07 December 2008

What you give away.....

Happy Holidays all...and remember - it's not what you keep or what you earn that makes us who we are.....it's what you give away....here's one of my favourite songs from the last few years....Enjoy!!!

Thanks for tuning in and and until next time...CHEERS!!!

30 November 2008

Suns are in the sky now, Suns are in my veins, Throw me in the fire now Love is what remains.....

Some of you may have noticed that I have been MIA these last few weeks - there are several reasons for this - one is that I am working now and thusly have less time on my hands and because there is less time - time moves more quickly which means I didn't even realize until I opened this page that it had been a month since my last posting. In light of less time and the Holidays already upon us I thought I would put together a list of things that over the past year have made me enjoy life more. Some of these things, or people, have been around awhile, but have only this year made me happy or otherwise enhanced my life or they are new things that were released this year. In any case, in no particular order (but starting with Joan Osborne because of today's quote) here it goes:

Joan Osborne's "Little Wild Things" - because she can do no wrong and this CD is worth every last moment spent listening to it.

Joe Jackson's Rain - his latest - and one of his greatest - as a very long time fan he not only is one of the best live acts I've ever seen but he's one of our greatest song writers ever.

Kim Dickens - one of the most underrated and talented actresses of our time. Yes, kids, some former models CAN indeed act and until you've seen her in Allison Anders "Things Behind The Sun" your life is incomplete.

The next time you are sitting on your porch or patio on a chilly winter's night sipping some holiday wine - pop in Over The Rhine's Drunkards Prayer - it will warm your soul and stimulate your brain - you won't be sorry.

Ryan Adams' Follow The Lights - one of my favourites from last year is still hitting the mark and like fine wine gets better with age.

In The Wild - triple threat - GREAT movie from a
GREAT book that begat a GREAT soundtrack. Need I say more?

Awesome deal - awesome choices - affordable and amidst the bills in the mail good news arrives with every red envelope.

I know - kind of cheesy - but it's nice to be in touch with long lost friends.

Love Actually - one of my all time favourite movies it is a must see for me every year around this time.

See? Cameron Diaz is more talented than you think...and The Holiday proves it. Everyone in it is amazing and the story is very sweet. Worth watching.

My 1993 000C16L gets better sounding every year....

My new North Face tent and the greatest campsite ever - 12,000 feet up a mountain in Colorado next to a river off of Route 550. It really doesn't get much better than that.

My niece, Cate, because while I would like to see her more often - still - hearing someone say "I miss you" never gets old.

Even though I lost my little guy, Phineas, this year - I am grateful for the nearly 13 years we had together....and yes...Love is what remains.

So there it is - some of the people and things that have inspired me this year....I hope you enjoyed my list and while there are so many more pieces that could have been included I think this is a fair representation. Feel free to check out earlier posts for other CD's, people and movies that have made this a very good year.

Thanks for tuning in....Until next time...CHEERS! and Happy Holidays!!

26 October 2008

Any minute now my ship is coming in…I’m ‘Waiting For My Real Life To Begin’….

If the only thing you know about Colin Hay is that ‘he’s that singer from that 80’s band Men At Work’ (if you even know that)…than you are missing out on not only a great songwriter, but a great performer and singer. Originally from Scotland circa 1953 he moved to Australia in ’67 and formed what would be Men At Work in 1978 hitting the charts in ’82 and disbanding ’85. Shortly thereafter in ‘87 he released his first solo album entitled Looking For Jack. There have been nine releases since including Man At Work (2003) a fabulous collection of M.A.W. songs redone and a few new songs where you can find today’s title quote. His most recent release is Are You Looking At Me? from last year.

I have to admit that although I am a fan of Men At Work I didn’t start paying attention to Hay’s solo work until 2002 when I heard “Beautiful World” on the Scrubs soundtrack (also on his release Company Of Strangers). That song got my brain thinking and looking for his stuff (amazing what a well put together soundtrack can do). Around that same time I saw him play at Largo here in Los Angeles where he was promoting his then upcoming release Man At Work. The show was one of the best I’ve ever seen - just him, his guitar and his wife, Cecilia Noel. That show opened up a whole other world for me where his music is concerned and it’s where I first heard “Waiting For My Real Life To Begin” (even more powerful live) and “I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You” from Transcendental Highway (also found on the Garden State soundtrack where is also listed as a Producer). Clearly there is so much of his music I have yet to discover but I look forward to it because this guy has seen the world and he is still clearly not stopping any time soon. Check him out at www.colinhay.com and www.myspace.com/colinhay

Here he is performing “Waiting For My Real Life To Begin” with Cecilia Noel (typed lyrics follow)…..

“Waiting For My Real Life To Begin”

Any minute now my ship is coming in
I'll keep checking the horizon
And I'll stand on the bow
And feel the waves come crashing
Come crashing down, down, down on me

And you said,"Be still, my love
Open up your heart
Let the light shine in"
Don't you understand?
I already have a plan
I'm waiting for my real life to begin

When I awoke today suddenly nothing happened
But in my dreams I slew the dragon
And down this beaten path
And up this cobbled lane
I'm walking in my own footsteps once again

And you say,"Just be here now
Forget about the past
Your mask is wearing thin"
Let me throw one more dice
I know that I can win
I'm waiting for my real life to begin

Any minute now my ship is coming in
I'll keep checking the horizon
And I'll check my machine
There's sure to be that call
It's gonna happen soon, soon, oh so very soon
It's just that times are lean

And you say,"Be still, my love
Open up your heart
Let the light shine in"
Don't you understand?
I already have a plan
I'm waiting for my real life to begin

Hey heyeyeyeyey
Hey yeeeeeee
Hey heyeyeyeyey
Eeh eeh eeh eeh eh x5

On a clear day
I can see, see for a long way

On a clear day
I can see, see a very long way

(Colin Hay/Thom Mooney courtesy of www.metrolyrics.com)

So there you have it. This is where my brain is these days. ‘Nuff said.

Thanks for tuning in….Until next time…..CHEERS!! and don’t forget to go Rock The Vote next Tuesday the 4th…..

13 October 2008

I want you to be my love, ‘Neath the moon and the stars above, I want you to be my love…

So simple….so clear….so direct. There’s nothing complicated about today’s title lyrics. They are the words you wish you could put down on paper instead of trying to say more, or really, too much. They come from the band Over The Rhine – a Cincinnati, Ohio duo made up of married singer songwriters Linford Detweiler and Karin Berquist. She’s the voice. He’s the magician. Together they weave stories of love, angst, spirituality, and life questions and bring together a deeper meaning to the words ringing in your ears.

The CD I’m listening to right now is Drunkard’s Prayer from 2005 – it’s the only one of theirs I know even though they have a 17 CD’s out including one they released just last year called The Trumpet Child – no doubt as good as this one but for now, I want to get lost in this one. 11 songs – one cover – “My Funny Valentine” – and the rest of them originals. The songs that caught my ears are “I Want You To Be My Love”, “Bluer” and the oh so sweet “Born” (Berquist/Detweiler):

There’s something about her voice that pulls me in - she’s not your average female singer/songwriter – while her voice is smooth it has a depth that few other women out there have – she’s like Margo Timmins of Cowboy Junkies meets Barbara Kessler; I get lost in her notes and it makes me want to go running through a field of grain on a hot summer’s eve with some kind of reckless abandon I’ve long forgotten about. Some of the songs sound a little like what I would call ‘bluegrass jazz’, some are your out and out pop folk tunes a la Nanci Griffith (minus the country) with a crisp clear piano and swaying beat and others are well – just good music that I can’t pinpoint. All are catchy and have a simplicity and complexity that makes you want to just put the ipod on ‘repeat’. You really need to listen for yourself - they have a lot to say and they do it well. http://www.overtherhine.com & http://www.myspace.com/overtherhine

Sometimes the most perfect days are the ones you don’t plan. This past Saturday was one such day. It started with Abby putting on Drunkard’s Prayer and while I’d listened to a few of the songs before (I’m not sure how she discovered them but I’m glad she did) – I’d never really ‘heard’ the whole CD until Saturday morning. Ipod on, ipod on repeat, sour apples pancakes on the griddle, maple syrup, a cool morning, long jammies and suddenly before 11a it’s already a great day. With bellies full, dark blue jeans, short sleeve shirt, my keens and Red Sox hat on and we were good to go – with a purpose in mind we set out on an urban hike through the city to hit a health food store Abby had never been to – Erewhon on Beverly – to look for gluten free pizza crust mix. Yum!

It’s not a very far walk – 2 miles give or take each way - but the day was so beautiful it felt like you could walk forever. The air was clean, the sky pure blue (as opposed to the smog infiltrated blue we have most of the year) and the Hollywood Hills that feel so close you could touch them – it was a day long in the making as the heat from our eight month long summer slowly faded away. Perfect weather. Perfect day. After a rare (for me) soda break of Virgils Root Beer while we contemplated our Erewhon finds we hit The Grove and Farmers Market next door. We didn’t mean to go – it can be a little crazy touristy jam packed on a Saturday – but something in me figured – hey – we’re here – lets swing on by….glad we did. We ended up grabbing some lunch at Charlie’s in the Farmers Market – a place I’ve always wanted to try but wasn’t able to because I wasn’t eating meat until this summer. VERY TASTY burger and fries were had - add a Cider to the mix and you’ve got the perfect lunch. Next up – the perfect desert – Pink Berry and then ‘hike’ back home.

‘Perfect’ is hard to define. Sometimes I don’t think we know we’re having a great day until we settle in for the evening and think about our travels. I knew it while it was happening. I knew it as we made the pizza and put on The Red Sox game (even though they lost) that days like that are hard to come by. Days when you forget your troubles, when you realize that life is good even if the circumstances aren’t always good. Sometimes it is as simple as a great walk on a clear day, as simple as great music in your ears or as comforting as a hand on our shoulder and the presence of a loved one long departed. However you define it – I hope you find it. I hope you each have that day whatever it means to you and whatever you do. Sometimes the best days are the days you don’t plan – the days when you allow yourself and those around you to just ‘be’.

Thanks for tuning in….Until next time…CHEERS! And GO RED SOX!!!!

29 September 2008

In the shadows of tall buildings....

Because Joan Osborne is a goddess and can do no wrong I wanted to share her cover of Jump LIttle Children's "Cathedrals" from 1999 (reviewed here in an earlier post of mine from 27 Jan '08 entitled "In the Cathedrals of New York and Rome..." http://lifeinlaland.blogspot.com/2008/01/in-cathedrals-of-new-york-and-rome.html). This is from her latest release "Little Wild One". I look forward to picking it up and will review it at a later date....though what I've heard of it so far I love already. I first heard her do this song at a show here in Los Angeles that my dear friend Jodi, Abby and I went to two years ago. Joan was amazing and this song brought tears to my eyes...I found out this weekend that I wasn't the only one so moved by her performance. Yeah - she's a goddess of massive proportions and clearly I'm not the only one who feels this way. Nice not to feel so alone sometimes when amidst the shadows of tall buildings.

Thanks for tuning in...Until next time....CHEERS!!

15 September 2008

It's alright, it's alright, it's alright....

I'm finding it hard to write these days but I felt it was time to at least say something. Though I'm not sure something is better than nothing I wanted to let you all know I haven't dumped this blog all together - I've just been uninspired since my best friend kitty passed away in July. I'm still deeply saddened by his loss and have been left somewhat speechless as it were. I thought perhaps that if I start to write something the words would flow so this is all stream of consciousness writing and really has no point.

Today's title is from Dar Williams' new CD called Promised Land, she's an old neighbour of mine, a very sweet person who has done well for herself and she's certainly not lacking in talent. She's more than alright, that's for sure. I hope you check her out. http://folkmusic.about.com/od/darwilliams/a/DarWilliamsQA.htm

Anyway....life has moved forward - the summer is at an end. I celebrated my birthday in The Sequoias last weekend and wanted to share some pictures from the trip.

Thanks for tuning in...until next time (and there will be one)...CHEERS!!!

21 July 2008

I can't tell one from another, Did I find you or you find me?

Phineas Alexander Schuler
25 Aug. 1995-16 July 2008

Cover up and say goodnight, Little Man, say goodnight.....

30 June 2008

Home is where I want to be, Pick me up and turn me ‘round…

Home is where I want to be
Pick me up and turn me ‘round
I feel numb - burn with a weak heart
(so I) guess I must be having fun
The less we say about it the better
Make it up as we go along
Feet on the ground
Head in the sky
It's ok I know nothing's wrong . . nothing

Hi you I got plenty of time
Hi you you got light in your eyes
And you're standing here beside me
I love the passing of time
Never for money
Always for love
Cover up and say goodnight . . . say goodnight

Home - is where I want to be
But I guess I’m already there
I come home - she lifted up her wings
Guess that this must be the place
I can't tell one from another
Did I find you, or you find me?
There was a time before we were born
If someone asks, this where I’ll be . . . where I’ll be

Hi you we drift in and out
Hi you sing into my mouth
Out of all those kinds of people
You got a face with a view
I'm just an animal looking for a home
Share the same space for a minute or two
And you love me till my heart stops
Love me till I’m dead
Eyes that light up, eyes look through you
Cover up the blank spots
Hit me on the head ah ooh

(courtesy of lyricsfreak.com)

Whether you prefer the original, fast paced Talking Heads version of “This Must Be The Place” (from Speaking In Tongues) or Shawn Colvin’s more mellow, thoughtful take (from Cover Girl and one that she has performed solo/live as well) there is no arguing that this is one of the best tunes of the last too many years. While each version is vastly different the sentiment and the words remain the same – pain, longing, universal heartache and a desire to find that place where we feel whole and loved. It was not something I really expected to hear from David Byrne – but veiled in a fast beat and thin electric guitars it’s easy to miss the sentimental meaning. That’s where Shawn Colvin comes in. Her take on the song (I first heard her perform it at the late great Bottom Line in the early ‘90’s) illustrates the softer side of the lyrics and the more emotional breadth of the melody.

One of the things I find most interesting about music is how production values can change a song. “This Must Be The Place” is a perfect example of this. One the one hand you have a new wave dance song on another you have a sweet folk song. Both are relevant and both can speak to the ever changing moods of a person. Maybe, in fact, they speak to different sides of the brain. The more measured dance version I liken to a left brain experience – and the folky one – a more right brain emotional purging of sorts. These are the kinds of complexity’s that make me enjoy producing music. Most songs start off the same way – a guitar or piano being banged on with words waiting to pour out onto a page. You play around and play around and try to figure out the ‘voice’ of the song when it’s done. Is it fast? Slow? Middle of the road finger picking deal? Or is it straight out strumming with certain purpose? You go through all of this only to maybe change your mind when it comes to getting into the studio. Suddenly someone else hears the song a different way and wants to take it in a new direction. Choices, decisions, days later and you have Talking Heads or Shawn Colvin. I think it’s one of the coolest things about making music, you can take it anywhere, land anywhere and start again.

Do yourself a favour and listen to these two versions back to back – your eyes will open – your ears will get a jolt and you’ll be glad you did. Look for them on itunes! In case you’re wondering my favourite lyrics from the song are: “I can't tell one from another, Did I find you, or you find me?” They get me every time! ENJOY!

As I’m sure you can guess I’m feeling a little homesick right now. This is the first time since my niece Cate was born in 2003 that I haven’t been home in June. It feels weird and I honestly wonder with flights getting so expensive when I’ll get home again. Will it be me pulling up in the driveway loaded up with my crap after a cross country drive? Or will it be me landing at a local airport and hopping into my best friend’s car? It’s so hard to know and in some ways it really bums me out. As I’ve come to really enjoy living in my very cool neighbourhood in Los Angeles, the time away from my loved ones is getting harder to take. I know, I know, if I really want to go I’ll find a way…but it’s not always so easy when your main source of income is based in one of two cities and you have another person to consider. One of the things that makes L.A. so great is the presence of Abby and a few others. But is it enough? Right now it is and who knows what job lies ahead that may keep me here. As icky as it might sound – sometimes you have to stay where the money is until such time you free yourself from the financial ties that bind. It’s one of the hard things about life without a trust fund – money buys freedom and ou can never have enough of that.

For now I’ll gaze longingly at my pictures from my last trip home – miss the people in those pictures and hope that soon “you're standing here beside me, I love the passing of time, Never for money, Always for love, Cover up and say goodnight . . . say goodnight……..”

Thanks for tuning in….until next time….CHEERS!!! and have a safe 4th of July!

23 June 2008

You got a lot of money, but you can't afford the freeway The road to Orange County leaves an awful lot of leeway….

I was torn this morning on whether to write about Jill Sobule and her awesome tunes from the 2004 film “Mind The Gap” (in which she also starred) by writer/producer/director and very talented guy Eric Schaeffer, or to write about Aimee Mann’s latest, @#%&*! Smilers. It was a tough call since I was feeling haunted by the film that Abby and I watched Saturday on a rare night off in the last two weeks, but yet wanting to write about a newer release. Hmmm….two amazing songwriters….two sets of songs that are no doubt worth every moment spent listening to, one tired mind, and one blog.

So after a quick shower to wash away yesterdays near 12 hour day that included a co-worker who opted to be the first to criticize and boss people around yet the last to actually DO their job (a pattern I’ve noticed with this person) I opted to pop in Aimee Mann just a little bit ago and am having my first listen. Sometimes I prefer doing this so that I may write about my first impressions as opposed to something I may have over-listened to. In the interest of full disclosure I think Aimee Mann is a goddess. I’ve even had the pleasure of meeting her - she was so very nice and so humble despite her ginourmous talent that I felt like I was talking to a human being and not someone who was so caught up in who they were that you felt as if you were speaking to an empty shell. She’s the real deal. So right off the bat you know this will not be a negative review – no matter how hard I try I can’t find anything wrong with her. She could clap off beat and I’d still think she were the best thing to come around since the ipod.

OK – I’m on song 11 of 16 (if you download from itunes) – “Little Tornado” – so sweet - so simple I had to rewind:

Little tornado
Bane of the trailer park
Lifting houses to leave your mark

Little tornado
Noah can build his ark
But he will never disembark

Make it go faster
Baby go faster
Make it go twice the speed of you and me

Little tornado
You and the hurricane
Close your eyes and go campaign

Make it go faster
Baby go faster
Make it go twice the speed of you and me

Oh, no, no we don't
No we don't know

Little tornado blew out the window pane
Left the inside to the rain

(courtesy of metrolyrics.com)

Aside from the more bare bones production this song has this western feel to it – not country – but a guitar, a bass drum and some whistling. You could be on the plains of Nebraska next to a fire with a horse and a cowboy and you get what this song sounds like. Urgency with delicacy. Simplicity with meaning.

Now that I’m on “True Believer”, song 12 of the CD, which starts off with a bang with today’s title “Freeway”, it seems to get sweeter and sweeter as it progresses. Yeah – this is the best of Aimee Mann. Insightful, deep, and with a voice that hasn’t changed since her ‘Til Tuesday days whence time she sang about being a bi-sexual woman in a relationship with a man who was embarrassed by that fact (“Voices Carry” in case you weren’t paying attention from 1985) and of course who could forget “J for Jules” one of my all time favourites (said to be inspired by then boyfriend Jules Shear – also a talented songwriter). Who would have thought back then that this punk-ish new wave girl from Virginia (she went to Berklee in Boston where she met her ‘Til Tuesday band mates) would still be not only making music - but making GREAT music all these years later. Seriously. It doesn’t get much better than her and this CD is a tribute to her talent, her independence as songwriter and lyricist and her staying power. There isn’t a song on this CD that I wouldn’t want to hear again and again. OK - enough gushing….just check it out at: www.myspace.com/aimeemann

Yeah – I’m fried. Really. Two weeks – one broken toe - one day off and the aforementioned co-worker and their many foibles not the least of which is an undeserving ego – and you can understand where my head is right now: relieved to have what I hope to be only a few days off. I love my work and I love the people I just worked for and sometimes that’s the stuff that makes it all worth while. When you can like your bosses, want to work hard for them and respect them it can make all the difference in the world to help wash away the normal and expected headaches that come from human beings interacting under stress. Despite being tired and a little sluggish today I had a good time these last couple of weeks and I was really glad to be where I was. Now I’m glad to be home and while I can’t afford to drive the freeway right now – I can enjoy my life and the gifts that go with being surrounded by good people.

Thanks for tuning in…Until next time…..go rent “Mind The Gap” and CHEERS!!!

02 June 2008

…I sit there by myself sipping a coke movie stars are making love and my heart is broken say I been Missing You….

As you all know every once in awhile I’ll talk not about a whole CD but a song that is somehow stuck in my brain or otherwise possessing me – today it’s Hawaiian native John Cruz’ “Missing You”. Not only is the song infectious, but it’s simple and sweet like fresh pineapple from a roadside stand on Kamehameha Highway on the island of Oahu. The delicate guitar playing and his pained voice combine to make a truly touching song about loss and longing. Sure, nothing new – but the way this guy presents it is somehow more real and direct than the average tune about love and heartbreak. The scaled down production with few added instruments save for an accordion and minimalist backing vocals added to the way he uses the language as if he were talking to you and not singing a song make it a more personal endeavor and thusly easier to get inside his head. We’ve all been alone in a movie theatre aching for the one we just lost but not all of us write a song like this. It’s mellow like an island breeze, yet catchy like a gust of wind on your sails as you come about in your skiff.

“Lying all alone late at night in my bed was all full of feelings had pictures of you in my head, I was thinking about the springtime you and me on the beach my heart was open I held out my hand but you didn’t even reach. All dressed up nowhere to go I go to the movies theatre is so cold, I sit there by myself sipping a coke movie stars are making love and my heart is broken say I been Missing You…last time I saw you I was so confused, things that I thought had I found out I could loose but I don’t want to be demanding, babe, I wouldn’t do that to you, I walked away from outside your window watching you ‘til quarter past 2….”

Seriously – check this guy out – you might think that Jack Johnson has a lock on that mellow surfer music but John Cruz takes it up a notch and has more of that island feel with a modern bent. Less Don Ho – more Patty Griffin. www.myspace.com/johncruzmusic

Allright – so why all the Hawaii references? It’s because Abby and I went to Oahu over Memorial Day weekend. She found a great deal with a cheap flight, the flea baggiest of flea bag motels, and we upgraded to a Wrangler at 2am when we finally arrived. I say finally because after 6 flights on American Airlines from 5 May until 23 May – all of which were delayed I will never fly them again – not if I plan on maintaining any kind of schedule where I’m headed or hoping that the restaurant will still be serving when we finally arrive. Yeah – lame! But at least we got there!

As expected the weekend was amazing! We hiked a 6 mile trail to a waterfall, swam every chance we got and drove on some roads we missed the last time we were there. We even got to stand in the rain and watch the clouds roll on over. It was three days of seafood, cheap coffee and 400 miles on the road including a stopover where we were privileged enough to watch a mother and a baby sea turtle frolicking in the surf. One of the best moments on any road trip is when a great song comes on the radio and everyone in the car or well – both of us in this case – just jam and scream our lungs out. That happened after we ate our 2nd plate in 2 days of shrimp (fair warning: they don’t clean them over there so be prepared to work for your meal – worth it because it’s probably the best shrimp you’ll eat anywhere) as we headed down the road – windows off the jeep – wind in our hair and salt water burning our skin – one of those all time great songs came on the radio and the afternoon was made. The other moment was again when we were in the car and Abby really heard “Missing You” for the first time. Sure I’d played it for her but somehow when you’re in a jeep in a tropical place with mountains and the ocean in the air and the road is out in front of you it just clicks. I’m guessing she’ll never forget it now. Nor will we forget our awesome Hawaiian weekend though next time I think we’ll head back to The Hyatt. Here are some pictures since they can say so more than words. And oh yeah, Hawaii, I'm missing you....

Thanks for tuning in….until next time….CHEERS!!