Time--2017 A to Z Theme

My theme for the 2018 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge is "Cleaning the Clutter"--I might literally be cleaning my closets or figuratively clearing the excess from some other part of my life. I'm sure you can think of other things this could mean for you as well.

Always a work in progress--welcome to my blog...

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Monday, August 27, 2018

The Roadway Ahead.... (A Look at Things to Come)


I don't need anyone to make a fool of me--I'm perfectly capable of doing that myself...


Arlee Bird posing with violin.

        We can all relate to putting ourselves in the spotlight with trepidation of looking foolish.  It could have been at school, work, or some other social setting.  You writers especially know that apprehension of putting our work out for the scrutiny of others.   Honest opinions are best for us even though they can seem brutal.   Feedback is important for personal growth and improvement.

        For example, blogging for me has been a strange journey that has been eye-opening in many ways.  The platform has provided me with great opportunity for written expression and allowed me to interact with all sorts of people whom I would have been unlikely to ever have encountered otherwise.  And though my earlier fervor for blogging has diminished to a great extent (as I've seen with other bloggers as well), I will likely continue to have a blog for sometime into the future. 

        However, as I have mentioned in some previous posts, my writing focus has currently turned to songwriting.  I've been writing songs since high school, but for long stretches over the years I would be less interested in that endeavor.  The songs came and went.  Now, again it seems, I'm back with a flurry of songwriting inspiration.

        And there is that one song that I've been referring to all summer--"Let's Run."   All summer I've been obsessing on getting some recorded versions of the song so it could be heard by my readers.  Since I had mentioned it back in May I wanted the readers to know that I really did write this song that I had mentioned.  It's a song that was inspired by my granddaughter Marley so I think of it as "Marley's Song" even though the message of the song is one for me and for everyone for that matter. 

     This coming Saturday September 1st, as a Battle of the Bands post, I will be debuting three versions of "Let's Run".   These will all be rather rough recordings so I hope listeners will be kind, but helpfully honest with their comments.  Please--I do want comments about what I'll be doing because I'm putting myself out there.

          If we never take chances then we never have a chance at success.  I'm going to try something with music and who knows?  Maybe something will come of it all or maybe it will be one more crazy post on my blog and a few obscure videos lost in the infinite YouTube universe.

            As a preview of my song recordings coming up on Saturday, here are the lyrics for your consideration:


Let’s Run

The beat of my feet upon the street as I am running;
The feel of the wind against my face;
My body is straining as my heart keeps beating faster.
The rhythm of life is setting my pace.

(chorus)
Look at me—I’m on a runner’s high.
Watch me run—see me fly!
Run with me—Life is a marathon.
Don’t give up!  Keep moving on!
Let’s run!

Hurtling through the universe on this rock we call Earth
Making our laps around the Sun,
I still feel a need for speed.  I’ve got to get away.  I’ve got to get outside.
I’m feeling that urge to break out and run.

Look at me—I’m on a runner’s high.
Watch me run—see me fly!
Run with me—Life is a marathon.
Don’t give up!  Keep running on!
Let’s run!

Miles disappear behind me like forgotten memories.
The roadway ahead is all I see.
And even in sleep my inner compass draws me further on,
As in my dreams I’m running free.

Look at me!  I’m on a runner’s high!
Watch me run, see me fly.
Run with me—Life is a marathon.
Don’t ever give up.  Keep running on…
Let’s run!

by Arlee Bird (2018)

        Please visit my next post and vote for your favorite song performance.  Then if you will be so kind,  share the videos and like wherever you can.  Spread the word.  It would be nice to get considerable feedback.  I thank you in advance.

        I am still welcoming more cover versions.  Even if they come after my Saturday Battle I can still consider them for a future run-off. 

          Does any melody come to your head as you read through the lyrics?   How do you think the song should sound based on your reading?   Have you heard any versions of my song yet (it's possible)? 

         

       






Wednesday, August 22, 2018

I've Got the Music in Me (#BOTB Results)


      They say that practice makes perfect.  They also say that no one is perfect.  I'm not sure who "they" are, but the contradiction between these statements is perfectly absurd...  


Focusing on Music
Marley at a recent performance
(she's my granddaughter!)
         This year I've become more focused on creating music, this mostly due to being inspired by my oldest granddaughter Marley.  She won't be 10 until September so she's still mostly a kid, but she's become pretty serious about her music.  When I was visiting her this summer she proudly showed off her very neatly organized room and her collection of musical instruments.  She's been taking lessons in instruments and vocals.  There's definitely talent in that girl.

          My biggest inspiration came toward the end of April as the Blogging from A to Z Challenge was winding down.  A song came to me and I recognized it as my song for Marley.  Hopefully she'll be singing it soon as part of her repertoire.  During my summer visit I watched her do a five song set at an open mike night in a New Jersey coffee bar.  Though all the other performers were adults, Marley held her own and impressed the crowd.  The young lady has some guts that I never had even at twice her age.

          I've been rather preoccupied by my song (that is, Marley's song) of late so between that and the stuff of my life I've not been keeping up with blogging to the extent that I probably should.  Consequently I may have not been visiting blogs like I've done in the past.  Sorry, but for now my priority is working with my song--but more of that later in this post.   First though, let's get to the results of my previous Battle of the Bands...

Battle of the Bands Results


        My Battle between Jane Olivor and Alice Cooper was a somewhat odd pairing that I had no idea how it would turn out.  For my part, I went into this favoring Jane Olivor's version and that's where my vote ended up.  I've been a long time fan of Alice Cooper, but I was not overly thrilled with his rendition of "Always Chasing Rainbows." 

          Once again I was in a minority.  Alice pretty well ran away with this contest, but all things considered, Jane Olivor did not do terribly.

Final Vote Tally

Jane Olivor            6

Alice Cooper        11




Next Battle on Saturday September 1st!!!

          As for my song "Let's Run"--a song I've been mentioning since May--I now have two versions ready for Battle in my next round.   This Battle will be a sort of West Coast versus East Coast--or more precisely East Tennessee Coast.  I'll likely have another version by the end of the week which could give me a three-way.   Better yet, I'd still like to get some more covers for future Battles.

            I'm thinking big as usual--and chasing rainbows. 

            If I didn't dream big then I'd likely forget those dreams and try to just get through each day without accomplishing much.   With that, I'm outta here.

            How often have your dreams been accomplished as big as you first dreamed them?    Have you ever been taken by surprise at the outcome of a dream?   Does perfectionism sometimes hinder your progress?







       

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

I'm Always Chasing Rainbows (#BOTB)


It's often the little things that bring us the biggest joys in life.   On the other hand, little things can sometimes turn into one big pain in the ass...

Update on My Song


          Obviously the title of this post indicates that I won't be presenting a debut of the song I wrote earlier this year in this current post.  My plan had been to use two different versions of my song "Let's Run" as a Battle of the Bands.  So far I still have only one version and one "maybe, I'll see if I can come up with something." 

         This past week-end I came up with a wacky idea that just might work to create another "Let's Run" video to use in a future batte (September 1st?)   It's going to be a variation on an old school idea I used many years ago to record some original songs.  That experiment worked, but not so well.

         This time I have more and better equipment to work with so maybe, just maybe, I can create something interesting.  If it works I'll explain the process.  I'll start working on it this week.  It's somewhat labor intensive so I'll have to see where it all goes.  I'm probably totally on my own in this next experiment.

           In a way that's been the story of my life.  Maybe yours too.  Not everyone sees the urgency of my dreams to the extent that I do.  But that makes sense.  We are all dreamers pursuing sometimes elusive butterflies of our own.  We just have to keep on chasing down our dreams.  In fact, that's what my song is all about:  Don't give up and just keep pressing onward.  That's how things get done.

          Still, I figure that I'm always chasing rainbows and I'll probably keep on doing it.  I'd hate to think that I'd ever stop as long as I have breath.   And that is my lead in to the song I've chosen for this post...




Battle of the Bands

Battle of the Bands is the blogging event started by Far Away Series and now hosted by StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands.   This event happens each month on the 15th and on some blogs there is also a Battle on the 1st of the month.  My blog is one of those with a second Battle on the 1st of the month.   The premise is simple:  Listen to the songs presented below and then in the comments vote for your favorite and tell us why you liked it.  Then visit the links listed near the bottom of this post for more Battle action.



I'm Always Chasing Rainbows

          This is one of those vaudevillian standards that I've heard all my life.  Though I wouldn't rank this high on my list of favorite songs, it's still a pleasant enough tune that I enjoy hearing.  You've most likely heard this song since it has appeared numerous times in movies, television, and recordings.

          "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows" was published in 1917 and since then there has been no looking back.    The song is about failure so it's somewhat surprising that a song with such a depressing message would gain so much popularity.   However, since failure is something in which all of us have shared at some point in our lives then it is an idea to which we can all relate.

           Like a number of popular songs of the past, this song has roots in classical music-- Fantaisie-Impromptu by Frédéric Chopin.   In the video embedded below you can go to the 1:07 mark to hear the melody that later became the hit song.  Don't vote on this version--but I guarantee you that at least someone will ignore this instruction.   If you're interested then please take a listen.




        And now on to the first Battle contestant...

Jane Olivor  "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows" (1977)

          The first time I heard Olivor's version of this was somewhere around 1985.  Our touring show had a brief layover in Seattle during which I visited a number of people's homes.  In all of the homes I saw a copy of Jane Olivor's album Chasing Rainbows .   Since I'd never heard of Jane Olivor I figured this was some kind of pop cult artist whom I'd missed.  Still, I bought a few of her albums on cassette.  It was nice music, but I didn't listen to them very much.   The music is not good for driving.  Good for bedtime, not for driving.  Enjoy...
           





Alice Cooper  "Chasing Rainbows"  (1976)

           Most anyone who was over 13 by 1969 probably saw an Alice Cooper show at some point in their lives.  If you haven't then they are still on tour and perhaps playing in a town near you.  I saw the show (I think of it all as more of a stage production than an actual band) in the early seventies.  That concert was something like seven dollars to see Alice, The Hello People with Todd Rundgren, and Free (of "All Night Long" fame).   Big concerts really were bargains back then.

            I couldn't resist using Cooper's version of "Chasing Rainbows."    Don't let the schmaltzy song intro fool you.  This is Alice Cooper...







Time to Vote!

       
Take a break from chasing rainbows and let's vote.    What's your favorite between these two choices? Which song version do you like best? You don't have to know about music to have an opinion since it all comes down to your own personal taste.

         Please vote on your favorite by letting us know your choice in the comment section and tell us why you prefer the version you chose. Then after you've finished here, please visit the other blogs listed below who may or may not be participating this time around. And if you've put up your own BOTB contest let us know that as well so we can vote on yours.


Here are some other places where you might find BOTB posts:

 StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands

  'MIKE'S RAMBLINGS'

'Curious as a Cathy'

Sound of One Hand Typing

Angel's Bark  


Debbie Doglady's Den

Jingle, Jangle, Jungle 





Winner of this Battle Announced on Wednesday August 22

         Maybe I'll have a song update for "Let's Run"--I'm shooting for September 1st now.  In any case we should have a clear winner of this Battle next Wednesday.   I have a feeling I'll get a lot of commenters saying they don't like either version.   Then again maybe I'll be surprised this time.

          Have you gone to any Alice Cooper concerts?   Do you have a tendency to pursue wild-seeming fantasies?   Do you dwell on past failures more than the many small successes along the way?








Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Diverticulitis and Other Downers (#BOTB Results)


  Let me get down to business before I get to business.  After all, life is full of surprises and sometimes the pleasure gets stepped on by the business...

Battle of the Bands Results



         My previous Battle between The John Mayer Trio and the pairing of Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso with contrasting versions of the Jimi Hendrix song "Wait Until Tomorrow" had a surprising outcome.   This looked like a shutout with the Mayer Trio rapidly taking a lead until votes started pouring in for Veloso/Gil.  Whew!  Thanks to all who help prevent a dreaded shut out. 

         Actually the outcome was pretty amazing.  My vote went to Veloso/Gil because their version was unique and told the song's story better.  And I liked the percussive Brazilian style.  Mayer may have won in the end, but it was a squeaker. 

Final Vote Tally

John Mayer      11 votes

Veloso/Gil        10 votes


Sometimes You Have to Wait for Tomorrow

         When I prepared my previous post I knew that some negative vibes were in the air for me.  Then, the cherry was placed on top of a crap sundae.  This past Monday I ended up in the ER with severe stomach pain.  The diagnosis was diverticulitis.  I'd heard of this before and now I know a lot more about it.  For one thing it hurts--a lot. 

          All day Sunday I had been feeling poorly and in the evening I considered going to the ER.  But I figured that it was something that would go away after a good night's sleep.  As it turned out, I didn't get much sleep and at 4 AM I told my wife I was going to the ER.  Going to the hospital is nowhere on my list of favorite things.  I don't even like to visit a hospital.  However the staff was very nice and accommodating and got me out in about 8 hours with two prescriptions for antibiotics which so far have made me feel almost as bad I had felt previously.  Now I'll have ten days of taking those.  Hopefully I'll get more accustomed to the side effects.  I just have to wait until tomorrow I guess to see if I feel better.

         As I indicated on August 1st, my current post would provide an update about my Cover Version Challenge of my song "Let's Run".   I had put out a call to any singers/musicians/producers to make a cover version to be pitted in my next Battle of the Bands post.   So far no luck from the blogging community.  I still need to reach out to more of my musician friends to see if anyone wants to take me up on this. Over all though, my mind has not been focused on this so I haven't done very much about it.

       I'm still trying to stay optimistic about this Cover Version Challenge, but seeing as how I only have a week before my next BOTB post I doubt whether this Battle will take place on August 15th.  If not then that's okay--I'll extend it to the Battle of September 1.  If anyone is interested in doing this, I will send rough recordings of the melody line and partial vocals along with a lyric sheet. You just have to let me know an email address where to send it. 

        Also I'm going to add an alternative approach.  If you'd rather just come up with your own melody behind my lyrics then we can be song collaborators.  And once I'm back to a better performance level I will continue to try to come up with another cover myself. 

         That's the update for now.  We'll find out more in my next post...


Next Battle of the Bands on Wednesday August 15th!

         What will it be?  You'll have to come back to find out.


Have you ever experienced diverticulitis?   Are you good at improvising when things don't turn out like you planned or hoped?    Do you have any other suggestions where I might find someone who might be interested in participating in my Cover Version Challenge

            





Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Wait Until Tomorrow ( #BOTB & #IWSG )




Insecure Writer's Support Group


     Join us on the first Wednesday of each month in Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group--a forum of writers who gather to talk about writing and the writer's life. For a complete list of participants visit Alex's Blog



The co-hosts for the August 1 posting of the IWSG are Erika Beebe, Sandra Hoover, Susan Gourley, and Lee Lowery.


August 1 question - What pitfalls would you warn other writers to avoid on their publication journey?

      Since my publication journey has not seen any significant achievement there isn't much I can say about this topic that relates to my experience or anything I've heard from someone I know. One thing I suggest to avoid is old fashioned typewriters.   Oh, I know some folks love them and that's fine, but for me the computer keyboard made my writing life so much easier.

        This month's question does however relate to something on my mind of late.  To give some background, songwriting has been a passion of mine since high school.  This past April in the midst of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge a song pervaded my mind.  Much of my inspiration had come watching some of my granddaughter's singing performances.  My song "Let's Run" was written for her.

        Since I had mentioned the song in previous posts on my blog and even shared the copy that I recorded with neighbors who further shared with their circles, the thought crossed my mind that someone might "steal" the song. I guess I'm not particularly concerned since I don't think my creative range is limited to one thing.

          Like Jimmy Durante (some might remember him) used to say, "I've got a million of 'em!"  Even if a song (or some other creation) was used by someone else for gain I think it becomes an affirmation that other stuff I do is worthy. 

            Do you think I'm taking a big risk by just putting original songs on places like YouTube?  Have you ever been wary of sharing you creative work without getting the proper documentation that says that work is yours?   Are you ready for another Challenge--a musical Challenge?

           Sure, I have a Battle of the Bands coming up below which I hope you'll vote on, but there is also another challenge addressed to any musicians, singers, or who knows anyone who might be interested in a musical challenge.   I'll explain further after this...



Battle of the Bands

Battle of the Bands is the blogging event started by Far Away Series and now hosted by StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands.   This event happens each month on the 15th and on some blogs there is also a Battle on the 1st of the month.  My blog is one of those with a second Battle on the 1st of the month.   The premise is simple:  Listen to the songs presented below and then in the comments vote for your favorite and tell us why you liked it.  Then visit the links listed near the bottom of this post for more Battle action.


Wait Until Tomorrow

          Jimi Hendrix fans will probably know this song well.  For me a sense of impatience I've been feeling of late rings with the reminder that I have to wait until tomorrow for some things.  Tomorrow should be a good thing so I hope they keep rolling in for all of us.

          The Hendrix song lyrics are less optimistic.   The song is about a couple who are going to elope.  The father puts an end to it all with a shotgun.  I'd much rather wait for good things to come.  No need to wait for the Battle because here it is...

John Mayer Trio  "Wait Until Tomorrow"  (2008)






Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso  "Wait Until Tomorrow"  (1994)








Time to Vote!

       
Don't wait until tomorrow to vote lest you forget to come back!  What's your favorite between these two choices? Which song version do you like best? You don't have to know about music to have an opinion since it all comes down to your own personal taste.

         Please vote on your favorite by letting us know your choice in the comment section and tell us why you prefer the version you chose. Then after you've finished here, please visit the other blogs listed below who may or may not be participating this time around. And if you've put up your own BOTB contest let us know that as well so we can vote on yours.


Here are some other places where you might find BOTB posts:

 StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands

  'MIKE'S RAMBLINGS'

'Curious as a Cathy'

Sound of One Hand Typing

Angel's Bark  


Debbie Doglady's Den

Jingle, Jangle, Jungle 





Winner of this Battle Announced Wednesday August 8th

       In addition to announcing the winner of the above Battle of the Bands, I will provide an update on my Cover Version Challenge of the original song "Let's Run"--hopefully I can debut in some form or fashion for my next Battle of the Bands on August 15th.

Did you catch what I just said?

         This is a call to singers and/or musicians who have access to recording equipment (heck, your phone might work just fine).   If you are involved in music or know someone else who is and would like to share their talents, please spread the word.  I'd love to get some YouTube covers using my song "Let's Run" so I could use them in some upcoming Battle of the Bands segments.

          Currently my plan is to use the version I've recorded with some friends put up against another version we were planning to record with a different vocalist.  However, due to life stuff we may not be able to pull this off.  I'm hopeful, but not certain.  It didn't take too long to whip the first version together, but the next one might not come together so quickly for us.   That's where some of you might be able to come to our rescue with a cover of "Let's Run". 

           If you're interested in doing something then please let me know.  I'll send a very bad rudimentary recording of the melody line and a couple of choruses sung acapella--enough to give a rough idea of what you are working with without my influencing your style.

           The song can be performed in any style you wish in any form that you want to work with including instrumental versions.  To illustrate, I had my mind's version of how the song might sound and when I passed the melody and vocal to my collaborator his vision of the song was completely different and totally cool.  His rock vision of the song that went on to become the sole recording version we have so far became the theme song of my recent road trip--it's now my favorite driving song.

            What kind of sound could some of you come up with for this song?  I'd like to hear some other covers to see what else can be done with the song.  This is a Creative Challenge that will only work if some of you get into it right away.  I'm counting on at least a few of you to come through on this.  It seems like it could be a lot of fun and possibly useful to the participants.

           There's no official prize involved other than the satisfaction of achievement and who knows what could come of it all.  If you're interested then send me an email at arleebird@gmail.com and I will send you your working recording, lyrics, and some additional information.  

           Wouldn't it be cool to put together something epic with this?   Or even a contender for our neighborhood band.  I want to debut the song I wrote, but I just want to do something a little bigger than just providing my video.

             I hope some of you can help with this.  Please spread the word!