Posts Tagged ‘#family’

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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.

I heard the other day that about 10% of people are left-handed.  This generated a few thoughts that I have been rolling around in my head.  I have been surrounded by lefties most of my adult life.  Sometimes I get confused and try to do things like a left-handed person would.  It usually does not work out very well!

Now, think about 10% of the population that most people perceive to be ‘backwards’.  In schools when I was growing up and long before, educators would try to ‘correct’ what they saw as defiant, wrong, defective, backwards (and the implied stupidity). Many teachers and nuns would crack a ruler over your knuckles if you used the ‘wrong hand’, or did not correctly follow instructions on how to do a particular task.

Unfortunately in this day of political extremism, I see many similarities.  Think of one party as left-handed and the other as right-handed.  I will let you choose which one is which for this analogy.  For many, many years the minority of left handed people were forced to conform.  This not only made them feel as if they were being unfairly punished but also made it almost impossible for them to excel and improve using their natural gifts.

When politics are split drastically, one group could dominate the other.  The traditions of the right-handers are forced onto the minority.  There is no concern or sympathy for the minority group and they will not be given the opportunity to voice their concerns let alone suggest alternative solutions.

So let’s pretend that over the last few years the number of left-handed people increased dramatically and now they are close to a majority.   The lefties are now teachers and policy makers themselves.  They encourage children to perform tasks that make use of their natural tendencies.  They pass laws giving them ‘permission’ to do what everyone else has done in the past – to be human.  They demand equal policies and fair treatment.

But the right-handers refuse to allow that to happen and believe it is their duty to fight changes every step of the way.  They see no need for change.  This does not help them at all and now they have to be ‘tolerant’ of these people.  They feel uncomfortable watching or learning from a leftie, and certainly do not want their children to become one. (OR MARRY ONE).  They twist the truth and use marketing techniques to discredit the opposition.  The Defense of Marriage Act is an example……. unnecessary as no one was attacking marriage or trying taking away any rights.  The people that were not allowed to marry needed defense against the majority.

Whether it is equal pay, marriage, educational opportunities, housing, jobs, criminal sentencing and a long list of other ‘privileges’, you cannot be a more perfect union and still deny these basic rights to minority groups.  Sure enough, one day they may be in the majority and will remember how they were treated in the past by those in power.

Left handed people are not trying to ‘convert’ you.  They are not trying to take something from you.  They are not denying or laughing at what you feel and believe.  They are not traitors or devils or the enemy.  They are human beings deserving of the same benefits in life the right handers have taken for granted.

I am a right-handed patriot and I approved this message.

 

Couples

© MSK 3-7-2017

I’m not sure how many were born

But only a hundred of them have survived.

Hard to recreate, no need to mourn

Yet every once in a while the pages come alive.

 

The topics and memories unclear

Faces of friends in shadows now far away.

A million smiles hide the occasional tear

Precious experiences to live another day.

 

More poetic than the lyrics to my favorite song

Still I can only sit by and watch them fade.

As my heart breaks, it leaps once again

Deeper than the day they were made.

 

 People only live for a short while

Unlike paintings of flowers or Mona Lisa’s Smile.

 How complicated can it really be?

I only wanted you to spend your life with me.

 

One hundred and one now as I reflect

When language and all my fancy words have failed.

Singing songs rich in harmonies

Thoughts, desires and emotions all too thinly vailed

 People only live for a short while

Unlike paintings of flowers or Mona Lisa’s Smile.

How complicated does it have to be?

I only want you to spend your life with me.

 

Cocoon”                                  © MSK 11-17-2016

Sitting in a tub full of honey and milk

Long enough so your skin feels like silk.

Or bathe yourself in the big-city lights

Sleep through the day and roaming the nights.

 

Knowing life is often harder than it seems

Surround yourself with your favorite teams.

Winners today and losers tomorrow

Buy memories you cannot borrow.

 

Don’t want to end up another worthless jerk

Get up early and stay late at work.

Study all week ‘cause you can’t fail the test

Never satisfied until you’re the best.

 

            But lately I need none of that.

            Just pull up the covers until it is warm and dark.

            No need to get up and leave the room

            I just want to stay in my little cocoon.

 

Keep repeating my favorite song.

I love my life, don’t get me wrong.

Conversations with family and friends.

But I always know how the movie ends.

 

Keep driving around but there’s no place to park.

Nightmares no longer kept to the dark.

Eyes open as the dream fades away.

Stuck in this game and I don’t want to play.

 

            Take no comfort in any of that.

            Even the fastest of us get eaten by the shark

            No need to get up and leave the room

            I just want to stay in my little cocoon.

 

            But lately I need none of that.

            Just pull up the covers until it is warm and dark.

            No need to get up and leave the room

            I just want to stay in my little cocoon.

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.

   

 

For many, the family line is important if not critical throughout the world.  In countries far older than the U.S.A., blood lines have been kept in-tact through many centuries.

My generation saw the termination of our family branch.  There are plenty of Kennedy’s around, but my immediate line will end with our children.  Plenty of female daughters – that will take other names – and the few males did not produce male children.  My late mother – not a Kennedy until marriage – was concerned and saddened by this. Generations can pass along wealth, wisdom, culture and moral values to descendants to give them a head start in life and to encourage prosperity and family success.  I mixed that line of thought with some other ideas floating in my head to complete the following piece.

Broken Forever”                  © MSK 8-29-2016

No sense regretting things that I’ve done

The mother of my daughter is not the mother of my son.

The child I am raising is not from either one.

Can’t stand still and life can’t be out run

 

The reasons at the time seem to get lost

Like answers to questions and their hidden cost.

Logic and compromise quickly get tossed

Lines and barriers that should never be crossed.

 

Painful reminders surface time and again

Impossible to know where or when.

Still haven’t learned what I didn’t know then

Stop saying how things should have been.

 

The family line has come to an end

Broken forever because it could not bend

Long ago I gave up trying to pretend.

Like piles of letters I will never send.

 

Didn’t see it coming and then one day

On my doorstep and forever to stay.

Denial and tears won’t make it go away

Failing no matter how often I play.

 

A solid base of the family trees

Branches are strong and covered with leaves.

The name is gone but as everyone sees

The fruit they bear have precious seeds.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I make music and take pictures, but my wife is the creative half of the team.  She does it all.  I have threatened to list her abilities here before but none of us have that much time!  She loves to carve pumpkins during the Halloween season and would other times if pumpkins were around.  We would have the kids and grand kids come over and carve pumpkins in the back yard.  It was so much fun and the kids really loved it too.  She made the mistake of telling a few friends and the next year they invited themselves.  We all had a blast.  I am not great in the carving department so I would gut them for the little kids, make sure music was playing and everyone had a hot drink and a perfect pumpkin to work on.  It was a great family event and each year we looked forward to pumpkin carving time.

It seemed like a harmless mistake.  Friends told other friends.  Each year we had more and more people coming over.  We provided the pumpkins and you could take yours home after showing them off to everyone.  The carving tools got more elaborate.  The patterns and artwork more challenging and the carved pumpkins were AWESOME.  I served more hot drinks, gutted more pumpkins than I could count.

Soon we had more events; we had a screaming contest to see who had the most blood-curdling ear-piercing screams (the little kids were unbeatable!).  We had walnut trees and as a result a walnut throwing contest.  Haunted trails through the woods.

Then came the hay rides!  Not to be outdone, we had a haunted house the next year using lights, fog machines and other equipment from the bands I played in.  People started bringing soup and chili to share so we had contests for the best dish.  We started buying pumpkins by the skid!   It now took almost a month to plan the events and get masks, haunted house, hay rides and everything else ready for the big day.

My wife and I were so busy entertaining that she could no longer take the time to carve pumpkins!  This is why the whole thing started and now she could not carve any of her own.  WE were exhausted by the end of the day and even though we had a great time and everyone loved the event, we looked around and decided not to do it next year.  Or the year after.

Fortunately, friends of ours started their own carving events and we went over to theirs to carve pumpkins for a few years until they moved out of state!

With that in mind, here are just a few of the pictures.  Maybe one day close to Halloween I will post the winners of the screaming contest!