I’ll Be Home For Christmas

I guess I don’t have to go anywhere to be home for Christmas.Home For Christmas

I have two brothers and two sisters, but both our parents have long ago left this world, so we will not all be getting on planes tomorrow and traveling somewhere to get “home” for Christmas. The notion always appealed to me, though, when we used to do it. Now that I think of it, I realize that home was where Mom was, wherever that might be. It felt good to be together with them all, in her warm home.

As I mentioned in my previous post (and elsewhere), I love Christmas music, and after Blue Girl teamed up with Neddie Jingo to give us all a song for Christmas two years ago I decided I’d like to get in on the fun. Since Blue Girl wouldn’t do it with me (sing, I mean) last year I performed alone. It was so much fun for me that I’m doing it again this year, and since I really am home, the song I chose is “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” by Buck Ram, Kim Gannon and Walter Kent, made famous by Bing Crosby in 1943.

Too late, I realized that it was beyond me to pull this one off. I ended up spending this evening just trying to make it presentable. I promise next year I’ll tackle something that is within my power. In the mean time, won’t you please give a listen to my 2008 Christmas song?

For last year’s selection, go here.

And I have to tell you that you really should check out Blue Girl’s and Neddie Jingo’s three Christmas Collaborations, here, here and this year’s surprising tune here.

I wish every one of you a very Merry Christmas, unless you celebrate something different than me, in which case I wish you peace, love and beauty.

==========END OF POST – START OF TECH TALK==========

For those geeks who might like to know this stuff, here’s how this was recorded: I used a monster PC that I built myself, and a multitrack recording application called Sonar 7. The gorgeous electric piano is actually a Roland D-50 Linear Synthesizer, an 80’s-era relic that can make sounds which have still never been duplicated. The guitar is a Schecter Blackjack solid body with Seymour Duncan humbucking pickups (I used only the neck pickup) played through an old Line 6 Pod. The orchestral sounds are string samples from a Roland software synth (inside the PC), triggered by me playing the D-50. So there are just three instruments and one voice on the recording, all performed by me, even though I don’t know how to play keyboards.

Here’s my log of the evening’s activities:

7:13 PM (PST): Have to finish this thing tonight, or else I might as well wait until next year. Six vocal takes last night, for a total of 13. I think I finally got a usable one, but was too tired to listen to it. This really makes me feel like an amateur. I hope my singing is good enough. Nuts to those jerks who say “Good enough, isn’t.”

7:48 PM: OK, the vocal will have to do. A little reverb, and brighten it a bit. Now must fill up long, boring passage in the middle where nothing is happening. I’d like to do something with chimes or some Christmas-y sound, but no time. Must be guitar – only instrument I actually know how to play.

8:28 PM: This would sound better on acoustic guitar, but I’d have to put new strings on the Gibson, plus it would really hurt my fingers. I’ll try for a Larry Carlton vibe with the Blackjack.

9:44 PM: FUCK! I’ll never finish this. I’m in over my head. What was I thinking? I can’t play this kind of song. Plus, I used the electric guitar, and my fingers hurt anyway.

10:10 PM: Well, the guitar part ain’t good enough, but it isn’t gonna get any better tonight. Now, let’s see about the string part.

10:54 PM: Strings. Ha! Who needs string players, with their prima donna attitudes?

10:56 PM: It’s sparse, but I think it’s finished. I should learn to stop before I clutter it all up.

11:10 PM: Why is the mix so lopsided?

11:11 PM: Barb’s gone to bed, so I have to finish this on headphones. I hope it doesn’t suck when I hear it in the morning.

12:25 AM Christmas Eve: OK, I’m putting it up. I’m worried about the mix, but it’s too late to fix. Must get some sleep.

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Something In the Air

The irony is not entirely lost on me that since I finished The Protest Song Project, I have been royally one-upped by various Bigger Names.

First came Dolly Parton with her CD “Those Were the Days“, featuring 60’s folky faves Where Have All the Flowers Gone?, Where Will the Children Play? and John Lennon’s utopian vision of a better world, Imagine.

Then Bruce Springsteen came along with “The Seeger Sessions,” covering the songs of protest-singing hero Pete Seeger. I admit I haven’t heard this one, because sometime during the eighties I choked on too much Boss, and I can’t listen to any more of his tortured snarl or witness his gotta-be-fake-by-now blue collar pose. Also, he dances like a girl. Nonetheless, I have to say he has jumped on the protest bandwagon with this release, and good for him.

In March The Dixie Chicks came storming back from their three years of death threats and righteously indignant wingnut attacks (brought about by the Chicks’ public opposition to the war on Iraq) with an unapologetic CD and single, Not Ready to Make Nice and Neil Young has just released “Living With War,” a merciless indictment of the moral bankruptcy of the Bush Administration and its bloody and useless war on Iraq (you can hear his entire CD if you click on the link).

Dolly and Bruce are hedging their bets a little, doing old songs by other writers. If they get too much heat for saying bad things about the government they can always claim they just liked the tunes, grew up with them, etc., and wanted to do some kind of “tribute,” but God forbid they actually meant to actually say anything to their audiences, or to the administration. Still, the songs on their current CD’s are legitimate protest songs, and hearing them sung by artists of their stature can only help the cause of peace, honor and justice in America and the world, so I say “Right on, Dolly and Bruce!”

Neil and The Chicks are putting more on the line with their releases. They are unmistakeably speaking truth to power, and attaching their names and reputations to their words, not to mention that their new music might cost them a lot of money, not just now but for years to come, as ignorant jackasses boycott their records and concerts. Do you think “ignorant jackass” is a bit too strong? These are the same people who will “never go to France,” for God’s sake, or drink French wine, because the French didn’t join the coalition of the willing in the runup to our invasion of Iraq. So to Neil and The Dixie Chicks I say “Right fucking on!!”

I don’t have the juice to put a piece of music in front of millions of listeners. But even though it will forever look like these artists came forward bravely at a time when no one else dared speak, you know and I know that The Protest Song Project originated here last June, so we know who really came forward first. My fellow bloggers, I think you deserve a little credit for your vision and your bravery. You’ve been speaking out and raising concerns for six years now, and whether or not you rolled up your sleeves and wrote a verse to Not In My Name, may I offer you my fondest regards, and my best power salute:

Power To The People!!Right on, brothers and sisters!
UPDATE, MONDAY, MAY 15, 2006: It was late and I was sleepy when I wrote this post last night, so that’s my excuse for not saying the most important part, which is WAHOO! our artists, musicians and songwriters are getting on board! The government is slightly out of control right now, and it was looking as if everyone felt so defeated that they were just giving up. But props to all the above performers (and U2, too) and all the others who are making strong statements in the name of peace, justice and freedom. As always, my pulse quickens with the thought of the new revolution!
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Not In My Name

Ladies and gentlemen, your protest song is ready.


Note: If you don’t want to read the following long explanation,
you can download the song (“Not In My Name”)
by clicking or tapping on this clenched fist, or just press “play” right here:
I’ve been having a lot of fun for the past four or five months writing a protest song for the 21st Century. I’ve been able to spend about eight minutes a week working on it, so it’s not like I’m only producing like a minute of music per month or anything. If I were working on it full-time, adding up all these eight-minute segments I figure I would have finished it in a day or so.

For those who weren’t here or don’t remember, let me fill you in on this project.

On June 6th of this year, my good friend MPH at the blog Heightened Thoughts wrote the words “Where’s the music?” You can read the entire post here, but the gist is that we live in a world of violence, injustice and corruption, and our musical artists are strangely silent about it. Silent, that is, compared to the power and the energy exhibited by the musicians and songwriters of the 1960’s and 70’s. In MPH’s words, “What you had was a collection of artists really responding to the world around them…And it was powerful.” Today’s music scene, according to MPH, is just not providing us with the inspirational rallying songs of days gone by.

Fair enough, and maybe even true.

So, to help rectify this state of affairs (and have a little fun at the same time) I issued this challenge: If you are really angry, if you really want to protest, if you really feel like marching and singing, send me your angry lyric ideas and I will set them to music, record them and post the results on my blog. Who better to do this, than someone like me, the Oldest Blogger, who was actually there in the sixties and seventies, even though I don’t remember a lot of it? You can find my original challenge in the comments on Heightened Thoughts.

Then I began to hype the “uncontest.” Those of you who weren’t here for it can catch up by reading…

Those are the main three posts in which I exhorted you, dear readers, to send me your song ideas. If you take the time to read them now or later, you will also have the pleasure of re-reading the entire lyrics to “Eve of Destruction,” which I posted to show how easy it is to write a protest song.

Most of you were not eager to try this. Maybe you are not as angry as I thought you were. Maybe it was a stupid idea in the first place. But I did hear from some of you, and I also visited a lot of your blogs and captured your ideas for use in the song. Because, as I told you, the penalty for not writing this song with me would be that I would write it myself.

So here it is at last: “Not In My Name.” Those of you who helped, wittingly or unwittingly, I thank you. This list includes (but is not limited to)

and all the others from whom I may have stolen an idea. My plan here is to spread the blame around, so everyone gets a thin coat of it and no one – especially me – has to bear the entire responsibility. Don’t bother emailing me to have your name taken off the credits, because I won’t do it.

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Maybe Someday

I need a break.

My previous post, Another Memorial, got me down and I still feel like shit. Many of the truths I believe are crappy, but I know that the world sux and I put it out of my mind and laugh and live my life. But after writing something like that I can’t forget it easily.

Making music has always been good therapy for me, so this past week I fired up my home recording system, which is basically just a PC with some special software on it, and recorded a song, just to get my mind free. I started from scratch, and I played and sang all the parts, except for the drums, which I sequenced. Extremely careful readers will know that this is a song I wrote a long time ago. I just thought it would be easier to (re)learn the recording process if I already knew the song.

It’s just an experiment, folks, but I have posted the project if you’d like to hear it. Just press”play” below.

Oh, yeah: The song is called Maybe Someday. Turns out it was good therapy, and it made me feel better.
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Solos

OK, you lazy, lazy, unfeeling people.

I made my little compilation of guitar solos for you and almost none of you tried to guess the titles. Would it have been too much trouble to just make up a list of songs, any songs, and post them here in a comment? Well, now I can tell you the truth that there was a prize, and it was a brand new Pontiac 6, just like Oprah gives away at her show. But I’m sending it back, because no one cared enough to try to win it. Not only that, but maybe now there will be no GuitarMania 2, including some Yardbirds-era Clapton and the triple solo on the B-side of “Abbey Road.” How do you feel now? Not so smug, I’ll bet. (Note: None of this is directed at the beautiful and talented Laurie Kay Ransonette Anderson or the extremely kind and ethical Aydreeyin Oneiric.)

So here are the songs, and the artists, and the guitarists who played the solos (if I know them):

  • Johnny B. Goode (intro) – Chuck Berry
  • Louie Louie – The Kingsmen
  • Hello Mary Lou – Ricky Nelson (James Burton)
  • You Really Got Me – The Kinks (Dave Davies)
  • Concrete and Clay – Uhit 4 Plus 2
  • Right Place, Wrong Time – Dr. John (probably Leo Nocentelli)
  • One of These Nights – Eagles (probably Joe Walsh)
  • Dixie Chicken – Little Feat (Lowell George and Paul Barrere)
  • I Saw the Light – Todd Rundgren (he played all the parts)
  • Redneck Friend – Jackson Brown (David Lindley)
  • Cinnamon Girl – Crazy Horse (Neil Young)
  • Johnny B. Goode (solo) – Chuck Berry
  • Cinnamon Girl (reprise) – Neil Young

Hey, it’s OK. Bloggers are geeks, right? Which means you were all stupefied from watching Star Wars, and unable to think about anything else. It was really just a scheduling conflict. I love ya, now get outta here.

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