Saturday, June 25, 2005

Open For Suggestions

It's true that today, many kids don't realize that places like Disneyland and Walt Disney World are actually creations of a real man. And there are those who know who kindly Uncle Walt was, and they believe that he was a cartoonist who actually drew his creations and later turned to television and theme parks.

The truth of the matter is, Walt was an idea guy, but he called upon others to do the actual work. Nothing bad about that, as Clint Eastwood once said through clenched teeth "a man's got to know his limitations", and Walt certainly knew that he was no excellent draftsman, nor was he a carpenter or an electrician or any of those things, though he considered himself a filmmaker and actually did shoot a number of films. Walt knew his limitations and was always open to suggestions, which is why he surrounded himself with the sort of talented folk that he could delegate tasks to. His vision was solid, he knew what he wanted to achieve; but as one man, he lacked the skills to bring it all to magical life.

Within the band (and on this blog) I've made it clear that whereas I'm a songwriter and play dulcimer okay, I'm not a bassist or a trumpeteer or a drummer, nor do I have all of the necessary songwriting tools in my bag of tricks. But I do have a vision of what the Mohave sound is all about. So, keeping that vision in sight, when someone suggests something, I'm usually wide open to it; nothing's carved in stone.

This policy has recently extended to music reviewers over at - many of whom are musicians and have excellent critique for our songs. Many of them don't "get" the vision, and I acknowledge their comments without feeling the burning need to make changes to our songs. But some of them have very insightful things to say and I take them to heart.

Over the years, I've heard many comments about "Black Indian", most of them good, because you know, no-one really likes to walk up and tell someone that something they did sucked ass. But when placed in a situation where critique is welcomed, I've heard one thing from several people: the chorus hook needs to be mixed up a little bit. As it stands, this is the chorus:

trying to find my way in America (4x)

For the longest time, "Black Indian" was a difficult song for me to sing, in an odd range full of sustained notes that I wasn't really comfortable attempting. Lately, since my singing has improved (because I've been attentive to the process), I feel more confident with the tune. I agree that the chorus should be changed up a bit, instead of me singing the same thing four times. What more can I offer that hasn't been covered in this already emotional song? I'll be thinking about that over the next few days, and then I plan to implement some kind of change during next week's rehearsals. Thanks to "haystacker" for the insight!

Last rehearsal brought another song into the foreground that I hadn't thought about in ages. I was strumming a chord and Bunky and John both came in with some nice, moody touches. Randy chimed in on bass and I recognized the tune as an old number called "Arizona Twilight". Stepping to the mic, I sang this incredibly emotional song about an old friend of my mother's who was killed by a drunk driver. I think the band was of the idea that this was all being made up on the spot (Bunky gets this look on her face when I do something totally unexpected, she keeps playing, but she's looking at me like "whoa, where'd that come from?" She's so adorable!), I honestly don't recall what J.D. was doing with it because I had sunk down deep into the song for the first time in years; it all came flooding back. When we had finished (this was our first tune of the evening and by the end, I was emoting so dramatically that I became breathless), Bunky lowered her trumpet and said "what was that? did you write that?" and I told them about the tune, what inspired it and why it had suddenly popped into my head. I think we can do a lot with it and I'm looking forward to including it in our repertoire:

just a child, just a small inspired child
looking up to you, you treated momma well
mind sends pictures, big man, big smile
shiny badge and gun, with a heart

blue-red lights, a black and white
pulled up to our door, there you were
sometimes in uniform, sometimes civilian
always a light in my momma's eyes

memories of a seargent

borne away on the road
motor-home breaks down, your family waits
Arizona twilight cried upon the sight
with a flare as your candle in the night

twin beams caught you in the cross-fire
intoxicated maniac aiming for the flame
the ones that loved you dearly
stood helpless on that highway
an explosion rocked the sky, they screamed your name

memories of a seargent

my momma remembers, I do too
all we could've said are just unspoken words
the force came out to honor you
they buried you that day
it took one year to hear the news
it took one year today

memories of a seargent

I try in vain to pull the knife
and I curse the man who took your life
took your life away

I'm getting choked up just typing the words, you can imagine how intense it is when it's being performed. This is going to be a firecracker - and a song that I'll always preface by condemning drunk driving.

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