Song of the Week

Song of the Week: “The End of the World As We Know It,” Great Big Sea (cover)

Only in So Cal: kindergarteners enjoying man-made snow

As I dropped my sixth grade son at school this morning, it hit me. This is my last week as an elementary school mom. Admittedly, I’ve had some time to get used to this idea — eleven years, to be exact. That’s a lot of cookie dough and wrapping paper sales. A lot of field trip permission slips, holiday performances and bring-something-that-represents-your-heritage classroom potlucks. (My macaroni and cheese has always been popular. It was that or beer.)

My son is ready to transition to the big world of junior high. I thought I was too, until I found my eyes welling up as I pulled away from the curb.

Every once in awhile, the world — or at least Sirius radio — provides the perfect soundtrack to our lives. As I drove toward home, R.E.M.’s “The End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” began to play. I’ve always liked that song, especially the super-speedy Great Big Sea cover. I’ve never understood the song’s meaning, so when I got home I looked it up on And guess what? It doesn’t really mean anything. Michael Stipes, who wrote it, calls it “a collection of streams of consciousness.” Hey, I can relate to that.

This one’s for all the moms and dads who are attending promotions, commencements, graduations or any other ceremony that marks the end of an era, for both your child and yourself. We’re all going to feel fine. Just give us a little time (and a whole bunch of tissues).

“The End of the World As We Know It (and I Feel Fine,” Great Big Sea (Cover)


Song of the Week: “Chanukah in West Virginia” (Scott Simons)

With the exception of The Hallelujah Chorus and the Charlie Brown soundtrack, I loathe Christmas music, partly because most songs are like Katy Perry tunes — fun and catchy the first ten times you hear them, fine for the next twenty to one hundred plays, and irritating thereafter — but mostly because they function as an omnipresent reminder of ALL OF THE THINGS WE NEED TO ACCOMPLISH BY DECEMBER 25, most of which involve spending money on stuff no one really wants.

So. I won’t use this space to promote a Christmas song because we’ve all heard too many of them already. Instead, here’s a fun and heartfelt Chanukah song with a homespun video that I love — it’s like a digital equivalent of the shoe box dioramas we used to make in the days before Michael’s craft stores. Happy Chanukah . . . merry almost-Christmas . . . and a joyous new year to all.

“Chanukah in West Virginia,” Scott Simons


What Came First: The Soundtrack to my Brain

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ONE MORE DAY till What Came First is out in stores! And know what is really exciting? I just figured out how to create an iTunes playlist and how to link it to this blog post.

I. Am. Awesome.

True, I posted a playlist once before, but I must have been in some weird fugue state because I had absolutely no idea how I did it. Anyway, if you’re just tuning in, I listen to music a lot (though never while I’m writing), partly because I like music and partly because it helps loosen up my brain and get me in touch with my characters. Or something.

What Came First is the first book I’ve written from multiple perspectives, and it took me awhile to get a handle on all of the characters. One thing that helped: deciding what kind of music everyone enjoyed. Laura, the single mom and lawyer, liked Michael Buble and sixties sunshine pop, while Vanessa, the dental office receptionist, preferred Rihanna. As for Wendy, the frazzled mother of two tantrum-prone five-year-olds — she just wanted silence.

Here’s the link: What Came First playlist

If you actually link on the playlist (c’mon . . . make me proud), you may notice that there are two versions of the Rihanna song “Umbrella,” but neither is sung by Rihanna. That’s because:

1. Vanessa and her boyfriend have different tastes in music, and she liked the original version, while he liked the mellower Scott Simons cover, BUT

2. This is my playlist and I don’t really like Rihanna so I took her version off, AND

3. When I put my list on Ping, I initially selected an All Time Low “Umbrella” cover by mistake, but I don’t know how to delete it .

Which means? I. Am. Not. Awesome. Damn.

Anyway, there’s no official Scott Simons “Umbrella” video on YouTube, but here’s an unofficial — and kind of comically literal — collage thing. And if you don’t like comically literal collages? Just close your eyes and listen. I think you’ll like it.



Song of the Week: “Almost,” Bowling for Soup

I love Bowling for Soup for a whole bunch of reasons. Their tunes are catchy, their vibe is happy, and their lyrics are funny. They take their music seriously — without taking themselves too seriously. Or at all seriously. A lot of us artsy types could learn from that.

“Almost” is the first song on my Getting Warmer playlist. I envisioned it playing on the radio as chronically late high school teacher Natalie rushed to get to work in the morning.

Okay, the real reason I love “Almost”? Because Bowling for Soup managed to rhyme “Texas” with “breast-es.”

Pure genius.

“Almost,” Bowling for Soup

For full lyrics, check out this YouTube video: