Easter Sunday

For years, the first sound I heard on Easter Sunday was my mum’s greeting: “He is risen! He is risen indeed!” I expected it, I went along with it, I miss it now. Every Sunday of my youth until my mid-teens was filled with ritual, but Easter always stood out as special. My mum would spend a good part of the morning preparing whatever was roasting and timing it for after church around mid-day or one o’clock. I think Easter was usually lamb, but beef, turkey and ham might easily be substituted. There were always yummy round the roast potatoes, and not so yummy vegetables. My mum tended to boil vegetables until there were no vitamins left, unfortunately the taste of some of the grosser fare we had to endure was still there. If I didn’t eat: parsnip, brussels sprouts or asparagus at dinner there was no dessert and/or a trip to the “bad boys seat” (bottom stair) and the threat of “have it cold for breakfast!”. Don’t get me wrong, I love vegetables. No probs with asparagus or Brussels sprouts now (parsnip…not so much) but properly cooked.

Getting ready for church meant “Sunday clothes” a button down shirt and a real tie and a dress jacket and hair slicked down with water etc. Our family was “high Anglican” which meant almost Catholic (without the swinging incense). I went to Sunday School for about 40 minutes and then we’d enter the church after the presumably boring sermon and learn the rituals of the service. When I was around 9, I joined the Cathedral choir and my family switched churches from the local (St. Peter’s) one to the downtown (Christ Church Cathedral)one. Same service, better music. I loved singing in the choir. We wore a red robe and a white surplice and a pleated ruff… it was very regimented. On hot days we removed our pants…. we felt like such naughty rebels.

A younger me.

When my voice changed (it never really “broke” like some boys) my family re-located to a rural setting and the church thing became less ritualistic. The skiers church {St. Francis of the Birds) is made of logs and about a twentieth the size of the Cathedral. It is carpeted and there is no reverberation. Very cute place, and everybody knew everybody. The music was minimal and ordinary. The difference between a four manual pipe organ in a huge stone cavern and a cheesy electric living room organ in what was, essentially, a living room is vast. Likewise the difference between a 40 voice semi professional choir contrasted with untrained septuagenarian warblers… Without the magical rituals and the glorious music I lost interest and only attended for Easter and Christmas when the entire family was together.

I rarely go to church at all anymore. I can’t get past all of the shitty things done throughout history in the name of Jesus and my own personal humanistic belief. I am not looking to be converted or “saved”. I am not looking to join even though I was baptized and confirmed, and counted as “one of” I am not Anglican.

Today I woke up, and after not hearing “He is risen, He is risen indeed” I found myself feeling nostalgic and humming a hymn that is sung on Easter. “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today” (Wesley) which led me to another “Rejoice The Lord Is King”(deGroot) and a desire to hear them sung by a choir of men and boys.

I found a service at King’s College, Cambridge on YouTube and listened intently to a ritual that 50 years has not erased. My visceral reaction and the familiarity of the liturgy and the scripture are a part of my DNA.

I have known many Christians who walk the talk and are truly humble and repentant for their imperfections and steadfastly believe. They are fortunate to be so sure, and I love and admire and remember them fondly. I have no answers, I am not looking for God. I am a searcher on this planet. I see truth and beauty in nature and holiness in selflessness. I try to always choose love.

For me, This music holds beauty beyond the notes, beyond the message, beyond the mystic and the understandable. It is a conduit, a passageway into an almost forgotten time and an innocence irretrievable except in the cloud vapours in the swamp of my mind.

My Gibson 175

My first great guitar, as it turns out, has a checkered past. You can read my initial blog story from a few years back, before I knew her pre-me history here:

I first learned about my guitar’s history from before she was mine when I saw a  photo on a Facebook post by a mutual friend that showed a legendary Montreal band opening for the Beach Boys in the mid sixties. The guitar player (Bill Hill) had an ES175 with a Bigsby (by Gretsch) whammy bar. Such a visible unique mod. I was sure it was my guitar. I contacted the man who posted it, Don Graham, another legendary player. He told me what he knew about the guitar and I then contacted Bill who told me some of this story:

JB and The Playboys

A young Bill Hill was at loggerheads with his dad over…… hair! It was the sixties. Exasperated, his dad said “ If you get a hair cut (my choice of style) I will buy you a brand new Gibson guitar”. Bill was emulating Elvis’ hair at the time, long and greasy so dad chose a “bean shave” for the budding guitarist. True to his word, Hill Sr. took Bill to a store that was owned by his friend, looking for a deal.   Do Re Mi music on rue de Bleury, south of Sherbrooke St. had an impressive line of Gibson guitars on display and after trying them all, Bill had his dad buy the Gibson 175D that I now own.

Bill wasn’t quite satisfied, as the guitar did not have a whammy bar. He took the guitar over to Anton Wilfer, a luthier on de Maisonneuve at Mackey and ordered a Bigsby vibrato and had it installed. Bill jokingly referred to the guitar as a “Gretschson”. Ironically Wilfer’s store is the same place that uninstalled that Bigsby for me a decade later. 

Bill loved the guitar and took it everywhere with him except the night it was stolen. There was a teen hangout/ disco on what was then called Dorchester boulevard (now boulevard. René Levesque )called “Snoopy’s” which was part of music mogul Donald K Donald’s empire. Donald let the boys practice there. They left their instruments overnight one night and in the morning discovered the place had been cleaned out. Guitar, bass, microphones and more. Even the cigarettes from the cigarette machine, all gone. Like the Grinch had arrived to steal Christmas. 

I know the feeling of senseless loss and hopelessness he must have felt. I remember the first time I dropped this guitar and she split open like a ripe watermelon. The gig bag strap broke and the strap holder peg that holds the tailpiece in place was driven into the guitar like a blunt chisel….. I thought it was the end…. pretty sure that is the same feeling.

When I heard that the guitar that I own had been stolen before, I immediately felt conflicted. This guitar that I loved so much was “stolen goods”. I felt ashamed, and that the guitar was now somehow less mine, the joy of having owned this guitar diminished by this new knowledge. It was a guilt for something that was not mine to be guilty about. My anguish was eased a little when Bill told me he had had a chance to get it back, but didn’t. He had seen the guitar a few years after it was stolen hanging in a pawn shop, but he had neither the proof that it was his, nor the money to buy it back as he had just purchased a Gibson Byrdland. Hearing this cleared my conscience, as there had been no indication at the guitar store I bought it from that it was a fenced item. Ours was a legal transaction.

After we had talked, I wanted at least to show Bill the guitar, and I brought it with me to one of the Keepers’ gigs. He played it for a minute and asked me if I was interested in selling it back to him. Again, the conflicted feeling. How could I sell something so precious to me? How could I ask for money for something so priceless from someone who had been so wronged? 

I had already met Bill Hill before making this connection. He plays in a band called The Keepers. The night I first saw them in Pointe Claire at the Mayfair tavern, singer Allen Nichols was sitting in with them. It was a sort of reunion of “The Haunted” and the “Playboys”. Great stuff. Bill was playing a Telecaster and is a “finesse” kind of player. He knows all these cool fills and stylistically à propos voicings that might be lost on most ears, but not mine. We became casual friends. 

Recently, another friend posted a picture of a beautiful Gretsch 6120 “Nashville” for sale. My wife Sharon drew my attention to this post  and said “You should buy it!”. I had just spent an unexpected load of money on a huge car repair, and I told her all my reasons not to buy yet another guitar. I am not a collector, I’m a player. My negativity lost, so I sent a message to my friend Victor who said he had posted it for  Bill Hill. My heart leaped. I now knew it would be a quality instrument, well maintained and well played…. for a minute I considered offering him the 175 as a trade, but rejected that thought and just forged ahead. I texted Bill and said I’d like to buy the guitar. He ascertained that I was serious and immediately took his advertisements down. We made an arrangement for me to see it the day after my vaccination. I sent him an e-transfer even before I tried it. 

The guitar is lovely of course, we chatted and laughed about tons of things, He told me some of the goofy trade offers he had received….hilarious!  some of the details in my story that needed filling in as well. 

It was a lovely visit. As I was leaving, guitar in hand, he said:  “I’m glad it was you that got this”.

Me too!

Me and the Gibson Charlie Guerin on keys. Original photo by Ross White 1994
The “girls”
I call her “lollipop” as I got her after my vaccination

This is the star of the story.

Lotto Quebec

Entering into the Clicsanté website to get a vaccination appointment opens up a task akin to Sisyphus rolling a stone up a hill only to have it roll down for eternity. The system is ass backwards. It may have been designed by “Ding et Dong”. 

At first you have to select a service, which these days is getting a Covid vaccine. Then you have to choose a region by entering a postal code. Fair enough. So far so good. A page of warnings comes up to inform you of the restrictions for your region, another page which reminds us of the curfew…well, DUH! Then you press “continue’. I timed out at least 20 times before I finally read the time out warning which suggested I press “refresh”.

Don’t! 

I did. Back to square one. If you get past this point, you choose a venue…. If you get past this point, which I didn’t…… I finally gave up, but nevertheless Sharon persisted!

When I did this exact same exercise for my flu vaccine, I would choose a venue only to be told there was no availability at that venue…..why not blank out the ones that are complete? Why not just list places and times available? Ding et Dong really did their work!

Back to today.

Sharon got past the wall (several times) and was able to pick a date and time, but while she was writing out the info…. phone number; my mother’s maiden name and my father’s first name; and what brand of monkey wrenches we have used by date and time, weight and colour….the time would be taken and like Sisyphus she’d be sent back not one step, but all the way to the beginning. The system could be set up better nest ce pas?

Booking a hotel or an airline ticket (remember when we could do that?)on-line was a snap compared to this craps shoot. You would reserve a time and have a deadline for completing the transaction. Not here… it still shows as open even if you clicked it and the unannounced race is on. Let’s say you type slowly…. Sharon and I are still relatively dexterous and not strangers to computers, but she timed out 7 times from the last stage. I timed out 20 times from several levels below.. She had “error” and “refresh” messages that sent her back to square one. Sharon was using both her iPad and her phone. I was just using my laptop. Multi-platformed and still the difficulty…Imagine people less agile, less aware of the digital world….further along on their biological clock….

I could feel Sharon’s and my anxiety level and blood pressure level mounting with each try and on my part there were multi-syllabic multi-linguistic and perhaps transcendent and inter-galactic swear words coming out of my mouth. 

Sharon finally got through and I now have an appointment, so, yay!

It should have been easier than that. I am left with the same feeling I had when I took a day off to buy Bob Dylan tickets which were to go on sale at noon. I was in line at eight A.M. and there were about 50 people ahead of me. Should get great seats, right?! Wrong!!!!! I could not believe how shitty the selection was for the highest priced tickets. It seems the scalpers and on-line preferred customers got first choice. It was like being the last table to be called to the buffet table at a wedding. Injustice is everywhere!

There are up sides to this, is I have an appointment and will have a better chance of riding out this pandemic safely.. Sharon now knows my phone number off by heart and my medicare card as well, and the birds don’t repeat my swear words…. 

Take that, Covid 19!

An Old Friend

Yesterday I had a relentless melody stuck in my head from my music student days. I remember it had trilling flutes on it and was not quite a “big band”, but a combo with “Greek chorus”(lol). I remember I had made a cassette copy of the album and played it on a tape recorder in my knapsack as I tooled around on my bicycle on NDG’s streets hunting for an apartment. 

I thought the tune might be from Dexter Gordon at first, and I listened  to “Homecoming” and “Sophisticated Giant” which were both in heavy rotation around the same time and had similar elements to the melody that was both nagging and eluding me. I enjoyed revisiting these records and my memories of having seen and heard Dexter over several nights at “The Rising Sun” but this was not the melody in my head. 

Next I thought maybe it was McCoy Tyner whose “Fly Like The Wind” also was mid-seventies and was on my turntable a lot and featured a larger band. Not him. Great to hear McCoy, though. I went back to Dexter and checked the personnel on “All Music Guide”. Woody Shaw was the trumpet/flugelhorn player and I remembered having seen him in 1977 and had two of his albums that I listened to frequently around that time, “Blackstone Legacy” and “Rosewood” . I was pretty sure it was “Rosewood”, so I cued it up and sure enough that was the melody. It was like unexpectedly meeting an old friend after a long absence and catching up as if it were yesterday. The whole album brought back memories on the one hand, but also brought new surprises as if hearing it for the first time. Headphones can sometimes help you hone in on one element or the other. Last night it was Woody’s angular and daring lines and the crispness of the snare drum that I brought to the fore. I remember the large ensemble was an acquired taste at the time and I sort of shut it out. It was not what I had heard live at “The Rising Sun”. I was very into small jazz groups at the time. Miles, Coltrane, Horace Silver, Jazz Messengers, etc. The larger context has ceased to bother me. I accepted it easier now than I did then.

I felt compelled to write this and share what I feel is compelling and overlooked music that should not be forgotten. I have only included a link to the first song “Rosewood”, but I encourage you to seek out the rest of the album if you like this.

Comfort Zone

I just stepped out of my comfort zone. I was picking up Sharon at the hairdresser’s and there was a group of about eight middle aged and older men standing around drinking coffee in front of the deli next door. I watched them for about a minute. They looked very happy and comfortable with each other. Perhaps old friends, perhaps an after meeting chat for a 12 steps program, I don’t know. They were standing in a loose circle with maybe three or four feet distance between them.

The temperature is minus twenty degrees this morning, so their breath was actually visible and I could see that they were each breathing in part of each other’s breath. My internal voices were vacillating between “live and let live”, “Mind your own business” on the one hand, and “do your duty” and “it’s everybody’s business” on the other. The second voice won over, and I exited my car and I approached the circle and said “excuse me”, informed them that I could see their breath and that they were each breathing in each other’s breath. They thanked me and backed away from each other, but if there was any spread of germs, it was already done. I did not want to be “that guy” or a “Karen”, The party started to disintegrate after my little say. I felt like an uncool dad asking kids to break up a party….then I reflected on my 11 months of social distancing and my sacrifices and the sacrifices of so many to try and slow the spread of this virus and the shameful examples of negligence and ignorance shown by some citizens of this province, the rest of Canada and elsewhere in the world.

The men totally agreed that they needed to be more mindful and no-one told me to fuck off, so if they all stay healthy it is a “win/win”. If one of them spread the virus, the group would not be so cheerful in a month.

I guess the teacher in me found and used the “teachable moment”.

O.D.D

Twenty years ago I met a student who was particularly difficult to reach, and was determined to have her own way at all times. She had transferred into the school after the term had started, so needed remediation to get to the same level as her new classmates. She had chosen to play the clarinet, and was struggling frustratedly with it.

At our first remediation (recess or lunch) session she informed me that she wanted to learn “Hatikva” which is the national anthem of Israel. To me, this was like wanting to run a marathon after just learning how to toddle. I told her something like that, and suggested we learn “Ode To Joy” first as it had a limited number of notes and was attainable in a few days.

She said: “Don’t worry, I have O.D.D.” I had just arrived at this school myself having immersed myself doing music therapy with children with Autism and other puzzles for the previous ten years at a special school. I said to her “I’ve heard of P.D.D, ADHD, and other learning differences before, but I have never heard of O.D.D. What is it?”

Her response was quite well informed. It included these traits: “Often loses temper; Is often touchy or easily annoyed; Is often angry and resentful; Often argues with authority figures or for children and adolescents, with adults; Often actively defies or refuses to comply with requests from authority figures or with rules; Often deliberately annoys others; Often blames others for his or her mistakes or misbehaviour; Has been spiteful or vindictive at least twice within the past 6 months.” Quite a mouthful for a child in eighth grade. I asked her what the difference was between this diagnosis and being a spoiled brat? She didn’t skip a beat and answered: “the name”……”and money”…. An absolutely brilliant answer to my question.

She did get Hatikva down, and performed it in public after about a month. She was brilliant in so many ways and I am not sure if her determination was a result of this peculiar label or the label was as a result of her focus and grit.

Fast forward fifteen years, I saw a business card on the wall of the staff room where we go to find substitute teachers. Her name was on one of those cards. I was hoping beyond hope that a colleague would one day hire her and we could meet up under these very different circumstances and I could see for myself if she had outgrown the ODD, and if not, how she survived in the profession. Alas, never happened.

“The name…… and money!

The Gift

A lovely story in which I had a hand.

Dare Boldly

When the email arrived carrying a link to ‘The Gift’ I wasn’t really expecting it.

Sure, when Ian Hanchet (the gift giver) commented on my poem “If I Could...” he wrote, “I was inspired to immediately pick up my guitar and melody flowed from me. I recorded it on my phone, but I need to become more acquainted with the rhythms of your poem so that I may do each phrase justice. Too bad my life just got super busy. Maybe Next week I can return to this work of wonder.” When I read his words I thought, ‘how lovely’ and promptly wrote back to thank him and to let him know how excited I was he liked the poem that much.

And then, I let it go.

Yesterday, Ian emailed to say he’d finished the song and included the audio link.

I cried as I…

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Mark Twain

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”   ― Heraclitus

Aside from the gender specific reference of the above quote, it is profoundly true. I like to revisit things. Places, people, music, films, ideas, books. 

Recently, I have undertaken the task of Reading “The Unabridged Mark Twain”. Many of the stories are ones I read as a boy and/or as a younger man. One of the tales is “Huckleberry Finn” which is a sequel of “Tom Sawyer” which I have also re-read (as the tome is chronological and I started at the beginning). Immediately after publication, Huckleberry Finn was banned on the recommendation of public commissioners in Concord, Massachusetts, who described it as racist, coarse, trashy, inelegant, irreligious, obsolete, inaccurate, and mindless. It is none of these, but what more temptation would a young boy need but to read a book that was banned?

When I first read Huckleberry Finn I doubt if I was yet ten years old. It is quite a compelling story of an adventure down the Mississippi River on a raft by a young boy who was around my age at the time and his friend, a runaway slave. The narrative is written in a style that imitates the language of the people of the southern United States in the mid eighteen hundreds which is pre-Civil War. Being Canadian and raised in the 60’s, my models for this style of speech would have been from TV at that time. The Andy Griffith Show, Disney movies, Gomer Pyle, etc. Perhaps I had seen Gone With The Wind as well. The tropes of southern belles, country bumpkins, gamblers, grifters, southern preachers etc. would all have been modelled in Western Movies and shows like Roy Rogers, The Rifleman, etc.

The intention behind my reading books as a child was just to follow the story. To get to the end. It never struck me as odd or unnatural or unusual that black skinned people in this book were referred to with what we now call “the ‘n’ word”. I didn’t use it myself, I didn’t hear it except from time to time on the playground at school even though my elementary schooling was in a privileged and predominately white neighbourhood and the word was meant to disparage like “fag”, “Pepsi”, “retard”. Words meant to isolate, to demean, to destroy. Thinking about it now makes me realize how little I understood things. To me, those words were just sounds that did not apply to me because I was not black, gay, or French or intellectually challenged (my sister would argue the last point. Lol). I was truly naive.

The ‘n’ word did not make my skin crawl as it does now. The social order of the story was just a description, no more, no less. I did not question it. The matter- of-fact manner in which slaves appeared in the story lacked the ominous and oppressive weight that I understand now as an adult. I had heard about and read about slaves in Sunday School. Jews enslaved in Egypt, etc. Just Stories. 

The interval since I first read Twain is 50 odd years. My education and personal growth and changes since then have been vast. I have held beliefs, reversed beliefs, been entirely skeptical, entirely optimistic. Ambivalence, it could be argued, is a Canadian trait. Yet I have always had a healthy disregard for authority, always questioned yet generally adhered to the Golden Rule (do unto others as you would have them do unto you). I have travelled. I have worked and played, loved and hated, fulfilled both dreams and nightmares. 

The human body almost entirely replaces itself on a cellular level every 7 years. So At age 64, I am Ian Hanchet version 8.0. I have been regenerated roughly six and a half times since I read Huck Finn the first time. Who was that guy?

I have benefitted greatly from my White Privilege. Which I now know has been at the expense of others. I am a direct result of the colonial system living in a land that was stolen. I have been able to do things others could only dream of. It seems the world is in constant flux. Economic and Territorial powers are always in flux. I have the luxury of being able to think and not be worried where my next meal comes from. I am thankful and ashamed.

To revisit Huck after reading Maya Angelou, Alex Haley, James Baldwin, Howard Zinn, is to uncover the degrees of subtlety that Twain infused into his writing. I googled “Twain and racism” to see if I should continue. It turns out that Twain was a champion of racial tolerance and critical social commentary and human rights. Did my world view come from him in the first place, the subliminal foundation on which I built me beliefs and non-beliefs throughout my life or am I just realizing now what has always been there? Every awakening I experience is like being freed from being a prisoner in Plato’s Allegory of the cave. 

Not just Huck, either. So far I have revisited: “The Innocents Abroad” which satirizes Amerocentric travellers and the revelations of places visited and the people in them as a huge hustle; “The Prince and The Pauper” where privilege and disenfranchisement trade places; At this writing, I am half way through “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” which is also a scathing yet subtle satire of aristocracy and power structure. I am at page 1,000 (about 3/4 of the way through)of the first of two tomes. 

Some of the stories in here I will be encountering for the first time. Putting my feet into a new river. Early in my teaching career I remember taking a school band by bus on an excursion from Winnipeg to Minneapolis. The bus driver announced at some point that “to our right is the great Mississippi River!” I asked him rather excitedly to stop the bus as I wanted to dip my toe in this heralded river that bisects america, rich in history, down to the Delta which is Blues country and ends in New Orleans the birthplace of Jazz. I scrambled down the embankment with my students watching on as their Weirdo Music Teacher took off his shoes and waded into what turned out to be a very polluted part of the great Mississippi River. I remember that, rather than elation I was horrified that such a great natural wonder could be so mistreated. An environmentally conscious person was newly baptized. Part of my reverence was shattered. It was restored a decade later on a trip to St. Louis where the river was cleaner and better represented the images of my youth. The literary river I just waded through was like reading it for the first time with eyes wide open. I wish I could have gleaned from it way back when what I did this time. Alas, not the same man, not the same river.

The real richesse  of retirement is the amount of time I have to reflect on things, assume a mantle of wisdom and to get to projects and books I could never make the time for on the treadmill. *ironic side note… I listened to “A People’s History of America” while exercising on an actual treadmill. Makes me feel less like a chubby hamster.

Swiss Steak

Every time I see the street sign for “rue De Salaberry” it makes me think of the words “Salisbury steak” which in turn reminds me of my least favourite dish that my mum would make regularly for us as we were growing up. It was not “Salisbury Steak” which is basically pub burger with peas and gravy. I used to order Salisbury Steak at Toe Blake’s Tavern when I was out for a “cultural soirée” with my deplorable friends and the Rib Steak was sold out.

Mum’s dish was something called “Swiss Steak”. Sounds exotic, right? Well it isn’t. No Swiss clichés anywhere. No Chocolate, no cheese, no yodelling, no Alpenhorn, no watch…..not even neutrality. Maybe somewhere in the world there is someone who knew how to cook this dish and make it palatable, but my mum couldn’t, and neither could Sharon’s. To be fair, my mum’s cooking could not be described flatteringly or truthfully. Best approached with humour and sarcasm (and a plan B).

When I described it to Sharon just now I said it was like a Sandal boiled in tomato juice. She howled at the description, but this still requires some clarity, however. The Leather sole was boiled in a black iron pot that was only ever used for this. A Civil war relic. Not sure WHICH Civil War either. My guess would be the British one in the mid 1600s. The Sandal was boiled until it was Petrified into curled up pieces of ironwood surrounded by the ghost of a red mushy “sauce” It resembled a head on collision between a produce truck and a truck carrying roof shingles. Even that might have proven tastier.

To try and cut a slab of sandal, the cutlery needed to be Military issue. It would bend a fork and blunt a knife. By the time cutlery was discarded and furtive fingers used, it was also cold. If one had teeth, one could perhaps tear off a chip and try to chew some nutrition out of it. This would result in a pulp that needed to be washed down with water or strands would lodge between the teeth unable to be flossed…. eventually dissolving after several days as the acids in the mouth fought to erode the strands.

There is only one other childhood dish that is even in the same league. The lunchbag letdown of Fried Bologna sandwiches ………with Ketchup…..

My 2020

I listened to a radio show (Radio Noon CBC Montreal) last week that asked the question: “Did the pandemic affect your creativity?” It is hard to measure something like that, for me, especially this year as I retired in June, so there is some overlap between the two. Some of the things are quantifiable, however.

I haven’t sat still (aside from going nowhere except walking the dogs and grocery shopping and a weekly foray to the city to get a meal from Mariposa or visit the Avian vet). Every day I read literature, and I work at my music which is something I love to do more than almost anything it seems. It doesn’t feel like work at all.

In 2020 I wrote 33 songs (29 of them after the first lockdown). These are complete songs. “Keepers”. I have recorded all of them as well. Some to be released soon. I also remastered two of my previous albums and will be re-releasing them on Bandcamp this month. Including the 33 new songs and the 23 remasters I have a total of 111 pieces that I have either recorded, re-recorded or re-mastered in 2020.

I took the liberty of this found time to organize all my music. I have written music and songs for all of my adult life and they exist in one form or another outside of my head as sheet music, manuscript or words and chords, as a demo or a video or whatever. I decided to digitize them in one format for iPad and put them into two ring binders in alphabetical order. I put my 2020 songs in another binder so I can have a Chronological order as well…. I wish I had dated things before, We were taught to put the date on everything in Grade School. I never saw the point at the time….. The total number of pieces I have is over 200. so, if 2020’s 33 songs represents one year, it is roughly one sixth of my overall output over one 64th of my lifetime. Is this attributable to found time or my biological clock ticking down? I don’t know, but I suspect both.

My songs A-Z

releases prior to 2021

Some of my music that I rediscovered I had to re-learn from sketchy chord charts or no chords at all, but some I had included a detail of a particular voicing or a riff that sets the song apart. As I re-discovered and re-learned my music spanning 40 years, I made an audio recording of the work. Some songs were written but missing a line, or there was a harmony that wasn’t quite right. I had two songs where one line or one word bugged me. I always thought I could do better, so I had abandoned the song. I finished them this year. The three R’s of my retirement: Revive, revise, record. Fortunately the fourth R is reject which I usually do at the time. If I like the song, I keep it. If not, if it is too derivative or too schmaltzy or too offensive or trite I get rid of it and don’t count it among my works.

During this time I also learned or re-learned songs I love. Recorded several by Elvis Costello, Sixties faves and more Lightfoot. I also finally revisited and memorized ‘Round Midnight by Thelonious Monk and have been practicing Jazz standards I once knew that I have not had the time to keep “on the desktop” of my conscious self. It is remarkable how a little nudge of memory can bring new life to old material.

My original “plan” for 2020 and my retirement was to:

-release a new album called “I’m A Caboose”

-start a folk choir for people who love to sing but lack the opportunity.

-organize tours of House Concerts.

-gigs with Tarantula Dreams and Tumbleweed

I had also intended to do some part-time teaching. Well, the best laid plans……

It seems that when life gives you lemons…… chuck them and write a song.