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Dear Friends, “(You Don’t Know) How Glad I Am!”

Challenge: I’m declaring this a day of gratitude, so get your #2 pencils or your pens out and write at least five things that you’re so grateful about that you just can’t believe you could be so lucky. If you can’t think of anything, but you can read this, that should be numbers one, two and three: you’re alive, you can see, my god, you have a computer!

One of the greatest gifts my mother ever gave me, besides life (and thick hair), was Eleanor H. Porter’s Pollyanna. The story is about an orphan girl who changes the world around her by being grateful for everything even, seemingly, the smallest things. After her father’s death, she’s forced to move to a town where the people are cold and hardened; after some time, with Pollyanna’s influence, they become glad. I toted Pollyanna with me to three continents, have read it numerous times at different ages, and I’m sorry that I don’t have it with me in Tokyo. Today would be a great day to lie in bed and re-read Pollyanna, especially as I’m feeling so very glad.

Here’s my “Glad List“:

1) Earlier this week, I was complaining about my roommate– the fact that I have one and just the general annoyances that come with living with someone. But, wait… I have a room, a roof over my head, a place to rest at night. I’m glad to be here, and have some stellar housemates that will stay up with me and eat melted chocolate on marshmallows (s’mores without crackers). There are times to be alone, and times when company’s needed.

2) I’m glad to be healthy and breathing (“I got my hair on my head, got my smile, my tongue… I’ve got life!”), but most especially to have been alive in the eighties. After Heavy D’s death, I couldn’t stop listening to New Jack Swing (thank heavens for producer Teddy Riley); and, yesterday was the most dance-y, boppy day I’ve had in ages. Moving one’s body feels good. Get up, move, be glad glad happy happy, you’ve got life.

3) I didn’t want to celebrate my birthday. Only mentioned it in passing to two people in Tokyo. Complained repeatedly about getting older, but what’s the alternative, death?  M refused to let me not celebrate my birthday, so after work, she met me in Nihonbashi and treated me to dinner. I’m glad to have already met someone who felt that my birthday was special enough to be treated specially. Also, I insisted that my friends “forget” my birthday, not mention it, leave me the heck alone, but you know not one of them listened. My many birthday wishes from all over the globe made me glad, though I should feel insulted that no one listens to me.

4) The conversation that I had with my brother yesterday afternoon gladdened me. When I told him that I’m just not ready to claim the age that I’ve now become, he asked me, “How old do you feel?” “27,” I answered. He paused for a second, then said, “Well be 27. Live 27.” It seems simple, but it isn’t. Be who you want to be seems simple, but it isn’t… when it sinks in, what it is is freeing.

5) When I went to the florist, he gave me some additional flowers and said, “Present, present.” I don’t have a vase, but promptly put my presents in a water bottle. The lilies have bloomed, and they make my eyes and nose glad. Thank you flower man!

6) I worked yesterday for three hours and twenty minutes. Do I need to say anything more? I’m so glad to have a job that starts at 5:30p.m; one that will, when I eventually get paid, allow me to live comfortably; one that I never think about when I leave; one that leaves me completely stress-free. I’m glad that I applied.

7) This blog induces gladness in me. When I look at the map and see where readers are coming from, many countries that I’ve never been and would love to visit, it makes me excited and glad. Thank you!

So, let’s start getting glad!

* My love has no walls on either side, that makes my love wider than wide.

* I feel love in my hands, I feel love in my feet, I feel love in my bones, I feel love in my bones, I feel love in my feet, I feel love in my heart, I feel love in my soul. And you know, it feels good.

*… I’ve got my chin, my neck, my boobies, my heart, my soul, my back, my sex, my arms, my hands, my fingers, my legs….

* Dragonfly out in the sun, you know what I mean, don’t you know?…This old world is a bold world and a new one for me.

(Send me the man and Ella’s is perfect too)

* Days can be sunny, with never a sigh
Don’t need what  money can buy
Birds in the trees sing their day full of song
Why shouldn’t  we sing along?

“I Got Nuttin’ But Love For Ya”

A few years ago, I had a blog on Vox.com where I wrote often about the impact of New Jack Swing on the musical landscape of my life. When I was twelve, I honestly thought that when I was an adult (20 years old or thereabouts), my romantic life would mirror a New Jack song. I thought I’d meet a guy who would say things like, “You need a man with sensitivity, a man like me, someone who will hold you tight,” or a guy who would say, “Don’t  leave me all alone sitting here by the phone, my heart is broken, believe me.”  The New Jack guys were always pleading, romantic, and in some cases super hot (hello Al B.!).

If music were classified like movies, New Jack Swing would be action and romance rolled into one (what would that genre be called–rom-action?). Every scene would be lively, pounding, and feature at least one woman shaking her hips and her head “No no no.” Of course, the male lead would sing, “You’ve got me waiting, anticipating, I want your love.” In New Jack, the drums don’t stop; the beat never stops; the begging never stops; “Don’t be cruel, cause I would never be that cruel to you.” The words often used to describe the style are “original,” “insistent,” and “swinging,” as in jazzy; it’s also non-stop entertainment, incredibly sweet, heartfelt and funny. Yes that’s right, dance your pain away. I love you New Jack!… even though, you misled me, and my romantic life, if there has even been such a thing, has been less New Jack swing and more Old Jill shuffle.

New Jack songs are often about love and relationships, usually failed love, and relationships gone horribly wrong; but, there’s no way you can listen to a New Jack song and not dance, smile, and sing along. No way. It makes you happy; their hopes for second chances become yours. Test yourself: play Tony Toni Tone’s “Feels Good,” Bobby Brown’s “My Prerogative,” Al B. Sure’s “Off on Your Own,” or Heavy D’s “Somebody for Me,” and try to sit in your seat without moving. Try not to tap your feet. Try not to get up and move. Try to be sad. It’s impossible. Impossible!

I woke up this morning to learn that one of the pioneers of the New Jack genre, Heavy D, has died at an extremely young 44. It’s amazing how the death of a stranger can be felt so deeply. It’s crazy how you feel when people you grew up listening to, people who you feel you know, pass away; they have died and so has a bit of your youth, your childhood, the romantic ideals they instilled. Heavy D, as you said, and I throw right back at you, “I’ve got nuttin’ but love for ya baby.”

*BONUS (Classic Hev & the Don Dada):