Category: My Musical Adventure


So, happy Easter, or Ostare, or whatever rite of Spring-renewal-ness you all are celebrating at the moment. I know, I know: It’s been way too long since my last posting and “where the hell have you gone?” and “where’s the latest on the D&D adventure you’re running, are you still even doing that?”

Answers:

1. I Haven’t gone anywhere, not really. I just have been really lazy and not motivated to post at all. I realize that this means that no one gets to read the stuff I think up and want to talk about and I’m sorry about that, I truly am. Sometimes life just gets in the way…or I get in the way…or Skyrim…yeah, we’ll blame Skyrim.

Sorry buddy. We still have great times together and someone's gotta take the fall for this. We'll always have Solstheim!!

Sorry buddy. We still have great times together and someone’s gotta take the fall for this. We’ll always have Solstheim!!

 

2. I know, I know!! Yes I am still running that campaign, and yes it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything of note. See above reasoning for that. Don’t worry, though, I haven’t been completely slacking off. I have prepared a comprehensive synopsis of what’s happened since the last time you heard from your heroes. In fact, after tonight’s session, I plan to add to it and post it, finally. There. Happy now?

Seriously though, I do miss you all and I want to get myself back to a pace where I am writing regularly again and with life as it has been the last month or two and then going forward, I should have plenty to write about, be it in my own life or just commenting on something ridiculous I happened to see or read or hear somewhere.

Which brings me to this post in particular.

My Birthday is in a week and a day.

Just look at this suave looking motherfraker right here! Give this man some cake!!

Just look at this suave looking motherfraker right here! Give this man some cake!!

[waits for the screaming applause…still waiting…]

I’ve been fortunate enough to have been able to cling to this beautiful insanity of a planet for the last 32 solar revolutions.

Here’s the part where I get all Ray Lamontagne on you, and get into how I “never learned to count my blessings. I choose instead to dwell on my disasters.” True to my usual form of birthday-time introspection self deprecation blah blah blah, yakety smackety.

Except, I’m not going to do that.

Not this time.

No! None of that! you hear me? you cut that out right now, Mister!!

No! None of that! you hear me? you cut that out right now, Mister!!

I admit that there has been some rather crap moments throughout the year, I have to say that there have been some crazy moments that I happen to be pretty frelling proud of. So I think I’d like to talk about those.

1. I’m still frelling ALIVE!!

– Yes, that is totally a thing and if you don’t believe me, just ask anyone who is dead. Go on…I’ll wait.

Seriously though, getting to remain on this planet, with my wife and little girl (she’s 3 now. Can you frelling believe that? I know! I’m still having a crazy time wrapping my head around it.) is a huge blessing. If you are a believer in a spiritual path or not, being alive and having a family that loves you and that you love just as much is something to take a second and just feel amazingly grateful for. So there!

2. I’ve made considerable progress in the writing of my Novel.

– This is a project that I started a little over a decade ago. It has been through so many changes and iterations that I honestly thought I would never ever sit down and finally write out any lengthy amount of it.  Thanks to participating in NaNoWriMo, I’ve finally put some permanence to the world I’ve created and have written enough that I can’t turn back now and change things. I have to see it through and I WILL.

Just keep writing, just keep writing, just keep writing, writing, writing...

Just keep writing, just keep writing, just keep writing, writing, writing…

Even if I still haven’t thought of a title yet…details! Minor details.

3. I’ve become a DM. (Dungeon Master)

– This is a title I never thought I would take on, having been such a fan of the player aspect of Table Top RolePlay, but after playing with a couple of groups and getting my own ideas about what would make for fun experiences for players, it felt like a natural progression. The campaign I’m running is full of intrigue and insanity, and the players in the group are incredibly intelligent and strategic. We are constantly keeping each other on our A game and I’m having an absolute blast with it! And I haven’t killed any of my players…yet! [queue ominous soap opera music]

It's not fancy. it's not crazy. But it's mine, and it has Legos!! D20s and Legos FTW!!!

It’s not fancy. it’s not crazy. But it’s mine, and it has Legos!! D20s and Legos FTW!!!

4. I am expanding my circle of friends.

– This might not seem like a huge deal to some, but I can be a bit of an introvert and if I get myself in with a group and feel comfortable with them, I tend to stick with them for a while and not really let go. With the job change and just the general meeting of new people, this has changed a bit. I’m in a Pathfinder game group with some guys that I work with and I’m having a great time. I still hang with my other friends, they’re not going anywhere as far as I am concerned, but I am having fun and making new friends.

5. I’m in a really fun place, Musically.

– This is a more recent development, as I’ve been in a bit of a dry spell as far as my music goes. Through my best friend Christopher, however I have connected with a great group of musicians, Christopher included, and are calling ourselves the Gentlemen of Leisure. We’re not a musical group as such: think of the Fueled By Ramen or Soulquarian groups. We’re a musical collective of like-minded individuals spanning across varying genres of music that have come together with a purpose: To create the kind of (good) music we want to listen to and to provide help for each other in our separate musical projects.

These are a bunch of Sexy BEASTS!! Especially the one with the hat and cane! I hear he's one hot and awesome nerd-type-person!

These are a bunch of Sexy BEASTS!! Especially the one with the hat and cane! I hear he’s one hot and awesome nerd-type-person! Actually, word on the street is that they ALL are!

We Just recently had a meet up here in Tacoma about two weekends ago, and, in three days, we’ve recorded tracks (unfinished, but great starts) for 5 songs that we’ve written. Two of them written by myself. On top of that, I’m writing a song for a track produced by one of the group members that will (once finished) be the new theme for this blog. (as they share the same title, I figured “why the hell not”).  It will be a nerdcore hip hop song. (tee-hee-hee)

Disclaimer: I am not a rapper. I just rhyme a lot. (see what I did there, huh? Huh? Riiiiiiiight?)

The point of all of this is:

– Yes, I am getting older (I-AM-NOT-OLD, I-AM-NOT-OLD, IAMNOTOLD!!!)

– No I am not where I thought I would be when I was 20. (Globetrotting, living in the lap of luxury, screaming adoring fans and groupies, huge frak-off house, cameras flashing wherever I go, yadda yadda) Here’s the thing though: I’m okay with that. Hell, I’m happier that my life worked out the way it did and not the way impetuous, starry-eyed, 20-year-old me dreamed that it would. I’d be a very different (and way less awesome) person for it. Current, about-to-be-32 (gulp) me would likely want to punch what could have been 32-year-old-rock-star-me dead in my theoretical face…with a chair…

Can you imagine being smacked by this thing...seriously, OW!

Can you imagine being smacked by this thing…seriously, OW!

 

Or, he could have turned out just as awesome as I have. We’ll never know. What I do know is that I don’t want any other life beyond the one I currently live…well, okay, one or two things can change. I live comfortable in the knowledge that my life, no matter how strange, no matter how geeky, no matter how everyday it might seem; is a pretty good one, and I’m happy to have survived another year, clinging to this ball of rock and atmosphere spinning around a bright yellow star.

 

Happy Birthday, Kid.

 

Now, if you’ll excuse me: I’m going to prepare for my game night, and sing the Doom Song!!

Come on! Don't sit there and act as if you didn't know this was coming! It totally was...just sing along already!!

Come on! Don’t sit there and act as if you didn’t know this was coming! It totally was…just sing along already!!

 

Oh yeah, I can imagine that you notice a change in the background and Icon and whatnot. It’s in celebration of the continuation of this season of Doctor Who on tomorrow! Are you guys ready? I’ve been ready since Christmas!!

Geronimo!

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Firstly, I must apologize to you: my reader(s) – for my lack of presence as of late.

Between the illness befallen upon the House of Duncan, the whole Rapture hullabaloo (that sure was awkward for a lot of folks, wasn’t it?), and the fact that I’d been feeling like I’ve had FRAK ALL to really write about (which is my own fault, really), I have not been the friend to you all that I meant to be.

So, here I go again, hoping to make amends and sally on forward with more geeky, personal, artistic bits of awesome for you all to sink your teeth into.

and here’s a promise to you: I promise to try really really hard to never let so much time go by without word from me again.

Now that we’re done with all of that, lets get on with some actual discussion, shall we?

I’ve talked before about my growing up nerdy. My desire for more knowledge and my love of it compounded with my inherent social differences (my sensitive soul, my very artistic nature, and my love of that which was, at the time, not very popular at all with most of the people I grew up around) made me a bit of a weirdo to my peers and to, at times, my family. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with who I was – I still don’t , and that’s kind of the point of who and what I am today.

I'm the funny looking kid on the left. A Weirdo even then! 🙂

I won’t lie and say that I never wanted to “just be like everyone else”. I wanted to be the kid that was good at sports people gave a damn about like football and basketball. I wanted to be the guy that the girls fawned over, the one that always knew what to say at the right moment.

Then I discovered that not only was I incredibly smart, but I was also talented – visually, theatrically, and musically. Surely, this would get me liked, right? I thought I’d become that kid that said all of the cool lines and was so good at it, or the kid that sang that one song that made all of the girls melt, or the guy that drew so well that all of the girls would want me to draw them.

What the hell was I thinking?

I should have paid better attention to “The Wonder Years” and “Family Matters” during that time. Yeah, it got me noticed more, but it also got me shunned, made fun of, and laughed at by the people I seriously wanted to be accepted by. There was a girl that I liked so much back then, a girl that I thought I would impress enough that she’d like me.

Sadly, she was one of the people I mentioned earlier. She laughed at me the hardest – at least, back then, it felt like she did.

Why am I telling you all of this?

Why do I feel the sudden need to recount my past to you?

Well, recently I discovered some old photos of myself and some of those people, including the girl I mentioned (who shall remain nameless). A lot of that old anger, resentment, and rage that I thought I had dealt with came bubbling back to the surface. It wasn’t something I expected, especially since the pics were all of some seriously happy memories of mine from that time. Possibly the happiest I can remember from those days.

It got me thinking about something. When I discovered my particular talents, I threw myself into them. I wanted to get better, to be fantastic. I wanted to someday be discovered and get a multi-million dollar recording contract with some big label and become a rock star. Then those kids would see. Then she would see – see what she missed out on, what she could have been a part of. (for the record, I was all of 13 having these thoughts)

I started this journey for all of the wrong reasons, but I couldn’t know that then. I was just a 13 year old who had been picked on and made fun of and laughed at enough that, when I found out about my talents and found people to help nurture them, I began to have elaborate fantasies.

Bear with me, you may have had similar fantasies.

I dreamed of returning for a reunion (this later transitioned to high school), busting down the double doors with a beautiful actress or supermodel on my arm. An entourage of friends and fellow musicians are close by and, behind us all, a crew of reporters and photographers clamoring to get an interview or a photo or a statement of some kind. My old classmates would be there, with their normal jobs and normal lives, and I’d be there in my custom designer outfit, multiple Grammy Awards, and incredibly hot wife.

I imagined them mad with envy, regretful of the way they had treated me, wanting to be my friend and wishing that they’d been nicer to me when we were kids.

In my dream I was wonderful: I was gracious, compassionate, I was the epitome of Cool. I even played a set for the reunion dance with my band and the girls swooned and the guys that weren’t jealous of me wanted to be me. ME!

Then I’d wave graciously and whisk myself out of the auditorium/gym/whatever where more fans and press would be waiting for me, and I’d zoom off to perform in some exotic locale and leave everyone speechless and awestruck.

This was a dream born of loneliness, exclusion, and hurt. It fueled my desire to become a performing artist for the longest time. It was nothing more than a desire to be accepted, loved, and wanted on a scale that I thought would quench the need/desire to belong. It was, in my opinion, the wrong way to begin this.

Years later, at 30 years old, I am still a performer, though I still have a ways to go to reach the goals I have for myself. The difference is that I don’t share the same goals as 13 year old me. I’m not seeking out fame, fortune, or vindication, not actively, and while commercial success would certainly be nice, I’m not looking for that either. I’d like nothing more than to be heard and liked, to possibly become someone’s favorite musician somewhere. Release a few albums, write some urban fantasy/science fiction novels, maybe even compose a few longer pieces – maybe a film score or two, perhaps. Who knows?

But looking at those old pictures, recounting those times and the emotions and choices made as a result gives me pause. I am the man I’ve become because of them, my journey began in those moments and continue now. I have to admit that understanding my reasoning and my feelings from that time have helped me understand myself a bit more, though there is a part of me that wishes that I didn’t have those memories to begin with, that my journey didn’t begin in bitterness and lonely tears shed in secret, vowing that I would someday show those kids what I was worth. I wish that my primary drive in life had been simply to make fantastic music for music’s sake then and to not be so damned concerned with proving myself to other people. I gave them too much credence in my young life and allowed myself to worry about being cool in their eyes.

Well, I understand now. I’m reclaiming myself, rediscovering my drive, reigniting my bliss, and reenforcing my passion for my music and for my writing, and I do so with the intent of making art that I care about, that pleases me, that is my vision of perfection and no one else’s.

And I understand that I have done better than I could have imagined, and that my most important dreams have already come true. Knowing that, I understand that every other goal I have is within reach and no longer tainted by the grievances of my past. I just have to buckle down and bloody damned DO IT!

okay, that’s enough of me and my Rambling and carrying on for one post. The 13 year old me of 1994 thanks you for putting up with this strange trip down memory lane and for helping current me let go of a lot of that residual crap! Stars and stones, I feel so much better! Like the burden of that period of my life had weighed upon me for all of that time

And to those kids that gave me hell all those years ago who are now adults, I hope that all of you are well. I hope that you too (as a cousin of mine put it) have drank from the cup of “Got better with age”. I hope that you are happy. Most of all, I hope that you have or will soon find your bliss.

I love you all and I’ll be back in a couple of days with something new!

~Your Geek

TheStorm (yes, it’s a link to the song)

I don’t know what to make of this feeling

feeling like your slipping away

and I can see something is on your mind

and you won’t tell me

tell me – if I’ve not been good to you

or is it that I’ve not done enough

and is it gonna make you walk out of my door

and out of my life

and I’m Sorry if I’ve ever made you cry

I’m sorry if you’ve ever been ashamed of the tears that burn my eyes

I’m sorry if I never Held you enough

or kiss you enough, or if I do it too much

but I want you to know that I’m here for you – through the storm

through the storm

I wanna be right there beside you

I wanna kiss every tear away

cuz you know it kills me to see you cry

and I’ll tell you there’s been times when I’ve been jealous

and I get so afraid that you’d leave

please tell me that I should not be – and it’s the fear in me

and I’m sorry if I love you way too much

and I’m sorry if my love was never good enough

and I’m sorry if I never touch you enough

or say I love you enough

or if I say it too much

but I do – and I’ll love you through the storm

through the storm

and I’m sorry if I’m not what you need in a man

and I’m sorry, but I love you the best that I can

so sorry if I wasn’t there enough

or I didn’t care enough

or if I care too much

but I care for you, I wanna be there for you, through the storm

FIN.

So these are the complete and final lyrics to one of my favorite songs that I’ve written, TheStorm. I know you’re likely wondering, “What? Why is he sharing this? What’s this all about?”

Well, I thought it would be a good idea if I shared a bit of my process for writing and arranging my music. With that in mind, I figured I’d start off with one of my favorites.

I had been playing around with the arrangement for this song in my head and on my guitar for about 4 months before I actually wrote anything down. This is generally how it starts: at any given moment there is music in my head, sometimes it’s the music of others, but mostly it’s my own. It’s like having an internal soundtrack/score in my head all the time! When I started hearing that one, I knew that it would be perfect as a song.

Trouble was, I didn’t know what I was going to write it about. All I knew was that it was music I wanted to do something with, what that was, however, was a mystery. I was engaged to someone (out of respect, she’ll remain nameless – though, those who know me already know who I’m talking about) back then, back in New Orleans, and things were kind of rocky with us – okay very rocky with us.

Something else to know about me and my music is that I tend to pour whatever emotions I happen to be experiencing at the time into whatever I’m writing, it makes the song more personal, mean more to me. I didn’t start out that way, it just kinda happened.

In any case, there was stuff going on in my love life and I was stuck with no ideas as to what to do with this song. I wound up talking to a friend of mine, a very talented artist that I looked up to by the name of Ayo Scott. Ayo is also a damned gifted writer in his own right, and I figured that he might have some insight for me. I played him the piece, what I had arranged, thus far, and asked him what he thought. I’ll never forget what he said to me, though when I talked to him about it last – he had (lol). He told me that the music sounded like I was in pain and I that I , maybe, didn’t realize it. He told me to not be satisfied with any line that I wrote unless that line made me feel the pain that I was playing on my guitar.

If I am to be completely honest with myself, I knew that things between she and I were coming to an end. If I remember it correctly, it was that night that she broke up with me – for reasons that have, honestly, yet to be disclosed and, quite frankly, are irrelevant now. I remember, clearly as if it happened yesterday, going home that night, I think I had some Rum or something of that nature, and staying up writing the original version of the song – which had three verses to start off with. I poured what pain and insecurities I felt at that moment into the song – which happens more often than not – and played it over and over again, trying to console myself, trying to sing and play what I was feeling out of me.

There were a couple of people living with me at the tim; one was a girl I had met through my ex who was a bit of a flake, the other was a bit of an eclectic but hardened thug, and, as it turns out, a drug dealer (I wouldn’t discover the latter until sometime later – I live a charmed life. lol). The awesome thing about him is that he had an appreciation for music of all kinds, so I decided to test the song out on him the next night.

I remember playing the song for him, and then looking up at him for a response or critique when I was done.

I had never seen a thug cry before, I don’t know that I ever will again, but he sat there, at the edge of my sofa, crying like someone who had lost someone who meant more to him than himself -which, at the time, was exactly what I was feeling – it was enough to nearly make me start crying…and not for the first time that night. He would not be the only one that song had touched.

I played that song at several open mics, and even the few gigs I had around the city before I evacuated. I got similar responses from several people in the audience. Please understand, I’m not bragging about this at all, not embellishing, not trying to make myself sound like some musical savant or anything of that nature. I’m just illustrating the impact this song had on people, especially people who had been or were going through the same drama that I was, at the time.

I made people cry.

I didn’t actually record the song until last fall sometime, I finally had equipment and a reliable laptop and a recording program that is, seriously, a godsend. I also decided that the third verse had to go – I thought it was a viable conclusion to the song when I wrote it. Looking at it years later, I’m pretty certain that I was pretty tipsy and not in my own head when I wrote that last verse, because it made no sense within the continuity of the song itself, so I replaced it with a brief guitar solo and just went right into the third Chorus and ending bits. Granted I didn’t (and still don’t) have all of the instruments I wanted in the original arrangement, and I still may add some piano and cello to it at some point, but it came out sounding so much better than I had ever hoped it would – in the very first take. I added my vocals (lead and backing) and listened to it again, and I was in tears again, for the first time in 6 years, over that song.

Now, to explain a little bit more about the lyric writing process as I remember it for this song:

After the advice I was given and the events that would take place later on that night, I knew what I wanted to say, what I thought needed to be said. Initially, the purpose of the song was to get her back. (didn’t work, and I’m honestly better for it) The Chorus, for me, is always a kind of declaration of the purpose of the song, the core of the story I’m telling or point I’m trying to make, so the Chorus (or multiple variants of it) always comes first with me, because it’s always the point I’m trying to reach. That said, the verses are my path to the point. They are the illustrations of the point I hope I’m making – a little like writing a research paper or a thesis, only it’s sung and has music going in the background and not a couple of old teachers who grunt at you if you get something wrong. If the song has a solo, and TheStorm does, then it serves the purpose of saying what I don’t have the words to express, sometimes it’s a bit of a meditation, but mostly it’s there to emphasize the feeling behind the song itself.

Unlike many of the songs I’ve written, I’ve revised this one several times in mostly small ways, the last time killed the third verse.

Side-note: The Irony in writing this song was that my ex never knew that it existed, not until I recorded it and sent her the link to where I posted it on my music page. If she’s actually listened to it or not and figured out what it was for, I’ll likely never know and shouldn’t really care. However, if I’m honest with myself, there’s a bit of me that hopes she did listen to it, finally, if only to know her reaction.

Oh, and this is one of my wife’s favorite songs of mine!

Okay, so after listening to a bunch of Celebrity Playlist Podcasts via iTunes, I decided to give this a try for myself. I plan on compiling a series of themed playlists and posting them for all who are so inclined to read them. I’ll also include links to where one can listen to or watch videos for the music I list here. This may either prove to be a bi-weekly or monthly topic to post about. (as I have an extremely large collection of music that gets me inspired to write and make music of my own -something like 50GB worth. 😀 ) I hope you all enjoy and comment.

This particular Playlist is an old one and is composed of Music that gets me inspired as a singer/songwriter/guitarist.

1. “The Times, They are a Changin'” (as performed by Brandi Carlile) – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kfUq7wAZgA
– I love Dylan’s songwriting for this piece in general. his choice of wording present an awesome metaphor for the fact that everything is subject to change – that no one and nothing is immune. I Chose this version of the song because I love this artist and her performance of this song is so powerful that I could listen to it over and over and over again and be moved every time I hear it. One day I will see her Live!

2. “Cannonball” (Brandi Carlile with the Indigo Girls) – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEgyTANyyx0&feature=related
– Since we were just discussing how awesome an artist I think she is, I have to bring up this song. Beautifully written piece about loneliness and heartaches of many types. The harmonies at the beginning of the second and third verses as well as the choruses are beautiful. I chose this version of the song because I also happen to like the Indigo Girls and love their involvement in the song. Speaking of the Indigo Girls…

3. “Galileo” (Indigo Girls) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dI1keSSwdcI
– “How long till my soul gets it right?” That line sticks out in my head as one of the greatest lines ever put in a song. It’s both a really fun song and also just really damned honest. This version holds significance to me because the first time I had heard this song I was evacuating New Orleans for what would be the last time 2 days before Katrina hit. I was coming out of a shitty period of my life and, for all intents and purposes, asking myself the very same question. It’s a song I definitely plan on covering someday. (and yes you may go ahead and make fun because I dig Indigo Girls all you want. I like em, damnit! lol)

4.”Ain’t no Sunshine When She’s Gone” (Bill Withers) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIdIqbv7SPo
– Easy song to get inspired by. I’ve been a fan of this song since I was a little boy lip-syncing the words to the music. Songs like this one are just timeless and soul stirring. As an adult you understand the gravity of the lyrics, as simple and as honest as they are. The video is sadly without the string section, but is no less gripping. Easy favorite!

5.”Old Love”. (Eric Clapton) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=loEW6Tod8Xc
– “I can see your face, but I know it ain’t real” again the honesty of that place after a breakup where you miss the other person so much your mind wills sensory memories through you. This was also one of the first songs I taught myself to play on the guitar and the one I’m always trying to perfect more than any other cover. The version I picked isn’t actually a video per-se, it’s a recording of this song unplugged and it’s the only version he’s done of this song that I want to hear – I’m afraid that listening to any other version of the song may ruin it for me. LOL!

6.”Somebody To Love” (Queen/George Michael) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8c7x2JD_j-0
– Another song where F. Mercury was just being REALLY honest here about what he was feeling. and really, some of the best songs out there have no need for metaphors or comparisons – some just tell the honest to whomever truth. I picked this version because if Queen ever wanted to get back together, I’m sure all they had to do was call George Michael and he’d be the new frontman, Cuz he can channel the HELL out of Freddy!!

7. “Believe” (Lenny Kravitz )http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0Gg43Zw460
– I didn’t actually pick this song for it’s lyrical content as much as for it’s arrangement and guitar solo. It just feels so Heartfelt and rich. It has an orchestral quality that I love in any genre of music. It made it so that whenever I write a song I write a band and also an orchestral +band arrangement. The ending Guitar solo is so triumphant in this song too, together it makes this song almost rock-celestial for me.

8.”Going Out of My Head” (Luther Vandross) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UXasrXAfP6Q
– This song, for me, is the song that made me love Luther as an singer. Classic Ballad, absolutely heartfelt and powerful and vulnerable! “I have got to find a way into your heart, there’s no reason why my being shy should keep us apart” that line and pretty much every other line in the song spoke for me as a person when it came to women that I crushed on until I met my wife. I’ve wanted to cover this song (so much so that I have the music video already cast and written) or write a song like it from the moment I heard this song. I don’t know what else to say about it – it speaks to me about me!

9. “Lover, You Should’ve Come Over” (Jeff Buckley) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hXe1jpHPnUs
– To do this list and not include this song would have been a crime against my soul! I remembered the first time I heard this song, listening to the “Grace” Album. I was going through my shitty period (see above reference) and the line “Broken Down and Hungry for your love with no way to feed it. Where are you tonight child? You know how much I need it” played, and I about lost it. Full on in tears for the rest of the song, relating to every line, hurting with every note and every strum of this man’s guitar. I Immediately bought the album (which, I think Everyone Should as it is WONDERFUL from start to finish) and learned the hell out of this song. It is my favorite cover to play and I will play it any chance I get to play live for people. The writing, the arrangement, and the pure surge of emotion in the performance make this song a FORCE!! Who knows what this man might have done had he lived!?

10. “Empty” (Ray Lamontagne) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mT69zOTNa8Q
– I found out about Ray through my wife, when we first started Dating and she made me listen to the album “Trouble” (one of the songs from that album is on this list). She had seen him live the year before and was hooked. I heard the album and was similarly ensnared. This song is from his second album, which my favorite of the three he’s released. I heard this song and it was immediately a favorite. I can’t really explain what it is about the song that I Love SO much, I just do and it inspires me. Listen to the final verse – it is my favorite – maybe that’s why I love it so much…because I’ve been there too! (man I get around, all the places I’ve been)

11. “Hold You In My Arms” (Ray Lamontagne) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5Gknwy4g50&feature=related
– This was the Song on his first album that made me fall in love with Ray as well as my wife. A folk love song about being able to hold the one he loves in his arms and how he could do it forever!! All of this horrible stuff can and does happen, but that doesn’t matter because I can hold you in my arms! 😀 More people should slow dance to this song!

12.” A Song For You” (Donnie Hathaway) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9_nxjgeabM
– I Heard this song for the first time while in highschool and didn’t fully grasp what it meant, but it moved me. Now that I’ve walked the world a while, I can relate a bit more to the song and see the pain and beauty in the lyrics. And I know he didn’t write this originally, but he sang this better than anyone I’ve ever heard before or since. The only person that I think comes close is the live Cover by Simply Red. “I love you in a place, where there’s no space or time…” Anyone who has loved at all and has heard that line alone, can relate on a very beautiful, very profound level.

13. “Stop This Train” (John Mayer) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-e1FHJkVoFE
– it took me a long time to Warm up to John Mayer, and then “Gravity” came out and I was an instant fan. I had been Listening to this album walking to work one day and this track started to play – this honest and heartfelt tune about growing up and what it means and the fears that go along with it- and it brought all of those ideas and feelings in myself into SHARP Focus. “I’m so scared of getting older, I’m only good at being young. So I play the numbers game to find a way to say that life has just begun.” In fact, that entire verse holds so much meaning for me just because of the fact that it has been and is one of the things that, when I talk to my dad, we discuss. The song is about coming to terms with where you are in life and where it may or may not go. I chose the live version of the song because, watching it, I notice that a lot of his facial expressions are the same ones I make when I perform as well and it makes me giggle a little.

14. “Welcome Home” (Coheed and Cambria) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGpbd6BUO0I
– aside from the awesomeness of the guitar, or the emotional output of anger, hatred, love, and confusion in the lyrics; this song just plain fucking rocks. It belongs in a Rock Opera or something. I’ve always wanted to write something as hard hitting and as Bombastic as this song is. I play this when I want to get amped for no reason or I play this song in Rock Band, cuz it’s just awesome to rock out to. This guy is still madly in love with the girl he’s singing about, but he kinda wants her to die for what she’s done to him. WOW!! And the ending bit of the song with the strings coming in and the band fading out – EPIC!

15. “Miss You” (The Rolling Stones) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygpJirw5Yvk&feature=related
– This song is bluesy and smooth and fun as hell to listen to and sing along with. Also, if you listen closely, you can hear Keith Richards’s awesome Guitar doing all kinds of funky things in the background. The Sax solo is also the stuff of awesomeness. I would love to do this on stage and just go crazy with it. It’s one of my favorite R.S. classics!!

16. “Love’s in Need of Love Today” (Stevie Wonder) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-z2LNsifEzg
– I’m a big fan of songs that double as social commentary. This song for me is the ultimate representation of that. The backing vocals and the breakdown are so well arranged and performed that listening to it will give me chills every time. “We’ve got to stop this thing before it goes too far” and “Bring it down a little, love is very peaceful, so bring it down a little” are my favorite lines here.

17. “Whatever” (Jean Grae) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1E4pVs8dyM
– I LOVE this rapper. And LOVE this song. She is one of my favorite lyricists: poignant and hilarious and just an awesome MC. This song is off the album “This Week” and is my favorite track as you don’t hear a lot of romantic Hip Hop anymore – or at all, for that matter. She loves this guy but has all manner of doubt about the situation as they were friends first – it tells a beautiful story, and the backing track is SICK! As long as she’s making music, I’m buying it!!

18. “Cry Me a River” (Diana Krall) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4hPii_RVHE&feature=fvst
– I’m ashamed that it took me as long as it did to get into Diana Krall. Her Voice reminds me of something I would hear in one of the old school smoke-filled jazz clubs from the movies. Smooth, smoldering, and simply enchanting. I love her version of this song, it pretty much sums up the attitude of the lyrics – yeah you pretty much made me feel worthless, you drove me mad because I spent all this time trying to be worthy of you and you left. Now you want back in??? – this song is one big Kiss Off and I love it!! I feel like I would just sing this song if I were ever put in that situation.

19. “Broken Vow” (Lara Fabian/Josh Groban) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vo6tYXqgPpk and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1_DKFDzrZE&feature=related
– I heard this song first as sung by Josh Groban. But I found the artist that originally wrote it and was entranced by her voice as well, so I now own both versions. If you haven’t guessed, I have a weakness for really sad music and this certainly fits the bill for me. You see the person you loved with someone else and you have an armada of questions that need and answer but you’ll never ask because you’re afraid of the answer you may get. The lyrics and the dramatic nature of both performance are equally gut wrenching and heartrending.

20. “Ice Cream” (Sarah McLachlan) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7I5sixwOQlg
– Okay, this is another woman who’s music I am a stone sucker for. And this song is equal parts, sappy, fun, and quirky. Watching her do this live or listening to it on her “Fumbling Toward Ecstasy” album, and I can’t help but sway back and forth and sing along – it’s THAT kind of song.

21. “Bad Habits” (Maxwell) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8aIfLEM4uc
– this song was stone SEXY from the moment I heard it. I’m a big Maxwell fan and had been waiting for this album for a while, and this song makes you want to do quite a few things. The Drums and the Bass line just groove with a level of smoothness and the horns just augment that feeling in all the right ways. The actual music video captures the essence of the song more than I can just talking about it. So please check the video out – (The link above is not for the music video as there is no uncut version of the music video)

22. “Slow Like Honey” (Fiona Apple) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQGy9xIrn7w
– Another artist I could listen to all damned day. Her voice on this album was so smokey and sensual and haunting. This song, from the first line, screams out SEX but in a very smooth and not as obvious way (if that makes any sense). A song this sexy is required in every household, SERIOUSLY!! I have to not listen to this song just because of the mood it puts me in!! 😉 Fiona’s songwriting throughout the album is spectacular and I recommend it for anyone who is into awesome piano and sexy vocals.

23. “My One and Only Love” (Chris Botti and Paula Cole) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lm-sGjTTqF8
– the first time I heard the song it was a recording of John Coltrane and Johnny Heartman. MAGICAL!!
I couldn’t find the recorded version of the Paula Cole cover, but Stars and Stones it is awesome!!! Her Voice sends all manner of goodness through me. As far as love songs go, this one is pure classic goodness. Old School metaphors and swinging grooves. I just love this song – that’s all there is!

24. “I Gotta Know” (Nikka Costa) http://popup.lala.com/popup/576742244718612679
– I don’t remember what i was doing the first time I heard this song. I was already a Fan of Ms. Costa, but then I heard this and it struck such an incredible chord with me. It means that much more to me currently as I see it as my Wife’s Theme song (if I were the one allowed to pick her theme song. lol). It’s all about being this guarded person who finds someone to love, but because of her past love affairs she’s unsure of how invested she should be in this, but also understanding that her love for this person has crossed over to the point of not wanting ANYONE else. So she’s looking out for herself while surrendering to her feelings. It’s a personal favorite of mine and I think it is a beautiful, albeit unconventional, way of telling someone that you love them.

25. “Against All Odds” (Phil Collins) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PW71En5Pa5s&feature=video_response
– This song, for me, was and is the ultimate torch song. It makes me want to be a better songwriter. I admire him so much for this song – it was written during his first(or second – I don’t remember) divorce and is so raw and so open and honest and vulnerable that it makes me feel what he must have felt when he sat at his piano and wrote this song and wrote the line “You’re the only one who really knew me at all”. I don’t care how many people cover this song – no one will ever do it with the same heart as Phil, say what you want about him. He’s one of the handful of artists that make me want to be as open and honest with my songwriting.

26. “The Little Things Give You Away” (Linkin Park) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3FMn2oYWBIw
– this last song holds a great deal of sentimental value to me, coming from New Orleans and being affected the way I was by Hurricane Katrina. While I had evacuated before the Levees broke, I had nightmares for months about being there, going through everything that those that stayed did. This song encompasses that emotion for me and is an emotional statement to the last administration about the treatment of those who remained and were affected the most by this event. I cried the first time I heard this, not because it’s a beautiful song (and it is), but because of what it means and why it was written. The images from my nightmares and from the video footage flash through my mind’s eye every time I hear it.

Alright, that’s my list. I hope you enjoyed it and it hopefully turned you on to some stuff you haven’t been listening to.

I’ll catch you with my next list soon!!

Love you guys!
~Sphinx

Musical Me

I figured that maybe I should post something here about my music, since I have an entire category dedicated to it!

Hi! I’m Sphinx.

And I’m a Musician…

No, that doesn’t mean that I’m a rapper or even an R&B singer (you’d be surprised at how often I get asked if I am one or the other while carrying one of my two guitars). Looking at me and my guitar and my hair, you might even come to the conclusion that I am a Reggae singer (is that the proper term, even?) – you’d be wrong.

I’d like to say that I’m a mix of Soul, Blues, and Folk, but that’s entirely too long to say to people when they ask me what kind of music I write/perform.

So I tell them that I call it “Soulturnative”!
It works out.

I know that there are things that sound a lot like what I do and that there are things that may sound nothing at all like it, so it’s a bit hard to explain. The best I can do is to point you here: which is an actual song of mine called “TheStorm” (yes, all one word.) I know that just one song isn’t enough to give you an accurate Idea of what I do when I do what I do (LOL!! I can’t believe I just did that!), but this is the song I am most proud of right now as the others are still being worked on or are in draft/edit mode.

I’ve been writing and performing for a while now – I wrote my first song in the 7th grade about a girl I was crazy about at the time (three guesses as to how well that went over – to put things in perspective: I wore glasses too big for my face, and a pocket protector at the time – no I’m not kidding about that last bit. I’ll even give you a hint. It rhymes with “Catastrophic”!), I didn’t write again until the middle of my 8th grade year (at a new school, mind you) when my english teacher had offered it as an assignment.

Well, lets just say that she opened the floodgates.
I went through a notebook every year – literally writing a song at least every two days. Those of you who knew me then should remember this well. I was also listening to a lot of Prince, Queen, And Hendrix at the time so my music was influenced heavily by them.

Listening to this music all the time caused me to fall in love with the guitar. I knew that it would be the instrument that I wanted to play. I would not own my first guitar until 2000, when I went on a trip to Rome with the Music Dept of my University (did I mention that I’m a classically trained singer? I didn’t? Well, it’s true!!) and found what was a Roman version of the Virgin Megastore (but with musical instruments too) and found the Guitar I would buy and name “Josephine”

I began teaching myself to play immediately and, eventually, I started writing songs on it. The more I learned and the more guitar music I listened to, the more I began to find and really learn my sound and my playing style. I started playing in cafes and bars and open mics throughout the New Orleans area and working with a seriously talented Rapper by the name of Chris Blount (formerly “The Cutta”) on conceptualizing my first album.

After Hurricane Katrina hit, I relocated to Tacoma, WA (which is where I live now) and I’ve been making my way to as many open mics as I can. (which is whenever one coincides with an off day or when I’m not having a Crisis of Confidence and am being to Chicken-Shit to do so)

I’m currently working on my very first (and long awaited) Album entitled “Singularity: Souliloquy – book One”. I have no idea when I’ll finish and I’m not going to guess or set a date since every time I do so, It passes by without so much as a damned postcard.

Suffice it to say, It’ll be finished when it’s ready to be heard, and hopefully that means sooner than later. 😀

To that effect I will be posting in this section and also on my facebook music page (maybe) with updates and interesting stories that will chronicle this musical journey a bit – hope you read and enjoy….and also Comment!! We like when you comment!! 😀

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