I guess the idea started to come to me two years ago. It was the famous audience request “medley” that did it.
There was a new request in the air. Every night it was Bohemian Rhapsody. Sure, I’d played rock songs for years . . . specifically Free Bird and Stairway To Heaven for all the rocker dudes in my crowd (and at Dayton’s). But Bohemian Rhapsody was the newest and hottest request.
For a whole year I wrote down that request on my medley pad of paper, but ignored it, thinking it wasn’t even possible to play (I guess I should say play it WELL). Everyone in the audience would laugh when the song got shouted out. Obviously, they were thinking the same thing. Ha! Ha! Ha!
This happened night after night in every city. And some other songs started to get shouted out on a regular basis . . . Africa. Don’t Stop Believin’. Rocket Man.
Was rock making a come-back?
A whole year went by and I was getting ready to go back out on the road for the Christmas tour again. Knowing I would get Bohemian Rhapsody requested night after night, I decided to at least look at the music. My friend Elliott from Schmitt Music sent it to me and I stuffed it in my wardrobe case at the last minute. I decided I would learn to play a few lines at rehearsals and continue on the road at sound check every night.
After about a week, I had the first part learned and memorized, and the ending, but all of the middle and difficult section (the operatic L’istesso section) would be too much to learn on a stage with no lights, no music stand on my piano or my TASCAM in front of me (so I could listen to the actual recording). But, night number one, here it comes.
I was ready. I played my few learned lines and it was a hit. And I had a good ending.
And thus it began. Could I take rock music and make it spectacularly beautiful on the piano?
It was a new beginning for me. A new challenge was before me.
And so my song list began for the project. Africa, Don’t Stop Believin’, Free Bird, Stairway To Heaven, and Rocket Man made the list. And of course Bohemian Rhapsody.
This would be the biggest project in my career.
Before I started, Tim and I ran by the song titles to all the copyright holders. I was so anxious and excited that the three-week time frame for approvals felt like six months. And then we heard back.
None of the songs were approved. Every single one of them was denied. (I quickly learned that rock publishing rights are tricky and difficult to obtain.)
I remember that day very clearly. I put on the armor of God. It was cold outside and I bundled up and went out and shoveled snow, and asked the Almighty One to bless me.
In the end, He did. I got even more than I had hoped for and some interesting songs that I would have never chosen . . . but love, love, love.
Once we were granted approvals, I started learning the music. My routine life changed immediately and I was up and going (with a beautiful fluffy cappuccino made by Tim) and at the piano in my pajamas at 7:00 AM (it was still dark outside when I first started the project) every day, absorbing this strange but wonderful music that I actually grew up listening to on the radio. Each day was new and different, so exciting. I became a student. A student of rock music. How can I play that on the piano . . . ALL of the parts, including the melody? How can I create a pianistic performance styled arrangement of this great song?
I’m not kidding. Every song became my favorite. I listened to all of the original recordings over and over, measure by measure, note by note, to capture the nuances and the details, especially the lead vocal line. When I got to Stairway To Heaven, I physically got goosebumps and weepy. I still have no idea what the song is about, but when the drums came in it felt like something I’d never heard before. (OK. I have heard that song a million times, but not like this.) That morning as I learned this song . . . the sun came up.
And the heavens opened before me.
I enjoyed every single day putting this project together and am actually sad it is done. I will have to do another one. ROCK STAR II.
By the way, I titled this project ROCK STAR because my 30-year old daughter always says that to me. “Mom, you’re such a rock star.” I’ve honestly never thought of myself as a rock star.
But I’ll take it.
This is Ms. Line’s 58threcording and most ambitious work to date. She is celebrating 30 years of touring.
ROCK STAR releases the last week of June, 2019.
Photography above by Joel Larson. Hair by Dave Hermann. Styling and makeup by Lorie Line.
I'm organized. I think this is one of the main "ingredients" you have to have if you're going to be successful. I know where everything is, what I have, and it is neat and tidy. My close friends are surprised that they can come to my house at any time and it is always the same . . . the bed is made, bathroom is wiped down, clothes are hung up, laundry is done, dishes are done and the sink is sparkling, and nothing is really out of place.
"When do you clean?"
I don't have an official day to clean. I clean continually, when it's dusty or dirty . . . all day, every day. I look at something and say, "oh, I should dust that" or "I should polish that" and I do it right away.
What I've learned along the way is it's easier to clean when you have less. The more you have, the more maintenance it requires. (And, try moving ALL of your furniture into the garage once a month . . . that's what we do for The Living Room Series! You simplify and quickly learn to eliminate things you do not love.)
This past tour my percussionist was reading a book called "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo. When she talked about it, she sparkled. How could anyone be so excited about cleaning the house? At first I thought, "I don't need that book. I'm tidier than anyone I know." But, I had some extra time (and I actually like to clean, which is weird, I know) so in Wausau I went to the downtown local book store and bought the book.
In my dressing room, I started reading. I couldn't put it down. There was so much for me to learn. I actually got excited. I couldn't wait to get home to begin.
I decided that my overall goal would be to touch everything. If it didn't "spark joy" as Marie says, it would go. I would open every single drawer, every single cabinet and cupboard, pull it out, look at it, clean it (dust or polish it . . . ha!), sort and get rid of absolutely everything I didn't think I would use, and then neatly put it all back. This would mean that I was going to go through my entire kitchen and pantry, all of the linen closets, the mudroom and laundry room, my library of books and music books, all of our CDs, personal and professional photos, all of my work files, our office supplies, cleaning supplies, our kids rooms, all of the bathrooms, jewelry, cosmetics, Tim's things, and finally, every single piece of my own personal clothing. Omg.
I got home on Christmas Eve. And started in. At first it was easy because I began with the already neat and tidy areas (my kitchen and catering dishes). But then it got more complex. I worked every day on something. I'd walk by a cabinet and say, "oh no. I forgot about that."
One month later we had made 14 trips to Goodwill and Interfaith Outreach. We'd made two trips out to our dumpster at the warehouse. We disposed of a car-load of old computers through our local recycling company, and made a huge pile of paperwork to shred.
Finally, I made my way up to my own closet. I took everything out, (re-hung it all on beautiful wooden hangers that matched), washed and ironed or steamed garments that I had fallen out-of-love with (but they had potential), and folded everything "Kondo" style. The hardest drawer for me was leggings, tights, socks, pajamas and underwear. But I made it.
Along the way, Tim jumped in. He was in charge of all the house files, the old Lorie Line Music files (stored in the mechanical room), the manuals, all of the old electronics and computers and all our music collection.
One of the highlights of this project was burning our collection of CDs onto Tim's computer. (We decided we would burn all of our CDs onto Tim's computer and then pass them along.) While we worked, we actually played and listened to music . . . complete CDs!!! From the first song to the last song, we enjoyed every note and remembered the first time hearing this old music we'd had in our collection for over 30 years. (I couldn't wait to hear the next CD that we had saved.) It made tidying joyful. In all, Tim burned 1152 CDs onto his laptop. Every day for six weeks we listened to old music that was once again new to us. We laughed and cried as we shared so many beautiful memories together.
I know it's somewhat emotional to tidy up. Some people just can't do it. For me, I kept asking myself, "if I had to move into a brand new smaller house, would I take this? Do I love it? Do I really use this? Does it "spark joy" for me?" The whole experience of tidying up was liberating. My house now has a different energy because it is organized from top to bottom. And I absolutely love everything in it.
I finished every drawer, every cupboard, every cabinet and closet in the house.
I touched it all.
My blogs are written to inspire others.
Pictured above is my personal closet. People are surprised that it is so small. My performance gowns are stored at my warehouse.
Speaking of which, the day we finished tidying up our house, our warehouse owner called and said the main tenant was taking over and we had to downsize and move into a smaller space. We took a breath, and decided there was no time like the present. We were in the mood. We had practiced. Here we go! One more round.
We spent 10 (long and grueling) days and nights out at our warehouse sorting and tidying up.
FOR MORE INFORMATION https://www.lorieline.com/news.php?ID=119
Tim and Lorie have lived in their home for 22 years. Tim plans to tidy up the garage this spring. (I just told him I wrote this in my blog. He is laughing.)
One of my favorite childhood Bible stories was The Parable of the Talents, where three men were given gifts from The Master. Two men used their gifts and doubled their investment, but one was afraid and buried his one-and-only talent in the ground. That story has stayed with me my entire life (Matthew 25:14-30).
Although I’ve been at this career for 30 years, I would say that it has only been in the last 10 years that I have given much thought and consideration to the subject of talents and spiritual gifts . . . not the super natural ones . . . but common every day gifts that you can appreciate from every single person.
I think EVERYONE has a gift. My mother was a very successful and gifted home maker . . . the best (and to this day, I think this is the most challenging and important “job” for a woman). But it was uncommon in my circle to see a successful (talented) woman with her own “career.” Yes, my world was quite small, and in fact I only knew one “sophisticated” career woman my entire growing up years . . . my piano teacher, Alleta Gray. (Oh, how I wanted to be like her. Educated, connected, well-traveled, socially graceful, and busy with purpose.)
Sure, I knew I was “gifted” musically, but I honestly never saw it as my God-given “mission” to use this gift that He gave me for His service, until again the past 10 years (read my Fall Blog/2018 CHANGE IS GOOD). I changed and grew into it.
But now I think differently. I’ve found my calling. I know for certain that sharing music is my gift, given to me from The Master.
And now that this mission statement is crystal clear in my mind, I have to say these are the happiest days of my life. I finally have it figured out. I have a very clear path to walk on. I know what to do just about every day.
How awesome is it that my personal gift from The Master (that was given to me as a child) is so very special, unique, something I love, and quite different from most people out there. Extraordinary. Some days I feel overwhelmed with gratitude.
Please know that I seriously jump out of bed with excitement every day of the year, in anticipation of creating this new music and coming to see all of you at Christmastime (soon!!!) to once again celebrate the magnificent birth of our Lord and Savior.
Knowing in my heart . . . that "every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights . . .” (James 1:17)
May God be praised in all things through Jesus Christ, our King of Kings, my Lord of Lords.
This past summer I had the wonderful opportunity to play at the Marshall County Fairgrounds grandstand in Warren, Minnesota. They invited me to play the early Sunday morning church service for their grand opening weekend. I had no idea what to expect. A church service at a fairground? This would be a first for me.
Tim and I left the day before on Saturday afternoon to make the drive up near Canada. We love doing "gigs" like this as we get out of our routine, drive somewhere unknown where we've never been before, and experience quite a few surprises that we talk about all the way home. We stayed at a local hotel the night before (so that we would be on time for the service the next day). I wondered what to wear for something like this, and ended up selecting a Calvin Klein tangerine "church dress" ($39.99 from TJ Maxx) with matching pumps. When we arrived at the fairground, we opened the car door and I stepped out onto dirt. I immediately wished I had brought my tennis shoes, at least for the load-in, and I eventually changed into flats (that I had in the back seat of our car) and put my pretty pumps up by the piano on the stage.
A forklift was putting a piano up onto the metal stage. It was exciting. About 100 people were already in the grandstand, sitting off to the side, just watching all the fun. I was particularly thrilled that there was a tarp cover over the piano area and I'd play in the shade that morning. It was super hot (and I am so fair-skinned . . . I didn't want to melt in front of a crowd or get sunburned).
Before the worship service began, I was to play thirty minutes of traditional hymns. I love doing this, basically just playing anything that comes to mind, off-the-cuff. I waited quietly off to the side of the stage until it was time to begin. People started filing in, filling up the bleachers. Soon it was packed, about 1500 people . . . all from Minnesota and North Dakota and I couldn't believe it. It was also very surreal because it was so quiet (everyone was silent) for such a big outdoor space.
When I walked up to play, people started to clap. They clapped and clapped. I looked to the crowd and thanked everyone. I was overwhelemed. It was so touching for me. All these people were there to listen to me play hymns. Oh my goodness. God is so great.
After my half hour of prelude music, I got up and the crowd clapped more. The worship band then played, and it was so enjoyable as I sat on the stage right next to the live music (and in front of a demolition derby track . . . seriously). The sermon was presented, and I got up and played in and out of the service for special moments. It was a glorious morning and I couldn't help but to wish there were more opportunities like this every Sunday morning for me to share my gift. (How many grandstands and fairgrounds are there in my neck of the woods?)
After the service, I went under the grandstand to sign CDs and music books. There was quite the line, and about 20 people in there was a woman who asked me to sign her CD. Fans always say the nicest things to me. And I'll never forget what she said to me that day.
"I've watched you your entire career, for 30 years. And you've changed . . . your energy is different."
Yes ma'am. I have.
There was a long line of people waiting, but in the brief few minutes that we talked she told me she was an "energy specialist," that her full-time career and corporate job was analyzing the basic energy of people.
I confirmed that her new opinion of me was true.
Many of you know that I turned 60 this year. I don't mind the age, really. There's no going back. But I would like to tell you about beautiful change, how it happens over the years and comes into your life. I can now speak from experience. And it's actually quite like a good recipe. There are a few unique and special ingredients to make it all work.
Here is a list of (some of) the secret ingredients for change. Keep in mind, again, this is change for the good. Are you ready?
Here we go.
Grief, heartache, sickness, disappointment, sadness, classic jealously of friends or neighbors, hardships, turmoil, trials and tribulations, isolation, temptations, envy, loneliness, emotional pain, physical pain, suffering, separation, sorrow, and even death of a loved one.
Sounds pretty terrible, doesn't it? But this is how you grow and change. This is how it happens. I know. I am absolutely sure.
I would say that I have learned this. In my early adult years everything was just PERFECT. I think when you're younger, you feel omnipotent. You have it all. But then you experience "hills and valleys." You wake up. And over time, it just happens. You change.
Some days it is tearfully painful. I'd like to share with you how to get through it.
There is only one person to help get you through all of this. Only one (and it's not your best friend, your parents, your spouse, your children, your pastor, your sister or brother. Nope). If you don't know this person, let me introduce you to the one person who you will need . . . the one person who will never let you down. The one person who changes you for the better.
" . . . yea, tho I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me. . . "
Ahh. Such a famous scripture.
Now I know this is not a very popular or fashionable "campaign" these days. (I guess I'll never be the Hollywood type.) But I don't care anymore (what people think), and I guess that is part of my beautiful change. Because I know for sure that absolutely nothing else matters. Nothing. All I need is Jesus.
Sure, I admit it. You all know me well enough to know that I love "worldly" pretty things (pretty clothes, a pretty car, my pretty house and all that comes with it), and . . . my beautiful career. But I know in the end, none of this matters.
In the end, just give me Jesus.
Jesus will walk through it all with you. He won't leave you. He'll be your only friend on some days. But you WILL get to the other side of the valley. All the while, holding His hand . .. the hand of our Savior, the hand of my Savior, Jesus Christ. He has saved me . . . and saved me . . . and saved me. Again, and again. What a friend I have in Jesus. All my sins and griefs to bear.
Change? Yes, I do think it shows on me. You can even spot it at the fairgrounds from a grandstand.
Yes ma'am. I have changed.
And I wouldn't change a thing.
P.S. My favorite scripture these days: "That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (II Corinthians 12:10)
P.S.S. Photos below: forklifting the piano to the stage with Don Langlie from Popplers Music (from Grand Forks, ND). Next is pastor Gary Barrett (middle) and helper Rick Smith from the church. Photo below this is of the crowd in the grandstand that day during the praise and worship service with the band. I snapped a quick photo. Be sure to check out that handsome guy in the blue suit looking at me.
P.S.S.S. Speaking of which. Tim has changed too.
Lately I've been sharing road stories on my solo piano Simply Grand tour. It's really fun and sometimes quite funny because, after all these years, I have so many stories to share . . . everything from bats dive-bombing me on stage, to having my bus stolen at intermission, to flooding an entire backstage area (because I hung my dress on a fire sprinkler head . . . yes, they work), to dealing with psycho bus drivers . . . so many stories.
Well, I have a new one.
A few weeks ago we went out (just the "Three Amigos" - my assistant Michele, Tim and me) on a little weekend tour in a rental truck (with the piano in the back, of course). Our first stop was Faribault, Minnesota. An easy drive. The old theatre was located downtown so we pulled up around noon, walked in the front door and checked it out. We always first explore how we'll get the piano up to the stage. Well, this day, which was day number one on the tour, we knew it was going to be challenging, but the staff had assured us before we arrived that we'd have six volunteers waiting to help us out.
No one showed up. Not one volunteer. So, in this case, as you know, I always send cute Michele out on the street to find guys to help us move my piano up the ramp and onto the stage. For this move on this day, because it was steep, we'd need four or five guys. The potential of finding candidates in this downtown area did not look promising. So Tim and I joined in with Michele on the hunt, all splitting up with phones in hand so we could text each other if and when we found a volunteer.
I was by myself and the street I first turned onto was so promising. I giggled because if it was a contest (which sometimes it is), I would win. There it was, a big, beautiful sign in bold blue letters.
I went inside to the front enclosed window and was greeted by a younger girl. I asked if there was anyone available for just 10 minutes to help us push a piano up a ramp onto the stage in the old theatre around the corner. She was obviously not very excited, but I'll give it to her . . . she at least went away for three minutes pretending to inquire about my unusual request.
When she reappeared at the window, I knew it wasn't promising. "We don't do this type of thing. I suggest you go down two more blocks to the FIRE DEPARTMENT."
Surely the Fire Department would help us! They "do that type of thing." So, I ran out and saw Tim (who still had no luck) and shared this new plan. Tim thought the idea was brillant. We quickly walked two blocks to the FIRE DEPARTMENT and rang the buzzer both in the front and back of the building. No one was there. We called and heard the phone ringing. (The ringing was us calling them.) The answering machine came on saying no one was available.
So . . . back to the POLICE DEPARTMENT. Surely they could find someone to help us. When we walked through the front door, the same girl had that same look on her face. Once again she told me "we don't do that type of thing."
We were running out of time. Now I'm getting nervous.
Now what? We walked out of the POLICE DEPARTMENT and here comes this kid down the street, kind of rough looking, pants sagging, hanging low, hat on backwards, smoking a cigarette. He walks by us with swagger and Tim says, "hey! Would you mind helping us move a piano up to the stage in the theatre around the corner?" The kid looked us up and down (like we were crazy), tossed his cigarette, and said, "sure."
"What's your name?"
Oh my gosh. We were so excited to have someone. But we needed at least four more people to make it work. So I said, "do you have a friend, someone who could help us?" We're walking fast now.
"Oh yea. I've gotta guy."
Brandon happened to be the manager of the SUBWAY, located across from the theatre. He said he'd go and get his friend who was working with him that day. He said he was big and strong.
Sure enough, here they come in their SUBWAY green t-shirts, and the "guy" is perfect. Yes . . . big, mean-looking, tattoos everywhere, shaved head, noticable scars. Tough. And strong. He wasn't from around there. He definitely had a story. He'd been somewhere.
About this time, Michele texted and she had two guys, so we were set! The show was going to go on.
My two rough and tough friends from the SUBWAY walked into the theatre with me and I showed them what we were going to do. I was by myself with them because Tim went to gather up Michele and her two pals. I was slightly uncomfortable because, well, I guess I just felt small.
We always put the biggest guy at the top of the ramp on the stage to pull, so that's where we'd put Brandon's friend. I set him up and then asked him his name.
"My name is Leo."
Leo was confident he could pull the whole piano up by himself. He probably could. I was in cut-offs that day and a T-shirt, tennis shoes. I stood off to the side of the ramp, waiting for Tim to (please) reappear soon. While we were waiting, Leo started in.
"I just have to say it. I get things off my chest right away. I'm that kind of guy. When something's on my mind, I just say it. I've always been that way. So I just want to say it."
I'm scared. I'm thinking we already have a problem and we haven't even gotten started. "OK . . . " I say.
He pauses, thinks about it, looks around, and then says it. Just blurts it out.
"You're a very beautiful woman."
I take a breath. I do not know if I want to laugh or cry.
And then he says, "are you married?"
And at that very point in time, Tim walks in with Michele's friends and runs down the aisle.
"Well, yes, that's my husband right there. His name is Tim."
"He's a very lucky guy."
OK . . . now I'm laughing.
We move the piano and in just three minutes, it is to the stage. Leo says he wants to see the piano come out of the case, help tip it. He's standing next to me now. And I'm comfortable.
I ask him. "What's your story? You're definitely not from around here."
Yes, Leo had quite the story.
Leo was from California. He said he'd been in quite a bit of trouble, belonged to gangs, sold drugs, and ended up in prison for three years. His dad had committed murder and would be in jail for life. Leo decided after he'd gotten out of prison that he didn't want to end up like that. He would change. So, he decided to quit the gangs, quit the drug dealing. But it didn't work. A few months later he was back in the gangs, back selling drugs, and this time the "Feds" came knocking on his door. He was in big trouble.
In the middle of his sentence, he turned and looked at me very seriously and said, "are you a faith person?"
Indeed I am, Leo.
Leo had a choice. Either 10 more years in prison, or move to Minnesota and join Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge, a wonderful faith-based addiction rehab center with a fabulous support program. Leo decided on the obvious.
"John 3:16 - For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son." "That's my favorite scripture," says Leo.
Leo proudly announced he'd been in the program and clean for three years. "I'm a people person!" Leo was speaking in churches, telling his story. He pointed to the scar above his wrist and said his uncle had tried to cut his hand off. The scar around his neck was from a box cutter. All part of his story.
After we tipped the piano, I invited Leo back to load the piano back into the truck after the show at the end of the evening. I have to admit that he came into my mind while playing the piano (for a wonderful crowd) that night many times. I was anxious to see him after the show.
Leo did not show up.
I was bummed.
We moved on to the next city. The next show. I thought about Leo for many days.
Two weeks later, we just so happened to drive through Fairbault. I was on my way to a church appearance in Nemaha, so we stopped in to see if Brandon and Leo were there making sandwiches. Sure enough, both were working that day. Tim ordered a sub sandwich and I asked if they'd take their picture with me. They paused and popped outside on the street below the SUBWAY sign and Tim took a quick photo of us with my phone.
I asked Leo why he never came back that night. He said he had a part-time job (on-call) where he delivered hogs on a hog farm. He'd gotten a call that night and had to make an emergency run out to help deliver a piglet. He didn't have my number and had no idea who I was or how to call me.
I was so relieved. We quickly caught up and he said he was speaking in church the next day. Telling his story.
I have to say I was tearfully proud.
So. . . hey, everybody . . . meet my new friend.
Just another day in the life of Lorie Line.
Pictured above from left to right: Brandon, Lorie . . . and Leo.