Friday, May 13, 2011

Between the Covers

Dear Terra,

i've been learning a couple of themed cover songs for a benefit gig tonight, and it hasn't been easy trying to memorize the words. it has occurred to me that it's because i've been writing and playing my own songs for so long, hardly ever playing covers.

when i try to sing someone else's words, i want to replace them with my own, sing it the way i would say it, phrase by phrase.

i'm trying to remember what it was like, when i wasn't writing, playing other folks' songs i loved and had to learn because i couldn't get them out of my head otherwise. i appreciated each turn of phrase, wishing i could come up with something so poetic, so perfect.

and then i could. and now i find it hard to internalize someone else's song. because that's the way i used to do it. many of my friends and contemporaries choose to change a song, find some way to make it their own, in their way. i always played covers as closely as possible to the original, ie. the song i loved.

it's been an interesting exercise, in any case. and i'm glad i've partly figured out why it's been as hard as it has - much better than assuming i've lost some capacity in my middle years.

tomorrow i will go back to playing my own songs, with a better appreciation of what having written them means to me.



Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Life is Short. Make Music

Dear Terra,

Larry was one of my heroes in high school. he was a year or two older, and very cool - elected chairman of the dance committee, lead singer in a R&B band - with matching suits.

i hadn't seen him since, nor heard anything about his life. we became Facebook friends around this time last year, when plans were hatched for a 60s & 70s high school reunion. i was hoping to see him there, but he didn't make it.

turns out he had had some terrible health problems, and lost both of his legs. i've just watched a video of him on his 60th, and last, birthday, singing "Stormy Monday", accompanied by an amazing trio of friends. it was beautiful.

i'm turning 60 next year.

go gently, Lar.



Monday, May 2, 2011

A Project becomes a Primer

Dear Terra,

not the best day to have my picture taken, having awakened with a bad case of stomach cramps, but we needed to get these done and sent off to Mariposa.

Sue came over to rehearse the shortened version of Blood and Fire: The Donnelly Project, which we have renamed "A Donnelly Primer". Deb took the pictures in front of our house, which dates back to almost the right period.

Mariposa have been announcing their line-up in bits and pieces for a while now, so i'm hoping that ours is coming, just so i'm sure i haven't been dreaming.

whenever we get hired for a big show, we like to perform it in front of a smaller audience first. even more necessary this time, since the shorter stage time (75 minutes, no intermission) means a very different show. this time it will be on a sunday afternoon in Barrie, in early June. so plenty of time to shine it up beforehand and to get the kinks out after.



Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Creative Imperative

Dear Terra,

today i heard about 30 seconds of a CBC radio piece from Venezuela. the person they were speaking with was talking about each person having "a creative imperative" to do their best to make his/her life a work of art.

art is made every day. it can be astonishing, beautiful, monstrous in content or proportion, but the people who create it are the same species as those who don't, or think they don't.

i get a lot of props for writing, performing and promoting music. but i often find myself setting people straight when they congratulate me on my "talent" and claim that they could never do anything of the sort.

i do art because i love it, and i've been doing it long enough, and working at it hard enough, that i'm getting pretty good at it. and i love to spread the word, letting folks know what a joy it is, encouraging everyone to try a little, or devote their entire lives to creating bold new things.

we all have the ability to bring more beauty into the world. paint your house with four colours instead of two. plant flowers. sing harmony. put your niece's drawing in a frame. look at the world through a camera lens. design what you knit. make a video of the song your friend wrote. start a literary salon at the used book store. be enthusiastic. admire art. congratulate the artist, not on her talent but on her work.