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“Chase The Dream”

When one of the bands I worked with collapsed under the pressures of day to day life, it was quickly resurrected in a new form.  Most of Euphoria members did not want to stop playing so we regrouped with a new guitar player to replace one of the founding members and became The Chase.  We played out with about ten different names for a few months – Scenic Route was another favorite of mine – until we settled on The Chase.  These guys were great.  We had a solid rhythm section, a great lead singer and back up vocals that were tight and an amazing lead guitar player that could feel everything he played. We could play cover songs no other bands would play live.  We also threw in originals from time to time.  The banner was hung one each side of the stage vertically as seen in one of the photos below, and horizontally behind the drum set.  It was pretty eye-catching and a lot of people complimented it.

I am an archivist.  I record everything.  Audio recordings of practice sessions and live performances. Video of many performances and photos of major events.  Before YouTube I posted a number of them on our cable TV Local Access channels using their video editing suite.  I had my fingers in everything.  Some of the projects got finished, but a lot of the raw tapes have only been viewed by me and a select group of people.

I just put together a new video that uses a lot of this vintage raw video and some of the photographs from the time period.  The medium is so old that the quality suffers, but it does a good job of representing the events of the time.  We played in many clubs and outdoor events and I will create future videos to highlight more venues.   For this video I used an original instrumental song that Nick Robinson was working on and our new band, The Chase, made it our own.  There is no video of the song as we only played it out a few times.  Nicky has since re-joined Euphoria when it regrouped a few years ago and is still playing out with some amazing players.

Please check out my latest YouTube post (and other videos while you are there) of his original tune: “Chasing The Dream”.  Enjoy!

Chase The Dream

Video  —  Posted: December 8, 2016 in Video
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I’ve admitted in earlier posts that I observe people a lot, and that I get a number of ideas for songs from watching other people;  friends, family, co-workers, I steal from them all!  I can empathize with people as they face challenges and triumphs in life.  I try to understand what it feels like to be in those situations even though I myself might not be directly affected by them.

I also have some rather obvious political points of view.  I can understand why there are those that do not always agree with my positions but in many cases I can still understand theirs.  In this song I basically insult every group I can think of!  As you are more than likely in at least one of these groups I apologize in advance.  In a lot of ways, this song summarizes the items on my Love – Hate list.  I hate things that should work but do not, and I really hate personal and corporate greed.  The song uses a lot of references to things we would hear on the news, although it was written a long time ago.  Unfortunately most of the issues are the same today!

Recording this song took a LONG time.  We did rough mixes here and there changing this or that, but it did not feel right from beginning to end.  Eventually, I think we rearranged some of the chorus/verse structure and it just fell into place.  For some songs this is the agonizing part;  all the components are there and sound good, but the piece as a whole just does not grab you.  I might have even tried changing tempo on this one to get it right.

If this is not the first song I did using my new Alesis ADAT recorder it was one of the first.  I was also transitioning from the Atari computer to a Windows machine, so not everything went smoothly!  I played electric guitar on this one (I have a few guitars and do not know which one was used for each song but my guess this is either my Ibanez or a Yamaha 6 string) and did all the sequencing and drum tracks as described earlier.  My wife does the vocal main lines.  Using the limiter/compressor chain I described from other songs the vocals are recorded so they stay soft and spooky and a little eerie as the lyrics become more and more cynical.  A bunch of family and friends came in and did the voice add-ons.  You can hear both our daughters, my co-writing brother and a few neighbors help out with the spoken parts.  I ‘sing’ the chorus.

The bass line in this one is particularly cool because it is my Oberheim Matrix 6 synth and it has this patch or sound that continues to play an arpeggio (sequence of predetermined notes) as long as you hold a key down.  So the bass lines are done by holding one note for a while but hearing many notes played.  We even got to play with one of the audio samplers from the music store and used it to trigger the ‘broken word’ parts.   Once we got the arrangement right it was just fun to ‘decorate’ the basic tracks and add a little movement to the mix.   Have fun with this one.

 

Waiting”                                                                                       MSK 10-25-2016

If you were waiting for the right time

The perfect time is now.

If you feel your voice has not been heard

It’s time to scream out loud.

 

Forever waiting for your ship to come in

Better get to the dock.

Time never seemed to be on your side

But every day you wind the clock.

 

When we truly ‘do unto others’

There’ll be no need to fight.

The best way forward in the darkness

Is to create a bit of light.

 

It’s always been an uphill battle

Still you could win the war.

Out gunned facing overwhelming odds

Life is worth fighting for.

 

Saving for this; hoping for that.

Waiting; Waiting.

Working all night, planning each day.

Waiting; Waiting.

 

Never had a good hand to lay down

Soon you’ll place your bet.

Never had a chance to finish the race

But you’re not beaten yet.

 

 

Image  —  Posted: November 8, 2016 in Opinions and Observations
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MSK Moon 1

Another song of mine from the year 1988.  This was a time of emotion and passion. Learning and truly seeing things for the first time.  Life still ahead but so much of it spinning past me out of control.  In many ways the perspective is what makes our feelings push us the way they do.  The moon to some can be magical and inspiring – to others it can be bitter and unyielding.  Often the battles of the day do not end once the new morning arrives.  We often wake up to face the same struggles and disappointments that devoured the day before. Reflective, introspective, in many ways bewilderment and confusion, yet we still need to continue and choices must be made.  All too often the choices have already been made and we are forced to face the consequences; alone.

UNCHANGING MOON (c) 1982 MSK

            That was pretty easy, 

            Rings of fire spinning ‘round. 

            What is it that you see, 

            Watching the candle burn down? 

  

            Never start to finish, 

            Rather try to succeed. 

            Don’t try to understand,  

            But consider what you need. 

  

            Smiling, empty faces, 

            A swelling darkness of fear. 

            What is it that you see 

            Trapped behind each falling tear? 

  

                        CHORUS:          Power, Passion,  

                                                    Colors in tune. 

                                                    Freezing, Bitter:  

                                                    Unchanging Moon. 

  

            Today’s the beginning 

            When morning takes to flight. 

            Tomorrow’s the ending, 

            Without rescue from the fight. 

  

                        CHORUS:        Power, Passion,  

                                                  Colors in tune. 

                                                  Freezing, Bitter:  

                                                  Unchanging Moon. 

 

                                                  Power, Passion,  

                                                  Colors in tune. 

                                                  Freezing, Bitter:  

                                                  Unchanging Moon.

 

msk-2016-0840

First To Fall                                (C) MSK 9-24-2016

We are the first to fall

Silent signal to you all.

Summer is over; winter comes

Beauty of spring is now undone.

 

We are the first to fall

Those who listened for the call.

The song continues; season strums

Cycles end as they’ve begun.

 

We are the first to fall

Summon our young and let’s withdrawl

Leaves change colors; turn to crumbs

Stories told for years to come.

 

 

 

 

 

Image  —  Posted: October 19, 2016 in Photography, Poetry
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The Politics of Safety 2

 

If you found yourself in a strange city late at night and your car broke down in a ‘bad section of town’ and you had to walk alone to get help; how would you feel?  No cell phone service is available.  Imagine it for a while.  Now add the possibility that you had your small child with you.  Feeling a little tense yet?

Soon you see a group of teen-age youths approaching you.  They do not look like you and are probably not part of the friendly local neighborhood watch.  They all cross the street to the same side you are walking……..

I will try to make this brief so play this out in your head for a while.   Think of a movie scene unfolding.

If you feel you and the child are in danger, what steps would you take to ensure your safety?

Would you cross to the other side of the street?

If approached and you felt intimidation, would you begin to run?

If you had a knife would you point it at the group?

If you had a hand gun would you point it at the group?

If you had an automatic weapon would you pull it out?

If you had a grenade would you pull the pin?

If you had a device that would destroy the entire block but you would be safe would you use it to save yourselves?

If you had a massive weapon that would level the city but you would not be harmed would you use it?

You are calm now and reading what seems like an unlikely scenario, but the protection and preservation of your life and that of your child is hard wired into each of us.  To avoid the possibility (real or imagined) of harm to you and your child are you willing or could you imagine killing or injuring one of the group.  How about two of them.  What about all of them?  In the stress of the moment would you risk injuring passers-by?

In the US we have the ‘right to bear arms’.  It is in the constitution plain as day.  But when this was written the bow and arrow had been replaced by single-shot guns as the major weapons of the time.  Cannons could not be carried or moved by a single person or easily reloaded.  Hand guns capable of rapidly firing multiple bullets were not invented until the 19th century.

The authors of the US constitution had no concept of revolvers, semi automatic weapons let alone modern military style assault weapons of today or tomorrow.  The thought of RPG’s (Rocket Propelled Grenades) and other military tools were unimaginable at the time.

We are required to take tests and acquire a license to drive a car.  More tests, training and licenses to drive a commercial truck or bus.  Even more to operate cranes and earth movers.

We need a hunting license to shoot wild game – are told where and when allowed by local laws.  We have to get a license to get married.  Statistics are gathered and analyzed in fine detail for all of the above.

Funny; when you ask manufacturers and sellers of weapons how to resolve civilian mass shootings and the real threat of criminals with hi-capacity guns – the ONLY answer is to sell more and bigger guns so everyone has one.  Hell, they want you to buy a dozen.

We can purchase guns of all sorts including military style assault rifles without question in a number of ways.  We do not need a license to hunt or kill humans in this country.  The government is prevented by special interest groups from spending any money to gather data on gun usage or sales.

With very few exceptions, no one is trying to take your guns away –  No one wants to stop you from defending your family from home intruders –  No one wants to stop you from legally hunting wild game – any more than they want to take away your car or pick-up truck by requiring you get a license.  But what we are doing now does not make sense.

Image  —  Posted: October 5, 2016 in Opinions and Observations
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msk-sun-and-clouds-1“One Last Time”              (C)  MSK  9-22-2016

There are no ways to describe

How much I would give

 

To see the stars one last time.

To hear your voice again.

And feel the warmth of the sun.

To hold you in my arms.

 

There are no limits to how long

I would wait

 

If I knew I would hear your voice.

To watch you as you laugh.

Or share the sadness of your tears.

And love you as you grow old.

 

But there is no chance.

No last minute plan.

The end of this dance

Is already at hand.

 

I wish to see the stars one last time.

To tell you that you are mine.

I’d love to help in times to come

Give you courage when you have none.

 

But there is no chance.

No last minute plan.

The end of this dance

Is already at hand.                                                                                                                                                  ————————————————————–

Image  —  Posted: September 29, 2016 in Poetry
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20160919_205425As a pre-teen and through much of my early adult life, I would experience asthma attacks.  Some were very severe and lasted for days.  I underwent allergy testing and countless blood samples to find out what was causing my allergic reactions.  It turned out almost everything did, but that is not the subject of this story.  I was quite used to needles and shots and was not bothered by the poking and prodding.  As it turned out, I just needed to grow out of it.

Years later, my partner was pregnant with my daughter Teneca.  She was in for testing and they were trying to take a blood sample.  It didn’t go well and after a few unsuccessful tries, I needed to leave the room and stop watching the process.  As I left the room I was feeling woozy – to say the least. As I was walking down the hospital corridor, I thought it would be a good idea to sit on the bench in the hallway.  That is what I told myself anyway!  There was no bench or seat and I gradually passed out and hit the floor rather softy. Waking up I realized what I had done and got up to go back in the office.  This was the beginning of a long running reaction to needles and shots.  I am not sure if I actually fainted from it again, but even at the dentist I would come close to passing out. I could not watch someone getting a shot on TV or movies and had to close my eyes during those scenes.  Eventually even the thought of needles or injections would trigger this type of reaction. It was not the pain or fear of needles, it was the thought!

A little over a week ago my grandson Daniel Hopkins (as per my recent family article, he unfortunately does not carry the Kennedy name…..) was rushed to the hospital.  He was unresponsive and his skin was dull grey.  He was in ICU for a few days with dangerously high blood sugar levels and was lucky not to have gone into a diabetic coma.  That is how he found out he had Type 1 diabetes. Teneca asked me to stay with them for a while and help out.  I knew this meant more than just housekeeping and I admit I was a bit concerned and not really sure if I could even be around, let alone help with testing and injections needed for his new life style.  The last thing they needed was to have to pick me up off the floor!

My grandson was great from the start.  He realized he was in serious condition and took the disease head-on.  Learning quickly what had to be done he dug right in.  Before they got home from the hospital he was counting carbs, measuring insulin needed and testing his blood sugar levels. Now it was up to me!  Just talking about the injection regiment with them the first night I got light headed.

Luckily I had a couple days to read about Type 1 diabetics and watch them take care of Daniel before I was to give him an injection.  I am pleased to tell you that there was no issue.  I gave him the injection and not only did he not get injured by me, I did fine.  I did not pass out, get light headed or even a little woozy.  It took my grandson’s health and needs to put things back in focus but I think I can get over the needle reaction I have lived with for years now.  Full circle. Live, learn and helping each other as we go.  Life is good.

   

 

Actually, I am not sure how this one started off.  I think I first had an idea for a chord progression.  Sometimes I doodle on the guitar or keyboards and pick out chords that I like – or more importantly – chord progressions or combinations that fit together.  Anyway, I ended up with a very basic set of four chords.  I played them with a simple rhythmical structure and started to get hypnotized by the repetitious waves it produced.  The words from this poem seemed to fit easily in place.  Drifting thoughts while looking out my home office window.  A number of themes recycled in those thoughts.  Haunting.  Not yet solid or concrete.  Like looking through fog but knowing something solid is right in front of you.  Often I look back to my computer, which when idle, displays pictures I have taken of travels, friends and events.  Above are pictures of a trip to Acadia National Park that got mixed up in the meandering day dream.  I could begin my dream there, never wake up, and be perfectly happy.

That feeling inspired words that look at the relationship of the real and unreal ingredients in relationships. Opposing ideas that express the same thought.  Scared and laughing, coming to say do not leave.  Drinking but quite sober.  The lyrics allowed me to use the chord progression and sparse rhythm structure to create an eerie musical  landscape.  In some ways creating the exact opposite of the romantic feeling of the verses.

I will have the music mixed and a final version ready in the not too distant future and will post so you can understand the references, or maybe come to your own!  Here is “Felt This Way B4”.

Felt This Way B4”                                               MSK © 1-11-2005

It started off as 

Just another Day Dream 

Looking back on life. 

  

Felt this way before 

The other million times 

I’ve looked into your face. 

  

It started off as 

Just another song 

I couldn’t put in to words. 

 

I came to tell you 

Don’t go away 

I promise I’ll never leave. 

 

Take this as a gift 

From one who couldn’t live 

Without, yet lives In you. 

 

I will struggle 

But I will earn your trust 

And that will set us free. 

  

I stopped drinking but I still get drunk 

I’d be REAL happy if I’d get out of this funk. 

I never drive when I’m behind the wheel 

Many sensations I can no longer feel. 

  

It started off as 

Just another Day Dream 

Looking back on life. 

 

Felt this way before 

Scared half to death 

And I’m laughing like a clown. 

 

It started off as 

Just another song 

I couldn’t put in to words. 

  

Too much time and nowhere to go 

Then a lot of work for just a little bit of dough.

I’m a pacifist that just loves a good fight 

And  I say “Good Morning!” in the middle of the night.  

 

I stopped drinking but I still get drunk 

 And I’d be REAL happy if I’d get out of this funk. 

I never drive when I’m behind the wheel 

Many sensations I can no longer feel. 

 

It started off as

Just another Day Dream

Looking back on life.

 

Felt this way before

The other million times

I’ve looked into your face.

 

It started off as

Just another song

I couldn’t put in to words.

 

Too much time and nowhere to go

Then a lot of work for just a little bit of dough

I’m a pacifist that just loves a good fight

And  I say “Good Morning!” in the middle of the night.