Song Lyric Sunday: Song of the Soul

Image contains: me, smiling.

This feature was created by Helen Vahdati. This week’s theme is “soul.” This song’s artist, Chris Williamson, is from my home town of Sheridan, Wyoming. I don’t think she’s as popular, although she’s made quite a few recordings over the years. These don’t seem to be on Amazon, so I was pleasantly surprised to find this song on YouTube. It’s one of my favorites, and it’s about one of the things I did as a registered music therapist, working with senior citizens in nursing homes and other facilities. Enjoy, and sing along.

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—Song of the Soul

Written by Chris Williamson

 

Open mine eyes, that I may see

Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me

Open mine eyes, illumine me

Spirit divine

Love of my life, I am crying

I am not dying, I am dancing

Dancing along in the madness

There is no sadness, only a song of the soul

(chorus)

And we’ll sing this song, why don’t you sing along?

And we can sing for a long, long time

Why don’t you sing this song? Why don’t you sing along?

And we can sing for a long, long time

What do you do for your living?

Are you forgiving, giving shelter?

Follow your heart, love will find you

Truth will unbind you, seek out a song of the soul

(chorus)

Come to your life like a warrior

Nothing will bore you, you can be happy

Let in the light, it will heal you

And you can feel you, sing out a song of the soul

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My Books

 

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

How to Build a better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

We Shall Overcome

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My Other Links

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Saturday Song: Take Me Out to the Ball Game

As mentioned in My Ideal Partner,before I met and married my late husband Bill, I worked as a registered music therapist in a nursing home. Nowadays, I play my guitar and sing at senior facilities strictly for entertainment. Recently, a friend suggested I share a recording of such a gig to show how I interact with my audience. So today, instead of a video, you get to hear me sing one song live in concert. Enjoy, and have a great Saturday.

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seventh inning stretch.mp3

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Abbie Johnson Taylor
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.

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News from Abbie’s Corner February 2017

Abbie-1

After the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, January was a pretty quiet month. I spent the first week with my brother and his family in Jupiter, Florida. We went to the ocean one day and had lunch and rode a carousel in downtown Palm Beach Gardens the next.

The highlight was a boar’s head festival at the Episcopal Church of Bethesda by the Sea in a ritzy neighborhood in West Palm Beach. President Trump attends this church when he’s in the area. It’s huge with immense stained-glass windows, and the acoustics are phenomenal.

The boar’s head festival is something they do every year around the time of Epiphany. This year, music was provided by a chorus accompanied by organ and trumpets. There was also a drum and pipe band that led a processional at the beginning of the program when the symbolic boar’s head was carried in. Their rendition of “Amazing Grace” gave me chills.

There was all the pageantry of a Christmas program: shepherds, wise men, angels, Joseph and Mary, and of course the Baby Jesus. My brother told me there were two live babies: one dressed up as Jesus and the other outfitted as a lamb. With my limited vision, I wouldn’t have known they were there. They behaved remarkably well during the performance. I imagine with all the rehearsing they did, the babies were used to it so didn’t fuss. The congregation was invited to sing familiar carols with the choir. The program was a lot of fun.

A couple of weeks after I returned home, a gal in my singing group hosted a party for all of us. It was a potluck dinner consisting of ham, rolls, lasagna, and a variety of salads and desserts. I brought a Schwann’s chocolate cream pie which disappeared rather quickly. I was lucky to get one piece but glad I brought such a party pleaser.

After we ate, we practiced some songs we’ll sing for an event at the Methodist Church in March. We start regular practices this month.

When I heard that my writer friend, Joan Feagins, was giving a reading at Sugarland Ridge, I thought it would be a great idea to follow that with some music. The activity director agreed, and it was arranged. Residents enjoyed both Joan’s reading and my music, and I had a good time, too.

The next day, I performed at Westview’s monthly birthday party despite the fact that it was snowing pretty heavily. As the para-transit bus was driving me home afterward, we passed a car that had slid into a ditch and was being pulled out. I wondered if I should have stayed home, but the residents enjoyed my music. One gentleman who requested Christy Lane’s “One Day at a Time” told me I sang it a lot better than she did. In that case, it was worth it.

Well, that’s all the news I have for now. I hope your year is getting off to a great start. I’ll have more news next month.

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Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

Like me on Facebook.

 

News from Abbie’s Corner October 2016

Abbie-1

As I write this, it’s a beautiful Indian summer day in late September. The sun shines in a cloudless sky. Through my open front door, as I sprawl in my easy chair with my feet up, I hear the occasional car going by, dog barking, and a neighbor’s weed eater. Guitar music flows from my device’s speaker, courtesy of the public radio station in Billings, Montana, about 150 miles north of my home town of Sheridan, Wyoming. It’s 77 degrees, and the only thing that keeps me from writing outdoors is my tablet’s low battery.

By the way, I’m working with a new device, a BrailleNote Touch from Humanware. This is the world’s first Google-certified Braille tablet. I like this a lot better than my iPad. I don’t have to swipe, flick, double tap, or triple click. Although using the touch screen is an option, most functions can be performed with the Braille keyboard and thumb keys.

The down side is that it’s running an older version of Android, but most apps I’ve tried work pretty well, and the word processor is a lot better than other Braille note takers I’ve used. After I finish writing and proofreading this, I’ll upload it to Dropbox so I can access it on my computer, add finishing touches, and schedule it for posting. It’s nice not to be tied to my PC all the time.

Believe it or not, I’ve also been doing other things this month. On September 10th, Range Writers was pleased to have as a guest state poet laureate Eugene Gagliano. He did a wonderful presentation on character development and other aspects of writing. September 10th would have been our 11th wedding anniversary so I thought it only fitting that former poet laureate and dear friend Rose Hill read a poem she wrote for our wedding in memory of my late husband.

On September 17th, I attended a writing workshop in Buffalo, about 30 miles south of here. It was conducted by Lori Howe, University of Wyoming instructor and state humanities council road scholar. She gave us prompts and plenty of time to write and share our work. A poem I wrote during this time was posted here earlier.

On September 29th, I returned to Buffalo for a reception for Eugene Gagliano. Again, he did a great presentation where he talked about his life, read some of his work, and demonstrated some activities he does with children in the classroom. I had a great time.

Of course I’ve been busy singing as well. My group, Just Harmony, is working on Christmas music and already has several performances scheduled in December. On the 9th, I performed at Sugarland Ridge for a fall social. On the 27th, I sang at Westview for their monthly birthday party. I’ll be at Green House on October 4th and at Westview on the 25th. Sugarland Ridge has invited me back in November to do a reading and music in an attempt to promote my new book.

Speaking of which, I did a signing this month at Sheridan Stationery on the 24th and sold books in the lobby of the Sheridan Senior Center on the 27th. On October 8th, I’ll be part of a National Indie Author Day presentation at the library. I still have plenty of copies of My Ideal Partner to sell, and it’s also available online through Createspace, Amazon, Smashwords, and other sources.

Well, that’s all the news I have for now. Happy fall, everyone. I’ll be back next month with more news.

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Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

Like me on Facebook.

 

I’m a Star

I wanted to be a star ever since I sang Simon and Garfunkel’s “El Condor Pasa” while accompanying myself on piano in the Kiwanis Club Stars of Tomorrow contest in Sheridan, Wyoming, back in the 70’s. I was twelve years old at the time. A couple of years later, my younger brother Andy found an old paint can he used as a drum and a wood chip I pretended was a microphone. To hear me read a poem I wrote about that experience, visit https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/15213189/I%27m%20a%20star.mp3 .

Soon after that, Andy got a drum set. Our band moved from the front porch to the dining room with me on piano and vocals and Andy on drums. As a sophomore in high school, I again entered the Stars of Tomorrow contest. They had a silly rule that a younger person couldn’t accompany an older person so Andy couldn’t play the drums while I sang “You Light Up My Life,” accompanying myself on the piano. However, I could accompany Andy on piano while he played drums. In this fashion, we performed “You Don’t’ Have to be a Star to Be in My Show.” To hear the original sung by Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr., go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-nb9jJg_wIU . Andy didn’t win, but I took second place with my rendition of “You Light Up my Life.” Here’s what it sounded like. https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/15213189/you%20light%20up%20my%20life.mp3

After graduating from high school, I decided not to move to Nashville, New York, or L.A. and try to make it big. I went to college where I majored in music and eventually got into music therapy. For fifteen years, I worked in a nursing home, singing old standards like this one. https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/15213189/stormy%20weather.mp3 After fifteen years, I decided to become a writer when I married my late husband Bill.

Three months after our wedding, Bill suffered the first of two strokes that paralyzed his left side. I became a caregiver but found time to publish two books and write poems and stories and submit them to publications. Now that Bill is gone, I have more time for that and have published a third book and am working on a fourth. I still sing but not as often.

Recently though, I became a bit of a celebrity in my home town. I entered a talent competition connected with our monthly third Thursday festival that runs during the summer months downtown. To my surprise, I won and was asked to sing the national anthem at a polo match. Andy and his wife Christina, who were visiting from Florida, managed to catch most of my performance on video. The sound you’ll hear in the background is the wind, not bombs bursting in air as you might imagine. It may take a little longer for this one to come up when you click on it. https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/15213189/national%20anthem%20polo%207-26-2015.MOV

If you’re within the sound of my voice, I’ll be performing on the main stage at the next third Thursday festival in downtown Sheridan on August 20th. It’s located in front of the old Woolworth building on the corner of Main and Grinnell. My program will run from five to five thirty p.m. I’ll accompany myself on guitar instead of piano.

I’m not a super star like Olivia Newton-John or Debbie Boon, but that’s okay. I love to perform when I get a chance, and audiences love me. That’s what matters.

It’s the same with my writing. I’ve published three books with a fourth on the way, but I’m not a best-selling author. That doesn’t bother me. I love what I do, and my readers enjoy my work. As the song goes, “You don’t have to be a star.”

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author

Order That’s Life from Finishing Line Press.

Order That’s Life from Amazon.

Vote for my new book idea.

Books I Read This Month

It’s a Long Story: My Life by Willie Nelson. Copyright 2015.

This month, country super star Willie Nelson received a prestigious award from the Library of Congress along with Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, and Stevie Wonder. I thought it would be a good time to read his memoir.

He starts by talking about his early life growing up in Abbott, Texas, where he and his older sister Bobbi were raised by their grandparents because their parents, who were also musicians, did a lot of traveling. Willie took an interest in music at an early age. He describes how he felt after his grandfather died when he was about five or six. Soon after that, his grandmother made him sing a song at a church revival meeting. He was apparently so nervous that he picked his nose constantly before the performance, and by the time he got on the stage, blood was pouring out of his nostrils and onto his clean, white sailor suit. That earned him the nickname Booger Red.

As a teen-ager, he played in various bands that performed in bars and dance halls in the area. He curbed his grandmother’s disapproval of this by giving her the money he earned. His sister Bobbi became proficient at the piano while he played the guitar, and they often played together, even as adults.

After graduating from high school, Willie went to work trimming trees but gave up on that when he fell out of one. He then entered the Air Force in the hope of being a pilot in the Korean War but washed out a year or so later.

After returning home, he married the first of four wives, a waitress at a drive-in restaurant. She gave birth to three children, and the family traveled around Texas, California, and Oregon where Willie worked as a disc jockey and at other odd jobs and performed in various night clubs. Eventually, they settled in Nashville, Tennessee, where he got a job as a songwriter at a local music publishing house. That was when his career took off.

He then describes the next five decades of his career: what inspired him to write and record many of his songs and albums, associating with Waylon Jennings, Chris Christofferson, Johnny Cash, and others, the purchase of a myriad of properties in Tennessee, Texas, Colorado, and Hawaii, and his movie career. He describes his divorce from his first wife and his marriages to and divorces from two other wives before finally settling down with a make-up artist at one of the locations where he was filming in the 1990’s. He talks about giving up alcohol in 1971 after releasing “Whiskey River” and his continued use of marijuana. He explains how he wormed his way out of scrapes with the law as a result of his drug use and avoided many unhappy returns from the IRS by giving them all the proceeds from some of his concerts.

In the end, he talks about pot and his opinion of the music industry. He believes marijuana should be legalized and isn’t bothered by the fact that nowadays, with the use of music subscription services online, record sales are down. He never depended on royalties from the sale of his records but on the sale of tickets to his concerts. If people listen to his music on computers or smart phones, and that inspires them to hear him in person, that makes him happy.

The recording of this book I downloaded was produced by Hachette Audio. Although Willie doesn’t read the entire book in this recording, he narrates the introduction at the beginning, and at the end, there’s a recording of him singing one of his songs, “It’s a Long Story: My Life,” the same title as the memoir. To me, this isn’t as good as his other songs such as “Pauncho and Lefty,” “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before,” and all the songs from Stardust, my favorite Willie Nelson album which I still have on cassette.

On April 29th, 2015, Willie Nelson turned 82. One thing he loves to do is travel so here’s a song that illustrates this. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBN86y30Ufc . Willie Nelson is still on the road.

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Simple Dreams: A Musical Memoir by Linda Ronstadt. Copyright 2013.

Linda Ronstadt details her life from her birth and childhood in Tucson, Arizona, to her life as a singer in Los Angeles and New York, to her retirement. She talks about her childhood in Arizona: receiving her first pony at the age of five, her mother becoming paralyzed from the waist down, attending a parochial school, making music with her family, and how her music was influenced by her Mexican heritage and such artists as Frank Sinatra. When she decided to move to Los Angeles after graduating from high school in the 1960’s, her father presented her with his guitar and pointed out that as long as she had an instrument, she wouldn’t be hungry.

She then goes on to talk about her career over the next few decades until her last performance in 2009. She explains how her first band, The Stone Ponies, was formed and then describes how she performed with the Eagles and then a myriad of other artists including Emmie Lou Harris and Dolly Parton. She explains how her style evolved from country and rock to old standards and Mexican music.

There are a couple of things I didn’t like about the book. First of all, Linda tells her story mostly as a narrative with little dialog. Although I found her experiences fascinating, it would have been nice if she did more showing and less telling. Also, at the end of the book, she says that she lives in Tucson, Arizona, with her two children who are transitioning from being teen-agers to adulthood. I would like to have known if these children were her own or if she adopted them. If they were her own, who was their father?

The book also includes a discography that lists all the albums she recorded through the years. As a teen-ager, I listened to many of these albums on eight-track tape including Heart Like a Wheel and Prisoner in Disguise. In the 1980’s, I had a cassette recording of What’s New, her first album of old standards. Today, I still have on CD her first trio album with Dolly Parton and Emmie Lou Harris and Cansiones de Mis Padres, her first recording of Mexican songs.

My favorite Linda Ronstadt tune is “Heart Like a Wheel.” In the book, she describes how she fell in love with the song. I can see why. It touched me when I was thirteen, and today, it reminds me of my love for my late husband Bill and how I lost him. To hear it, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1OABmOJdMoU .

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Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author

Order That’s Life from Finishing Line Press.

Order That’s Life from Amazon.

Vote for my new book idea.