Friday, June 26, 2009

Words Cannot Express.....

I am not ashamed to say that I am a Michael Jackson fan. I have been a Michael Jackson fan all my life. I believed in him, his music and his innocence, and when I say innocence, I mean not just "innocent" in terms of the heinous accusations that were made against him, but his innocence as a person. There is no doubt in my mind that Michael Jackson and I were kindred spirits.
When I saw him on that special, talking about the special tree he used to climb at Neverland Ranch....while everyone else made fun of him for that, I got it. I have places like that too. When I saw the inside of his house, filled with toys and video games, I got it. My house is like that too, though on a much smaller scale.
All of my adult life, when I've walked into a situation where there were adults and a wedding, a barbecue or a picnic, I've always felt much more comfortable hanging out with the kids than the grownups. That's why what I do for a living is such a perfect fit. ...I'm really just a kid in a grown up body, and that's how I always saw Michael. The difference is, Michael was a man and I'm a woman...somehow it's more acceptable for me.
When he was on television, forced to defend himself against the accusations of a bitter and suspicious world, I wept for him. Even though I suspect that most of you who will read this will think me a fool, I wept for him. I knew exactly what he meant when he said, "That's how the world thinks...but that's NOT how I think."
One of the very first record albums my mom bought for me, when I was about 12 years old, was The Jackson Five's Greatest Hits. I had his first solo album....and all his other albums.
I remember rushing home from taking my "little sister" (Big Brothers & Sisters) trick or treating to watch the Thriller video on MTV. In 1988, when I finally went to Disney World for the first time, the only reason I went to Epcot was to see "Captain EO." On my 30th birthday, at about midnight, I was settling into bed. Philip asked me if I wanted to watch a video, and I said "Okay." He put the "movie" in, and I was absolutely delighted to see that it was the MOOONWALKER video that I'd wanted.....over an hour of Michael videos. I raised Emma on that video...she LOVED it!! One of the first songs she danced to was "Black or White..." we loved it how the people morphed in that video. Louisa loved him too, and spent hours perfecting the moon walk.
I was miserable when I couldn't get tickets to his 1984 tour....but I scored some on Ebay to his 30th anniversary show at Madison Square Garden on 9/10/01. I didn't tell Philip how much I paid for them, but believe me, it was worth every penny, and he thought so too. Last night he thanked me for having made him do that. I'm SO GLAD I got to see Michael live. It was the THRILLL of my life.
As a songwriter, I could tell everything I needed to know about Michael Jackson by listening to his music. My favorite song of his was "Heal the World." All you have to do is listen to it to know what a good soul he was. He was all about loving and caring for the innocent and helpless of the world.
Here's a secret you probably don't 2004, when we were on tour in California, I took my family on a little adventure. I'd found out how to get to Neverland on the internet, and we went searching. We drove out on this long road....that seemed like it was going nowhere, until we saw one of those highway cleanup signs that said the stretch of road was sponsored by "MJ."
We finally got to a side road that led to a guarded gate. I got out with a package of my CDs and a note telling him they were for his kids, and the guy in the guardhouse asked me what I wanted. I said, "These are for the Master of the house." and the guy responded that he would see that he got them. There was no sign, nothing to indicate that we were at the right place. You couldn't see the rides or the elephants from the road, but you could feel that it was the right place. I would give my right arm to know if he ever listened to my music and shared it with his kids.
I always thought, in the back of my mind, that one day I would get to meet Michael Jackson. Now I know I won't on this earth, but I'm sure that I will meet him in heaven. In the meantime, he left us a lifetime of wonderful music from the time he was a little boy until now. I know I'll listen to it for the rest of my life.
I could write so much more, but I've got to get outside. I'm planting a butterfly garden in memory of Michael.
Love, Judy

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Finally, finally, finally! I have sung the last note in the recording studio for the new CD! Now all that remains is the mixing and producing and it will be available for release. The final title will be WEIRD THINGS ARE EVERYWHERE (A Reading Adventure Across the USA). Pre-order info will be coming to the Tune Room Store page of this website soon.
I really believe that this CD is my MASTERPIECE. I hope you like it too!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Twilight and the Back Fence

Okay, I'll admit it...I have been sucked (no pun intended) into reading some of the books in the Twilight series. Actually, I read the first one, and my poor husband suffered through me commenting out loud about how terribly written it is every night as I read before falling asleep. I stand by that assessment, but that still hasn't stopped me from listening to that book on audio (it was slightly better on the audio book, because the young woman who read it sounds likes a teenager, and the way the character spoke made more sense hearing the words spoken in that voice...) and following it up with the next two on audio. I can't help it, I'm a pop culture fiend.

I justify my craving for all pop culture knowledge because it gives me a common ground...a starting point for conversations with people I don't know all that well. I once read that the old-time tradition of passing gossip between neighbors over the back fence had died out in modern society because we no longer know our neighbors. Celebrities are our new gossip fodder. Most of us don't really know them, and we figure that they have sought out fame, so we don't feel guilty talking about them. It makes sense. If I try to talk to an acquaintance who happens to be standing in line next to me at the grocery store, what better conversation starter than, "How about that Jon & Kate? I'm so sick of hearing about them?" or "So, who do you think is going to win American Idol?" Just about everybody hears about this stuff, unless they live under a rock or are just too snobby for pop culture. And if they are THAT snobby, I probably wouldn't care to talk with them anyway!

So, getting back to Twilight...I resisted it for quite awhile, but then I heard so many adult women talking about it that I just had to get it from the library and see for myself. Okay, I'll admit, the story is somewhat intriguing, and I have enough of a "thirst" (pun intended) for the story to see how it turns out. But I have a MAJOR problem with the description of the main female character, "Bella." This is a girl who has NO interests (other than a boy vampire), NO aspirations (other than becoming a vampire because she loves the boy vampire), NO favorite subjects in school, NO hobbies, no anything to make her interesting at all. She is merely there to provide a focal point for the vampire, who falls in love with her initially because he can't resist her SMELL!!!! And women MY AGE are calling this story "romantic!" Lord help me if this is the kind of character we want our daughters to emulate. I can't even believe people are letting their daughters read this in this day and age.

The other day someone in my circle of friends compared an adult reading the Twilight series to an adult reading the Harry Potter series and I almost had a brain explosion. The Harry Potter books are LITERATURE that will stand the test of time and be read by generations to come. It's like comparing Archie Comics to "Catcher in the Rye."
Even more importantly, Hermione Granger is a fully developed character, and a heckuva role model for any girl. She is smart, strong, creative and funny. And yes, she is allowed to have a crush on a boy, but that never gets in the way of her being true to herself. I would be delighted if my daughter asked herself "What would Hermione do?" and horrified if my daughter asked herself "What would Bella do?" I think you get my point.

Furthermore, I know moms and dads who are letting their 10 and 11- year old daughters read these books, and I'm sure they are blissfully ignorant of the fact that some of the themes therein are quite mature, including the budding (at the point I'm at in the series, anyway) physical relationship between "Bella" and "Edward." Parents are the best judge of what their children can handle in this department, but the problem is that I don't think many parents are informed about the actual content of these books. They've become THE thing for girls to read, and perhaps parents think that because so many kids are reading them they must be okay. Personally, I think the message the books send to girls about valuing themselves (or NOT valuing themselves, I should say) is far more heinous than the sex, but I still think you ought to know.

One final thought: there is one other series for youth that I have picked up recently, and I've enjoyed it a bazillion times more than the Twilight series. Diary of a Wimpy Kid made me laugh right out loud! If your kids are reading these books, take ten minutes and pick one up and read a little. I'll bet you'll laugh out loud too! And funny books are way better than romances any day of the week, if you ask me!

Monday, June 1, 2009

What I'm Good At

I've been working hard in the recording studio putting the finishing touches...and I do mean the FINISHING touches...on my forthcoming CD. It's been about three years in the making! (no, I haven't been working on it's been a couple songs here, a couple songs there). It's a concept CD called Reading Our Way Across the USA; that's why it's taken "a little" longer to produce than my other recordings. Anyhow, it will be released THIS SUMMER. Thank you for your patience in waiting! When I mentioned this at a show last week a Dad in the audience said, "Finally! New material!" So, I especially appreciate you Moms and Dads who have listened to the same songs over and over again with your kids! You're troopers!Anyhow, I want to get kind of personal here, because this is something that occurred to me as I was listening to one of the finished tracks: "This is the best of me. It's what I have to offer this world, and it's what I hope will outlive me."By that, of course, I mean that I feel that music has been my calling since I was old enough to sing. Writing songs has come naturally to me for most of my life (wrote my first one when I was 11). So when I'm in the studio creating a recording of one of my songs, I feel like I am putting the whole best of myself into that recording. When you hear it, you are getting the best of what this person has to give. I'm not that great at anything else, but I appreciate you who think that I'm pretty good at doing this, and who have supported me in my quest to make a living doing what I love. Thank you so, so much. I will continue giving you and your families the best I have to offer as long as I can...and with God's blessing maybe a couple of generations will grow up with my music. That would be the greatest gift for me, and all that I could hope for on this earth.I have to put a caveat in here: Obviously my daughters are the greatest thing I've produced in this life, but I can't take the whole credit for how terrific they are!!