Aaron’s Radio Show

Episode 29

My Three Songs with Dorothy Brown

 

Notes

Episode Notes

EPISODE 29 – My Three Songs with Dorothy Brown:  Welcome, everyone, to Episode 29. This is the nineteenth in our series of episodes called My Three Songs where my guest chooses three memorable songs and we listen to the songs and talk about why they are meaningful to my guest.

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Three Songs

  1. Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison (1967)
  2. If We Were Vampires – Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit (2017)
  3. Unchain My Heart – Hugh Laurie (2013)

Aaron’s Radio Show has been licensed by ASCAP and BMI to include songs from their repertories in performances on this website.

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Transcript

This transcript was originally generated using artificial intelligence ("AI") software. It has been edited by a human being, but it may still contain some misspellings, lack necessary punctuation, or include other anomalies. We are regularly working to improve our transcripts!


Jake:

Coming to you almost live from Berkeley, California. It's Aaron's Radio Show ... with your host, Aaron Gobler.

Aaron Gobler:

Thanks, Jake. And welcome, everybody to Episode 29. Welcome to My Three Songs, where I play three special songs chosen by my guests, and we talk about why they chose each song. Today, my guest is Dorothy Brown. I know Dorothy through the Albany Rotary Club of which I've been a member for almost 20 years, we have dozens of mutual friends in real life. And I am so thrilled to have her as a guest today. Dorothy, thank you so much for being on the show. And did I say how glad I am to have you on the show?

Dorothy Brown:

Well, I am I'm really delighted to be here. I think this is gonna be a lot of a lot of fun.

Aaron Gobler:

I'm sure it is. I have a number of people on a list that I send out asking them to be guests. But I had an epiphany ... but more accurately, it was my wife who suggested that you be a guest on the show. And I'm so glad that you responded yes, that you want it to be on and and and then also scratch my head as to why I hadn't asked you sooner. So I'm really looking forward to going through your list of songs and understanding why you chose them for your list.

Dorothy Brown:

Well, I have to say thank you, Lisa.

Aaron Gobler:

And now if I could get you to cajole Lisa to be on the show, then it would be just a win win. Okay, to listeners, if you know, Lisa, then please solicit her for being on the show. Thank you. And so Dorothy, before we get started, can you tell me how music fits into your life? Like do you seek it out? Is it usually in the foreground or the background of each day?

Dorothy Brown:

Yeah, it's funny, I can't really do background. I think it's because I grew up in a household that was very chaotic, with background sound and noise. And as a consequence, I really like a quiet background. So when I'm listening to music, that's what I'm doing. Although sometimes I'm also driving, or cleaning the house or something that that is less important than the music. I can't go into a coffee shop, for instance, to work on something. Because the music gets in my way. If it's a song that I like, then I want to listen to it. And I probably want to sing and nobody wants that. And if I don't like it, it really irritates me. So in either case, I just couldn't concentrate on anything else.

Aaron Gobler:

It's really fascinating: the responses I get to that question, because everybody's brain processes background and foreground sound differently. And what you're describing is that your brain is processing the music in such a way that it does impact the parts of your brain that you need to do be productive, per se. And I know my case, I can listen to background music, and it's sometimes meditative or just soothing. And sometimes I just don't like having absolutely no sounds, lack of sound. Sometimes can can be more distracting. But I also find that if it's a podcast that I'm trying to really absorb, while I'm trying to do some work, that doesn't work, because I do need the same part of my brain for doing work and listen to the podcast. If you were listening to say classical music, do you think with no lyrics or anything? Would that be equally as distracting?

Dorothy Brown:

You know, probably not. And I'm the same way as you with podcasts? Yeah, I guess I don't have the right filters.

Aaron Gobler:

So it seems like the times that you would listen to music are ones you're seeking out ...

Dorothy Brown:

Right. You know, I put together playlists to walk to or and then in the past, what 20 months that we've been in this pandemic situation, I have spent an inordinate amount of time on YouTube. And I have discovered things that way as well.

Aaron Gobler:

That's great. So you have particular styles or categories, or Thor genres of music that you would use for particular activities. Like you said, walking ...

Dorothy Brown:

Yeah, walking ... would probably be the classic rock. Okay, the stuff that that you hear in Trader Joe's, as I've heard you say many times, yes. I select them for their pace for a walking playlist. But yeah, those ar e my go to there are a couple of whole decades that are lost to me, the 90s being one.

Aaron Gobler:

And lost in in that you I just ... (?)

Dorothy Brown:

I just don't know that music.

Aaron Gobler:

So can I replace your list from today with just 90s hits? Would that work? No.

Dorothy Brown:

It would be a very short show ... but sure!

Aaron Gobler:

So I should make a note to myself that if I come back to you to be on the show, again that I not ask you to pick your 90s favorites. Yes?

Dorothy Brown:

Correct. Or give me a lot of time.

Aaron Gobler:

We couldn't have a long discussion about grunge music or something like that.

Dorothy Brown:

No.

Aaron Gobler:

Well ... you've chose three great songs. And many times when I'm producing the show, the selections people make are songs I know already. And then they're oftentimes songs that one or one or two songs out of list that I've never heard before. So I have to sit down and listen to them ... I don't HAVE to ... I ENJOY sitting down and listening to them, and being exposed to some newer songs. So what you have in your list is a classic song, a song I've never heard before. And then the third song is a version of a song that I've heard many times, but not heard this particular version. So this was a lot of fun. Just hearing two things that I hadn't heard before. When you put your list together, you have no idea how many of these songs I know. It's always fun for me to to, to hear new stuff, or to hear new interpretations of things. So let's get to that list. The first song is Brown Eyed Girl, by Van Morrison from 1967. The second song is If We Were Vampires, by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit from 2017. And the final song is Unchain My Heart. This cover is done by Hugh Laurie from 2013. And listeners may recognize that name because he was the lead actor on the show House. I'm eager for us both listen to these songs. And I'm interested in knowing why each of them is meaningful to you. So first let's take a listen to Brown Eyed Girl, by Van Morrison. Dorothy this song is such a classic ... in my mind, it's truly part of American music culture. Also, and more importantly, is my wife Lisa's all time favorite song. So why did you choose this song to include in the list?

Dorothy Brown:

Well, I am just liking Lisa more and more. It's just my favorite song. You know, there was no question that it would be on this on my list of three. I I was born in '55. So by the time I was paying attention to music, there was just a rich variety to choose from, they were still playing 50s Rock and roll there were you know, the Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Stones and I like all of that. But somehow this song just rises to the top for me. It's part of any playlist I create if it's for a party or a road trip or to walk, it's it's there.

Aaron Gobler:

One of the key reasons that I wanted to do a radio show was because music can take us back to particular time and place almost in a meditative ... or I want to say transformational way ... just our brain can switch to some some time in place. And so it sounds like ... are you saying that when you hear this song you are transported back to that time?

Dorothy Brown:

I am. Um, it's I don't know if it's silly or what but I grew up in Burlingame and I went to Catholic school and we were first to eighth grade in one school. And every year the Parish had a picnic at at Blackberry Farm in Cupertino, and the eighth grade class would have an additional picnic there. And sometimes when I hear this song, I can smell eucalyptus, from that place and and that picnic, and it just never fails to make me happy this song. And now it's funny because it is a classic. And unless it's I play it on purpose, or I'm in Trader Joe's or I'm at a wedding because it is almost without fail one of the songs that they you know, sort of throw a bone to the old people. And I can honestly be mid-sentence with somebody and I'll hear that bump um, and I am looking for Todd my husband and we we are dancing because it's just it's just that kind of a song. It's the only time I regret having green eyes.

Aaron Gobler:

I think that's ... Lisa has brown eyes which is maybe why ... when you're describing this but hearing the just the, you know the first beats of the song and then immediately switching I'm thinking about hypnosis and how suggestion can be placed in your brain and then triggered you know by ... traditionally the hypnotist will snap their fingers or make some or touch you on the shoulder or something. But in this case, you hear the beginning of the song. And immediately it evokes this something that if you know that you're switched from whatever's going on to, to wanting to dance, and it brings back obviously, good feelings to you. Does that kind of describe it? Yeah. Okay.

Dorothy Brown:

I absolutely does. And it's just great to have a song like that in your back. You know, sometimes, your, your mood needs a little help.

Aaron Gobler:

The next song on your list is called If We Were Vampires, and it's by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit. And as I mentioned earlier, so there's songs that I've never heard before that guests choose. And I was very curious about the title of this song. If We Were Vampires, I wasn't sure where the song was gonna go. But as as listeners will hear, when we play the song, I asked you to pay attention to the lyrics and and we'll talk about it more on the other side. Dorothy, thank you so much for sharing the song. As we listened to it right now, I just wanted it to keep going. (I) lost track there and like, oh, it's almost over. It's so beautiful, both musically and lyrically. And, and this as an aside, my daughter and I just finished watching all 145 episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. So I'm really able to connect with the train of thought here ... in regards to vampires ... that I wouldn't have appreciated prior. So what inspired you to include this song on your list?

Dorothy Brown:

Right now, this might be the most beautiful song I've ever heard. I mean, I know that my own opinions could change. But this song just slays me. I I found Jason Isbell this past year. So during this very strange pandemic time, and it's kind of like when you discover something great ... you just want everybody to know about it. And that's why I knew I was gonna include it. The first two songs on this list were no brainers for me, okay? And, and sort of the path that led me to it is I love storytellers. And I'm very interested in process. So when I like an author or performer, I'll usually go to YouTube to find interviews and listen to them tell stories. And just as an aside, that's why I enjoy listening to this radio show. It's just fascinating to hear people's stories about the music they love. But I was reading a book by George Saunders and I'd never read anything by him before. So I was poking around and I found him in conversation with this person named Jason Isbell. And sort of when I saw that headline on the the YouTube video, I assumed that Jason Isbell was the interviewer. But it turns out that Saunders is a great fan of his books. And he wanted to learn about the songwriting process. So was like an hour-long conversation. And it was fascinating. So then I had to find the music. And I've listened to many of Jason Isbell songs, they're all amazing, but this one was just so special to me. Because as you say, because of the lyrics to me, they're perfect. It's a song that sounds like he worked on it really hard. I've heard the story that Paul McCartney tells that the song Yesterday sort of came to him fully formed in a dream. And I think that happens sometimes, but it didn't happen here. And I know that poetry is really hard because every word has to count. And in this song, there are no easy rhymes, there aren't clever phrases, he just found the best words to convey what he wanted to say. And I love the structure of it. I love the list format, as a means to discover why the singer feels the way he feels, and just sort of going through them you know, it's no it's not your beauty. It's it's not our intimacy, even though I noticed both of those things in in specific detail. It's not even your character. I mean, how how great a line is the mercy and your sense of right and wrong. I mean, that that is just perfect. But you know, the singer is saying that it's it's the combination of all of those things and knowing that this can't go on forever. You know, there is an expiration date. We just don't know when it is If it makes me cry, the next line is the one that I love. Well, I love them all. But he says, likely one of us will have to spend some some days alone. And he could have said, likely one of us will have to spend some time alone, he could have said, we'll have to spend some nights alone. Because it's not a word that has to rhyme with anything, it just has to be one syllable. But for me, the fact that he chose, likely one of us will have to spend some days alone is the most poignant choice. Because it, it just means I'll miss your company. So I think, I don't know, maybe it's the pandemic that is doing this to me. But it just, it just hits hard. Because I emphatically do not want to live forever. There. I do not want to live forever. But that means there will be a loss. And, you know, in this particular time, when we've been forced to be apart from a lot of people that the message is just all the more moving and and urgent, you know, that we need to pay attention to the people we love. And he goes on and says, you know, maybe time running out as a gift. And you know, maybe we can turn some of this pandemic experience into a gift. I don't know,

Aaron Gobler:

Your takeaway was different than mine, in that I'm listening to it from .. I'm just a wordsmith and I love words. And then you alluded to this, you know, the choice of words in the song. And maybe it's because I had been watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer for a couple hours every night for several months ... that understanding the whole idea of vampires living forever. And I agree with you, I don't think I'd want to I don't think I'd want to live forever. But it was I thought it was so clever the way that concept was woven in, like, I don't think Jason Isbell, and his partner really want to be vampires. But just using that as a mechanism in the song to ponder whether you'd want to be living forever. But if you could, you could then laugh at the people who who are mortal.

Dorothy Brown:

Right. And that that moment in the song, you know, he said, we just go out on the sidewalk and smoke and laugh at the lovers. Yeah. And I wouldn't feel the need to hold your hand. So the fact that time is finite, makes it just more precious. And I just think he crafted that so beautifully.

Aaron Gobler:

This is the first time I've heard of Jason his bow. And this song is a great entree both as like to get me into listen more of his stuff, but also an entree like, like something you'd eat. Yes, it was really just a wonderful, wonderful dish. And so I want to I want to taste more. So thank you so much for including the song, and definitely a gem. And I'm delighted that you shared it with me. And I am expecting that some listeners are going to go and search for more music by him so so thank you again,

Dorothy Brown:

I hope I hope they do because he's got some gems out there.

Aaron Gobler:

Your last song is unchained my heart and many listeners may recognize this as a song by Ray Charles. Now Ray Charles didn't write it, but he was the first one who performed it. And it's probably the most famous version. But this particular cover is by Hugh Laurie. And it's from 2013. So let's give it a listen. Dorothy, in 1987 Joe Cocker also covered the song, and some listeners may recognize the song from from his rendition. I was not prepared for Hugh Laurie's version. It's a great interpretation and it gives the song new life thank you so much for including it . Why did you put this in your list?

Dorothy Brown:

Well, songs 1 and 2 were ... they just came to my mind immediately. And for song 3, I was I was actually thinking that I would include female voice because I love female voices and female harmony and all of that. So I went to my iTunes library and I saw this and I said, well, that has to be the one because of the story behind it. And first of all, Hugh Laurie is a remarkable talent. I don't know if you know he has written a novel, okay. And anyone who can be equally compelling in the Night Manager and Avenue Five, which could not be more different from each other as an actor. You know, he's just someone to watch for his acting ability, but he plays the piano. He played the piano on this track, plays the guitar, he sings. So I wonder if there's anything he can't do. But it turns out that he first heard Blues when he was like seven years-old. And he said it felt like he was home, he just felt this is my music, this will always be my music. And so he sort of has enjoyed it and studied it and played it for himself since then, and when people get famous opportunities sometimes come to them. So as House was coming to an end, a record company approached him and asked him if he would like to do an album of you know, Blues, music, New Orleans, Jazz, that sort of thing. Now, I don't know if you've ever seen an interview with Hugh Laurie, but he could not be more British. Right? He's very reserved. And he listened to the invitation and just sort of thought, Who do I think I am? You know, I can't do this. But then he thought further, and he thought, nobody's ever going to ask me to do this again. And if I don't do it, I'll just regret it. I'll, you know, I'll kick myself. So he did it. And it became bigger than he ever expected. I think he did ... I know he did two albums, but I think he did three, toured the world, literally, with the Copper Bottom Band that is in this track, and he just had the time of his life. And he knows how amazing that is. And I get excited for him. I mean, it's absolutely ridiculous. I don't know Hugh Laurie. He doesn't care what I think. But I'm just so happy for him. And it just is, I don't know, kind of a lesson that life takes unexpected turns and and sometimes you just want to grab these opportunities. And well, he said, it's a terrible thing, I think in life, to wait until you're ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There's almost no such thing as ready. There is only now and you may as well do it now. And I mean, that's just plain old good life advice. Plus, he got he got to do it. And he never expected that would come his way. You know, in a small way, I think I have had something like that happen to me could be why I love the story so much. Because I can't play any instrument I can't sing. But I love to dance. And so maybe 10 years ago, I guess I started doing this long-term photography project of the Cajun and Zydeco music scene in the Bay Area, which has a really rich history. And I love the music and I got access. And I love having access, I love being able to watch closely things that I don't know how to do myself. It's kind of like why I like to listen to these interviews of people. It's planning their process. But I was doing that for a couple of years: photographing these bands. And I finally admitted to myself that what I really wanted to do was just put the camera down and dance. But I thought to myself, I don't get to do this, you know, some of these folks have been dancing to this music since the 90s. This is this is THEIRS, you know, it can't it's not something I can, I can just work my way into. But I kept thinking about it. And it just was it looked like so much fun. And none of them were telling me I couldn't do it. So I just decided, you know, I maybe I just need to get over myself. And and Todd already loved the music. So we took a few dance lessons. And we started going. So for about five years, we went to the Ashkenaz in Berkeley almost every Tuesday night, which was Cajun Zydeco night, and it was such a surprise to find this in my 60s. And such a joy it is it is only joyful. The people are so nice, the musicians are amazing. And what I discovered is that when music is played for dancing, the dancers actually bring something to it. There's this energy that flows from the band to the dance floor and then back. And there's this loop and it just makes everybody better. And I been you know sometimes when there weren't very many dancers and the band just doesn't have as good a time and I don't know, I just I just love that. So things shut down in March of 2020, and it just underscores you know, both of these last songs that that time is precious life is precious and you should take risks sometimes even though this was a very this wasn't real risk, but it felt that way and just enjoy, enjoy the opportunities that fall to you.

Aaron Gobler:

Several things entered my mind as you were talking about this song and Hugh Laurie's path. We were told at an early age, if opportunity knocks answer the door, or in my later years told, you know, the universe, when the universe speaks, or the universe presents you with something ... that you should take it and not discount it ... don't have regrets. In Hugh Laurie's case, like you said, there was probably little or no downside, you know, when he was approached to do this recording, but I'm sure it was pretty scary when he first started going into that and doing it. Because he it sounds like maybe he hadn't actually pursued it himself. And if it wasn't offered to him to do this musical production that he wouldn't have. And then it turned out to be this really amazing thing. And that yes, if we wait to do something that we feel really strongly in our heart, or, or have this urge to, if we just wait, that doesn't do us any any good, we should, we should jump in. And at least say we tried.

Dorothy Brown:

Right. I think people knew he could play. But to be able to explore this particular type of music that was so important to him with this caliber of musicians and feel like they weren't humoring him, he kind of earned his spot in the band. And it's just such a lovely thing to say.

Aaron Gobler:

I want to just also riff on the idea of, of being provided an opportunity for something and then deciding to go for it. And this will resonate with our listeners who are in the Albany Rotary Club. And that is that there was a fundraiser that the club had many years ago, that included a live band, which was like a cover band for 50, 60, 70's music. And I don't recall all of the background, but they invited me up to the stage to sing Little Sister, by Elvis Presley. And I was reluctant, but then I decided to go ahead and do it. And it was exhilarating because I'd never performed. I performed in like karaoke, but never with a actual band behind me, and playing the song very authentically. And then at the very end of the song, I moved my arm down in a way to like, be like, this is the end, you know ... everybody end it here. And they ended it right there. And so I could have just said, No, I'm too embarrassed. I don't want to do this. But now I'll remember that experience for the rest of my life. So. So I do believe my own way. You should take opportunities when they're offered like that.

Dorothy Brown:

Absolutely, absolutely. Because as he said, you know, they might not ask you again. Just do it.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah. And it's a good thing there's no video of it. Because I, in my mind, it was perfect. There you go. A little reverb on the microphone, you know, it can compensate. So Dorothy, is there anything else you'd like to share about your selections, like something that came to your mind as we were listening to them or that I didn't ask you about?

Dorothy Brown:

Not really just except to say, what a what an interesting exercise this was. And music is kind of infinite. You know, you can go in so many different directions to try to find three songs, but I'm happy with the ones I chose. It was wonderful. And I'm just so glad you asked. So, you know, I could have said, I'm too embarrassed. And I said no.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. It was a lot of fun talking with you. I see you almost every week and talk to you. But in this particular format ... I really enjoyed myself, and I hope you did too.

Dorothy Brown:

I definitely did. Thank you so much, Aaron.

Aaron Gobler:

You're welcome. To my listeners. If you want to be part of the show. Start by going to our website Aaron's Radio dot show and clicking on the My Three Songs button on the homepage. You can also sign up for our mailing list so you'll know immediately when a new episode is available. You can also find Aaron's Radio Show on your favorite podcast service. But I'll warn you the podcast episodes only include interviews and don't include licensed music. Until next time, keep your ears and mind open and let more music into your world.

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