Thanks to gifts of guitars from my maternal grandparents to my parents, being allowed to play them as much as I wanted to, the extraordinary experience listening to the Houston Symphony at Jones Hall and Mrs. Durfee's subsequent formal influence in junior high orchestra class, music afforded a rich, private world of auditory wonders I could happily escape into exploring notes and chords to spin melodies and harmonies for hours at a time. I was spending so much time alone in that world in my early teens my parents worried I had discovered and started doing drugs, but I wasn't. The sounds of music coming from the instruments as I strummed and plucked at them were all the high I needed, effectively carrying me into deep trancelike states more addictive than any drink or drug ever experienced later in life. I remember playing for a next door neighbor on our front porch one day while still living in Bellaire and falling into a trance only to be startled out of it by him shaking me and telling me in a quiet, concerned voice "Hey! Hey, man. You're drooling on your guitar!". I was so embarrassed but he understood, just saying "Wow, you were really getting into it," instead of making fun or ridiculing.
About the time I started learning to play 5-string banjo at fourteen, I met a kid named Scott at school in Midland who reminded me of a friend from grade school in Sayre named Ricky. They weren't at all alike in appearance (except that they both had straight, blond hair), but they both had a great sense of humor and exuberance for life that made them a pleasure to be with. Ricky befriended me in third grade, Scott in ninth grade and they both introduced me to family and friends who revealed musical paths in life I never would have taken without having known them.
The same year I met Scott, Ricky reintroduced me to his older and younger brothers–Jimmy and Gary–who both played guitar, and his little sister Sherry, their parents Betty and Winston, grandmother Beulah and their dogs Teeny, Tramp, Lady and Bobby. More about them and their strong influence (and limitless tolerance of me) later.
Scott introduced me to a bunch of his friends who were all in a local children's theater group and they talked me into going with them one day after school to the theater for auditions. I knew nothing about theater and didn't know what to expect or what I was getting into. Scott and his friends were so crazy and energetic. We had seen their theater group down at a park near our new house doing something weird as we drove into town for the first time ever that summer. Dad had groaned aloud upon spotting them and pointed, saying "Look at the hippies playing in the park. They're probably all doped up!". We giggled together as a family. Dad has mellowed a lot since then, thanks in part to them. So I was a little apprehensive about the auditions. I just hoped it wasn't going to be like school because I hated school.
It wasn't anything like school. The children's theater director, Ed Graczyk, put us on stage individually and in groups to perform different ways including free-form improvisation, which was fun because there were no rules we had to follow to do that. One kid named Bryce did an amazing rapid-fire solo performance of The Wizard of Oz, acting through each scene and playing each part in character. This was near the end of 1969 when rules were starting to grate on the nerves of teenagers whose only firm prospect in life was to soon be drafted into US armed forces and go fight the endlessly bloody war in Vietnam.
That day of auditions at the Midland Community Theater I happened to have my 12-string guitar with me (Scott had asked me the day before to bring it to school and I can remember him holding it for me, chewing on the handle of the guitar case as we rode the bus from school to the theater–the nut). Mr. Graczyk at one point asked me to go up on stage alone and play a couple of tunes, anything I wanted to play. So I played House of the Rising Sun (just the music, no singing) and Classical Gas as best I could without drooling all over the place. He seemed to like it, I was granted a scholarship to be in the Pickwick Players when I told him I couldn't pay the tuition fees and he teamed me up with Gerry Pyle who played keyboard and composed music for all of his original plays. Mr. Graczyk had been working on a musical at that time titled "Electric Folderol" which called for a rock band to appear up on stage on a raised platform wrapped in mirror mylar throughout the play (instead of down in the orchestra pit), playing Gerry's original backing music for singers as the scenes of the play unfolded below. I did my best playing electric guitar parts from Gerry's hand-scribed scores, but it was scary and Mr. Graczyk kept having to urge me to turn up the volume on my guitar.
A few days before the closing performance of the play I found out the group had a tradition of having a party to celebrate the achievement. Bill–a Pickwick Players friend (and lead role actor in the play) I was staying with at the time while my family went on a camping trip in New Mexico–urged me during a group meeting at the theater to ask my parents if we could have it at our house. Bill and I had been fiddling around with my Dad's reel-to-reel tape recorder and Bill had taken up guitar while I was staying at his home. We had grown fond of each other's company so I told everyone I would ask but doubted they would go for it, revealing that my father thought Mr. Graczyk was gay. I had a bad habit of speaking too quickly and frankly at that age and immediately regretted saying what I had just said, fearing I had offended Mr. Graczyk. But he just laughed heartily at my blurted statement then promised to be as butch as possible if my family ended up hosting the party. Which we did.
Mom and Dad went to the closing performance of the play and after it was over, the entire cast and crew trooped right over to our house en masse. The party was a blast. Mom provided lots of snacks and drinks and Dad seemed to actually enjoy the spoof of the play the cast put on out in the back yard–performed by the "hippies" we had seen down at the park on our first day in town. I was enthralled by it all myself and forgot to keep an eye on Mr. Graczyk during the party to see how someone acted butch, but after it was over my parents seemed to have enjoyed it. They actually seemed to have softened a bit that night too.
All in all, that experience was significant and positive. It stoked my enthusiasm to become a professional musician somehow, actually earning a living performing my own original music somewhere, possibly even making a record album in a recording studio someday. So I began writing my own music and songs in earnest, recording them for posterity on Dad's reel-to-reel.
Almost fifty years later, I'm still writing original pieces. I just cranked one out today after having one of those ultra-vivid daytime dreams while napping after lunch. A dream so vivid I was compelled from the moment I woke up to get the dream story expressed in music and words.
We found a portal behind a huge pile of guano in a cave called Jester.
Jet black in the center and blue around the edges, we stepped through without hesitation.
Not a brilliant move, but it was worth it.
~ . ~
On the other side we met these pale-skinned imps, who were wearing bright, white boxer shorts with little red devils printed on 'em.
My youngest brother commented on how much he liked their style and they smiled and fed us food and drink . . . like nothing we'd ever had before.
Then things really began to get strange.
~ . ~
They marched out a pair of giant, blind white crawfish that started dancing the Macarena right there in front of us.
We didn't know what to think.
My middle brother fished down in his pockets, pulled out some change and tossed the coins at the feet of the dancing crawfish.
~ . ~
This seemed to go over pretty well and there were cheers all around as the party carried on throughout the night.
At one point blind catfish flew into the chamber and handed out party hats made of bat wings.
We all donned the party hats and posed with each other and with the catfish and crawfish for selfies.
Then the little imps all fell asleep.
We exited the cave.
~ . ~
Back outside, we looked at each other and wondered if what we had just experienced had really happened.
Then we started laughing.
We were still wearing the batwing hats.
This is a backing track for addition of a Theremin lead track sometime in the near future.
If I can learn to play Theremin well enough I'll try to create enough of these to fill an album titled Loose Tracks in celebration of my retirement from the daily grind.
This is a birthday gift for my brother who appreciates original technowave. It's 5.5 minutes of a rich mix of technowave passages for inducing positive alpha brainwave patterns essential for maintenance of vital gray matter and its vast neuralnetiverse.
Awakened from a bone-chilling nightmare all too real to ignore, this piece spewed forth from the realm of phantasms my subconscious mind is occasionally dragged into by horrific current events happening in the real world.
Election victory in tiny hand, it’s the brand boost of his dreams.
He is now king of the nation.
And the era of management by chaos and shock politics unfolds in all of its lurid glory.
Executive orders, deregulations and pardons abound, all premium photo ops.
Impeached, he revels in all the attention—no matter how distasteful and downright ugly.
But a deadly pandemic demands skillful, focused attention he simply cannot muster, totally overwhelming him in short order.
Surviving COVID-19 with platinum-medical care and arrogant flare, any tinge of empathy evades him.
Locked down and dying in droves, The People’s divisions widen abysmally.
His brand decomposes—tarnished then totally trashed.
All credibility goes right down the tubes.
Re-election lost, he frantically pressures for 11,780 extra votes. Deeply mired in demented denial, he threatens state election officials.
Failing to gain a single vote, he turns to sedition and insurrection by openly inciting riot and domestic terrorism.
Lives are endangered and people are killed.
Impeachment looming again, his company jet is prepared for quick escape.
Turned away from airstrip after airstrip he heads straight for Russia.
If that traitor Snowden can settle in the land of Tsars, then by god so can he.
Insanity consumes him.
His legacy a shambles, meager accomplishments are neatly erased, one-by-one.
Cold gray runway coming into sight, he expects to be warmly greeted at the Kremlin . . . with golden showers.
After reading a 1970s sci-fi novel about an electronica musician able to invoke wild emotions in listeners, I've thought the story premise completely plausible. I can't remember the title or author now, and all efforts to search it up on the world wide web have failed. I'll keep looking for it and will know it when I see it and am able to read a few paragraphs from its first pages. In the meantime . . .
When composing a new piece of music there's always a mind movie playing in my head as its sonic shape forms and congeals. A favorite subject matter is a novel written almost 35 years ago. This is the first of many to come for compilation on a new album titled "Reacher Tracks" telling that story with nothing but instrumental musical compositions. The novel is free for download on the publications page.
Sitting around the house waiting for an invitation to get a shot in the arm, this little ditty began demanding creation.
(Aimlessly knocking around the house . . .)
So you’re gonna go out and catch a heavy load?
Then you’re gonna come back and bring it all home?
You know you’re gonna spread it around right here.
Are you gonna feel any guilt or fear?
Are you gonna shed a single damn tear?
Or you gonna just watch it unfold with a sneer?
Go on out then,
And do what you will.
Then see what happens,
When we’re all
Living in hell.
Living in hell.
So many people
Think it’s a scam
Going out maskless
They don’t give a damn.
It won’t go away
It’s up in our face.
The human race.
(meanwhile, at a local hospital . . .)
It’s unaware of religious faith.
Of social standing, sexual preference and trade.
Rich or poor it makes itself at home,
Sucking out life right down into the bone.
Replicating now at breakneck pace.
Then mutating in any damn place.
Vaccines are coming
But maybe too late.
Variants may get
Around them anyway.
So what’s it gonna be
Are you gonna take a stand?
Sharing truth and empathy
Even bits of sympathy.
Can you dig down deep
For some common sense.
Or is hatred your creed
Fueled by ignorance?
Is hatred your creed
Fueled by ignorance?
(and, fun and games out on the streets . . .)
Talking up and down,
And left and right.
It’s enough to
Make us all cringe.
Locked down at home
On a TV binge.
Well I’m locked and loaded
Trying not to come unhinged.
Wondering when the hell
It might all end.
Or is this a new way of life
We have to live.
A new way of life
We all have to live.
A new way of life.
A new way of life.
We all have to live.
We all have to live.
And for all wanting to listen to music without the crazy old hermit caterwauling into a can . . .
This piece was sequenced up while watching episodes of the Our Planet documentary, contemplating our ability to destroy 66% of wildlife on Earth within a single generation. An astoundingly horrific feat of total idiocy and selfishness.
This tune was composed while relatives sheltered together from the winter storm that struck Texas in mid February and left some of them scrambling to recover from extensive freeze damage to their water system.
We all now refer to Oncor as Offcor as they allow excessive electric power billing without missing a beat, even for the days their jinky damn power grid was delivering zero-point-shit to customers.
Received first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine a few days ago. Minor reactions included itchy roof of mouth, achey arm, dizziness, screwy appetite, sleepiness. Nothing too bad but enough to get me thinking about what's going on inside as my body builds its defenses against the virus, sparking a musical creation.
SONGS & TUNES OF CIRCUMSTANCE
Fast asleep one Sunday morning while living in a high-rise apartment in downtown Dallas a few years before the turn of the century, my dreams were interrupted by a strange sound outside from the street eighteen floors below. Leaping from bed and racing out to the balcony, I peered down at the strangest single-vehicle accident I've ever seen. After snapping this photo and unable to go back to sleep, I sat down at my brand new digital recording studio and began recording songs as the policeman helped the poor fellow with the flipped car sort things out. Still the age before digital photography was readily available to mere consumers, I received the developed negatives a few weeks later, scanned them into my computer and emailed them to friends and family which had been incredulous when I first told them this odd story of circumstance.
This is a collection of songs and tunes arising from life circumstances spanning a little more than four decades, all composed and recorded during a fifteen-year attempt to become a professional at songwriting and solo performance.
After wasting too much time and expense struggling to use multitrack tape recorders of various kinds without any satisfactory results, I finally purchased a Roland VS-880 along with a VS-CDR (a QPS CDWriter connected to the VS-880 via SCSI), an Audio-Technica AT8010 mic with stand and an early version of Soundforge audio editing software running on the ever-crappy Wintel platform and began recording songs in digital format with much more satisfying results.
With this little rig producing decent enough results for an inexperienced indie singer/songwriter attempting to break into the business but reluctant to spend big bucks on professional studio time or for a more advanced equipment/software set at the time, I embarked on an enjoyable stretch of years writing, recording, editing and producing forty-some odd original tunes and one guitar arrangement of a traditional lullaby in digital format. Some I have been very satisfied with, others not so much, but all enough to freely share here with anyone able to enjoy them too.
Their download files are all pretty large, having been produced before I finally stopped wasting time trying to use the inferior Wintel platform running Soundforge in favor of the excellent Apple/Garageband/Logic Pro kit, and little understanding of how to properly optimize those early sound files without suffering loss. I've thought about re-recording them all but not much, more interested in exploring new avenues to create new works.
A life circumstance story is the reason for creation of each tune, as described in the liner notes included with each CD back in the days when they were distributed on that antiquated medium guaranteed to last forever and ever and...
now included here for anyone to read (and print if still prone to utilizing that antiquated technology) without having to pay me one red cent, or bitcoin (if that digital currency does actually exist). And back in the rare days I performed live, these were the stories I shared before playing each associated tune. I never became famous, by any measure, and I'm not so sure I'm very disappointed by that outcome. As thrilling as it was to perform live, I was never very great at it no matter how nervous I was before showtime and I'm not sure fame and fortune would not have totally destroyed me.
Most of these songs and tunes were first published on compact disc almost immediately after they were written and composed. Others took longer to gel into something good enough to spend time recording. Eventually I'll publish all of those CD albums again here.
Some people may wonder why some of the songs are being republished here in this collection after first appearing on another album in the form of physical CD. I dunno. I just wanted to do this. Also, CDs get damaged or lost. Having them stored in the cloud is another way to preserve them all.
I recommend you not buy copies of my CDs which are out there on the World Wide Web in various places (including Amazon), being sold by people I may have given copies to or by people who received copies given to them by someone else who now (sadly) are trying to make an easy buck off of something I never intended to be sold for any price. There may even be people out there trying to sell the digital versions online, an illegal activity considering they are all copyright protected. Alas, I cannot waste my precious time trying to control actions of such lowlifes, but I will say they are charging much more than any of my music is worth, which amounts to precisely $0.00. So, buyer beware.
During final weeks living in Tehran I would go on long walks east to the end of the street we lived on, Kuchi Kaj, and then as far out beyond that point as I dared across undeveloped land seeking vast stretches of unscarred sand. At that time, citizens of Tehran had not yet become hostile toward Americans (I suspect not many average Iranian citizens are hostile toward Americans these days) but as is the case anywhere in the world there were plenty of bad people out and about, especially along the fringes of that city of four million souls at the time I lived there. Also, the Sha's police forces were at their best when avoided.
Already a fan of Frank Herbert's DUNE series of stories, I hoped to catch glimpses of nomadic goat herders known as the Qashqai. A fiercely independent people averse to dwelling in cities within walled structures like the one my family lived in there, I longed to see them out in the wild dune lands plying their trade and craft. Famous for superb carpets woven from hand-spun harvested from their herds and died deepest hues in the land, everything about them was intriguing to me as I was seized by youthful wunderlust I felt almost powerless to resist. I never saw any Qashqai but still dream of them roaming the deserts skirting the Alborz Mountains, living as they have for centuries totally unconcerned with the overcomplexity of urban living. A very cool existence.
A little music video for my nephew on his birthday–a taste of something he left behind when he moved down under.
First Digital Recording Project
This is the first collection of tunes recorded digitally and burned onto compact disc in 1998. Nothing remarkable about any of them but it was a fun first project using the VS-880/AT8010/VS-CDR rig to record and produce them all in digital format.
At the time these tunes were being composed I was making moves to change the direction of my life in major ways. I had started training to write web apps using JAVA, had landed a new job and would soon be moving to a newly built, more spacious apartment of much better quality. Within a year of that move I intended to land another job someplace out west for the final stage of changes.
The tunes were all recorded within a cramped space in the center of a small, eighteenth-floor apartment above a noisy downtown district. It was fun figuring out ways to overcome issues creating digital recordings of fidelity decent enough to satisfy me for sharing with family and friends. And as the project progressed, my plans of change did too.
On a road trip out to White Sands National Monument to celebrate successful completion of the CD, I shot photos there which ended up serving as cover art for the little album. The nice park ranger let me in early so I could get out onto the dunes all alone. And as I roamed that vast, rolling whiteness, breathing incredibly clean air and enjoying panoramic sights free of manmade crap, I decided to begin taking final steps to get the hell out of the city and go west.
Second Digital Recording Project
The cover for this CD project has drawn a lot of comment over the years. A dead jackrabbit on cold asphalt is not exactly a delightful image for an album cover but it accurately reflected feelings which drove me to create the tunes and songs on it when I finally decided enough was enough and set to getting away from as much of everything toxic in my life as I could.
Toxic living had defined my life since graduation from college as I worked at various companies without finding any good reasons to continue working for any of them very long. I had lived in eight cities of varying toxicity while working for these companies and was sick and tired of that lifestyle. Waking each day to go reluctantly outside, all too aware of the thick, brown blanket of polluted air encasing every single city I lived in, commuting by car or bus to offices in freeway traffic no living being should ever contribute to, I longed for a place where I could walk or bike to the office from a house with easy access to lots of unspoiled wilderness where I could disappear for extended periods of time, also preferably within walking or biking distance of where I was living.
I knew I could do it, having ample knowledge and skills to be very mobile in my profession. All I had to do was set some specific goals and actively pursue them.
As steps taken to change my life situation quickly progressed, I took the longest vacation of my professional career (three weeks) to drive northwest all the way up to the north end of Vancouver Island, British Columbia for a week of remote island camping and kayaking in Johnstone Straight with a goal of seeing orca there. I did see orca and I think my supervisors feared I would not return to my job after that vacation. They seemed genuinely relieved when I did. The job switching part of my plan would not happen until the next year.
Another step was purchase of property situated adjacent to more than one million acres of national forest and wilderness land. This turned out to be the most important step as I laid out trajectory to wrap up my career working as an employee within the next decade or less to then start my own business. I spent a few days of autumn vacation time camping and hiking around that property before its purchase was finalized the same year this CD project was completed.
A friend told me he thought I must have been struggling with deep depression during the project but I wasn't. I was feeling better than I had since graduation from college, having already shaken off some heavy-duty toxic personal loads and escape from toxic city life was a strong possibility within about one year. I spent a lot of free time dreaming and planning for this now attainable future trajectory.
Governors foolishly discontinuing mask mandates doesn't concern me as much as how many people are actually following those governors' short-sighted advice to spew their viral loads upon others with impunity. Ah well, still more preventable deaths by COVID might make this a very teachable moment.
While listening to this new tune, try thinking about how many were killed today as a result of inhaling someone's unchecked respiratory emissions loaded with SARS-CoV-2. Try to imagine what they might be up to now if someone had just worn a mask to block their lethal exhalations. Try it. You won't like it.
Third Digital Recording Project
This CD project was completed just as the final year of the 20th century was beginning. I had successfully landed a new job from which I could pivot to work out west with ease and did just that eight months after finishing this recording project. I had expected it would take about a year to make the move west but I was more than ready to leave ahead of schedule on one hot summer night to make the long drive to the coolness of the Rocky Mountains at last. My escape from the Hard Gray Edge was finally happening.
Relocated to a nice split-level house on the front range of the Rockies, I set up shop quickly after arriving. Unfortunately the new job lasted only eight months when the new dot com company I was working for shut down within weeks after the great dot com bust of the new millennium. Laid off for the first time in my life, I decided to stay another four months while searching for a another new job and that's how things worked out at the end of that period–just as the house rental lease ended. Whew!
While job searching, a lot of time was spent performing at various locations along the front range and deeper west into the Rockies. And even though it was a close call landing the next job just as the house lease expired, it was a lot of fun roaming around playing tunes and songs for a lot of very kind and surprisingly appreciative audiences. Before that delightful four months was over another set of new tunes and songs had started to emerge and take shape, one eventually winning 3rd place in a song writing contest at the annual jubilee in a mountain town across the state. They all ended up on the fourth digital recording project, I had hoped to begin just a few days before I moved once again, this time to high desert country where an unfortunate sequence of events would unfold over the next six years. A sequence of events I foolishly allowed myself to get sucked into before realizing I was stepping into a devious trap.
Fourth Digital Recording Project
Settled into the split-level house on the front range of the Rockies, I dove into the new job and new music projects with gusto. It wasn't long before I was invited to a few private parties in the area where guests asked me to play some of my music. They seemed to enjoy the tunes and songs and eventually talked me into doing open mike performances at some of the local restaurants, clubs and coffee houses.
Then more invitations began rolling in to perform at large venues and was told I might be able to sell CDs of my original music at these venues if I wanted to do that. Eager to travel throughout the state to explore as many of its superb wilderness offerings as possible, I accepted every invitation, did the show then spent the time roaming wild.
During those months traveling and performing during every free moment, word began to get around that there was a new amateur singer/songwriter available for performances who wasn't entirely horrible at his music-oriented hobby. More invitations were received and I accepted every one of them, performing in a lot of places from pizza parlors to resort ranches and mountain guest lodge parties.
I sold a few dozen of my CDs to people attending performances and several commented on how much they liked my musical style. I got to jam with some very good musicians too. I couldn't imagine a better place to live or a better life to have. I had never before felt so satisfied.
Then some ominous signs the dot com bubble might be about to burst were being reported on news networks. At the office there was no indication our company would be affected by any of the upheaval in the B2B end of the business we were involved in. Then an announcement was released by the company founders. The company would soon begin laying off the majority of its workforce.
Fifth Digital Recording Project
A few weeks after the dot com bust began and within minutes after being officially laid off from the dandy dot com job I had been hired to do eight months earlier, I was on the road heading north to see places and sights I had always wanted to see as soon as I could after moving to the Rocky Mountains. A road trip was what I needed to get my thoughts about what had just happened and how to deal with it sorted out. I had plenty of work experience and skills and knew how to learn new stuff quickly and effectively, so I didn't foresee much difficulty ahead landing another job in a town rife with companies needing computer scientists with my qualifications set.
Leaving Colorado I glanced at the shadow of my vehicle stretching out longer and longer as it skidded over still snow-blanketed land. And as that layoff day's sunset progressed, I snapped a photo of the shadow while rolling along northward at a good clip. I wasn't unhappy or depressed or even a little fearful about being laid off. The moon rose fat and gorgeously full just as I started across Thunder Basin, prompting a stop to begin writing another song of circumstance titled "Dreaming Plains". I didn't finish the song there but it was fairly well roughed out before I resumed the road trip, happily humming its melody and adding lyrics as I continued the drive north.
When the sun next rose I found myself close to Devil's Tower and decided to go take a look and hike around it a little if that was permitted so early in the spring. It was allowed and I spent the entire day walking all around that strange geologic feature, wondering what it looked like on top. The sight of it was inspiring and I felt more songwriting urges stirring within.
A few days into the road trip I decided it was time to return home and start the job search. I needed to update my resume a little bit to reflect recent experience acquired at the dot com job gone bust, and it wasn't long before interview invitations began coming in. Between hours spent job searching, a lot of time was spent performing at various locations along the front range and deeper west into the Rockies. And even though it was a close call landing the next job just as the house lease expired, it was a lot of fun roaming around playing tunes and songs for a lot of very kind and surprisingly appreciative audiences. Before that delightful four months was over another set of new tunes and songs had started to emerge and take shape, the one started while watching the full moon rise over Thunder Basin eventually winning 3rd place in a song writing contest at the annual jubilee in a mountain town near the west side of the state.
Returning to the split-level rented house, I spent the remainder of time living there traveling around along the front range and elsewhere in the Rockies performing as a singer/songwriter. Audiences enjoyed hearing my original tunes and songs, inviting me to perform some more at several other venues and private parties. I didn't make much money doing it, but damn it was fun. And between job hunting and performing I polished several new pieces for recording.
They all ended up in this fourth digital recording project which happened while living in a one-room casita in the tiny village of Cerrillos, New Mexico. Other tunes and songs sprang into being while living there too, including a new banjo instrumental still in the works today. I hope to record that tune and others soon for a new album. The new job was going well. I received training in Atlanta for bleeding edge technology I had been wanting to learn. I liked where I was living. Things were looking up after being laid off for four, short and utterly delightful months touring the Rockies as a singer/songwriter to the point of financial instability.
Then I stepped into a trap. A trap set with a bait which tugged hard at heartstrings, leveraging an inherently empathic urge to help someone facing a dire, possibly deadly situation. And I stepped right into that trap with little hesitation. I should have heeded the small warning signs I did perceive at the time, but I didn't. Like an idiot, I threw myself into a lost cause which could very easily have cost everything I had been working so hard to achieve, not least of which was the goal to become self employed within the first decade of the new millennium and then move to live and work on the land I had purchased at the edge of wilderness.
Sixth Digital Recording Project
After so stupidly stepping into the devious trap set for my dumb ass shortly after starting my new job, there was no way out of it without suffering major damage to my reputation, both personal and professional. The trapper knew it would be like this for me and leveraged that binding factor of extreme control to full effect. A lot of time and money was wasted during this period of entrapment tending to her endless needs and desires, but I was still clueless as to the true nature of the relationship and still compelled to create new tunes and songs and somehow managed to find time to do so.
While the devious trapper was totally out of it and unconscious to the world after chemotherapy treatments I used that free time to create new tunes and songs, record them using the trusty VS-880 rig and produce this CD project. It was the last time the VS-CDR was used because it broke after burning the first batch of these CDs. I sent one of the CDs along with the previously produced CD (Fresh Tracks) to enter a few songs from each CD into a songwriter's contest. The song "Dreaming Plains" won third place and I was invited to perform it at the Silverton Jubilee. After the trapper completed all chemotherapy treatments and had regained some strength, and me still not aware I had been entrapped, I told the trapper about the contest win and asked if she wanted to go along to see me perform it on stage at the jubilee.
She accepted my invitation. I wish now that I had never told her about it. Nothing bad happened but she made damn sure to maintain a tight hold on my actions while there.
So we made the long drive north deep into the San Juan Mountains where the annual Silverton Jubilee was to happen. They treated me like a star and I loved every minute of involvement as a performer in and spectator of the jubilee, but I hated every single minute spent serving the needs of the trapper and began planning an escape from her devious clutches before we made the long drive back to the high desert.
It would take three more years of careful planning and concerted effort to pull it off and regain my freedom, and within that period of time I also made the move to start my own company and begin working as a consultant full time. The trapper howled over my escape when she realized I was gone and tried to lure me back within range for another trapping operation. I even spent one more year giving her another chance to treat me as an equal, if not as a devoted partner, but her efforts were all in vain.
At age fifty I was self employed at last, living and working in my own off-grid studio situated at the edge of wilderness and I was loving every minute of life and all of its challenges, finally free of every toxic element I had been beleaguered by since making the previous move to the high desert six years earlier. Clients seemed very happy with my creative consulting and crafting work and I had everything I needed to be very happy too. About a decade after last contact with the trapper she sent an email frantically demanding I call her. I just ignored it, marking the email as SPAM with a satisfying swipe and tap on my tablet. It disappeared in the spam folder and I haven't heard a peep from her again since then. And all in all, I'm none worse for the wear. I'm still kicking and still enjoying creative endeavors of all sorts now in retirement. No permanent physical damage, just a bit more distrust of others more firmly instilled. And maybe a little more wise to ways others are all too eager and deviously willing to entrap someone any way they can to do their bidding.
Tablet Digital Recording Project
Five years later, Apple finally started producing computing devices I wanted to use. So I bought an iMac and an iPad 2 and started learning to use them and the software tools available for them. One of those tools was GarageBand and as I tinkered with that app while recovering from a bout with influenza it soon became apparent it was more than a toy. Happy with the results, I decided to do a project.
All tunes and songs on this album were composed and recorded entirely with an iPad 2 using GarageBand–including a voice track which was recorded with the iPad's built in mic–while laying flat on my back in bed trying to learn how to breathe again after surviving H1N1 or some other strain of influenza which was raging through the masses that winter. A fun first project using tablet and GarageBand.
A vision of things to come as fear and hatred become standard operating procedure around the world.
Tracks on this album have all been created during the pandemic, most during extended lockdown. More are sure to emerge and be added here since this is now a new way of life. It is not coming to an end any time soon, if ever. It's obvious why this is but it isn't going to change and the pandemic will only get worse unless the human race can manage to make a major attitude and behavior shift regarding safe practices.
In the meantime, it's fun to spend the lockdown time creating little projects like these and sharing them.
Feel another lockdown coming. This pandemic will never end.
I admit I am a not-so-baldfaced maskenheimer, but not the kind a lot of maskless people presume me to be. I continue wearing a mask in public because I care about the unvaccinated still so vulnerable to infection by SARS-CoV-2 and its many variants, wishing to minimize the possibility–no matter how slim–that I might cause somone to suffer through a life-threatening, or deadly, case of COVID-19. Especially the children. If I ever learned that I was the one who passed the virus on which led to severe illness or death of others, I'm not sure I could live with myself if I had not taken every precaution possible to prevent such a horrible outcome. So yeah, I'm fully vaccinated for many months now, and still wearing a mask every time I'm around other people in public. Not to aggravate those so resentful of my cautiousness, but to protect them and many others from me.
Unsurprisingly, this sometimes places me in danger. Occasionally someone is offended by my maskliness and I can see them deciding and moving my way to confront me about wearing a mask in these days of the glorious, Great Reopening when mask-wearing mandates are no longer in effect. That's when I use my one and only superpower to convince them not to be so hasty: my strabismus.
Looking them straight in the eye with my right eye while relaxing a couple of muscles in my left eye so that it points down and to the left a significant number of degrees out of alignment never fails to dissuade those kind of people from making a big deal about my in-public mask wearing. Bugging my right eye at them just a bit, I can see their gaze nervously switching back and forth between my walleyes before they veer off and walk on by without a word, never understanding how utterly harmless that walleyed masked man they just saw really was.
This is a five-phrase instrumental starting with a bit of upbeat 60's flavored electric piano as I grab wallet, cap and mask on my way out of the house to go to town. The second phrase continues on a happy trajectory as I drive into town, looking forward to being out and about again. Phrase three picks up energy when I get out, don mask and begin walking amongst others in public. A short fourth phrase of tense, higher-pitched keyboard stabs followed by several chunks of electric guitar leads into the final phrase of grungy bass and synthesizer where the confrontation is imminent and I put my superpower into action, slowly fading out without incident when strabismus saves the day (and my scrawny old butt) once again.