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!!