Thursday, October 11, 2012

Finding music in my life

Today’s post is in participation with Women On Writing’s mass-blogging event, Everybody is Talking About Finding the Music in Life. We are celebrating the release of Sonia’s Song by Sonia Korn-Grimani. To read Sonia’s post and follow our symphony of participating bloggers visit The Muffin. Share your comments on any participating blog for a chance to win a copy of Sonia’s Song!

One reader will also win! I will send in the name of one commenting visitor to be entered into the WOW drawing for a copy of Sonia’s Song in either print or ebook (winner’s choice), and from those entries one winner will be chosen at random.

(The contest is open until 11:59 pm Thursday, October 18th—I will send in my randomly chosen reader’s entry by noontime Friday, October 19th (Mountain Time)

My jazzman. That he was.
I couldn’t do this topic justice without writing about my son Paul and his music. We lost him to suicide in 1999 as a result of his bipolar disorder.

Very early, from the time he could sit up on his own, I’d perch him up on the piano bench and he’d tinkle on the keyboard. He loved it, he listened, he sang along. He knew the words; he could pick out the tunes. He was a natural. Nothing was too hard, nothing out of reach. All he needed was the piano—and wow, could he play. 

Paul started piano lessons at age ten and made such great progress in his first year of lessons he blew his little-old-lady piano teacher away. He and I both decided to learn how to play “Chariots of Fire,” and by the time of his first recital after just one year of lessons, Paul was able to play it by heart without a hitch. He also got into Bach, the Beatles, and started to become interested in jazz. He joined his high school jazz ensemble and later got a MA degree in jazz music at the New School in New York City.

Unfortunately his music career stalled and then halted during his seven-year struggle with bipolar disorder. He went on and off his medications because he felt he couldn’t be creative if he took them regularly. After he died we found a small suitcase full of his recorded music – many his own compositions.

One of his friends transferred the cassette tapes to CDs, and I now have all his music in my iTunes. Now my goal is to get a professional CD made of a selection of his original compositions and sell them to the public with proceeds going to nonprofits that help erase the stigma of mental illness and prevent suicide.

My Jazzman

My jazzman
beat it out
on the mighty eighty-eights
played those riffs
tapped his feet
bent his head
down to the keys
felt those sounds
on his fingertips.
Yeah, he was a hot man
on those eighty-eights.

But, all too soon
his bag grew dark.
He went down
deep down.
My jazzman
played the blues
lost that spark
closed the lid.
And, yeah, you got it right,
quit the scene.
laid himself down
in that bone yard
for the big sleep.

Please go the In Memory of Paul Sharples page on this blog and click Play to listen to Paul’s music.

Sonia’s Song is the story of one girl, who rises from war's ashes to sing the songs of hope and love world-wide. A heart-wrenching and poignant memoir, by internationally renowned singer Sonia Korn-Grimani. Learn more about Sonia at


Angela said...

Beautiful post, Madeline. :) I admire anyone who can play the piano well. It's hard! I started taking lessons at around six-years-old and played throughout my early teens, but quit to pursue other passions (like soccer and art). It takes so much time and dedication practicing alone. I remember you shared some of Paul's music on your book tour and I was blown away. He was so talented and blessed with a rare gift. I think it's a fantastic idea to get a professional CD made. I'm not entering the contest, I just wanted to stop by and say thank you for sharing. xo

madeline40 said...

Thanks for your comment, Angela. I very much appreciate your kind words. All best, Madeline

BECKY said...

Hello Madeline, Very beautiful post.

madeline40 said...

Thanks so much, Becky. I'm glad you came by.

Lynn said...

What a positive way to turn a tragic situation into something good - sorry about your loss. I'll check out your son's music. Best wishes with that project.