Saturday, November 23, 2013

Linger on ... a GBGC Tribute to Lou Reed

A friend invited me to partake in a Lou Reed Memorial Party the other night. I quickly set up my iPhone camera to record my humble offering, but I managed to cut off my head and focus on my less flattering features. So, I decided to recreate the moment and preserve it in the annals of Grahamophone’s Bad Guitar Channel. It’s been over two years since I’ve done a cover version, and this is as good occasion as any to try it again.

This is the second GBGC song using an actual ukulele -- and you might notice that I use the same key and accompanying motive as I did in the first one ("Desdemona"). But, as in every other cover version on the GBGC, I only steal from the best!

I cannot honestly say that Lou Reed and his Velvet Underground had much of an impact on my life, but it was an honor to play for those who couldn’t have imagined surviving their youth without him. Thanks, Dr. Sweet, Jane and friends!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Don't Lose This Connection! (GBGC got a new toy)

We've come a long way, baby.
Yes, I'm talking to you baby bad guitar. The poor little thing isn't even in this video much less the song! Time goes on, we get bigger and better toys and forget about the little one we love so much. Well, I haven't forgotten. I never forget.
But, boy, am I having fun with my new MIDI-to-USB cable that enables me to hook up my digital piano directly to my computer! That means I can play to my heart's desire (which is exactly what happened in this song and it turned out perfect -- well, ALMOST perfect). I did correct a sour note here and there, and I've still got a lot to learn about the whole get up because, despite click-track, I sped up as I went along and then had to fudge the software drums a bit. Pandemonium ensues at the end, but by that time it won't matter.
This isn't your typical GBGC track, but it was a venture into new territory. At times, it's a bit too Bruce Hornsby-y or Bob Segery for me. It is what it is, and I hope the person I wrote it for likes it nevertheless.
I still love you, you little red guitar, you.
Oh, and why the blond wig? Who knows? I just felt like it. 

(And, as always, lyrics and music property of the grahamophone. Don't even try to steal it, or I know an elephant who will trample all over you.)

We just got started. Is it already done?
Our plans got interrupted, but I’ve still got some.

Out of sight, out of mind.
But you know I’m one of a kind.

baby, don’t lose, don’t lose this connection

I thought we’d leave it up to fate, wait and see.
And now I’m getting impatient, but it’s not up to me.
I need your help. I can’t do this all by myself.

baby, don’t lose, don’t lose this connection
because I’m the closest thing you’ll find to perfection
so don’t wait, or it’ll be too late

I’m like a elephant, I never forget.
I’ll trample over anything in the way of what I want to get.

So go away if you must(h),
but how could you forget about us?

baby, don’t lose, don’t lose this connection
because it’s the closest thing we’ll find to perfection
so don’t wait. 
Keep going.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Dating a Rock Star

It took me 21 takes to get the guitar part right for this song, therefore I have about a gazillion minutes of footage for the video (Glück im Unglück). I had to massage, stretch and ice my left forearm for all the damage that did. Not that I’m complaining, I’m just saying, it’s harder than it looks to become a rock star. 21 guitar takes was just the beginning - then there was the vocals, backup vocals, percussion, bass line, etc. etc. etc. ...

What with the myriad of platforms for today’s independent artists (myspace, soundcloud, cdbaby, reverbnation, bandcamp, facebook, twitter, kickstarter, whatever...), it really takes an indefatigable dedication to your cause to even be a drop in the deluge of musicians out there trying to make a buck. 

I’m not trying to be a rock star, although, if I’d listened to my heart when I was 18, I may have been one by now (isn’t this your story, too?). Instead, I’m an opera singer, and I ain’t too shabby at it, either. People see this supposed talent I have for writing songs, and they want me to do certain things with it. All I say is, when the time is right, the time will come. Right now, because the opera houses are on summer vacation, I’ve got all the time in the world to write songs and still keep in touch, but the same is not necessarily true for my rockstar friends whose priorities lie elsewhere. 

Wishing all my musician friends much success. Don’t forget the little people!!

lyrics & music property of the grahamophone

I’m dating a rock star - but I can’t say his name
because my animal magnetism would distract from his fame
So I sit patiently behind closed doors
waiting for him to return from his tours
But he doesn’t remember to call me .... text me .... write me me
Because he's out making money - rocking the world 
oh my ‘honey’, gettin’ the girls
And maybe, baby, it’s a matter of time
‘til he comes home and he’s mine all mine.

When you’re dating a rock star, it’s best if you just join the band
sell tickets or t-shirts, or put a tambourine in your hand
Then you’re right by his side, watching his butt
and after the show, well, you know what 
And you won’t have to wait for him to call you ...text you ... write you ... sex you
You’re out there together, rockin’ the world
He’s your honey, and you’re his girl
‘cause he’s up there next to you on the stage
dancing and singing for girls half your age.

Just remember Ike and Tina
before too long he got meaner and meaner
There was no stronger love than Yoko and John,
but before he knew it, all his friends were gone. 
Two couples each in Fleetwood Mac and ABBA
Sid loved Nancy, but he still stabbed her
Sonny and Cher, Courtney and Kurt
no matter how you slice it, someone’s gonna get hurt.
If you’re dating a rock star.
forget everything that I’ve said
Round up your friends and grab a bad guitar
and start your own rock band instead
Then you won’t remember to call him ...text him ...write him him
You’ll be out making money, rockin’ the world
Gettin’ all the honeys, the guys and the girls
Competing with him for your place in the charts
No harm done and  no broken hearts.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Desdemona: how a little uke improved race relations at GBGC

Okay, so the first thing you might notice about this song is that there's a ukulele in it. Some of you faithful fans may have caught me using an anti-ukulele sentiment on occasion. I'm not saying the ukulele isn't a fabulous instrument, but I get annoyed because people are always calling my little bad guitar a ukulele.
Once and for all - it's not a ukulele!

I set out writing this song as part of a not-yet-officially started series of songs about operatic heroines (see The Queen of the Night here). I had a groove going, a melody and nothing else (i.e. no coherent thoughts). I even sought help from a friend of mine who is currently singing Desdemona, but the truth is, it’s hard to get into the psyche of a character unless you’ve played her yourself. And the descending flute melody you can hear is actually Leonora's "Pace, pace" and not Desdemona's "Salce, salce." This was going nowhere. So, now what? Discard it? 

Then current events intervened and showed me the direction the song should take. George Zimmerman was acquitted of murdering young Trayvon Martin. The essence of the Desdemona-Othello problem is not race, it’s jealousy. The essence of the Martin-Zimmerman problem may have been race, but may have also been fear. Yet neither of the victims deserved to die (but if no one dies in Shakespeare, it makes for an awfully boring story). Sadly, I suspect in decades to come people are going to forget about the murder trial, but people will still be reading Shakespeare.

So why did I use the ukulele all of sudden to express the voice of Desdemona? Was it because she, like the bad guitar, was misunderstood? Why Desdemona at all? Because she, like Trayvon Martin, was falsely accused and brutally, needlessly murdered? And why this song? To show the world that my relationship with a 4-stringed instrument can be just as sincere as that with a 6-stringed one?

   It might just be an innate sense for rhythm, rhyme and melody and a need to create. Like people today analyzing Shakespeare, in times to come no one will ever know what my true motives were.

lyrics and music property of the grahamophone:


what’s your name?

paranoid mistrust 
suspicion unjust
-  insane

are you ashamed?

look past the skin
let the truth come in
try again 

who’s to blame?

but the hatred lies so deep
every willow shall weep
- the pain

we’re not the same
Look into your heart
and go back to the start 
of the game

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Gonna make a (pop) star outta me yet!

I've been using GarageBand for years to make my little GBGC ditties. It's a program that enables you to record several tracks, put effects on the them, adjust volume ... basically anything. Just recently, my computer-savvy sister showed me some more features like the Apple Loops and Musical Keyboard (enabling you to play your computer keyboard like a piano). I fooled around with the pre-fab loops some before, but the notion that I could change pitch and, basically, compose with this program was undiscovered territory. 
We had also been talking about how simple some popular songs are, musically, and we wondered how easy it may be to pen the next Eurovision Song Contest winner, or create Adele's next hit. 
And who do I have to call to make this happen? Please advise ...
In the meantime, here's the digital abomination of one of my most heartfelt acoustic songs. I guess it doesn't completely bother me that people are preferring this version to the original (which was never really "mastered" by the way. Just sayin' ....)

Monday, June 17, 2013

Wednesday Morning 4 a.m. A GBGC Quickie Original

Every artist needs an ambiguous sad song. Here's mine:

Wednesday morning 4 a.m.

I could feel you strugglin’
You had me worried, I wasn’t sure
Would you be the poison or be the cure

Wednesday morning 4 a.m.

Thursday all day, wonderin’
And then by Friday afternoon,
I was almost convinced you could never come too soon.

Friday evening was the end.

Will you ever come again?
Did you think you’d be disappointed?
Did you think I wouldn’t see it through?

Maybe you know me better than I do.

Who am I supposed to tell my stories to?
The decision is out of my control,
now I’m bleeding from the depths of my soul.

Wednesday morning 4 a.m.
Maybe I was only dreaming
of stupidity and love and other demons,
of unexpected answers to fill the void,
the magic gift that others have enjoyed.
Curtains close and worlds collide;
it might’ve worked, we might’ve tried for you.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Slow Song: A GBGC Quickie Original

This has been a wacky year. I'm just very, very discombobulated. I've got a thousand ideas flitting about in my head, a bunch of things to do, but don't seem to be able figure out where to channel the energy or lack thereof. I think this little ditty sums it up: