Why The Muppets Should Win an Oscar

Consider this the beginning of my official letter-writing campaign to get at least one Oscar for The Muppets, one of my favorite movies of the year.

I looked forward to Jason Segel and James Bobin’s take on my favorite Jim Henson characters for a while and when it finally reached the screen, it was everything I’d hoped for and more. It had the feel of one of the classic Muppet movies and yet, it felt updated for today’s audience.

One of my favorite parts of the movie was the terrific soundtrack that was overseen by music supervisor, Bret McKenzie, aka Rhymenocerous, aka one half of Flight of the Conchords.

McKenzie was responsible for the opening number, “Life’s a Happy Song” and the pivotal “Man or Muppet” song:

My favorite musical moment of the movie, however, comes early on in the plot, when Gary and Walter are trying to convince Kermit to get the gang back together and put on a show. Kermit sings this very sweet, heartfelt tune in the hallway of his office called “Pictures in My Head,” written by Jeannie Lurie, Aris Archontis, and Chen Neeman (produced by McKenzie).

That song represents what I think a lot of people love about the Muppets. Sure they are nostalgic and a little corny, but they are also a beloved part of pop culture and American society. Jim Henson’s creations have always been a favorite of mine and I’m so glad that their movie delighted so many people this year.

My hope is that the Academy Awards this year will acknowledge the great songwriting of McKenzie and his team and at least nominate one song for an Oscar. I’d prefer if it was “Pictures in My Head”, but honestly, the whole soundtrack is great and I’d be happy with just one song being recognized. I truly can’t think of a reason why they shouldn’t be nominated. Randy Newman’s been nominated time and time again. Why can’t The Muppets?

Clever songwriting at pivotal times during the film…what are the actual requirements for a song to be nominated for “Best Song”? Whatever they are, I am unaware of any reason why The Muppets don’t qualify or are not deserving.

I encourage you to tweet #muppetsbestsongoscar if you agree with what I’m saying. Who knows? Maybe we’ll be able to inspire some voters online.

Learning to Play Guitar

For as long as I can remember, my dad has been an amazing guitar player. I never took much of an interest as a kid because I was wrapped up in my own stuff – sports, school, girls, etc.

I come from a very musical family. My mom and dad were in a folk band in college called The North Door Singers (Google them). They sing at church. My brother sang at our wedding and could always carry a tune.

I’ve never had that confidence. I sang when I was a kid in church choirs and at campfires and I even tried playing the piano for like two weeks. But performing music never really stuck on me like it did with the rest of my family. That didn’t keep me from loving music. Not even a little.

My family, God bless them, has always said, “But you have a great voice! You should sing.” NO.

OK, maybe.

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For the past several weeks, Jake and I have been learning how to play guitar from my Dad. Each Wednesday, my mom cooks us dinner and we meet at their house for a few hours to learn new chords, progressions and lately, songs.

Last week we learned our first real song — an original that was written by our friends out in Wyoming (also known as the Cowboy-version of the Osmonds) for my niece. The three of us learned the song and played it for her and the rest of our family last weekend.

This week, I got to bring a song that I wanted to learn — “Poison & Wine” by The Civil Wars (which you may be familiar with if you pay attention here). And last night, I went home and I sang it to my wife. I didn’t sing it well, but I sang it.

I sent a text to my dad today that read:

I am terrified of singing. Having a guitar in front of me as a shield helps.

It’s the truth.

I still don’t think I can sing. People may pooh pooh that thought, but if you’ve ever heard anyone else in my family sing, you’d understand my trepidation. But ever since I started learning how to play guitar, I’m not as scared to actually do it as I once was. Having that shield/security blanket sure helps because if I think I sound bad, I can just play louder.

Regardless of that, Wednesday nights have been this wonderful combination of family and learning something new and it’s a lot of fun.

Special thanks to Alli who snapped the photo in this post.

Currently Listening: Sarah Jarosz

Sarah Jarosz

I love finding new music. I do. (I promise this isn’t turning into a music blog.) I love particularly when recommendation engines work. The other day, I was browsing the Amazon MP3 music and they suggested an album to me by Sarah Jarosz. It’s reasoning? Because I previously purchased music by: The Civil Wars, The Belle Brigade and The Head and the Heart (thanks for that one, Tyson). Since these are probably my three favorite discoveries of the year, I purchased the album sight unseen.

What a great recommendation! Since I’m in this Americana/Bluegrass/Folk mode right now, this album is right up my alley. Loving this song, Come Around, particularly, but the whole album is pretty great. Jarosz is a less-sleepy version of Norah Jones. Check her out if any of this sounds good to you:

Pictures of the Civil Wars

I want to take pictures as beautiful as Allister Ann, the photographer who has accompanied my new favorite band, The Civil Wars, on their tour this summer.

When they came to KC’s Crosstown Station, I tried to get some of my own, which were fine, but when I compare them to the ones that have been posted to The Civil Wars’ Tour Diary…they’re just not quite as engaging.

John Paul White of the Civil Wars strumming his guitar

The top photo is Allister Ann’s from the Newport Music festival, the second one is a shot of John Paul playing his guitar that I took. Clicking that one takes you through to the whole set of shots I took.

You can decide which you like better.