Posts Tagged ‘#journey’

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Back before it was the thing to do, my wife and I took this picture.  Literally.  One of us aimed it and the other one snapped the photo.  But this was a special occasion.  This is one of the few photos of our wedding.  We got married in the winter in a local park overlooking the city.  It was an extremely small wedding, but we did have a few uninvited guests.  There were a couple of reporters looking for something to write about on a day when there is nothing to write about.  They saw my wife and myself, with our daughter Alisa in hand, as we were reading the wedding vows that we had written to each other and  exchanging roses. We were standing under the small gazebo in the freezing cold; as calm as you please.

They came up and started a conversation, I figure they thought we were just a couple of crazy people that wanted to know what the heck we were doing.  When they realized it was a wedding ceremony, they decided this was something to write about!  They took our pictures – the only others taken of our wedding – and wrote an article that ended up on the 1st page of the People – Events section.  The article was warm and friendly and captured the humor that you can see in our selfie.  If it is true that the bigger and fancier the wedding, the shorter the marriage will be…. we got it made!

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Here is the thing;  IT happens.  LIFE happens.  Doors open.  Doors lock.  Time is too short.  Reinforcements too late.  People are nice.  People are mean.  Nature Is beautiful.  Nature is deadly.  You can look at this post as poetry or preaching.  A waste of time or a gold mine.  These events WILL happen.  They will happen to you.  They will happen to someone you know.  Each will occur during good times and terrible ones.  The optimist and the others have their answers and their advice.  Here is mine; These events will happen – prepare for them.  That means back up plans for the back up plans in some situations but also taking advantage of the opportunity.  I am an opportunist.                  

To follow our past conversation, we all want those that have succeeded to reach out and help struggling artists.  I am suggesting here that we are helped all the time, but too often we are not prepared to actually hear or understand the message.  We need to be prepared and look for the opening door, because it will happen.  It happens all the time. As I read great articles and poems, learn of projects and accomplishments and all the comments from this blogging community I KNOW people are encouraging others all the time.  We share struggles and that helps others prepare, because it will happen.  I just wanted to give you some idea of how impressed I am with so many intelligent and caring people I hear from every day in comments and your posts.  I count my blessings.  Cheers!    

I was nominated for the Creative Blogger Award by https://toniumbarger.wordpress.com (Thanks so much for the kind words)

Here are the 5 Random Facts About Me: 

1) Before working at the music store, I worked for a Toyota dealership and sold – wait for it —– Used Cars!!!!  I even sold a used car to my future wife.  I knew and still know nothing about cars other than how to drive them.  I was quite successful and my strategy was not to overwhelm customers with specs and technical jargon.  I just found out what they needed and suggested a couple cars they would like.  I loved the work but hated the tactics and methods used by the managers, finance department and just about everything except the money.  It was not worth it to me so I quit selling used cars and started working at the music store for a lot less money. I also sold a car to my future wife.

2) In my last count including technical schools and college I have attended eighteen schools.  I did this count so long ago I can’t remember all the schools now! This is why I’m bad at names and good at getting to know someone very quickly.   I have a difficulties remembering names and places.  I knew family, but unless you were around for a long time, I simply didn’t try to remember names of kids at school, or teachers, or buildings, or neighbors.  But I was good at making friends and connecting with customers.  I can tell you every piece of equipment my music store customers owned, where they played (not by name… but location), and know what style of music they were into but could not remember their names. It is a real challenge in the sales and music industries!  If I could remember names and network, I would be dangerous!    

3) I have studied Martial Arts for years.  My choice to pursue Tae Kwon Do came from the name (I was told it loosely translated to open hand – open fist, meaning no weapons).  The other thing that I liked is they start teaching defense postures rather than attack moves.  If you were challenged and the ‘attacker did not play fair’ we were also trained how to incapacitate them or simply take them out if needed.   One of my songs has a line – ‘I am a pacifist that just loves a good fight’!  I have never had to use it against an attacker but the training and philosophy have lasted a very long time.

4) In reality, with all my posts on musical theory,  I do not read sheet music!  I know how it works and if I had to I could, but I learn and play by ear.  (I have to work at it but I get there)  If I need to use the sheet music to learn a piece, once I have learned it enough to play, I never use the sheet notation again.

5)  Speaking of cars, I guarantee I can teach any licensed driver how to drive a car with a standard transmission in less than ten minutes……..

Instead of tagging a few of you, because I really do enjoy so many of your blogs on a daily basis, I’m encouraging you to share a few random facts about yourself with me – Anything you want to share is welcome. I love getting to know you all and I’m thankful every day to be a part of such an open, welcoming and diverse community.                                                  

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After speaking with a number of people over the years I have gotten the impression that I have a few lucky and maybe rare experiences.  One of the common conversations revolve around dreams or rather nightmares.  Some people have nasty dreams, wake during the night and other symptoms.  Other than what I will describe below, I do not think I have EVER had a nightmare or what people would describe as a bad dream.

I do have repeating dreams or dreams with common themes.  As a kid, going to the playground was always a treat. Some kids play harder than others.  Our family used to compete on how fast you could get going on the swing so you could jump off and land the furthest from the swings!  I wish I had some of that wear-and-tear back, but it was a lot of fun at the time!  So we would swing really fast, let go and jump as far as you could and get back on the swing and do it again. The closest thing I have had to a bad dream is the dream of swinging as a kid.  Everything is the same.  Sometimes lots of other kids (I had a big family so us and a few neighbors was a lot) sometimes I am swinging by myself.  Beautiful day and I swing really fast and when I get to the fastest/highest point I jump.  But now I can see that I am at the edge of a hill, and as I am soaring off the swing the ground below me is dropping off really fast and I am in effect getting higher and higher, even though the swing set is still right behind me at eye level.  I am panicking at this point and cannot believe it. Before I have time to think of something to do I notice I am not falling at all but gently soaring, looking down at the valley below.  The two seconds of adrenaline are gone and I am enjoying a beautiful view on a sunny day.

If you are brave enough….Give me an idea of dreams (or nightmares) that you have.  I think it might tell us a lot about our blogging community.

As a member of a cover band, I was given the opportunity to add something to my personal profile on the band web site.  I added a statement that went something like this; “we will play anywhere for free…..we just charge to move the equipment in and out”!

If you think about it, you would have to pay an awful lot of money to have ‘professionals’ move that much equipment.  Then they have to pack it all up and take it back at the end of the gig.  I have played keyboards, guitar, percussion and back up vocals in most of the bands I performed with.  Sometimes I also ran sound at the same time!  I was carrying so much gear for myself that I probably had more than the sound guy!  Once you haul equipment out of your house (I did not have duplicates, so what I used in the studio I had to tear down and take to the gig, set it up, tear it down, take it home and set it up in the studio again) and set up the gear you are all hot and sweaty and exhausted and now get to play for 4 plus hours, pack it all up and take it home.  Ahhhh, the glamourous rock and roll life.   Knowing all that, I think most people would be amazed at how little the local band playing the bar scene gets paid for all that work.   Maybe it is confusing because we call it ‘play’.  If I figured out an hourly rate I would probably get really depressed!

We also had to practice, individually and as a band.  No weekends free….  you get home at 3 or 4 in the morning and have to recover most of the day, then you play that night and do it all over again.  I always worked at a day job and still do, so this was about all the free time I had.  Now time for family, writing and recording projects and hopefully a little time in the sun.

Is it fun?  Absolutely.  I am an introvert and very shy in public, but it is a thrill to perform with great musicians and have the audience appreciate what you are doing.  I would not give it up, and if I were a bit younger I would still be out there.  At one point I told the band members that I would quit gigging out when I turned 50  – or my van broke down, whichever came first.  My van did break down first, but our light guy fixed it himself for free.  So I kept playing out.  Way past 50.  I recently stopped because tinnitus (a ringing in the ears from long exposure to loud sounds) got pretty bad in the last few years.  I only play out for special occasions these days, but it is still a blast.

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Even though I am very concerned and interested in the political challenges of our time, I do not venture into those topics in this blog.  My opinions are my opinions.  I have my reasons for voting the way I do.  Most of you have your own reasons for your private thoughts.   

 

…….. but today I want to acknowledge the announcement by the Supreme Court.  You may not agree with me – but in my humble opinion that does not make you my enemy – and I am CERTAINLY NOT YOURS!  I am not gay so this does not affect me personally, but it has directly affected one of my daughters.  What we have done in the past to many great and loving people was just wrong.

 

I am so thankful and happy this long battle for something so simple and assumed by so many as basic human rights has been decided.  There is a much longer battle ahead.  Like prejudice and racism, this is not over and is not easy to implement.  We still have so far to go, but let us enjoy this major change and how our country continues to move in the right direction and knows it is in our best interest as a nation and as a people to treat every citizen equally.  

I cannot stop smiling!

*Please see previous post if you are interested in the story behind why I wrote this song. *

Lost Love”   86 bpm  © MSK 6-2004

We’d been together just a little while

Each day melted into the other.

Daylight through the evenings we danced,

Completely consumed by one another.

As life went on our love got stronger.

My friends thought that it would never last.

I know all things come to an end.

Just didn’t think it would be so fast.

It’s been a long number of years now gone

How many more I don’t really know.

Everyday I try to say good bye,

but For some reason I just can’t let you go.

And he said, ‘son, if ignorance is bliss,

You must be a very happy man’.

Memories of your Lost Love might never go away,

But everyone else you love can.

Father and son, we were never far apart

Through ups and downs, good and the bad

We stood so proud; laughing together.

I’d wait forever but you won’t be back.

When my sister died I found myself crying.

Weeks upon weeks and still to this day

I realize I’m thinking about her

As I’m wiping my tears away.

Son, if ignorance is bliss,

You must be a very happy man.

Memories of your Lost Love might never go away,

But everyone else you know can.

Share what you have, help those in need

Focus on the people around you.

Ask us for help, talk to your friends

You’ll feel so much better when you do.

It’s been a long number of years now gone

How many more I don’t really know.

Everyday I try to say good bye,

But for some reason I just can’t let you go.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/dark-energy/id962943592

Reels of Tape”        (c) 1982 MSK 

Reels of tape feel no pain

Watch the movie over again.

Life pours past the flags unfurled

Crack the crystal paralyzed world.

CHORUS: I’ve been told if you live in the future,

You’ll be who you wanna be.

But I ain’t moving to San Francisco

‘Til it drops into the sea.

Careful surgeons with knives of rust

Open wounds of crimson lust.

Forget today and tomorrow.

Leave this song behind, and all it’s sorrow.

CHORUS: I’ve been told if you live in the future,

You’ll be who you wanna be.

But I ain’t moving to San Francisco

‘Til it drops into the sea.

First things first, but think about it twice.

Follow those who take their own advice.

Wasn’t trying any other time.

I’d walk away mumbling a Few Shattered Lines.

CHORUS: I’ve been told if you live in the future,

You’ll be who you wanna be.

But I ain’t moving to San Francisco

‘Til it drops into the sea.

Reels of tape feel no pain

Watch the movie over again.

Life pours past the flags unfurled

Crack the crystal paralyzed world.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/dark-energy/id962943592

This is one of the original acoustic tunes that’s featured on my new album “Dark Energy.” You can find it on ITunes or CD Baby under Michael S. Kennedy.

As I continue to dig into past songs it is easy to see one problem I have;  I am not good at naming my songs.  Sometimes I go for the punch line, but the punch line is not even a line in the song!  Sometimes I try to highlight one phrase, but ignoring conventional songwriting wisdom, I do not use a phrase over and over in the chorus and call that the title.  So here is another example where the names have changed over the years.  Originally the title was “A Few Shattered Lines“.  I was reading a letter from a friend of mine at college and I pulled some of his phrases into the lyrics. Below are the results.

Reels of Tape has a deep meaning for me.  I spent a lot of years recording on reel to reel tape decks.  I still have my original 4 track TEAC machine.  The lyrics are more abstract than other songs I have written and for some reason I can still slip back to those times when I hear this song.  I am using my Ovation Balladeer 12 string guitar as my standard writing/recording instrument over the years, and I just love the tone and the progression of the chords.  The twelve strings just sound so full, and when using open tuning, it can make the chords sparkle.  The other quick observation: I don’t get rid of equipment I buy…… I keep it forever!

The lyrics seem to create images that expand beyond the words.  Familiar topics can do that sometimes when looked at with a different point of view or even a change in mood.  I love – Life pours past the flags unfurled, Crack the crystal paralyzed world – and other parts, but I could not really tell you why.  Another phrase that sticks with me is – Forget today and tomorrow, leave this song behind, and all it’s sorrow.  a lot of my lyrics have a rather dark perspective.  But behind them all is a sense of hope and a promise that things will get better and improve.  I am one of the most optimistic people I know!

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/dark-energy/id962943592

Recording as an acoustic tune, I use one track for the vocals (unless there is a harmony track) and I use another track for the ‘line out’ from the acoustic/electric guitar, and then I use another track for a microphone placed in front of the 12 string (even here, it is important to place the microphone at the ‘sweet spot’  to get the best tone.  Placing a microphone in front of anything without testing will more often disappoint rather than delight.  As in other posts, I have had better success if I literally stick my head up to the instrument and move back and forth until I get the best sound.  Doing this while playing the instrument is not practical, so I place the microphone, record, listen and compare it to other tracks that use a different microphone position.  Once you have the best of the best, you can be pretty safe using it again.  Live situations with full bands and instrumentation is a challenge and I still try to stick my face in there to get an idea what that instrument sounds like but also if it is close to other instruments, speakers, or unwanted noise makers.  Most vocalists will stand in front of the microphone, but even in this case if they lean or tilt one way or the other it can dramatically affect the final tone or sound.  Much of this is tied to the proximity effect and we will get into that later. For the most part I will pan the 12 string guitar line out to hard Left and the microphone for the 12 string hard Right.  Vocals go in the center, unless you have more than one vocalist or lead singer.  I use very few processors like compressors, gates, limiters, and the like.  As long as you start with a solid tone a bit of EQ if needed, bring in some light reverb or delay and the mix is done.

“QUIET NIGHTS” (c) 1976 MSK

INTRO: Quiet Nights, I sit without lights,

Then what I play, accompanies me.

Accompanies me.

I’m a man of refined habits,

But not refined too much.

I’m searching for the spirit

While I find the touch.

Locked inside no prison

But can not call your name.

Outside your rock tree garden

Where silent lovers came.

Mourning come and shed no tears

For those they should have saved

While rocks beneath the water

Become tombstones for the grave.

INTRO: Quiet Nights, I sit without lights,

Then what I play, accompanies me.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/dark-energy/id962943592