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inspiration life motivation personal growth

Be The Light


If in our daily life, we can smile; if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone will profit from it. This is the most basic kind of peace work.

Thich Nhat Hanh

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acoustic guitar Arts & Entertainment music poetry

Jackson Browne: “My Opening Farewell”


Jackson Browne’s music is lyrical and penetrating. He is a poet as well as a prolific songwriter, musician, and vocalist. I became a long-time fan upon hearing his hit song, “These Days.” The song appears in the inspirational film “Invincible,” a story about an average guy who eventually realized his dream of playing in the NFL for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Most of Browne’s music is bitter-sweet. “My Opening Farewell” is a fine example. The melody, lyrics, and guitar technique are evocative. The song is played in an open D tuning which Browne uses brilliantly to paint pictures, emotions, and moods. I feel it is sad/beautiful, like the woman described in the song. It’s about one of Browne’s early love relationships that lasted a few years.

In an interview, Browne had this to say about the relationship and the meaning of My Opening Farewell:

“Elektra [Records] had this recording ranch up in northern California and we stayed at this hotel. And a train ran by it. So: ‘there’s a train every day, leaving either way,’ and the whole idea [being] that you could go one way or the other. And this relationship was struggling. The song is about the particular moment when you recognize that the person you love wants to be anywhere else. Wants to be gone; wants to move on.”

Here’s my cover.

Played with Martin D-35 Guitar

Played with Martin D-45 Guitar

*Both tracks have minor flubs. Can’t get through this piece without them.

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inspiration life motivation reflections

Finding More Love


When you find more love within yourself, you will find more love for everyone and everything.

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artists Arts & Entertainment folk music music

Early Lightfoot Love


Photo by Vadim Boichenko

“Song for a Winter’s Night” is one of Gordon Lightfoot’s earliest love songs. It is also one of his biggest hits.

As folk music became commercially viable in the late sixties, clubs blossomed featuring promising folk musicians. Gordon Lightfoot landed a job in one of them in downtown Toronto. He stood apart from the crowd because he performed many of his own songs in a characteristically pure voice. After he developed a following, a club owner invited Lightfoot to perform at his club across the street at twice the salary. Lightfoot gratefully accepted the invitation to perform at the Riverboat, Toronto’s premier folk music club.

With his beautiful voice and prolific outpouring of quality music, it was only a matter of time before Warner/Reprise records rewarded Lightfoot with a one million dollar recording contract, an unheard-of number for a Canadian singer.

Lightfoot recorded “Song for a Winter’s Night in 1967 on his album, “The Way I feel.” Many recording artists covered it, including Sarah McLachlan in the soundtrack for the film “Miracle on 34th Street.”

Gordon wrote the song on a hot summer night while performing in Cleveland. He missed his wife at the time, Brita Ingegerd Olaisson, and his thoughts turned to winter. Here’s my cover.

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artists Arts & Entertainment inspiration music

“The Wind in My Soul”


Cat Stevens rose to prominence as a folk and pop artist in the 1970’s. I’ve always enjoyed the thread of childlike innocence and spontaneity that runs through his music. After a near-death experience, Stevens began a serious search for a deeper meaning in life. In 1977, he left his rock and roll lifestyle and converted to Islam adopting the name Yusuf Islam.

Stevens wrote “The Wind” five years before his conversion. The song has always been one of my favorites. It’s a simple song that speaks volumes. In a 2022 Rolling Stone interview, Stevens (Yusuf) shared these thoughts about The Wind:

“I’m talking to somebody; I think it’s the divine, but I’m not quite sure, and because I’m not sure, it’s universal. My goal was to be able to detach myself from my physical surroundings and material things. I was very earnestly searching. I would visit esoteric bookshops whenever I could, and pick up whatever new pathway to the truth I could find.”

Here’s my cover of the song played in Yusuf Islam’s unique guitar style.

Categories
artists Arts & Entertainment folk guitar music

A Transcendent Voice


Photo by Nick Fang

Hi everyone. The voice I’m referring to here is not mine. It belongs to Kate Wolf (1942-1986). She wrote and performed (mostly in her native California) over 200 songs. Her music comes directly from the heart and tends to be bittersweet. In 1980, Kate released her fourth album on her own label, Owl Records. The album is titled “Close to You.” Many of the songs on the album have become fan favorites, including some I have posted on this blog: Across the Great Divide, An Unfinished Life, Here in California, and Stone in the Water.

A recording of Kate playing a song by Tom Paxon called “Hold On to Me Babe” drew me to Wolf’s music again. Her voice is transcendent as it is in most of her recordings. I haven’t been listening to Kate’s music lately, and her version of Paxon’s song reminded me of the beautiful realms she takes me to.

Another song on the album reminded me of the precious few people I have been close to in this life. Here is my cover of “Friend of Mine” with an original accompaniment.

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acoustic guitar artists Arts & Entertainment folk music music

Across the Barrier of Time


I’ve always wanted to learn Kate Wolf’s guitar-picking style. Granted, she plays every song she’s written differently, but I just wanted a glimpse. Since Kate has mostly been an under-the-radar, brilliant singer/songwriter, no one has taken the time to create an accurate tutorial of her guitar method. That is until now. My go-to-teacher, Jerry Lamberth, best known for his unequaled guitar tutorial site (Jerry’s Guitar Bar) has finally posted the first of what I hope will be many lessons of Kate Wolf’s songs.

I’ve recorded Kate Wolf’s remarkable story and several of her songs on previous blogs. To learn more about this courageous and uniquely talented person, go to: “An Unfinished Life” “Gentle Love” “Feeling the Heart” and “Through Her Music”.

We lost Kate almost forty years ago to Leukemia, but her music has endured across the barrier of time. Coincidentally, the song is about memories of times past.

Not surprisingly, “Across the Great Divide” is one of Wolf’s most popular songs. Without Jerry’s help, I would never have figured out how to play the song Kate’s way. She uses a simple and at the same time complex alternating base method the likes of which I’ve never seen.

Kate wrote “Across The Great Divide” specifically for Robbie Osman’s folk-oriented show of the same name on KPFA radio, San Francisco. Robbie and Kate were friends who shared similar experiences.

This exercise might be a case of “careful what you wish for.” I busted my ass and fingers to learn this. Here’s my cover of the song.

If you love life with abandon, everything you want will come to you quickly and freely.

Categories
life Making Changes motivation musings reflections

It’s Your World


You may not be able to reinvent the wheel, but you can always put a new tire on it. The same is true for your world. Here’s to a good spin.

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acoustic guitar Arts & Entertainment music profiles

From a Distance: The Song


A telephone call changed the life of Julie Gold. Although she had solid management, steady gigs, and a powerful repertoire, she failed to progress as a singer/songwriter until becoming involved with the Greenwich Village singer/songwriter scene. Performing at open mikes, Gold was befriended by Christine Lavin, who became her mentor.

When Julie’s parents sent her a piano she played while growing up, the first song she wrote on it was titled “From a Distance.” Lavin sent a tape of the song to a rising star on the country/folk music scene.

While working as a secretary for HBO in New York, Gold received her life-changing phone call from Nanci Griffith. Nanci wanted permission to record “From a Distance” on her cross-over album, Lone Star State of Mind. The album and the song went on to become big hits.

“From a Distance” became even more popular and won a Grammy Award for Song of the Year when Bette Midler recorded it in 1990.

Here is my cover of the song accompanied by an original guitar composition.

This blog post is dedicated to Toby Aurora Bentley. Toby was taken from us too soon. May she rest in peace and love until we can welcome her back.

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acoustic guitar Arts & Entertainment children music parenting

Rise and Shine


Singer and songwriter Raffi has conveyed a central message of respect for children and people of all races during his forty-year career of entertaining children’s audiences around the world. The Washington Post has called him “the most popular children’s singer in the English-speaking world.” Raffi has recorded dozens of albums and sold more than fifteen million records. He has also written books for children and adults.

Raffi Cavoukian was born to Armenian parents in Cairo, Egypt. In 1958, the family fled genocide in Turkey and immigrated to Toronto, Canada. Raffi began his musical career singing to children and parents in libraries and eventually in concerts. He says about those early years:

“I thought about who these children were as people. My audience was full of children ranging in age from three to seven years. I wanted to learn about these young people, and the more I learned, the more I was fascinated by how intelligent, spontaneous, and delightful young children are. I was full of admiration for who I call humanity’s ‘primary learners.’ By observing and interacting with these children, I learned something profound: Play is an intelligence that we’re not supposed to lose in our lives. I came to admire and respect the young child as a whole person. That value of respect has guided my whole career.”

Like many parents, I became aware of Raffi’s music when my daughter was a child. Perhaps having a child is a secret door through which only parents and children can pass to hear Raffi’s music.

Raffi has toured the world with his Rise and Shine Band beguiling children and parents alike with his joyful and magical music. His song, “Rise and Shine” quickly became one of my favorites. I played and sang it for my daughter, Danielle when she was a child. Now, it’s my pleasure to play it for my granddaughter, Ashley.

True love does not need or expect reciprocation.