Tag Archives: pop-up video

on why mariah carey’s ‘all i want for christmas’ is one of the greatest pop songs ever written

I know. It’s August. It’s not even Pumpkin Spice Latte season yet, nevermind Christmas. But I think this needs to be brought to light now, in preparation for what’s to come. You know what I’m talking about: the pervasive self-satisfaction in claiming to hate this song. It’s fashionable to disparage it because it’s so damn catchy and upbeat – nowadays nobody wants to be so gauche as to actually enjoy a catchy tune. Even though we all love it, it’s officially attained “guilty pleasure” status. We listen in secret, scorned by the more discriminating tastes of our friends. We apologize when it pops up on our holiday party playlist, feigning embarrassment, even though we deliberately included it. But this season, when your friends start complaining how much they hate it, you no longer have to pretend to agree. You don’t have to feel guilty about liking this song anymore. Because I firmly believe – and will provide evidence to that end – that Mariah Carey’s 1994 hit “All I Want For Christmas” is one of the greatest pop songs ever written.

WARNING: It’s about to get extremely nerdy and a little blasphemous. I make no apologies and I ask no forgiveness. Read on at your own risk.

I’ve read several excellent posts over the years which focused largely on the nostalgic quality of the song lending to its popularity as a Christmas song. The orchestration immediately invokes a holiday mood; the richer, more colorful harmonic language borrowed from the American Songbook (nicely laid out here), as compared to today’s more bland primary chord-based progressions, aurally reminds us of Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, and the Gershwins. The driving 12/8 meter, combined with the obvious stand-alone (as opposed to self-dubbed) backup singers, hearken back to the 50s and 60s Motown sound as well as traditional rock -n-roll, and arguably the pinnacle of the popular Christmas tune (think Andy Williams) and the lion’s share of holiday radio programming. These factors alone make “All I Want for Christmas” a contender for Christmas Tune Hall of Fame. But a key element has been overlooked – an element I consider the essence of this song’s excellence, and the element that, when combined with the song’s Golden Age musical language and Motown texture, makes it one of the greatest pop songs of all time, transcending the ages. That element is form.

In order to understand “All I Want for Christmas” as a modern pop song based in the tradition of the American Songbook, we must consider the formal language of both genres. Typically, a Songbook’s structure is binary: Intro-Verse. The intro, which serves to set the stage for the song proper, can be viewed as a modern version of recitative: though it was metered, it was not strict. The verse’s usual AABA lyric structure was built toward the “tag,” a phrase at the end of each A line that typically also served as the title of the song (i.e. Gershwin’s “Someone to Watch Over Me”).

In contrast, most modern pop songs forego the Songbook’s compound binary structure in favor of a larger rondo-based form. A typical modern pop song might be structured thus: Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Bridge-Chorus(x1000). Common variations include halving the length of the second verse and/or inserting a third verse (or a repeat of all or part of the first verse) before the final chorus. The bridge serves as a contrast to the verse and chorus sections, and can be anything from a reworking of the chorus to an instrumental solo version of a verse to a full-fledged excursion into new material (source: my substantial memory of popular songs from c. 1980-2005).

Notably, some of the greatest modern hits break this structure. The most obvious is Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” a through-composed song with neither verse nor chorus. But a more interesting and apropos example is Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing,” which withholds the chorus until the very end, effectively turning the form on its head, arriving at the chorus as a result of built momentum instead of a familiar waystation between verses. But while Journey relies only on standard pop song form, Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas” achieves the same momentum by masterfully combining the most effective elements of both idioms, aurally bridging the gap between decades of popular song.

The structure of “All I Want for Christmas” is the pop music equivalent of a sonata-rondo. It begins with a fully orchestrated free-metered introduction, providing Mariah the opportunity to be Mariah while very deliberately building tension; something big is about to happen. Sure enough, after vocal gymnastics and fermatas worthy of a Classical concerto, that driving rock 12/8 we all know and love emerges and with a gliss we slide headfirst into the first verse.

We immediately recognize it as the structured and slightly expanded version of the free intro, and furthermore as a proper pop song verse. It settles nicely in square phrases of 4+4 (“I don’t want a lot for Christmas, there is just one thing I need/I don’t care about the presents underneath the Christmas tree”); it is comfortable, familiar territory to our modern ears. However, the back half of the verse notably shifts, building momentum. Recalling Songbook traits, the phrases – textually, harmonically, and melodically – foreshorten to groupings of 2+2 (“I just want you for my own/more than you could ever know/make my wish come true”), then we hear the tag: “all I want for Christmas/is you.” We now have, effectively, the length and structured narrative of a modern pop verse propelled by lyric drive to the tag – the punchline, the title of the song – the strength of its arrival psychologically supplanting a chorus.

A second verse, structured identically but with new lyrics, holds to its Songbook roots. In Standards, the second verses – if they exist at all – are substantively equal to and typically align in mood with the first verse (i.e. Gershwin, “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off”). On the other hand, second verses in modern pop music often either further the emotional state of the singer or advance the narrative. Here, in keeping with Songbook tradition, Mariah opts for the former. Once again, the same foreshortening leads to the tag, and without any delay we are swept into the bridge.

Until this point, Mariah has been focused on her own emotional state, specifically how nothing traditionally seasonal will satisfy her.  Including the introduction, there have so far been five instances each of “don’t” and “won’t”. She has effectively been pouting (“I won’t make a list and send it/to the North Pole for Saint Nick”), refusing to expend any effort whatsoever as it will surely be futile. These sentiments find an appropriate home in the mostly-Songbook form – a free introduction followed by two similar verses, each leading to a tag.

The inclusion of a truly modern bridge at this point redirects and focuses the song’s narrative. The dramatic and musical differences are immediate: here are short, factual statements, underscored by a simpler, shorter, more repetitive harmonic progression than in the prior verses. It is as if she suddenly looks around at the rest of her world (“All the lights are shining so brightly everywhere/and the sound of children’s laughter fills the air”) and realizes her desperation – everyone is enjoying the trappings of the season while she is miserable. These new, short, declamatory statements are bereft of qualifiers and softeners such as “just” and “even.” She is not happy. Notably, this is the first time in the entire song she is obviously overdubbed by herself, not her backup singers; in addition to being a noticeable (and modern) aural contrast, it is has a definite psychological effect – she is inside her own head. The foreshortening present in the verses also appears here, once again dramatizing her heightened emotional state: “And everyone is singing/I hear those sleigh bells ringing.” And whereas before, the tag served as the conclusion to the thought process (“All I want for Christmas/is you”), here there is no conclusion, only a plea: “Santa won’t you bring me the one I really need/Won’t you please bring my baby to me.” It is like a prayer – a supplication to a higher power for help, more than half of it recited on a single note, in a simple, repetitive rhythm. It is also phrased appropriately: “won’t you” (“will you not”) highlights the humility of the supplicant and appeals to the merciful side of the one being asked. 

It is this desperate and heartfelt plea that makes the seamless return to a verse seem like an extension of the bridge itself. The verse, though using the same texture and harmonic language as the previous two, is a full four phrases shorter and contains no complaints about what won’t satisfy her. She has gone through an emotional transformation in the bridge; she has taken stock of her surroundings and her situation and she means business. This final verse is now framed by and heard through the context of that bridge, that plea; the lyrics (“I don’t want a lot for Christmas/This is all I’m asking for”) have become the content of the “prayer” instead of simply a third verse, and the tag – the title, the final line – has become the emotional and dramatic goal of the entire song.

We can now clearly identify the two component forms comprising the song as a whole. The first, to our modern ears, is that of a pop song with a tag instead of a chorus. Its narrative drive and length fit that form quite nicely, and is not unheard of. The second is that of an expanded and extended Songbook form with only one verse. Each A section ends as expected with a tag, and the B section provides contrast. It can be viewed as a development of Songbook form the same way sonata form can be seen as an evolution of rounded binary. However, each of these forms on its own cannot account for the dramatic power of this song; the drive to the tag and the narrative shift of the bridge are each crucial to its development and would not be as effective without the other.

Without this hybrid form, “All I Want for Christmas” would not pack the emotional punch it does. A modern chorus-based idiom would lessen the drama significantly due to its repetitive nature. A traditional Songbook form, on the other hand, would remove the sense of a narrative and restrict the opportunity for development due to its constrained structure. It is, therefore, the exploitation of the key dramatic device of each form – the tag and the bridge – that make this song what it is. The tag is, after all, the dramatic goal of the verse, but the inclusion of a masterfully-written modern bridge re-casts its emotional punch, making it the necessary conclusion to the entire song, not just each verse. It is this masterful blending of forms – the emotional weight of the Songbook and narrative drive of the modern pop song – that, when combined with Songbook harmonic language and Motown texture, make Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas” a song for the ages and one of the greatest pop songs of all time.

1 Comment

Filed under guerrilla pop musicology

damn nature, you scary

I was at Cincinnati Nature Center this morning hiking a few trails. Saw lots of wildlife including two deer. Between trails I decide to stop at one of their two bird blinds.

For those of you who don’t know what a bird blind is, let me explain. At its most basic, it’s a wooden wall with viewing slots in it. You can see the birds but they don’t notice you. The ones at CNC are actually small wooden buildings, like long sheds. There’s an open doorway and one long viewing slot along the opposite wall (about a 4″ gap, you can stick part of your forearm through it), several wooden benches, and that’s it. It’s a very basic structure, but comfortable and shielded from the elements.

I sit down for some bird viewing. I count almost ten species within a few minutes. Chickadees, cardinals, nuthatches, titmice, downy woodpeckers. Then one of the tufted titmice scares the crap out of me – flies through the viewing slot and out the door of the blind, missing me by not more than two feet. Now I know titmice are clever and curious and and cheeky, but this is obviously unusual. He somehow knew I was there and purposely got my attention. I notice he landed in the trees just outside the blind and as I turn back to the gap he starts yammering in his loud raucous distress call. Alright, something is agitating him. But he’s on the wrong side of the blind for that, all the birds are on my side. Then I hear a second one join him. They’re fighting? No, I don’t hear fighting sounds, just yelling. This doesn’t add up. So I stick my head out the door.

They’re both very close to the door; one flies higher up as I poke my head out but the other just hops to a different branch. I figure it’s over, whatever it is. But as soon as I go back inside he hops closer to the door and starts yammering again. What the hell? He’s right by the door.

This time I actually leave the structure, walk a few paces, looking around. He stops yelling. I turn toward him – he’s sitting in a tree between me and the blind, about five feet away, eye level, looking right at me. Alright, what’s up? Then I see a piece of black garden hose by the doorway start to move – no, no, that’s… not a hose. That’s a snake. Aha – I’m guessing this is what titmouse is yelling about?

The snake lifts its head up, about a foot. This is… not a small snake. Then starts slowly slithering into the blind. And keeps slithering… holy shit this snake is big. I’d say about six feet, conservatively. The titmouse flies away. Yeah, that’s definitely what titmouse is yelling about. Hey, big dumb human, there’s a giant snake! Seriously he’s right there! Right behind you! Watch your back! Thanks buddy! Good call!

snakeI snap a quick picture of the snake on the floor of the blind and start assessing the situation. He’s a medium sized snake, dark colored, almost black, with some kind of pattern on him, can’t see it too well in the shade. Triangular head, white belly. Being in Ohio not Australia, I figure statistics are on my side for him being not poisonous. Judging by the bulge in his middle, he’s eaten a small bird or rodent within a day or two. I follow him inside the structure staying back a little bit. I’m super curious, but he’s a snake. I’m not dumb.

He slithers along the back wall and up onto one of the benches. He’s slowly headed toward me. I move into the blind to see him better and give myself more room to maneuver. He doubles back toward the support beam he used to get on the bench. I hear something new… that’s not a bird sound. Is that… rattling? I get a little closer to see his tail. There’s a slight notch about half an inch from the tip, and sure enough it’s a tiny version of a rattle. As I’m watching, the snake slides his tail against the back wall, using it as a soundboard, amplifying the rattling. Welp. This human attended Zoo Camp and knows when she’s being threatened. Though likely not poisonous, he is a snake, and he is rattling at me. I don’t need to be told twice.

Okay, so now what? I’m in a dark bird blind, with a six-foot rattlesnake, and though I’m not scared, there are families with children everywhere. I hang in the doorway of the blind, hoping to see an official of some kind, keeping an eye on the snake which has crawled up the support beam and is now hiding itself in the eaves. The first humans to come by are a family of four; dad, mom, and two young boys:

Mom: Come on guys, let’s go see the birds!
Me: Uh, just so you know, there’s a big snake in here, probably a rattler.
Youngest son: COOL! (he heads straight for me, standing in the doorway)
Mom: (catching him) No, not cool. Thanks for telling us!
Me: Have you seen any employees or officials around? They should probably know.
Dad: No, but we can call them, here, I’ll look up the number.

Dad gets on the phone with the main desk, giving them the blind’s location and situation while I point out the snake to mom and the kids. I thank them and give them the location of the other bird blind. Dad says they’re sending someone over. I hang around for another few minutes waiting just in case I need to warn someone else with small children. The snake has meanwhile completely concealed himself in the eaves, probably curled up for a nap.

Eventually two park employees come, a man and a woman. He looks excited – he says he’s got his snake stick with him. Now I’ve seen snake sticks – they’re those mechanical grabby arms, or at the very least a long forked stick. This guy had a 6″ twig. I didn’t know what exactly he was planning to do with that against a 6′ snake, but I’m not the professional here. I point him up to the rafters. He stands on a bench and flashlights his phone to get a look. Yep, he’s in there! Probably curling up for some sleep. We all take a few pictures of the snake who is now wondering what the crap all these humans are doing, it’s naptime, go away.

titmouse

titmouse

The guy thanks me for calling him and explains that it’s a black rat snake, which can get to be eight feet long – not technically a rattler, but uses its little rattle to imitate one and will actually use dead leaves as an amplifier. I tell him about it rattling against the wall which we all agree is very cool. I have the woman text me her pictures because my phone’s camera wouldn’t focus in the dark. I thought they might post a sign or something, but they don’t. The snake is harmless unless provoked, just big and scary looking. I come back two hours later to see if the snake is still there. He is; curled up sleeping in a different cubby hole up in the eaves. I hope he doesn’t scare the crap out of some poor unsuspecting birder when he finally comes down – hopefully that brave little titmouse will be there to warn them too.

2 Comments

Filed under story time, this actually happened

lack of communication Pt II

Today was laundry day. Sort lights and darks, grab some quarters, head down to the basement and… the hot water tank is leaking.

Not like there’s a small puddle that may or may not be condensation, but a 4″ wide stream that is visibly flowing into the storm drain. Probably at about the rate you’d see when you leave the faucet on while you’re brushing your teeth.

Good. So I throw my first load in the washer (because I only use cold water to wash clothes, shouldn’t affect anything) and head back upstairs to submit an online maintenance request to RPM. Marked it high priority. Because obviously.

So after I get off the phone with them regarding my account, shortly before 10am, I get a call:

Me: Hello?
Him: Hi, this is (unintelligible) from (unintelligible again) Plumbing, got a message about a hot water tank?
Me: Ah, yes, thank you! (that was quick!)
Him: Yeah, I’ll be there in about a half hour/45 minutes to take a look.
Me: That will be great, just give me a call when you get here so I can let you in, the doorbell doesn’t work.
Him: Sounds good. And it may be from a different number than this one, just so you know.
Me: That’s fine I’ll pick up. Thanks!

So I wait. I move my first load of laundry into the dryer, but I don’t start the second one yet because I figure he’s going to have to turn off the water to check it out. Or something. And he should be here soon, so it can wait.

11am comes and goes. I don’t hear anything from anyone. Around 1130 I start the second load, because at this point, whatever. If I have to interrupt the cycle, so be it.

Noon. Still haven’t heard anything. Move laundry into dryer. I need a shower… but I know as soon as I step in he’ll call. So I wait. And I start channeling my inner Gladys Kravitz, checking to see if every car door I hear is the plumbing guy. It never is.

2pm, enough is enough. I call back the number he originally called me from. I don’t even know the guy’s name. A female with a relatively high voice picks up:

Her: Hello?
Me: Hi, I’m Liz Remizowski, I called earlier about a leaking water tank, someone said they’d come out to  look at it, but nobody’s been here yet, I was just wondering if I could get an update.
Her: Uh…. hold on. (Muffled phone, yells to whoever it is. Yelling in the background, probably children? Is this the guy’s home phone?)
Guy: Hello?
Me: (repeat what I said above)
Guy: Yeah, I was already there.
Me: (…) Oh, okay. So… what’s happening?
Guy: It needs to be replaced. I submitted an estimate.
Me: Okay, what’s the timeframe on that?
Guy: Whenever the owner gets back to me on that estimate.
Me: (Christ almighty) Heh, yeah, good luck with that. Alright, thank you.

There are several things about this that really irked me. One: he never called. Not before, not after. Even after he said he would. All the maintenance guys I’ve dealt with call twice: once for “I’m on the way,” and again for “Hey I’m here.” Both as a courtesy to let me know they’re in the house and to keep me updated, since I’m the one in contact with them about what’s going on. This guy bypassed both the courtesy of letting me guard my front door and of keeping me informed – either while he was there or when he was done. You’d think I’d like to know the status of the only hot water tank in the apartment, since I live here.

The second thing: He has to wait for Pete to approve it. Knowing Pete, the basement might flood while we’re waiting. May have to resort to sponge baths.

1 Comment

Filed under home sweet home, story time

kick-awesome project

Frederic Rzewski actually once said to me, “You should play the Hammerklavier. You’d be good at it.” So, that’s what I’m going to do.

He said this to me at the Music09 festival in Switzerland, and I have been pondering it ever since, weighing whether it was feasible and whether it would be worth it. It’s one of those notorious pieces where everyone claims it’s ridiculously difficult on multiple fronts – and part of me believes them (because why would they lie?) and part of me doesn’t (because how many have played it over the last 200 years?).

So, I have “permission” from my professor – that as long as I understand what I’m getting into and how big a project this will be, then do it. He also said he would be learning it with me – he’s never actually made a real study of it, but has taught it and read it many times. So that will also be very cool.

Okay then, next question: what to program with it? My first reaction is something French, like one book of Debussy’s Images. So that’s out – I’m definitely looking for something less obvious and more intriguing. This stumped me for a good year – what the heck do you program with it?! So then switched trains of thought: What do people think of when they hear “Hammerklavier”? First, that it’s enormous; second, that it’s real difficult; and third, partially because of the fugue. Fugue – what to pair with a fugue? A PRELUDE.

This was definitely more what I had in mind. Pull together a smattering of preludes by pretty much everyone – Debussy, Chopin, Shostakovich, Scriabin, maybe some late Baroque ones, etc., and end the set with Rachmaninoff’s Bb prelude – both a good set end and a good setup for the Beethoven. Solid.

So I approached my prof about it. He also thought it was a cool idea, but suggested possibly doing a complete set of preludes by one composer. I have to admit, I had considered it, but for some reason dismissed it as being too much (as if the Hammerklavier weren’t already). So he started suggesting complete sets. And I think we both lit up when he got to Shostakovich. I have always wanted to perform them as a set, and I think they’re a great counterbalance to this program.

So, as it stands, that’s my next solo recital program:
Shostakovich: Preludes, Op. 34
Beethoven: Sonata in Bb, Op. 106
It will take me at very minimum a year to learn. And it’s probably the most ambitious thing I’ve ever done. No, not probably – it is. This may work, or it may prove too much. But what better opportunity will I ever have than now?

Seriously though, I’m so excited.

————————-
Also, if you’re wondering where “kick-awesome” comes from, it’s (of course) in a sbemail:
http://www.homestarrunner.com/sbemail138.html

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

crash into jesus

Even though I have an iPod, whenever I arrive in a new city my first order of business is to find a good variety radio station. Or better yet, a 90s station. I mean, we’ve met; you know me and 90s music. The best one I ever found was in Tallahassee. It broadcast out of Albany, GA, and I could only get it in my car, but man was it heaven. GenX Albany. Played all 90s, all the time. Until they killed it and turned it into a Top 40 station.

So now that I’m in Cincinnati, I’ve found three acceptable stations – two variety and one rock. One of the variety stations is clearly superior to the other two (read: plays more Hootie and La Bouche), but it broadcasts out of Norwood, and as far as I can tell, unless you’re physically in Norwood the station is pretty weak. Unfortunately, the other (much stronger) station on that frequency is a Contemporary Christian station. Sometimes it’s a battle – how much cheesy Jesus love do I want to put up with while trying to get my Deep Blue Something fix?

And then, something amazing happened. I tuned in to find the Norwood station and the Jesus station locked horns in a stalemate that left them essentially alternating phrases. The best part: it was some cheesy Jesus song versus DMB’s “Crash.” That’s right, the song about voyeurism. This, to the best of my artist’s rendering, is how it went:

“Touch our lips just so I know… you’re my salvation, you’re my redeemer… Hike up your skirt a little more and show… your mercy and grace are all that I need, and…  I watch you there through the window and I stare at you wearing not a thing… Jesus, you’re my everything… the king of the castle, you’re the dirty rascal… touched me and now I’m free.”

I nearly drove off the road from laughing so hard – it could not have happened with better songs. I don’t know that I will ever again be fortunate enough to hear something like this. Eric Cartman would be proud.

Leave a comment

Filed under story time, this actually happened

i’m getting a haircut tomorrow

I desperately need a haircut. My ponytail is starting to look like a legitimate horse’s tail. In fact, I don’t like that I have a ponytail in the first place. So I scheduled an appointment at Hair on Earth and hopefully it will be awesome.

Normally, when I go to Lisa (my stylist at home) I just trust her to do something fantastic, and she always has. She convinced me to try bangs for the first time in ten years. She helped me construct my favorite style ever – blonde and fire-engine red streaks. I love her. I don’t know the people I’m going to tomorrow, so I figure I should probably come up with something other than “eh, just do something cool.” So I came up with this:

1. No longer than shoulder-length.
2. Full bangs are out of the question.
3. I must be able to keep it out of my eyes easily.

Then I figured it would probably be helpful if I came up with something more specific. So I googled “hairstyles.” It came up with a lot of celebrities, high-fashion/high-maintainance, and spam. Not useful. So I tried “hairstyles for fine hair,” (because fine hair requires special treatment), which resulted in a lot more nonsense, a lot of styles that didn’t relate to fine hair at all, and a lot of contradictory statements written in disastrous grammar.

It also produced a link to finehair.com. A relatively professional website, compared to all the other ones dedicated to hair, it looked promising. I started browsing.

It appears to be one woman dedicated to working with fine hair. She developed and sells her own line of products. Her writing is pretty bad. She takes questions from The Public and answers them the best she can, nothing I haven’t heard before. I get bored of reading and head over to the photos section.

I’m expecting it to be a bunch of celebrities having nothing to do with fine hair (like on the front page), but no. These are actual customers. And they made me want to cancel my appointment tomorrow. Because if this is the revolution in fine hair, count me out.

I go for Long Hair styles first. (Please, please click these links and scroll to see the pictures. They make this whole post worth it.) These women… are all blonde. And these styles are universally unflattering. Moving onto Short Hair styles. Bunch of post-menopausal women with the traditional short, curly/wavy hair. And a man, for some reason. WOW, REVOLUTIONARY! I’VE NEVER SEEN AN OLDER WOMAN WITH HAIR LIKE THAT BEFORE!

Moving onto Curly styles. This was my favorite. I actually laughed. None of them actually have curly hair. One woman’s face is blurred out, and this girl looks like she woke up in 1993 on the Jurassic Park set during the tropical storm:
could her hair look any worse?

 

 

 

 

 

 

So I finish my laugh and skip Straight styles and head to Frizzy, because my hair does frizz! Nah, nothing interesting there. Just more middle-aged blondes.

Backing up to Straight styles even though my hair isn…HOLY SHIT! IT’S FRANZ LISZT! AND SHE’S A WOMAN!
I swear.

 

 

 

 

 

 
So if you believe in prayer, please pray for me tomorrow. Because unless it turns me into a legendary pianist, I don’t want to look like this.

Leave a comment

Filed under story time, this actually happened

how to annoy your pianist

I don’t believe I’ve ever written anything about Singer A (introduced way back here). She hasn’t really done anything story-worthy (other than perform in seminar wearing a dress that should never be worn onstage. Seriously, people took their glasses off so they wouldn’t have to look at her.) The only thing she does is cancel perpetually. Well, for her inaugural story I am inspired to post in the from of a Michael Crichton novel – by date!

PROLOGUE – JANUARY

A week after I didn’t receive a response to my official “welcome back and please tell me your lesson time” email, I saw her by the library. She told me she didn’t know her lesson time yet, since her TA and two others were sharing a studio and trying to work out times. Okay, fine, please let me know as soon as you know.

Maybe a week later, at 2am on a Wednesday, she texts me, wanting to know if I can play in studio for her. It’s stuff we’ve done last semester so we wouldn’t even need to rehearse. No, I’m busy. I mean I’m not busy, but you have to learn to ask me earlier than 2am the morning of.

JANUARY 31

Nearly a month passes. I contact her a few times with no response. I happened to run into her last Monday outside the library again. She seemed surprised to see me.

Me: Hey! Do you have a lesson time yet?
Singer A: Oh, yeah, I think it’s 11:00 or 11:30 on Mondays, but I have to confirm it yet.
Me: [you think?] …Confirm?
Singer A: Yeah, like write it on the form.
Me: [WTF? A one-to-one form? It’s February! There’s no way administration will accept one this late! She’s pretty much just guaranteed herself a failing grade!] You mean like a one-to-one form?
Singer A: No, no. That’s already taken care of. Like, I’ve been assigned a lesson time but I have to write it on the thing on her door to confirm that time.
Me: [Pencil your name in on her schedule? That’s it? I know you don’t like your teacher but this is ridiculous.] So you haven’t had any lessons yet?
Singer A: (giggle) No.
Me: Okay well please confirm that or whatever and let me know, so I can finish scheduling.

FEBRUARY 3

Meanwhile, on Thursday I get an email from Singer I (whom I just picked up this semester) asking if we can rehearse from 11-11:30 on Mondays. I hold onto the email for a few days, waiting for schedule confirmation.

(Raise your hand if you are surprised that Singer A didn’t get back to me by now. Yeah, I didn’t think so.)

FEBRUARY 5

Then, that Saturday I remember that Jeff‘s lesson is at that time, too. Which won’t become a problem until later this semester, but nonetheless still a problem. So assuming Singer A confirmed, Jeff’s lesson would have to move and I’d have to find another time for Singer I, and if Singer A didn’t confirm, Jeff’s lesson could stay but I’d still have to move Singer I. Either way, Singer I moves.

I emailed Singer I requesting a different time. I also emailed Jeff about the situation. Then I emailed Singer A:

Singer A,

When is your lesson again? And please confirm that I am in fact coming to it? I have two people who want to book me between 11 and 12 on Mondays, but I can’t let them know one way or the other until I know what you’re doing.

Thanks,
Liz

FEBRUARY 6

(Another show of hands: Who thinks she responded within 24 hours?)

FEBRUARY 7

So I’m waiting. Monday I happened to walk by her teacher’s room and looked at the schedule. Her name was confirmed alright but not for Monday – for Thursday.

As I’m heading home I mentally draft another email, but I discover I don’t need to. She finally, at 4:49pm, sent me this:

Liz,

Are you free on Thursdays at 3:00 to 3:30? I can see what other times are available but she doesn’t have any lessons on Monday. Let me know if there are any other times you’re free and I’ll figure it out.

Thanks,

Singer A

I sent her a one line response: “Yeah, that’s fine. See you then.”

FEBRUARY 10 (tomorrow)

Final show of hands: Who thinks I’ll show up tomorrow, knock on the door, and nobody will be there because she forgot to tell me she canceled?

Leave a comment

Filed under adventures in accompanying, story time, this actually happened