Q&A with a ChicagoNow blogger: Music Mom finds "happy" on her musical discovery

Q&A with a ChicagoNow blogger: Music Mom finds "happy" on her musical discovery

Today, fifty or so ChicagoNow bloggers are publishing interviews we've done with each other. Not only did I get to interview Music Mom's Anne Kiplinger, but I got to meet her and to find some songs to add to my playlist.

I interviewed Anne Kiplinger on a spectacular June day. I read somewhere that people rate their happiness the highest when they’re outside on a 75-degree, sunny day. It seems fitting to have been speaking to Anne in just these conditions because “happy” is one word that I’d choose to describe “Music Mom,” as she is known to those of us who read her blog.

We sat outside a coffee shop near a mall in suburbia to talk. When I listened to the recording afterward I realized that I hadn’t paid much attention to what was going on around us, like motorcycles roaring by and the music in the background.

The music comes and goes on the recording, being drowned out by motorcycles and the two of us talking, but I could swear I hear an acoustic version of Wham’s “Wake Me Up Before You Go, Go” playing. And this, too, would be fitting because Anne has this sort of spirit about her.

I won’t go so far as to say that she’d actually like an alternative cover of a Wham! song, but I do think her music sensibility could be illustrated by it. Consider, for instance, this cover by Petteri Sariola:

Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go - Petteri Sariola (Wham! -cover) from Petteri Sariola on Vimeo.

I’m not saying it was this guy, but I it could have been.

Besides, Sariola’s Finnish, and Anne confessed that she’s been listening to ABBA lately. OK, ABBA was a Swedish group, but they’re in the general geographical region and they have uncannily upbeat music about not so upbeat experiences. Think “Knowing Me, Knowing You,” or “Waterloo.”

When we were arranging the interview, I asked Anne if she’d talk about music and emotions, especially the hard ones like grief and fear that we associate with cancer. Anne knows about cancer first-hand. Her aunt, to whom she was very close, died just a few weeks ago from uterine cancer.

“She’s kind of been fighting it off and on for five years,” Anne told me, “but you sort of, after that long, I guess we just felt like she’d always be fighting it.”

Like any of us in the cancer community, the realization hits that often, eventually, you lose to cancer.

“It was really only this past month that she…it was an amazingly fast decline. That’s been difficult."

And so, she turned to ABBA and to her “Happy” playlist. (Read her recent post to get the details about the “Happy” playlist.)

“You can trick your body, kind of, into feeling better,” she explained. “Like if you laugh even if something’s not funny, you can trick your body into releasing those endorphins, and I think music can have that same impact.”

ABBA is helping her through a difficult time because, “It’s just kind of a dumb, happy, uplifting kind of music to listen to.”

Music fills Anne’s world. Because she’s the mom of four kids from high school through college age, I expected that her main sources for the blog would be them. And, maybe she does get some ideas from them, but I suspect it’s the other way around.

“I love, love discovering new music that I’m not familiar with,” she said. “You have to put a little work into it.”

What kind of work? She listens to music and podcasts about music on the train to and from work, at work when she’s writing, and when she’s working in the kitchen at home. As she listens, she pulls songs from albums and makes playlists of her favorites.

She tells me about St. Paul and the Broken Bones, a recent discovery. Not only is the group new to her, but it surprised her.

“You just heard them you would think that they were a group of like Black Motown, or maybe from the south, like gospel kind of singers.” she says. “They’re a bunch of white guys, one used to be an accountant. And they just have the most amazing powerful sound to them.”

As I was watching her talk about this group and as I was listening to the recording of the interview later I could see and hear the joy she finds in the music. Her voice speeds up and her face lights up.

“Music Mom” has given me so much to think about. But before I stop to think, I’m going to start downloading music. She inspired me to do some discovering of my own, where I stumbled upon Petteri Sariola. And now, I’m smitten by St. Paul and the Broken Bones. Take a minute to listen and see what you think:

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