Sunday, August 21, 2011

another chapter of best friends

I spent some well deserved healthy time with a few of my closest friends this weekend. We have a long history and I can always count on them for guidance, grounding, and soul healing. There once was a time when I'd get lost in the music while also getting lost in the drink. Over time I've changed a few things and although my glass has been empty for nearly two years, my relationship with the music is as impressionable today as it was the day I first opened each album and carefully pulled it from the sleeve. With years of memoirs behind us both, I'd go as far to say that much of what I found in those packages of paper and vinyl so many years ago attributed to much of the man I've become.

The ones pictured are just a sampling of the records that my turntable greeted during the past few days. Each one is like a diary excerpt to me and the reunion is always an inviting welcome.
My weekend diary included the following pages:
  • ELO, Eldorado
  • Bob Segar and the Silver Bullet Band, Night Moves
  • Steeley Day, Katy Lied
  • Bruce Springsteen, The River
  • The Pretenders, II
  • Steve Miller Band, The Joker
  • Elton John, Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy
  • Paul McCarney and Wings, Red Rose Speedway
  • Illinois Speed Press, Duet
  • Rod Stewart, Never a Dull Moment
  • Bachman Turner Overdrive, Four Wheel Drive
  • Bad Company, Bad Company
  • Greg Allman Band, Playin' Up a Storm
  • …and several others.

I'm a lucky man with a mess of best friends. Play on.

    Sunday, February 13, 2011

    the new age of music... not new age music.

    A Few Tunes, ©2011 gary
    I've spent hours of my life in rooms and buildings housing some of the finest music I've ever heard. I'm certain that I've passed some landmark gems over the years, but I've also discovered some of the most inspiring, rebellious, melodic, experimental, thought provoking, body shaking, emotional, poetic, somber, and angst-ridden collections of sound by walking my index and middle finger, one in front of the other, through an endless landscape of spines. Record stores. I so miss them. I miss the physicalness of holding a record, absorbing the artwork, and reading the text. That was the introduction of a friendship, sort of the getting to know you period before committing to anything further. Without it, I'd have missed out on some of the greatest and inspiring friendships of my life.

    I made a pact with myself years ago. I swore off ever becoming "that guy". You know him. That guy. The one who complains about the world's woes and how it just ain't what it use to be. Time has a distinct way of changing everything. Not necessarily for the good or the bad, but simply for the sake of forward advancement. Life is simply like that. Hell, we're like that. The experience of spending hours browsing and shopping in a record store, like movie and bookstores, is rapidly reshaping. Without being that guy, it just ain't what it once was.

    With all of this said, Robert Plant's Band of Joy is quite an impressive album. Apparently I bought Plant’s newest release as a digital download from Amazon on Black Friday weekend last November. After stumbling across the digital file yesterday on my laptop, I gave it a first listen …on Valentine's Day eve, nearly three months since making the initial purchase. I rest my case and once again, "if I can't hold it, I must not own it" comes to mind. Now I’m wondering what else I’ve not listened to, watched, or read.

    Friday, January 28, 2011

    life has an uncanny way

    Life has an uncanny way of getting in the way of itself. For us creative folk, it's those wonderfully honest instances that generate the most profound inspiration. A few years ago, my best friend introduced me to the work of Lori McKenna. I was instantly drawn to the sincere and celebrated textures and marriage of her poetic lyrics and guitar. Lori's songs of her ordinary path about ordinary days of ordinary people paint images and stories of the realest of real life.

    Lorraine, her sixth and latest album was released this week. I waited during the evening prior to the Tuesday release. Time drew closer and I waited. Anxiously. I've been an avid collector of music for more than 40 years and call it stubbornness, old age, or anal-retentive music geekness, but I'm committed to owning tangible copies of music rather than digital downloads. I need to see and hold the album cover art. I want to read the liner notes, and I sing along with the printed lyrics as I hold them in my hands. It's that sense of touch that disconnects the disconnect I personally find in this age of digital. Tuesday suddenly arrived as the hour hand marked midnight. I fell away from my standards and downloaded Lorraine that very minute and spent the next forty minutes sampling much of the album before crawling into bed for a short three hour nap.

    McKenna is a remarkable artist, vocalist, poet, and wordsmith. Her words speak directly to me. They touch me and I believe in every note. Her catalog and artistry of real life is pure genius. Lorraine follows suit and could easily be her finest to date. I love this album and with and a daily rotation in my players for five straight days, each song just becomes sweeter than the listen before. Instead of offering a play by play review of each track, a select few of my favorites are "The Most, Rocket Science, All I Ever Do, You Get a Love Song, and Still Down Here".

    As I normally do after hearing an album more than a half dozen times, I made the conscious extra effort to listen closer to the lyrics. I reached that stage with Lorraine during the early morning of Thursday. All I had left in me was "...My God".

    Driving to the office that morning during the pre-sunrise darkness, tears rolled down my face as I deeply listened to the delicate words and sentiment in "That's How You Know". I just drove and cried. Lori paints the heartache of a dying love with the celebration of faith to find peace on the other side. "That's How You Know" reminded me of a dear friend. I know his ache and feel his darkened loneliness. Lori shares the beauty of recovery from a love loss and refinding the ability to breathe on your own. When you do, as Lori sings, "you know". "That's How You Know" is a heart-wrenching gem, centering the entire album on the delicacy of humanity and everyday life. Lorraine paints life as pure honesty, pure love, and pure sincere forgiveness. McKenna's artistry has always reached in and touched my soul. Lorraine simply caresses deeper.

    And for the record, or more for the love of the art, I purchased my tangible copy of Lorraine this morning. My stubborn music geekness may now be happy, but my soul has been completely satisfied since midnight last Tuesday.

    Monday, January 24, 2011

    creative inspiration basics

    I recently watched It Might Get Loud. With my lifelong interest in music and art, I wasn't too surprised to find this film to be so inspiring. What did surprise me however, was just how much bigger the inspiration really was.

    I knew of Jack White before seeing the film, but not a great deal. Within minutes of the film, I discovered that I share some genuine creative theories with Jack regarding the marriage of technology and art.

    "Technology is a big destroyer of emotion and truth.
    That's the disease we have to fight in any creative field."  Jack White

    I just may have to add a Jack White poster to cubicle c-3014. And another to my studio. And my kitchen. And my sock drawer, and...