Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Music & Meaning ... New Recordings!

Following several weeks of practice and lots of edits on arrangements, I recorded four songs last evening at Songwriters Recording Studio.  Each of the songs is way, way different from the others ... in genre, character, mood.  So I had a good amount of angst about how well I'd be able to get them done.  They turned out nicely and credit for much of that success goes to William (Sandy) Garrett, Songwriters' talented, helpful, patient, gracious man at the helm.

The first two songs are new originals:  "Reverie On Wings" (genre unknown to me at this time so someone tell me, please) and "I Can't Stop The Pain" (eight-bar blues).  Then there is a re-make of "That's The Way You Make Me Feel" (twelve-bar blues original that now has a quirky, fun new intro) and "It Had To Be You" (beloved old cover ballad).   

Musical creation shapes my life and gives it expression, gives it voice -- indeed, it makes my life much easier to live.    I'm very thankful !  

Whether The Weather ...

When I lived in New England, I thought of the month of April as the portal to Spring; often April was moody and deliberately disappointed me ... and would bring a huge snow storm during the month's first week. When I moved to Knoxville, Tennessee in October of 1986, I didn't know what to expect from Winter (I am using upper case here for seasonal names because the seasons' dramatic, mischievous, and sometimes devious qualities resemble personalities). That December, Knoxville had balmy temperatures and frequent warm rains.  Wonderful, I thought ... this beats those horrible Connecticut weather conditions.  Then, in April, a huge and week-long snow and ice storm paralyzed the area.  All the colorful tulips and daffodils stood frozen, encased in ice for days and then turned to mush when the freeze finally yielded to more moderate temperatures.   There went, for me, any semblance of predictability for southern weather.  

Recently we have had weeks of very low temperatures, with a couple of incidences of thawing days for good measure. Today I look out the windows and see a snowy landscape with more snow still coming down. The birds jockey for position on my bird feeder which is stocked with seeds and suet. I gathered myself away from the window when my favorite cardinal repeatedly was bullied off the feeder by a much larger bird whom I think is a starling.  "There is plenty for all" I keep saying aloud to myself; it doesn't matter ... they are just being birds.  

Speaking of birds, the day before yesterday (one of the aforementioned thawing days), a huge flock of robins was in my yard and treetops ... and the birds were on the ground searching the grasses for insects.  I think they were robins who migrated back here too soon.  Or maybe they were northern robins who got a late start on coming south.  Anyway, I thought of them today and wondered how they are faring in this intense wintry weather. Remember that old ironic expression "This is for the birds"?   One bird flew into my garage today during the moment or two I had the door opened.  He flew around in a couple of circles and then went back outside.   

Day before yesterday, my herb seed catalog arrived in the mail ... from Horizon Herbs (a wonderful company). The months, the seasons, even the years, are like revolving doors ... with each revolution bringing some newness into the mix.  Years ago I was taught that this newness that is introduced in each cyclic recapitulation is called "epi-genesis".   One more month of winter, folks.  Here in the south, my southern portal to Spring is late February and the advent of March.  So help is on the way and before we know it, it will be time to break out those breezy, happy warm weather clothes.


Thursday, January 9, 2014

The REAL Down And Dirty Blues !

This morning I spent a couple of hours at the dealership with my truck. When I arrived in the customers' waiting lounge, I grabbed a chair in one of the "business" cubicles, as far away as possible from the mindless clamor of the television set.  Within moments I was writing a new post for my blog.

Everyone knows I love Blues music.  I love it because it is pure, heartfelt, goes right to the core of the issue, puts it out there where the light of day can get at it ... and makes me feel good, or at least, better.

There exists a different kind of "blues" though ... and I speak now of clinical depression.  That's the real down and dirty kind of blues.  Rough to go through, it tends to revisit when it wants to. When it lifts, though, the feeling is wonderful, bright, and peaceful. 

An artist needs contact with the extremes of both joy and sadness; that is where creativity is born -- at that intersection, that juncture.    

I've got four songs preparing for recording.  Two of them (originals) came out of my most recent bout with depression.  The first one, "Reverie On Wings" (alternate title "Let's Do It'), is a rhythmic and eclectic offering about escape and freedom -- or what I should call "flying the coop".  It is about trying to handle perceived confinement in an upbeat way that cuts through fog, clutter, and density.  The second one came while I sipped my orange juice during the morning hours on December 31st, when the depression episode was fully engaged and very heavy.  The song is eight-bar blues and it lyrically talks about pain -- the nature of it, the spirit of it, and the depths of it, and so the song is named "I Can't Stop The Pain".  At first, I set it up in a minor chord format, but it was too "laden", dark, so I changed it so it presents in C major, though with some minor chord passages.  The third song is an ancient cover that I've always liked and could relate to in an abstract way.   "It Had To Be You" is timely now in a more literal way and it feels good to do it.  And fourthly, my 12-bar "That's The Way You Make Me Feel" blues original is ready to be re-recorded -- this time with a more robust character, more initiative!

While deeply honoring the work and talents of all the early blues musicians and those current artists whose efforts have nurtured and maintained the genre, I'm an innovative soul ... and so I take liberties and add my own musical touch :)

And so this morning produced for me the writing of this post, a pleasant visit with my co-visitors at the dealership, and my happily-repaired truck !  And, amazingly, the outdoor temperature had soared to 40+ degrees :)