I attended a Ken Gaines songwriting workshop “How To Get Out Of Your Beautiful Rut” hosted by the Nashville Songwriters Association International. It was fantastic, as always. I’m not going to brief you on what Ken taught. You will have to sign up to take one of his workshops to find out.
However, groove was part of the discussion. And Corcovado came into my mind from one of the exercises of the workshop. It reminded me how much I used to love to play samba as an upright bassist. Probably, I’ll listen to this song 25 times before finishing this post. Here it is for your listening pleasure.
But wait! There’s more.
I also attended “Master Class with Ken Gaines: The Molecular Structure of Melody” hosted by Visionary Heights. Motif was part of that discussion. One definition of motif is: the smallest bit of a musical idea recognizable through repetition. What’s the first thing that came to my mind? One Note Samba.
Spoiler alert: my next song may be influenced by — you guessed it, Samba!
Recently, I attended a lecture on creativity by Ken Gaines. One of the things he said was: “you don’t take time to be creative, you make time to be creative.”
What a great concept. Later, I was thinking about it and transposed Ken’s concept a little.
We are familiar with those who go on about finding themselves. This theme is everywhere, in books and movies — the idea that one must make who he/she is (through exotic travel, fashion, etc.)
It came to me that:
You don’t make who you are (which is very hard work), you reveal who you are.
That’s what this song is about. Letting down your guard and trusting yourself enough to reveal who you really are.
This is the first song I’ve posted where I practiced to play and sing at the same time. The home recording was done live start to finish, no overdubs or fixing. I could stand to still practice more but, this take is an accurate mile marker in my music journey. I’m ready to move on to the next song.
I do believe that art and music is most relevant in the time it was created. Similar to inside jokes, you had to be there to get it. Examples: Andy Warhol’s Factory and the Velvet Underground, beat poets, abstract expressionism, Fountain the 1917 artwork by Marcel Duchamp the “most important artwork of the 20th century” ( Rogue Urinals by The Economist).
This does not mean one can never appreciate what came before. Only, that it is difficult to truly grasp the full intent and meaning outside of the decade in which an idea formed. Or, outside of the group of people for which it was intended. By today’s standards, a symphony would never ever cause a riot. But it was a symphony that turned out to be the most famous scandal in the history of the arts (more info by The Telegraph in The Rite of Spring 1913: Why did it provoke a riot?)
Here is another pop culture example: someone watching Indiana Jones for the first time in 2016 probably does not grasp how revolutionary it was in 1981 (35 years prior). For one, the special effects appear ridiculous by today’s standards. But, also the culture is entirely different. This does not mean either is irrelevant or incorrect. Only, it is likely you had to be familiar with the culture at the time of release to fully appreciate the value.
So, you may wonder, what are you getting at?
“Paranoid Android” by Radiohead from OK Computer came on the other day. So, you ask?
OK Computer, released in 1997, is often interpreted as having prescient insight into the mood of 21st-century life, and many critics have described it as one of the greatest albums ever released.
The song is so powerful it makes me want to cry. And, I never cry. It’s quite possible, if you have never heard Ok Computer before today. You won’t cry.
I had previously heard of Nikki through her song “Right Time” which is very catchy. You may already know, her second album All or Nothin’ was produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys. Wikipedia says she met Dan at a flea market and that he allowed her to record the album at his studio, Easy Eye Sound Studio, for free.
However, what really grabbed me is this sentence: “…she broke up with a country musician, who left her to record an album in Alabama; this experience inspired her to begin writing country music songs.” What? How ironic! As you know, I’m a fan of DIY and it seems Nikki is too.
Of all Nikki’s videos, this is my very favorite. And, it’s not because of the lyrics. It’s because of the performance. Nikki can really sing live and it sounds like her records. Plus, this band is great! They really do the song justice. (Side note: Love the pedal steel – soo good.)
An étude in music is a study or musical composition exploring a particular technical problem. Because the études/songs are grouped together, their song titles usually contain numbers. Example: Etude in C minor op.10 no.12.
This song is not an étude, but to me it is a study. The song explores the mood and emotion of solitude. I may want to write a series of songs to study mood and feelings. In case I decide to revisit solitude as a subject another time, the song is titled No. 1.
If you’ve ever been through some trying times with someone you immediately know what’s behind this song. The beauty is, you know that without it being literally spelled out.
There is incredible emotion in the song, especially in the opening.
Yet, so delicately delivered. No yelling or crying even though you know that’s what was likely going on.
For me, the lesson in this song is to keep it simple. When I am trying to write songs, it’s hard to get away from compiling an essay relating the message. Remember Jodi, no need to outline bullet points for the listener. ha.
On another note, there are a several key changes in this song and it works brilliantly in a couple ways: 1) it is representative of the ups and downs of a relationship; 2) it keeps the song fresh musically for the duration; and 3) it serves a functional purpose to combine female and male vocals, which normally have very different ranges and keys. (There, I was able to fit bullet points in after all.)
This song is very powerful and so well done I could listen to it over and over.
Houston native Billy Gibbons played a concert recently promoting his new Cuban-influenced record. Of course, I had to go. Without having seen ZZ Top, I figured this concert was the next best thing. If you are unfamiliar with the music of ZZ Top, here’s what Rolling Stone says. Evidently, Billy Gibbons is no stranger to performing a concert. According to Rolling Stone, “The Worldwide Texas Tour” was one of the largest-grossing road trips in rock at the time.
I promised you I’d talk about the concert, but others have done a great job of concert and album reviews (see links at the bottom) – so I’ll talk about the music and influences.
First, Billy Gibbons mentions learning rhythm from Tito Puente, in person, at a young age. That figures! I’ve always thought Gibbons has great rhythm. Of course, as a bass player I’m biased towards the rhythm section. But, any musician whose music makes me want to dance is a winner. And, there aren’t an over abundance today that can do that via a live concert. Here’s Tito Puente – Five Beat Mambo. And, what’s the first thing you notice? A whole stage lined with percussion! What?!
So, at the BFG concert there were two stacks, two organs, two females on two drum kits, one percussionist, one low rider bicycle, and Billy Gibbons – a whole stage of rhythm and percussion. (well, except for the bicycle)
I admire the way Gibbons combines both the past and present and takes that into the future. As you heard, he’s not afraid to experiment. Also, I think one of his greatest assets is his showmanship. He is truly an entertainer and puts on a great concert!
Here is my newest song to write and record. I think it’s the most fun of the three. It’s the most rock and roll. The song is about first impressions that give off red flags. Sometimes your first impression is right. This song is about, in hindsight, realizing you should have gone with your instinct instead of rationalizations.
Each song, while more fun than the last, has also been harder to make than the last. Perhaps that’s because as I gain more experience in the process of songwriting, recording, mixing, and mastering, I become more critical. What’s the quote? The more you learn, the more you realize how much you don’t know. I’m not afraid though, I’m looking forward to becoming even better yet at creating more original music.
Tonight I heard the October version of “Serious Boredom with Patrick Carney” on Sirius XM. It was my first introduction to the show. But, according to Nashville Scene it has been airing for about three years. Maybe tonight the mood was right, but I loved the whole show! Some great music was played including a finale of the Latin Playboys.
It’s been a long time since I heard the Latin Playboys and it brought back some wonderful memories. In Austin at La Zona Rosa, I once saw the Latin Playboys live and it was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Their songs have such texture and variety. Each is incredibly unique. I wish they would have played all night long. Here is one of my favorites Manifold di Amour. However, each of their albums is an adventure. I highly recommend having a listen or two, or more.
This reminds me of another great show at La Zona Rosa, Mike Watt. He opened up for another band (I forget which one now). No one was there to see Mike Watt. The place was packed and the entire crowd was waiting on the headliner and talking loudly and paying no attention to this opening band that came on stage.
What was great about that show you ask? Amazingly, in about three songs the entire crowd was silent and spellbound. Mike Watt was performing with such energy it seemed he’d spontaneously combust at any second – every second – of each song until the end. It was incredible. I’ll never forget it. Not many bands can demand that kind of attention.
Immediately I went home to find out more about this bass player. The album I found: fIREHOSE Live Totem Pole EP. But, there’s lots you can find.
– More Info –
Musicians / Band: Latin Playboys – David Hidalgo, Louie Pérez, Mitchell Froom, Tchad Blake
Genre: According to Wikipedia, critic Richie Unterberger described their music as “a twisted and avant-garde take on roots music. Latin Playboys draw from blues, border music, experimental studio trickery, and cinematic sound textures.”
From: Los Angeles
Musician: Mike Watt, bass and vocals
Bands: The Minutemen, Firehose and solo career
I was thinking about this song the other day because of the dream sequence in The Big Lebowski. That movie didn’t really do much for me. However, the song is great! This video came up while looking for an original version. I love everything about it!
Probably, by now everyone knows Kenny Rogers recorded it. If you didn’t know that, you are likely incredibly surprised as he is famous as a country singer and for being paired with Dolly Parton. What else you might not have known – Kenny Rogers (a bass player) was born in Houston as was the songwriter, Mickey Newbury (the youngest songwriter ever inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame). Evidently, Kenny Rogers sold over 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time.
You are gonna love this! (and, I’m being serious)
– More Info –
Artist / Musician / Band: Kenny Rogers and The First Edition
Song: Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)
Genre: country, pop
Instrument: bass, vocals
From: Houston, Texas