queen

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The Show Must Go On!

Published November 15, 2019 by Maryanne

Freddie Mercury - in Retrograde

Freddie Mercury

I just came across a website that features a poem I wrote about Freddie Mercury, way back in 2001 (or maybe even earlier!) Here’s the link to the site (scroll down past the discography): http://www.hotshotdigital.com/WellAlwaysRemember/FreddieMercuryDisco.html

Or just read here!

The Show Must Go On! 

by Mary Anne Christiano (copyright 2001)

news of the world/made sad

fans of old (and new ones too)

those songs/wore the grooves to the bone

a vocalistic promenade

a charmed delight!

i watched you prance about on the Midnight Special

a Harlequin in a grand parade

School girl dreams evoked in many (those naughty diary entries!)

sought tidbits in Circus and Creem magazines

Mega Rock Star of my restless youth

Time turned you into my dear dear friend

i never met you,

yet all fondness remains

Freddie Mercury

a classic

much more than a memory

you’re still the Champion

Show Must Go On!

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta can be reached at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com.

She is available for blogging, ghost writing, writing. She is also available for book signings and motivational speaking engagements. She is the author of the following books :

“Be (Extra)Ordinary: 10 Ways to Become Your Own Hero” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback or Kindle version, visit: https://www.amazon.com/Be-Extra-Ordinary-Ways-Become/dp/1733546227

“I Don’t Want to Be Like You” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback, Kindle or audio copy, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Want-Be-Like-You/dp/1726273261

 

Did You See the Movie?! Yes, But Real Life is Better!

Published July 30, 2019 by Maryanne

SAM_2908Me, in front of Queen tour bus a few years ago

I loved the movie “Bohemian Rhapsody.” But ever since it came out, I hesitate to wear my Queen t-shirt. Before the movie, if I wore a Queen t-shirt, true fans would speak to me about the band I loved so much since I was 12. And I’d have a conversation I’d truly enjoy; especially if fellow Queen fan was a little older than me and saw an earlier version of Queen. Or better yet, when they did the double bill with Mott the Hoople! I’m all ears to hear about that!

These days, when I wear a Queen shirt, it’s no longer about the rock band Queen, but the Hollywood movie about Queen, played by actors.

A typical conversation will go like this:

“You like Queen?”

“Yes, I saw them perform many times! Even with Freddie Mercury!”

“Did you see the movie?”

What’s wrong with that conversation? I share with you that I saw Queen perform with Freddie Mercury and you ask me if I saw the movie? I’m sorry for being a music snob, but this is just not right. A similar conversation happened regarding Elton John a few weeks ago. The song “Rocket Man” came on the radio in a store and a woman in passing said, “I love it!”

I said, “I saw him perform in concert twice. Once in Central Park, 1980; and in the ’90s at Madison Square Garden.”

I should have seen it coming…

“DID YOU SEE THE MOVIE?!”

I quickly walked away to avoid further conversation. YES, YES, YES, I SAW THE MOVIE! I thought to myself. It was a great movie! But why, all of a sudden, is a movie about an artist, played by an actor, more interesting than an live concert with that very artist performing?!  

Years ago I was working at a magazine. The vice president was an older gentleman, who happened to see Elvis Presley perform, as a warm-up act to Hank Snow! My mind was blown. I wanted details, details, details! And more details! Can you imagine seeing Elvis Presley as a warm up act?

Now imagine if I was to ask, “Did you see ‘Elvis and Me’?” What a conversation killer, right? Do you see where I’m going with this?

Don’t get me wrong, over the years I’ve seen many good movies about the lives of musicians, singers, and even criminals. But can I inspire you? Don’t stop at the movie. Instead, explore.

After I saw the movie “Man on the Moon,” I purchased anything I could get my grubby hands on about Andy Kaufman. I didn’t go around talking about the movie for months. I wanted MORE. Much more than a movie could offer. I read books written by people who knew him. I watched all the old “Taxi” shows that he was featured in. I watched Andy Kaufman in action on various television shows.

All this stuff took time to accumulate because back then it wasn’t as easy as it is today with all the internet access. Back then the internet was just taking off. Which brings me to being a young Queen fan and searching for months in the mid-1970s just to find their album Queen II in a record store. There was no Amazon back then.

But that was part of the fun! Digging for stuff about the real thing was cool. And uncovering real truths is cool. Like finding out that the REAL Mr. Arnstein wasn’t quite the charmer he was in “Funny Girl.” Like finding out the real Bonnie Parker wasn’t nearly as hot as Faye Dunaway. Like finding out the real Andy Kaufman was even more crazy than he was portrayed as in “Man on the Moon.” Like finding out the Doors concerts were much more mild than portrayed in Oliver Stone’s “The Doors” movie. In fact, I was told by a person who went to a Doors concert that they were boring.

See, this is why you can’t rely on a movie alone. Movies are often Hollywood-ized. They take snippets of a life and put them into a 2.5 hour film. It’s entertaining, but it’s not the complete picture.

When I read on a Queen Facebook page that a fan saw “Bohemian Rhapsody” over 50 times since it came out last November, I cringed. Why not spend that time exploring the real work of Queen? They have a grand library of studio albums from 1973 to the time of Freddie Mercury’s death. Plus several live albums, videos, and books. My favorite is “Mercury and Me” by Jim Hutton. I loved the book so much that I reached out to Jim Hutton, via his publishing company. This was back in the 1990s, before everyone had email. I forgot I wrote the letter and about three weeks later I received a handwritten letter from Jim Hutton himself! The letter was actually a homemade card, featuring his new kitten in a Christmas tree, since he didn’t get to keep any of Freddie’s cats after Freddie passed away.

The takeaway here is, movies are all fine and good. Yes, we all love movies. Even me.

But, don’t stop there. You can start by getting out of the theaters and going to a live show. It’s fun and exciting. Explore more of a band; not just the greatest hits. Take movies with a grain of salt. See it once or twice. If you have to see it again, wait at least a year. In the meantime you can learn more from reading books, watching interviews on You Tube, and purchasing full albums or CDs, not just the songs you like. You might just surprise yourself and say, “Real life is better!”

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta can be reached at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com.

She is available for blogging, ghost writing, writing, and motivational speaking engagements. She is the author of the following books (in which she mentions Freddie Mercury in both, and how he inspired her as a child, teenager, and still today!):

“Be (Extra)Ordinary: Ten Ways to Become Your Own Hero” will be available October 2019. To pre-order, go here: https://kicamprojects.com/shop/be-extraordinary/

“I Don’t Want to Be Like You” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback, Kindle or audio copy, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Want-Be-Like-You/dp/1726273261

Freddie Mercury, Bullied as a Young Boy

Published July 3, 2019 by Maryanne

Freddie Mercury as a BoyFarrokh Bulsara (photo found via Google Search)

The other night, my husband and I once again went to see our favorite Queen tribute band, Almost Queen (http://www.almostqueen.com/). Note that they have been around long before the successful Bohemian Rhapsody film. That said, if you’re a true Queen fan who loves the deep tracks, as well as the hits, be sure to check them out, as you will definitely hear some rare gems.

Anyway, before the show, I thought about how I’ve heard the stories of Freddie Mercury being bullied as a young boy because of his overbite. He was called a donkey by school bullies.

But did that stop him from becoming Freddie Mercury? Absolutely not.

If you’re having a hard time and being bullied, perhaps you have that special something that you can bring to the table by being YOUnique!

Check out my new video, where I speak about Almost Queen, Freddie Mercury, and how being bullied didn’t stop him from becoming a household name! (And if you like it, give me a thumbs up).

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta can be reached at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com.

She is available for blogging, ghost writing, writing, and motivational speaking engagements. She is the author of the following books (in which she mentions Freddie Mercury in both, and how he inspired her as a child, teenager, and still today!):

“Be (Extra)Ordinary: Ten Ways to Become Your Own Hero” will be available October 2019. To pre-order, go here: https://kicamprojects.com/shop/be-extraordinary/

“I Don’t Want to Be Like You” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback, Kindle or audio copy, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Want-Be-Like-You/dp/1726273261

Youngsters Do Vinyl

Published June 30, 2019 by Maryanne

SinglesMy tattoo of the 45 rpm spindle

If I had a nickle for every middle-aged or old person who stopped me in the street and commented on my tattoo, “I bet young people don’t know what that is,” I’d have a hellavu lot of nickles. It’s almost as bad as people asking me, “How’s Gilligan?” whenever I say my name is Maryanne.

I’ve never been a fan of redundant comments, especially when they are incorrect.

Allow me to school MY generation (Generation X), and those who are slightly older (Baby Boomers)…

YOUNG PEOPLE LISTEN TO VINYL.

Yes, they do! This is not something I am making up. It’s a fact.

My husband and I are vinyl listeners and buy on a regular basis. We score records online, in record stores, and in antique/vintage shops. We always see young people buying vinyl. On Record Store Day there are more young people around to buy vinyl than older people. Young bands put out vinyl records. And they’ve been doing so for some time now.

Here’s a link to a recent article about the vinyl revival: https://www.classicfm.com/discover-music/millennials-are-going-nuts-for-vinyl-revival/

But I didn’t need an article to tell me that. In my line of work (writing/journalism/speaking) or even shopping for groceries, I chat with many young people who share their love for vinyl with me. Most of them get their vinyl/music passion from their cool parents. We’re living in a time where the generation gap is closer than ever. Kids are no longer at war with their parents. They bond. They do things together (especially going to concerts). So of course they share the same taste in music. That’s not surprising at all. Thanks to tribute bands, rock movies, radio stations that didn’t cave in to modern music yet, Sirius, You Tube, and many music stream stations, kids are exposed to the good stuff. Plus, there are so many bands around that emulate music from the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Like all good things, you may have to dig for it, but it’s there.

Maybe 15 years ago young people disrespected parents, and older people in general. When I was in my late 30s and early 40s, I truly felt a gap from those 15, 10, and even seven years younger than me. It was uncomfortable and not fun. But young people today are the best younger generation ever. As a 50-something adult, I have to say I’ve never enjoyed talking to 20-somethings as much as I do now!

From those 30 and younger I’ve heard amazing things like:

“I’m sick of texting and considering giving up my phone.”

“Don’t underestimate me because I’m young. My parents have a record player in the basement.”

And in response to me sharing my story about oldsters commenting on my spindle tattoos, saying that young people don’t know what it is: “Of course I know what it is. How old do they thing my parents are?”

Young people checking out vinyl is also a matter of curiosity and exploration. During evolution, we have set backs, but life becomes full circle again. Young people have ears just like we do. They want to explore the sound on a record. Young people see a movie about Queen and they want more than what is just spoon-fed to them. Like it was when I was young, they want the records, they want the liner notes. It’s not just about Freddie Mercury and Queen’s greatest hits, they want to hear the deeper tracks.

For a very long time, we were experiencing a me-me-me generation. But that’s now a thing of the past too. In a month, I’ve had several young people ask me questions about my life, rather than just talk about themselves. This new generation is flipping the switch to something more positive and genuine. So why wouldn’t they listen to something more authentic like vinyl?

So, to all my middle-aged peers…

If you see someone cool in your age bracket with a 45-rpm spindle tattooed on them (and there are many — since I got mine in 1996, I’ve met at least three people with the same tattoo!) think twice before inserting foot in mouth…

  • I’m not dating myself. Young people know what a spindle is. And I predict within the next three years you’ll see young people getting spindle tattoos themselves.
  • Young people are COOL. Give them a chance and pay some attention to them!

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta can be reached at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com.

She is available for blogging, ghost writing, writing, and motivational speaking engagements. She is the author of the following books:

“Be (Extra)Ordinary: Ten Ways to Become Your Own Hero” will be available October 2019. To pre-order, go here: https://kicamprojects.com/shop/be-extraordinary/

“I Don’t Want to Be Like You” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback, Kindle or audio copy, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Want-Be-Like-You/dp/1726273261

 

Lyrics From Queen’s First Album Manifested in The Band’s History!

Published May 19, 2019 by Maryanne

Queen album coverQueen’s Debut Album

While many people jumped on the Queen band wagon after seeing the film “Bohemian Rhapsody,” I was a fan since 1975, just after their album “A Night At The Opera” came out. I loved the music so much, I went backwards and got their prior albums, “Queen” and “Sheer Heart Attack.” Note that it took me some time before I found “Queen II” because back then you couldn’t order from Amazon. You physically had to go to a record store. Each week, I’d got to Korvettes and actively seek Queen II.  I was thrilled when I found it and FINALLY had the complete set of Queen albums. To this day, almost 45 years later, I favor Queen’s first five albums.

In the late 1990s I was writing for several NYC news publications, mainly The Westsider and The Chelsea Clinton News (which covered the Chelsea and Clinton areas of NYC).

When I reviewed the play, “Mercury: Life of a Rock God” it dawned on me … lyrics in the song “Great King Rat,” written by Freddie Mercury were a foreshadowing of what was to come with Freddie’s failing health, and eventually death. I had to write that in my article because it was something a true Queen fan couldn’t overlook.

Check out Freddie Mercury’s lyric in “Great King Rat” …

“Great King Rat died today
Born on the twenty first of May
Died syphilis forty four on his birthday.” 

Both syphilis and AIDS are transmitted by unprotected sex. And Freddie Mercury died at the age of 45, one year older than his Great King Rat character. It truly is a bizarre coincidence. And a sad one. But Freddie Mercury wouldn’t want to be remembered with pity. Far from a “rat” — he truly is the Great King (make that the Great Queen!) Let’s remember him that way!

After the success of the movie “Bohemian Rhapsody” it dawned on me how sustainable Queen has been in their career. I think back to the 1970s when I was a kid and recall how hard it was to find a Queen record or a poster. Now there’s Queen memorabilia everywhere. I recently got a Freddie Mercury Bobblehead doll. Just Goggle “Queen” and you will not come up empty handed at all. Collector’s rejoice! Thanks to the overwhelming success of Queen, if you want something, you got it.

While it was Freddie Mercury who said, “I’m not gonna be a star, I’m gonna be a legend,” it was actually Roger Taylor who predicted the band’s success with his lyric in “Modern Times Rock ‘n’ Roll” …

Everybody in this bum sucking world
Gonna know just who you are

It’s pretty safe to say that Queen is now a household name. But back in 1973, when Queen’s first album debuted, who would have known? In the song “Modern Times Rock ‘n’ Roll” Taylor could have been talking about any band or any rock star, but it was his band Queen that manifested the magic of the song and made it way over the top!

Freaky, right? Keep reading …

“The Night Comes Down” also on Queen’s debut was written by Brian May in 1970 shortly after Queen formed, following his break-up with Smile. Brian May admitted to being a Beatles fan, and there seems to be a nod to The Beatles and “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” in the song with the following lyric:

When I was young it came to me; And I could see the sun breaking; Lucy was high and so was I…

In the past year, due to all the success of “Bohemian Rhapsody” there was a Lucy who was high, right along with Brian May. That would be Lucy Boynton who played Mary Austin in the film. How crazy is that? What are the chances of an actress playing Mary Austin having the same first name as someone written in a song by Brian May 50 years ago?!

Lucy-Boynton-and-Brian-May-Fox-party-e1551134444579

Lucy Boynton and Brian May riding high on the success of “Bohemian Rhapsody”

There is one more crazy Queen coincidence that I can’t take credit for, but other Queen fans will appreciate if they have all the albums. I saw this in a letter in Circus magazine after “A Night at the Opera” came out. I am so sorry I can not remember the letter writer’s name, but this is something incredible he figured out. If you count all the Queen songs, in order, from the first Queen album to “A Night at the Opera” you will discover that Brian May’s song “39” is the 39th song recorded.

You can not make this stuff up!

Queen fans, comment below … Are there any more coincidences you’ve noticed Queen’s career that manifested from their lyrics?

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta can be reached at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com.

She is available for blogging, ghost writing, writing, and motivational speaking engagements. She is the author of the following books (which both mention how she was inspired by Freddie Mercury): 

“Be (Extra)Ordinary: Ten Ways to Become Your Own Hero” will be available October 2019. To pre-order, go here: https://kicamprojects.com/shop/be-extraordinary/

“I Don’t Want to Be Like You” is available on Amazon. To get your copy, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Want-Be-Like-You/dp/1726273261

“The Life and Music of Freddie Mercury”

Published February 5, 2018 by Maryanne

Jayne's picture 1

Jayne's picture 2

Rob Fusari and Maryanne Christiano Mistretta (photos by Jayne DiGregorio)

Pear Tree’s Learn & Listen Series presented “The Life and Music of Freddie Mercury” (February 4, 2018) at Kinnelon Public Library, Kinnelon, New Jersey.

Maryanne, a Queen fan since the 1970s, began the presentation by talking about the life of Freddie Mercury, born in Zanzibar, an island on the East Coast of Africa; how he worked at the Kensington clothing market in England, and soon became a member of Queen; his life with Mary Austin and Jim Hutton; and his solo career.

Audience members were invited to share their memories of Queen.

Maryanne ended the “Learn” portion of the show by reciting the lyrics to the Queen song “Teo Torriatte” first in Japanese, then in English.

Then Maryanne made the audience clap to the tune of “We Will Rock You” to cheer Rob on to the stage.

Rob Fusari, three-time Grammy Award winning producer, put on an incredible performance, singing, playing keyboards, and guitar, and telling stories about each song. He performed “Radio Gaga,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” “We Are the Champions,” and “The Great Pretender.”

Rob ended the show by encouraging the audience to sing the chorus of “We Are the Champions.” The energy in the room was electrifying! The audience wanted an encore, and several audience members cheered for an original, which he did.

It was a show many will never forget! Freddie Mercury would be proud.

Jayne's picture 8.jpgRob Fusari (photo by Jayne DiGregorio)

For more information on Rob Fusari, visit: https://www.robfusari.com/

For more information on Pear Tree Enterprises, visit: https://peartreeenterprises.wordpress.com/

Queen + Adam Lambert, Prudential Center, Newark, NJ

Published July 28, 2017 by Maryanne

SAM_2969Adam Lambert bows to original members Brian May and Roger Taylor

(Photo by Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta)

Three years and two days after the first time I saw Queen with Adam Lambert (https://maryannemistretta.wordpress.com/2014/07/24/queen-adam-lambert-at-izod-new-jersey-july-24-2014/) I just had to see them again! My super cool husband took me to see Queen on Wednesday, July 26, 2018.

I am a die-hard Queen fan. I’d say they are probably my favorite band; and it’s nearly impossible to have a favorite band when you have over 1000 records/CDs in all genres of music. But I loved Queen so much when I first discovered them, probably around 1976, when I was only 12 years old. The first five albums were my favorites, but over the years I’ve expanded my horizons and embraced their entire body of work.

I was very lucky to have seen Freddie Mercury on tour with Queen in 1982, when I was 18. Though I envy my friends who are a bit older and saw Queen tour with Mott the Hoople.

When Freddie Mercury died, and there was a television tribute in his honor, I thought George Michael (RIP) would have been a phenomenal replacement. Then I saw Queen with Paul Rodgers and he was amazing. And so is Adam Lambert.

Always humble, Adam makes it a point, to the audience, that he is a Queen fan too. Throughout the show, he creates pure magic with original members Brian May and Roger Taylor; and Neil Fairclough who has been playing bass with Queen as long as Adam has been on board. And new kid on the block is drummer Tyler Warren who did a great duo with Roger Taylor.

This tour was a tribute to Queen’s album “News of The World.” But they only played three songs from that album “We Will Rock You,” “We Are the Champions” and … one of the greatest moments of the evening “Get Down Make Love.” [Side note: I saw videos of them doing other songs from “News of the World” — and “It’s Late” blew me away! I wish they kept that song in the set, but there’s just so much in the Queen collection, perhaps they had to cut some out].

After the last tour, I said that “Get Down Make Love” would be the perfect song for Lambert to deliver. Because it’s camp and fun — and so is he. He’s just that kind of entertainer, you can look at him and smile. He’s simply great at making people happy. Lambert is a five-star performer. He loves dressing up, he loves working the crowd, he embraces being on stage, yet never takes it for granted; and is so honest to always share that with his audience.

Another key song for Adam Lambert to sing was “Don’t Stop Me Now.” I said these lyrics: “I am a sex machine ready to reload; Like an atom bomb about to Oh oh oh oh oh explode” should be “like an ADAM bomb…” This song absolutely sums it up — how electrifying Adam is. And, never taking himself too seriously, he was a total pisser riding a pink bicycle during “Bicycle Races.”

He also did one of his own tunes “Two Fux” which seemed to be his rebuttal to critics. (Or maybe his turn to answer to Queen purists who don’t approve him filling in for Freddie?) While a great song, Adam Lambert should never have to explain himself. He was chosen to be in Queen, by original Queen members. After five years, I’d say he IS a Queen member.  Sure, nobody could take Freddie’s place (just like nobody could take retired member John Deacon’s place) or if the other original members left. The thing is — Adam Lambert is damn good and belongs with Queen. He has my stamp of approval as a great fit. He always did. Years ago I poo-pooed American Idol, but when my sister shared some of her video recordings of the show with Adam Lambert, I was hooked. Then when I heard he was touring with Queen five years ago, I said, “That is perfect!” I was right.

And it’s a beautiful thing to keep this music going on for generations to come! Adam Lambert is young, fresh, and exciting. He’s a team player and brings a lot to the band. I’d love to see a live album of this tour come out!

But back to the show … Guitar wizard Brian May is always mesmerizing, and hearing a bit of “Brighton Rock” during his solo totally wowed me. When May has his moments, you can close your eyes and be right at home on your bed listening to records — he is that precise. He also plays “Love of My Life” on his guitar (on the record Freddie played harp) and sings heavenly.  And bassist Fairclough’s shining moment was naturally during “Another One Bites the Dust.” I was glad to see he’s still with the band.

Now, let’s talk about the stage show. This time around was off the hook — with lazer lights, videos of Freddie, and a gigantic robot from the cover of “News of the World.” I highly recommend You Tube — though you truly had to be there to capture the essence of what it was.

Other favorite parts of the show, for me, were “Somebody to Love,” “Under Pressure” (which brought tears to my eyes, now that both Freddie and David Bowie are gone!), “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” “Fat Bottom Girls,” “I’m in Love with My Car,” and “I Want to Break Free.”

And, this concert fell on Roger Taylor’s birthday, so the audience joined in to sing “Happy Birthday” to him! How cool is that? If you were there, you could personalize it and say that you sang Happy Birthday to Roger Taylor! At 68-years-old, he still has that sparkle in his eyes! I can’t believe, I’ve been a fan of Queen since they were all in their late 20s!

If I had to give any critique for the evening, I’d say I could do without the teazer — as hearing just part of a recording of “You Take My Breath Away” was a bummer. (I think back to 2014 when they played “Procession” before they came on and I was thinking they’d come out doing “Father to Son.” Keep dreaming, right?) Some of the other songs were cut short too, like “Bicycle Race” and to me, that’s like censoring a masterpiece. I understand a band can only play so long — and they played almost three hours, but I’d rather hear less songs, but played in their entirety.

But, yeah, still super high from the show that was two days ago. Another night with Queen that I’ll never forget! And hey, can I suggest another ultimate Queen song for Adam Lambert to do? I’d love to hear “Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy” live. How about it?

SAM_2907Me in front of Queen truck — That’s the logo Freddie Mercury designed based on the zodiac signs of the original members. 

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta is the author of “On the Guest List: Adventures of a Music Journalist” available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Guest-List-Adventures-Music-Journalist/dp/162903908X

 

 

I Wanna Be Where the Boys Are!

Published July 3, 2015 by Maryanne

records 2The best girls are diehard music fans!

Big truth here (and what my husband says makes me special ♥).

Whenever there’s an event, other wives/girlfriends run off to smoke a cigarette, take selfies in the bathroom, check their smart phones …. whatever! But I’m happy being left behind with my very good looking husband and all the other guys talking about MUSIC!

An interesting stereotype right? But 90 percent of the time it is true.

I’ve been a diehard music fan since I was a kid. (It’s all documented in my book “On the Guest List: Adventures of a Music Journalist” (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/162903908X). And from day one, it was apparent that girls weren’t as interested in music as I was. One of my touchy little girlfriends scolded me saying I talked about Freddie Mercury too much. My mom said she was right.

I felt defeated until I realized, that’s exactly the kind of girl a guy likes — one who knows music. And for that very reason, I always had more guy friends than girlfriends. A guy once said to me, “Every girl wants to be told she’s different. But you … you’re really different!”

I wrote about this on Face Book yesterday and surprisingly, I got the “thumbs up” from quite a few of my female friends! It lead to an hour long conversation from one girl I was friends with in the 1990s. We took a walk down memory lane discussing all the bands we saw together and then shared the highlights of some of our favorites that we saw in later years. It was the most fun I had on Face Book in ages and I don’t see something like that happening again soon, as females bonding over music is rare. This is why, in my second book, “Love Cats” (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00YBGVJQS/) I had two girlfriends, Janey and Valerie, being big music fans.  This way, the book could be more attractive to male readers who normally wouldn’t read chick lit.

Actor Scott Schiaffo, best known for his role as the Chewlies Man in Kevin Smith’s “Clerks,” endorsed “Love Cats” saying, “Maryanne’s zeal for life and passion for creativity shines through in all of her work. Here in her first book of fiction she gives us multidimensional characters mitigating love and growing pains as they manicure their pop culture lifestyle at the tail end of the ’80s. It’s romance — Gen X style! I could not get enough of Janey and Beck.”

I was thrilled that Scott enjoyed my little romance novel. Of course with so many musical references you can’t go wrong when it comes to hip guys from the Gen X generation! And that’s just it … guys who are big music freaks really are the best guys. I always found musicians and music fans to be the deepest, smartest, funniest, dedicated and most honest. Sure, there are some that fit the stereotype of being cheaters and assholes, but there’s definitely more that are not. In our circle, all the musicians and music lovers are super guys that anyone would enjoy being around. Hey, maybe that’s why I don’t mind being left at bar with them!

So, ladies, perhaps I can inspire you … when your group runs off to wherever for whatever, why not stay behind? That’s where all the fun is!

Now enjoy some cool tunes:

When it Comes to Reviews, Bad = Bad Ass!

Published July 31, 2014 by Maryanne

SAM_3767“It’s better to be looked over than overlooked.” — Mae West

One of my favorite episodes of “Sex and the City” is when the character Smith Jerrod is the new poster model for “Absolut” vodka and referred to as the Absolut Hunk. That is, until some jealous person scrawls over the ad,  if my memory serves correctly, “Absolut Ass.” (Someone feel free to correct me if I’m wrong).

Smith Jerrod was so put off by the cruel, unnecessary act that he almost quit his acting career. Yet his gal, Samantha, encouraged him. She explained once the gays and teenyboppers embraced him he’d be a hit! And he was.

But dear readers, I’m here to tell you that you don’t need justification from fans. As an artist, writer, musician, etc. — you are already GREAT!  The fact that you are an artist willing to share your work is something to be proud of. Having the desire/will/dedication to publish (or self-published, doesn’t matter) — more power to you! AND … if you are making money to boot, darling you are so THERE!

So, now you have it all — guts to share,  people who enjoy, people who buy, and the blessing of not relying on anything else but your art for a living. Then the bomb drops … a bad review.

Thank God I learned early in my career that a bad review is the total opposite of what you’d think. A bad review is not “bad” at all. In fact, it’s “bad ass.” It simply means: people are reading! It also means people are being provoked by your work, and/or people are jealous (though I like to believe I’m strong enough to accept a bad review without using the word “jealousy” to go tit for tat with a hater). AND it can get you MORE readers — yeah!

When I was a writer in New York City for several publications at News Communications, one of the writers/editors was trashed in a “letter to the editor.”  I was new to the industry and feared she was going to get reprimanded or fired. Luckily I was wrong! The editor cheered her on and said, “People are reading you!” She became the darling of the news room.

A few years later, when I was an editorial assistant at The Montclair Times, I got my first bad review. I had written a feature article on the three tattoo shops in the town. A man from NYC, obsessed with our New Jersey newspaper, griped about hating tattoos and wondered: “…if Maryanne Christiano has any tattoos herself!”

I was ecstatic! Someone was reading me! My first bad review took me to Cloud 9!

That same man wrote letters to The Montclair Times, every three weeks, like clockwork, usually griping about something someone wrote. I saved the funnier ones in a folder. Part of my job as editorial assistant was to confirm “Letters to the Editor.” Eventually I built up a relationship with this man and we became friendly with each other. Another staff member said to me, “I can’t believe you get along with that guy!” This man was infamous for attacking the car of a NYC politician, so the fact that I got along with him was impressive.

Bad reviews don’t mean anything. They are no reflection on your character, not even your talent. Even best selling authors and the hottest rock ‘n’ roll tickets in town get bad reviews. Take for instance, one of my favorite bands, Queen. After seeing them for the third time two weeks ago, I started re-reading “The Queen Story” by George Tremlett, a book I had since I was 13.  I had long forgotten how they were trashed by the music magazines when they first came out. In fact, two journalists in very reputable newspapers trashed them after their amazing show with Adam Lambert. One was so off the money,  I was tempted to write a “Letter to the Editor” about his bad review.

“Go get ’em, Tiger!” my husband said to me. Though after a little research, I realized the journalist was around my age and a musician himself — a good one at that. I re-read the article and though I disagreed with him saying Brian May had a bad voice and his guitar solo was too long, I realized the dude was all about Freddie Mercury, and I’m okay with that. I couldn’t bring myself to trash a fellow middle-aged journalist and Freddie lover. However, his bad review inspired me to visit Google search and give the “thumbs up” for every excellent review I could find about the Queen + Adam Lambert world tour.

I rarely write bad reviews about musicians even though I’ve made a living as a music journalist for many years. Though I’ve given many bad reviews to venues I’ve received bad service, like Whole Foods and a hair salon I won’t mention because the owner stalked me down, harassed me on the telephone and demanded I take the bad review off Yelp. The only reason I did was because we had a mutual friend so I decided to take the high road. I deleted the bad review but will never forget the bad service: a stylist leaving dye and foils in my hair while she went to the bathroom to fight with her husband on a cell phone! (The result, my hair got fixed, two hours later; but she got a divorce. Bad karma, right?)

Bad reviews I’ve given other writers, I can count the times on one hand. The only times I trashed a book were two that were super popular and it was definitely no skin off their ass; and another book that criticized every band she wrote about, because to me that said, “well, then, why even bother?”

I never got people writing about things they hate when reviews come across so much more exciting when you write about what you love (and are knowledgeable about!) Bad reviews never stopped me from seeing a band, seeing a movie, buying a book or a CD. I’ve even befriended people who have gotten “bad reviews” from others. I fail to judge by anyone’s opinion except someone I really trust that knows me inside and out.

The thing I’m getting at here, is that bad reviews are just like mosquito bites. Annoying, but not nearly the end of the earth. The classy way to handle them is just ignore them.

But do embrace those who get you. Some may totally, some may a little, some not at all but like you anyway. What I’ve also learned, as a creative person, though some people may like me and not my work, others may NOT like me, but love my work. The greatest compliment ever was when it got back to me that a person who didn’t like me was trashing my character, but added, “She’s a great poet though.”

Not everyone is going to like everything about you. Some might not like ANYTHING about you. The cool thing is, it’s no reflection on you or your merit in the art/music/publishing world. The bad critic has no real power over you — especially when others are digging what you wrote and you’re selling art, books, articles, etc. and have been doing so for many years. In fact, a bad review may do many good things, like getting the right people curious or inspiring your true fans to defend you.

While there’s always room for improvement, never beat yourself up over a bad review. Take all reviews with a grain of salt. Don’t compromise your style or voice to appease a critic. And for God’s sake — keep creating!

Queen + Adam Lambert at IZOD, New Jersey (July 24, 2014)

Published July 24, 2014 by Maryanne

SAM_5357Getting psyched!

My 51st birthday will be on August 19 and one of my gifts from my husband was taking me to see Queen + Adam Lambert at the Izod last night!

Now, first a little background. How much do I love Queen, let me count the ways! I’ve been a fan since I was 12 or 13 in the 1970s. I got every album they made at that point and listened to each song on each album, every single day, in the order they were recorded! I memorized who wrote what song and all the liner notes of who played what featured instrument on all the songs. As well as all the lyrics. To this day, if you call out any Queen song from the first five albums, I can tell you who wrote it.

The first time I saw Queen was in 1982 with Freddie Mercury. I saw them again 10 years ago, with Paul Rodgers. And last night with Adam Lambert. All three times were special and unique.

The anticipation build up was off the hook. They had a little problem with the curtain, delaying the show by a half hour. A pre-recorded “Father to Son” from Queen II was played and I lost it. “They’re going to play this?!” But it was just a tease. However, they opened with “Now I’m Here” from “Sheer Heart Attack”  then went into “Stone Cold Crazy” from the same album.

“Fat Bottom Girls” was next, followed by yet another from “Sheer Heart Attack” — “Lap of the Gods”! I was losing it, it was just one great song after another! Then “Seven Seas of Rhye” from “Queen II.”

Then Adam Lambert camped it up during “Killer Queen.” A red velvet couch was brought out for him to ham it up on (he couldn’t even keep a straight face and he was cracking up). He drank from a bottle of Moet and then spit it into the audience, followed by a few cute double-entendre jokes. He even had panties thrown at him. “Somebody to Love” followed and this was the first time you got a true taste of Adam Lambert’s astonishing vocals. He was a stellar front man — a wonderful choice. Yet, the entire band worked together as a group and everyone had their spotlight. Adam appeared extremely grateful to be part of the act and raved about how he loved Freddie and even bowed down during May’s ever-so-sweet guitar segments.

It was cute when Brian May asked a cheering crowd, “How do you like the new guy?”

And in equal cuteness, Adam Lambert endearingly referred to Brian as “Doctor Brian May.”

One of the most special moments, which I saw Brian perform back in 2005, was when he played “Love of My Life” — a song originally played by Freddie on a harp — on his guitar. Brian sang beautifully too. During this time Adam Lambert took a break and after “Love of My Life” Brian was joined on stage with others, including Roger Taylor, his son, Rufus Tiger Taylor (who looks just like his dad!) to do a bare bones version of “’39” followed by “These Are The Days Of Our Lives” which featured a touching tribute to Freddie Mercury.

Then came a great bass solo by current touring bassist, Neil Fairclough and an exciting drum battle between the Taylors (which is probably why “I’m in Love with My Car” was forfeited).

Adam Lambert returned to sing a duet of “Under Pressure” with Roger, followed by “Love Kills,” (a Freddie solo number), then “Who Wants to Live Forever.”

And then the moment we were all waiting for — a Brian May guitar solo, which featured riffs from “Brighton Rock.” (Also during the show, I don’t remember when, but there was a tease of “White Man.”) After the solo, Adam Lambert took front stage again and sang Brian’s hit, ‘Tie Your Mother Down” (which was sung by Freddie on “Day at the Races”).

After “Radio GaGa” Adam broke into a sexy little number called “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and then the grand finale of “Bohemian Rhapsody” which was off the hook with their modern stage show. They had a monstrous “Q” lit up with the tail of the “Q” leading all the way out into the audience. Inside the “Q” there were video segments throughout the show. A second drum kit was set up in the front for some of the softer numbers. The light show was mind blowing and there were raised platforms on each side of the stage where Adam Lambert and Brian May would perform.

Throughout the night band members did several costume changes and Brian May looked like the true guitar god he is when he was wearing a gorgeous gold poncho, reminiscent of the white one he wore during ‘Night at the Opera” days back in the 1970s. And Roger Taylor still looking as cool as ever, looking like Mr. Rock ‘n’ Roll in all white and dark sunglasses. And at this time I’d like to give a shout out to Spike Edney on keyboards.

Queen encored with “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions.”

Definitely a night to remember! My husband brought me two t-shirts — a sexy tank with the Queen crest in red foil and a tour shirt with Adam Lambert. I am ECSTATIC!

SAM_5379Adam Lambert (vocals), Roger Taylor (drums) and Brian May (guitar)

SAM_5426Adam Lambert

SAM_5435After the show, am I in heaven?