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Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

I was listening to some music early this morning and came across this song, one that I hadn’t heard in a number of years. Thought it might be a good one to share if only to show the painting that adorned the album cover from which it came.

The painting is from Pieter Bruegel the Elder from 1559. It is titled Netherlandish Proverbs and contains depictions of at least 112 proverbs or idioms used by the Dutch at the time. Some are still in use, such as “Banging your head against a brick wall” which you can see in the bottom left hand corner. Others have faded from usage, like”Having one’s roof tiled with tarts” which indicates that one is very wealthy.

If you go to the Wikipedia page for the painting there is a great list of the the proverbs along with the imagery for each. I am enjoying it as I work my way through the list. Even without the list, looking closely at a Bruegel painting is always a great pleasure.

The painting was used on the cover of the Seattle based Fleet Foxes‘ self-titled 2008 first album. The song is White Winter Hymnal which works well for this time of the season. The lyrics are actually kind of nonsensical but the song is lovely and the video is interesting. The song has also been covered by the acapella group Pentatonix.

So, take a look at the painting and hopefully you will enjoy the song and video. Have a good day.

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River

Didn’t really want to write anything today and was listening to some music this morning. This song came on so I checked to see if it had played  recently on the blog. After all, it does have a holiday theme, in a mournful sort of way. Found that it had been a number of years and liked the post that accompanied it so I decided to repost it along with the song. Have a good day.

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There are some pieces in my studio that will always be with me, some because they are very personal pieces, virtual parts of my memory. Others because they are somewhat lacking and I wouldn’t want them out in the world. Then there are some that stay simply because I want them here. The painting below is one of those. It hangs above the large windows at the front of my studio and probably will for some time to come.

It is painted on a piece of our old upright piano, the lid that opened on its top. It’s about 8″ tall by 62″ long. You might think that this painting is about the heavy clusters of Red Roofs but for me this is a piece about escape. That cool blue ribbon of water that cuts through this painting, shown only in snips, is freedom to me, a rushing current to carry me away from the noise and chaos of the gathered village. Or better yet, I could become the river and move easily and forever– hopefully– through the land, joined with the other waters of the world.

I find myself thinking a lot when I look at this piece, which I do most everyday as it is mounted above the large window in my studio. It gives me pause and makes me think about being quiet internally, stilling the spinning wheels.

But most of all, it makes me wish I was that river.

I call this piece Wish I Was a River, sort of after the Joni Mitchell song, River. However, her chorus goes “ I wish I had a river…”  Maybe I’m being greedy here but I want to be the river, just running through and in the winter, frozen over and seemingly still while continuing to flow below. If Joni wanted to skate away on my icy surface, that would be fine with me.

Here’s the song from Joni Mitchell.

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I normally don’t rerun posts on Sunday which is when I feature a musical selection. But this week I thought the chosen song matched up well with this post and the painting in it, which is one that feels very personal for me.. So, here’s a post from a few years back accompanied by a selection,On The Nature Of Daylight (Entropy), from contemporary composer Max Richter. It’s a beautiful piece of music.

Have a good Sunday…

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GC Myers- CandleThere are two ways of spreading light… To be the candle, or the mirror that reflects it.

–Edith Wharton

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This is a new piece,  8″ by 10″ on paper, that I am calling Candle. Working on this painting, I determined that I wanted to keep the composition very simple and stark. There was so much energy in the radiating forms that adding anything beyond the blue panel at the bottom would change the whole feel of the piece as I was seeing it. The blue provides contrast and forms a horizon line that gives the whole image a measure of inward depth without detracting from the simplicity of the image, which I see as being essential to the strength of this painting.

Simplicity, as is often the case, translates as grace. And grace of some form was what began to show in this piece as it unfolded. I was reminded as I worked on this of the great (in my mind, the greatest British artist) JMW Turner‘s reputed dying words: The sun is God. There is a spiritual element in how the sun is depicted in his work and I often feel that I am representing something more than a source of physical light and energy when I paint these sun orbs in my work.

Perhaps that something more is a presence beyond the physical.

I don’t know. But for a moment, my uncertainty is relieved and I feel connected with the warmth and light from the presence that is the sun in this piece.

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Came across this old piece, an early attempt from 1994 before I was showing my work in public. It’s painted in way, a direction I never followed much further but it is a piece that always makes me stop.  Don’t know where it came from or why I painted it. Don’t know why I gave him some sort of seaman’s cap and striped shirt. I loosely refer to this as the Sea Dog.

I don’t think there was a narrative at all. It just came. But after 24 years or so, it has developed a story, of a sort, for me. I see him as sailor in an exotic South Seas port city on a misty and mysterious night. A scuffle, a knife fight and a man falls down dead on the dark, wet streets. He flees the port and begins on building a new life with a new identity.

For a minute this morning, I saw him as a young Santa.

Maybe that’s Santa’s backstory? A murderous sailor redeemed?

I don’t know about that. But, hey, you never know.

That brings me to a Christmas song. Well, kind of a Christmas song, one that’s keeping in the spirit of a Killer Kringle. It’s from  John Prine, and it’s Christmas in Prison. It’s been a favorite of mine for decades so I was surprised that I haven’t played it here yet, after ten years of this blog.

Well, today’s the day. Give a listen and don’t mind the subject or title too much. It’s actually a beautiful song. It could be Santa singing, in different circumstances.

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Running a little late this Sunday morning, so I am just going to share a little music without too much talk. Let the music talk for itself,

The song is The World (Is Going Up in Flames) from Charles Bradley, a latter day soul singer who passed away in 2017 at the age of 68. Bradley had a classic soul delivery, full-throated and with a wail that mixed pain and joy in equal measures, in the tradition of Otis Redding and others.

The song could definitely speak to the condition of the world these days, here and abroad. Here, we are approaching an endgame that many of us saw in the cards two years ago. Back in December of 2016, I wrote about how  the word kompromat would become more and more significant and little by little, revealed detail by detail, that is becoming an evident truth.

We still have the chance to quell the fire that has been raging here. Let’s hope it doesn’t all burn down before it happens.

Give a listen and have a good Sunday.

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There is an electric fire in human nature tending to purify – so that among these human creatures there is continually some birth of new heroism. The pity is that we must wonder at it, as we should at finding a pearl in rubbish.

–John Keats

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I find myself nodding in agreement with the above words from the poet John Keats. It seems that there is ample evidence that humans have the desire and capability for living heroic lives. Yet to do so is a rare and wondrous thing.

A pearl in rubbish, as he says.

Maybe our failure is that we only see heroism defined in epic terms, not in the bravery of the responsibility that comes in making everyday decisions that opt for doing what is right and not expedient or self-serving. Not every hero wears a cape or jumps from buildings.

It’s a matter of perspective.

I think of when my mother was dying from cancer many years ago now. In her final months, she had a picture next to her bed of my father in a small cheap frame with press-on letters on the bottom leg of it that spelled out the word hero.

Now, hero is not a term I have often equated with my father, a man who is deeply flawed in many ways. I confess that, in this aspect, the apple doesn’t fall from the tree.

But this was especially evident when it came to his relationship with my mother. Most of their life together was loud and contentious. They were always one word or a single side glance away from their next battle royale, the horror shows of mine and my siblings’ childhoods.

But somehow through the years of anger and adversity she still saw something in this man that she recognized as being heroic. Maybe it was that he had simply stayed, had maintained a sense of responsibility and caring for her that became very obvious in her last days.

I will never know for sure. The psychology of it all evades me. But that cheap frame on a dying woman’s bedside table with that word hero on it still lingers with me and always will.

It’s a matter of perspective.

I didn’t plan on writing this for today’s post, didn’t seek to be so personally biographical. It just came and I guess I can live with that. I only wanted to jot down a little something to introduce the song below for this Sunday morning music. It is one of my favorite David Bowie songs, Heroes, performed by the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. I know it sounds like it should be a joke or a parody but it’s a wonderful version. I think my mom might well understand it.

Have a good day. Be a hero to somebody.

 

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I wish that I knew what I know now

When I was younger.

I wish that I knew what I know now

When I was stronger.

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You have probably heard the line above, uttered in the chorus of Faces‘ 1973 song Ooh La La by an aging grandfather to his young grandson, many times over the years as it’s been used in many movies and television shows and ads. It’s very atmospheric as Wes Anderson demonstrated to great effect in the final scene of his film Rushmore.

And if you have somehow missed it, you have definitely heard someone older spout those very same words.

The words make sense. I guess you would almost always want to relive the past with greater knowledge than you had at the time. It would definitely help avoid the stumbles and setbacks you experienced along the way. To have that wisdom beforehand might be a wonderful thing.

But maybe it’s the acquiring of this wisdom that matters, the experience of trying and failing multiple times. Maybe you need to experience that blind and unfounded optimism that sets you off on misguided missions doomed to fall short. Maybe you need to learn how to claw your way up from the fall to the bottom.

Maybe wisdom has to be hard earned before it can be fully appreciated.

Or maybe not. Maybe I am making excuses to rationalize away my own past stupidities and shortcomings. Maybe all those mistakes and missteps could have been avoided altogether with the wisdom I have now.

But would that wisdom have led me to this point where I am today?

I don’t think that can be known.

And today I am relatively content with my lot in life so I can happily abide with the choices, even the mistakes, I have made. What lttle wisdom I have gained over the years tells me I would be no happier on the safer, stabler path I might have chosen with foreknowledge.

Ooh la la…

So for this Sunday morning’s music interlude, here’s the song from Faces featuring Ronnie Wood on vocals. Give a listen and have yourself a great day with no regrets. Ooh la la…

 

 

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