Music from the Pandemic: I Ain’t Moving (From This Easy Chair)

Along with teaching, reading, parenting and all that, I’ve been making time to play guitar and fiddle with sound loops, making music. I’m going to share some of it out now and then.

This three-chord bluesy song – I Ain’t Moving (From My Easy Chair) — is no doubt inspired from some listening to John Prine and how he used humor in his songwriting. I was hoping to capture some of the oddities observations of the times, and the character’s sense of being alone and being left alone. I hope you’re OK.

I Ain’t Moving (From My Easy Chair)

Is it a Monday?
or is it a Sunday?
I seem to lose track of time

Is it morning?
Or is it evening?
I’m sure I’m losing my mind

No, I ain’t moving from my easy chair
tell the world, I disappeared
You can’t move me if I don’t care
tell the world that I disappeared

Is that a news show?
Is this a game show?
I don’t know the truth anymore

When home is the work site
and work is the home life
I pull the plug and shut the door

Chorus

When the food is gone
and the cupboards bare
and I’ve chewed through every box that was there

Still I won’t go
I’m hanging on
I’ve got soup cans and dried beans somewhere

Chorus

Peace (rocking it on the chair),
Kevin

NaPoWriMo: I’ll Connect With You (song demo)

(I am participating in National/Global Poetry Month as I continue to write small poems each morning. – Kevin)

Day Twenty Five: I’ll Connect With You

When it’s all gone small and reduced to the screen
when the distance between us is more than we’ve seen
We can still find a way to get on through
You keep an eye on me and I’ll keep an eye on you

So I’m sending out a signal on the video lines
hoping if you hear me that you’re doing fine
‘cause if you’ve got time, I’ll connect with you

I never once thought that we’d be here
worrying about each other from far and near
and I’ve got the time if you connect with me

Note: This entry is actually the last stanza and chorus for a song I worked on yesterday, to share my writing process and music with my students, from a distance. And it is all about distance, and thinking of how a real sense of loneliness is starting to surface in my interactions with my students more than before.

Peace (singing it),
Kevin

NaPoWriMo: Let the Last Note Linger

(I am participating in National/Global Poetry Month as I continue to write small poems each morning. – Kevin)

Day Two: Let the Last Note Linger

Get your anger out
in power chords –
frustration as
fretboard distortion –
but leave the last note
lingering, ringing
with hope’s resonance

Note: I was finishing up a song yesterday and getting into the recording of it — a protest song about the president and the times and how angry and frustrating it makes me to watch him not just spew lies to help himself but to do so and let people die from his inactions. This poem bubbled up from that cathartic songwriting experience, of using the strum of the guitar and some underlying distortion chords as a way to express emotion of the times. I had Woody Guthrie on my mind. Here’s a version of the song, if you’re curious.

Peace (singing it),
Kevin

Slice of Life: Sitting Down with a Song

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write on Tuesdays about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

I was following the Democratic election news out of Iowa about the first caucus, thinking about where we are as a country and where we might be heading (although, who can say with any certainty?) and this song began to write itself. Sometimes, writing is like that. So I spent some time with it, sitting with the words and the chords, scribbling in and scribbling out ideas, and letting it flow forth onto the page, and then into the microphone.

As usual, the notebook page is a mess of ideas.

Song notebook

It began as a song of resistance and defiance in this age of Trump and the GOP’s control of government – the title of Bend ‘Em ‘Til You Break ‘Em gives it away — but something arced for me about halfway through, and the third and fourth stanzas are more hopeful, more optimistic, more reasoned.

I’m not driven anger
not driven by hate
I’m driven by the chance
you might reciprocate

You hold out a hand
you might invite me in
we might find it in common
a place to begin

Take a listen to the demo:

Peace (singing it),
Kevin

Annotated Sound Files: Turning Terry’s Poem into Song

Terry Poem Song Annotated

Yesterday, I shared the song I created after reading Terry’s poem. This morning, after reading some lovely comments from him about process and time and effort, I went back into my sound project and began to annotate where his words influenced what sounds. I found it a useful bit of reflection and I suspect Terry might find it a bit intriguing, too.

Note: Shrinking the project to see all the tracks made everything tiny. Apologies.

Read yesterday’s post to better understand the annotations

Peace (sounds like dawn),
Kevin

Words Translated Into Song

My friend, Terry, posted a beautiful poem of a morning with his wife, on the porch, at his blog on his birthday. I read it a few times and thought I could just hear the glimmers of a song simmering below the surface of this lines. Luckily, I had some time to make just that — a song interpretation of Terry’s poem, with sound files, beats, loops and small snippets of his poem (read by me).

What I find interesting is how I was both trying to capture my own feeling of reading Terry’s words but also being intentional in taking it in a new direction. If you read his poem, you should hear some of his moments. You may also wonder what I was thinking, as you listen to other elements. Mostly, I was trying to capture the heartbeat of his piece.

Doing this kind of work brings you deeper into the text, a closer kind of reading. Every word has the possibility of something to give. I hope Terry enjoys the interpretation, left for him as a gift for his birthday.

Peace (in song),
Kevin

Slice of Life: No Guitar … No Problem

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write on Tuesdays about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

It’s often during in-between moments — the lull of the evening — where I will grab my acoustic guitar and just play for a bit as a way to step aside from the day. A sort of acoustic reprieve. Sometimes, new songs emerge from these burst of playing sessions. Mostly, not. Usually, it’s just a chance to play.

I had this inspiration to maybe try to write another holiday song because I had challenged my teenage son to make a holiday song, as he is an accomplished beat-maker with Logic, and he just laughed me off. I went upstairs to get my guitar … only to suddenly remember that I had left my guitar in my classroom at school. I have been doing some guitar playing with a student who is writing his own holiday song that he wants to perform in front of classmates.

Hmmm.

I still had this melody and idea of bells jangling around in my head, so I queued up an online music production platform I use quite a bit — Soundtrap — and plugged in my small MIDI keyboard, and then began to compose the holiday song. It’s built off the echoes of the main Jingle Bells riff, and I had quite fun laying in sounds. The song structure is pretty simple: melody-break-melody.

After finishing the track, I decided I wanted to make the audio track into a video version, so I searched around for some copyright-free video of snow falling — I wanted the visuals to be simple but moving — and then used iMovie to quickly pull the audio and video together.

So, you know, happy holidays and all that …

Peace (play it forward),
Kevin

MusicMaking: She Makes a Choice (Path and Prayers)

It’s been disheartening to watch as more and more states seek to limit women’s access to health care, all in hopes that a test case will reach the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v Wade. It irks me to no end that these conservative leaders want to destroy lives under the guise of compassion, and use their religion as a curtain to hide behind. And who’s left with few choices and little support? The women. The women always are left paying the price.

I wrote this particular song some times ago both as a protest and to experiment with writing and producing a song nearly entirely on my iPad with the Garageband App.

Peace (and choice),
Kevin

Slice of Life: I Heard Me on Pandora

Gift of Peace on Pandora(This is for the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write on Tuesdays about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

Last year, my friend and I released a holiday song called A Gift of Peace (For Christmas), more as an experiment than anything else. We did the whole thing — copyright lyrics and music, went into a recording studio, enlisted CD Baby to distribute the song through streaming services, and even hired my son to create a video story for the song.

Pandora was one of those services that took a long time to allow our song into its mix, but yesterday, while doing other things in the kitchen, our song started playing onto Pandora (I had created a station called A Gift of Peace) and I rushed to give it a thumbs up and to call my wife. We then danced for a bit around the kitchen to my song playing on Pandora.

If you hear my song on your station, give it a thumbs up, won’t you?

Peace (gifting it to you),
Kevin