Another addition for my Cover Tune Tuesdays project. For those of you just jumping in, I am not covering songs from well-known artists you have already heard. I wanted to play some of the songs written by people I have known over the years. I can pretty much guarantee none of us thought we would be famous authors – mostly because none of us tried to be. Like many others, we decided not to put in the eternal time, money and thankless effort necessary to ‘make it big’ in the music scene.

This is a song written by Tom Gorman, Lori Niemi and Tom Robinson. It was written in 1980 and has been recorded and performed by many people in the core group of songwriters I have mentioned previously in my posts.

This time I recorded the song using my Martin 6 string guitar. I usually use my 12 string but since my bi-lateral carpal tunnel surgery last year and plain getting old, it is hard for me to do difficult songs any more.

I used my Ovation 12 string for the 2nd guitar parts so I have not abandoned it completely. I use Sonar Cakewalk – now by BandLab as my recording software. The haunting melodic sounds are from a program called Dimension Pro. I sang and did a little harmony here and there but that is the essence of the mix.

Jackals cover performed by MSK


I would like to share some versions of this song with you and will post 2 other previous recordings. It is a good historical view. People change, equipment changes and the mood inspired by the song change over time.

          "Jackals"                                                           (C) 1980
Straight hollow blocks of buildings haunted with lives
Scanning you with hidden silence
They house the hungry Jackals who go prowling through the angled
Paths of night.
 
Watch out for the hungry Jackals, they’ll dull you with lies
Making like they’re you’re best friends, while they’re sharpening
Their knives.

 
Stalking unwary victims they sidle up
Cutting you with cultured voices
And punctuating death throws with a fluttering of gestures and a
Sociable smile.
 
Watch out for those hungry jackals they stalk in disguise
They clutch your hands with such courtesy but there’s murder
In their eyes.
 
 
Running that dreadful gauntlet every day
Mixed in with the gentle people
A Jackal sticks his paw as a cohort jabs a claw out as you
Hit the ground.
 
Watch out for those hungry jackals disguised as they are
They’ll send you out to save the world but you won’t get very far.

 
Watch out for the hungry Jackals, they’ll dull you with lies:
Making like they’re your best friends…….
Gary Jefferson on vocals
Bob Enderle on vocals

Image  —  Posted: March 19, 2019 in Cover Tune Tuesdays
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As part of My Cover Tune Tuesdays, I wanted to do an acoustic version of one of my favorite Grateful Dead songs. The story I heard about this song is that Stella Blue refers to an old cheap guitar Jerry Garcia played when he was much younger. I tried to look up references but nothing conclusive so I stopped. I am not a reporter, after all.

In either case, this song has been an inspiration for me in many ways. As I get older, though, the message is much closer to home. I hope I will be able to dust off the strings for years to come, but I still find each moment I have to make and play music precious. Without it I would be insane, lost or dead (but not grateful)!

So I got out the Martin 6 string acoustic/electric guitar I got from my older brother and changed the strings. It was not enough to dust them off! Then I pulled out my Ovation 12 string acoustic/electric guitar and dusted off those strings. The Martin I ran a guitar cable to the Universal Audio Solo 610 mic pre-amp. After recording the main guitar track in Sonar by Cakewalk/Bandlab I used the Ovation 12 String guitar for a light/filler guitar track. I used a AKG C214 microphone plugged into the Solo 610 for recording the Ovation. Vocals used the same microphone and pre-amp set-up so it was a quick session.

All the years combine
They melt into a dream
A broken angel sings
From a guitar.
In the end there's just a song
Comes crying up the night
Through all the broken dreams
And vanished years.

Stella Blue         Stella Blue
I've stayed in every blue-light cheap hotel
Can't win for trying
Dust off those rusty strings just
One more time
Gonna make them shine. 

When all the cards are down
There's nothing left to see
There's just the pavement left
And broken dreams.
In the end there's still that song
Comes crying like the wind
Down every lonely street
That's ever been.

Stella Blue         Stella Blue 
I've stayed in every blue-light cheap hotel
Can't win for trying
Dust off those rusty strings just
One more time
Gonna make them shine.

It all rolls into one
And nothing comes for free
There's nothing you can hold
For very long.
And when you hear that song
Come crying like the wind
It seems like all this life 
Was just a dream.

To Stella Blue         Stella Blue

Songwriters: Jerome J. Garcia / Robert C. Hunter
Stella Blue lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Image  —  Posted: March 12, 2019 in Cover Tune Tuesdays
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On another note (LOL), I have been interested in Modals for a while.  I think they benefit lead players more but I do find them interesting and useful.  Recently I was looking at a YouTube channel where the post by David Bennett Piano answered the question, “are there any pop songs that use the Locrian scale?”.  The Locrian modal uses a flatted 5th, which flies in the face of popular music and their rather vanilla use of scales and progressions. See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6JBsOzOFaQ
The post was interesting and informative, but I bring this up because of the ONE example he could find.  Granted, he stretched the definition of “pop”, but his reference was one of my all time favorite vocalists and artists.  Bjork, formally with “The Sugar Cubes” is up there with Peter Gabriel for me.  I think she is a true musical genius.  Maybe because she does not limit herself to the confines of commercial music, and indeed, much of her material  – especially her videos – is really out there.  So am I.   Anyway,  could not resist spreading this reference around.   Army Of Me:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BeAZ9DQZFz8

David Bennett is Patreon member (as am I) and is worth supporting.

Image  —  Posted: March 6, 2019 in Music Theory
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Given an odd set of circumstances that would give you the choice of listening to your favorite songs and bands on a really weak radio signal (cheap, broken or terrible stereo system) or listen to songs you don’t really like in hi quality sound?

Being an audiophile and passionate about great music this is a tough question for me lol.

Image  —  Posted: March 4, 2019 in Uncategorized
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As many of you know I am not a professional photographer. I describe myself as a guy who likes to take pictures. Yesterday my wife and I were walking in our yard as it was getting close to sun-set. We heard some birds just chattering away and saw a pair of woodpeckers and very close by but much further up in the trees there was a hawk perched on a limb. He just sat there watching us and everything around him.

I am not good with names so I do not know what specific birds these are, but for the last few years the hawks have made this their home. Before then I don’t remember seeing or hearing them around where we live. I have always had a love for birds and I have a special fascination with larger birds of prey. Amazed we did not scare him/her away, I went into the house to get my Nikon camera and 70-300 mm lens. My wife stayed watching the birds because it is highly unlikely I would make it back with the camera before they flew away.

Here are a few shots I managed to get when I returned. I hope you enjoy starting the day in flight.

Image  —  Posted: February 28, 2019 in Photography, Uncategorized
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MSK 2-23-2019

It’s been months since we left shore
Nothing looks familiar any more.
The tropics and fair weather long past
How did it get so dark and cold that fast?
 
The seas blended into the sky
As the waves are frozen in ice.
A sun this bright feels bitter cold
The heart burns darker if the truth be told
 
          I’ve seen the bottom of the iceberg;
          I know how deep it goes.
          You can’t judge distance by its tip;
          This, every captain knows.
 
Compass guides us toward nothing
Spinning, bouncing but never pointing.
There’s no one trusted at the helm
Of a sudden lost far beyond the realm.              
           
Never lived under clouds this weird
Sweat instantly frozen in my beard.
Your cries are lost behind a smile
Deeper still with each swallowed mile.
 
          I’ve seen the bottom of the iceberg;
          I know how deep it goes.
          You can’t judge distance by its tip;
          This, every captain knows.
 
It’s been months since we left shore
Nothing looks familiar any more.
The tropics and fair weather long past
How did it get so dark and cold that fast?
 
Here we are and I love you still.
No strength; no hope; no will.
Here we are and you can’t let go
Never see; never believe; never know.
 
Never see; never believe; never know.

Image  —  Posted: February 25, 2019 in Poetry
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Sure enough, as the years passed the allergies and reactions changed. Some triggers no longer caused days of panicked suffocation brought on by these asthma attacks. A number of the allergens would start to cause breathing problems but I learned if I could remove myself from the environment or place myself in a calming mental state and focus on breathing properly I could stop the attacks from getting worse.

Eventually I reached a point where the severe attacks were rare. I could manage to do most of the things I needed to do and new friends had no idea that I suffered from bronchial asthma. As these things shifted I started to have sneezing fits in the place of attacks. I would walk into a room or go outside and breathe in the cold/hot air and start sneezing out of control. It was not unusual to sneeze 30 – 40 times in a row. Sneezing five times in rapid succession is exhausting. By the time I hit 30 I was helpless. My body temperature would raise dramatically and I would break out in a heavy sweat. Now, even those symptoms are gone.

Nowadays there is politics in everything. There was back when I was born, too. Politicians decided to make possession and use of marijuana a crime similar to use of narcotics and psychotropic based drugs. This allowed US law enforcement agencies to arrest and imprison ‘specific groups of radicals and dissidents’ who were known to use marijuana. In my pursuit of life, liberty and health, I was made a criminal by my own government for using something in my own home that I could grow in my back yard! Marijuana has been used throughout human history and there is no evidence based reason for a Schedule 1 classified drug. This year the WHO (World Health Organization) suggested rescheduling use of marijuana to delete its schedule 1 classification. https://www.icci.science/data/files/ECDDcannabisoutcome.pdf

My state of Ohio passed a medical marijuana law a couple years ago. You are required to be approved for a number of medical conditions by select certified doctors in the state. Once approved you will be issued a medical marijuana card that can be used in Ohio. I applied for the card and easily qualified for intractable pain. Late last year the first dispensary opened in Ohio. There are no dispensaries anywhere near me and the program is way behind schedule.

As a young adult I thought marijuana would be legalized very soon. I kept thinking this as I saw friends, family, classmates, teachers and every class of people destroyed by alcohol, sleeping pills, tobacco, sugar, salt and a million other things that seemed far more dangerous and showed little or no benefits. Years went on and no change in political attitudes, though there was a clear change in social views. I would just like to be able to use marijuana as a medication and no longer be a criminal by the time I die.

Then I would like to see the thousands of people with criminal records for non-violent use be freed and their records expunged. If it is not asking too much, I would like my country’s politicians to be governed by facts, science and compromise for the common good. I may not live to see that one.

The End of the Road

Image  —  Posted: February 15, 2019 in Opinions and Observations
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This is a continued story and will make more sense if you start with the first post: https://midimike.com/2019/01/25/a-long-road-with-an-end-in-sight/.

The next post can be found here: https://midimike.com/2019/02/01/the-long-road-behind-continued/

I would never see these new friends again. I was a kid to them and although I had smoked marijuana for a long time, I had never gotten stoned. (I recall hearing a debate people were having years ago and someone mentioned that doctors should not prescribe pain killers for chronic pain because people would become addicted. The counter was that people did not feel the euphoric effects; it barely countered the constant state of pain. That is probably a crude analogy, but I knew others would laugh or be silly or energetic after smoking. I just felt ‘normal’ or calm).

Where young boys I knew wanted to get crazy drunk or party in other ways, I had the carry-over from my experience with medications and did not want to feel jelloed out, drunk or not in control.

For the first time I actually got ‘hi’. From that moment on I would feel the effects of smoking pot. I now understood why some of my good friends would smoke. There seemed to be additional benefits for me. Win – Win.

Symptoms slowly change as we get older. Early on I had forced myself into paying attention to my allergies. I watched what I ate and drank… What materials I was near… Where there any pets around?… Avoid dramatic changes in temperature, dust, exertion, perfumes, hairspray………………… carpet or drapes in my bedroom. Clean. Dust-free. That alone made me an unusual kid LOL. Eventually I could control the most basic triggers. I reduced the number of attacks and hospital visits. It also reduced the number of places I could go and feel comfortable. I could rarely visit with friends or relatives at their place and tried to avoid events or invitations if one of the many sources of my allergies could be present. Thinking just now, this might be an early influence that pushes me toward being introverted and wanting the life of a hermit. I thought it was 40 years of dealing with the general public in a sales/customer service role. Who knew?

The road has changed and the path is clearer. Now, where do we go next?

To be continued once more.

Image  —  Posted: February 12, 2019 in Opinions and Observations
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I would like to share another half-baked instrumental piece with you. When you have written over 175 songs you have to try very hard to discover new things. Sometimes we audio engineers can get stuck in a rut too. We use dependable tools and procedures until we slowly lock ourselves into a production-line-song making-engine.

If you are a label, publisher etc., you will appreciate the cookie-cutter assembly line model. You would benefit from the homogeneous funnel that affects all the broadcast music we listen to today. As you can tell from my previous posts, I choose not to be main stream and often try the unusual or untested. But this is where I will stop whining about a music industry that only wants to back the mega mega stars of today. Our favorite musicians from the past would never get a break in today’s world. Long live rock and roll.

This song is in the chopping block stage. For fun, I noodle with varied instruments all the time. Most of it is nonsensical and I archive or delete it. Often there are really good gems in a sea of debris. On occasion, most of what I created sounds good and for some reason I like it. There are parts that work well and others that need to be enhanced or deleted. The software is capable but fairly easy to edit and “copy – Paste”. If you like or dislike a section, please let me know the min/sec in your comments.

This recording was a little unusual in the process side of things. I started with a metronome click track in my computer. I picked up my guitar (always in tune) and set up the computer (always ready to record) and – I am being literal here – found a chord on the guitar. Without regard for key or scale or root, I just kept trying different positions until I liked the sound and voicing of the chord. I started recording just that chord in various styles for a few minutes. Each chord clean and distinct. Then I would play a pattern or arpeggio with the same voicing. Then a few hard hits. Next I stopped recording, found another chord and repeated that process.

Once I had a number of guitar parts that I liked, I arranged them along a measured grid to create a single guitar track. I used chords for different segments of the song to create the chorus and bridges. Once the guitar was assembled I listened to the guitar and recorded MIDI bass guitar, piano and drums using the plug-ins in my software (Cakewalk/Sonar/Bandlab). The drums have a jazzy dynamic feel and I like the way some of this song fits together. I imagine watching for the sunset or sunrise over the hill on a chilly but beautiful day. That’s just me.

I have to fix a lot of things and it is not complete as I cautioned, but I hope you like it. BTW, I call it “134” because that is the tempo! I really have to work on my naming skills.

Image  —  Posted: February 8, 2019 in My Tunes, Uncategorized
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 I just realized what a dipshit I am. Don’t know exactly when it began But it certainly wasn’t part of my plan.

I understand how condescending I’ve become. Thinking I’m the only one that gets things done. You can’t be productive if you are having fun.

Step Outside yourself for just five minutes. That’s all it takes to know who you are. Step Outside yourself: I can show you how. You really don’t have to go very far.

I know, ’cause I can hear what you’re thinking. Everyone loves me so why all the cursing? I hate the thought of endless reversing.

Step Outside yourself for just five minutes That’s all it takes to know who you are. Step Outside yourself: I can show you how, You really don’t have to go very far.

Step Outside and pay attention. It’s not like the rest of the world needs your attention. It takes a little effort and not much time. Come on out, the answer is in the rhyme.

Give me a minute And if you                 look at you The way I                  look at me We can Step Outside together.

Step Outside yourself for just five minutes. That’s all it takes to know who you are. Step Outside yourself: I can show you how. You really don’t have to go very far.

 I just realized what a dipshit I am. Don’t know exactly when it began But it certainly wasn’t part of my plan.

(C) MSK 2-5-2019

Image  —  Posted: February 6, 2019 in Poetry
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