Friday, June 12, 2009

Isn't Force Necessary?

Yes of course. I'm just trying to use less.

It's not so much "no force" that I'm after, but rather, using as little force as is necessary. "The Unforced Life" is the ideal for me, but it's not something I pretend to live completely. It's something I'm aiming towards.

Of course there are times that require more energy than others. Piling sandbags all night to save your town from a flood requires more energy and force than going for a walk with your lover in the moonlight. But doing either with too much or too little force is, to my mind, wasteful. Too much Yin or Yang emphasis is not healthy. The trick for me is how do I know what too much or too little is? I use the phrase "most deeply right" to describe the feeling in my body that I trust to guide me in this process.

Anytime I'm doing what feels most deeply right to me, I find a source of energy and flow assisting me. When I'm doing something that feels wrong, or off, or just not totally right, I find that to some extent, I have to force myself to continue, and there are usually negative side effects to my health. Sometimes this is necessary, or at least feels necessary. Sometimes the least forceful way eludes me. Sometimes I'm too caught up in some head or heart game to feel into the unforced way. At these times I just go with as close to unforced as I can get, take my lumps, and keep learning. It's not attaining the ideal that I'm focused on as much as maintaining an orientation towards it.

Balance to me is not "stillness." I don't believe stillness exists. Balance is a dynamic process of finding and losing the "center point." Picture a master tight rope walker. His corrections are so small they're practically invisible. Just slight movements to one side or the other as he finds and loses the balance point again and again. If you watch a beginner, their corrections are much, much bigger--tipping one way and then wildly tipping the other way. I try not to apply too much force to my "corrections" so the counter-movment is easier to deal with. If I succeed, then I tend to spend more time closer to the balance point. If I fail I'm tipping all over the place. Mostly, I'm in between. The difference between a master of anything and a novice, in my opinion, is mainly the size of their corrections.

If you stop moving and making corrections on the tight wire, you fall off. So again, it's the orientation towards balance that I'm after, not some idealistic idea of "becoming balanced." It's an endless experiment. When it's done, I will be too.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Surf's Up!

Expect Less, enjoy more

The biggest challenge of my life to live creatively as a way of life, as opposed to some kind of hobby. Challenging on every level and in every arena of my life. So far it's been rewarding enough that I have no regrets, and I'm totally committed to continuing. If this too is your path, I encourage you to keep looking for work that feels right; work that helps, rather than hinders, your creative life. And good luck finding it in this stressed out world. You'll need it. We all do.

And here's some advice for those on the trail of the unforced creative life. If you aren't already doing it: minimize your outflow of money. Look to see how you could live, contentedly and creatively, with less money, and less stuff. Cheaper rent, skip the lattes and lap dances : ~ ) , whatever. And keep looking at doing it as an ongoing practice. Don't tell yourself it's just temporary. I'm not talking about short term belt tightening here. Be willing to do with less forever. Expect to live with less forever. Being willing to live with less is something I think is really, really worth practicing in the years to come, as I think that is exactly what it will be necessary to do. A simple version of the math: More people + Diminishing Resources = Living With Less. Or even simpler: Time + You = Nothing.

People have lived truly authentic joyful lives with much, much less wealth than we have at our fingertips--even at our poorest. And this world is loaded with miserable wealthy people up to their throats in one medication or another. Simple math: "Money Can't Buy Me Love."

If things happen to take an upswing, great. You can still enjoy it and spend your money. But if they don't, and it's more and more likely, I think, that generally they won't; you'll already be surfing the downward wave, rather than fighting or ignoring the current. You'll be in synch with and moving with the current of our time. Living beyond our means, racking up debt, investing in bubbles, nurturing fame fantasies, living on hope; all of these things are forgivable, maybe even inevitable, but to me they represent a kind of denial and hiding, that I don't want to encourage in myself. I want to encourage a more accepting relationship with how I find the world around me--NOW. Not in my dreams. Though I'm expecting things to get a lot worse in the coming years, I'd love to be wrong. And I'm totally willing to be wrong. I'm just doing my best to be with what's going on around me. And what I see ahead, and around me, is this: LESS.

And certainly, being almost 52 as I write this. There's going to be less life ahead of me than behind me! I guess the whole creative life could be seen as just a way to prepare for Death. Especially since our lives are short and all of our creative products are doomed to be forgotten and destroyed someday. Or it could be seen as a way to best enjoy Life. And for the same reasons. Or, as is often the case with me, if can be not "seen" at all, but simply felt as something one has to do.

Anyway my friend, whoever you are, I hope you can stay as near the balance point between creative and financial necessity as you can, for as long as you can!

Surf's up!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

An Awesome Guitarist

Check this guy out!

You may have already heard of
"Fret Killer" but I just found him on youtube recently. I think he's like the Thomas Pynchon of guitarists, because no one knows who he is. You just see his guitar on his videos, but man, who cares. He's awesome! Really relaxed flawless playing--no extra force or unnecessary adornments. Just what the song requires and nothing more. And his chops are just, well....Killer! My favorite so far is his rendition of "Would You Like To Play The Guitar" but every song I've checked out so far is fantastic! Here's the link to his youtube channel: Fretkillr

Monday, June 8, 2009

What Comes Back--Part Two

An old Seattle music friend of mine--Jesse Stern--was passing through Ashland the other day. He played bass for free for me on my Time Of Wonder album back in the early 90's. It's a gift I'm still grateful for. I missed his visit but Samarra had lunch with him. He sent me an email to say--"Sorry I missed you. Hope all is well"

Here's my response, sort of a "What Comes Back--Part Two." I guess it's a similar post from a slightly different angle:

All is way well, especially musically. I'm making a little money and getting some good to great responses around here and on line, and that is encouraging. But mostly I'm just personally very happy with the songs I've been writing and for the most part, with the way I'm performing them. I guess I'm just happy with my "aim" as a writer and performer. I think I'm hitting the targets I'm aiming at pretty well. These targets have more to do with the way I'm playing and singing than with getting a particular response from the audience. Whether anyone else agrees either with what I choose as targets, or whether or not I'm hitting them is interesting, but not really that engaging or important to me right now. Public favor and success in "the industry" is not what I'm after. I want to write and record everything I want to, in any way I want to, and post it online free for five years and see what comes back. I have a Digital Tip Jar, a myspace page, a blog, a web site and a youtube channel, so there are plenty of ways people can "give back" if they feel moved to. Not just with money either. Kind and honest words mean more to me than money. (But hey, both together is Awesome.) What I hope is that enough genuine support, encouragement, money, and appreciation comes back to enable me to continue writing, singing, living, recording and posting. I'm in the second of a five year experiment. So far so good.

While I was writing this I was listening to Jesse's myspace songs. Man, he's got it going on. What a great relaxing, yet invigorating vibe. Reminds me a bit of Steely Dan minus about 1000% of the irony. Don't get me wrong--I love irony; but I also love sincerity. He's come a long, long way since the old days in Seattle.

Check out his myspace page:

Nice, nice work my friend.


Sunday, June 7, 2009

What Comes Back?

Originally posted on myspace June 5th 2009

If you read my myspace profile you'll see that where it says "Label" I put down: "Don't Have One--Don't Want One."

Recently one of the songs that I recorded and made a youtube video of was "ripped" by SebastianHawks, a man in Holland, and his (much better) version has gotten over 36,000 views. As of this writing, it's been up for one month. When this started to happen and I told friends about it, very often the first joke they'd make would be something about my upcoming record contract. Isn't that what everyone who does music wants? Fame? Fortune? A Record Contract? Well, no. Not really. Actually, that isn't what everyone who does music wants. It's what a lot of people, especially men and women in their 20's want, to be sure. But it's not what everyone who does music publicly, that is to say: recording, posting, making CD's, etc. wants. More personally, it isn't what I want.

The more I come in contact with the "Entertainment Industry" the less I want to have much to do with it. My main interest ends with occasional consumption of "the product." What I want is to do is this: Write and record as many songs as I feel like writing and recording, in any fashion that feels right to me. I want to post them on the net free. (Donation basis downloads are essentially free downloads, as free will donations are pretty rare. I post them at myspace and also at my site where I currently have 17, soon to be 19 albums up.) I want to perform as much as I can locally, anywhere that remotely feels right. And, I want to do this for five years and see what happens, what "comes back" from the world.

I'm in the middle of year two right now. I'm looking to see what comes organically, naturally, with very little force applied. It's not a tactic or marketing ploy. I'm interested in what comes back, even it's nothing at all. It's been pretty slow going sometimes but I never dreamed that at this point 36,000+ people would have heard one of my songs. And that particular ongoing episode came out of the blue with no force from me whatsoever. I showed up. I wrote a song, I had it videoed and put up on youtube, and then I was back at work. 6 weeks later I had about 1100 views, one of which was SebastianHawks who was moved freely to combine our work and who ended up taking the song to a much higher level of exposure. From that exposure, as of this writing, has come 36,000+ views, 6 CD sales, 49 youtube subscribers, and 4 actual tips! And of course, this particular chapter in the experiment is just beginning.

What I'm essentially after is the satisfying experience of putting a song together that releases some kind of charge for me. One that leaves me feeling better for having gotten it off my chest, out of my mind, and out in the world. After that, I want to perform it in front of people to see how it changes as a result of doing that. Then I want to record and post it. Then I want to do that again. I like being heard, especially if I'm also being enjoyed, but that's not why I play music. I play music because I have to and because I love to. My greatest aspiration is to continue. What I hope "comes back" from the world is enough money, appreciation and support to enable me to do so.

So no, I don't want a label or a contract. No, I don't want to be famous as a goal in itself. No, I don't want to tour "in support" of a CD for two years to pay back a record label for lending me the money to make what they themselves had more to say about the creation of than I did. No, I don't want to live in a van. No, I don't want to chase the brass ring of public favor.

Don't get me wrong though....I'm not knockin' it. If it's your kind of life, there's nothing better. It's just not mine. In fact if someone who's into the show biz life and has made the necessary, uh, "adjustments," wanted to cover one of my songs or use it in some project or other, I would be thrilled to death. Publishing royalties are like tips to me. Record label money is more like wages. I like playing for tips. I find out what I'm really worth. Not much, it turns out; but I'm grateful for what I get and I'll take it!

So we'll see where it goes next...maybe nowhere. It's really fun creatively to just surrender to a plan like this. You don't dither around much deciding what to do, you know what to do and you just do it. You know, like it's a five year experiment. This weeks results don't mean much. I'm taking a pretty long view here. I'm just committed to showing up, performing, writing, recording and posting free for 5 years. At that point I imagine I'd either quit or continue but I really don't know what will happen. It all depends on what comes back.

David Carradine Dies Again

Originally posted on myspace June 4 2009

I just heard that David Carradine passed away. When I was in high school I loved the old "Kung Fu" show. I wanted to be "Caine" so bad it hurt! Little did I know how awful the martial arts were on that show or how silly many of the episodes and "wisdom" would seem to me later. Over the last couple of years, Samarra and I have been slowly working our way through Season One and now Season Two of "Kung Fu." Some of the episodes we found truly wacky and/or inane, but many we liked quite a bit. And always there is the underlying unintentionally hilarious spectacle of David Carradine doing his ridiculous "I sound Chinese because I talk very slowly and hesitantly" act. He's clearly sincere, clearly in love with himself, and both affecting and absurdly weirdly implausible at the same time. I really recommend getting Season One, watching the pilot first and then going from there.

And then there are the "T'ai-Chi" videos. DC always tried to pawn himself off as some kind of martial artist, but these videos show very clearly that no, he wasn't... There's always a guest "master" who leads most of whatever form they're doing. DC shows up to lead warm-ups and provide psuedo-Zen-Oriental ambience. These videos too are often unintentionally funny as hell.

I think the very best use anyone ever put David to was his work in "Kill Bill." I know he's hardly in it really, but when he shows up he's perfect. Quentin Tarrentino must have treated him like Brando for months to coax this performance out of him. You can watch the whole thing or just rent part two and watch the last scenes.

BUT...if you ever want a real hoot, get "Circle Of Iron". Netflix has it. It's this incredibly pretentious, psuedo Zen martial arts movie starring DC in 4 roles, none of which he, shall we say, "disappears" into. It was supposedly written by Bruce Lee, James Coburn and Sterling Silliphant and it's pretty awful, but in a good/bad fun way. Eli Wallach and Roddy McDowell have cameos but it's mostly Carradine's show. He does an interview in the Special Features where he says he thought this movie would literally "end" martial arts movies, that it was so profound and deep that the genre would be "done" with its addition. He sounds really proud of the thing too. To me he's kind of the Hippie William Shatner without being in on the joke. By the way, "Circle Of Iron" was shot in Israel and shot beautifully. It's gorgeous to look least the scenery anyway.

But even having said all of the above, I have to say that I still like the guy and I'll miss him. In spite of being, in my opinion, a complete nutcase; a narcissistic, pretentious, windbag; and a god awful actor, there was something about the guy that I just liked. Maybe it was the way he just shamelessly rode his wave and said whatever he felt he had to say to keep it going as long as he possibly could. I really don't know what it was really...

So as you contemplate this tragic loss, slip "Circle Of Iron" into your DVD player, fire up a huge bowl of whatever your favorite poison is and behold THE MASTER!

My Video Is Going Nuts!

Origninally posted on my space April 26th 2009

Here's some good news from my world:

First of all a Dutch guy named Sebastian Hawks ripped my video of "Jump You Fuckers" and made his own version of it, which I really like! It's been up a matter of days and has over 20,000 views! My version has over 2000 views but it's been up for weeks. Anyway, it's well done, poignant and pretty funny too. If you want to check it out, go to and click on any page. The look for the "Videos link at the top. Once you're at my youtube channel, look for my "Favorites" and it's number one. Or you can try either of these two links:

And...Butch Maier put several of my songs in his new movie, a romantic comedy called "Bride and Grooms." I'm hoping it turns out to be a good movie, but I have no idea! He just liked my music and wanted to include it. And no, I didn't get any money out of it, but if and when there's a soundtrack album, I might make a bit. I was just happy to be included. The songs are:
Nothing's Impossible Now, Renaissance Man, A Good Misunderstanding, Ten Good Days, and What I Know About Love. This is an indie film opening this week in select theaters. Here's the link to find out it and when it's playing in your area:

Thanks for your support!

Maybe Nothing's Wrong

Originally posted on myspace April 7 2009

Hi friends,

Hey I just finished and posted another album on the Musical Recordings page on my site:

It's a double album entitled: "Maybe Nothing's Wrong".
Part One is more upbeat and energetic and includes some recent favorites like
"We're All Gonna Die", "Jump You Fuckers" and the "Obama version" of "Nothing's Impossible Now".

Part Two is more mellow, contains no adult language, and includes "Virtual",
"Things Are Getting Better (Now That Things Are Getting Worse), and my cover of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star".

Both are for sale on my site and, of course, they are both available for downloading on a donation basis, which of course, means that they are basically free.

You can also just go to the album player and listen to the songs. They'll be in alphabetical order on the player so you won't hear them in "my" order but that's not really a big deal. You can start with the first song and the player will just play one song after another. You can then open a new window and surf while you listen!

Be well and thanks for your support.

T'ai-Chi For Geniuses (The Book)

Originally posted on myspace February 24 2009

My second book "T'ai-Chi for Geniuses--A Practice Companion for the Genius in Everyone" is now in print. I actually wrote it before "Songwriting for Geniuses-25 Tips for the Genius in Everyone" but since the songwriting book was much shorter, I decided to do it first as a trial run. I went with iUniverse and this is a self-published, print-on-demand book. That means that they make and send you the book when you order it. There's no wasted paper, they're only made when sold, and more importantly there's no huge pallet of books in our apartment!

I have a web site where you can find out about the book, read a free sample, as well as order copies through,, or through me directly paying with paypal. In case you're wondering, I make more money (and you get the book faster) if you order it directly from me.

Or, you can also go to and click on the book's cover on
the home page.

Or, you can also search the book's title or my name on

T'ai-Chi Chuan is a Chinese martial art based on consciously aligning with the unforced balance of Yin and Yang energies that underlies all things. Whether or not you are interested in martial arts, T'ai-Chi principles of balance can be applied to any life activity to increase performance, efficiency, health and enjoyment.

"T'ai-Chi for Geniuses" is a practice companion, not an instructional training manual. Rather than presuming that the reader is a "dummy" or "complete idiot," I assert that there is an inner "genius" within everyone. This genius is a wellspring of intuitive knowledge vastly more intelligent than our conscious minds. I encourage the reader to listen to this inner genius while I break down the often confusing and mysterious T'ai-Chi training into four levels of work: Bone, Muscle, Energy and Spirit. Applying these levels of work to solo form training, partner work, weapons training, and daily life, I show how you can improve the quality and clarity of your practice, eventually becoming your own teacher and student.

I live and teach T'ai-Chi in Ashland Oregon and I've been teaching since 1985. I was certified to teach T'ai-Chi by Andrew Dale of the
Xin Qi Shen Dojo in Seattle Washington. I combine traditional Chinese principles of health, balance, and self-defense, with a Western, psychological, bioenergetic approach in an on-going exploration of the mind/body connection.

"Songwriting for Geniuses" is a short book of 25 tips to help aspiring songwriters write better, more satisfying songs. It's not about writing hits or improving the commercial quality of your songs. It's not about technical tricks or music theory. It's focused more on helping what I call your inner "genius" write songs that accurately convey your thoughts and feelings in a satisfying way.

Personally, I'd love to give you all free copies but this thing cost a bit to set up and until (and if!) it breaks even, I just can't afford to give any away.

I appreciate your support and please feel free to forward this to anyone you think might be interested in my book. And please consider giving a copy to any aspiring songwriters or T'ai-Chi students you may know...

Songwriting For Geniuses (The Book)

Originally posted on myspace December 11 2008

After a long and somewhat frustrating process, I'm proud to announce that my book "Songwriting for Geniuses-25 Tips for the Genius in Everyone" is finally in print. I went with iUniverse and this is a self-published, print-on-demand book. That means that they make and send you the book when you order it. There's no wasted paper, they're only made when sold, and more importantly there's no huge pallet of books in our apartment!

I have a web site where you can find out about the book, read a free sample, as well as order copies through,, or through me directly paying with paypal.

Just go to

Or, you can also go to and click on the book's cover on
the home page.

Or, you can also search the book's title or my name on In case you're wondering, I make more money (and you get the book faster) if you order it directly from me.

"Songwriting for Geniuses" is a short book of 25 tips to help aspiring songwriters write better, more satisfying songs. It's not about writing hits or improving the commercial quality of your songs. It's not about technical tricks or music theory. It's focused more on helping what I call your inner "genius" write songs that accurately convey your thoughts and feelings in a satisfying way.

I'm now working on getting my much longer book about T'ai-Chi through the same process. The songwriting book, being much shorter, was sort of my trial run. I think I understand the process better now and my T'ai-Chi book will go more smoothly.

Personally, I'd love to give you all free copies but this thing cost a bit to set up and until (and if!) it breaks even, I just can't afford to give any away.

I appreciate your support and please feel free to forward this to anyone you think might be interested in my book. And please consider giving a Holiday copy to any aspiring songwriters you may know...

An Audience Of One

Originally posted on myspace November 29 2008

I had a really nice Thanksgiving morning at The Ashland Interfaith Thanksgiving Celebration. Several different traditions were represented, each doing short 5 minute presentations. Good people, big crowd, great community vibe. I was representing Taoism and did a short little talk and then sang my song "Nothing's Impossible Now." I was the very last presenter and I think for one reason or another people were just ready for what I did because the response was really great. People were really listening, I got laughs at every place I put something a bit funny in and then a big round of applause afterwards.

It was very nice and at the same time a bit strange. I mean almost all my gigs are pretty much background music and I play the majority of the time to little or no response at all. I hardly ever perform in anything like a concert setting. It's a world I'm not familiar with anymore. If it ever comes to pass that I actually get to play these type of things more often then once or twice a year, I might actually get better at it, or at least more comfortable.

I guess the main thing for me is just to do my best with each venue that comes my way and learn what turns out to be useful. Honestly, having a bunch of concert-giving skills is not that useful to me right now, given what I mostly do. It's much more important to be able to play for three hours to very little response, deliver my sound and feeling, and not be discouraged, just to take what comes and continue.

In the past, I did not have this skill. If no one was listening, it was almost unbearable. I would stop if I could but often I couldn't, so I'd just detach myself from the feeling in the songs and just sort of drag myself through a set, pouting to punish them for not listening.

Now, sure, I feel better when people are listening. I get and give more energy when they do. But when they don't, it's no big deal. As long as I can hear myself, all is good. I'm practicing, keeping my balance between often competing energies to produce the sound and meaning that I like to produce. If people like it enough to tip me, I really appreciate it. If they like it enough to smile or clap or show me that they like what I'm doing, so much the better. If they come up and buy 5 CD's, that's awesome and makes my week. But if they just sit there inert with no expression of interest in my music whatsoever, don't even glance at me or my tip jar, if they just sit there passively absorbing the sounds I make like wind moving through a bush, it's still OK with me.

As long as I can hear myself. If it's too noisy for that, even I lose interest in playing. That's where I stop enjoying what I'm doing. I do need an audience of at least one. Even if it's just me.

Without The Moon

Originally posted on myspace November 27 2008

Hi friends,

I've just finished another new CD, it's up on my site: and I'll have copies for sale at all my shows. This is my fourth album this year and it's called
"Without The Moon." This has been an amazing year songwriting-wise with over 60 new songs recorded. I know it's a lot to even think of listening to or keeping up with. Imagine how I feel. I have to remember all those lyrics!

As usual, you can download all of the songs from any of my albums on my site on a donation basis. Or you can just give one or two a listen.

I hope all is well with you as we go into the holidays. Obviously, some hard times are coming. As I say in the lyrics from one of the songs on
"Without The Moon"--"The best insurance is a bunch of friends." I hope we can continue to be friends and do our best to help each other out in the coming months.

Support local live music!

My Favorite Band

Originally posted on myspace October 4 2008

My favorite band, the one I can listen to over and over without ever, ever getting bored is Steely Dan (Walter Becker and Donald Fagen and here I include Donald Fagen's solo work as well). I have a CD player in my bedroom/office that's loaded up with 6 compilation discs of their tunes (as well as Donald Fagen's solo work) and I can set that baby on "shuffle" anytime I want pure musical enjoyment.

The incredible musicianship is obvious. Even people who don't like their music will acknowledge that the playing itself is first rate. I also really love the lyrics and the little sonic world that each song inhabits. The songs are more like musical movies than just "singles."

What I really love about their lyrics is the way they embrace losing. Many, many of their songs are about losing, or losers, or falling short. In fact I'd say that the main subject of their writing is about the distance between what we want and what we get, as well as the joy, still be found, with what we do get.

If you think of them as just some ultra-slick studio boys who create a veneer of irony and riff on their own coolness...well, you're right. But they are also so, so much more. I think of them as true classic American Jazz artists. And amazingly, I think that literally any one of their many songs illustrates this. I can't think of a single song that I don't at least love. So I can't even recommend one song over another. I guess if I had to, I'd recommend their album "Aja," but the minute I even think that I regret not choosing "Katy Lied" or "Two Against Nature" or "The Nightfly" or "Gaucho" or really any of their albums.

PS: I'm adding this some weeks after first posting this. I've been thinking further about why I like this band so much and don't get tired of listening to them. I think it really comes down to the intelligence imbedded in every moment of their songs. Musically, emotionally, and intellectually, there is always a precise intelligence at work. And that works for me. I love other aspects of music and of people too, but inevitably it's intelligence that holds my interest best.

Nothing's Impossible Now

Originally posted on myspace August 31 2008

Well friends,

It's happened again. I have completed yet another CD, my third one this year. It's called
"Nothings Impossible Now."

I figure since I'm not really in the "music business," which incidentally I can't stand; since I'm 51, hate traveling, hate "selling" myself, and am not interested in getting "signed" or "making it"; since I'm not getting any of the perks of playing that whole game: more money and more appreciation; I might as well wallow in the big perk of being "undiscovered" : creative freedom! I can make as many albums as I want and produce them any way I want to. I don't have to pay the record company back for one album before making the next one. I don't have to pace my output to my "fans" assimilation rate. I don't have to listen to record company executives, marketing people, publicity people, engineers, producers, managers, tour people; I don't have to listen to anyone really but myself. And my self says: Write! Sing! Record! Put your stuff up on the net! Experiment and see what comes back!

So far what's come back is more money than I put into music which I count as a major blessing. And I've had some great fun performing, creating these songs and connecting with the people who enjoy them. So far that's good enough for me.

Since I started putting all my songs on my site ( and making them downloadable on a donation basis. I've had tons of downloads but only 7 tips so far, and mostly from good friends. Not one single "stranger" tip and only the very rare email saying "Hey, I like your stuff." I guess music is more or less "free" now and the internet is a fast, fast place where stopping to say "Thanks" is next to impossible for most people. But I'm still going to continue this experiment and make my songs as easy as possible for people to get. My hope is that aside from anonymous strangers perhaps enjoying my songs: one of them will get to someone who wants to buy some of my CD's, or actually make a donation, or maybe even cover one or two of the tunes. We'll see what comes...

Meanwhile my newest "release" is called
"Nothing's Impossible Now" is up on my site. Just click on Musical Recordings and it'll be the first album listed at the top of the page. You can listen to any and all of the songs as well as download them. I'm really happy with this one and I'm really happy with the last two as well: "My Song Now" and "You Are Wrong." Even though my best and most prolific output has coincided with the absolute nadir of interest in this kind of music, when in fact there are so many self-produced albums out there that music is practically disposable and diluted to the point of near irrelevancy, I find I don't care at all. Sure it'd be nice to be appreciated more, but I'm in it primarily for the joy of creating the songs, then the joy of just singing and playing them. If you or other people like them, well that's just icing on the cake.

So check out the new one if you feel like it and hopefully I'll see you around at one gig or another!

Buying CD's

Originally posted on myspace July 24 2008

I know that music is mostly "free" these days. And I know it's everywhere and has become kind of disposable audio wallpaper. And I know most people have their iPods loaded up with their favorites, including some of the best bands and singers of all time, and who the hell needs more music right?

But hey, think of it this way. For only $10 or so you can support someone (who you like) in doing something that they love to do. And take it from me, it's not only "supportive" to buy someone's CD, it's really encouraging. And I mean it gives the artist courage to continue. To write, sing, record and perform in public. If you've never done any of these things, imagine doing it now and you'll see the value of courage.

So anyway, in order to support an architect in doing what they love to do, or a dancer, or a playwright, or a painter, or a novelist, can be considerably more expensive and possibly time consuming. Musicians are some of the easiest artists to support and give courage to. If you truly can't afford to buy their CD, you can always listen, or clap, or tell them you like their songs, or tell them specifically what moved or touched you about what they do.

But if you can afford to buy a CD, especially from local un-signed artists, I encourage you to do so. You don't have to buy everyone's...just mine! :~) Seriously, just pick 3 or 4 of the local artists you most want to encourage and buy their CD's over the course of a year. You'll be making a real difference for someone, and who knows maybe some of their tunes might be "Pod-worthy!"

You Are Wrong

Originally posted on myspace July 24 2008

Well, it's happened again. Another new CD. I know. I just released "My Song Now" a few months ago and here's another one. The songs are just coming and coming and part of what I have to do to feel like myself is record and post 'em on my web site: This "new" new one is called "You Are Wrong." and features another 16 new songs. Included are:

"Renaissance Man" which I wrote for my friend T-Poe.

The controversial and politically incorrect--
"I'm Not Gay But I Don't Like Girls."

"Where Can I Go Without You," which I wrote for a big Hollywood movie (it's a huge long shot that it'll get in the movie but I really like the song...).

"You Are Wrong" which I think of as my Werner Heisenberg song.

"Heaven" which is a story song about a gambler who dies and isn't crazy about the afterlife.

"Take It To The Roof" which was inspired by the fundraising slogan of a local Buddhist group that's building a new temple.

"The Rest Of The Week" which I started over 10 years ago and finally finished. It's a response to silly boy band singers crooning about about loving their latest fling "forever."

And "Dancing" which is one of my favorite songs ever. It's about music, childhood and money and the corrupting influence of the world.

And guess what? Brace yourself...I'm about to start recording another CD. I already have another batch of songs ready and they include one of my very favorites called
"Nothing's Impossible Now." Writing this song was so satisfying that I had a two day writer's block when it was done! Anyway, this another dozen or so will be on my next "new" new CD which should be done in a few weeks.

My Song Now

Originally posted on myspace February 12 2008

Hi friends,

I know this is hardly a "long-awaited" event but I have recorded a new CD. It's called
"My Song Now" and features 15 new songs including some of the most popular and most requested songs I've written yet. I just put 6 of them up on my myspace page. You can also go to my site: and listen to and/or download all the songs in their entirety on a donation basis. You can also buy the CD there if you want to.

I'm still on a creative roll these days. I had 4 more songs that wouldn't fit on this album! Now, if only I was on a money roll....

It's pretty easy to get discouraged doing music these days. There is an incredible amount of music in the world right now. Not only is all the great music from the past available but there are literally thousands upon thousands of self-produced CD's put out every year. There are dozens of cable TV stations all packed with music. It's playing in every bar, store, ipod, and car. Not only that but for most people, music is "free" now. It's become this sort of free background sound that most people don't really pay any deep attention to. Almost all of us are busier now (many of us making music ourselves) and our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. I very rarely see anyone actually listening to an entire song anymore.

So while it's easier and easier to make CD's and make them available to the public, it's much harder to stand out. Harder still to get people to listen to it and damn near impossible to get anyone to pay for it.

So thanks for your support. It truly means a lot to me. And you don't have to buy my CD to make a difference for me. Even an email letting me know you like a certain song or appreciate what I'm doing goes a long way. It's encouraging you know? It gives me courage to continue.

PS: We all want to be listened to and liked. We'd all love an audience, even if it's a small one. I encourage you to give to others what you'd like to be given yourself. Want people to listen to your music? Listen to other people's music. Want people to buy your CD? Buy your friends CD's. Want people to tell you if they like your stuff? Tell the people you like that you like their stuff. What goes around, comes around.

Songwriting For Geniuses

Originally posted on myspace December 27 2009 (I've since turned this idea into a book called "Songwriting For Geniuses--25 Tips For The Genius In Everyone" which is available at

Hi there friends, this blog entry is entitled: Songwriting For Geniuses. Now I'm not saying that you need to be a genius to use these tips, I'm saying that these tips are for the genius in you, whoever you are. I believe and experience that we all have a wealth of intelligence, creativity and genius that most of us only tap into accidentally, if at all. This wealth of intelligence is what I call your " Genius." It is far more powerful and wise than your conscious mind. It is sometimes called "Spirit" or "Intuition" or "Higher Mind." I call it Genius and I have no idea what it is or what it's made of or where it comes from. It just is. Mine speaks to me in the form of a "right" feeling, a feeling of "yes" that resonates throughout my body. I've learned, with many years of practice, to tune into and listen to this feeling. I do what feels most deeply right to me and I keep checking to be sure that it, I, or the world hasn't changed. If you choose to live this way, I would call you a "freestyle" Taoist. Freestyle because you are not part of an orthodox religion with rule books and rituals, and Taoist because you would be looking for the most natural, least forced way to live. But you don't have to live this way to apply some of these principles to specific activities such as songwriting.

My aim here is not to help you or me or anyone write commercially successful songs. I also know very little about song formulas and music theory. What I do know about is how to write songs that are satisfying to me; songs that capture and express what I think, feel and experience in my life. Whether other people like them or not is out of my control. I write primarily because I have to. Writing songs is just something I must do in order to feel like myself. My tips will hopefully help you write songs that are satisfying to you; songs that will express your thoughts and feelings in ways that connect your life to the lives of those around you, or if you choose not to share them with others, will be satisying to play for yourself.

These tips are just my opinion. I invite you to try out some of them and see if they feel right. If they do not, let them go. If they feel right and you get results you like, try some more. Experiment, live, learn, keep writing and your songs will improve.

Tip 1: Accept the idea that there is a part of you which knows a song that feels right to you from one that doesn't. You can say this song is good, that song is bad, but really no one knows what a "good" song is. Everyone has their own criteria. But you do know when you like a song, when a song feels right to you or expresses something in a way that resonates with you. You can use this same sense to edit or evaluate the songs you create. In fact, I would say that songwriting is basically editing from the flow of words and music that just pops into your head. No one knows where these ideas come from, they just appear. Creating is mostly editing. And who is the "editor"? Your Genius, that's who.

Tip 2: Learn to play an instrument. I know there are people who can write songs with just their voice, but in my opinion, the songs written by people who can play an instrument are much more moving, interesting, varied and affecting. You don't have to master the guitar or piano. You don't have to be classically trained. You can be a self-taught, by-ear player like me too. But my advice is, if you want to write songs, learn to play an instrument. I would recommend the piano or guitar, since you can sing while playing them.

Tip 3: Read. Your Genius is wise but it needs information. Specifically it needs words and ideas. So read. Read fiction, novels, stories, poetry, non-fiction, whatever interests you. And read with a dictionary nearby. Look up words you aren't sure you know the meaning of. Give your genius lots of words to work with. If your only descriptive words are "cool" and "sucks", your songs will suffer. Also, reading will give you insights into other people's experiences and give you all kinds of subconscious tips about how to express yourself.

Tip 4: Develop interests outside of music, writing and romance. These are all great things to be interested in. I'm not knocking them. But if all you know about is being a musician, writing songs and your boy or girlfriend issues, your writing will suffer. One of the great tools of writing is metaphor (look it up). If you study shipbuilding for example, you'll have all kinds of ideas for how some aspect of your love life is like some part of a ship. Pursuing interests outside of music itself is a great way to generate a wealth of ideas, metaphors, connections and knowledge that will inform and improve your songwriting work. It will also incidentally make your life a lot more interesting.

Tip 5: Listen to other people's music. Not while you're driving or studying or cleaning your house. I mean really listen. Not only will you be learning, gathering information about how someone else writes but you'll also be developing the generosity of spirit that you would like from other people. If you don't listen to other people's music, if your life is basically a cry of "Listen to me!", that selfishness will poison your best efforts. Listen critically too. Listen for what works and doesn't work for you. Listen for what you'd do differently. Listen just for the pleasure of listening.

Tip 6: Take notes. Keep some scratch paper with you at all times. Not a notepad necessarily. I like small separate pieces of paper ( 4 X 6 is great). That way each idea or line or verse can be put on it's own piece of paper. Any time you have an idea for a song, a line in a song, an insight that grabs you, a connection worth developing--write it down! Later, when you are actually writing, these notes can really come in handy. What I do is to separate my notes into catagories: Strong Ideas and Great Lines, Possible Ideas, and Food For Thought. The stuff I like the best goes in the first catagory. When I want to write, I start by getting a groove or chord progression on the guitar that feels right or good and then I look into my pile of Strong Ideas and Great Lines and see what might match with it. From there, I build my song. I look for themes or common patterns in my notes. I look for an idea that fits this music and then just start singing things until something sounds right. I keep what sounds and feels right and dump anything else.

Tip 7: Once your song is "done", go on what my brother Allison calls a "cliche hunt". In other words, ask yourself: "Have I ever heard this phrase before?" "Has anyone else ever said what I'm saying in these same words?" Everything you say doesn't have to be original. Sometimes a cliche is the best you can do. But at least try to minimize them. You might change "Is anything what it seems?" to "Is anything at all, at all what it seems." You might change "She ran like the wind." to "She outran the wind." Just see if you're relying on some easy, lazy way to say something in someone else's words and see if you can replace that with something fresh, something yours, something that really feels right.

Tip 8: Avoid easy rhymes that don't advance the meaning of your song. I hear so many songs where the writer is just going for the easy rhyme. I often
wonder, if that is what he or she really wants to say, or is that just what rhymes easily? If each line isn't what you want to say, think about it. Find words that say what you want to say. Don't just settle for the easy rhymes. Here are some easy rhymes that should be illegal: thinking and drinking, fire and desire, change and rearrange, girl and world. I've used 'em all and probably will again. But I'll do my best not to and if I do use them, I'll try my best to spin them a little differently, to make them somehow say exactly what I want to say and nothing more or less.

Tip 9: This is related to tip 8. Make sure each line advances your meaning and doesn't just repeat what you've already said. Sometimes you just can't avoid this. You're in a corner and the only way out is to repeat what you've just said in slightly different language. If that's the case, so ahead. I'm just saying try to avoid doing that. If my first line is "I can't change you" and my second is "Or rearrange you." I haven't really said anything new. This also relates to pet peeve of mine. As our attention span and tolerance for difficulty go down, we tend to not want to have to think at all. Many songs are like collages of emotional phrases. Each phrase can be taken by itself like a short little poem. Then the big unifying chorus comes. I'm not against this kind of song. I've written some like that myself. But there is another kind of song. The kind of song that tells a story, or where the person singing changes over the course of the song, or where what comes later in a song changes the way you relate to the first verse. These kind of songs require that the listener pay attention and actually remember what was sung before. Another reason to pay attention and listen to songs like this is to find out how it's done. Try "Idiot Wind" or "Shelter From The Storm" by Bob Dylan. If you want to write emotional collage songs that's fine, but I also recommend writing songs that extend and deepen their meaning as the song goes.

Tip 10: Be willing to not know what the song is about yet while you are writing it. Keep feeling into what feels right and editing what you come up with with that in mind. Keep studying what you've come up with. Sometimes a song will not be clear to me until it's almost done and suddenly I'll see it. This seeing can effect how I end the song, or it can get me to go back and change certain elements from earlier verses. It's fine to not know yourself what your song is about, but if this happens again and again, chances are you've lost touch with something important. A song can have multiple meanings or an obscure meaning, but most songs that continue to move people have at least one clear meaning. So look for your song to have meaning, but be willing for it to emerge as you write as well as be clear from the outset.

Tip 11: It's the song not YOU that's important. In this era of narcissists and cult personalities this can be overlooked. If something you love about your song is in it's way: KILL IT! What counts is the work, not what you love. If you can't add anything to improve something, don't add anything. I heard that B.B.King once played a solo that was so "tasty" he didn't play anything! He couldn't improve on what his band was doing so he just shrugged and played nothing and the crowd loved it. This may be a myth, but it's a useful one. If you can add something to improve the song, do. If not don't. And remove anything that doesn't work no matter how in love with it you are.

Tip 12: Live and learn, (cliche, I know) and keep writing. Sometimes it's better to write a bad song than no song. Just keep at it. Don't force yourself, but do nudge yourself. If you get stuck and can't write, just write something. "The I'm Stuck And Can't Write Blues." You can have the goal of just writing something better than the last song you wrote. If you keep failing at this sooner or later you will succeed because your songs will be so bad that you can't help but write a better one the next time out! Don't compare yourself to The Beatles, just try to come up with something that feels right to you, that says it for you, that's fun to sing and play. Let other people decided who "good" or "valuable" it is. Just write. Listen for what feels most deeply right to you, not what you think other people will like. Write what you like and things will work out.

Well, that's it for now. I Hope some of what I've written is helpful to you. I've written over 300 songs, starting back in 1975. I'm most happy with my very latest stuff. It's a never ending quest to nail an inspiration down, create something I'm happy with and proud of, and then put it out in the world. Good luck to all of us!