About Me

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Kymberlie Ingalls is native to the Bay Area in California. She is a pioneer in blogging, having self-published online since 1997. Her style is loose, experimental, and a journey in stream of consciousness. Works include personal essay, prose, short fictional stories, and a memoir in progress. Thank you for taking a moment of your time to visit. Beware of the occasional falling opinions. For editing services: http://www.rainfallpress.com/

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Amy's Choice

It is rare that I can't appreciate an artist's work because it's been eclipsed so monumentally by their antics, but Amy Winehouse is an exception to that rule.  When she first came on the mainstream radar for me, I was too busy to pay much attention.  By the time I ever first heard a song by her, her troubles had all been splashed across tabloid after tabloid, with video evidence to back up most of the claims.

Tragically, Amy had 'short shelf life' tattooed all across her.  We can hope the best for these train-wreck celebrities, and some sail through to old age and are the better artist for it.  Amy Winehouse wasn't destined to be one.  She was someone who took "Live hard and die young" to heart.  Her refusal to change was apparent in the song Rehab. While a groovy number with great jams and catchy rhythms, it was a defiant rebel yell to the concerns for her state of mind.

This isn't going to be a sudden idolization of Amy from the ashes of her tragic end, nor am I looking to make a pariah of her legacy.  I'm listening to songs right now, Back To Black, You Know I'm No Good, Stronger Than Me, and I'm hearing what she's telling me.  She made her choices, and created a lifestyle, and it eventually claimed her.

Legacy?  I wonder.  IHow sad to be leave a legacy of being a tabloid queen, a troubled performer, and someone who couldn't care enough to see the ride through, just another unfinished story that will simply become a True Hollywood Story in a sea of many. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Baby, Be Mine

Driving down a California highway on a breezy day is the best way to rediscover your pop bliss.  I have experienced moments with Shaun Cassidy the likes of which I've never found with any man in the flesh.  It's that tingle I get when I hear the opening beats and the tambourine, then the guitar comes in, and soon I am "Da Doo Ron Ron"ing all over the place. 

Long ago, in a faraway time, I was a little girl with Michael Jackson stickers plastered all over my Trapper Keeper that I carried to classes in junior high, and I was in love with a boy who argued with Paul over who was the better lover, and danced his way into my life with his slick, groovy sounds.  Nobody did 'tenderooni' like MJ.

But then I grew up, and as I did, so did Michael.  He morphed into this unrecognizable person that I never quite understood, and I'm not going to sit here and profess to know whether the accusations against him were true or false, but the truth is I have had a very hard time listening to songs that should have been innocent fun - P Y T (Pretty Young Thing) - without hearing in a whole new light.  And his songs grew more extreme, but for whatever reason I just wasn't getting the message.  One could say we just drifted apart.

Today, as the wind tossed my hair around and I thumped on the steering wheel in time with the songs on my party mix playlist, I didn't skip ahead as I've done for so long when I heard the familiar opening notes of this song, Baby Be Mine.  It was a brief moment of remembering a moment that I shared with a young man finding his way as I began to do the same. 

So, for that few minutes, I let myself be young, and I let Michael be young too. 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Piano Men

          It should have been a spectacular way to spend our sixth anniversary last November.  I rarely enjoy going to big concerts, so large you end up watching the entire performance on a video screen.  Pointless.  Save a hundred dollars and wait for the DVD.  I prefer small venues like the open air Mountain Winery in Saratoga on a gorgeous starry evening where I’ve seen the likes of The Beach Boys, Olivia Newton-John, Kenny Rogers – all idols of mine, and of course the greatest songwriter of the twentieth century, Willie Nelson.
          But, this would be an exception.  This was two legends on the same stage, side by side, face to face. 
          Alas, thanks to the “pig plague,” as my husband Roger calls it, having struck one of the singers, the concert was to be postponed.  I’m not usually one to anticipate things of a good nature, I tend to dwell instead on the worst - but I’d been so looking forward to this evening, and to have it cancelled the day before was such a letdown.  So, our anniversary concert was now to be our Valentine’s concert, rescheduled in February.
          We headed out to the San Jose Shark Tank, also known as the HP Pavilion.  Fighting traffic all the way, the evening didn’t start well and wasn’t improving with the bland Japanese dinner at a local café.  Shelling out twenty dollars for parking was just the icing on the cake! 
          Making our way through the crowd, Roger and I found our seats in the second to the highest row in the enclosed arena.  The stage looked pretty tiny from where we were in the middle of a long row, and our crowd seemed like they wouldn’t be too out of control.  Soon enough, however, a young couple came to plop in the vacant chairs beside us, bouncing around and giggling.  Realizing they were in the wrong seats, they climbed to the row behind us.  Little did I know how unfortunate that would be!
          Eventually the lights dimmed, and dual spotlights crossed each other as two grand pianos rose up from beneath the stage.  Then, slowly, they entered from either side, walking with the gait of two aged men who’d walked a million miles of stage between them.  They met in the middle with waves to the cheers that surrounded them.
          There stood Elton John and Billy Joel, two men who had written and sung epic soundtracks that have encompassed much of my lifetime.  My eyes stung slightly at knowing I was in the presence of greatness, sure as an artist stands before a painting by Picasso and is transfixed by its agelessness.  As they sat at their pianos facing each other, I could hear the beginning of one of my favorite romantic songs tinkling out through the audience. 

“So excuse me for forgetting but these things I do – you see, I’ve forgotten if they’re green or they’re blue – anyway, the thing is, what I really mean is yours are the sweetest eyes I’ve ever seen…”  Simple in its words, with the earnest of an everyday love, their voices blended, going on to duet each other’s hit songs. 
Eventually, Elton took the stage alone, and gave a fantasmic performance with graphics from his colorful albums floating in a sea of lights behind the band.  The only thing to deter Roger and I from becoming completely lost in the sweeping melodies was the over-excitement of the high-pitched screaming from the row behind us.  The young girl’s animated voice pierced our ears over the amazingly loud concert, and as Tone Deaf Minnie Mouse sang and yelled, her inebriated companion shouted “It’s a party!” to which I promptly turned around and “politely” replied “No, it’s a hundred dollar-a-ticket concert that I did not invite you to ruin.”  This seemed to quiet them down for a few minutes, but not nearly long enough. 
The summery ballad Tiny Dancer that always takes me back to a rare, happy memory of my youth.  The mysteriously dark Madman Across The Water, and the forever rebellious Goodbye Yellow Brick Road that evokes a time of survival as I came of age. 

Elton’s gnarled fingers still had a touch of grace as they danced across the ivory and black keys, his voice as powerful as ever as he told tales of wisdom and introspect.  This has always been what’s drawn me to his songs – the inner soulful search and an angst that I would come to understand too well as the decades passed me by all too quickly.
“He was born a pauper to a pawn on a Christmas day, when the New York Times said God is dead…”

After Elton’s commanding set, Billy took his place on the stage.  He began with a joke at his own aged expense before he began to pound the keys in front of him in a rollicking frenzy.  “Hi, Billy Joel couldn’t make it tonight, I’m his dad.  But it’s okay, I know all his stuff!” 
The songs that followed transcended the memories of my teen years, flowing into adulthood.  Like Billy, I have grown from an angry young person to someone who has tempered themselves with the time and tide of a long-lived life.  Ironically, when I hear these songs, the first association I have is my stepmother.  This music told a crazy tale of a turbulent time, these heated songs were played over and over to showcase her dislike of life, and of my brother and me.  And yet, over the years, I’ve found my own echo in the words.
He sang to the appreciative crowd with his early rebel songs such as Movin’ Out and My Life, songs about taking a stab at independence.  The industrious tribute to the blue collar worker Allentown still rings true today.  Billy even rocked out with his guitar while “having a senior moment” in trying to remember the tongue-twisting lyrics to his middle-aged revolution We Didn’t Start The Fire.  Not bad for sixty plus years of rough living.

A church-like atmosphere overtook the stadium with the jaunty rag Only The Good Die Young, leaving every woman in the hall wishing that she could be the innocent Virginia he was trying to lead astray.  ”They say there’s a heaven for those who will wait, some say it’s better but I say it ain’t.  I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints – the sinners are much more fun ‘cause only the good die young..!”
 The tribal sounds of The River Of Dreams jubilantly played, from his last original album of music, aptly titled Famous Last Words, released in 1993.  Few know that Billy did release one more album after, a classical composition that fulfilled a long-awaited dream of his. 
But nothing stilled me such as hearing my own personal theme song, Always A Woman, played out before the hushed crowd.  All of my life I have felt nobody could write a more appropriate song to describe my longings, my quirks, my reasons and rhyme.  It was a moment of pure shivering magic that I hadn’t felt since seeing Liza Minnelli belting out New York, New York.  I remember that night vividly, as I’d waited for so long to see such a moment, only for it to be more bittersweet as the strain was apparent in her once magnificent voice.  Still, magic is magic.

The two icons then joined together once again to lead the crowd in a sing-a-long of such classics as Bennie And The Jets, a song that brought back memories of singing quietly to a sweet little namesake kitten as I nursed her to health.  The golden Candle In The Wind with the ghost of Marilyn Monroe vividly reflecting off of the stage.  We were all carried away to our younger days as they pounded furiously on the ivories with You May Be Right (I May Be Crazy), the proclamation of a half-crazed generation.
It was beautifully appropriate when the harmonica sweetly played over the melancholy piano notes as they serenaded us and each other with Piano Man, the song that introduced the world to a young songwriter named Bill.  A song that still encourages us to look around at the people who are stones in a path to where we want to be.
The three hours these men shared with us are likely to be one of the sweetest memories I will cherish.  As I listened to each bit of their lives, I reflected on my own.  It saddens me to watch my idols grow older, but comforts me to know that what they’ve gifted us with are songs in the key of life. 
”Son, can you play me a memory, I’m not really sure how it goes, but it’s sad and it’s sweet and I knew it complete when I wore a younger man’s clothes…”