The Muses

As my best friend, Mary, just sent me a link to Ted Yoder’s video playing Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”, and seeing as Saturday mornings are a little more rushed than the rest of the week (most days I go into work at 2:30 p.m.; Saturdays it is 8 a.m.), I thought this might be a little fun.

I picked up the guitar for the first time at age 15, have been singing for almost as long and, more recently, picked up the Appalachian Dulcimer. I would love to learn the Hammered Dulcimer, as Mr. Yoder is playing in the video, as well as the Celtic harp, banjo, bowed psaltery, piano, penny whistle, ukulele, and mandolin but that’s neither here nor there. I am a firm believer in that old adage: Music is Magick. And, while the room is typically silent (i.e. no music playing) when I write, there is usually something playing when I go about my chores on the farm. Whether I’m putting together another raised bed, mucking out the goat barn, or planting some new herbs, the portable CD player is set up and is blaring out a good dose of motivation. Surprisingly, though I spent a number of years playing lead guitar and lead vocals for metal bands, my muses are an eclectic mix. Hopefully, these are some of your favorites, too:

REO Speedwagon – This has been my all-time favorite band since I was a young girl of maybe 14. Teenage hormones played a part; I had Kevin Cronin wallpaper in my room…and in my locker. But his sweet voice, combined with Gary Richrath’s searing guitar solos and some great songwriting, have kept them at the top of my list. As an aside, thanks, Hassan, for the reminder of the purple corduroy jacket I used to wear with REO boldly emblazed across the back of it; I had almost forgotten about that jacket. =)

Kate Bush – One of–if not THE–biggest selling female artist in the UK; sadly, she is not so well-known here in the US but her music is awesome. And her hits, “Wuthering Heights”, “Running Up That Hill” and “This Woman’s Work” have been re-recorded by more artists than I can shake a stick at.

Blackmore’s Night – I have loved Richie Blackmore’s music ever since Rainbow shared the stage with REO Speedwagon at the original Busch Stadium in St. Louis, MO on August 14, 1982 (Superjam ’82). Ironically, Rainbow was the one band I wasn’t looking forward to on the bill that day; I came away thinking they were second only to REO. Richie’s playing ability just can’t be denied. As for Blackmore’s Night, their second album, “Under a Violet Moon” had just been released when I found myself in a small bookstore in Danielson, CT. The owner of the store had the CD playing over the PA system and I found Candice Night’s voice to be so beautifully haunting, I forgot all about the books and had to ask him who it was. I received quite a compliment when he said I was probably too young to know who Richie Blackmore was! =) I’ve been collecting their CD’s ever since and Candice’s voice just seems to get better and better–as does her songwriting and multi-instrumental abilities.

Within Temptation – Yup. Now we get to the metal–symph metal, but metal nonetheless. I’ve only been a fan for couple of years; I went through a sort of media coma for awhile. But their songs are incredibly well-written and I’d give anything for a range like Sharon Den Adel’s. Their rendition of Kate Bush’s “Running up that Hill” is beyond any words I can find to describe it. They made it their own without taking away any of the beauty of the original–and it sounds GOOD as a metal tune. Who’d’ve thought I’d be banging my head to Kate Bush???

Doro – the Queen of Metal is always a favorite.

Dan Fogelberg – I knew his music but not as intimately as I do today until I met my second husband, Dan. He is a huge Fogelberg fan and, through him, though we have since parted, so am I. Fogelberg was one of those musical geniuses that just didn’t get the recognition they deserved. You all know at least one of his hits but the name hasn’t always stuck. And he was taken from us too soon. God bless you & keep you, Mr. Fogelberg!

Crystal Gayle – I keep hoping my locks of love will respond through some sort of weird osmosis and grow down to the floor like hers whenever I listen to her. With a Vitamin D deficiency giving me the incredible shrinking hairline, it hasn’t happened yet but I’m not giving up. And I enjoy her music even if I don’t have those incredible tresses.

Sarah Brightman – It was her light rock/easy listening CD’s that turned me on to her; who’d’ve thought this metalhead would actually take a liking to her opera CD’s as well! She has one extraordinary voice. And what an incredible duet with Kiss’ Paul Stanley on the album, Symphony: I Will Be With You (Where the Lost Ones Go). I’ve always liked Kiss but I’ve never really paid close enough attention to Paul Stanley–he has an amazing voice. And the two blend well together.

Hayley Westenra – Another with a Kate Bush re-make of “Wuthering Heights”. She does it justice though.

Francesca Battistelli – Another awesome voice, this time heading up the Christian rock genre. Her song “Beautiful” is exactly that.

Kristen Lawrence – The pipe organ set to rock and New Age. I always get a few odd looks when I listen to Lawrence as there are cats howling and church bells chiming along with the pipe organ – and who can resist a musical rendition of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven”?

Vienna Teng – A little bit like Tori Amos with a little Carly Simon mixed in. She’s an extraordinary pianist with a lovely voice and tremendous songwriting ability.

Nightwish – Another metal band that delivers some great music. Loved them with Tarja fronting them–especially their re-make of Gary Moore’s “Over the Hills and Far Away”; loved them even more with Anette Olzon.

Tarja – Love her even more as a soloist

The West Girls – an obscure act; a mother and three daughters, all multi-instrumentalists who combine gospel and bluegrass, selling their CD’s off of their website, Somehow, you can’t not want to plant some veggies when grooving out to their single, “Green Beans in the Garden”. =)

Dolly Parton
Wade Hayes
Tori Amos
Flora Reed
Johnny Cash
John Denver
Olivia Newton-John
Russell Cooke
George Winston
Lorie Line
Cara Dillon
Loreena McKennett
Secret Garden
Peter Gabriel
Duran Duran

Well, I think that’s it. I will probably remember more but those are the main ones. Rock on…or, for those of us homesteaders with goats and praying for sheep, Flock On!

May God bless you & keep you!

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