Moss and May Original Song

Originally recorded in 2004.

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Many hands

Ever wanted to be a rock star?

Even better… Imagine being a central figure of a massive band that then breaks it up to be a huge solo act, traveling the world and trying everything under the sun from different music styles to acting to writing.

Yeah, I’m pretty much talking about this guy…

You can add dark glasses if you wish

…but lots of musicians have been down similar paths from Beatles to Byork (though I will admit I don’t know the mechanics of The Sugarcubes band of the latter)

But the reason I chose Sting was because of something he rightly said in the sleeve of his first solo album.

Since I started this thing people have referred to it as my solo album, which is of course ridiculous.

I know what you are probably thinking.

What? I just called it that. But as he goes on to explain there’s absolutely no way that it could have been a success without the work of his team of musicians, sound engineers and everyone else that would have been needed in 1985 to make that album finally release in the June of that year.

“The Dream of the Blue Turtles”

Whether your a rock star from the Northeastern England or someone working on a company project the truth is we all need other people to make something of substantial value. Often it’s best for one person to oversee the vision of the thing like in Sting’s case but as he said, it would have been crazy if he tried to hop around and do everything. When you work as a team, not only does the whole become greater than the sum of it’s parts (which it does) but also each person can bring the full effect of focusing on what makes them awesome.

What’s cool here is…each part is usually fueled by other people too. As a bassist myself there are plenty of other people involved to make it so that I can sit there and develop what I do from luthiers to teachers to other musicians I’ve worked with, to the entire life world outside of that that makes it so I can sit there and work on 2nd inversion arpeggios and triplets and one-e-and-ah stuff that you have to work through enevitably.

Of course this is a metaphor for the whole world outside of this.

It’s not just “nice” or “cute” to be inclusive and do away with us-and-them tribalism but it’s actually good business. If your on Team A and you want to work with the best of the best but that person, or even part of their network is in Team B, then you either resolve or accept that it wont have that person.

What’s more is the reality of possibly undiscovered talent. The bass playing world freaked out when we all first heard Bakithi Kumalo playing on Paul Simon’s Graceland album.

Now controversy behind the album rightly said things like “So it took a white person for this music to be heard?” It’s true. It should not take one of us at all and this is because of the pigeonhole thing we have that comes from a tribalistic background.

The trick is to have learned we can’t be divided. We are superior as one tribe.

Speaking of Bakithi, for today’s tunes…check this out!

Now I know…a bass album? But again, here is a project driven but many hands to make not just a light load but a beautiful one!

Check it out here and enjoy!

Bakithi Kumalo – Change

😊

Cheers,

Tom

Not all who wander are lost

One of the best things I have discovered is literally one of the absolute simplest, walking.

It’s strolling in the city or hiking in the woodland but it’s really that same thing. It’s the way you discover the world around you the way nature meant us to.

It is a great simple way to burn calories as well, with a brisk walk bringing your heart rate close to a target rate. If you don’t feel like jogging or don’t have the equipment for cycling or cross country skiing it’s always there. It is low impact and it is great for battling anxiety, bloating/nausea (it works like a mother burping you essentially) and of course you can mix it’s exercise qualities with doing actual errands. What barbell can pull that off?

There is also the creative element. There’s always more streets to go down and places to explore (don’t venture into people’s property…they don’t like that…I know, right?) and this is always great for being inspirational. I have definitely worked out ideas in walks and there’s also that liminality quotient of bringing you out of your comfort zone and into the experience of the world.

Locally you will get to know your way around which is great and one of my favorite things is combining that with a pair of headphones. Any of the music that I’ve been recommending on this blog would be awesome, as would your favorites, but for today’s…

Here’s a classic Tom fav from a classic album…

Today’s track is Depeche Mode – Freestate

Open your mind – Freedom’s a state

😊

Tom

Care for the Soul

Been a while! Part of the reason for that is what leads sort of into this morning’s blog post idea.

The idea you don’t have to take it all on.

There’s this thing going around that those who don’t jump on the comment section bandwagon have their head in the sand or some other failing. Ironically this rant on Twitter, that one on YouTube and the third on that new social media thing that was just introduced yesterday is probably not going to change your life.

There’s connections to be made out there certainly, and there’s things I’m doing now that come from those connections but there is without question a toxic element at play. Ever had a difficult meeting? Do you have to now live one?

If you want to get involved in a cause, you may be able to get stuck into it physically and it will definitely feel more effective. There are people struggling not far from you and of everyone looks after the less fortunate near them, well the potential here is self explanatory. I’m not saying let’s not care about those abroad. You can certainly do that too (many join things like the http://peacecorps.gov which very much still exist)

Look into local soup kitchens, outreach centers or other volunteer opportunities to make life better for those struggling just down the road from you now. If you want to make the world better you can a) try to affect how you listen to others, empathize and make time for them in your own life or b) go to where the problem is and try to help in physical terms. Neither are easy but both are very much needed.

Problem with comment sections is essentially trolls and negativity. You might enter a situation because you care or feel compelled but then that stuff kicks in, and you walk away just feeling frustrated. The people in need are barely effected. Remember the ice bucket challenge? Barely, huh? It was about spinal cord research which is a lie, it was about Als but you might have gone on with that for a second as it’s been so long that like me as I was writing this could barely remember. Now how effective was that and that, for social media, was a major event.

My plan is to cut my social media activity down by dropping the primary ones of my phone, and leaving them on my tablet which stays home. I genuinely like the creativity of some of it so if I see something I want to do it can still happen, but I’d rather live my life in the right now than this thing which is blowing “TV Generation” right out of the building.

Am I saying ignore the world? No, but bear in mind that too much of this is designed to crank up your emotions in the first place. They did it with the newspapers, the nightly news, commercials and now right here in your hand on something that makes you feel guilty for turning away.

There is beauty, love and joy in the world. It is there. It’s not all ____________ <- fill in what political or otherwise bugaboo that first springs to your mind.

I’ve actually started, and this is a grear part of Care for the Soul, listening to this that make me happy, or make me laugh. Part of my work work is very dull, repetitive and alone (which I appreciate is quasi-unique) so instead of NPR political shows all the time I’ve started finding audio of things like British comedies. Now they really shouldn’t be on media platforms (my official statement, it’s fine, grab what you can before it’s taken down) but see what you can legally get on your device that reminds you of gentler times, makes you so happy it is physical. You need this. We all need this. You can’t treat others with life-affirming compassion at the same level as you can when you don’t feel it.

John on the use of the word “Snowflake”

We need to feel connected to the others around us, not like we have to battle them every step of the way.

Life can be great fun.

Much like…..

Today’s album choice which is Kings of Convenience. I’ve chosen Quiet is the new Loud (which isn’t one file, my apologies) as it includes some of my absolute favorites including “Summer on the Westhill” which…well, it was once said that describing something beautiful like a sunset or art is a place where you shouldn’t so I won’t.

Enjoy this adventure for the soul by clicking here! 😊

Cheers,

Tom

Quiet Thunder of the Creative Soul

It is so easy to believe that talent is reserved for a special few, ordained with a cosmic birthmark, and that this world the creative is theirs alone.

Not only is this wrong but that the world of creative thought does not belong to the world of the arts alone.

Marketing is said to be a modern art form (and I don’t mean the artist who supplied the company with those nice stock images), and that like every form it has to creatively adapt to a changing world. The “our brand is whiter than the competition…look!” days ended ages ago.

When you walk into any business from a cafe to a car dealership, sure you’re taken with an attractive product, but the way things work, or what makes this place different stands them apart. (Positive attitude helps in these cases of course, but even that comes from a form of ingenuity)

From my time in pitching ideas to producers, other writers and networks, it is the idea, the creative twist that is key.

I remember listening to a favorite musical artist and for a large portion of the album it was just the band jamming. Now it sounded good, but there was not much spectacular about it. It was a band jamming through chords with a guitarist going for it. I’m being probably harsh here but I remember hanging out in a record label head office in downtown Victoria ages ago and watching how the owner would give a new CD a few seconds to get his interest. If nothing stood out, out it went. Like me, and most listeners, he knew a good guitarist can play that way, a drummer and bass can set a groove, but if all this and the song doesn’t go somewhere special, it’s just nice packaging. What’s in the package?

**Industry Insider!!**

Ok, it’s not that amazing. A pitch document to get the ball started on a show, is basically one page with a “logline” or “elevator pitch” at the top that does it in one sentance. The latter being the notion that if you were in, let’s say NBC and some top cat got on with you (and you were super confident too) you could explain your cool idea before he got to his floor.

You got three minutes. Go.

As you can see from that, how fancy you write, or jam over a B flat diminished chord, or can brew a coffee or whatever it is isn’t going to help.

It’s having that idea that sets you from the pack. One favorite show from back in the day was Early Edition. It was back in the nineties (I know, it was a simpler time 😉)

All about the cat, bout the cat.

I remember thinking you could almost see the one page and the logline.

It’s about a guy who gets tomorrow’s newspaper today.

Just that. Like Lord of the Rings with the one ring, that idea is the little motor that just keeps purring ( badum pum pish!) and everything around it just gives it packaging.

Speaking of bands, Stewart Copeland said that with the Police

It became clear that Andy and I were just nice packaging for Sting’s songs.

So just because you just have an idea but never did this or that on the technical level, you are not out of the running. Those technical things you can get around. You can get creative with that too, creative with creativity. You can even hire out for someone who can help you find that sound. They will want to get it for you as they want to be hired back.

It just takes one idea to rock the world.

Bring your thunder.

Got up a bit late today so I admit I reverted to an old working music classic (also good for driving, resting, though if you’re tired while driving this wouldn’t work lol)

R. Carlos Nakai – Canyon Trilogy

If you haven’t heard this CD, it’s become something of a classic. Recorded in the Grand Canyon, it is Native American flute player R. Carlos Nakai, playing alone and creating beautiful ambient spaces with the canyon’s natural reverb and delay.

My parent’s discovered it in Tofino BC on Canada’s Pacific Coast and it always takes them back to that favorite place amongst the ocean and wind swept forests.

Enjoy!

Cheers 🙂

Tom

Rock’n Rule #3. Show Disasters

Imagine starting a show that made everyone leave the room, or playing along to a classic song that you never actually learned, or starting a show with a guy holding (no kidding) a pumpkin (wasn’t near October) and saying to you that he’s sure you can’t play.

You guessed it. These are but a handful of mine. Now I’m not gonna say that I sell out stadiums like Sting and the boys up there, but I can almost bet you they had those early disasters too. Sting, Andy and Stewy were in sooo many bands before they ever met so you can bet there was the occasional weird amp problem.

On continuing yesterday’s Rock’n Rules on how to make great music, or be a success, I found another little clue. I will drop more if I find more, but it came from the fact that I am on a bit of an ABBA kick right now, and on doing some reading their first time(s) playing as a four piece actually totally flopped. Like nobody liked it. At all.

ABBA had every reason to go and quit and say “It didn’t work, why bother.”. But they just kept at it anyways. Music is what the four did so it was back to the drawing board (or the cabin).

Same goes for the boys from Depeche Mode…

Don’t be nervous 😊

The first two shows by these fresh young faces, which they spend time setting up were a complete disaster. Two shows in a row! On one of them all the keyboard stuff when crazy and one guy just kicked something and all the electrics went out on the whole stage.

They kept going. They even make weird mistakes to this day. You can look that up, but it’s only rock and roll.

The trick is to keep going. You get used to it. On the musical side you learn to “recover” if you played it wrong and 9 times out of 10 you notice it more than anyone else around. Nobody is going “hey, what’s with that Bm7 chord!”. It’s about connection to the people in front of you. In fact disasters can be funny and get them on your side if you stay chill and just go “wow, that was neat!” or something and just try again.

Screw up.

Screw up huge.

You’re in world-class company.

😉

(And yeah, this works off stage as well 😎)

Today’s music I blogged to was a classic instrumental CD called Black Sands by Bonobo

Black Sands – Bonobo

Cheers,

Tom

🙂

How to be a rock star or anything else you’d like.

ABBA had to start somewhere. You can too!

There are so many versions I have read over the years of the same story. I don’t care if it’s pre or post internet, the story still works.

If you’re a Swedish quartet, a guy by himself in Iceland(Low Roar), some beach guy trying to learn the bass in Florida (Jaco) or a bunch of guys hanging out in an abandoned church (Pink Floyd) it’s the same thing.

Works for writers too.

“The Office? You sure that name works?”

…Painters as well… People who struggled with everything. People who were wealthy upperclass. Older people. Kids their dad lugged around to entertain people. Yeah, that last one’s blatantly Mozart.

It all comes down to two primary things. People are right behind me up until the moment when I reveal that part. Hence why it doesn’t happen. Knowing the truth means nothing unless it’s applied.

This came to me after watching a special on ABBA, which is why I kicked off with it. Since back in the day I’ve wanted to find what made that switch from a local gang of music guys to global superstars. I’ve held to the belief that Success leaves clues and that even though, things may not seemed planned there is things that are repeated.

Mentioned before, but worth rementioning…

The Talent Code and some of Coyle’s work also got me wondering why it works in the Mozart cases specifically, and more importantly scientifically. Sure a person might have physical advantages like the shovel-like hands of Glenn Gould, but every guy with huge hands isn’t a huge pianist.

Aaanyways..

So what is it? Is it some sophisticated thing or something really exotic like when you 1st got into Tumeric Ginger Tea?

No, like I say. This is the bit that makes people understandably walk, or dial it down when it must be dialed up.

Rule 1

You have to treat it like your work that takes hours per day, each day of the week.

Rule 2

You or your team need to work in isolation in a crucible away from the distractions of the world

Now, I am just learning and fine tuning this process myself, before you ask the obvious, but I have been applying this as much as possible for the last few months, especially because to me you should be investing in yourself, or your project just as much or more that you invest in anything. As one person said you are only as good a performer as your material you can play for someone right now, no excuses. You might use effects and so on but you should develop the root of your art so that what you do has the strongest center possible so that everything else is icing on the cake.

That’s what Benny and Bjorn did all those years ago in that little cabin, day in day out in a Scandinavian archipelago. As they said of inspiration…

It’s like gaurding a cave because a dragon may come out. You go home and nap and it might fly away.

Each day you show to the page.

Each day.

Start here.

Show up.

(Today’s music had to be an ABBA tune, so here’s one to bookend it that was near the end of their journey.

The Day Before You Came

Cheers,

Tom

Read the World

What is really happening around you? The truth is that there are numerous things that we don’t know about and couldn’t know, because we all have our own personal stories.

Consider how many stories that is, around the world, every single day.

Now I am not a voracious reader, no way as much as I’d like to be, so I tend towards piling on the audiobooks. These days, one of the benefits to smartphones is the ability to get audiobooks and books on demand. Between Hoopla (free library) and Audible (Not free but expanded) you can easy learn about every corner of the world.

Here is a direct screenshot from my device, no b.s. of the book that got me fascinated about the subject of North Korea back in December of 2016…

Later on I actually took out the following hardcover book from the Greater Victoria Public Library which may be available in your area as well.

On the same subject this book is amazing, written by an author still residing in North Korea who goes under the pen name “Bandi” which means firefly in Korean. Suffice to say he had the book smuggled out miraculously and cannot dare reveal his name.

When it came to my study of the broad subject of First Nations, well the first thing I learned straight away that can’t be one subject as it’s a bit like “ok, learn everything there is to know about the history of Europe”, so I narrowed my focus to then Coast Salish (and even that is far too vast, so I tried to focus on this area).

Of the many I read, this one stood out with it’s honest accounts of local history.

There is also an amazing dissertation by Allis Pakki Chipps-Sawyer called “Standing on the Edge of Yesterday” which you can pull down from Google as a PDF that explains so much about what is misunderstood about Coast Salish culture.

My mom got me reading a book ages ago from a middle eastern writer, who’s name sadly escapes me (gotta ask her on Monday) but here’s one that is totally worth getting however you can..

Set around the period of the Iraq war the protagonist is an American Iraqi woman who is trying to help her family and community, falling into questions of loyalty when things are seen from their perspective.

Now it is no coincidence that I picked three groups of people who have been seen as “other”. From my own experience with studying Native culture (and more) for writing, and just learning in life, when you are brought into a conversation things suddenly become clear.

The idea for this was me and a friend on Facebook talking about violence, both agreeing that noone should hit anyone. From my love of true to life things like the BBC’s The Office or NBC’s Parks and Recreation the idea of violence is uncool, pathetic and even just embarrassing.

As a human species is was not our ability to physically fight that kept us alive, it was our ability to plan and create cooperation.

A lot of violence, and the worst tends to come from faith reasons, which is how it becomes so deep set. As someone raised Catholic but a woman who would have been a nun if it wasn’t for his Dad (no kidding, mom was head of the British Columbia Secular Franciscans for years) I utterly disagree with the idea that God or any deity needs our help in enforcement.

100000000 Arnold Schwarzeneggers would be nothing compared to your supreme beings ability to snap his/her feelings and instantly fell your foe, so why does he need your help for that?

He does need your help to spread his love.

Ooh and in researching this I can a blog by a lady who has read way more than me (not hard to find)

Here’s the cover for it with the link below…

World Tale-Away challenge

Oh yeah and the music for reading, blogging and totally chilling comes from this favorite. Now I have listened to Tycho – Dive before but here’s their album from two years later called awake. Sort of reminds me of Groove Armada and Air so if you want great working ambient sound you’re good to go.

Tycho – Awake

Cheers,

Tom

🍻

P.S. checked with Mom and it was called Bread of Angels by Stephanie Saldana

Happy June / Keep Listening Always

Trying a different set up so that the music idea works. Happy Friday as well!

Now I will admit my concentration isn’t flawless as I’m trying to find some new music, which is what brings me to today’s idea.

One of the best things for creativity, and I swear just feeling vital in life in and outside of the arts is to keep introducing music that’s new to you. It can be the latest thing which is always fun because there is this community excitement about a new thing that just happened, like being on a good movie’s opening night and going “Wonder if it’s going to win such and such. This is going to make waves!”

But it can also be old, back to extremely old, like if you just discovered the music of John Dowland from the 1500s…but then it can also be Invasion of Privacy by Cardi B.

They’d totally gel…

Presently the music of today’s blog is Craft Spell’s album Idle Labour which not only looks like a New Order album but has a definite 80s vibe with almost Smith’s like vocals. So yeah, ironically, not a huge departure for me but it’s still really nice.

I was listening last night to some music and an interview with the guys from Thou and they were saying how they would listen to new music to cleanse the palette and I totally got that.

Especially as you get older it is really easy to start getting set in your ways as to what good music is, and sticking to a specific collection for what you will hear. I have a music home base as well, primarily set in the UK in the 80s, and for writing it was always loads of Cocteau Twins, but new music always feels like your mind is getting an exercise, like getting out on the highway and blowing the dust out. It puts you in a new land and is amazing for seeing everything fresh.

Try this as a challenge… (no commitments, no salesperson will visit…cancel anytime!)…once per day listen to a minimum of one piece of music, or one track, that you have never heard. If you can venture into a style that is not yours that’s ideal but not critical (I’m obviously not doing it presently *blush* 🤣)

Anyways, if you want you can start with this album of 2011…

Craft Spells – Idle Labour

Cheers,

Tom

Me, I’m not talented!

Something happens when we get older, and when I say older I mean over the age of perhaps 12.

You may have heard unfortunately some people decide your artistic ability (which I’ll say two things too 1. I’m sorry that happened and 2.They are incorrect) and just generally we start absorbing what we are the rules of the creative world and genuinely believing these are set in stone.

It’s all intimidating and I can definitely relate from actual experience. The first time I actually held a bass guitar was hilarious for this. I wandered into a music store over to where the basses were and looked up at the fancy Fenders hanging above me.

“Hey, can I help you?” Came from my right where a twenty-something salesperson stood.

“Umm…yeah,” I said picking a first instrument “Can I try…that one?”

“Yeah, sure man!”

Now, I was about twenty myself so this guy probably thought I had played lots and lots. Well, I played tambourine in a church, but that wasn’t gonna help me as this thing I had “air bassed” a dozen times was suddenly before me. The salesman looked down at me fascinated as I looked at the bewildering bass neck of lines and dots and wires.

I played three confused buzzy notes, probably like the ukeleles we had to play in grade 7.

“Phht!” Came from the salesman as he walked away amused.

No seriously. That happened.

I love it because to me it was like “welcome aboard!”. Also it almost gave me a sense of the importance of wanting to take this seriously. I didn’t buy from that particular salesperson, my first bass and amp coming from a music store in Sidney that’s no longer there.

But my point is, I know only too well how intimidating it is to get you from where you may be to actually doing it. I worked on some visual arts not that long ago and it is crazy how expensive some gear is, which is fair enough but still unfortunate to me as it could be one of those things that makes a novice go “ok, it was a fun idea…”. Don’t let it happen. I started with a cheap bass and a tiny amp back then. Andy Summers, the guitarist from the police, said it perfectly.

“A guitarist is expected to be able to just pick up an instrument for the first time and play like the universe is crying, laughing and singing all at the same time, and it’s just not true. We all start with those same scales and build day after day, working slowly and methodically from the possible to the impossible.

A drummer I knew back then gave me my first music book and my first thing was the c major scale, played really, really slow for days.

Speaking of the band The Police, one of the early reviews of the band was…

If they could get a better singer they would be a band to be reckoned with

They were talking about Sting by the way. So considering that, if you’re not blowing people away (including yourself) then you are in good company.

When Ricky Gervais created his character David Brent that started his acting career, he admits that he was constantly just messing around and trying things out. This is the essential of creativity. You quite literally “play” and try stuff. Get your pen/pencil/paintbrush/pick/fingers/drumsticks/(???) moving and see what happens. After that you can pick what you liked from what you did and expand on this.

Scott Adams said this too. Creativity is the nonsense that comes out. What you keep is the art.

So ignore that voice that says it’s for other people. Be like Cartman here…

“Whatevah, I do what I want!”

😉

Cheers,

Tom