Sunday, March 26, 2017

Leonard Cohen- Bird on the Wire

I saw a movie yesterday about a tour of Leonard Cohen's in 1972. The movie shows clips of interviews, songs, etc that happened during the tour. What I want to talk about is his philosophy of performance.
He said that sometime, he was unable to get into the song. I think the word he used was 'inhabit'. Like living inside of the song. I know that feeling, where you are singing a song and it feel like it is coming out of the depths of your soul. It is wonderful occurrence when it happens, because as a singer, you feel that you are expressing the soul of the song itself. It was his goal to get there every time. I think that is truly an admirable goal and likely why he is as revered an artist as he is. But that is also a scary place. It is a place where you, personally, are open to the world for the seeing. Vulnerable.
And when you see his performances, you can palpate his vulnerability. Time after time. It is mesmerizing, beautiful, stately.
He also said that he would sing even if he were not popular, and really criticized being popular. He states that the first way you know something is bad art is if it is popular, so he questions he own value. But he also says he is not a good singer, he knows that. But he would sing even if... he would sing for himself.
I have a magazine here that is about Leonard's songwriting. I will read it today. I will come back to this article, I am sure, and write some more. I think this man is one to truly study.
If you are an artist, or have any interest in Leonard's music, I highly recommend you see the movie. It will stay with me for a long, long time.....

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Songwriting musings

So, yeah, I have not been as productive creatively as I would like to be. I set aside time, which generally gets wasted on Facebook. I clear my calendar and stay in rather than go out and be with others. I sit here or pace and try to think of -- something. I look at my empty whiteboard. I sometimes write some words up there. Sometimes those words might even make it to my Drive file where I keep pieces of melody and words and phrases.

But, overall, songs are a rare occurrence.

I read books and articles and interviews around songwriting and songwriters... yep, I feel inspired, but nothing gets produced.

Today, I think I had one of those ah HA moments.... How can I have anything to say that is important enough to say more than once (like, when I sing it...), if I am empty like that whiteboard? When I am sitting at home rather than out in the world, learning and seeing and gathering?

And how will I know that this story or this thought or this feeling or this moment should be a song? All day, things pass me by that could be written about. I remember having the experience of one line or phrase, which I knew could be a song, and I recorded it or wrote it down, and within a day, there, for better or worse, was a song. THAT was because I was practicing music and songs and thinking about music and songs ALL the time. SO, as soon as something interesting came my way, it made perfect sense to starting singing about it.

And you know.... I was happier when I was doing that all time.

It is spring tomorrow. Time to leave the winter down behind. (I already wrote about that, a couple years ago, LOL!!) Time to get out and about. Time to just sing because I like it, not to 'work'. FUN.

Thursday, March 16, 2017


I am waiting to fly out of Seattle. I have come here to say goodbye to my friend, Jim with my other friends and tribe.
Yes. Tribe. These are people who share the love of Neil Young music, guitar solos, good songs and all that goes with all of that. We are a cooperative group. We value being independent and able to care for yourself at the same time we take care of each other. Each of us 'Needs a crowd of people, but can't face them day to day'. We are all intense, passionate people with varied interests that we pursue with vigor, even as we age. When we look at the guy who inadvertently brought us together, we can see that he is like us. Or we are like him. Or we are all just a group of people who have a common way of looking at life and the world, one that has to do with movement and enjoyment and making a mark in the world. And all the Rusties do it a little differently, but we all do it with passion and interest and love. It seems to be part of our nature.
Jim was so cool. He was laid back but intense. He was kind but honest. He would help you out or tell you how to do it. He knew camping secrets that would make your life outside a little easier (or a LOT easier) if you knew them, too, and if you cared to learn, you could. He was free and easy with the sharing of music. He listened to many more folks than just Neil Young, and taught us about all those people. He was the essence of the Pacific Northwest with a Canadian sensibility. He was my friend.
Most of what I did with Jim was travel down the Pacific Coast, which you may know, is one of my best favorite things to do in life. He made a wonderful pork tenderloin that we would traditionally have early in the trip. Every night, a fire under the stars (or, as is more often the case in the PNW, the clouds). If it rained, he had the way about a tarp, it went up, quickly and accurately.
Jim was sort of the glue for us. He modeled the sort of behavior and love and caring that people should want to be like, and we all did.... it could be called 'the hippie dream' without the injurious substances.... Jim was in recovery and made it look good.
I have to be off now. I will remember this man for the rest of my life and look up to him still.....