Posts Tagged ‘music’

Love songs and relevance

January 12, 2014

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She made love songs relevant again. For the first time in more than 10 years.

 

Ours was a love story with a very defined soundtrack.

 

And now.

 

Songs that once filled me and made me float are a heavy weight tied around my ankle.

 

Songs I love that I can never listen to again without mourning.

 

But she made love songs relevant again.

 

And someday, I will find a new song, as relevant as the past.

 

Because kitchens were made for a slow dance.

 

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I don’t care what rhymes with hug me.

September 6, 2013

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I have written a lot of songs. I’m pretty proud of them. I know that not every lyric penned is that perfect, life-changing message, but by and large, I say what I need to say, and in a way that seems to work, at least for me. Today, rather than writing about the deeper things on my mind, the toils and troubles of being alive in an imperfect world (screws fall out all the time) I decided to pull just a few of my absolute favorite lines from Strawfoot’s catalog. I know not everything I write is great, but I feel like there are great moments hiding everywhere in this world, if you look hard enough—even in my songs.

It’s also fun to step back and chart my growth as a writer, from time to time. The band’s sound has evolved, and so have I. So, without further adieu, here’s a nice little time line of my lines.

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I can tell by the way you look, clear as homemade gin

Your mouth is full of hornets, and your body’s built for sin

 –Achilles Heel, Chasing Locusts

You grab the bottle, I’ll hold the glass

We’ll toast the future and forget the past

You got an itch, I lost my cool

You ran your mouth, I broke the golden rule

–Effigy, Chasing Locusts

 

I wish I had a conscience,

A voice I could obey

I wish I had a heart

But my chest is made of hay

Wish I had a fiddle, for on it I would play

I would play until the lord takes me away

–Fiddle and Jug, Chasing Locusts

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I’d scream right up to heaven if I thought it’d do me good.

I’d wash my hands of sin if I really thought I could

I’d speak my mind right now if I had half a mind to give

And I’d lay right down and die if I had ever really lived

–Broken Crown, How We Prospered

 

Well you think your words are final,

That you speak the gospel truth

But you speak them with a forked tongue

And a fang left for a tooth

–Hole, How We Prospered

 

Whiskey in the morning, scotch the night before

My back is full of carpet burns from snow angels on the floor

–Seven Ways, How We Prospered

 

I gave you everything, till everything was gone.

I’m marching on.

–Funeral March, How We Prospered

 

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Go ahead and lie to me, say I’m the only one

I could be your Icarus if you’d only be my sun

–Poison Me, 1000 Tragedies

 

Abuse me like a drug, drink me like gin

For every veil that’s shed, I find another sin

–Unveiled, 1000 Tragedies

 

I never meant to shatter such a fragile little thing

It was not an invitation for the sadness that you bring

Deliver Me, 1000 Tragedies

 

You didn’t love me, until I went away

Until I tried to leave you, it didn’t matter if I stayed

–Goddamned Shadow, 1000 Tragedies

 

You’ve been lying to yourself more than anyone but me

As my boot scraped cross your floor you hoped I wouldn’t see

Are you the victim or the killer, whose heart is beating now

I’ve heard more stories than our pages should allow

–Telltale, 1000 Tragedies

 

You’re a troubled mind, an empty soul

A catalyst, a rabbit’s hole

I hate to say, though we know it’s true

I have to fall out of love with you

–Fool, 1000 Tragedies

 

I hate my wrinkles, my skin and bones,

I hate my weary face

It’s always staring back at me,

It whispers sweet disgrace

I hate the things you said to me

And all the damage done

Mostly I just hate the fact I’m not the only one

–Wrecking Ball, 1000 Tragedies

 

You were always so far away, even when you were so near

Even when you were in my arms

You were never really here

I’m tired of your ghost, and I’m tired of the blame

I’m tired of excuses and I’m tired of the pain,

You tried to fly away but keep rapping at my door

But to still the beating of my heart I cry out nevermore.

–Nevermore, 1000 Tragedies

 

I miss your taste, your warm embrace,

Lips fuller than the moon.

But I I despised the long goodbyes,

And all the promises of soon.

We lived through all the seasons

And stood through all the weather

So how’d we end up here,

I could swear we came together

We lived a thousand tragedies

We’ll live a thousand more

And I’ll just keep on dancing

No longer keeping score

–1000 Tragedies, 1000 Tragedies

 

 

 

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New Music Monday: This ain’t Mary Poppins…

September 2, 2013

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When we play a Beggar’s Carnivale, we usually learn about 10-15 songs per show. Some we write, some are existing originals, and many are covers, as requested by performers. By and large, our covers are exactly what you’d expect of us…Tom Waits, Devotchka, , Gogol Bordello, etc.

 

but.

 

Sometimes, the requests are…out of our comfort zone.

 

But we persevere, and do our best to make them ours.

 

When Jeez Loueeze approached us with Chim Chim Cher-ee from Mary Poppins, my first reaction was one of dread.

 

A Disney song? Us?

 

But then I remembered something. I am a rather large fan of Dick Van Dyke. He’s one of the last great song and dance men in Hollywood.

 

Plus, how can you say no to Jeez?

 

So we learned it. Played it. And honestly, it’s become one of my favorite songs to sing, original or otherwise.

 

So, enjoy, download it while you can.

 

 

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I Dunno

August 14, 2013

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It came on by mistake.

I thought I had deleted it.

but for the first time since,

I let it play—

I let it go.

And for the first time since,

I dunno…

I remembered how I felt the first time I heard it.

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It doesn’t change a thing, because we do indeed know.

But I smiled anyway.

For the past.

I smiled for the hope.

For the chances taken.

It changes nothing.

But I smiled nonetheless.

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Fondly: Corners

April 22, 2013

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All that was left was to pace the floor chasing old shadows, waiting to find her things in every nook. Her hair bands and bobby pins, pieces of fabric and sequin from her costumes ripped off and left in a pile on the floor, all waiting around every corner.

They used to make me smile and think of her fondly. Even though she was five hours away, these things used to make her feel close.

Now, they were the ghosts of Christmas past, left to haunt my soul for god knows how long. Every space she once inhabited still somehow held a piece of her.

I wanted to curse the heavens, and punch a wall.

Songs I could never listen to again, warm moments made cold.

All that was left was to pace and think, and hope. To hope she remembered the love. The love I gave. A love she would never feel again. Not from the next guy, the guy after that, or anyone else.

Not like that.

Even if it wasn’t enough, it was something.

I wasn’t ready to jump in front of a bus, but were a bus to jump out at me, well, I was indifferent to the idea.

So I paced.

Eventually, rather than fearing what was hiding around all those corners I was going to have to figure out how to turn one.

But not today.

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Last Practice…

April 24, 2012

This week we stepped away from Django Tango and other such pieces to focus on original transitions for the next Beggar’s Carnivale, May 19th. We’re giving the key characters their own themes, and scoring the action. Professor Thump and Baron Von Winterbach are a regular Rogers and Hammerschtein.

The first piece is a little bit of Too-Me’s theme song. Just a taste, though…You’ll have to come to the show for the full shebang.

The other piece we worked on is the Knock’em Outs/Bon Bons Theme, two variations on the same progression.

All in all, a good practice. Only two chairs were broken.

Rhapsody in bloom.

April 15, 2012

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Rhapsody in Blue.

 

I can still remember the very first time I heard it. Wafting through the house on a warm Sunday afternoon, I was all of five. My mom was here and there, moving about the house, dusting…Dad was laying on the couch listening intently.

 

I sat down and closed my eyes and listened to the song. Every moment—every ebb and  flow. A story unfolded in my mind, as a child’s imagination took over and went for a ride with Mr. Gershwin, by virtue of Mr. Bernstein. A frantic story of love and loss flashed before my eyes. Forbidden, contested love. Two lovers, desperate for one another, but kept apart by the world, by their lives, by another man. A stronger man, perhaps. A story of fighting for what you want, what you love. A story of overcoming the rational odds and winning. In the end, I suppose it was really just a love story. But at the age of five, it was an epic, and one I’ll never forget.

 

I have this moment because my parents love good music, more than silence, more than television, more than most. I’m fortunate to have a mother and father so full of passion and appreciation for that which is truly beautiful in this world. It’s the very best quality I learned from them. I still have the vinyl record that played that very first time, pilfered from their collection, always available for a Sunday afternoon.

Duck and Cover: Whose Way?

December 12, 2009

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Regrets, I’ve had a few….But then again, too few to mention….

He didn’t write it, but once he sang it, the song was eternally his. He lived and breathed that song.

My Way was adapted in 1969 by Paul Anka from an old French song, Comme d’habitude. He changed the lyrics, kept the music.

Originally, David Bowie intended to record an English adaptation of the song called Even a Fool Learns to Love.

But thankfully, Anka beat him to the punch, purchasing the rights to the song before Bowie had a chance to record.

As a result, a slightly peeved Bowie locked himself in a room with a piano, ashtray and a chaise lounge, ultimately resurfacing with the song Life on Mars, a surreal parody of the song that “got away”.

The liner notes for it even read, “Inspired by Frankie”.

It would seem fate intervened for the audiocrats of the world—just as My Way went on to become one of Mr. Sinatra’s most revered songs, Life On Mars became one of Bowie’s.

But this is neither about fate nor Bowie.

Anka wrote My Way with Frank Sinatra in mind, sculpting his lyrics for Old Blue Eyes specifically.

When it was released, Anka’s record label was angry he didn’t keep it for himself, but Anka said it was for Frank…Only Frank.

In 1973, against Anka’s advice, Elvis Presley put My Way in his set for the Aloha From Hawaii special.

It was well received, ultimately becoming a posthumous hit.

Few people have really earned the right to sing this.

Elvis earned that right.

 

A lot of people covered this song. Crap loads.

But none of them mattered.

None of them did it their way.

They did it his way, and that way has already been done.

With one exception.

Now, as a self-professed Sinatraphile, I should hate Sid Vicious‘ version with all my heart and soul.

But I don’t. I like it almost as much as the original.

Almost.

Maybe I’m just a little punk deep down inside, but whether you love the electric guitar and Britt-Punk growls or not, you have to make one admission.

He did it his way.

Whether it was drinking till dawn and chasing skirts on the strip, wearing a polyester jumpsuit and shooting at TV’s or a slow suicide attempt through hard drugs and even harder living, these three never relented from themselves or their demons.

They did what they did, and nobody could stop them. For better or worse they truly did it their way.

Alright, Christmas: Mixtapes and Desperation

December 9, 2009

I love the mixtape.

Or, perhaps, the mix CD, iTunes playlist or podcast, depending on your age and technical abilities.

I’ve lived through almost every era of music recording and playback, save for phonographs and 78 rpms…

I’ve witnessed each evolutionary leap from the vinyl record on, embracing and adapting to each new format as quickly as possible.

I remember 8-Tracks, and I remember 45’s. Hundreds of little plastic inserts littered the carpet in our family room, allowing me to play my single of Come On Eileen on our gigantic, solid oak record player/cabinet. My collection of cassettes and casingles filled countless shoeboxes, shelves and glove compartments.

I remember my first walkman, discman, and the wonderous day I simultaneously discovered MP3s and Napster.

My first record player/tape deck combo was, perhaps, the greatest leap forward. It was a brave new world—a world I could control.

Thus began the dawn of the mixtape for a young, mildly obsessive/compulsive audiophile.

I made mixtapes for everything—mixes of lovesongs, break-up songs, songs for road trips, songs for sleeping…

They became a self-authored soundtrack to my life, as if it were a movie.

This obsession only grew with the advent of MP3s and burnable CDs.

These days, I make a playlist to run up the street for a pack of cigarettes. CDs have become disposable, turning quickly from music to drink coasters, laying unmarked in piles never to be played again.

Thank god for the iPod, my carbon footprint was getting bigger than King Kong driving a Hummer.

My conscience is guilty enough as it is.

I do sometimes use my powers for good.

I remember the first time I was unemployed for the holidays.

It was about ten years ago.

Money was extremely tight and the gift giving season was standing on the top turnbuckle, ready to drop an elbow on my head.

I could only afford to give my family small things; a book, calendar or DVD from the clearance table—it just didn’t feel personal enough.

I had to supplement with homemade gifts. My wife made some cranberry bread, and I made the first CD in what has become one of the longest standing holiday traditions I keep.

The first one was nothing but the classics: Bing’s Christmas was white, Elvis’ was blue. Dean crooned about snow and Ella asked what we were doing New Year’s Eve. Nat King Cole sang about chestnuts while Ray Charles walked us through a winter wonderland.

After that, they began taking a different direction.

Everybody already had all the classics. If they wanted to listen to Wham or Mariah Carey, they need only find the holiday station on radio or satellite.

I wanted to give them what they didn’t already have.

The first few years were easy, as I searched the modern Christmas compilation CDs on Amazon, finding some of the most wonderful, god-awful and sometimes downright absurd modern takes on timeless classics.

The longer I make them however, the harder it becomes to find new songs that don’t suck.

I tried to stop about five years ago, but the anger was palpable when I told my friends and family.

I feared a visit from three ghosts if I didn’t keep the tradition going.

When I was gainfully employed in a nondescript, cubicle-ridden, corporate-casual office, the CD became my annual Christmas card—by my final year as a corporate soldier, I was handing out more than fifty.

And now, here we are, ten years later.

Money is tight and the gift giving season is looming.

It would seem recessions and unemployment are a Christmas tradition, as well.

Just as they were so many years ago, my gifts have reverted back to small trinkets and homemade goods, with the CD being at the top of the list once more.

Times may be a little tough, but so long as there’s music, we can always still dance…

…And I have the perfect mix CD for just such an occasion.

Humble Abode: Gig Posters

December 6, 2009

I was kicking around gigposters.com this morning, killing time through a little visual stimuli…

I could get lost on that site for weeks and still be continually amazed, inspired and humbled by some of the talented designers and their work.

Here are a few that caught my eye.

Alright, Christmas…

December 2, 2009

Alright, Christmas…Let’s do this.

Thanksgiving is over, the leftovers are gone. There’s nothing left but you and me.

I’m ready.

Bring on the marathon of Christmas specials and movies, a veritable endurance race to the finish line, attempting to squeeze in every minute of festive yuletide cinema, both classic and modern, beloved and obscure.

I’m ready to see twelve versions of a Christmas Carol, from Mickey Mouse to the guy from the new Star Trek and everything in between.

Give me the laugh track-scored very special episodes of all my favorite sitcoms, riddled with awe’s and applause.

Bring on the old fashioned stop motion, the new computer animated masterpieces and the wholesome nostalgia of Charlie fucking Brown. I’m ready for it all.

I’m ready for the bells and music ringing through the air and in my ears, a constant but faint soundtrack both reverent and festive. Give me Dean and Nat and Mel…Ray and Elvis, too while you’re at it—give me some church hymns gone pop, and modern classics from former Beatles.

Give me the bizarre duets, questionable sobriety and awkward banter shared between two legends of very different times.

Let’s have some Frosty and Rudolph and Santa making out with yo mama.

Let’s do this.

Send me your Christmas card with the interchangeable photo of a dog or child wearing reindeer antlers…

Bring on Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the madness of the malls, rife with tired consumers pushing through the crowd with a thousand bags dangling to either side. I’m ready to go toe to toe for a Cabbage Patch Kid, or Tickle Me Elmo, or whatever it is that whips the kids into a frenzy these days.

Mix me a holiday cocktail, spice some rum, heat up a toddy…Give me some hot coco and an eggnog latte—and a be sure to float a candy cane in it.

Let’s light up the night like the Las Vegas strip, and fill the air with the smell of fresh pine and baking cookies. Let’s line the streets with garland and wreaths, and trim our trees with homemade childhood ornaments and enough tinsel to give the Tin Man a hard-on.

I’m ready.

It’s time to make some spirits bright.

Poll Cat: Angry Old Man

November 17, 2009

The older I get, the more I find myself writing angry letters to various people and organizations.

I became an angry old man around the age of 23.

So, who deserves my rage next? Polls close tomorrow at midnight.

 

Me and Ole’ Honest Abe? We’ve Got History…

October 9, 2009

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He lead our country through civil war. He is the great emancipator, and considered the greatest American President by historians.

And now, 200 years after his birth, he is a (Gothic/Americana) rock star.

In honor of Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday, my band, Strawfoot, has taken Lincoln’s words and turned them into a dark song about a man slowly going mad.

Lincoln was a complicated man, he fought a lot of demons. He was also a phenomenal poet.

One of his poems in particular, But Here’s an Object More of Dread really jumped out at me. It was simultaneously ominous and beautiful. It was perfect for Strawfoot.

But Here’s an Object More of Dread was written by Lincoln in 1846, upon returning to his childhood home.

In a letter to close friend, William Johnston, Lincoln wrote:

abe2abe3Included in the letter was the poem But Here’s an Object More of Dread. This being his 200th birthday, it seemed only fitting to bring his poem to life, and put it on our upcoming CD, How We Prospered.

Here it is…I hope we did it justice…the video is just a bunch of our promo shots thrown together to accompany the music…all of the band photography was taken by Marshall Gibson…He’s one of the best at what he does…

I’m no film maker…so if you can do better, please, by all means have at it…we’ll even email you the MP3…

Our CD will be available Halloween.

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Have You Met My Friend Dana?

May 30, 2009

I once lived in London, tending bar in Chelsea…Actually, I tended a few bars. I loved my time there…So much so, every time it rains I sigh deeply, wishing I had a cask-conditioned pint…

But this isn’t about me…

I remember when myspace was still in its infancy, I met a gal named Dana…Dana Immanuel…She caught my attention because she was:

a.) From London

b.) Playing a banjo

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A female banjo player is a strange and wonderful thing…I’m not sure why exactly…maybe it’s because I know enough banjo players to see Dana as somewhat of a rarity…Maybe it’s because most banjo players are rough, loud, foul-mouthed, hairy old men…So when you see a banjo on the knee of a woman, it’s a nice change of pace…

By and large, female banjo players are usually the type who could drink you under the table…the type who enjoy filthy jokes, and even filthier company…and I’d put money down that Dana could drink more bourbon than I…even though I practice…a lot…

I’ve never met Dana in person—it’s been 10 years since I’ve been back to England…but I consider her a very good friend…we have a mutual respect for one another, I reckon…We’ve been sharing the rough progressions of our songs from demo to mastered for the better part of five years…

Dana is an incredible songwriter…She got her start in music busking the tube…I would have killed to see her in such a live, intimate setting…

There’s one particular song she wrote called Drift Away…the studio version is really, really produced…which goes against the general ethos of a banjo playing street performer…and my own personal tastes…but for this song, it works…it works really well…It’s the type of song I find myself replaying as soon as it’s finished, sometimes…The type of song that’s so good you wish it were longer…

here’s a live version:

From her myspace about me section:

Armed with a guitar, a banjo, a part-time assortment of bluesy and folky musical collaborators and a little box to stomp on, Dana Immanuel’s peculiar brand of honey-voiced North London-based Americana and pseudo-folk could be bottled and sold as moonshine.

With a performance style honed by years of professional busking and influences from Alice Cooper to Ani Difranco via Hank Williams and the local dope peddler, her live show is not to be missed.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t give you some banjo, so here’s another bit o’ live…

I hope one day, Strawfoot can work with her…

I don’t fully understand why she isn’t famous yet….

…and that’s kind of the point of this post…to raise awareness of an undiscovered talent…so discover her already, folks…buy the 3 Track EP…tell your friends…Make her famous.

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Bop this Ditty (Work in Progress)

May 23, 2009

As I mentioned, we’re going to be playing with the Ditty Bops in June (14th) at the Mad Art Gallery. (click on the Ditty Bops’ name to view just a mere moment of their eccentric, melodious, entertaining show…)

Odds are, the Mad Art people, (having relationships with real artists) will eventually design a better different poster a day or so after I finish/print these…but we need to start getting the word out, and visual aids really seem to help…So, here’s where I’m at so far with it…

I wanted to create something a little softer/more feminine for the headliners…since they’re women and all…I think I did a fairly good job representing both bands with the images used…

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I leave you with a video of the Ditty Bops recording a song at Studio U.G.O…(click on UGO’s name to visit their website for a veritable cornucopia of live performances…think daytrotter only with video…)

Feel free to drop me a line to tell me how much you love/hate the poster…especially if you happen to be a Ditty Bop…

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