Tuesday Tuneup 43

Q. Where would you like to be?

A. Done.

Q. Are you ever done?

A. Sure I am!  Why do you even ask such an insulting question?   I’m so tired of all these ridiculously uninformed assumptions that people make about Art and Artists, and the Arts, and all that.

Q. Art?  Artists?   The Arts?   What assumption are you talking about?

A. The assumption that just because I’m an Artist, then I therefore must be some kind of  incorrigible perfectionist who is never satisfied with his work.

Q. Why do you sound so defensive?

A. Because I’m frustrated.  I want to be done, I tell you!   Done!!

Q. Done with what?

A. With what do you think?   What is this entire blog about?  What am I always driving at?   I’ve been working on this big huge piece for — gosh, it seems like decades now.

Q. You mean your musical?

A. Is the sky blue?

Q. But weren’t you finished with that?   What happened on July 4, 2018?  On Independence Day?

A. On July 4, 2018, I finished the script.  It was actually the third draft.   And yes, I did feel liberated on Independence Day.  Liberated from the burden of having to keep hammering away at the script.  

Q. Are you suggesting that there is some other aspect to this musical that you have not yet finished?   The score, for example?

A. You’re getting warm.  It’s kinda like, I wrote most of the music “in my head” — I mean, occasionally tapping my fingers on my desktop as though it were a piano keyboard.  But mostly just trying to envision internally what it would actually sound like once I got around to writing out the parts.

Q. And you’ve not gotten around to writing out the parts yet?

A. Not exactly.  I figured I’d start with the Vocal Score.   Currently, there are 16 main numbers in the show.   I have thus far scored 13 of the 16 to my satisfaction.   The 14th has been scored, too – though not to my complete satisfaction.  Nos. 15 & 16 remain.

Q. Well then, doesn’t it seem that you’ve come a long way?

A. Not long enough!  Once the Vocal Score is scored, I need to write out instrumental parts.  The bass parts.  Guitar parts.   Keyboard-synthesizer.  And drums.   

Q. Won’t that be the fun part?

A. Maybe.  Not looking forward to writing out a whole piano score.  But I suppose it has to be done.

Q. What’s your timeline?

A. Interesting question.  I almost would decline to answer it.  Anyone who knows me knows that I abhor working for deadlines.  I often boldly claim that the only true deadline is death.   So what makes you think there’s a timeline?

Q. Well – you won’t live forever, will you?

A. Perhaps not.  But there’s something a bit insidious about your line of reasoning.  It seems like you’re fishing for something.   Come on, Questioner!  Out with it!

Q. Out with what?

A. The cat!  Let ‘er out of the bag!

Q. What cat?  What bag??

A. Never mind.  I’d rather do it myself.   As you are well aware, there are looming production possibilities not too far around the corner.  If even one of these possibilities comes to fruition, then there will need to be a full musical score.   People other than me will need to sing the parts.  People other than myself will need to play the instruments.   And at least one of these possibilities is looming for “mid-to-late Summer.”  We’re talking 2019!   I gotta get a move on.

Q. How possible is this possibility?

A. It’s a virtual certainty.  I’ve received a definite offer.  I just haven’t said YES yet.

Q. Why not?

A. Because there may be a greater offer pending, and if I said YES to the lesser offer, I might miss out.  I can’t have both.  

Q. Why not?

A. Time constraints.  It’s also looming for the summer, just with a different company, a different venue.   Can’t have both at once.   

Q. So you need to finish all the musical parts by Summer 2019?

A. That would stand to reason.

Q. You think you can make it?

A. Yes — as long as I get through this one very difficult hurdle.

Q. What hurdle is that?

A. Long story.

Q. Shoot.

The Answerer takes a deep breath.  

Yamaha C3X Grand Piano, Polished Ebony at Gear4music

A. Long, long ago, in the year 1974, I sat down at a piano at Struve-Titus Hall on the campus of the University of California at Davis.   Laboriously, in the spirit of Keith Emerson, I wrote a highly ELP-influenced piece entitled “Winston Greene.”

Q. Winston Greene?  Isn’t that the name of your protagonist?

A. It is indeed.  The main character in Eden in Babylon is a fellow who goes by the name of Winston Greene.

Q. So what is the connection between the song you wrote in 1974 and the character of this musical that you have written 45 years later?

A. My answer will only make sense if you happen to be an Artist of my type.

Q. Are there any Artists of your type?

A. That’s a good question.  I’m not sure I know the answer, to be honest with you.   What I have done — as an Artist —  just seems totally weird.  To even relate the information strikes me as some kind of confession.   I need for some kind of High Priest of the Arts to absolve me of my Artistic transgression.   

Q. How, then, can I be of help?

A. I’m not sure, Father Q.  Just hear me out.  And maybe go easy on the interrogation.  Just let me speak.   You will let me speak, won’t you?

Q. Why not?

A. Whew.   For a while there, I was afraid you were going to just keep interrupting me all the time.  Now I warn you, this story is long.

In 1974 I created a character in my head, and I called him Winston Greene.  I wrote a song about him, describing his departure from civilized society, his prodigality, and his failure to return to the normative world.  I even had him die in the song.  The song was very well-received.  So I played it at every opportunity, until I got tired of it.  

Q. Why did you get tired of it?

A. Because my style evolved past it.   My current style doesn’t resemble it much at all.   So I lost interest in it.  But — I did not lose interest in the character, the persona of Winston Greene.  I continued to toy with “Winston” – until gradually, it appeared I ought to make him the protagonist of a specific, larger work — albeit 45 years later.  But then, I must confess, I did a very strange thing.

Q. What was that?

A. I decided that the song, “Winston Greene,” needed to be worked into the show, with the lyrics adjusted accordingly, in order to serve as the penultimate number — Musical No. 15 – of the 16 numbers in the show.   I decided that in this case, the death of Winston Greene would only be  — a rumor.   He would actually reappear, in the flesh, almost as though there had been a resurrection.  And yet, the death itself would be a deception.   This was my way of exonerating myself for having — having — 

Q. Having what?  Having what??

A. Having killed Winston Greene.   Yes — I so identified with Winston, when I wrote the earlier piece back in ’74, I could not let him die within me, even after he had already died in the song.

Q. Is this why you let the song itself die?

A. Exactly!   But I only realized that just now, at this very moment! The song, “Winston Greene,” in which the man “Winston Greene” dies, is a song I need to kill –– in order that Winston Greene himself might live.   So he continued to live on in my heart, and the song that told of his death was banned from existence.  There would be no record of Winston having died.   

Q. Fascinating!  Is this why you wanted to change the lyrics?

A. Yes!  The lyrics would no longer relate to Winson’s alleged death, but to his endurance, his survival, and his will to live.

Q. Then isn’t your problem solved?

A. How do you figure that?

Q. Can’t you just use the same old music, but with the newer, happier lyrics?

A. I suppose I could.  If I want the penultimate number in my musical to sound like something  I wrote when I was 22 years old listening to Emerson, Lake & Palmer, and not like something I wrote when I wrote the rest of the score to Eden in Babylon, some forty years later.

ELP | thebestmusicyouhaveneverheard

Q. So you are planning to write a whole new song, at this late stage?   Won’t this mean rewriting the last Scene entirely?

A. Not entirely – but to a significant degree.  I read through the last Scene last night, and actually found that it flowed quite nicely — up until the point where the rogue song rears its ugly head.  But you see, I don’t have to write a new song.  Only new words.   I can use a song that I wrote during the same time period when I wrote the rest of the music to Eden in Babylon.  A song that I wrote that I have not yet written words for.  I only have music for it.   You may find that music — in raw form — right here.   

Q. Why do I feel like you’re leaving something out?

A. I don’t know.  

Q. Can you guess?

A. Sure, but it’s only a guess.  Knowing you, I doubt you have me figured for the kinda guy who would cast aside years of sentiment related to his mysterious ELP-inspired tune called “Winston Greene” and then ditch the whole prestigious product for a much more innocuous replacement that doesn’t reflect nearly the professional prowess of the previous project.  

Q. So what else is going on?  What is your underlying sorrow?   Why must you return this song, recently so rigorously resurrected, to its grisly, grimy grave?

A. You wax a bit too alliterate for my tastes.

Q. Illiterate?

A. Never mind.  I must return the song to the tomb from which, like Lazarus, it has been summoned by its Creator.  The reason for this is very emotional and deep.  And it will reveal my vulnerability, as well as a large part of my sorrow.

Q. Your sorrow?

A. Yes — my sorrow.  For I grieve the loss of old friends.  People who were meaningful to me.  Three in particular, though their names need not be mentioned.  Three men whom I loved, and who happened to love the song “Winston Greene.”

Q. These men have died?

A. Not that I’m aware of.  I suppose they still live. 

Q. Yet you have lost them in some way?

A. Yes.  They do not speak to me.  I have lost their friendship.  I mourn that loss.  And yet they are the only ones remaining who would have had any fond emotional or sentimental attachment to that particular piece of music.  In other words, I must confesss that I put the song in the show for them.   

Q. For them?  For these three men who no longer speak to you??

A. Sadly, I confess, it’s true.  I had this vision that if I used the song “Winston Greene” in a dramatic way toward the end the show, it would move them, and soften their hearts toward me, and I would regain their friendship at last.

Q. Let me get this straight.  You were willing to throw a lousy song that you wrote when you were 22 years old into your new musical only because it might win your three friends back?

A. I was.  I do confess it.

download (1)Q. WHAT KIND OF AN ARTIST ARE YOU?  THIS NOT TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE!!

A. I feel like you’re about to assign me three Hail Mary’s and an Act of Contrition.

Q. That aside, what do you think are the chances that any of these three guys will come and see your musical this summer?

A. Slim to none.   They want nothing to do with me, apparently.  Why should they want to see my musical?

Q. Sir!  Why even entertain the notion??   Are these three fellows that important to you?

A. This is where the sorrow comes in.  They obviously were, at one time.  But for the life of me, I can’t figure out why.  I mean, I’m sure they’re very fine fellows in their own rites, but why did I place such a high regard on their loyalty?

Q. Loyalty?

A. I did use that word, yes.

Q. You feel that they have betrayed you?

A. Not exactly.  But they’re not loyal to me anymore.  And all I want to regain is — their loyalty.   

Q. What is so important about loyalty?  I mean, in this context?   Aren’t there thousands of people from whom you will hopefully be gleaning box office receipts far more important than these three men whom you knew in the 70’s?   Why can’t you just forget about these guys?   

A. That is indeed the $64,000 question.   They’ve evidently forgotten about me.

Q. Have they?

A. Maybe not.

Q. But even if not, why is it so important to regain their friendship?

A. Well, it isn’t.  And that’s why I’m removing the number.  I’ve decided that now.  The other song is much more akin to the style of the present day.  And a composer whom I respect told me that it’s the best piece of mine whom he personally has heard.  So — once I get my lyrics together, I’m on my way.

Q. Why does something seem unfinished here?

A. Because, like I said at the beginning, I’m not done.  And I want to be done.  

Q. Why do I feel like I haven’t gotten the full story here?

A. Probably because I’m leaving something out.

Q. What could that possibly be?

A. What if — and this is a pretty big “if” — what if the music that I wrote in 1974 just happens to be better and more appropriate for the final Scene of the show than the music I wrote in 2016?   I mean, despite everything.   What if, painful though it might be, the right thing for me to do is to include this song anyway?   What if that choice is the right Artistic choice, irrespective of the sentiment, the glitter rock, the former fans, and the bygone era?   

Q. How can you know for sure?

A. I can’t.  That’s why I linked you to both songs.   The version of “Winston Greene” was done in 2010 using general midi software associated with my Finale notation program at the time.   It excels beyond the earlier, more primitive style — though perhaps not by much.   The version of “Sirens of Hope” was done using the Garritan Personal Orchestra in 2016, almost immediately after I got off the streets and was able to start sequencing my compositions again.  So – listen to them both.  You tell me which one you like better.

Q. Why should my opinion matter?

A. Why should mine matter more?

Q. Aren’t you the Artist?  The Creator, as it were?

A. I am.  But I can hardly be expected to be objective at this stage.

Q. Is something clouding your vision?

A. I’d say, so yes.

Q. What is it?  Why aren’t you seeing straight?

A. It’s hard to see clearly when there are so many tears in my eyes.

Q. Why are you crying, Andy?  Is it because of the loss of your friends?

A. They were never my true friends.  So there is no true loss.

Q. Then why are you in tears?   

A. Because Winston Greene might die.  It happens every time I get to this part in the show.  It happened when I wrote the first rough draft, and again when I wrote the second, and the third.   And now, writing out the Vocal Score, it’s happening even moreso.  Winston Greene cannot die.  Winston Greene must live.   

The Questioner is silent.   

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Gratitude List 1103

My gratitude list from Friday morning.   

1. Slept from about 7:30pm till 2am, about 6 1/2 hours.

2. I’m much better at hydrating than I used to be.  This one Smart water bottle that I keep refilling has become associated with wolfing it down and also leaving it in the same spot all the time, where I can find it.  I took my synthroid with a full glass of water easily this morning, once again.

3. Interesting chat with the guy on the graveyard shift.  He kept referring to everything in terms of “night” even though to me it was “morning.”  Guess they had a wild night over there, but I left thinking it’s kinda nice that I would even be considered acceptable to chit-chat with and share some laughs in that context, as opposed to the earlier, more prevalent experience of walking into a Mom & Pop on somebody’s graveyard shift and being eyed with suspicion.

4. Really good “Hi-Rev” coffee.

5. I had a good feeling about my daughter when I got off the phone with her on Wednesday.

6. People are hitting my “Interim” post.  I’m creating an Abstractions playlist on SoundCloud this morning, I can link to it and to the Exile playlist where those titles appear in the pitch.  That will enhance the ad – they’ll be able to hear samples of my piano, with one click.   Also had not been expecting $140 in Interim sales already.  So this has been a great project.

7. Really good talk with Danielle yesterday morning, catalyzing corresponding thoughts throughout the day.

8. Not sure if I mentioned, I finished Firefly Magic.  I’m jotting down notes for questions / issues to raise with author Lauren Sapala in a scheduled Hangouts video call.  This is a nice opportunity.

9. I’m thinking I can probably create a decent piano piece at the church this morning, which will also strengthen my trip.  I felt too out of practice yesterday, but today I might be loosened up.  Thankful for the church, and the opportunity to keep practicing on the Baldwin grand.*

10. Thankful for side projects while still largely stalled on my big project.  Also thankful for many minorly positive connections while out of touch with majorly positive connections.  There’s a new lilt in my stride, and a sense of upbeat, forward mobility.  God is Good.

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They Err in Vision

Ah, the proud crown of the drunkards of Ephraim,
       and the fading flower of its glorious beauty,
       which is on the head of the rich valley of those overcome with wine!
Behold, the Lord has one who is mighty and strong;
       like a storm of hail, a destroying tempest,
like a storm of mighty, overflowing waters,
       he casts down to the earth with his hand.
The proud crown of the drunkards of Ephraim
       will be trodden underfoot;
and the fading flower of its glorious beauty,
       which is on the head of the rich valley,
will be like a first-ripe fig before the summer:
       when someone sees it, he swallows it
       as soon as it is in his hand.

In that day the LORD of hosts will be a crown of glory,
       and a diadem of beauty, to the remnant of his people,
and a spirit of justice to him who sits in judgment,
       and strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate.

These also reel with wine
       and stagger with strong drink;
the priest and the prophet reel with strong drink,
       they are swallowed by wine,
       they stagger with strong drink,
       they err in vision,
       they stumble in giving judgment.
For all tables are full of filthy vomit,
       with no space left.

“To whom will he teach knowledge,
       and to whom will he explain the message?
Those who are weaned from the milk,
       those taken from the breast?
For it is precept upon precept, precept upon precept,
       line upon line, line upon line,
       here a little, there a little.”

For by people of strange lips
       and with a foreign tongue
the LORD will speak to this people,
       to whom he has said,
“This is rest;
       give rest to the weary;
and this is repose” —
       yet they would not listen.

Isaiah 28:1-12

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Interim

My new piano album Interim is now available on CD, including the following songs:

1. “Awake the Dawn” – Andy Pope

2. “Billy’s Blues” – Laura Nyro

3. “Cities” – Andy Pope

4. “Hey Jude” – John Lennon & Paul McCartney

5. “Shades of Happiness” – Andy Pope improv referencing “Happiness” by Clark Gesner

6. “Somebody Loves Me” – George Gershwin

7. “Sounds of Silence” – Paul Simon & Art Garfunkel

8. “You’re a Holiday” – Robin & Barry Gibbs

9. “Fumblin’ with the Blues” – Tom Waits, involving “They’ll Know We Are Christians by Our Love” by Peter Schoates

10. “A Day in the Life” – John Lennon & Paul McCartney

Hymn Sing | St Andrew's Presbyterian Church

If you’re reading this and you’re local, the deal is that you get an Interim CD for ten bucks and I’ll throw in and Exile or Abstractions CD for five extra bucks.   If you’re reading from online or elsewhere, make that $15 and $20 rather than $10 AND $15.   You can just hit here to pay me for it, and I’ll mail them to wherever you are.  

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way.

 

Gratitude List 1099

1. Slept about eight hours, from around 11 till about 7:20am.

2. Checked my balance and it’s actually $40 greater than I’d thought, due to a return on a fouled up ATM transaction from some time ago, that I’d forgotten all about, now manifesting.

3. Just made $10 selling another Interim CD, so the total now for sales is at $125.

4. Between #3 & #4 above, I see no reason not to go up to Goodwill and get a badly needed pair of thick dark pants.

5. The present Round Table has a centering, comforting effect.  There’s something about this one table at this one cafe that has a calming, quieting effect on my spirit.  I notice I get a lot of music written here, too.   

6. Soon I’ll be practicing on the Baldwin Grand.  It’s great to have a key to a building with a Baldwin grand piano.  I’m looking forward to practicing more and more.  

7. Beautiful bright sunny day.  The surface, though slippery, is manageable. Thoroughly enjoyed a brisk walk through campus, even out past the Campus Starbucks (which was not yet open), and down Sixth Street to the cafe where I sit.  

8. Kathy W. gave me a ride out to Wal-Mart yesterday afternoon so I could get my thyroid medication.  

9. Walked three miles briskly yesterday, from Wal-Mart back home, in two mile and a half chunks.

10. Grateful for the warm, accepting community of the town in which I live.  I was just hearing from a friend that where she is, people aren’t nearly so nice, and when she has tried to join activities or organizations, they have been downright rude. If this is true, all the more reason to be grateful for the friendly close-knit community I have found.  It has its underbelly, like anywhere else, but once that’s been identified and duly disposed of, this University city truly becomes a beautiful world.

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Somebody Loves Me

I was in a bit of a hurry the other day, so I did a quick take on this Gershwin standard, on the fly.   Don’t be surprised if you find a “Take Two” posted a little further down the road.  Something tells me I could have given you a wee bit more than 2 1/2 minutes of this kinda stride . . .

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A little bit goes a long, long way.

Gratitude List 1082

1. I just woke up, and when I awoke, there was a moment not only of letting go, but of understanding. And the understanding is manifold.

2. I really don’t need to be defined by what they think of me, or by what I think they think of me, at all.

3. I really don’t need to reach out any further toward them at all. All further reaching out is only an effort to “prove” myself. There is nothing to prove, if what I am is defined in my divinely drafted design, defined by the Designer who designed me, independent of their judgments of me. Their judgments of me, whatever they are, are immaterial.  I have nothing to prove to them, and I need not, and ought not, try.

4. I have been lifted out of the Old and into the New. They are not in the New. They are in the Old. I am in the New.

5. To continue to grasp toward them is to turn to the Old. It is not for me to return to the Old. It is for me to continue to turn to the New, and the Newer, and the Newest.

download6. If I wait, they will reach out to me when the time comes, if the time comes.  If and when that time comes, in reaching out to me, they will be turning toward the New — for I am in the New.  For them to reach out to me is to turn to the New, where I am.  It will be my task then to draw them toward the New, to show them Christ in me, the hope of glory.  It will be my challenge then to resist being sucked back down into the Old.

7. I therefore don’t need to send another text, email, voicemail, letter, chat, or postcard. To any of them who are still in the Old.  I need not return to the Old at all.

8. In this manifold understanding, I am free. I am no longer bound by the Old.

9. In turning to them, in pleading with them, in praying to them, I make them gods.  They are not gods, nor are they on a path toward becoming gods.  They are only human, as I am human.  In praying for them, I turn to God, I plead with God, through Christ, who makes all things New.

10. If anyone be in Christ, he is a new creation. The former things are passed away. All things are becoming New.

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Anything Helps – God Bless!