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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Saturday, September 15, 2018

Taking a Chance on Love (#BOTB)

 

Step right up and play the game!   If you don't take a chance you don't win a prize...






Taking Chances

         Life is filled with opportunities which in themselves are filled with chances.  We don't know for sure what will happen unless we try to pursue our dreams.  Any dream has the potential of failure, but the reward of success should be the focus of our purpose in life. If we enjoy what we are doing and think that our endeavors can be fruitful then we should push forward.  We will have to take some chances.

         In my previous Battle I debuted "Let's Run"--a song that I had written and, with a lot of help from my friends, managed to get three different recordings made.  The response from my comment section was favorable to very nice so that gave me a better feeling about the risk I took in releasing these songs on YouTube.  Eventually I hope to get some even better recordings and do something with the song.

         Since childhood, music has been a bit of a passion for me.  Writing songs is something that inspires me and helps me to think more creatively.  Music has been something I've taken chances with before in other stages of my life.  Now that I'm being drawn back to music, I might as well be prepared to take some more chances...


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.

Taking a Chance on Love

         The current Battle is actually a sort of a part two of my Battle from May 15th of this year.   In prefacing that Battle I told about how I'd seen an episode of The Jack Benny Show that featured Frankie Avalon singing a song mash-up that had initially confused me.  At first I thought it was one song, but I couldn't decide what the song was.  Then I realized that Avalon's rendition was a clever blending of "I'll Never Say 'Never Again' Again" (which I used in that May Battle) and "Taking a Chance on Love" (which is the song I am featuring today).

        "Taking a Chance on Love" first appeared in the all-black cast musical Cabin in the Sky.  The stage play was later turned into a film which is where the video clip below came from.  In fact, both video clips in this Battle are musical shorts that were shown between films shown in the theater.  These would be the predecessors of the music videos like we more frequently see today.

         The two videos present a rather stark contrast, but both are quite good in their own ways.  But you be the judge:   Which performance of the song do you like best?  and Which short film do you like the best?

         Take a listen and do tell...


June Christy   "Taking a Chance on Love"  (1950)

       Jazz singer June Christy started in the big band era and for a few decades was active in the cool jazz genre.  Though she had the chops as a singer, she never achieved the recognition that maybe she should have.  In her final stage appearance in 1988 she shared the stage with the legendary Chet Baker.  Here she is with a pretty decent band of players...





Ethel Waters    "Taking a Chance on Love"  (1943)

         You might have seen "Cabin in the Sky" on TCM as it is shown often.  The film has a great cast and wonderful musical numbers like "Taking a Chance on Love."  One of my favorites in the film is Eddie "Rochester" Anderson who was Jack Benny's sidekick for many years. By the way, if you are a fan of Jack Benny like I am, reruns of his show are often played on Jewish TV (it's some cable network that I get on Direct TV).  Just thought I'd drop that bit of info, but let's get on to the song...








Time to Vote!

       
There's no right or wrong answers here so take a chance and vote.  What's your favorite between these two choices? Which song version do you like best? Which film clip do you prefer?  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 


Cherdo on the Flipside



Winner of this Battle Announced on Monday September 24th

      That gives you an extra couple days to vote.  No excuses this time!  If I get anymore personal song updates I'll be dropping them here.  In the meantime, I'm waiting...

        What was the biggest chance you ever took?  When did you fully expect success only to be countered with not-so-successful outcomes?   How much do the outside voices hinder the inner voice of your dreams?  









     
     

Monday, September 10, 2018

The End of a Run (#BOTB Results)


        After one race has been run then the next thing is to start getting ready for the next race.   Never give up!  Keep running on...

The End of a Run

         If you haven't been following my past several posts, I wrote a song called "Let's Run" back in April/May.  Not being a runner, using the subject of running for a song seemed odd at first.  Still as I began writing my song the lyrics went from the actual act of running to the metaphorical marathon of life.  My song "Let's Run" was inspired by the metaphor more than the act.   You can find the lyrics to the song at this link.

        As fortune would have it, a couple of my neighbors helped me record a rough version of the song.  Schemer that I am, I asked for other covers of the song from anyone who might be interested. A friend of mine from Tennessee, Lonnie Carver, offered his version.  Then I came up with my own experimental version.

         Voila!   A Battle of the Bands was at hand.  If you need reference then here is that link.

        This past week the Battle has been running and votes have been decent.  Now it's the end of the run and time to announce the verdict...

Battle of the Bands Results




         The Battle of "Let's Run" was between versions by:   1)Arlee Bird, Ricardo Palma, & Nathan Lucero   2) Lonnie Carver  and 3)Arlee Bird/Take Too

           There were many nice things said about all participants and I do appreciate the many very nice and helpful comments.  Even my wacky experiment got a few votes and honorable mentions.  But the real horse race was between BPL and Lonnie Carver.  I'm not voting on this Battle because I just can't--I like all the versions for different reasons.   Thanks to everyone for one of the best voter turnouts I've had.


Final Vote Tally

Bird, Palma, & Lucero             22   

Lonnie Carver                          19

Take Too                                     5


Next Battle of the Bands post on Saturday September 15th

         I'd better get started putting this one together since I don't have my Battle picked yet.  I will keep everyone posted on anything that happens about "Let's Run".   If anyone wants to go give me likes on YouTube and maybe even share then I leave video links below.  And if you do go there, please subscribe to my YouTube channel.  I'm sure that would help some.


Let's Run   by BPL

Let's Run   by Lonnie Carver

Let's Run by Arlee Bird


I'm still accepting cover versions of "Let's Run" for anyone who'd like to be included in a future battle with that song.   I think a couple may be on their way to me soon!








Saturday, September 1, 2018

Let's Run (#BOTB) (#IWSG)


In this post I will be debuting the song "Let's Run" which was written for my favorite singing star, Marley Lego.  You likely have not heard of her, but she's still a star in my eyes--she's my oldest granddaughter...

Marley posing with some fans.

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 September 5 posting of the IWSG are Toi Thomas, T. Powell Coltrin, M.J. Fifield, and Tara Tyler.


September 5 question - What publishing path are you considering/did you take, and why?

         As I have mentioned in most of my posts since May, I've begun to focus on songwriting.  I've been writing songs off and on since high school, but in April I became consumed with a song that I called "Let's Run" which I dedicated to my oldest granddaughter Marley whose singing performances had inspired my writing of the song.  Later in this post I will debut the song with three different recordings.

           I know very little about getting a song published.  I've seen movies and heard stories about songwriters trying to peddle songs to publishers or whoever would listen.  I've done minimal research though I know there is much information online about this topic.  Maybe I'll take this traditional approach in the weeks or months to come, but for now I'm going to just put the song out there as a sort of market test.   And to just have some fun putting something I've been talking about on my blog on actual display for public consumption. 

           The way I figure it, "Let's Run" is just one of many songs that I've written and new songs have been flooding my creative mind of late.  If I'm taking a bad route with this "putting-it-out-there approach then I'll do things differently the next time around.  For now I've had fun with this project and hope you listen and enjoy.  Then, once you've done that. please vote and leave your comments.

          I'm counting on you readers to help me with this project which might just lead me down a publishing path.   I've seen YouTube video break-outs before and I guess we just never know.  Especially when you're taking your first shot at doing something like I'm doing with my song.


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.

Let's Run

       As the 2018 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge was winding down I began feeling a creative surge that began to focus on music.  Songs starting invading my brain space.  This was primarily due to video performances by Marley that were being put up on Facebook. 

         Then an odd melody began recurring in my thoughts.  It was a very peculiar simple melodic line which in actuality was not very melodic.  As these weird notes repeated themselves in my head, words began coming along with an expanded melody until I had a song.  I decided that this was Marley's song and maybe one day she might work up a version to sing.

          Why the lyrics were about running I can't really say since I've never been a runner and cannot run due to a heart arrhythmia.  But as I wrote I realized that the song was not so much about actual running as it was about persistence and staying in the race of life.  In the song life is a marathon and we need to keep on running in that race.  The message was as much for me as it is for any of us.

           Here are three versions that are very different in style and approach--keep in mind that all are very rough drafts.  I hope you listen, provide your feedback, and vote for the version you like the best...

Bird/Palma/Lucero   "Let's Run" (2018) 

            Toward the end of May after I had finished writing "Let's Run", I happened to catch my next door neighbor Ricardo Palma as I was picking up my mail.  I complimented him on his music website space at Bandcamp which I had recently discovered.  Richard is a friend of my youngest daughter (Marley's mother) so when I mentioned my song for Marley he immediately volunteered to help me record a version with his music software program and his own musical ability.  I gladly accepted since I didn't have much to work with on my own.

           Using his phone, Richard recorded me singing the song without accompaniment.  I know little about chords and writing music so it was in Richard's hands to figure out an arrangement.  Interestingly, his version was so different that what I had been hearing in my head and yet it worked very well.

            I like the way Ricardo imagined the song with a sixties surf vibe--or at least that's the way that I hear it.  Someone else said it reminded him of the group The Cars.  Beyond arranging this version, Ricardo also laid down 3 guitar tracks, one percussion track, and produced the entire sound.   Another neighbor, Nate Lucero, played bass guitar and I sang the vocals.  Ricardo used the Garageband app through his computer.

            If you're able to watch the video as you listen to the music you might note that I did a pretty decent job of matching the visuals to the lyric content.  All video is from my past summer's vacation. The road scenes were all shot by me while driving alone from New Jersey to Los Angeles (via Texas).   The journey segments shown start in Virginia, passing through East Tennessee and West Texas, and finally skirting a massive dust storm on I-10 just east of Phoenix.  The running kids are three of my grandkids.

            By the way, I often had the CD of "Let's Run" playing loudly as I drove on my trip.  As you might agree as you watch the road footage, this song version makes for a darn good driving song...   





Lonnie Carver   "Let's Run"  (2018)

           Some of you probably recall that I had put out a call for other musicians to contribute their own versions of the song (an offer still open).   I only got one taker so far and that comes from my friend of 50 years, Lonnie Carver.   This multi-talented performer has been involved with music since he was a kid and continues to this day.  He's been a great friend over the years and once again he's pulled through for me with his version of "Let's Run". 

            Using the Garageband app installed on his Ipad, Lonnie recorded his version with just him singing while backing himself on his guitar. He gives the song a nice laid back Tennessee vibe that takes me back to my roots.  After making his recording, Lonnie sent me the file which I added to a video I made.   Once again I've used my vacation driving footage from West Texas.

             Enjoy...





Arlee Bird   "Let's Run"  (2018)

          Are we ready to get weird?   As I was contemplating ideas for more cover versions of the song I remembered something I used to do back in the late seventies to make recordings of my songs.  Using two cassette decks, I would lay down a first track on one, then play that recording back while singing or playing something else over it and record that on the other tape deck.  I would record layers of sound back and forth between the decks until the sound quality was too diminished to continue.

           I decided to use this approach using my video camera in my living room.  This was an exercise in ineptitude and figuring things out by trial and error.  The video took over a week to make with numerous reshoots in an attempt to come up with an acceptable product.  Eventually I settled for the version seen here.  I was tired and wanted to get this done.

         During the shooting process  I did two different takes of me playing the violin and a final one with me singing in front of the big screen TV which is displaying the previously recorded layered video.  In all there are five layers of video and audio.  The percussion mostly got lost in the mix, but considering my lack of equipment the sound is not too badly balanced.

          It's a bit of a mess I'll admit, but I don't think it's a total disaster.  Perhaps we can call it an interesting experiment.   See what you think...







Time to Vote!

       
Don't worry about hurting my feelings with your vote.  After all the song is mine and whichever version wins your vote still makes me a winner.  I just want people to listen and 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 Monday September 10th

       
           I'll be giving this Battle some extra time for voting to come in--at least I'm hoping to get more votes than I usually get on these Battles.  Please help me out with this and share the post and encourage others to participate.

           Are you hesitant to post excerpts of your work on your blog or elsewhere online?   Have you ever tried to get a song published?   What is the most number of times you've submitted the same work before getting an acceptance to publish?