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Along with watering some of my outdoor plants, twice a day, to keep them from dying in the heat, my summer continues to be filled with music. This week I saw five-time Grammy award-winner Michael McDonald in concert. Other than the Rolling Stones, he’s THE best live music performance I’ve ever attended, and that’s saying a lot. His band is world class plus his backup singers include his wife, singer, Amy Holland. They met when she was 16 and he was 19.

I’ve also been reading some great books this summer, plus I was late to the Big Little Lies party on HBO. Have you seen it yet? Woah…

You may remember Michael McDonald as singer/songwriter/piano/guitar frontman for the Doobie Brothers and a Steely Dan collaborator, but if you’ve seen those gorgeous blue eyes and heard his distinctive soulful voice, you will never forget him. His voice is as strong as it’s always been. All ages and ethnicities were in the audience, standing and singing, clapping and then screaming for an encore, and Michael McDonald did not disappoint. His new album, Wide Open, launches in September and one of the songs brought me to tears. Check to see if he’s coming to your area. You will have a feel good time that stays with you long after you leave the concert.

You can click on these songs. Many–like “What a Fool Believes,” “I Keep Forgettin’,” “On My Own” (w/Patti LaBelle) have been Top 10 Hits.

Because I’m writing a memoir I’ve been researching and reading best-selling memoirs to see what makes them great. Of course I already knew the answer: It’s great writing and a great story. Memoirs are true and the author opens the door and invites the reader in as it’s happening. My favorite memoirs I’ve read so far this summer are:

Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity and Love by Dani Shapiro  Ms. Shapiro is an acclaimed, best-selling memoirist and novelist. Inheritance is her new memoir about learning that her father is not her biological father. It’s an honest, poignant story about family secrets and in the end, her own identity and the things that define all of us. Don’t think you know her story because you can’t predict how it unfolds. Dani’s book is unfortunately timely. Just yesterday I saw a story on the news about a fertility clinic that tragically mixed up the eggs of three in vitro families.

Once More We Saw Stars: A Memoir, by Jayson Greene   On the first page Greene begins his story of unimaginable loss when his two-year-old daughter, Greta, and her grandmother are sitting outside and a brick from an overhead windowsill falls and hits her in the head. Jayson Greene is so open about how Greta’s subsequent death affected the entire family. It may sound like a depressing book, but it’s an uplifting story of survival and love, and again, so timely. This week on the news we heard about the little girl who slipped through her grandfather’s arms on a cruise ship and fell through an open window to her death.                                     

Now to HBO’s Big Little Lies, based on the book by Liane Moriarty. I haven’t read the book and I can’t remember what made me subscribe to HBO—I don’t watch much TV—so I could binge-watch Season 1 before Season 2 began this summer. The cast of moms with intertwining secrets as big as the sky include Reese Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern and Zoe Kravitz, and Season 2 introduced Meryl Streep, the grandmother with good intentions I love to hate.

And then there’s the music score!! As if the story isn’t mesmerizing enough. Every few minutes I found myself Shazaming the TV for the name of a song.

I’m afraid if I give you a synopsis I won’t be able to stop, plus Google called it a “darkly comedic tale of murder and mischief,” but I see nothing funny or mischievous about it. All I know is I don’t want it to end.

I’m over my 500 word limit, and I haven’t even mentioned Yellowstone on the Paramount network plus you can watch it on YouTube. You must start with Season 1. Season 2 began this summer, and it’s the #1 drama on cable. Some have called it the Godfather of the west. Kevin Costner, a wealthy land owner—his ranch borders an Indian reservation and Yellowstone National Park—who comes to blows with greedy land developers. Forgive me…. I’ve made it sound trivial when, in fact… It is riveting. And as an actress, Kelly Reilly, who plays Costner’s daughter, has me spellbound.

What are you watching, reading and listening to this summer?

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  1. I have but one word to say: Longmire. The title character of this Netflix series is the good (and good-looking) opposite of Keven Costner’s twisted Yellowstone character.

    YES! to Big Little Lies. Also a latecomer and can’t get enough of it.

  2. Michael McDonald…. that voice!! The soundtrack to so many events in my life. Lucky you!! I’ve been enjoying Midsomer Murders on Netflix. Saw some on PBS, but now have been able to start at the beginning. Wonderful scenery in old English country villages, The Inspector, played by John Nettles, is wonderful, as is his relationship with his wife and daughter. Also enjoyed Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries… she’s clever and gorgeous, a thoroughly modern woman living in 1920’s Australia. And her wardrobe is fantastic! Agree with Marita on Longmire, will check out Yellowstone. Thanks, stay cool!

    • Donna, Alright!! So many new television options to check. I don’t watch much TV so I’m ruthless about whether it’s worth my time, but then it all boils down to personal taste. xoxox, Brenda

  3. Big Little Lies…I live in Carmel, CA and it is so fun to watch this series and see the actors in scenes taking place in so many of our beautiful settings! Of course some scenes are filmed in Southern CA, but we got to watch them shooting the series at many of our local spots in Carmel, Big Sur and Monterey! Who is your favorite character in the series. I find Nicole Kidman’s character very frustrating…success on her part…as I can’t imagine living the life she shared with her husband and now watching how it is affecting her life and relationship with her children after his death! It is such a good series!
    Love your blog!
    Linda Floyd

    • Linda, That would be fun to see your town on TV and watch them filming. My favorite is Nicole Kidman but I like the tension between all of the characters and their spouses and children and the weight of what they’ve done. That is a character unto itself. I’m aware it’s Meryl Streep but her dental prosthetics have changed her enough that I’ve bought in to her character and can’t stand her. xoxox, Brenda

  4. That’s so funny I just started watching Big Little Lies too! I’m hooked I just binge watched Season 1 and trying to keep up with Season 2. I love all of these woman! I’m going to start Yellowstone next. I just love Kevin Costner. I see McDonald often in my dreams lol. Those eyes!!!

    • Hi Rena! I’m wondering what happens to Big Little Lies after Season 2? Season 1 was based on the book but Season 2 is the writers’s ideas about what would happen next to them. I hope everyone has room in their schedules and the desire to give us more Seasons. xoxox, Brenda

  5. I have always loved Michael McDonald and have several old cds of his that I listen to on occasion. What a voice! Now on to Yellowstone, OMG I LOVE this show!! I love the scenery and all of the actors and actresses, and Kevin Costner is wonderful as is his lady friend. I watch the show on Wednesdays and record it so I can watch it again because I always miss something!! I am totally obsessed with it. I just wish it would be on for a longer duration and not just six weeks or whatever it is. All I can say is Kevin Costner is a man’s man as are the rest of the actors. You won’t see these guys wearing denim with spandex. Nope, these guys are the real deal. Ok, I will be quiet now, as you can see I clearly love this show!

    • Deborah! Keep going! I’m with you! This series is so well done… the writing, acting, photography and production values. I would tune in to watch Kevin Costner read the dictionary. Love all of his films. Did you see “No Way Out?” I can watch that every time it comes on TV. xoxox, Brenda

  6. I love the series Big Little Lies. Enjoying season 2 as much as season 1! I much prefer reading memoirs/biographies to fiction. I will add your suggestions to my list. I would recommend to you 2 I enjoyed reading very much –
    They left us everything by Plum Johnson and They’re Playing our Song by Carol Bayer Sager.
    Hope you are having a nice weekend Brenda. Take care

  7. A few years ago I missed seeing Michael McDonald in my area. I regret it after reading your post. Isn’t he dreamy? I’m reading a bio about Kay Thompson of Funny Face and Eloise fame. It has one juicy story after another. The 39 year old Kay had a long term affair with the 19 year old Andy Williams. She’s a lesser know Hollywood figure, but had tons of talent. It was the Eloise books about the little girl living in the Plaza Hotel that introduced to Kay Thompson. Currently, I watching Younger on TV.

    • Hi Colleen, I didn’t know about Kay Thompson but just looked up her book. Wow! She interfaced with and/or mentored just about every superstar out there! It sounds like it’s full of interesting and tell-all stories! Thanks so much for the reference! xoxox, Brenda

  8. Thanks for the book tips the first sounds riveting….and I am not good about sticking with anything on TV but I did watch the first season of Yellowstone. I need to check out season 2. We don’t subscribe to HBO but I think we have to just for big little lies. People are always asking me questions about it because it is filmed in our area. Great post. Looking forward to having you join us for Fall Fashion!

    • Hi Cindy! Love seeing you here! I don’t watch much TV but binge-watched 5 seasons of Mad Men (the summer after my husband died) so I would be caught up when the last season started in the fall. Until Yellowstone and Big Little Lies, there hasn’t been anything else that interests me. I’m already thinking about a piece for Fall Fashion. Thanks so much for asking me to participate! xoxox, Brenda

  9. Fun list! I haven’t read either of those memoirs so have added them to my list. But I just finished Boys of My Youth which slayed me and which you might like.

    Big Little Lies is a kick. I’m enjoying it. Best TV I’ve seen in a couple years is Fleabag. British show. Phoebe Waller Bridges wrote, directed, and starred in it. Superb!

    • Oooh… Mithra! I’ve been reading the Preface and Chapter 1 of the Boys of My Youth. What an awesome writer!! How did I miss this one? Thank you, thank you for telling me about it. I just ordered it online. Will take a look at Fleabag as well. Thanks so much! xoxox, Brenda

  10. Wow, you just swept me from sun-baked south of France to the snowy streets of Colorado Springs with that playlist. Many other memories, too, but especially that trip. I adored the Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan. That mix of jazz and pop ages well. Earth, Wind and Fire, too.
    I recently watched Stranger Things with my kid, and it was another trip down memory lane. I wasn’t into the gross creatures and thought the writing was predictable (they’re going to make a joke …. now). However, I related to the budding reporter Nancy Wheeler, whose insufferably sexist colleagues were almost identical to mine in 1985.
    I’d like to watch the next season of La Casa del Papel (I think it’s called Money Heist in English). The first two parts were excellent. Not predictable at all, not formulaic.
    For music, check out this French one by Soprano. Funny. Also, when they say “allez!” that’s something everybody does. Imagine: a music/rap video with no sexual allusions, no undressed women, and a good beat.
    Or this one by GIMS about tolerance:

    • TOF, Glad you had some great memories from this post. Count me in when it comes to mixing the Blues, Jazz and Pop! Stranger Things doesn’t grab me, so I’ll pass on that, but I love, love, love Big Little Lies! I can’t understand enough of the Soprano video but the coach reminds me of a goofy Keanu Reeves. xoxox, Brenda

  11. We loved binge watching Longmire on Netflix as well. Six seasons over 3 weeks! (Quality show, which you don’t find many of these days).
    My favorite book this year has been “Beneath a Scarlet Sky” by Mark Sullivan. It’s a bio about an heroic Italian teen during WW2 who leads many Jews to safety over the Alps. Pino Lella is now in his 90’s, and a movie (or series) is being made about his amazing life.
    As far as concert recommendations go, my husband and I saw Marc Martel in concert in Providence, RI. He did the vocals, other than Freddy Mercury, for the movie Bohemian Rhapsody. I didn’t pay much attention to Queen in 70’s and 80’s as I was working and raising my family, but Martel is an incredible musician and vocalist. One of the best concerts I’ve ever been to. If you get the chance to see the Ultimate Queen Celebration, have fun and go!
    So glad to have stumbled across your blog!

    • Hi Elaine! I’m happy you found my blog as well. Thanks for reading and letting me know! You’ve just given me three huge gifts!! I binge-watched six seasons of Mad Men the summer before season seven began. It was a fun experience! I like binge-watching so Longmire goes on my list. Thanks so much! I’ve also looked up Mark Sullivan. He’s got a long tour booked to New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Germany and the east coast of the US, but nowhere near me. Now that I know about him, I’ll keep my eye out. I learned so much from you! Thanks, Brenda

  12. Hi Brenda! Thanks for the recommendations. I just finished watching the 2nd season of Big Little Lies and I too hope it continues? Did I hear a rumor that it might not? We are also fans of Stranger Things on Netflix and my nephew just recommended “The Boys” on Amazon Prime. It’s a big odd but I do like shows that are different and it certainly qualifies. But I’ve also watched Longmire (I saw someone else recommend that) so I am going to look for that show Yellowstone as well. And yes to Michael McDonald. I’d LOVE to see him in concert. We have tickets to see Rod Stewart at the end of September and I’m hoping it is good. ~Kathy

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