Spirit Grooves Blogs

Published on May 20, 2014

Not all stories are as touching for me as yesterday's blog. My life is not "that" interesting, so here is a more mundane story from the depths of last winter, at least that is when it all started.

We live in a cold spot in Michigan or so the weather maps tell me. I don't like to think about this fact, especially around February and March. Worse, I was browsing through CNN (or some site recently) and I clicked on an article that said "The Ten Worst Cities to Live in the United States." Of course, I just had to see that.

Can you imagine my reaction (as I was counting down the top-ten worst cities) when there in front of me is "Big Rapids, Michigan," being the city we live. I mean wouldn't Flint or Detroit, Michigan make that list? A little pint-sized town in the middle-of-the-mitten shouldn't even be on the radar, but there it was. So not only is our city a cold place where the sun don't shine much, but it is said to be one of the worst cities to live in in the good-old U.S. of A. I digress.

As I get older, every winter is a bit of a struggle, and I sometimes wonder if I will make it to spring. It is not just the cold, but more that fact that in winter there is very little I want to do for me outside, so one comfort that looms large is food, so I go for that. The bottom line, so to speak, is that winter is not the healthiest time for me.

With that in mind, this last winter we tried something different. The local university (yes, we have one) allows seniors to walk around their indoor (elevated) track anytime from 6 A.M. to 11 A.M. for $1 a day, that is, when they open, and they seem to be closed a lot.

And so to the track we went, Margaret and I, usually around 7:30 AM each weekday morning. It seems that they are closed to seniors on weekends. Now I could write an entire article about our experience at the track, especially with the 50 or so police academy students who were training there with us under army-like conditions. They were all guys, except for one petite girl with a pony tail. You can bet we were routing for her.

And they were loud, with army-like-sergeants shouting at them, calling them sissies, and what have you. Mostly they made a LOT of noise, but they also would run on the track with us, where there were two lanes for runners, and two lanes for walkers. But the academy students paid no mind to lanes, and cut into our lanes at full tilt, brushing past us and making the experience less than peaceful.

The police academy students would alternate between physical workouts and learning martial arts, including handcuffing and disarming prisoners. Toward the end of their training, the "sergeants" forced the cadets to run on the track until they puked. When we got there, the track was closed until they cleaned up the messes. I am not going to say more about these police students, but I could. Instead, I want to tell you about the "Happy" part of all this.

For many years I was a music critic by trade, so I am pretty widely versed in all kinds of music and, yes, I founded the All-Music Guide (allmusic.com), the largest music site on the web, published many books on music, etc. That being said, personally I mostly listen to blues and to jazz from certain periods (cool jazz, hard bop, and especially soul jazz, what is called "Original Funk," being those organ/guitar trios with a sax, like Jimmy Smith and Shirley Scott.

I "get" hip-hop and rap, but I don't often find myself listening to it around home. And I also know classical, folk, rock, and country. We live in country music territory here in mid-Michigan, so it is on almost every station, as in: "all-country, all-of-the-time." Now I like country-music, even though it some pretty sad sentiments most of the time.

Anyway, while we walk our two miles at the indoor track, music is blaring, often at very high volumes. I kind of just tune it out. But I would notice, as we walked, that every once in a while there would be another music sound there, kind of in the background. I couldn't quite make it out, but I instinctively liked it. I even found myself humming or trying to hum it later in my day. Over the weeks it grew on me, but I could not for the world of me make out the words in that vast gymnasium, and there was no one to ask. I could ask a student, but I would rather not do that. After all we were old people, "walkers" at that.

Yet the melody was haunting and this went on, as mentioned, for a month or more. Finally, one day when it was playing in the background, I went over to student and asked who is singing this music. He turned, looked at me, and said he had no idea, but the name of the tune was "Happy." Once I got home, it took me no time to learn that the song was called "Happy," and it was by one Pharrell Williams. I now find that it is the #1 tune in the nation.

And this song actually makes me happy, so for those of you who have not heard happy, here it is. Let me know if you like it too.


[Photo of some local wildflowers I took yesterday, Trilliums, a protected plant here in Michigan.]