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Posts Tagged ‘Willie Nelson’

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We have become a nation of expediency.

Virtue, benevolence, and doing what is right has been set aside in favor of choosing to do what is easiest in the short term, even if that very thing is known to be harmful in the long run.

Theft. Corruption. Lying. Intolerance. Ignorance. Injustice. Inequality. Cruelty. Selfishness.

I think most of us agree that all of these things are bad. Except when it serves our expediency.

We are normalizing these things, accepting them because they somehow address some short term concerns. But once accepted, these things are hard to shake off. They become part of who we are, become identifying markers by which we are known to the rest of the world.

We are soon– if not already– going to be widely known for our cruelty, our selfishness, our injustice and intolerance. We soon shall be seen as a nation of corruption, where our promises no longer hold any weight and we are not to be trusted. Soon to be known as the nation that ignores facts and science. A nation that turns it back on the suffering of our neighbors and mistreats those who seek our help.

And all this lost for mere expedience. We have known what is right through the years and have generally moved forward with the promise of a more perfect union, as our Constitution describes it, as a goal.

But we stand at the crossroads now. We can either move straight ahead as a nation of virtues or continue on our current detour that is leading us to corruption, ignorance and intolerance. That path may look rosy now but the final destination may very well break our souls.

The current ruling party has become the party of expedience. They are displaying that they only care for what is right for them for the next election cycle. Every day, they normalize behavior that chips away at our national identity and show that they are willing to sacrifice all virtue for their own selfish, short term purposes.

We still have an opportunity to get back on that higher road on which we once traveled but only if we all band together and demand a return to virtues like truth, equality and justice. Like education, the rule of law, benevolence and righteousness.

But it will take a mighty effort. No expedience here, folks. No excuses. You can’t take a pass this time unless you are willing to admit your complicity when the whole thing burns down. And if history teaches anything, that is the where the current road leads.

So, just vote. And like Willie says: Vote ’em Out.

 

 

 

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Woke up late this morning, at least by my standards. I bolted awake directly coming out one of those weird dreams that seem like something out of a dystopian novel like 1984 or Brave New World.

Or taken from any recent newspaper.

I wanted to go back to sleep just to try again, maybe come out this sleep with something better. Second times a charm, you know.

But I couldn’t so I headed over to the studio for my morning rituals. But that feeling from my dreams lingered, like a foreboding prophetic omen that is always at the edge of my thoughts and my vision.

I have a floater in my right eye that sometimes, when I am looking straight ahead, will dart across the far right periphery of my field of vision. It’s been there a while now but I often still finding myself jerking my head reflexively to see what is there. Of course, there is never anything there yet its continued presence gives me an unsettling feeling as though something could be there when I look the next time.

Uncomfortable dream or terrible omen? I’m rooting for uncomfortable dream but who knows what our subconscious is up to these days.  So much of the info, the indicators, the patterns it selects to process from the outside world enter without our knowledge.

It all reminds me of the image at the top, a painting from back in 1996 or thereabouts. I can’t locate a slide of this piece but came across an old photocopy yesterday and was really taken with it. It’s called Strange Victory II designed as a kind of companion to Strange Victory which was an early painting that I showed here and was based on a favorite poem of mine with that title from Sara Teasdale.

There is a lot that I like in this painting– the subtlety of the colors, the textures and the contrast of the figure and the tree against the backdrop. It is so simply constructed but has a fullness that is often elusive to me as an artist.

I think it’s a great companion piece for this week’s Sunday Morning Music. This week I chose Don’t Give Up, the Peter Gabriel song from back in the 1980’s. This version is from Willie Nelson accompanied by Sinead O’Connor, from his 1996 album, Across the Borderline. I think it’s a first rate cover of the song and I can envision the image of this painting when I listen to it.

Take a listen and have good day and better dreams.

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Another Sunday morning and I am ready for a little music. I was looking at some of the Nocturne paintings of James McNeill Whistler that I so much admire, like the one shown above from  1877, and thought I’d use that as the theme for this week’s music.

There are a lot of songs that use night as a theme but I settled on the classic Night Life written by Willie Nelson back in the late 1950’s. It has been covered by a lot of folks over the years, some good and some not so much. But  for me  while Willie’s version remains the truest and best of the bunch, I am partial to this performance by the great Marvin Gaye. He inserts his own special feeling into the song and the night life he creates is indeed his life. Good stuff.

Give a listen. Enjoy. Have a great day…

 

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GC Myers- Septemebr SongIt’s hard to believe that September is upon us already.  September always has a contemplative feel, a pause after the hustle and bustle of the summer months before making the transformation into the cooler, grayer months.  The leaves begin to turn.  The days get shorter. The air takes on a cool hardness that is a keen reminder of the coming coldness of the winter.

One of my favorite songs is the classic tune from Kurt Weill, September Song.  It’s been recorded by literally hundreds of artists through the years from many genres, from Jimmy Durante to James Brown to Lou Reed.  Willie Nelson does a rendition that is very delicate, maintaining the tenuous nature of the tune.  Just a lovely version.  I’ve included it at the bottom.

The image here is a new piece, a 6″ by 10″ painting on paper that I am calling September Song.  It is part of a group that will be accompanying me for the trip to the Principle Gallery on September 13th, when I will be giving a gallery talk there.  More info on that later. This painting has a wistful feel, as though the tiny figure is pausing on the path to reflect on where he has been, what he has seen and done.  The sun above and the churning rays of light emanating from it represent the inevitability of time, of change.   I wasn’t sure what to title this painting but when I realized that we were into September, the tune immediately came to mind and the narrative of the scene filled out for me.

Now, I am going to give a listen to Willie as he sings September Song:

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This is the image I was searching for the other day when I was distracted by the portrait of Willie Nelson.  This is a scene from the very early 20th century at the railroad station in Forestport, NY, in the lower part of the Adirondacks.  It’s where my great-grandfather had his logging operations back then and maintained a home as well as a couple of other businesses.

As I’ve read about that area and that time I am struck by the contrast between then and now.  If you drive through the Adirondacks you encounter town after small town, all sleepy little affairs with hardly anyone around except for the seasonal tourists.  Forestport is one of those towns.  But back in the day, Forestport was a buzzing, vibrant town.  It had numerous mills, processing the trees coming from the Adirondack wilderness to supply the lumber to build the growing cities of the northeast.  There were huge numbers of loggers going into the forests every day — my gr-grandfather had 250 lumberjacks working for him at one time.  There were canal workers that transported the lumber with mules and horses down the Black River Canal to the Erie Canal.  There were boat-builders there who built the barges that traveled the canals and carriage builders to make wagons to haul logs and people.  These workers spawned a whole support network that created cheese factories, breweries, retail stores, restaurants and taverns, all employing numbers of other workers.

Everything was local, nearly everything produced nearby.  Ironically, the very canal and later highway system that allowed the town to ship out the resources that allowed it to grow were the beginning of the end, as new products from outside the local area were now easily shipped in on these transportation portals.  Products became more regional then national and most of the products consumed were no longer local in any sense of the word.

As the forests depleted from the voracious cutting, there were fewer and fewer loggers.  Fewer and fewer mills.  The canal was replaced by the railroad at first then the highway so the canal workers and boatbuilders became obsolete.  The newly popular car and truck replaced the local carriage builders.  And with the loss of these workers came the end of the need for the businesses that supplied and supported them.  The cheese factories closed.  The stores and restaurants were boarded up.  Slowly, the town dwindled until all that remained was sleepy little burgh that wouldn’t be recognizable to the residents from that time.

I’m not saying this time or that time was better or that it’s a crying shame that this place no longer is the same.  Things change.  For many reasons.  There are thousands of places like Forestport throughout the northeast and spreading through the midwest of this country, towns that are like little dying planets whose heyday has passed.

The interesting thing for me is that bustling, life-filled world is barely remembered, only existing in a few photos and a few writings.  Makes me wonder how what we view now as the centerpoints of our lives will change and if, a century from now, this time will exist only in memories and images that may be of little interest to the citizens of that time.

Of course, Ted Williams, Walt Disney and I will be there to remind the people then of this time, after they revive us from our cryogenically induced naps.

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A Face

I was looking online for an image for today’s blogpost when I came across this image of Willie Nelson photographed by the great Annie Leibovitz.  I completely lost my train of thought and was completely entranced by this image.  What a face.

It immediately reminded me of a post from the other day, Unafraid, that was about a simple painting of mine with a tree blowing in silhouette against a colorful sky of slash strokes.  The post was about how the lack of details let the image tell its own story, create its own feel without filter of extraneous information.

Just like this face.

This face is a national treasure, a compendium of tales.  Every moment of hard living is etched into that face, out there for all to see.  Unafraid.

I’ve always been interested in how people’s lives are reflected in their faces.  When I worked at the restaurant we would try to guess if  incoming guests would want to sit in the smoking or non-smoking section.  The smokers, particularly the women, were usually pretty easy to spot with the many small vertical wrinkle that formed around their mouth and the way the smoking affected their skin in general.  It was usually drier and lacked robust color.

You can tell Willie’s smoked just a bit in his time.

I look at that face and I feel a little better about the increasing number of folds and creases I find every new day in my own face.  Each line is a testimony to a little more time spent here, another day of experience.  In this culture of constantly seeking the appearance of youth, I see them as badges of honor and hopefully I can wear them with pride, unafraid.

Here’s a little Willie…

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guitarSunday morning and we deserve a break from painting, at least in this blog.  I was thinking of a song I first heard back in 1975 when Willie Nelson released his classic Red Headed Stranger album, which was a concept album composed of sparse compositions that told the story of a fugitive on the run.  Just a beautiful group of disparate songs that come together to chronicle a tale.

When I heard Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain, I was hooked on the poetry and simplicity of the song, especially as performed in Nelson’s spartan manner.  So simple but so filled with emotion and feeling.  I think of this song often when I’m painting, trying to think how I can match that feeling of simple grace and depth of feeling in my own work.

I didn’t know much about the song then, always thinking that it was Nelson’s song.  But it had a long history, written in 1945 by the legendary Fred Rose for Roy Acuff.  Hank Williams recorded it in 1951 and a number of others have as well over the years.  It is considered to be the last song that Elvis recorded at Graceland, the day before he died.  But for me, there’s only one version that really stands alone.

Here’s the lovely Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain

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