Stuff I been thinking about
Whenever I hear my dad’s old ash tray move on a table I get nostalgic. It’s got a specific pitch to it that I could pick out of a lineup. I don’t really have too many memories about it per se, but it’s kinda like the jingle of a familiar keychain – which my dad also has. I’ve been really lucky to have my dad pushing me to be more productive, complaining at me when I don’t return his calls or texts, and be one of the best cheerleaders I have. Without him, I’d probably be bumbling around, knocking my head into things more often than I already do…
Who do you have in your life that’s pushing you to be better than you are?
Sometimes we don’t realize it, you know. Sometimes it feels like it’s just somebody pointing out our inadequacies – especially if they’re giving advice or input on something you’re already upset about, or disappointed with. We can get defensive or nitty, letting our insecurities prevent us from hearing someone out. We end up saying things like “don’t tell me what to do”, or “this isn’t easy, you know!”, and it’s almost never necessary – if you’re talking to the right people, at least.
Other times we are justified, when not only our methods and strategies are picked at, but even our goals are attacked. We end up yelling the same stuff in the ensuing arguments, but I think in this case, it’s really the self-appointed counsellor who needs to take a step back and shut up.
But how do we tell the difference when we’re probably all worked up by the time somebody says something that just wrecked your mood?
Way I see it, the onus is on us, the ones who feel attacked. You may think that it’s the responsibility of other people to try and be gentle with your feelings, but seriously, people can’t read your mind. Besides, if you fly off the handle when you feel attacked without checking the situation all the way out, you’ll just get into way more shouting matches than nature intended.
So next time you feel attacked, step back, check if the person at least thinks they’re trying to help you with your actual goals, and act accordingly.
Check yo’self before you wreck yo’self, you guys.
Six years ago I took the post of Music Director at Irving Park Baptist Church. Lots of musicians have come in and helped me out from time to time, Jon and Auggie from Five Minus X, Steve Nixon from FreeJazzLessons.com and more recently, my buddy Alex has been doing some Sundays with me. But in all the time I’ve been at Irving Park, these three ladies – Nora, Vicky and Louise – have been part of my core support structure. I spend time with them almost every Tuesday night before Something Beautiful‘s scheduled rehearsals, and they teach me songs that they want me to teach them – I know that’s a little backwards sounding, but it’s a two way street.
Lots of people think church music has to be boring – and don’t get me wrong, it can be – but not if you make the right decisions along the way. Some regular pop, rock and even metal music can get pretty boring sometimes. Maybe I’m talking about Opeth, maybe I’m not. But either way, whenever I engage in a new piece of music, or a new kind of music, I try to figure out what it’s trying to say, how it wants to be felt, and how can I tap into that energy. Sometimes it means I have to reinterpret the song entirely, sometimes it’s super easy and we’re jamming in no time, but either way – choosing to learn music that you don’t have a vested interest in is one of the best ways to really learn your instrument. More on that later, but for now, I just hope you like our song. On Facebook, if you would, of course…
Songwriting is easy. Yes, really, but only sometimes. It can be a rare thing, and you’ll never appreciate it as much as you should. It’s not one of those things that you “can’t appreciate and easy thing until you’ve hit hard times” type of situation, it’s just that those easy ones are the ones you overlook. So much effort goes into a song like Something Beautiful’s Dreams About Your Skin that a song like Nobody told Me, or Not So Blues just doesn’t seem to come to mind when I think about what I’m proud of when I’m asked about what I write.
I wrote that song in pink fuzzy boots and mario pajamas after getting coffee at my starbucks, which is across the street from where I live. I was in a good mood, and it made me sing. Easy job, no hangups. Said something about being single, having it easy and living simply. It took about ten minutes to write and record, and spend very little mental energy on reminiscing on the ease with which it flowed out of me. Some people really like it, but I consider it merely a joke. How rude is that of me? Kinda, I think.
Some other songs can take years to write, and that ever-present feeling of “I’m leaving something unfinished…” in the background is what will make those tunes stick out to me. But you know how we’re always being told to stop and smell the roses? I’m finna do that once in a while. Thanks for indulging me.
Some of them 20 minute songs became some of your faves, or at least big hits… I’m not saying that mine was a knockout, but it certainly was serviceable. It was pure expression of an emotional state, and depending on the listener, it may convey the ease of the moment. Or maybe it’s just a quick dumb song. It may not be a steak dinner, but once in a while I’ll take a jolly rancher.
Count your blessings instead of sheep tonight.
Yeah, that episode is on right now. I didn’t grow up in a period where Spongebob Squarepants was relevant to my personal development, but when I see the occasional episode nowadays, all I can do is wonder where the cranky morons who gave me and my peers a problem about Beavis and Butthead and Ren n Stimpy are.
What gets up my craw is really our continual quest to find the actual trigger to the end of western culture. Each generation has its liberals and conservatives, and I’m sorry, but the conservatives are almost ALWAYS wrong. Look at how jazz music, rock n roll, peace n love, punk rock, heavy metal, disco were received and then look at the actual implications of their existence. Then grow up and quit whining.
I’m more into finding proof that we’re evolving into a better world. Signs that we’re moving ever forward into a humanity that’s worth being part of. I’m not going to find the answer to that question in Spongebob, you’re not gonna find it in Gwar, and neither one of us (hopefully) will find it in a Ziggy comic. There’s a possibility that we might find it in some of Mel Blanc’s work on the Jack Benny show, though. Radio, not TV of course. Television is the work of the devil, after all.
Sometime, Imma haveta tell you about pop music, but I’ll wait until I’m back on my mac for that rant. Suffice it to say, “if you dislike something that much, (unless it’s actually depriving anyone of rights or property) you’re probably wrong.
Take a chill pill, you guys.
Saw a Billy Collins’ TED talk which was so good I had to watch it again. It includes this poem:
Some days I put the people in their places at the table,
bend their legs at the knees,
if they come with that feature,
and fix them into the tiny wooden chairs.
All afternoon they face one another,
the man in the brown suit,
the woman in the blue dress,
perfectly motionless, perfectly behaved.
But other days, I am the one
who is lifted up by the ribs,
then lowered into the dining room of a dollhouse
to sit with the others at the long table.
but how would you like it
if you never knew from one day to the next
if you were going to spend it
striding around like a vivid god,
your shoulders in the clouds,
or sitting down there amidst the wallpaper,
staring straight ahead with your little plastic face?
Man, this speaks to all of us somehow I think. To me, as a writer, performer, frontman, sideman or punching bag… To you at your job, whatever it is. We got good days and bad. Sometimes we feel like we’re in control, and sometimes we can’t seem to get a handle on a single goddamned thing. I think ultimately, what matters is how we handle the adverse that teaches us the most about our character. As I write, I’m more or less trapped in my bedroom working out how exactly I’m going to be productive from here. Not unhappy, not super glad, but I’m at peace with the moment. Some Days, I’d be freaking out about whatever it was I couldn’t do today, but I’d rather ponder the possibilities.
Struggle through another day, everybody.