David Bruce: 250 Music Anecdotes — Children, Christmas


• Barbara Mandrell is the oldest of three daughters. At age six, she liked being the only child, but then her parents had another daughter. Her father knew that Barbara liked being the only child, so when he brought her new sister home, he pretended that the hospital had given them the wrong baby: “This is not our baby; it has black hair and it’s just not ours, and I’m going to flush it down the toilet.” He went into the bathroom, and young Barbara pleaded with him, “No, give me the baby! She’s my baby!” He came out of the bathroom with the baby and let Barbara hold her, and Barbara stopped being jealous and started loving her baby sister.

• The three brothers who make up the music group Hanson — Ike, Taylor, and Zac Hanson — started singing and making music together when they were very young. Often, they would ignore a chore such as washing and drying the dishes so that they could create a new song together. No problem. Their parents would happily listen to them sing the new song — then make them wash and dry the dishes. By the way, this is the dumbest question these three brothers have ever been asked: “How did you guys meet?”

• Susan Rotolo was at one time Bob Dylan’s girlfriend, and his and her photograph appears on the cover of his album Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. The relationship didn’t last, and she married another man and had a son with him. One day, at Tower Records she saw the album and for fun she asked her young son, “Do you know who is in that picture?” He looked and said, “That’s you, Mommy.” She says, “It was cute.”

• In the 19th century, when singer Emma Abbott was a little girl, she was intriguedto hear about bouquets of flowers being thrown to a prima donna on a stage. However, she worried that the prima donna would fall off if the stage should start going. Fortunately, her father was able to explain to her the difference between a stage and a stagecoach.


• Guy Lombardo and eight other teenagers, including his brothers, arrived in the United States from Canada with plans to make it big as musicians. They got a small job in Cleveland, Ohio, and then jobs became hard to find. On Christmas Eve, they were unhappy. They had also decided to go home — defeated. But a knock sounded on the door. They opened it, and the parents of all the teenagers were there. The teenagers had been writing letters with fake cheerfulness, and their parents had seen through the fake cheerfulness. Their parents spent Christmas Eve and Christmas with them. A very successful Guy Lombardo wrote much later, “Their very presence, their cheering words, their show of faith in our ability to succeed was exactly the tonic we needed. We decided not to give up, but to keep trying. And the breaks finally came our way.”

• In 1986, after the pop duo Wham!, one of whose hits was “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,” had split up, George Michael did not have a concert to sing at over the Christmas season. Feeling the desire to sing in public, but not wanting to be recognized, he wore a wig as he and some friends sang carols and popular songs — but not Wham! songs — in English pubs. He discovered that the pub customers liked the Beatles songs best, and he and his friends made £7½ in tips. By the way, when Mr. Michael and Andrew Ridgeley first became famous as Wham!, fans could still look up Andrew’s address in the telephone book. Sometimes, teenaged girls went to his home and Andrew’s father gave them souvenirs: Andrew’s socks.

• When Lady Gaga was a child, her father gave her a special Christmas gift: The Bruce Springsteen Songbook. Her favorite song was “Thunder Road,” and her father promised that if she learned to play that song, the family would take out a loan and buy a grand piano. After she became famous, Lady Gaga remembered, “So it was the hardest thing for me.” The song was hard to learn, and she had trouble understanding the songbook. She said, however, “I just started reading it and eventually got it down.” True to his word, her father bought a baby grand. Her family still has it. In 2010, Lady Gaga won two Grammies. She wrote on Twitter, “My dad put them on the piano I studied on for 14 yrs.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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Invented Poetry Forms – The Rothko

Paul's Poetry Playground

rothko colors

Having received such a seemingly enthusiastic response to my last post on the pollock, I decided to follow it up with yet another poetic form inspired by an abstract expressionist visual artist – the rothko. Created by poet Bob Holman who named the form after the painter Mark Rothko, it is a three-line poem with each line consisting of three words. Emulating Rothko (who was notorious for his bold use of color), the poem must contain the names of three different hues. These colors have to appear in the poem in either a horizontal, vertical or diagonal line (much like in tic-tac-toe). Another one of Holman’s rules for writing a rothko is that it can only be written while standing in front of an actual Rothko painting. Because of the difficulty for most poets to follow this, I think it is definitely permissible to ignore that particular rule. Instead, I…

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