Michael Cavacini

An award-winning arts and culture blog.

Archive for the month “January, 2013”

Music Review: Blue Sky Riders – Finally Home

Finally HomeOver the past 40 years, Kenny Loggins has sold millions of albums, charted numerous hits and won two Grammy awards. He first achieved success as one half of Loggins and Messina, and then went on to greater heights as a solo act with chart-topping songs like “Footloose,” “I’m Alright” and “Danger Zone.” Now that he’s 65, one would think he’d be slowing down, but that’s not the case. Instead, Loggins has started a new band, the Blue Sky Riders, and their first album, Finally Home, drops tomorrow.

I listened to this album today, from start to finish, and it’s very good. It’s an amalgam of rock and country music, and it’s filled with infectious melodies. It’s comprised of a well-balanced mix of upbeat, mid-tempo and slow songs, and all of them feature excellent musicianship. Moreover, all three members of the group are given the opportunity to shine. The music is layered with beautiful harmonies and soulful vocals that will make you want to sing along.

Kenny Loggins career has been like a three-act play; each act has had different tone. The first two acts were excellent, and based on the music being produced by the Blue Sky Riders, it’s safe to say his third act is going to be a memorable one. I highly recommend you check out Finally Home. It’s a terrific debut album by a band with an extremely bright future.

Below is the official video for one of the best songs on the album: “Dream.”

Janis Ian – Take Me Walking In The Rain

I recently discovered Janis Ian, a famous folk singer from the 1970s. While exploring her vast body of work, I’ve come across many memorable songs. However, my favorite one is “Take Me Walking In The Rain.” Below is the live version of the song as well as the beautiful lyrics. Enjoy!

“Take Me Walking In The Rain”

This town isn’t big enough for my dreams
This place is just about to break at the seams
Baby baby, you and I
need just a little bigger piece of the sky
Big hopes, big dreams
Baby, can you set me free?

Take me walking in the rain
Take me dancing in the waves, baby
Let ’em wipe away the tears
Wash away the years
Take me walking in the rain

Take me right here where I stand
Let me feel your heart on mine
Life’ll never be the same
We’ve got everything to gain
Take me walking in the rain

This life may be good enough for the rest
but this heart is just about to break through my chest
I remember every rule I’ve heard
and I’m strangling on every word
I can’t say they’re wrong,
but baby how can I go on?

Take me walking in the rain
Take me dancing in the waves, baby
Let ’em wipe away the tears
Wash away the years
Take me walking in the rain

Take me right here where I stand
Let me feel your heart on mine
I don’t want somebody new
I just want the rest of you
Take me walking in the rain

Take me right here in the sand
Life ain’t what we plan 
Take me walking in the rain

I Am What I Am

Yesterday I decided to drop my pseudonym from my blog, and buy a domain in my real name. Why? Well, I originally wanted to write under the name M.C. James because I thought it would be more easily searchable than Michael Cavacini. However, I realized that David Baldacci and Lisa Scottoline became bestselling authors with their Italian last names, so why can’t I?

Of course, this reminded me of a song: “I Am What I Am,” from La Cage aux Folles. This song seems apropos because, beyond its original meaning, the lyrics can speak to anyone questioning his or her identity in an artistic medium. It’s not always easy figuring out who one should be or what works best. But sometimes simply saying, “I am what I am” and going with it makes the most sense. Many people have covered this song, but one of my personal favorites is by Dame Shirley Bassey. Below are the lyrics as well as a video of Bassey performing it live. Enjoy!

I Am What I Am

I am what I am
I am my own special creation
So come take a look
Give me the hook or the ovation
It’s my world
That I want to have a little pride in
My world
And it’s not a place I have to hide in
Life’s not worth a damn
Till you can say
I am what I am

I am what I am
I don’t want praise, I don’t want pity
I bang my own drum
Some think it’s noise, I think it’s pretty
And so what if I love each sparkle and each bangle
Why not try to see things from a different angle
Your life is a sham
Till you can shout out
I am what I am

I am what I am
And what I am needs no excuses
I deal my own deck
Sometimes the ace, sometimes the deuces
It’s one life and there’s no return and no deposit
One life so it’s time to open up your closet
Life’s not worth a damn till you can shout out
I am what I am

Michael Des Barres: The Key of Love

Michael Des BarresI woke up this morning to find out that Michael Des Barres, one of my favorite musicians, just released a new single: “The Key of Love.” While Michael’s previous work included a solid rock album and a fun Christmas song, “The Key of Love” is a beautiful, mid-tempo ballad with heartfelt lyrics. What impresses me most about this song are the vocals; Michael masterfully hits high notes in “The Key of Love,” and he sounds better than ever. The arrangement is also worth noting as the guitar, horn section and backup vocals create a melody you won’t soon forget. It’s a worthy addition to any music lover’s library.

Supermarket Stories: Jack Daniels

Jack DanielsAlmost all of my shifts at the supermarket are six hours. To kill the time I regularly engage customers in conversations about a variety of subjects – music, dating, the stock market, and, sometimes, food. Doing so has helped me gain a reputation for being one of the nicest cashiers at the store. Besides praising me for being good at my job, some customers – both male and female – will compliment me on my looks. This doesn’t bother me in the least. I’m grateful that people of different ages, races and sexes find me attractive. On a crappy day, having some old lady tell me I look “like a movie star” makes me feel like a million bucks. However, when customers cross the line, it can get creepy.

One night, several years ago, I was in the express lane ringing up countless customers. My line stretched all the way to Egypt, and I was doing my best to get them in and out as quickly as possible. Even though I get paid by the hour, and not per customer, I still take pride in being efficient and establishing a quick, rhythmic pace. This results in me getting lost in the moment and time slipping away like grains of sand.

After the rush of customers had gone home to have dinner, I let out a sigh of relief and took a swig of water. When my eyes landed on my next customer, I instantly recognized him; he lived in the neighborhood and, based on the scrubs he always wore, worked at a hospital. We’d never spoken outside the store and I didn’t know his name, but I still “knew” him. However, this time he was accompanied by another man, whom I didn’t know.

After placing his items on the conveyor belt, I greeted him and he drunkenly slurred, “Hello handsome.” His friend, who I quickly deduced was his partner, yelled at him: “Jack, stop that!” Jack continued by saying, “I’ve seen you outside the store. You look good in regular clothes.” Needless to say, I was mortified. This customer was drunk and hitting on me, in front of his boyfriend no less – who kept yelling “Jack!” every time he said something inappropriate. All I could do was say, “Do you have your savings card?” and get him out of my line as quickly as possible.

After he left, I never saw Jack at the supermarket or in the neighborhood again. Either he and his partner broke up and he moved away or his partner killed him; I’m not sure. I’m just thankful there wasn’t a sequel to that incredibly awkward experience. One encounter with Jack “Daniels” was more than enough for me.

Review: Louis C.K. Live

Louis C.K.Tonight I saw Louis C.K. live for the first time, and he was great. As many of you know, George Carlin is my all-time favorite comedian. He is quickly followed by Lewis Black, and Louis C.K. is right up there. If his career continues on this trajectory, Louis C.K. will be considered a comedic legend in 40 years.

Tonight was night two of three sold-out shows in Philadelphia. Unless you’re Jerry Seinfeld, whose humor puts me to sleep, selling out more than one night in a row is unheard of in stand-up comedy. While the crowd was fairly diverse, a large portion of it consisted of young people. Similar to George Carlin, Louis C.K. seems to strike a cord with the youth of America. Perhaps it’s the irreverent humor or his self-deprecating personality. The only thing that’s certain is he’s got a winning formula.

I won’t reveal any of the jokes he told during the show, because you should see Louis C.K. live for yourself. If you can’t, you’ll be glad to know that he’s having several of the shows in February recorded for an upcoming HBO special. That said, I can reveal that he touched on a variety of subjects including: pedophilia, aging, food allergies, and patriotism. Needless to say, he infused all of these topics, and more, with witty observations and a twisted sense of humor.

If you get a chance to see Louis C.K. on this tour, do so. He’s charging only $45 for every ticket (including fees and taxes), regardless of where you sit. For your money you get two compelling hours of comedy you won’t soon forget.

For the uninitiated, below is one of Louis C.K.’s classic bits.

John Oates – Beauty

John OatesOne of the most gorgeous songs I’ve ever heard is “Beauty” on John Oates’ first solo album, Phunk Shui, which is fantastic from start to finish. Below are the lyrics as well as  the song itself. Enjoy!

Beauty

They say that beauty’s in the eye of the beholder.

Some say beauty is a spirit deep inside.

The colors of the rainbow look the same to young and older.

The way you look at beauty is the way you look at life.

Your state of mind and definitions may change, but the essence of the question goes on.

You can wonder till the end of time, ponder and pray, but I say beauty is the that way you look tonight.

 

To stay in touch with beauty, keep an angel on your shoulder.

Reach for beauty in the stars up in the sky.

Moonlight on the mountains or a sunset on the ocean, the way you look at beauty is the way you look at life.

No black and white, your perceptions may change, so the essence of the question goes on.

You can wonder till the end of time, ponder and pray, but I say beauty is the way that you look tonight.

 

Beauty is the spirit deep inside you that I see in your face.

 

Your state of mind and definitions may change, but the essence of the question goes on.

You can wonder till the end of time, ponder and pray, but I say beauty is the that way you look tonight.

 

People say that beauty is a spirit deep inside.

The way you look at beauty is the way you look at life.

The eye of the beholder is a window to the soul.

Beauty’s just like passion, it’s the same for young and old.

 

 

 

Samsung Google Chromebook Review

Google ChromebookAs promised, below is my Samsung Google Chromebook review. I still prefer my Kinde Fire HD for video and gaming, but the Chromebook is great for surfing the web, email and creating and editing documents. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below and I’ll do my best to answer them.

It’s All In The Details

I’m in the process of writing my first novel, and it’s a time-consuming endeavor because I work two jobs and I’m in graduate school. However, now that I have a new Google Chromebook, I’m starting to make some headway. Having just written a new chapter, I came to a realization about what makes a book memorable to readers – details.

Many of the most effective modern authors (e.g., Ken Follett, Lee Child, etc.) write stories that resonate with readers because they pay close attention to the details. By this I mean they take great care in making sure their stories are infused with a considerable amount of specificity. Whether it’s describing the color and texture of a piece of clothing or slowly unveiling a gripping backstory for one of the lead characters, these authors understand the value in creating a three-dimensional world that readers can practically smell, taste and touch.

With this in mind, I’m making sure my novel contains a considerable amount of detail. I want readers leave my book feeling like they have a true understanding of my characters, their motivations and where they come from. That said, I realize that it’s equally important to make sure the plot doesn’t play second fiddle to the details.

When reading a book or watching a movie or TV show, what do you enjoy most about the story? Do you find the details help flesh out the characters and the situations they face, or do you think they get in the way?

My Google Chromebook Has Arrived

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: