Thoughts on Life, Music and Whatever...
going to have to postone TONIS TAKE until Tuesday morning. I
just dont have time, with all the holiday goings on, to organize
my thoughts. I hope you ALL have a safe, sane, and joyful New Year.
One of my fondest hopes for 2007 is that we will all try to be more
civil and courteous with each other. When you go out today, try to
greet people along the way with a smile....it can be a tiny one...just
try at least to have a pleasant look on your face (thats what
I tell Daryl....
Eeyore personified). The cashier at the supermarket.... the lady
you meet pushing her cart in the grocery aisle....the teller at the
bank..the kid walking their dog. Try looking them straight in the
eyes and say, Good morning or just Hi as you
pass by. I find that even people who seem to be total grumps will
light up just a bit if you do that. And look for TONIS TAKE
this Tuesday. Until then, Keep A Song of Joy Inside Your Heart.
24 , 2006
CHRISTMAS EVE 2006 | THOUGHTS ON THE NEW YEAR
The air was a chilly 40 degrees this morning as the sun rose over
the palm trees here at our home in La Quinta. However, the sky
is now a brilliant blue, and the temperature is supposed to reach
the mid 70s here on this lovely Christmas Eve. My sister, Louisa
and her husband, Bob, along with their darling little Chow/Corgi
mix, Tina, arrived yesterday to spend Christmas with us. I adore
Louisa and Bob....they are bright and funny, and make me laugh.
Today I am making dinner for Louisa and Bob, our friends Judy
and Boots, and, of course, dear Daryl. It will be a pretty simple
repast..... Chicken and Dumplings for everyone but Daryl. He will
have his own vegetarian entree. Well all enjoy steamed green
beans with almonds, and big salad. Daryl gets a special dessert...Legal
I plan to bake as soon as I finish writing this. Legal
means, as most of you know, a whole wheat pie crust, and honey
or pure maple syrup instead of sugar for the apple filling. The
rest of us are going to try to make a dent in the fudge and brownies
we have been given as gifts. But more important than the food,
is the warm friendship and lively conversation well share
I know you will understand when I tell you that this TONIS
TAKE will be brief. I have lots of cooking to do!
Since we are about to begin a brand new year, I had the thought
that you should know a few basic things about us. Many of you
probably think you know us pretty well, but you might be surprised
at what I am about to tell you. Some of you may be disillusioned,
and decide that we are not your cup of tea. But it
has always been my policy to be up front and straight ahead. Emotional
gameplaying is a total waste of time. The shortest distance between
two points is a straight line. You must be who you are, and if
people dont like it, then they are not the kind of people
you should be worried about impressing or spending time with.
Daryl and I are not religious. He was raised Catholic, and I was
raised Episcopalian, but over the years, we found that organized
religion did not speak to our spiritual needs. We have many friends
who are Christian....and we also have friends who are Jews, Agnostics,
a couple of Atheists, and even a B'Hai guy! We love and respect
them all. In fact, we included SILENT NIGHT on our Christmas CD
(which is otherwise pretty secular) , not only because it is a
beautiful song, but also because it means so much to our Christian
friends and relatives, such as my sister, Melissa.
Daryl is a registered Republican, and I am a registered Democrat,
but we found that neither political party truly represented us.
So, since everybody seems to need some sort of "label"
these days, we call ourselves "Independent Moderates."
Both of us were opposed to the Iraq war from the very beginning,
but were willing to accept the possibility that the administration
"knew things we didn't know", Unfortunately, things
have turned out exactly as we had feared, and we are terribly
distressed about it.
These days, most people talk about politics or religion only with
people who agree with them, because all sides are dug in, unwilling
to consider another opinion, and it just causes tension and stress.
It saddens me so much that our country has become so divided...that
civility and common courtesy seem to be rarities. I am hoping
that, in the new year, we will all find more common ground, and
try to treat each other with more respect and care.
Daryl and I both hope you all have a joyous and warm Christmas
and much happiness in 2007. In the meantime, Keep A Song
of Joy Inside Your Heart.
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR.... MY VICTOR/VICTORIA STORY - PART
From the time I was a little girl, growing up in Alabama, music
and the arts were a central part of my life. I studied classical
piano from the time I was seven years old until my senior year in
high school. I also took classes in ballet, tap, and acrobatics
(I was way too tall for ballet, and I was horrible at the acrobatics...
couldnt do a frontwise split.... I had to turn my hips sideways
to do the deed). Most of my friends, and my sister Jane, took dance
classes as well. To this day I am grateful for the classes and the
dance recitals. Im a rotten dancer, but at least I stand up
straight, and dont usually bump into the furniture on stage.
I was tall even then, and a bit chubby, and pretty awkward, so dance
classes helped a lot with my ability to move around with a modicum
By the time I reached junior high school, I was very excited about
theatre and doing plays. I acted in my very first play when I was
in ninth grade. The play was FATHER KNOWS BEST, and, of course,
since I was SO tall, I played Mother. I acted in at
least a play a year until I went to college at Auburn University.
There I majored in English and minored in Music and sang every weekend
with the Auburn Knights Orchestra to help pay for my education,
so theatre fell by the wayside until a few years later.
My sisters and I used to sing together constantly, trying to pick
out the harmonies from female groups like THE McGUIRE
SISTERS and THE KING
SISTERS. We learned all the songs in every new musical that
hit Broadway. Whenever we were in the car together, we would assign
each other parts and would sing the entire score to SOUTH PACIFIC,
OKLAHOMA, even PORGY AND BESS (I was always Porgy). This would,
of course, drive our parents crazy, but there was no shutting us
I always had a thought in the back of my mind that I would love
to perform in a musical on Broadway. A lot of girls have this same
dream, and I realized my chances were less than slim. But still,
the idea always lurked in the back of my mind. I did perform in
many community theatre musical productions and plays over the years...I
even WROTE my own musical, MOTHER EARTH, at
South Coast Repertory Theatre in southern California. Even though
the shows were fun to do, and I learned a LOT... they werent
Which brings me to VICTOR/VICTORIA.
This is a long story, and I probably will have to write it in two
parts, so here begins the saga. (see www.youtube.com clip of Julie
Around 1997, a friend of our then manager, suggested to me that he
thought I would be perfect to take over the role of Victoria in the
which was running on Broadway at the time, starring the great, beloved
Andrews. She had already starred in a wonderful 1983 movie of
the same title, written and directed by her famous husband, Blake
Edwards, of PINK
The V/V story in a nutshell is about a woman pretending to be
a man pretending to be a woman, and the part is demanding, for
the singing as well as the acting. Henry Mancini wrote most of the
score...but, sadly, he passed away before it was completed, and Frank
Wildhorn completed the score. Leslie Bricusse wrote the lyrics.
I got a copy of the score, and started to work through it, to see
if I could handle the vocal demands. I found it fit comfortably within
my range... in fact, it worked well for me, because I am basically
a tenor. The only vocal problem for me was the one high note, which
provides a running joke throughout the play. Everytime
Victoria sings that high note, glass shatters, and everything and
everyone within earshot comes to an awe-struck halt. I could sing
a high enough note to make the joke work, but Id be in trouble
if I ever had a cold or an allergic reaction, because the first things
I lose in my voice are my falsetto or high notes. As long
as I am singing in the chest range, I can sing for hours
with no problem.
The more I thought about the possibility of doing the role, the more
I wanted to do it. Julie was reportedly exhausted. She had taken the
show through all the out of town tryouts, which are just brutal and
incredibly demanding, and had been starring in it on Broadway for
quite some time. After studying the score, I had the thought that
perhaps it was even more demanding for her voice than it would be
for mine, because she is a true soprano, and singing in the chest
voice all the time is difficult for most sopranos.
The financial success of the show rested on her slender shoulders
and crystalline voice. The word on the street was that she was continuing
the run because she was trying to keep going until the show turned
a profit. In spite of her difficulty, she was thinking of the investors
Daryl and I talked about my going for the part, and we decided that,
in the SLIM possibility it should EVER come to pass, wed figure
out how to get ourselves and the dogs and cats to New York for this
I decided that the first thing I had to do was record myself singing
some of the songs from the show. Once the tape was made, I sent it
to our manager, and she played it for various industry people. She
said the general concensus was that I would be great in the part and
should go for it. Also, Im tall and not big-busted (Julie had
to be squashed in the breast area to look more like guy
in her tuxedo) so, physically, I could pull off the Victor
part. There didnt appear to be a great deal of dancing for Victoria...
a bit of soft shoe with Toddy..so I figured I could handle it (or
My next step was to make an audition video of myself doing one of
the scenes from the show. This turned out to be a big, expensive proposition,
but the tape was terrific, and, in the end, was instrumental in my
getting the part.
One of the many problems facing me was the fact that I had NO connections
in New York musical theatre. However, my manager had a colleague who
worked for one of the biggest theatrical agencies in New York, and
there was a possibility he could get my audition tape to the right
Now remember, all the time I was trying to get this part, I had in
mind that I would take over the role on Broadway. That meant moving
to New York for the length of the run. I never thought beyond that
As all the pieces started to fall into place, and I began to think
I had a real shot at the part, word came that Raquel
Welch had been chosen to take over for Julie on Broadway. I was
too late, and probably didnt have a big enough name anyway.
I had no Broadway experience, and Raquel had appeared in a Broadway
musical...WOMAN OF THE YEAR I believe it was... a few years back.
I had a very hard time picturing Welch, who was no more than 54
tall, and very big busted, being believable as a man. When she was
cast, I thought that was the end for me.
Well, Raquels run lasted only a few weeks. Without Julie in
the lead, VICTOR/VICTORIA closed on Broadway. The show just couldnt
make it without her. I doubt I could have kept it going much longer
either, but I sure would love to have tried.
Then came the possibility of doing the first National Tour of the
show. I was pretty naive about how this was done, but I THOUGHT the
show would play in large cities, like LA and Toronto, for two or three
months at a time before moving to another place. Maybe Daryl and I
and the pets could rent a house in each location if I got the part.
By that time, I was like an out-of-control freight train, hurtling
down the tracks without brakes. I WANTED that part. I KNEW Id
be good in it. I could deal with two or three months in each city.
Wed work everything out so I could have this ONE chance to do
a Broadway musical...even if it WAS on the road and not in New York.
Finally, after meeting with the producers and tour company in New
York, I found out what the tour would REALLY be like. It would involve
a month of rehearsals in New York, and forty weeks on the road, changing
cities every week for the most part...sometimes doing a split
week....three days in one city...three days in another. All the while
I would be doing eight shows a week. One on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday,
and Friday, and two on Saturday and Sunday. Monday wed pack
up, head to the airport, and move to the next city. I would be required
to do television interviews on opening day in each city, and phone
interviews throughout the week...most of them on Thursdays..to promote
the show in the next city.
If I had managed to stop the train for a while, and take stock of
the ramifications of the decision I was about to make, Im sure
I would have turned and run in the opposite direction. But I just
was SO close to what I had been working for... well, not EXACTLY what
I had been working for.... I failed to heed the warning in my gut.
NEVER ignore what your GUT is telling you! Even as old as I was at
the time (57), and ALL the years I had been in the business, I made
a huge mistake, and I, and many others, paid the price.
I will continue the VICTOR/VICTORIA story in future columns. You know,
I think it is going to take more than two columns to tell this story.
Actually, as I am writing about it, I am starting to relive some of
the emotional upheaval I went through. It is proving to be hard to
put myself back in that place. There is SO much to tell, and I learned
a BIG lesson about myself, and I learned it the hard way.
I hope you are all having a joyous and peaceful holiday season. Until
next time, Keep A Song of Joy Inside Your Heart.
SHIRLEY BASSEY, CHARO AND TOUCH YOU | THE
Recently a fan sent us a link to a video on YouTube that featured
a 1978 performance of my song THE WAY I WANT
TO TOUCH YOU by the powerful, formidable, and elegant British
pop singer, Shirley Bassey. I
had never seen it before, and I cant tell you what a kick I
got out of watching it. YouTube can be SO much fun!
For those of you who are too young to be familiar with Shirley
Bassey, she sang the famous theme song for the James Bond film,
The minute she sang the first word over the opening credits..GOLD-FINGAH!!.....
with that HUGE voice, you simply had to sit up and take notice!
What was particularly fascinating to me as a songwriter, was her approach
to THE WAY I WANT TO TOUCH YOU. I wrote it as an intimate expression
of love and longing. Shirley sang it loud and proud...I NEVER
WANTED TO TOUCH A MAN THE WAY THAT I WANT TO TOUCH YOU !!!!!
Wow. It was almost scary. At least, if I were the man she was referring
to, I might be a little cautious when she was around! Unless, of course,
youre into that sort of thing! But she is truly a GREAT pop
singer, and I am so honored that she thought enough of my song to
include it in a performance.
I had another interesting experience with THE WAY I WANT TO TOUCH
YOU, and this was really a hoot. Years ago, at the very start of our
career...probably in 1975 or 1976, Daryl and I were asked to perform
on a telethon...I believe it was for Easter Seals, or something like
that. When we arrived, we were ushered to the Green Room...a
waiting room for all of the performers.
When we walked in the door, I remember my attention immediately being
drawn to a mass of powerful vibes coming from one of the couches.
I suddenly realized it was CHARO!
I had never seen her in person, but...oh my gosh...she had enough
energy to run an entire city! Daryl and I are fairly quiet and reserved
when we first enter a room full of strangers. In fact, Daryl is ALWAYS
reserved, but I usually get my bearings within a few minutes,
and begin to meet and greet.
Well, there was no time for getting any bearings with
Charo in the room. The minute
she spotted us, she jumped up, ran over to us, and said, in her inimitable
and unique accent.....Oooooh...you are the Captain and Tennille!
Ooooh....I love your song THE WAY I WANT TO TOUCH YOU!!!!. Then
she grabbed Daryl, pulled him over to the couch and down onto her
lap, and began to sing to him I never wanted to touch a man
the way that I want to touch you!!!!! Coochie coochie coochie!!!......
Well, my jaw dropped to the floor at the look on Daryls face
as she sang, and then I just started laughing! Charo is absolutely
irresistable, and has NO inhibitions. You just have to love her!
I dont know if she ever sang TOUCH YOU in concert, but it is
actually very lovely and sensuous in the spanish language...COMO QUIERO
SENTIRTE. Daryl and I recorded our first album, LOVE WILL KEEP US
TOGETHER, and a couple of other songs in Spanish, and some of them
are just gorgeous in that language, especially TOUCH YOU and DO THAT
TO ME ONE MORE TIME (AMAME UNA VEZ MAS). In fact, I often sang part
of DO THAT in Spanish in concert.
As a songwriter, I have often
felt in a box over the years. The songs I wrote for Captain
and Tennille HAD to have a positive and/or romantic theme, or our
fans would worry that something was wrong with our relationship. But
I wanted to write for other artists as well as for C&T. I often
had ideas for songs that had nothing to do with our own relationship,
but reflected some of the things I saw my friends and others struggling
with. We did record some of those songs.....DONT FORGET ME,
is a good example...a really lovely and plaintive song I wrote about
a wife whose marriage was breaking up, but who hoped that her husband
would always remember the good times they had together (....and
I know weve come to the parting of our ways, and I know weve
said all the things that we could say, and I know I can put myself
back together again if the fates will let me, but dont forget
me..). I have no idea where that song idea came from...I just
kind of put myself in another persons shoes, and try to imagine
how they would feel....very much like an actress does when she takes
on a role totally unlike herself.
My major songwriting frustration was that, whenever I would submit
a song which I thought was a good one but felt wasnt quite right
for C&T, to another artists management or producer, the
reaction was always..Well, if its such a great song, why
didnt TONI record it? Well, I didnt record it because
it wasnt right for ME! I even thought of submitting songs under
a pseudonym, but never did.
Heres another example....I wrote LOVE SURVIVES in honor of Howie
Greenfield, the great pop lyricist who was Neil Sedakas writing
partner for so many years. But the minute I finished the song, I realized
it was aboslutely wrong for my voice and style. What I was hearing
in my head as I wrote it was a great big, flexible, black gospel-tinged
voice like Whitney Houstons. I simply could not do the song
justice. Daryl and I made a demo of the song, and that is what ended
up on one of our collections... TWENTY YEARS OF ROMANCE, I believe
it was. But I was NEVER happy with it, and neither was Daryl. Every
time I tried to record a lead vocal for it, I would tense up and have
a terrible time, because it just wasnt right for my vocal style.
We decided to send the demo to Clive
Davis, in hopes he would think it a possibility for Whitney. We
got a note back saying thank you very much but no interest. That was
a blow, but...thats show biz. At least he wrote back.
I also wrote a song with Cher
in mind.....THIS IS NOT THE FIRST TIME. I wrote it as a big rock tune
about a girl who, being the straight-ahead and honest type, tells
her prospective lover, This is not the first time, and you are
not the first man Ive loved. It was way too rock and roll
for me, and wouldnt have worked at all for C&T. We included
it on our last album for Casablanca, KEEPING OUR LOVE WARM, but it
was never right for us, and I never did send it to Cher.
Howie Greenfield and I wrote one song together...a sad country tune
called YOU NEVER STAYED AWAY THIS LONG. Really nice song, but Daryl
and I never recorded that one either, and we never shopped
Im not the kind of songwriter who writes every day. I only write
when I have a specific project, like the Christmas CD we just finished.
Ive written quite a few songs that I think are pretty darned
good, but never saw the light of day...like THE DODGER STADIUM SONG.
None of you have ever heard it, because we never released it on a
recording, but I wrote it as a sing-along stadium song, to be sung
by everybody in the stands (A summer day in Dodger stadium,
thats where I wanna be.....). Sort of a Take Me
Out to the Ballgame kind of song. We recorded a demo, bringing
in everyone who was in the studio at the time to sing. It makes me
laugh everytime I hear it!
When we signed with Casablanca in 1979, it was known as a disco
label. Even though Daryl and I werent disco at all,
we decided to have some fun with it, and recorded an absolutely crazed
disco version of HAPPY TOGETHER. I decided to try my hand at the genre,
and came up with HOW CAN YOU BE SO COLD WHEN IM SO HOT. It was
all tongue in cheek and a lot of fun!
Anyhow...some of you had written asking about a couple of the songs
I mentioned. I hope I answered your questions.
The holidays are well upon us, and I hope all of you are having a
calm, peaceful and joyful holiday season so far, surrounded by dear
friends and loving family. And remember, dont buy too much stuff.
Until next time, Keep A Song of Joy Inside Your Heart.
THE FLU BUG BITES | THOUGHTS ON THE HOLIDAYS
Daryl and I both suffered a bout of the flu this week, and neither
of us is back up to par yet, so TONIS TAKE may be a little shorter
than usual this week.
I started coming down with symptoms early this week, but I tried to
brush them off. Surely I did not have the
flu. I got a flu shot two weeks ago. I always slather my
hands with Purell the minute I get back in the car after a visit to
the supermarket. I am always careful not to touch my hands to my eyes,
nose or mouth after touching a suspect surface. I havent had
the flu...or even a cold...in years.
Finally I took my temperature, and it was over 100 degrees. I had
body aches, a headache, my stomach felt a bit queasy, and I had no
appetite at all. When I dont have an appetite, something is
really wrong! That was it. I gave notice to Daryl that I was taking
to my bed. And I did. At 11AM. Stayed there all day and all night,
and most of the next day.
Daryl is a brilliant man, and I love him dearly, but he is NOT very
comforting or helpful when I am under the weather. He DID bring me
some club soda over crushed ice when I asked him to, but, for the
most part, I was pretty much on my own. I know him well enough to
know that he was really afraid he would be next. And he was.
A day or so later, he began to complain of the same symptoms, but
I must confess that I didnt believe him at first. Daryl is a
and he often proclaims that he
is sick when he isnt at all. He would have made a terrible
medical student, since I understand they almost always believe they
have every disease they study.
Since I was dealing with my own discomfort, it took me a while to
figure out that Daryl really WAS coming down with the flu. I took
his temperature, and the thermometer registered over 100 degrees,
so we just canceled plans and appointments, and hunkered down until
we felt better. We are both feeling a bit more human today, thank
I was thinking back, trying to figure out where I might have let down
my flu guard when I suddenly remembered a trip to the
bank last week. I was standing in line to make a deposit. It was around
4PM, and the bank was crowded. As I stood there, I noticed a little
boy whose mother had her back turned to him as she dealt with the
teller. The boys hands and face were smeared with a sticky,
bright red candy goo....maybe Red Hots, I thought. I watched as he
licked at the remains of the candy in his hands and smeared more red
stuff on his mouth. He kept staring at me, so I smiled at him. He
was a cute kid, about four years old, Id guess.
Then he held out his hands and showed me how sticky they were, so
I fished around in my purse, found a clean Kleenex, and handed it
to him. He wiped his hands and face with the tissue and HANDED IT
BACK TO ME!!! I took it automatically. Once I had it in my hand, I
immediately thought FLU
FLU FLU!!!!! I felt like I was holding a piece of a radioactive
isotope! I didnt see a waste basket anywhere near, so I had
to wait until I finally made my deposit. I then dropped the sticky
red tissue in a container as I rushed out of the bank. I raced back
to the car, where Daryl was waiting, grabbed the Purell, and covered
my hands with almost the entire bottle. Too late. Ah, well. This will
be one more virus to which I am now immune.
Some of you have asked how Daryl and I plan
to spend Christmas this year. The short answer is that
my sister, Louisa, and her husband, Bob, will be coming here to La
Quinta to spend a quiet Christmas with us, and on one of the nights
they are here, well be joined by two of our dear, long-time
friends for a VERY casual dinner here at the house. NO GIFTS ALLOWED...their
warm and cheerful presence and good will are all they need to bring.
Some of you may be very surprised to know that, for the past many
years, I have been a real bah
humbug during the holidays. I get crankier and crankier
every year as we are encouraged by television and radio commercials
to spend spend spend and buy buy buy!!!! And
the whole madness starts EARLIER every year. Before you know it, well
be hearing Christmas songs and seeing an onslaught of toy commercials
BEFORE Halloween! This just makes me crazy.
People go out and spend more money than they have, and end up owing
huge amounts on their credit card bills, which they are lucky to pay
off by the time the NEXT holiday season comes around. And guilt
abounds. So and so sent me a Christmas card and I didnt send
HIM one. Uh oh, the gal down the street dropped off a gift for me
and I didnt get her one. Did I spend enough? Did I get the right
thing? Maybe my friend will hate this sweater! STOP!!!!!!!
I was telling Daryl last night, that our new Christmas CD expresses
to ME how I would LIKE the holidays to be....not the way they ARE
(or seem to have become). I think back to Christmases when I was a
kid, and through a golden glow of memory, they seem like a scene from
a Christmas card...decorating the tree, wrapping the gifts, putting
out cookies for Santa to eat when he came down the chimney. Of course
the Christmases I remember from long ago were probably not as perfect
as I remember them, but I do remember them fondly.
But I was a child, and Christmas is, and should be, a magical time
for a child.
Daryl and I never give each other gifts at Christmas. We never give
each other gifts for birthdays or anniversaries either. To us, each
day we have together on this earth is gift enough. And, besides, we
buy each other things all year long whenever we come across something
we think the other would like.
To me, the holidays are a time to quietly enjoy the company of family
and friends that you truly love, and love being around. If you have
a relative you cant stand, AVOID them at all costs! The world
wont come to an end if you dont see them during the holidays,
and youll feel SO much better.
The holidays are also a time for quiet reflection on your life, and
on the people you love. Do what makes you and others joyful and happy,
and DONT do the things that make you and others miserable. If
you can, give a hand to people who are trying hard, but need a little
help to get back on track. Try to keep a smile on your face as you
go about your daily tasks. Be pleasant and courteous. Dont criticize
friends or family members. That just makes them defensive and upset,
and you a crazy person because they arent behaving as you think
they should. Try to be patient and understanding. Many people are
not as fortunate as you are.
However, each of us must celebrate the holidays in our own way. How
you do it is up to you, and may you have a joyous and happy time this
year. Take care of yourself and the ones you love.
And dont buy too much stuff.
Im starting to wilt a bit here, so Ill close for this
week. I just want to say once again, yes...I DO personally read all
of your emails to TONIS TAKE. I am always interested in what
you have to say. However, if they are very long, I often have to just
skim through them due to time constraints. Shorter is better.
Until next time, try to stay calm and serene during the holidays,
and Keep a Song of Joy Inside Your Heart!
SECRET UPDATE | DARYL COMES HOME
| THE CAPTAIN AND.... TINY TIM??????
First of all, thank all of you so much for your wonderful emails about
THE SECRET OF CHRISTMAS! It is such a joy to me to read the comments
many of you have posted on the new Secret GUESTBOOK
Daryl has added to our site. It has been especially rewarding to me
as a songwriter to find out how much you seem to like my original
tunes. As I am writing them.... or, as they are coming through
me...I am always hopeful they will connect with
the people who hear them...that the listener will be touched, or laugh
out loud, or just say to themselves, Ive felt exactly
like that. Shes writing about ME.
The truth is, we are all connected in some way. The Where, Why or
How we live our lives may be quite different, but basically, we are
all members of the same family. Music is a gift that binds us all,
thank goodness. Of course, we dont all enjoy the same kinds
of music, but when you find the song or the sound or the voice that
speaks to you, it is heaven on earth!
Unfortunately, the BUSINESS part of the music business drives me absolutely
crazy. Many of you have written to ask why THE
SECRET OF CHRISTMAS is not yet available on Amazon.com. Good question!
Becky, Daryl and I are just about to lose our minds over the situation.
Hopefully the CD will appear there on Monday. Here is the explanation
we have been offered so far.
is owned by Amazon, and is the manufacturer we chose to produce the
Christmas CD. They produce on demand, so we did not have
to press up huge numbers of product and warehouse them somewhere until
they were purchased. According to Custom Flix, the delay has been
caused because their computer system was not upgraded to be compatible
with Amazon.com (they neglected to tell us this) until November 8th
(although we submitted it to them around October 19th). THE SECRET
OF CHRISTMAS was finally processed on November 9th, and we were
told it would take no longer than two weeks to be up on Amazon. That
day was Thanksgiving, when everyone was on vacation. So..... pardon
me while I scream..... it SHOULD be available on Amazon.com by Monday
the 27th. Hope that answers your questions. It BARELY answers mine!!!!
However, I will say that Custom Flix has done a great job of shipping
CDs out to everyone who has ordered them. We have had absolutely NO
complaints. So feel free to order straight from them if you want to
make sure you receive them in time to give as Christmas gifts.
Back to real life as we know it! Daryl arrived home last week in
record time. He left Washoe Valley at 5:15AM, and at 12:30PM,
Adelaide suddenly sat up, pricked up her ears, and seemed to be listening
for something. Sure enough, when she and I and Hubble walked out the
door, there Daryl was, getting out of our Toyota truck after the 550
mile drive. I would say he FLEW down here. How fast did you
go? I asked as I gave him a big hug. No faster than 90,
he said. Upon seeing the disapproving (and disbelieving) look on my
face he added, Well, there was hardly any traffic, and EVERYBODY
was going that fast! Sure. Ive long ago given up trying
to reason with Daryl about his tendency to push the speed
limit. No wonder he hates riding with me. Ill push
the limit about 10 MPH, and thats it. Anyhow, he arrived all
in one piece, and ILL do most of the driving now in my Taurus
style...careful, defensive and boring.
Daryl and I heard our version of I WANT A HIPPOPOTAMUS FOR CHRISTMAS
several times on the radio this past Friday night, and had an
absolute ball, laughing at what was going on. Heres the story
on how that came about.
Daryl is a real radio guy. He loves to listen to the
radio, and will often wake up in the wee small hours to listen to
a favorite show. In the late 80s, he began listening to the
Show, broadcasting out of Las Vegas. Arts show began as
a conservative/libertarian-style political talk show, but he later
began to feature an oddball assortment of UFO sighters, conspiracy
theorists, people predicting that California was going to fall into
the ocean next week, remote viewers, and persons who
claimed to have recently had a conversation with your long-dead
Aunt Lizzie. Daryl was absolutely fascinated by all of this, and
continued listening to Art as he began broadcasting nationwide out
Nevada and then on XM radio as COAST
TO COAST AM, WITH ART BELL.
As the years went by, Art seemed to take more and more time off,
and various hosts substituted for him. One of these substitutes
was a woman named Rollye
James, and Daryl really enjoyed her style. Rollye, who is a
very astute and intelligent woman with a strong point of view, now
has her own call-in show, THE ROLLYE JAMES SHOW, on XM Radio (and
on other stations) at Channel 165, 7PM to 10PM PST.
Daryl listens to her show faithfully, even though Rollye, who is
an absolute MASTER of music trivia, jokingly refers to us as The
Captain and Toenail. She makes up her own annual list
(based on listener voting) of the WORST recordings ever made, and
our version of MUSKRAT LOVE made #8 on the list this year.
When we were recording HIPPOPOTAMUS last winter, I said to Daryl,
Rollye would absolutely HATE this. So what does Daryl
do? He sent her an MP3 file of HIPPOPOTAMUS this week, and she PLAYED
it on her Friday night show, during which she features music and
music trivia! She set it up as a contest for her listeners.....
she played parts of HIPPOPOTAMUS several times throughout the show,
and asked her viewers to try to guess who the singer was. Well,
with each guess, I laughed so hard I could hardly catch my breath!
Here are just some of the guesses from her listeners.....PAUL
ANKA...NEIL SEDAKA...ETHEL MERMAN..DORIS DAY....CELINE DION...BRITNEY
SPEARS...MADONNA....TINA TURNER....ROSEMARY CLOONEY....TINY
TIM!!!!!!! Finally, a listener from Tennessee
figured out that I was the HIPPO singer. In the meantime, Daryl
and I had a wonderful couple of hours of laughter, which, as we
all know, is GREAT for your health!
By the way, we had a lovely email from Rollye later on, and there
is a possibility we will be doing an interview with her on one of
her Friday night 'Trivia' shows before Christmas. Ill let
you know if that happens.
On a final note for this week, I was very moved by your comments about
last weeks TONIS TAKE. I was heartened to learn how many
of you have similar feelings about what is going on in Iraq, and about
how much love and concern you feel for our troops and their families.
Hold them especially close to your heart as we go through this holiday
season. Until next time, Keep A Song of Joy Inside
HOMECOMING | THOUGHTS ON THE WAR
is almost 5:30AM on Sunday morning, and still dark outside. Daryl
called about fifteen minutes ago to say that he is on his way home.
He has been in northern Nevada for more than a week, tying up the
loose ends of our Nevada life, and supervising the move of all of
our belongings out of our Washoe Valley house and into storage, where
they will stay for at least a year and a half until we build our new
home in Arizona.
He told me that, after the movers left, he wandered through the now-empty
house, where we spent almost fourteen years, and the sound of his
footsteps echoed in the space, all signs of our presence there now
packed up and gone for good.
The dogs and I have missed Daryl terribly, especially our male Aussie,
Hubble, who is a real daddys dog. He is going to
jump for joy when Daryl walks in the door today. Adelaide, our female
Australian Shpeherd, will be glad to see him, too, but she is really
my girl. As long as Im around, shes happy. The cats, of
course, dont particularly miss anyone, as long as their bowls
are kept full of food and water, and the litter boxes are kept clean.
They just go about their business of sleeping, eating, draping themselves
on the furniture, and staring out the window. They might notice that
Daryl has returned...Oh, hes back. Was he gone?
Strangely enough, of all the things now packed away, I am thinking
most about my Yamaha Grand Piano, which will be sitting in the warehouse,
unplayed, for such a long time. I wrote THE CHRISTMAS STAR and BOOGIE
BABY CHRISTMAS on that piano last fall, and spent hours and hours
over the years just playing for pleasure, so grateful that my parents
managed to find the money for my ten years of piano lessons. I feel
an almost mystical attachment to my pianos, oddly enough. It is as
though they contain part of my soul. Hard to explain.
THOUGHTS ON THE WAR
I am the oldest of four sisters, and I am a pretty calm and
patient person...very, very slow to anger. I keep my feelings
close to the vest...particularly my feelings about the state
of the world. Mostly because Im just not quick on
my feet to defend my position, but also because I dont
like confrontation or incivility of any kind. It is not in my
nature to stir up controversy. And, also, I always take into
consideration that I might be wrong about things. I certainly
dont have all the answers, and I am suspicious of people
who say they do. But Im going to tell you about something
that happened yesterday that made me so angry, I cannot keep
Yesterday was another gorgeous day at our lovely home here in
La Quinta, California. From the window in our master bedroom,
I could see acres and acres of rolling emerald green grass,
dotted with tall, stately date palms. A solitary, white Great
Egret stood tall and graceful on the opposite side of the lake
we can see from our backyard. The sun bathed all with a warm
light. Everything was silent and peaceful.
I stood at the bathroom mirror, preparing to head out to run
some errands. Daryl was coming home tomorrow, and I had a lot
to do before his arrival. My plan for the day was to drop some
clothes off at the dry cleaners, stop by Home Depot to pick
up some potting soil, go by the beauty supply store for a particular
kind of makeup I like, and finish off by shopping at the new
natural foods market which just opened not far from our house.
There I would buy the organic cheese Daryl likes, and, for his
first dinner at home, choose fresh vegetables from the bounteous
display of fresh produce.
I long ago stopped watching most news and opinion shows on television....too
much yelling and screaming....too much emphasis on what I call
stupid stuff, like TomKats wedding and OJs
confession or Brittney and KFeds divorce woes.
I have been in the business long enough to become quite cynical
about these exciting events..... its just
more jockeying for press coverage...just more attempts to stay
in front of the cameras and in the public eye!
But I do occasionally like to watch, or listen to
HGTV or The Food Network or Animal Planet as I put on my makeup
and get ready to go out. Yesterday I happened to flip through
the channels on the little TV in my bathroom, and came across
a special on CNN called COMBAT
HOSPITAL, I believe. It was a documentary about physicians,
nurses and medics from the Colorado area, who were on a tour
of duty in Iraq, caring for our wounded soldiers, and injured
Iraqi citizens. I started to blow right past it, thinking, No.
I dont want to watch this right now. Just thinking
about the war in Iraq makes me so upset, I usually avoid as
much talk about it as I can, Im very sorry to admit. But
this time, I stopped the channel at CNN, and started to watch.
As I watched wave after wave of our beautiful young men and
women arrive at the combat hospital, writhing in pain, crying
out with fear, I felt the supressed anger fire up inside me
like a red hot rocket trying to explode out of my chest. So
young. So very young. And I saw the medical personnel who treated
each young soldier, or Iraqi child, with the same tenderness,
care and expertise they would have brought to their own children,
doing their very best to save them all...so young themselves....giving
of themselves every single day and night to ease the agony and
fear of these soldiers, and trying their damnedest to remain
professional and keep their emotions in check as
they saw the unspeakable things we do to each other in stupid
and foolish wars.
I have always considered myself a realist and a pragmatist.
I try to look at all sides of an issue, and try to remain open
to all opinions. However, when the rumblings of the possibility
of a preemptive war in Iraq began, I felt a sinking feeling
in my heart, and deep misgivings about what our country was
about to undertake. When my nephew, Chris Cognac...now known
to quite a few of you as THE HUNGRY DETECTIVE on The Food Network....was
in the first Gulf War, I read everything I could find about
the region, trying to understand what was going on there. When
I realized that this current administration was determined to
take us to war in Iraq, I thought back on all I had read at
that time and said to Daryl, Do they have any idea how
difficult this is going to be? We will be stirring up a hornets
nest of fundamentalist religions and ancient tribal rivalries
and hatreds, and I hope we will be ready to deal with it.
But I kept my mouth shut, except with very close friends. And
even with other long-time friends, who, I knew, approved of
the war to protect us from the terrorists I didnt
discuss it, because, at that time, If you dont support
the war, you dont support the troops. Of COURSE
I supported the troops! Of COURSE, I love my country! And, as
an American, I have the right, and even the responsibility,
to question power. But I didnt. I bit my tongue, and prayed
that my forebodings were wrong...that the people who were running
our country knew something I didnt know, that made it
absolutely necessary to go into Iraq, and that we would all
be the better for it. And because I hate confrontation and making
people feel uncomfortable, I only discussed my feelings
with friends I knew agreed with me.
But as I watched that special on CNN yesterday, I raged, WHY
havent we, the American people, been asked to sacrifice
SOMETHING in this time of war? Why are we encouraged to continue
our shopping and movies and golf games and cocktail parties
like nothing horrible and cruel is going on in Iraq?????? I
am old enough to faintly remember sugar rationing
and oleo subsituting for butter during the latter part of World
War II. My mom used to give me a package of the whitish lard
stuff with the little yellow food coloring capsule in it. It
was fun to knead the plastic package until the capsule broke
and turned the white stuff yellow like butter. But my point
is, Americans felt a part of the war effort then.
And I thought about the privileged life I lead. Yes, I am so
grateful for it, but at the same time I am dashing about, running
errands, young men and women are being fed into
the meatgrinder in Iraq...OUR war! I feel helpless. What can
I do? If I could, I would cradle each young soldier in my arms,
and try to give them whatever comfort I could. I would ask them
to tell me about their home, about mom and dad, their best friends,
their husbands or wives, their children, their pets, their favorite
pastimes....I would try to let them know by my presence that
they are loved and deeply cared for by all of us. I would try
to give them just a little time to leave the horrors they have
seen behind, and think of the things that bring them the most
comfort and happiness.
And, yes, Ive thought about our music and my singing.
I thought of singing for them, but most of them are so young,
they have no idea who we are, and our music just wouldnt
relate to their generation at all. Each generation has its own
voice, and we would seem like the tinny old sounds coming out
of an ancient Victrola to them. So I dont think I could
help in that way. Id just have to help as a regular person.
Yes, I know we simply cannot suddenly withdraw our troops from
Iraq right now. I am a realist. We are there now. We are in
a terrible, heart-wrenching quagmire, and it will take a wiser
person than I to find a way out of it. I hope and pray that
wise person comes forward, and finds a way to extricate our
beautiful and courageous young children....and, yes, they are
all OUR children..... from this debacle. Until that person comes
and offers a solution, though, more of our precious young people
will be maimed or die. This, as we go about our daily tasks...the
market, the dry cleaners, the car wash....is the thought we
have to live with every day until then. Keep them all in your
hearts, and pray hard for a solution.
THE SECRET OF CHRISTMAS | TOUCH YOU | TEENSYS
JOURNEY | WEEK OFF
First of all..... WE DID IT!!!!! Thanks mostly to the perserverance
and hard work of our friend and Personal Assistant, Becky Greenlaw,
THE SECRET OF CHRISTMAS is now available for purchase in
time for the Holidays! We have been told by Amazon, that it will
take about two weeks to get into their system, so it should be available
there by the end of next week. However, you can purchase it right
now from the manufacturer, Custom
Flix, while we wait for Amazon to do their thing. Actually,
you will get it a little bit sooner through Custom Flix. If you
like what you hear, please tell your friends about it. Word of mouth
is the only way we will be able to let people know the CD is available
this year. Next year we will start our promotion campaign by July.
Remember, THE SECRET OF CHRISTMAS will NOT be in stores this year.
You will only be able to order it online. Daryl and I sincerely
hope our music will be part of your holiday celebration this year
and for many years to come!
Many people think that the song that started our career was LOVE WILL
KEEP US TOGETHER. But actually, a song I wrote for Daryl around 1972,
THE WAY I WANT TO TOUCH YOU, is the song that started everything.
Heres the story.
In early 1972, thanks to Daryls recommendation to Music Director,
Carl Wilson, I was hired to play piano by THE
BEACH BOYS (which made me the one and only Beach Girl). I was
beginning to fall in love with Daryl
at the time, and I sensed that he might be feeling the same about
me. One day we found ourselves in New Jersey, where the Beach Boys
had scheduled a concert. As usual, all of us band members were assigned
to stay at a reasonably
priced hotel, while the Boys stayed in somewhat fancier
digs near the venue. Our hotel du jour happened to be located
at a New Jersey airport. It seems to me we were in Passaic....however,
you know how dicey my memory can be...and, frankly, when you are changing
cities and venues almost every day, you get into If This Is
Tuesday It Must Be Peoria mode.
The hotel was part of a chain, similar to others all over the country....
businessman brown, I used to call the rooms. Dull and
fairly dingy, smelling of stale cigarette smoke, and usually furnished
with a hard bed covered by a thin mustard and brown-colored floral
bedspread, a brown naugahyde chair, a TV, and a bathroom of suspect
cleanliness. Ah, the life of a traveling backup musician.
Even in this uninspiring atmosphere, I couldnt get thoughts
of Daryl out of my mind. A lyric line started bouncing around in my
head....I never wanted to touch a man the way that I want to
touch you. And, yes, I meant touch emotionally.
started flooding in, and I wrote them down on a piece of hotel
But I needed a piano!!!! I write at the piano, and I always write
alone. Even now I dont want Daryl to listen as I compose new
songs. Im always sure he is thinking, Now why did she
use THAT chord, or THAT bass line? I have to work it out to
my own satisfaction before I play it for him. But the question was,
where in the world would I find a decent piano in THIS place?
I went to the hotel manager, and told him what I wanted. He said there
was an upright
piano located in one of the conference rooms, and I was welcome
to play it. Well...I found the piano, and it was TOTALLY out of tune!
But it was all I had. As usual, by that time, I had a melody coming
through, along with a chord progression, and a bass line. I
always consider the bass line to be the foundation of a song, and
it is very important to me to get it right. However, there I sat,
at the crummy piano, thinking of Daryl and my feelings for him, and
out came the song..THE WAY I WANT TO TOUCH YOU.
Later, I summoned up the nerve to play it for Daryl, although I didnt
tell him it was about my growing feelings for him. Remember, we didnt
know each other very well at that time. He complimented me on the
song in his quiet way, and I knew from his reaction that the song
was a good one. He mentioned that he heard hints of Brian Wilsons
bass lines in the composition, and he was certainly correct. Brian,
whom Daryl and I both consider a musical genius, was very influential
in my writing style.
There is a lot more to tell you about TOUCH YOU, but my favorite story
about it was that a radio station in St. Louis refused to add it to
their playlist because they said it was too suggestive
for their listeners. I got such a big kick out of that. Throughout
our career, Daryl and I have alway been criticized for being too square,
and here we were being too suggestive. I LOVED it!
Actually, I think the most sensual song I ever wrote was DEEP IN THE
DARK. I am particularly pleased with the lyrics for that song, which
actually IS about a womans awakening to her own sensuality.
Shocked? You shouldnt be. There is absolutely no reason why
the woman who wrote DEEP IN THE DARK and BUTTERSCOTCH CASTLE could
not be the same person! Most women are complex and multi-faceted.
Im just fortunate enough to be able to write songs expressing
And now I have to turn the subject to a sadder note. Monday night
TEENSY, our beloved elderly bulldog, suffered what appeared
to be a stroke of some kind. This, in addition to her blindness and
arthritic pain, finally told me it was time to let her go. On Tuesday
morning I took her to Valley Animal Hospital in Indio, CA, where,
thanks to the kind and compassionate services of Dr. Robert Reed,
she was released from the pain and confusion she was suffering, and
crossed over The Rainbow Bridge. I stroked her big head, and whispered
to her as she gently slipped away.
Below you will find the note I sent Tuesday afternoon to all of our
close friends and family who knew and loved Teensy. The dogs I mention
in TEENSYS JOURNEY.... Spooner (Artic Wolf/German Shepherd
mix), Bodie (Aussie Shepherd/Husky mix), Broderick, Peaches and Elizabeth
(all bulldogs)...are the dogs who have shared our lives in the past
thirty years. Adelaide is one of two Australian Shepherds who live
with us now.
As Teensy crosses over the Rainbow
Bridge, she is amazed at how wonderful she feels. Her
back and elbows dont hurt at all, and she can see
everything with a vivid clarity....the lush, green grass,
the lovely trees and flowers, the stream dancing along just
beneath the bridge....and she feels the healing warmth of
the gentle sun. Shes not quite sure where she is,
but this is such a nice place.
Soon she spots five dogs trotting towards her in a friendly
manner. When they reach her, they sit in a welcoming semicircle,
inviting her to join them. Hi, Teensy, the big,
beautiful wolf dog says. "Im Spooner, and this
is Bodie." How ya doing? he says. And
this is Peaches, Spooner continued, and that
one is Broderick, and that little bulldog over there is
Elizabeth. Shes been here longer than any of us.
Peaches says, I see they got another bulldog. I knew
she always liked our kind best. I think she
loved us all equally, said Bodie. Yes she certainly
did, pronounced Spooner, putting an end to THAT kind
How is she? Bodie asked. You mean Toni?
Shes fine, said Teensy. She cried a lot
this morning before she sent me here, but I think shell
be okay. How about him? says Spooner.
Daryl? Hes okay, too. You know, he always spoke
highly of you, Spooner, replied Teensy.
And what about that Adelaide? said Bodie. She
used to drive me crazy when she was a puppy. As a matter
of fact, she used to drive me crazy all the time.
Well, shes still kind of bossy, but I put her
in her place until I got too old to do it, replied
Teensy. Shes okay. Getting a little pudgy though,
I might add.
Well, says Spooner, Adelaidell be
here before too long. Ill keep her in line. Besides,
it is so wonderful here, none of us ever bothers with teasing
each other. We just play and have fun. Come on. Well
show you around. Youre going to love it here.
And off they trot, across the lush, beautiful field, towards
a shady grove of trees ....not a care in the world. Teensy
pauses for just a moment to look back at the bridge, then
turns and follows the others.
My next blog will appear on November 19th.
As most of you know, Daryl is our webmaster, and he will be up north
next week overseeing the move from our northern Nevada house. Frankly,
I dont know how to upload my own column, so Ill be taking
a week off. Stay with me....Ill be back.
Until next time....Keep a Song of Joy Inside Your Heart.
DOING NOTHING | TEENSY | CHRISTMAS CD UPDATE
This is one of those days when I find myself absolutely NOT doing
the things I SHOULD be doing. I should be putting some clothes in
the washing machine. I should be doing some of the ironing that
has piled up. I should be calling a couple of dear friends I havent
actually TALKED to in a couple of weeks. Email is nice, but it is
no substitute for hearing a special friends voice over the
phone.... and a phone call is no substitute for actually BEING in
the warmth of a good friends presence. But when you are separated
by hundreds of miles, a phone call is the next best thing.
I should be sorting through the boxes in the great room, and putting
things away. The boxes have been sitting there since we arrived
at our California desert home three weeks ago. But since the items
in them are mostly files and desk stuff, and arent needed
right away, I keep putting off dealing with them. Somehow I feel
kind of guilty when Im not constantly doing all the stuff
I SHOULD do. What Id really like to do right now is go out
in the back yard and just sit there and look at the beautiful view.
And listen for the sounds of birds. And just be quiet.
Daryl is much better at doing nothing than I am. He
will go outside, sit in his special chair, and think.
Or, at least that is what he says he is doing. I think he is on
to something. There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking a quiet
moment to do nothing... to open up your mind and allow creative
thoughts to wander around in there. Who knows? Out of the quiet
time may come a new song, or a poem, or an idea for a painting,
or whatever your way of expressing yourself might be. Ive
decided that, today, I am going to do nothing for at least a half
hour. Right after I finish writing this blog.
Yesterday I took our elderly bulldog, Teensy, to the veterinarian
for an evaluation of her condition. As you who are regular TONIS
TAKE readers know, Daryl and I cancelled our appearance on CELEBRITY
DUETS, partly because of Teensys deteriorating condition. She
is over ten years old now, and that is quite old for an English Bulldog.
Their usual lifespan is 8-10 years. However, our first bulldog, Broderick,
whom some of you will remember from our early album covers, and from
his appearances on our television show, lived almost 12 years. Elizabeth,
the smaller bulldog, who also appeared on our album
covers and in our television show, died at age two from an epileptic
siezure. After Elizabeth died, Peaches joined our family, and she
lived just short of eleven years.
Bulldogs will break your heart, as the saying goes. And they certainly
do. But they give you so much joy and laughter while they are with
you. Teensy is winding down her life now. When I took her to the vet
yesterday, I was convinced I would not be bringing her home. Tears
rolled down my cheeks as I drove, with Teensy snoozing and snoring
(as bulldogs always do) in the back of the minivan. She sleeps most
of the time now, and limps badly when she tries to get around. She
has severe arthritis in both elbows and in the last vertebra of her
spine... the one nearest her tail. She is now on three medications
for arthritis pain.... Tramidol, Metacam (doggy Advil), and a glucosomine
supplement. Weve also taken her for accupuncture and chiropractic
treaments to try to make her more comfortable.
Teensy has lived with a serious eye condition called Dry Eye ever
since we adopted her when she was 4 1/2 years old. Her eyes seem to
be bothering her much more in the last few months. Since she joined
our family, she has been on two different eye medications in both
eyes twice a day. Adopting an English Bulldog is not for people on
a tight budget!
Lately, in addition to sleeping most of the time, she has lost some
weight, and doesnt seem to want to play as much as she used
to. Tug o War was her favorite game, and woe to the person who
tried to take away any stuffy she had decided was hers. Lately, she
has lost her zest for tugs or stuffies. Over the years, when the time
came, I have held our dogs or cats in my arms, and told them I loved
them as the vet administered the injection that eased their pain,
and started their journey over the Rainbow
Bridge. That is so hard, but I have always made a silent promise
to any animal who joins our family....you will never suffer needlessly,
and you will never lose your dignity while you are in my care. When
the time comes to make the hard decision to let you go, I will make
that decision, and help you cross over without pain or fear.
When he was told by someone that dogs dont go to heaven, the
great Humorist, Will
Rogers, famously said, If dogs dont go to heaven,
when I die I want to go where they are. Somehow I know that
I will see Broderick and Elizabeth and Peaches, Spooner and Bodie,
Sasha and George and Grayson, and all the animals we have loved, when
my time comes to leave this world.
Teensy got a reprieve from the vet. After looking her over thoroughly,
he said, I dont think Teensy is ready to go just yet.
He suggested a weekly injection of liquid Glucosomine for the next
five to six weeks, saying that glucomsomine in that form is much more
effective. He also prescribed another eyedrop to add to Tensys
collection. So, Nurse Toni will add that to Teensys
list of meds, and well see how she does. In the meantime, she
is snoozing away by the sofa, living in her doggie dreamtime. Bless
her big bulldog
Heres an update on THE SECRET OF CHRISTMAS.
Daryl and I approved the test pressing this past Tuesday. The package
We are so pleased with the package design by Rich
Di Silvio. It is clean, simple, elegant. And if you look really
hard, you will see a couple of bulldog faces peering out from the
background. You will also see a hippopotamus in a Santa hat! The CD
itself sounds spectacular, thanks to the excellent mastering job by
the legendary Pete Papageorges at Capitol Mastering.
Now we have to wait for Amazon to get the CD into its system. We have
been told that can take anywhere from one to two weeks. It should
be available for purchase no later than November 7th. We will let
you know the exact date as soon as we know it!
And now, Im going to go out to the backyard and do nothing.
Until next week.... Keep a Song of Joy Inside Your
CASPER PREMIERE | HOWIE GREENFIELD - LOVE
Friday night Daryl and I watched the premiere of CASPERS
SCARE SCHOOL on the CARTOON NETWORK. Since Daryl and I dont
have children, we have never had occasion to watch the Cartoon Network
before. I now understand why so many children have been diagnosed
and why they pester their parents to buy them sugary snacks, video
games and assorted other toys. My God.... what a barrage of commercials
and other nonsense!!!! I tried deperately to concentrate on CASPER,
but my brain was so wired each time a break ended, it was hard for
me to get back into the sweet little ghosts world.
We stuck with it to the end, in spite of all the craziness. We both
thought the animation, the art direction, and the voices were wonderful.....
such beautiful colors, and creative characters. I particularly liked
SNATCH, the Vampire Kid.... he was such a brat, and he got his comeuppance
in the end. The CASPER
character was sweet as he ever was, and ALDER and DASH (two heads
on one body), voiced by Jim
Bob Saget, were (was?) appropriately silly and bumbling bad
It was really a hoot to watch our voices come out of the character,
THE ANKLE. We dont
appear until close to the end, when CASPER arrives in THE VALLEY
OF THE SHADOWS (which isnt what you might think it is), but
Im happy to say that we are the character that helps CASPER
find his way back to love and friendship.
Daryl was really disappointed that his rap in the middle
of the song, WHY DOES LOVE MAKE ME FEEL SO GOOD, didnt make
the cut. So was I, because Daryls rap style has
to be heard to be believed. All of the songs were shortened in the
CARTOON NETWORK showing, and we are hoping that is because they
had to edit the film to fit into the TV time slot (got to have time
for all the COMMERCIALS!!!!). The beautiful and timely song, WORLD
WITHOUT FEAR, was run in the last half of the credits, and shortened
by half in the TV version.
Classic Media sent us a screener DVD of the show, and
we watched it later. Without all the interruptions, the show was
very funny and charming, and much of the music was restored. WORLD
WITHOUT FEAR was played in its entire length over the credits, which
ran by much more slowly. I understand that the CASPERS SCARE
SCHOOL DVD will be available for purchase this spring. I hope you
will add it to your collection!
By the way, if youd like to hear both of the songs we performed
in the film in their entirety, go to casperscareschool.com,
click on Movie Music, and then click on Song One and
Song Two. Let us know what you think of Daryls rap
style! Email us at: "Dear
Captain & Tennille.."
We did over thirty phone inerviews last week to promote CASPER.
Several interviewers asked us about Neil
Sedaka, noting that we have recorded so many of his songs, including
LOVE WILL KEEP US TOGETHER. Neil is indeed one of Americas
finest pop songwriters, and many of his songs suited us perfectly.
Neil is a star in his own right, with a distinctive voice, and an
irrepressible stage presence. But few people know very much about
Neils writing partner for many years, Howard
Howie Greenfield. Daryl and I considered Howie,
and his long-time life partner, Tory Damon, to be two of our dearest
Neil and Howie started writing together when they were just teenagers.
They became two of the great pop songwriters among the famous Brill
building songwriters in New York City in the late 50s and early
60s. Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, Barry
Mann and Cynthia Weil, Carole King and Gerry Goffin, Burt Bacharach
and Hal David, Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich were some of the terrific
writers of the Brill Building era. I highly recommend a great book
MAGIC IN THE AIR, written by Ken Emerson, and published by Viking,
which is absolutely fascinating reading, and really helps you to
understand the pop music culture of those days.
But right now I want to talk about one of the kindest, dearest men
Daryl and I ever knew....Howie Greenfield. Howie wrote the lyrics
for the song that started our career. LOVE WILL KEEP US TOGETHER
started climbing the charts shortly after it was released by A&M
Records in November of 1974. It was incredibly exciting to us as,
one by one, radio stations began to add it to their playlists. One
day in late 1974, when we happened to be at the A&M Records
lot, we were told we had a call from Howard Greenfield. When I picked
up the phone, a cheerful, upbeat voice with a New York accent said,
Toni, this is Howard Greenfield. I just heard your recording
of the song I wrote with Neil Sedaka, and I LOVE it!!!! Id
love to meet you and the Captain.
That was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Howie and his
longtime partner, Tory Damon, lived in a beautiful home in Beverly
Hills. Daryl and I visited them there often over the years, and
came to love them both. Howie was one of those rare people who made
a lot of money as a songwriter, but the money was the last thing
he cared about. He loved music, good friends, and life. He was one
of the most caring people I have ever known, and I miss him to this
By the early 80s, Daryl and I had decided to move to northern Nevada.
The LA area was just too show-bizzy for us, and we wanted
to live a more regular life. We had fallen in love with
Lake Tahoe after performing there, so we bought some property on
the east shore, and started building a beautiful log home in the
Glenbrook area. Just before we were set to leave LA, Howie and Tory
invited over for a last get-together. While we were there, Tory
quietly told us he had leukemia. That was the very early
days of the AIDS epidemic. Tory didnt say the word AIDS,
but we knew what he meant. In those days, it was almost certainly
a death sentence. We were devastated. He assured us that he would
be fine, and never mentioned it again.
Shortly after Daryl and I moved to Lake Tahoe in 1984, Tory gave
us a call to say that Howie had also been diagnosed with AIDS, the
very thing we had feared most. I couldnt stop thinking about
Howie...... what a wonderful man he was.... how many terrific songs
he had written.... how much I would miss him.
As I usually do when I need time to gather my thoughts, I called
the dogs to join me, and walked along the trail up a quiet wooded
canyon near our house. As I walked, I thought about Howie, and what
a world without him would be like for us and for Tory, and for all
the people who loved him. I was comforted by the thought that Howies
wonderful songs would live after him. The phrase, Love survives
in a song and a memory came to me, and by the time I returned
home, I had the entire lyric in my head. I sat down at the piano,
and wrote out the melody I was hearing, and the song became LOVE
SURVIVES. I am reprinting the lyrics below as a tribute to Howie
and his songs.
by Toni Tennille
was always easy for me
just because I knew that you were there
And even though the world fell down around me
I knew you would always care
And even though I know you have to go
Im strong enough to make it just because you loved
survives in a song and a memory
Love survives though everything else has gone
In the darkest night there will always be a light
Because Love, Love will survive
Youll always be a living part of me
The love we shared together
Is the love that sets me free
And I know youre with me now and always will be
The greatest love I ever knew was you and me
Moonlight and Magnolias
Tory lived for a couple of years after he was diagnosed. The disease
ravaged Howie in six months. They died within a week of each other.
Love..... and Howies music.... survives.
Until next week, Keep a Song of Joy Inside Your heart.
LAST NEVADA DAY | THE SECRET OF CHRISTMAS | CASPER | THE HUNGRY
Here is how our last day at our northern Nevada home
unfolded. Daryl and I had plans to pack both cars in a leisurely
and relaxed manner, vowing not to get rattled and scream at each
other as we prepared to leave. We were going to take our time, breathe
deeply to keep stress at bay, and have a lovely final day at our
beautiful home. We had arranged for the house and the carpets to
be cleaned and readied for showing to prospective buyers a few days
after we left, so I wasnt too concerned about the house being
perfectly clean before we headed south. Those of you who live with
pets know it is very hard to keep a house spotless with six animals
HOWEVER.....two days before our scheduled early morning departure,
we got a call from our friend and realtor, Carole, saying she had
some clients who were very anxious to see the house, and they wanted
to see it right away..... just a couple of hours after we left.
She knew them well, and felt the house would be perfect for them.
That was it! My blood pressure rose, my anxiety level reached a
fever pitch.... I had to clean like a crazy woman, because I simply
couldnt STAND for a prospective buyer to see our much-less-
than-spotless house! The clients had been told that the house
wasnt ready for viewing, but STILL....... so much for a relaxed
last day. I grabbed broom, hand vacuum, regular vacuum, mop, cleaning
supplies, sponges, paper towels, and went at the house like a madwoman.
NOBODY was going to see cat hair on the furniture and doggy footprints
all over the floor in MY house. I couldnt do much about the
smudgey spots on the library rug where our elderly bulldog liked
to sleep because my steam cleaner broke, but I would do the best
I could in the short time I had!
By late afternoon the skies outside opened up with a rare autumn
thunderstorm, flinging giant bucketsful of pea-sized hail and wildly
blowing rain to the ground, and scaring the heck out of our poor
male Australian Shepherd, who is terrified of thunder, and cowered
in the interior guest bathroom until it all finally stopped a couple
of hours later.
In the meantime, I was using the handvac in my closet, bending down
to get the cat litter off the closet floor and talking to Daryl
about not forgetting to pack something, when I raised up to tackle
another area, and WHACK!!!! The crown of my head slammed into the
sharp corner of the overhanging shelf, and blood burst from my head,
all over my hair, and started dripping on the closet floor (Damn
it! More cleaning). Daryl yelled, Youve got to go to
the emergency room...you need stitches...you might have a concussion!!!
I had the handvac in my right hand, and my left hand, now covered
with blood, was pressed on the wound as I tried to determine how
bad it was. I felt a big bump rising in my scalp as Daryl continued
to insist I would die if I didnt go to the hospital right
away. I CANT go to the hospital, I thought, I
look like hell... and Im not through CLEANING! Knowing
that head wounds, even the smallest ones, can be very bloody, I
put down the hand vac, grabbed a towel, soaked it in cold water
from the tap, and pressed it against the wound for couple of minutes,
after which the bleeding mostly stopped. And I STILL had much more
cleaning to do.
Well...to make a long story short, everything worked out fine. Although
my head was sore for a few days, we managed to get Daryl off to
southern California at dawn the next morning with the three cats,
while I remained behind a bit longer to dispose of the cat litter
boxes and do a little last-minute straightening up. Then I loaded
the three dogs in the minivan, and followed Daryl down to southern
California. The prospective clients who went through our house a
couple of hours after we left that day, made us an offer a couple
of days later, and we accepted it. I guess they thought the house
was clean enough!!!!
It has taken me almost a week to calm down!
great news!!!! I am thrilled to tell you that our Christmas CD,
THE SECRET OF CHRISTMAS, will be available for purchase from Amazon.com
in early November! You will be able to buy it only at Amazon this
year, since we simply did not have time to make a distribution deal
to get it into stores. But, at least, some of you will be able to
enjoy it this Christmas.
It is really too late to do any promotion to let people know it is
available, but you can help by telling the people on your email list
about it, and asking them to spread the word. This year the only way
people will know THE
SECRET OF CHRISTMAS is available will be by word of
mouth.... a true grassroots effort! I usually dont go around
talking about how wonderful I think something of ours is, but I really
DO think this CD is one of the very best things we have ever done
together. I hope you agree!! Remember, it wont be available
at Amazon.com until early November.
Last year Daryl and I did the voices for a two-headed character for
an animated film called CASPERS SCARE SCHOOL. The film
is based on the beloved character of Casper
the Friendly Ghost. We also performed two original songs
for the film..... WHY DOES LOVE MAKE ME FEEL SO GOOD and WORLD WITHOUT
FEAR. Both songs were written by Magnus Fiennes, younger brother of
British actor, Ralph
Fiennes. Other CASPER characters were voiced by Jim
Diller, and Dan
Castellaneta (of The Simpsons). After we recorded
our parts, we pretty much forgot about it, because the computer animation
and editing is done AFTER the voices are recorded, and it is a very
slow, painstaking process. We were told they were trying to get it
ready by Halloween, but it would be a close call.
Well, we just found out that CASPERS SCARE SCHOOL will premiere
on the CARTOON
NETWORK on October 20, from 7PM to 9PM. There will be several
more airings through Halloween. When you watch the film, dont
look for us until about an hour into the story. Our character is called
the ANKLE (Aunt Belle and Uncle Murray). We are two heads on one body
(and, yes, Daryls head wears a Captains hat). We are the
good scary characters who help Casper understand that
love and friendship are the right way to go! We havent seen
the film yet. In fact, well be seeing it for the first time
when you do. I cant wait to see how we look in animated
form! Let us know what you think of it. I must say, though, give a
special listen to the song, WORLD WITHOUT FEAR. It is absolutely beautiful,
and a world without fear is something we all need right now.
And heres one MORE show I hope you will watch..... my nephew
(my sister Louisas son), Chris Cognac, who is a detective with
the Hawthorne, California Police Department AND a food critic, will
be starring in his own show, THE HUNGRY DETECTIVE, on the FOOD
NETWORK. The show premieres October 17th at 10:30PM - PDT. Dont
miss it! Chris is a natural, and you will love him. It must be those
Thats the news for now. I hope you will enjoy THE
SECRET OF CHRISTMAS, CASPERS
SCARE SCHOOL and THE HUNGRY DETECTIVE.
Until next time, Keep A Song of Joy Inside Your Heart!
DELAYED COLUMN | MATT CATINGUB
As most of you who are regular readers know, Daryl and I have been
very, very stressed and busy this week. I mentioned in my last column
that we would be moving to our southern California home and putting
our northern Nevada home on the market this past weekend. I had hoped
to write a column for you today (Monday), but, frankly, I am just
too overwhelmed by the move to concentrate right now. I am so grateful
to my readers, and hope you will bear with me until this coming Sunday.
Ill have a new column for you then.
Just a quick note. This August, I had the odd, and very interesting
experience of covering my own song. Matt Catingub...a
brilliant musician and good friend of mine and Daryls..is putting
together an album with his new music ensemble, The Matt Catingub Orchestra
of Hawaii. He called a few months ago, and said he had an idea for
an arrangement of my song, THE WAY I WANT TO TOUCH YOU, and wanted
me to sing it on the new CD. His thought was to arrange it in a soft
jazz bossa nova style. I loved the idea, and asked him to send
me a MP3 File of his arrangement. Daryl and I listened to it, and
agreed that it was a wonderful arrangement, and I agreed to do it.
We recorded it in Reno this past August, and it was really fun for
me, since I had to re-think my stylistic approach to the
song because Matts arrangement was so different from the Captain
and Tennille original. I havent heard the final mix, but I loved
what I heard in the studio. Go to Matts
site, and read all about the new CD, and the Hawaii
Romantic Music festival that Matt is putting together. Maybe we
should all make plane reservations right now to attend! I believe
it is scheduled for this coming spring on Oahu. Matt is the Pops Conductor
of the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra, and is absolutely beloved in the
Islands. Im sure his CD and festival will be a huge success.
I promise to write next Sunday. Until then, Keep a song of
Joy Inside Your Heart.
HOUSE OF LIGHT | NEVADA ARTS | 1975 GRAMMY
Six days from today, we will lock the door of this very special house,
and leave Nevada. Well return only to move out of the house
once it has been sold. We only hope that whoever lives here after
us will experience the love and happiness that we have enjoyed here
for almost 14 years. When we first moved in, Daryl and I called it
our house of light, because we had SO many windows,
there was hardly any wall space for paintings and photographs. We
always considered the beauty that Nature provided us through every
window our art. We love this house so much, we will be
building almost the EXACT house in Arizona!
It has been said that moving is one of lifes great stresses,
right up there with divorce and life-threatening illness, and I am
certainly starting to feel just a bit stressed as our last few days
here fly by. Daryl and I have moved several times during our life
together.... my mother used to joke that we never stayed in any home
more than seven years... and that is mostly true. However, we have
been in this house almost fourteen years, and I am feeling the anxiety
creeping up on me as moving day draws near. We are spending these
last days in northern Nevada in a flurry of activity.... meeting with
the realtors, doing some final packing, trying to get the house fairly
clean before the REAL housecleaners do their job after we leave, picking
up medical records...ours and the pets.... and spending time with
years ago, then Governor of Nevada, Bob Miller, appointed me Ambassador
to the Arts for the State of Nevada, and I have held that position
ever since. I have always been proud to be able to tell people around
the country that The Arts, in all forms, thrive in Nevada. I know
that when most people think of Nevada, they think of cowboys and casinos,
and we DO have those. But Nevada is also home to poets, writers, musicians,
dancers, sculptors, painters and creative people of all kinds. In
of our cowboys are poets! Nevadans wholeheartedly embrace and
support their artists, and the beauty of Nevada provides endless inspiration.
My job as Arts Ambassador was to tell the world about the Arts in
Nevada, and to regularly beg the legislature for more money for the
Arts!!!! I am very proud to have been a Nevadan for the past 22 years.
As we were doing a bit more packing this morning, Daryl came into
the kitchen, laid a large scrapbook on the counter and said, Look
at this. I didnt even know we HAD this. What he had found,
buried away in the guest room closet, was a large scrapbook, full
of publicity photos of us from 1974 to about the early 80s (I
can tell by my hair styles). There were also all sorts of newspaper
articles stuffed between the pages. The photographs were so beautifully
arranged in the scrapbook, I knew WE didnt put it together.
Daryl and I just throw photos and articles in boxes, vowing to organize
them later, and, of course, we never do. Anyhow, this book was obviously
put together and sent to us by a fan, but there was no name anywhere,
so well just have to be grateful for whoever sent it. It was
fun to go through it, and have our memories jogged by the photos and
the scrapbook we found an old 1975 newspaper article from the LA Times...CAPTAIN
AND TENNILLE WIN GRAMMY
AWARD. Wow. I will never forget that night at the Grammies.
We were so new to show biz, so naive, and just so thrilled
to be writing and recording the music we loved, that we didnt
really understand the pop music world (or our place in it) at the
time. I remember that I was so excited to be nominated for Record
of the Year, I went right out and found a designer to make a special
gown for me to wear to the awards show....the very first original
design I ever wore. I told the designer (and I CANT remember
his name, darn it) that I wanted a floor-length, yellow gown. He came
up with a lovely design in a soft yellow silk chiffon, with crystal
beading on the bodice. I really FELT like a star when I wore it! Daryl,
of course, wore a tux. He HATES to wear tuxes, but he did look quite
As we sat in the audience, I was a nervous wreck, and the entire evening
felt like a dream. Big recording stars from that era were seated all
around us, and paraded across the stage, one by one, to present or
accept their awards. Remember, I wasnt USED to being around
so many famous people, and it was all very overwhelming. LOVE WILL
KEEP US TOGETHER was also up for SONG OF THE YEAR and we were pulling
for Neil Sedaka and Howie Greenfield, who wrote it, to win, but RHINESTONE
COWBOY took the songwriting award.
Finally, the moment came. Joan Baez and Stevie Wonder came to the
podium to announce the 1975 RECORD OF THE YEAR winner. Stevie held
the envelope in his hand. Inside the envelope was the card announcing
the winner, written in Braille so Stevie (who is blind, for those
of you who dont know) could read it. CAPTAIN AND TENNILLE,
LOVE WILL KEEP US TOGETHER! he announced, and I just about
fainted. I felt like I was floating just above the floor as Daryl
and I walked up to the stage. The sound of the applause seemed to
come from very, very far away. I realize now that I was probably in
a state of shock. Stevie was smiling broadly, and Joan held the Grammy
out to us as we approached. I have never told anyone this, but for
all these years, I am still convinced that Joan was very disdainful
of our winning the award that night. She had what appeared to me to
be a forced smile on her face as she handed us the Grammy and murmered
a perfunctory, Congratulations, without looking me in
the eye. And for just an instant, for the very first time, I understood
that, in the opinion of many of the more hip elements
of the music business, we were not deserving of the honor. But I was
determined not to have this remarkable milestone in our career hurt
by my own negative thoughts, so I just blocked them from my mind and
continued floating onto the stage where we gratefully
acknowledged the applause.
Daryl and I have always understood that we are considered unhip and
square by many people, and that we have been the butt
of many jokes over the years....some of them very funny (and much
enjoyed by the two of us), but others quite cruel. Unfortunately,
that just comes with the territory. You simply cannot please everyones
musical taste. I have just always wished I had thicker skin
so I could just let hurtful things slide, but Im not very good
at it. Thats probably why I tend to keep a low profile
and stay out of the spotlight most of the time. But my intimation
that night was reinforced by the fact that our own record company,
A&M, was so sure we would NOT win, they had not invited us to
attend their after-Grammy party. However, once we won the Grammy,
we were issued an invitation right away, and were whisked off to the
Looking back, I tend to think we made music industry people uncomfortable
in those days because we werent into drugs, which were rampant
at almost every music industry social gathering. Our lack of interest
in recreational drugs was NOT because we are square or
looked down on people who used them. In my case, my father, Frank,
struggled with alcoholism all of his life, and I and my three sisters
have been very careful to try not to overindulge in either alcohol
or drugs. We know, because of daddys problem, we could be vulnerable
to alcoholism ourselves. And besides, when I go out on stage, or go
into a studio to record, I want to be totally in touch with reality.
Thats what works for me, and always will.
Just a note about next weeks TONIS TAKE. I usually write
my column on Friday or Saturday, and Daryl uploads it to the site
on Sunday. We will be making the big move this coming
Saturday and unpacking everything on Sunday, so I may be a day late
with my next TONIS TAKE. I appreciate my readers so much, and
want to make sure I have something new for you to read each week.
Just bear with me for a while. Ill be writing to you next time
from sunny Southern California! And in the meantime.... Keep A
Song of Joy inside your heart!
THE SURGEON AND THE SINGER...A GLIMPSE INTO ANOTHER WORLD
The patient lay, fully anesthetized, on the table in the brightly
lit operating room. From my vantage point, just behind the patients
head, I watched as the surgeon, with skill and confidence, made the
first incision... a long slice from the top of the sternum to the
bottom of the rib cage. For the next 2 1/2 hours, this patients
life and his heart, literally, would be in Dr. Todd Chapmans
How in the world would Toni Tennille, a pop singer, find herself in
that operating room? And NOT on the table, thank God! Ill tell
you the story now.
A few years ago, Carole, one of my closest friends, asked me if I
would do her a favor. Her Aunt Rose needed a heart valve
replacement. Rose and her husband, Don (not
their real names) were quiet and rather reserved people in their late
70s. Carole had to be out of town when Rose and Don
met with the surgeon to discuss the procedure, and Carole was afraid
they would not ask all the questions they should ask, and, consequently,
wouldnt be well informed and emotionally prepared for the surgery.
She asked me if I would go with them to make sure they got all the
information they needed. Of course, I agreed. Rose
and Don are two of my very favorite people.
With pen and notepad in hand, I met them at the office of Cardiac
Surgeon, Todd Chapman. Don and Rose were extremely
nervous, but Dr.
Chapman instantly set them at ease with his calm, relaxed manner.
He was a tall, slender, attractive man, with a warm, easy smile. I
liked him right away. I had prepared a list of questions for Dr. Chapman
on Roses behalf, and he answered every one patiently
and clearly. Later, I printed out my notes from the consultation and
gave them to Rose and Don. A week or so after
that, I sat in the hospital waiting room with Don while
Dr. Chapman successfully replaced Roses defective
Daryl and I became friends with Todd and his lovely artist wife, Peggy,
and have enjoyed their company on many occasions. Recently, he became
Chief of Cardiac Surgery at the beautiful new Carson-Tahoe Medical
Center near our home. He took me and Daryl on a tour through the hospital
just before it opened for business, pointing with pride to the cardiac
operating rooms set up to his specifications. The hospital itself
was open, airy, light, and filled with art from local Nevada artists.
We were very impressed.
A few weeks ago, Todd called and asked if I would like to observe
a heart valve replacement surgery. We had talked about it in the past,
and here was my opportunity. I told him I would absolutely LOVE to!
He also asked if Daryl would like to attend. You can guess Daryls
answer. There would be NO Captain in surgery! Todd told me to be at
the hospital at 7:30AM, and he would meet me at the front desk. I
wasnt exactly sure where I would be during the surgery, but
I kind of thought I would be in some sort of observation room,
where I would watch the proceedings on a video monitor.
Todd took me back to the nurses lounge, and introduced me to
Julie Hansen, his private scrub nurse, and Lisa Hoffman, his nurse
practitioner. Julie and Lisa, he said, take Toni
back to the locker room and get her changed into scrubs, and Ill
see you out here in a few minutes. As I donned the scrubs, hair
covering, and booties, it became clear to me that I was NOT going
to be in some observation room. I was going to be right
there in the operating room. Have you had breakfast? Dr.
Chapman asked when I came out of the locker room. Yes,
I replied. Good. Its important to have breakfast so you
wont feel faint. But if you do, be sure to tell us so we can
make sure you sit down instead of fall down.
Far from feeling faint or queasy, I was really thrilled at the prospect
of what I was about to see. I have always understood that medicine
is not just science, but also art. The surgeon, for example, must
have great technical skill, but also must make judgements based on
intuition and experience. In a way, a great surgeon is like a fine
musician.....years of study, practice and experience are necessary
to make the performance seem effortless. But no matter how skilled
the musician may be, if he doesnt have heart and soul to bring
to his performance, he will fail to connect with the listener.
In the case of the physician, HE may fail to save his patients
After donning a surgical mask and eye shield, I entered the operating
room with Dr. Chapman, Lisa and Julie. The anesthesiologist, Dr. Mark
Janes, already had the patient, a fifty-nine year old man, completely
anesthetized. The Perfusionist (heart/Lung machine operator), Steve
McDowell, was going over his equipment, making sure everything was
working properly. Todd suggested that I stand at the head of the patient,
near Dr. Janes. The patients lower body and his head were covered
with sterile drapes. The drape over his head was held off his face
by a lightweight frame. Because I am tall, I had a perfect view of
the patients chest over the drape.
I was completely fascinated and in awe of what I experienced that
morning. The atmosphere in the room was calm, relaxed and confident.
Dr. Chapman and his staff chatted about their kids, and what was going
on in their daily lives as they worked. Todd told me to feel free
to ask any questions I might have during the procedure.
The patient was a fifty-nine year old man, who appeared to be carrying
about thirty pounds too many on his six foot frame. Evidently, he
had consulted a cardiologist after experiencing a fainting spell.
He was diagnosed with Aortic Stenosis, which means that his aortic
valve didnt open fully. His heart (which, as you know, is a
muscle) had been working very, very hard to try to force blood through
an opening the size of a dime. The normal aortic valve opening is
the size of a quarter.
I will tell you now that the surgery was a complete success, and the
patient is now home and doing very well. Of course, I didnt
totally understand all the medical details of what I saw during the
surgery, but I can give you some of my impressions.
Yes, the surgeon does use a power saw to cut through the
sternum. It sounds like any other saw you would find in a woodshop.
Once the sternum is sawed through lengthwise, the rib cage is separated
by stainless steel spreaders, slowly and in stages, to
give the body time to adapt.
Once Dr. Chapman had cut through the pericardium (the membrane surrounding
the heart muscle), there was the patients heart, beating in
the open cavity. It was an incredible and sobering sight. The first
thing I noticed was that this heart had large patches of yellowish
tissue attached to it. When I asked Dr. Chapman about it, he said
it was fat....just like you would see on a piece of meat. The heart
is NOT supposed to have fat on it.....a good lesson to all of us to
try to keep our weight in normal range, and cut back on the Big Macs.
Dr. Chapman remarked to his staff that the mans heart was much
larger than it should be. When I asked why, he said it was probably
due to how forcefully it had to beat in order to push the blood through
the small opening in the aortic valve.
After the patients heart had been bypassed (an incredibly complex
and delicate procedure), and the heart/lung machine was in effect,
the heart lay still....no longer beating. Dr. Chapman went to work
right away, removing the defective valve, measuring the opening for
the correct size mechanical valve, and suturing the new valve into
place. Before he began to remove the valve, he pointed it out to me.
It looks like a Mercedes emblem, he said. And sure enough,
it did. Three tiny flaps, triangular in shape, coming together in
a point at the center. Look at this, he said, as he pointed
out what appeared to be many white bumps attached to the
tissue of the valve....on the valve itself, and behind it.
What are those? I asked. Calcium deposits,
he replied. No wonder he was having such a hard time.
After the surgery, circulating nurse, Laurie Van Epps, brought over
a piece of the valve in a plastic baggy. Feel this, she
said. You wont believe it. Through the baggy, I
felt the valve with the calcium deposits attached. It felt like it
was covered with ROCKS. How in the world this mans heart functioned
at all was beyond me!
As the surgery proceeded, I was struck by the delicate chemical balance
that needed to be maintained in the patient. The anesthesiologist,
the perfusionist, and the surgeon worked seamlessly together, monitoring
and adjusting to even the slightest changes in the patients
chemistry and vital signs. The blood and body chemistry change rapidly
under such stressful circumstances, and all three men had to be constantly
aware of the patients condition and be in perfect tune with
each other. There was a slightly tense time as the repaired heart
was being taken off the heart/lung machine. Evidently the patients
heart was so used to having to pump overly hard, the team had to be
extremely careful not to allow the blood to return to the heart too
fast, or it might harm the delicate sutures.
After Dr. Chapman had completed the valve replacement, and the patients
heart was once again beating normally, he and his nurses watched the
heart for ten full minutes to make sure there were no leaks, and that
the heart was behaving as it should. Then Dr. Chapman completed the
complicated procedure, leaving the final closure of the wound to Lisa,
and to Julie, who has worked with him for fifteen years. Todd and
Julie are so in tune with each other, they rarely have to speak. Julie
and Lisa will close this wound with such beautiful stitches, this
guy will end up with just a thin, white line where we made the incision,
Dr. Chapman said with pride.
I will always be grateful to Todd for allowing me to have a glimpse
into his world. I am so grateful that there are people who dedicate
their skill and their lives to the healing arts to the benefit of
all of us. My sister, Jane, is a nurse, specializing in Hospice Care,
and I cannot tell you how much I admire her and those like her. I
have always called Jane an angel on this earth for what
she does to help patients and families cope with difficult and heart-wrenching
times. Physicians and surgeons like Dr. Chapman and his fabulous team,
help us gain those extra years we otherwise might not have.
Just so you know.....the patient whose surgery I observed gave written
permission for an observer to be present. He does not know who it
was, and he will never know.
On another note, if you have not seen it already, please read the
notice below, which will tell you why we cancelled our appearance
on CELEBRITY DUETS. Until next week, in the words of the late,
great Billy Preston, Keep A Song of Joy Inside Your
September 21, 2006
CANCELLATION OF THE 'CELEBRITY DUETS' SHOW.
want to let you know that Daryl and I have canceled our scheduled
appearance on CELEBRITY DUETS, which was scheduled to air 'Live'
on Fox-TV on Sept. 29th. As I told you last week, we are in the middle
of a very stressful move..packing up the house we have lived in for
over thirteen years, and preparing to move to our home in southern
California the first week of October. Also, our elderly bulldog is
suffering from serious arthritis in her elbows and spine, and may
not be able to haul her big body around for too much longer, and dont
want to be away from her at this time. We just decided that, with
all this going on, we could not take four days to go down to LA for
a three minute appearance. We will certainly let you know if there
are any TV appearances scheduled in the future.
LEAVING NEVADA | THE SILENT TREATMENT
The limbs of our crabapple trees are groaning under the weight of
a bumper crop of beautiful, red, bitter fruit. Soon the cold winds
will come to scatter the crabapples like rubies onto the green grass
below. The Rabbit Brush is bursting into bloom, coloring the high
desert foothills with daubs of bright yellow. The early morning air
has the hint of an autumn chill. September in northern Nevada is my
very favorite month...... the days are still warm, and the nights
are crisp and cool.
This September is different, though. We are feeling excitement and
anticipation mixed with a bit of melancholy. Daryl and I are leaving
northern Nevada soon to make a new home in the high central plateau
of Arizona, near Sedona. We have lived in our current house for over
13 years. Why move now? Well, let me try to tell you why.
We live in the beautiful Washoe Valley of northern Nevada, nestled
between Reno and the state capitol of Carson City. Our five acres
of land are situated snug against the foothills of the high Sierra,
with Incline Village at Lake Tahoe just over the hills to our west.
A more beautiful setting would be hard to find, but several years
ago, we decided the winters were not as much fun as they used to be.
I guess it is the snowbird syndrome...the older one gets,
the colder and longer the winters seem. So a few years ago we bought
a winter home in the Coachella Valley of southern California near
For the past four years we have made the trek down to southern California
to spend the winter months. We usually leave Washoe Valley sometime
in early December. Daryl drives the sedan with the three cats in their
carriers in the back seat. They meow loudly for the first 1/2 hour
or so, and then go into a kind of kitty suspended animation
until the car goes over a bump along the way. MEOW!!!
I follow in the minivan with the three dogs. Since I have to stop
and let them out at least twice on the way, AND stop for gas (AND,
I dont drive as FAST as Daryl Andretti does), it
takes me almost two hours longer to make the 550 mile trip. Daryl...Captain
Iron Bladder....stops only once, to get gas and pee. He and the cats
arrive at our southern California home in about 8 1/2 hours, depending
on the weather and traffic. Must be nice. It usually takes me 10 1/2
The first part of the trip is absolutely beautiful. It follows Hwy
395 south along the eastern slope of the Sierras, where I have hiked
and climbed for many years. Everytime I pass through Lone Pine, CA
and see the summit of Mount
Whitney, I fondly remember both times I climbed the 14,494
peak. I was lucky enough to have had 200 mile visibility on both summit
days (the view was breathtaking, but I was really pooped. And I STILL
had to get myself DOWN the mountain!).
Once you drive past the southern end of the Sierras, the party is
over. Then you hit the truck and RV routes, and the insane freeways
of southern California. The speed limit is 75 MPH on most of the four
lane roads, but youd never know it as the cars and trucks whiz
by on BOTH sides doing 95+ MPH. And, of course, NOBODY uses turn signals.
You are supposed to read their minds. For me and the dogs the trip
is 550 miles of SERIOUS defensive, nerve-wracking driving. AND...Daryl
and I have to be flexible with our departure date, since our route
takes us over the high mountain passes through Mammoth Lakes, and
a snow storm enroute would be a disaster.
Which brings me to why we are moving our primary residence from northern
Nevada to Arizona. Daryl and I have a couple of elderly neighbors
(elderly being older than we are!) in their mid 80s. Ted
and Marie (not their real names) have been married over
60 years. Ted is a charming, dapper, outgoing British
gentleman, and Marie is a lovely, petite Frenchwoman.
They met during World War II, and have been together ever since. Marie
is having quite a few medical problems, and is withdrawing more and
more into herself, and rarely leaves the house. Ted is
desperate to move down to warmer weather so he can continue his three
mile walks every morning, and not have to deal with the ice and snow.
Sun City...a retirement community in southern California...is his
idea of heaven, but Marie wont budge.
One morning several months ago, while we were walking the dogs, we
spotted Ted, and stopped for a chat. We asked if he had
persuaded Marie to make the move to warmer climes. He
ruefully shook his head. Then he put his hand on my arm, looked me
right in the eye, and gently admonished, in his charming British accent,
Toni, be where youre going to be by the time youre
POW!! It was like a lightning bolt. Daryl and I looked at each other,
and I knew we were both thinking, Seventy? Thats not that
far away! Later, after we got home, we had the first of many
talks about our future. We both agreed that the winters in Washoe
Valley were making things very difficult...especially after the 8
feet of snow we had two winters ago. We were late making the trip
down to southern California that year and got caught in the first
major snowstorm of the season before we could leave. Daryl was out
in his big Dodge truck with the snow plow trying to keep our long
driveway and the road down to the mailbox clear. My job was to keep
shoveling pathways through the shoulder-high snow for us and the dogs
to get through. Also, our regular morning walks were getting scary
because of the black ice along the roads. And although we are both
strong and fit right now, a fall when were in our 80s could
be a very bad thing. We decided to start looking around for a place
to live closer to our southern California home.
After a lot of research and talking to friends, we settled on a small
town in the high central plateau of Arizona, near Sedona. The 5200
altitude is the same as Washoe Valley, and the weather is very similar....just
a few degrees WARMER all the way around. They do get snow in the winter,
but 1 1/2 feet is considered a HUGE amount. SO...well have all
four seasons, just not such cold and difficult winters. But best of
all, the drive is only a little over 4 hours from our home in the
Coachella Valley. Our new town is a center for art and artists of
all kinds, so I hope I can contribute to our new community as I have
here in Nevada as Ambassador to the Arts. The community has a small,
regional symphony orchestra, and Daryl is threatening to take up classical
bass again and try out for fourth chair!
What I am really trying to express here is that sometimes you simply
have to sit down and take stock of where you are, and where you hope
to be in a few years.....especially if you are approaching retirement
age. Yes, Daryl and I will not be seeing our dear northern Nevada
friends as often as we do now, but we hope to make some new friends
in Arizona. In fact,Daryl already has an old friend there from his
Beach Boy days. When I was a young Girl Scout at Camp Talahi in Alabama,
we used a sing a song around the campfire that said, Make new
friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.
That is what we hope to do.
As our friend, Ted, said, Be where you are going
to be by the time you are seventy. That may seem like a very
long time to some of you, but time flies faster than you can imagine.
On another note....I had an email recently from a writer who asked
about what to do when you lose your voice. That
is SUCH a scary thing if your voice is important to your work. So
many things can cause hoarseness and laryngitis...colds, allergies,
incorrect use of the voice, such as yelling at a sporting event, etc.
I had laryngitis problems several times while I was touring with VICTOR/VICTORIA
in 1998-99. I am terribly allergic to smoke, mold, and theatre dust.
Many of the theatres where we performed were built as long ago as
the 1920s...so you can imagine how much dust and mold they contained.
I only know of one sure way to protect and regain your voice after
losing it. DONT TALK AT ALL. DONT EVEN WHISPER...whispering
is just as bad as talking out loud. When you try to sing or talk in
spite of a sore throat and laryngitis, you begin to build up a callous
on your vocal cords....just like you would on your heel with a too-tight
shoe rubbing it. The more you try to force your voice, the worse the
inflammation and callous will be. The callous will not go away until
you stop irritating it. It is a terrible, stressful situation. The
remedy is simple, but most people cant stand to STOP TALKING.
But you must.
Here is how I tried to handle it during VICTOR/VICTORIA. Whenever
I was not onstage, I hardly spoke at all....Im sure I was duller
than dirt, but my responsibility was to the show, and I HAD to do
it. There was a time in January, I believe, of 1999, when I finally
had to take a whole week off, and remain mute the entire time. I communicated
with Becky, my assistant, and with Daryl by writing out things on
a note pad I kept with me. We also worked out a series of taps on
the phone for one word answers like yes or no.
It was a VERY hard thing to do, but after a solid week of no talking,
my voice was right back where it needed to be, and I was able to finish
the tour with no further problems.
I wish I could tell you there is an easier way, but there isnt.
It all goes back to what Ive told you before....your body is
your instrument. Take great care of it.
Next week I plan to tell you about a fabulous experience I had recently,
observing open heart surgery IN the operating room, no more than four
feet from the surgeon and the incision. The surgeon and his team reminded
me of a fabulous musical group that has worked together for years.
Ill tell you all about it next week. In the mean time, in the
words of the late, great Billy Preston, Keep A Song of Joy
Inside Your Heart.
AT THE WHITE HOUSE | THE HUNGRY DETECTIVE
Those of you who attended many of our concerts over the years have
heard me tell a condensed story of what happened when we sang MUSKRAT
LOVE at The White House. However, since quite a few readers have never
heard the story, Im going to tell you about it in this TONIS
In the summer of 1976, Daryl and I had just climbed aboard the roller
coaster of our pop music careers. We had two million-selling hits
by that time....LOVE WILL KEEP US TOGETHER and THE WAY I WANT TO TOUCH
YOU....and were performing around the country and recording our second
album. We were thrilled beyond words when we received an invitation
and Mrs. Gerald Ford to perform that July at The White House,
along with the legendary comedian, Bob
Hope. The occasion was the celebration of our nations Bi-Centennial.
We were told that Queen Elizabeth of England and her husband, Prince
Philip would be in the audience, along with the Prime Minister of
Great Britain and his wife, Secretary of State Henry
Kissinger and his wife Nancy, and many other dignitaries. We were
to perform in the famous East Room, and were asked to prepare a program
of about 20-25 minutes.
I was excited, and I was a wreck! We only had two hits, and I really
didnt think THE WAY I WANT TO TOUCH YOU was appropriate to sing
at The White House. What songs should we perform? A twenty minute
program seemed like an eternity. I also was pretty sure that most
of the audience would have absolutely NO idea who we were. I tried
to calm myself down by telling myself it was kind of like when we
performed in LA clubs....just pick a couple of nice top 40 type tunes,
throw in a couple of our own, and we were home free!
I was anxious about what to wear. It had to be something respectful
of the place and the occasion....nothing too beaded and sequiny...nothing
low cut or slit up the leg. I finally settled on a simple, rather
conservative gown in a pale cream color chiffon, skimming the body
but not clingy...falling in soft, diagonal layers to the floor. Perfect,
I thought (I wonder what ever happened to that gown). Daryl wore a
white tuxedo and matching Captains hat.
I remember how privileged and awe-struck I felt to be in that historical
place on that special occasion. As we made our way to the
famous East Room to set up for rehearsal, I could hardly believe
I was actually in the White House. When we reached the East Room,
and got our first look at it, my heart SANK!!!! It was so SMALL. We
had so much equipment, six or seven microphones, all of Daryls
keyboards, big amplifiers!!! This room probably seated around 100
people, and I could see instantly that it was really set up for acoustic
performances such as a string quartet or an opera singer accompanied
by piano. We were going to be way too loud before we even turned on
one piece of equipment!!!
Our rehearsal time was VERY limited...Secret Service guys were everywhere,
watching our every move....or maybe I just thought they were. Once
we had everything hooked up, and started our sound check, we were
told in no uncertain terms to TURN IT DOWN. So we did. TURN IT DOWN
more. So we did. Finally we were down so low, we were almost off.
I was a wreck. Daryl was a mess. This was NOT going to go well.
As all of this was going on, a lovely lady...a vision in a beautiful
yellow linen summer suit....came into the room and approached me.
It was Mrs.
Ford! She greeted me with a hand shake and a warm smile, and told
me how thrilled she and President Ford were to have us there. She
asked me what songs we planned to perform. I mentioned LOVE WILL KEEP
US TOGETHER, and a couple of other tunes. She asked if I was going
to sing THE WAY I WANT TO TOUCH YOU. I said, Well, Mrs. Ford,
I was thinking that wouldnt really be the right kind of song
to sing at The White House. And she replied, Oh, no...you
MUST sing it. Jerry and I love that song. She then said she
would see us that evening, and left me absolutely in shock.
After Mrs. Ford left the room, I went over to Daryl to tell him what
she had said about THE WAY I WANT TO TOUCH YOU. I remember telling
him that, since she wanted us to do THE WAY I WANT TO TOUCH YOU, she
would probably be open to just about any tune we chose. I said to
Daryl that maybe we should do MUSKRAT LOVE, since it had been such
a hit with our club audiences. I thought the White House audience
might get a kick out of it, too, and pick up on the whimsical humor
of the lyrics. Anyhow, that was my logic. Oh, boy.
Im tryng to remember exactly what songs we did, and in what
order. I think we opened with MIND YOUR LOVE, an up-tempo rockabilly
kind of tune (I think it is on our SONG OF JOY album). Then we did
THE WAY I WANT TO TOUCH YOU, followed by MUSKRAT LOVE. Then I think
we did a popular country tune called COUNTRY SUNSHINE, and we closed
with LOVE WILL KEEP US TOGETHER. However, by the time we finished
MUSKRAT LOVE, we were dead ducks.
Try to picture this. I am seated at the keyboard at the very front
of the foot-high stage. No more than eight feet from me, in the first
row of the audience, sat, left to right, The Prime Minister of Great
Britain and his wife, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, President
and Mrs. Ford, and Henry and Nancy Kissinger.
After the first couple of tunes, everything seemed to be going pretty
well, so I was starting to breathe a sigh of relief. And then we started
the intro to MUSKRAT LOVE. This is what I saw as I started to sing.....Queen
Elizabeth was sort of dozing, her head drooping a bit to the side
(probably jet lag and, maybe, boredom). Prince Philip was smiling
happily and tapping his foot to the beat. President and Mrs. Ford
were smiling and nodding along....no problem there, thank God. Then
my eyes settled on Dr. Kissinger and his wife. He sat stiff and stone-faced.
When he realized I was singing a song about two muskrats in love,
I could see that he was NOT amused. But when Daryl started playing
the infamous muskrat sounds during the instrumental, Henry wanted
to be ANYWHERE but where he was!
Flop sweat beaded my brow. I wanted to be anywhere but where I was,
too, but I was stuck. We finished up with LOVE WILL KEEP US TOGETHER,
and the ordeal was finally over. Prince Philip made it a point to
say some nice things about our music, bless his heart. President and
Mrs. Ford seemed quite pleased. I never saw Henry again.
We all then gathered in another large room for drinks and dancing
to the Marine Corps Band. THEY were LOUD. But I will never forget
dancing with President Ford...such a nice, decent man....not a particularly
good dancer, but then, neither am I. I never get to dance because
Daryl doesnt dance at all, and has no interest in it. But thats
Some days later, Rolling Stone called to interview us for the one
and only time in our careers. They had heard about how we had performed
a song of sexual innuendo, inappropriate for royalty at
the White House, and wanted to hear all about it. That quote supposedly
came from one of the Queens Ladies in Waiting..or from Chef,
Childs, who was also in the audience. Anyhow, it was all a tempest
in a teapot to me, and I kept thinking how much more fun club audiences
were than the one at The White House.
By the way, we have never been invited back.
One more quick note on another subject. My nephew, Chris
Cognac (my sister, Louisas son) will be starring in his
own show, THE HUNGRY DETECTIVE, on the Food
Network, beginning October 17th. Chris is a Detective in the Hawthorne,
California Police Department, who also happens to be a Food Critic.
In each episode of his show, he visits a different city, and tracks
down all the small, interesting food places the locals and cops know
about, but most people would never find. Daryl keeps telling him to
find the health food restaurants, but Chris isnt particularly
interested in healthy food.....hes always looking
for food that TASTES good (not that you cant find TASTY health
food)! Chris is a real natural on television, and we are all very
proud of him. Check it out in October. Until next time, in the words
of the late, great Billy Preston, Keep A Song of Joy
Inside Your Heart!
FINDING YOUR OWN STYLE | EYDIE AND SARAH
Over the years, many of you who aspire to become professional singers
have written to me, saying how much you like my voice and my style,
and how you have tried to sing just like me. WRONG!!!!!!
You should NEVER try to sing just like anyone else.
As a professional singer, one of the most important things you
MUST do, is find your own style...your own voice. I know how tempting
it can be to admire a particular singers voice, and think that,
if you sound just like they do, you will be successful. You wont,
unless you are making your living as a vocal impressionist...one who
amuses audiences by singing just like Louis
Armstrong or Barbra
Streisand or Johnny
Cash for example. Your vocal physiology...the actual makeup of
your vocal cords, your sinus cavities...all the physical elements
required to make your sound...are uniquely your own, and the sound
they produce is yours alone. Dont fight it....embrace it.
Also you must consider the emotional makeup of your life. Everything
you experience...good, bad, sorrowful, joyful.... will color your
approach to a song. You will take what you learn in life, and make
it part of your sound. I have been singing COME
IN FROM THE RAIN for 30 years. I approach the lyrics and
the meaning of that song in a different way at this stage in my life,
because of all the water under my bridge since I first
recorded it. This is a good thing. Your art should should change and
grow as you do.
I have always told you how important it is to learn HOW to sing. Take
lessons from a respected voice teacher so that you produce your tone
correctly. This will save you so much misery caused by incorrect singing.
When I was 19 years old, singing with the Auburn Knights Orchestra
at Auburn University in Alabama, I was literally afraid to take voice
lessons. I was positive I would end up sounding like an opera singer
(which is NOT a bad thing, but not what I wanted), and lose my jazz
sound. Consequently, I had laryngitis constantly from singing incorrectly.
Once I began to learn the proper technique, I still sounded like ME,
but I had the tools to protect my voice.
However, what were talking about here is the importance of a
unique vocal style. When I was in high school, I was THRILLED when
friends told me I sounded just like Julie
London. Julie was a wonderful singer....very underrated
as a jazz singer in my opinion by the way...who had a very popular
album called CALENDAR GIRL out at the time. She had a hit record on
the radio called CRY
ME A RIVER, a song she sang with a breathy, sultry voice.
I LOVED her singing, and I loved it when people told me I sounded
like her. Of course I didnt sound like her...I just had a similar
rather smoky-sounding voice.
Julie London was only one of many, many singers I admired....Ella
McRae, and many more. I listened over and over to their recordings,
singing along, and trying out their phrasing and style with my own
voice. I still hadnt figured out that my own voice was just
right for me, so I would throw in a Sarah lick, or a Carmen phrase
as I was trying to find my style. It took me years to embrace my tenor
voice, and stop trying to sing high notes I didnt have. I learned
that my lower register was just fine, and served me well.
Some years ago, Eydie Gorme, one of my favorite singers (and
favorite people) in the world, told me a wonderful story about her
and the great jazz vocalist, Sarah Vaughn, Eydies absolute
idol. Sarah came to hear Eydie sing when Eydie was just starting her
career. Eydie was very young, and in awe of Sarah (as I was, too).
Eydie told me, I didnt even know how much I was emulating
Sarah...hitting her low notes, her amazing high notes...singing the
orchestral licks instead of the melody. I was very young. I was singing
jazz..and I was good..and why not? I was basically impersonating Sarah.
So when we met, Sarah did tell me that I was indeed very good, but
there already was a Sarah Vaughn, and that was her. Find your
own style, Sarah told me, and you will be great. But you
could keep my name alive. And since then, I always say that
she was my idol.
So what Sarah really said to Eydie was, There already is a Sarah.
YOU be Eydie. What sage advice from one wonderful musician and
singer to another. And, of course, Eydie, along with her husband,
went on to have a fabulous career, and to be admired and idolized
for her unique style and sound by singers like me!
So enough of my lecture on vocal styling! Now I will tell
you about one of the first times I sang in public. Of
course, I sang in public all the time when I was young...in the church
choir and high school glee club chorus. But the very first time I
sang as a pop singer, I chose two really different tunes.
I was probably fifteen years old, and I dont even remember what
the exact occasion was, but I remember that I sang CRY ME A RIVER
(of course.....Julie Londons hit song) and...are you ready?.....ABBA
DABBA HONEYMOON....a popular novelty tune about a monkey and a chimpanzee
in love, recorded by the VERY young, Debbie
Reynolds. I was a big hit in my VERY small pond, but it was fun,
and the audience reaction made me think I MAYBE I might have a chance
to make it as a singer some day.
A quick note....Daryl and I will be making an appearance on the new
Simon Cowell show, CELEBRITY
DUETS. They asked us to appear several weeks ago, and after discussing
it for a while, Daryl and I decided to do it.......mainly so that
all of you could see that we are still alive, and still able to put
one foot in front of the other!!! Well be on the very last show
in the series...live, on Fox Network...on Friday, September 29th
at 8PM. The show will be two hours long, and I have no idea what
time we will be on. If I find out before then, Ill tell you
in my column. Wish us luck! Until next week, in the words of the late,
great Billy Preston, Keep a Song of Joy Inside Your
DARYL'S BIRTHDAY PIE | DRIVING WITH THE CAPTAIN
Daryl and I woke up early this morning, as we usually do. The sun
was just rising, and painting the Sierra foothills to the west with
a golden glow. Nearby coyotes were sounding their eerie, other-wordly
cries, harmonizing with the sublime sounds of a Mozart French Horn
Concerto on our XM Radio. There is just a hint of autumn chill in
the air. Another beautiful, welcome morning at our rural northern
But THIS day is particularly special. Today is Daryls birthday....his
64th....and I am going to bake him a legal peach pie,
with peaches from our very own backyard peach tree.
We have lived in our home in northern Nevada for over 13 years now.
The little peach tree we planted when we moved in has only given us
peaches TWICE in that time. Here in northern Nevada, at our altitude
(5200) growers have much better luck with apple trees...they
usually give fruit 4 out of 5 years. Our crabapple trees bear tons
of that mostly inedible fruit every year (although my friend, Carole,
makes delicious crabapple jam most years). The deer, the ground squirrels,
and the occasional bear feast on the crabapples every year at this
time. But this year our PEACH tree has provided me with perfect peaches
at exactly the right time of year for Daryls birthday pie.
Daryl is not particularly thrilled about this particular birthday.
However, he does know that I DO still need
him, and I WILL still feed him now that he has turned
64. I have to laugh at him when he moans and compains about
this ache or that pain, reminding him regularly that I am older than
he is, and Im doing just fine. Actually, women just complain
less about physical discomforts. We usually just suck it up and go
on about our business.
Daryl and I are not particularly sentimental about special dates.
We used to forget our wedding anniversary regularly until a couple
of days before it occurred (we are better about remembering it lately).
I am able to keep a few birthdays in my memory for quick retrieval....Daryls,
my sisters, a few close friends. Daryl and I tend to celebrate
our own birthdays quietly together.
So here is what we have planned for Daryls birthday today. He
has asked me to bake a legal pie for him. What is a legal
pie? Well, under the requirements of Daryls Rules of Healthy
Eating and Nutrition that means a whole wheat crust, and filling
made with no refined sugar. I used to struggle and curse my way through
trying to make my own whole wheat pie crust for him. I used whole
wheat pastry flour, and various pie crust recipes from our extensive
collection of natural foods cookbooks, but it always turned out heavy,
tasting somewhat like soggy cardboard. And my kitchen was always a
disaster after I wrestled with the damned crust. The filling is EASY,
the crust is HARD. Literally.
Daryl, however, claimed to enjoy the resulting pie, and ate every
bite.... usually within 24 hours. Thats why I make cookies or
pies for him only on very special occasions. He says he has no willpower,
and would eat a pie a day if I made one for him.
The good news is....I have discovered FROZEN WHOLE WHEAT PIE CRUSTS!!!!
Our local Wild Oats (natural foods) store carries them! SO much
easier, and my kitchen stays MUCH cleaner. For Daryls legal
filling, I simply combine 2 1/2 cups (or so) of thinly sliced peaches,
2 Tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour, and honey to taste (I use
about 1/2 cup). Place the mixture into the whole wheat pie crust,
dot with butter, put another whole wheat pie crust on top (thawed,
of course), pinch the edges of the two crusts together, make some
holes in the top crust with a sharp knife to let the steam escape,
and bake in a 375 degree, pre-heated oven for about 45 minutes (maybe
more....keep checking...at least until it bubbles).
Remember.....ALL of my recipes are by the seat of my pants.
I really just play it by ear. Youll have to fool around with
any recipe I give you to make it work for you. However, if you try
this one, and it turns out well, you can think of Daryls birthday
pie as you enjoy it!
We dont exchange gifts...not even at Christmas time. We both
feel that we receive gifts from each other every day,
so a purchased gift isnt necessary. Well finish off our
celebration of Daryls birthday with an early dinner tonight
at a favorite local restaurant.
Now, I dont want you to finish reading TONIS TAKE today,
thinking that Daryl and I never have disagreements, and that we never
YELL at each other. We DO! Especially when we are going somewhere
in the car. He always prefers that I drive. However, he always has
to tell me HOW to drive while I am DRIVING. Hurry up...make
this signal.....let this guy go....dont cut this guy off....how
fast are you going?.... All the while he is saying these things,
the steam is slowly rising in my brain, until I finally yell (here
it comes...SO predictable), Do YOU want to drive???? No.
Then SHUT UP!!!!!!. We might as well have a tape recording
of that exchange, and just push play the minute we get
in the car. It would save SO much stress on MY part!
Thats my rant for the day! Marital bliss.....weve enjoyed
it now for almost 31 years (with a just few bumpy spots along the
way)! So until next time, in the words of the late, great Billy Preston,
Keep A SONG OF JOY Inside Your Heart.
KAREN AND RICHARD | CARY GRANT
Let me share a few memories of Karen and Richard Carpenter
Shortly after Daryl and I signed with A&M
Records in 1974, we made our first visit to the famed studios
on La Brea in Los Angeles, to take a look at the recording facilities
that would be available to us. The facility was famed,
not only because it was the home of A&M Records, but because
it was formerly owned by the great comic silent film star, Charlie
Chaplin, and many of the buildings remained from those days.
A&M was like a college campus, with recording artists from labels
other than A&M also using the terrific recording studios there.
You might run into artists like Joni
Mitchell as you strolled the grounds. In fact, I almost fell
over one day at A&M when I was washing my hands in the Ladies
Room, and Joni Mitchell emerged from the stall next to the one I
had been occupying. We said hello to each other, and I casually
exited the room, and immediately went to find Daryl to tell him
I had met the great Joni Mitchell. Im certain
to this day she has no idea she ever met me.
Karen and Richard Carpenter had been making hits for A&M for
a couple of years before we arrived. They were truly superstars
of the A&M lot. I remember that Daryl and I were so impressed
when we saw TWO of the very limited, very precious parking spaces
with their names on them. Richard always drove some wonderful, perfectly
detailed, shiny automobile. I remember in particular a Mercedes
sports car, gleaming patent leather black, often parked in his space.
Every now and then, I would catch a glimpse of Karen or Richard,
and we would acknowledge each other with a wave or a nod, but rarely
did we speak at any length. Karen and Richard were very reserved,
and I certainly dont blame them. At this stage in their careers,
privacy was a luxury, and we never wanted to intrude. Also, they
may have had reservations about this new duo on the
We ended up sharing the same management team, and the same wonderful
recording engineer, Roger Young. Im not going to name their
managers, because I believe they were at least partially responsible
for Karens struggle with anorexia.
I could be wrong about this, but remember what Ive told you...they
dont call it show BUSINESS for nothing, and it can be tough
When Daryl and I knew Karen....and, remember, we were just the most
casual of acquaintances.....she was NEVER heavy or CLOSE to fat.
She was rather pear-shaped, as a lot of women are. As I am, in fact.
She was slender from the waist up, and carried most of her weight,
which appeared perfectly normal to me, in her hips. When you are
pear-shaped, if you are not careful with what you wear, you can
APPPEAR to be a bit heavy, especially on television, which can add
about 10 pounds to anyones frame.
I believe Karens management team suggested to her that she
needed to lose some weight so she would look better on television.
Arghhh!!!! It makes me so angry just to think of it. Karen took
that suggestion and ran with it, dropping weight like
crazy so she would look thin. We watched her shrink, and it was
horrifying. She was never, ever FAT!!!!! She was normal. Not good
enough for the idiots who advised her.
Karen often wore clothes onstage that totally disguised her body.
I remember once, when her anorexia was well-entrenched, Daryl and
I attended one of the Capenters shows in Las Vegas. It was
a lovely show, with Karens gorgeous, warm voice filling the
room. After the show, Daryl and I went backstage to say hello, and
as I hugged her, I had to force myself not to let her see the shock
that went through me when I realized that all I could feel through
her robe was BONES! It was like hugging a skeleton.
I left that show so angry, and so fearful for Karens health
and the future of that lovely person and her exquisite voice. I
was angry again, and filled with an incredible sorrow when I learned
of her death. She was an artist...she was fragile....and this stupid
business, with its focus on superficial things, killed her. Even
today, when I hear her voice on the radio, I am filled with a sadness....now
muted by time...but still there. She was so young. She could have
still been sharing that lovely voice with us today.
Well...sorry I had to vent!!! It is no secret I hate the business
side of show biz. But now, let me tell you a FUN story
and I had season tickets to the Los Angeles Dodgers back in
the seventies, and we attended as many home games as we could at Dodger
Stadium. I sang our National Anthem many, many times there, as well
as at almost every baseball stadium in the country. I always consider
it an honor to sing the anthem, and I always feel that, while singing
it, I should dress with respect for our flag. I always try to sing
it simply, bearing in mind what the words actually mean.
Stay with me....this story is one of my favorites. Back in the 70s,
prior to one of the National League playoff games at Dodger Stadium,
we were invited to join a special gathering of Dodger fans in a private
room at the stadium prior to the game. Most of the people there were
friends of Dodger management. I was sitting at a table, chatting with
friends, when a man approached, and said in an unmistakeable accent,
Miss Tennille, Im Cary
Grant. I looked up, my eyes widened, my jaw dropped,
and I immediately thought, Of COURSE you are!!!!! There
he was...the gorgeous, elegant man himself. THE Cary Grant. Standing
right next to me, speaking MY name. I was speechless. He continued,
as if I were not close to fainting, I just wanted to tell you
that I have never heard the National Anthem sung as beautifully as
you sing it. I managed to say thank you, and he walked back
into the dream from whence I thought he came. It turns out he was
a huge Dodger fan, and attended many of their games. His comment to
me made for one of my most treasured memories.
Thank you all for reading TONIS TAKE, and for your kind comments
and suggestions for future columns. Until next time, in the words
of the late, great Billy Preston, Keep A Song of Joy Inside Your
ONLY BEACH GIRL | MIKE DOUGLAS | ELLA DUET
Let me tell you the story of how I became The First (and
Only) Beach Girl.
After MOTHER EARTH closed in Los Angeles in 1971 (or 72...cant
remember the exact date), Daryl had to return to the Beach Boys
band, as they were getting ready to tour again. Their regular acoustic
(as opposed to synth) piano player, Billy
Hinsche, had decided to take some time off to finish his college
degree, and the boys were in need of someone to take over that spot
in the band while he was away. Daryl thought that Carl Wilson, who
acted as the bands Music Director, might be open to hiring me
to fill that spot while Billy was away.
Bear in mind that they had NEVER had a woman in the band. It is called
the Beach BOYS, after all. But somehow, Daryl was able to convince
Carl that I could do the job, and he agreed to bring me along on their
next tour, which opened in Binghamton, New York. Carl made this decision
without hearing me play! I guess he trusted Daryls judgement,
We had a couple of weeks to get ready for the tour, and Daryl spent
the time teaching me all the parts. I recall the parts were technically
easy to play, but required a great deal of muscle power
and finger strength. After Daryl ran me through our first practice
session, my forearms were killing me from all of the repetitive figures
I had to play. I studied classical piano for ten years, but Bach and
Chopin had never prepared me for THIS!
Finally the day came to join the rest of the band for the flight to
Binghamton. I was nervous, and very excited. Actually, I was falling
in love with Daryl, and that added to the stress of the whole situation.
We sat next to each other on the flight, and I will never forget our
approach to the Binghamton airport, and the beginning of my new adventure.
The sun was setting behind us as we flew, and below us was a layer
of huge cumulus clouds, colored orange, coral, pink and molton gold
by the setting sun. As I watched the clouds, I was listening to Holsts
PLANETS on the headphones....MARS, I believe it was...and the
music fit the scene below, and my state of mind, as if it were written
just for the occasion.
We landed in Binghamton on a cold, spring day...snow on the ground.
I had asked Daryl earlier how I would know if I passed Carls
audition. He told me that during the first rehearsal,
Carl (who had never MET me until that day, remember) would casually
walk over to me as I played, and would make his decision then as to
whether I could cut it. Of course, I spent the entire rehearsal, looking
for Carls approach out of the corner of my eye. Sure enough,
I spotted him slowly walking my way. I kept playing. He stood near
me for a moment, listening, and then walked back to the front of the
stage. I learned later that he agreed with Daryl that I would do just
fine, even though I was a GIRL.
I have often been asked if the Beach Boys hired me to sing, also.
No. They hired me strictly as a pianist...they didnt even know
I could sing (unless Daryl mentioned it to them). However, after I
had been with them for a while, one of the guys had a case of laryngitis,
and Carl asked me if I thought I could fill in until he improved.
I said yes, learned the parts, and filled in for a while.
The whole time this was going on, I felt like I was in some kind of
a dream. This was the BEACH BOYS, after all! I was in their band...albeit
only for a few months. I remember, years before, hearing GOOD VIBRATIONS
for the first time on the radio, as I was driving along. I absolutely
had to STOP the car on the side of the road and listen! It was brilliant...stupendous...fabulous.
And here I was, playing that song every night with the boys! Unbelieveable.
Now, if my memory is correct, my first big concert with the Boys was
in Philadelphia (Binghamton was a rehearsal/warm up situation). I
had never been to a rock concert in my entire life, and here I was
on stage, with the audience screaming so loud for the band, I could
hardly hear myself think! I do remember that after that first concert,
my ears RANG for a half hour, and my hearing was diminished. Daryl
forgot to tell me to wear ear plugs to protect my hearing. I never
forgot them again!
There are more stories of my stint with the Beach Boys, but that will
have to wait for another day. I want to talk just a bit about Mike
Douglas, who passed away a few days ago. Daryl and I were
guests on his show around 1976 or 1977 (my fuzzy memory). Although
my memory for exact dates is not that great, I will NEVER forget our
appearance on his show. One of my idols, the great jazz singer, Sarah
Vaughn, was to appear also, and she and I ended up singing a duet
together. I remember she asked me what I wanted to sing. I was so
flustered, my mind went blank. I finally came up with a song called,
IM OLD FASHIONED...a classic standard tune. She said, Well,
I dont know it that well, but give me the words, and Ill
wing it. And wing it she did...in glorious fashion! Once again,
I found myself in music heaven, and SO grateful for all the good fortune
brought to me by the success of CAPTAIN AND TENNILLE.
But there is MORE to the Mike Douglas story. Some weeks later, Daryl
and I were appearing in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand Hotel. A call came
into our dressing room from Steve
Lawrence and Eydie Gorme!!! Daryl and I had never met them...didnt
know them at all, except for their fabulous voices and musicianship
that we had heard on recordings over the years. Toni, this is
Eydie Gorme. Steve and I just wanted to tell you how wonderful we
thought your duet with Sarah was on the Mike Douglas show. I
almost fell over when I heard her voice. What a thrill!!
Since that time, Daryl and I have gotten to know Steve and Eydie,
and have been privileged to see them in concert many times. Theirs
is another so-called show biz marriage that has survived
for all these years, due to their respect and love for each other.
When they called our dressing room that night, they taught me a very
important lesson.....When a colleague, or someone in your field of
endeavor, does something you admire, dont assume they know it.
Let them know....a note, a phone call. Even if you dont know
each other, it can mean so much.
Speaking of duets....Daryl was fooling around on Google a few days
ago, and noticed they now have a video link. He typed in my name,
and up popped a video
of the duet I sang with Ella Fitzgerald on our 1979 CAPTAIN AND
TENNILLE SONGBOOK special. I have no idea who posted it. The video
quality is very poor...so it looks like it might have been recorded
off the TV at the time it aired. That special was one of the ones
R2 was supposed to release this year. Anyhow, I remember that duet
vividly...the joy of making music with Ella...not
only one of the greatest singers ever born, but one of the kindest,
dearest, most modest ladies I have ever known. There was not one ounce
in her. I will always carry her in my heart. If you check out the
Google video, you will first see Ella sing MISTER PAGANINI, her famous
scat song, and she swings her ass off, frankly. Then she joins me
for a medley of torch songs. I LOVED seeing it again, and I think
you might enjoy it, too.
Until next time, in the words of the late, great Billy Preston, Keep
A Song of Joy Inside Your Heart.
MEETING DARYL-Part 2 | SECRET OF CHRISTMAS UPDATE
I will now tell you the rest of the story of how I met Daryl.
After MOTHER EARTH finished its run at South Coast Repertory Theatre
in Orange County, California, my partner, Ron Thronson, and I had
an offer to present the show in San Francisco, under the auspices
of the American Conservatory Theatre. The show ran at the Marines
Memorial Theatre there, and was very well received.
I should also mention that, in addition to writing the music and acting
as Music Director, I also was in the cast. I am leaving out the part
about how Ron and I, in our naiveté about the business
part of show biz, signed a deal with the wrong people, and lost creative
control of our show. It is just too painful to remember or talk about.
So I dont.
We were making plans to move the show down to Los Angeles, but the
keyboard player we hired in San Francisco couldnt make the trip
to LA. A guy named Daryl Dragon was recommended to me. I was
told he was a great musician, and might be available if the BEACH
BOYS were on a break between tours. Daryl had been a member of
their backup band for about six years at that time.
Daryl says that he was given a tape of me singing the music from MOTHER
EARTH, and was intrigued with my voice and my writing. Since he happened
to be on a break from Beach Boy touring, he decided to fly up to San
Francisco to audition for me.
I will never forget the day I walked into the lobby of the Marines
Memorial Theatre that summer of 1971, to see my possible new keyboardist
sitting there. He was dressed all in black...black jeans, black shirt
and jacket, and..yes...black hat. He was kind of slouched down
on the seat, and he was VERY skinny. He had been on a strict vegetarian
diet for a couple of years, and, as a bachelor living alone, was mostly
cooking for himself. I have lived with him now for over thirty years,
and I know he is a TERRIBLE cook (or he pretends to be, so Ill
do all the cooking). No wonder he was so skinny.
I, on the other hand, was about 20 pounds heavier than I am now, very
tall (511) with long blond surfer girl hair.
I believe I was wearing a long paisley-print skirt in the hippie
style of the day (I dont remember EXACTLY what I was wearing,
but that skirt was part of my wardrobe then). I was probably a little
overwhelming! I cant imagine what he thought when he first saw
me, but I knew instantly that he would be very important in my life.
I cant explain how I knew that, but I did. I also didnt
know what form his influence on my life and music would take. That
realization would come later.
He played for me that afternoon, and made me laugh out loud with his
quirky approach to music. He was unlike any musician I had ever
met. I hired him on the spot, and to this day I know it was the
best decision I ever made in my life!
Daryl and I have been together now since 1972. We are both amazed
at how quickly time has passed. When I look at the DVDs of our Captain
and Tennille Variety Show from 1976-77, I often think, Who IS
that girl?!!! I am still that same girl, only 30
years older, and a bit wiser, I hope. The one thing that has continued
unabated (besides how grateful we are to be sharing this life with
each other) is our enjoyment of making music together. I am the musically
conservative one, and Daryl is the one who takes our music out
there. Thank goodness for him, because I would be boring as
hell if I had total control of our sound. I guess we are like yin
and yang....he makes me reach for something beyond my comfort zone,
and I help make his music more accessible.
Daryl and I try to get to San Francisco at least once a year. As you
can imagine, that city is very special to us. A couple of years ago
when we were there, we decided to swing by the Marines Memorial Theatre
to revisit the place where we met. Well, its gone. Not the theatre,
but the LOBBY where I first saw Daryl. The theatre has been renovated,
and the lobby moved to another area of the building. Still, the stage
and other parts of the theatre were the same, and being there brought
back many, many memories.
On another subject....Thank you, thank you!... for all of the lovely
notes you have written about THE SECRET OF CHRISTMAS snippets.
I am happy to say that we are now legally free of any ties to R2 Entertainment,
and are free to make another deal for release of the CD. However,
we will not be able to do it this season. There is just not enough
time to give it the promotion campaign we think it deserves. We WILL
get it out to you next year.
Until next week.....in the words of the late, great Billy Preston...Keep
a Song of Joy Inside Your Heart.
DARYL-Part One | PRONOUNCING TENNILLE
Let me tell you about the first time I met Daryl. It was in the
summer of 1971. But first, I have to back up a few years. Just about
the time I was finishing my sophomore year at Auburn
University in Alabama, my father moved the family from Alabama
to southern California. Frankly, the family furniture business did
not thrive under Daddys care. Having tasted show business
in the big band era as vocalist with Bob
Crosbys big band, the Bob Cats, he was never
happy in the confines of retail business.
Daddy was a charmer....all who met him adored him. He was great
with people, setting them at ease, and making them comfortable and
happy. So he took a job in Customer Relations with the Autonetics
Division of North American Aviation in Orange County, California,
and moved the family there.
When I finished up my sophomore year at Auburn, I went to California
to take a summer job at Autonetics Daddy arranged for me and my
sister, Jane. Once I saw southern California, there was no returning
to Alabama! I stayed at Autonetics for several years, working as
a statistician and then as a security
guard at the Research Center.
Since I always wanted to keep my hand in the arts in some way, in
the evenings I acted in various community theatre productions while
working during the day. Eventually I found my way to South Coast
Reportary Theatre (SCR) in Costa Mesa, California. At that time,
it was just a little storefront theatre, but the productions
were brilliant and innovative. Incidently, since those long-ago
days, SCR has
become a theatrical force to reckon with, having won a Tony award
for Best Regional Theatre in the country. It is now housed in a
magnificent theatre in Costa Mesa, California.
Getting back to my story......While I was at SCR, I wrote a musical
called MOTHER EARTH with Ron Thronson, a wonderful guy who was one
of the SCR directors. In fact, Ron was really the reason I write
music today. He had an idea for a musical review with a save-the-earth
ecology theme, and needed someone to write the music. He knew I
was a singer and pianist, and he asked me one day if I thought I
could write music for his lyrics. I thought, Why not give
it a try? Up until that time, I had only written a couple
of songs, just for myself, to see if I could do it. I ended up writing
an entire musical!!!
MOTHER EARTH had its premiere at SCR in 1969. Reviewers from
LA newspapers often attended SCR productions, and on opening night
we were reviewed by several papers, including the Los Angeles Times,
the Orange County Register, Variety, the Hollywood Reporter, and
a few smaller papers. All the reviews were fabulous! We had a hit
on our hands, and had no idea what to do with it. What happened
to Ron and me and MOTHER EARTH after that was a real lesson in what
NOT to do in show business. They dont call it
show BUSINESS for nothing, as we were to find out to our great dismay.
But thats ANOTHER story.
Whoops. I was supposed to be telling you how I met Daryl
for the first time. I now realize I have a lot more to tell you
to set the stage for that encounter. Ill get to
that next week. Ill just say that San Francisco and the Marines
Memorial Theatre figure prominently in the story.
On another note.....I received an email, asking about the pronunciation
of Tennille. All of you know that I pronounce it, ten-EEL.
My family is from the south....Alabama....and trace our roots back
to a Revolutionary War Colonel named Francis Tennille. There are
two small towns in the south named after him....Tennille,
Georgia, and Tennille, Alabama. Tennille is a French name, as
is my middle name, Antoinette (Toni). When I was growing
up, our family pronounced the name TIN-el, rhymes with
fennel. Over the generations, the beautiful French pronunciation
became southernized. Both Tennille towns pronounce it
in the southernized way.
Daddy always longed to return to the original pronunciation of Tennille,
so when he moved the family to California, he went back to ten-EEL
and all of his daughters are glad he did. We like the sound of it
much better! I dont think the CAPTAIN AND TIN-el
would have sounded nearly as good as the CAPTAIN AND ten-EEL
Next week I WILL tell you about the first time I ever saw Daryl,
where I saw him, and what my first impressions of him were. Until
then, in the words of the late, great Billy Preston, Keep
A Song of Joy Inside Your Heart!
| THE CHRISTMAS CD | THE WHITE HOUSE
Wow...I am SO late getting to this weeks column. I usually write
it on Saturday, let it sit overnight, read it Sunday morning
to see if I REALLY wanted to say that, and then Daryl uploads it.
However, time got away from me this week.
First of all I want to thank all of you who wrote asking about my
sister Louisas health, and sending good wishes to her. As those
of you who have read her Medical Diary on our site
know, she was successfully treated for Hyperparathyrodism in Tampa
last month. All of the symptoms related to that disease are GONE,
thanks to Dr. James Normans incredible skill. However, she continued
to have pain in her abdomen, and it turns out she ALSO had a condition
called Pancreatic Sphincter Stenosis. Poor Louisa seemed to draw the
bad health card in the family. I went down to Los Angeles this past
week to be with her while she had corrective surgery at Cedars-Sinai
for that problem. She is home now, recuperating, but it has been a
really rough summer for her. She will be just fine in time to take
on her class of adoring third graders this fall.
Also....thank you all so much for your wonderful comments on THE
SECRET OF CHRISTMAS. It is so heartwarming to Daryl and me
that you seem to like what you hear in the little snippets
of all 14 tunes that make up our Christmas CD. He and I believe it
is the finest thing we have created together, and it was certainly
the most collaborative work we have ever done. It was a joy for us
both to conceive and create it. Believe me, we are as frustrated as
you are that (barring a miracle) we will not be able to get it out
to you in time for this holiday season. I want to explain to all of
you why this is the case.
When an artist is going to release a Christmas CD, everything must
be in place.... CD artwork done and CDs packaged and ready to go,
promo copies ready to be sent to magazines, newspapers and radio stations,
publicist poised to set up print interviews and television appearances.
All these things must be lined up and set to go by the end of JUNE.
For example, in order to be considered for a magazine article (such
as Vanity Fair, AARP, People, etc), you must have product ready to
submit to them by June. The lead time for magazine articles is several
months, and they plan their holiday issues way ahead of time. An artists
publicist MUST plan the publicity campaign, and execute it properly,
or the public will not be aware that the product is out there.
Because our deal with R2 fell apart, and we are just now finishing
up the legal papers to assure we are free and clear of them, we are
just too late to get anything going for the Christmas CD this year.
The good news is, we own our masters, and control what happens to
them. We thought about making the album available for download on
itunes, but we dont have an accounting system in place at this
time to pay out the royalties due to the songwriters. And....hardly
anyone would even know it was available, since it is too late to promote
it. Those, unfortunately, are the facts of the music business. But,
we believe THE SECRET OF CHRISTMAS is timeless, and it will sound
just as good next year!
One cute little story about MUSKRAT LOVE. I dont have time today
to tell you the entire rest of the story (MUSKRAT LOVE - Part 2),
but heres a charming story involving former President Gerald
Ford. Those of you who are longtime fans and have been to many of
our concerts have heard me talk about the time we sang MUSKRAT LOVE
at The White House. It was 1976, and President Ford was in office
at the time.
Cut to many years after that infamous White House C&T concert
in the East Room. Daryl and I have, for years, visited friends in
the Coachella Valley of Southern California, where Palm Springs is
located, and, since the early 1980s, I have played golf in the Nabisco/Dinah
Shore LPGA Championship ProAm in Rancho Mirage. We now have a winter
home in that area.
President and Mrs. Ford have lived in Rancho Mirage for years, and
attend many charitable events there. I have run into them several
times, and they are always gracious and charming. The first time our
paths crossed at one of these events, Mrs. Ford said to the President,
Darling, you remember Toni and Daryl. They performed for us
at the White House. He looked at us, smiled widely and said,
Oh, yes. I remember. You sang that song about the mice!
I didnt have the heart to correct him. That is something I will
Until next time, in the words of the late, great Billy Preston, Keep
A Song of Joy Inside Your Heart!
WILSON of the BEACH BOYS sings on YOUTUBE.com
GUEST COLUMNIST: Daryl Dragon / aka THE CAPTAIN
READ THE- ENTIRE
COLUMN & WATCH THE CAPTAIN IN A Classic, Beach Boys VIDEO -
FLOYD, THE WALL, AND ME
I begin todays topic, I need to talk about your emails. Of course
you know I am enjoying them very much, and Im saving your questions
and suggestions for future columns. However, I must ask you not to
write more than ONCE a week. I want to read them all, but some of
you, in your enthusiasm, write several times a week. When I see email
addresses I have heard from many, many times in a week, I delete them
without reading them. Please save up your questions and comments,
and write no more than once a week, and please try to be succinct.
I want to read them all, and as I receive more and more emails, I
am running out of time to read them. Thank you so much for understanding.
the late 1970s, BRUCE JOHNSTON and the late CARL WILSON of the Beach
Boys, JOHN JOYCE, an LA studio singer, and I occasionally sang together
as a background quartet for recording sessions. It didnt happen
often, because all of our schedules were very busy, but you can hear
our work on a few notable recordings.... listen carefully to Elton
Johns DONT LET THE SUN GO DOWN ON ME and you might be
able to pick out my voice in the background vocals.
When constructing the harmonies we sang, we usually placed my voice
in the center of the chord. My voice is in the male tenor range, and
is very distinctive. The whole point of background harmonies is to
have a seamless sound and vocally perfect blend. My voice stood out
less, and blended better with the other voices if it were placed in
One day in late 1979, Bruce called me and asked if I would be interested
in doing a background session for the famous rock group PINK
FLOYD. They were in LA, working on a new album, and needed
some background work. To be honest with you, although I had heard
their name, I wasnt at all familiar with their music, but I
ALWAYS keep an open mind musically, and I thought it would be really
interesting to see how the other half works in a recording
session. I told Bruce Id love to, and a date was set.
The session was set up for a Sunday morning at an unpretentious Hollywood
recording studio called Producers Workshop. Daryl went with
me...he was pretty curious, too. I guess I sort of expected to walk
into a studio full of people lying around, smoking dope...lots of
groupies..that sort of thing. What I found when we got there surprised
We were met, almost as soon as we walked in the front door, by Dave
Gilmore, who, along with Roger Waters, was the face and sound of Pink
Floyd at that time (they have since parted ways). Dave greeted me
and Daryl heartily with a smile and a handshake, and stated that he
had seen us on television that morning. I immediately thought, What
was a rock star doing, watching Sunday morning television? Daryl
and I had recently taped a guest appearance on a childrens TV
show called KIDS ARE PEOPLE TOO, and Dave told us he watched it that
morning with his kids! So much for the rock star stereotype!
It turns out I would be working that day on a new concept album they
were going to call THE WALL. I had no idea at the time what a musical
landmark it would be. When Bruce, Carl and John arrived, we set to
the business at hand. People often ask me Which songs did you
sing on? Well...at the time, we worked on sections of songs
that had no name. They would play a section of a song, tell us what
they wanted in the way of backgrounds, and we sang them.
I was really struck at the professionalism of the entire session.
These guys meant business, and they knew exactly what they wanted.
If there were any drugs going on, I never saw it. Of course, I have
to say that throughout our career, Daryl and I rarely saw even a hint
of the rampant drug use that was going on in the music business at
the time. People knew we werent into it, and usually kept it
hidden from us at various industry functions.... at least, they never
told us where the coke room was set up!
I have nothing but good memories of that background session for THE
WALL. Before we left, Dave asked me if Daryl and I would like
to come to the LA concert they would be doing in support of the albums
release. I told him of COURSE I would love to come! He promised to
call me when the dates were set. I went home and promptly forgot about
Then, in early February of 1980, the phone rang at our home in Pacific
Palisades, CA. It was Dave Gilmore, asking if we still wanted to go
to the first performance of THE WALL at the LA Sports arena. He would
leave tickets for us at the box office. I had no idea at the time
what a special, musically-historical, FABULOUS event it would be,
and what a privilege it would be to have been there! Ill tell
you the rest of the story next week. In the meantime, in the words
of the late, great Billy Preston, KEEP A SONG OF JOY INSIDE YOUR
THE SAGA OF SAM AND SUSIE - Part One
Ah...MUSKRAT LOVE....so reviled, so adored, so loathed, so
loved. Who knew that song would still be rattling peoples cages
thirty years after we recorded it?
Before I tell you some MUSKRAT
LOVE stories, let me say that I have NEVER understood why some
people get so upset about that song. I agree...there have been some
dreadful pop songs over the years. I particularly dislike Paul Ankas
MY BABY and Jack Jones WIVES
& LOVERS (aka "Hey Little Girl")'. At least Jack
has the sensitivity to admit what a terrible, sexist song it is, even
though it was a huge hit for him in the 60s. But MUSKRAT LOVE????
Come on, people....did it ever occur to you that we might have performed
that song with just a touch of irony?
Well....it was a million seller for us, and quite lucrative for its
composer, Willis Alan Ramsey. Humorist Dave Barry, among others, always
places it in his annual Top Ten list of Worst
Pop Singles Ever. It seems that people either love MUSKRAT LOVE,
or loathe it. They either have it played at their weddings, or burn
any copies they can find. I find both extremes a little hard to understand.
Our saga with MUSKRAT LOVE began about 1973, when we were working
at a place called The Smokehouse in Encino, California. We had begun
to draw quite a crowd each night, and started to think we might have
something special going for us. We did the usual mix of Top 40 tunes....lots
of Elton John, Carly Simon, James Taylor, Stevie Wonder....and other
current songs that appealed to us. I also sang some songs I had written
myself, like THE WAY I WANT TO TOUCH YOU.
Daryl and I used to listen to the radio constantly, looking for new
tunes to perform. One evening, as we were driving to our Smokehouse
gig, we heard a recording
by the group, AMERICA. The vocals were kind of buried in the mix,
but I thought I heard the words, muskrat love. I thought
it was pretty amusing, and suggested to Daryl that we head to the
music store the next day to try to find the sheet music.
Right there in the store, as I was reading the lyrics, I found myself
laughing out loud! What a hoot, I thought, as I read them
aloud to Daryl. We decided to work up an arrangement, and try it out
in the club.
Daryl fooled around with his Arp Odyssey synthesizer until he had
a sound that he THOUGHT might bring Sam and Susie musically to life.
In those days, you couldnt store sounds in a keyboards
memory...you had to re-create the sound each time you needed it, so
Daryl had to fiddle around with the synthesizer every time we performed
the song to get the muskrat sound. In fact, because he had to re-create
just about every sound he used for each song, I talked to the audience
quite a bit to fill in the dead spaces. In those first
years, I became quite adept at chatting with the audience while Daryl
searched for a particular sound, or, mid-concert, tried to find out
why one of his keyboards wasnt working. That is why I became
Miss Chatty Kathy onstage, and Daryl became so quiet and
totally focused on his instruments. I am naturally more gregarious
than Daryl, and he is naturally rather quiet, but circumstances on
stage made those traits much more pronounced.
Well...to bring THIS chapter of the MUSKRAT LOVE saga to a close,
we tried out the song in The Smokehouse, and it was a SMASH! We had
constant requests to play it over and over. I finally had to make
a rule that we would play it only twice a night!
I have many more stories to tell you about MUSKRAT LOVE, the third
biggest-selling hit single we ever had......why we decided to record
it, how we ended up singing it at The
White House for the Queen of England, etc...... but those stories
will have to wait for another column. In the meantime, you MUSKRAT
haters...calm down. After all, you COULD be listening to SHES
HAVING MY BABY!
On a closing note....thank all of you for writing. It is rewarding
and enlightening to read your emails. It is so interesting to me to
read what interests YOU about Captain and Tennille. If I dont
answer your particular questions right away, keep reading. Ill
get around to them eventually. And always, in the words of the late,
great Billy Preston...Keep A Song Of Joy Inside Your Heart!
MY BODY IS MY INSTRUMENT | TONIS
If you are a singer, or aspire to be a singer, this should be your
mantra...... MY BODY IS MY INSTRUMENT. And Im not kidding! What
does this mean? This means you cannot open up a case, and take your
body out, and play it like a trumpet or a violin or a keyboard. Im
always telling Daryl how envious I am, that he can play even if he
has a cold or an allergy attack, or hasnt slept well the night
before. He just takes that keyboard out of the case, turns it on,
and starts playing. If you are a singer, you can get away with bad
health habits for a while, but if you are interested in preserving
your voice in top shape for many, many years, I hope you will heed
what Im going to tell you.
When you are a singer, your entire career depends on tiny vocal cords
the size of a pencil lead. They are fragile and sensitive, and their
health totally depends on how well you take care of yourself. Before
I rant on about other health issues for singers, Im going to
state the obvious. DONT SMOKE and DONT DO DRUGS. Period.
So many things can wreck a concert or recording session for a singer.
Some things you cant always control, like exposure to smoke
or dust or other allergens, but most of them you can. The most important
thing you can do for those tiny vocal cords and your voice is to make
healthy choices in how you care for your body. You MUST stay fit,
and if you arent fit, you need to GET fit.
EXERCISE!!! At least 30 minutes a day, at least five days a week.
Get off your duff and MOVE. Do whatever exercise you LIKE to do. Exercise
should never be drudgery. You should enjoy it. If you dont enjoy
it, you wont do it.
I LOVE to walk. Daryl and I walk at a snappy pace in the hills around
our house with the dogs first thing every morning for about an hour.
We spend the time watching birds and arguing about politics. When
were on the road, it is more difficult, since hotels are often
in neighborhoods that arent condusive to walking. However, most
hotels now have gyms with treadmills, exercise bikes, and some weight
training equipment. USE THE HOTEL GYM if there is no other alternative.
I believe it is important for singers to strengthen their abs. I do
100 crunches on a fitness ball three days a week, along with other
strength moves with fairly light weights and lots of reps. Make the
time and DO IT. A toned and strengthened body keeps your INSTRUMENT
in top shape, and gives you more confidence on stage.
It is really important for a singer to stay hydrated. Keep that water
bottle handy, and sip from it often, especially when youre singing.
Limit caffeine before a concert.....it is dehydrating, and dries out
the cords...your PRECIOUS vocal cords. I like to have a glass of wine
AFTER a concert...but never before. Alcohol can be dehydrating as
well...although it never seemed to hurt Frank Sinatra (until the end
of his career), since he was rumored to have sipped Jack Daniels from
a water glass during his concerts!
Dont eat crappy foods. Im not kidding. Sure..life without
chocolate is not worth living...and I believe dessert is the reason
we eat dinner! But I think you will find a HUGE benefit from these
simple food suggestions.....
1. Try to eat a fresh salad everyday. Iceberg lettuce is a
nutritional zero, so use darker greens like romaine and spinach. Throw
in any chopped fresh vegies you like. Maybe a little string cheese,
some chopped almonds, some cooked and chilled black beans, fresh tomatoes,
avocado....you get the idea. Make a dressing with extra virgin olive
oil....that heart-friendly elixer of the gods..... and some white
or red wine vinegar, fresh lemon juice, or balsamic vinegar. Toss
in some chopped fresh herbs.... thyme, oregano, mint, whatever you
2. Your carbs should be WHOLE GRAIN. When you eat bread or
pasta or cereal, make sure it is whole grain. Check the labels. The
first ingredient listed should be 100% whole wheat, or
whatever grain is used....100% is the important thing.
Check to see how much fiber is in a serving. There should be at least
3 grams of fiber. More is better.
3. Eat fruit every day, especially dark blue and red fruits.
I eat almost all of my daily fruit in the morning for breakfast. I
eat a HUGE breakfast everyday..... whole grain cereal, non-fat yogurt
and fruit. The way I get my fruit might not appeal to all of you,
but it is easy, and none of it goes bad before I get around
to eating it. I buy bags of frozen blueberries (brain
food), blackberries and black cherries (these are MY favorites...you
might like other kinds), and keep them in the freezer. Every morning
I put two cups of frozen fruit in the microwave and heat the fruit
to just warm. It is delicious with vanilla non-fat yogurt
and whole grain cereal, and gives me a powerhouse, nutritious start
to the day. Once in a while, mainly when I am on the road, Ill
have some scrambled eggs and whole grain toast and fruit for a change
As I am writing this, Im thinking of a million more health tips
Id like to give you. Ill have to save them for another
column. But, seriously, I worry about all of you who dont take
care of yourselves. If you are a singer, you MUST do that. You may
get away with a terrible diet and no exercise for a while, but
if you want your voice to last over many years, you have to take
care of yourself. Whatever you do, all of you singers out there, remember
and say this mantra to yourselves.....MY BODY IS MY INSTRUMENT.
Heres a neat recipe for a side dish...healthy and fresh for
summer, and very easy. There is fresh corn in the markets right now.
Always try to take advantage of whatever vegies are in season.
EASY NO-COOK FRESH CORN SALAD
Cut kernels from 4 cobs of fresh sweet white corn with a sharp knife
to make 3 cups of kernels. Toss with 1/3 cup finely diced red onion,
1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil (Costcos Kirkland Brand is excellent
and relatively inexpensive), 1 TBSP fresh lime juice, 1/2 tsp salt,
and 1/8 tsp ground black pepper. Makes 4 to 6 servings. Great as a
side dish with grilled chicken or fish.
Well....thats my health lecture for this week. If I can get
just ONE of you to rethink how you take care of yourself, Ill
be happy. Until next week.....Keep a Song of Joy Inside Your Heart!
By the way, Louisa is recovering beautifully from her surgery.
She has already written her first 'GUEST COLUMN' just below. Thank
all of you for asking about her!
A FIX FOR HYPERPARATHYROIDISM
GUEST COLUMNIST: Louisa Tennille (Toni's sister)
READ THE ENTIRE
ONE - Getting There - Saturday - June 24th
I left LAX on Saturday, June 24th, at 12:30 in the afternoon, headed
for Dallas. Toni left at the same time from Reno,NV. We landed in
Dallas within a half hour of each other, but
DAY TWO - Sunday - June 25th
My sister, Jane, arrived around ten oclock the next morning.
She lives in Orlando, and drove over to spend the next few days being
Nurse Jane for me, her much, MUCH younger sister (Jane
is a hospice nurse in Orlando.) She settled into my
DAY THREE - Surgery - Monday - June 26th
We arrived at the Tampa General Hospital at 9AM. Within minutes, I
was registered, had my wrist band, and was waiting to be called back
into the surgery center (I had already preregistered by phone while
still in California). When they came for me, Toni and Jane were
DAY FOUR - Day of Rest - Tuesday - June 27th
Toni and Jane headed off for more shopping (there were still things
to be bought!) and lunch at the Cheesecake Factory. I was having a
bit of pain, so
DAY FIVE - Heading Home - Wednesday - June 28th
What was that horrible ringing, and why wouldnt it stop? I then
realized it was Toni with my 5AM wake-up call. Sixto (our driver)
would be arriving at 6:15 to take us to the airport. It was time to
head home to
READ THE ENTIRE
HYPERPARATHYROIDISM | ON
THE ROAD BLUES
I am writing this on a plane bound from Reno, Nevada (where we live)
to Tampa, Florida. My sister, Louisa, is scheduled for Hyperparathyroid
surgery in Tampa on Monday, and I, and her other big
sister, Jane, will be there with her. Daryl is home, taking care
of our three dogs and three cats, and pretending he doesnt
see the occasional hairball, which will surely be there to greet
me when I get home in a few days. What hairball? I didnt
see a hairball. The cat must have JUST coughed it up. (The
hairball, when I see it, is totally dried out and crusty).
saga is a story she has promised to write soon in a guest column.
It is a nine-month long odyssey of pain, stress and anguish, in
which SHE finally diagnosed HERSELF! The moral of her story is that,
in this dreadful healthcare system we now find ourselves in, you
MUST take charge of your own care! You will read her story soon.
Many of you have asked why Daryl and I no longer tour. This
is a long and complicated story, and goes back a very long way....to
the very beginning of our career. You wanted to know whether or
not I enjoy performing for our fans. Of course I do! The time on
stage, sharing music with you, is a true joy. It is all the time
on either side of the concert that is so difficult for me.
I am a real homebody. It takes a great incentive to
get me to leave my home and my animals (and, once in a while, Daryl..when
Im doing symphony or Big Band) and head out there,
even for a vacation. This is nothing new for me. The traveling
blues hit me hard with our very first tour in 1975,
and have only become deeper and more intense as the years have gone
by, I really cant explain why I am this way, but I remember
times, years ago, when we left our warm and beautiful home in the
darkness of a cold, icy winter morning, heading for the airport.
As I said goodbye to our pets, and closed the door behind me, I
would feel a sadness come over me, and Id truly wish I could
turn around, open the door, hug the pets, and stay right there.
I would try to keep the upcoming concert in my mind as a kind of
beacon....a beam of light to guide me through this kind of on
the road depression. And truly, when I was on stage, all was
forgotten. The true joy and fun of singing and making music with
Daryl, and sharing it with the audience, pushed away the clouds
for a while.
I still dont feel Im explaining it properly. It is more
than the inconveniences and hassles of travel. It is a kind of an
emotional cord that connects my heart to my home, that stretches
almost to the breaking point as I fly away, and slowly eases and
relaxes as I start the journey home.
Daryl and I are both very private people, and it is really hard
to remain private when you are out there. We have always
felt that we owed our fans a great show, but that our private lives
were our own. Yes, Im writing a column now, where I am sharing
some of these formerly private thoughts, but Im hoping that,
by sharing some of these thoughts, those of you who have been our
fans for so many years will understand us a bit more.
Weve been asked why we havent written a book about ourselves
and our lives. Truly, we dont consider our lives that interesting.
For example, we have been married for over thirty years, but we
would never presume to give advice to anybody else on how to have
a good marriage. What works for us would not necessarily work for
any other couple. Im always suspicious of people who claim
to have the answers to all of lifes deep and important questions.
Daryl and I sure dont know them. Well, maybe Daryl does!
The truth of it is simple....Daryl and I were each born with a gift
for music. That is what we do. We were very lucky to have been in
the right place at the right time, and we were fairly well prepared,
through practice and experience, to make music our career. We never
stopped learning as we went. Were still learning.
Well...Ive rambled on enough for this time. I probably should
have an editor, although I dont. Except that once in a while
Daryl will say, Youre not going to write THAT, are you?!!!
And hes usually right. Until next time, Keep A Song of
Joy Inside Your Heart!
TWO LITTLE WHITE LIES | CHRISTMAS CD UPDATE
It has been absolutely fascinating to read your emails about my new
column. And, before I get off on a tangent, thank you all so much
for writing. After reading your comments and questions, I already
have so many ideas for future columns, I wont run out of topics
for a very long time!
Today Im going to answer a question that popped up in many of
your emails. So many of you expressed surprise when I said that I
just turned 66 years old. Most of you said you thought I was born
in 1943, and of course you would think that, since almost all newspapers
and magazines have reported that date since our career began. Heres
the scoop on the age lie.
When Daryl and I had our first hit, LOVE WILL KEEP US TOGETHER, it
reached number one in the summer of 1975. I was thirty-five years
old, but very naive about show biz. Daryl and I created
our music because we absolutely loved doing it.... not because we
wanted to be famous. However, fame would follow hit records, as we
soon found out.
By the time LWKUT hit #1, we had a management company, an agent, and
a publicist. Before our first important interview (I think it was
with People magazine), our publicist told me the reporter would surely
ask my age, and advised me to take at least five years off. I was
35, and this was considered old for the start of a recording
career. It is still considered old today.
I really find it very hard to lie about anything, and I wrestled with
the idea for quite a while before the interview. Finally, I decided
to take THREE years off. I looked much younger than my age, and I
thought it would be okay because, as the publicist put it, Everybody
Sure enough, during the interview, the age question was
asked. I heard myself answer, Thirty-two, as I felt my
nose grow another inch or two. So, ever since then, my year of birth
has been reported as 1943, when it is actually 1940. Ive always
felt uncomfortable about that lie, but Ill have to tell you
that every time I go home to Alabama for a concert or visit, or run
into an old friend from my school days, one of them will always say,
Well...Im GLAD to read that WE are so YOUNG!!!!
They still razz me about it to this day.
But now, the truth is out, and I actually feel a great sense of relief,
not having to calculate when I was SUPPOSED to have graduated highschool
versus when I actually DID!
Oh....one other little publicist-encouraged white lie. Daryl and I
were NOT married on Valentines Day. Our publicist thought it
would be cute to say that. Ugh. I felt horribly guilty
when we would receive lovely anniversary cards from our fans on Valentines
When were we actually married? Veterans Day, November 11, 1975,
in Virginia City, Nevada. Thats another story for another day.
By the way, Daryl says thanks so much for asking about him. He has
promised to write something for the column in the future.
We still dont know what is going to happen with our beautiful
Christmas CD, THE SECRET OF CHRISTMAS. Respond 2 Entertainment,
the releasing company, appears to be in some kind of corporate restructuring.
We do not know exactly what their problem is, since they have not
been forthright with us. However, it looks doubtful for a release
by R2 this year, because promotion for Christmas-related products
MUST be started by the end of June. However, THE SECRET OF CHRISTMAS
is musically timeless and we are perfectly willing to wait another
year until we have the right release situation in place. We CAN tell
you that it will not be R2. But believe me, when you finally hear
it, you will love this CD, and it will make you believe in the Christmas
spirit again... and this from me... the BIGGEST Bah Humbug in the
Dont forget to Keep A Song of Joy Inside Your Heart until
next week! By the way, did you know that the late, wonderful keyboardist,
Billy Preston, wrote SONG OF JOY? I think that, although it wasnt
his most popular song, it was his most heartfelt and most beautiful.....With
every note I play, I play with love. With every word I sing, its
coming from my heart. And so I sing a Song of Joy for you, with all
the happiness this melody brings.
YEARS | CHRISTMAS CD | HEALTHY LIVING
I have decided, in my Senior Years, that I am going
to start a blog. Well....not really a blog...more like a weekly
column of thoughts and musings about whatever comes to my mind at
the time. After all, Daryl and I are both well into our 60s now....I
just turned 66 in May (cant believe it myself), and I think
I have the right to say whatever the heck I want to. You may, or
may not, find this interesting, but Id like to hear from you
if you do. Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now, lets first talk about Senior Years. I am
finding myself in pretty darned good health. Ive taken very
good care of myself over the years, and Im still strong and
active. Im not as fanatic about my diet as Daryl is... chocolate
never touches his lips (even if it IS good for you, as we now know)....but
I eat lots of fruit and vegies, low fat or non fat yogurt, whole
grain bread and pasta, and exercize regularly. Daryl and I walk
our two rambunctious Australian Shepherds every day for about an
hour in the hills around our house, and I do strength training at
home three times a week. So I just dont think of myself as
senior or elderly, although, technically,
I guess I am. Every now and then I get a glimpse of myself in the
mirror, and see my dear mother (rest her soul) looking back at me,
but that happens to every woman eventually, I think.
Here is something Ive discovered about becoming a senior
citizen....you kind of disappear. By that I mean, as you go
about your daily business (supermarket, gas station, dry cleaners)
people often look right through you, and I am hard to look right
through, being a woman who is 5 11 and 154 pounds. Of
course, there are always those people who recognize me and Daryl,
but the very young ones, who have absolutely no clue, treat us like
they would any other elderly person....we hardly exist.
Recently, I was reading an online magazine I subscribe to, when
a pop-up (hate those things) suddenly appeared, asking me, sweetly,
to take an important survey. It would only take a
few minutes of my time, the popup said, and they really would
like my opinion. Oh, why not? I said to myself, and
clicked. The first question was multiple choice....What is
your age group? Well....MY age group was the last one listed....65
and older. I clicked. The survey vanished. They really dont
care what I, or anyone else my age and older, thinks. Hmmph.
There are many indiginities associated with aging, and I will fill
you in on more of them as I write this column each week. But I promise
I will also write about lots of other things, too.
Actually, I intended to tell you about the Christmas CD Daryl and
I have been working since last year. It is finished...it is beautiful,
joyous, funny, and we are more thrilled with this CD than almost
anything weve ever done together. However, it will NOT be
released this season as planned, thanks to Respond2 Entertainment,
who was to be the releasing company. It is a VERY long story, and
I promise to fill you in on it next week.....maybe even sooner.
Im on a roll here! Remember to Keep A Song of Joy Inside
Your Heart until next week. This is fun!
Becky Greenlaw / NAA Prod.
Greenlaw/ Las Vegas
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