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Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

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The world was on fire and no one could save me but you
It’s strange what desire will make foolish people do

Chris Isaak, Wicked Game

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Another piece headed to the West End Gallery for their annual Little Gems exhibit, opening next Friday, February 7. It’s called Wicked Game after the title of the Chris Isaak song from 1989. Wow, hard to believe it’s been that long. But that opening line– The world was on fire…— was the first thing that came to mind when I finished this little piece.

It fit the painting.

As does the second line– It’s strange what desire will make foolish people do…– which fits the time, this particular moment in history as we watch a Republican party so fixated on their desire to maintain power that they will turn a blind eye to the corruption of our system that has taken place in the open for us all to see. The question of whether they will ever stand up for truth and justice, against those wrongs we know have been done and those we expect will be done in the future, seems to leaning toward a big and emphatic NO.

Doing that which is right even when it doesn’t personally benefit you or goes against your personal interests is a noble and honorable thing.

Don’t expect to see such a thing anytime soon.

Like the song says: It’s strange what desire will make foolish people do. Put on your seatbelts, folks. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Here’s the original from Chris Isaak.

 

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Going Back Home

Have things to do so I am going to be short with this this morning. It’s that time of year and I have to get out of the lazy funk that has hung on me for the last few months and get back to doing some real work.

It’s funny how you can drift away from the thing that makes you feel best. But coming back to it is like coming home.

And that’s where I am headed.

So this morning, for this week’s musical choice, I am going with Tuba Skinny, a group out of New Orleans and their street performance of Going Back Home. Just feels right this morning.

Give a listen. Dance around a bit. Have a good week.

 

 

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This is a new piece, Walking Blues, that is headed to the West End Gallery for the annual Little Gems exhibit, which opens on Friday, February 7. As I have mentioned here before, the Little Gems show occupies a special place in my heart. The 1995 show was the first time my work was ever shown to anyone outside of my family and a very few friends.

It was a life changer for me, the first real big step in moving from what felt like an old life into a new and altogether different life.

And it felt like that at the time. It was abundantly evident for me. It wasn’t one of those things that happens without you really feeling the gravity of what is taking place. I didn’t know where this path would lead me or if I could even stay on it for long. But I knew it was a new path that had, if I was willing to really commit and work for it, the potential to change my life in some way.

And it has.

While this coming show is actually my 26th Little Gems show, it marks 25 full years of doing this, of transforming my feelings into paint, embedding thought into material. Standing at that first one back in 1995, anxiously watching to see if anyone even looked at my work let alone showed interest, there was no idea that it would lead here.

Like so many things, I just didn’t know.

But I am glad for it. And thankful.

Hopefully, I will be reminiscing about that first show on the occasion of my 50th Little Gems exhibit, 25 years (well, actually 24 years) from now.

I don’t know but we’ll see.

Here’s a version of the great blues classic, Walkin’ Blues, whose title I pinched for this painting. It originally recorded by the legendary Robert Johnson but I thought this very unique performance by contemporary bluesman Guy Davis amidst the stark beauty of the snow and ice of Uummannaq, Greenland, 369 miles north of the Arctic Circle fit this little gem of a painting pretty well.

Have a good day.

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“No matter how corrupt, greedy, and heartless our government, our corporations, our media, and our religious & charitable institutions may become, the music will still be wonderful.

― Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country

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It’s obvious that the removal trial coming before the Senate is being rigged by the GOP leadership to have no witnesses, no press coverage and as little evidence as possible. It is a travesty that mocks the entire concept of law and justice. It is a slap in the face of all citizens.

It’s infuriating. But I didn’t want to write about that today. So, I won’t.

However, I did come across a great quote from the late Kurt Vonnegut that allows me to use it to somewhat comment while moving on to something else. Vonnegut reminds us that while the coming days may mark the end of the Great American experiment as we know it, we have made some great music. Hopefully, that part of us will not change.

It reminded me of a post from several years back that I am running again today:

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GC Myers- American Music 1994Last week I wrote about going through some old work and coming across work that had been lost in my memory, work that I seemed to recognize but couldn’t quite remember the how or why of it. Didn’t have that recollection of the moment that I usually have with my work where I can recall the emotion of that time, recall the instant it excited me and came to life for me. You know it’s your own work but it remains an enigma, a question. This is another that I came across last week. It was marked as being from 1994 and was titled American Music across the bottom.

I have looked at this piece a number of times over the year and know that it came from a time when I was experimenting on an almost constant basis, trying to capture that thing in my mind that I couldn’t quite identify but knew instinctively was there. All kinds of things poured out, most eventually set aside like this one. And through the years, looking at this piece always makes me question why I wrote  American Music across the bottom of the sheet it was painted on. I don’t know if I saw some rhythm in this that reminded me of a generic American music or if I had been listening to some old music. The Blasters, fronted by Phil Alvin, had a song of that name in the early 80’s that I always liked so maybe that played a part.

But the fact is that I just don’t know. And there’s something interesting in that, that I get to look at a piece and try to figure out what the artist was thinking without really being sure. It’s not too often that you get to do that with your own work. And I think that’s why I gravitate to this piece whenever I go through my old stuff.

An enigma wrapped in a riddle wrapped in paint.

Maybe you can figure it out. Here are The Blasters with the original version of their song, American Music.

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I wrote an entire entry just now for this blog and, after reading it over, I decided to chuck the whole thing. Just didn’t hit the mark, didn’t feel right.

Sometimes it’s better to just go back to square one than try to cobble together something that is rickety from the start. Or just do something altogether different.

So, this morning I am just going to say ‘To hell with it’ and play a song that soothes me in some small way.

It’s a Lou Reed song, Sunday Morning, from his days with the Velvet Underground in the 1960’s. The late model/singer Nico, best known for Andy Warhol transforming her into a Pop Art icon, does the vocals here but you can hear Lou’s voice in her vocals.

It has that familiar Velvet’s drone that I think gives it that soothing quality I am looking for this morning. Plus, this is kind of a neat video.

Have a good Sunday, okay?

 

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The Australian wildfires are still raging. Sheer devastation. Well over 18 millions acres (think about it as every single inch of Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts being burnt to the ground) up in flames along with dozens of lives, thousands of homes and a staggering amount of wildlife. The current estimate that the number of animals and birds is that well over a billion creatures have perished. Those that survive face a grim future with an environment that will take years to rebound.

That is, if it ever can.

It’s heartbreaking. No, it’s more than that. Heartbreaking seems almost too trivial a word for the holocaust taking place. It’s more like a jagged rip in the very fiber of our souls. As helpless as we feel here on the other side of the globe, as hopeless as it seems from such a distance, we must not turn away.

Their horror may well be the future for many of us.

We have been warned for decades that this time was fast approaching but hubris and greed made us ignore and even scoff at the suggestion that we were destroying the environment that had once been so hospitable to us.

I don’t know what the answers are for climate change or even how to properly help our animal and human friends in Australia. But I know I can’t ignore the problem, can’t just shrug and say that my time here is short now that I am well into middle age and that it’s a problem for those younger than me. It’s that sort of ignorance and carelessness that allowed this to happen in the first place.

I am looking for answers, even if they are small. I can’t save Australia with my small donation but maybe it can help one small displaced creature, plant a tree or two or do anything to alleviate the pain caused by our treatment of this earth.

I hope you will look for answers as well.

This Sunday morning music is a song from the great Dinah Washington from back in 1960 called This Bitter Earth. I am also including a version of the song that combines her original vocals with a musical piece from contemporary composer Max Richter, On the Nature of Daylight, which is  a piece of music that I have played here before. The two combine to create a powerful statement that is fitting for this subject and this time.

I hope you’ll listen to both. And don’t turn away. Do even one small thing to help someone on this bitter earth.

 

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It’s interesting how an artist sometimes severely views a piece of their own work. Even more interesting when that same piece of work that fell under their critical eye becomes extremely popular. In the case of the great Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg, that piece became arguably his signature piece of music.

This came to my attention last night when there was a question on the current Jeopardy Greatest of All Time Tournament (big fan- been watching Jeopardy since the 1960’s when Art Fleming was the host on the daytime version) that made me laugh out loud.  It had to do with Grieg’s work that he was composing as music for Henrik Ibsen‘s epic verse drama based on a Norwegian fairy tale, Peer Gynt. His work for the play was meant to be just incidental music but turned into 26 pieces for the long five act drama, much more than he had anticipated when initially agreeing to work with Ibsen. It was obviously a very trying collaboration and Grieg was not impressed with some of his work.

He wrote the following to a colleague about one of the pieces, part of which was also the question ( or answer, as the format requires) on last night’s Jeopardy:

And I have done something for the hall of the troll king in Dovre which literally I can’t bear to hear, it reeks so of cow-turds, ultra Norwegianism, and to-one’s self-enoughness! But I am hoping that the irony will be able to make itself felt.

The answer (or question) was : What is In the Hall of the Mountain King.

That he thought that this piece which is now so associated with his name reeked of cow turds just made me laugh. Maybe it was just the idea that he used that term. Okay, maybe that’s a little sophomoric but, hey, he said it first!

You most likely know the piece in question here. It is surprisingly short and has been performed and used in many ways over the years. It always makes an impression. I am sure it was used in a Warner Brothers or Disney cartoon at some point and I liked a version from the early 70’s from the Electric Light Orchestra.

Here’s a performance of the In the Hall of the Mountain King section from the ballet Peer Gynt from the Zurich Ballet in 2008. Great visuals to go with the music.

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