfortunately, turned out to be the year before I gained it all back.

I’ve stayed pretty loyal to Norah Jones over the years and purchased her subsequent solo albums Feels Like Home and Not Too Late. I didn’t much care for her 2009 release The Fall. It was too different, too far removed from her previous three albums for me to want to purchase in full. I sampled the tracks and bought only a few that resembled the Norah Jones I fell in love with all those years ago.

This year Jones is back with another album and I’m happy to say it has everything I loved about her first three albums and more.

…Featuring is a collection of collaborative tracks from Jones and artists ranging from The Foo Fighters to Dolly Parton and spans the length of Jones’ music career thus far. For a music schizo like myself, this is actually kind of a cool album since it encompasses so many different genres; bluegrass, soul, blues, country, hip-hop, rap and easy listening.  There’s even a holiday tune to enjoy this coming season, if you can get past the uncomfortable visual of Jones and Willie Nelson getting snuggly by a fire, that is.

There are a good mix of vocals here. In some tracks Jones is the lead vocalist while in others she’s in the background. I found my favorites to be the duets, mainly “Here We Go Again” with Ray Charles and “Creepin’ In” with Dolly Parton, a track that was also included in Feels Like Home. My least favorite tracks were the ones I thought to be very anti-Jones, but I guess if Dido can feature in an Eminem song then Norah Jones can back up Talib Kweli.

Another favorite is “Loretta” featuring Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. If you don’t know who Gillian Welch is, don’t ask your parents unless they’re fans of the Joel & Ethan Cohen movie O, Brother, Where Art Thou? Welch was the music producer for the movie and the singing voice behind one of the three sultry sirens who Delmar mistakenly believed had turned one of his companions into a toad.

Seriously, that movie is awesome.

If you’re a Norah Jones fan, I don’t think this album will disappoint. It’s traditional Jones with a few unexpected bits thrown in.  The album is in stores now or on iTunes for you to dissect as you please.

This review is part of a promotion with the One 2 One Network. Apart from a complimentary copy of the CD to review, I was not compensated, though publication of this review does enter me in a drawing for a gift card. The opinions expressed are my own.

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Today I was talking to one of our student workers, a lovely girl named Emma, about my birthday plans and mentioned that Nathan and I were going to see the latest Harry Potter and maybe hit San Chez Bistro, a local tapas place downtown.

Emma’s eyes grew wide in disbelief. “They have one of those here?”

“Yeah, down on Fulton not too far from the arena,” I said and went on to rave about the food as Emma’s eyes grew wider still.

“What do they feed you there?” she asked, aghast.

“What? Wait, I said tapas! T-A-P-A-S, not topless, Emma.”

“Oh, thank God,” she said. “I wasn’t going to judge how you spend your birthday…”

“Um, yeah, good thing we cleared that up.”

Note to self: Use better enunciation when talking about San Chez.

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Heather's sense of snow

This morning I asked Autumn if she was excited for it to start snowing. She said she was, which kind of surprised me since she couldn’t wait to see it all melt last winter. Let’s face it, though, pretty much everyone in Michigan feels that way once we hit February, but it just seemed wrong for a child dislike it so much. Her complaints were on par with those of any adult who is forced to drive on slick roads through white-out conditions or who suffers through two years of rehabilitation because she slipped on a patch of ice in her driveway and blew out her knee.

Living with and loving the snow is a very important part of being a Michigan kid, and I’m afraid Autumn has had to also live with the handicap of having parents who just don’t like to go outside in the winter. Or at all, really. In the days of hunting and gathering, our ancestors were the ones who stayed indoors and favored artistry over displays of physical prowess. “The hunting party has returned! A mammoth, you say? Splendid! Let us commemorate the feast with an expansive cave painting!”

Granted, for three winters straight I only set foot outside when absolutely necessary, spikes strapped to the bottoms of my boots. I couldn’t even think of snow without imagining that horrible moment when my foot hit that patch of ice. Truth be told, it still freaks me out, but the memory of the pain isn’t as immediate as it once was and the thought of having to walk through snow and ice does not paralyze me with fear anymore.

I am 75 pounds lighter, and while my knees aren’t in the shape they were three years ago, they are most likely not far from where they would be anyway. A person can’t carry as much weight on her frame as I have and not suffer for it, knee injury or no. Add to that my advancing age and you still have someone whose faulty joints predict weather events with surprising accuracy.

Which brings me back to the snow.

Autumn and I talked about what fun we were going to have this winter and for the first time in I don’t know how long I find myself up to the task of giving Mother Nature my middle finger. I will make snowmen. I will put on thermal underwear and hop on a sled with my daughter. Hell, I might take the dog for a walk if I can find those ridiculous yellow booties of hers.

I will frolic and catch snowflakes on my tongue. I will make snow angels and watch the graceful descent of flakes as they pass through the canopy of the street light.

I will not rear-end someone this year. No need to keep that streak going.

I will respect the snow and its power to make my life miserable, but I will not let it keep me inside.

I will not hate winter this year.

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