Daddy's Little Girl has something to say......and sing about!

I figured in honor of Father's Day, I'd take a chance to talk about someone very important in my life: my dad. I'll admit, we haven't always seen eye to eye and I know for a while we didn't talk, but that doesn't mean that my father is any less important to me. While my mom was dealing with a lot of mental health issues, I could always rely on my dad to be there when I needed him. Even when I was little and he was always busy with being involved in local politics, he would make the time to be there in my life. I thought he was invincible, that nothing could harm him no matter what happened. 

I remember going with him to work when he needed to go in on a Saturday for a few hours. He'd always get me a hot chocolate (and on occasion a strawberry frosted donut) for breakfast and while he finished up what he needed to do, his co-workers would show me magic tricks or tell me stories. 

I remember my brother's football games and cheering as loud as I could while he explained the logistics of the sport to me. 

He also never missed any of the football games when I was a cheerleader.

I remember all the piano & dance recitals, concerts, softball games, and poetry readings that he made a point to attend, sitting there in the audience as proud as can be.

Back to School Night......he was there to talk with my teachers.

When I had my breakdown my freshman year of high school, he was there with my mom to make sure I got the help I needed.

My first day of college, he was there to help me bring up my stuff and move in.......even coming back at the end of the semester to help me move out.

Even on the day he got re-married, he saved me a dance.

And on Sunday, despite the fact that I'm 26 years old and an adult, he still calls me by the same nickname he gave me when I was a little girl.

So while we've had our differences, I must admit that I have one awesome dad. Whenever I've needed him there, he's been there, through thick and thin. These songs I want to share with you are not exactly all parental-related, but just songs that whenever I hear them, I'm taken back to a special moment I shared with my dad. And so in honor of my dad, here's my list of songs that remind me of him:

1) Baba O'Reilly by The Who: Upon our various road trips to Myrtle Beach, SC during the summer, my dad always brought along two albums....one of them being Who's Next. He was always into rock music and made a note of bringing along his favorite tunes for the drive. A few times we would change up the words to this song to say "sauce pan wasteland"......just to joke about my mom's cooking. Yet every time I hear this, I still think of those road trips and smile.

2) Prelude/Angry Young Man by Billy Joel: Another road trip staple, the familiar piano licks in the beginning of this number always take me back to sitting in traffic on the way to Myrtle Beach. And even now, when I hear those familiar notes, I still get the same goosebumps that I got when I was seven years old. 

3) Butterfly Kisses by Bob Carlisle: At first, I HATED this song! Well, hate is a very strong word indeed.....let's go with it grated on me. My dad was all about this song though. He loved the way that it went through the stages of a girl's life through the eyes of her father and how even when she was ready to get married, they would still share the same traditions they did when she was little. I know my father always loved that part and laughed a little when I would cringe at this song. I felt (and still feel) that is particularly cheesy and slightly indulgent, but it brings a smile to my face knowing just how important this one is to my father.

4) Lady in Red by Chris DeBurgh: A little out of sorts, yes. But put into a particular context, one would know why this one makes the list. When my father was getting re-married, my stepmom wanted to make sure her bridesmaids were dressed in her favorite color: RED. And so, after careful searching and deliberation, she chose these beautiful floor-length red dresses with flower beading along the strap. They were perfect in every way and I couldn't wait to wear it! The night of the reception, when this song came on, despite the fact that red is not my signature color, my dad walked up to my table and told me that he saved this dance for the lady in red.........the memory still brings a tear of happiness every now and then.

5) Funeral for a Friend by Elton John: While I may be the music junkie, my dad has been a HUGE influence in some of the music that I listen to today. A lot of classic rock, he has always shared his favorite musical gems with me, hoping that I would keep listening to music that he could enjoy with me. And when I was coming out of my boy-band phase, this was one of the songs that he hoped I'd listen to. Even now, he still does not disappoint with the music suggestions........although I could definitely teach him a thing or two now! 

6) Black Balloon by Goo Goo Dolls: I know, a very random song choice......and not exactly the most positive of meanings. Yet almost every time I'd get into my dad's car when this song came out......it would always be on. So only fitting I add this song here. 

7) Tommy Soundtrack by The Who: Around the time I was ten or so, The Who's Tommy came out on Broadway......and my dad made it a point to make sure that we were there to see it! I can remember sitting in the 10th row with my brother next to me, thinking that I was going to be bored out of my mind with whatever we were seeing. I was more into Cats, Phantom of the Opera, anything that seemed more theatrical than rock-ish. Seeing this show definitely made me change my mind about rock music in general, as the moment the music started, I nearly jumped out of my seat at how loud it was.......definitely something my father would want to see. I didn't even need to see his face to know he was enjoying himself to the fullest at the show.

8) If I Had A $1,000,000 by the Barenaked Ladies: Whenever my dad and I would hear this song on WPLJ, it always spawned a lot of laughter, a little bit of a sing-a-long, and some bonding over a band that I never thought both of us would really like. I mean, don't get me wrong, I think the Barenaked Ladies are quite talented, but their style was something I never imagined myself really getting into at all! So when this song would come on, my dad and I would smile at one another as he proceeded to turn the volume up and we sang ALL the words! 


Even at 26, I'm still going to be that little girl to my father......and that's ok.

Because he's been there through it all, seen more than I know about, and has never ceased to remind me how proud he is of who I've become. 

I hope that I don't let him down.

~Jenny Rockstar


defined by the antonym........


It's something that I try to not do a lot of, despite the fact that I find myself giving in more times than not to what other people think I should be doing with my life. Every day, I find that my choices are a constant compromise, whether it be to do what my friends would like to do, eat what my boyfriend wants to eat, even give up control of the remote to keep others happy. Day after day, I find that the word compromise, while rough for me to accept, has become part of my daily routine.

Now I know there's nothing wrong with it, yet I can't help but feel that a couple days ago, the idea of compromise finally hit that wall in my life.......into the one place I don't want it to go.........my dreams. In today's day and age, it's hard to find jobs that allow me the opportunity to pursue my dreams. What can I say? I love to write! And for writers, a job is something that is few and far between. So instead, I do school photography when the season is in full swing to make up for the lack of completion in my dreams. Because frankly, all I want to do is capture what's going on around me. While photography allows me to do that in an image form.......the idea of getting to explain in words the daily ins and outs of my life......that's what fascinates me more! A picture can sum it up, but words present the bigger challenge. 

I've always known that I've wanted to be a writer......well, not entirely true. When I was about five I wanted to be a nurse. Of course, after having the opportunity to participate in more writing exercises in school, I found myself more fascinated with writing. I started begging my parents to get me notebooks. I would fill the pages with ideas for stories and poems that were rattling around in my head. Silly little things, like mysteries and alternate endings to some of my favorite stories; concepts that came from my own imagination. I could create characters that were funny, others that were serious, some that were evil (with a touch of humanity), anything that I wanted them to be. By middle school, I was filling the pages with plays and plots. And while I may not have been a gifted playwright, I didn't care. 

I wrote for myself and no one else. 
I wrote because it gave me the opportunity to escape into a world that was all mine.
I wrote just because if I didn't, I felt like my heart and mind would burst without releasing all that creative energy that flowed throughout me.

High School allowed me the opportunity to pursue more poetry.....and I LOVED it! Where daily prose was becoming more mundane, the ideas of verses and stanzas fascinated me in a way it never had before I became a freshman. I fell in love with all the classics: Shakespeare, Robert Browning, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost. Their words were simple in meaning, yet legendary in their impact. I never went anywhere without my trusty notebook secured in my messenger bag........lines slowly forming in my head as I encountered everyday life. I couldn't help myself, I was in love with writing.......a love affair that has lasted even until now. By the time college arrived, my perspective on poetry changed as I returned to prose.

Creative Writing was something that I had wanted to pursue in college, yet was encouraged to not make a life-long career out of it. Instead, I changed over to journalism, which shaped my writing style in a way that I still use to this day. The notion of capturing a story and writing it in a way to interest others became my goal. I could be creative within the confines of reason, give my writing an outlet to become more realistic and tangible. I felt whole whenever I had the opportunity to share my work with others, because I knew that what I was writing was important to me. I knew that people were listening to my voice and liking what they heard. 

Then, between 2005-2007.........I lost my voice. Where I had been so eager to share my life, I found more opposition than praise for my words. The worst thing one could do is to silence the voice in their heart, even when people don't like what you write. I felt alone, confused, and struggled to find the words in my soul to fill the pages. Anything I wrote during that time was confining, fake, and sometimes meaningless to me. I tried to make myself believe anything I placed onto paper or in word documents, seeking that passion I had had for so long. In December 2007, I took a hiatus from writing anything for about a month.......because I needed to figure out who I was. I had spent so much time in those past two years confining to the standards of others that I had forgotten what it meant to write for myself. To bleed my soul into my entries the way I used to when I would write in a diary. 

As 2008 began and the new year came into view, I renewed my love of writing. Slowly, I began writing about anything that would pop into my mind, anything at all. Whether it be frustration over my life, or contemplation of a song that I was enjoying at that moment. Sometimes I shared things about myself that I had told nobody about and in turn, I found new readers sharing their own secrets with me. I made connections with a new audience, one that urged me to keep writing and to keep bestowing my advice about life and lessons learned to them. 

These past two years have brought me back to who I want to be: the writer. While I have done photography as well, I have found more solace with my head buried in a notebook, my pen furiously scribbling away thoughts and ideas I want to share........even my trusty laptop has taken the brunt of my creative juices. So now, while I feel that compromising my dreams of being a well-known writer are trying to push their way through.......I REFUSE to let that happen. Because the journey I've had with writing has been one that has been more exhilarating than any roller-coaster ride I've experienced, more stressful than any test I've studied for, and more rewarding than any job I've had up until now. 

Because I know that writing is more than just a job for me.......it's my career path. It's what I want to be doing with my life. I could wake up in the morning and have words to write until I go to bed. The mere idea of getting to write for the rest of my life consumes every part of me and I cannot help but feel grateful that while it may be hard for me to get there, I'm going to do what I need to do to make my writing something more than just a hobby..........I'm going to dedicate my life to it.

~Jenny Rockstar


Indulging musically......

Aside from the music that seems to be mainstream/popular, we always have those songs/albums that we consider our "guilty pleasures." It's the type of music that would not be expected, yet you are consumed by it. You (sometimes) own more than one album. You've tried (or thought about trying) at least a few times to see a concert (even though you sometimes try to avoid admitting it out of embarrassment.) And while nobody understands it, you can't seem to stop playing that one song or album for hours, days, weeks, sometimes months. You love it so much that it doesn't matter that people may think you are weird for liking what you do........but you dig it and that's all that matters.

1) The Monkees - Headquarters Album: When I reached my senior year of high school, I got into a HUGE Monkees craze! Part of it could be the reason that I watched the VH1 movie-documentary about their rise and fall. Part of it could be how Fox put on old Monkees episodes, while AMC was hell-bent on showing their movie flop, Head. Or maybe, just maybe, it was a combination of all of it. But whatever the case may be, I was HOOKED! And in my natural fashion, I set out to learn everything and anything I could about the band, which brought me to purchasing this particular album. While it was their third album, its significance is big. It was the first Monkees album where they had creative control of what songs were chosen. They could write their own music, play their own instruments, and sing on their album. Prior to that, they had very little control over the song choices. Peter Tork and Michael Nesmith were featured very little, if at all, on their albums. It may have been the eventual downfall of the band, but this gem has always been one of my favorites to listen to whenever I just need a throw-back.

2) Hanson - Middle of Nowhere Album: From the three blonde-haired musical prodigies from Tulsa, Oklahoma came this little gem. The thing is, I can remember the craze over "Mmmbop" when it came out, then the immediate backlash from any person who either had a penis or a sense that this band was considered cheesy teen-pop music. While yes, the songs are simple and sometimes a little 'over the top', consider that the three brothers Zac, Taylor, and Isaac Hanson had been creating music for a few years before they hit the mainstream circuit. This was not their first album, and even though their fame fizzled out quite a bit before they released their future albums, I commend them on continuing to write and perform music for the masses. The whole idea of mainstream did not corrupt their own goals in life, nor did it hinder their ability. If I didn't consider them to be quite awesome, I wouldn't own at least three of their albums, two imports, a handful of posters, a t-shirt, and have concert tickets from three different shows.

3) 98 Degrees - ANY of their music: Granted, I got into a HUGE boy-band craze as I went into high school. If you look at the one above this one, you would know that. But while it took me a longer time to truly get into music like Backstreet Boys and *NSync, I was ALWAYS a fan of 98 Degrees! From the premiere of "Invisible Man" to their last album Revelation, I always made an effort to keep in the know for this band. I tried several times to win concert tickets......which never seemed to pan out. Fortunately, I DID have the chance to see them at the Beacon Theater during either my sophomore or junior year of high school......the year eludes me now. Fast forward over 10 years later, I have been known to search through my iPod and select their album as a means of evading boredom. And sometimes, you still catch me lip-syncing all the words to every song. 

4) Glee - pretty much any song I've downloaded: As I stated in one of my previous blogs, this show took me a LONG time to get into. About halfway through this season, when the Madonna episode aired, I finally caved and started to spend my Tuesday nights watching the ins & outs of the relationships and scandals that the Glee kids faced on a weekly basis. But even before that, I was digging the music. On the premiere episode that was aired about a year ago, I caught the tail-end of the show......the part where Finn & Rachel were singing "Don't Stop Believin'". Intrigued, I continued to listen to the previously-recorded performance.....and knew that I HAD to have that song on my iPod. As I tried to avoid watching episodes, I then managed to watch the "Mattress" episode, where I heard them perform the song "Jump." It was all downhill from there. Now, over 25 downloads and one DVD set later, I can't help but break out into song anytime I hear a Glee version of a song.....or the original song that they covered. 

5) Tim Myers - The Good Life: I don't remember how I came across this musical gem, but I know that whether it be through my iTunes or my iPod, this song has been played possibly a hundred times or so since I purchased it. The words are uplifting, the beat is uplifting, and put together, it makes for one of the most positive songs I've heard in a while. Whenever I hear that beginning piano beat, the idea to get up and dance along becomes almost a necessity. While the meaning is as simple as it can be, it's an important one nonetheless: the idea that sometimes, getting away to better things is a necessity to keep life balanced. That there's no better time to start really living your life than now.

6) Norbert Leo Butz & Sherie Rene Scott - The Last Five Years Soundtrack: For anyone who has not listened to the music from this show, you do not know what you're missing out on! While I'm still fairly new to the idea of Broadway musicals gracing my iTunes collection, I must admit that this soundtrack in particular is indulgent, emotional, and catchy. Butz & Scott play a couple, yet one of them tells the story from the beginning of the relationship, while the other tells the story starting from the end of the relationship. Come the middle of the show, both of them meet in the middle for their marriage, then continue on the timeline, where we find out what causes the end of the relationship, as well as just how much in love these two characters were when they first met. Every song is catchy while some incorporate funny lyrics, yet by the end, I guarantee you'll be in tears.

7) The Beatles - ANYTHING by them: While this doesn't exactly fit under the category of others understanding why you love it so much, The Beatles.......are iconic. I cannot even tell you how many albums I've purchased (or downloaded), posters I own, solo albums I've purchased, or all the memorabilia that is in my possession. When it comes to John, Paul, George, and Ringo.........I am completely in love. Their music transcends everything in life, brings me to a place of higher understanding and reason. Where The Stones, The Who, and Pink Floyd all played music that I feel is slightly rougher around the edges, The Beatles were known for their never-ending proclamation of love, peace, and understanding. They wanted people to embrace life and happiness, not to fight and kill one another. While some of their songs were a little silly and cutesy, most were amazingly touching and profound with the musical score, lyrics, and the combination of their vocal abilities. I mean, who else could sum it up on their final album with these words: And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make. Epic.

8) Bright Eyes - First Day of My Life: While not exactly my cup of tea in the realm of music, Conor Oberst really hits it home with this song. Off of the album I'm Wide Awake It's Morning, it is what I consider one of the best Alternative/Emo-style love songs that one could write. The words simply explain the way the singer of the song feels about the one he loves. Instead of hoping for the unattainable, he has a sense of realism and knows that what he has right in front of him may be more important than trying to search the world for anything better. Because who is to say that there is anyone better? One of the most profound lines to me is the following line: But I'd rather be working for a paycheck than waiting to win the lottery. Some may interpret this as just settling, but I see it as someone who wants something substantial out of life, rather than holding onto a dream or fantasy. I'm surprised this song has not started skipping on my cd yet......although I have made sure I've backed up my album on iTunes.

9) Jason Mraz - Life is Wonderful: Jason Mraz is a musical genius! Even though his music may come off as poppy and sometimes a little cheesy for the masses, some of his other works on the album are even better than the ones that make it onto pop charts! Aside from the fact that the album Mr. A-Z did not fare as well as Waiting for My Rocket To Come and We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things, this particular album's title track is one that I can't help but just play over and over. It also doesn't hurt that in a completely dorky way, Jason Mraz is cute! He carries that plaid fedora-guitarist look well. Profound lyric after profound lyric, and still kinda catchy all at the same time. While most of my friends don't get why I can like this song so much, I don't really care. It's one of my faves and I'm stickin' to it!

10) Jazz Music: I couldn't just pick any song, so I decided to make my last one on this list an homage to one of my favorite genres of all time......jazz. Most people I encounter look at me with confusion when I mention that I LOVE jazz, yet I'm sure if they listened to some of today's classics, they'd find that a few are covers of jazz standards. Just to name a few of my favorites: Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Rosemary Clooney, Billie Holliday, John Coltrane, Erroll Garner, Hoagy Carmichael.......this list could go on! Each of these musicians perform songs that have made an impact on me musically, emotionally, and personally. What I love most is how the style of jazz evokes such emotion and depth. When I used to be painfully single, I could always find a song to fit that emotion. In times of needing peace, Coltrane became my method of unwinding. And even when I found love, I could always locate a song that fit that moment too.


What I may consider a "guilty pleasure" may not be the same as the next person, but I don't care. I love to indulge in music altogether........and these are just a few of my favorite indulgences.

~Jenny Rockstar