Saturday, April 21, 2018

2 Years....

A Tribute to Prince
Lindsay Caudill

I can’t believe it’s been two years.
It’s all still so vivid. We were sitting in the McDonald’s drive-thru, about to head back from our walk at lunch, and I opened up my Facebook app while we waited. I tapped my notifications. The top one was from one of my sweet, sweet friends. I opened it, assuming it was a birthday greeting. Instead, it was a tag to a TMZ article that a dead body was found at Prince’s Paisley Park estate and was rumored to be Prince.
I started messaging everyone, seeing if they’d heard anything. I texted my parents, asking them to turn on the news. My mother tried to reassure me. “It’s probably not Prince but someone he has working there,” she said. “Don’t get upset, Linz.”
Only a week before, Prince’s plane had to be emergency landed and it was revealed he had to be given Narcan, although at the time it was reported as the flu. We all took to Facebook then to talk about it, worrying about what had happened on the plane and his failing health. He had been frail in recent years. Had he been terminally ill and we hadn’t known? He was a painfully private person.
By the time I got back to the office, I’d read and seen enough on Facebook via various news sources to know that what I feared to be true, in fact, was. I sat down at my desk, stared blankly at my computer, grabbed my bag, and left. On my way out, I told our then-commander the news and he teared up because he, like I, had grown up on Prince’s music. I turned the radio on in the car and the Sirius’s “80’s on 8" station was already playing a tribute.
Prince was dead.
On my birthday.
He was just 57 years old.
I had to stop at Walmart on the way home. I walked around in a daze picking up the things I needed as “Call My Name” played on loop in my head. I overheard a lady in the greeting card aisle talking about it on her cell phone. I paid for my items and hurried to the car. I decided to forego dinner plans as I was in no mood for fancy food or birthday cake. I just wanted to be home.
When I did finally make it home, I rushed in the door and turned on the TV. The news was everywhere. MTV was actually playing videos for the first time in a very, very long time. Clips of videos ranging from “When Doves Cry” to “Diamonds and Pearls” were flashing on news channels. I kept staring at the headline and even took a photo of it:
There was a package on my doorstep that I had picked up on my way in and didn’t bother to open right away. I knew from the writing on the side that it contained flowers and they were from E. Something finally compelled me to get up, walk away from the TV, and open it. Inside were the most beautiful multi-colored flowers, unlike any I had ever seen. I removed the wrapping from the vase. A purple vase. He had ordered these weeks in advance yet here I was, standing in the middle of my kitchen, holding a blatantly purple vase while the TV in the next room kept screaming at me that Prince was dead.
I sat down in the middle of my kitchen floor and I bawled like an infant.
Now, I realize that a lot of people reading this won’t understand. They will think this is silly, exaggerated, crazy, stupid, and so on. For all of the people who understand, there are plenty - if not more - that do not. Fortunately, having encountered those types before, I’ve learned to shrug their opinions off. After all, they don’t know me or my story, so they have zero room to judge. Everyone has someone they look up to, be it an athlete, actor, or musician, and to think mourning someone you’re a fan of is silly is actually heartless and, frankly, ignorant.
Most of you already know this, but for those who do not: Growing up, I had a small handful of influences and inspirations outside of my family who shaped me into what I am today. Influences who drove me to get involved in the arts, namely in writing. Influences who took the creative side of me and brought it out in full force. Influences who affected me in ways that I can remember as early as three years old. Influences whose effect can be seen in so much of what I have done and what I do in life. Prince was one of those.
Prince IS one of those.
I wanted to write like he did, to tap into my creative talents and build my goals around them. I wanted to have that drive to succeed and to create the beauty he did. I wanted to affect people like he did.
When people say they are “lifelong fans” of someone, they may be referring to a particularly lengthy period of their life but not quite the bulk of it as it may seem. For me, I’m not too off when I say that I’m a lifelong Prince fan. I was only three years old when I first saw him singing “Little Red Corvette” on Night Tracks. I was five years old when “Purple Rain” came out. I remember seeing the video for “When Doves Cry” for the first time and being mesmerized with both the song and the beautiful man crawling across a floor covered in flowers. I played the record on repeat. The “Purple Rain” film was the first VHS tape, along with Labyrinth, that I rented when I got my first VCR in 1986.
(Purple Rain and Labyrinth on my VCR in 1986. Prince and Bowie dead in 2016.)
It started in 1983 and it never, ever stopped. Nor will it.
I blasted his music in my little bedroom when Mom and I lived with my grandparents, so much so that they were also fans. My bedroom walls were adorned with his posters. I roller skated to his music with my friends. I proudly - and loudly - sang lyrics to his songs, including the ones that I probably shouldn’t have known or understood the lyrics to. He provided so much of the soundtrack to my life from such a young age up to my late 30’s. Never mind that his music got me through countless heartaches and bouts of depression. Music has always been such a fundamental part of my life, as necessary to my existence as breathing, and Prince’s discography is essential.
I’ve always been proud and protective of my Prince collection. Records, cassettes, CDs, DVDs, etc. - I cherish them all. They all show wear, marks of how many times they’ve been played and enjoyed, amassed from 1983 until now. The same goes for my books, sitting in a bookshelf that had space earmarked for the long-awaited memoirs he’d announced he was doing in 2016, to be entitled “The Beautiful One”; now that space will be filled with another book about him versus a book finally by him.
Sometimes I feel selfish when I bring up the fact that Prince died on my birthday or how that I now don’t celebrate on the actual day anymore as a result. It’s actually the opposite. The people who really know me were the ones who said, in reaction to the news, “Oh God, on your birthday”. Because they knew. They KNOW. They know what an integral part of my life Prince has always been and how absolutely devastated I’ve been since April 21, 2016. All of the re-released music, never-before-heard music, tell-all books, and tributes can’t help. I would’ve been gutted on any day because of the tragedy and finality of it all, but it took on a different meaning that day.
In the time since, my friends and I have managed to memorialize him in our own special ways. We’ve painted paintings, carried out entire conversations in lyrics, shared music from our private collections, watched the movies, listened to the music loudly, worn purple, cried, and celebrated his life. Some of the precious soldiers at my job gifted me a beautiful framed and autographed Prince photo for Christmas 2016 that I absolutely adore. I even took that purple vase E sent my birthday flowers in and created a floral arrangement complete with purple lilacs, a calla lily, “diamonds and pearls”, a purple feather, and a dove.
I’ve managed to find peace in all of these things and can once again enjoy the music, even in a bittersweet way.
Nonetheless, April 21 is no time for celebration for me. It ranks up there with November 22, the day my other major influence, Michael Hutchence, died too young and too soon. So, I may be 39 years old today and I will eat cake as I appreciate all of the sweet well wishes and thoughts that will not go unnoticed. But I’ll also play my Prince vinyl, watch “Purple Rain”, and feel sick over the last two years. How unreal they’ve seemed. How hard they’ve been personally in ways unrelated to Prince’s death. The rainbow is that he left behind a legacy that can hopefully comfort any fan who finds this all so equally sad.
It doesn’t matter how he died, the rumors that swirl, or the countless tales of “insiders” who think they know something we don’t. What matters is that he existed for almost 58 years and left a mark that no one can mar or touch. He will always remain an icon.
I can only hope that my children, if I become a mother, can find their Prince - someone they can look up to and engulf themselves in, to be inspired by, and to be affected by.
“The beautiful ones always smash the picture...always, every time.”
Prince Rogers Nelson
June 7, 1958 - April 21, 2016

Sunday, April 8, 2018

~Wild Sweet Bird~
Liz Fink-Davenport

I am glad I hit the ground.
I am glad I falter.

I’m glad my flight is flawed. 

And I am glad that you see it.

My sweet bird, who watches at the cusp of the nest as the wind pulls the edges of your round hearth and home, small dry straw and bright pieces of yarn I gathered with diligence, are now on the breeze. You are stretching your neck to see me try to navigate the strong press and lift of the air. You shiver against the brisk upturn of downy feathers. And two bright eyes take in my every move. You are learning to fly and fall through my wings. Coast the up current and turn and dip through the sea of wind waves.

I will lose my way, wild sweet bird. I will turn right when left was the answer. I will search for a warm lift and find a cold press and try to bolster through. And I will sometimes fall completely to the earth and lay stunned for a moment. And you will watch. I am glad. Because I would take a thousand hurricanes of terrifying dark and cold solo flights for you. I will show you that the fall can stun but not stop. And I’ll look up with eyes full of relentless strength to feed your eyes.

My child. My bird. You are watching from the nest. But soon you will test timid wings. I’m here. You can rest in my fall. You can take comfort in my harm. I’ll take on the brutal wind and storms for you. But know this, I am glad. Glad that you see my stumble. Glad that you watch me struggle. I’m imperfect, sweet bird. But my love is enough to shelter us both. To give you strength to learn from my failures. And to bolster your flight from the nest that is falling apart.

You are strong.
You can fly.
I’m here to see it.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Poetry Series: Joey and Jesus

Joey and Jesus
Liz Fink-Davenport

What small smile starts in your heart when you hear your child’s name?
I’m sitting cross legged and running my fingers through hair that is as familiar as mine. DNA being redistributed through a small electric current that is solely yours and theirs. The smell of this smaller being is a hard earned fist clinched. That moment you held a blanket that was breathing and you took in the scent of them and you fell madly in love. How can a tiny angry boiled looking pink wiggling thing elicit love? Because this is a piece of your heart walking around on this earth outside of your chest. Independent footprints in mud. Dirty fingernails on chubby fingers. Drool on your shoulder that smells like milk and you both adore it and cry over it. And you will always smell like Goldfish crackers and spit. But this is what you should know, it changes. The clock in the hall moves faster than you. It speeds up and the nap turns into the walk to school turns into the sleepovers turns into the cat’s cradle turns into the can I drive turns into the mom I’m in love turns into the hold your grandbaby turns into I will care for you mom turns into don’t go yet turns into my baby is holding me.

Sweet little one who wants braids tonight, I’ll braid. I’ll hum. I’ll say the goodnight prayer. The one that asks Jesus to take your soul if you don’t wake. But I won’t mean it. I’ll ask Jesus to take me long before you, my growing up angel. Because I have one purpose on this Earth and it’s to be here until you are strong enough not to need me. And tonight you need braids. So this night is not it. The small smile starts at the corners of my mouth and rolls up and around your name.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Lindsay Speaks.....

A few weeks ago, I started to develop heart palpitations accompanied with chest pains. My heart started to beat rapidly and with a force I could feel all over my entire body. It only happened while I was trying to sleep and would calm down while I was sitting or standing. It even began to wake me up at all hours of the night, causing me fitful tossing and turning. The waking up at all hours/not sleeping well is something that has been around since mid-August, but the heart issues were new.

Having been born with two heart murmurs, I decided it would probably be a good idea to see my doctor. Beforehand, I described my symptoms to one of my dearest friends (Dr. Burks, I've dubbed her) and she pinpointed the problem right away. She, and as my doctor would later tell me, said I needed to drink more water. My doctor attributed it to dehydration, particularly since the beating changes with positions, and that it's common with females. She suggested I wear a heart monitor for 24 hours and see if there was anything else going on. She also recommended, as she has many times before, to avoid any stress or upset because I, by default, am anxious and suffer from anxiety attacks.

I upped my water intake that very day, to the point of feeling like I was going to float, and have done so every day since. The palpitations and pains started to calm, although not entirely. None of my medications should cause such a reaction, so I realized with the fact that they did decline but not totally that it was apparently a combination: I need more water but I also need less stress.

I received a call on Tuesday that my heart monitor results were normal. So you all are stuck with me for a while.

Since, I've tried to remove myself from as much stress, negativity, and upset as possible. The pains and palpitations have lessened quite significantly and I managed to sleep straight through last night. I haven't done that in months. And while I still notice the occasional rapid beat or twinge of pain, there's a gigantic difference in how I felt just a week ago.

The point in sharing this with all of you is to impart some advice: drink lots of water and destress. Your body will thank you for it. Take care of YOU and to hell with everyone else. That may sound selfish and I don't mean it to sound that way at all, especially since I'm the queen of putting everyone else first. Yet, what good are you to your friends and loved ones if you don't take care of yourself? What good are you to yourself if you're always ill and bringing on poor health.

If it means removing negativity and certain people from your life, do it. If it means switching jobs, start looking elsewhere now. If it means needing to have a heart-to-heart with someone, speak up. If it means exercising, get moving. Just make sure, whatever it is, to take care of yourself and do whatever it takes to quiet your mind. Oh, and drink lots of water.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Poetry Series: a Winter Morning Haiku

~A Winter Morning Haiku~ 
Liz Fink-Davenport

Come back to bed
The world is frosted for us
Hibernate with me.

Poetry Series:Flags


Liz Fink-Davenport

Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. Turned inside out. It’s all the love you want to give but there is no receiver. Sorrow is a battle flag. You can wave to say that you paid it all. You were in the trenches. You risked. Proudly holding high the tattered piece of your pride. You loved.

We all ache. Losing love is like a window to the soul. And my sweet, you have every right to live deep in this hurt for a time. And then, come out. This was a lesson. And so if you must, crawl through the lesson and then into the light. To find love without the grief. Without the bite. To leave it turned right side out. Wait and then find the one that will gather you up in their arms and give you your last first kiss. And wave a new flag. Hope.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Another 50 Years.....

Another 50 Years...

As we ended 2017 with a look at music from 1967, I thought it appropriate to kick off the new year with another look back - this time to 1968. For some, just interesting trivia, but for others, perhaps, inspiration.

A cursory glance at the events of the year see Johnny Cash performing his iconic show (and later released as an album) at Folsom Prison in January. This followed by a string of amazing happenings: David Gilmour joins Pink Floyd, promoter Bill Graham opens the Filmore East in NY, the wedding of Johnny and June, "Hair" opens on Broadway, Aretha Franklin records her live album in Paris, Lennon & McCartney launch Apple, then begin recording "the White Album" (which is released later the same year), Jeff Beck releases "Truth" (which launches the careers of Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood), The Who begin recording "Tommy", Janis Joplin breaks from Big Brother and goes solo, Elvis becomes the highest rated TV special of the entire year, and more.

The year sees the forming of Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, CS&N, Yes, RushN Free, King Crimson, Deep Purple....and the demise of Buffulo Springfield, the Yardbirds, Cream, the Righteous Brothers....

January alone sees albums by Merle Haggard, Elvis Presley, John Coltrane, Johnny Cash, Richie Havens, Steppenwolf, Nancy Sinatra, Velvet Underground, Aretha Franklin, Gordon Lightfoot, Iron Butterfly, the Byrds, Dr. John, Simon & Garfunkel, and more...while the remainder of the year is equally explosive, with albums released by Otis Redding, Fleetwood Mac, the Bee Gees, James Brown, Miles Davis, Joni Mitchell, Ray Charles, Sly & the Family Stone, Herb Alpert, Tom Jones, Beach Boys, Joan Baez. Jose Feliciano, the Band, the Doors, CCR, Etta James, Marvin Gaye, , Jefferson Airplane, Muddy Waters, Jimi Hendrix, solo albums by Beatles' George Harrison and John Lennon, Dean Martin, Curtis Mayfield, Rolling Stones, Temptations...

The year also sees the biggest selling songs in "Hey Jude", "What a Wonderful World", "Dock of the Bay", and "Jumpin' Jack Flash" well as songs like Jimi's version of the Dylan classic "All Along the Watchtower", Steppenwolf's "Born the Be Wild", Aretha's "Chain of Fools", "Mighty Quinn", "Piece of My Heart" & "Summertime", the novelty hit "Tiptoe Through the Tulips", "White Room", "Mony Mony"....

1968 also saw musical films from "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" to "Yellow Submarine".

Sadly, it brought the deaths of blues harp master Little Walter, jazz guitar legend Wes Montgomery, and many more....but it also saw the births of Sarah McLaughlin, guitarist Charlie Sexton, Thom Yorke of Radiohead,  rapper LL Cool J, Celine Dion, Dawn Robertson of En Vogue....

So now you're ready for trivial pursuit...or you have some fuel for your creative fires.

Go carve your name in history, friends.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

50 Years....

WHAT WILL THE FUTURE, 50 years hence, think of us (in music and art) today?

I don't know, but 50 years ago saw HUGE songs like "Whiter Shade of Pale" and "All You Need is Love", and "I'm a Believer", and "Strawberry Fields Forever", and "Light My Fire". It saw music from Phillip Glass and from Steve Reich. Album releases like The Doors and Between the Button and Sorcerer and Are You Experienced and Surrealistic Pillow and Patsy Cline's Greatest Hits and Magical Mystery Tour and Waylon Sings Harlan and Sgt Peppers and many, many more...from Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan and Merle Haggard and Miles Davis and the Rolling Stones and the Beatles and the Beach Boys and Dione Warwick and James Brown and the Monkees and Willie Nelson and Elvis and Bowie and Jimi Hendrix, and Otis Redding and Johnny Cash and the Yardbirds and the Temptations, and Dean Martin and Aretha Franklin and Zappa and Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson and Pink Floyd. And so many more besides.

Albert King's Born Under a Bad Sign and Merle Haggard's Branded Man and Frank Sinatra's The World We Knew and of course Big Brother and the Holding Company's debut (that introduced Janis Joplin to the World) and Cold Sweat by James Brown and Frank Zappa's Lumpy Gravy all came out in August of '67.

The final 2 months saw Disreali Gears and Amboy Dukes and Axis: Bold as Love and the Who Sell Out and Dusty Springfield's The Look of Love.

1967 saw the Summer of Love and BB King and Burt's Bond epic Casino Royale and George Benson and Julie London to Ritchie Havens.

I don't know what we'll look like in 50 years, but I know 50 years ago has set a very high bar.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 29, 2017

Poetry Series: To All Our Heartbreaks This Year

~To All Our Hearbreaks This Year~
Liz Fink Davenport

 (Last poem of the year)

Screw you. 

The poem could end here, Love. It could. We could tell all our clawed up heartaches to bugger off and never talk to them again. But there is a problem. They are all right there in your hands. So I suggest something different. Here is how we mend and learn and open our clenched fists for the first time since clenching them and hiding away the little demons. Take a deep breath. Unclench for me. Just a bit. You have got this. We are going to let out some things from that fist. 

Roll call: 

Heartache from love unrequited. Heartbreak from a mother’s loss. Heartdeath from “you are wonderful, just not what I want”. Heartdrowning from finding the last talk was the last and they are gone. Heartwrenching from all that you want is just at your fingertips and then the rug is ripped out. Heartsmodering from unforgiveness. Heartsmashing from hearing “I hate you, dad.” through a slammed door. Heartbleeding from trying. God, trying so hard and yet it’s always one more thing. Hearthardening from love placed in the wrong hands. Again. Heartmurder from self sabotage. Heartinceneration from who you never ever ever thought would ever betray you. 

All accounted for. Can you feel them all wriggling in your fist? Angry. Biting. Sulking. Wailing at the wind. They are pissed and you have kept them in your sweaty palm for 365 suns. Now, open up and look at them and thank them. Yes. I said thank them. Thank them for lessons learned, life lived, promises kept, tears that reminded you why we are alive, new chapters, and for sweet baby Jesus’ sake...for the very fact you were here on this earth to have them. Look at them and say thank you as they each fly off like small sparks from a campfire in the cold black night. They will fly. They don’t want to be in your fist anymore. 

Maybe you whisper, screw you to one or two as they take wing. But, my sweet and beautiful dirty human, you have lived this year. You have seen the best of others and the ugliest. You have breathed in and out and moved forward and that is commendable. So, as you close your eyes for the last time in this year and open again in the new...unclench your fists. Be gratitude and light. And say thank you. The little shits sure did make this year interesting. 

Now fly away. We have a new year of love to put in these now freed hands.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Michael Hutchence

Michael Hutchence
Lindsay Caudill

On November 22, 1997, my world changed forever.

Twenty years ago, my favorite singer/songwriter and one of my biggest inspirations left this Earth. INXS lead singer Michael Hutchence died at age thirty-seven. Suicide.

I remember vividly the phone call, my high school/college best friend letting me know that the news had just given that Michael had killed himself. It was a Saturday night. I was finishing up my second full semester of college, preparing for the Thanksgiving holiday, and spending time with my Mom and Granny. I was stunned. At that time, I did not have internet access at home, so I went to the college library early that following Monday and printed off every article I could find, sick inside as if I were reading about a family member’s passing.

Rumors swirled - was it suicide? If so, why? Was it because of his fiancee? Was it a sex act gone wrong? What about his child?