Happy fall, y’all! Best time of the year. The autumnal equinox occurred yesterday evening at 7:54 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time…
When this time of year rolls around, it’s time to get on the road and get to the high country for the annual fall foliage tour of the aspen leaves turning bright yellow, because that’s what we do here in Colorado. Usually we go to Squaw Pass, right up the road from Evergreen on the way to Echo Lake and Mt. Evans, and we did that yesterday, combining it with a hike up Chief Mountain, a trail we hike every year. A very windy hike I might add. This is fall foliage, part 1… there wasn’t a whole lot of fall color except for a few areas. The peak color should be this week, and we’re going to Vail for a few days later this week. That’s part 2, and will be an update next Sunday. A few pics from yesterday:
And just because this song is lodged in my head right now, I remember that I was listening to this 39 years ago when I was living in Midland, Texas…
“Hold on, hold on, hold on, to what you got…”
Nights on Venus News:
Well, when you make one major change in your recording setup, you should expect systemic changes all the way down the line and that’s what has happened. Major studio upgrades which I’ve been incorporating over the last month-and-a-half. Everything right now is kind of a work in progress (and ironically, the street we now live on is named Progress Circle). I’ve renamed the studio – for the length of time that we’re here in the ‘no man’s land’ of west Littleton – to Confluence Music Studio, and I’m pushing everything out into 2019. So, there will be no release of a new single next month. There may be one in December and then the full album will come out in the first half of 2019. And, oh yeah, the title has changed… the album title will be “Late Night Meditations in Suburbia“. We’ve jumped tracks… expect maybe one or two surprises.
‘Til the update next Sunday…
And Part 2 of this year’s Leaf Extravaganza… 9/30
The pictorial continues… we are true fall leaf/color junkies.
On the Meadow Creek Trail, just north of Frisco…
Although we missed peak color by about a week going further up into the high country – it’s always a bit of a crap shoot – there was still more than enough spectacular color and scenery, and it was good to get away and relax for a few days during the low season. We’ll do it again next year.
The most recent releases from Nights on Venus are the 2-song single, “The Wheels Are Coming Off“, released this summer, and the 3-song single/EP, “Snow Day“, from December, 2017.
The most recent full-length release “We Are All Haunted by Something” was released in the summer of 2017 and includes the 2-song single “Speed of Life” and “Confirm Humanity (I’m Not a Robot)”. All albums/singles/EPs from Nights on Venus are available on iTunes, Bandcamp, CD Baby, Amazon MP3. and the NoV website.
This week’s post comes from an article that appeared in the New York Times a few weeks ago. “The Songs That Bind“… I found it via the Digital Music News and here’s their article on it.
That’s an interesting question and premise and of course, one that I would be very interested in as both a musician and a listener/consumer as music has pretty much defined my entire life (growing up in a musical household will do that).
The basic premise of the study, with data culled from Spotify, is that our lifelong musical tastes are formed in early adolescence – for men, between the ages of 13-16; for women, slightly earlier, between the ages of 11-14. In his study, Seth focuses solely on the songs that were popular for people of those age ranges throughout the years of popular music, for each generation.
I would tend to agree with his findings, for the most part, and I think the article and study is fascinating and a good one albeit incomplete as it covers only the data on songs – the “chart-topping songs” – and does not include genres, specific albums, or the conditioning aspects of hearing those songs repeatedly on the radio, or the additional conditioning influence of peer influence/acceptance which can be such a determining factor in those early adolescent years, or even, and perhaps more importantly, what a young listener might have heard in their home or on the radio before those early adolescent years.
I thought back to my own listening experiences, what influenced me the most during those years from 13 to 16 which corresponds to the years from 1969 to 1972. A visual list…
I focus mostly on albums here rather than the chart-topping songs because even back then I listened more to albums than songs on the various radio stations although I might have first become acquainted with a band’s music via radio whether AM or FM (e.g., Three Dog Night). I can certainly remember the first time I heard Led Zeppelin’s debut album in 1969 – in full in Mr. Kyzer’s art class at St. Mark’s School (Dallas, TX) in the first quarter of 7th grade. That definitely had an impact, particularly the song “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You“… but I remember the song from that day in art class, not the radio. Eventually the song became an FM radio staple as did most of Led Zep’s songs.
As far as specific songs that hit the sweet spot of peak influence at age 14, I can think of several right offhand: “Layla” from Derek & the Dominos, Three Dog Night’s “Mama Told Me Not to Come“, “One Man Band” and “Never Been to Spain” (and pretty much every song off the Naturally and Harmony albums), from the Jackson 5 with a young Michael Jackson, “ABC” and “I’ll Be There“, and from the heavier side of things, Alice Cooper’s “I’m Eighteen” and “The Song Is Over” by The Who. That covers a lot of musical ground in just one year.
I can remember thinking, after the first few times I heard “Layla”, that it was the greatest rock song ever recorded. The Who’s “The Song Is Over” after all these years is still my favorite song of all time and probably will remain so (unless “Purple Rain” or “Take Me With U” eventually overtake it).
Initially, Seth’s findings would appear to hold true even if that list wasn’t all chart-topping songs. I asked Erin if she remembered what she was listening to and what her favorite songs were between the ages of 11 and 14, which for her would correspond to the years 1972-1975. She said she remembered listening to a lot of Chicago… like around the time of “Wishing You Were Here” (released in October, 1974) and a couple of others from the album Chicago 7 – “(I’ve Been) Searching So Long” and “Call on Me“. The latter I’ll include here because it comes with some vintage footage from The Caribou Ranch Recording Studio in nearby Nederland (CO).
She said she also listened to the Doobie Brothers, a lot of Aerosmith (covers everything from “Dream On” to “Walk This Way“) and the Stones during that time – think “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll“, also released in October, 1974. From that same time period, “Do It Again” from 1972 is her favorite Steely Dan song.
So far so good, the study looks to be fairly accurate and you can try this out at home… Your results may vary. Having said that, there are songs, albums, and bands I can think of that I love just as much that fall outside of those peak years of influence and Seth acknowledges that as well. I know I love “Saturday Night” by Suede (a.k.a. The London Suede) from 1997 or most of Guided by Voices’ work all the way into the 2000s, up through their most recent releases in 2017, “August by Cake” and “How Do You Spell Heaven”, as much as anything from the early 1970s and the same could be said of a lot of Buddy Holly songs from the 1950s when I was too young to remember anything I would have heard then.
It would be interesting to expand this kind of study into other areas of how our musical tastes are formed. This study found the age range of peak influence for people’s musical tastes based only on songs but certainly musical tastes are formed much earlier in a person’s life. It would be interesting for instance, to do a similar study based on genres, particular types of music. If someone grows up hearing a certain genre or genres when they’re young, such as rock or country, jazz or pop or rhythm & blues, are they more predisposed to mostly listen to that genre to the exclusion of other genres after the age of peak influence? That might seem like an obvious thing but nothing’s set in stone.
The study showed people’s preferences for particular songs, songs they liked at a certain age, but then would the songs, genres, or bands they had an aversion to during the ages of peak influence preclude them from ever listening to that song or artist? To this day I still can’t stomach “Brandy” (Looking Glass, 1972) or bubble-gum pop.
Within a band or artist’s overall work, it would be interesting to see if a person had favorite songs or a favorite album that falls within the early adolescent period and then gradually doesn’t listen to much of the artist’s later music but still loves those 1 or more albums and songs from the peak influence years. Or maybe they come across an artist’s work much later, an artist who might not have existed when they were 13 or 14, but sounds familiar to what they listened to back then.
And finally, another thing I’d also be very curious to see in a study like this is what effect a major life event or otherwise intense experience (usually an emotional one) has as far as forming a bond with certain songs outside of those peak influence years. From my own experience, I know this does happen and is probably one of the factors that accounts for the author’s liking songs from artists that came out well before he was born.
Anyway, a lot of avenues for exploration here and some further food for thought.
Nights on Venus News:
After an uncharacteristic one-month long break where I didn’t do anything after the release of “Snow Day” in December, which I’d never done before since NoV began, I’m back in the studio recording new songs while we’ve been skiing on alternating weekends up at A-Basin. The calendar says it’s about to be spring in a couple of weeks (the scourge of Daylight Savings Time is upon us again this weekend and you can read up on how I feel about that), but hopefully there should a few more good snows up in the high country and we can get another 2-3 ski days in before we call it a winter. New music will be coming soon – currently finishing up on three new songs, “The Wheels Are Coming Off”, “Outlier”, and “Our Alternate Lives” and will put a preview up here in the weeks ahead. ‘Til next time…
The most recent releases from NoV are the 3-song single/EP “Snow Day” and the full-length album, “We Are All Haunted by Something“, both from 2017. “We Are All Haunted…” includes the 2-song single “Speed of Life” and “Confirm Humanity (I’m Not a Robot)”. All are available on iTunes, Bandcamp, CD Baby, and Amazon MP3.
Since the total eclipse on 8/21 this much and more has happened… wildfires in the west (pretty much unreported by mainstream media), catastrophic floods in Bangladesh, India, and Nepal (same there as well), hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and the continuing nightmare of Maria… in Texas, the South, East, Cuba and the Caribbean; the earthquakes in Mexico.
Though the mainstream media has moved on (shamelessly) and continues to cover Trump 24/7 (again, shamelessly), people are struggling and just trying to survive. Here are some ways to help:
In all instances, please help where you can. In a few years we will look back on 2017 as the last “normal” year climate-wise, and this year, this last month has been anything but normal. Climate change, and specifically, abrupt climate change is real – all too real. It is happening, happening now, and it is accelerating. I have added a couple more websites on climate change in the blogroll and suggest you check them out. The Robert Scribbler website in particular was extremely accurate in predicting that both hurricanes Harvey and Irma would intensify (dramatically) before making landfall. Hurricane Maria has been off the charts. Climate-deniers are just simply wrong – dead wrong. And they have been all along. Don’t listen to them. If you still have financial interests in fossil fuels at this late date, it is time to divest from those now. If anything is to be done or can be done at this point, carbon emissions must be cut drastically each year moving forward and that is only a beginning.
The second part of today’s blog: a look back at this summer, now that it’s officially gone, and some of the hikes we’ve taken recently, Erin and me. After June it has been mostly a dry, hot summer but not as bad as summers where there have been major wildfires here, like the summers of 2002 and 2012. There have been a couple of wildfires recently (one near Steamboat Springs), but for the most part we’ve been fortunate this year. If you live here in the West, you know that can change quickly – wildfires one year, followed by flash floods the next.
Right now in Golden, we’ve been in a foggy raincloud all day and we’re getting some much-needed light rain, thankfully, and it’s about 48 degrees F. (9 degrees C.). Actually it’s wonderful, and this morning we fired up the fireplace for the first time in the fall/winter season. It’s snowing up at A-Basin Ski Area this morning. Here are some pics from our late summer’s hiking and though the snow is falling now in the high country and more of it soon, hiking isn’t over yet, at least until the end of October… And then there will be skiing/snowshoeing.
In early September the skies were smoky here, so we didn’t hike for a couple of weekends. Here are a few shots up at Blue Lakes near Breckenridge and the previous week up on the West Ridge Trail from Loveland Pass.
I will mention – if you’re heading up that way – that the Monte Cristo Gulch trail is actually closed. We got about a half-mile in and there’s a rockslide which has completely covered the trail. Yes, it can be navigated but we chose not to that morning. It should be noted that while you can traverse to the trail on the other side, you could also trigger another rockslide so it’s not recommended. The Monte Cristo trail is probably closed for good. I can’t imagine that any agency is going to clear that rockslide. Just sayin’…
From yesterday’s hike up the 730 Mine Trail/Griffin Memorial trail:
Nights on Venus News:
I had mentioned in an earlier post that there would be a 4-song EP by the end of this year to complete the material from the “We Are All Haunted by Something” sessions (of which there is quite a bit)… which then soon expanded into a 6-song EP… but now those plans have been scrapped. In favor of…
Releasing the remaining songs as singles and B-sides over a period of months beginning this coming December with a 2-song single… until the next full-length Nights on Venus album which is slated for December, 2018. I am planning for and anticipate a few surprises, so stay tuned. And I thank you for your continuing support…
The new album, “We Are All Haunted by Something” has now been released. Includes the 2-song single “Speed of Life” and “Confirm Humanity (I’m Not a Robot)”. Now available on iTunes, Bandcamp, CD Baby, and Amazon MP3.
“Time isn’t holding up, time isn’t after us…” – Talking Heads, “Once In a Lifetime”
Funny… All these years (since 1980) I thought that lyric – written by David Byrne – was “time is an asterisk“. Or, put another way: “time is an *…” where the ‘*’ was some kind of x factor or unknown variable. That was always kind of intriguing and carried a certain mystery about it. What would that phrase mean?
Maybe that time is extremely fluid and entirely personal.
Time is an asterisk could have been a song title on the soon-to-be-released new album in a couple of weeks since so many of the songs on there deal with the subject of time. “We Are All Haunted by Something” has gone to mastering in the time since I last posted and I apologize to readers for not posting during the month of June and being away for so long. It also kind of freaks me out a little that we are now past the midway point in 2017, that we’re 9 days into July, as this seems (to me) to be the fastest-moving year I can ever remember. Maybe other people have been and are feeling this too. This year just seems very accelerated, way too much. Erin and I have been hiking most weekends, working the rest of the time. Hiking and working, but now – for the most part – I can slow down a little. Only time won’t let me.
“But I tell you now… time is an illusion
Time… is not real
Time… is an illusion
Time… is the dividing line
Between what is true and what is not true
Between what is real and what is not real
Between what is so and what is not so
But who, I said who, who stands for time?
Who stands at the threshold of time?
Who decides what is true and what is not true?
We do, you and I…” – Todd Rundgren, “I Love My Life”
I think what we are most haunted by – even more so than our eventual demise in the physical – is time. Our perceptions of it, through the passage of time and we speak of its ravages (on the physical form), or when we feel like there’s never enough of it or alternately when we have too much of it on our hands.
“There Is Only Now” was the first song I recorded for what would become this album. Shortly after that, Prince died on April 21st. I had no idea then that his death would have such an effect on me. It literally threw me, my thoughts, back in time to the summer of 1984 and a very intense experience which his classic album “Purple Rain” was the soundtrack for. That was completely unexpected. Much of the new album was written and recorded during the time last year when I was revisiting a lot of memories and specific events from that summer 33 years ago now (e.g., “Ghost Towns of the 1980s”).
The final set list and sequencing:
Book of Detours
There Is Only Now
Speed of Life
The Indelible Imprint of Place
In Wilderness [Is the Only Sanity in the World]
I Just Wanna Fly Off to Iceland With U
Confirm Humanity (I’m Not a Robot)
Glamour: A World Problem
Relive Tomorrow… Today!
Ghost Towns of the 1980s
Hours Turn Into Years
Unusually Vivid Experience (UVE)
New Dark Age
14 songs, for now… 14 months of work coming to completion. There are 4 more songs which didn’t make it onto the album but may be released as a sort of epilogue and EP by the end of this year. I took my time with this album; there’s more of a looser feel to it. And it comes out on July 23 – first available on Bandcamp and free for the first week (through July 29). A few more pictures from the recent hikes…
Until next time…
The new album, “We Are All Haunted by Something” is coming soon. Release date is set for July 23rd. 14 songs… including the 2-song single “Speed of Life” and “Confirm Humanity (I’m Not a Robot)”.
Once again it’s time for the annual fall leaf tour and post. Fall has arrived (sort of… still a little too warm right now) and the last couple of weekends Erin and I have taken a couple of drives into the high country and done a few hikes. But first…
Some Nights on Venus News:
Mastering on “Speed of Life” finished up over the past week and the 2-song single will be released this Sunday, 10/9 on CD Baby and on Bandcamp initially. You can get both songs as free downloads on Bandcamp for the first week, through 10/15, and they will appear here on a post this Sunday via Soundcloud. Here is a look at the cover artwork:
This coming Saturday also marks the 6-year anniversary of my little musical endeavor, Nights on Venus… another milestone. Work continues on a full-length album – “We Are All Haunted by Something” – which is scheduled for release in 2017.
And now, back to the annual fall color “porn”…
And of course, with the arrival of fall, winter won’t be far behind. We’ll be breaking out the skis, boots and poles pretty soon, getting ski tune-ups and watching “Hot Dog, The Movie” – classic, silly ski movie from the 1980’s (think the ski ballet competition and Chinese downhill). Yep, Erin and I are still just a couple of ski-bum wannabes…
First of all, I love this book. Zen Guitar by Philip Toshio Sudo is one of my favorite books of all time.
First published in 1997, this book has been a companion since then that I revisit every few years, or revisit a chapter as needed whenever, because its message is just that good. And it’s not just for guitarists of course. It’s for everyone who is involved in the creation of music, whatever the instrument, whatever the genre, at whatever level of ability. Or those involved in the creation of art… or any kind of creative endeavor, and that covers a lot of territory. But way beyond that, and ultimately, it’s about how we all create our lives.
Zen Guitar is not about learning a specific technique, or any technique for that matter. As the author points out from the very beginning, there are plenty of books and videos for learning techniques and genres. Instead, he says simply: “We are here to make a sound.”
We are here to express beauty, beauty in the world.
In the chapter “Beginner’s Mind”, Sudo incorporates the idea and training/imagery of the martial arts dojo to provide a basic framework for practice:
1. Wear the white belt.
2. Pick up your guitar.
That’s it. What could be more simple?
Well of course, it’s not that simple – it never is. And there’s the rub (paradox). Essentially Zen Guitar is a spiritual book; it connects the basics of playing the guitar to one’s spiritual development along the musical [and one’s life] journey.
Thoughts are creative in themselves. Energy follows thought. Thoughts become things. Everyone is creative.
From the chapter “Pick Up Your Guitar”:
“Look deeply into the spirit that goes into making an item of quality – the care, the precision, the attention to detail. Incorporate that spirit into your work… Anything you set out to make – music, love, a bookshelf, a meal – make as well as you can. To do otherwise is spiritless…”
And “Act with a sense of purpose.”
Each chapter is relatively short – most of the time one page or less than two pages, and begins with a pertinent quote from a well-known musician. Bite-size chunks of musical wisdom… Like most spiritual books Zen Guitar is best digested in an unhurried fashion. Read a short chapter, if you’re unfamiliar with the idea presented, if it’s new to you… give it time to sink in. Think on it, feel it… embody it.
The quote that begins the aforementioned “Pick Up Your Guitar” chapter: “If you pick up a guitar and it says, “Take me, I’m yours,” then that’s the one for you.” – Frank Zappa
Speaks to intuition… Learn to trust it.
In fact, the quotes are a highlight in themselves and very definitely, on their own merit alone, a reason for buying the book. A few examples/highlights:
From the chapter “Loss of Focus” in the section “The Twelve Common Missteps”, comes this gem:
“I remember coming to a concert where they had a big catered meal set out for everyone… I went and said, “Miles, man, you gotta see all this food they got here.” And Miles said, “I didn’t come here to eat.”
– Gary Bartz, recalling a conversation with Miles Davis
From the chapter “Jamming”…
“The most important thing I look for in a musician is whether he knows how to listen.” – Duke Ellington
And from the chapter on “Virtuosity” comes this:
“Whether you are [playing] in the bar, the church, the strip joint or the Himalayas, the first duty of music is to complement and enhance life.” – Carlos Santana
That is truth. As a musician, playing music enhances your life. What you put forth into the world musically enhances the experience of life for many others – people you will most likely never meet but affects them nonetheless. Music is not just mere entertainment and should never be thought of as such. Music, played with true feeling and integrity, can change lives. This is no small thing.
There’s a lot more that I could quote from this book but I think you get the idea. If you’re involved in any kind of creative endeavor, not just music, not just guitar, you should get this book. Zen Guitar is that good, it is that inspirational and I highly recommend it. This book should be in every creative’s library. The bottom line on it…
Know what you are doing and more importantly, why.
Most of all, be mindful of what you are doing.
It boils down to:
Do what has to be done
When it has to be done
As well as it can be done
And do it that way every time.
Accept nothing less…
Much food for thought here.
Nights on Venus News:
New music is coming soon, within the next couple of weeks. Finishing up a new song: the mastered demo of “I Just Wanna Fly Off to Iceland With U”… Yes, Iceland… with a bossa nova beat. Of course they go together. And we’re making plans to go there in 2017 and get Nights on Venus on the lineup of the Iceland Airwaves music festival, November, 2017.
For this year there will be no new album. Erin and I are getting married in November – we set the date, and as this is 4 months away there’s a lot to do between now and then. There may be a 2, possibly 3-song single release in the fall but a full album won’t happen until 2017. And it will be entitled “We Are All Haunted By Something”. And as I’m working with these 20+ songs so far, it may possibly become a double album… we shall see.
Time really does fly. We’ve reached June already, the start of the hiking/summer season and I anticipate a very busy season for us here. Some photos from Sunday’s hike at Alderfer/Three Sisters open space park in Evergreen, usually our first hike of the season…
There is a new song in the Nights on Venus News section.
I’m currently working on new songs in the studio… makin’ headway, finishing them up. Taking a more balanced approach this year (and also in 2015 and moving forward), a more relaxed approach to creative work, allowing more time for these little trips Erin and I take into the mountains, getting out into the natural beauty of the wilderness, and especially now as summer is upon us and we’re making plans to move up to the mountains within the next year, year-and-a-half. There have been many changes over the last few years and this year of 2016 in particular so far; we’re not even halfway through. And in these times of accelerated changes it’s good and necessary to unplug from the Internet as much as possible – the bane now of our collective existence – and get away from the constant ‘urbanity’ of it all. Well anyway, that’s where we’re headed.