TTW in the Studio 11/28/18

 

'My Musical History' 

 

   Of all the mysteries of ‘human-ness’ there is none closer to my heart or more powerful in its effect upon mankind in general than music. The first song I remember listening to on the little transistor radio mother gave me was Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire”.  I remember one of our “babysitters” (mother divorced my father when I was three and moved us from Evansville, Indiana where I and my siblings were born to Bowling Green, Kentucky, where she worked six long days a week at ‘Village Hardware’, a store a block up the street, to support us) teaching us how to do the “twist”.  I remember standing in front of our elementary school when I first heard about “long-haired boys” from England called “The Beatles”.  I remember lying in bed and nearly going into a trace as I held the little transistor radio next to my ear when first listening to Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love”. Those booming drums made my whole body vibrate to the beat, and Plant’s primal vocals were like a new religion being born.  Same when I first heard Inagodadavidaby Iron Butterfly.  Or the live, album-side-long version of Steppenwolf’s “The Pusher”.  Even more so when I first heard Progressive Rock from Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd, and The Moody Blues.

    At ten or eleven years old I wanted a drum set and got first a snare drum for Christmas; then the following year I got a ‘Torodor’ shell set and soon began playing in my first band (which never had a name) at age 14.  I had met a kid named Bobby Baldwin who had a Gibson hollow-body electric guitar and soon we were playing ‘Proud Mary’ by Credence Clearwater Revival and ‘House of the Rising Sun’ (by the Animals). Within a year (1971) we got Tommy McMinnimee to play bass guitar and were performing ‘Soul Sacrifice’ and ‘Evil Ways’ (both by Santana), on television at the local television station during a telethon (at 3:00 a.m.) and at our High School in the auditorium for some now unknown reason.

    After High School and into and beyond our college years Baldwin and I played in several bands together and remained the best of friends until careers and families separated us over the decades. During the mid-1970’s Baldwin wrote a number of ‘songs’ (musical pieces), which were of the ‘progressive-rock’ genre that I still feel great pride in having been part of the creation thereof. In a band we called Winden Silver from 1979 to 1980 we performed those ‘works’ for various venues locally and received ‘good reviews’ from the audiences. Two pieces particularly were quite extraordinary: ‘For the Fallen’, and ‘As One’, written by Baldwin in 1976 at the age of twenty-one. It was a privilege to be part of that time and I have always said that, “creating music gives you a feeling you cannot get any other way”.

     After being in several other bands in the early 1980’s I retired from performing while my first daughter was young (second marriage). I actually was a ‘Mr. Mom’ (stay at home Dad) for her first year and a half (born in 1984). Beginning in the winter of ’89-’90 my brother Michael (Mike) and I began ‘jamming’ regularly on weekends with an assortment of friends including my old friend Bobby (on occasions). Mike had played a little acoustic guitar as a teen, but had not further pursued music till this time, when he soon became quite an accomplished musician. We began collaborating as songwriters and within a couple of years (I have written poems and lyrics throughout my life) we had written over two-dozen songs together, and formed a band with our friends Rick and Jesse Smith and later with Tom Grider.  I had been slowly acquiring equipment for a home recording studio where we had planned to record our songs; unfortunately our professional career demands intervened. Now we never get together musically, but I still have my studio and have recorded and produced Albums (CDs) for myself and various local artists, which still gives me that "feeling you cannot get any other way"! 

     In addition to being a musician I have had the privilege and joy of being in the presence of many great musicians over the years, both performing with and listening to. I have been fortunate to have been to many concert performances of what I consider to be the most important musical genre in history: Progressive Rock, which is a fusion or synthesis of the clarity and complexity of classical music, the freedom and innovation of jazz, with the soaring, powerful, and passionate voices of the electric guitar, the power and rhythmic driving force of drums, and the most moving, powerful instrument of all, the human voice.

    I have seen my personal favorite, The Moody Blues, seventeen times: 1978, 1993 (twice), 1994 (twice), 1999 (the ’93 through ’99 shows were all with local orchestras!),2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2008 at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville,  2010 (twice), 2012, 2014, 2016, and in 2017 we were there at the Ryman again when they performed the entire ‘Days of Future Passed’ album on the fiftieth anniversary of its release.  [After the year 2000 I was accompanied to MB concerts and all others with my wife, Sharon.] 

 I have seen my other favorites, Yes six times: 1977, 1980, 1994, 2000, 2011, and 2014.  I saw Pink Floyd in 1994, Genesis (in their prime) in 1977, Kansas (in their prime) in 1978, 2000 (with Yes, on both band's combined 30th Anniversary Tour), 2014, 2015, and twice in 2016 on the 40th anniversary of the release of ‘LeftOverture’- which they played in its entirety!;  Rush in 1978 and 2004 (on their 30th Anniversary Tour),  Crosby, Stills, and Nash in 1978 and 2012, Santana (mid 1970s), 2014, and 2017; and Jethro Tull, in my first really memorable concert at the age of fifteen on Nov.12th, 1971, then again in 2012 at the Ryman, performing  ‘Thick as a Brick I & II’. 

  My wife Sharon and I also saw The Police reunion tour at Churchill Downs in Louisville in July 2007, and we saw Genesis 's reunion tour  in Sept. 2007 (thirty years after I first saw them)!  I also saw the very early Journey in 1975 in a free concert they gave at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco (and again a few years ago in Nashville).  (Last updated  11/20/2018))

  These virtuoso composers/musicians/singers are truly the Mozarts and Beethovens of our day, taking music to new, higher, more meaningful places. Particularly, their words express the hopes and dreams of a higher existential awareness and awakened spirituality, which can create an enlightened social consciousness. As a result the music of these ‘conscious’ composers often conveys powerful messages as a force for change (for the better), fostering and bolstering feelings within the listener which inspire and motivate change within themselves and activism in the world - a world that desperately needs change of this sort---spiritual change, or as it has been called for millennia, ‘enlightenment’.

    The power of music to change the world - this is the reason, the motivation, the ‘force majeure’ for which I have dedicated so much of my energy, time, and resources, and gladly done so. The ‘highest’ aspiration is the only worthy quest for the spiritually awakened. For me, the ‘highest aspiration’ of the mind is the Metaphysic of AR, ‘Absolute Relativity’! Yet the mind cannot know what is the ‘highest’ without a spiritually awakened consciousness with which to perceive the Truth of the Metaphysic. Without spiritual awareness, without spiritual ‘eyes’ to see the ‘wheat’, separated from the ‘chaff’, spiritual truth lies hidden beyond the veil imposed by the limitations of our physical senses and our meager measure of available attention span (‘bandwidth’), preoccupied as it is by instinct driven exigencies. Except in the all too rare instances where philosophical insight, religious intuition, visual beauty, musical genius, love intoxication, prayer, meditation, yoga, or revelation (entheogenic or spontaneous) lifts the individual out of their normal awareness and reveals some hither fore unfathomed aspect of spiritual truth, most of us simply don’t have the time and energy, or the motivation, to explore such insights with any depth. And, unfortunately, to understand something completely you must ‘experience’ it.

In a sense each generation must rediscover Truth, must experience it.  Some are more successful than others, of course, depending on circumstances. The music of progressive-rock during the late '60s, the '70s, and into the 80s is just such a circumstance.  The world has indeed become a better place because of it.

 

 

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