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ENOUGH TO BE SUNG

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It’s Canadian Thanksgiving weekend … I look out my window and scan the nearby orchards to see the pickers, mostly young immigrants, in the long rows of apple trees filling large wooden bins with Spartan, Ambrosia, Gala, Honey Crisp, and Mac apples. Mmmmmmmm…

It’s a perennial and very pleasing vista in this fruit-growing Okanagan Valley. Even COVID virus couldn’t cajole or frighten the trees from loading down their limbs with sweet, juicy fruit.

It fills me with a toasty feeling similar to the one I get whilst sitting around a blazing fire on January’s chilliest days… it’s an inner swelling of coziness, warming from the inside outwards.

I get these homey sensations when I play a lovely guitar piece as well…

Today, I’m not writing one of my usual more wordy blog posts, but settling into a miniature musical Sunday with a short instrumental piece I recorded this week.

The part I’ve recorded (below) is just the introduction to the longer part of the song that includes lyrics and singing.

Enough To Be On Your Way was written by James Taylor and inspired by his brother Alex’s death in 1993 at the age of 46.

James (left) with brother Alex and Alex’s son James (whom JT wrote “Sweet Baby James” for)

I really love this song, and so I’ll play amateur armchair musicologist for a minute here.

I don’t truly know what JT was thinking when he sat down to write this, but I can speculate a bit just based on his chords and melody.

The song is played in G major (technically I play it in A# as I Capo up 3 frets on the guitar); major keys are usually fairly positive and upbeat. James uses mostly major chords (with an occasional minor one) along his journey before sliding into minor chording towards the end which will lead into the main body of the song which I’ve not recorded here.

When I listen (or play) to this, I see and hear it as a classical overture where the curtain is rising before the actors set foot on the stage; the music is quietly celebratory and praising of a loved brother (major chords), but then ultimately slips into a melancholy sadness (minor chords) when James thinks about the challenges (drugs, alcohol) his brother faced in life, and realizes that he’ll never see Alex again.

After this short musical interlude, James begins to sing and the song goes full on into minor chord territory marking the sensations of instability and sadness.

This is classic James Taylor guitar playing… unusual chord shapes and lots of pull-offs and hammer-ons… guitar-speak for lots of ornamentation.

Enough said on my part… Happy Canuck Thanksgiving… here is ENOUGH TO BE ON YOUR WAY

Thanksgiving and Civil Wars

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Don’t you hate it when you feel a rant coming on and nothing you do can slow or deter the beast? Today is one of those days…

Even worse, this is Thanksgiving weekend in Canada which makes the following all the more humbug’ish. I truly am thankful for so much.

However, my friends, the words Civil War┬áhave become a recurring mantra that’s disturbed the inside my head for weeks now… perhaps the only cure is to expel those inner voices, lighten my load and burden you with my burden…

………

washington sunrise

When the sun rubs its eyes and slips hopefully above the horizon, long shadows cast their sinewy fingers across the serene landscape – shadows that hide the carnage rising and fomenting like a slow cooker set on high heat.

Civil war.

Meandering tails of dark silhouette and contour slide between stolid concrete edifices and buildings, up and down the alleyways of the city, like in the opening credits to House of Cards.

Civil war.

A Washington dawn that spreads its ascending murk onto my sleeping innocence.

Modern, contemporary Civil War is the uninvited phoenix.

Civil wars

One of my (many) favourite musical groups is the Civil Wars, a sweet-sounding male-female country duo. Ironically … sadly … the talented pair themselves have now parted and melted away, torn and victimized by their own internal civil war.

In happier times, according to Joy Williams (half of the duo), they named themselves Civil Wars as an homage to Plato’s quote:

Be kind, for everyone you meet

is fighting a great battle.”

Civil war develops when kindness hides its face for a period and personal victory must be attained at any and all costs.

Civil war tears apart families and friendships and communities.

Used to be that civil war meant the wielding of vicious knives and bayonets, organ-tearing explosions of gunfire and cannons and bombs, destroying former friends and neighbours all in a cataclysmic cyclone.

Friends become fiends. Neighbours become nay-sayers…

Civil War, like all war, is a tremendously disfiguring and tragic episode. Smiles turned upside down. Bodies strewn across the landscape in an abstract, gruesome form of art.

I’ve grudgingly admired the USA for decades. Despite its many problems, it has, in my lifetime, held a position of reluctant reverence for its solid, world-calming influence… sanity above all.

The American attitude that anything (positive) is possible rang out above the other dirt that sifted to the ground.

Sanity Lost.

Today, a glance across my Canadian southern border affords a view of civil war (civil but with broader worldwide tentacles) unleashed and unrestrained. Nasty. Heartless. Brainless.

Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee vs Abraham Lincoln brought forward into the 2000’s.

Trump vs Country vs World.

I see a spreading civil war unleashed out of anger and ignorance and dissatisfaction and fear.

The divides are sharp as razor blades, bloody and vicious and cruel in ways that could be compared to the slavery vs freedom arguments of the 1860’s. Right vs wrong gone murky.

The war being fought may be weaponless on a physical, body-distorting and -destroying front, but the sides have clearly been chosen.

Each day a distasteful battle for supremacy occurs…. Republican vs Democrat… White vs Non-White… Male vs Female… White Collar vs Blue Collar… Roe vs Wade… Truth vs Lies… Industrial Revolution vs Techno Revolution… Christian vs Muslim… Conservative vs Liberal… CNN vs FOX …

Always US vs THEM

US = Good

THEM = Terrible

us vs them

Great battles aren’t calmly debated but instead inflamed with WMD’s wielded by one named Trump who cares little about tolerance or acceptance or finding common ground.

His stealth virus infects us all, the same as advertising execs have influenced us for decades without our truly understanding… YES! watching gorgeous Clydesdales does make me want to drink a BUD!

These are bruising infectious battles that aim to destroy and victimize and emerge with one solitary victor. Show no mercy. Take no prisoners.

Win – win scenarios are for the weak and useless.

I feel thankful… and confident… that Trump is a short-term President (and a long-term convict).

As I’ve said here before, I believe that our shared existence – humanity – is on an upward curve of tolerance that hits minor and occasionally major bumps along its path. Bruises and cuts happen along the trail.

Minorities and women will rise higher in the tides of time.

But we are now going to carry the noxious, venomous Trump virus going forward and that saddens me.

Might is right. Winner takes all.

There are many sad people, like in 1930’s Germany, who now feel emboldened by nastiness and victimhood used as tools for personal adornment and advantage. Mirrors are superior to windows.

I prefer to live in a space, a world where…“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle” is the guiding force that carries us along.

The warm shadows of the sunset are a calming reminder that each day has the potential … the beauty… the tolerance and understanding to sleep with only a slight itch of nervousness about the demons that creep out of the closet from time to time…

Civil war or not… I’m eating pumpkin pie … Happy Thanksgiving, eh!

PS And friends… a wee reminder when staging your charitable turkey drop from a helicopter… no no no … turkeys still can’t fly!

WKRP

Thanksgiving meal