Archive for the ‘My Tunes’ Category

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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.

This has been a very busy year.  Even though I have spent most of it unemployed, I find there was so little time to do things on my list.  I have been busy recording songs; some old ones from the closet and a few new ones where either the lyrics or melodies have inspired me to power up the studio and work/play.  I have not spent much time here.  I feel like I need to catch up on some close friends again.

I also started working again.  I now work for Amazon and though it is not a glorious position, I do like the company and what I do.  It is my first time working 10 hour days and it has taken me a while to adjust.  During those days it is hard to get much else accomplished.

I would like to give you a sneak preview of a new release on CD Baby called “After The Chase”.  I will post more songs and hope you like them.  So, while I may not be in contact with many of you as often as I would like, I keep thinking of the followers and friends I have made here.

I am not very good at naming my songs so it might come to you as a surprise that the name of this song is Get Up!  I came up with that one all by myself.  The simple groove is introduced with the ringing of a bell.  Actually, it is two ‘bells’ that are accurately tuned  off center pitch in each direction.  If you have perfect pitch, I apologize in advance as this will be like nails scratching a chalk board for you!  These were a gift from my friend TR.  It just seemed like a good start to this piece.

Lyrically the song reflects the need we humans have to keep trying and searching for different ways to overcome challenges.  Too often we find ourselves on the ground or in a ditch and think it is not worth getting up.  Thinking it is unfair; that others have it easy and we deserve what they have.

It is far past time that we leave the animal, cultural and magical baggage behind.  We are no longer simply the ‘alpha dogs’ on this planet.  We need to look at our species (beginning with ourselves) and our universe from other dimensions.  Our perspective needs to widen to see the challenges before us.  The solution must be good for all life here, not the one-sided scorching policy all too often displayed in our past.

In order for this to happen we need to look at ourselves as individuals.  Do we contribute to the problem or find ways we can be part of the resolutions?  It is not too late.  If it doesn’t work, get up and try something else.  Be more than a moth driven unerringly toward the flame.  There are more important things than the social trappings of us vs them, surviving or sharing, progress or nature.  Add a little depth.  Look past the shallow surface of day to day life.  “Save the File As”.

Take your future under your control.
Every step getting closer.  Every opportunity improve your understanding and apply what you learn.  Once you find the right path, grab some fellow humans and take them with you!  Now, do it again!

I programmed the MIDI drums, rhythm guitar and keyboard parts.  Thanks to Mr. Lee added the hypnotic guitar parts for me.  I do all the vocals and try to make a haunting but energetic feel for this song.  I call it my anthem for this millennium.  Maybe you find yourself singing this one from time to time.

“Get Up”                                          © 2014 MSK

“Everyone has what should be yours, it’s the way the game is played”

It’s time to Get Up.

Turn yourself around

Get Up

If you have to do it again

 

Get Up

Get yourself up

Get Up

If you have to do it again

 

Give yourself a three dimensional effect

Change the color add a little depth.

Now reverse the image and back down to size.

 

It’s time to Get Up.

Turn yourself around

Get Up

If you have to do it again.

 

Get Up

Get yourself up

Get Up

If you have to do it again.

 

Give yourself a three dimensional effect

Change the color add a little depth.

Now reverse the image and back down to size.

Save the File As:

 

You gotta’ have a real knack

That’s more like an addiction

To turn good hard facts

Into fantasy-fiction.

 

It’s time to Get Up.

Turn yourself around

Get Up

If you have to do it again.

 

Give yourself a three dimensional effect

Change the color add a little depth.

Now reverse the image and back down to size.

Save the File As:

 

You gotta’ have a real knack

That’s more like an addiction.

 

“Everyone has what should be yours, it’s the way the game is played”

It’s time to Get Up.

Turn yourself around

Get Up

Get Up

 

If you have to

Sayin’ If you have to

If you have to just do it again.

 

Sayin’ If you have to

You have to

If you have to just do it again.

 

 

The Cotton SongGoing With the  Flow                                                                                                                                This is a calming piece based on the string sounds from one of the plug-ins on my recording software program.  Sometimes a new sound or new toy can inspire themes, songs and projects.  This is one of those situations where I am listening to new sounds and noodling on the keyboard to hear the new tones and to see how the patch responds to the keyboard and controllers.  As I was listening to the new sounds, I enjoyed the string sound I was playing with and started recording the noodling I was doing.  I played for about five or six minutes and stopped recording to listen back.

The first section I scrapped and the rest was rather pleasant (sometimes this is a surprise indeed!).  While listening I started hearing harmonies in my head so I started recording on a 2nd track and used the same string sound to add another layer.  After that I stopped.  I like the mood this inspires.  I am not sure why I called it Cotton Song, but I got the feeling of being in the South overlooking plantations.  So it stuck!  I did not change anything and mixed it down to what you hear in this post.  Other versions of noodling or just playing with sounds rarely turn into a solid piece, so I have tons of snippets that have nice themes but to date have never been expanded upon.  One of these days I will listen to other noodling sessions and I might make something out of them.  For this song, have a cup of tea, sit back for a little bit and let your mind and body relax.  Admit it… you could use that right about now!

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.

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.

 

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

I was playing acoustic guitar in the living room the other night and I was playing a piece that I had written decades ago. My good friend Tom Robinson added some chords to the structure and it became a favorite instrumental of ours called “Lurker”. I think the name fit as the instrumental piece has a LOT of intentional dissonance and it keeps repeating the pattern over an over, though it changes feeling as the piece is played. I thought about doing something with this guitar piece (there were never other instruments, just the guitar parts) and headed up to the studio. In my computer I found a file called “Lurker” and I opened it up not knowing what it was.

As it turned out a couple years ago I had worked on some drum patterns to go with the guitar part – which like other things, got put on the to do list as I went on to other projects. Funny how many simultaneous projects I have going at any given time. I like the feeling the drums added and thought I would record the guitar piece and play with the tune. As I worked with it I naturally started to think about lyrics for it. Then it hit me – the instrumental piece is repetitious as I mentioned and really doesn’t change ( no Chorus, Bridge or Break or alternate chord arrangement, etc.) The post “Some People” is the same way. It was not structured like a normal “commercial” song. (not that I have ever written one of those!)

So I have been working on the two and I thought this is still going to work as a blogger project. I may add other instruments going forward as it still has just the guitar and drum parts and I toyed with a spooky synth sound for the solo.

I also put up a video on my you tube channel with color pictures I have taken over the years. Some black and white pictures courtesy of Tom Robinson.