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Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

I finished this new painting a couple of weeks ago and it has been a piece that I’ve spent a lot of time looking at since its completion. It satisfies me on many different levels and simply raises a certain contentment within me. I guess that would be the textbook definition of what I am trying to do for myself with my work.

When I look at this piece, following the river upward where it converges with the sky with the sun at the center of it, I see a winged angel-like figure. This was not by design and it has become the focus of the painting for me. Perhaps this even adds to my engagement with this piece.  That and the overall warmth of the colors and the pull towards the center created by the sky and sun.

There’s just a quality of attraction and completion in it for me that keeps me looking at it.

I was trying to name this piece while I was looking for a suitable bit of music for this Sunday morning selection. While I am not sure this will end up being the final title for this painting, I thought that the title from a somewhat obscure Bruce Springsteen song might fit.

The song is Lift Me Up and it was written in the late 90’s for a film, Limbo, from filmmaker John Sayles.  The song is a quiet, almost pleading, song that features Bruce singing throughout in a falsetto that takes on a lovely and mesmerizing quality as the melody engulfs it.

I think it’s a nice fit for this painting, at least for this morning. I also threw in a companion song this morning.  It’s a beautifully quiet version of If I Should Fall Behind that brings most of the other band members, including the late Clarence Clemons, forward to solo on the lyrics. Nice stuff. Have a good day…


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I’ve been very busy recently and haven’t had chance to write as fully as I would like.  I’ve been doing this long enough that writing the blog has become habit and I feel a little guilty when I think I’m not attentive enough.  But I have tried to alleviate some of my guilt by sharing some things that I do like. Like the video below of the work of Marc Chagall set to the music of Mozart’s Piano Concerto #23 Adagio.

I’ve always been a fan of Chagall’s work. It’s hard to not let myself get caught up in the world of Chagall’s paintings. It’s easy to happily absorb yet you’re never quite sure what it is that you’re taking in. Something magical and mystical there.

Enjoy…

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I was going to write something this morning about the craziness going on in the current administration. But after a while I began to think that there was no point in it. Those of you who see things as I do with me would nod in agreement.  

And if you still believe there is a single bit of honesty, decency, empathy, or any other positive qualities residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, then you most likely will never be swayed by my opinion.  If you honestly believe that this person cares about anything but himself and the fortunes of a few friends and family members, then you and I reside on two different planets, my friend. 

So, to spare myself the aggravation, I decide to focus on an old favorite who I’ve neglected in the last year or two, blues legend John Lee Hooker. I wrote the following here back in 2008 and didn’t include any of his music.  I was new to this blog thing and didn’t even know how to embed a video at that point. So, here’s that post with the music.

Have a good day, if you can.

I remember coming across an old John Lee Hooker album at a used record shop on Market Street in Corning, NY in the 1970’s.  It was a beaten piece of vinyl titled Folk Blues.  I was just a kid and had no idea who John Lee Hooker was but the album cover had a certain gritty, real feel to it and besides, it was only a buck.

It was from the early 60’s, scratched and worn,  and I remember the pops and crackles when I first put down the needle.  Didn’t sound hopeful but when his guitar and rhythm section kicked in on songs like Bad Boy and Rock House Boogie ( both tracks from the early 1950’s) it was pure magic.  It was simple, direct and raw. The guitar sound was like downed power lines arcing in a storm.

I was hooked by Hooker.

To the casual listener, Hooker’s music could seem repetitive and narrowly focused but to me that was the genius of it.  His reexaminations of certain grooves revealed nuance and subtlety that could be easily lost in the distraction of an insanely hypnotic rhythm.

I view my work at times like Hooker’s music.  There is sometimes repetition of form, of compositional elements but that is by design.  Because I am working in a defined form it allows me to spend more creative effort on nuance– texture, color subtlety and quality of line.  The result is a piece that fits easily into the body of my work but has its own feel, its own life.  Its own groove.

As John Lee would say, boogie, chillen…

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Bye Bye Johnny

For this Sunday morning music, it’s got to be Chuck.

The great Chuck Berry died yesterday at the age of 90. In the Pantheon of the gods of rock and roll, Chuck is without a doubt the true father of the genre, the wellspring that fed all others. His music is practically written in our DNA and permeates our culture. It is part and parcel of who we are.

You might think you can’t name a Chuck Berry song but I will bet that you know at least a dozen. In fact, one of his greatest hit albums is called The Great Twenty-Eight and almost every song on it is a rock and roll classic. When that sound comes out of the speaker it is instantly familiar and distinct. You may not have heard the song for forty years but you know the words and melody instinctively.

Oh, you know it.

Like many people, I have probably taken Chuck Berry for granted for many years now. But now that he’s gone I feel a definite sense of loss.  Maybe it’s that we are in a period of time where we are struggling for a definition of who we really are as a people, where we seem poised at a juncture that will take us in two very different directions. He was that part of America that drew people here with his Everyman point of view and a sound that was forever young and vigorous.

So, like I said, this morning it’s got to be Chuck. I’ve been listening for about an hour and a half to Chuck and can’t even come close to choosing. I listen to one and go, “Oh, Yeah!” then I hear the next song and do it again. So I’m playing two that just feel good to me. One is Back in the USA and the second is Havana Moon, a quieter, moody song from Chuck that just clicks for me.

Have a good day and if the spirit hits you, as Chuck might say, let it rock.

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Last week I shared a couple of videos of the paintings of Edward Hopper set to music.  I thought that I’d do the same this week for  the work of another of my favorites, the great American Regionalist painter Thomas Hart Benton.

I’ve always loved the rhythm and movement of the elements in Benton’s paintings, in even his most remote landscapes.  They seem to be filled with potential energy and the landscape becomes a living, breathing figurative element in his work.  That is a trait that I try to emulate in my own work.

This video features his paintings set to the music of late American composer Walter Piston‘s Symphony #6, Movement #4 as performed by the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra as directed by Leonard Slatkin.  It has that sound of youth, motion, and energy that is often associated with America in the late 19th/early 20th century.  Plus it has Benton’s work.

Good stuff…

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Another Sunday morning which means it’s time for a little music.  I thought that for this week’s choice I would go with something a little further off the beaten track, going all the way up to Regina, Saskatchewan to grab this tune from the group The Dead South.

The song, In Hell I’ll Be In Good Company, is a song that I stumbled across awhile ago.  I thought it was catchy and found the video engaging and fun.  I’ve listened to it several times since and thought it would be a good song for today.

The accompanying painting is titled Confession and is from my Outlaws series.  It’s hard to believe that it’s been over a decade since that group was painted.  It was a relatively small and short lived series but I find myself going back to this group on a regular basis.  Sometimes it’s just to look at the imagery and other times it’s to see how the narrative that I see in the image has changed over time.

There are pieces in the group where the narrative remains constant and others like this piece are a bit more ambiguous and open to new interpretations. This little painting always make me think.

Anyway, take look, give a listen and don’t worry if you think you’re going to Hell– there will be plenty of good company. Have a good day.

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I am really busy today. I am working on a bigger piece that I started late yesterday. There are just a lot of things percolating and I really want to get at it this morning.  I’ve been at this long enough that I know this is a time of which I need to take advantage.

The Muses come in fleeting moments and rarely, if ever, stick around for you if you don’t give them the attention and the time that they demand.

So while I go back to work I thought I would share a nice video of  Edward Hopper landscapes and cityscapes set to music. The maker of the video didn’t credit the music but I was able to discover that it is a solo piano cover of Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here from musician Steven Garreda.  It’s a really nice fit for the contemplative quiet of the Hoppers.

I’m back to work but please enjoy.

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