(I’ll share mine if you share yours…)
A little bit ago, I promised to lay bare my guilty pleasure during COVID: my music-filled rabbit holes. So, buckle up and hang on. Here we go!
While writing the Careful-ish sequel, Daughter Of Careful-ish, I was doing “research.” (See also: productive procrastinating.) That process served up a musical genre I never saw coming: Arab heavy metal. I know, right? Who even knew it existed?
Well, the answer to that rhetorical question is: an enthusiastic member of the Careful-ish group on Facebook. Within minutes of sharing what I was listening to, she came back with recommendations for two more foreign metal bands, one from the Netherlands and the other from Israel. Wow. So that’s what I’ve been listening to for the last two days.
Back at the beginning of lockdown, I was bingeing on Christina Aguilera. My psyche was way down in an emotional rabbit hole back then. Between the pandemic, politics and my mother passing, I needed something reflective of what I was feeling.
Christina’s voice and style is so potent and passionate, she was the right tool for the job. But then, the result was I couldn’t sleep. I’d be lying in bed with the lyrics from “You Lost Me” playing in my head on an endless loop.
So, goodbye Christina. Hello, Kelly. YouTube suggested Kelly Clarkson, and who am I to argue with the algorithm?
Back in the day in Hollywood, I used to work out with celebrity trainer Bob Harper. (No, I was not a celebrity. And neither was he. Yet. The Biggest Loser was still a few years off.)
Not long after Kelly Clarkson won Idol, Bob played her hit, “Miss Independent” in one of his workouts. You could tell that others in the workout group weren’t sure if that was cool or not. Yes, she was a TV talent show winner. But was she a real artist?
The answer Bob and I came up with was a resounding, YES. Total artist. Totally cool. So, I went down Kelly Clarkson lane all the way into the trees at the end. That included listening to unknown artists attempting Kelly’s hits. (There’s talent in them there hills.)
After deep-bingeing on Kelly, I turned to my personal tried and true genre: Broadway musicals. How did I not start there? I grew up in a house where Broadway was always on the record player.
Remember my parents? (If you’ve read Careful-ish, you’ve met them.) Every year or so, when I was a kid, they would head up to New York for a weekend. They’d go see three musicals, and come back with at least a couple of new albums smelling of fresh-pressed, music-rich vinyl. So Broadway is in my blood.
After Kelly, I started bingeing Stephen Sondheim. The song “Ladies Who Lunch” from Company is what lead to the scene in Careful-ish where The Joy is pouring Vodka Stingers for herself and Kimi. Really, how do you not love a song with its own cocktail?
Sondheim segued into the Ken Burns documentary, Country Music. The rabbit hole was quickly packed full of all Dolly Parton all the time. That included her work with Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris. Dolly is a musical genius, period. The songs she wrote in 2019 are as good and as relevant as what she wrote back in the 1960s.
After Dolly came another left turn down another deep rabbit hole. One day, my phone rang. The caller ID showed up as “Bacharach.” I have no idea why, and neither did the caller. But he and I started talking about Burt Bacharach, Hal David and Dionne Warwick. So, so fantastic.
I not only started bingeing the music, but any and all documentaries I could find about them. (Yes, if you’re wondering, that’s why the banner art for my blog page includes a screenshot of a YouTube video about Burt Bacharach music.)
Right now, while writing the sequel, I started listening to Japanese rock (thank you Benji). And then came the Arab heavy metal.
But now, going down the rabbit hole of writing this post, Christina has popped in again. Circle of life. Are all rabbit holes are interconnected?
During all the time spent in lockdown, you must’ve started listening to something that you didn’t see coming. What is it?
Here are two facts about alcohol consumption: 1) When times are good, people drink more. 2) When times are bad, people drink more. And wow, do we have circumstances (no need to spell them out) pushing us to fact #2.
Here’s the “twist” that the pandemic has brought to the “mix.” We all had to work with what we had. So, unless you’re like good friends of ours (you know who you are), and in your basement you have a tavern with stupendous wine cellar, you ended up making do. A “drink ‘em if you got ‘em” mentality swept the nation.
So, what have you been drinking?
In our home at the beginning of lockdown, before we eventually ventured out, it was all about what we had in the house. First, we went through our supply of wine. That didn’t take long, as we’re spending lockdown in a ski condo. See also: Not a lotta room for wine storage. Then, we hit the whiskeys. From there, on to vodka and then tequila. Once they were all gone, we started saying things like, “What’s this weird bottle? Who gave us that? Shit, just pour it.” And then, that was gone too.
Of the two of us, Mr. Parker has been the one venturing out to places like the supermarket and the post office. I mostly left the house for hiking remotely. No stores for me. But where was the first enclosed space I went to? You guessed it: the liquor store. It was like going into a sci-fi Candyland. New possibilities! Exciting! But… So many people! Freaking me out!
Now, I’m a straight-liquor drinker. Neat is neat. So for me, stocking up on the basics isn’t complicated. But I’ve had this thought in my head all through COVID: a drink that was introduced to me at a Bourbon tasting in Kentucky. Thank you, Phifer Pavitt winery. They call the drink a Moxie, and it’s a take on a New York Sour. They make a whiskey sour with their new Date Night Bourbon, then pour it into a hefty rocks glass with one large, square ice cube. Then, they add a wine float using one of their stunning Date Night Cabernet Sauvignons. How much has this beverage been on my mind these days? It was the inspiration for The Joy’s joyful cocktail discovery in Careful-ish, her New York sour.
I’ve yet to play mixologist and attempt to make a Moxie at home. I’m afraid of breaking the spell it has over me. What if my mixology doesn’t live up to the stand-out flavor living inside my head? Is it better to remember fondly than to experience my own inadequate version? So, for now, I’ll let The Joy enjoy. I’ll continue dreaming about someone else’s cocktail while I drink what I have on hand. Neat.
And I ask again, what have you been drinking?
Honey Parker has been writing, writing, writing for decades, decades, decades. In there, she has also been a standup comedian, a Hollywood screenwriter, a director, and a co-author of edgy business books. Careful-ish is her debut novel. It is the first in a trilogy. It is comedy-ish.