Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Lyrics I Wish Were Invisible

I'm sure I'm not the first in asking, in light of this startling news, what would you do if you could be invisible?

Feel free to chime in here with a comment. Or Not. I'm quite sure I had this fantasy in my younger days. It often involved larceny and debauchery. But I've made my money, I'm comfortable with my place on the economic continuum. So I no longer think about walking unseen out of a financial institution with lots and lots of unmarked hundred dollar bills. And while it's true that one never really tires of seeing naked chicks, I've grown unfathomably more respectful of a person's privacy since I was younger. Besides, if you're that desperate for skin sightings, what good is the internet, anyway?

No, the one thing that is routinely and carefully denied all of us is to be a fly on the wall in the political cauldron. A chamber where secret deals are made to screw the likes of you and me. Something tells me that the government won't be letting this invisibility thing go too far. At least not until they devise an alarm device for invisible reporters and political rivals. That's a kind of terrorism, they are REALLY scared of. But I still say weapons of all kinds are scariest to those not in power.

While getting songs ready to record yesterday, I came up with about five new tunes, no lyrics. That is the direct opposite of the way I normally work. Sometimes this happens to me when I'm really tired of what I have to do. I've said it before, avoidance is a terrific muse at times. So maybe one of these tunes will be about being invisible. But I'll avoid the politics here. This effort is very unsatisfying but this is Confessions of a Singer Songwriter, remember? And this is what happens when I try to work in the reverse from my usual lyrics before music method:

Let's get invisible, keep an eye on what they're doing tonight
Make them miserable, on the sly we'll kill the TV and the light
We'll turn up the music, dance in front of the screen
Is it scarier to not see or to not be seen?

I can see you, you can't see me
Who's to say which is the worst dream?
I can see you , you can't see me
Do we really know which way we lean?

Okay, lots of choices there for that last line:
I see you like a little coffee in your cream
Will you hear me if I scream?
I see you're fatter, you can't see I'm lean
You can't see my deadly scheme
We'd never be on the same team

All of them kind of suck, huh?
When this happens you really need to start over. Songwriting can be a long painful process. And sometimes things just happen all at once. But this is typical of the kind of crappie stuff I turn out when I start with music and try to force words into it. I marvel at those who can do it this way successfully. Back to work today on the old stuff. Happy Hump Day!

posted by Bud @ 6:30 AM

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Chick This Out

On the Dixie Chicks thing. It's always risky for any performer to use their stage to make a political/religious statement. It's overwhelmingly tempting at times. As artists, our creative urges, which drive us to wake up in the morning and keep breathing throughout the day, often result in a product that is political or religious. I have a few songs like that but I usually try to disguise them. I have a song about environmental disaster but I feel a bit safe with that. A fact revealed in the documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" is that fifty-three percent of American media sources call global warming "unproven." But zero percent of scientific publications call it unproven. So I feel safe with that song. It's a Fox News vs. Science contest after all. I have another song called Underground that started out being noncommittal about what I was going underground for but it just took on a life of its own. I'll probably rewrite it or not record it. Which is ironic as it deals with having to go underground to avoid the political climate we live in. It's more important as an artist to make people think and feel than it is to ram your POV down their throats.

That being said, I think the public reaction to the Chicks by the country music fans is ludicrous. Blue state radio doesn't make an issue about all the country songs that drip and ooze with veiled and not so veiled hatred for people who disagree with country music POV. They just don't listen. Perhaps because they either don't like the music or because they don't take it seriously enough to care what they say. For well educated thinkers it may be hard to take a genre seriously when it relies on clichˇ so heavily and whose first rule of success is to follow the Nashville formula for getting airplay:
Thirteen seconds of intro, mid tempo, 60 seconds to the chorus which must repeat the title from 5 to 10 times throughout the song, 3 minutes, 20 seconds or under per song, a small range of subject matter limited to love found, love celebrated, love lost, patriotism, drinking, fishing and other rural blue color themes like pickups and dogs. That all equals entry up the country charts. Song forms for successful chart entry and longevity are mostly the basic Chorus-Verse-Chorus- Instrumental-Bridge-Chorus.
You can read that in Billboard. I got it from Ralph Murphy who writes a column called Murphy's Law for ASCAP. I'm not making it up. It's hard to get very heady with that formula. But Ralph and many others have obviously made a tidy living with it.

That's why my most satisfying work is in Coffee Houses. Snobs like me feel it's like a choice between the NY Times or the supermarket tabloids. Sometimes I'm too busy for the Times and sometimes I need a good laugh (Baby Born Singing Christmas Carols, Britney Births Alien Child, Olsen Twin Carrying Henry Kissinger's Love Child) but sometimes I'm troubled by how seriously people take that stuff.

So I guess one of the major lessons is that you shouldn't do anything if you're not prepared to deal with the possible consequences. And if you don't entertain all the possible consequences, then you deserve to live with them when the ones you ignored blow up in your face. Some people are clearly comfortable with that. They thrive on it.

Whatever your POV, thrive on it this week. Happy Monday. And on this Memorial Day, remember those we have lost for whatever the cause. Regardless of what you or they believed, they are lost forever. "Gone is Gone (No Matter How You Go)," is another shelved song title of mine. I'll probably never resurrect that one though.

posted by Bud @ 7:44 PM

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Austin Has No Limits

Back from Austin, TX and not even close to catching up. I never had any interest in going to Texas but Austin is very untypical from what I've been told. Live Music Capital of the world. There was live music in the airport when we arrived. On a Tuesday afternoon. We GPSed our way to our hotel and then dinner with family at an amazing overlook restaurant called The Oasis. Yup, more live music. Good Tex-Mex vittles.

We flew out there for a graduation of one of Cathy's nephews. MBA from UT. We love this kid but we don't attend graduations anymore. We each skipped our own Masters Degree graduations. I also skipped my post graduate graduation. Having taught for so many years and having graduation attendance in our job descriptions, well, we are so finished with that. So we took a day trip to a cool little town way west of Austin called Fredericksburg. A German town with old west trimmings. Pretty cool little burg. Passed by the LBJ ranch. Just not in a historical mood. I still remember LBJ picking his hound up by the ears. Later we attended the graduation party. Fun time. Love that family. It's big and they were almost all there. But we skipped the baptism of it's newest member the following day. One of the reasons I love this gang so much is that they don't get upset with our decidedly different views on just about everything. We would surely be dead meat in a lot of families.

Austin Bats One interesting highlight of Austin is the bats who roost under the Congress Avenue Bridge. A million and a half of them come pouring out of there every evening while throngs of people go to picnic and watch. This is really strange. A million and a half bats darken the sky. Well if the sun was there. But they were heading East. It took about twenty minutes for all of them to take off.

After enjoying a lot of family time, we saw some live music Sunday night. We tried again on Monday but couldn't get in as we waited too late. But I love this town. The New York Times was the prime reading matter at our B and B. I noticed that for many there, the word "bush" is more often used to describe a nice flowering one in the yard. The capitalized version of that word was regarded by a startling number of people with even more disdain than I'm used to hearing. That's pretty intense, I have to tell you. There is a Whole Foods store there that is 80,000 square feet. Lots of freaky people hanging out. Two that cross my memory are a pretty young lady with an unleashed pet rat sitting on a wall eating her lunch and a transsexual with a beard and enormous knockers. There was also a teenager running up the Congress Ave. bridge, trying to score a piece of candy before she went into diabetic shock. All we had was sugarless gum. She ran off before I could direct her to the ice cream vender further along.

I should mention that we took a day trip to San Antonio. Another very cool town. I couldn't care less about the Alamo or whether or not anybody remembers it. But the River Walk is very nice indeed. Very impressive, well planned and executed. Unbelievably, we ran into some of our Florida neighbors on the River Walk. How strange is that? We ran off after still another Tex-Mex lunch to see some caves. More stalactites and stalagmites than you need to see in a lifetime. But a fun adventure.

I'm trying to purge my system of entirely too much Tex-Mex and other rich food but then last night happened. We attended a small marriage rededication on the beach between our dearest friends, Nancy and Mark, our yoga teacher and my producer. This was a Native American ceremony and very touching. And have I mentioned that I don't do ceremonies? We liked this one, though, and I got to say some extemporaneous things about my dear friends as part of the ceremony. Cathy hid behind a camera saying, "I'm video, Bud's audio." Nothing unusual about a Native American marriage rededication, you say? Okay I guess not, even though it was between an Italian ex-catholic and a Jew. This is the texture of my life and friends. Anything goes. Then we had way too much food. Again.

Now I'm home hoping to get caught up but it's just not happening. I'll check in again here soon. Busy weekend. Hope yours is a fun one.

posted by Bud @ 6:10 PM

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Over the Hump and Into the West

This week has been very jammed up with new guitar students a gig and preparing for another gig.

I'll be off the net, most likely for about a week. Heading for Austin, TX for some family stuff. Anybody out there gonna be close to Austin this weekend? The entire rest of this month is a pre-hurricane season storm. Just too much going on.

Michael Manning will be posting an interview with me by Sunday if his computer is fixed.

If you're new on my blogroll and haven't seen this offer before I'm offering my CD, Feel My Love, to fellow Bloggers for$10. I'll sign it, of course. Send me an e-mail:

Or you could listen to snips on iTunes and just buy downloads of the songs you want.
But I wish you'd listen because I do make a cent or two every time somebody listens.
Just click here.

See you all next week.

posted by Bud @ 6:24 AM

Sunday, May 14, 2006

You Keep Pets, They Own You

sandhill 6 I don't keep pets anymore. I've had everything from fish to a horse with all the usual and unusual creatures in between. Felines and canines, reptiles and avians. Even rodents. My first day at college I befriended a housefly in my dorm room. I was lonely. My roommate finally arrived and replaced him. The fly was not as annoying, though.

Allergies and responsibilities that kept me from being a proper caretaker finally steered me away from keeping pets. It was a good choice for many reasons. I'm much better at enjoying other peoples pets. I need to be more mobile than pets allow you to be. I also need to breathe clearly. It helps with the singing. Then of course there is the pooper scooper thing. I'm JUST NOT DOING THAT. EVER.

I love to observe Florida wildlife. Strangely, it has not completely abandoned this over developed neighborhood. We have a golf course in my back yard and many ponds and a wooded area . So we see bald eagles and hawks, bobcats, lots of reptiles (not all have teeth), and amazing huge birds. There are at least three kinds of herons, two egrets, storks and my very favorite, the sandhill cranes.

Florida has it's own tribe of these magnificent creatures that do not migrate like the cranes in the west. They live and breed here. They mate for life. They are HUGE and stately, make a piercing clarinet type of sound. They are unintimidated by golfers, often refusing to let them play through while they forage on a tee box. I love these guys for that alone. I haven't played golf since I moved to a golf course. Lack of time and my unwillingness to follow any rules keeps me off the links. There is also the extortion prices they charge.

sandhill 5 We were so thrilled this year to have a pair of cranes hatch a chick in our yard. We watched it grow and delighted in how the parents trained it. The father got very defensive. Annoyingly so when he pecked at every window in the neighborhood to protect his family against his own reflection. We still have his big sandy footprints on our screen. Size 37, I believe. He also reduced it to tatters with his massive beak. Gradually they began showing the little one all the ponds in the area. Crossing roads with the attitude of a street punk jaywalker. "Yo, I'm walking here!" Tragically, this resulted in somebody running the father down about two weeks ago. We watched Mom adjusting to single parenthood. She was pretty nervous at first, reacting to every movement and sound. The little one was much bigger and feeling independent and not always staying close to Mom.

Yesterday we noticed mom was by herself. We haven't heard of another road accident. I'm assuming Mr. Bobcat claimed the little one. Everything has to eat, ya know? It was heartbreaking to watch Mom by herself. Standing on the tee box calling forlornly. No one answered. Pretty shitty Mothers Day for her.

That was awful to watch. Another reason I don't keep pets.

posted by Bud @ 11:04 PM

Friday, May 12, 2006

Crazy Film and Free link to My Music

Last night Cathy brought home several DVD's. The one called Delicatessen had to be back in 2 days so we watched it first.

I have never seen anything quite like this with the exception of Terry Gilliam's Brazilmany years ago. Jean-Pierre Jeunet (best known for the amazing Amelie), directed this highly unusual French film. It has the look of the early 1950's but it is obviously in some sort of post-apocalyptic setting. A place where there is little food and people use grain as currency. The central characters live in a tenement owned by a butcher who lures handymen to work there. He fattens them up and eventually butchers them for meat which he sells to his tenants. How, you would rightly ask, is this a comedy? That is its genius. That and the beautiful cinematography. I loved this film from the opening frames and there was no let up.

I have a long list of my web site fixes for my son, Jason, to do but I know he's busy working, freelancing and raising an infant so I keep putting off asking him to make my music easier for you to listen to. CDBaby just informed me however that there is an easy way to listen that will even earn me a penny every time you do listen. You can go to ITunes, for instance with this link. Listen to snippets of my CD and even buy a digital download of any song you want if you feel so inclined. But it's cool that you can just listen and I get a penny. I wish you would do that. Often. I'll get some links to my work tapes up to make them easily accessible but I'd like to redo most of them first. Second drafts. I'll let you know. I don't really want to use MySpace. It has this pedophile reputation. As a former teacher, that really turns me off. I'm sure you understand.

So if you haven't before heard any of my music, you can do so while earning me a penny a listen this weekend. And on that note, have a good one!

posted by Bud @ 6:50 AM

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

I Yam What I Yam, We Is Who We Is

A neighbor of mine asked me, quite out of the blue, "If you could change anything in your life, what would it be?" Nothing, is my first and only reply. I am who I am because of everything that happened before this moment. And I am blissfully happy.

My friend, on the other hand, is comfortably retired from a profession most people would associate with a terrific choice in life styles. A demanding but fruitful career. And he admitted that he wished he had become something else. You just can't assume anything. He spoke of some other surprising regrets he had. Yet he is a cheerful guy and a terrific neighbor.

popeye I love getting to know these people in this new neighborhood. All from different walks of life and different parts of the country. It's like an upper middle class melting pot. But I snuck in before the prices got insane. It underlines for me what America is. Diverse. Okay, it is predominantly white bread here. But there are a lot of significant cultural, social, political and philosophical/religious differences among us. And we enjoy learning about these things in each other. Acknowledging yet respecting. The most often heard refrain here is, "I love my neighbors." It is said at every get together I've ever been to, by different people each time.

The immigration issue is extremely complex and is not going to be solved by congress. Or various paid and unpaid pundits. We are a nation of immigrants. That has always been our real strength. It is as solid an idea as the ground we walk on. The illegal immigrant problem was created by another very American characteristic: Greed. Entrepreneurs of various stripes have become more wealthy by exploiting cheap labor. Many state and local economies depend on it. Resentment over the load on a welfare system, and the issue of language are understandable. People who are outspokenly hostile to these people should consider what their life would be like if they had to immigrate to China. You know, the country that owns our debt and makes all the things American workers use to make. So that we can buy them cheaply at Walmart from people who also are encouraged by their employers to go on public assistance. Maybe the day will come when American workers will have to go to China to get work. See how fast you can learn that language or blend into that culture.

We all need to cool our jets on this and try to live side by side because no matter what way you feel about what's going on in this country with today's government , a few things should be pretty obvious:
1. We can't round them all up and send them back any easier than we can find one guy who goes on Arab TV in Afghanistan and says threatening things to us.

2. We can't keep them from crossing our own borders any easier than our armed forces can keep invaders from crossing the borders in Iraq and blowing up our soldiers and innocent people.

3. We can't force them to learn our language and adapt our culture any easier than we can force western democracy down the throats of unwilling moslems at the cost of uncountable billions of dollars.

Our immigrants are friendly. They work for us. They want to be accepted. They're not hostile. And they don't cost us anything near what the war is costing us. If I can regularly and cheerfully break bread with red state republicans who regard my philosophies as whacko as I regard theirs, then we can all learn to live with our immigrants. Your great grandchildren may be related to their great grandchildren one day.

posted by Bud @ 6:22 AM

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Two Fill-In Gigs, Too Many Filling Gigs

Friday after teaching a few guitar lessons, I was ready to settle in for a nap before some old old friends from my school teaching years were to drop in. My cell phone gave me the Miles Davis tone. "Dude, everybody's out of town," it's James from Stir The Soul Coffee House again. "Can you cover tonight?" This is two nights in a row I'm filling in for drop out performers. What is up with this place? Cathy says it's cool with her so I agree but tell James I may be late. Late for me is still half an hour early. I strongly believe in giving venues more than they paid for. I don't take many breaks either. I wound up playing a half hour longer too. The Cinco de Mayo crowd finally showed up from a nearby Mexican joint. Another lucrative night that was late in developing. I did get to touch base with my old friends before I ran off to the gig. And as a result avoided eating a lot of naughty stuff.

Saturday's Kentucky Derby Party is the second of four we were to attend. A long time ago, I found that betting on horses was a good way for me to pay some bills. I was good at it but it took way more time than it was worth. Had some huge paydays. I never lost money. I just lost more time than I could afford. A relationship killer. Now I refuse to even read the details of a field of horses so as not to be sucked back into that black hole. Someday I'll tell the story about how I broke the horse betting habit and what addiction I replaced it with. Everybody's addicted to something, ya know?

Sunday was a brunch party and a dinner party. Sandwiching an intense workout. As you get older, all you youngins out there, it gets harder for MOST people to lose weight or even maintain their weight. So I strongly advise banishing the fat deposits in your body now. Or they'll have to widen the booths at the fast food joints. You really do get used to fat free foods. Honest. Growing up in Philly, I ate a cheese steak a day, a pizza a week, scrapple and bacon, countless candy bars and soda. If I can get used to skim milk and fat free cottage cheese and Egg Beaters, anybody can. Well that's the choice I made anyway. It's mind over fat. How simple is it? If you don't want fat on you, don't eat fat. Find away to burn off what you have.

And before you are tempted to give me that, "you got to live it up, life's too short," line, you have to think about my perspective. I live in Florida. I'm surrounded by people who can barely walk because of the abuse they gave their bodies. And these are the ones my age and just a little older. It doesn't look like living it up to me. It looks like a miserable existence. But that's the choice THEY make.

That being said, I ate a lot of crap at the Kentucky Derby party on Saturday. There wasn't ANYthing in the room that was on my list of healthy foods or even foods that are not extremely bad for me. I did work out nearly every day, however.

Saturday night we watched a DVD. A movie about Chicago's Joffrey Ballet called The Company. If you're looking for a traditional story here, forget it. The look inside the life of an artist, however, is striking. Robert Altman's direction was wonderful. The dance was breathtaking. I've been doing yoga a long time but I don't think I'll ever come close to the contortions I saw. Relating my yoga practice to the dance gave me a keener appreciation for the dedication of these extraordinary artists. I picked up my guitar right after and had the best practice I've had in months. That's how inspiring that movie was. The key line is from the dance director played by Malcolm McDowell, "Thinking about the motion isn't being the motion." That's gonna be framed in my studio.

Sunday's brunch with good neighbors. Interesting to look at my house from across the lake while eating southern plantation food on fancy settings. Made me feel kind of wealthy. And SO white.

Sunday's dinner with even more good neighbors. I didn't eat any snacks. Waited for dinner, Ate lightly. Then dessert happened. I'm so busted. Gonna be a hell of a week. I hope yours is painless.

posted by Bud @ 10:51 PM

Friday, May 05, 2006

Friday AM Without Coffee=Bad

Late start today because of a last minute gig last night. Got a call at 8:10 from Stir the Soul Coffee House. Could I cover for the act that didn't show up? It was supposed to start ten minutes ago. That beat the hell out of practicing beach music for a lucrative gig at the end of the month. I was set up and ready to rock in about half and hour. Always love playing this particular coffee house. Had a good night although the crowd was anemic. Made more in tips than I did for the fee. That tells me something. The best part was that the crowd from Bella Luna Cafe popped in late. Deja and Emily and Chris and his GF Kristin. Love those guys a lot when I play Bella Luna. So funny to see them all in the competition's parlor. But Maiya, last evening's barrista, is also a Bella regular. Deja was with a new guy I hadn't met before. Emily was celebrating her last night in Venice as she's leaving for a Costa Rican diving adventure and then on to an internship in the Keys.

I was fasting for a blood test this morning so playing a late gig kept my mind off of missing my usual evening snack with Cathy. Fought off a caffeine withdrawal headache this morning and went to have blood drawn and then quickly to Bella Luna to get my java fix. Deja gave me one of those, "We were up way too late for this kind of shit" looks. I wanted to tell her I went home to sleep while she apparently went home to "bed." But thought better as I thanked her Mom for pouring my coffee.

So now I'm still a jug of coffee short to ward off a headache and trying to come up with something pertinent to post. No such luck. I'm struggling with my new Palm organizer as it is refusing to connect with my computer after having worked fine for two days. It's a very cool device but the directions suck. And, for once I actually read and reread the directions. I got most of the birthdays in. But I'm missing all the blogger's b-days. Not you, Golfwidow, Becky, and Michael. But I'm drawing a blank on the rest of you. If you want me to remember your birthday, tell me again in the comment or e-mail. Otherwise, DO NOT give me any crap about forgetting.

I'll try to catch up on reading all of you over the weekend. I have a lot of lessons today and many social things this weekend. So It'll be hit and miss. I hope you have a grand time. I always do.

posted by Bud @ 9:53 AM

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Hump This

How's this for Hump Day?
Interesting back story here. I'm always surprised to hear that there is a Mennonite or a Amish community in places other than Pennsylvania. There are several in the mid west, for instance. But there is actually a thriving one here in Sarasota, Florida. One section of town that I frequent on various music joints, is thick with women and girls in granny dresses, on three wheelers. Bicycles, not ATV's. Guys in black baggy pants with suspenders, sporting beards without mustaches. This goes on even in the hot months here, which is most of them. There are Amish restaurants where they are big on butter and bacon and stuff I'm not allowed to eat. It's not a religious thing with me, it's a cholesterol situation. They consume more fat calories at breakfast than I do in two weeks. That explains what they're hiding in those granny dresses and baggy pants.

They are a simple, gentle, obedient folk. That's why there are so many of them here. Because there is a Hump sign in the blacktop at every intersection. They don't vote but they do obey the law.

posted by Bud @ 6:27 AM