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Posts Tagged ‘Neil Young’

I wasn’t going to make Mother’s Day the subject of today’s blog but walking over to the studio in the gray,cool drizzle put me in a slightly sad and wistful mood, one that made me think of my own mother on this day. I’ve posted the bit of writing below a couple of times over the years and thought it was worth doing so again this morning.  I ran this post before with an old Eddy Arnold song that I knew Mom liked very much but today I am running it with one she most likely never heard, Helpless, from Neil Young. It’s one of my favorites and one that certainly aligns with the tone of this morning here. Have a good day.

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GC Myers- A Hard PastIt’s Mother’s Day again. You might think the image I am showing today is an odd selection for this day. It’s a small painting called A Hard Past that is from my 2008 Outlaws series. It’s one of a few pieces that I deeply regret ever letting go as it holds great personal meaning for me. I just didn’t realize it at the time.

I know that this may not seem like a flattering thing to say but every time I look at this image I see my Mom’s face. At least, a certain look she had when she was sitting by herself in silence at the kitchen table, drinking a cup of tea and smoking her ever-present Camel cigarettes, those unfiltered beauties that no doubt contributed to the lung cancer that took her life at age 63.

She would sit in stillness for a long period time at that table with a distant and hardened gaze on her face. I always wondered what she was thinking or where she was in that moment. But when you’re a kid you just move through the kitchen without a word or a question.

Oh, the things we leave unsaid and the questions that go unasked.

More’s the pity…

The title, A Hard Past, came from this memory of her. She had a pretty hard life- her mother died when she was three, no school beyond ninth grade, years of toiling in a factory and a long, turbulent and angry marriage to my father. It gave her a hard edge, a toughness that several people commented on after her death back in 1995.

But they also commented on her humor, generosity and willingness to help others who might need a hand– those qualities that I also saw in her. Those qualities that I so miss.

So while this painting may not seem like a flattering tribute, just seeing my Mom in this piece means so much to me, reminding me of all she was to me.

Have a pleasant Mother’s Day…

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7rQvJgTQ9U

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Some days reveal their moods pretty quickly. Today is one of those days– bone cold with a slate gray sky, the first dusting of this winter’s snow on the ground. Feels somber and a little sad, even mournful, just to look out the studio window. There is a group of deer milling around out there, moving with a slowness that makes me think they feel that same somberness, sensing that the good times of summer and fall are past and that ice and snow will soon be a constant for them.

One of the first songs I clicked on this morning fell right into this mode of feeling. It’s Down By the River from Neil Young. Released in 1969, it’s a song that has been covered by a lot of people and I was close to using a live performance of it by Norah Jones and Young but the original just has the right amount of anguished beauty for this morning.

The paintings I am including here are from back in 2009 and doesn’t really adhere exactly to the mode of this post or the song but something about it seems to fit. It’s   a small group of work that dealt with tightly clusters of red roofed structures hugging a a river or canal, often with no sky visible, just a jumble of roofs and buildings. It was work that I really liked and looking at it this morning while listening to this song brought forward a whole slew of concepts that I would like to soon pursue in this same vein, perhaps on a larger scale.

Anyway, give a listen and have a good day…

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Sat here this morning trying to figure out what song I would play for this Sunday and found myself going down a deep rabbit hole on YouTube, bouncing from genre to genre with songs that dealt with the weather, given the focus in recent times with Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and little brother Jose, tagging along for the ride. There was Stormy Monday, Gloomy Monday, Stormy Weather, Blowin’ in the Wind, Couldn’t Stand the Weather, Who’ll Stop the Rain, Have You Ever Seen the Rain and on and on. It was dizzying, so much that it made me shuck the whole idea of weather when I was listening to Like a Hurricane from Neil Young.

The version was from his 1979 Live Rust album, one that I love but haven’t heard in some time. Just hearing that song made me want to hear his Hey Hey, My My which has the line: rust never sleeps.

There’s just something about that simple line.

I thought it fit well with this new smaller painting shown here, enough that I am now calling it Rust Never Sleeps. Headed with me to the Principle Gallery for next Saturday’s Gallery Talk, it reminds me of an old photo that is always aging, losing its color as it fades away, the subtle tones turning to a sepia-like color. Tucked away in some place out of sight, it is always breaking down and only comes to life when you come across it at some distant point in the future. And even then it may only be as faded a memory as the photo itself.

So I’ll watch the hurricanes rage and think about old photos and fading memories.  Hey hey, my my…

I’m playing both versions of Hey Hey, My My from the Live Rust LP. The first is the straighter version, closer to the original released song with an acoustic guitar. The second is the heavier electric version. God, I forgot how much I liked this song!

Weather aside, try to have a good Sunday.

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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 type of things 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.

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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GC Myers- Traveler- 2014I don’t know if this painting is exactly right for the title of this post or this song.  But in the early morning light it has a moonish glow in its center, the gray of the shadows muting the brightness of the color at its edges.  For a moment, it looks like it could be a harvest moon.  At least, what I think of as a harvest moon.

The actual title of this 18″ by 48″  painting is Traveler, which is also the title of my June show at the Principle Gallery in Alexandria.  It has been above my fireplace in the studio for a couple of months now and is wearing well with me.  I find myself often looking up at it, letting myself be pulled along that winding path toward that beckoning sun.  Or moon, depending on how I see it at any given moment, such as this morning.

I will write more about this painting and the June show at a later date.  For now, its a dreary, snowy  Sunday morning here and I need some music that will change my mood a bit.  Here’s Neil Young with a version of his always lovely Harvest Moon.

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Harvest Moon

Up very early this morning.  Sleep evades me and the light shining through the windows is like a rooster’s crowing, urging me to rise.  I stagger out the door into the cool air and head through the woods toward the studio in the speckled light cast by the moon.

The harvest moon. 

It shines bright as it heads on the downward side of its arc towards the western horizon.  A fairly rare occurrence, the full moon appearing on the autumnal equinox.  It’s shining on fall now.  Browns and grays will soon replace the greens and yellows of summer.

As I walk the narrow path in the still of the woods, there are patches of light and shadow that are cast in a pale blue.  It reminds me of the colors of some blue glass marbles I had as a child.  Cool and light-filled.  It takes the tiredness away and fills me with a wonderful calm.  The harvest moon’s light seems to wash away the worries and concerns that sometimes nag at the back of the mind.  Even if it’s only for a moment, it is transcendent.

Here’s a little Neil Young to fit the moment.

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GC Myers 2002There’s something in the air.  

Maybe it’s just the time of the year and the way everything looks here right now, all brown and gray with the snow having receded.  The bones of the trees look stark and even fragile.

Maybe that’s the word.  Fragile.  The world does seem very vulnerable at the moment and one can’t feel anything but helpless about their own ability to affect the direction of things.  And this sense of futility only fuels our fears and makes future prospects seem even more dire. 

I know this is only stating the obvious.  I certainly have no answers.  Who does?  When I hear the talking heads on CNN and CNBC, I realize they have no more answers than myself, only blather and an obnoxious, ignorant certainty that they indeed have the golden ticket.  

And then I feel even more helpless…

I know we can’t avoid the subject so I won’t even try.  In the spirit of this feeling that hangs in the atmosphere, here’s Neil Young singing with The Band from The Last Waltz, directed by Martin Scorsese  in 1978.  Here’s Helpless, a song that always gives me chills…

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