Posts Tagged ‘Elvis Costello’

I call this painting Hunkered Down. It’s about 17″ square on paper and is part of my solo show, Social Distancing, that opens in just over a month on June 5th at the Principle Gallery.

Choosing the title for this piece, or for the show for that matter, was not a difficult task. Hunkered down is the term that most often jumps to mind when I think of this time of keeping socially distant.

The fact that this is the normal form of existence for me made it even easier.

Avoiding people and not having to go anywhere is something I have practiced for decades. I never thought of wearing a mask but like the idea of the vague anonymity it provides. Now that it’s acceptable and required, I might continue to wear one even after this thing someday subsides.

That is, if I ever leave my property again.

That’s a big if.

This piece is a return to my older style in transparent inks, more spare in detail which allows the primary elements, the simple forms of sky and land, to carry the larger part of the emotional load. This lack of detail brings a quietness to the whole that speaks volumes, at least for me.

The first song that came to  mind when I thought of an accompaniment to this painting was an old favorite from Elvis Costello, Almost Blue. There are several versions of the song that I like so I had some choices. I have played a wonderful version that is an absolute favorite from late jazz great Chet Baker here before so I decided to play a nice simple and spare performance of the song by Elvis himself from a 2005 radio broadcast. I also threw in a version that I also like very much from, Diana Krall, who also happens to be his wife.

Have a good Sunday. Be careful out there, okay?



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Those he commands move only in command,

Nothing in love. Now does he feel his title

Hang loose about him, like a giant’s robe

Upon a dwarfish thief.

-William Shakespeare,  Macbeth


I read an interesting article in The Atlantic  by Eliot Cohen this week that has stuck with me for the past few days. It parallels the possible fall of the current administration to that of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. How fitting that the Scottish play, as it is often called, might mirror the fall of a man with a Scottish ancestry.

The end may be brought about by those he has freely abused and those around him who serve him not from admiration or love but from fear and the self-serving nature of the position, things that will no doubt soon fall away as the downward spiral hastens and his true nature of this utterly selfish person becomes apparent to even those who still follow him with fervor.

As Cohen writes:

…his spirit remains tyrannical—that is, utterly self-absorbed and self-concerned, indifferent to the suffering of others, knowing no moral restraint. He expects fealty and gives none. Such people can exert power for a long time, by playing on the fear and cupidity, the gullibility and the hatreds of those around them. Ideological fervor can substitute for personal affection and attachment for a time, and so too can blind terror and sheer stupidity, but in the end, these fall away as well.

Who will be Macduff, the one who ends the reign of the tyrant, in this version of the play is yet to be determined. But the last words of Macduff before he is urged by Macbeth to Lay on, Macduff should be remembered:

Then yield thee, coward,
And live to be the show and gaze o’ the time:
We’ll have thee, as our rarer monsters are,
Painted on a pole, and underwrit,
‘Here may you see the tyrant.’

In case you don’t know the play, it doesn’t end well for Macbeth.

The Cohen article is an interesting read. You can see it here.

For this week’s Sunday morning music I have chosen a nice collaboration of a song from the great American songbook from Elvis Costello and the late great Chet Baker. The title fits well with an article about a man who demands love and loyalty but offers none in return: You Don’t Know What Love Is.

Take a look and a listen. Have a good Sunday.


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GC Myers- Forever and EverI am heading out to Erie later this morning for tonight’s opening reception for my show, Alchemy, at the Kada Gallery.  While I am always a bit nervous beefore any of these solo shows, the ride out to Erie generally has a calming effect.  It is a simple and quiet  ride through rural western New York on a highway that sometimes feels deserted, with hardly another car appearing at certain points.  The landscape is a mix of rolling hills that skirt the Allegheny National Forest before leveling off into a plain that runs to the Great Lakes, Lake Erie in this case.  It is sparsely populated and airily wide open.  I think this is an image of New York that would surprise many people. I know that it’s a ride that always has a calming effect for me.

The painting, Forever and Ever,  above is a small piece, 6″ by 6″ on paper, that is include in this show.  It is another take on the Baucis and Philemon myth that I have described here several times in the past.  I really like the vivid tones of the sky and the landscape here.  They seem to give it the other-worldly feel that I think fits the story of the fated couple.

Here’s a little music that  has the calm that I anticipate on my drive westward.  It’s  You Don’t Know What Love Is from two of my favorites, Elvis Costello and the late great Chet Baker.  I hope to see you tonight if you’re in the Erie area and can come out to the Kada Gallery.  Kathy and Joe DeAngelo, the owners of the Kada, are wonderful hosts.  See you tonight!


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Elvis CostelloHad the opportunity to take a short break from my show prep and venture up to Ithaca last night where we met a longtime friend to see Elvis Costello at the State Theater  there.  He has been doing a solo tour with just him and his guitars, a wonderful mix of acoustic versions of some hits and some other chestnuts.  Of course, with such a long recording career, there were songs that were omitted from his show because of time limitations.  For me, I missed Almost Blue and a few others.  But the show was so engaging that they weren’t sorely missed as Elvis was in fine form, seeming to really enjoy his performance before a very rapt  audience.

One of my favorite songs of the evening was not one of his own distinctive songs but a classic pop song from the 1930’s, Walkin’ My Baby Back Home.  Here’s a version of him doing this song that I was able to find thanks to YouTube.  Enjoy and have a great weekend!


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I’ve been listening to and enjoying the music from the CD, Lowe Country, that I mentioned here a week or so back when I discovered that one of my paintings was featured on its cover.  The album features performers from the genres of Country and Americana music doing their interpretations of songs written by the great Nick Lowe.  I’ve been a big fan of Nick Lowe’s since the late 70’s since he was writing songs like Cruel To  Be Kind and (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding, the latter  famously covered by Elvis Costello.  Lowe’s work with Rockpile also made a deep impression with me with  their album, Seconds of Pleasure, being one of my all-time favorites.   When I Write the Book from that album is a song that many people will recall.

For me, one of the standouts, among many,  from the Lowe Country album is a version of Lowe’s I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass  performed by Amanda Shires.  Her version pares down the original’s late 70’s arrangement and highlights the simple flow and beauty of the lyrics and is softened by the addition of her violin.  Just lovely stuff.  Give a listen and have a great weekend.

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A new painting  that is headed for my upcoming show , A Place to Stand, at the Principle Gallery , opening June 8.  This is a 12″ by 36″ canvas that carries the title Almost Blue, a title taken from the great Elvis Costello song.

I often talk about  the color blue as being addictive, about how difficult it is at times to pull myself away the color when I am working with it.  It is the yin to the yang of the reds and yellows I often work with in my paintings.  The reds and yellows are often bold in statement, claiming a small piece of the world as their own and making the case that they have meaning in this world.  The blues, however, don’t make such brash statements.  They create a different atmosphere, one that is quietly questioning why they are here in this world. Blue is a calm sense of wonder and reflection, almost melancholy at times. 

The Red Tree is here but its normally bold statement of self is enveloped in the blueness of the sky and landscape surrounding it, making it feel less like a statement than a question.  There is an uncertainty as to the whys and whats of its existence and the red of the tree seem almost ready to turn to blue.  It is almost blue.

I was going to have a video of either Elvis Costello or his wife, Diana Krall, doing the song here.  Both are fabulous.  But I came across this video of the late jazz great  Chet Baker doing the song in a performance taken from the film Let’s Get Lost, a documentary about his life made in 1988 not long before his death.  If you don’t know much about Chet Baker, you should really check out his bio.  It is the stuff of classic tragedies and will surely someday be the subject of a great film.  This version of the song  is a great expression of his existence and in the photos shown throughout the video you can see the toll that life, violence and drug abuse took on Baker over the years.

Almost Blue…


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