Posts Tagged ‘#writer’

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

 

 

msk-2016-0605

 

Far away from our puzzle the answers lie.

Solutions escape us no matter how hard we try.

It is in the final moments when we close our eyes

Clarity presents itself in a spectacular surprise.

 

Endless failures in another wild-goose chase.

Others succeed while we continue on in disgrace.

Clues too often seem buried without a trace.

Then the Golden Egg appears right in front of our face.

 

          The Path Forgotten is the worst.

          Search in the Last Place First.

          Doors open if you do not look.

          Avoid the missteps the others took.

 

Advice is often measured by its lack of success.

People are valued too much by how they are dressed.

Prizes awarded to those that cannot pass the test.

You never get the chance to do what you do best.

 

                   There are Alternatives

                   Who demands and who gives.

                   Decide which path you should be on.

                   Before your choices are gone.

 

Spinning circles become spirals in the ground.

People will still follow no matter how crazy you sound.

It doesn’t take that much to get turned around.

Soon what you’ve been looking for will never be found.

 

 

“Alternatives” © MSK 4-12-2016

As I was growing up there was always something going on.  Six kids in my family, pets, friends, school, chores, projects, neighborhoods and a world to discover kept things active.  Then came work, children, music, art, more projects and hobbies, more moving, supporting creative efforts, grand children, changing jobs, helping friends and family members move, it never really stopped.

I never had time by my self; I have never lived alone.  Room mates, family members, partners, spouses, kids, working then practicing in spare time and playing out in bands, learning new skills and keeping up with technology all demanded time from me.  Time from my own projects.  Time by myself.  I sleep less than most people I know (other family members aside LOL) and I got a lot done.  My older brother told me that he comes to me to get a task or project done because he knows I am the busiest person he knows……  He sees that I don’t put things off or put them on a list for later.  Later may be busier than now.

I get things done.

Now so you understand, I am the world’s biggest procrastinator;  if it doesn’t NEED to be done NOW, and there might be a more efficient (or comfortable) time to do it, I will wait until that time.  I often lump tasks and projects together to save time.  I never wore a watch and I keep my ‘daily planner’ in my head.  I did not need them.  I did not have the luxury of scheduling events as they came at me at all times with varying levels of necessity and priorities already set.

Later in my life I would be surprised when a situation came up and there was no one around.  I don’t mean waiting in a doctor’s office or standing in line for something.  I mean no one around and no immediate task at hand.  It got me thinking about how little time I do have by myself without a deadline or project or finally having time to get that low priority job done.  It was hard to come up with many times over the years when that happened at all.

Now that I am older, I find myself relishing being alone.  Thinking.  Quiet.  Experiencing life outdoors.  Playing or listening to music.  Reading.  I consider myself a hermit in many ways and I think this is one of the driving forces behind the desire to ‘cut myself off’ from the rest of the world.  As with many things in life this is a double-edged sword.  I can see now that when I hesitate or postpone seeing a friend, going out to see a band, joining in on projects that I am actually being selfish.  I just want to have some time by myself.  Not to be ‘alone’, necessarily, but that is the cutting effect.

My friends will say that I am always there to help, a great friend and willing to do anything for my ‘tribe members’.  I thank them for sharing their lives with me and for loving me as I am.  But I do not go out of my way to contact people any more.  I often avoid gatherings or opportunities to be part of the group.  Inside I think I am very selfish.  Not greedy as I do not want anything and do not need more of anything.  Selfish about time to think.  Time to play with my toys.  Time to relax and do nothing.

Maybe after some time I will have had enough and venture out more.  Maybe this is short term to make up for lack of space over the years. At this point I am not sure.

Bill K No Worries DSC_0065.jpg

So many experiences are composed of related stories and within each story a number of players or artists.  The telling or remembering of some stories becomes difficult before the first words are shared.  What stories do you include?  Which ones do you leave for another time, even though the knowing will make this tale more complete?  Which characters will be the focus today when so many were needed to play their part.

Too many things to share.  If that were the biggest problem we would all become happy and prosperous.  Often, your spouse is also your soul-mate.  Sometimes your boss is your friend.  Do we present the boss or the friend when the story is told?

No Worries.

I do not advertise or promote my recording studio.  Every project has been from word of mouth or referrals/introductions that happen when good people want to introduce you to other good people.  Here is a quick summary of a recent project I was fortunate to be involved with.  Through my wife, my studio and talents were offered to record and back-up a song written by Bill Kreutzjans of the band Smokin Zeus to comfort someone after the primary – election process had finally ended.  He will play acoustic guitar and sing his song, but wanted a fuller sound and maybe some harmonies.

Before he came over to record I got ready.  I listened to a recording of the song and took out the copy of the lyrics.  First; I checked the tempo of the song.  Then I “mapped out” as I call it, a detailed arrangement of the song.  Not just how many verses, bridges, and choruses but also how counting full measures, partial measures, key or tempo changes, and getting an idea of the dynamics that evolve as the song plays out.  I pull up my computer and recording software (I use Sonar, but there are many others).  I created a basic drum pattern to use as a fancy metronome.  Bill laid down his tracks listening to the drum tracks and as most artists do in a studio, he fine-tuned his sound and melody.  Very quickly we had a great foundation recorded.

This was one of those dream songs where everything dropped into place.  We all had ideas of what we wanted to add.  The equipment worked well and everything went smoothly as the song kept building.  I played each section of the song back (sometimes over and over) and used a MIDI keyboard to “record” the bass guitar parts.  Then I used the MIDI keyboard to again trigger sounds from the computer software and plug-ins, but this time I picked a natural string sound to fill around the acoustic guitar.

Good enough progress for a few hours stolen in the day, so we save and back-up files and plan to meet soon to finish.  Send rough mix mp3 so all can listen to tracks we have so far.

In the days before we meet to finalize and mix the tracks, I clean up the drums and add accents to help the song build.  The drum sounds are also provided by the software and I can trigger the individual sounds or use pre-recorded and/or user-created loops.  These ingredients can be blended, added together and shoved in the oven until you get a great loaf of bread.  I add the vocal harmonies based on previous discussions.  Now I spend some time with the mastering tools I have and process tracks using E.Q., compression,  (where needed.  I am not big on heavy compression) volume leveling, etc., and then fun stuff like reverb and stereo placement to make each part noticeable and clear.  Send rough mix mp3 so all can listen to tracks.

At this point I am playing the song over and over because I like it.  I think it sounds cool and we meet to mix and master.  I always try to get an idea how the author/performer wants the components or project to sound like.  It is a difficult language, but if I get a feel for what they want – or an example of things like it – I can usually find the ‘tone’ of the mix they are familiar with.  We pick preferences as we go and the mix continues to bake.  We blend track levels with effects and record the master mix to a stereo track      ( ….. this topic will be a series of articles in the future ).   

For all of you; “No Worries”            © Bill Kreutzjans 10/2016

 

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.

 

Waiting”                                                                                       MSK 10-25-2016

If you were waiting for the right time

The perfect time is now.

If you feel your voice has not been heard

It’s time to scream out loud.

 

Forever waiting for your ship to come in

Better get to the dock.

Time never seemed to be on your side

But every day you wind the clock.

 

When we truly ‘do unto others’

There’ll be no need to fight.

The best way forward in the darkness

Is to create a bit of light.

 

It’s always been an uphill battle

Still you could win the war.

Out gunned facing overwhelming odds

Life is worth fighting for.

 

Saving for this; hoping for that.

Waiting; Waiting.

Working all night, planning each day.

Waiting; Waiting.

 

Never had a good hand to lay down

Soon you’ll place your bet.

Never had a chance to finish the race

But you’re not beaten yet.

 

 

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.

 

msk-2016-0840

First To Fall                                (C) MSK 9-24-2016

We are the first to fall

Silent signal to you all.

Summer is over; winter comes

Beauty of spring is now undone.

 

We are the first to fall

Those who listened for the call.

The song continues; season strums

Cycles end as they’ve begun.

 

We are the first to fall

Summon our young and let’s withdrawl

Leaves change colors; turn to crumbs

Stories told for years to come.

 

 

 

 

 

The Politics of Safety 2

 

If you found yourself in a strange city late at night and your car broke down in a ‘bad section of town’ and you had to walk alone to get help; how would you feel?  No cell phone service is available.  Imagine it for a while.  Now add the possibility that you had your small child with you.  Feeling a little tense yet?

Soon you see a group of teen-age youths approaching you.  They do not look like you and are probably not part of the friendly local neighborhood watch.  They all cross the street to the same side you are walking……..

I will try to make this brief so play this out in your head for a while.   Think of a movie scene unfolding.

If you feel you and the child are in danger, what steps would you take to ensure your safety?

Would you cross to the other side of the street?

If approached and you felt intimidation, would you begin to run?

If you had a knife would you point it at the group?

If you had a hand gun would you point it at the group?

If you had an automatic weapon would you pull it out?

If you had a grenade would you pull the pin?

If you had a device that would destroy the entire block but you would be safe would you use it to save yourselves?

If you had a massive weapon that would level the city but you would not be harmed would you use it?

You are calm now and reading what seems like an unlikely scenario, but the protection and preservation of your life and that of your child is hard wired into each of us.  To avoid the possibility (real or imagined) of harm to you and your child are you willing or could you imagine killing or injuring one of the group.  How about two of them.  What about all of them?  In the stress of the moment would you risk injuring passers-by?

In the US we have the ‘right to bear arms’.  It is in the constitution plain as day.  But when this was written the bow and arrow had been replaced by single-shot guns as the major weapons of the time.  Cannons could not be carried or moved by a single person or easily reloaded.  Hand guns capable of rapidly firing multiple bullets were not invented until the 19th century.

The authors of the US constitution had no concept of revolvers, semi automatic weapons let alone modern military style assault weapons of today or tomorrow.  The thought of RPG’s (Rocket Propelled Grenades) and other military tools were unimaginable at the time.

We are required to take tests and acquire a license to drive a car.  More tests, training and licenses to drive a commercial truck or bus.  Even more to operate cranes and earth movers.

We need a hunting license to shoot wild game – are told where and when allowed by local laws.  We have to get a license to get married.  Statistics are gathered and analyzed in fine detail for all of the above.

Funny; when you ask manufacturers and sellers of weapons how to resolve civilian mass shootings and the real threat of criminals with hi-capacity guns – the ONLY answer is to sell more and bigger guns so everyone has one.  Hell, they want you to buy a dozen.

We can purchase guns of all sorts including military style assault rifles without question in a number of ways.  We do not need a license to hunt or kill humans in this country.  The government is prevented by special interest groups from spending any money to gather data on gun usage or sales.

With very few exceptions, no one is trying to take your guns away –  No one wants to stop you from defending your family from home intruders –  No one wants to stop you from legally hunting wild game – any more than they want to take away your car or pick-up truck by requiring you get a license.  But what we are doing now does not make sense.

One Last Time

Posted: September 29, 2016 in Poetry
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

msk-sun-and-clouds-1“One Last Time”              (C)  MSK  9-22-2016

There are no ways to describe

How much I would give

 

To see the stars one last time.

To hear your voice again.

And feel the warmth of the sun.

To hold you in my arms.

 

There are no limits to how long

I would wait

 

If I knew I would hear your voice.

To watch you as you laugh.

Or share the sadness of your tears.

And love you as you grow old.

 

But there is no chance.

No last minute plan.

The end of this dance

Is already at hand.

 

I wish to see the stars one last time.

To tell you that you are mine.

I’d love to help in times to come

Give you courage when you have none.

 

But there is no chance.

No last minute plan.

The end of this dance

Is already at hand.                                                                                                                                                  ————————————————————–