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Story Behind the Song - "Something Summer" 

I've had most of the tracks for "Something Summer" recorded for quite some time. Then I put the song away to come back to at a later date. 

Well, the years passed. Until...

One day, my good friend, Penny Greene from Decades of Rock and Roll Oldies Cruise needed a song to replace the one she was using for her yearly promo video for her highly successful music cruise she sponsors and organizes every year. So she asked me if I had a song that would work. The closest one I had was "Something Summer", but I just didn't think the lyrics fit just yet. If fact, I wasn't happy with all the lyrics I had anyway, so the song got put into the "archives".

Penny loved the song, and since she loves playing with words as much as I do, I ask if she would like to help with the re-write. i.e. Just wanting to simply say, basically, "Man, I'm tired of this dreary, icy cold weather. I'm ready for some sun". By the time we get to the third verse he/she is already there! 

So here we are! A song brought to life from the archives.

"Chase the sun, hear the sea, feel that sand beneath our feet!"

It's as simple as that!

The album cover photo is one of 1,000's taken during the 2018 cruise by Kathy Rankin.

Listen now! CLICK HERE!

....And now, a few brief moments in the studio during the work on "Something Summer".

 

Pacific Amphitheatre Show - July 4th, 2019 

Sharing the stage with the Pacific Amphitheatre was quite a thrill. And to do it in my own backyard, sort of speak, was a privilege. The Pacific Amphitheatre? No way!

Well, yes, way. A July 4th to remember for sure! 

Here I am singing "Desperado" in front of a live orchestra. OMGee! Thanks to Ken Yoshida for this photo. 

Here are some photos I took:

What's an Imperfect Rhyme For "Narnia" 

Well, I've been cruising along rather well on the health side of things when, surprise, a January doctor check-up reveals high blood pressure, high bad cholesterol, low good cholesterol, and two small hernias.(Okay, got it "hernia" > "Narnia")

Yeepee, skippee! (I eat well and excercise, so there's that! Lol Can someone say "hereditary"?) 

Well, today is one day shy of one week since my "Laproscopic robotic-assisted bi-lateral inguinal hernia repair".

Recovery has been quite trying and painful, even with meds. Well, there ya have it. Take care of yourselves, folks.

Some future Hotel California shows are being rescheduled due to Corona virus precautions and I couldn't be more thankful for that. Boy, do I need some time to get back normal!

[This comedic photo from a venue back in 2019 isn't so funny now, is it, comedy boy?)

One of my favorite C. S. Lewis quotes comes to mind: 

“Pain [or in this case, just a little discomfort, but a broken body that needs fixing] insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” 

Oh, I've been listening the best I can, but now I'm leaning in a lot closer! Hope you don't mind the theology lesson for the day. I'm sure some new songs will reflect this. 

By the way, I guess a better rhyme would be "hypothermia", but I don't have that and let's not go there! 

Here's To 2020! 

Look at my exciting new purchase!  

I'm going back to paper - large paper. In the last year I've upped my skill level not only in songwriting, but composing (TV cues - and whatever else transpires in 2020) I foresee some erasing and post-it-notes activity to keep track of numerous projects going on at the same time. (In between the touring schedule, of course).

Back Home Again in Downey, California 

Well, the Downey Theatre show was quite fun and rewarding. I saw most of early years in Downey flashing before my eyes after the show! 

Of course, members of my family were there that could make it. But then there's fellow past students and friends from Tot-Time (Pre-Kindergarten!), Kindergarten, and from all the years of Elementary, Middle, and High school! 

BELOW: From the small stage on the left in the 70's, to the big stage in middle in the present!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BELOW: And with a different band, I've played on stage-right stage as well in my younger years!

BELOW: It has been brought to my attention, the middle stage hosted the Warren High Jazz Ensemble way-back-when, which I was a part of on guitar!BELOW: Looking out from the backstage, over on the right, the Downey City Library. I was just a little Stevie when I went here. I believe there is now a small display of "The Carpenters" memorabilia. They were from my town and lived here unbeknownst to me at first while I was working on my guitar skills in my bedroom on the other town side of town. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below photos: Joyce Rybold

And then there's the NEWSPAPER ARTICLE! Check it out HERE

Story Behind The Song - MY HAPPY PLACE 

The blog series that highlights a selected song from my latest album, "III" 

Episode 2 : MY HAPPY PLACE

The seed of this tune came firstly not from artistic inspiration - "Oh, I must capture this song immediately while the muse flows freely through my ever-sensitive creative soul!!" - Oh no, my friends.

There's a song that I really like by Christ Stapleton called, "Whisky and Me". I decided one day to take the form of the song, rhyme scheme, etc and just write something in the same pattern. As an exercise and a way to "jump start" the writing process. First thing I did was search for a title with the same syllables as "whisky and me" from list of title ideas I'm constantly adding to. I decided on "My Happy Place". I then flipped the sentiment - the former song was sad, mine would be happy.

Click play:

I just started my usual "just writing anything until something sticks" (if anything even would that day). I remember sitting on the floor, "reaching" for the possible song that might be floating around "in the room". Stuff started appearing on my yellow pad:

"Fridge is humming" ?- We have an older fridge thta keeps chuggin along!
 "Browning onions smell like heaven in a pan"? True story. Love it.
"Pillow laying on the floor" - There it was to my left, the couch throw pillow
"That Christmas present that never made it out the door"? There it was, over to my right. 
"Puppy paws" - 2 dogs, 8 paws in the household!

The "tie comes off" bit is a bit of a fabrication. I don't wear a tie and come home from the office every day. (Although I've been know to wear one onstage)

In many songs, the "hook" comes right at the beginning of the chorus. I let "My Happy Place" close out every verse.

The stuff about Disney and New York City in the bridge? That's me. My happy places. But the bridge closes out with very best kind of "happy place"

And of course, the ultimate "happy place" in Verse 3.

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It was suggested in a songwriting critique session to rewrite the bridge. But I left it as is to move to another song. Someone else may not want to recorded it, but it has a whole not of "me" in it, so I figured I'd keep it for myself.

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There you have it! A song that might never have been born that day if I hadn't practiced a little pro-writer discipline and shown up to the solo "writing session"! 

Check out the photo below. I was surprised to be reminded in my scribblings that "My Happy Place" started at the beach but ended up in the living room! 

I love songwriting! How about you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here's the song pattern inspiration for "My Happy Place":

Get the album "III" HERE

What Are You Doing...? 

I’ve changed home my morning routine a bit (at least at home) that has been a little more fruitful in the songwriting department. It’s real easy to sit back, sipping coffee, relax, and read whatever in the early hours, then get to the real work. 

After opening my Bible app to the living words therein for a spiritual realignment, instead of letting emails and social media fill my head with all kinds of stuff (not all bad but still “stuff”) during my second cup of coffee, I get out my yellow legal pad and just start writing – anything. Without an expectation of how good it’s going to be. 

(I use the Masterwriter app as well for writing. But by using a yellow legal pad first, I feel sort of like a painter on a canvas. Good old pencil and paper!) 

I’ve got a assorted lists on paper and on just about every electronic device I own full of song titles, one line descriptions of “life scenes”, paragraphs, newspaper articles, the list goes on. I just pick one idea and start writing something underneath it, even if it’s bad. And most times I get something I can build upon in the coming mornings or whenever it’s lyric writing time. 
(In the photo on the right, Duff has no idea how brilliant I am!)

After my morning idea brainstorming, I continue on to a physical workout of some sort.

I guess you could describe my "workout" routine as follows:
1. Spiritual
2. Mental
3. Physical

A recent example that got me all excited and I felt like a songwriter again. It started with something I wrote down, at least a year ago if not more, “Came home to the Santa Anas, whipping up a tune”. True story. (Around where I live, we can get some strong winds - the Santa Anas.)

That’s it! 

As an embryo of a lyric formed, when I got to scribblings for the second part of the verse – What rhymes with Santa Anas? Well…Pollyanna. Okay, this is getting interesting I think to myself. 

What ends up happening, a place, a story, etc appears, and then it seems I have a lyric slowly being wrapped inside a melody. 

Then the second part of the verse with the word “Pollyanna” in it develops a life all it’s own and seems better now as the chorus; the hook of the song. And there’s my song title: “Pollyanna”. And off I go to Wikipedia for "Pollyanna" references.

The thing about these songwriting exercises as I’ve described above is, for me, building the discipline to sit down and just write without expectations opens up my eyes, my ears, and my heart to life around me as I go about my day. I feel I could write a song of just about anything or at the very least, write down one line to use later. 

It almost becomes a welcome “sickness”. I’m a words hoarder! 

3 Tweets (Say 5 Times Fast!) 

If you're a "tweeter", feel free to follow me  HERE     

Here are some "awesome" highlights from this past week:

Book Quotes - A Moveable Feast 

Sub-heading: Books I've read. 

This installment of "Book Quotes" is brought to you by "A Moveable Feast"  by Ernest Hemingway

This book made a great souvenir as I was walking the streets of Paris in May/June of 2017. I purchased it at the infamous "Shakespeare and Company" book store in the City of Lights.

 

 

 

 

 

 


On writing in Paris...

Sadness of Fall, but there's always Spring...

This was basically our same path we walked every day down to the city sights...

"...I could never be lonely along the river [Seine]"

Hey, Louie! Can I Get A Photo With You? 

Here's a selfie with cameraman/artiste', Luis Fuerte. He spent 19 years as camera operator for PBS TV host, Huell Howser, who I previously posted about HERE.

 

 

His book signing event at Galleano Winery near my home brought plenty of behind-the-scenes stories to share with those of us in attendance. 

 

 

 

 

We had a nice one-on-one chat about another rewarding time he had, outside of working with Huell, when he was asked to travel with and film an orchestra. He may have said the LA Phil, but I can't remember. He spoke about working the camera as if it was an art form, not just "filming" an event. 

Check out his book!