Monday, December 17, 2012

I'm Happy...

If I Can Reach One Person...

I live in a small town (20,000+ people) where I teach T'ai-Chi and play music. I don't travel. I mostly bike to my gigs which are almost all within a few miles of where I live. My shows are not rare, or even occasional, "events", they happen almost every week and are not big deals around here. I don't have much of a draw, but I do my best to improve the experience of anyone who comes to, or most often, just happens to be at, one of my shows. I'm not in it for the money or the applause, although both are nice and encourage me to continue. If I was, I would have quit a long time ago, because honestly, I don't get very much of either. I do this for love and because I have to if I want to feel like myself. I'm happy if I truly reach one person per show. Sometimes I do that, sometimes I don't. Last Friday at Paddy Brannan's Irish Pub, I played my regular First Friday show with my good friend Robbie Lindauer. A fan who wishes to remain anonymous left this for me/us at the bandshell where I teach T'ai-Chi a couple of days later. She made it out of a found hockey puck, but it warmed my heart and brought a smile. I could say it "makes it all worthwhile", but that wouldn't be true. It's already worthwhile. Robbie and I had a blast that night. But this is the cherry on the sundae. ;~)

Monday, December 3, 2012

New Album

Why Start Now? 

I've just completed another album of songs. Only my second this year...I'm slowing down a bit. It's called "Why Start Now?" and features 15 new songs. As usual, it's available for downloading free or with a donation at my site:  Donations are strictly optional. I'm always happy to get a tip in my digital tip jar but it's by no means necessary. Feel free to share anything you download with anyone you think might like my music. All I ask is that you let them know about my site and that they can make a donation if they feel like doing so. (All of my songs are also available on iTunes and CD Baby where they might be easier and faster to download, but they'll cost you a buck.)

Once again, I'm proud and happy with my work on this latest project. Here are the song titles, along with a lyric sample from each song. I'm also linking each song title to that individual song, in case you want to listen to just that song. Please find the "Musical Recordings" page on my site to listen to or download the entire album.

This song contains the secret to happiness, free of charge. 

Do you want to be rich?—Do you want to be loved?
Do you want to be famous?—Welcome to the club
If you want to be perfect
You can always buy some help
If you want to be happy
Get over yourself

Get over yourself—You’re not that good
Get over yourself—You’re not that bad
You can stay where you are with the superstars
Higher than everyone else
Or you can come down here and have a beer
And get over yourself

A song about whether it's worth the trouble to change...

Well you tell me that you’re gonna come clean—Clean as love will allow
You say you’re gonna tell me every little secret
The whats the wheres and the hows
You tell me you’re gonna keep your word
And treat it like a solemn vow
All I got to say when you put it that way
Is Baby, why start now?

When you see someone wearing a fishing hat, you just know they're not on the way to job interview...

I’m tired of my girlfriend—She’s just a spoiled brat
If I wanted one of those—I would’ve got a cat
Our fights are always stupid—It’s always tit for tat
But nothing says “Fuck it” like my old fishing hat

A song about reproduction, intelligence and survival of the species. 

He’s thinking with his penis and it is not a genius
And neither is that girl it’s pointed towards
He’s heard all the warnings about those after mornings
But ignoring them is what he thinks they’re for

She’s a walking celebration—And open invitation
To get someone in trouble and in debt
Innocent or smart—Bitter sweet or tart
It doesn’t matter once that hook’s been set

To sin is to be human. 

You don’t have to hide your sins
If you never stepped out—I’d never step in
A person without sin—Is a liar or a bore
I’ll show you mine if you show me yours

It’s trial and error not trial and perfect
A trial is not a trial if you already know the verdict
It takes a brave soul to miss so wide
It means you didn’t play it safe—Or you did but you woke up just in time    

True story...

I don’t know what I’m doing (3)
I don’t know (3)

I don’t know where I’m going (3)
I don’t know (3)

The title says it all really. 

You know those things that you hate to do?
The ones you rush to get right through?
Maybe the rush is the reason you
Don’t like the things that you hate to do

Slow down—Don’t worry—Slow down
Slow down—Don’t hurry—Slow down
It’s good for your head—It’s good for your health
You might even enjoy/surprise yourself
Slow down—Don’t hurry—Slow down    

A song about likening courtship to crashing an exclusive party... 

I lied to security a little bit—I had to get through that door
The first one’s not always the hardest—But it’s never an easy chore
I told them I was a reporter—Who could do your career some good
And I was generous with my gratitude—When they did what I thought they would

Let me in (4)
I will lie to get to you—But then I’ll tell the truth
Let me in (3)

A song about some drugs and their usual effects.

I wish alcohol made people smart
And quiet and thoughtful and nice
Drunk-tanks would be think tanks
And libraries would be bars
I wish alcohol made people smart

I wish heroin made people strong
And solid and honest and bright
Junkies and their monkeys
Would always get along
I wish heroin made people strong

I started photographing my dish stacking each night about a year ago and posting the pictures on my "Dish Whisperer" photo gallery on Flickr. I had no idea why. I just felt like doing it. Then I wrote this song and realized that a slide show of a year's worth of dishes would make a nice video. Coming soon!

Gimme that sponge—Gimme that soap
Have a seat—And watch the show
I’ll do the dishes tonight

Take a load—Off of your feet
I hate to cook—I love to eat
I’ll do the dishes tonight

A song about memory, dreams, and reaching...

There’s a light at the end of the tunnel
And a tunnel at the end of the light
I am on the New York subway in the middle of the night
It is 1981 or maybe ‘82
And the only thing I want is to get closer to you

I am headed for a part of town—That I do not know so well
I am riding underground—I am under your spell
I can see you smiling sweetly—As the lights flash green and blue
And every stop I pass brings me closer to you

A song about the difference a comma can make...

Don’t Stop
Don’t Stop

Where’s that comma?
What do you mean?
One way you’re a victim
The other you’re a queen

This is a song I adapted from a story in one of Carlos Castenada's Don Juan books...

A teacher and a student are walking ‘round a lake
The teacher sees the student’s shoe has come unlaced
He taps him with his cane and points down to the shoe
And sits down on a rock taking in the view

Tie your shoes—Tie your shoes
Tie your shoes—Tie your shoes
What comes next—Who can tell?
Tie your shoes and tie them well
Tie your shoes

A song about surrender...

Love never told me it would last forever
I told that to myself
Love never told me that power was better
Than freedom or pleasure or health
I put those words right in love’s mouth
But love doesn’t care what I’m talking about
Love doesn’t listen to a word I say

A song about the mysterious "more" that's always there...

I’ve got a little secret that will not let me be
Until I tell you what it is—I will not be complete
It’s not just that you’re beautiful—Although of course you are
Layer after layer—Scar after scar

Thanks for your support!


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Good Music?

Bad Music?

I don't believe in "good" or "bad" music anymore. Or at least I don't think of music in those terms anymore. There are musicians right here in Ashland where I live, who I find boring, mediocre, un-talented in every way except self-promotion and star-fucking, and yet they have large fan bases; and others who I think have real genius, talent, soul and originality and yet have hardly any following at all. Some music just works for some people and not for others.

Here are some musicians that I like in no particular order:


Bob Dylan
James Taylor
Greg Brown
Richard Thompson
Steely Dan
Donald Fagen
Frank Sinatra
John Martyn
Joe Jackson
The Beatles
The Rolling Stones
Loudon Wainwright lll
Leonard Cohen
Elvis Presley
Hank Williams
Hank Williams lll
Wayne Hancock
Jimi Hendrix
Pink Floyd
Stevie Wonder
Bill Withers
Bootsie Collins
George Clinton’s various bands
Miles Davis
John Coltrane
Thelonius Monk
The Who
Pete Townsend
The Police
Tom Petty
Pre “Graceland” Paul Simon
Earth, Wind and Fire
James Brown
Bruce Cockburn
Brian Eno
Neil Young
Peter Gabriel
Todd Rundgren
Marvin Gaye
Al Green
Talking Heads
David Bryne


Dusty Springfield
Marianne Faithful
Joni Mitchell
Blossom Dearie
Annie Lennox
Gillian Welch
Billie Holiday
Bonnie Raitt
Ella Fitzgerald
Linda Thompson
Eva Cassidy
Phoebe Snow
The Dixie Chicks
Aretha Franklin
Chaka Khan
Cyndi Lauper
Sheryl Crow

Here are some that I don’t like at all:


Phil Collins
Air Supply
Peter Cetera
Post “Off The Wall” Michael Jackson
Post 70’s Rod Stewart
Virtually all modern pop country singers
Virtually all rap and hip-hop artists
Backstreet Boys
Kenny G
David Gray
Dave Mathews
Justin Bieber
Anything music with “autotune” in it.
Billy Ray Cyrus


Indigo Girls
Judy Collins
Celine Dion
Tori Amos
Tracy Chapman
Yoko Ono
Christina Aguilera
Britney Spears
Sarah McLaughlin
Mariah Carey
Whitney Houston
Barbara Streisand
Miley Cyrus
Taylor Swift
Katy Perry
Natalie Merchant
Norah Jones
Joan Baez

Here are some that I have mixed feelings about:

Lynyrd Skynyrd—I like "Freebird" and "Sweet Home Alabama" and that's it.

The Doors—I like a few of their songs, mostly for the ambient vibe,, but Jim Morrison always struck me as kind of a big drunk jock asshole, with a real gift for throwing himself into the party, which I did like about him, even if his lyrics and poetry seemed kind of dumb...

I love Ani DeFranco's guitar work and exactly two songs: "Untouchable Face" and "Dilate", but the rest of it sounds like gimmicky squealing and hyperventilating.

Alanis Morissette’s first album and not much since.

Love Elton John’s early albums and not much since.

I like a few Led Zeppelin songs but not much more.

And there are many other artists with a song or two that I like but not much more.

I’m sure that very few people will have the exact same likes and dislikes as I do. Many millions of people would disagree strongly with just about everyone on these lists. So I can’t really think in terms of “good” or “bad” music anymore. It's just music. Some works for me and some doesn’t. How could I call something that moves millions of people “bad”? All I can truthfully say is: I just don’t like it.

Some things can be measured objectively, like whether a musician is in pitch or not, on beat or not, able to sing with volume or not, able to read music or not, able to play technically well or not. But what can’t be determined with any certainty is whether someone who sings off pitch, off the beat, with no ability to project volume and who can’t read music or play an instrument is making “good” music or “bad” music. I’m sure to some ears Billie Holiday is all of the above.

I think that when music “works” for me, it releases a charge, it releases some feeling in me that I didn’t even know was there. When it happens there is an undeniable “Yes” feeling. Even if the song is sad, I feel better for having heard it. If it’s something I write myself, I feel better for having written and sung it.

I do my best to keep framing my likes and dislikes in this way because I find it much more enjoyable, accurate and fruitful to do so. I used to consider what I liked to be “good” and what I didn’t like to be “bad”. I’d have endless and pointless arguments with people over what we considered “good” music. Now that I do my best to frame it as what works for me and what doesn’t, I find I am kinder and more charitable to the artists I don’t like, and I’m more appreciative of the artists that I do like. I’m also able to have real differences of opinion with people but rather than talk about what’s good or bad, an argument that can’t be won or lost, we talk about what we like and don’t like. The subject of the conversation is us and our relationship with the music, not so much the music itself. I get to know them and their taste and they get to know mine. Much more interesting than arguing who’s “better”, The Stones or The Beatles.