Are They All Like This?

Never into sports as a kid.  My family moved a lot as I was growing up.  One time I went to three different schools in one year.  Did not make a lot of friends.  But the people I did get a long with tended to be female.  Maybe I was more mature than other boys.  I just never understood why guys act the way they do.  Part inspired and brave, part stupid and unaware.  I have heard many conversations on this topic.  If you listen to ten different women they will have similar complaints regarding their husbands, – boyfriends, bosses, co-workers. 

We all know the saying about good guys finishing last.  But that is only the start of it. If our relationships follow many others before us, woman have so much baggage when they think about the men in their lives.  Some of them just made bad choices, but many thought they knew someone honest, kind and sincere, only to find out they are liars and jerks like all the others.

I have never been like all the others.  But so many women I know have been jaded by relationships that end in cruel and bitter melt downs.  As hard as I try in many cases I can’t get past their history.  As if all men are evil creeps in the end – they just act nice at first so they can get what they want.  The true nice guys – we don’t want anything. We see women as people, friends, partners.  We know there are strengths and weaknesses from both sexes, but together we are whole.  We see both sides.  It is hard for many women to look at us without seeing all the other failures in their past.

Those were my thoughts last weekend as I wrote “Not That Kind Of Man”.

© MSK 8/21/2016

All through school the boys would laugh at you

Say things about you they knew weren’t true

Doing what you didn’t want them to do.

Never saw life from your point of view

 

 Men at church looked you up and down

Got way too close when their wives weren’t around

More than eyes always fondling your gown

Then they dare you to make a sound.

               

The guys you knew no matter where you work

Treated you like a toy and acted like a jerk

Harassing secretaries, waitresses and clerks

As if it was one of their many perks.

 

                                I’ve never been one of them

                                I’m just not that kind of man.

                                It may take you years to forget them

                                But I hope one day you can.

 

One after another they were all the same

Just a different face and another name

Refuse to play so you take all the blame

You could never win if you played their game.

 

                                I’ve never been one of them

                                I’m just not that kind of man.

                                Soon you’ll look at me and not see them

                                I’ve never been that kind of man,

 

Husbands cheat as easily as they lie

Ask you to forgive them as they watch you cry

So many disappointments you no longer try

Curled up in bed and just wanting to die.

 

                                I’m just not that kind of man

                                What you’ve been through I understand.

                                Soon you’ll look at me and not see them

                                I’ll never be that kind of man.

 

                                I’ll never be that kind of man

                                I’ll never be that kind of man.

                                Soon you’ll look at me and not see them.   

                                I’ll never be that kind of man                            

Yesterday I heard that I lost another great friend and musical partner.  My sister called me last night to tell me there had been an accident and she did not have a lot of details, but a great friend of mine died yesterday.  I mentioned Ric Ahlers in my blog posts before.  He was the guitar player/vocalist in the first real band I was in called The Personal Touch.  He co-authored with me one of my favorite songs I called “For Those Who Wait“.  (With music it was titled: “Our Bodies Move“).

Ric was my brother-in-law and was looking for a keyboard player to start a duo to play locally and out on the road.  Though I had only dabbled with piano and was mostly a rhythm guitar singer-songwriter, he gently persuaded me to join him.  Then for about three months he patiently guided me as I learned not only how to play keyboards (not just piano, but all the other sounds keyboard players are responsible for), but also a bunch of popular cover tunes for the first time.  He was way ahead of me as far as knowledge and talent (I try to take my own advice and play with musicians that are better than me!) and had played out before.   We also played our original songs as part of our normal set list.  He had more confidence in me than I did, but I guess that is a familiar story to my blog readers.

We started as a duo and played local clubs.  We had a full sound as we both sang (as well as we could) and I played my 12 string guitar and the keyboards and later programmed drum machines.  He played lead guitar and also controlled a drum machine with an accompaniment triggered by his  bass pedals that played bass and added filler strings and piano chords.  We could play anything from classic standards to Jimi Hendrix tunes and fit into a very small space.

He sat while playing guitar and kicking his bass pedals.  He stood over 6 foot 10!  Some people would come up to shake his hand after a tune and jump back as he stood up to talk to them!!

He was as tall sitting as I was standing and it really surprised people and caught them off guard.  I would have to warn him about low ceiling fans at hotels and lobbies!  We added Ann Ellis as a vocalist and traveled around the county as a trio in his van.  THOSE WERE THE DAYS!

Life is not always easy but Ric was always a gentle giant.  With a heart just as big, he climbed back up if he got knocked down, and carried you on his shoulders if you could not keep going.  He is also family and we will all miss him and are stunned by the sudden loss of a great man in many ways.

There is a joke, not much of a joke really, but a saying that describes a point of view we too often have in the United States:

Question:

What do you call it when you speak two languages?

Answer:

Bi-lingual.

Question:

What do you call it when you speak several languages?

Answer:

Multi-lingual.

Question:

What do you call it if you speak one language?

Answer:

American.

As you can see it is not really funny and not really a joke, but I use this often to remind myself how different our decisions and thoughts can be depending on perspective or point of view.  I was delighted with the response to my recent poem entitled “Hearts of Stone“.  (…..Actually, I initially titled it “Where You Live”.  As mentioned before I am not good at naming my own songs.  My daughter Alisa – and partner in the success of this blog – correctly suggested I change the title).  I wanted to give you a bit of history to this poem as it was actually inspired by follower comments.  All of which I read and respond to – not as quickly as I like but I try to get to them all as I truly appreciate the time and thoughts from so many people.

I have often mentioned that I am thankful for access and exposure to thoughts and feedback around the globe.  It helps open my eyes to things I would not normally consider.  Creative people all over the world are represented here and it is amazing what an impact you have had on me and my writings.  A while back I posted a question about what was your first concert.  While many responses were very cool, some responded they were not allowed to have huge concerts in their country.  This struck me deeply.  First; as a callous question from an arrogant blogger who takes life for granted.  We often complain about politics or taxes and a million other things in the US and other countries but we have a choice.  We may not get our way but we can voice our opinion and discuss our thoughts openly.  This is not true everywhere.  Secondly: it drove this arrogant blogger to think about how many things we take for granted every day.  So I tried to look around my little piece of the world from another point of view.

The first line is kind of an inside joke and would easily be understood by people that live in places line my town.  We often have cloudy – hazy skies most of the time and it gets so bad that the traffic reports have to remind us what that big bright thing in the sky is on sunny days!  Often at night we do not see stars and frequently miss the experiences of full moons or eclipses.  The rest of the poem tries to reflect the things humans might notice looking at their world.  Some are glorious and beautiful and worth celebrating while other things are tragic and unimaginable to ‘outsiders’.

I have read the words in this poem many times since posting the poem on MIDIMike and a melody keeps creeping into my subconscious when I repeat them.  In the same line as the global inspiration for the lyrics, the melody and arrangement is not my ‘normal’ style.  I may be the only one that likes it, but I cannot get rid of it.  I will be finished putting this poem to music soon, but to be forewarned it is not a replica of my past works and musical pieces.  It is my thanks to all of you.  It is a sharing.  It is an apology for not keeping my mind open to others.  It is a simple reflection from deep inside.  It is an invitation to continuing communications that will bring different cultures and peoples together.  If we cannot communicate we are doomed.

I will post as a song as soon as I have a decent recording of what has been spiraling inside my head.

Click Here to read the original poem.

1

Started writing when I was ten

And singing when I was four.

Played all kinds of music since then

And listened to a whole lot more.

 

Never had very much money

Yet a lot of life is free.

Reaching for the milk and honey

But it never bothered me.

 

Grew up fast and got wise slowly

But practiced what I believed.

Too often I paid my debts and fees

For things I never received.

 

Kicked around so I hit the road

It all feels the same to me.

Started walking with an easy load

Searching for Infinity.

 

Some people when they call you friend

They’ll stay that way for life.

They’ll stick with you until the end

To make sure that you survive.

 

Give them a chance they give you two

No fear; no hate inside.

Not easy to live that way too

At least I can say I tried.

 

So much older than I was then

I won’t be singing much more.

Placed my bets again and again

But never managed to score.

 

What I wanted was what I had

Knew it eventually.

Though life doesn’t seem so bad

It was out of focus to me.

There have been many memorable events in my life to date and many more to come.  It might not be apparent at the time the impact any one of them would have at the time.  I have never been diagnosed or treated professionally but I find myself dealing with depression from time to time.  It is impossible to know what triggers those feelings and more difficult to see your way out. On one of those times I could not break the cycle.  I had no motivation or inspiration.  In fact, I did not care at all.  About anything.  I had been through similar situations before so for weeks I kept telling myself it would pass in its own time.  I would get through this one as well.  But that was the only positive thought I had.  Life not worth living.  Nothing made me happy or sad. I forced myself through motions and obligations by shear routine.   I seemed like this would go on forever.  It felt unbearable even though most of my friends had no idea what I was dealing with.

I had tickets to see an amazing show under any circumstances, so I went to see Cirque du Soleil.  It is funny how this affected me.  I watched human beings do what seemed impossible even if you could think of the skills in the first place.  Art and amazing physical prowess seamlessly blended together to tell a story with few words.  Strength and perfection only achieved with years and years of unrelenting practice and sacrifice.  It again showed me the potential of mankind.  Dedication, creativity, trust, respect were all required to make this amazing performance happen.  I realized watching each scene that we are incredible beings when we try. That night I started trying again.  I saw the end of the funk that was created by myself – for myself.  I could see again the beauty of life and the result of hard work when things seem impossible.

History sometimes repeats itself. Funny to think of this after my recent event at a concert to see my musical mentor and hero – Peter Gabriel, performing on tour with Sting.  It is so refreshing to know there are others in the world that struggle to be good.  That work every day to promote peace love and all that corny stuff I could not live without.  In their music and through their lives they can impact so many.  I thought I would never be able to see Gabriel perform.  I have come close, but things did not work out. They almost did not work out this time either.  Of all the artists/people in the world, his music, words and projects affect me like no other person on this earth.  I am who I am with his unknowing help and guidance.  I struggle to be better knowing it is possible.

I grew up listening to Genesis and following his solo career.  I am not obsessed and do not own everything he has.  I do not know every detail of his personal life or career.  But I do think I ‘know the man’.  I understand him as a man and not an idol.  We are growing old together.

Sting was also amazing and sang a number of Peter’s songs, and performing his own tunes and some from the days of The Police.  For me, it was precious, unforgettable and one of the greatest musical experiences I have had.

Heart-of-Stone

Where you live do the stars shine bright.

Is music played throughout the night?

Does the river run to the sea

Are there lands where animals run free?

 

Where you live are there golden beaches

Great halls where the poet teaches?

Are there fields of crops  

Can you see snow on mountain tops?

 

Laws of nature are always the same.

Universal rules that never change.

I wish those were the ways of man.

But we’ve broken them since time began.

 

Do lonely men beat their lover

Do some justify killing another?

Believe what they see they own

Lie and cheat with hearts of stone?

 

Are prisons full of innocents

Banks that hide how your money’s spent?

Barren lands and tortured skies

Silence forced to hide the lies?

The following is version two of the song I posted titled: “Some People”.  See the following link to review the post: https://midimike.com/2016/04/12/co-write-a-song-with-me/.

I do want to thank the brave participants and hope I reflected your thoughts for each verse.  I added as needed and took out as little as possible to fit the melody, but much of your thoughts are intact.  The first two verses and one other verse are in the original release.  If you have not sent in your submissions there is still time, and I will add them in a final version.  Everyone knows “Some People” LOL!

To re-cap, I posted the song and video for Some People asking fellow bloggers to write verses for a new version of the song based on the format of the original lyrics.  Each submission blogger is credited for their writings above each verse as co-authors!  Who knows, maybe another video is in order and authors could submit pictures for their verses.

 

bino32 says:

Some people are happy
A smile or two to spread
Some people, they feel blue
With cold steel pressed against their heads
Trembling like me?
Or dancing like you?

 

Charles G. says:

Some say it’s not their place
Others misuse the day
The faithful will say grace
Some have too much to say
A wonderful spot
To watch it revolve

 

None Other Then Hannah says:

Some beings are kind,
Generous to others.
While many are glued,
Haunt victims to the ache.
Countless overcome,
And show way of escape.

 

Ancient Skies says:

Some people are just people

not me but you –

longing for a reason to

not to be blue –

hey my brother hang in,

you can sing again –

 

it’s all about the tune you see –

but this life just ain’t free.

Some people are just people,

not me but you.

So sing that tune

to chase the blues.

 

tracihalpin says:

Some people are real
Some people pretend
Some people don’t feel
Which one are you?

 

atribeuntangled says:

Some people say they spread the love,

believe like them and rise above.

But if you stray and use your mind

you fall so fast and ties unbind.

As we moved the song “My Heart is Silent” forward, I wanted to give you an update in the process.  New chord structure keeping some of the vibe from the first version and new vocals and you can see how quickly songs can change from the original concept.  The last version had a female vocalist and this time we hear from a friend of Mack.  His name is Carlos and he has a smooth ballad vocal style. Again, this is the first vocal attempt to give us an idea how the song feels with a male vocalist and more of a structured feel to the verses. 

 We decided to go with a spoken intro for the first verse.  I like the way it opens the song and allows us to build the vocals as the song progresses.  Oddly enough, a lot of the lyrics went back to the original as the song structure fit the words a bit easier.  We also considered doing a male-female duet.  No final decision yet and we are still thinking about back-up vocals to enhance some of the lines from each verse to drive the end of the song as it builds up.   

 I added MIDI string parts after the piano intro.  The drum parts and bass guitar are also all MIDI generated coming from the computer.  I added a low-key rhythm guitar part during the chorus and later verses.  Once we have the vocal parts finalized we may add other instruments as the song progresses toward the end.   

 So what do you think?  Male vocalist, female or duet?   

 What other instruments do you ‘hear’ in the final version?  Saxophone?   Brass? Orchestral?  Lead guitar? 

 Do you like the spoken opening verse rather than jumping straight into the melody? 

 Here is the latest rough mix of “My Heart Is Silent”. 

A Song in the Making Part III

A Song in the Making Part II

A Song in the Making

On this Mother’s Day, I would like to give you flowers.  Well, pictures of them anyway!  Each year our local Zoo and Botanical Garden has a tulip display that is quite beautiful.  The varieties and colors are just dazzling and the background landscape of the Cincinnati Zoo is hard to beat.  We go almost every year and as usual I bring my camera.  It is difficult to say if one flower is prettier than the other so I will let you pick your own.

So for Mother’s Day, have a few flowers from me, and enjoy your day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In many cities and small towns throughout the globe, there are places where the living take comfort by visiting the dead.  Cemeteries provide a common burial place for relatives, ancestors and the unknown traveler.  Many believe these to be sacred grounds, spaces to reconnect and remember those before us.  For some a look ahead to our own mortality.  The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band had a line I often think of from one of their songs called “Buy for Me the Rain”.  It looks at this from a slightly different angle; “Gravestones cheer the living, dear, they’re no use to the dead“.  All are valid thoughts and should be respected regardless of your personal views.   

 In my town there is a beautiful cemetery.  My wife and I have gone there for years to walk, watch spring take back the landscape and follow the seasons as winter inevitably returns. I often bring my camera as I cannot deny the beauty. People come there to paint, jog, stroll, get married and seek a type of peace hard to capture in the surrounding city.  The trees, surrounding lakes and flowers keep demanding our return.  Over the years I have taken many pictures and I would like to share a small sample with you.  This is where my mother and younger brother had their ashes placed, so it is a special place for me in so many ways.  While not intending to capture gravestones or monuments, they are a big part of its beauty.  Tourist attractions often include Spring Grove Cemetery for travelers and those not familiar with the city.  Fall is gorgeous there.  Peace can be felt there.  I hope some of these pictures will give you an idea why it draws so many people again and again.