November 18

Songwriting

Music has always been a big part of my life. In fact, I’d much rather listen to music than watch television or a movie. It’s background noise when I’m doing chores around the house or writing, it motivates me when I get up in the morning, and it lulls me to sleep at night. I don’t know what I’d do without it.

Recently, I decided to pick up the guitar again after far too many years away from it. Partly because I’ve missed it, but also because I’ve felt this urge to play and to create music. Back when I used to play fairly regularly, I was always learning songs that other people wrote. It was fun to learn something familiar that I could play to keep myself entertained, or to play for a couple of friends while we had drinks and conversation.

But lately I’ve had this urge to try my hand at writing my own song. I was sitting in the living room the last week with my guitar in my lap, mindlessly picking notes while something forgettable was on the television, when I realized I was playing something nice, fingerpicking a soft, melodic handful of notes. I grabbed my phone and recorded it so I wouldn’t forget it. I’ve had that issue with writing where I’m laying in bed at night and have a great idea but don’t write it down, then by morning it’s forgotten.

So now I have this bit of music and I want to do something with it. A couple of months back I recorded a podcast episode about making music and I had decided then that I wanted to explore this part of my creativity, but of course, other projects and responsibilities got in the way. But now, right now, seems like a good time to wander down that path. I plan for it to be instrumental – no lyrics – but I’ll see how it goes. I’m not sure if I want to add too many ingredients to the mix. I’m likening it to writing a story. It’s going to need a beginning, a middle, and an end.

I’m going into this as a complete amateur and I’m sure I’m going to bumble and stumble about trying to understand the nuances of the craft, but I’m excited to try it. I’m not expecting to write a hit, or anything very memorable, but that’s not the point. All I want to do is see if I can do it. It’s all about the creativity, right? And for what it’s worth, I’m not as concerned about the music I play as much as I am the editing portion. It looks like I’ll be getting a crash-course in splicing and editing and mixing over the next few weeks. And yes, I’ll share the final product regardless of how it turns out.

If anyone has any suggestions or advice, I’m open to all input.

RB

 

November 13

New Podcast Episode – Amateur or Professional

As creators, we all dream of being considered professionals. But where is the line that separates the two? Is it definite or arbitrary? Or are these just labels that don’t mean anything? Join me as I look into what it takes to be a professional artist.

The podcast is available at iTunes, GooglePlay, Spotify, Amazon, and PodBean. If you prefer, I also have a YouTube channel.

Or you can simply listen to it right here:

October 27

The Art of Fear

Why are horror and fear popular subjects in the art world? For centuries, we’ve continued to seek out ways to scare ourselves and we keep coming back for more. Join me as I explore the reasons behind our obsession with fear and how we explore it in our artistic output.

The podcast is available at iTunes, GooglePlay, Spotify, Amazon, and PodBean. If you prefer, I also have a YouTube channel.

Or you can listen to it right here:

October 19

Mesmerizing Music

Maybe it’s just me, but there are certain songs that, when I hear the start to play, make me stop whatever I’m doing so I can listen. It’s like they have power over me, pulling me away from the present moment and whisking me away to another place for a few minutes.

There aren’t many that can do that to me. And one of the interesting things is that they aren’t necessary similar. Sure, there’s may be a little bit of crossover – genre, style, instrumentation – but for the most part they are unique.

So with that said, I thought it might be interesting to share a few of them with you and, maybe, broaden your horizons a bit. You may have heard of some of these artists and these songs, and if so, fantastic! And for what it’s worth, I was inspired by another blog I follow, View from the Back, where Sheree posts Song Lyric Sundays.

Today I’m sharing a song that never fails to give me chills, especially this version of it. The artist is Bruce Springsteen, a New Jersey native who came to prominence in the 1970s, hit an amazing peak in the late 70s/early 80s, and continues to release well-crafted and thought-provoking music.

Springsteen is now in his 70s and shows no signs of stopping, which is fine by me. His music, especially his lyrics, have been an inspiration to me since I was a kid listening with headphones as his vinyl albums spun on the turntable. He’s an amazing lyricist, capturing a unique perspective on the lives of blue-collar and downtrodden people. Not all his songs are bleak, though. He can slip between melancholy and upbeat with a snap of his fingers. Or a strum of his guitar.

The song in question is titled Thunder Road, and while it sounds like a rocker, it’s actually a thoughtful look at a young woman about to transition from child to adult from the perspective of a man who’s trying to convince her to join him as he tries to escape his current life. The album version is wonderful, but my favorite version is from a concert he did at the Odeon in London in 1975. It’s a slower, sparser arrangement that’s just about perfect.

Here’s the video, lyrics are posted below. Hope you enjoy this as much as I do.

The screen door slams, Mary’s dress sways
Like a vision she dances across the porch as the radio plays
Roy Orbison singing for the lonely
Hey that’s me and I want you only
Don’t turn me home again
I just can’t face myself alone again
Don’t run back inside, darling you know just what I’m here for
So you’re scared and you’re thinking that maybe we ain’t that young anymore
Show a little faith, there’s magic in the night
You ain’t a beauty, but hey you’re alright
Oh and that’s alright with me

You can hide ‘neath your covers and study your pain
Make crosses from your lovers, throw roses in the rain
Waste your summer praying in vain for a savior to rise from these streets
Well now I’m no hero, that’s understood
All the redemption I can offer, girl, is beneath this dirty hood
With a chance to make it good somehow
Hey what else can we do now
Except roll down the window and let the wind blow back your hair
Well the night’s busting open, these two lanes will take us anywhere
We got one last chance to make it real
To trade in these wings on some wheels
Climb in back, heaven’s waiting down on the tracks

Oh oh come take my hand
Riding out tonight to case the promised land
Oh oh oh oh Thunder Road, oh Thunder Road, oh Thunder Road
Lying out there like a killer in the sun
Hey I know it’s late, we can make it if we run
Oh oh oh oh Thunder Road, sit tight, take hold, Thunder Road

Well I got this guitar and I learned how to make it talk
And my car’s out back if you’re ready to take that long walk
From your front porch to my front seat
The door’s open but the ride it ain’t free
And I know you’re lonely for words that I ain’t spoken
Tonight we’ll be free, all the promises will be broken
There were ghosts in the eyes of all the boys you sent away
They haunt this dusty beach road in the skeleton frames of burned-out Chevrolets
They scream your name at night in the street
Your graduation gown lies in rags at their feet
And in the lonely cool before dawn
You hear their engines roaring on
But when you get to the porch they’re gone on the wind, so Mary climb in
It’s a town full of losers, I’m pulling out of here to win…

Music and Lyrics: Bruce Springsteen

____

RB