I finished a song a day or so ago. I slightly messed up the final transfer of the mix so I had to redo it. Its fairly conventional sounding tune for a change. Straightforward one might say in many ways. As I type this we have gone from a heatwave to conditions more like the beginning of November in the space of a week or so. So I am sulking as I cant go out to play mostly due to the dread C19 virus messing things up bigtime. I dont expect much sympathy as you lot can’t really keep calm and carry on either can you?
So here is the song first in case you dont want to read all the whinging first.
I am glad we got that bit over first. So back to the whinging then. Some people are relentlessly upbeat all the time.How do they do it and what are they on? The walls continue to close in on me I am afraid. I have been trying to open the doors but the wind is blowing them firmly shut again. The damp is making my bones complain again.
I cannot say I have ever felt as isolated and out of touch at anytime in my life so far as I have during the weeks since March 23rd this year when lockdown restrictions were formally introduced in the United Kingdom. Everything is strange and surreal. Even the most mundane activities as we go to the shop masked like cowboys with bandanas as we buy a hand of bananas. The novelty has worn off now though.
Will we ever get back to normal? I am not convinced its going to happen anytime soon. One year, two years, longer perhaps. It’s hard to imagine really. So far we have had restrictions for 159 days. And we are still here.
if only I still had something to say.
“Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
“He that can have patience can have what he will.”
― Benjamin Franklin
“Why is patience so important?”
“Because it makes us pay attention.”
― Paulo Coelho
It’s been a fairly busy few days, 4 gigs in a row and a bit of website stuff to sort out for the Delta Ladies. Plus I am working on a new tune or two and have now managed the basic track for a new song. The lyric is incomplete at present, but I have the main part and the chorus. It’s a funny thing but although I am quite competent technically I occasionally get a bit of a block and for get whats possible. I try to keep the focus on the musical aspect and not the production part, but you can get blown off course. The almost limitless options in terms of production on even the most humble demo home studio really does mean its just a matter of your own creativity. You can’t really blame the gear anymore. I remember saving up my penny’s when the first Teac Portastudio 144 appeared and having great fun with it over the years. It was very simple but gave good results. In those days you had to actually worry about head room and signal to noise big time. Now all that’s pretty much an irrelevance, just make sure you record to -4db as peak and you are sorted. I think you had to have more of a sense of adventure then to actually make something special.
The next big deal for me was when I got my Korg W1fd. I had had various keyboards before but this was my first workstation that I could build up complicated arrangements on. It also had a real time sequencer, so that was a great leap for forward for me. Before that I had a couple of Korg analogue synths (one was the Monopoly), but I never really got the full potential out of them. I then got a Yamaha Piano and started learning Piano as opposed to keyboard playing. One thing I regret selling though was a not particularly good fretless bass, I could play it a bit and even used it on a few recordings, but lack of space and funds caused me to get rid of it in the end. It’s fun playing a bass. Maybe I will get another one some time 😉
Another regret is that I never did master sight reading music, but I had been playing by ear for a long time. I started working on it about ten years ago, but I am still pretty crap at it. I can do lead sheets fairly well though.
I am dyslexic, and I wonder if the 2 things are related. Still that’s life I guess and I wonder if I would have been inspired to do the other stuff if I had been playing by the rules. Its interesting that many iconic songs have been created by people who have inherent musicality but have not had any formal training. Of course the reverse is also true at times.
I sing, but I am never happy with my voice. Not much I can do about that really. But I shall still keep singing. My musical tastes are very eclectic, so the stuff I create and write is very wide ranging. That keeps it fun though not everything works of course. I first picked up an instrument about 1968 I guess and my first instrument was a Harmonica. I never really got much out of it, then I attempted guitar which was a bit more successful. Then came the violin which was difficult. So difficult that I gave up after 6 months or so. But about a year later I thought I would have another try. I got a slightly better instrument, which I still have in my collection and spent about 18 months fighting with it, but this time with more success.
Day jobs of many different flavours and finally a 13 year dabble in IT databases websites and programming whilst being a Civil Servant at which point various problems caught up with me, and I ended up leaving a stable job and leaping in to the void. I seem to be still here but I can just about keep my head together on good days. At other times I don’t do that well but I do better than others in my situation.
I very rarely played live until I joined Elephant Shelf (now defunct)12 years back at the tender age of 48, But I have done about 1500 gigs, so I have a bit of live experience under my belt now.
So that’s me, the depressive dyslexic and often cripplingly shy person who strangely finds one’s self performing in front of the public. Occasionally I even tell jokes on stage, but once the lights go off I am soon back in my shell.
The way the world is now, is there is a lot to concern me, but I can’t write protest songs with lyrics that anyone can understand. I am not going to save the world with a song, but I might know some folks that can.
It’s the perfect moment when you finally realise that absolutely nothing seems that important anymore. First you have ambitions and perhaps some of these you will achieve, but often its really the struggle to get there that’s the fun part of brings satisfaction, but then once you get there, your looking to the next mountain to climb.
So what happens if one day you suddenly think, what’s the point in striving because there is ultimately nothing except finding another challenge at the end?
Well, I suppose that after you lived long enough it/s going to happen. Having written and recorded about 400 different songs and musical works, the rot seems to be setting in somewhat. I still enjoy creating stuff and playing it too but gone are the days when I had sufficient of an obsession to come home from work and spend hours recording stuff. Granted it’s a much quicker process now as in days of old tape required much more planning re overdubs, and managing tape hiss and just good old fashioned getting it right, which becomes a lot easier with practice of course. Listening to old demos from 25 years ago can also be a bit of a shock. A sense of the familiar laced with dread.
I still have not managed to get my own rather quirky stuff into a live environment that often but a few tunes have made it into regular live incarnations though they are very rather different from the first quintessence on tape or CD. I am still very ambivalent about my voice although I have been singing live for the past 7 years or so regularly.
Rather than writing this at the moment I should be getting on with my next project which I have sketched out a brief musical outline for, but I seem to be finding jolly good reasons not to get started. I have always got bored quickly, often so that my concentration goes just about at the point where I should be putting the final polish on something. I remember my school reports saying something a long the lines of could do better or tends to daydream or is easily distracted and yes that seems to still be the case. I don’t think fundamentally our persona changes that much really. Sometimes when things come too easily to us to start with we give up when challenged I suppose.
I did have copies of my school reports lurking somewhere but I can’t find them now frustratingly as I think that they might be fun to revisit.
I am writing this the morning after doing a spot at the Arundel Festival, which was great fun to do and did not require too much effort. Arundel is somewhere that I remember from trips out as a child and its funny to be going back there now. We regularly gig in that area so its very familiar now. I enjoyed the drive down through the countryside equally as much as playing the gig too. Just the right amount of sunshine and not too much traffic either.
Try being over 50 and having mental health issues. Then try and get a job with a mental health charity as you have exactly the skill set required then wait for them to not even bother to contact you although they say they run a guaranteed interview scheme...
Legislation does no good even those supposedly in the business of helping people with mental health issues discriminate against the very people they are supposed to be helping.
I suspect a lot of these Charity’s are run by 30 somethings who have never had any issues in their life. I think I may have to expose some of these people.
Any one from Mind Sane or any of the other lot care to contradict me…