For those of you who have been anticipating a musical offering right around now, you will not be disappointed. I’ve only been waiting for a relaxed moment to report what’s been happening.
I just returned from a two hour show where I and multi-instrumentalist Paul Anders were joined by the special guest arrival of vocalist Kelsey Chapman, who harmonized with me on a performance of nothing but Beatles songs for two hours. Although we didn’t get a video of the entire show, Brandy Sullivan has told me that she has captured four or five key sections.
My first response was: “Tell me you caught Eleanor Rigby!”
“That I did,” smiled Brandy.
“Whew!” I breathed a sigh of relief. It was too magical, between me and Paul when he was on his violin, bowing smooth arco passages throughout. And the voicings Kelsey and I intuited into our harmonies, and the dynamic peaks and valleys of the piece. It was one of those times that all musicians live for, when everything comes together, however mysteriously, and by surprise.
It was all in all a very high-spirited, warm-hearted occasion. At one point the entire building was singing the chorus to “Yellow Submarine” repeatedly. They got softer and softer, until I suddenly shouted “One more time!” At that, everybody starting singing “We all live on a yellow submarine!” at the top of their lungs. It was priceless.
Kelsey did “Imagine” — technically a John Lennon tune — and Dave and I sang harmonies, another one with an almost mystical ebb and flow. “Lady Madonna” was one of the more rockin’ numbers, as was “Gotta Get You Into My Life.” Then came “For No One,” “Nowhere Man,” and “The Fool on the Hill.” Maybe you get the picture. It got kinda dark.
We closed with “A Day in the Life.” This, by the way, was a fundraiser, that happened to go quite well — in fact, even better than hoped. I’ll be posting clips and videos as I receive them from Brandy throughout the weekend.
Please donate to Eden in Babylon. A little bit goes a long, long way.
The priests then withdrew from the Holy Place. All the priests who were there had consecrated themselves, regardless of their divisions. All the Levites who were musicians— Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun and their sons and relatives— stood on the east side of the altar, dressed in fine linen and playing cymbals, harps and lyres. They were accompanied by 120 priests sounding trumpets. The trumpeters and musicians joined in unison to give praise and thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, the singers raised their voices in praise to the Lord and sang: “He is good! his love endures forever!” Then the temple of the Lord was filled with the cloud, and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the Temple of God.
2 Chronicles 5:11-14
Please donate to Eden in Babylon. Anything Helps – God Bless!
Every morning I get up and make a pot of coffee, equaling four cups in my cute little coffee maker.
Then, I pour the entire pot into this gigantic cup I have, which holds one quart of beverage.
So, when I claim to be down to “one cup of coffee a day,” know that I am not exactly lying. However, I am not exactly telling the truth either, since the single cup is actually four cups worth. In other words, every morning I get up and drink a quart of coffee.
This, combined with forgetting to hydrate, might have something to do with why I had a splitting headache all day yesterday. So I drank a lot of water throughout the day, especially last night before bedtime, and also in the morning. The headache went away eventually – but it sure lasted a long time.
In a way, it’s a good thing I got the headache. It served as a buffering force to keep me from becoming too overjoyed after receiving the shock of my life, and seeing that another one of my articles has been published, this time in Street Spirit. The thrill of having two articles published in two different places two days apart — after not having anything published for my entire life until five months ago — would have been too much for me, had I not been granted the annoying headache, which effectively distracted me from my budding over-elation.
I suppose I shouldn’t have been too surprised by this, because I had earlier sent reams of work to Terry Messman, the publisher, permitting him to use any of it that he saw fit, and edit it in any way he felt was appropriate. I made that decision after discovering that I completely trusted his editing, and also completely concurred with his vision. But I was still stunned by the sudden publication, partly because of its proximity to the previous publication, and partly because of the hugeness of the way that I was personally gifted by his use and placement of this particular article:
For one thing, he gave me the entire back page, so that somebody could easily see my name simply by picking up a paper and flipping it quickly front and back. For another thing, he selected an article based on a blog post of mine that clearly led up to a plug for my musicaland a request for money to help me move this project forward. Finally, the article selected was just about the most revealing thing I’ve ever written in my life.
And this is a good thing. There’s something about honesty that has power, especially when the honesty is consistent, and extended over a long period of time. I’m also finding that, in this world based largely on appearance and affectation, real gut level honesty is relatively rare. I think that we as Writers are fortunate in a certain regard, because when we sit alone at our desks and pour out the pieces of our passion, there is nobody there to filter or judge our words, to tell us that our beliefs are unwise or socially unconventional, to discourage us by telling us that we’re full of malarkey when we’re doing our darndest to get the salient truth out to a conceivable readership with whom those particular truths might resonate.
So anyway, I’ve been doubly blessed this week, and this coming on my having locked myself out late at night a couple days ago and felt forced to rent a hotel room for the night before finding my keys at the grocery store lost-and-found in the morning. My Starving Artist status will be assuaged somewhat when I get the two paychecks for the articles. Hopefully it will be enough to pay my Internet bill and buy groceries, without which I’d have been totally strapped.
Speaking of which, the topic came up the other day at the Recovery Center where I volunteer, how there are two subjects that are considered taboo in our culture, and yet almost everybody has issues with both — sex and money.
Sometimes, when I talk about either of those subjects too much, someone will become really frustrated and even tell me to shut up — which reaction is probably a large part of why these subjects have become taboo. We’re just not comfortable discussing them, and we’re not often comfortable hearing about them.
I say this — and yet there is a donate button on almost every page on this site. Why? Because I finished a certain musical a matter of months ago, and I am not able to package the musical and send it out to theatre companies, with a decent demo recording sampling some of the songs in the show, because I simply do not have the money to do so.
Believe me, I hate the sight of all those donate buttons, and I cannot wait till the day comes when I can joyfully remove them all! The idea of promoting a project about which I am passionate in the same manner as one might sell a used car frankly makes me nauseous. Once I get the money, can hire the singers, can buy a microphone, can make the demo, can afford postage to send out the packages, etc. etc. etc., all those obnoxious buttons will be removed, and I can breathe a sigh of relief, go on to the next stage, and hopefully never have to ask anybody for a buck and a half again. You know why?
Because I don’t want any bucks. I want to live a quiet, reclusive, healthy life for the rest of my days, as modestly as possible, until the day I die. It’s not so much that I don’t like what money does to people, because I’ve met an awful lot of really nice rich people, as well as a few pretty mean and nasty poor people. So it’s not that (in case anybody’s ever wondered.)
What I don’t like — is what money does to me. And if you knew some of the whacked out decisions I have made on a couple rare occasions when I suddenly received a lot of money out of the blue, you wouldn’t like it either. That’s why every penny of these donations goes to my friend Danielle, who knows how to handle money — which is one great gift that I do not happen to have.
Another great gift I don’t have is the Gift of Brevity. Therefore I will close. But if you want to know how much money I need and exactly where it will be going, go ahead and fill out the contact form. You might be curious as to my immediate budgetary needs, whether you personally can help or not.
Please donate to Eden in Babylon. Anything Helps – God Bless!
If I can possibly give you an idea of how many times I had to delete a version of my song The Very Same Worldand replace it with a more evolved version, please know that I routinely save all previous versions of everything I compose or arrange, and that the version posted as of 11:20 last night was Version 2-G.
This means that, beginning with Version 1-A, I must have created 33 different versions of the piece before posting the one that remains. Thirty-three equals twenty-six plus seven. That is, I went from Version 1-A to 1-B all the way through the 26 letters of the alphabet, then added 7 more till I got to 2-G.
How do I know that it’s done now? Because I started working on 2-H and burned out on the notion. You see, I can always think of something to adjust, to make it better. What I can’t always do is decide that it’s not worth it any more. Once I make that decision, I am done.
I actually did not know that this quote was first attributed to Leonardo before I ran a google search on it a while back. I had heard it from Marcel Duchamp, and also from E.M. Forster. Whatever its origin, the idea seems to find common credence among certain kinds of Artists, myself included. While I may not always easily reach the point where further obsession on perfecting the piece is no longer interesting enough to motivate yet another revision, this is still easier than having to decide that the piece is ever good enough to be released for universal inspection by all eyes and ears. In short, it’s easier for me to eventually burn out on making it any better, than it is for me to ever believe it’s good enough.
So the criterion for completion has changed hands. In lieu of my ever being motivated to come up with anything better, the Thirty-Third Versionis where it stands.
On perhaps a more progressive note, it looks as though I may have found a female singer for this demo project. I’m not exactly certain yet, but a couple different people suggested I approach her. She’s a barista at the local cafe. I had asked the entertainment manager there if he knew of an easy way I could track down a decent female singer for a recording project that would involve little or no financial recompense, and he told me to talk to “Cooper” or to “Aubrey.” Cooper being a musician might just know of a singer, and Aubrey? Well, it turns out that she is herself a singer – and a rather good one, at that.
I knew it even before he said so. You see, I had overheard her singing — in something akin to a musical theatre voice — when I came in for coffee the other morning. But when I naturally queried about this intriguing activity, she merely brushed it off: “Oh! In the shower, maybe. Just make believe.”
Then I quipped:
“But isn’t the whole genre of Musical Theatre founded on make-believe?”
That got a grin out of her, but I still wasn’t thinking of asking her to sing for the project. That didn’t happen until the other two other people suggested it, the one being the entertainment manager, the other being the young woman’s boyfriend. Both of them characterized her singing as “fantastic.” They both said she would be shy about a live performance, but probably down for a studio recording. I myself am also shy about such things, as evidenced in the fact that I am even writing about it without having taken any pertinent prior action.
Still, I never cease to revel in that I have somehow found myself in a community where the faith is high, and there’s a sense that Artistic projects will always find the support they need in order to get themselves to happen. So all of this is a step in the right direction. I’ll talk with her Aubrey soon; and I do have the young man, Josh, from downstairs as well. If I can find one more female vocalist, I can probably just teach the parts and even use my own space here for the recording. The hardwood floor provides good acoustics — I’ve already tested them.
I’m starting to use up minutes on my free SoundCloudaccount. It’s because I’ve been using it as storage for all these different versions of my tunes. I’d have to pay to upgrade, so instead I deleted one of the earlier versions of this same tune that had become outmoded. That meant deleting the post here that featured it as well. Otherwise, it would have included an empty link.
What you have above is the full 4:47 version of The Very Same World, as it figures in the show. Now, I could tweak this a bit more — and no doubt I will. But it’s basically what the singers will hear as they record the song, give or take a few of the instruments that would then be doubling melodic lines unnecessarily. Also, once the singers have been assembled and have succeeded at recording the piece, I can always adjust the accompaniment track again afterwards.
So it stands to reason that now would be the time to proactively seek out singers. It’s possible I’ve been a little slow at this, being shy by nature. At the same time, I wanted to make sure I was sufficiently prepared. Now, I am.
I cut yet another version of this today. I didn’t exactly work all day, but almost. At one point I took a walk out to the Arboretum, just because everybody says to do so. There, it was very pretty. Shortly later, however, I came back, and resumed work.
I finished this a little past 3:24 of what is in reality a 4:40 piece. However, I faded it at around 3:02, just like its predecessor, because there’s a natural fade there where it won’t be anticlimactic.
I’ve been feeling angry over an attitude I’m getting from some people who knew me when I was in entirely different circumstances. These sorts of people don’t seem to understand that their ongoing attitude is unacceptable to me. By and large, they never actually listen to my music or appreciate the prodigy invested in it. All they do is notice that there are no vocals, and say something to the effect of: “My time is more important than this. I’ll listen to this once you have the singing on it.” In so doing, they completely overlook all the detailed scoring of instrumental parts I put into this effort. It’s extremely condescending, and I’m not sure why I put up with it.
I’m strongly compelled to equate this attitude with a “California attitude” that many people in other States find puzzling. However, it’s more likely that I myself was caught up in that syndrome when I lived there, and I can just thank God to have escaped it. Besides, another friend of mine, also from California, listened to this song from a sincere heart, without scoffing at me or dismissing me as though not worth his time. Not only him, but his wife and twenty-year-old daughter also appreciated my work. I could tell that their appreciation was genuine; then my friend also followed me on my SoundCloud.
This is a good thing. I’ll take the good with the bad, as my dad always used to say. I don’t know why I get hung up trying to please everybody. The truth is that I don’t have the female singers yet. I also don’t have the exact accompaniment down yet, to be heard by the singers, and support them. This, what you’re hearing today, comes close. What I’m hoping is that I can overlook the cynical voice of opposition enough to keep moving forward. My hope for the week is simply this. I would like for the much-needed singers to emerge at around about the time I’m finished with this instrumental accompaniment. In any case, it makes no sense to drop the accompaniment as a project and look full-force for the singers, if when I find them, I don’t have a complete accompaniment for their use.
In case anyone’s wondered, I’m still in the land of the living, and I have not yet dropped off the face of the planet. I realized earlier today that it’s been nine days since I’ve posted. I was planning to delay this post until I had completed the piano-vocal score to the third musical number in Eden in Babylon, the song called The Very Same World. But then I realized that even the completion of that score will only reflect a far greater pleasure — one that has already made itself manifest in my experience, and quite unexpectedly, at that.
Remember how I said I wasn’t looking forward to having to create an entire piano-vocal score for a musical so huge? I alluded to the tedious ardor of having to put The Burden of Eden together nine years ago, and not having attempted a score of that magnitude since. But to my pleasant surprise, I have found that I am actually enjoying the process of creating this score. I’ve been working on “Same World” since Monday, and I honestly believe I will have it finished tomorrow, which is Friday. (Or later on today, to be more accurate, since I am up after one in the morning as we speak.)
I think part of the difference lies in the software I’m using now, as opposed to back then. In those days I only had a general midi replica of a piano sound. Now I’m using a sampled Steinway grand. Believe me, it makes a huge difference. I’m also undergoing the intriguing challenge of trying to create a piano part the way that I myself would play these tunes on the piano. This challenge is made even more challenging by the fact that I have never played any of these songs on the piano. I don’t own a piano; and I wrote them, like I write all my music, “in my head.”
But hearing the sound of that Steinway, I’m eager to at least try to play them on the church piano, which is a Baldwin grand. Once I have the music written out, it will be much easier to do so. All I’ll have to do is change hats and read it – as though it were somebody else’s music, and not my own. I honestly think this process will fascinate me enough, that the tedium I’d earlier dreaded will no longer be a legitimate threat. More likely, this current fascination will morph into a gigantic labor of love.
So, I’m in the final formatting stages of “Same World” tonight. Our church secretary said I could sent the pdf file to her, and she would print it out for me in the morning. Then I’m going to examine the hard copy, pencil in any adjustments, and print out a final version. My goal is to have both “Same World” and Heart Songscored by next Friday, so I can take them down to the Open Mike, where I just might meet some interested singers for the project.
Many other nice things have been happening lately, and my goal to get this musical produced seems a bit more attainable now. The plans I’m devising to go about this are a bit less vague and a bit more fully baked than they were the last time you saw me. But I’ll save the details for a near-future entry. I want to take another look at the “Same World” score before I ponder the unappealing notion known as “sleep.” I’ve long been of the camp that contends something like sleep, in situations like these, to be for the faint of heart. Food also seems to be quite unnecessary. My theory, as expressed inthis post, is this:
What physical nutrition I lack is made up for in the spiritual nutrition with which this music is feeding my soul.
No wonder they bipolarizedme! But would I have it any other way? Probably not. They can bipolarize me till the cows come home. When I take care of my soul, the rest of me takes care of itself.