Archive for March, 2009

Old Dog, Old Trick

So, in another life, I used to be quite a good musician.  Let me see if I can describe the kind of musician I was: I guess the best word for it is purist.  I never learned many cover tunes, and even though I played the guitar, what could be the most cliched of all the modern instruments, I was the sort of experimental indie-rocker type who would never play any solos (even though you can believe I had the technique), would regularly use my guitar as a drum and when recording new tracks, my philosophy was always to first be expressive, and never fear fucking up because fucking up is just a new idea waiting to happen. It may sound trite but I just can’t even tell you how many songs I wrote based on mistakes I’d made in other songs.   It was a serious source of inspiration for me.

I realize this basically says nothing, even to those of you who play.  But suffice it to say, I used to be a good player. But as these things go, life kicked in at the turn of the century, plans were made, changed, and I soon found myself kinda forgetting all about music in the mad scramble to turn myself into a wage slave.  Well, about a year or so ago, I decided to buy a Martin acoustic guitar and see if I could possibly pick it back up again after so many years away.  After a few false starts, I was really finally starting to come back to it, and even had some new material to work with.

So anyway, now I’ve got a Audio Technica USB condenser microphone, a really fast computer, and a copy of Ableton Live 7 to work with (and not to mention a new thinline acoustic pickup, but that’s not installed yet).  I’ve just sort of messed around with it so far.  Like picking up the guitar again, I find that my audio production skills are pretty rusty, but the main problem is simply lack of nerve.  I mean, I’ll have no problem laying down an acoustic track in a funny tuning (I’ve been experimenting with the DADGAD tuning lately), but then when it comes to making a bassline to go with it, I find myself somewhat freezing up, feeling rather unfocused.  What is that about?  I seem to have lost the fearlessness.  Another thing is this: although I seem to be doing really well when coming up with new ideas, I have a hard time constructing something tangible out of them.  It’s not enough to be a riffmeister: you gotta build a song around the riff, or it’s just guitar doodling.

Anyway, this is the first week I’ve been doing this.  I’m actually damn proud of how quickly I’ve picked up Ableton’s interface, considering the last time I recorded it was back in 2001.  Pretty soon, assuming I really stick with this again, I’ll probably be gettting a MIDI keyboard, as I hear they are really fabulous to work with, especially for lone musicians. I’ve heard good things about the Axiom from m-Audio.   We’ll see.


The Path of I DUNNO.

Well, it’s probably no big surprise to anyone who would read these thoughts that the thinker of them has pretty much always been, and to this day remains a sort of accidental agnostic.  Despite years of catechism and confirmation training in the Catholic church (years which I feel were well-spent, although not inasmuch as it turned me into a person of great faith), and despite many many years of personal prayer and reflection, fpr me there simply is no other path but the path of I DUNNO.

My mother always quietly wonders to herself what it would take to shake me out of this nonsense.  I can’t answer that, because I’ve had epiphanic experiences before; I’ve already had astounding insights into the nature of all things.  Some of these things were religious in nature, but most were not: in the end, they sort of all blend together, and serve only to heighten the mystery and grandeur of the world. (And make no mistake, the world is grand, even sitting here in my den with America’s Next Top Model droning in the background:  there is a thing which permeates even the most mundane experiences: is that God?  I rather think not.  Maybe it’s God’s afterglow, some Most Glorious Vapour left in His wake, after He got the universe in gear, observed coolly for a few epochs of time, and then left us to our own decisions. That is the sort of God I always imagine, right or wrong.

But anyway, I started reading a bit of Jefferson’s Bible the other day, and so far have found it to be a very good retelling of the Gospels from one of the true Great Men of Antiquity. My first thought after reading the first chapter, when Mary and Joseph come to Bethlehem to pay taxes (leaving out whole swaths of apochryphal detail, such as the dramatic Annunciation of Gabriel and the miraculous transmission of the Star of David) and to attend to the practical details of the birth of their son, was to think, “Good grief, and I thought I was irreverent, TJ must have the world’s biggest gonads to have written this thing!”  Then I found that he had compiled for his own personal use, and it was not published until after his death, and things started making more sense.  Jefferson displays a sort of intellectual rigor at which a modern man can only marvel:  he compiled this text from many different versions of the Bible, in four different languages, until he got the version he liked best.  The end result is a retelling of Jesus’ life as it would have read if he were simply a protohistorical version of Mohandas Ghandi: virtuous, admirable, intellectual, and at last only human.  However, to my mind the “only human” part is the understatement of the century; I can say with fair certainty that I have personally never met a human like Jesus (or Ghandhi for that matter).

Anyway, it’s a little known book but worth the reading.

March 2009
« Feb   Apr »

Currently Reading:

Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame - Charles Bukowski

Currently Listening:

Mr. Bungle - California

Why, yes, I am cool as a cucumber in a bowl of hot sauce.

You lika de juice????