(Picking up the story in the middle...)
There are many downsides to working for oneself, such as not always being able to pay the bills, but one of the good things is that you can take off fifteen minutes or a half hour whenever you want and stand in the middle of your living room and sing. Which I did one Tuesday afternon last May, when I decided to learn all the words to "Leavin' On A Jet Plane."
It was one of the standards of the a cappella group I was in for four years. I hadn't thought about it in ages, until the travel agent in my networking group ("Good Life, Great Travel!") gave us all a CD for Christmas of vacation-related songs. It sat on a pile for many months until I rediscovered it that afternoon, prowling my living room looking to pounce on anything that would provide a good excuse not to work. I was surprised to discover it wasn't the usual cheesy collection--in addition to "Jet Plane," there was Frank Sinatra and Manhattan Transfer. Not bad for free.
This was the original Peter, Paul and Mary version. Mary's voice ached and soared, and I remembered an interview she gave on a PBS special about The Weavers, where she said that growing up she wanted to sound just like Ronnie Gilbert, who would throw her head all the way back and sing in an expression of complete joy and freedom. I wanted to be like Mary being like Ronnie Gilbert.