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Posts Tagged ‘Music’

Climbed onto the interwebs this morning and made my way to the YouTube. Needed to find something to play for this Sunday morning and wasn’t sure where to turn. Something deep and ponderous? Retro blast from the past? Cool jazz cats?

I didn’t know what would turn up or where I’d find myself.

Oddly, this morning I didn’t have to go far. It was waiting for me on my YouTube homepage.

It was new, just released in mid-July. It was light. It was seasonal. It had a goofy video. It seemed like a nice respite from watching the news and wringing hands.

Well, alright, let’s go with it. It’s a little ditty called Blueberry Jam from Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, aka Will Oldham. He’s been a unique voice on the American music scene for a number of years and I’ve featured his music here a couple of times, once with him performing his I Am Goodbye and another with the epic cover of his song I See a Darkness from Johnny Cash.

Give a listen and grab a blueberry for yourself this morning.

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For some reason that I can’t quite put my finger on, I have been humming this tune since sometime yesterday afternoon. Maybe if I look closer at the lyrics, I can figure it out.

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Pull the string and I’ll wink at you, I’m your puppet
I’ll do funny things if you want me to, I’m your puppet
I’m yours to have and to hold
Darling you’ve got full control of your puppet
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Pull another string and I’ll kiss your lips, I’m your puppet
Snap your finger and I’ll turn you some flips, I’m your puppet
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Listen, your every wish is my command
All you gotta do is wiggle your little hand
I’m your puppet, I’m your puppet
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I’m just a toy, just a funny boy
That makes you laugh when you’re blue
I’ll be wonderful, do just what I’m told
I’ll do anything for you
I’m your puppet, I’m your puppet
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Pull them little strings and I’ll sing you a song, I’m your puppet
Make me do right or make me do wrong, I’m your puppet
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Treat me good and I’ll do anything
I’m just a puppet and you hold my string, I’m your puppet
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Darling, darling, pull the strings, let me sing you a song any day
I’m your puppet baby, you can sing for me all night long
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Yeah, that kind of reminds me of something I saw recently.
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Of course, I am having a little fun. It’s all I can do to not go into a rage after watching yesterday’s press conference in Helsinki. It was one of those events that will resonate forward through history and not in a good way. As presidential historian Jon Meacham said this morning, we are in the middle of this now, not at the start nor the end, and there is another shoe yet to drop. Yesterday shows that we have long passed a tipping point and it the only thing protecting our future now is our own action.
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Be a real citizen and don’t just take up space– pay attention. Ask your congressmen and senators questions and let them know how you feel. Make sure you are registered to vote and hit the polls hard. Encourage others to do the same.
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Speak up at every opportunity because it may be your last chance. I seriously mean that.
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The song, of course, is I’m Your Puppet from James and Bobby Purify back in 1966 , written by Spooner Oldham and Dan Penn.

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I just wanted to issue a heartfelt Thank You to those of you who were able to make it out to the West End Gallery for the opening of The Rising exhibit on Friday evening. It was a sticky hot evening so I am deeply appreciative of anyone who chose to spend some time with us. It was a good time and it was great to see a lot of old friends and many new ones.

The response to the work has been wonderful thus far which is gratifying. Hope you can make it out in the near future to see the show or maybe join us on for a Gallery Talk on Saturday, August 4, starting at 1 PM. The Gallery Talk is generally a lot of fun and there will be some pertinent details coming in the next few weeks.

In the spirit of gratitude, this Sunday’s musical selection is a throwback in time to the funk classic Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) from Sly and the Family Stone. Give a listen and again, thank you to everyone from the show–falettinme be mice elf agin.

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Thought for this Sunday I’d share a painting from my upcoming solo show, The Rising, which opens July 13 at the West End Gallery.

I think this piece, a 24″ by 24″ canvas titled Never Alone, represents the theme of this show very well. The rising moon and the angular, colorful  shapes of the light of the sky creates an almost cathedral-like presence. The two Red Roof houses may be separated physically– and perhaps these days idealistically– yet they seem connected by that which is rising above them.

I’ve lived with this painting for a few months now here in the studio and it never ceases to give me pause when my eyes fall on it. I find great tranquility and comfort in it.

The song for this Sunday’s musical selection is fittingly a version of The Rising, the song written by Bruce Springsteen in the aftermath of 9/11. The lyrics describe the thoughts of a firefighter as he ascends one of the towers after being hit by a jetliner.

Can’t see nothing in front of me
Can’t see nothing coming up behind
I make my way through this darkness
I can’t feel nothing but this chain that binds me
Lost track of how far I’ve gone
How far I’ve gone, how high I’ve climbed
On my back’s a sixty pound stone
On my shoulder a half mile line

It progresses to depict the darkness that descends upon him and his subsequent resurrection in spirit with a chorus that is triumphant rather than grim. It is a grand portrayal of the selflessly heroic.

In the years since, it has become more symbolic and uplifting as it celebrates a rising of virtue to overcome impending darkness. It’s a song that definitely is right for the time and one that played a large part in my choice of title for this show. I can see it in the painting above.

This version is performed by Sting from the 2009 Kennedy Center Honors. Give a listen and have a great Sunday.

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It’s Father’s Day and, quite honestly, it’s a bittersweet thing for me. My dad is still alive and spends his days and nights in a local nursing facility, as he has for the last couple of years. He has Alzheimer’s dementia but still recognizes me and remembers quite a lot most of the time so long as he isn’t under stress. He has little idea of time and place right now. When I visit him today he won’t remember if I was there yesterday and an hour after I am gone will forget I was there today.

Our conversations are short and feel almost scripted.

How long did it take you to get here?

How old are you?

How old am I?

You still driving the same car?

Where do you live?

What’s the weather like?

Is there snow out there?

That last one always makes me laugh as he has a large window in his room with a great view of the local hills and the city along with the river that winds through it and all of its bridges. He asked me that question yesterday after I told him it was going to be 80 degrees. He seldom gets up and looks out the window. He has little interest in anything outside his room.

I wish I could go off on a long description of all the things I got from my dad, pieces of advice and gems of wisdom, but there wasn’t much passed along directly. Sure, there is the swearing and a few other things that I would prefer to keep to myself. I am sure there are things I do that are direct reflections of him and his influence, some good and some bad. But it was never consciously passed along. Much of what I got from him came in the form of genetics and in object lessons where my observations often led me to avoid emulating much of his behavior.

But, even though he was flawed as a father and remains a faded shadow of the man he once was, he remains my dad.

For this Sunday, here’s song, All Around You, from Sturgill Simpson, accompanied by the Dap-Kings, the horn section that had previously backed soul singer Sharon Jones before her death in late 2016. I am not a fan of a lot of modern country music– so much of it sounds like formulaic 1980’s pop/rock to me– but I do like Sturgill Simpson. There’s a certain authenticity in his work that feels like it is in a natural progression from early traditional country music, even when he’s covering a Nirvana song such as In Bloom.

When things aren’t going well I sometimes find myself singing the chorus from his You Can Have the Crown. I won’t repeat the chorus here but it and the rest of the song always make me laugh. I think it’s a song my dad would like.

The song All Around You is about advice being passed on from a father to his young son, that there is a universal heart that contains a love with the ability to transcend the hatred, meanness and stupidity that currently surrounds us. The video is quite well done and makes quite a political statement for the times.

Take a look and have a good Father’s Day.


 

 

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This new painting has been sitting in front of my desk here in the studio for several weeks now and it has began to feel like part of the place. It just feels right in that spot, even though it takes up a lot of space–it’s a big painting, 36″ high by 48″ wide— blocking a large part of the stone fireplace that I normally enjoy having in front of me. I wasn’t happy taking it down to photograph it. Like I said, it just felt right where it was.

Maybe there’s a sense of optimism or empowerment in it that I find attractive, both qualities that are sorely needed in these times. Maybe it’s the sense of unity with its surroundings that the Red Tree seems to possess. Or maybe it’s the symmetry in its composition or the rhythm in the bands of hills.

I can’t really say for sure but whatever it is, it makes me feel better in the time in the time it is front of me.

Hopefully, it will work that way for someone else when it goes to my show, Haven, at the Principle Gallery that opens on June 1.  If not, I will gladly welcome it back to brighten my outlook.

I am calling it Natural High.

I guess that makes a nice segue for this week’s Sunday morning music. The choice this week is, of course, the soul classic, Natural High, from the group Bloodstone recorded back in 1973. I hadn’t heard the song in a very long time and after hearing it recently, it became an earworm for me. It dug itself in and I found myself singing its chorus under my breath as I was walking through the woods to the studio at 6 AM. Maybe that’s why I chose to use its title for this painting. The song is an earworm for me like the painting is an eyeworm.

God, that sounds disgusting, doesn’t it? All these worms and ears and eyes. When, in fact, it’s actually all good. Take a look, give a listen and have a great Sunday.

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Running around this morning, trying to get some things tied up but thought I’d share an interesting version of the Jimi Hendrix classic Hey Joe as performed the Joscho Stephan Trio. Stephan is a German guitarist who primarily plays in the gypsy jazz style, as you might deduce from the beautiful guitar he plays. This is a fun and energetic twist on the song, a shot of ear caffeine to get the week off on and running.

I thought I’d throw in this old doodle, an oddity from twenty years or so back.  Done very quickly with a Sharpie and embellished with a little watercolor,  the figure is a simplified and stylized representation of the way in which the figures from my early Exiles series were painted, composed from blocks of color.  It was never meant to be seen outside my studio but I like this for some reason. He looks like he could be playing Hey Joe.

Give a listen and get your motor running.

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