Thursday, November 11

CMA queen Miranda Lambert, a touch of crude and a bunch of talent

Miranda Lambert
Country’s new royal couple shook up the 44th Country Music
Awards show in Nashville November 10. Brad Paisley and 
Carrie Underwood hosted with Paisley winning the top award
as Entertainer of the Year.  Otherwise the spotlight kept fleeting
back to Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton.  Up for a
record-breaking 9 awards—the most ever for any female 
country artist, Miranda pulled in three trophies and performed on stage twice.

Miranda celebrated her first ever Female Vocalist of the Year award on her 27th birthday. She was ecstatic for future husband Blake Shelton’s first ever Male Vocalist of the Year award. He also won Musical Event the Year for his duet Hillbilly Bone with Trace Atkins.

Both spoke with emotion and sincerity in their acceptance speeches. Known for his redneck image and his reputation as a flirt, Blake’s voice cracked as he held back emotions. His words came from the heart—no written script or prepared speech. He was obviously shocked and pleased.

Miranda thanked one of her idols, country music legend, Loretta Lynn, for paving the way for women in country music. An inspiration to Miranda, the first female winner of the CMA Entertainer of the Year award, Loretta joined Miranda and Cheryl Crow in a rendition of Loretta’s hit, Coal Miner’s Daughter.

Miranda and Blake might be new to winning CMA awards but much of their music goes back to the old traditions of country music. Miranda’s unique style gives the Nashville sound a new edgy tone. In a backstage interview, Loretta Lynn commented, "Nobody in country music is more country than Miranda." Considering the source, Miranda Lambert’s future is lookin’ bright. Time to buy some heavy duty shades.

Considering the award nominations, great album sales, the popularity of the newly anointed couple and the fact they both have singles in the top ten, they could shake up the uptight country music industry for awhile. No more Nicole and Keith or Tim and Faith as Miranda and Blake take over with her edgy country rock meets bluegrass style and his versatile sexy deep voice that nails a heartfelt ballad as much as it rocks out an outlaw redneck drinking song. They are like fairy tale characters only they party and drink a bit.

Of course there were other notable moments besides all the love for the Lambert/Shelton combo.

*Who dressed these people?

Carrie Underwood’s Mama’s Song was heartfelt but the gown she wore a gown with a split personality. Difficult to describe, a satiny purplish train-like object seemed to flow on the floor on one side of the dress while the other side of the dress sparkled like a bedazzled purple nylon netting bunched up for more volume. It must have been big big bucks but it could have been a 1980s prom/bridesmaid gown found at a nearby Goodwill Store.

A few of her wardrobe choices didn’t seem to suite her. Yuckers on the poofy skirt ensemble with the little red Christmas bows stuck on the bodice with heavy rope-like gold brocade snaking up and over her shoulders. Did they run out of fabric and resort to gift wrap aisle? A couple outfits were random bizarre like a blend between punk-college-girl and let’s-go-to-the-polo-field type outfits. The long dress with the orangish gaudy yellow streaks looked like some type of chiffon fabric tie-dyed in mustard—Grey Poupon probably.

Speaking of clothes, what was that stiff fabric Jennifer Nettles attempted to pass off as a dress? It reeked of flashbacks to last season’s American Idol quirky fashionista wanna be Siobahn Magnus with her combo of tutu and combat boots. What was that?

*Awkward meltdown

Brad Paisley’s acceptance speech at the end of the program was almost awkward due to his inability to talk trying to hold back tears. Just cry already! He spoke of his family’s influence and his late grandfather and the loyalty of country music fans. For a veteran on the awards circuit on the inside of the network, he seemed passionate and unrehearsed.

*Awesome duets

Best New Artist winner, Zach Brown Band and Alan Jackson! Sweet. Very natural unassuming and true talent. (Prediction: Zach Brown Band could be the biggest deal yet. The new CD is unbelievable with at least another 4-5 top ten hits. Why, why, why must he wear the beanie?)

Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson! Who thought of this duo? Risky business but they cashed in big time. ChaChing! Brilliant. Jason Aldean is way underrated.

Cheryl Crow and Miranda Lambert? Hmmm. Cheryl tried to impersonate Loretta Lynn at times but when she just sang it sounded good. Miranda, on the other hand, brilliant. That heavy southern twang melted into the classic Coal Miner’s Daughter. It was easy to picture Miranda in that role. Cheryl? Not so much.

*Other notable performances

Reba McIntire rocked it out on If I Were a Boy. Keith Urban is always a keeper. Dierks Bentley got into the bluegrass sound. Vocal Group of the Year, Lady Antebellum, were harmoniously excellent as usual plus they took the award for Single of the Year with Need You Now, (aka the most overplayed song on the radio). Gwyneth Paltrow pulled it off with the help of Vince Gill. Taylor Swift sang live plus on key. Blake Shelton sparkled with obvious joy on stage. He is a charmer and a natural. Miranda Lambert kicked it like she always does, too bad it wasn’t a different song. Kid Rock got the party started. Kenny Chesney? Meh. George Strait? Double meh.

Come to think of it all the performances were decent. What’s the bottom line on the 44th Annual County Music Association Awards Show 2010 in Nashville, TN held at Bridgestone Arena? Stupendous! Overall, it turned out to be one of the best CMA award shows yet. The mix of new blood and solid performances proved to be entertaining and made it fun to watch. Cheers for country music!

Here is a list of the big awards. Check the CMT website for other winners.

Entertainer of the Year: Brad Paisley

Album of the Year: "Revolution," Miranda Lambert

Music Video of the Year: "The House That Built Me," Miranda Lambert

Song of the Year: "The House That Built Me," Tom Doughas, Allen Shamblin (Miranda Lambert)

Female Vocalist of the Year: Miranda Lambert

Male Vocalist of the Year: Blake Shelton

Single of the Year: "Need You Now," Lady Antebellum

Vocal Group of the Year: Lady Antebellum

New Artist of the Year: Zac Brown Band

Vocal Duo of the Year: Sugarland

Musical Event of the Year: "Hillbilly Bone," Blake Shelton (featuring Trace Adkins)

Musician of the Year: Mac McAnally

Sunday, November 7

On the Seasons of Baseball, Football, Politics & Life

Pete Seeger used words from the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible in his song, so I guess I can borrow some words from the Byrd's song for my story. You know the one about everything having a season? Maybe it was all about sport’s seasons.

To Everything…There is a season …

So October baseball and the baseball season are over and my Twins got cheated by the evil Yankees. Then my Vikings got rooked by the refs and Randy Moss ran a fake. Oh wait, I mean he was a fake. Their season is going nowhere on the fast track. Then Nov. 2 pulled a punch to the gut with the thought of tea partiers in places of power. We preach against extremists in other countries so why are they electable here? All hail the season of hate.

To Everything…There is a season …
A time to gain, a time to lose

A time to rend, a time to sew
A time for love, a time for hate
A time for peace, I swear it's not too late

There might be a season for everything but still I fear the truth in the words of my late father. His political wisdom was subtle but right on. Pre-election 2008 when he was grumbling about voting and how it wouldn’t make a difference, I said, “Dad, you gotta vote. If you don’t vote then I don’t wanna hear you bitchin’ about the way things are.”
         A time to build up,a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones,
a time to gather stones together

We talked about the need for change, about politics in general, about issues for seniors, about racism and his pretenses of racism, he grumbled some more, and some more. After about 20 minutes of “discussing” the state of the country he delivered those prophetic words. “By God ‘W’ and his crooks got this country so far down the toilet I don’t think your guy or any other damn politician can pull us back out.”

His 75 years proved to me many times that you don’t need a formal education to be smart. After I said he might be right but we had to try something different, he said, “I don’t care who you are, we ain’t getting’ outta this mess in 4 years or even 8 years—maybe not in your lifetime. It sure as hell won’t be while I’m still around.” True. True. True. And true. Wise man.

He did end up voting for a Black man (he said; I believe it based on his complaints) and he was hopeful about the cost of pills and bills for all his health needs. He prided himself with pushing buttons so I got razzed a lot. Those on the other side of the spectrum in denial of his politics got their share of ribbing. One of the last real conversations we had a couple weeks before he left us was about that same topic.

He told me he was proud of me for standing up for my beliefs. He admitted he voted because he shared some of the same views. He said he knew I wanted to make a difference for senior citizens (old farts were his words) and people in need (don’t have a pot to piss in). For not having a very “touchy/feely” relationship he was wide open when he said he loved me and advised me to keep writing. “You’re damn good at it so you better keep doin’ it."

For someone like Dad who worked a shift job of physical labor everyday and never knew any other way to say those words, made me breathe deep a few times just to keep it together. Quite a contrast from the words he said when I told him I was no longer teaching. “By God that kind of money is hard to come by.” That was the serious part before he went into the routine about how easy teachers have it with summers off and short work days and blah, blah, blah. He put up a good front but I know he was proud of the difference I made for kids. Still, for him to tell me to keep writing and that I was good at it pretty much validated my decision.

I suppose when it’s all mushed together, the Twins will have another shot at a run in the play-offs and the Vikings can still make something of their season. The upheaval in politics will eventually swing back to middle ground. Hopefully, each of us can learn about tolerance and start working together.

In retrospect, even my father is still with me in many ways. Although he died in the summer of 2010, his wisdom continues to influence me on a daily basis.

A time to be born, a time to die                         
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

Yup. Nothing like death and dying to get your priorities straight. He might not be here physically but I know Grandpa Bud comforts Andy (Zipper) when he watches over her. Their unspoken bond is just as real as the radiation and chemo her body gets each day. They share some of that same stubbornness. It made him survive some rough times like heart surgery, lung surgery, cancer. That attitude and deep faith might help her cheat the ‘C’ word for a few extra years. She will have her season.

To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven

A time to build up,a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together

As I sit in silence in our room in Rochester, MN trying not to weep, I think about my daughter.
I think about my dad. I long for his quiet strength.
Small things like laughing about photos, sharing with new and old friends and the kindness of family keep reminding me he is still here in many ways and I aim for hope.

But I guess sometimes it’s too hard to reason with emotions. Sometimes it is just too hard to tell if the falling leaves mean a season is ending or another season is about to begin. In sports it is easy… in life, not so much. Whatever it means, there is a reason.
It is not for me to decide.

To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven   

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven

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Holding on to photographs and fairy tales

Grandma Marge shows off her modern coffee percolator while Deb (left) and I hold the dolls we got for Christmas. When it’s time ...