The Haunted Radio

A Tear Stained Eye, a Ghost in the Machine

It’s now been 1 1/2 years since I started playing music. I did play guitar and keyboards in the 80’s, but that was maybe 6 years out of that decade. I did have some piano and song writing classes and I was in a rock band that played at The Hotel Utah in San Francisco. Amateur, but serious amateur I suppose.

Back then, because I didn’t push myself to play more than a handful of chords (bad pun intended) I very quickly ran into a total writers block. I just didn’t understand how much work it takes to become a decent musician and song writer. Plus, my “day job” and career paid the bills and took off very nicely. Away went music.

A tear stained eye
A ghost in the machine
Every time I walk by
Her face in a dream

Her beautiful face
The ships it set sail
Falling from grace
Dead men tell no tale

New age Medusa
Writhing with snakes
Men are reduced
To deathly heartache

Don't touch that dial
Her siren song sings
Like death in a vial
Your end it will bring

Walk by her fast
That haunted machine
If you don't pass
Let out a scream

This time around I’m much more of a very serious student and use fantastic Cubase to record myself – daily. Recording is like a quiz – you have to be on time and be ready. Its not as casual as sitting on the sofa noodling and goofing around. I’m also pushing how many instruments I’m playing – guitar, bass, mandolin, lap steel, violin and theremin. Making the attempt to arrange all of these parts is great practice, but I need to draw a line where playing is more like noodling and it ruins a decent song structure. The best example is 70’s jam band rock – especially The Grateful Dead – I just never have understood why people like them. Some of their songs could be good, and Jerry Garcia was best when he did bluegrass with David Grisman, but his incessant jam noodling just got boring. Many like it though ….

From now on, I’ll put more effort in the instrument I’m writing a song with and be a lot more sparse with the accompanying instruments. This is because when I play too much it gets muddy, and my song idea and intent gets washed out. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but a guideline I’ll remember to at least consider. For me, incessant noodling just ruins it.

Sometimes (in very few cases) playing a lot is what is needed, sometimes not. I think in most cases less is more.

One phrase that I love is a Buddhist phrase “Do Nothing Extra”.

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