Category Archives: Music

Ex-Girl Scout Finds Cause: No Cure Magazine

I’l admit I was never a big fundraising person. Call it my shyness, or being a little too empathetic to put people on the spot. Call it, Beth – someone who watched her dreams of earning Girl Scout badges slip away… all because I wouldn’t sell the d*mn cookies. (On the bright side, our freezer was a wonderland of Thin Mints and Savannahs.)

I never would have guessed that one day, something I truly believed in would pop up, in need of my help – NO CURE MAGAZINE. It’s an online publication I write for, that gives innovative design, art and music, a platform to be seen and heard; and artists, a voice they may not otherwise have. The editor, Mark Zeidler, is like any one of us who has a big dream: he’s spent countless hours bringing this piece to life bi-monthly, as well as whatever’s in his back pocket. But it’s slowly paying off: Mark is on the brink of taking No Cure to print across booksellers and News Agents (that’s stores that sell magazines, to my US friends). This is a tremendous opportunity to keep innovations moving, artists creating, exposure happening. This is especially crucial during a time when arts funding is often cast to the wayside.

Using the Pozible website (an awesome, community forum that lets you pledge the amount of your choice to make creative projects happen), No Cure has been running a fundraising campaign with the financial goal of $6000 to get the magazine printed. Currently, we’re just under $1500 away from making this happen. The catch: we only have 5 days left, to do so.

So… (insert ackward, foot-swooshing Beth here) if you’re a big believer in keeping the arts scene alive and thriving, consider donating the amount of your choice to this project by clicking here. If you’re anything like me, you’ll love the no-pressure situation of the Pozible site – it’s totally legit, and whatever amount you donate is processed ONLY if our $6000 goal is reached. You’ll also have the chance to receive some pretty cool incentives if you donate anywhere from $5 and up.

And even if you don’t wish to make a donation, check out Pozible anyway for even more creative projects on the brink of existence – with your help. Or, if you have an idea you’d like to get off the ground, Pozible could be your platform.

This is a time where paying it forward could have a big payoff, if you truly believe in the arts.

Thanks so much for your consideration, and for listening.

Happy creating!

Beth xo

No Cure

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Where I Know My Way

courtesy of last.fm

Matthew Sweet

Looking at the sun
waiting for you
to appear

-Matthew Sweet

Yesterday, Matthew Sweet was the answer for me.

I was having one of those days where you’re just having trouble focusing. It’s hard, sometimes, when there are lots of little worries and what ifs and wishes on your mind. And especially when you’re living in a foreign country for two-and-a-half years, and still have little “freedoms” from back home that you’re missing. Like being able to drive (which I am working on) just to, say, run to the post office or go to a beauty appointment when you simply don’t feel like walking or biking. Or just wanting to talk to your Mom or a bestie back home, but darn that time difference. And the list goes on.

The feeling of constant climbing can be a frustrating one. Like life, there is always something. And when you’re in a situation like mine, you blame it on: It’s because I’m not in Minneapolis. You know, deep down, that these little issues can be solved. But some days you’re simply just sick of yet another hill to climb over. Like when I’m riding home from work in the dark and I’ve got that last hill before the turnoff to my house – what feels like a 90-degree angle and as the Aussies say, “I just can’t be bothered.”

And then, as life goes, you sleep on it and feel better the next day. You lean on the support of those around you. You learn about going into “the moment” as soon as you feel those worries start to pile up into one large glob. You give yourself a day of walking in the sunshine in your favourite part of town – alone. For me, it’s about bringing back those little pieces of life from my past that used to “fill” me. Having time by myself. Buying myself a very American Subway sandwich. Coming home to write about it.

And listening to Matthew Sweet, the soundtrack from my past. The “Girlfriend” album. The songs I know by heart; songs I can have for myself, which all the 24-year-olds that surround me at work are too young to know about. It’s about having something that’s mine.  Something that takes me back home, where I know my way. Home, where I’m strongest. Home, where I’m me at my best.

I love and respect my home here in Australia, too, and can appreciate how my life is growing and changing in beautiful ways. But I think it’s fair to pay homage to where I came from, and why I am the person I am today. I think it’s okay to acknowledge I miss the place sometimes, and then let go. Because this is where I need to be right now. So, I make the very best I can of it, and incorporate as much of “me” as I can – at all times.

‘Cause I need to
get back in the arms
of a good friend.

-Matthew Sweet


Ascent to Descent

April Poem Post #5 – What poem gives you comfort at a funeral?

My best friend, Andy, died Easter night on April 12, 2004, at age 29. He was everything a friend could want. The kind of person who always encouraged you and consistently told you how “proud he was” of your accomplishments, big or small. Besides his family and friends, music was Andy’s life. He taught band to school kids, played drums and sang in numerous rock groups throughout his twenties. Much more than aspiring to make it big as a musician, Andy played music for the sheer joy it gave him. For that and many other reasons, Andy inspired me then, and still to this day. Even though he is no longer with me in a physical sense, I can honestly say I still feel him cheering me on with my passion, writing. So today, I honor and thank my dear friend with a poem I wrote for him.

***

Ascent to Descent
By Beth Greshwalk

I. Descending

I miss your voice, not your music.

I miss the way your face bloomed when I
walked into a room. And whenever

we met, I was somewhere in between
my birthday all over again and

knowing I could die happy right then
and there. How could I have known you would

go first? Had I been there it would have
been my voice you heard, not the scraping

of strings, the beating of drums, the
shattering of cymbals, now the symbol

of everything you stood for, to everyone
but me.

Still, the metronome, keeping the beat,
my feet tap, I sigh, waiting for the

elevator to arrive, to take
me up and down like another day

without you. Gravity has pulled my
rock into the ground to stay. And still,

the show goes on without you.


II. Treading Rabbits

Did you say your rabbit rabbit rabbit
today? she asked. It is an old Druid

custom to say rabbit rabbit rabbit
at the first of each month. Good luck will come

to you. I replied, do you believe in
signs?

I looked out my window into darkness
but was struck by

the sight of a rabbit, alone, sleeping

against the brick wall of the apartment
next door, yards away, furry head burrowed

in its chest. One glance, oh cute, and I walked on,
into the gray light of the kitchen, grabbed

some papers from the table, then turned back,
nearly passing by the window, when

suddenly, there was the rabbit, now up
on its hind legs, right below my window,

staring up at me. I began to laugh
and cry at the same time, and said I knew

it was you, I knew it was you, because
that was how he would have done it–

Andy, animal lover, corny jester, who,
only that morning, had died instantly.

I tapped on the glass, and Andy-Bunny
would not move. For he’d heard me earlier,

begging for a sign that he was still here,
with me. After three minutes, the

rabbit     rabbit     rabbit

ran off

to live everywhere

but in the shadows.


III. Rock Bottom

Dirt upon my lips, the kiss that would
have healed a cardiac infection,

I pressed in to your stone cold face,
and the wind, your breath blown

across the marble frame for your name
caressed by my mouth that filled the depth

of your letters forever will I taste your dust
and say I love you, I love you,

because you know everything else,
and nod your lantern in agreement.

Had I a blanket with me, I would have slept
next to you, on your tear-drenched roof,

soaked through my jeans and your sweatshirt,
sunk so deep that I could have been back

in your basement again, talking music.

***
“He jumped in to life and never touched the bottom.”
-Epitaph of Andy Kieley (1975-2004)


For Brian.

April Poem Post #3 – What is the best romantic poem you’ve ever encountered?

Song lyrics have always been my deep-seeded poetry throughout the different stops on my quest for real love with a partner. I used to make mixed tapes with tracks containing lyrics like “All I want is you” (U2) and “If we died right now, this fool you love somehow is here with you” (Smashing Pumpkins). I was in love with someone each time I gave these little gifts away, but I was also infatuated with the hopes that this person was The One. They weren’t just expressions of my devotion; they were prayers: If all else fails, can this song please help remind us of the passion we hold for one another? Can these lyrics please reflect what we are together, or what we will become?

Looking back, I realize that the many songs I gave were ideas of what I thought lifelong commitment was supposed to look like. Before one person, many years later, helped me uncover what unconditional love actually meant to me:

Someone who has seen you at your worst, perhaps even more than once, and holds you anyway.
Someone who much prefers to walk with you, than away from you.
Someone who still sees the good in you, no matter what.
Someone who knows forgiveness without even thinking about it.
Someone who lets you drench their pillow in tears, without even turning it over.

So when I was searching the right words to be read at my wedding, this “poem” by a band called The Magnetic Fields most purely defined the love I would commit to, forever, without condition:

Asleep and Dreaming
I’ve seen you laugh at nothing at all
I’ve seen you sadly weeping
The sweetest thing I ever saw
Was you asleep and dreaming

Well you may not be beautiful
But it’s not for me to judge
I don’t know if you’re beautiful
Because I love you too much

I’ve seen you laugh at nothing at all
I’ve seen you sadly weeping
The sweetest thing I ever saw
Was you asleep and dreaming

I’ve seen you when your ship came in
And when your train was leaving
The sweetest thing I ever saw
Was you asleep and dreaming

***
Romance certainly sets the mood. But Real is what really gets me, now.

 


Singing Words of Wisdom

Einstein and E = m • c2. Edison and the phonograph. The Wright Brothers and the airplane.

Thacker and telemarketer entertainment.

This morning, as I was checking emails and reading celebrity gossip at my desk, I heard the slightly muffled sound of Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Can’t Stop”—my husband’s ringtone—coming from his office. I immediately tuned it out, thinking it was probably another parent calling Brian to make school holiday plans with his daughter. That was until I heard the opening bars of a very well-known song soaring from my partner’s piano, followed by some pretty slick vocals: When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me…

Courtesy of Beatlesbooks.com

I dashed out in my sock-monkey slippers to see if it was in fact true, and there was Brian, standing at the piano, singing his very best Paul McCartney. And sitting on the edge of the keyboard, his upturned mobile phone. I immediately covered my mouth to sustain my giggles and mimed, “Is it a telemarketer?” Brian gave me a quick nod as he finished the chorus, then—or was it Elvis incarnate—leaned into the receiver and said, “Thank you, thank you very much, you’ve been a great audience.” And with no sound on the other end, he hung up.

Now I don’t mean any disrespect to telemarketers. I know I shouldn’t generalize, but I am willing to wager a good number of them don’t love their jobs and simply have quotas to make. I feel for them. I myself have had to endure many a customer service gig, and will admit Brian was being just a little bit cheeky. But given the choice between swear words and words of wisdom? Hmmmm… (Oh, to be a fly on the wall at the other end of that receiver.)

The point of this story is that Brian inspired me today. It was just another example of how letting a bit of light in—or in Brian’s case, humor—can turn a little life disruption into what it really is. The small stuff.

And a good story the telemarketers can tell over cocktails later.


Rock ‘n Regular: Redefining the Transcendence of Music

This week I saw Cameron Crowe’s Pearl Jam Twenty, a film exploring the 20-year career of one of my all-time favourite bands. After being awestruck by Crowe’s heartfelt and honest rockumentary, I couldn’t help but envy the writer. The man makes a living by combining two of his greatest passions, writing and music, and Pearl Jam Twenty is just one example.

Crowe/Vedder

We can all recall Singles, that modern-day romantic comedy starring the Seattle grunge scene from soundtrack and “live” club performances, to Pearl Jam’s role as Matt Dillon’s band, Citizen Dick. There was also the unforgettable Almost Famous, a semi-autobiographical movie about a young journalist touring with a band on the brink of stardom. Crowe’s then-wife, Nancy Wilson (former member of Heart) composed the entire score for the film. Music geeks like me would also spot alt-musician Mark Kozelek in the role of Larry, a band member. (Kozelek’s non-mainstream single, “Have You Forgotten?” would also have a cameo in Crowe’s remake of Vanilla Sky.) I once had the honour of chatting – or rather, gushing – to Kozelek after a show, and asked him what it was like to work with Cameron Crowe. The musician looked at me quite blankly. “Well you know, he’s like, a regular guy.”

Which really begs the question, how does Crowe do it? Or rather, how does he do it without being completely starstruck in the presence of these talented and often quite charismatic beings? Or maybe it’s just me. While Crowe has not only established the art of playing it cool but also becoming friends with a band, I’m the shrieking fan who once waited in line at a Best Buy store for the Foo Fighters to autograph a poster—and asked a wincing Dave Grohl if I could plleeeaase shake his hand.

When I was in college in the mid-nineties, I actually had the opportunity to interview my first band for my university’s Arts and Entertainment newspaper. Naturally, I chose a local alt-country group I was in love with at the time, called The Billy’s (apostrophe intended). Like Crowe, I wanted more than anything to be a rock journalist, so I spent my dorm cafeteria wage on a mini cassette recorder and a new red top. After anxiously arriving backstage for the interview, my 21-year-old body nearly passed out at the lead singer’s first words. “Do you want a beer?”

In my defence as a journalist, I did ask them your standard, thoughtful questioning in between sips of Rolling Rock: How did you guys get together? Describe your songwriting process. But fulfilling my curiosity proved way too much of a kick, because I undoubtedly answered every word they said with dreamy eyes and some elaborate variation of, “Wow.” The band’s reaction? Well, in the chuckling words of an exasperated guitarist: “We’re NOT that great.” He said this more than once, as though I’d really missed the boat on this band. I was dumbfounded.

To me, the music of The Billy’s meant dancing just below the stage with a girlfriend at a parking lot show, homecoming weekend. Like any band I loved, they gave me that escape, that retreat right into…the moment. I was right there, never losing myself in a daydream when I could instead immerse myself into rootsy hooks and pull-up-a-barstool lyrics. I absorbed the melody as though it were my last chicken Pad Thai. And although I undoubtedly took home some hearing loss, I couldn’t get enough of that loud, pulsating bass in my chest. It was rock, but it meant calm. My mind would only begin to analyse after the show, when I wished that I too could be a local rock musician. There would be no need to make a dime. Happiness was all of this.

I wanted to tell this band’s story to everyone because I honestly appreciated what they gave to me. And if doing so could sell them a couple more CDs, it was my way of giving back. I don’t think I’m the only one who’s longed for a life that lets you do what you love while making a difference for even one person. Or a five-piece ensemble.

Gossard/Vedder

Through the years, I’ve become much better at extinguishing those fanatical fireworks when approaching musicians. Sure, it’s been a process. You meet some. You may accidentally smooch one or two, like Penny Lane. But through age and experience, I’m finally able to take that step back—well, most of the time—and remember that musicians are also human, complete with questionable flossing habits and sometimes, day jobs.

Still, I will always look up to bands. It’s not just that otherworldliness quality of their art. It’s that they’re out there, creating, because they love it. As Crowe learned from Pearl Jam and I discovered through the Billy’s, these bands recognise their art as a gift. A lifeline. And so they treat it as such—with or without a paycheck. Which is the way it should be.

Some of us just learn later than others.