Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Trip

Vermont looked beautiful as we pulled away from the Connecticut river. Sunlight glanced off the shallows headed for the comforting shade of the pine tree steeped banks. I felt strangely self aware. I considered, "I have to drive 4,000 miles." And I thought, "This means nothing to me, but it will." I was right, but as the trip progressed, I lost the self reflective streak. Moments themselves seemed more important than what would, or wouldn't, or had already. Succumbing to a traveling trance was easy, delightful, and as I embraced it, I felt closer to the country, the road, and myself.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Educational Failures?

America is not exactly on the up and up in the science/math department. From what I hear (I'm too lazy to look up statistics) it's quite a bleak scenario. We, the among the wealthiest of the wealthy nations, cannot compete on an international level in quantitative fields. Why? Who do we blame?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Appreciating Spectra In Life

Almost two years ago now, I had a particularly rough loss in my family. I was blown away by the suddenness and the gravity of the situation. I can easily recreate the phone call with my mom and the subsequent talks with my brother and dad. I remember going back to my house and writing down everything I could remember about her. I wrote the good and the bad, and didn't try or want to sugar coat the situation. I played "The Night They Drove Dixie Down" on guitar, and felt surreal and disconsolate.

Months later I was able to listen to Levon sing that song again without holding back tears. But I had learned a incredible lesson. I also was overwhelmed by the positive response throughout our family and the kindness of friends.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Spirit Home

There’s a place just up the road, past the small reservoir and beneath the gaze of West Rock. You won’t know it’s there unless you look. After a large snowfall or heavy rain, you can hear it shout; but for most of the year it unassertively murmurs from the concrete dam. How you get there is not a mystery, nor are there any obstacles or barriers other than a chained gate you can easily slide through. And yet, it is a secret place.

Once past the gated threshold, a short walk through brambles and tall weeds leads you to the creek bed, the life-blood of my Spirit Home. I call this place my Spirit Home because I am most at peace here; however, its beginning does not mirror this posture. The cold reservoir water cascades over 3 separate falls—each measuring about 10 feet tall—and shoots up and through cracks and divots in the solid shale rock.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

a couple new ones

So a while ago I wrote a post about how inspired and motivated I was to get serious about recording my own music. Such a sentiment might as well have been a New Year's resolution, because I really haven't achieved it at all. Not to say that I haven't been working on some tunes, but for the most part, I come up with some basic parts, maybe a certain groove or riff that I like, but usually don't flesh anything out much past the stage of being a sketch or fragment. It's easy and fun to come up with a bunch of sketches that don't really resolve or have any formal structure. Actually trying to turn them into a song is hard, frustrating, humbling and slightly embarrassing. But it can also be rewarding, especially in those precious few moments where you actually feel like you've got something halfway decent. I've got plenty of sketches that I'll try to refine into actual songs at some point, but for the time being I've only got a couple songs to share. I've spent a fair amount of time tweaking very minor parts over and over to get them to this point, and of course, they still feel miles away from where I'd like them to be. But I think I've reached the point of diminishing returns: I keep putting in more work, but it's getting less and less noticeable.

Note: I do sing in these songs; your ears have been forewarned.



Hope you find them somewhat enjoyable, or at least amusing!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Meeting Friends

A few weeks ago when I was visiting Benny in beautiful Boulder, Colorado, some heavy weather afforded the opportunity to cruise around on the internet and look for entertaining videos. I happened across this video, which is an episode of MTV's "Weird Vibes" featuring the band Holy Ghost! as hosts. There are a few reasons this video succeeds: the whole funky 90s aesthetic is actually executed pretty well here, hitting a nice balance between the use and abuse of nostalgia; Holy Ghost!, in addition to being an awesome band, they are genuinely funny; their dads are pretty cool too; oh yeah and the music and music videos are rad. One song and video that caught both my and Ben's immediate interest was "I'm His Girl" by the band Friends. Neither of us had heard of Friends before, but we were both immediately hooked by the sauntering bass line and the empowered percussion. (Percussion should never be marginalized.) The video is as catchy as the song - roughly speaking, it is about being young and cool and living in New York City. Also, it's about being young. And hip. In New York. Sounds sweet, right? No, not really, but it actually is somewhat satisfying to watch - it is clearly part of the ~~~NYC Scene~~~ without shoving that scene too far down your throat.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Use Your Head(phones)

Some songs just require headphones. Sometimes certain sonic intricacies reveal themselves only when given immediate access to the eardrum. Deeply layered tracks suddenly appear; harmonies emerge, seemingly from no where; the interplay between instruments that sounds flat on speakers becomes compelling through headphones. And the neat thing is that upon finding those little bits of music that are buried in the mix, which could only be discovered with a good pair of headphones and perhaps even a darkened room, they remain ever audible thereafter, even through variously imperfect speakers -- a laptop, for instance, or a car stereo with plenty of noise bleed from the highway rushing by. However, there is also another kind of discovery that can be made -- rather than finding something new occupying some heretofore unheard part of the overall soundstage, you find a certain lack. An absence or a void. It's the recognition of some sort of intangible space in a song. A property of there being something more contained in the song than just sound. It's the air in which instruments and voices can both mix together and still retain their isolated individuality. I'm sure there is some technical process, some cut-and-dry way to engineer this vague, ethereal property, but I feel no need to attempt to demystify the space. Regardless of how it's done, it's very difficult to describe an absence, so instead of going any further down this increasingly abstruse path, I will just share some songs.