I know these have been out for a while – but I just watched them this week…Sound City and Muscle Shoals. Both documentaries have a lot of amazing talent and artists represented, but the conclusions about what makes great music remain mysterious at best. The Sound City documentary was spearheaded by Dave Grohl, ex-Nirvana drummer, and Foo Fighters renaissance man. His view is basically that the Neve 8078 sound board was what was largely responsible for creating the magical Sound City sound. Sound City also had a famous recording room ambiance, that was somehow ideal for the right drum sound among other things. People talked about what a dirty mess the studio was with shag carpet on the walls and no real sound treatments to the main recording area…but all agreed the songs and music recorded there were raw and honest in a very desirable way. Some of the featured artists in Sound City were Tom Petty, Rick Rubin, Trent Reznor, Rick Springfield and Stevie Nicks (among many others). Muscle Shoals goes off into a different direction talking about the songs coming from the location…”songs coming from the mud”. Along the Tennesse River in Alabama ( “In the middle of nowhere”) you have some of the most important R&B of the time being created…by musicians called the “Swampers”, Alabamas “Wrecking Crew”. You have Bono, Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, Percy Sledge, Wilson Pickett and others sharing their stories about how the songs, musicians, location and times all influenced their musical adventures in unforgettable ways. Rick Hall is the man of the hour in this documentary, since he was the one who was having the obsession to create Fame Studios and the Muscle Shoals sound. Of personal interest and influence (I always dug Land of 1,000 Dances) was the drummer in the Swampers, Roger Hawkins he has been on a few hits, and he is so down to earth…as a drummer I enjoyed his input, and the Swampers made some of the greasiest R&B in the day! Both documentaries were very entertaining and a joy to watch!
Yea, many an evil nest with open hole
Gapes out to him, at which he enters free.
But, like the impact of a burning coal,
His presence mere straight rouses the garrison,
And all are up in arms, and down on knee,
Fighting and praying till the foe is gone.
I have been steeped in studying Revelation the last several weeks. Right now I am on chapter 13. I have actually read through and studied this book a few other times, and it amazes me how something like this remains fresh, and gets deeper and more moving each time through. I try to vary my approaches when I revisit a book in scripture, and this time is no different. I have been using a series of sermons or expositions by John Guzik found in the Blue Letter Bible. Guzik is a great commentator, using a wide variety of sources new and ancient to come to some well informed views. I am also using the Durer Revelation Woodcuts found here. I have included the 4 Horseman of the Apocalypse as an example in this post (click to enlarge).
There is so much that is so interesting in this book I scarcely know where to start, so I will just encourage you to read it. It’s imagery is rich and epic! It is prophetic, consequently, it is probable that much of the content has to do with events that are yet to be. The bible promises that those that read it will be blessed, and even if one has a different view on the actual sequence of Revelation, there is no doubt that prayerfully reading it helps me put the events of the day in perspective (i.e. that God is in complete and utter control of how history will unfold). I know that there are people that read this blog that aren’t Christians. Well, today is a good day for a change! If you want to know the Lord Jesus Christ – ask for His Spirit (Luke 11:13) and turn away from those things that you know you should not be doing. This is called repentance…and it basically means to turn around and go the other way. If you have never read the bible before – Revelation might be a bit heavy…maybe start with John or one of the other New Testament books. I am just sharing one of my greatest joys and inspirations…
I have a lot of musical ideas coming from this study…hopefully I will be posting some new music in the upcoming days. Until then – keep smilin!
ahhh yes…dreams. Do you remember yours? According to those that study dreams, if we spend about 1/3 of our lives sleeping, and we live to be about 80 years old, that would mean we spend about 26 years sleeping. On an average night a person dreams between 4-6 separate dream sequences. The dreams can last between 5-30 minutes. So a person can spend about 6 years of their life dreaming. There is a ton of research on dreams, and, to be honest, there is a lot of bad information / psychology / opinion on dreams. Dreams are mysterious…why don’t we remember most of them? What do they mean? Color or black and white? Why is my dog running and snarling in its sleep? Anyway, I am not really interested in the “professional” studies in dreams, been there and done that and found much of it unedifying. I find a good nights rest and dreams a blessing. Dreams can have meaning and can be used by God, and there can be times where dreams don’t make any sense…but like anything mysterious there needs to be a dose of common sense and wisdom applied in order to remain healthy. It is a little like what CS Lewis said in his preface to screwtape letters regarding devils;
“There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.”
- C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters
You can completely disregard dreams, or you can be obsessed in an unhealthy way – both would be a mistake (IMO). It seems as mysterious as dreams are, they are influenced by many different things – including spiritual entities. I’ve had re-occuring dreams of flight, mostly by using my arms and gliding on existing wind. One dream that I’ve had repeatedly is that I’m running toward a beach on a slightly elevated cliff, and as the cliff edge approaches I spread my arms and glide out over the water like a seagull. If I mismanage the angle or wind current I become troubled that I will fall. I have had these flight dreams in woods with wind funnels. I have also had horrific nightmares. Sometimes I’ve dreamt things that I have done, or decided to do in a dream, that in my waking moment I’d have never even considered. What does it mean? I am not sure. One thing is certain in my experience; being right with the Lord tends to bring good sleep and dreams. There is so much mystery in life. Dreams, visions, spiritual experiences, the psyche…it is easy to become lost in the forests of the mind, but I believe Christ would have us willing adventurers with Him in exploring life and submitting the messages and meanings to Him in order that we may serve Him better! So – this song “you lay me down” is essentially about that in between world of dreams and sleep. There is a lot of ambient space and use of “subtractive sound” to imply depth and allow breadth. The song itself has been done and sitting finished for weeks, but I wanted to do a video. The only camera I had was a cheap low resolution powershot this time around – and night time photography has a whole host of issues and limitations, so even though it all has a low fi visual feel, at least it’s done…I don’t know why I feel compelled to do visuals sometimes…anyway – for your listening pleasure you lay me down, mp3 followed by various movie formats for your devices, and, the lyrics below all of that.
you lay me down
I walk alone in the light of the moon imagining
and sense you here with me feeling peace
the golden sunset passed away on the purple sea
a vision shared so deep so serene
ah you lay me down (x2)
I guess it’s something that I think and half to trust
but oh my very heart dear God should lie
spread to the light clean clear of mire, and of rust
and like a sponge drink deep sweet light divine
ah you lay me down (x2)
will some things one day turn to dreams?
will some dreams some day turn to fact?
I have had dreams of such delight just of grass
flowers and wind a peak marble white
they dwell in me like things that are half come to pass
true prophecies when I with you am right
ah you lay me down (x4)
yesterday I got my my quarterly check from BMI, my PRO (Performance Rights Organization) of choice. It is getting to be more and more fun as these checks roll in and new clients show up (cable networks and shows)… there seems to be a lot of misinformation from those that are “in the game” of getting original music on cable networks…so I was thinking of doing some posts on what my experience has been like. Along with that it might be nice for you to know how you might enjoy getting your piece of performance royalties pie. There is a lot of mixed info out there, so my main points will be around what I have experienced and how I have approached getting placements so far (I am still learning). If you are a musician having these royalty checks coming in might be a nice stream of income for you to consider, and any way I can help you I will!
recently I was talking to someone about music, art and life. As often is the case the topic wove its way through the actual discipline of say, making a song or an artistic statement, and making a living. You know the argument; art vs commerce…artistic integrity…selling out and all that. Along with the topic of making a living was the importance of what a life worth living might actually look like. This discussion has been going on for a long time (like since the dawn of discussions), and I do not intend to solve anything here today, but I do want to share some observations from that conversation, and maybe bring some personal thoughts out that I have about the creative life;
1) good art is less what it is, and more what it does
2) good art is true, bad art is not
3) selling out is constituted by seeking first money, and then the artistic statement with money being the sole objective
4) any time anyone promotes or preaches evil through art, they have effectively had their crossroads moment and chosen the devil (even if it is not formalized, or the artist pleads ignorance) Read the rest of this entry »
(click to enlarge)
The Latin on the bottom translated; March April and May are the months of Spring / Spring, similar to childhood / In Spring golden Venus rejoices in flowery garlands
“Spring” puts us in the garden of a noble or wealthy family. It is being planted and cared for by a number of servitors. The mistress of the garden, or lady of the estate stands at right center. She holds a shade hat in her left hand while with her right hand she directs the seed-scattering of the bent worker next to her. Another female of her class stands just to her right, seemingly a younger girl, possibly the daughter of the first. Her head is tilted downword and her face covered by her hat brim. Her attention is given to a tiny lapdog who seeks to climb her long skirt, as if seeking protection from all of the strange smells and activities. Tolnay has suggested that the figure of the bearded man with the spade in front, just right of center, “seems to be inspired by the digging Noah in Michelangelo’s Sistine ceiling.”
This is a French formal type of garden, not an English type. Geometrical exactness is being assured by the taut-drawn cord which passes just behind the bearded figures spade. All these symmetrical beds are being prepared for growth, being sodded, raked, seeded, watered, set with plants. Potted shrubs and bushes stand just left of center. In the upper right quadrant, sheep are sheared by 2 workers under the thatched eaves of the barn and by an energetic woman outside. Further right a basket of sheared wool is carried. Read the rest of this entry »
This is an article by Ronan Chris Murphy published originally in Fuse.
There is no greater truth in making records than this: “The recording is governed by the performance.” This may seem obvious, but many times the implications of this are not. There are two main areas where this truth manifests itself. The first is in the emotional impact of the music and the second is in the sonic signature or sonic possibilities of a recording.
Even with the best gear in the world or fancy recording techniques, the heart and soul of a recording is the emotion and the feel of a performance, and of course the songs. When I have discussions with musicians about production and they begin to confuse production with “great drums sounds”, I tell them that good production is about getting the songs and the performances to a point where the drum sound does not matter, and then getting great drum sounds. Many of the recordings that are classics in the history of rock, pop and jazz actually sound quite bad when compared to other records of the same era or many records of today. Some of these recording are marred by unintentional distortion, poor mic technique and downright awful drum sounds, but these classics still stand up on the radio next to modern multimillion dollar productions because the songs and the performances are great. A great song and a great performance will transcend any limitations of “sound quality”.
In my career I have had the pleasure of working with many performers that I consider brilliant and monumental. I will often get compliments on the sound of these recordings. While I am grateful for the appreciation, I always know that with some of these performers, I could have hit record on a boom box in the middle of a room and it would have been a great recording. Read the rest of this entry »
media players being what they are, and hardware and software requirements being what they are (all ever changing) I am in the process of updating and renewing different aspects of my website…you may find some surprises over the next few days, partially constructed pages and maybe even a full blown site redesign…its ok – take a deep breath and enjoy the ride, it’s meant to be.