I Should Have Been A Beatle

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Lennon and McCartney songwriting




I had a message from a good friend this week with a link to a John Lennon song. It was a simple song lyrically and musically called Jealous Guy.

I was dreamin’ of the past
And my heart was beating fast
I began to lose control
I began to lose control
I didn’t mean to hurt you
I’m sorry that I made you cry
Oh no, I didn’t want to hurt you
I’m just a jealous guy
I was feeling insecure
You might not love me anymore
I was shivering inside
I was shivering inside
Oh, I didn’t mean to hurt you
I’m sorry that I made you cry
Oh no, I didn’t want to hurt you
I’m just a jealous guy

Can lyrics be any simpler?

Lennon was a Beatle a few millennia ago.

You remember the Beatles, right? If you saw the movie YESTERDAY recently, maybe I could understand that you might not know the Beatles, but I’m going to assume that you’re with me here.

The Beatles wrote some of the most complex and circuitous songs but they also excelled at simple.

Simple with a huge underlying well of emotion that struck into the hearts of millions.

Though I know I’ll never lose affection • For people and things that went before • I know I’ll often stop and think about them • In my life I love you more”

in my life lyric

When I write song lyrics I have an inner urge to evade simple and pack the lines with meaning and wordy description.

But this week, I’m consciously trying… Yoda trying… to back away from my internal push to be verbose… sparse and simple is my intent and approach.

But now, as I look over my lyric verses below, I have to say, well, it’s (I’m) a work in progress. Only my chorus seems to really attain the short and simple.

The genesis of this song relates to my difficulty through life of expressing my emotions publicly. Vulnerability suppressed.

My mother died when I was 15 and it was a surprise to my family (and strangely, even me) that I shed no tears or expressed my grief in the days and years following her death.

I’m not the Iceman now, however, I still haven’t totally thawed, but then … who wants me blubbering everywhere anyway?

So here goes:


Went to the Ex when I was a kid
summer and my energy had no end
I played every day with a pile of friends
and some are gone now beside
a million shards of memory spilled to the ground
somewhere in the darkness blind
so hard to show my tears
so hard to show my fears

You settle down and the kids all come
clocks tick on, lofty dreams unfolded
it’s what we do, it’s what’s expected
til unknown fevers called late at night
I sat singing cats in the cradle while
Salt and pepper became my colour
I think it’s OK to show my tears
it must be OK to show my fears

I’ve lost much of my hair now
Found it on the edges of my ears
That’s what happens over the years
see there are stories my father never told me
and days when Leonard Cohen took his place
when wrinkles became my face and
somehow it became ok to show my tears
I know it’s OK to show my fears


Voices grow softer
Whispers grow louder
I’m listening cuz I want to hear
It’s OK to show my tears
That took a lot of years

tears on guitar.jpg

No Jabba the Hutt For Me…

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jabba the hutt.png

I wanna be skinny, buff, rich, and popular … I’m none of those right now so you choose the order for my attack.

You know how some people migrate from idea to idea, notion to notion, whim to wish to desire …

I call it Flavour of the Month Club.

Get Rich Quick Plans, Diets, Exercise Programmes, Investment Schemes… Mary Kay and Tupperware, Dr. Atkins and Keto and The Zone, Penny Stocks and High Tech, CrossFit and Tough Mudder… you get the idea.

There are millions of schemes that pitch the idea that we can be better (or Be Best according to some immigrant lady named Melania) at anything we choose to be.

There is always a better way according to the marketers, and we cast from one side of the ship to the other seeking the magic, the Heart of the Ocean, that lies in the murky waters beneath. Mostly we just vomit over the side of the boat.

And… I admit that I’m as susceptible to this movement as anyone. Probably more…

I do want to weigh less than a feather … I do want to run as fast as a cheetah (without being a cheater) … I do want my stock returns to fly.

However, my Flavour of the Month tendencies are most often directed towards learning and accomplishing goals… goals are my internal-combustion engine, my spark, my fire, my orgasm.  No goals? I sputter and conk out on the couch like Jabba the Hutt without the glitter of a brass ring to reach for.

So… onto the point I’m making…


Around the same time each Sunday as I publish this blog, I receive another e-mailed blog post called BRAIN FOOD on a site titled Farnam Street. It floods my head with a cornucopia of ideas and philosophies and a candy store full of inspiration.

I’m in the early stages of reading a book titled ULTRALEARNING, written by Vancouverite Scott H. Young, and recommended last week in BRAIN FOOD.

After the first few chapters I’m thinking that this could quite possibly be my Flavour of the Month.


While not meant to be easy, the book outlines a process of learning intensively so that goals are accomplished in a compressed time frame with a focus on real world applicability and not just theoretical blabber.

I’m an impatient hurry up kinda guy and so I really like this. However, finding focus might murder my goal.

Author Young claims (I can’t confirm the veracity of this) that he:

  • Taught himself the entire four-year MIT computer science curriculum in just 12 months.
  • Learned four languages in one year (Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese and Korean) to a solid conversational level, spending just 3 months on each language.
  • Taught himself to draw realistic portraits in just 30 days.

Going forward, there are 3 areas of interest on my current stream that I want to push to the top of my goal list and make use of the process Scott outlines:

  1. Make a high quality “professional level” musical recording in my at-home recording studio. I dabble at recording, but lack the skills and knowledge for artistic excellence. My early plan here is to study the curriculum of college Music Audio Recording Art programs. I know that Coursera offers a free online course titled The Art of Music Production. I’ve signed on…
  2. Learn Arabic – Each week, I tutor an Arabic-speaking fellow in English. Now I would like to speak to him in his native language. I have some research (part of the ultralearning approach) to do first before I decide how to tackle this challenge.  As-Salaam-Alaikum!
  3. I’ve played acoustic guitar for many many years. My skills have definitely improved in this era of online and YouTube learning. But I want to take an incremental leap at this point. My early goal here is to take my fingerpicking guitar skills to a higher level by learning at least 10 from the following list of “advanced” songs (your recommendations for which ones I should choose are encouraged! Or, if you have other suggestions?):

Stop This Train (John Mayer)

Going to California (Led Zeppelin)

Nothing Else Matters (Metallica)

Babe I’m Gonna Leave You (Led Zeppelin)

What a Wonderful World (Louis Armstrong)

Angeles (Elliot Smith)

Hey Hey (Eric Clapton)

Signe (Eric Clapton)

Neon (John Mayer)

God Only Knows ( The Beach Boys)

Never Going Back Again (Fleetwood Mac)

Don’t Fear The Reaper (Blue Oyster Cult)

Papa George (Tommy Emmanuel)

Ruby’s Eyes (Tommy Emmanuel)

Classical Gas (Mason Williams)

Mister Sandman (Chet Atkins)

Big Love (Fleetwood Mac)

One Day (Martin Taylor/Tommy Emmanuel)

Embryonic Journey (Jefferson Aeroplane)

Haba Na Haba (Tommy Emmanuel)



Inspiration and motivation, creativity and reach.. these are the hyper-oxygenated blood cells that light bonfires in my soul.

I’d sooner try and fail (I seem to do this a lot!) than throw my hands in the air and say it can’t be done.

I love my Jabba the Hutt couch a lot. But it feels so much better to sink into after I’ve crossed a finish line, jumped from a plane, drilled over and over a new chord progression, had a casual but challenging Spanish conversation with a Mexican fieldworker, blown raspberries with my grandson.

Ultralearning is a flavour I want to savour… at least for this month!

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