Standing in the Shadows of Motown

September 1st, 2015
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great movie on the unsung heroes of motown hits

great movie on the unsung heroes of motown hits

Do you know the Funk Brothers? This movie is a great documentary on Detroits version of the Wrecking Crew!

thoughts on what it means to bless

August 15th, 2015
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not too long ago I heard a sermon by a man that got me thinking about the concept of being blessed, or more specifically – what the meaning of “bless” actually is. Why? I dunno actually – I think a statement was made at some point in the sermon about making room for blessings as if a blessing would take up a certain amount of space opposite a curse or evil… I know – I know – the sermon was actually good – but the real core meaning of bless is quite different from what we have come to think about it. So, let’s dive in shall we?

If you were to ask 10 people what the word bless means, most of them, if not all of them, would say something to the effect of prosper, enrich or succeed. Some might also mention praise or adore, but most folks that I know think of blessing as being akin to getting what you want. In the west unfortunately this has almost become a kind of materialistic mantra as in “I am so blessed I have this house / job / car / health / misc. stuff.” Now don’t get me wrong, having stuff is fine, succeeding is fine, having health and good things are reasons to be thankful, however they do not convey the essence of the word bless. Further, having stuff or being successful or prosperous most certainly does not mean we are approved by God.

Essentially to bless is to kneel. Read the rest of this entry »

new song > You’re The One

August 9th, 2015
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up next is a song with some difficulties inherent on multiple levels…let me start from the beginning… a few months ago I ordered this Rogue combo pack on a whim, got it – tuned the guitar to open G, grabbed a glass slide, and slid into this song almost on the first few strums. I began writing the song published here today and was well on my way with some issues around the chord progression, but hey, I always have issues so I just slogged on. At this time we were going to Holland for vacation, and I was asked to bring a Reso Phonic over, which I didnatlguit (pictured left after they sorted out the +/-$3,000.00 payment). In Holland I worked with Dennis while he was enjoying his new guitar – and he kindly laid down the slide guitar parts, and offered some chordal ideas…unfortunately I recorded everything on an ipad – which has lots of inherent compression (if I can bypass the compression I haven’t yet figured out how), but at least we were able to finish up the guitar, and a skeletal rhythm direction (thank you garage band), and upon returning home laid down some acoustic drums, bass, synth etc. – I found a kind of live drum sound with lots o’ room ambiance to fit the best, alas with all the compression and reverb, and nasally slide guitar it is a swirl of mixing challenges – but at a certain point I just gotta let it go and say “at the very least it is a demo of the idea – maybe someone somewhere will be blessed and do a better version” …vocally this song is way outside my range – especially considering I am not a singer… I guess it is a kind of gospel blues in a major key, I dunno, the chord progression is somewhat unconventional I’m told… the title – too – is a bit of a challenge since I was calling this OMKAP (on my knees and pray) the entire time while working on it – but really the song is about the Lord – and how He gives me life and hope, and I kinda scream my guts out saying so… hence the final title, may it put a smile on your face. You’re The One

on my knees and pray
good Lord please take my sins away
I’ve been so bad
I’ve broken everything I ever had

Lord Your good so good to me
I wanna praise You
shine light for all to see
You’re The One to give me hope

na na na na
na na na na na (2x)

on my knees and pray
good Lord just took my sins away
I am so glad
Holy Ghost fillin me up just like He said

Lord your good so good to me
I wanna praise you
shine light for all to see
Your The One to give me hope

solo

na na na na
na na na na na (2x)

Lord Your good so good to me
I wanna praise You
shine light for all to see
You’re The One to give me hope

JRR Tolkien on sermons >

July 25th, 2015
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But as for sermons! They are bad, aren’t they! Most of them from any point of view. The answer to the mystery is prob. not simple; but part of it is that ‘rhetoric’ (of which preaching is a dept.) is an art, which requires (a) some native talent and (b) learning and practice. The instrument used is v. much more complex than a piano, yet most performers are in the position of a man who sits down to a piano and expects to move his audience without any knowledge of the notes at all.
The art can be learned (granted some modicum of aptitude) and can then be effective, in a way, when wholly unconnected with sincerity, sanctity etc. But preaching is complicated by the fact that we expect in it not only a performance, but truth and sincerity, and also at least no word, tone, or note that suggests the possession of vices (such as hypocrisy, vanity) or defects (such as folly, ignorance) in the preacher. Good sermons require some art, some virtue, some knowledge. Real sermons require some special grace which does not transcend art but arrives at it by instinct or ‘inspiration'; indeed the Holy Spirit seems sometimes to speak through a human mouth providing art, virtue and insight he does not himself possess: but the occasions are rare. In other times I don’t think an educated person is required to suppress the critical faculty, but it should be kept in order by a constant endeavor to apply the truth (if any), even in cliche form, to oneself exclusively! A difficult exercise. ….

on being an artist >

July 21st, 2015
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when I take a look at the etymology of the word “artist” I get something like this:
artist (n.)
1580s, “one who cultivates one of the fine arts,” from Middle French artiste (14c.), from Italian artista, from Medieval Latin artista, from Latin ars (see art (n.)).

Originally used especially of the arts presided over by the Muses (history, poetry, comedy, tragedy, music, dancing, astronomy), but also used 17c. for “one skilled in any art or craft” (including professors, surgeons, craftsmen, cooks). Now especially of “one who practices the arts of design or visual arts” (a sense first attested 1747).

Part of what got me thinking about this was a quote by John Lennon “I’m an artist, and if you give me a tuba, I’ll bring you something out of it.” The context for this quote was he was kind of knocking his own guitar playing (compared to someone like B.B. King), and kind of saying his strength is in getting his instrument to speak, or songwriting. I found it intriguing, as John obviously was not too keen on his guitar playing “chops” but he said in no uncertain terms : “I’m really very embarrassed about my guitar playing, in one way, because it’s very poor, I can never move, but I can make a guitar speak. I think there’s a guy called Richie Valens, no, Richie Havens, does he play very strange guitar? He’s a black guy that was on a concert and sang “Strawberry Fields” or something. He plays like one chord all the time. He plays a pretty funky guitar. But he doesn’t seem to be able to play in the real terms at all. I’m like that.” Read the rest of this entry »

a very good sermon on the Obergefell decision

July 18th, 2015
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inspirational and true!

regarding music > on being an amateur

July 11th, 2015
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I am not so very great at writing music and songs – but it brings me such pleasure I can’t imagine life without it. In a lot of ways I am an amateur. “What” someone might say – “an amateur”…?… you have work on Mtv, VH1, National Geographic etc – you’ve been broadcast on top 40 radio… you’ve recorded in some of the best studios in the world, worked with major labels, toured the world, played in front of tens of thousands, clubbed, made a living, published on and on and on…. how can you be an amateur? I would answer (and I have said this before) I don’t really know what I am doing. Sure in a basic sense I understand how to play instruments well enough to make a song. Sure at some level industry professionals and peers have rewarded me with money and recognition for my work…but still… there is so much I don’t know. Charlie Chaplin once said Read the rest of this entry »

new tune > she

June 30th, 2015
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a kind of off the cuff jammish thingy…have been working on a couple of songs which should show up here soon, been travelling a lot lately – I hope you are having a great summer!

she

a joyful noise

May 23rd, 2015
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hola amigos! I do hope you all are having a great Spring! Myself – I have been busy on several fronts and thought it a good idea to say hey…or hola…or whazhappenin. First up> I have been working my way through Psalms and have been so utterly inspired in so many ways it is difficult to summarize in a single post, but I will say this; reading Psalms makes me want to make a joyful noise! Psalm 98 is where I currently reside and the poem resonates with sacred energy…some interesting points include the fact that it was written about 1,000 years before Christ, but stretches all the way past his birth to the judgement of the earth (that’s some staying power in relevance), David instructs us to sing a NEW song, and includes such details as “make a loud noise / rejoice / sing praise / let the sea roar / let the floods clap their hands” one interesting thing of note is the “noise” element. As a drummer I’m going to say many a joke is had at our expense…our implied lack of musicality if you will…in the sense that drums are rarely “in tune” to the song…even when a pitch is found – it’s sharp on attack, and we cannot tune specifically to every song. Anyway – a joyful noise is more of a victory shout (and less of a sung note)… furthermore – have you ever been by the roar of an ocean wave? Lemme tell you it’s big my friend. Overwhelming even. In your face loud and noisy. I’m thinking the idea here is to go big or go home. Wall o’ Spirit infused sound! The Hebrew lexicon lists various meanings for noise in this psalm including “to break out / break forth / shout / raise a sound / cry out / give a blast / shout a war cry / shout in triumph.” And yes, the triumph piece becomes important as we look to the end of the psalm we see the Lord coming to judge the people of the world with righteousness and equity. Holy good from our Lord Christ will triumph over skulking defeated evil… I’m thinking a day of some joyful noise sounds quite pleasant thanks.

On other news fronts Read the rest of this entry »

Ever above my coldness and my doubt

May 23rd, 2015
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Rises up something, reaching forth a hand:
This thing I know, but cannot understand.
Is it the God in me that rises out
Beyond my self, trailing it up with him,
Towards the spirit-home, the freedom-land,
Beyond my conscious ken, my near horizon’s brim?

GM