Category Archives: Poetry

Spotlight on the Rock and Roll Supermom: Marissa Bergen

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I’m extremely fortunate to have a few loyal friends and supporters of my little blog, especially considering that I have no particular background or expertise in music, about which I am ostensibly writing. All I really have is a burning passion for music and a strange desire to spill my guts to the world, no matter how painfully humiliating that may be. But the same can’t be said for the queen of all my blog buddies, rocker chick extraordinaire, Marissa Bergen. I mean, she obviously has the burning passion thing and the spill her guts thing too, but she also actually has some experience in the music biz that doesn’t involve playing the flute in band and taking piano lessons from the beehived Mrs. Sullivan. But enough cheap, sneaky plugs for my blog, let’s talk to Marvelous Marissa…

1. Tell us the story of how you started your band, Sisters Grimm – did you and your sister take music lessons, what motivated you, did your parents help and support you, etc.

Whenever someone asks me a question about what motivated me in music, I often recall a quote made by, I believe Nancy Wilson (although it could have been Ann) who said something like “All the girls wanted to marry the Beatles, we wanted to be the Beatles.”

My father was in the music industry and had a lot of successful accomplishments as a musician and producer. He actually had a brief stint with Wings. I guess growing up with that influence helped put my sister and I in a rock n’ roll direction, but my father began pulling away from our family when we were very young, until he eventually had no connection at all. So it was up to my poor mother to carry our guitars around and deal with our off key singing. She also gave us all of her vintage Beatles albums when we were in preschool and, yes, she was very supportive.

2. What were some of the best gigs you played and best experiences you had with the band?

Since we took our music career from New York to Los Angeles, I could list many music clubs in both cities that are awesome to play, but nothing compares to going on tour to a city where you don’t know anyone, and you’re being asked to sign CDs, T-shirts, various body parts… Probably the best of these experiences was in Savannah, GA. I remember when we got there someone had written ‘Sisters Grimm rocks’ on one of the paper towel dispensers in the bathroom. How awesome is that?

3. Tell us the story of how you moved to California – did you have a plan in place, did you have any connections in the music business, etc.

At the time we moved, Giuliani had just come into office and he had a huge campaign to clean up New York which meant closing many of the local rock clubs. A lot of New York musicians saw ‘an end’ coming and Los Angeles was a logical move, so we knew plenty of other musicians who also migrated from New York and it wasn’t hard to make connections. We didn’t really have a hard and fast plan as to where exactly we would live, work or gig, but we had people to stay with while we were looking for an apartment and the rest came together rather quickly.

4. How and why did you start blogging and writing poetry? Also, were you always into writing, or was this an interest that developed later?

Yes, I have always written. Obviously, the most notable outlet for my poetry was my songwriting, which was very ‘lyrics’ oriented. When I became a mom and we decided not to do the band anymore, I didn’t write for years. My husband was the one who suggested I start a blog and I guess I’m lucky that all those ideas and words were still there waiting for me.

5. You are a very prolific writer, maintaining a steady output of high quality work, sustained over a long period of time. Very impressive! How do you accomplish this?

I guess that is how my work appears to you and other readers, which I suppose is an intended effect. When I think of myself, I think I am like a miser who is creating ‘gems’ (or not) which I dole out very slowly and very stingily. I write every day, but if I published every day, it would probably be a bunch of crap. Also, I try to do the Word Press Weekly Challenges and Yeah Write Challenges every week. The writing prompts help.

6. You also cover a wide range of topics in your poetry, from family life, to the rocker chick life, to the unexpectedly profound and poignant. You draw deeply from the creative well, so to speak. How do you come up with such diverse and creative material?

Just my latent schizophrenic tendencies coming out I guess! But seriously, I’m just hard on myself that way. I think about what I want to write about, but I will abandon a topic if it is too similar to one I wrote about in the past. If I write a poem that is sad, I will try to make the next few poems funny ones to offset that. Most of my writing comes from real life experience.

7. It’s great to see that you are involved in your kids’ musical development through the School of Rock. Can you tell us more about this program and your involvement with it?

Yes, all part of a dastardly plan to have my children vicariously live out my rock n’ roll dreams! No, actually since my husband and I were both involved in the music industry, we were of a similar mind to get our children playing music as well. Currently our son attends the School of Rock, one of the many rock schools that seem to be getting more and more prevalent. The school includes lessons and performance. Along with my not so gentle prodding, he’s turning into a little rock star!

My daughter just did her first term of rock summer camp and it seems she has now been vaccinated by the victrola needle and is hooked on rock n’ roll! What have I done?!

Actually I should mention here that there is a nonprofit organization called the Rock School Scholarship Fund which helps lower and middle class families with the funding of rock school tuition. My husband and I have been very active with this organization for years and it has helped us become even more involved in the rock school community and it’s wonderful teachers and parents. You can learn more about the organization here: http://rockschoolfund.org/.

Thank you, Marissa!

One of the many things I admire about Marissa is her raw, cut-the-crap honesty. I like to see that, especially from a woman, because it’s kinda rare. And it’s powerful.¬† Reading Marissa’s poetry inspires me, because this kind of uncompromising artistic integrity is something that I want to accomplish in my own writing. In this little interview clip, you will see the stunningly beautiful Sisters Grimm – Marissa and her sister Victoria – talking about being in a girl band. And grrl power. ūüėČ

Be sure to visit Marissa’s blog, “Glorious Results of a Misspent Youth” (great title, Marissa)!

And one more thing – why do we need girl bands and grrl power, as young Marissa called it? I think a great man said it best…

Support Girl Bands!

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Filed under Art and Literature, Blogging, Music, Poetry, Uncategorized, Women

Hey, Cowboy.

Hey, cowboy, I sure like them boots,

and yeah, I like Wyoming too.

Thanks for asking, I love it lots,

and I see you’re doing tequila shots.

No, I won’t have one, but thanks again,

I gotta say no cause I might sin.

You laugh at me, you naughty guy,

okay, just one, then I must fly.

You sound surprised, cowboy Joe,

you say to stay and see the show.

I probably would but I sense danger,

okay, one more, you awesome stranger.

Yeah, I’m from the south, how could you tell?

You laugh again and I’m drunk as hell.

But set it up, barkeep, if you will,

my cowboy’s buying; here’s cash for the till.

It’s time to go, there’s no denying,

but you call me purdy and swear you ain’t lying.

And better even than all of that,

you laugh at my jokes and I’m wearing your hat.

Now my ride has gone and Yellowstone is pretty far,

from this little town and this cowboy bar.

You say you don’t mind, and I’m sure it’s true,

taking me on that motorbike with you.

So off we go, past the Tetons and into the park,

whizzing by buffalo grazing in the dark.

I bury my face in your leather,

our hair flies around us and ties up together.

I pretend that you are really my man,

and I live year round in this astonishing land.

But approaching the cabin I feel real shy,

and then you notice and ask me why.

I say I’m sorry I acted sluttier than I am,

and you could come in, but for my roommate, Pam.

This makes you smile though I can see,

that you’re a little mad at me.

I hardly know you so I can’t describe,

how Jesus and Granny watch me from the sky.

And how if I could hide then I would begin,

to live my life without thoughts of sin.

I’d rock your world, cowboy mine,

but there is something I will never find.

A shield twixt me and celestial eyes,

a cone of silence to mute my sighs.

An underground cave or a lead lined roof?

Wishful thinking, but what’s the use?

There is no place that will serve to save,

no hidden compartment or secret cave.

My actions are forever viewed,

And so, my cowboy, we are screwed.

 

And just for fun…a cowboy song. Well, it’s really about the cowboy’s girl, as is fitting…

 Questions? Comments? Please Share!

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Filed under Art and Literature, Music, Poetry, Uncategorized

Tell Me A Story: Western Themes

I was going to post a long,¬†sad tale¬†about how my first “real” job after college was a soul-crushing bore in which whey-faced office workers shuffled through the halls in¬†orthopedic shoes, queuing up in front of the restroom sinks to brush and floss their teeth after lunch every day, and how it barely paid me enough to keep me from eating off my Texaco credit card.

And then I was going to tell you how while desperately¬†looking for a new job in the classified ads, I found a little old lady who was giving away a houseful of paperback books, and how I got all excited, planning my escape from the Langolierseque office by means of opening a used book shop, and how I tediously carried all the books in the trunk of my car, all by myself, one load at a time, and stacked them in my parents’ garden shed, which subsequently developed a leak in the roof,¬†thus ruining¬†all the books, and smashing all my hopes and dreams of being freed from the Langoliers nightmare in which I spent my days.¬† At that point, I had no choice but to go on to doctoral school and give this whole professorin’ gig a¬†shot in order to get myself free.¬† After all, you gotta have a back up plan when the garden shed leaks and destroys your future.

But enough about that.¬† Let’s get on to the good stories. I really love a song that tells a story, don’t you?¬† I’m going to do a little series on what I call “story songs”, with a different theme each week.¬† We’ll start with a few songs about one of my favorite periods of history…westward expansion and cowboys¬†and the gold rush and such. The brilliant lyricist, Bernie Taupin, shares this fascination.¬† In fact, that’s why he’s been called “The Brown Dirt Cowboy”.¬† His love for the western U.S. and its history definitely influenced his writing, and this can be seen most clearly in one of my favorite albums, Tumbleweed Connection.¬† Here’s a fine example, “Burn Down the Mission”…

Here’s another Bernie classic, “Roy Rogers”, from another favorite album, Yellow Brick Road.¬† And Roy Rogers is riding tonight…

I could talk about Bernie and Elton all day, but let’s move on to another one of my favorite songs, and what I consider the ultimate¬†prospectin’ song, ¬†“Fire on the Mountain” by The Marshall Tucker Band.¬† They say heaven’s at the end, but so far it’s been hell..

And now, in tribute to the used book store that never was, and the young, book-besotted¬†girl that¬†worked so hard and so futilely¬†to make it happen, here’s a cool poem I found about girls who read.¬† And if you are one of my spinster cousins that claim to be reading my blog, please excuse the slightly coarse¬†language.¬† It’s worth it. From Roundhouse London, by Mark Grist.

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Filed under Art and Literature, Humor, Humour, Music, Poetry, Uncategorized

Moody Blues Guys

Moody Blues - Days of Future Passed

Moody Blues – Days of Future Passed (Photo credit: kevin dooley)

Moody Blues guys are so gentle; Moody Blues guys are so smart,
Moody Blues guys wear bell bottom jeans that smite the young girls through the heart.

Moody Blues guys live in cool houses that look much better than mine,
Their walls are papered with art prints; their floors are covered in pine.

Moody blues guys play their records whilst sitting cross-legged on the floor,
They burn their candles and incense and tell you “Je t’aime mon amour”.

Moody Blues guys don’t eat burgers, nor pork chops, nor steaks, nor fries,
They slowly sip at their red wine whilst running their hands up your thighs.

Moody Blues guys buy you flowers and snuggle you deep in the quilts,
They ask you to stay cause it’s cold out today and they never intend any guilt.

Moody Blues guys aren’t settled; they are dreaming of life far away,
You will miss the cold nights in white satin; you’ll wish and you’ll pray that they’ll stay.

But Moody Blues guys can’t do that; they’ve got big goals to achieve,
So you’ll let them go¬†though you want to say¬†no, and kiss them real hard when they leave.

For Moody Blues guys make great sweethearts, and better lovers and friends than most,
And¬†you’ll move along, though you’ll hear the old songs, then you’ll write a bad poem in a post.

Okay, I guess that pretty much sums up my story, unless you want to hear the details.¬† What’s that you say?¬† You’d like to hear just a few if I have the time?¬† Wow.¬† I knew I could count on you.¬† Well, I had a friend in the dorm my freshman year that came from a big family on the coast – eleven kids, to be exact.¬† Their dad bought a big, ramshackle, haunted house in the oldest part of¬†town for them all to live in when they came up for college.¬† Each kid got one year in the dorm then it was off to the haunted house with the others.¬† The house was really cool, compared to the dorms and¬†crummy apartments in which most of us lived.¬† It was¬†two stories,¬†with a glassed-in porch upstairs that served as one of the bedrooms, in which lived one of my friend’s older brothers – the Moody Blues guy.

The house was pretty much a bastion of non-stop collegiate-style revelry, as you can well imagine, I’m sure.¬† But the main attraction for me was the Moody Blues guy.¬† He was a little older than my¬†group – in his final year of graduate school¬†with big plans to move up north after graduation.¬† But during that one winter term, he introduced me to, among other things (like vegetarianism, for instance), a lot of great music – not just the Moody Blues, although that’s what stands out in my mind when I reflect back on those days.¬† The glassed-in porch was always freezing, and we would huddle under thick layers of quilts in front of the electric fire with our veggie lasagna and wine and listen to Days of Future Passed as if it was some kind of ancient¬†oracle or something.

It’s not necessary to be gentle, or smart, or vegetarian, or any of those other things in order to be a Moody Blues guy.¬† In fact, you don’t even have to be a guy to be a Moody Blues guy – I’m one myself.¬† It’s tough to choose just a couple songs¬†for my post.¬† I have quite a long list of favorites, some of which have to be omitted here, because I try (not always successfully)¬†to stick to a limit of three songs per post.¬† A couple of runners-up off the top of my head would be “Question” and “Tuesday Afternoon”.¬† But these are my top three.

Wished I could be in your heart,¬†to be one with your love.¬†¬† Wished I could be in your eyes;¬†looking back –¬†there you were.¬†Isn’t life strange?¬† A turn of the page…

“Watching and Waiting” is one of the most powerful songs I know.¬† I think it speaks to some deep loneliness; some central desire or need of the human heart.¬† Cause here, there’s lots of room for doing the things you’ve always been denied…

And, of course, the masterpiece.¬† I’m sure you’ll excuse me if I pass on this one, though.¬†¬†I don’t¬†listen to it much anymore.¬† Well, okay, what the heck, I may as well. I should be mature enough to handle it, now that most of my days of future have indeed passed.¬† Here we go…note that the video is a tribute to winter.¬† Right. Naturally. Perfect.

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Filed under Music, Poetry