Pondering Both Sides


Yesterday the weather changed with Mother Nature’s volatile mood.  Snow fell throughout the country for most of the day.  In a rare weather phenomenon, lightning and thunder crackled while snow fell.  The weather repeatedly grew bright and sunny, then dim and drury, then warm, cold, and frigid.  The snow at times fell soft and friendly, like a snow globe shaken, and at other times it waxed ferociously.  The weather dominated the day, leaving one ever mindful of its awesome presence. 
 
The weather reminded me of one of my favorite songs, Joni Mitchell’s "Both Sides Now."  I hadn’t heard it for years, but I recalled it again yesterday as I pondered the agitated, electrifying day.  The weather made such an impression on me that I couldn’t resist posting the song’s lyrics for you.  They really sum up the amazing sensation left behind by such a tempestuous day.  Such powerful weather patterns shake one’s very being and reminds one of life and all that it has to offer, from good to bad, happy to sad, frustrating to fulfilling. 

Bows and flows of angel hair and ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere, i’ve looked at cloud that way.
But now they only block the sun, they rain and snow on everyone.
So many things i would have done but clouds got in my way.

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now,
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s cloud illusions i recall.
I really don’t know clouds at all.

Moons and junes and ferris wheels, the dizzy dancing way you feel
As every fairy tale comes real; i’ve looked at love that way.
But now it’s just another show. you leave ‘em laughing when you go
And if you care, don’t let them know, don’t give yourself away.

I’ve looked at love from both sides now,
From give and take, and still somehow
It’s love’s illusions i recall.
I really don’t know love at all.

Tears and fears and feeling proud to say "i love you" right out loud,
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds, i’ve looked at life that way.
But now old friends are acting strange, they shake their heads, they say I’ve changed. 

Something’s lost but something’s gained in living every day.

I’ve looked at life from both sides now,
From win and lose, and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions i recall.
I really don’t know life at all.

Blog Notes:  Congratulations to the Seattle Seahawks for their spectacular, come-from-behind 21-20 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.  It was a game for the ages, and I’m happy the Seahawks were on the winning end of it.  Fans of "America’s Team" will have to sit and watch from the sidelines along with all those Pittsburgh Steelers fans.  There’s always next year.

Special Note to Tortmaster:  Per your request, I posted the caricature for you on the New Year’s entry.  The artist turned me into a pretty boy.  Don’t laugh too hard!  I can hear it all the way from Texas.  I agree with you on the UT-USC game.

KT Tunstall’s history comes full circle


I don’t often blog about music or musicians, but lately I’ve been fascinated by KT Tunstall, a singer from Scotland whose debut album is a recent hit.  When I heard her first big hit, "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree," on the radio, I immediately thought, wow, a pop song.  She’s not a teen idol, country musician, American Idol winner, or hiphop artist.  She is an honest-to-goodness pop-rock singer, the kind who doesn’t come along very often nowadays.  Her music style reminds me of Melissa Etheridge, Sheryl Crow, and Michelle Branch.  I’m interested in seeing how her career fluorishes over the next few years.  Of the singers mentioned, all have enjoyed commercial success, although their first couple of albums were inevitably more popular than their follow-on releases.  They are usually best known for one or two hits.  KT Tunstall’s music is refreshing to hear amidst all the clutter on contemporary Top 40 radio.  I was surprised to find out that she grew up in Scotland, because her sound does not conjure images of the Scottish highlands.  Her strong, soulful, folk music style sound more like it originated from Nashville, not Edinburgh, Scotland.
 
I don’t want to dwell on Tunstall’s music.  You’ll have to listen for yourself to decide whether you like her style.  What I find most interesting is her personal history.  According to Answers.com, KT’s biological mother is of Chinese descent, and her father is Irish.  She was born in Edinburgh and adopted at birth by the Tunstall family.  The fact that her ancestry is partially Chinese in the land of the Scots piqued my interest.  It took a little sleuthing to learn a more about her personal history.  I found the following information on Scotsman.com:
She is quarter-Cantonese. Her grandmother was Chinese, but her mother, a dancer, was born in Edinburgh and has lived there all her life. Seven years ago, Tunstall tracked her down, after having seen Mike Leigh’s Secrets and Lies. "It’s such an outrageously awful, brilliant film, the story of a black woman who discovers her mother is white. I watched it and thought, ‘I could handle that. And if I could handle that, I could surely handle anything.’"

Her father is Irish and worked in a bar, but despite trying, she has never found him. In any case, it seemed natural to trace her mother first. "Your mother is a woman who could have had a termination and didn’t," she says. "Your father could have been a one-night-stand who hasn’t been seen since."

She is intrigued by the 18 days before she was adopted. "I find it fascinating to think that for two weeks I didn’t have a mother. You have this short time when you have no idea what this baby’s future is going to be."

Did she ever feel abandoned? "No, but there have been moments… I met her seven years ago, and that was a strange process. You go through moments of thinking, ‘Actually, how does that work, and what was she feeling?’ But you just have to keep asking questions. At the end of the day, you are meeting a stranger. I’ve known her seven years, but that’s not long. I have to be slightly protective of the relationship, because we still have a long way to go."

Because Tunstall’s biological grandmother is Chinese, it is quite likely that her grandfather, a Scot, lived for a time in China, probably in Hong Kong, during the 1920’s and/or 1930’s.  He most likely met her grandmother, fell in love with her in Victoria or Kowloon, married her, and brought her back with him to Edinburgh.  Tunstall’s grandmother did what Pocahontas had done in 1616, when she moved to England with her husband John Wolfe (not John Smith, as is popularly assumed).  Although Tunstall’s grandmother likely experienced British culture in China or Hong Kong, migrating to Scotland must have been an immensely life-changing experience.  She very likely never returned to Asia because of the difficulty traveling before the advent of trans-continental air travel and World War II.  Now, her granddaughter is a famous musician, and her music has found its way to Asia.  Tunstall’s popularity has definitely brought her full circle with her Asian heritage.