Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Gift Of Music

Revised 12/25/11 10:50pm:
I wrote about Jen Stills (among other things) in this post, and meant to tell you where you could buy or listen to her music, which is sort of the point of why I want to introduce you to my musician friends. The music business is tougher even than most other businesses these days. I want to turn you on to some wonderful, new (to you) music, and give you the opportunity to enjoy, appreciate, support and encourage these artists. Please scroll down to the bottom to find links to where you can buy or listen to Jen's music.

(Original Post)

One thing you should know about me is that music has run all through my life. My grandfather played Dixieland saxophone into his 90's. My Dad is a pianist, and was a jazz pianist in the 50s and 60s - playing with all the cool L.A. jazz guys, and in Lenny Bruce's band. During the day, he worked for NBC, as censor on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, where he also wrote and arranged music for the Tonight Show Band... but that's another story. He's still writing and producing music.

My mom bought all the cool jazz and rock and R&B records and would write down the words so I could learn the songs and sing them with my dad. Sometimes, when I was 8-9-10 years old, she'd wake me up, saying "Come on, you're going to go sing with Daddy." We'd go in the back door of some jazz club and I'd sing a few songs with the band, then go back home and to bed.

Dad always came home late at night, after gigs, and played jazz piano. I'd wake up and hear it, then drift back to sleep. To this day, jazz piano music makes me sleepy. ; ) Maybe I should play that instead of taking Ambien? I should actually try that.

My older brother plays guitar and bass and has been in many bands, my younger brother never really applied himself, but plays the few guitar songs he learned in college really well. My boyfriend of eighteen years. Michael, is also a musician. He plays piano, guitar, mandolin and a few other instruments, and orchestrates beautiful music on the computer.

I still have and play the Yamaha classical acoustic guitar my parents gave me on my twelfth birthday. I'm still not very good, but I love it. I took a few lessons, learned some Dylan songs, and my brother's friend (and my teenage lifeline) Allegra taught me Leonard Cohen. Since then I've been listening to music , writing down the lyrics, figuring out the chords and playing them on the guitar, mostly by myself. This was my favorite thing to do - alone - for twenty years (My first boyfriend wasn't a musician.)

Then I met Jennifer Stills. She was/is a singer songwriter, and we became quick close friends. I sang harmonies with her and after a while she started calling me up on stage to sing with her. Singing with Jen is one of my favorite things in the world. She has a beautiful rich voice. People say she sounds like Bonnie Raitt, Roberta Flack, Adele...

This was recorded recently, a cover of her dad's (Stephen Stills') "Haven't We Lost Enough?"

You can hear her sing Stephen's "Love the One You're With," and Jackson Browne's
"These Days" here.

There are four songs on her MySpace page here(I'm singing backups on the last one.)

And finally, this exact time last year, Jennifer, Michael and I were in a hotel room in L.A. on Christmas eve. She moved to Portland a few years ago. I asked her to play one of her old songs, and this is a video I took with my point and shoot camera of Jen singing "Lover," the first time in about ten years.

She's rusty, Michael picks up a guitar and tries to play along, and I'm singing harmonies WAY too loud because my mouth is right next to the camera microphone. I'm trying to sing really quietly which only makes me off key half the time. LOL. It's sloppy, but I love it.

I miss you, Jen. Merry Christmas.
Jen Stills ~ Christmas Eve 2010

Where to find Jen Stills' music:
  • "These Days" at here or on iTunes. You can listen to it for free at here.
  • "Love the One You're With" at here or on iTunes. You can listen to it for free at here.
  • Jen sings "Good Intentions" on "The Prince & Me" soundtrack (Track 6) at here. It's also on here, where you can listen to it for free.
  • Jen sings harmonies on the title track of the Crosby, Stills & Nash album, "After the Storm" (Track 11) at here or on iTunes. You can listen to it for free at here.
  • She also sings harmonies on Ray Lamontagne's "Trouble" album, on the song, "Narrow Escape," which you can listen to on free here. Or you could buy it on here, or on iTunes.


  1. PepiSmartDog: That is AWESOME !!! Love your backup vocals, and Michaels mandolin ! OMD ! I already knew U were both talented, but this is really impressive.
    So glad you shared this with us. And it is a beautiful song that Jen is singing...HUGS XXXX

  2. You dear Kirsten have a great voice - Please share more of this talent with us. You and your friend have a nice blend of voices together. . Your boyfriend is good too. I can see you must have fun with lots of jam sessions.