Saturday, May 24, 2008

don't leave me alone with this baby, baby.

(note: all readers for this blog MUST know the tune of My Favourite Things from The Sound Of Music. Please. and if not, please borrow the record from your grandmother (or download it, Smarty Smug Pants. der)

"...raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings
these are a few of my favourite things..."
when the dog bites
when the bee stings
when i'm feeling sad
i simply remember my favourite things
and then i don't feel so bad. (spinning off into the green eidelweiss covered mountains, happy and rosy cheeked, even, in a striped pinafore and so on)...
and now my version sung in same tune as above (a rendition of, so to speak):

rainy day lie ins and coffee in bed
lalas and back tickles, massage my head,
champagne and oysters with chocolate and bling,
these are a few of my favourite things.

when the kids scream
when the dog gets bitten by a bloody bastard puff adder three times and dies
when i'm feeling sad
i simply remember my favourite things like cigarettes and whisky and lashings of nina popadopalis's chocolate cake,
and then i don't feel sooooo bad. (spinning off into another pre menstrual, hormonally induced, momentary depression and lack of reason.)

so. i had a gig last night (and no, i didn't perform the above) - at the singer songwriter's evening at umoja music school in town...all lanterns, intimate crowd, no big lights or mics and speakers (thank god! mics complicate matters), a list of surprising artistes, all of us to solo and everyone is there to listen to you. they really are. it's terrifying. terrifying.

someone said last night, as i slouched in a dark corner with a dark hat, my hands all a flutter, "oh you can't be nervous!? you've done this loads of times before!" it's like when you have your second or third baby and the nurses say "Oh you've done this before. You know all about it. ." and walk briskly out never to be seen again. you hold this pathetic little scrap of humaness in your arms, knowing it depends entirely on you for its survival and you want to shout out, "NO! DON'T LEAVE ME ALONE WITH THIS BABY! HEY!? HELLOOO? is there anyone out there.....? " and you become exasperated with unsurmountable amounts of love, confusion and desperation. and terror. sheer. at least, i did.

well. that's what it's like when you stand up there even when you've done it a thousand times before. it's just like the first time. it's simply terrifying. its the edge of everything. you leap into your breath, toes pointed, and along your arms into your fingers and spill out onto the strings and fretboard like splatter paint and your spirit zooms out on your voice, surfing the wave, wobbly or not. your fingers feel seperate from your body and is this me singing? it's probably not too dissimilar to jumping out of an aeropane for the first time. its possibly about letting go and hoping like hell the parachute opens.

a fellow muso, lets call him mr jazz, funky jazz man (who says he's played with sting or someone like that and that he had "done time", twice, but wouldn't say what for, and who wooed the crowd, more like the girls, at The Nairobi Gig and who is so multi and divinely talented) once told me you have to find someone in the crowd to play to, someone who you look at and play for and to. lets call this person A Focus Person. An Ef Pee. oh i wish someone would pick me out for i would be The Best Audience Ever. he said at one gig, he found his ' focus person' in a very large and overwhelming crowd and was playing his heart out for him, every note equivalent of every bead of sweat, and half way through the first set, The Focus Person, the Ef Pee, yawned and walked out. oh dear. wrong choice. where do you go from there? pack up the axe and start a fast food joint? or work as a waiter at kentucky fried drive in take away chicken, evenings only? no. you do it again and again because you love it. and you make damned sure you choose The Right Focus Person. or no-one at all. like me. you sing with your eyes closed (heavily shadowed in silver), or you stare at the floor or the fretboard of your guitar until your neck cricks. but whatever you do, for godsake DON'T MAKE EYE CONTACT. unless you're really blottoed.

it's all about connecting with your audience, apparently. miriam makeba connects. she controls her crowd. she is one mega woman. fierce and commanding and all powerful maia earth goddess. don't mess with miriam. pay attention to every flying note and word. your loss if you don't. ricky lee jones exudes. beams. its like the music beams out of her. swirling.

i am so happy i am not amy whinehouse. and i don't mind that i am a one album wonder. ish.

so last night i was focused and terrified (and sober) and it worked. it was good. i leapt. i hung. suspended.

there were some wonderful pure performances last night. people bearing their soul and being so brave. and a terrific audience. so kind. so kind. and maybe honest. i love playing for children. they really are really really honest. like my little music student luca, all of seven, with his mealie toothed smile and bright questioning blazing honesty and enthusiasm. i didn't know which of my songs to play for the evening so i thought i would ask him which songs he liked best. i explained the situation and sat him down and forced him to listen. when i finished i said, " so? which one did you like best?"

he looked at me with those very large dancing brown eyes, and perfectly freckled nose, which he wrinkled up and said, " hmmmm...none of them." okayeeeeeeeeeeeee. now what?
" play your scale of C major, luca. guess what? the fun police just walked in."
i played them anyway. and one day when luca picks a song, i just know its going to be a hit and i will make millions. i always think that when the eagles finally completed Hotel California they must have known that it was going to be a hit.

and of course my kids think i am a famous rock star. my bestest. i will always always play my heart out for them. always. even when they are embarrassed by me. and i am shamelessly wearing purple and staring into their eyes, connecting of course.

danu pops has returned safely and soundly from the coast.(i haven't dared ask if he was responsible about mosquito dawa (medicine) the malaria is deadly at the coast...). as my friend gabby in kenya says, when you wave goodbye to the little darlings on the bus, you want to send a security van to follow, to pilot fish them . and hell, an ambulance too just in case. couldn't we just have a helicopter on stand by too? i missed his home coming because of my music when i got home last night late from the gig, i softly snuck into his bedroom and stole a look at him sleeping in his bed. how warm and melting and real it was to see my first baby home and tucked up back in our nest. all tall and gangly but still my first baby. and i quietly smelt him and kissed his cheek, so softly so as not to wake him... and then, you know, nothing else matters.
the end of yesterday couldn't possibly have been more perfect.
"... look at the stars, look how they shine for you
in everything you do
and they were all yellow.
i came along i wrote a song for you
in all the things you do
and it was called yellow
so then i took my turn
oh what a thing to have done
and it was all yellow
your skin
oh yeah your skin and bones
turn into something beautiful
and you know, you know
i love you so
you know i love you soooo....
look who they shine for you..." cold play.


quatrepattes said...

I just got to your blog from family Affairs, so nice to read about you in your house on the hill. Look forward to more - Lune. said...

beautiful. utterly beautiful. i would add siafu to the things that make me sad: sodding same murdered my darling hat's precious bantams last night. as for sleeping babes: you will steal midnight sleeptight glances and secreted kisses when they tower above you and growl with breaking voices.

Janelle said...

ah thanks lune (love your site) and stealing kisses...yes! i hope so! and POLE SANA about the siafu! awful. horrid. lots love x

family affairs said...

V cool - I didn't know you were a musician - I used to work with Johnny Clegg!! Love him - where is he now I wonder. Thanks for the votes - think it must be on US time, so I get to vote again some time later in the evening....anyway much appreciated. Interesting you chose ColdPlay lyrics - he did say when he wrote "Yellow" he couldn't quite understand what he was talking about....

Janelle said...

" 'The truth is great and will prevail
When none care whether it prevail or not. - Coventry Patemore
The true beauty of the words reside in the fact that Patmore, when he wrote them, did not know what he meant." from Alexandria Quartet - Lawrence Durrel.