Mar 31, 2009

Thank You Blockbuster

I haven't felt like I've had a lot of reasons to get out of the house lately. And you know what, it's driving me insane! I've developed some very bad habits and I haven't been getting much accomplished in the past couple of weeks.

I know there is plenty I can do, especially on the job front. But I've resigned myself to applying and applying, mostly online, and trying to let things play out. I know, not a good strategy. I've snagged myself one interview only to be turned down. It shouldn't drag me down but it was definitely a hard one to take, especially because I was already lowering my employment standards to begin with. I mean, you don't need a college degree to stock shelves now do you?

But anyway, most of my days have been spent wasting away in my apartment. I've been playing and singing quite a bit, I guess that's a one highlight from the darkness. Overall, I'm lucky I'm not getting fat. I have Koda to thank for that, he takes me out for at least two 15-20 minute walks everyday. Or is it the other way around, I don't know.

Though my car is finally street legal, it's been resting up for quite some time in the garage. Only getting a glimpse of true daylight on the weekends. Until today that is, thanks to Blockbuster. If it weren't for Blockbuster's late fees I probably wouldn't have left the neighborhood. It felt good, even it was only for 15 minutes or so.

I need to make a habit of taking the car out for a breather. I don't liking going out for no reason but maybe parking somewhere and roaming the streets one of these days would net me a job. Or maybe I should take my roommate's suggestion and take my guitar downtown on one of these nice days we're bound to have soon and play my heart out for some change in my guitar case.

Although, if I'm going out in public it would may be a good idea to shave, and maybe shower, and put on some pants. (Just kidding on the pants thing. Not putting pants on daily is one bad habit that I haven't developed yet. But who knows, it does sound comfy.)

Mar 28, 2009

Weather Matching My Writing State of Mind

We've been spoiled. By the weather that is. It's been a big change moving from the frigid Maine winter climate to the cold, windy, yet mostly snowless Kansas winter. With the random 70˚ days and the bare grass it's been weird. It's been messing with my head as I've mentioned in previous posts "The Weather! Honestly!" and "The Weather! Honestly! Continued".

As spring hit, I was convinced that any trace of winter weather was behind us, until today that is. We didn't get the snow that was forecast but it's been raining and sleeting since last night making one hell of a mess. And you know what, it doesn't really bother me because it's very fitting. It might as well be all frozen up outside because that's how my head has felt for weeks now.

Instead of the ice encased tree I pictured that resides not too far from my front door, I can picture my brain coated with a thick layer of frozen water that just won't thaw and let and my ideas take shape. I haven't been able to concentrate, to put good strings of words together, or even get satisfied with even the simplest of guitar riffs or chord progressions.

I'd have to say that Word Box Wednesday has been doing a little good. It's gotten me to think about words in a different way like it's supposed to. But overall, any ideas that have comes have faltered and left me unsatisfied and frustrated.

Am I putting too much pressure on myself? Probably. Am I being too critical? Most likely. Do I have way too much time on my hands to think about everything going on, music related or not? Definitely!

I don't like to complain, I just like to be realistic and I'm trying to understand this funk that I haven't been able to get myself out of. I know I have it in me. It's time to find it. As the crap outside starts to thaw out hopefully I can get my brain to do the same.

All I want to do is rock.

Mar 26, 2009

Street Legal, But What's With The Radio?

I've lived in Kansas for about 10 months and my car is finally, truly street legal. About 7 months overdue. You're supposed to register your car within 90 days, but I decided to wait 300. Well, I didn't really decide to wait that long, I just did.

I started the process on Monday. I tried to get a copy of my title, only for the inspection place to be closed on Tuesday. (They have some crazy rules to register a car in Kansas.) Then I get there on Wednesday only to find they need the title faxed directly from my lender, so that leads us to today.

I got my baby inspected (which doesn't mean the same thing as it does in Maine), drove across town to register and get my plate, and now I don't stick out like a sore thumb as I drive through downtown Lawrence anymore. Not only do I only have one plate like every other Kansan (wouldn't that save some money Maine, think about it), I have a nice shiny blue one with the name "Kansas" across the top. No more chickadee, sad.

I snapped the pic of my plate as I sat in the Dillon's Supermarket parking lot (which is where I registered, weird) listening to The Police on the radio.

On a side note, not that there is anything wrong with The Police, actually the Police are great, I just can't seem to find a radio station out here that I can stand listening to for more than a couple of songs. It doesn't help being jobless so I never drive my car and scan the stations.

It will be nice to finally get a job, not have to worry about getting pulled over in my expired Maine plates (which expire at the end of March, phew, that was close), with no one staring at me wondering why this idiot Mainer is driving among them, all while listening to a radio station that I've been able to find and rightfully program into my presets.

Anyway, random as this post may be, I'm just excited to have accomplished something today, something that was pretty important. Gets my confidence up a little. Next stop, Job Town. Population, me.

Mar 25, 2009

Word Box Wednesday #3 - Enough

Watch the video below to see my contribution to this week's WBW with the word "enough".


As I said in the video above, this week's word for WBW is:

human

Let me know how you would fit the world "human" into song, whether you use at the title, an idea, or even just to accent a phrase. Let your mind roam and see what it comes up with. That's what songwriting is all about. Good luck and rock on!

Mar 23, 2009

Creepy Wind And Staying Inside

It's a bit windy today. Actually, it's creepily windy today. Not being a native Kansan, it's the kind of windy where I'd expect to turn around and see a funnel cloud chasing me down the sidewalk.

For an example of how windy it is today, I went out for a walk with the dog (very lucky that he's a hundred pound black lab who won't get blown away), and snapped a pic of the fountain that's in our neighborhood. Usually it's spitting straight up and as you can see from the picture to the left, it's basically going sideways. The tiny pond looks like it's getting hit by an old fashioned New England nor'easter!

But no tornadoes today (or nor'easters considering the East Coast is nowhere to be found in the midwest), just crazy wind, and as you can tell we made it back ok. It's not cold out, but it's still a great day to be inside and working on some tunes.

Today I'm working on a new tune that I'm going to unveil on Word Box Wednesday. I'm going to be record a short clip of the progress I've made on a tune that's currently called "Never Enough". If you've been following you'll know the word this week is "enough", so I've done my job. Feel free to contribute your ideas for the word "enough".

You can catch up by checking out the last WBW by clicking here. Rock with you soon!

Mar 22, 2009

Off-Topic Sunday - Basketball and Dogs

Today is definitely a basketball day. No offense music, but KU is playing today and I'm living in THE college town of Lawrence.

Sunday is also just a good chill day. I used to be stuck working every Sunday, slaving away and missing the coolness that is the weekend. I guess that's the one good thing about being jobless, I've got my Sunday back. (One of the only good things about being jobless.)

Today is definitely a nice day (60's and breezy) and me and KJ have made a good habit of taking the Kode-man for a good Sunday walk. That's me using Koda as a pillow above.

We really want our own dog but we're being patient and pretending with our roommates dog in the meantime. We're shooting for a husky, man, we're obsessed with huskies. It would be nice to get two so she'd have a friend. We'll wait though. Especially until I have a decent job. And maybe after I get a nice new electric-acoustic guitar. Well, probably before that.

Mar 20, 2009

I Can't Wait!

I'm taking a quick break from the NCAA basketball tourney to share a little excitement with you (They didn't really give me a choice to take a break, the next game isn't until 6:00). It's not very often that I get super excited, but when it comes to new music, I tend to get pumped, especially when my favorite band putting out a new disc.

(Yeah, that photo on the left is signed by Raine Maida and made out to Eric. But unfortunately, not me. I snagged it on eBay.)

The excitement is kicked up a notch because my favorite band, Our Lady Peace, hasn't released a new studio album since they released "Healthy In Paranoid Times" in 2005. That's an especially long time for OLP as they usually come out with a new album every couple of years. Of course, this isn't including Raine's solo album and the greatest hits compilation.

I've talked about the upcoming album, "Burn Burn", in previous posts which only proves where my minds at. We still don't know when it's coming out, only that it's finished and that it will be out sometime early summer. While taking my little break, I also stumbled across the cover art, which you can check out here.

Since I really don't get excited about many things I'm going to try and be patient and not look up those crappy live recordings that are usually all over YouTube when bands come out with new material. I've heard some previews but overall I'd like to keep my ears fresh so when I finally get out to buy it I can stick it in my car cd player, roll down the windows and crank it like new rock should be cranked. It's been my tradition for years now and I look forward to continuing it out here in Kansas as I speed through some corn fields in the hot summer sun. It's going to be great, I can't wait!

Mar 18, 2009

Word Box Wednesday #2 - Missing

So it's Word Box Wednesday again. Have you been thinking about the word of the week? In case you missed it the word was missing.

The whole idea behind WBW was to challenge all you readers out there to see what the songwriting process is all about. Well, at least a part of it and with a interesting technique that I use sometimes. More than anything, this process is to give people a greater appreciation for words. Once you focus on a word, analyze it, and really wrap your mind around what the word means to you and how it applies to you, you can have an idea what I go through on a daily basis when it comes to putting them into a song.

I thought about the word "missing" quite a bit. To me it applied to my job search and the frustration that it has brought on. I continually think, what am I missing, what I am doing wrong? That thought gave birth to a simple chorus that I have yet to elaborate on.

What am I missing?/Is it worth searching?/What what what will it take?/What will I feel?/What am I missing?

The idea is still fresh in my mind and the job search is still frustrating as ever so I feel this song taking some life sometime soon.

Now is the time for this weeks word. First the shake (commence the shaking), then the open (off comes the lid), the reach in (shuffle things around a little more, avoiding the paper cut), and pull out:
enough

So what have you had enough of? What do you not have enough of? What does that word mean to you and how does it apply? Let me know in the comments below. We'll be back with "enough" next Wedneday. Rock on!

Mar 17, 2009

Some Things Just Shouldn't Be Blended

If you've followed ASWS for a while you'll know of my obsession with Guitar Hero, whether it's about rock laziness ("Rock On Or Get Out") or my over confidence with my GH World Tour drumming skills ("Guitar Hero Or Guitar Loser").

As a matter of fact, I'm so obsessed with the Guitar Hero music madness that this video below made my heart hurt a little.

From The CD Shelf: 3 Doors Down - The Better Life

The dominance of pop/rock radio for 3 Doors Down started with their '99 release "The Better Life". This came right about the time I really started to get into music, 1999 being my sophomore year in high school.

As I listen to the opening track "Kryptonite", I'm swept back to Hampden, Maine in my poster plastered room with the tune pumping out of my now defunct Sony boombox. Almost everyone that listened to the radio in that year and the many years after couldn't help but know that infectious tune that was just so easy to sing along with and always left you wanting to hear it again. (For me anyway.)

From start to finish, this album spun in my old Sony over and over and truly jump started my love affair with alternative rock. It might have also been my first real clue into how much I liked to sing. Brad Arnold's vocals always fit my vocal range brilliantly and as testament to that, track 5 on the album, "Be Like That" was one of the first songs I learned on guitar and sang along with.

It was 2001, in the last months of my senior year that I got to see 3 Doors Down live. I use the term "see" very loosely. The band played at the annual music festival called Bumstock at the nearby University of Maine (a festival that my band was a part of 3 years later) but since my girlfriend and I weren't 18 yet, we weren't allowed inside the gate.

So people like us couldn't get a free show, multiple truck trailers were lined up to block the view of the gigantic stage. The great thing about rock 'n roll is that is takes much more than a couple of trailers to drown it out. We curled up in a blanket, leaned against a tree in a grassy area outside Somerset Hall and listened.

Many years after I finally got a chance to "see" 3 Doors Down in Portland as they toured to promote their 3rd studio album. The show exceeded my expectations by far with the intense light show, the pyrotechnics, the slamming base and the outstanding stage presence of Brad. When they blasted out "Kryptonite" it took me back for a couple of seconds to where I am right now as I listen to the "The Better Life" here at my computer.

Who knows where my music tastes would be today if it weren't for this album. Who knows if I would have developed the passion for music and singing that I have today and can't live without. One thing is for sure, I need to whip this album out a little bit more often.

Mar 15, 2009

Lazy Sunday - Louis Armstrong and Super Mario

It's Sunday and I'm lazy so I thought I would share a video. It takes me back to the old days of Super Nintendo and the amazing graphics that were Super Mario World. What a great game! I miss it.

For those non-video game freaks out there, sorry if you don't get it, but it think it's funny just the same. I mean, if anything, you gotta love the Louis Armstrong impression. Enjoy and rock on!

Mar 12, 2009

Jingle Writing: My Next Big Thing?

I think I've been inspired to take a new path when it comes to music. But that's if, and only if, I can get the person who wrote the song for the commercial below to mentor me.



I can't help but laugh out loud every time this commercial comes on tv. And I've been watching way too much tv lately and it's on all the time.

All joking aside, jingle writing has always been there in the back of my mind as something to consider. It's fun, you get a chance to be insanely creative as well as a chance to create something that is ridicolously catchy and memorable. Prime example: "Give me back that Filet 'O Fish, give me that fish..."

True, no one knows the mastermind behind the genius that is these catchy commericals that make you want a Filet 'O Fish, or a Pepsi, or State Farm car insurance. I mean, how many of you know what the late Sidney E. Woloshin made popular in 1971? (Unless you're a trivia genius you probably wouldn't have known he was behind McDonald's "You Deserve A Break Today"
as well as State Farm's "Like A Good Neighbor State Farm Is There".

Really, if I could write something as catchy and stupid as that Filet 'O Fish song, I'd be a very wealthy man...in my heart. (Wow, cheesy.) Well, probably in my wallet too.

Rock on!

Mar 11, 2009

Word Box Wednesday #1

As I mentioned yesterday, I have a new feature that I'm introducing to ASWS today and it's called Word Box Wednesday. (Imagine a loud, dramatic echo as you read it.)

If you're unfamiliar with my Word Box you can learn the history from my post, "The Word Box", that I wrote back in January. In a nutshell, it's a technique that I use when I'm struggling for lyrical material. The box is simply a box, full of words that I've cut out of newspapers and magazines. I reach in, pick a word, or two, or three, and see where it leads me. Sometimes that word or phrase becomes the title, a line in the song, or a basic concept for the lyric.

So that is where WBW (My abbreviation for Word Box Wednesday, try to keep up with the acronyms.) comes in. Every Wednesday I'm going to feature a new word pulled directly from the Word Box, that is unless the previous weeks ideas carry over, I don't know how this is going to work out completely, let's just see how it rolls.

I'm going to post that word (quite literally) and give my readers the chance to take part in their own writing process. You can simply comment on what the word means to you, how it makes you feel or what it makes you think about, and how you might use it in a lyric. I want to get everybody involved in the whole process so you'll have a greater appreciation for what songwriting is all about. It might also be a good chance for my fellow songwriters out there to get some ideas and work on their craft.

Everyone will be able to post their comments, ideas, lyrics, etc. I will also post lyrics or even vidoes of what I've come up with surrounding each week's word.

This isn't just some ploy for me to cheat and steal other people's ideas, I couldn't help but think about that as a concern, I just really want people to see what songwriting can be all about from a songwriter's perspective. Hopefully you'll be able to create your own perspective as the Wednesday's roll by.

So let's get it started. I'm reaching into the box (drum roll, please) and this week's word is:

missing

Comment below or just think about what the word means to you, how it makes you feel or how you would use it. Have fun with it. I already have some ideas myself. Check back next Wednesday to see the first results from this songwriting experiment. Rock on!

Mar 10, 2009

Destressifier #3 - Nothing Video

If you've been following A Songwriter's Sanctum over the past week, (I was just going to abbreviate the title of the blog and just now realized that it spells something, I think you can figure it out.) you've probably noticed that I've been on a video kick. It's been an attempt to spice things up a little as well as settle my stress level a bit.

As I know I've said before, I unnecessarily stress myself out when I write and record new tunes because I want to get things done pronto and I want it to be as perfect as I can make it. So dropping these videos gets me all settled, gives me a chance to share and gives me a sense of accomplishment. Hey, whatever does it, right?

The song I'm playing in the video below is called "Nothing". It is one of the first songs I ever wrote and is also the very first song I introduced to my now former band Now Transmission. We ended up making two full band versions of the song for two separate EPs and I'd say it was probably one of our most recognizable tunes. You can check out the full band version at NT's Soundclick page.

Beside my screaming near the end I think the vid came out pretty well. Let me know what you think. I have a new Wednesday feature that I'm starting tomorrow so make sure to come back and check it out. Rock on!

Mar 9, 2009

Luck

How many of you out there believe in luck? For me it's hard not to sometimes. But other times, it's hard to imagine that it's nothing more than superstition, something that's just in my head and steering me in the wrong direction, a path that leads away from personal responsibility.

What would you consider luck? Finding a penny on the sidewalk, or maybe even a $20 bill? How about snagging the last couple of seats for a very high profile show? What about landing a great job when you weren't even looking for it? If one or more of these things happened to you, you might consider yourself lucky. They all have that feeling of right place, right time. But is it luck, some magical presence that floats in the air and randomly chooses whomever? Or is it just that, random coincidence?

I've been thinking about the concept lately and how much it alters the way people think about things and how they act. Whether luck is a real thing or not, that superstitious side can easily take over and ruin or inflate your confidence whichever side of that "luck" you are on. I've found myself using the word much too often and I have to step back and think; are good things not happening because I'm unlucky or because I'm not making good things happen for myself because I consider myself an unlucky fool? Is luck something you have to make on your own?

Those are good questions and even though I'm a superstitious kind of person sometimes, (If I see a penny face down on the ground I won't pick it up and I don't even think the word no-hitter when the Sox have one going.) but I have come to that realization that luck can't run my life, I have to.

I mention all of this because of song that I've been working on for quite some time now. I wrote the original lyric and guitar riff almost a year ago, applying to someone else, but now being jobless and running out of cash with my music struggling to take form, it's most definitely turned into a tune mostly about the crap I'm trying to dig my way through.

It should be the next tune that pops into my Reverbnation music player in top right of the page. The working title right now is "Lucky Number". It's well overdue for completion, along with this job hunt.

May luck be with you. Rock on!

Mar 6, 2009

Another Destressifyer - Only Apart Video

I know I already made a recording of "Only Apart" (which you can listen to in the player top right if you haven't already), but things have been stressful and pretty slow lately so I made a quick video of me rockin' it solo with my acoustic. No bells and whistles, just me and my guitar.

I plan on doing this every once in a while just like I did with my old tune "Nowhere to Fall". I try to keep them raw as if I were just playing a show so you'll see me mess up sometimes and my voice may not be top notch, but I think these vids get the job done for the most part. Overall, I'm just looking to share, show off my mad guitar skills, flex the golden pipes and hopefully get myself out of this stupid rut.


Enjoy and rock on! And yes, that's a lobster holding a guitar pic. Why, I have no idea. Just go with it.

Mar 5, 2009

The Weather! Honestly! Continued

Needless to say the snow is gone now. Very gone as you can see compared to the picture I posted on the last day of February from the original post "The Weather! Honestly!". Another teaser high of 82˚ today and supposed to be in the 70's tomorrow. I am very grateful not to be in Maine right now. I miss everything else about my home state but that ridiculous snow that will be there until next month.

Can't wait for spring, only two weeks away. We know what better weather and more sun means; happier or at least less depressing songs! I like that.

Late Night Tunage

I used to be addicted to late night television, especially in college. I was always up until 2am in those days anyway so I'd have the late night talk shows in the background during one of my gaming sessions, while just hanging out, or on one of those crazy nights where I was actually doing homework.

I think it all started with Saturday Night Live, mainly because it was a night where it didn't matter if I stayed up late during high school. Then as I got older it progressed to the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, sometimes The Late Show with David Letterman, and most definitely Late Night with Conan O'Brien. Conan was always my favorite even though it involved staying up past 1:00am. (In the pre-DVR days.)

If you aren't aware, Conan finally moved up from the 12:30 spot and is taking Jay Leno's place at the Tonight Show after 16 years at Late Night. It's very sad times for me even though I rarely stay up that late these days. (DVR and free streaming Internet videos are my best friends.) But as I watched the last episodes of Conan, my late night addiction started to take over again, and I think it was just in time.

Jimmy Fallon from SNL fame took over for Conan at Late Night and I'm definitely digging it, especially when it comes to the tunes. A lot of the late night shows are specifically remembered for their house bands and their catchy intro music. (The Max Weinberg 7 with Conan, Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra with Letterman, etc.) Late Night With Jimmy Fallon is no different as he has legendary hip hop band The Roots rockin out his intro song and providing the grooves.

I don't think anything will ever beat the intro that introduced Johnny Carson for the 20-some-odd years he was hosting the Tonight Show, but I dig this new tunage just the same. As for the musical guests on Late Night, especially at the late hour, I'm not partiularly a fan most of the time. It's nuts when a crazed music fan like me has to Google the musical guest for a nationally televised program just to find out who they are. (With the exception of Van Morrison on night one of Jimmy.)

But as long as The Roots keeps rocking it and Jimmy keeps improving as the show progresses I think my DVR will be busy every night helping me get those extra hours of sleep while allowing me to feed my addiction. I embedded the video from the first episode below. Definitely check it out at least for the sweet intro music and maybe even the monologue. It's funny stuff, especially the bit where Jimmy and The Roots "slow jam the news."

Sorry, the video is a little big to fit but I love Hulu, even if they are run by an evil race of aliens trying to harvest our brains. (You'll understand if you watched their Super Bowl commercial with Alec Baldwin.)

Mar 2, 2009

It's A Wonderful Guitar Case

There was a point in time when my guitar case was a sticker virgin. A young, innocent hunk of plastic and metal unaware of the sins of the world with one important job, to protect Siggy (my acoustic guitar). I wanted to keep it nice and clean, scratch free as possible and as in good condition as the guitar inside it. I guess I didn't see the point of all that graffiti on my pristine case and in some ways I didn't want to be a follower, because isn't that what every rock star wannabe does; cover their guitar case with needless and random stickers? (Some even plaster their guitars with junk stickers, no way!)

I take pride in my belongings the same as I do in the work I do and the songs that I create, and since my guitar case was one of my most public belongings, especially in college, I felt it represented me.

I even freaked out quite a bit when I had to hand over my precious to the airline attendant before a flight to Florida from Maine. Sure, most of my concern was for Siggy who laid inside helpless to those airline employees' dirty and somewhat untrustworthy hands, but I still didn't want to see a single ding on that case when it came around in the baggage claim after the flight.

But, sometime in the past couple of years a switch flipped. It was during one of my many moves when I came across a pile of stickers that I had collected over the years, a couple from shows I attended, a couple from the Now Transmission days, and a few from who knows where. As I sorted through the junk and tried to weed out the things I wanted to trash, I decided these stickers needed to serve their purpose and make their true home upon the blank canvas that was my acoustic guitar case.

The case is still pretty bare as you can see from the picture above. The other side doesn't have any stickers at all but it's something that I'll have to remedy as I collect more of those random stickers that will have no home otherwise.

Instead of seeing it as ruining my once perfect guitar case, I see it as a collection of memories, much like a traveler will do to commemorate their trips around the world, just like George Bailey never got the chance to do. ("I'm shakin' the dust of this crummy little town off my feet and I'm gonna see the world. Italy, Greece, the Parthenon, the Colosseum...")

So my guitar case is my "traveling case" and if in 10 years that case is still as sparsely covered as it is now, I haven't done my share of "traveling". I haven't hit enough shows, I haven't listened to enough tunage and I haven't done enough musical living.

It turned out alright for George and Clarence ended up getting his wings but as much as I would like a Hollywood happy ending, how I get there is the most important part. (If you don't get my movie reference here I feel very sorry for you.)

By the way, if you ever see me carrying my electric guitar case around stay away from me. That thing is mint, I'm not getting any dings on that baby. As I'm sure you know, the saying doesn't go like this: "Every time a case dings an angel gets its wings."
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