Archive for the ‘My Tunes’ Category

Those that have visited my site from the beginning to those that have read my posts and comments over the years will know that I started a musical path early-on in my childhood.  From my parents selecting musical instruments for Christmas and my birthdays to my older brother David writing poetry that I would turn into beat and melody (using whatever toys I had available at the time!).

As my interest in poetry grew I tried to soak up what he already knew.  Younger, I did not have training, but I had a natural feel for timing/rhythm and melodies.  I picked up theory, arrangement, recording techniques and a million other things from people way smarter than me in later years, but early it was just experimentation and the fun in creating.

We shared a lot, critiqued a lot, and bounced around things as they got better and better.  Writing lyrics is funny.  We use them to tell a story or create a mood.  Vocals can put us in a trance or allow us to laugh ourselves silly.   Lyrics by themselves they are often trite or ‘nothing, really’.  But put them in front of the right music and performance and they can become life altering.

Over the years there were countless songs we co-authored in one way or the other.  I often leaned on my strong points in the beginning and created the chord progression and melody, but David learned to play the guitar and we later played piano/keyboards.  It is difficult if not Impossible to know what parts originated where.  I stopped trying decades ago!

I have posted songs that we are particularly proud to have been even a small part in writing.  (I think there might be one or two more I have not posted yet, I will have to check LOL).  In the following weeks I would also like to post a number of songs my brother wrote and recorded years ago.  He and a few friends went into a recording studio and laid down his new songs even as some were being finalized.  As I did not record or perform in his “David K and Studio Way” session, it was great to hear this completed project for the first time.

Here are a few of the favorite songs I posted on this blog.

https://wordpress.com/post/midimike.com/205

https://wordpress.com/post/midimike.com/173

https://wordpress.com/post/midimike.com/116

https://wordpress.com/post/midimike.com/50

I will do a little research and post a few tunes from “David K and Studio Way”.

 

© MSK      May 1981

It’s not so much the definitions,

Or the way things are said.

Some people come as missionaries,

While others won’t be led.

 

Every start has an ending

That goes on flawlessly

You know there’s nothing worth defending

If it won’t set you free.

 

            It was Just An Idea

            That stayed inside my head.

            It was Just An Idea but it’s over now

            But,

            I know

 

It’s time to put away the toys,

If they’re no longer fun.

Most of it was pretty embarrassing

So I won’t tell anyone.

 

I was told when you put on the brakes

You gotta be wastin’ gas.

I’ve come around a lot of curves since then and

Some I took a little too fast.

 

            It was Just An Idea

            When streets are made of glass.

            It was Just An Idea, I should have let it pass.

            But,

            I know how.

 

                        It was Just An Idea

                        That stayed inside my head.

                        Still making my ears ring.

                        Whose ending has begun.     

 

               

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I guess my age and the labor-intensive job I have will collide more frequently than I would hope.  The impact on my body is two-fold:

On one hand I maintain strength and flexibility.

On the other I stress muscles, tendons, bones and stamina beyond what is probably safe or healthy.

I am a dork.  I like to work hard.  Like walking slowly…….  I can’t do it.  It actually takes more effort for me to slow down and it feels awkward.  I work the same way.  If there is a deadline or clear goal I work harder.

Just over a week ago I went to an orthopedic doctor to perform bi-lateral carpal tunnel surgery.  I could have done one hand at a time but each recovery would be about six weeks.  Even if there was no time in-between – or they overlap a little, that is a long time.  I don’t want to go back to work sooner, but I would like to start playing instruments and recording.  If I do them both at the same time I will be ready to start working on getting my chops back up to speed sooner.  If I am really lucky, there will be improvements in dexterity and endurance.

I still do things I can.  I write poetry and lyrics.  I look at their musical possibilities and as soon as a melody or chord progression forms I can’t let it go.  I cannot play guitar or drums, and very little keyboards at this point, but I managed to put some drum loops down for my recent post: “Something To Say”.  Without other instruments I wrote a melody from the drums and meter of the lyrics.  Usually I would have instruments to sing against, so this is kind of working backwards from my usual creative flow.  Maybe I will complete the song with other instruments. Maybe you will, and send them to me!

“Single Desire” is one of my favorite original lyrics.  I think a number of my songs get too “preachy” and sound like I know all the answers.  I usually don’t know all the answers, but I sure have made a lot of mistakes to learn from.  Single Desire takes another path. With fewer words than many of my songs it tries to paint images using sights from our normal day to day lives.  I like using the sunset comparison as sunsets are one of the most beautiful things we get to enjoy on this planet.  Yet in this analogy, they can be burned permanently into our hearts and minds.  Sometimes the loss of beauty is the worst experience of all.

https://midimike.com/2017/12/06/single-desire/

 

“Single Desire”                                  (C) MSK 1988

You left your mark upon me

Like sunsets on fire.

Plunged deep into the sea

With a Single Desire.

 

Always got what you wanted

Nothing worked more than your charm.

As the hunter you hunted

Without thinking of the harm.

 

I never let you down

“But did you really care?”

I never put you down

“You just tried to keep me there”.

Once I had to follow:

Now I walk away.

 

You left your mark upon me

Like sunsets on fire.

Plunged deep into the sea

With a Single Desire.

 

I never let you down

“But did you really care”.

I never put you down

“You just tried to keep me there”.

Truth is hard to swallow

My Single Desire

 

Once I had to follow.

Now I walk away.

MSK Yellowstone

MSK Yellowstone

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Photo by MSK Yosemite

Burning Impressions That Last Forever                                 

“Single Desire” was written in a time when I must have had a lot to say.  The year was 1988. Once love has grabbed you it can burn deep.  No matter how you want things to turn out, sometimes you have no control on the direction they take.  You find yourself helpless at the time and unable to avoid mistakes that seem obvious even to you.  Single Desire tries to describe the condition when adoration is not reciprocal.  When you are not loved in return.  Only one thing matters and nothing you can do will make it happen.

When the other person learns that type of control is in their hands, they have power that can turn lovers insane.  He/She can make the helpless romantic into a tool that can be discarded when no longer useful.  There is no cost to them.  Displays of charm and hints of affection can destroy all resistance and common sense in the admirer.

We need to wait until the fire burns out completely before we can stop following and finally walk away.  The problem is there is usually very little left to walk away with.

I tried to give this song a full arrangement as powerful as the lyrics (or the idea behind them) felt to me.  I knew I could not sing it the way it required so I called my  good friend and band-mate Gary Jefferson as I have many times over the years to do the vocal tracks.  My wife Ellen does the chorus ‘response’ vocal parts.  I used my keyboards and MIDI tone generators to do all the instrumental tracks including the drums, strings, brass and bass guitar parts, and invited my buddy Shawn Anderson to come over and lay down the lead guitar tracks. Harlen Lee, another great friend of mine, came in and added additional guitar parts.  I really like the bass guitar line, and think the strings add movement and dramatic accents to the song.

Please give “Single Desire” a few plays to let it sink in and I hope you enjoy.

I wrote this song many years ago.  It reflects ideas I had for a long time before they became lyrics to a song.  I can’t tell you how many times I have been interrupted by people coming into a dark room I was in and immediately tuning on all the lights.  Even early in my life I was concerned about so many city lights that I could not see the stars on an otherwise clear night.  There seemed to be no end to this trend.  Now I have to travel miles and miles to find a dark place outside the city lights.

earthlights3_dmsp

I only have this one recording of the song.  This happened when I introduced the song for the first time to my band mates.  We ran through this tune a couple times in the living room.  As far as I know this is the only time the song was performed, so I was lucky to get it recorded……

Though that is not strictly true as I recorded everything back then!  My friends used to give me a hard time for being so weird about that.  I always had the mics out and ready to record.  Even if we just sat around and talked, I had the reels rolling.

So while this is not a great recording and you can hear me give arrangement directions as we ran through the song, I am glad to have this copy of Brighter and Brighter.  I will have to look in my archives to find out when the lyrics were written.  At the time, my young son would want to keep his bedroom lights on at night.  Not for fear of something under the bed.  Just because he preferred it that way.  So these lyrics and the song they inspired are for him.

“Brighter and Brighter”                                  (C) MSK

Some people get off on those neon lights

Keep the sun burning to hold back the night.

Won’t give it a chance and set the darkness free

So much going on that they have to see

That they have to see.

 

Not me!

I Dig the Dark

I Dig the Dark

I Dig the Dark

 

Sign posts, traffic lights and red laser beams

Brighter and Brighter that’s the way it seems

I don’t turn yours out so don’t turn mine on

Just leave it where it is until I am gone

Until I am gone.

 

I Dig the Dark

I Dig the Dark

I Dig the Dark

 

Hide in the closet and close my eyes

It won’t help to look when the spirt flies

It’s people like you who learn to believe

Through large mushroom clouds and your big bight ideas

Yeah, all your big bright ideas.

 

Not me!

I Dig the Dark

I Dig the Dark

I Dig the Dark

____________________________________________________________

Written 8-27-1982 by MSK and I recorded it around 4-1983.

The main melodic themes for this song were inspired by my Yamaha DX7 ‘tine’ sound. That sound (or patch) has been used in many professional recordings since the keyboard was introduced.  The guitars and vocals are real-time of course, and everything else was sequenced.

Ann Ellis from my band The Personal Touch does the vocals on this one.  I would play the main piano part and she would sing the lyrics until we got the timing and the feel the way we wanted it.  From that point I sequenced the main piano part.  Every time I play this song I play it as you hear it in this recording, but I play a different last chord.  No two versions have the same ending, and I never know what the last chord will be.  My wife Ellen and I worked on the backing sounds like the strings, brass and pads to make this a full sounding production.  Once I had the basic piano parts and drums done, I don’t think we ever added a dedicated bass line as the song ended up sounding very full.

My buddy Shawn David Anderson plays lead guitar on this one and really drives home with the power and tone I was hoping for.  The lyrics are one of my favorites.  Not necessarily by themselves, but when reflecting on the emotions and events of the time. True multi-track recording capabilities gave me the option to create complex instrumental layers as opposed to the limited recordings I had been able to achieve from a four-track cassette deck!

I even sent this song to be evaluated by professionals.  Among some of the comments it was suggested that the song was too long and that the intro went too long before the vocal lines were introduced.  I have a version that starts when the vocals kick in, but this is my favorite version.  I hope you agree.

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Fortunately, when I have too many things on my plate and never seem to get to putting some of my best lyrics to music, I have many talented friends that bail me out.  Often I write poems – but almost as often I begin writing lyrics intending to put music to them at some point.  Today I will share the lyrics and the original live recording to one of my favorites.

I found myself thinking of musical relationships and what, to some, becomes a long path that never gets close to ‘stardom’, whatever that is.  The late-night conversations with many friends – musicians reflecting on the efforts and rewards involved in the lifestyle we have chosen – became metaphors in these lyrics.

The title “Stainless Steel” refers to one type of guitar strings.  I also use silk and stainless steel strings on my Ovation 12 string guitar, but Stainless Steel captured the feeling I was surrounded by when writing the lyrics.  There is a certain pride creative people get when sacrificing for their art.  So many things are put on the back-burner or postponed indefinitely to accomplish turning a dream or idea into a treasure; even if it is only for a select few to enjoy.  No one else may ever know what gems were created, and it appears to many that you have nothing to show for your time and talent.  Only a few will understand the trade-offs you have made; those sitting around with you late at night, year after year.

In this recording my good friend, the late Mark Kelsey, plays guitar and sings.  He is accompanied by Ann Ellis from my band “The Personal Touch”.  Mark has worked through the arrangement a few times and I believe this is the first time Ann had heard the song.  He quickly recorded for me to listen to and was later to record a final version in a professional studio where he lived.  This is my favorite recording and I will always think fondly of him when I hear this recording.  While the living room quality is easy to hear, the mood and inspiration comes through clearly.

In our busy lives, it is all too easy for us to overlook the efforts our friends and loved ones make for us.  Sometimes it takes far too long for us to fully appreciate those acts of love.  I have let many go unrecognized – unappreciated – unacknowledged until it was too late.  Looking back I find myself humbled to realize how much my life would have been uplifted and how many friends deserved my  – – –  I do not know the correct words, but ‘praise’ seems as close as any I can think of.   It may also have uplifted their lives in a time when they needed it most.  It can be sad and joyous when time finally reveals the reflections of our lives.

Stainless Steel”                         Lyrics by MSK, Music by Mark D Kelsey  © 1984

 

Stainless Steel Shining Bright

Broken Glass Shattered nights

When we talk, What we feel

Lights the fire Turns the Wheel

Turns the wheel

 

Stainless Steel Sharp and cold

Day by day Bought and sold

Take my hand Close your eyes

Say a prayer Throw the dice

Throw the dice

 

Waiting for a Miracle is like waiting forever

When there’s nothing else to do

I hope that someone’s out there waiting for me baby,

The way that I ‘m waiting for you

Oh Stainless Steel

 

Stainless Steel Deep within

Who we are What we’ve been

Reaching out Find ourselves

Kiss goodbye, What the hell

What the hell

 

Stainless Steel Never bends

No one blames Or defends

Smiles will fade Tears will fall

Memories of Nothing at all

Nothing at all

 

Waiting for a Miracle’s like waiting forever

When there’s nothing else to do

I hope that someone’s out there waiting for me baby,

The way that I ‘m waiting for you

Oh Stainless Steel

 

 

 

I enjoyed the response from my poem “Eight Letters”.  Thank you all so much. (https://midimike.com/2017/07/25/eight-letters/)

The poem kept rattling in my head all day long and I found them fitting a rhythmic pattern.  Then a melody jumped in and I headed up to my studio to get it all down.

There was a mood inspired by the groove and I layed down the guitar tracks to a metronome.

The drums came easily as I followed the rhythms in my head.  As I mentioned earlier, this is fun and simple for me.  The chorus just jumped out, and I like the changes coming back into the verse.  The 6 string acoustic guitar sounded great to me and fit the song perfectly.

From there it was add the bass sound on my MIDI keyboard and it was ready for the Lead and harmony vocals.

It took me a while to sing this one to match the mood and I am glad you didn’t have to listen to me learn the melody and fit it to the music, but I think it came out as intended; short and sweet.

Here is the song mixed down.  The whole process took me about a week, but this was before I started working over 50 hours a week!

 

 

MSK 02

MSK 02

Eight Letters”                        © 3-10-2017

 

I’ve done a lot of things

Some of them turned out wrong.

Wrote pages and pages

Emotions forged into song.

 

No way to imagine

How I would feel today.

Should have held tighter

Never let you walk away.

 

Over and over from summer to spring.

Day and night shouting and screaming

After all these years I keep repeating

Eight letters that don’t mean a thing.

 

Can’t say I didn’t try

Little comfort tonight.

Knowing what I have lost

It would have been worth a fight.

 

Over and over from summer to spring.

Day and night shouting and screaming

After all these years I keep repeating

Eight letters that don’t mean a thing.

 

Eight letters that don’t mean a thing.

Promises spoken.  What the future brings.

Eight letters that don’t mean a thing.

Promises broken.  Songs I’ll never sing.

 

No way to imagine

How I would feel today.

Should have held tighter

Never let you walk away.