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Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Another Memorial Day weekend has come. Not going to ramble on much this morning about the meaning of the holiday. Just going to show a photo and play a song, Fortunate Son, that is about the injustice of wars where the young and the poor pay the price by fighting and dying in wars waged by rich old men who shelter their own children from having to pay that same price.

The photo above, from the National Library of Medicine, feature five Civil War veterans who lost limbs in combat. I guess in their own way, they are fortunate in their own way by simply being able to come out of the war only missing limbs. That was probably small comfort to them.

Here’s the 1969 Creedence Clearwater Revival song, Fortunate Son, performed by John Fogerty along with Dave Grohl and the Sound City Players. It’s a very good version and a message that still resonates after 50 years.

Have a good day.

 

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Wasn’t going to write anything today as I have a full schedule in prepping work for delivery of my June Principle Gallery show combined with my visit to see my dad at the local nursing facility where has lived with his dementia for most of the last three years. But I began listening to some music and when Heroes from David Bowie came on, it made me scroll back through some older posts and I came across the one below.

Heroism is a term that has been warped a bit by our fascination with comic book heroism. On a Memorial day weekend, we should be reminded that many of the people who we memorialize for their service and sacrifice didn’t have superhero qualities. They were no different than anyone else when faced with adversity and danger– scared, confused and wishing it was all over. But heroism comes in fighting through these emotions and simply doing the task that is required of them. To simply do the right thing and take responsibility for those things before them that they can control. To unselfishly serve in the moment.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Doing one’s duty without giving thought to how the outcome might affect you is a rare thing. I guess that is why we celebrate holidays devoted to service and heroism.  And it’s especially rare in these perilous times where a single, simple act of heroism from a small handful people in congress could completely change the direction in which this country is headed.

That might be too much to ask of them. Heroism is not for everyone, I suppose. But for the rest of us, let us put aside our selfish concerns and serve someone and something greater than ourselves. Just do what is right. Then we can all be heroes.

Here’s the post from several years back:

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Arthur Ashe HeroismKeeping up the theme that was the subject of an earlier post this week, I decided that for this Sunday morning’s musical selection I would play a lovely version of Heroes from David Bowie. It’s an acoustic version (with Gail Ann Dorsey accompanying him on vocals and bass) from a 1996 performance at the Bridge School Benefit, an annual concert began by Neil Young to benefit the Bay Area school that helps kids with severe speech and physical impairments. In that context, the song takes on additional layers of meaning as you see the many parents in the audience with their children, many cradling them.

Heroism.

Looking for an image to illustrate this post, I did an image search by punching in the word hero. It was all superheroes and warriors which saddened me because I know that heroism is something far more than that. It’s about doing those things that need to be done, about taking responsibility in order to serve a purpose beyond your own needs. We think of it as a rare thing but it is evident every day in the actions of those people who give so much of themselves to others.

For me, an example of this came to me in a very personal way. When my mother was struggling in the last months of her battle with cancer, I visited her for  last time. Her and my father had been together for about 46 years at that point, years which could be described as turbulent at best. For such a long married couple, they had an odd love/hate relationship which had them always on the edge of huge screaming  battles that were fraught with violence. They were terrible things to see and even as a child I often wondered why they remained together. But they did and as she neared the end of her life, Dad became her cook, her maid, her nurse, and her driver to the many treatments that made up the last months of her life. Her everything.

When I made my last visit, I noticed a photo on her bedside table. It was photo of the two of them together from several years before, standing at some Florida site drenched in sun. On the cheap little frame, underneath my father was a word formed in simple block letters, those kind of press-on letters that you rub on from a sheet.

It was the word Hero.

Now, at that point in my life I didn’t see my father in heroic terms. Far from it. No, he was and is a very flawed human being with many traits that are far from any definition of heroism. But in this case, he took on the form of a hero for my mother and in that moment, looking at that photo, for myself as well. I realized that the word was not about great accomplishment but rather about following that need to serve another and just doing the right thing in a moment of need.

So it can be for everyone, as the song says :

I, I will be king
And you, you will be queen
Though nothing will drive them away
We can beat them, just for one day
We can be heroes, just for one day

I finally came across the  quote at the top from the late Arthur Ashe that seemed to best fit the thought .

Have a great Sunday. Be a hero to someone today.

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I pursue no objectives, no systems, no tendency; I have no program, no style, no direction. I have no time for specialized concerns, working themes, or variations that lead to mastery. I steer clear of definitions. I don’t know what I want. I am inconsistent, non-committal, passive; I like the indefinite, the boundless; I like continual uncertainty.

-Gerhard Richter

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Gerhard Richter, the contemporary German artist born in 1932, is one of those artists whose thoughts about his work have made me appreciate to his work much more fully. He has a way of putting things in terms that are accessible, not just balloons filled with pompous artspeak that says very little.  More than that, much of what he says aligns with how I see art and the purpose of art, even though our work manifests itself in very different ways. I often come something he has said or written that very much echoes my own thoughts, often in a a very similar way. For example, he speaks about the rightness of art, something I to which I also often refer.

His work has moved around through the years through his iconic abstractions to photography and photorealism painting. I tend to gravitate and think of his work in terms of his abstract work, the Abstraktes Bild series from the 1980’s and the 2010’s. I thought I’d share a few of those pieces along with some his thoughts.

At the very bottom is a piece of music from guitarist Bill Frisell. It is from a project that combined Richter’s work, specifically a large book of his art, along with an album from Frisell titled Richter 858. Each track on the album correlates to a piece of Richter’s art. The piece of music below corresponds to the painting directly above it, Abstrakte Bild 858-3. Interesting concept.

 

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I believe that art has a kind of rightness, as in music, when we hear whether or not a note is false.

-Gerhard Richter

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My paintings are wiser than I am.

-Gerhard Richter

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I would like to try to understand what is. We know very little, and I am trying to do it by creating analogies. Almost every work of art is an analogy.

-Gerhard Richter

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I believe that the quintessential task of every painter in any time has been to concentrate on the essential.

-Gerhard Richter

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The desire to please is maligned, unfairly. There are many sides to it. First of all, pictures have to arouse interest before people will even look at them, and then they have to show something that holds that interest – and naturally they have to be presentable, just as a song has to be sung well, otherwise people run away. One mustn’t underrate this quality, and I have always been delighted when my pieces have also appealed to the museum guards, the laymen.

-Gerhard Richter

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Gerhard Richter- Abstraktes Bild 858-3

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Well I never pray,
But tonight I’m on my knees, yeah.
I need to hear some sounds that recognize the pain in me, yeah.
I let the melody shine, let it cleanse my mind, I feel free now.
But the airwaves are clean and there’s nobody singing to me now.

No change, I can’t change, I can’t change, I can’t change,
but I’m here in my mold, I am here in my mold.
But I’m a million different people from one day to the next
I can’t change my mold, no, no, no, no, no, no, no

The Verve, Bittersweet Symphony

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No rest for the wicked. Busy busy early this morning so for this week’s Sunday morning music, thought I’d pair up a new painting from my recent Multitudes series with a classic bit of Britpop, Bittersweet Symphony, from The Verve from back in 1997. Hard to believe it’s been twenty plus years. Many of you no doubt know the song and the video, which has about half a billion views on the YouTube on the interweb, but I think it works for myself this morning and as an accompaniment to the painting.

The painting is a darkly colored piece called Multitudes: Everyday Saints. I was prepared to give an explanation of this piece but the more I think about it– and I’ve already spent too much time doing just that this morning– I think I’ll just let it stand out there alone for awhile.

Take it as it is, okay?

Gotta run now. Give a look and a listen and have a good Sunday.

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Super busy day. Still feverishly painting away and mixing in beginning prep work on staining frames and varnishing paintings as the  clock ticks down. Only two weeks until I deliver this group of work to the Principle Gallery for my solo show there, opening June 7. There is always a sense of tension, panic and rush at this point in getting ready for a show, something I know from the fact that this year’s show is my 20th solo effort at the Principle. After all these years, I know the routine that has been formed.

But there is even a bit of added anxiety in it being the 20th show there. I guess this anxiety comes, putting it in the simplest terms, because I fear every show could be my last show, my last chance to prove myself, my final opportunity to demonstrate that I am deserving. This being the 20th just accentuates that point that there might not be a 21st.

Fear as a primary motivator doesn’t sounds right when pertaining to art but it seems to be the case with me. I don’t know if that’s good or bad and I really don’t care at this point. It keeps me from lulling myself into an attitude where I believe I am owed anything from anybody. Experience has taught me that I am entitled to nothing, that I have to treat every show as my first and possibly last show.

So, I am going to get to work in an early morning cold sweat. Just the way it should be, I guess. I thought I’d share a song, It Takes a Lot to Know a Man,  from Irish singer Damien Rice. There are two version below. One is the studio recorded song with instrumentation and accompanying lyrics.

The other is a live vocal performance that took place at a German music festival with Rice and the choral group Cantus Domus performing for an audience of one.  A single audience member at each show was kidnapped and taken to a hidden location. When the sack was removed from their heads they found that they were in what appears to be some sort of underground chamber surrounded by the group and Rice, who proceed to give them a one to one concert experience. I can only imagine being both incredibly uncomfortable and deeply moved. It’s an interesting film and a lovely song.

Have a great day.


 

 

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I wasn’t going to make Mother’s Day the subject of today’s blog but walking over to the studio in the gray,cool drizzle put me in a slightly sad and wistful mood, one that made me think of my own mother on this day. I’ve posted the bit of writing below a couple of times over the years and thought it was worth doing so again this morning.  I ran this post before with an old Eddy Arnold song that I knew Mom liked very much but today I am running it with one she most likely never heard, Helpless, from Neil Young. It’s one of my favorites and one that certainly aligns with the tone of this morning here. Have a good day.

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GC Myers- A Hard PastIt’s Mother’s Day again. You might think the image I am showing today is an odd selection for this day. It’s a small painting called A Hard Past that is from my 2008 Outlaws series. It’s one of a few pieces that I deeply regret ever letting go as it holds great personal meaning for me. I just didn’t realize it at the time.

I know that this may not seem like a flattering thing to say but every time I look at this image I see my Mom’s face. At least, a certain look she had when she was sitting by herself in silence at the kitchen table, drinking a cup of tea and smoking her ever-present Camel cigarettes, those unfiltered beauties that no doubt contributed to the lung cancer that took her life at age 63.

She would sit in stillness for a long period time at that table with a distant and hardened gaze on her face. I always wondered what she was thinking or where she was in that moment. But when you’re a kid you just move through the kitchen without a word or a question.

Oh, the things we leave unsaid and the questions that go unasked.

More’s the pity…

The title, A Hard Past, came from this memory of her. She had a pretty hard life- her mother died when she was three, no school beyond ninth grade, years of toiling in a factory and a long, turbulent and angry marriage to my father. It gave her a hard edge, a toughness that several people commented on after her death back in 1995.

But they also commented on her humor, generosity and willingness to help others who might need a hand– those qualities that I also saw in her. Those qualities that I so miss.

So while this painting may not seem like a flattering tribute, just seeing my Mom in this piece means so much to me, reminding me of all she was to me.

Have a pleasant Mother’s Day…

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7rQvJgTQ9U

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All over the place this morning as I looked for a piece of music. Went from the 1970’s funk of Curtis Mayfield to 1990’s Tom Waits to Pete Townsend at the Secret Policeman’s Ball to Tom Morello and Rage Against the Machine to early and late Warren Zevon to a William Burroughs spoken word piece (Seven Souls) set against an electro beat. There was also some Jimmy Reed blues and some Ian Dury and the Blockheads.

It was fun, as always, one of my favorite parts of doing this blog. I like sliding down those rabbit holes, moving from one thing to another connected by some vague association recognized by an algorithm that is well beyond my comprehension.

But despite it all, nothing hit the spot that I wanted to hit this morning. I felt all out of rhythm in a way. Then I somehow fell on this bit of music.

I don’t exactly know what connection led to this piece, a classical guitar performance of a composition, Oblivion, from the late Argentine tango composer Astor Piazzolla. It is performed by contemporary Ukrainian guitarist Nadja Kossinskaja and it just seemed to fit the feeling of the morning at this point in time.

It finally got me back in rhythm and back on track, regardless of how I got to it.

Give a listen. It’s good stuff and a good way to kick off a Sunday whether it’s wet and gray, as it is here, or sunny and warm. Have a good day.

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