Showing posts with label Paul Simon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Paul Simon. Show all posts

Monday, August 17, 2020

List Your FAV FIVE Singer-songwriters

FAV FIVE Series 
Guitar Players • Bass Players • Drummers • Keyboard Players



"Singer-songwriter" is used to define popular music artists who write and perform their own material, which is often self-accompanied generally on acoustic guitar or piano. Such an artist performs the roles of composer [writes the songs music], lyricist, [writes the songs words] vocalist, sometimes instrumentalist, and often self-manager. According to AllMusic, singer-songwriters' lyrics are often personal but veiled by elaborate metaphors and vague imagery, and their creative concern is to place emphasis on the song rather than their performance of it. Wikipedia

Again, I enlisted my dear friend and singer-songwriter Paul Hobbs to help me navigate the guidelines for this week's challenge, list your five favorite singer-songwriters of all-time. Paul helped me clarify a couple key points to lay down the basics for filling out the Google Form below.
  1. You can only list one person on each line 1-5. By the definition above, the singer-songwriter composes the music, writes the lyrics and performs the song by singing and/or playing an instrument. My wife Mary Kit immediately threw a wrench in the works by saying she was going to write, "Elton John and Bernie Taupin" together on one line. I started to get into the weeds saying, "You know, Bernie first writes the lyrics separately and then Elton writes the music to craft a song around the lyrics, so by definition... Mary Kit cuts me off and says, "If you're going to make this too complicated, nobody is going to fill out your form." I get it. Elton John is 3/4th a singer-songwriter, and a hell of one at that so I tell her, "Just write Elton John on the bloody form."
  2. This list is based on a singer-songwriter's SOLO career. Okay, getting back on the lawnmower and heading to the weeds again- somebody like Tom Petty is a good example where the mower can get hung up. Tom is mainly known for his body of work with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and the Traveling Wilburys. If you look at Tom's discography, he has three solo albums. So, if you write Tom Petty in you list of five, you are selecting him based on his solo work NOT his band compositions. Same for Neil Young, John Lennon, Pete Townshend, etc.
As a teaser for next week, we're going to list our FAV FIVE Bands where all the fabulous writing combinations of Lennon/McCartney, Jagger/Richards, Stills/Nash/Crosby, etc. are all contained within by simply naming your favorite bands, albeit the short list.

Okay, here's my ranked list of FAV FIVE Singer-songwriters. Boy this was tough as a couple of readers have said in the previous FAV FIVEs, it's something like Sophie's Choice. For me, what it came down to was how many albums/CD's did I own of that artist as a solo singer-songwriter.
  1. James Taylor
  2. Joni Mitchell
  3. Jackson Browne
  4. Paul Simon
  5. Neil Young
Note- Like last week you can see my random brainstorm list at the end of this blog.

Now it's your turn.


If for some reason, the Google Form does not appear in your web browser, click on this direct link here - https://forms.gle/JDRCVasREuAtDPadA

_________________

Mary Kit McIntosh's FAV FIVE  Singer-songwriters
  1. Don Henley
  2. Elton John
  3. Glenn Frey
  4. Prince 
  5. Stevie Nicks

Ron Zieman's FAV FIVE  Singer-songwriters
  1. Joni Mitchell
  2. Neil Young
  3. George Harrison
  4. Eric Clapton
  5. Don Henley


Ken Forman's FAV FIVE  
Singer-songwriters
  1. Bob Dylan
  2. James Taylor
  3. Neil Young
  4. Jackson Browne
  5. Pete Townshend

Paul Hobbs' FAV FIVE  
Singer-songwriters
  1. James Taylor
  2. Joni Mitchell
  3. Bob Dylan
  4. Jackson Browne
  5. Paul Simon
Ron Ouellette's FAV FIVE  
Singer-songwriters
  1. Cat Stevens
  2. Warren Zevon
  3. Al Stewart
  4. Vienna Teng
  5. Joanne Shaw Taylor
Chuck Stark's FAV FIVE  
Singer-songwriters
  1. Neil Young
  2. Bob Dylan
  3. James Taylor
  4. Paul McCartney
  5. Bruce Springsteen


Roger Demchak's FAV FIVE  
Singer-songwriters
  1. Paul McCartney
  2. John Lennon
  3. Neil Young
  4. James Taylor
  5. Bob Dylan

__________________
Doug's random brainstorm list of his favorite singer-songwriters as a solo artist.
  • Paul McCartney
  • John Lennon
  • Jackson Browne
  • Bruce Springsteen
  • Stevie Wonder
  • Shawn Colvin
  • Randy Newman
  • Neil Young
  • James Taylor
  • John Prine
  • Paul Simon
  • Joni Mitchell
  • Van Morrison
  • Don Henley
  • Bob Dylan
  • Mark Knopfler
  • Carol King
  • Laura Nyro
  • Cat Stevens
  • George Harrison
  • Billy Joel
  • J.D. Souther
  • Harry Nilsson
  • Elvis Costello
  • Tom Waits
  • Eric Clapton
  • Jesse Colin Young
  • Sting
  • David Bowie
  • Bonnie Raitt
  • Donovan
  • Peter Gabriel
  • and yes Mary Kit, Elton John

Monday, December 24, 2018

My Favorite Songs of 2018


In 2018, I've made the time to listen to a lot of new albums. For me, listening to new records for the first time is like mining. In any type of mining, you spend most of your time digging and shifting. In the digs for new music, I'm trying to hear the golden songs that first hook my attention, and then work on my head and heart. 

As AM/FM radio is a wasteland in San Diego except for NPR (including NPR Music), and Jazz 88.3, Amazon Music and YouTube are now my go to digging. I'll also mention the podcasts- WTF with Marc Maron and the Americana Music Show as great resources for expanding my search for fresh songs and learning about the musicians behind the music . 

Music is such a personal thing for all of us. My wife and I love each other but our tastes in music would never have been the magical online dating algorithm to make us a match. I just love it when she gently yells up the stairs to me, "Would you please put your headphones on!"

As this blog took about 15 minutes to write, the playlist (now at 100 songs) has been going on for several months now. I publish it with the hopes that you will find at least a few golden nuggets of song that maybe you have never heard before.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Monday, May 28, 2018

Angels in the architecture and devil in the details

Image Source
A man walks down the street
It's a street in a strange world
Maybe it's the Third World
Maybe it's his first time around
He doesn't speak the language
He holds no currency
He is a foreign man
He is surrounded by the sound
The sound
Cattle in the marketplace
Scatterlings and orphanages
He looks around, around
He sees angels in the architecture
Spinning in infinity
He says Amen! and Hallelujah!

From You Can Call Me Al by Paul Simon

If you read my blog last week, Paul Simon, The Rhythm Poet, you can tell I haven't quite let go of my recent concert experience. As I was doing research for that blog, I came across an interview with Paul Simon that really spoke to me. As an artist, Simon talks about the concept of flow where sometimes the music and words come to him easily, and other times he works and works over a period of time to complete a song.

Now please take almost 5 minutes to watch this clip now, and I'll share my take on the other side.


What struck me about Paul Simon's curiosity with his own creative process describes how all of us are similarly capable of creativity in our own way and not just reserved for artists or people identified as gifted.

I'm not one to believe that God is directly providing that 'spark' of thought, but rather, through our own experiences we are all able to cognitively channel and engage our brains to create something new.

Paul's line, "He sees angels in the architecture" is for me a metaphor for that spark of thought framed around the idea and/or thing you are creating. The creating itself is thoughtful but is sometimes coupled with a 'spirituality' of goodness that is coming from some place to you and through you.

I found a similar passage from an excellent blog by Shannon Rusk, apply titled, Angels in the Architecture.

I prefer to consider the expression a metaphor.  Because I do believe that architecture, and by turns its architects, have the ability to do good, or otherwise.  But for me the angels in the architecture are not winged creatures or other beautiful details and careful ornamentation.  Rather, I see the angels as being the experiences and emotions and connections that architecture, at its best, can enrich and facilitate for those people who live their lives within and around it.  They can be something that architects deliberately design for, or they can happen just by chance, or as a result of the way people choose to use or adapt the building.  

Image Source
I'm currently writing an K-12 educational ebook titled, Learning Environment by Design. I've been researching and writing the book for a year now with a lot of passion and motivation to see it take shape, and to see it through.

 I've come to learn two things about creativity. One, you create the conditions for your own 'flow' as angels in the architecture within the structure you're building.  Secondly, your flow is sustained through your embrace of the process of iteration as 'the devil is in the details.'

Iteration is the act of repeating a process, either to generate an unbounded sequence of outcomes, or with the aim of approaching a desired goal, target or result. Each repetition of the process is also called an "iteration", and the results of one iteration are used as the starting point for the next iteration. Wikipedia

This creativity ying-yang of flow and details is a wonderful loop of inspiration and pace. For me, Paul Simon's work has always had a spiritual quality that has touched my soul deeply over the years. I guess what I appreciate now more than ever is the beauty and craft in the making of his songs.

As a student and young person, when it came to writing, I was a one and done draft with little regard for the process of editing. It's taken me a bit longer, but I've learned to love and embrace the 'rewrite.' Paul Simon would know something about that.


Monday, May 21, 2018

Paul Simon, The Rhythm Poet


Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence
from The Sound of Silence by Paul Simon

In my 12th grade English class the teacher Miss Dunn, did a poetry unit on Simon and Garfunkel. She unpacked Paul Simon's lyrics and we explored songs such as, The Sound of Silence and The Boxer as deeply as passages of Dickinson or Thoreau.

Paul Simon is simply one of American music's greatest treasures. By the late sixties, he had reached Bob Dylan's poet stature as the songwriter of Simon and Garfunkel.  But he just never stopped his momentum and continued to evolve as the quintessential instrument to channel American and world rhythms into music as a solo artist.

Last Friday, I got to see Paul Simon for the first time at Key Arena in Seattle. His Homeward Bound - The Farewell Tour is billed as the final tour of his career and at 76 I'm just going to have to take him at his word. His setlist included 25 songs with three well planned but heartfelt encores.

Joining me was my lovely wife Mary Kit, as well as my dear old friend Bill DeVoe and his good friend Neil Wiesblott from Vashon Island. Our foursome was part of the largely "Boomer" crowd that grew up listening to Paul Simon, and in turn, our children listened to Simon growing up with us.

In preparing for the blog this past week, I typically start with the playlist and wanted to feature many of the songs from his recent performances. I got really excited listening to Paul's 70+ year old voice in concert as the man is well preserved physically, vocally and musically.

On Saturday after the concert, I had a chance to have lunch with Bill and he talked about how Simon just continued to evolve as an artist through the decades, not afraid to explore and expose his audience to literally the rhythms and beats from all kinds of cultural influences. Our discussion turned to how historically white musicians have "taken" music from musicians of color and not given them credit for not only their influence but the dollars they have reaped from that influence.

You can go back to the 1920's and discover jazz performers such as Paul Whiteman (literally his last name), who was known as the "King of Jazz" to the larger white audience without publicly  acknowledging the black artists who in fact created the art form of jazz itself.

This too could also be applied to Elvis Presley in the 1950's as the "King of Rock 'n' Roll" to the larger white audience, and if I'm not mistaken, never overtly talked in the media about how black music influenced his music. I will say many black musicians like Little Richard have publicly said how Elvis' popularity actually boosted their careers, but not said by the man himself, in front of a microphone or television camera.

But in the 1960's and by the 1970's this pattern had begun to change. Groups like the Rolling Stones and musicians like Eric Clapton, openly talked about their black musician idols, and "put their money where their mouth is" by getting them big time booking gigs and appearances on TV.

Paul Simon took it a step further. He started putting people like the Jessy Dixon Singers in his albums and on his concert tours. He went to South Africa under Apartheid, hired all black musicians, recorded and toured with these musicians, and caught a bunch of crap for it. There are probably people who think Paul Simon has "taken" African music, but I would disagree. If you don't like the fact that Paul Simon is a musical genius whose world influences have created some of the most catchy rhythmic beat hooks of all-time, you probably just don't get rock 'n' roll. Rock 'n' Roll is for everybody but it's important to know where it comes from and to acknowledge the people who brought the beat, no matter who's playing it.

Then I learned to play some lead guitar
I was underage in this funky bar
And I stepped outside to smoke myself a “J”
And when I came back to the room
Everybody just seemed to move
And I turned my amp up loud and began to play
And it was late in the evening
And I blew that room away
Late in the Evening by Paul Simon



Paul Simon rocked Key Arena. He's got one of the most talented bands I've ever seen. I could only image the audition process to join this elite group of people who all seem to perform double duties of playing multiple instruments plus sing harmony or back up vocals as well. The percussion section is hypnotic and the horns are the pure joy of the soul. Paul was fully engaged, telling stories about the songs and his singing voice was fantastic! The crowd couldn't get enough as he moved from acoustic to full orchestral, big sound arrangements and back to acoustic guitars. It was not quite late in the evening and Paul Simon blew me away. I was not alone.


If you're wanting more, I would suggest Paul's new book by Robert Hilburn, Paul Simon the life. Here is a book review in the Seattle Times by Paul de Barrios. I haven't read the book yet, but I think it will be on my bedside table very soon.


You know when an artist is so enduring to you that you sing the lyrics and play the music of a favorite song, in your head. For me Paul Simon has that extra quality (like Stevie Wonder) when the rhythm of the instruments just play over and over in your head, in a good way.

Right now as I'm writing this, I'm playing the acoustic guitar lead into Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard, in my head, and that my friends is a gift on so many levels.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Disruptive innovation and taking my Kodachrome away


In May 1973, Paul Simon released There Goes Rhymin' Simon one month before my high school graduation. As mentioned in previous blogs, my good friend, Paul Hobbs, purchased this album and I went over to his house to listen to it like with so many other albums. I loved Rhymin' Simon so much that I in fact, purchased it myself shortly after and continued to burn that vinyl record out during my college years.

My next door neighbor at the time (also previously mentioned in my blogs) was Ron Zieman. In the early 60's his family had moved from Rochester, New York as his dad, Ray was selected by his employer, Eastman Kodak to work at Vandenberg Air Force Base. In 1965, my family moved next door to the Zieman's on Tunnell St. in Santa Maria, CA and started a long-time friendship that endures to this day. During my time with the Zieman family on Tunnell, I began to learn a little about Eastman Kodak as a powerhouse of American manufacturing, not knowing at the time, that the quiet mannered Mr. Zieman worked for Kodak with our Government developing cold war spy satellite technology against the Soviets. Back then, Kodak was literally everywhere.

From being a senior in high school, my girlfriend Mary Kit (also mentioned many times in my music blogs) bought me this very Minolta Hi-Matic F 35mm camera for Christmas in 1973. So as an American consumer, I graduated from buying Kodak Pocket Instamatic 110 cartridges to now buying Kodak 35mm film.

With the popularity of the hit single, Kodachrome which peaked at #2 on the Billboard Charts that June of '73 and with my new camera in hand, I started to buy Kodachrome film. As I began to experience photography, I learned of Kodachrome's color richness properties that made photographs a magical enhancement of real life. Kodachrome 25 and 64 became my go-to film rolls. I also learned that Kodachrome was very popular with professional photographer's. I thought maybe I could get a little closer to their art rubbing off on me by buying the film they used. An interesting fact to There Goes Rhymin' Simon is that Kodak made Columbia Records put the registered trademark symbol (®) after the song's title on the album cover. Paul Simon sold a lot of records with that song not to mention vast quantities of film he sold for Eastman Kodak to kids like me.

In 2003, I remember doing a photo shoot for my friend Bill with his wife and son in their sheep field on Vashon Island in Washington. I was using a Sony digital camera and remember going to the very small and only photographic shop on the island. I was going to get prints made of the shoot and brought in my digital photo card to upload in their new digital photo processor. We could pick out the digital shots we wanted and they would be developed into prints for later pick up. I will never forget the owner who was helping us and complaining the whole time how digital photo technology in general was terrible as nobody was buying film anymore. I remember thinking, this guy is a dinosaur and wondered how long he was going to be in business with his attitude and the changing times. A year or two later, when I was back on the island, I remember looking at that shop as we drove by, it was now a clothing store.

Several weeks ago, I was in my car listening to NPR's Marketplace with Kai Ryssdal as he was doing a story on Kodak and Rochester in a continuing series called, How the Deck is Stacked and this segment titled, Rochester looks to rebuild from the rubble, Can manufacturing save America?. This broadcast caught my attention on two fronts, one, my association with the Zieman's and Kodak and two, I was scheduled to speak at the Leatherstocking Library Conference about 120 miles east of Rochester outside of Syracuse in Vernon, New York. The report was fascinating describing the heyday of the Kodak Park facility in Rochester employing 30,000 local residents.

“You didn’t even have to go to college. You got out of high school and went to Kodak, Delco, Rochester Products, Xerox, Bausch and Lomb and you made $20 an hour. Back in the day, you got out of school, and you could be 18 and move off on your own into an apartment. Today? These kids today? If you don’t have college, those top companies are just not here anymore. My youngest daughter did it the hard way. She found out without college here, there’s only $13-an-hour jobs. If that. She’s still at home, 31, but back to school now to get that degree to get out on her own. There was an article in the paper this past weekend, ‘Oh, middle class America, so many jobs are coming back,’ $12 to $15 an hour. Like, what are you gonna do with $12 to $15 an hour? You cannot live on your own.” from NPR


The NPR piece on Rochester got me thinking about Eastman Kodak and the concept of Disruptive Innovation. "A disruptive innovation is an innovation that creates a new market and value network and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network, displacing established market leading firms, products and alliances. The term was defined and phenomenon analyzed by Clayton M. Christensen beginning in 1995. In the early 2000s, "significant societal impact" has also been used as an aspect of disruptive innovation." from Wikipedia

The demise of the former Eastman Kodak is quite astounding for the fact that Kodak invented the digital camera, yes drum roll... in 1973. I don't expect you to read all my links, but this link just above from the New York Times by James Estrin is a must read and the big idea to this blog. 

Go ahead, you have the time.

Okay, you read the article, so the irony should not be lost on you or me taking photographs of my still intact Minolta Hi-Matic camera above, and my family's vintage Eastman Kodak Folding Autographic Camera below, with my very digital smart phone.



Kodak and their wonderful products like Kodachrome, represent America as the innovative and creative company that helped build this great nation. I'm dismayed when our current political rhetoric reverts back to the glory days of America; yes, we have created and built great things in our history, but it really doesn't need to be beaten into us with fear. Instead, I'm always inspired by our national spirit, not to be longing for the old days and old ways, but moving forward to new days with new technology and products to help us along the journey. Rochester is the story of American manufacturing. Now, how will Rochester and the nation engage our young people to be successful in today's economy? How will our education system create learning innovations to seed new American product innovations in our country?

Here, I'll return to There Goes Rhymin' Simon and Paul's timeless classic, American Tune. The 1973 song speaks of many things gone wrong in the United States at the time. For me during that time, it was social unrest, the Vietnam War and my uncertainty for my future. I was also learning as a young person that life was getting harder for many Americans. I then, in 1973 and now in 2016 take solace as Simon ends the song with-

Still, tomorrow's going to be another working day

And I'm trying to get some rest

That's all I'm trying to get some rest. 

As American's, we have the freedom to let our music sing the truth, we get knocked down, but have the ability to get back up and make our way. As life always balances with things old and new, we can take our adaptive spirit and build upon our new innovations.

As you begin your Monday working day, I wish for you a creative and productive day. Here's a three song playlist from There Goes Rhymin' Simon to start it off.