Music and House Painting

In either 1992 or 1993 The Curmudgeon took advantage of the week off between Christmas and the new year that his employer so generously gave him to paint his bedroom and cut, paint, and hang crown molding in that room.  (And if you want a good laugh, picture The Curmudgeon trying to work with a miter box.  Can’t picture it?  Well, try picturing Larry, Moe, and Shemp working with a miter box. THAT bad.)

To help pass the time while he spackled, sanded, taped, painted, moved around furniture and drop cloths, and desperately worked to clean up paint spills that evaded his drop cloths before they became permanently embedded in the wall-to-wall carpeting, The Curmudgeon brought his boom box into his bedroom – stop laughing, people, it was 1992 or 1993.  The paint job went well, the molding was amateurish but, since it was nine feet above the ground, not conspicuously so, but the enduring legacy of the hours he spent in that room that week listening to what at the time passed for alternative radio were four performers, only one of whom he had even heard of before that week, whose music has given him countless hours of pleasure over the years:  Lucinda Williams, Tori Amos, Shawn Colvin, and Rosanne Cash.  It was quite an experience; the house is long gone but the music lives on.

With Mrs. Curmudgeon and stepson J out of town recently visiting family and with the dog away with a sitter – The Curmudgeon adores the dog but does not do solo care – The Curmudgeon took this rare opportunity alone in an empty house to paint J’s bedroom. There was no boom box this weekend, just a tiny Bose blaring from the room next door, and instead of alternative radio he listened to some old albums from his iPod, with an emphasis on music that offered both melody and volume.  Volume is essential, The Curmudgeon finds, when painting and cooking.

During these hours he didn’t discover any new performers but did rediscover a few songs he knew from the past but heard anew, with previously unrealized appreciation, during his two days of spackling, sanding, taping, painting, moving around furniture and drop cloths, and desperately working to clean up paint spills that evaded his drop cloths before they became permanently embedded in the 100-year-old oak floors.

Now he’d like to share those songs with you.

The first is Billy Joel’s “Tell Her About It.”  For The Curmudgeon this must be about getting married for the first time at the age of 59 and realizing how incredibly lucky this boy is.  It’s also a really good song.

The second is Meatloaf – again, The Curmudgeon sees you snickering; cut it out now – singing “For Crying Out Loud.”  It’s loud, bombastic, overblown, and MacArthur Park-esque in length, but the singing is great, the piano-playing is out of this world, and the lyrics are pretty stirring.

La Ronstadt

And the third is Linda Ronstadt’s “Sorrow Lives Here,” which sounds like it comes from the 1940s but was written in 1967 by Eric Kaz (who also wrote “Love Has No Pride,” so this guy has some serious chops).  The Curmudgeon doesn’t ever recall hearing this song on the radio, but since it was released in 1977 and he was still a few years away from having his first car with an FM radio, that’s not such a surprise.  The song features a strong melody, more great piano playing, terrific lyrics, an inspiring sort of musical urgency, and of course that stirring, amazing Ronstadt voice.



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