Category: sounds

arms length in dreams (20220428c)

Arms Length In Dreams
20220421.0744, 20220424.2258

(G) I’ve seen good luck
I’ve seen bad
i’ve crashed (Em) big, i’ve (Cmaj7) stood tall

(G) but most days
just stand still
and don’t (Em) see much (Cmaj7) luck at (G) all

risks i (Em) take
sometimes time (G) out
What else can I (D) do? What else can I (C) do?
Sometimes I get (Bmin7) lost
in thoughts of (C) love
i’ve (Am) thrown away, (C) and only (G) knew

(C) Arms length in (G) dreams
Just / (C) beyond your waking (G-D) reach
Everything you (C) seek
Just beyond your (D) reach
just (C) Arms length in (G) dreams

Dreams are lies
you tell your soul
To keep life to keep life new

but they only come true
If you let yourself
let your self believe in you

Today I left
my bed unmade
unmade Until the afternoon
into this (Bmin7) City
of pain and (C) grace
i walked my (Am) self a couple (C) miles In my own (G) shoes

F C. G
F C G
F C D–C G

(C) Arms length in (G) dreams
Just / (C) beyond your waking (G-D) reach
Everything you (C) seek
Just beyond your (D) reach
just (C) Arms length in (G) dreams

Featured

Paper Streets (Sarsaparilla Sessions 2021)


https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paper_street
“A paper street or paper road is a street or road that appears on maps but has not been built.”

“Beware! Paper Streets” cautions a sign hung by the Kirkwood Bowl Foundation towards the base of Laurel Canyon, LA, where I lived for most of 2018.

Paper streets are used in real estate cons of all sizes. Most often, as the scams go up in the Hollywood Hills, unsuspecting non-American buyers will purchase land on a paper street sight-unseen, in hopes of building a home. These marks will then arrive at their land with an invalid deed and dashed dreams.

There are still a few paper streets in Laurel Canyon, enough to warrant a warning sign. The one I encountered most was up at the summit of my old running route, off Jewett Drive, called West Elusive Street. Is there a more perfect name for a paper street? I spent a lot of time up there.

Curiously, hung as to face uphill, the sign warns those leaving the Canyon, whereas perhaps its alarm is most useful to those arriving. Still, as a means to convey how cruel we can be to each other, and how most things too good to be true prey on the trust we need in the world to enjoy life, the sign provides a universal admonition about putting blind faith in strangers.

Neither real nor estate, paper streets never burn. But they always burn.

Beware, indeed.


LYRICS

Paper Streets
20180531.0927
20220313.1434

You came a long long way
just to find nothing
on the other end of a promise
from the other side of the sun

the road was mapped but never real
still the dream of a long gone man
now foxtails push up through cracked cement
and long abandoned plans

Paper streets never burn but
paper streets always burn.…

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Goes The Day [20220428b]

Written 20200418.1020

C F G
F C G

C F G
these days i wake in the same dream
F C G
where living is the flip side of life
Am. Adim7 Am7 D
where the future’s a memory of plans ahead
F G Am
where sometimes dying doesn’t mean you’re dead

F C G
gone gone gone goes the day
F C G
back back back all the way
Am Adim7 Am7 D
to a far far far off place
F G C
goes the day

empty streets, distant echoes
footsteps, indifferent neon signs
sirens, silence, lonely traffic lights
sounds of a world waving goodbye

Em F C
today aches for yesterday
Em F C
tomorrow’s just a someday place
Am G F
where the only answer, somehow,
Am G F G
is we all take the same exit out

Counting [20220428a]

written in Laurel Canyon 2018

LYRICS

What if we could ride all the waves
What if the world was safe
for everyone we are?
What if we could exchange
Every turn we’ll ever take
For one North Star?

Counting on lightning
Counting on dreaming
Counting on sleeping
sometime soon
Counting on one plan
Counting on another hand
(and I’m still) Counting on you

What if we could live on a cloud
above the rain
where stars are the only lights
Where the wind is stable ground
and blind faith carries us through the sky?

Sometimes the faster you hold on to your life in a loop
The faster you lose control of the truth

Rainbow Needle / Tennis Thread


Words are my thread; music is my needle

I haven’t written too much on the internet in the last few years because I am afraid of what…

  • …was
  • …wasn’t
  • …will be
  • …is

This internal poll will be open for the rest of eternity, or until eternity runs out of time, power, or storage

To run out of storage is to run out of time. More storage means more memory, so more memories for your future feeds. The future opens ever wider with every cloud upgrade.

I had a colonoscopy yesterday. Lol if anesthesiologists didn’t exist.

To cede control of consciousness is the highest level of trust and faith.

Two other operations in my life required me to go unconscious: In 1987, I had all four wisdom teeth pulled, and in 2006, hip surgery saw an orthopedic surgeon remove a pelvic bone fragment that was shredding my right hip joint.

I didn’t know what to expect in 1987. Pretty sure the knockout drip was Demerol. I recall making it to 7 after being asked to countdown from 10, then waking up with chipmunk cheeks.

In 2006, the anesthesiologist for the hip surgery didn’t even bother to dare me to count down to zero. He just laughed, and said, “You’re under.” The last thing I saw, just off the inside of my right foot, was a winch with a big crank on top. Being pushed towards my foot. When I awoke in recovery, the surgeon handed me a sealed biohazard bag to let me see and feel, through the plastic, the bone fragment he extracted.

Those few seconds floating away under anesthesia, at the hypnogogic point of no return, where you’ve given away conscious hold on life, are terrifying in concept, but quite peaceful in execution. You are strapped in as the Space Mountain coaster climbs into darkness.…

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Vampires In Love (live, solo)

My favorite new track this year. Written with Composer+Producer Masaya Ozaki (https://masayaozaki.com), in response to a call he received from a music licensing company for “summer songs about adventure and time.” Every once in a while, I write with no irony. Anti-confessional mode, you might say.

“Screw off, I’m happy.”
– Summer2021

lyrics
sometimes words don’t mean anything
with you i don’t need to speak
our future lies
across the great divide
and there’s nowhere i’d rather be

you’re my queen
you can lean on me
you’re my dream
nothing comes between

all the world can melt away
all the colors turn to gray
there’d still be nothing left to say but
you and me

baby can you see love is in reach
even where sunshine’s never in view
and in a thousand years
love never disappears
it’ll always feel something new

Clouds Over LA (Sarsaparilla Sessions 20210210)

A song written in 2018 in Laurel Canyon, CA. Performed this year in Lowell, MA (which we affectionately called Lowell Canyon while living there for 8 months in 2021).

LYRICS

time will not release
a missing puzzle piece
or faded memories
of deleted scenes

you can’t watch a sunrise
through someone else’s eyes
if they never see you
in dreams

clouds over LA
dance alone
between skies

distant freeways shimmer
traffic as rivers
red and white ribbons
valley to sky

lost friends reappear
in dusty windshields
as evening light hits
California 5

clouds over LA dance alone between skies

drifting the night
suspended from life
shadows of every last good bye

clouds over LA dance alone between skies

AustinTown (live, 20210128)

Austintown, OH, is the driving midpoint between New York City and Chicago. Written election season 2004 in Austintown at the Best Western off Rte 80, in view of the Quaker Steak ‘n Lube across the highway.

performance recorded Jan 2021 at the old Hood’s Sarsaparilla Soda Factory in Lowell, MA

from Hola, Sayulita (2010)

LYRICS

When they dig us up – they might never know
We dug deep – left our evidence as far down as they will go
They might even think we were older than dinosaurs

Arrogance thinks we’ll see the end of the world
That we’d be last ones – to ever see
the truth/the truth
it’s just funny how much
truth
you
find

½ way between here & there
so many secrets you can’t begin
to dare to leave
escaping only in dreams
looks like it comes down
tonight to AustinTown

They’re gonna say we went backwards – all the way back
Before we went forwards again
Here it comes around again
And there goes the

the truth
ah, the truth
it’s just funny how much
truth
you
find

½ way between here & there
so many secrets you can’t begin
to dare to leave
Escaping only in dreams
looks like it comes down
tonight to AustinTown

ok [sarsaparilla session 20210330, lowell ma]

Solo acoustic version of “ok” from Hola, Sayulita! (2010), and also included on my early-years greatest hits collection Your Song Is Beautiful: 2002-2012 (2012).

This performance is from March 2021 in the old Hood’s Sarsaparilla Soda factory, my temporary home Lowell, MA for the last 8 months. We leave Lowell for good in ~2 weeks on 7/31. I will be wistful about this place, but am also ready to return home to NYC, if only for a few months. Home is home, no matter how long you’ve been gone, or how long you can stay.

A couple days ago, my phone served up some video “memories” of a 2018 trip into Manhattan’s West Village. That night, I took an uptown F from Brooklyn, saw my brother play with his band at The Bitter End, walked a few blocks around Bleeker, and went home. It was just life as we knew it pre-covid, hopefully will know again. Maybe that’s why the images fit so well over this song of enduring friendship, no matter how far-flung in distance and/or time. The videos’ random appearance was my City telling me, “I’m still here, and I’m ok, too.”

The shot of the ambulance in the middle verse, is from covid times, fwiw, and the opening shot’s from a quick round-trip to Brooklyn two weeks ago to start moving back home. Cat is working on the latest final season of Dexter up here in MA, and it was hilarious to see the book that the show was based on sitting in a front-stoop giveaway pile on our block. The image of the book being let go, for me, cemented the fact our time in Lowell is ending.

That’s what times do, of course. Times end so that time goes on.

We’re ok.

LYRICS

You never know just how long you have
Before you go
Away

So take back life; hide it from view
It will only be us and
the wind

Times are down but we’re ok
Lines are down but we’re ok
We’re ok.…

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The Resurrection of Uncle

westyreflector.medium mirror


That Old Guitar on That Old Guitar

Uncle, a 1934 Gibson L-1 flat-top acoustic, came to me via my wife Cat’s father, Steve, a stellar pianist and big band leader in Chicago. Cat’s great Uncle Ernest, Uncle’s original owner, bequeathed the guitar to Steve.

Uncle guarding Luna, May 2021
Uncle guarding Luna, May 2021

Cat & I found Uncle (in his original case) in Steve’s basement on a trip to her Chicago home. I tuned him up best he would, and strummed an open G major (the strings were a dozen years old, at least). He rang for less than a second before the bridge popped off. The sound of the chord was brilliant, however, and I took him back to New York, where the luthier of legend Paul Schwartz of Peekamoose Custom Guitars worked his magic (he is “The Moose” in the lyrics).

Paul has modded all my guitars, and also built me Fabien, an extraterrestrial Peekamoose M2 that’s the only electric guitar I’ll ever need if I ever need to have only 1. Definitely the one I’m grabbing, running from a house fire.

Fabien et moi
Fabien et moi

Uncle’s restoration process at Peekamoose involved a lot of micro-movements, acclimation periods, and clamps. And took almost 2 years.

The original bridge and half of the top’s bracing were not salvageable, and got replaced. Everything else is a time capsule, a literal message in box. The fretboard is still worn where Ernest spent most of his time playing (lower frets in open G tuning from what I can trace), and the flat-top’s 87-year-old finish reveals the most gorgeous cracks when the light hits it just right.

echoes of ernest on the fretboard
echoes of ernest on the fretboard
uncle's crack top
uncle's crack top

Uncle plays with the flawless ease you’d expect (and demand) of an instrument that was designed to be slung over the back of a blues traveller.…

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[live] 20201212.2


Set 1 ended w/ some transmission glitches, so an impromptu second set righted the wrongs.

SET LIST
02:00 Elizabeth City
08:00 This Time Of Year
14:00 This Canyon Drive
18:30 Sayulita

[live] 20201122 – The Return of Stryker West


My heteronym daydream cowboy Stryker West said it was high time for another country-fried set, so who was I to refuse? The covers here focused mostly on Texas, as tribute to a dear friend Taylor Rierden. Stryker neglected to play any Willie Nelson, however, and for that, he will have to atone with another set sometime soon.

SET LIST
00:30 – You & Tequila (K.Chesney)
04:50 – Love In This Land
10:05 – Jupiter + Tennessee
13:50 – I’ve Been All Around This World (J.Garcia)
19:05 – Don’t Touch My Willie (K.Fowler)
23:30 – Just A Little Insane
27:30 – Sunset Boulevard (C.Robison)
33:36 – Elizabeth City
38:34 – Sunday Morning Coming Down (K.Kristofferson)
43:16 – This Canyon Drive
47:50 – Down The Road (S.Earle)
50:40 – That Old Guitar

[vid] There Goes The Sky (escape from nyc version)

A fav song took on new resonance in late May when I escaped NYC for a few days, for the first time since December 2019. Performed in Bridgehampton NY, interspersed w/ footage from the heaviest part of NYC’s (1st?) lockdown from March to May.

Original Version on Sunrise Highway (2015)

Lyrics

I set out walking, just to find a friend,
Make a human connection in a world of pretend,
To share faith in the future, in the face of decay,
‘Cos when you can’t escape the night, every dawn is the end of days.

Walls get high,
Darkness amplifies,
There goes the sky.

You can understand, doesn’t mean you feel.
The hardest things to show are the easiest to conceal.
Actions can destroy more than words can heal.
God save us all when all the truths are revealed.

Walls get high.
Darkness amplifies.
There goes the sky.

[vid] Time Zero (LimeLight.live Sound Check)

06 Sep 2020.

Sound check on Limelight app. Unreleased track “Time Zero” surrounded w/ some loose texture and tone. Sometimes ideas that disappear for a a few years all of a sudden calculate their worth in retrospect. “Write it forward,” is a mode I know well.

LYRICS

Things got strange
Sequences rearranged
Machines crashed
Systems disarrayed

Take us back, take us back
Rewind the line
To when we knew love
for the first time!

Time Zero

Soundscapes
Beauty in the everyday
But light and wisdom
Are not the default state

Easy to lose your way
and lash out in blame
because some people you never shake,
some memories never fade

Take us back, take us back
Rewind the line
To when we knew love
for the first time!

Time Zero

Let the memories fade.

[vid] This Canyon Drive (Limelight.live performance)

Final song in my 30 April performance beta-testing the new Limelight.live music app. Happy always to work out a few kinks, and bring some melody to the current chaos.

well I’m climbing up this Canyon drive
high enough to see across time
to the days where you and I
had nothing to leave behind
up here, on this Canyon drive

a thousand feet up in the sky
on a one-lane two-way graded switchback ride
we opened up and saw ourselves from outside
and knew we wanted no other life
up here, on this Canyon drive

down in the Valley a relentless pursuit of dreams
in every shadow a sorrow and a scheme
a world designed to keep you from coming alive
far away from all the light that shines
up here, on this Canyon drive

what price wouldn’t you pay
to let nothing get in your soul’s way
to quiet dark echoes of unlived lives
at least up here there’s hope you’ll find
peace on this Canyon drive

[vid] riding the F riding waves

Sunset F-Train ride last week, out and back over the Culver Viaduct, the highest point in the NYC Subway system. The soundtrack is my riding waves [disquiet066], recorded in 2012 as a posthumous duet with late-musician Jeffrey Melton, better known as nofi.

🎼: riding waves [disquiet0066] off 2013’s transient lines:

[words] rip, ric

under the cold and darkly sky / you trip the light and go…

[medium mirror]

the cars were my fav growing up. their records and lateral solo projects not only will come with me to any desert island, they are my desert island — if i had to choose an island.

ric ocasek catalysed my adolescent desire and urgency to play the electric guitar and to write songs. all-lowercase, overdriven-jangle, and quirky-jerk, ocasek was also endearing, intelligent, and accessible. the cars became my crash course in how to bring depth to “disposable” music; that is, how melody married to meaning could still court the coolest girl in class.

more importantly over the long-arc of my teenage daydreams, some of which linger to this day, their music spoked out innumerable adventures in sonic discovery. riding with the cars, in the backseat i found (among many more) roxy music, david bowie, and t-rex; in the side-view there was robert fripp, steve reich, and john cage; passenger side would find buddy holly, the byrds, and tom petty; and in the way-way-back, crouched flat out of sight of the driver, there were new order, blondie, suicide, the cure, and eventually the ramones, the replacements, and much of what i’ve loved since.

the early 80s was still a world where intelligence and cool were a tough tightrope walk. ocasek and the cars hovered over it all, saying, “c’mon, man, the fringe is the cool. one foot in, one foot out — that fine line — that’s the place to be.”

i’m the american misfit kid / still wondering what i did / i’m on the inside, taking a fast ride…

throughout my songwriting life, co-opting ric’s icy reserve, black leather smirk, and reverence for poetic-yet-stuctured rock ’n roll let me embrace any style without care or ambition in my own music.…

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