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A little eerie
hey, an addendum to my previous blog about Dan Fogelberg-
Late, late last night I had the urge to go to Dan's website and just read up alittle about him. I admired his music,but didn't really know much about the man. I discovered some really eerie parallels between the early part of his life and my own. First, we share the same birthday, August 13th. Both from small towns in rural Illinois. Also in our youth, we both would escape to the shores of a big river to find peace - for him it was the spot between the pines looking over the Illinois River, and for me it was the patch of sand next to the Mississippi River at Grand Tower. We both had mothers who were from other countries. We both had musician fathers who provided an early source of impetus for our musical development, my dad was a classically trained pianist who made it to college on a piano scholarship. We both thought the "legitimate" music was that from the formal traditions, being written down and not "coming out of our heads". We both started college studying one field, and then eventually switching over to Fine Art, with a specialization in Painting. (my BA, and his too) although both realizing the whole time that music might be what we end up doing- the call was too strong. Both of our personalities seem to have parallels-the deep connection to "home", the constant conflict between being drawn to performing, anextroverted activity, and yet being deep down an introvert.
so there's where the similarities end... though maybe if I looked further I'd find more. Was his first car an old Volkswagen? Did he have Yamaha guitars?
The differences are more than the similarities I guess. Big one being that he had an early start on music and went on to become a big star and I am still unknown here in rural Illinois. The clock is ticking on me. So many songs, so little time.
anyway, just thought I'd share that. w.
Goodbye to one of my heroes
I changed my little smiley face icon today on my Myspace page from the yellow smiling one, to the blue-colored sad one because one of my childhood heroes has passed on-Dan Fogelberg. I held my own little personal memorial service last night, put several of his cds in the changer, lit some candles, sat on the couch and got the lyric booklets out and read along, sang along, even got teary-eyed a bit, on Run For the Roses, and Same Old Lang Syne. The original vinyl records that I wore out as a kid are still here somewhere in this old farmhouse, maybe up in the attic along with the John Denver, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, and Jackson Browne lps.
I guess you don't really realize until decades later, what some of the artists you listened to in your formative teen and preteen years did to you- how their music touched you, molded you as a person, and as a musician. As a teenager you start to discover the feeling and thinking parts of you, the real YOU, and you also discover the kind of music that makes those parts of you grow and develop. I remember playing those records over and over and over, thinking about every line of lyric, figuring out the chords, the fingerpicking guitar parts, the bass lines, the harmony parts. Those old records became a part of me in a way, and when I listen to them now, they still take me back to that time- back in my room when I still lived at home, and to my little 8 x 40 trailer I lived in after I moved out. Part of the reason why I admired Dan Fogelberg so much was that it seemed like he could do it ALL- he wrote the songs, he played all or most of the instruments, he sang all the harmony parts, he even painted the paintings on the album covers. And he was an Illinois boy too... from my home state.
As I began to learn music, I wanted to be able to do it all too. I tried to learn to play a little bit on every kind of instrument. I wrote the songs, sang the parts, painted the covers....but like in Dan's song to his dad, "my life has been a poor attempt to imitate the man". I never got to see him play live...I wish there had been some way to let him know how much his music affected my own. The fact that he died so relatively young also got me to thinking- gee, I'm running out of time. I just recently decided what I want to be when I grow up, and the clock is ticking on me. So many songs, so little time.
I'll change that blue smiley icon back to the happy yellow one in a few days, but for now I'm just going to let it be blue.
the most beautiful time of the year
It's the most beautiful time of the year....October in Southern Illinois. I am sitting here at this old oak desk trying to keep from being distracted from the mockingbird outside the window who has been running through his repertoire all morning long. I wonder if he does that so that he won't forget his songs? That's what I have to do... I tried to count the different song patterns, but lost count somewhere between 10 and 15,I think. If I were a mockingbird, I would not know very many patterns. 4 or 5 maybe.
Every window in this 150 year old house is open to let in the October breeze. At least every window that isn't painted or plasticked shut. And there are windows open, cause they won't close anymore. That doesn't matter, cause it's the most beautiful time of the year, and for once those errant windows are right about wanting to let air in. There will always be time someday to fix those windows.
I am almost glad that for some reason this year, no bookings from afar came in. Only local benefits... humane shelter, cancer, other local benefits. I will make up the earnings in another month. There will always be another month. It is worth it all to be around home during the most beautiful time of the year and play the local gigs to all the faces that belong to the email addresses on my local "spam-gang" fan list. I still haven't connected all the faces to all the email addresses. That's ok. There will be time for that. I usually write my "gang" a letter once a week to let them know where I'm playing that week. It's a years-long tradition, and if I don't write them weekly or at least bimonthly during the playing season, I feel something's not right. Now I look ahead at my schedule for the end of October and November and the 18 appearances in VA and CA, and I realize that this tradition of weekly letters to tell about the one or two gigs we will have, is not going to work. There is no way I can write about each gig in a letter, and there is no person in their right mind who will want to read all that even if I did manage it. Who'da thunk it? .... that I someday would have so many gigs in one week that I couldn't write everyone about them? I can only be very grateful for that. But I do still feel a little bad that folks won't get updated on what's going on in Cobden, or what my garden is looking like, or what kind of antics my animals have been up to. But I will get back to my weekly letters when things slow down alittle. In the meantime please check the website and myspace schedules.
Earlier today I did a radio phone interview, and I was asked to say one important thing about myself or the music that I wanted everyone to know.... hard question. I had to think a bit... I guess the most important thing to me right now is to know that all these songs that are floating around in the internet and beyond are somehow helping people in some way. I told the nice radio lady that I appreciate feedback from anybody who has been touched, or helped in some way by listening to the tunes. This feedback is what makes me keep doing what I do, and keeps me from getting frustrated or overwhelmed in the face of hardship or sacrifice. The fact that what i do is in some way "necessary" is a driving force.
Speaking of driving force, I've got to drive to town now before the bank closes, and I'm going to leave with plenty of time, so that I can drive the truck slow, with the windows rolled down, because it's the most beautiful time of the year.
thanks for the well wishes. they worked.
Hey, I just wanted to thank everybody for writing in so many days ago when I messed up my back at a gig,to wish me a speedy recovery. The cumulative effect of all those emails wishing wellness must have worked. I was amazed at how many wrote in tips on back care, prayers, phone numbers of chiropractors. On the fifth day after the "electriccattleprodtothespinefeeling" happened, I could walk again, albiet wobbley, like a day old foal whose legs couldn't quite find planet earth. On the sixth day, i could walk slightly more, and there was a cancellation at the local coffeehouse. Not being able to say no, I took the gig, and did pretty well the whole evening... the only problem spot was switching back and forth from upright bass to guitar and having to bend down and lift up the bass. Now the pain is more or less gone. I need to still take it easy and let everything heal and get strong again. It's the most dangerous time, cause the temptation to go out and do my normal fun stuff like mowing, riding, digging, chopping (not lifting sound system)- yeah, that temptation is all there, saying in sultry tones "come, come, wil, throw your back out again. This time do it right. Throw it out real good this time so you cant play music". So here I sit, typing instead, with imaginary chains on my ankles, chaining me to the couch legs, so I wont go out and push the mower around. I look forward to the near future when I can do that again, and look forward to the even nearer future when I can play for you all again. Thanks. I appreciate all you caring folks.
Ps. The hospital, after giving me all the wrong tests which I have to pay for, still hasn't told me what the cause of this was, and what I should do about it. The test I should have gotten, they wouldnt give me cause the insurance wont pay for it until I've gotten all the unnecessary tests. What a wonderful healthcare system we have in this country! No offense to those of you who work hard in the midst of it. I know you do your best.
PPS. An amusing anecdote. Wanna know how I got to the emergency room last week? My sister and her husband came to help tote me.(not that I'm that heavy, but I was "dead" weight.) Robert B. went to the neighbors barn and found some scrap boards and with the boards and selftapping screws, built me a stretcher. Then they put a self inflating camping matt on it, and edged me onto it from the couch (balanced between two chairs) and then put couch pillows on and around me, and then took ratchet tie down straps and ratcheted me onto the board. Then they carried me out to the truck and slid me into the back and into town we drove. The people in the emergency room laughed when they saw me. They never took me off the board while there. They catscanned me on my old board. It left dust and spiderweb smudges on the clean white sheets when I left on it. I am going to save this stretcher in my barn in case we need it again, knock on wood.
Hey You Aspiring Texas songwriters!!
Hey there, I will be leading a songwriting seminar at the Acoustic Music Camp in Dallas in midAugust and I encourage anybody who is needing a little help with their songwriting to take part in this. I think it might be fun. I was just down there at the Kerrville folk festival in Texas, which is the premier songwriter's festival. I never saw so many great songwriters concentrated in such a small area. I was consciously walking around gathering ideas for things we can work on at the camp in August. I think it will be fun. While there, I buddied up with Steve Gillette, cowriter of Darcy Farrow, and took one of my halfbaked songs to his critique session and let them rip it apart like pitbulls on a rooster. I came out with lots of ideas on fun and productive ways to do critique sessions. I don't claim to be any kind of expert on songwriting... I just do what I do and some people seem to like it.. but I do really enjoy helping people open up the songwriting parts of their brains, and "fixing" broken songs. Whether you are an accomplished writer, or even if you have never written anything in your life, I look forward to trying to help you with whatever songwriting goals and half baked ideas you might have. Please let me know if you are considering attending this, so I can have an idea of how many students I'll have. (how many cookies to bring....)
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