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Posts Tagged ‘Music’

I finished this new painting a couple of weeks ago and it has been a piece that I’ve spent a lot of time looking at since its completion. It satisfies me on many different levels and simply raises a certain contentment within me. I guess that would be the textbook definition of what I am trying to do for myself with my work.

When I look at this piece, following the river upward where it converges with the sky with the sun at the center of it, I see a winged angel-like figure. This was not by design and it has become the focus of the painting for me. Perhaps this even adds to my engagement with this piece.  That and the overall warmth of the colors and the pull towards the center created by the sky and sun.

There’s just a quality of attraction and completion in it for me that keeps me looking at it.

I was trying to name this piece while I was looking for a suitable bit of music for this Sunday morning selection. While I am not sure this will end up being the final title for this painting, I thought that the title from a somewhat obscure Bruce Springsteen song might fit.

The song is Lift Me Up and it was written in the late 90’s for a film, Limbo, from filmmaker John Sayles.  The song is a quiet, almost pleading, song that features Bruce singing throughout in a falsetto that takes on a lovely and mesmerizing quality as the melody engulfs it.

I think it’s a nice fit for this painting, at least for this morning. I also threw in a companion song this morning.  It’s a beautifully quiet version of If I Should Fall Behind that brings most of the other band members, including the late Clarence Clemons, forward to solo on the lyrics. Nice stuff. Have a good day…


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I was going to write something this morning about the craziness going on in the current administration. But after a while I began to think that there was no point in it. Those of you who see things as I do with me would nod in agreement.  

And if you still believe there is a single bit of honesty, decency, empathy, or any other positive qualities residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, then you most likely will never be swayed by my opinion.  If you honestly believe that this person cares about anything but himself and the fortunes of a few friends and family members, then you and I reside on two different planets, my friend. 

So, to spare myself the aggravation, I decide to focus on an old favorite who I’ve neglected in the last year or two, blues legend John Lee Hooker. I wrote the following here back in 2008 and didn’t include any of his music.  I was new to this blog thing and didn’t even know how to embed a video at that point. So, here’s that post with the music.

Have a good day, if you can.

I remember coming across an old John Lee Hooker album at a used record shop on Market Street in Corning, NY in the 1970’s.  It was a beaten piece of vinyl titled Folk Blues.  I was just a kid and had no idea who John Lee Hooker was but the album cover had a certain gritty, real feel to it and besides, it was only a buck.

It was from the early 60’s, scratched and worn,  and I remember the pops and crackles when I first put down the needle.  Didn’t sound hopeful but when his guitar and rhythm section kicked in on songs like Bad Boy and Rock House Boogie ( both tracks from the early 1950’s) it was pure magic.  It was simple, direct and raw. The guitar sound was like downed power lines arcing in a storm.

I was hooked by Hooker.

To the casual listener, Hooker’s music could seem repetitive and narrowly focused but to me that was the genius of it.  His reexaminations of certain grooves revealed nuance and subtlety that could be easily lost in the distraction of an insanely hypnotic rhythm.

I view my work at times like Hooker’s music.  There is sometimes repetition of form, of compositional elements but that is by design.  Because I am working in a defined form it allows me to spend more creative effort on nuance– texture, color subtlety and quality of line.  The result is a piece that fits easily into the body of my work but has its own feel, its own life.  Its own groove.

As John Lee would say, boogie, chillen…

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Klimt Music

Lately, when I have been very busy, I’ve been sharing some videos of artists’ work set to music.  For example, I’ve shared videos of the works of Edward Hopper and Thomas Hart Benton in recent weeks.  It’s always interesting to see artists work set to music, especially when they seem to complement one another.

Well, I am busy again today but want to share a nice video featuring the work of Gustav Klimt put together by a Brazilian musician, Juliano Cesar Lopes, who creates musical scores for films under the name JCSL Studio Recording. He has produced a number of short films like this one as a showcase for his skills. I like his work on this short film and hope you will as well.

Enjoy…

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I am really busy today. I am working on a bigger piece that I started late yesterday. There are just a lot of things percolating and I really want to get at it this morning.  I’ve been at this long enough that I know this is a time of which I need to take advantage.

The Muses come in fleeting moments and rarely, if ever, stick around for you if you don’t give them the attention and the time that they demand.

So while I go back to work I thought I would share a nice video of  Edward Hopper landscapes and cityscapes set to music. The maker of the video didn’t credit the music but I was able to discover that it is a solo piano cover of Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here from musician Steven Garreda.  It’s a really nice fit for the contemplative quiet of the Hoppers.

I’m back to work but please enjoy.

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GC Myers- The Deacon's New Tie 1995I was thinking about what song to use for this week’s Sunday morning musical interlude and the song I chose brought to mind an old painting of mine, one that lives with me still. It from the early Exiles series from around 1995 and is called The Deacon’s New Tie.

Finished near the end of the series, it is a bit lighter and more whimsical than the other pieces in the earlier post. Outside of going out for an exhibit many years ago, the Deacon has been a constant companion here in the studio.

There’s really no back story to the Deacon. He sort of just emerged from the surface. I had no preconception of what he would be when I started. I remember clearly starting this piece on a blank sheet and making a nose. Slowly, the face formed and when his eyes with their hangdog look came around I knew he was different than my other Exiles characters.

The funny thing about the Deacon is that several months after the piece was done and include in the Exiles show, I came across an article in the newspaper about a 95 year-old man in central Florida who had won a case where he was trying to be forced from the land on which he had lived for nearly 70 years. There was a picture of a bald old man sitting on his veranda, a slight smile on his lips. There was something slightly familiar in that face, something that caused me take a second look. There it was: he was the spitting image of my deacon.

Then, reading the article, it stated that he was a longtime member of a local church and was known to friends and neighbors as the Deacon. Coincidence or maybe just a certain look reserved for those Deacon-like characters.

As you may have already surmised from the title, this week’s song is Deacon Blues from Steely Dan, a group that I often think people have let slip away in the collective memory.  I was a fan and know that I often forget them until I stumble across their music by chance.  Luckily, there’s a local restaurant where we’ve dined for many years and we can’t remember a single visit where a Steely Dan song hasn’t played on their sound system at some point during the meal. The owner must be a Steely Dan fan but I think many people would be surprised at the huge success, both critical and commercial, that this band achieved in the 1970’s.  Solid then and now.

Anyway, this is one of their hits from back in 1977, Deacon Blues. Give a listen and have great Sunday.

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leningrad-gas-mask-drill-1937This old photo I recently came across fascinates me.  From 1937, it depicts a gas mask drill and the participants are the Pioneers of Leningrad.  The Pioneers were a Soviet youth organization similar to the Boy Scout movement of the west.  They learned skills related to civic and social cooperation with social gatherings and summer camps in order to create good, loyal Soviet citizens.

Beyond the obvious weirdness of the image, the photo carries the haunting thought that just four short years later many of these young people would most likely perish in the Siege of Leningrad.

For 900 days, the Nazis held Leningrad, which it had been unable to take by force, in siege attempting to starve the city into submission. Over a third of the city’s population- over 800,00 people– died during the Siege.  Most died from the depths of starvation that found the citizens eating anything at their disposal– sawdust, wallpaper, and any and all pets.

It’s a horror that is hard for us, so far removed from that place and that war, to fathom yet it happened just a little over 70 years back.  Some of those children in the photo, if they were fortunate to survive the war and the siege, could easily be alive today. I am sure when the photo was taken they felt strong and prepared to face whatever adversity lay ahead. They had no idea what the future truly held.

For today’s Sunday morning music I am using a song that relates in a way to the photo. It’s Red Army Blues from the Irish band The Waterboys‘ 1985 album, A Pagan Place.

The song tells the story of a Soviet soldier in WWII who somehow survives the war and comes in contact with American troops.  Joseph Stalin felt that troops who were taken prisoner were weak and traitors to the Soviet state and that troops who came in contact with Allied troops were in danger of being Westernized. So after the war, many Red Army troops who had been held as POWs or had much contact with western troops were considered a threat to the state and were sent directly to the gulags where many would die while working and starving in forced labor camps. We’re talking in the millions here.

I bring up this dark page in history because of our current head of state’s recent warming up to Russia where Vladimir Putin has began reintroducing Stalin era thinking to that country. Time and fading memories have made the horrors that Stalin inflicted on his people somehow palatable. The gulags, the purges, and the artificial famines that killed millions of Soviets seem to be a distant memory now and there is actually a bit of nostalgia for Stalin. Hence, Putin’s rise.

But the memory of these things, these atrocities against his own people and humanity, should never be relinquished.  If forgotten they are only a moment from becoming the present.

This is a pretty interesting video of Red Army Blues with a lot of great Soviet footage of that time which means that some of it is grisly and disturbing. Unfortunately, that is what much of our  history entails. It’s worth a listen and a view.

Have a great day

 

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fred-lyon-san-francisco-1953Sunday morning. Time for a little music.

I saw this photo online earlier.  It’s from the great San Francisco based photographer Fred Lyon who is still active at age 91.  His photos of San Francisco from the 40’s and 50’s are wonderful.  This image, called Foggy night, Land’s End, San Francisco, 1953, really captured my imagination. It just seems filled with all sorts of stories that are begging to be told. Magnificent shot.  See more of Fred Lyon’s work at his website by clicking here.

I wanted to come up with a song that might come out of this photo and I settled on Because the Night. It was written by Bruce Springsteen for Patti Smith in 1977 and she had her biggest success with that song.  Great version.  But I personally prefer the Springsteen version.  This particular performance is from Largo, MD in 1978. Hard to believe it’s been that many years.

I also just wanted to take a moment to talk about the refugee controversy in this country.  I know you’re probably sick to death dealing with everything that is going on but I just wanted to remind ourselves that the thing that have long separated us from other countries around the world is not based on power,  It was never about military strength. It wasn’t about our wealth and the privileged few that control it.

It was about us.  It was about our music, our films, our literature which reflected our entrepreneurial spirit– that every person had a value and a purpose and was free to make the most of it.  The freedom with with we expressed these things was the rare thing that made us the desired landing place for the disenfranchised people around the world.

You see it in our films.  Think about just about any Frank Capra movie– who was an Italian immigrant, by the way. Those values he so lovingly extolled in his films are the very things that have defined America around the world. The people who rail against refugees and immigrants out of fear, ignorance, selfishness or hatred go against these values, the very things that have made us special.

It’s the freedom to define yourself, to mold yourself into what you think you should be.

It’s still there and it is still the beacon, the light in the darkness, that draws people to our shores. Fear and ignorance can end that freedom, extinguish that light. And when we no longer attract the world, we have lost our real power, our real strength.

Sorry.  You most likely don’t need to hear any more diatribes but sometimes they need to be said if only for the speaker’s sake.  And I needed to say that.

Give a listen and have a good day. And keep your eyes open!

 

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