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Posts Tagged ‘Music’

I Got Life

I woke up tired this morning. So tired. Stumbled over here in the already blooming heat which did nothing to revive me. Plunked down in front of my laptop with a cup of coffee and just wanted to close my eyes.

Certainly didn’t want to write this. But I felt a certain obligation to my routine to play a Sunday song here. I could at least say that I did something.

I at first thought that I’m So Tired from the Beatles would fit. It’s from their White Album released in late 1968. That made me think. I wondered what album was sitting at #1 on the charts back on this date in 1969, fifty years in the past. It was such an interesting time, one filled with monumental events and people who shaped the world we live in today.

We were still reeling from the murders of MLK and RFK, Nixon took office in January, the draft was still sending young men into battle in Viet Nam, protests and race riots raged in the streets, our astronauts walked in epic fashion on the moon, and hundreds of thousands of people gathered together on Yasgur’s Farm outside Woodstock for a concert that immediately entered into the mythic realm.

But going back to seeing what the #1 album was on this date in 1969, I found that it wasn’t the White Album. No, it was the self titled second album from Blood Sweat and Tears which knocked the Original Cast Recording of Hair from the top of the chart. Looking further, the chart that year was topped by iconic albums from several genres. The White Album held the top for 8 weeks early in the year. There was a week with a compilation album from a TV special featuring Diana Ross and the Supremes and the Temptations Then Wichita Lineman from Glen Campbell held the top for a month, the Johnny Cash at San Quentin album for another month, Blood Sweat and Tears for 7 weeks, and Hair for 13 weeks. The year finished with 2 weeks from the supergroup Blind Faith, a month of Green River from Creedence, 8 weeks of the Beatles’ Abbey Road until Led Zeppelin II closed out the final week.

That is an epic year of music on the charts. Probably at least a hundred songs on those albums alone that most people my age can sing along to. But when you consider that the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Who, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, the entire Motown roster and just about every other musical rock, pop and soul god was still alive and at the peak of their creative powers, it only seems fitting. I was just a kid then but I am so grateful to have been influenced by that time and its music.

Don’t feel quite so tired now.

Here’s I Got Life from Hair. That was an album that was ingrained in my mind from an early age and I can still listen to it over and over. I think this song speaks to people in any time. Have a good day.

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I want to live alone in the desert
I want to be like Georgia O’Keeffe
I want to live on the Upper East Side
And never go down in the street

Splendid Isolation
I don’t need no one
Splendid Isolation

–Warren Zevon, Splendid Isolation

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Over the next several days I will be showing paintings from my upcoming show, Moments and Color, that opens Friday, July 12, at the West End Gallery. Today is a piece called Pondering Solitude, a 24″ by 24″ canvas, that was a favorite of mine during its time here in the studio.

Like much of my work, I can’t exactly put my finger on any one thing in this painting that makes it hit the mark for me. Maybe it’s something as simple as the color combinations or the way the light flows within the composition. Or just the simplicity of it as a whole. Or the feeling of warm solitude it emotes.

Again, I don’t know. That probably sounds strange to some of you. After all, I painted it so shouldn’t I know the entire what and why of a piece I have created? You would think so, wouldn’t you?

Oddly enough, in my best work–or at least what I feel is my best work– I have no answers. And that makes sense to me because the work is for me a way to get enough clarity to understand enough to be able to ask questions. Then, hopefully, answers emerge.

It’s hard to find answers when you don’t really know the questions.

And that is kind of the story of this piece. I see it as the Red Tree feeling a need for clarity and light, answers to questions that it can’t articulate, and finding solace in the light and warmth of its solitude.

There is more likely than not more to say here but I think I am leaving it at that for now.

I used some lyrics from the song Splendid Isolation from the late Warren Zevon above. Here is the song.

 

 

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I am moving right along with my prep work for my new solo show at the West End Gallery, Moments and Color, that opens in a little less than two weeks from now. I deliver the show early this week, before the July 4th holiday on Thursday, so this weekend has been a busy one as the work goes into their frames and mat and glass are cut.

I think I’ve probably described this final prep time preceding a show before. Even though I can easily imagine how a painting will appear, actually seeing the work fully presented in their frames brings a fuller dimension to each piece. It also gives me a better idea of how the show will coalesce and hang together on the gallery wall.

Hopefully, it’s a very satisfying feeling. And with this group of work, it definitely is, leaving me eager to see it on the wall.

Anyway, got lots to do still and I am a little frantic. Thought this Sunday morning’s musical selection should reflect that. It’s a neat version of the Ramones punk classic I Wanna Be Sedated from Tim Timebomb, whose music I featured here just a week or so back, along with Lindi Ortega. It’s kind of an unexpected take on the song and one that I find highly entertaining. There are two versions below, the first being the full version and the second containing just the instrumental track, which I liked enough to include here.

The image at the top is a new small piece, The Soloist, that I just finished for this show. Moments and Color opens Friday, July 12, with an opening reception from 5-7:30 PM, at the West End Gallery in Corning.


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This is my busiest point of my year. It is the short turnaround period between my two annual shows, the one currently hanging at the Principle Gallery and the one at the West End Gallery that opens this year on Friday, July 12. I try to have much of the work for the West End show ready before the Principle Gallery show but there is still a lot of painting to be done. As a result, every day between the two shows is packed.

It’s crazy busy but in some ways it is my favorite time of my year. The work comes in large bursts of energy and there is little time to think about it or worry about it or do much of anything else. It just comes out.

Of course, there are days when it all seems to crash a bit. Like the other day when nothing seemed to work for me. I couldn’t get the clean color I wanted and my hands seemed to belong to someone else for awhile as I lost my touch with the brush. It was frustrating all the way around that day and it made me panic a bit. But the next day everything was back to normal and the work was back at full roar. Even the work from the ugly day before was rehabilitated.

All this being said, my original intent was to say that I was much too busy to write anything today and would instead just play a video of a song. Maybe one that could get my motor running this morning.

So here it is, She’s Drunk All the Time, from Tim Timebomb and Friends. Actually, Tim Timebomb is Tim Armstrong who formed the L.A. ska punk band Rancid in the 90’s. His bandmates here are from the Interrupters who had a song that I featured on this blog last month. It’s a fun, high energy song that is a good kickoff to what I hope will be a fruitful day.

Hope yours is as well.

 

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And the sages of the subway sit just like the living dead
As the tracks clack out the rhythm, their eyes fixed straight ahead
They ride the line of balance and hold on by just a thread
But it’s too hot in these tunnels, you can get hit up by the heat
You get up to get out at your next stop, but they push you back in your seat
Your heart starts beatin’ faster as you struggle to your feet
Then you’re outta that hole and back up on the street…

–Bruce Springsteen, It’s Hard to Be a Saint in the City

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The other day, I was working on another of the Multitudes pieces, a 12″ square canvas that was featuring a halo or at least a gold orb hanging over one of the faces. The painting started with this central haloed character and the rest of the faces grew out from it. The faces other than the one with the halo were originally going to be many shades of blues and purples but while I was working, a song from Bruce Springsteen‘s first album in 1973, Greetings From Asbury Park NJ, came on.

I could lie here (as I have been known to do on occasion) and say that it was It’s Hard to Be a Saint in the City. That would make for a nice tidy little tale.

But it was actually Spirit in the Night. At first I thought that maybe I should use that title for this piece. It would work pretty well, especially with the dark blues and purples. But  instead I instantly saw in my head the title from another song from that album, It’s Hard to Be a Saint. It fit even better. The painting already had a saintly halo, for god’s sake. So I decided to go back at the surrounding faces and give them a green, jaundiced tone. Give them a uniformly alien appearance that would contrast against the lightness of the haloed one.

It works for me, at least. You may or may not like it and, again, that’s okay.

Anyway, here’s the song that gives this painting its title. It’s early Springsteen so its densely worded in its lyrics, the thing that really attracted me to his work at first. Many of the songs from his first albums felt more like short stories or novellas than songs. As his work evolved, his best work moved from this sense of literature with intimate, wordy description to one that felt more cinematic, with broader, sweeping vistas. I like both styles but this early work still appeals deeply to something in me.

Give a listen and have a good Sunday. And a good Father’s Day.

 

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“I was a man who thrived on solitude; without it I was like another man without food or water. Each day without solitude weakened me. I took no pride in my solitude; but I was dependent on it. The darkness of the room was like sunlight to me.”

Charles BukowskiFactotum

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A bit of beauty from Ella on a cool gray morning as I bask in the solitude that serves as my sunlight. Have a great day.

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Wasn’t going to write anything today as I have a full schedule in prepping work for delivery of my June Principle Gallery show combined with my visit to see my dad at the local nursing facility where has lived with his dementia for most of the last three years. But I began listening to some music and when Heroes from David Bowie came on, it made me scroll back through some older posts and I came across the one below.

Heroism is a term that has been warped a bit by our fascination with comic book heroism. On a Memorial day weekend, we should be reminded that many of the people who we memorialize for their service and sacrifice didn’t have superhero qualities. They were no different than anyone else when faced with adversity and danger– scared, confused and wishing it was all over. But heroism comes in fighting through these emotions and simply doing the task that is required of them. To simply do the right thing and take responsibility for those things before them that they can control. To unselfishly serve in the moment.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Doing one’s duty without giving thought to how the outcome might affect you is a rare thing. I guess that is why we celebrate holidays devoted to service and heroism.  And it’s especially rare in these perilous times where a single, simple act of heroism from a small handful people in congress could completely change the direction in which this country is headed.

That might be too much to ask of them. Heroism is not for everyone, I suppose. But for the rest of us, let us put aside our selfish concerns and serve someone and something greater than ourselves. Just do what is right. Then we can all be heroes.

Here’s the post from several years back:

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Arthur Ashe HeroismKeeping up the theme that was the subject of an earlier post this week, I decided that for this Sunday morning’s musical selection I would play a lovely version of Heroes from David Bowie. It’s an acoustic version (with Gail Ann Dorsey accompanying him on vocals and bass) from a 1996 performance at the Bridge School Benefit, an annual concert began by Neil Young to benefit the Bay Area school that helps kids with severe speech and physical impairments. In that context, the song takes on additional layers of meaning as you see the many parents in the audience with their children, many cradling them.

Heroism.

Looking for an image to illustrate this post, I did an image search by punching in the word hero. It was all superheroes and warriors which saddened me because I know that heroism is something far more than that. It’s about doing those things that need to be done, about taking responsibility in order to serve a purpose beyond your own needs. We think of it as a rare thing but it is evident every day in the actions of those people who give so much of themselves to others.

For me, an example of this came to me in a very personal way. When my mother was struggling in the last months of her battle with cancer, I visited her for  last time. Her and my father had been together for about 46 years at that point, years which could be described as turbulent at best. For such a long married couple, they had an odd love/hate relationship which had them always on the edge of huge screaming  battles that were fraught with violence. They were terrible things to see and even as a child I often wondered why they remained together. But they did and as she neared the end of her life, Dad became her cook, her maid, her nurse, and her driver to the many treatments that made up the last months of her life. Her everything.

When I made my last visit, I noticed a photo on her bedside table. It was photo of the two of them together from several years before, standing at some Florida site drenched in sun. On the cheap little frame, underneath my father was a word formed in simple block letters, those kind of press-on letters that you rub on from a sheet.

It was the word Hero.

Now, at that point in my life I didn’t see my father in heroic terms. Far from it. No, he was and is a very flawed human being with many traits that are far from any definition of heroism. But in this case, he took on the form of a hero for my mother and in that moment, looking at that photo, for myself as well. I realized that the word was not about great accomplishment but rather about following that need to serve another and just doing the right thing in a moment of need.

So it can be for everyone, as the song says :

I, I will be king
And you, you will be queen
Though nothing will drive them away
We can beat them, just for one day
We can be heroes, just for one day

I finally came across the  quote at the top from the late Arthur Ashe that seemed to best fit the thought .

Have a great Sunday. Be a hero to someone today.

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