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Posts Tagged ‘Otis Redding’

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“Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you’ve got a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies-“God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.

― Kurt Vonnegut

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The words above are from the book God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater from the late Kurt Vonnegut. They are are spoken to the infant twins of a neighbor as part of a baptismal speech from Eliot Rosewater, the book’s protagonist.

It seems like a ridiculous bit of advice to speak over infants at a religious ceremony but the sentiment is striking in its simplicity and practical application.

In nearly every instance, kindness will make the situation better.

I don’t know why I am writing this today. Maybe it’s the shrill ugliness of our society at the moment, marked by naked tribalism and selfish greed.

Or maybe its our attack mentality that has become the norm, one where reason and logic are thrown aside and replaced with insults and slurs.

These negative aspects, the hatred and selfishness we are so often displaying, are not sustainable for us as a society. They are the signs of an undisciplined and unprincipled people.

On the other hand, kindness is a sustainable and enduring principle of guidance. It builds up, not tears down. A hand up, not a push down.

Like I said, I don’t why I am writing this. Maybe the thought was that we– maybe just I– needed a reminder that a little kindness does more for the world that all the ugly words spoken with hatred by one person toward another.

So, this is your reminder. We have a short time on this world. Don’t waste your time here being mean-spirited and vengeful.

Be kind to others. Be kind to yourself.

This made me want to hear a little Otis Redding this morning. Try a Little Tenderness. Doesn’t get much better than that.

Have a good and kind day.

 

 

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Couldn’t let the day go by without mentioning that today Otis Redding would be celebrating 78th birthday if he were still alive. Unfortunately, he tragically died 52 years ago in a plane crash. Only 26 years old and filled with a world of talent and a quality in his voice that so many singers try to emulate but seem to always come up short.

I still get chills sometimes listening to his music.

The painting here, The Lost One, is included in my Icons & Exiles show now hanging at the Octagon Library at the Patterson Library in Westfield, NY. I will be giving an Art Talk there this Thursday, beginning at 6 PM.

The Lost One was painted several years ago and was an effort to revisit the Exiles series that was painted back in 1995. While I feel that this painting fits into the series, it doesn’t have the same base of emotion as the others in the series which were painted at time of personal grief. It tries but comes out on a different emotional level.

It seems you can’t simply replicate deep emotion.

But even so, I like and appreciate this piece. It has its own forlorn sadness.

That being said, let’s listen to some Otis. Here’s Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song) from Mr. Pitiful himself.

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Another Valentine’s Day. We often think of it as a day to express your fondness for the one you love. But at its heart, there is an element of yearning and loneliness in the day.

To give someone a Valentine as a kid– or maybe even when you’re a little older–is to make a plea for their attention and affection. It is an admission of need and vulnerability that is very human, as is the need to know that you are indeed loved by another.

This song, These Arms of Mine , is from Otis Redding. For me, Otis can do no wrong and nobody better expresses the yearning that I am talking about here than Otis.

Have a good day. And if you love someone, let them know every day, not just on this day.

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I completely overlooked that yesterday marked the 50th anniversary of the death of the great soul singer Otis Redding. He died in a plane crash on that date in 1967 as he made his way to a show in Wisconsin, only a short time after recording his iconic (Sittin’ on)The Dock of the Bay. He was only 26 years old.

I hear that voice and it’s not the voice of a 26 year old. It’s ageless. To me, that voice is the definition of soul music. Every time I hear it is a new experience, even on those tracks I’ve heard a thousand times before. What a gift we were given in the short time he lived in this world.

Here are two of his songs from so many that I call favorites, Just One More Day and You Don’t Miss Your Water. Give a good listen– it’ll do your soul some good.

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Let Us Now Praise...

 

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.

      – Thomas Edison

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I was going through old blog posts recently and I noticed that I had used the painting above a number of times in my earliest posts. It’s part of my Exiles series from back in 1995 and is titled Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, borrowed from the title of a group of Depression-era photos of sharecroppers in the American dust bowl shot by photographer Walker Evans.

I never really wrote about this painting except in what I saw as it’s similarity to what I saw in those photos of Depression era workers. I always felt a connection to this piece but thought it was an outer connection, one that simply had to do with my reaction to form and color and not with anything I might see of it in myself.

Maybe that was my hope.

But it is a painting that I find has more meaning for me than I might want to let on. It’s a piece to which I always return, again and again, to study closely. While I sometimes see it as apart from me, more and more as I live with it, part of me feels like I am that man, standing alone in his landscape.

A sometimes self portrait.

It’s not a flattering self portrait. I used to see this figure as sad or regretful, world weary. But that has changed over time.  There is some sadness, some regret but more than anything, I now see him as resigned, neither happy or sad. He is in his place with work behind him and much more work to do. It still has a weariness in it, but not from a physical standpoint. It is more a sense of tiredness from working to stay ahead of the world’s constant encroachment, the world’s constant erosion. But while it appears tired there is also a sense of implied strength and determination to stay on task.

The hand here is important to me, a symbol of the bond of a working mind and working hands. Ideas set in motion and realized.

It’s a painting that means more and more to me as times passes and the world works its erosive qualities on my self and my world, my landscape. Maybe I am that dirt farmer, looking back with pride in his work along with an apprehension that it will someday be carried away like dry soil in the wind.

I am not going to be around Sunday so here’s a little music for the morning, a day early. It fits pretty well in tone and substance to the painting above. It’s the immortal Otis Redding with I’ve Got Dreams to Remember.

Have a good weekend.

 

 

 

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civil-rights-marchI have been struggling with the prospect of this coming week for some time.  I thought at one point after the election that I would just sit back and just watch the whole thing unfold, maybe give them a chance to prove that my doubts were unfounded.  For a short period of time –actually, several fleeting instances– he-who-shall-not-be-named-here acted almost conciliatory and I thought I might just keep this wait and see attitude.

But in the two months since, he-who-shall-not-be-named-here has shown with his words and actions just what he is and will continue to be. And that is an absolute reflection of our worst self in every possible way.  There is nothing he has done or said that I would advise a child to emulate. Try as I might, I can not come up with a single quality in his shown character that is admirable in any way.  Every aspect of this person is ugly in spirit.  Even his limited acts of charity are done selfishly, done only because it somehow benefits him and is seen as a cost of doing business.

This is not a person who is taking the weight of this nation upon his shoulders so that all in this nation will benefit. He doesn’t care about you or me.  He doesn’t care about coal miners in Kentucky or farmers in Iowa– they were simply a cost of doing business.  No, he’s putting this country on a butcher block in front of him and is trying to figure how to carve off an even larger and juicier portion for himself and his money buddies.

I agree with John Lewis when he says that he-who-shall-not-be-named-here is not a legitimate president and applaud his courage for saying those words.  But John Lewis is a man of courage and a man who has always worked to lift others.  This is a man who has truly worked to change America for the better and who has consistently stood on the right side of history.

And he is seeing a person coming to power who seeks to weaken the rights and freedoms for which he has bled.  A person who is poised to push us on to the wrong side of history, who is willing to trade away the idealism that has long been our strength and foundation for the benefit and self interests of a precious few.

So, on this weekend marking the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday I thought my Sunday morning musical choice should reflect that.  It’s A Change is Gonna Come from the great Sam Cooke, a song that was written by Cooke at the height of the civil rights struggle in response to his arrest in Louisiana after protesting a Holiday Inn‘s refusal to honor his reservations at that hotel.

It’s a great and powerful song with a message that resonates for both then and now.  I am also including the Otis Redding version just because I absolutely love this performance.  Give a real listen and try to have good day.

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GC Myers-- On the Dock smWhat a time, what a time…

Watching the news it seems like we live in a time of chaos, in days and nights of division and anger.  To a certain extent I believe that’s true.  But for the majority of us– and I believe this includes people of every color, ethnicity and religion– we simply want to live a hassle-free life, one without rancor and hatred.  One where we can be ourselves as we wish ourselves to be and move through our days without fear.

One where chaos is a distant thing that doesn’t find its way to our guts.

Can we get to that point?  I believe we can.

How? That I don’t know.  Perhaps it to be found at first in small ways, in acts of kindness and tolerance towards others.  In not rushing to judgments and showing empathy.

It can’t hurt.

The painting at the top is in my upcoming show, Contact,  at the West End Gallery, opening July 22.  It’s an 8″ by 24″ canvas that is titled On the Dock.  There’s something very pacifying in this piece, something that definitely reminds me of the great Otis Redding classic, (Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay.  I have heard this song literally thousands of time and it never gets old for me.  It’s always calming and that is something I need these days.

It’s hard to believe that Otis Redding was only 26 when he cut this track not long before his death.  His life may have been short but he gave us so much to enjoy.  So, give a listen and have a peaceful Sunday.

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