Category Archives: Music

Desert Trip Rocks with The Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney!

Talk about baby boomer bliss! “Can’t Get No Satisfaction” certainly did not apply to Desert Trip – a music extravaganza with rock legends The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Neil Young, Roger Waters, and The Who.

desert-trip-paul-mcartney

The iconic festival was held this last weekend, October 7, 8, and 9, 2016, at the Empire Polo Club in Indio and I was thanking my lucky stars to be in the audience.

Oldchella

The Empire Polo Club in Indio Friday afternoon before the event began.

The massive grounds where the epic concert was held at the Empire Polo Club in Indio Friday afternoon before the event began.

The lineup was every baby boomer’s dream team. Yeah, they made fun of us, dubbing the festival held on the same grounds as Coachella, “Oldchella.” Who cares? We baby boomers are embracing the title. This was a historical moment that has never happened before and may never be repeated again. It’s certainly a weekend I won’t ever forget.

Call it whatever you want. I blissfully and joyfully sang “Hey Jude” with Paul McCartney, as he took the lead cheerfully oozing charisma, with 75,000 other fellow humans in a massive chorus, waving our arms in unison. It was a magical awe-inspiring moment. (See the video under the Paul McCartney subheading below to get a glimpse of what that was like.)

Completely awe struck that I was actually listening and watching Sir Paul, the profound moment reminded me of the Beatles legacy of joy, hopefulness, peace and optimism that we all found so addictive when we were young – and still do during a turbulent time in the world.

Besides, some of the humor about Oldchella is downright funny. Ellen DeGeneres, a baby boomer herself at the age of 58, says, “It’s like Woodstock, but with prescription drugs.” 20161009_180415In a hilarious segment , she shows a chart comparing the Coachella with Oldchella:  “Coachella: You go because you’re excited to see your favorite band live. Old-chella: You go because you’re excited to see that your favorite band is alive.” Funny stuff.

There was even a pick-up and drop-off parking lot, an actual spot where middle-aged kids could drop off their gray-haired parents ready to boogie down til midnight and pretend they were back in the day.

Surprisingly – although there were tons of AARP eligible fans like me crossing off bucket lists – there were plenty of people in their 20s and 30s too. Even teens attended in their fringed and tie dyed shirts enjoying the hippy vibe. It was fun to see them experience the glory days of rock ‘n’ roll with such abandonment and enthusiasm – arms in the air and rocking out right along with us.

Second Weekend Tickets

The event repeats this weekend starting Friday, October 14, 15 & 16 and there are tickets available at reduced prices. I’ve seen prices on StubHub ranging from $139 for a one night pass and three-day passes for $225 in the grand stands.

desert-trip-lawnThis is quite a deal since prices for three day passes originally ranged from $399 for bringing chairs and sitting in the grassy area to $1,599 for the standing pit area directly in front of the stage. Thankfully the epic concert was held in my own backyard and I saved money on travel expenses and shuttles.

According to Billboard. Sean Penn, Leonardo DiCaprio, Christian Bale, Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones with their kids, Rob Lowe, Cindy Crawford, and James Spader were some of the big names that could be found in cushy areas in the grandstands and  in the mosh pit .

desert-trip-audience

Where the action was!

The elite crowd was not to be seen in the cheap seats where I sat with my family in the lawn area. In my opinion, it wasn’t a bad place to be with everyone on their feet singing, dancing, and whooping it up the entire time.

Attend the Concert Vicariously

If you’re unable to attend, I’m happy to share my incredible weekend with you including lots of photos and videos so you can live vicariously through my once-in-a-lifetime experience. Enjoy!

NIGHT ONE:

Bob Dylan

desert-trip-bob-dylanCall me unsophisticated, and some of you will be appalled, but I was never that into Bob Dylan. I respect the icon – he was just awarded the Nobel Prize in literature today. He is an iconic singer/songwriter, a spokesman for the baby boomer generation, culturally significant with his political, social, philosophical, and literary influence.

I enjoyed chilling to some of this influential musician’s songs with a few classics that included “Rainy Day Women.” The way he sang “Everybody Must Get Stoned” with a smirk at the age of 75 cracked me up.

But exciting, he was not.

desert-trip-scott-and-julie-nightFamous for being reclusive and, as a rule, refusing to be photographed, at first, he allowed his image to be displayed on the gigantic screens as he was seated at a piano so everyone could see him. But after a few songs, only black and white historic scenes played on the screens. (There was a rumor that this was due to a glitch, which is possible.)

Perhaps not surprising, there was no stage banter whatsoever. I can’t remember him saying anything to the crowds, in fact.

Nonetheless, when the Rolling Stones took the stage after Dylan, both Mick Jagger and Keith Richards called him their “opening act,” I gasped with the rest of the audience.

The Rolling Stones

rolling-stone-collageI was up on my feet singing and dancing when the crowd-pleasing Rolling Stones literally roared onto the stage with the energetic and fun “Start Me Up.”

Mick Jagger, not about to act his age, rooster strutted down the catwalk and gesticulated all over the stage with seemingly endless energy and stamina. Keep in mind this 73-year-old is still producing children.

His powerful voice led the way as Keith Richards with his blaze of white hair dangled a cigarette and played alongside with obvious joy and abandonment.

Don't say good-bye! Can't we start over and do it again?

Don’t say good-bye! Can’t we start over and do it again?

Their nonstop hits included “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (but I Like It)”, “Honky Tonk Women,” “Brown Sugar” and even the Beatle’s “Come Together. In honor of a forthcoming blues album, they treated us to one of the great songs, “Ride ‘Em Down.”

Unlike Dylan, Jagger chatted it up with the crowd and we were thrilled. At one point, he raised a guitar into the air and danced toward crowd: “If you know how to party, say, ‘Oh, yeah!'” We were more than pleased to comply.

Before I knew it, they were playing an encore of “Can’t Get No Satisfaction.” Best concert ever!

Here’s a video of their opening song, “Start Me Up.”

NIGHT TWO

Neil Young

desert-trip-neil-youngPerhaps best known for his number one hit, “Heart of Gold,” Neil Young’s stage setup was unique with tepees and two women in plaid shirts and overalls walking the stage throwing seeds on the floor.

Songs included “Mother Earth” which included three men in hazmat suits acting as if they were spraying the grounds.

Neil Young is known for his explosive guitar skills, and “Down by the River” lasted about 20 minutes. Personally, the intense, loud, overpowering guitar lasted too long for my ears which literally hurt from the crashing sounds as Young shredded his well-worn guitar.

Maybe I am getting old.

Here’s Young’s famous Heart of Gold:

Paul McCartney

The rock legend was as warm, funny, personable, and delightfully enchanting as you would expect. I couldn’t quit thinking in disbelief – I get to see a Beatle! How lucky am I?

desert-trip-paul-and-neil-duoHe fired up the crowd with the classics “A Hard Day’s Night,” “Jet” and “Can’t Buy me Love.”

Then he took a moment to look out at the massive stadium with people as far as the eye could see. “This is cool to be here, right?” the 74-year-old star asked. “I’m going to take a moment here to drink this all in for myself.”

Although McCartney treated us with many of the classic Beatle songs, he also included the newer “My Valentine” he dedicated to his wife, Nancy. It was their anniversary the next day, he said. A little oddly, but sweet at the same, he next performed “Maybe I’m Amazed,” and dedicated it to his late first wife, Linda.

McCartney shared interesting and funny stories for our entertainment. For example, he explained that “Blackbird” was inspired by the civil rights movement – something I never knew. The funniest moment was when McCartney told us he knew which songs we liked because the masses raised their cell phones when he played classic Beatle songs. “When we play one you don’t know it’s like a black hole,” he said.

desert-trip-fireworksMcCartney brought Neil Young back on stage for three duos, including the raucous, bluesy  “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?” According to legend, the song was written after McCartney saw two monkeys doing the deed on a road in India,  The song fit perfectly with Young’s rowdy guitar.

Oh, how I hate to say this, but McCartney’s voice did quiver just a bit during a few of the slower songs at the top of his tenor range, You’ll have to believe me that It didn’t matter one bit. McCartney still rocked the concert, made his sophisticated melodies seem easy, and his falsetto was pure as ever.

Before we knew it, “Live and Let Die” was accompanied by a spectacular explosion of flames, lasers, and fireworks as McCartney pounded the keyboard. Then the magical moment of Hey Jude (don’t miss the video below for both those numbers that gave me goosebumps!) Graciously, he performed three encore songs, staying on the stage for almost three hours. We loved every minute.

As promised, here’s the video of the magical moments – Live and Let Die is followed by Hey Jude:

NIGHT THREE

The Who

Pete Townshend’s signature windmill move as he strums the guitar and Roger Daltrey’s famous microphone cord swing were still intact as they sang their famous hits like “My desert-trip-the-whoGeneration,” “You Bet,” “Who Are You?” and “Pinball Wizard.”

Looking back on the band’s American breakthrough with “I Can See for Miles,” Townshend said, “Roger and I are so glad to be out here at our age.”

So were we!

He went on to express appreciation for all the young fans in front of him. “You young ones, we love you for coming to see us,” he said. “It must be pretty tough out there for the old ones. Why don’t you make a little chair for them, and they can sit down and rest.”

I’d be offended, except for the fact that Townshend is 15 years older than I am!

In their finale, their 1970s anthem, “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” Daltrey nailed his famous big scream, to bring their set to a rousing close. Enjoy the video!

Roger Waters of Pink Floyd

deesert-trip-roger-watersThe night turned political when Roger Waters took the stage using it as a pulpit to express his feelings about the election, Trump, and Israel’s occupation in Palestine.

During his performance of “Another Brick in the Wall,” school-age children came onstage wearing T-shirts that read, “Derriba el muro” — Spanish for “Take down the wall.”

20161009_233100His set included classics like “Money,” Shine on You Crazy Diamond,” and “Wish You Were Here.”

He closed out the festival with his famous inflatable pig floating above the audience. This one had Trump’s face painted on the side with the words “ignorant, lying, racist, sexist pig.” Just in case you somehow failed to make the connection, the big screens flashed “Trump is a pig.”

Helpful Hints:

If you’re lucky enough to attend the second weekend here are a few tips:

Slightly excited to be there!

Slightly excited to be there!

  • Don’t come too early. It is still hot here in the California desert. The first day, my husband, my sister and I got there when the gates opened at 2:00 p.m. to stake out our seats. It was 98 degrees and the mile hike from day parking made me sick. Hardly anyone was there – and there wasn’t a huge difference in the grass section. However, don’t come too late either – the traffic and lines to get in can become annoying. About 4:00 is a good enough time to arrive in my opinion. If you do get there early, the photography exhibition has air conditioning and couches.
  • Again, it’s hot here. Use sunscreen, drink plenty of water, and put a wet bandanna around your neck to stay cool.
  • The combination of cigarette smoke, pot fumes, dust, and grass was not pleasant. Some people wore a paint mask, scarf or bandanna over their face. Not a bad idea, especially if you have any respiratory issues.
  • Thankfully, my son who has attended Coachella, warned me not to tighten your wristband too tight, because you can’t loosen it afterwards.
  • The lines for food and drinks in the grandstand areas on the side were longer and the staff unorganized. Eat and drink in the rear in the Twelve Peaks/General Admission area where the food is better and the lines shorter.
  • Some of the bathrooms were air conditioned, some not. Look for the AC ones – whatever you do, do not use the outhouses! (Unlike Coachella, we have this option. Catering to us older folks, I guess!)

Let’s Do It Again!

Three nights getting home around 2:00 a.m. is killing me this week. I don’t consider myself old at 55, but I ain’t exactly 20 anymore either. There’s definitely some recoup time involved.

Still worth it!

We baby boomers are a hardy bunch. There was a lot of discussion about the possibility of another event and who could perform.

My top choices: Elton John, Billy Joel, the Eagles, and Fleetwood Mac. Who would your dream team be? Please share in the comments below!

Posing in front of the Rolling Stones poster after the concert sadly ended.

Posing in front of the Rolling Stones poster after the concert sadly ended.

A big thanks to my husband, Scott Gorges, my son, Jonathan Gorges, and my sister, Joanie Hacker, who contributed photos and videos to make this post awesome!

Life Lessons from Top Happy Songs of All Time

Music can be powerful. Inspiring songs not only perk us up when we’re down, but lyrics can also contain empowering life lessons.

Happy Songs

Some songs remind us to appreciate all the beauty in the world. Others provide motivation to overcome challenges to accomplish our dreams. 

For example, the profound lyrics of Nickelback’s famous song,  If Today was Your Last Day:

My best friend gave me the best advice.

He said each day’s a gift and not a given right

Leave no stone unturned, leave your fears behind.

I love these words that teach us never to take life for granted and overcome our fears to live life to its fullest.

Or the lyrics in Beautiful by Christina Aguilera that reminds us to see the beauty within ourselves and not allow others to define us:

I am beautiful

No matter what they say

Words can’t bring me down

Sing it strong, girl!

Since my blog is about happiness, that got me to thinking. What are the most popular happy songs of all time and what can we learn from the lyrics? 

Here are five songs that made the top 20 happy songs of all time according to the Billboard charts (you’ll notice they all have the word “happy” in them) along with their key messages. By all means, if you need a pick-me-up, click on any of the links to hear the songs. 

Happy-Go-Lucky-Me

Interestingly, a lot of songs with the word “happy” in them came from the 50s and 60s. Pharrell William’s song Happy was the last song to hit the charts with the cheerful word “happy” and came in at #17 on the Billboard charts. However, the song was an exception to the rule in recent times. Perhaps, the world was a more lighthearted place back in the day.

An oldie but a goodie, Paul Evans wisely reminds us to quit chasing the almighty dollar and take time to enjoy the simple things in life. The song was released in 1960 – which just happens to be the year I was born – and came in at Number 18 assuring us all that “life is sweet, whooa, sweet as honey.”

I can laugh

When things ain’t funny

Happy go lucky me

Yer, I can smile

When I aint got no money

Happy go lucky me

It may sound silly but I don’t care

I got the moonlight, I got the sun, I’ve got the stars above.

Want to take Paul’s advice? Click here if you want to read my blog listing five ways to become a happy-go-lucky person.

Happy Together

Everyone knows this familiar song by The Turtles, also from the 1960s, that emphasizes the importance of love. The song was the winner, coming in at Number 1 on the Billboard charts. Quite a few of the songs in the top 20 were based on love including the classic Connie Francis’ song, My Happiness which came in at Number 4. These simple, romantic lyrics remind us of the importance of nurturing the relationships with our significant others.

I think about you day and night

It’s only right

To think about the girl you love

And hold her tight

So happy together

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Bobby McFerron wrote this classic happy song that everyone knows to help all of us tap our feet, relax, and join him in his oh-so-contagiously-happy-mood. It came in at Number 2.

Don’t worry, be happy

In every life we have some trouble

But when you worry, you make it double

Amen, brother!

Shiny Happy People

One of the more puzzling songs on the list, coming in at Number 18, is the 1991 R.E.M. hit that had everyone searching for the mysterious meaning. What did the “shiny happy people laughing” represent? 

Everyone around, love them, love them

Put it in your hands, take it, take it

There’s no time to cry, happy, happy

Put it in your heart where tomorrow shines

Gold and silver shine

Some say that the title and chorus are based on a Chinese propaganda poster. They claim that the words “shiny happy people holding hands” are used ironically. After all, the song was released two years after the Tiananmen Square uprising when the Chinese government clamped down on student demonstrators, killing hundreds of them.

On the other hand, according to a blog on Grammy.com’s website although the “vague vocalizing and intriguing lyrics tended to leave fans in search of meaning and definition,” they claim the song “proved to be a rather atypical R.E.M. track in its unironic projection of celebration and good cheer. It’s a sensibility that is fully captured in the song’s sunshiny video.”

Then there’s this one blogger’s opinion: “It’s this relentlessly cheery vision of utopia where everyone is in love, all of the time. Whether you laugh at it, cringe, swoon, cry, or sing along, it’s revealing something about your outlook on life.”

I’ll let you make up your own mind on this one and move on to the next song, a much lighter and simple-to-understand happy song:

If You Wanna Be Happy 

So I’ll end this article with this silly song meant to simply make you smile. It came in at Number 5. Get ready to tap your feet and have a giggle with Jimmy Soul’s advice:

If you wanna be happy

For the rest of your life,

Never make a pretty woman your wife,

So from my personal point of view,

Get an ugly girl to marry you.

Who knows, there could be some profound wisdom in those words. Mwahahaha! If you’d like to see the complete list, you can check it out on Billboard’s website.

So, what are your favorite songs with the word “happy” in them and why? Please share in the comments below.

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

 

Music and Happiness

Ilusión centesimal
Silvia Viñuales / Foter / CC BY-ND

Are music and happiness really connected? “Music… will help dissolve your perplexities and purify your character and sensibilities, and in time of care and sorrow, will keep a fountain of joy alive in you,” said Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Can music do all that? Yup, it’s true; music can soothe the soul and refresh the spirit.

New findings offer a biological explanation: listening to moving music causes the brain to release dopamine, a feel-good chemical.

If you were watching the Oscar show and saw Pharrell Williams with his funky hat perform the song “Happy” from the movie Despicable Me 2, was there any doubt that everyone in the audience was feeling some of this natural feel-good drug?

Turns out music can be a real life saver when our lives become overwhelming. Studies have shown music can ease anxiety, lower stress, and even boost heart health. Evidently, we’re hardwired to react emotionally to music and the process starts early. Babies as young as five months old react to happy songs and these feelings only intensify as we grow older.

Live music is a potent happiness trigger because it provides a way to forge social bonds. What’s even better? Research shows that learning to play an instrument or – if you’re fortunate to already know how – continuing to practice and play an instrument offers mental benefits as we age. In fact, a recent study published in the July issue of Human Neuroscience, found that older adults who learned music in childhood and continued to play an instrument for at least 10 years outperformed others in tests of memory and cognitive ability. It also revealed that sustaining musical activity during advanced age may enhance thinking ability.

Hey, we can all use some more of that as we get older!

A friend of mine, who also happens to be co-grandma of my grandchildren, Tam Cole, has been playing the flute for 46 years and is living proof of all the benefits music can bring. “I feel that music is a treasured part of my soul and one of the most beautiful gifts given to us by our Creator,” she recently said. “With music we can worship Him, and we can soothe and comfort our own damaged hearts. From infancy, we are fascinated by the rhythms and melodies we hear and feel. In our older years, we are instantly transported to youth and vitality just by hearing an old tune. With music, we can connect with others, even someone we’ve just met, even if they speak another language. When I listen to music, I can go from tired to energized, from a feeling of sadness to one of absolute joy. When I play music, I can truly express myself at those times when mere words would not suffice. When I play music with other musicians who share that same joy, I feel a wonderful connection that could not be achieved in any other way. Music can transport any one from a state of mediocrity to a state of bliss.”

Well said! By the way, those who live locally can hear Tam play the flute and witness the joy it brings her at Randyn & Friends Concert this Saturday, March 15th at Cathedral City High School. Tickets can be purchased at Ticket River. If you can make it, I’ll see you there.

So, what kind of music can increase your feeling of happiness? That depends.

By now you probably know what can lift you out of a funk. Immersing yourself in a work of ethereal beauty that gives you the shivers or chills like a symphony or a great jazz player wailing the blues is an effective strategy to transcend sadness. Classical or jazz may be your best bet if you’re seeking calmness and relaxation. A sad song may even bring about happiness indirectly for those who know the value of a good cry or cathartic release. On the other hand, consonant, up-tempo music in a major key may be the best choice if you simply need a pick-me-up after a stressful day at work.

More than any specific type of music, it’s songs that personally bring you joy, bring back happy memories, and make your spirit soar that can increase your happiness. Here are 15 of my favorite happy songs. And yes, some of these songs show my Baby Boomer roots. No matter what generation, I dare you to listen to these and not tap your feet and feel better!

Walking On Sunshine, Karina & the Waves

Beautiful Day, U2

I’m a Believer, The Monkees

Put Your Records On, by Corinne Bailey Rae

Three Little Birds, Bob Marley

Here Comes the Sun, Beatles

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, Diana Ross/Supremes/Temptations

ABC, Jackson 5

Build Me Up Buttercup, The Foundations

Brighter Than The Sun, Colbie Caillat

Don’t Worry, Be Happy, Bobby McFerrin

Something Bout a Boat, Jimmy Buffett

Coconut Song, Harry Nilsson

Over the Rainbow / What a Wonderful World, Israel Kamakawiwo’ole

Soak Up The Sun, Sheryl Crow

A few of my friends mentioned songs such as Feeling Good by Michael Buble, Mr. Blue Sky by ELO, and Happy Together by Turtles. My lifelong friend, Susie, reminded me of Brighter than the Sun, which I like so much I’m claiming it as my own in the list above. My sister and a friend both mentioned Happy by Pharrell Williams.

What songs never fail to bring you out of your funk?