Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Heaven's On Fire

Do you remember the "Here are the doors, here is the steeple, open the doors and here are the people" hand/chant church game???

Here is an example if you don't, or if you had parents who spared you the childhood church-going experience.

When I was about 9, un-cool make-up free Kiss released "Heaven's on Fire."

I'd never liked going to church and was in the nascent stages of agnosticism, when I first heard this song. As such, the juxtaposition of raging flames against my gauzy white robed image of heavenly boredom was titillating. I knew my mother and the other church-loving ladies of Sunday would not approve of this song, a fact confirmed when I decided to change up the sing songy "Here is the Church" rhyme by having the people belt into the chorus of "Heaven's on Fire" as soon as "the doors" were opened. My creative mash-up was met with looks of disapproval when first shared with my sweet as peach pie Sunday School teacher Mrs. Jones. But, when I took my mash-up to the secular playground at Harney Elementary School, my KISS worshipping church goer phalanges were a mild comic success.

Clearly a little satan with your gospel was a good thing. Elvis had proved that years before. But I learned this lesson by mixing bad era KISS with a church rhyme.

Doe a Deer, a Female Deer

The Soundtrack to my Mom's Favorite Movie
Deborah Harry may have been my first inspirational LADY of rock. But Julie Andrews was a close second.

The Sound of Music was released in 1965, my mom's senior year of high school. It is probably her all-time favorite movie. As such, when NBC began a 20 year stint of annual airings of an edited for TV version of the classic in 1979, my mother made a point to tune in almost every year. I was probably 6 or 7, and already a lover of music, when I first joined her for this annual viewing.

In my Norman Rockwell childhood living room, where a warm wood fire flamed under a stone hearth as snow swirled into violent front yard drifts, I watched as Maria charmed mean old Captain Von Trapp while teaching his children to sing. A new obsession was born - one spearheaded by the repetitive spinning of my mother's already worn copy of the movie's soundtrack, which I anxiously pulled from the dusty record collection shelf the next day. For weeks, I listened to and sang along with my favorite Sounds of Music while imagining I was Liesl or Maria.

Today, my own music may contain little evidence of my Julie Andrews influences. But if you happen into my home while I'm in the kitchen baking muffins or whipping up a little chicken marsala, you might hear me spontaneously bust into a rendition of My Favorite Things or Do - Re - Mi. My cat will be looking disapprovingly down from his cabinet perch and my boyfriend will be humoring me in all of my notationally imperfect joy.