Category Archives: Stuck in the Car with Leesha

To sir, with love

Return of the summer music series – stuck in the car with Leesha

Summer has returned, and with it comes those long road trips accompanied by “are we there yet?” and “do we have to listen to this song?”  Or in my case, scream-singing lyrics (with lots of solos), discussing the meaning of songs, and random song factoids.

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Today’s song – “To Sir, with Love,” by Lulu is in honor of the school year being officially over…unless you’re a grad student torturing yourself with summer classes (why did I think that was a good idea?).

I’ve had a lot of professors and teachers over the course of my life, but (as with many of us) – there’s one teacher who really made a difference.  The one who believed in you and pushed you to do more than you thought possible.  For me – it was a high school teacher and his name is such an excellent novel character name – Captain Jim (he was in the military before becoming a teacher).  The subject?  Dreaded math.  The back story: other teachers told me and three other girls that we were hopeless in math and therefore should take an “easy” statistic class our junior year to fulfill our credit obligations.  He was an excellent teacher and saw something in us that the other teachers missed.  We excelled in AP Statistics and our senior year, took AP Statistics II, Pre-calculus, and Calculus (yep,  that’s not a typo, it was in the same year).  As for me…well, the girl who was told she couldn’t be taught math, now does math for a living.

Thanks Captain Jim (and all the teachers like you), you really did make a difference.  To sir, with love.

Those school girl days of telling tales
And biting nails are gone
But in my mind I know
They will still live on and on

But how do you thank someone
Who has taken you from crayons to perfume?
It isn’t easy, but I’ll try
If you wanted the sky
I would write across the sky in letters
That would soar a thousand feet high
To Sir, with love

The time has come for closing books
And long last looks must end
And as I leave I know
That I am leaving my best friend

A friend who taught me right from wrong
And weak from strong
That’s a lot to learn, what
can I give you in return?

If you wanted the moon
I would try to make a star
But I, would rather you let me give my heart
To Sir, with love

In case you didn’t know, “To sir, with love,” is from a movie with the same title about a teacher making a difference in an inner city school…and shamefully, I haven’t seen it yet. But Amazon is shipping it to me…so the problem will soon be fixed.  🙂

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Summer Music Series – V

Summer Music Series (Episode V)

IMG_2096I sing in the car, I can’t help it.  I mean, I can help it..it is possible – if it’s a really short trip or if we’re still in that part of our relationship where I’m nervous of what you’ll think of my singing.  But otherwise, I’m singing along (loudly) to songs and chattering away about songs, memories, or whatever pops into my mind.

Today…a complicated song for me.

If we were in the car, when the first notes of this song sail out of my speakers, I would put my hand over the song information and ask you two questions – name the song and if you’re a bit of a movie person like me, name what movie it’s from.

But alas, you’re reading this and we are not in the car.  So I’ll have to forgo that bit and just tell you – the name of the song is “let my love open the door,” and my question of what movie it’s from is actually a trick one.  Tricksy hobbit (in case you didn’t know, I’m kind of a nerd).

The song is in a few movies, but the two that showcase the song the best (in my humble opinion) are “Look who’s talking,” yep, it’s the song in the very beginning when she’s literally in the process of getting pregnant (more on this later).   And “Dan in real life,” when Steve Carell pretty much serenades Juliette Binoche with an acoustic guitar (it’s toward the end of the clip below).  What is it about guys serenading with acoustic guitars?  It’s like my kryptonite.

<Sigh>  Leesha, why are you so sappy?

Anyway – over a year ago and in many ways, in another lifetime, I was married and trying to start a family.  Actually, I’d been trying for quite some time and that year, I started fertility treatment.  I’ll condense all of that to say, that I got to the step where doctors perform a procedure to help you get pregnant and after said procedure, I had to lie on a table for 5-10 minutes.   So what did I do?  Well, because it’s me, I brought my iPad and read a romance novel.  But also because of “look who’s talking” and because I’m silly (and wanted all the luck I could get), I played this song.  The silliness of playing the song made me smile during a tense and confusing time – wanting something so badly that is supposed to come naturally and being alone (my ex didn’t come with me) in the doctor’s office weren’t much fun.  In the end, the procedure didn’t take and a few weeks later, for different reasons, my marriage was over (but that’s a story for another day).

And then, I began to listen to this song in a different way.  Not as a silly homage in my quest for a baby, but about my life and myself.  You see, I’ve always been a champion for lost causes and lost people.  My dad used to joke about it when I was younger – if there was a sad soul in my vicinity, it wasn’t long before I was lending my heart out to them, bringing them home, and trying to make them feel better.  I used to be the type of girl who would have sung this song about someone who needed to be healed and who I wanted to help.

In the middle of my divorce, I realized the irony of it all.  How often when I was young, I would try to patch up the wounded souls I came across in my journey, and now, many years later, it seems I’d become my own wounded soul to save.

So, I began to sing the song about myself – but not about how I was waiting for someone to come along and save me.  Honey, please.

I sang it about saving myself and that’s what I did (and continue to do).

Let my love open the door,” by Pete Townshend

When people keep repeating
That you’ll never fall in love
When everybody keeps retreating
But you can’t seem to get enough

Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door
To your heart

Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door

When everything feels all over
Everybody seems unkind
I’ll give you a four leaf clover
Take all worry out of your mind

Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door
To your heart

Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door

I have the only key to your heart
I can stop you falling apart
Try today, you’ll find this way
Come on and give me a chance to say

Let my love open the door, it’s all I’m living for
Release yourself from misery
There’s only one thing gonna set you free
That’s my love, that’s my love

Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door

When tragedy befalls you
Don’t let it drag you down
Love can cure your problems
You’re so lucky I’m around

Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door
To your heart

Summer Music Series IV

  
I love driving around with music blaring, singing along (loudly), and telling stories. It’s what makes long road trips so much more bearable (than the alternative of long stretches of weird silence). 

This one song always makes me think of babies, well the artist did write it after the birth of his daughter, and I’ve been humming it to myself since finding out that my sister was pregnant those many, many months ago. And I’m happy to say that she gave birth last week to a healthy baby boy, making me an Auntie for the very first time. 🙂

I’ve visited them since and I’m glad to report that the new mommy, daddy, and baby boy are doing wonderfully.  So here’s a song for all of the parents out there, either celebrating and welcoming a life into the world or just celebrating the miracle of your children. 

“Isn’t she lovely,” by Stevie Wonder

Isn’t she lovely

Isn’t she wonderful

Isn’t she precious

Less than one minute old

I never thought through love we’d be

Making one as lovely as she

But isn’t she lovely made from love


Isn’t she pretty

Truly the angel’s best

Boy, I’m so happy

We have been heaven blessed

I can’t believe what God has done

Through us he’s given life to one

But isn’t she lovely made from love


Isn’t she lovely

Life and love are the same

Life is Aisha

The meaning of her name

Londie, it could have not been done

Without you who conceived the one

That’s so very lovely made from love

 

me and the little guy
 

Stuck in the car with Leesha (Summer Music Series III)

IMG_2096Summer is the season for long car trips and if you’re traveling anywhere with me, you can be sure of singing…and talking about memories (or trivia) associated with songs.

“I Just Called To Say I Love You” – written and performed by Stevie Wonder

Late one night when I was a young kid, our telephone shrilled to life.  There are a lot of things I’ve forgotten over the years (or even this week), but this one sound – the telephone ringing – I’ll remember forever.

It was my aunt calling to tell us that my cousin, we’ll call him “M,” had been hit by a car.  M was just six months younger than me and in a hospital bed, in a coma.  I don’t remember too much from this time, mostly because it was confusing and a whirlwind of activity.  I remember my mom hugging me tight and my family talking about things that were hard to follow.  Probably because I was too young to really understand the things that the grownups were talking about – terrible accidents, broken limbs, head trauma… All I knew was that M looked like he was sleeping and while everyone wasn’t sure if he was going to pull through, I had the confidence that only a child could possess in a time like this.  “Of course he’ll be fine,” I’d say.  And thankfully, I was right but the scary thing is that I could have just as easily been wrong.

While he was in the hospital, they told us that it was possible that he could hear and recognize our voices.  My mom, always a caretaker and big-hearted woman, came up with a sweet idea – she, my sister, and I would record ourselves talking to my cousin and singing to him.

I remember making the tape for him.  Singing silly songs that we all knew and telling him how much we loved him.  Which called a song to my mind – “I just called to say I love you.”  I didn’t know all of the words, and in the times before a quick internet search would render the full song lyrics, my mom had some doubts.  But I was determined and besides that, the refrain (which nearly everyone knows) is the most important part of the song.  So we recorded it for him, complete with humming or nah-nahhing our way through the parts we didn’t know and later played it for him in the hospital.

And as it turns out, we were lucky that year.  Our family was blessed with the miracle of my cousin pulling through and making a full recovery.

For a long time, and still to this day, I think of my cousin when I hear the song.

When I was going through the early stages of my divorce, I was careful (probably a little too careful) on which of my mutual friends I confided in.  After talking with one of my friends about the events leading up to the divorce and the storm of emotions inside me, he posted a YouTube clip of “I just called to say I love you,” on my Facebook page.  And the sweetness of the gesture made me cry.  Up until that point, I wasn’t sure who I could count on anymore.  But with that single gesture, I knew that people can still surprise you (for good) and stand by you in times of need…and it’s made me love the song that much more.

“I just called to say I love you” 

No New Year’s Day to celebrate
No chocolate covered candy hearts to give away
No first of spring
No song to sing
In fact here’s just another ordinary day
No April rain, No flowers bloom
No wedding Saturday within the month of June
But what it is, is something true
Made up of these three words that I must say to you I just called to say I love you
I just called to say how much I care
I just called to say I love you
And I mean it from the bottom of my heart

No summer’s high
No warm July
No harvest moon to light one tender August night
No autumn breeze
No falling leaves
Not even time for birds to fly to southern skies

No Libra sun
No Halloween
No giving thanks to all the Christmas joy you bring
But what it is, though old so new
To fill your heart like no three words could ever do

I just called to say I love you
I just called to say how much I care, I do
I just called to say I love you
And I mean it from the bottom of my heart

I just called to say I love you
I just called to say how much I care, I do
I just called to say I love you
And I mean it from the bottom of my heart, of my heart,
of my heart

I just called to say I love you
I just called to say how much I care, I do
I just called to say I love you
And I mean it from the bottom of my heart, of my heart,
baby of my heart

Stuck in the car with Leesha (Summer Music Series II)

If you’re rolling down any road with me, unless we’re discussing something VERY intently, chances are there’s music on – either in the background, filling up the spaces between our dialogue….or blaring with me (and hopefully you) singing lead vocals.

I will however, stop singing periodically to ask you know what the song really means or tell you a story about a memory associated with the music.  And hopefully, you’d tell me some of yours too.

Today, we’re going to talk about The Summer Wind – the Frank Sinatra version, because it’s my favorite version of the song.

As an Italian American, ol’ blue eyes is like a birthright.  Supposedly, there was a great aunt or second cousin of my grandmother’s who use to date Frank Sinatra.  Her dad made her break up with Frank because the old patriarch thought Frankie would never amount to much….I think nearly everyone from the greater NY/NJ area is related to someone with this same exact story. :p

Anyway, let’s be honest about what The Summer Wind is really about…

it’s not long-lost love,

fleeting romance,

or the one that got away,

this song, is categorically and unapologetically about farts.

🙂

Now, if we were in the car together, I’d have to re-start the song for you and croon in suggestive ways (I promise that my crooning is amusing) to highlight my point.  And of course, wiggle my eyebrows with every blow of the horn (see? Farts! told you.)  Let’s take it from the top –

The summer wind, came blowin’ in from across the sea
It lingered there to touch your hair and walk with me
All summer long…

<horns clearly denoting farting>

we sang a song…

<horns clearly denoting farting>

and then we strolled that golden sand
Two sweethearts and the summer wind

<Leesha interjection – isn’t it the worst when a fart follows someone?  Terrible.>

Like painted kites, those days and nights, they went flyin’ by
The world was new beneath a blue umbrella sky
Then softer than a piper man one day it called to you
I lost you, I lost you to the summer wind

<Leesha interjection – Frankie, maybe you wouldn’t have lost her if you eased up on the beans.>

The autumn wind and the winter winds, they have come and gone
And still the days, those lonely days, they go on and on
And guess who sighs his lullabies through nights that never end  

<Leesha interjection:  usually those nights after eating Chipotle…>

My fickle friend, the summer wind

The summer wind
Warm summer wind
Mmm, the summer wind

<Leesha interjection: Warm summer wind.  Yep. Farts.  You’re welcome.  Next time, listen to all of the blasts from that horn and try not to giggle.>

The Summer Wind, obviously not actually about farts.  Music by Heinz Meier and lyrics by Johnny Mercer, performed to my great amusement by Frank Sinatra (back up vocals and silliness provided by me, of course).

Like this post?  I wrote a similar one, about American Pie that you should check out.

Stuck in the car with Leesha (Summer Music Series 1)

Summer is the season for driving in the U.S. and if there’s anything we can be sure of – it’s that at some point (especially in the greater DC area), we’ll be stuck in traffic….or if you’re in the car with other people, perhaps a fight over who is the radio commander.

But if you’re in the car with me, you can add a few more things to the list –

– there will be singing, oh yes, there will be singing (and you’ll either join in or wish the singing would stop)

– depending on how long the car trip is, we may play the game of “who sings this?” or, my personal favorite, “what movie is this from?”

But there is something else you can be sure of, me discussing what the song really means (all those lyrics are there for a reason) or telling you a story about what the song makes me think of (like my crush in high school that wouldn’t go out with me because I wasn’t cool enough. ugh! Prick!)

With that, I’m introducing a random summer series – “Stuck in the car with Leesha,” which I hope you’ll enjoy.  And by the way, the picture was taken in a completely parked car (turned off too) in a parking garage, because we’re safe drivers here @ prolixme.  So buckle up, buttercup.  We’re going for a ride…

So, this first one is a sad memory, but I promise they won’t all be.

“American Pie” by Don McLean

A long, long time ago, I can still remember how that music…used to make me smile-

I’m a notorious song flipper and even on my own playlist, there are times I just skip through songs.  But there are some songs I have to listen to the whole way through, every time.  This is one of them.

If we were in the car, I’d ask you if you knew what this song was really about.  Depending on your age, how well versed you are in pop culture, or if you’re like me and have a dad who would make you listen to classics in the car (and would be so embarrassed when we rolled by my crush’s house with the windows down and music blaring), you may know that the song was about the day the music died or the day that Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, the Big Bopper, and their pilot died in a plane crash.  And if you don’t know who any of those people are, you just seriously broke my heart.

The lyrics “this’ll be the day that I die” refer to Buddy Holly and the Cricket’s famous song, “That’ll be the day,” and “February made me shiver” refers to the February 3 plane crash.  There are other references to artists, actors, songs, pop culture, and other things in the song as well…all you have to do is listen.

For me, the song holds a deeper meaning and reminds me of my 8th grade year of school – the school year in which my grandmother died (in October), a teacher’s assistant in my school jumped in front of a train (in January), a girl in my gym class was accidentally shot and killed while kids were playing with a gun (in February), a very dear friend of mine who I will never forget killed himself on leap day (in February), and a boy killed himself after an argument with his girlfriend (in May).

I remember it was a cold March night, and my parents were driving me home when “American Pie” came on the radio.  And although I’d heard the song for most of my life (often playing it on both sides of an old 45 my dad had), for the first time in my life, I could feel the sadness of the song.  As a young writer, I used to write a lot of poetry – and a lot during this time in my life was sad poetry.  As a project for an English class, I wrote a poem about my sadness and confusion over the deaths and put it to the same rhythm as “American Pie.”  It was the first thing that I wrote with my heart, to try to deal with a terrible grief, and the first thing I was ever proud of as a writer.  In truth, that year is something I still think about and write about, and probably always will.

If you’ve never heard the song, you should check it out, it’s one of my favorites.

“American Pie,” by Don McLean

“A long long time ago
I can still remember how
That music used to make me smile
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those people dance
And maybe they’d be happy for a while

But February made me shiver
With every paper I’d deliver
Bad news on the doorstep
I couldn’t take one more step

I can’t remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride
Something touched me deep inside
The day the music died
So

Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die

Did you write the book of love
And do you have faith in God above
If the Bible tells you so?
Do you believe in rock and roll?
Can music save your mortal soul?
And can you teach me how to dance real slow?

Well, I know that you’re in love with him
‘Cause I saw you dancin’ in the gym
You both kicked off your shoes
Man, I dig those rhythm and blues

I was a lonely teenage broncin’ buck
With a pink carnation and a pickup truck
But I knew I was out of luck
The day the music died
I started singin’

Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die

Now, for ten years we’ve been on our own
And moss grows fat on a rolling stone
But, that’s not how it used to be

When the jester sang for the king and queen
In a coat he borrowed from James Dean
And a voice that came from you and me

Oh and while the king was looking down
The jester stole his thorny crown
The courtroom was adjourned
No verdict was returned

And while Lennon read a book on Marx
The quartet practiced in the park
And we sang dirges in the dark
The day the music died
We were singin’

Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
And singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die

Helter skelter in a summer swelter
The birds flew off with a fallout shelter
Eight miles high and falling fast

It landed foul on the grass
The players tried for a forward pass
With the jester on the sidelines in a cast

Now the half-time air was sweet perfume
While sergeants played a marching tune
We all got up to dance
Oh, but we never got the chance

‘Cause the players tried to take the field
The marching band refused to yield
Do you recall what was revealed
The day the music died?
We started singin’

Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
And singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die

Oh, and there we were all in one place
A generation lost in space
With no time left to start again

So come on Jack be nimble, Jack be quick
Jack Flash sat on a candlestick
‘Cause fire is the devil’s only friend

Oh and as I watched him on the stage
My hands were clenched in fists of rage
No angel born in Hell
Could break that Satan’s spell

And as the flames climbed high into the night
To light the sacrificial rite
I saw Satan laughing with delight
The day the music died
He was singin’

Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die

I met a girl who sang the blues
And I asked her for some happy news
But she just smiled and turned away

I went down to the sacred store
Where I’d heard the music years before
But the man there said the music wouldn’t play

And in the streets the children screamed
The lovers cried, and the poets dreamed
But not a word was spoken
The church bells all were broken

And the three men I admire most
The Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost
They caught the last train for the coast
The day the music died
And they were singing

Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die

They were singing
Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die”