Posts Tagged ‘Elvis’

And now let us believe in a long year that is given to us, new, untouched, full of things that have never been, full of work that has never been done, full of tasks, claims, and demands; and let us see that we learn to take it without letting fall too much of what it has to bestow upon those who demand of it necessary, serious, and great things.

― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters of Rainer Maria Rilke, 1892-1910

Gosh, I wish Rilke was sending me letters. I always seem to find something in his collected letters that speaks directly to me, something that helps me better understand my own place in the world.

Give me his letters and the Peanuts comic strip and I am all set for advice on how to live my life.

Rilke’s words above on the New Year speak loudly this year. Let us look at 2021 as a clean slate, a tabula rasa, that that is filled with new potential. The time ahead may be filled with hard work and stressful times but we should use every available minute of it in attempting to make 2021 far better than its predecessor. 

I know that these words can sound like empty platitudes but I truly hope they ring true this year and that we don’t waste the gift of time we are given.

Have a happy and quiet New Year’s Eve. Stay safe and perhaps next year at this time, we can truly celebrate the end of a wonderful year.

For those of you who don’t buy into my hopeful look forward and plan on partying your brains out tonight, here’s a song from Wynonie Harris, the great blues shouter who many consider the father of rock and roll. His style, his stage moves and provocative hip gyrations were swiped and adapted by Elvis, who some thought was the G-rated version of Wynonie Harris. His stuff really rocks and this song, Don’t Roll Those Bloodshot Eyes at Me, reminds me of the best work of Louis Prima, which is pretty high praise.

So, enjoy and bid goodbye to 2020 tonight in whatever way you see fit. May we all have a happy New Year in 2021.

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A few days ago, a good friend introduced me to a singer/songwriter I had never heard, a fellow by the name of Dan Reeder. My friend had stumbled on this fellow and had discovered that he was on Oh Boy Records, the label that John Prine recorded on and founded almost forty years ago. That this Reeder follow was Oh Boy was enough to make me want to give it a listen.

Glad I did.

It’s considered “outsider modern folk” which is probably an apt description of John Prine’s music as well. You can hear echos of the John Prine influence in his music but he definitely has his own frank perspective on the world.

The song I am showcasing is Clean Elvis just because it made me smile — not always an easy things these days– plus I wanted to show the old painting at the top, a favorite of mine called Elvis in the Wilderness from 2006, I think. Part of the Outlaws series. It’s one of those pieces I wish I had never let go.

I am also throwing in a lovely, gentle song called Maybe that has a real Prine feel in its tone and message.

So, give a listen. And to my old pal Clifford who lives out in the greater Amesbury area, thanks for the intro to Dan Reeder. I have a feeling he will be on my playlist for some time to come.

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All Is Quiet


All is quiet on New Year’s Day
A world in white gets underway
I want to be with you
Be with you, night and day
Nothing changes on New Year’s Day
On New Year’s Day

U2, New Year’s Day


Found myself beginning the new year this morning walking to the studio through the woods in the dark before 6 AM.

Like the song says: Nothing changes on New Year’s Day.

I always think of this song on New Year’s morning because there is always a preternatural quiet on these mornings.

Today was no different.

It’s an absolute stillness free of all noise. Even the deer whose eyes glow green in the light of my headlamp as I scan the forest, make no sound. They are motionless and when they finally move there is no snort of alarm, no crunch of leaves, no breaking of branches.

Just a stealthy movement of shadows against an empty void of blackness. It makes me stop for a moment just to listen, trying to absorb as much of that quietude as I can with the hope that I can recall this glorious absence of sound when I need it at some point later.

It makes me think of the old Elvis song If Every Day Was Like Christmas with its lyrics that ask: why can’t every day be like Christmas? I think a more appropriate question would be why can’t every day be like New Year’s Day?

The pressure of the holidays is past. No concerns about gift giving. It’s a fresh start, with the old and worn last year fading into the grainy grayness of the past and the new year stepping in, all shiny bright and full of potential. Even the most pessimistic and jaded of us most likely feels at least small glimmers of hope on this day.

And why not? It’s a clean slate, a tabula rasa, on which anything can written. It is a time, a moment, that assures us that there are no limits on what we can do in the coming year and the coming decade.

Of course, the pragmatic part of me knows that it is just as the song says: Nothing changes on New Year’s Day. 

But this morning, at least for a while, I will try to hang on to the belief that there is change coming in this shiny new year. For the better, I hope.

Here’s the song New Year’s Day from U2 from way back in 1983. Time flies so enjoy this quiet morning.

Happy New Year.

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We’re into the heat here and in many areas across the nation with near record temps in Alexandria yesterday and the fires in Colorado still raging.  The dog days of summer.  I thought I’d have a musical break and in looking for something appropriate came across Fire from The Crazy World of Arthur Brown from back in 1968.  We’ve moved way past this in terms of outlandishness in the forty-plus years since this performance on Britain’s Top of the Pops but I have to chuckle at the outrage it must have provoked at the time.  I can only imagine the middle-aged British parents who had endured World War II and the German Blitzkrieg  upon seeing this must have felt that the world was in a death spiral and that Arthur Brown was indeed the god of hellfire.  Of course, he was just a guy trying to draw some attention and sell some records, which he did.

The painting shown above is one of my personal favorites called Elvis in the Wilderness.  It was part of my Outlaws series from several years back.  I’ve shown it here before but I thought it fit the spirit of this song and the background has the feel of impending fire.  Here’s Arthur Brown.  Hopefully, his fire will soon diminish and the fires in Colorado will cease.

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I call this new painting,  18″ by 26″ on paper,   Liebestraum after the title of the famous piano piece from  composer Franz Liszt.  Liebestraum translates as dream of love and there is a dreamlike qualityto this piece, in the way the two trees intertwine to become almost one beneath a warm dusky sky and in the way the thin white ribbon of a path winds rhythmically through the landscape in a way that seems to mimic the graceful weaving of the musical composition’s melody. 

Looking just now, I notice that the two fields in the center, one orange and the other yellow, seem to form a divided heart shape, like one of those pairs of lovers’ pendants where each contains a half of a heart.  Interesting that this evaded my eye before.

Yhe Hungarian-born Franz Liszt is an interesting character.  He was a phenomenon of his time, a womanizing piano virtuoso whose playing caused  an incredibly frenzied response from his adoring female fans.  There was such a hysteria over his performances that a term, Lisztomania, was coined by the physicians who studied the effects at the time.  We don’t often think of classical  performers, particularly of the mid 1800’s, as having the public persona of an Elvis but Liszt may have been the prototype for the modern rock star.  For you film buffs, you no doubt recognize Lisztomania as the title of the Ken Russell film from the 1970’s that featured The Who’s Roger Daltrey as the pianist in a slightly twisted telling of his tale.

The painting, Liebestraum, is part of my show which opnes next Friday at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria, VA.

Although it is primarily a piano piece, I do like this guitar version.  Enjoy.



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ClashCame into the studio this morning and when I sat down to write something for the blog, I kept having the chorus from London Calling , the great song from the Clash, running through my head.  It’s not what I normally experience early in the morning so I figured it must be from catching part of a documentary on the life of the late Clash frontman Joe Strummer recently.

Interesting life.  Interesting guy.

The documentary really captured the spirit that drove 70’s British punk and has had me revisiting Clash music all week in my head.  I generally focus on m favorites from the album London Calling.  It was a grand album with wide and varied subject matter and sound.  And a great cover that was based on one of the classic Elvis albums of the 50’s except with the photo above in place of the King.  Just good stuff.

I’m showing two clips of two of my favorites from the LP today.  The first is The Right Profile which is about the late actor Montgomery Clift and Spanish Bombs which concerns itself with the Spanish civil war of the 1930’s.  They never wrote just simple love songs…

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Today is the birthday of Elvis Presley.Early Elvis

I’m not going to wax rhapsodic about the man or what he has meant to so many people.  Everyone knows the facts:

Elvis was and is big.

For me, it’s memories of going with my sister and cousin to the movies to see his films.  I was 5 or 6 years old but even then, Elvis’ charisma was unavoidable even in those sometimes awful films.

I remember sitting in front of the TV with my dad in’68 when Elvis made his comeback special.  We both sat mesmerized as we watched,  which struck me because my dad was not one to show much obvious interest in a lot of things.  It was an amazing thing to watch.  Elvis had the air of absolute desperation around him, as if everything in the world hung on  him pleasing us and gaining our love and approval.

 It seemed to be, to quote an Elvis hit, now or never.

It was a mythic performance, obvious to even a 9 year old.

But like many mythic beings, intermingled with greatness there was the aura of tragedy and sadness.  That’s how I think of Elvis.  A simple man elevated to myth and burdened with a talent and charisma with which few are equipped to handle.

Here’s another Gillian Welch song, Elvis Presley Blues,  which kind of sums up that feeling.

Happy birthday, E…


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Elvis in the WildernessThis is a small oddity titled Elvis in the Wilderness from a series that I called Outlaws, first shown in 2006 and a series I will address more in future posts.  They were all fairly small pieces, usually 4 to 6″ square and were all much darker in nature and in appearance than my normal work.  They were, however, an extension of the faces that I would draw in my high school years so for me they were not a drastic change.  They were all part of me.  For many longtime viewers they were a sharp turn away from the style and light of my representative work.  Many approached me at the show at the Principle Gallery that year asking if this was a new direction and would it mark the end of the landscapes.  I explained that this was just another aspect of one person, that while I do show myself through my work I am only showing small facets of my whole at any given time.  Snapshots, if you will.

My paintings often represent who I am at any given point in time but sometimes they are more aspiration than reality.  I long for calmness and peace, in the world and in myself.  I desire a strong and brave outlook, to have the wisdom of the ages.  I want to shed my fears aside and live boldly.  Unfortunately, these wishes sometimes remain just that– wishes.

But so long as these aspirations remain, there is hope for more light  and less darkness.  Like Elvis in the Wilderness, sometimes one struggles to find a way to the light.

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