My Five Essential Jazz Recordings

Saxophone

I am not a jazz expert, but I wish I was one.

My jazz experience began in high school and continued through college, right up until the moment when I realized I had taken my saxophone abilities as far as I could. I saw the wall, I could touch it… and I knew that whatever I needed to break it down, was not in me.

For those that aren’t certain what I mean, I’m talking about feeling the music in your own performance and then claiming it. Oh, I could play a song that was put on the stand in front of me, I could even do a “successful” solo. (I put that in quotes, because why it might sound good to the audience that day, I knew I was just repeating what I did the last time I performed the tune.) In other words, I was merely doing what I needed to do.

See, I’ve never been the kind of person to be satisfied with just “doing what I needed to do,” and this is especially true around the arts. If, for example, I am to write a book, it needs to be different from every other book you may pick up. And if it is in a genre, it will break the mold. If this sounds arrogant or bombastic, you are right. For that is how I see myself. I claim it. I am loud. You pick up a Scott Southard work and you will get something unique and different, nothing cookie-cutter. And I could never be that for jazz with my saxophone so I dropped being a music major, walked away from the music muse and ran over to the one that oversaw writers.

As much as I know my own limitations, accepted them, and my saxophone continues to gather dust in my closet, I still love jazz. I read books on artists, have watched Ken Burns’ documentary on Jazz numerous times, and collect jazz on vinyl. My weekends begin with the scratchy sound of the needle dropping, and doesn’t stop until the kids are asleep.

Below are my five favorite recordings, with my reasons and links. These are the one that stir me, inspire me, and make me wish I was something more than I am. I can’t give you reasons why they are important like an expert could for Mr. Ken Burns, I can only say, “this for me is jazz.” Continue reading

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The Importance of the Writing Heart

The Musings & Artful Blunders of Scott D. Southard

Writing HeartThere is this truth around writing that we all can’t put our finger on. It’s enigmatic, elusive. But this “thing” can make a story or destroy it; it can change a letter from something that is thrown away or kept; and it is what makes an e-mail readable or spam.

Let me break this down in a different way.

As a book reviewer, I’ve had the pleasure of reading a lot of contemporary literature. And many times, these works will be by academics with amazing degrees and resumes. No one can deny these books are well-written, with a well-developed vocabulary and well-crafted plots. Yet, as a reader they don’t stick. I have no emotional attachment. It is like finishing a dry work assignment, not a work of art.

Recently, I had the same feeling reading Purity by Jonathan Franzen (you can read and hear my review here). No respectable…

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“That’s Amore” by Dean Martin

For Valentine’s Day, re-posting a blogpost I did about Italy, love, and a bad song by Dean Martin. Enjoy!

The Musings & Artful Blunders of Scott D. Southard

Dean MartinThis is the fourth in my “With Music” series, where I capture moments in my life through a song. The others  so far included a song by Ben Folds Five (you can read it here), Sheryl Crow (here), and the third was about one of the best songs ever by Beth Orton (here). Check them out! (After reading this one, of course.)

I never really liked Dean Martin’s music.

When I think of classic crooners, I always lean towards Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Nat “King” Cole. Bing had a nice jazz rhythm and friendliness in his voice, Frank was art (a unique and always beautiful combination of arrangement and voice), and Nat… Nat was the man. Smooth voice and a great jazz piano player. His album After Midnight might be my favorite album of all time. I can’t think of a week I…

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Living With Snoopy

Last night, I completed a herculean task that I once thought was impossible. See, I can now say that i have read EVERY SINGLE Peanuts comic strip ever. It’s weirdly both something I feel proud about and also very depressed about. (I have a feeling Charlie Brown would understand a reaction like that.)

As you will see from this blogpost, Snoopy and his gang were very important to me growing up. To have now lost the capability to read something new… I don’t want to say it is like losing something, but there is a part of me definitely gone that I am still figuring out.

Maybe it will feel like mourning for Charles Schulz again? I don’t know.

Of course, I never knew Mr. Schulz. But now I feel like I have spent a life with him since it was 50 years of art. It could be said I spent a lifetime with all of the Peanuts gang. From beginning to end, it was very worth it.

The Musings & Artful Blunders of Scott D. Southard

Charlie Brown taught me how to read.

My father, growing up in the 60’s, collected Peanuts books and they filled up almost an entire bookshelf in my grandparents’ house. For a child, those four paneled black-and-white sketches were an untapped goldmine. I knew there were riches there; I just had no idea how to translate them. I was like Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark, standing over the miniature landscape, trying to figure out how to use the map to find the Well of Souls where the Ark is housed.

Like Indy, I was not the kind of child to give up on something easily. So slowly and with many questions over time, I learned how to read the panels; memorizing one word after another. My curiosity drove me. So while others of  my age were learning words like “Cat” and “Dog,” I could read “Blockhead” and…

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“Don’t Change Your Plans” by Ben Folds Five

My big surprising Christmas present this year was a record player. Which means I am now addicted to buying vinyl and going through old record shops. It is sooo much fun, and I have lost hours doing it. One hope I have on my list is to find some old Ben Folds Five. Man, I love that band… which makes me think of this story I wrote… I hope you like it.

The Musings & Artful Blunders of Scott D. Southard

Elf EarsMusic has always been very important to me. Many times when I look back at a time or a memory, a song will sneak in before an image. I thought it would be interesting to look back at people and moments by tapping into this quirk. This is the first in what I am thinking of calling my “With Music” series.

She had elf ears.

People confuse elf ears with vulcan ears, but that is just not fair. Vulcan ears (Spock) look out  of place for a reason; they are alien, different. The old Star Trek was filled with this. Want something to look alien? Accent something that we are not used to. But elf ears are different. They are an extension of nature, they embrace the face, accenting, like a playful cursive twist at the end of a letter. They can remind more of a vine slowing stretching…

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The Truest Thing

Hi persons of quality!

Want to hear something cool? My wife (an amazing human being and very patient) was interviewed on the Pilates Unfiltered podcast. You can find a link to the interview as well as her thoughts on the discussion via her site (this post). I’m really proud to be married to Heather and call her my best friend. I hope you will take a listen.

educating dancers

I am humbled to have been a guest on Jenna Zaffino’s podcast, Pilates Unfiltered. Jenna is a force in the world and I am lucky to know her. She is inspiring because she does good work but more so because she MAKES THINGS HAPPEN.

Here is the link to Jenna’s website, specifically to the Pilates Unfiltered podcast.

And here is the wave washing over me right now.  For Brené Brown readers, there may be a little vulnerability hang-over mixed up in this. (It might make the most sense if you are familiar with my work in Creative Self-Care and/or listed to the interview.)

The goal of my work is to reach the truest thing.

Jenna and others have described my work as pioneering. Maybe- I am not convinced.

If it is, it is because the value of what I do is placed on– no, offered to– the general person and…

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Recently, You and Me: Me, My Wife and Dave Matthews Band

Every year, I consider seeing Dave Matthews in concert. This time it would be with Tim Reynolds. Glorious! That would be awesome… And, just like every other year, life gets in the ways. This time his performance is on my kids’ last full day of school. Come on!

Deep breath.

Okay, maybe next year… maybe next year…

The Musings & Artful Blunders of Scott D. Southard

dmbMy wife has this way of internally rolling her eyes, when she doesn’t want me to see she is rolling her eyes…. Yet, I still know she is doing it and she knows I know.

A lot of this eye rolling has been occurring because of another man. Well, technically, a band of them. For the last year I’ve regained my obsession with Dave Matthews Band and their music. The funny thing is this obsession was rekindled after a bad concert.

Yes, Dave Matthews Band is known for their amazing live performances, but my complaint was not with them. This guilt is all on the shoulders of the audience around me. During the show I almost wondered if my annoyance was because I am older and this is not a thing anymore (and really concert going can take a lot of energy). Nah. This ain’t on my shoulders. Honestly, the…

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My Writing Resolutions 2017

luke-handIt is really easy to complain about 2016, but with 2017 here now, I can’t help but be more concerned.

If 2016 is the Star Wars of bad years, this could be the sequel. And the sequel was more intense, right? Han got stuck in carbon freeze. Luke lost a hand…

There! Right there, is my image of what 2016 was.

Luke without a hand. The problem is we all have more limbs left to get chopped.

Get your lightsabers out, people! Here comes 2017!

Here are some of my writing resolutions for the next year.

  1. My big hope is to find a path to getting my most recent novel in readers’ hands. I’m really proud of this book and have spoken to agents and smaller publishers about it. Hopefully, something will happen. It’s hard not to write more about it here. I would love to talk about the plot and the characters, but I have to keep it under wraps until a plan is in place. All I can say is that it will be a very unique literary treat and I look forward to sharing more about it.
  1. Last year I began a writing project on my site. Uses of This World is my retelling of Shakespeare’s Hamlet but set in 1920s Europe. (You can read the completed chapters that make up Act I here.) I’m really proud of it and I plan to work on Act II over this year. One act a year feels about right and keeps it from distracting me too much from other writing and projects. If you haven’t checked it out, you should. If anything it is very different.
  1. I haven’t been on WKAR’s Current State in quite some time. I did like doing the book reviews on the radio show and it was a good 3.5 years. (You can read and listen to my book reviews here.) I also think it was inspiring for me as writer to be reading so many books a year (and sometimes a bad book could be more creatively energizing for me than a good book, if you can believe it). I hope to do the occasional book review on this site until I know what is going to happen with my more professional book reviewing in the future. Does anyone know how to reach Fresh Air with Terry Gross? LOL.
  1. I need to decide what I want to do with this site. Sometimes it is hard to find the inspiration to say something unique here. I blame the last year, life stuff, and the election for drawing this writing “depression” out. And when I was inspired to write, it felt more important to work on my current book and the efforts to get it out there. I need focus and so does this site.

Overall, it’s an odd feeling for me looking forward to this year. Usually, I have a good plan for what I want to do in the next year and where the world is going, and I can’t say for certain about any of that right now. I will say that I have become a monthly contributor to the Natural Resources Defense Council. They are one organization putting up the good fight to protect our planet, for climate change is real. You can sign up here, and I recommend you do too. Or find a different cause you care about and help. There are a lot of great options from Planned Parenthood to Everytown for Gun Safety.

The fight for 2017 and our country’s future is only beginning.

Boy, that was dramatic of me. Hmmmm…. I need something more positive to say to end this post…. Oh, I am seeing Hamilton this year! That is cool. (Sorry, you can’t come.)

Good luck to all of us this year!

A Christmas Short Story… and a surprise coming on December 24!

Linus and the treeHello persons of quality!

Let’s enjoy this time of the year, for God only knows where the world will be next year at this time.  Right now I consider myself an amateur cocktail maker, but my guess is by next year I will be a pro. You notice how everyone has dark senses of humor right now? There is a reason for that. We are all chuckling with a tear.

Happy Holidays!

Anyway, this is the last holiday post I will be sharing (you can scroll below on the main page for my other nuggets of holiday joy; like why Neil Diamond has the worst holiday song and “The Littlest Angel” shouldn’t be in heaven). This is my short story called “Kris and Me.” I really like it a lot. Soon to be a Hallmark movie!

(That last bit isn’t true, but you gotta think sooner or later they will call. They have been trying to get the last bit of Christmas peanut butter from that jar for a long time now. Sooner or later they have to pick up the phone.)

I hope you will check out my story. The link is below.

Kris and Me: A Christmas Story in 3 Parts

And one last thing! Come back to this site on December 24 in the morning. There will be a surprise for my readers! Can I give a hint? No, you have to wait. It’s wrapped and under the tree. Well, a virtual tree, but it’s right there in gold wrapping.

See you on December 24.

 

Neil Diamond’s “A Cherry Cherry Christmas” is the Worst Christmas Song Ever! A Holiday Musical Rant.

The Musings & Artful Blunders of Scott D. Southard

It Even he doesn't look happy with the result...takes a lot to write a worse song than “Christmas Shoes.”

You could almost see a contest being created around the Herculean task. The title of the contest could relate to old, smelly sneakers or something.

Yet, in 2009 Neil Diamond would have won the coveted holey shoe without any trouble at all with his “A Cherry Cherry Christmas.” (You see how I did that? Because we are talking about the holidays and I said “holey” instead of holy?… Oh, nevermind.)

How did I escape this atrocity to the holidays for the last few years?

It might be my first proof of Christmas angels. (And not the little ones who are all alone with no toys to play with except a shoebox… Wow, I hate that children’s book; most depressing vision of the afterlife ever.) See, I love the holiday season and one of my little embarrassing quirks…

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