Categories
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

Categories
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.

Categories
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.

Categories
artists Arts & Entertainment folk guitar music

Simple, Honest, Transparent, Beautiful


In a ten-year career tragically cut short by Leukemia, Kate Wolf wrote and performed over 200 songs. Her music is poignant, straightforward, honest, and beautiful. She performed at venues throughout her native state of California. Since her passing in 1986 at the age of 44, Kate’s audience has grown steadily as people like me discover her music. “September Song” (recorded on Kate’s 1979 album “Safe at Anchor”) is one of my favorites.

The song is replete with images. I particularly like the image conjured in the second verse illustrated below:

“The ghost of a frontier lady walks through the tall rooms/Of an old Ontario farmhouse under the full moon.”

Here’s my cover of “September Song.”

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.

Categories
acoustic guitar artists Arts & Entertainment music

Jefferson Airplane: Comin’ Back to Me


Jefferson Airplane was one of the premiere psychedelic rock bands of the nineteen-sixties. The Airplane epitomized the subversive love and drug culture that emerged from psycho-active drugs like LSD, Marijuana, Mescaline, and Peyote. The band came to prominence in San Francisco in 1965. The original group of six, featuring lead singer Grace Slick, had a seven-year run. Later incarnations of the group lasted until 1990, but the original group spawned the songs that mattered. “Comin’ Back to Me” is one of those hits. The piece appeared on the band’s second album, Surrealistic Pillow.

The story behind “Comin’ Back to Me” goes like this. While sharing a joint of righteous Marijuana with blues guitarist and harpist Paul Butterfield, Marty Balin wrote the song in five minutes. “It just popped out,” Balin said in an interview. He immediately went to the studio to record the song with any available musicians there. Jerry Garcia happened to be one of them.

In addition to being one of the Airplane’s greatest hits, the song was covered by major recording artists like Richie Havens, and versions of it appear as background music in several Hollywood feature films.

Here’s my cover of the song.

Categories
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.

Categories
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.

Categories
Arts & Entertainment ebooks fiction Science Fiction

Time Travel Anyone?


Issac Templeton

Available Now on Amazon Worldwide

Issac Templeton is a successful attorney with a thriving law practice in downtown Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Aside from a few recurring nightmares, Issac is happy where he is in life, although he knows there is always room for improvement. Issac’s relationship with his headstrong artist girlfriend is challenging, but he understands that all good things take time and must be earned.

Yes, Issac has built a successful career and a fulfilling personal life, one brick at a time. It is said, however, that a human life can change dramatically in an instant. Issac’s comfortable life is about to take a sharp turn into dark and unpredictable realms that are more horrifying than even his worst nightmares.

Categories
acoustic guitar Arts & Entertainment inspiration Making Changes music

Fleetwood Mac: Landslide


When Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks joined Fleetwood Mac, the band had been in a state of constant turnover. Originally a blues band, the group was as famous for its revolving door of guitarists and vocalists as it was for its handful of hits. Because of its changing lineup, the band had no signature sound. Fortunately, the addition of Buckingham and Nicks was just what Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, and his then-wife Christine McVie needed to achieve the group’s long-overdue success. The duo gave the band new energy, a unique and recognizable vocal sound, and material that would become part of Fleetwood Mac’s identity, like the song“Landslide.”

A song about the changes and challenges of life, Stevie Nicks wrote “Landslide” in 1974 in Aspen’s snow country when her then-boyfriend, Lindsey Buckingham, was on tour. Nicks has said in interviews that the song is about her romance with Buckingham and their career struggles, as well as her relationship with her business-executive father. Her months in the mountains helped to inspire the song’s title contained in the lines: 

And I saw my reflection in the snow-covered hills/‘Til the landslide brought me down. 

Another verse contains questions that most of us ask ourselves at one time or another:

Oh, mirror in the sky, what is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?

While they may sound simple, the introspection of these words resonated with millions of record buyers and helped to make the debut album by this Fleetwood Mac cast one of the best-selling albums of the 1970s.

How great musicians like Lindsey Buckingham create original compositions like this one is beyond my understanding. His guitar accompaniment on this song is a testament to his extraordinary talent.

Here’s my cover of “Landslide.”

Love is the Truth of the Heart