Thursday, May 30, 2013

Not too tart, not too sweet...

Back in the late 70s, Country Time lemonade mix was always being advertised on television.  I remember the old guy who played "grandpa" would always say Country Time was "not too tart, not too sweet".

Last night, I was in a goofy mood.  I've had a bad writing week and when I have a bad writing week, I often turn to my other outlet, music.  I like to sing.  A couple of months ago, I went back to a hobby I had dropped a few years ago, karaoke.  I used to do karaoke in bars, which is a lot of fun because there's usually an audience who will react to the song choice or performance.  Nowadays, I don't do karaoke in bars because we live in the boonies.  Besides, karaoke in bars can get both expensive and icky, since a lot of singers are hyper-competitive.  Mix in alcohol with that competitiveness and you can end up in an uncomfortable situation.  

So a couple of months ago, I went back to SingSnap, which is an online karaoke site.  I was one of the original members of that site when it started in 2006, but when they dramatically raised their prices and started having licensing issues with some of their songs, I quit participating there.  I had sort of forgotten about the place until one of the regular readers on my music blog said he was curious about my voice.  He wanted me to post something on YouTube.  I hate the way I look on camera and initially balked, but he persisted.  I finally remembered SingSnap and went back.  I discovered that I can sing on SingSnap and not have to be on camera.  

The prices had come down to a more reasonable level.  I remembered how much fun it was to have a musical outlet.  I re-instated my membership and even purchased a gizmo that allowed me to connect a good quality microphone to my computer so I don't have to use the crappy built in one.

So I've been having fun with SingSnap and yesterday, I spent a couple of hours there perfecting some of my favorite songs from the 70s and 80s.  My husband came home and, since our TV is now on the fritz for some weird reason, I sang him a few songs.  

I asked him if he thought I had a sweet voice.  He said yes.  I asked him if he thought I had a sweet personality.  He said no.  And that made me think of Country Time Lemonade, a drink my mom used to make for me quite a lot when I was a little kid.  I remember big pitchers of it and how I used to suck it down when I was thirsty.  It never occurred to her to suggest water; not that our water, which came from a well, was something you'd want to drink a lot of.  

Watching this ad from 1980, I wonder if the young man in it is Ed Begley Jr.  It kind of looks like him...

It's been a really long time since I was a connoisseur of powdered soft drinks like Kool-Aid and Country Time lemonade... or the cheap knock off, Wyler's, which was pitched by Roy Clark.  Roy Clark is actually kind of relevant in another roundabout way.  I went to college near where he was born and he's sort of a local hero.  The small hospital in the town where I attended college has an emergency room that is dedicated to him, complete with a commemorative plaque.

Roy Clark is in this ad...

After I graduated, Roy Clark started doing performances with the choir I was a member of in college.  They even released a couple of CDs.  Leave it to me to graduate before things got really exciting.

Anyway, SingSnap is a nice diversion for me when I need a break from writing.  I don't make any money from music.  Indeed, though I have done a couple of weddings, music is something I do entirely for fun.  It's always been that way, even when I was in college and was asked if I'd rather be a music major than an English major.  I figured I'd have a better chance of being employed if I majored in English.  The funny thing is, though, now I think if I had tried to be a musician, I might have actually had some success.  

I have a cousin who is a professional musician and while I don't think he's wealthy yet, he seems to be doing alright.  He plays in a very popular band in Virginia and they are consistently booked.  While I can't play instruments the way he does, I have some talents that he doesn't have.  For instance, I have perfect pitch and about a three and a half octave vocal range.  On some days, I can almost hit four octaves... but as I'm aging, those days are becoming fewer and farther between.  I'm finding I'm preferring the lower pitched songs lately, anyway.  Maybe in a former life, I was a jazz singer.

Music does something else for me.  It helps me get over being depressed.  I have struggled with depression and anxiety for most of my life.  It hasn't been really debilitating since the late 1990s or so, but it's always kind of lingering there in the subconscious.  I find that singing helps me keep it at bay.  That's another reason why I don't sing professionally, because I like to keep music as something I do strictly for recreation.  When I was dealing with significant clinical depression, I started taking voice lessons to give myself something to focus on besides being down.  Singing comes naturally to me and releases stress.  So that was a good thing, because it reminded me that despite all the other things that were going wrong at that time, singing was something I could do right and without a lot of effort.

I also notice that I don't tend to focus on both things at the same time.  Like, if I'm really involved in a writing project, I don't do a lot of music.  If I'm doing a lot of music, I don't write as much.  So, though this has been kind of a bad week for writing, it's been a good week for music.  Maybe that's what I will focus on for awhile.      


  1. I found your excellent blog via Epinions because you wrote a glowing review of my book, MOM SAID KILL. You've probably been getting more hits on it lately as DEADLY SINS and DEADLY WOMEN both did adaptations of the book for television.
    You and I share much in common, except I have no musical talent whatsoever. I too have suffered from clinical depression and anxiety, along with ADD and "Naivety Paradox" -- some hereditary, and others the result of a childhood head injury. I did get a kick out of your upsetting reaction to low ratings on your camera review. Imagine my dismay on getting one star hyper-critical "troll" reviews of MOM SAID KILL after you wrote such a positive review. Sadly, I let the cruel comments about my book(s) -- the low star ones by people who never read it anyway put me in severe depression. It effected my writing on FATAL BEAUTY, and my editor warned me NEVER to read the reviews on Amazon. "The only review that matters," she said, "is the one from your editor when she asks you to write more books and sends you a contract." Wise advice. You write well, and I enjoy your blog tremendously.
    Burl Barer

  2. Hi Burl,

    You have NO IDEA how nice it is to read your comment today! Thank you so very much for stopping by! I have had a really discouraging week, so to get such a kind comment from an author is really fantastic... especially since this blog is a bit on the personal and profane side!

    I don't think I could bear to read Amazon reviews if I published anything there. People there can be BRUTAL.

    Thank you so much for the encouragement; it is much appreciated. I hope you'll stop by again!


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