Thursday, February 27, 2014


Photo by Sophia Miller

It could've been so easy. So easy that I almost did it. I was that close. That close. Then I thought of you, and decided not to shirk my responsibility to you. Yes, you. It's all because of you, dear reader, that I decided not to call in sick this week. Besides, I'm not sick, but my poor daughter has never been more sick in her life. When a teenage girl is so sick that she turns down chocolate, you know it's serious. That and the fever of 103.2 she's been battling all week. So while I haven't been battling my own sickness, it threw me into a teensy bit of a tizzy as I prepared to go to battle with hers.

And I'll admit it, I was ready to give up the perfect opportunity for a great playlist. I was all set to beg off and ask Doni to run one of my 'Best Of' columns. I even announced it at the dinner table last night; publicly stated to my husband and daughter that I was planning to guide you to an old column I wrote a ways back about stormy weather, since we're finally getting some, and take the week off.

Then, as I sat there gazing out the window towards the rain pouring down into the backyard, I started singing a great Buddy Guy song, "Feels Like Rain." Then another tune ("I Can't Stand The Rain") popped into my head, followed by "Here Comes The Rain Again." When I went back to look at the weather related playlists I've offered up for your listening pleasure in the past and realized that every single one of these songs was conspicuously absent from any playlist I've ever put together, the matter was settled pretty quickly. I had to create a playlist just for rain, and nothing but rain. Solo pioggia.

Besides, and it's kind of weird to say this after living in a rain forest for well over a decade, but right now we're starving for rain here in Northern California. Or thirsting, I guess. So Mother Nature needs all the encouragement we can offer to keep the downpour pouring down for a few more days. It's our civic duty to shower her with all the rain songs we can come up with. Just until Lake Shasta's thirst has been quenched. Y'all with me on this one? Really, it's a big deal for me to start praying for rain. You probably wouldn't really, truly understand until you've lived in a place where you regularly drowned under more than 120 inches of rain every. Single. Year. After moving away from the largest rainforest in the nation, I really didn't think I'd ever miss the rain. Ever. But I was wrong. We're parched, I know it, we need it, and I hope we get what we need to move us to the point where I can turn on my yard irrigation system again with a clear conscience.

So about this playlist: when it was all done, out of 27 rain songs, every single one of them with the word rain in the title, only 2 are duplicated in Stormy Weather .  I'm offering that one up as an extra added bonus for your listening pleasure over this gray, rainy weekend, because I'm pretty sure you've got nothing better to do than sit inside and stream music anyhow, am I right?). And this playlist isn't wet behind the ears, believe me. It's soaked with solid hits from the aforementioned tunes to Led Zeppelin, Prince, Creedence and B.J. Thomas. You know the ones. How could I have ever left them out before? Well, I guess I just needed an excuse not to take a raincheck.

  1. Feels Like Rain - Buddy Guy featuring Bonnie Raitt My favorite rain song of all time.
  2. I Can't Stand The Rain - Seal
  3. Here Comes The Rain Again - Eurythmics
  4. I Don't Suppose Rain - Jewel Not really a song, but a beautiful poem.
  5. Raindrops - Regina Spektor
  6. Purple Rain - Prince
  7. Rain Fall Down - Rolling Stones
  8. Have You Ever Seen The Rain - Creedence Clearwater Revival
  9. The Rain Song - Led Zeppelin
  10. Red Rain - The White Stripes
  11. Can't Stand The Rain - The Rescues 
  12. Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head - BJ Thomas
  13. Ballet For A Rainy Day - XTC
  14. Rain - Breaking Benjamin Even though she's lost 8 pounds this week, my daughter was strong enough to lift up her head and say, "Hey, how about Breaking Benjamin?" So this one's for Sophia.
  15. I Wish It Would Rain - Phil Collins
  16. It's In The Rain - Enya
  17. Raindrops - Pitbull featuring Anjuli Stars
  18. Rain On Me - Ashanti
  19. Didn't It Rain - Hugh Laurie Remember the TV series "House?" Yeah, that Hugh Laurie!
  20. Raindrops - Dee Clark
  21. Songs About Rain - Gary Allen Token country song. Although I coulda gone with Willie Nelson's "Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain"
  22. After The Rain Has Fallen - Sting
  23. Between The Raindrops - Lifehouse
  24. Healing Rain - Michael W. Smith
  25. Black Rain - Ozzy Osbourne
  26. Summer's Rain - Savatage My husband is the official expert on all things Savatage. So. Yeah. Pretty much every time I put together a playlist these days he's got a Savatage song to suggest that goes along with my topic. So whattaya gonna do? I love the guy.
  27. I Can't Stand The Rain - Ann Peebles This song made it on to the list twice, because Seal's version is spectacular, but I can't ignore my fondness for the version I heard first.
Stream today's Raincheck Playlist by pressing the arrow below, or go directly to the Grooveshark website.
Rain by Valerie Ing-Miller on Grooveshark

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Music To Make Love By

NOT the album  I'm referencing in today's column.

When you were a kid, did ever make that awful discovery that your parents, um, actually…um… had a romantic life? That they weren't just Mom and Dad, but that they were also living, breathing, sexual creatures, who participated in the act of making babies? For me, there was one fleeting moment when I was about 7, when I caught my dad in the act of trying to pull my mom's red polyester pants down (in MY bedroom on MY brand new bunk bed). It was a moment that has lasted with me for more than 40 years. My 5 year old sister and I were downstairs minding our own business, when we heard mom start to squeal. We ran our personal best up a flight of stairs to rescue her from what we thought was most likely an attack of fire ants or vampires. At the time, I didn't really understand what was really going on, only that dad had mom's pants pulled halfway down, so we did the only thing we could think of: we joined the awkward dog pile, throwing ourselves on top of mom and dad in my bed, squealing and laughing. Poor guy. Whatever mojo he had going on, we totally ruined it.

Years later, as I became interested in music, I came across another awkward example of my parents sexuality, when I discovered a record album that I think was titled "Music To Make Love By" with an ultra-sexy, 1960's vamp on the cover. I put it on the record player, and the room was filled with slightly shlocky (I have no better term to describe it) music. It was kind of jazzy, in a slo-mo Austin Powers kind of way. It was definitely mood music for my parent's generation. Very similar to Jackie Gleason's "Music For Lover's Only." But with a twist. In fact, I think this album may have been a spoof on the Gleason album (which remained at the top of the charts for 152 weeks, starting in 1952). Besides the smoky sax and the beautiful strings, this album also had the moaning and groaning of a man and woman throughout the entire thing. Every few seconds a female "Oooooh" was matched by a similar male "Ahhhhhhh," accented with sexy giggles and occasional crescendos that made it obvious this couple had moved on past 1st base. Way past 1st base. I used to play the LP to get a laugh out of my friends as a teenager, and to this day one of the most embarrassing moments of my young life was when my parents came home unexpectedly while this album was blaring out of the speakers at full volume with a living room full of teenagers laughing hysterically.

I really, really, really wanted to share some of this crazy, ridiculous music with you, but alas, the album has somehow disappeared from my parents very large record collection. I actually made a pilgrimage back to the homestead and went through every single LP trying to track down this crazy record, and ended up empty handed. My parents say they have no recollection of this record. They're in their 80's, but hey, if I was them, I'd deny it too. I found plenty of other similarly embarassing 33rpms. Stuff like this:

 So obviously, as you can see, it wasn't beneath my parents to own music that was sexually charged, albums with naked ladies and suggestive sexual scenes on the album cover, music and liner notes that proclaim "This is the meaning of paradise....what would you have? A simpler way of making love?" and "Music as smooth and polished as old mahogany, as fresh as a meadow in spring." They can protest all they want, claim to not have a clue about what what I remember as a kid. But I know, I remember. And my sister? When I called her, totally out of the blue, and said, "So you remember that record mom and dad had?" She interrupted me before I could say anything else and said, "Oh, are you talking about that one with the couple moaning & groaning?" So it's not just some crazy figment of my imagination. This album exists. Somewhere. And someday, I'm gonna track it down.

I'm gonna give my parents the benefit of the doubt. I think the most plausible explanation for this album's existence in their collection is that it was a silly novelty, a gag gift, and not actual music to 'make love by.' Although they come from a completely different generation, I can't believe, not for a second, that this is the kind of stuff that would get the blood flowing in the loins of anyone. For sure I can speak for myself, that this isn't what gets me going.

Last Valentines Day, I wrote about the music that does get me going. The music that makes me swoon. The tunes that turn my personal thermostat up to too hot to handle. Now, it's your turn. A few days ago I looked at Swoon, the column I posted a year ago, when (after I showed mine), I asked readers to show me theirs. I wanted to know what makes others feel the love. Get a little warm under the collar. What tunes turn up the heat a tad. To be honest, the response was a little underwhelming. So I decided to throw it out there on Facebook, to my 902 friends. And the response was, honestly, a little overwhelming!

Suddenly, I've got a playlist of well over 100 of the sexiest, lovey-dovey makeout songs ever put together! And you guys did it yourselves! There's a few oddball songs in there. Some of the tunes were a little crazy and obnoxious. Because some of of my 902 friends are in their 80's and some are in their teens, the songs range from Frank Sinatra to The Cure.
I moved songs that were mentioned more than once up to the top of the list, which is why Etta James with "At Last" is in the #1 spot. The top 5 includes Otis Redding, Mazzy Star, Chris Isaak and the surprising Nine Inch Nails (warning: this song is the raunchiest one of the bunch. NSFW or in front of little kids, but totally worthy of being on this list).

As a newlywed, if there's any advice I can give you for Valentine's Day, I encourage you to follow the advice of sex advice columnist Dan Savage: this Valentine's Day, get your lovemaking out of the way before you go out for supper. Instead of waiting until after you've imbibed a bottle or two of wine and a 22 ounce steak to get busy with your lover, get busy before your dinner reservations. Trust me. Lovemaking on a full belly is not a whole lotta fun.

And consider starting your Valentine's Day lovemaking out with this playlist of 125 streaming sexy songs, courtesy of my fantastic friends! So many, that I'm only going to list the top 10….the rest, you'll just have to hit the play arrow below to hear, or go directly to the Grooveshark playlist on their website.
And you're always welcome to leave your own songs (and embarrassing stories) in the comments section below, for next year.
  1. At Last - Etta James
  2. These Arms of Mine - Otis Redding
  3. Fade Into You - Mazzy Star
  4. Wicked Game - Chris Isaak
  5. Closer - Nine Inch Nails
  6. Fever - Peggy Lee
  7. You Can Leave Your Hat On - Joe Cocker
  8. You Sexy Thing - Hot Chocolate
  9. Brick House - Commodores
  10. Let's Get It On - Marvin Gaye
2014 Valentines by Valerie Ing-Miller on Grooveshark