Welcome to 2009. Although this post will go up at 11:30pm on December 31st, it’s highly likely you are reading this on January 1st. Since New Year’s Eve promises to be a busy day for me, I am preparing this post a day in advance. I laid out some of the plans for The Alder Fork in it’s first full year in my Christmas post, so I will spare you that today. I would like to point out that in just two months this blog, it’s adjoining podcast, and the other various projects have begun to carve out a niche for themselves. It’s all thanks to those of you who pop by from time to time! I hope you have a great New Year, whatever you are doing, and if you are bored and/or hung over on New Year’s Day I highly recommend checking out The Lights I See You in Shadow it’ll cure what ails ya!
Just the one last Coldplay quote before I abandon them for awhile. I mention them to today because Dave pointed me to a very cool contest the band held recently. People submitted homemade videos for the song Lost? and the band judged them. The top two are featured at this site. I’d recommend checking them out, it’s amazing what people can create. For that matter if you are an amateur filmmaker and would like to promote your work please contact me and I will link to it.
I often wonder when people come to read the blog. I know you do because I see the stats, but they don’t tell me what time of day you wander by. Is this a before bed activity? How about right after dinner? Maybe in the morning at work? Who knows? You do!
The title of my blog quotes the name of a favourite show of mine, Good Morning World. You can find it online or on Friday nights at 9:30. It turns out my friend Iwona is friends of a friend of one of the stars. Small world! The show is an improvised morning show that is flat out hilarious! It’s a Canadian production that pretends to be American, so you know it needs some attention.
One last item for you today. For those of you who have heard the album, The Lights I See You In Shadow, or have heard the songs on the blog, I’d like you to vote on a “single” track. I am going to do some special things with the one you pick. The track should be a standout song for you. Consider which one would have wide appeal. Vote below!
My lady mother, when I do less or more than what you require of me I beg you to beat me as much as you will so that I may be careful another time
quoted by Rudolph Bell in Holy Anorexia
I mentioned the other day that I was looking for musicians to be part of my latest project. You might be wondering “What is this new project?” First, some background. I have recently completed an MA. My thesis concerned the relationship between spiritual/religious belief and anorexia. I can confidently say that they interact in an apparent and complex manner. There have been several books and articles written on the topic, and if you really want to know about it I can send you my summary chapter on the research. Why is this important? Well as part of my research for the thesis I read Holy Anorexia by Rudolph Bell. It is an examination of the lives of hundreds of medieval Italian ascetics who died from starving themselves. The book itself focuses on a few specific cases in detail. Although it is written in a scholarly fashion it is remarkably moving. Thus I have decided to take the stories of the 6 women mentioned in the book and turn them into an album. Now I rarely write songs on a particular topic never mind an entire album, so a great deal of research and work will go into writing the songs in the first place.
I am hoping that a female vocalist will step forward to be the voice of the project. I don’t want to be the one telling these women’s stories. I don’t think I should be. If you want to take part in this adventure please leave a comment or email me. I promise it will be lots of fun.
Just a reminder you can get The Lights I See You In Shadow by The Alder Fork by clicking on “Get the Album” over there –>. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to listen and comment.
Please don’t stop playing Fry. I want to hear how it ends.
Until the first DVD movie was released, that was the final line of the Futurama franchise. I am a huge fan of that series and have seen every episode. This line is particularly fitting for this post because today is the day that the final song on the album is released. It also captures some of the meaning of today’s song. The album will hit Amie Street on November 29th/30th. If you haven’t already downloaded the songs here you can get them there. They will be free at first and if enough people download they will begin to go up in price. What’s your incentive for paying for them when I’ve given it all away for free? Nothing really, but I won’t complain if you do! This album was not free to make, but I’m not in this for the money.
As a side note I will continue to post in this blog. Sometimes it will be music, sometimes it will be other ideas, thoughts, comments etc. I hope you continue to visit everyday! I will be beginning a retrospective of my music tomorrow, complete with old grainy clips!
May captures several feelings as they evolved over a period of time. This is one of the three songs in the Lonely Day trilogy of related compositions. It is a short song, but in just a few lines it expresses several months worth of thoughts. It is significant for someone more than anyone else. I don’t need to elaborate on that. I think the piano is the ideal way to end The Lights I See You In Shadow. It’s simple, straightforward and yet still interesting. I hope you’ve enjoyed this journey and will continue to visit.
It may be the winter but somewhere it’s still May:
Most young people today are more familiar with Adam West as a recurring character on Family Guy but for me he will always be the only Batman. I am one of the people who didn’t learn about Batman through comics or Tim Burton’s movies, but through reruns of the campy 1960’s classic TV show. Apparently the actor who played Commissioner Gordon was unaware that the show was meant to be satire and played his character straight. When I was a little kid I didn’t know that either and hung on every word as gospel. The movie quoted above was a favourite of mine. My parents must’ve rented it 100 times for me and I now own it on DVD and VHS. The reason I have chosen to quote this hilarious series is that today’s song is, in a small way, a bit humourous.
The Lights I See You In Shadow is full of earth/nature imagery. Virtually every song makes reference to natural phenomenon or rural life in some way. I’m not sure exactly why nature has been so significant to me over the last couple of years, but it certainly has. Today’s track, The Sunrises, is the last of three Pinstripe Mystery songs on the album. In fact, The Sunrises was the very first song I wrote specifically for my old band, back when we had three members and no name. It was the first song we played at our first practice. That’s your history lesson for the day.
The project file for it was called The Sunrises Again because I didn’t want it to be exactly the same as the original, which was covered by Max Woghiren at one time. If you know the Muffin Parfait version of the song you will notice the one significant change. It was actually a fairly easy addition to record, but I think it changes the song in a very major way. The title, The Sunrises, was always intended to be a verbal pun. It could be “Hey no matter what happens the Sun rises,” or “It’s been three sunrises since I left the house.” Is that funny? Not really, but I don’t write funny songs. When it came time to write out the name, I went with the latter because it was convenient. A lot of Pinstripe Mystery was about doing what was easy or convenient. This album has been a bit more about doing what is right, at least my version of right.
This song, like many, tries to have a narrative structure. There is a story and an argument in there. I’m not sure what comparing a person to the Sun implies. Perhaps a giant ball of gas is about as different from a human being as you can get, perhaps it’s closer than I think.
‘No,’ he said, ‘somewhere, someone who had faith in currents, in winds – and also in people, put thought and careful work into this carving. And I’ll not be the one to stop his Paddle-to-the-Sea.’
Holling Clancy Holling
I briefly referenced Paddle-to-the-Sea in an earlier post but I wanted to give it a fuller treatment. It is the only book from my childhood that still sits on my shelf. The rest are in boxes awaiting the day that I have children. My affection for the book goes beyond its clever story, its grand adventure, or its lovely illustrations. For me Paddle-to-the-Sea represents a dream. A life that is both independent and dependent. The little carved canoe traveled from north of Lake Superior all the way to France, thanks to the currents and the respect of strangers for a little boy’s vision. The book was first published in 1941 and was written by an American. It is a classic of children’s literature and was intended to help teach the geography of the Great Lakes region. It certainly succeeds at that. It even gives young Americans and Canadians alike descriptions of exotic Canadian locales like the Grand Banks, Montral, and Sault Ste. Marie; three places that I have not been. I recommend it for your children and you.
I can say today that the recording of The Lights I See You In Shadow is officially done. It will be 14 instead of 15 songs long due to my dissatisfaction with a song called The Lights, which will most likely resurface as part of another project. As for the identity of that next project, I will save that for another day.
HG Plant Companion began its life as a jazzy tune called Home Gardener. One night I was playing around with the parts I’d written and came up with a way more interesting and catchy song. This song has very coherent lyrics. It tells the story of an early morning talk. One that may or may not be going well. This song has a nice breakdown in the middle that I wasn’t sure about at first. I couldn’t decide if I liked it or not. In the final analysis I’m very happy with it.
In the coming days I will be posting the final two songs, the album artwork, and the final order of songs. I will also be creating final mixes of every song, so that I can fix any little problems. I have been toying with the idea of creating a video, and if I get time it will happen. Once all of that is completed I will continue to post blogs about The Alder Fork and other things, so I invite you to stick around.
It is wonderful to feel the grandness of Canada in the raw, not because she is Canada but because she’s something sublime that you were born into, some great rugged power that you are a part of.
Strictly speaking Emily Carr was not a member of the Group of Seven, but her art is related to that collection of artists. I have always been a fan of the work of the Group of Seven and other Canadian artists of that period. In fact, I am a fan of a great deal of homegrown Canadian culture, whether it is art, music, film, theatre, or television. The Group’s work speaks to the ruggedness of this country, and it’s beauty. They (and the artists they influenced) established perhaps the most significant artistic movement Canada has ever seen. I mention them because today’s piece is influenced by a similar vision of my home country.
The Lights I See You In Shadow is the second major album I have been a part of. The last, Muffin Parfait, was nowhere near this one in quality or completeness. I was surprised when I received a letter from the National Archives asking for a copy. Apparently they ask everyone who puts out any piece of recorded work. At the moment you can find Muffin Parfait in the Ryerson University library, at several Ontario university and college radio stations, and in the homes of about 50 people (assuming they haven’t lost or disposed of it). With the budget I have for this album, it will not be possible to release a hard copy in wide distribution. That is why I am relying on the internet to get the music out there. That said, I have worked with Dave Fallis on some album artwork, and I will be displaying that material on this blog later in the week. There will also be actual CD’s with cases available for a modest price if anyone wants one. Of course if you download the finished project on Amie Streetyou can contact me about getting an actual CD.
Great Cliff-face Real Estate is about rural life. I was born and raised in a city, but I have an interest in the country life. It’s amazing to think how dependent humans have been on uncontrollable elements like weather for survival. In light of this it isn’t surprising that we have put so much effort into controlling the earth. The music for GC-FRE evolved over a period of several months. I tried various piano parts before settling on the current version. The guitar in the chorus is a recent addition, and was called “avant garde” by a friend of mine. It has a bit of a first at the end when horns scream to life. I have never even thought to put any type of horn in my work. The trumpets worked into this piece very naturally.
The greatness of Ty Cobb was something that had to be seen, and to see him was to remember him forever.
Ty Cobb was the greatest Detroit Tiger’s player of all time. He is also considered one of the “bad guys” of baseball history. He was known for his spikes up slides and his violent play. You have to be pretty bad to be considered a violent baseball player, since it is among the most non-contact sports on earth. I mention Ty Cobb not only because I love baseball and the Detroit Tigers, but because he represents a past that we probably don’t want to return to. Another interesting thing about baseball is that among all the team sports, it is the loneliest. I spent many a summer day playing the game and know that a lot of it was spent with my own thoughts. When I played centrefield I would talk to myself since there no one was really around. Perhaps the reason baseball is so beloved is that it is reflective and leisurely unlike the other major sports. Athletics is usually about winning and competition but for me it as always been a place to think, act, react, and reflect. The outcome is usually beside the point for me. Maybe I just can’t handle the failure?
Lonely Day tells one person’s tale as they wander the streets and ultimately leave to see the person and place that they love. They refuse to leave because everything that they left back home is not as important. This song spawned two other songs, The Lights and May, both of which will appear on the blog this week. This was the very last song I started recording, as The Lights and May represent earlier attempts that went off in different directions. Lonely Day is a very straight forward song, with only 5 instruments represented.
Okay Chief, take them away. I’m going home to sleep with my wife.
My original awareness of the Clue movie came from Cable TV. I would catch bits and pieces of it, but I was too young to put them together. When I finally saw the complete picture, I was in stitches. Although it occasionally relies on terrible jokes, the vast majority of the film is great. There is nothing quite as funny as Tim Curry running around reenacting murders for 5 minutes. I think I’d pay him to watch him do that all day. Michael McKean, who plays Mr. Green, was also a main character in This Is Spinal Tap.
Lying Fallow was written on a train, that was stuck in Kingston for an extra hour and a half on the way to Ottawa. It was the first and so far only time I took Via Rail anywhere. It was a fun experience, if for no other reason, than I wrote this song. Musically this song is driven by bouncy bass line and punchy piano. Lyrically the song describes a sort of taboo aspect of life, and my feelings about it. If you want to know more about that, you’ll have to decipher the lyrics for yourself. I actually think they are pretty clear.
May I start by saying how thrilled we are to have you here. We are such fans of your music and all of your records. I’m not speaking of yours personally, but the whole genre of the rock and roll and so many of the exciting things that are happening in music today.
Lt. Hookstratten (Fred Willard)
This is Spinal Tap
I highly recommend any movie directed by Christopher Guest. They will make you laugh out loud. This is Spinal Tap captures a lot of the hilarious aspects of being in a band. While The Alder Fork isn’t strictly a band there has been a great deal of collaboration on this album.
NOTLD was written for my old band, Pinstripe Mystery, and is my favourite song from those days. This song involves the most other people directly and indirectly of any song on the album. I am especially indebted to Dave for his efforts on this one (have I mentioned his photography blog? Check it out!).
The title is an obvious reference to the classic film Night of the Living Dead but the song has absolutely nothing to do with zombies. The band just happened to be watching the movie on the day I first presented the song to them. But now it has returned to life after it, and all the other songs of Pinstripe Mystery seemed to have died. This song is probably the most straight ahead rock song I have ever written. Lyrically it is about a complex relationship between two people, and the secrets that they keep.
The Alder Fork is a musical group and a creative project. This blog and it's companion podcast showcase music, art, photography, drama, and culture. The blog is updated daily and the podcast weekly. You can also find the podcast on iTunes by searching for The Alder Fork.