...or at the most, speak for your party in the House - which is ALL you represent!
He's at it again - the thing that many politicians are guilty of and which drives me nuts:
"A ban on taxpayer funding of abortions is the will of the people and it ought to be the will of the land," Boehner said at his weekly press conference on Capitol Hill. (My italics)
Nothing you can say can ever be called "the will of the people" - it is the will of some people, agreed. I don't happen to be one of them. In fact, I would hazard a guess, this is not the will of more than 50% of this country.
So, Mr Boehner, would you and your fellow politicians not only take heed of the call for greater civility in our political discourse, but would you also refrain from talking about mandates you do not have? You managed to win (through laziness on the part of democrats and liberals I believe rather than any real ideas coming from your fractured party) a majority in the House. You do not control the Senate, nor does your party occupy the presidency. Please remember this. You are part of a system not the entire system.
A great many Americans would appreciate fewer grandiose claims to power and more truth and common sense in how you approach your job.
I stand against pretty much everything you stand for, so please do not presume to speak for me. And I ask that with all the civility I can muster. Thank you.
I received an email recently from cdbaby.com (where my CD, among many others, is for sale). It contained some brilliant advice. Fortunately I already had first hand experience that made me recognize this as brilliant advice. I am passing it on for a reason I'll mention in a moment, but for now...
Picture this: a dark room dimly warmed by the glow of a computer monitor, four tired people huddled on a beer-stained leather couch, – the mixing engineer hits the playback button and pure sonic magic roars through the speakers…
The bass player asks for more low-end definition. Which makes the drummer ask for a louder kick. Which makes the guitarist want to hear more high end. Which makes the vocals sound brittle. Which frustrates the mixing engineer who now needs to find a different reverb. Which kills the magic and everyone loses. Which destroys the house that Jack built.
How quickly it all spirals away!
I'm passing this on because I've seen it happen so many times. But not just in recording studios! This is valuable advice because it applies to almost everything in life.
When I was paid to write for a living I quickly learned how writing by committee NEVER works. I learned that I could seldom expect to get a piece exactly right first time around but that it was essential to get the opinions of the people for whom I was writing not their suggestions. I used to say to them, "Please don't edit the copy, just tell me what you want it to communicate that it is currently failing to achieve." And armed with that information I would go back and rewrite the whole thing. This was the only way - the ONLY way - to maintain the sense of flow and the tone of voice, both of which are as important as the choice of words.
Yes, it works with music too. You don't get Mark Knopfler to play on your album and then tell him what to play! Equally, the creating by committee that is at the heart of cdbaby's advice is the kiss of death. Get an expert engineer and let him do his thing. And if you are not blown away by the results tell him why and let him do his thing over. He needs information not instructions.
And that's the bit that is applicable to many facets of life: ask for or give information not instructions.
I don't mention this in my new book, The Culture Of Now, but maybe I should have: life today teaches us that it is wrong to admit when we don't know something, specially in business. Whereas I have always found that when I claimed to know something that I really should have consulted an expert on, I have fallen flat on my face. There will always be people who know more than we do about a certain subject or who possess a skill that we do not.
But remember, the reverse is true. When someone starts criticizing something you have done remember two things. First, if they have paid you to create it, find out what it is they want and start over, responding to this new information - never blindly incorporate their suggestions. Second, if they have not paid you to create it, feel free to tell them to go to hell!
Finally, unrelated to this in any way other than the fact that this subject matter reminded me of it, this is one of my all-time favorite quotes from Leonard Cohen and it's not even from one of his songs or poems:
"I never wanted to work for pay but I always wanted to be paid for my work." Amen.
Clearly a title created by a sound engineer!
I just published a new book. It's called The Culture Of Now. It's something a little different for me, a non-fiction, short investigation of the impact that technology is having on a variety of subjects from education to journalism to sex!
There are only 100 copies available and I do not plan to put it on amazon.com or anything - so if you really want one just drop me an email at email@example.com - the cover price is $10.
And just going into production is my next book of poetry which is titled The Momentary Truce. I'll be writing more on this very soon, but for the moment here's a personal favorite of mine...
it’s as simple as this:
the guitar refuses to be tuned
As I mentioned in an earlier, longer post I have also started work on the next music CD. That too will be a little different in ways that I'll talk more about as the project progresses.
In the meantime, please remember that despite prevailing attitudes that music is free it is never free to produce. You can support my efforts by buying the CDs and books that are currently out there:
RAISED IN VAIN - 19 songs, 18 of which I wrote. Available at cdbaby.com, amazon.com, iTunes Store and dozens of other digital download sites.
DEEP SALVAGE - a four-track CD with lyrics by me and music by my very good friend Jeff Shattuck. Available at deepsalvage.bandcamp.com and other sites. Please avoid cduniverse.com where it is for sale at more than double the suggested price!
or words to that effect - my poetry. This book won a gold award in the Independent Publishers Book Awards for 2009. A few copies are still available at amazon.com.
songs: volume one - this book, also available at amazon.com, contains the sheet music and lyrics to all the original songs on Raised In Vain. But it's not just for musicians, as it also contains all the pieces originally posted to this blog in which I explain some of the background to why and how the songs got written.
I want to start 2011 by sincerely thanking all of those who have supported my new life as an Indie musician and writer this far. Please spread the word. It is a tough business in which to make enough money to finance the next project.
And, remember, if you feel as I do that technology is changing the very core of what it means to be human, you may enjoy The Culture Of Now.
You'll probably be glad to know that religion is one area I left out of the book!
In 1978 this amazingly good album knocked Saturday Night Fever off the #1 spot on the UK album charts. Coming from a very different musical place nobody expected it to be so widely liked. I'm glad it was.
Sadly, despite the huge success of the first single from this album Baker Street, we never realized that Gerry was writing about his own eventual demise, whether he even realized it or not...
"He’s got this dream about buyin’ some land
He’s gonna give up the booze and the one night stands
And then he’ll settle down, in some quiet little town
And forget about everything."
Gerry never did give up the booze - or if he did it was too late. The alcoholism he had witnessed in his father eventually claimed him too. He was only 63.
He was a gifted songwriter. Go back and investigate everything he did - not just the well-known Baker Street with its wailing saxaphone - you will be delighted you did.
Some years just become history without much fuss or fanfare. Others are remembered because history was made. Not necessarily on a grand scale, not that kind of history but family history. The histories that are made up of seemingly small events that we know will become more important as time passes rather than less. For me 2010 was one of those years.
As with all things powerful enough to create unforgettable memories, some were good and some were not so good.
The year began with good things. On January 4th, 2010 we broke ground on what would become not just our guesthouse but my recording studio. It's impossible to describe the feeling - that I wouldn't know in its full intensity for several months yet - of actually having my own place in which to make music, record music, in short, rededicate myself to my first passion in life.
On January 4th it was a red painted outline in the snow. By the end of April the building was ready. It took me many more months to fully equip the studio and start to learn the Pro Tools software that makes it all happen. But I am happy to say that I started work on new songs before 2010 came to a close. Already the ideas are pouring out of me like never before. I have an inescapable sense that this studio was meant to be here. It has been embraced by the magical land on which it stands. Santa Fe has long been a place for creativity and imagination. I like to think in my own small way I can add to that.
My mother got to see the studio but sadly will not hear anything that comes out of it. She died peacefully on June 20th - Father's Day - of 2010. We took her ashes back to England and buried them under a newly planted Cherry tree. The loss of her will no doubt creep into my writing just as the loss of my father has done since he died in 2002. But for the moment the memory of her struggle with memory loss is too keen. In a piece that is essentially about memories it is sad indeed to say that she had stopped making any new ones. Something I wrote nearly thirty years ago comes to mind..."I will remember you, not as you are but as you were." That's from a song we used to perform when we were a band called First Refusal. And two of my old band mates, Steve and David, were kind enough to be there at my mother's memorial. Many things came full circle on one day.
As we were in England anyway, we decided to make a whirlwind tour and covered a surprising number of miles in the next six days. We took in Scotland, the English Lake District, Wales and Ireland. We happened to be with a second cousin of mine on the day he learned his father had passed away after a rather long struggle with lung cancer. We drank Pol Roger Champagne in his honor - his father always joked that it was made specially for him as his name was Roger. I looked up to Roger a lot when I was young.
One morning I awoke and immediately knew something was wrong. Instinct made me put my hand on my heart and what I felt sent a wave of panic through me. It was not so much beating as fluttering at an incredible rate. I told my wife who immediately offered to call the doctor. No, I said, I'm driving straight to the emergency room. At that moment she looked as worried as I felt.
Lying there with wires stuck to my chest and monitors beeping and chirping and waves of medical people asking me the same questions over and over again...and with memories of my dad in the identical situation when he had his heart attack back when I was 21 or so...I was told I was in Atrial Fibrillation. At that moment I didn't really care. They did not say heart attack. That's all that mattered.
Luckily I came out of it spontaneously. I have always believed in the power of the body to control, if not heal, itself. I went to my quiet space. I know it well. I use it when I'm in the dentist's chair. I used it once when I had to have surgery. The anesthetist laughed afterwards as he told me I was snoring before he administered the anesthetic!
Well, it worked again. The Atrial Fibrillation stopped with no drugs or anything from the doctors.
I was told later that I had had slightly raised blood pressure for many, many years. I knew this. Doctors had always said I was the 'high end of normal'. Turns out there's no such place. Take note - even slightly raised BP over time causes the walls of the heart to thicken. This eventually stretches the area where the electrical signal that tells your heart when to beat originates. Result? The signal gets all out of whack and your heart races at up to 200 beats a minute. Trust me, you don't want to know what that feels like. The biggest risk - because blood is not pumping properly around your body - is not a heart attack but a stroke. Not good.
Within weeks my doctor had done a great job of finding a cocktail of several drugs (he knows I hate taking anything) that controls my blood pressure with the minimum dose of each drug. I was lucky. And I hope I stay lucky.
In October we went to Africa. I was feeling well by then and we had a truly memorable time. I have posted about it already and the photo albums are over there in the sidebar, so I won't go into detail. Suffice to say that Africa is changing fast and I recommend anyone who can visit to do so while a sense of wildness can still be experienced. But don't be surprised when a local tribesman pulls out a brand new cell phone. We found they work better in the Serengeti than they do here in Santa Fe!
Then came December. Big month! My wife had her 50th birthday (sorry, I know I'm not supposed to tell!) then we celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary and then spent a relatively quiet Christmas - the only time we left the house was to have dinner with our neighbors on Christmas Day. My gift was a new guitar. No surprises there!
I spent the disappearing days of 2010 working in the studio. The final printed copies of my new book, The Culture Of Now, arrived just before the holiday and I read through it again - finding just one missing word much to my annoyance, but these things happen! I completed my next book of poetry, The Momentary Truce, which is in the process of being proofread right now. And my plans for the 40 or so songs I have written since the last album (many in 2010) have started to take shape.
The one thing I know for certain is that whatever happens in 2011 it will all have been made possible, provoked, inspired or demanded by what happened in 2010. It was not a year to drift into the past unremembered...it was a year in which I learned a lot more about myself, about the world around me and about the nature of love. Peace.