Monday, May 31, 2010

GBGC #14: Yes, I'm still ill.

I never thought I'd do a Smiths' song, but life is full of surprises. Like, I find it surprising that using a neti pot can actually make you sick, but that's what happens to me more often than not. Why do I continue to use one, then? Well, life is full of surprises.
This song will be one of the last with the bad baby banjo, as I have to return it to its rightful owner, but one of the first in a series called GBGC Quickies (or something clever like that - one take, short videos without much schnick-schnack, pille-palle or other fancy-schmancy stuff).

Sunday, May 30, 2010

GBGC #13: Head Over Heels

Last night I wore my "I'm Big in Europe" T-Shirt to a Eurovision song contest party. For those of you who don't know what that is, I challenge you to do your own research, for I do not want to be held responsible for any injury. Before I went, I decided to snazz up the T-Shirt a bit by cutting a scoop neck and making the sleeves shorter. One look in the mirror, and I knew what I had to do....

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

GBGC #12: Dueling: Banjo vs. Everything

Do you ever feel like it's you against the world? Feeling glum for a number of reasons, but unable to pinpoint exactly what is getting you down? Or maybe just everything sucks. Well, if there's anything we can learn from dueling banjos, it's that you can divide everything up and keep score. Perhaps then it will be easier to differentiate between your financial woes, your frustration about a friendship, or your depression about the end of your favorite television show (i.e. LOST). And then you realize that there are some things that you just can't do anything about. En garde!!

Monday, May 24, 2010

GBGC #11: Femme Fatale by Glamophone (featuring Bad Baby Banjo)

No sooner do I start the Bad Guitar Channel than somebody hands me a bad baby banjo. This is not helping my glamorous image as an opera singer. So, what was I to do? The only thing I could do: Glam Rock. And I'm wearing the dress that I performed in at the lawyer's party, by the way.

Please read the accompanying article "Glamophone" on my other blog: Christine's Voice.


Monday, May 17, 2010

GBGC #10: Landslide. Here we go!!!

My method is a little backassward: first recording the song and maybe filming some other shots, then splicing them together, maybe laying down some extra tracks and then, only THEN adding the little quips and quirks to come up with some sort of “message” for you.

Well, tonight I figured out what’s wrong with that method. By the time it’s done, sometimes I have no message to convey. But in the spirit of a true autodidact, this time around I taught myself something. 

Just when I thought I was headed for a landslide, where everything I built upon would come crashing down, a friend called me to do a concert. (Okay, I know after that build-up you were probably expecting more, but we take what we can get)

It’s a bona fide operatic concert for a group of lawyers. They’re all rich, but with any luck one of them will be young and good-looking (and maybe even available?). I was discussing the details with my friend -- the same person who has offered me roles in the operas of Mozart, Rossini and Verdi -- and in parting he said, “Oh, and bring your ukulele with you.”

The first thing that crossed my mind was, “It’s not a UKULELE!!”

Then it occurred to me that he was actually asking me to sing a song with the bad guitar in a room full of lawyers who will have just heard me singing opera arias. 

After throwing my little hissy fit, I agreed to bring it. If at the end of the planned program we have the feeling that they might want a comical, light-hearted encore, say “Don’t Stop Believin’” in an upbeat fashion, I will sing one song. ONE. If they want more, they’re going to have to lay another hundred down on the table. Per song.

So, here’s a soothing rendition of Landslide, which will hopefully make the downfall of my operatic career a bit more pleasant.

Friday, May 14, 2010

GBGC #9: Shine, damn it! Shine!!

As if life itself weren't reason enough for melancholy, Spring 2010 has decided to be one of the grayest Springs on record - in my life at least. And that coming from someone who spent five years living in Seattle, the capital of gray skies and grunge. I don't how it will be in the future, when fans and contractual obligations will force me to crank out a bad guitar hit day in day out, regardless of the weather. For now I have enjoyed the luxury of allowing muse to tap me on the shoulder when the time is right. No need for brainstorming, even under cloudy skies. It was clear to me which song I would have to sing today.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

GBGC #8: Don't Stop Believin'

Faithful viewers of GBGC will know that I tend to poke fun at 'ze Germans' from time to time. But, much like my renditions of classic rock and roll hits, it's my own way of showing affection.
If I find myself starting a sentence with "The reason it's funny is ...," then I know I'm either talking to someone who just doesn't get me, or I'm talking to a German. Or both. I forgive them, because they know not what they do. Nor do I make it easy on them.
My first seven videos were (in my humble opinion) pretty funny, and then I go and make this one. This confuses the Germans, for they think I have been "acting" funny in the previous videos. Fact is, in this video as well as in GBGC #1 With or Without You, for example, I was just sitting there playing guitar.
Why is it that the first one was funny and the other is melancholy? Shouldn't Journey's timeless hit, as featured on the hit TV program "Glee" be uplifting and full of joy?
Good question. You tell me.
This wasn't "meant" to be funny, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't laugh. It wasn't meant to be anything other than a Momentaufnahme in the life of an artist who goes by the name of Grahamophone.
Nobody puts Baby in a Schublade!

Monday, May 10, 2010

GBGC #7: Heart of Glass: It's all coming together, flaws and all.

For those who already know Grahamophone (meaning ME, and not the other people who were also clever enough to think of this moniker), you will know that I am many splendorous things, including, but not limited to 1) a singer, 2) a writer, and 3) a hoot. 

With the divine intervention of the kid-sized guitar, I have finally found a vehicle to express those three sides of me. After the link to the music video, I will share a blog entry from my other blog, "Christine's Voice."

TOTALLY F*CKIN' FLAWSOME! (from Grahamophone's Blog)
"Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it's better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring." 
--- Marilyn Monroe

    It’s a long story how it all happened, but last week something special came into my life. And it came in the form of a child-sized guitar. I can hardly believe that it’s meant to be anything other than a toy, but it has six steel strings which follow the same tuning of a regular guitar; what’s more, I can hardly believe that it’s for children, because if one of those six steel strings gets wound too tightly - well, let’s just say it’s all fun and games until somebody loses an eye.
    When I first had this guitar in my hands, I took out my tuning fork (which I keep in my purse - you never know when you’re going to need an A) and tuned it up. Then I strummed a G-major chord. 


    The trouble was, unlike a regular guitar, when I pressed down onthe first fret it resulted in not quite a whole-step interval, instead of what should have been a half-step. It was like what one of my former choir directors used to refer to as not sharp nor flat, rather, “G-crack.”

    Then I figured, if this instrument, this toy, this .... thing was indeed made for children, then perhaps I shouldn’t be pressing down so hard on the strings (since children’s fingers have not yet developed the strength). This was indeed a factor leading to better intonation, but by lightly pressing on the string, the sound was muffled and not sustainable. What to do?

    Well, for starters, don’t take this little guitar so seriously! It is obviously flawed. It is not meant to perform in the conventional way.

    Why I didn’t realize the importance of that message right then and there is a mystery to me, but I’m thankful to have recognized it now, seven days after creating the “grahamophone bad guitar channel” series on YouTube. 

    I never set out to create this monster, nor would it ever have occurred to me to do what I did, had it not been for several factors lining up simultaneously:

  1. 1)I was in the possession of a kid-sized guitar.

  2. 2)My Internet access was down for four days. 

  3. 3) I am currently in between jobs and thusly have what some might consider to be too much time on my hands. 

  4. 4)I happen to be a creative person with a quirky, yet intelligent sense of humor.

    The fourth factor is the one that often gets me into trouble professionally - many people don’t quite know what to do with me. But mostly, I stumble over my own desire for perfection. When I was lucky enough to be employed full-time, I got into several spats with my superiors over the type of work they were giving me. What with all the screaming I did in the office trying to convince them that I was perfect, it was a wonder they didn’t believe my voice to be big enough for certain roles. I was feeling artistically (thereby creatively) impeded, and they were just downright annoyed, understandably.

    Like my little guitar, despite being tuned to perfection, if you play it in a conventional way and expect conventional results, you’re going to be disappointed. The flaws do not lie in the tuning, rather in the mechanics. My problem was not a musical flaw, but rather a lack of skill in crisis management. (Then again, I was hired for the former, not the latter, but let’s let bygones be bygones, shall we?)

    Luckily for the little guitar, it fell into my hands - someone whose imagination is expansive enough to recognize its potential and turn it into its own guitar hero. The same applied to me. Shortly after being fired from my aforementioned job, a new employer entrusted me with the very same role I would have been singing had I kept my former position. Not only was I worthy of this role, but with each performance, I got better and better. I was by no means perfect - in some places I would push too hard, forcing my voice -  dare I say it? - out of tune, but I was always heard. The applause at the end of the evening, accompanied with the director’s compliment, “It’s like Verdi wrote it for you,” was enough to convince me that I was perfect enough.

    During the rehearsal period for that show, I once got really frustrated with the conductor who was being especially picky with me. “I make mistakes, too!” I whined.  “No,” he replied. “You should avoid them.” He was right, perfectly aware of the standard I set for myself. 

    You should always do your best, and not make lazy mistakes, but you should never deny yourself your imperfections - your right to be absolutely flawsome.

    As for the little guitar, I love it. For some reason, I can completely let loose and be nowhere near perfect, yet with perfect results. The feeling seems to be mutual. I embrace its flaws. In fact, if you don’t cringe while listening to grahamophone’s bad guitar channel, you’re either tone-deaf, or I’ve done something wrong. 

    Be patient and you will find those who accept and cherish you for who you are -- strengths, foibles and all. 

    In parting, a few more words of wisdom from Marilyn Monroe:

    "I'm selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best." 

Saturday, May 8, 2010

GBGC #6: Dancing Barefoot: treading softly upon others' territory

My sister explicitly told me, "Do not touch my Kate or my Patti," but even she was converted to a GBGC fan after realizing that imitation is indeed the best form of flattery. Although it may seem that I handle things in a farcical and lackadaisical manner, I actually pay great attention to detail while making my videos for the bad guitar channel. Whether it be so campy as chopping onions during "...tears in my eyes..." in the previous video, or paying subtle homage to the radiator seen in one of Mapplethorpe's famous images of Patti Smith, my renditions are meant to revere and celebrate the source material.

Friday, May 7, 2010

GBGC #5: Waiting in Vain (or maybe not?) for the telephone repairman

They say it takes about a week to form a habit, so at five days without Internet, I wasn't quite free of my addiction to crackbook or the world wide web at large. Still, my connection to this little guitar was growing, and I decided to let my newly formed fan-base in on a few secrets of the bad guitar channel trade. I had almost forgotten that I was waiting for the telephone repairman to arrive - for the one person who would give me back all that which I had been missing for four whole days. When he arrived (as is featured in this video), I felt my new alter ego, which had just gained the courage to rear its ugly head, start to slip slowly back into its hiding place. What would become of Grahamophone's Bad Guitar Channel? Well, wait and see....

Thursday, May 6, 2010

GBGC #4: Can't Live (without the Internet)

Old habits die hard. Even after transcending the effects of Internet withdrawal, on the fourth day I plummeted back into a deep depression, the likes of which are seen only on the grand operatic stage. The almighty powers of YouTube must have sensed this, because half of the related videos they suggested were links to mantra singing videos. 

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

GBGC #3: Hide Your Love Away (from the virtual universe)

After three days of life without the Internet, I entered a new intellectual and spiritual plane, taking example from the Fab Four.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

GBGC #2: (Starting to Panic) Manic Monday

Surviving one day without Internet was only possible by distracting myself with the dulcet sounds of a hopelessly non-tunable child-sized guitar. So, as I felt pangs of panic setting in on the second day, I picked up the precious piece of ... poop (for alliteration's sake) and mused about my manic Monday (to tell you the truth, 'twas a Tuesday).

Monday, May 3, 2010

GBGC #1: With or Without You (and by you, I mean Internet)

Practically stranded at home with nothing but easy-to-use filmmaking software and a kid-sized guitar, I inadvertently started a peaceful protest against my internet service provider.
Day One:

Introducing: Grahamophone's Bad Guitar Channel

On May 2nd, 2010, I was spending one of the few sunny Sundays this Spring has had to offer with my six-year-old friend Gala. She leant me her "guitar" and frolicking ensued. Together we composed and filmed the song "G-A-LA la la la la la la la" (see YouTube video below)

I took the guitar home to splice the clips together. The following day, it just so happens that my phone service - including Internet - was interrupted. Practically stranded at home with nothing but easy-to-use recording and filmmaking software and a kid's guitar, Grahamophone's Bad Guitar Channel was born. We hope you enjoy our original song, as well as the many cover versions to follow.