You Can’t

Singer songwriter Siren Patti Witten has done it again. With You Can’t she’s written another song that give me goosebumps and makes me want to write a novel.

I really did do that after hearing her song Obvious. I’ve only completed the first draft of the YA manuscript so far, but when I tell you her song inspired me to write a book, I mean it. Obvious was the jumping off point, and then I asked, what if . . . and came out with a couple hundred pages. That’s . . . a lot of inspiration. You can read a previous Sirenstories post about Patti Witten and hear the song Obvious here. I’ve listened to the track dozens and dozens of times.

Patti Witten had this to say about her song You Can’t:

You Can’t is a sad-sweet, mysterious lament about girls and boys, family and romance, similar to Paul McCartney’s “Junk.” It incorporates clips from family home recordings of little girls singing “the farmer in the dell,” telling a story, whispered lyrics, studio out-takes, and ends with a lonely ringing telephone.”

In other words, it will give you chills, and make you want to hear more from Patti Witten.

Lament

Lament is an experimental piece from Flowers on Neptune. It’s also the most haunting remix I’ve ever heard.

This stunning remix of the late Whitney Houston’s hit song I Wanna Dance with Somebody brings to light the sadness in the lyrics that has up until now, been ignored.

Flowers on Neptune is Modal Roberts and Gretchen Seabird.

You can read an earlier post about the music of Modal Roberts here.

I hope you enjoy this devastatingly beautiful tribute as much as I have.

The Right & the Real

I pre ordered my copy of The Right & the Real, the new YA novel by talented writer Joëlle Anthony, but if I hadn’t, the book trailer would have made me buy it.

The solo electric guitar playing of Nathan Tinkham is all  you hear when you watch the trailer for The Right & the Real, and his raw, emotionally wrought version of Amazing Grace combined with the images and written words is chilling.

I wrote about Joëlle Anthony’s previous novel, Restoring Harmony, here. I can’t wait to read The Right & the Real, Publisher’s Weekly says it’s a harrowing page turner.

You know where I’ll be tonight.


London Calling

The first time I listened to Thinkin’ of You, I thought just maybe, Nick Drake was alive and well and hiding out in the UK.

But although the Brits aren’t lucky enough to have Nick Drake in their midst—sadly, none of us are—they do have Idris Davies.

Idris DaviesThinkin’ of You opens with acoustic guitar sans effects, pretty much good demo quality, and that’s fine, because when Idris’ voice comes in and begins to quaver with vibrato and emotion, that’s all we want to hear.

Thinkin’ of you is a love song, and even though it’s labeled ‘folk’, there’s something about the vocal phrasing, the way the notes are delivered so smoothly, that makes me think of jazz.

Listen to the way Idris Davies sings the two lines,

You make a mountain a molehill baby
You make a thousand miles feel local

He makes one note melt into the next, almost like a clarinet, or butter.

There are no jazz chords here, but still, there’s a breath of blues, although again, no blues progression.

Idris Davies has me thinking of him, yes, and Nick Drake, but also strangely enough, Nat King Cole.

This is what Idris Davies had to say about the collection of music that includes Thinkin’ of You.

The Sternhall Sessions began when the first 4 songs were recorded in my home in Peckham. The rest make up a collection of songs that I wrote and/or enjoyed playing around the same period.

All of these songs are sketches, none of them are perfect, and only some of them finished. Make of them what you will but please, and if you like or dislike please let me know by leaving a comment.

Peace and love,

Idris

Thinkin’ of You

The Mornin’s come, I’m layin in the cool yellow sun,
I’m free from sound, everythin is still – there’s not a soul around,
But I don’t care cos I know somewhere
You’ll be thinkin of me
Thinkin of me.
You make a mountain a molehill baby
You make a thousand miles feel local
An I’m thinkin of you,
Thinkin of you.

I’m movin on with the day. The sun is high, of it there’s no escape.
Family come and go, and once again I’m here alone,
But I’m not alone – your heart tells me so,
Cos you’ll be thinkin of me,
I think you’re thinkin of me.
You make a mountain a molehill baby,
You make a thousand miles feel local
An I’m thinkin of you,
Thinkin of you.

Evenin’s here, baby how I wish you were near.
A record plays low, the sun is sinkin now it’s time to go.
The sky is on fire, full of our desire
Yes you’re thinkin of me,
Thinkin of me.
You make a mountain a molehill baby,
You make a thousand miles feel local
An I’m thinkin of you,
Thinkin of you.

The Believers Will Be Suspicious

The Light, which ironically, is a darkly beautiful song, is from the 11-track album A Year, Six Days, & Seven Nights. This alchemical blues tune was written by R.M. Isaiah and Craig Vail. Together, the two make up The Believers Will Be Suspicious.

Craig Vail plays acoustic guitar and electric guitar on The Light, and R.M. Isaiah plays nylon stringed guitar, bass, keys, and percussion. The honest, nearly spoken vocals are Isaiah’s as well. As I said in an earlier post, R.M. Isaiah’s San Francisco sound  is magically tragic. His voice on The Light, with its world-weary, slightly worn timbre, expresses feelings you may be familiar with, whether you are a musician or not.

You can put me down for your tonight show tomorrow
Televise my barroom battle cry
The walls have grown so tall now I can barely see the grey sky
I’m stuck inside and so low on supplies

Late one night I saw the light
In the heart of a cold dark sky
It was something strange that I cannot explain
But I know I’m never gonna be the same

I go on at ten, so until then, what do I do?
I’m at the bar drinking, thinking of you
If I can’t get my pay, then I’ll be sleeping at the station
Dreaming I am home, in bed with you

Late one night I saw the light
In the heart of a cold dark sky
It was something strange that I cannot explain
But I know I’m never gonna be the same

A twenty dollar room, some cheap red wine, I’ll be fine
Smells like bad perfume and cigarettes
I don’t need shiny things to make me feel like I’m a king
What I don’t spend, I’ll send it home to you

Late one night I saw the light
In the heart of a cold dark sky
It was something strange that I cannot explain
But I know I’m never gonna be the same

Studying music therapy I learned that you can lift your mood using music. What? You already knew that? Of course you did. But what you might not know is that to begin the process of mood alteration you should start by choosing music that mirrors your mood. In other words, start with where you are. Next, listen to a song that’s slightly uptempo from the first one, and so on, until you feel better.

However while you’re in that first song place, deep in the mood that laid you low, you might want to consider Rumi’s poem The Guest House.

This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and attend them all! Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still, treat each guest honorably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes, because each guest has been sent as a guide from beyond.

I think The Believers Will be Suspicious welcome their dark thoughts in, and then hang out with them, probably in a dimly lit room. Despite its title, I imagine this song first showed its face in the shadows, in the dark. That’s where the some of the best stories are born.

The Light makes me think of another great song that tells the story of musicians on the road: Wanted Dead or Alive, from Bon Jovi’s 1986 album Slippery When Wet. The Load-Out from Jackson Browne’s 1977 Running on Empty is another good one, although it’s also a tribute to roadies and fans. It would be kind of cool to compile a list of songs like these, the songs about the shows, about the songs, about the way the players feel after they’ve been gigging for a while.

For a lot of musicians, examining their feelings about their careers as performers might be pretty tough. After all, music, live performances . . . as hard as we try to capture them, they are ephemeral creatures.

For me, Robert Mapplethorpe pegged it as he lay dying. Patti Smith’s shares his words in her amazing book Just Kids. She tells how she was standing by Mapplethorpe’s bed and he suddenly looked up and said, “Patti, did art get us?”

Patti Smith writes her thoughts about Mapplethorpe’s words then concludes, “Only a fool would regret being had by art.”

The Guest House translation by Coleman Barks.