Monthly Archives: August 2010

On Recycling

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I just love being a child of the 80’s.   I know that as a musician it was sort of a strange time fraught with electronics and weird  clothes but there was something for everyone.   I find myself listening to music now and saying “doesn’t that sound like….” fill in the blank.

I recently borrowed my neighbors car and found myself cruising down the 110 (if you can believe that) listening to Billy Joel.   I know that he really started a bit sooner but the bulk of what he did was in the 80’s.   I still amazes me how he was able to take classical chord progressions write a story (most of his songs are short stories) and we called it pop.

I was a freshman in high school in 1980.   I was still listening to Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Jackson Browne and Paul Simon but now I had bands like Styx, Journey, The Go Gos and Genesis.   Really that only scratches the surface for me but they are what comes to mind.   I also was listening to the little less known Marshall Crenshaw who was overshadowed (I believe) by a little guy named Elvis Costello.  I started to write music that year as well and really caught fire a few years later (88 0r 89) when I discovered 10,000 Maniacs.   I remember thinking “how did I live before this”  every time a new band came along.   Of course my older brothers made sure that I was still listening to plenty of blue grass and one even got me into Irish and Scottish traditional music.  I still loved to listen to singers and standards and just kept layering on one genre after another.   What a decade for me.

I love to revisit it now and again but am really amazed at some of the new music I have been listening to as well.  The Weepies are on my heavy play list now , Be My Thrill is the name of  the new album and I highly recommend that you go to their my space page and take a listen.  I was listening to the new, danceable, Be My Thrill in specific and had a sort of Go Gos flashback.   While I would say that the Weepies are a bit more sophisticated there is definitely a ghost in the music, a nod to another era all together.   I guess music really is the most easily recycled product we humans produce.  It is lovely when that new, freshly pressed, song comes out and yet it connects on some level like  dejavou. (sp?)

Every generation has it’s songs and strangely, I feel connected to things that came out long before I was even born and new music pulls me to it as well.   I guess that music  really is the gift that keeps on giving on every level.   Enjoy something you love today and maybe even sing along.

Ask and you shall recieve

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I was sitting around after mass yesterday and “no I was not eating donuts” but I was talking to friends.   The subject matter ranged from birthdays to our up coming family picnic and parish festival.   There was something for everyone.   I happened to mention that I was looking for a small spinet piano for a project I was working on.   Wouldn’t you know….my friend has one that no one in her family seemed to be using.   What?   is really going to end up being that easy.   I have to tell you that I am the type of person who will drive past a parking spot in front of the venue a plan to attend because I’m sure there must be something wrong or else it would be taken.  In my defense, here in L.A. you need to take some sort of class to read the parking restriction signs but really…….why couldn’t I have the spot?   I am a firm believer in “too good to be true”  but I am starting to change my tune even if it is  just a bit.

Now the piano isn’t actually mine yet and it might not ever be but the triumph is in the asking.   I have been pouring through Craig’s list everyday and it had become quite tedious and depressing.   Every piano I found was too big and way out of my price range which truly isn’t anything.   Maybe I would find someone willing to pay me to take one off their hands which is really what I could afford.   I did it everyday like it was my job.   Somehow I would work it out and yet all I had to do was ask around.

The reality is that I knew something was out there just for me.   We just had to find each other.   I am learning, through this whole process to listen and say yes, even to things that sound outlandish or impracticable.   God has a plan and sometimes it sounds outlandish and impracticable but with the  courage of Esther or Joshua I too must speak the truth and blow my trumpets in the desert while people shake their heads and tell me I’m crazy.   I guess the lesson is taking hold, at least for today,  I know I will doubt again but there is a part of me that knows the truth and is getting better about climbing out on that limb.    Have a great day!

Revelations

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I was playing some music this morning, in fact, I am struggling to type a bit because my fingers are killing me.  I don’t play enough guitar and the callouses on my fingers (or lack there of ) are in need of some building up.   What is just as strong as it ever was is my joy at finding new meaning in an old song.

I blogged a while back about the song that started this whole thing going.   It is a song about my dad and his place in my life…still.   I wrote something then that struck me like  smack on the forehead (the duh! kind).   Follow me if you can…. I had written this song and was feeling really good about it lyrically and musically but there was one line that just didn’t feel right to me.   I thought I would just leave it alone for now and change it if something else came to me.   It felt a little cliche which for me is a dangerous trap.  I really want to try and say things differently, a new, fresh approach to the  same idea.    That one line just came out one day when I was singing the song and it got me to the next line and I thought perhaps it was just a bridge that I could burn at a later date.   Lyrics happen that way sometimes.   One idea may not make it to the final product but with out it you might not ever get there.  ( I hope you are still with me)   So…. I left it alone.

Then one day I was writing in the blog about how long it had been since I had “lost ” my dad…..the very word that was bothering me in that line.   It sounded too much like an Amazing Grace sort of the …”what was lost has now been found” sort of thing.   But I realized in that post how often I have uttered the phrase “I lost my Dad 5 years ago”  The song is all about the fact that he is more with me now than ever before.   I haven’t “lost” a thing.   So now when I sing  “What I thought I’d lost I’ve truly found”   it’s o.k.   It was what the song wanted to say all along and I just was letting other things (like what people might think of it) get in the way.

Like some song writers, certainly not all, (and not me all the time) I believe that the song is really just looking for an open door to come through.   The Spirit has a way of making itself known if we would only allow it to happen and just get out of the way.    Some songs, for me, are a mixture of things.   Hard work is hard work either way you cut it.  You are either perfecting and honing your song (working) in a really conscious way or your are working really hard to not think and talk too much (not easy for me) and just let it come to you.   Let the music speak for itself.   Two schools of thought both valid, but I think I prefer the latter.   I sometimes write and don’t really know what the song is about until it is done and even then it continues to reveal itself over years of performing it.   I love the discovery.   You can over analyze things sometimes and it is nice to sit back and let the song speak for itself.  I believe the gift is in the revelation.

What if?

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Some days I just feel like I need to get away.   I was thinking about sitting on the beach today or just wondering through some random city.   I love to people watch (someone other than my kids) and wonder what they are thinking or where they are headed.   My need for inspiration is all consuming!  Don’t get me wrong….my kids and family are truly inspirational but I do fear becoming somewhat repetitive and they are too close sometimes.  I sometimes find inspiration in some pretty strange places but most of the time I think it comes from being in a different place and having a new perspective on the ordinary.

I often find myself pondering one word, just letting it tumble around in my brain until it attaches itself to another word and then a thought and so on.  I love the way two things,  seemingly unrelated, can somehow connect and a new thought is born.   What if?  Maybe?   Suppose that?    Time to break out….if only the guitar,  and start writing.

Don’t stop Believing

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Today I am weary.   Living in ones own head can really wear a person out.   I would describe myself as creative, passionate and sometimes even dynamic……  and then I start second guessing myself.   I try to make decisions in spite of my fear and do what I think is right and then spend the rest of the time wondering if it was.   I try to follow my heart but tend to give in at the first sign of anyone’s hesitation.   I have decided this time to stick with it ….or maybe not.  Maybe my fear is well founded and I should listen to that cautious voice in the back of my head…….I think I am going a bit mad.

Time is not my friend.   I am much better at diving in and going for it.  If given time to ponder I worry myself into a state of inactivity.   I have always thought it best to just dive into the pool no matter how cold you think the water might be.   Getting in a little at a time is too painful.   Go for the gusto right?   My brother always says “sometimes it’s easier to get forgiveness than permission.” I think he is right about that.   People are quick to forgive a mistake or a decision made in haste but they won’t always get behind an idea that is out of their comfort zone.  It’s easy to say that it wont work rather than take a risk.

I try really hard to be in touch with the  Spirit and   I believe in miracles and signs even when the rest of the world doesn’t.   I have had too many miracles in my own life to not believe that they happen everyday.

So for now I will trudge through and keep moving forward and try not to think about it too much.   God is good all the time!  even if we don’t always think so.

And this too may pass?

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I sat up until about midnight last night.   I  didn’t really think I had it in me anymore yet,  there I was.   What was it that kept me up you might be asking…..music.    I was pouring over some old cassette tapes of stuff I was writing or performing at the time.   I have an old school tape recorder and the rewind and fast forward don’t work.   It was quite tedious and strangely enjoyable.  It was so funny to listen to songs that I had forgotten all about.  Once they got rolling I remembered them all.    I have been looking for some fresh material for this up coming concert I am planning and thought I might something worthy of revisiting.  That’s when I hit a wall.   A familiar one, but  a wall just the same.

As I started listening with an ear for this event I am planning I started critiquing EVERYTHING.  ” Maybe that song isn’t good enough and maybe that’s the reason I quit doing it.”   “Maybe the melody is good and I could rework the lyric”   some of them brought me right back to where I was when I wrote it and some of them meant something totally new to me because of where I am now.   I sat there winding and re-winding with a pencil wishing someone else was there with me to listen and lend an opinion.   I has a musical friend many years ago who told me to bring him everything and not to judge it myself.   He always thought I was too critical and that is a hole that many song writers fall into.  “You cannot be the judge of your own stuff…..that’s why people go to therapy.”

I have a lot of work to do before I can offer it up to public scrutiny and part of me thinks I am not up to it.   I certainly can’t do the long hours thing ( I am feeling it today) and I do feel like I am opening myself up to be looked at and listened to in a way that I haven’t in some time.   I know in my head that it is a good thing but until I actually get there I will panic and question and panic some more.   I have so much doubt but perhaps a smidgen  more guts and so I will get it done.   At least that’s how I see it right now and that could change.

Update

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O.K. …so here’s an update.   I recently was looking for a little spinet piano that someone might want to part with for a reasonable price (well…not reasonable really.)  Maybe $100 dollars or less.  I  really thought someone might just want to get rid of it and that  somehow the universe would bring us together.    I really just wanted something small that I could use in my up and coming back yard concert.   After many days of pouring over Craig’s list, I found nothing.   Somehow, in the midst of all that surfing I that I had sold an old Yamaha keyboard to a friend of mine.  It really is a dinosaur of a thing but it has weighted touch sensitive keys and almost feels like a piano.   He still had it and was willing to loan it to me for a time.

We got it home and set it up today and it really is nothing like playing the piano as I thought it was.  It will take some getting used to again and I’m not quite sure the sound is just right but for now it will do.  I am excited because it feels like I am one step closer to making this a reality.

I also connected with someone that I have wanted to work with for some time and she is actually interested.  I was, as you can imagine, ecstatic, that she was willing and dare I say it …….. I little excited to finally be getting something together.   We have yet to meet but I am going to make some effort on that one this week.

I have this crazy thought to get this together in the next week or so and actually do it in August.   My dad’s birthday would have been on the 17th and some how that seemed a fitting way to celebrate.   He is in a way the inspiration for this hole thing anyway.   I think it’s crazy but it just might work.   I will keep you posted.