“It’s late in the evening, the sun has gone down. The neighborhood is quiet but I hear the sounds.” I spent the weekend working on It’s a Lonely Christmas Without You. I somehow managed to delete my project files and had to recreate it, which was a good opportunity to make some changes and I’m pleased with the outcome. I hope your loved ones are near to you this Christmas. If not, wherever they are I pray they’re safe and sound.
I’ve hatched a new one. This is fresh from the mental factory and there are three main components driving this song. At Monday night’s Fox and Goose open mic in Sacramento, I heard a performer effectively use the “repeat the same line 4 times technique” and I realized that I typically avoid that technique in my writing. I like to go somewhere with the story and resist singing the same line. He challenged me to write a song this week using that approach… so I did!
Carey Seward played Ani Difranco’s, “Both Hands” that night and that’s one of my favorite songs of Ani’s so I wanted to capture just a touch of that element as well. And finally, another local songwriter, Allison Hallenbeck recently wrote a song with lyrics that impressed me so much I practically fell out of my chair. So I thought of Allison and her lyric effectiveness as I pulled this together.
Carey is a songwriter from Alaska who has recently joined the music community here in Sacramento and she’s got oodles of talent. Allison is a ukulele goddess with a sweet soprano voice. Both frequent several open mic’s around the Sacramento region.
The second verse came first and then came the chorus and then the last two verses and ironically the first verse was the most difficult to write, but it’s so true that it sticks with me like butter.
2 Week Update: I’ve changed the chorus. It was too annoying. It’s become:
This ain’t working anymore.
This ain’t working like before.
The time has come to close the door
cause this ain’t working anymore.
This is my latest song baby. She was born the first weekend in May and came back from Mastering a week ago. She is definitely one of my more inspired pieces. What does that mean? It means that everything came quickly and easily from the words to the sounds to the recording. I played around awhile with the mix using different vocal effects and ended up happy with a clean version, just a touch of reverb.
The lyrics of this song haunt me. I got up Saturday morning and watched the Bruce Jenner/Diane Sawyer interview and the idea that we all just want to be “free” really stuck with me. I think the darker imagery stems from realizing that Bruce had been struggling with this issue for so many years. For me “Free” represents the deep unabating desire we have to reach self actualization and fulfillment. That’s really the American Dream is it not?
I love this review. This guy gets me. Part of me had to do this project just to see if I could and what I would learn along the way. I’ve never believed in being a “starving” artist, or that you have to “suffer” for your craft. My parents were both cops. They worked incredibly long hours often picking up additional off duty jobs to help pay for the extra’s. They weren’t particularly musical either. I’m pretty sure they saw that my head was in the clouds early on and perhaps that worried them.
When I was sixteen I asked them if I could run rickshaws in Coconut Grove (I thought it would be a great way to make money and lose weight). After a resounding NO from the parental units I opted for a summer job at JC Penney’s. After coming back from the military I started going to school at Miami Dade Community College on the Homestead Campus and ended up getting a job as a dispatcher for the Florida Highway Patrol.
At the time I was studying classical music and it was not uncommon for me to be humming or singing softly in the dispatch room in between calls, especially when I worked midnights and the shift was slow.
Slow and steady, with the full intent of improving along the way is how I approach my craft.
Where to begin? Last night was packed with fun, friends and superb talent. If you don’t get out to see live music in this town you are really missing out. I started the night out at The Shack in East Sac and got a Lyft down to Old Ironsides right as Anton Barbeau was going on. I recognized some of his songs and was blown away by the tightness of his band and how the songs themselves had matured into really fine works. Aural pleasure. Here’s Anton:
Next I ran over to the Fox and Goose and walked in on Dr. Velocity playing and singing some beautiful songs. I was struck right away by the quality of his songwriting and the sweet vocal delivery. I will definitely be following his work. Next up was Kimberlina and Jeffry Wynne-Prince. Both of them are excellent musicians in their own right and you put them together and bliss is the word that comes to mind. It was heaven to hear Kimberlina sing with Jeffry backing her, great guitar sounds and I swear that woman has perfect pitch. I did not hear a single wrong or off note and I am in awe of her consistency. Great work and I look forward to seeing them again soon. Photo by Allyson Seconds.
I ran back over to Old I and caught Harley White Jr. with his band Clouds Roll By and again, I was struck by the superior quality musicianship and Harley’s performance. Dripping with sweat he easily commands attention, he settles into the beat and lifts you up.
Next up was Blame the Bishop. I’m biased as two of the members play in my band as well. But I love these guys. Great songs, harmonies that are infectious and unfortunately for the video guy, my big mouth can’t help but sing along too from the audience. I get a little enthusiastic when I hear great local acts. I love that about this group, accessible songs and some truly gorgeous harmonies. Add to the mix the fact that you’ve got two great guitar players who sing well and it’s a recipe for magic. Down with the Ship is a favorite. That song is something else, but they’re all well worth hearing. Photo by Dan Smith.
If I could have been in two places at once I would have put myself both at Old Ironsides and the Fox and Goose as I unfortunately missed Kevin Seconds and his wife Allyson play and they too are top quality musicians. I’ll be catching them the next time. I caught a Lyft back home and was tucked in some time after midnight. I can’t believe I got all that entertainment for less than twenty bucks. I couldn’t have asked for a better night out in this fine town.