More Cowbell

I have been driving Ryan’s car to work every morning and I listen to all of his presets except the sports radio stations that take up a whopping 8 of 24 spots!  I’m sure that isn’t surprising to anyone that knows Ryan.  The rest are basically classic rock and jam band stations.  Anyway, it makes me feel like that is the time when Ryan can “talk” to me.

Ryan and I met in 2000 and when you know someone for 16 years, marry them, have some kids, move back and forth across the country a couple of times and go through some fairly traumatic events together, you learn things about one another that no other relationship will ever rival.  I miss Ryan a lot so I constantly look for signs from him and a lot of that comes through music.  I was listening to Elvis’s, Always On My Mind the other day and I thought, “Oh wouldn’t that be something if on my way to work, I heard that song.”  I switched over to Elvis Radio and guess what?  Nope, it wasn’t Always On My Mind it was C.C. Rider which is much more Ryan.  This was the only Elvis song he would sing.  Ever.  This is what I mean by him “talking” to me.

Last night, I was double checking with Kamryn regarding her Halloween costume.  She had said she wanted to be the Grim Reaper and in light of recent events, I thought it may be a little too…oh what’s the word?  Not good.  She has always been a lover of the macabre when it comes to Halloween and she had made this decision before Ryan passed, but I was just hoping she would change her mind.  She is still set on being Father Time so I began my Pinterest search for costume making ideas and each pin I came across was saved with a cringe and a sigh.

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Today I got in the car and what song was playing?  (Don’t Fear) The Reaper.  OK, Ryan, I get it.  It made me smile and chuckle a little.  I know some are reading this and saying, “Amy, that’s just a coincidence.” and I would agree.  It is. A coincidence is defined by a striking occurrence of two or more events at one time and I would say this was quite striking.  What I’m saying is, you can call it what you will and I’ll get from it what I need.  I need it to be Ryan telling me to “Calm the fuck down, it’s not a big deal.”

The song also brought up another memory that made me laugh and it wasn’t the memorable Will Ferrell SNL skit.  Ryan ran a half marathon in Des Moines in 2007 and included in the swag bag was a cowbell for the fans to clang as the runners ran by or for your 1 year old to become obsessed with and refuse to put down.  Kamryn loved that cowbell.  One night, shortly after the race, Ryan asked me to please hide it from her because it was constant, clanging cowbell in our house.  I turned to him and said, “It’s from your race.”  Meaning, it’s your fault we have it so you hide it!  He gave me a very puzzled look and replied, “What do you mean?  We’re both white!”  I laughed for a good hour after that and it still makes me giggle.

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Peace, Love, Elvis

***I wrote this yesterday, but for some reason it didn’t publish.***

Today is the 35th anniversary of Elvis’s death.  In honor of the King Of Rock ‘n Roll, I donned my Elvis t-shirt I got at Graceland when Ryan and I went for our anniversary in 2009.My trip to Graceland was one of the best trips of my life.  I couldn’t believe I was walking where Elvis walked.  I so wanted to take something from Graceland and stuff it in my pocket, but I knew that would be frowned upon and I really didn’t want to be on the banned list at Graceland.

Instead of stealing things, I walked around like this all weekend:I smiled a lot that weekend.  Ryan completely went along with me watching multiple Elvis Tribute Artists.  We walked up and down Beale Street going from bar to bar and I would ask, “Can we go see another Elvis?”  To my surprise and delight, he would respond, “Yeah.”

Not that Ryan really had a choice; there weren’t any other options as far as entertainment at that time.  It was the weekend before the start of Elvis Week in Memphis.  Ryan’s favorite comment was, “You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting an Elvis.”

One of the better Elvis impersonators was this guy:I didn’t want to go up and have my picture taken with him because I was afraid that his talking voice wouldn’t sound like Elvis’s and it would have ruined it for me.  As it turns out, he was staying at the same hotel as we were.  During happy hour later that day, I sat and stared at him, but still kept my distance so I couldn’t hear him talk.

Who knows what music would be like today had Elvis not died.  Who knows how Memphis would survive as a city had Elvis not died.  Who knows who would make me smile like this if Elvis had not died.

Happy Birthday Elvis!

If you watched any type of news broadcast today I’m sure you heard that today is Elvis’ birthday and he would have been 77 years old.  I LOVE Elvis. 

I’m not sure when my love for Elvis started, considering I had just turned 1 year old the month before he died, but I remember listening to my parent’s records as soon as I was able to work the stereo.  I had a huge Jailhouse Rock poster hanging on my bedroom door that my neighbor, Sara brought back from Sweden for me when we were about 10 years old.  My brother gave me the book, Elvis and Me for Christmas that same year. 

I even liked to bring a little Elvis into my education.  I chose The Essential Elvis Presley cassette tape as my prize for selling magazines in elementary school.  My freshman year of high school, I had to give a persuasive speech.  I may or may not have persuaded some 14 and 15 year olds that Elvis was still alive.  My senior year at The University of Iowa, I followed my roommate Kristi’s lead and took a class called Elvis As Anthology.  I wrote a 30 page paper about The King and got an “A” in the class. 

As the years passed, I accumulated more Elvis treasures.  I have two of the swinging hip clocks, Christmas ornaments, t-shirts, a street sign, games, cd’s and a myriad of books.  One of my favorite treasures is the Elvis Lava Lamp that my friend, Pam sent me a couple of years ago.  I adore it, but I’m scared to death to put it out because of the kids.  I think I have made the right choice since I have had to replace the lamp on my nightstand 3 times.  Pam will always be my friend because she is the only person I know that has seen Elvis in concert.  I still remember the day she told me.  My jaw hit the floor.

However, all of my Elvis paraphernalia doesn’t compare to my trip to Graceland in August of 2009.  Ryan surprised me with a trip for our anniversary.  Not only was I finally going to the Promised Land, but I was going a couple of days before Elvis Week!  Honestly, I think this was way better than being in Memphis during the actual week.  There were Elvis’ at every turn.  Ryan commented “You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting an Elvis.”  He has such a way with words.

Here are some of the pictures from our trip.  I had a stupid grin on my face the entire 4 days we were there. 

Graceland
A crazy little monkey that was in Elvis’ TV room.  I need to get my hands on that monkey.

Hangin’ out in Elvis’ backyard.

One of the Elvis Tribute Artists.  There were some good singers, but not one came close to being as sensuous as the real deal.

50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong.  I stared at this for a long time.

Just for the record, I also like the Beatles. 

Sing, Sing A Song

My taste in music has been questioned, criticized and mocked for years.  I like all genres of music except country.  And even then I’ll allow some country music as long as it was recorded in or before 1980.  I have been known to sing a little Patsy Cline every now and again and who hasn’t been caught singing The Gambler the first time you ever sat down at a casino table?  Just me?  Ok then.
The truth is, I love to sing.  I have been told I’m not particularly good at it, but I have never let other people’s opinions influence me much.  Consequently, the music I like the best is music I can sing along to. 
My first ever karaoke performance.  I was singing Bobby McGee.
Today was a rather excellent sing along day.  I’m still milking my free satellite radio trial that we got when we bought our car and after today, any doubts that I had of subscribing to the service have vanished.  First, let me give you the list of my XM presets.  Ryan and I were both allowed 6 stations.  However, because of my broad spectrum of music likes, I find Ryan’s presets enjoyable, while he considers some of mine borderline torture.  My lineup is as follows:
20 on 20  The description for this station is “The latest top 20 countdowns from pop, rock, hip-hop and more.”  I enjoy all of the above so this is right in my wheelhouse.  Another bonus of this station is that one channel previous is SiriusXM Hits 1.  I don’t have to waste a preset when I can simply turn the dial one notch.  You need to consider these things, folks. 
80’s on 8  This is self explanatory as to the music played on this channel.  Who doesn’t love some rad 80’s?  I’m not sure how much longer I’ll keep this one, though.  I go in phases when I need 80’s and other times when I can’t stand it.
90’s on 9  This was the result of some overzealous programming on my part.  I was all excited and programmed this station on the first day.  It’s going against the previous strategy of not programming a station immediately preceding or following an existing preset, but if I get rid of the 80’s station, things will be kosher once again.
Z100/NY  I really like this station.  They play about 99% Top 40, but every once and awhile they throw a random hip hop song from 1992 in there.  It’s a nice treat.
Pop2K  Yes, it’s music from the previous decade. 
And last, but certainly not least;
Elvis Radio  No explanation is needed.  It’s Elvis and he’s fantastic. 
Ryan treated me to a trip to Graceland for our anniversary.  Super awesome!
Ryan’s presets include Pearl Jam Radio, Grateful Dead Channel, Classic Vinyl, Deep Tracks, Jam_On and 1st Wave.   Besides opting to program stations that are already adjacent on the XM line up, I appreciate all of his selections; some are just not the easiest to sing along to.  Specifically, the jam band stations.   I don’t like waiting 10 minutes in between versus just so someone can get a crunchy groove on.
Back to my excellent travel music.  Today started off with Sir Mix-A-Lot, BabyGot Back .  I don’t care how overplayed this song is, I love it.  My anaconda don’t want none unless you got buns, hon!  Shut the front door with those awesome lyrics!  Next up, DepecheMode, I Just Can’t Get Enough.  That keyboard makes me bounce around in my seat.  I arrived at Target singing Elvis, Always On My Mind.  No one and I mean no one sings this song better than Elvis Presley.  I made Rory sit, strapped in his carseat, until the song was over.  The whole while I sang to him he was shouting, “No sing Mama!”  I don’t know who he thinks he was fooling, he liked it.  On the way home I was treated to Guns N’ Roses,November Rain.  This brought back fond memories of seeing GNR in high school with my friend, Lisa.  We paid a whopping $40 for tickets and it was worth every penny.  And finally, Pitbull got me back home with Give Me Everything.   
I think this is proof that I’m all over the place when it comes to music.  I represented multiple decades, genres and tempos all in one quick trip to Target.  If you are trying to imagine me singing in the car, think of Lila in The HeartbreakKid.  I might look a little like that.  Okay, I look exactly like that.