Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Words Look: The Tallest Man On Earth

I am a native of the North Pole
And that can mess up any kid.

You may or may not have heard of Swedish musician Kristian Mattson, a.k.a. The Tallest Man on Earth, but his work is pretty spectacular.  Most of the time, it’s just him. A 5′-6″ man in T-shirt and jeans with his guitar on stage backed by the power of his folk-roots leaning music, unique vocal style, and out-of-this-world lyrics. He writes great lyrics about relationships, the ups and downs, and all the feels of being human.

I first heard him on NPR around 2010. Then on KEXP. I listened to The Wild Hunt album on Spotify. I was hooked. NPR music used to broadcast and archive live shows from the 9:30 Club in Washington, D. C. I used to catch some of these on their live music web page and listen while working. They had some awesome sets from Ben Gibbard, The Decemberists, and one particularly great set from The Tallest Man on Earth. I highly recommend giving this set a listen and, as a bonus, it’s downloadable.

One of my many favorite Tallest Man on Earth songs is “King of Spain”. I like just about everything about this song and the album it comes from, The Wild Hunt. It’s one of those songs which the lyrics stick inside my head for weeks at a time.

King of Spain

I never knew I was a lover,
Just cause I steal the things you hide,
Just cause I focus while we’re dancing,
Just cause I offered you a ride.

Still I am not from Barcelona,
I am not even from Madrid.
I am a native of the North Pole
And that can mess up any kid.

Well if you could reinvent my name,
Well if you could redirect my day,
I wanna be the King of Spain.

And I will settle in Pamplona
And I’ll provoke the bulls with words
And then I’ll send a man to meet them all
But he’s fake, so I have heard.

And all the senoritas sighing,
Will be the fountain of my lies.
But while we’re floating in siestas
You search for bottles and for knives.

Well if you could reinvent my name,
Well if you could redirect my day,
I wanna be the King of Spain.

And I wear my boots of Spanish leather
Oh while I’m tightening my crown.
I’ll disappear in some flamenco
Perhaps I’ll reach the other side.

Why are you stabbing my illusion?
Just cause I stole some eagle’s wings
Because you named me as your lover
Well, I thought I could be anything.

Well if you could reinvent my name,
Well if you could redirect my day,
I wanna be the King of Spain.

Songwriters: Kristian Matsson
King of Spain lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

A Words Look: “Feelin’ Good Again” by Robert Earl Keen

Robert Earl Keen is one of those Texan singer/songwriters with that uncanny ability to write songs which are not only relatable but run like a movie in your head when you hear them.

“Feeling’ Good Again” is one of my favorites. It captures that feeling of home a person can have away from their actual home, in this case, the Mr. Blues bar/tavern down on Main Street. You want a short master course in writing, take a look at the lyrics of this song and study how Keen draws you into the scene and places you right next to the main character before recharging his soul with the familiarity and comfort of Mr. Blues.

My favorite parts are when he finds “three twenties and a ten” in his pocket and when he wished his friend was there and he “looked across the room and saw you standin’ on the stair”. But the best part may be the next line, “And when I caught your eye I saw you break into a grin”. So much potential backstory, enough to touch about any listeners soul.

“Feelin’ Good Again” by Robert Earl Keen

Standin’ down on Main Street
Across from Mr, Blues
In my faded leather jacket
And my weathered Brogan shoes
A chill north wind was blowin’
But the spring was comin’ on
As I wondered to myself
Just how long I had been gone

So I strolled across old Main Street
Walked down a flight of stairs
Stepped into the hall
And saw all my friends were there
A neon sign was flashin’ “Welcome come on in”
It feels so good feelin’ good again

My favorite band was playin’
An Otis Redding song
When they sang the chorus
Everybody sang along
Dan and Margarita
were swayin’ side by side
I heard they were divorcin’
But I guess they let it slide
And I wished I had some money with
which to buy a round

I wished I’d cashed my paycheck
Before I came to town
But I reached into my pocket
Found three twenties and a ten
It feels so good feelin’ good again

There was old man Perkins
Sittin’ on his stool
Watchin’ Butch and Jimmy John
Talkin’ loud and playin’ pool
The boys from Silver City
Were standin’ by the fire
Singin’ like they thought
they were the Tabernacle choir

And I wanted you to see them all
I wished that you were there
I looked across the room
and saw you standin’ on the stair
And when I caught your eye
I saw you break into a grin
It feels so good feelin’ good again

There are several good videos on YouTube of Robert Earl Keen singing “Feelin’ Good Again”, here are a couple I really liked.

And this one, because…biscuits!

A Words Look: Intro to Baba O’Riley

I was just fiddle-farting around at work on a Friday morning a few months ago, listening to John in the Morning on the KEXP stream and organizing the experiments for the day. John Richards played Baba O’Riley from The Who mixed in with the usual eclectic music KEXP is famous for. At KEXP, they run a real-time playlist on the web feed that has a section for DJ notes about the song playing. Most of the time, these notes are information about shows the currently played band is playing in the Pacific Northwest or links to their archived KEXP In-Studio performances. There’s often also an odd song fact or two the DJ gleans from the internet about the song or artists.

KEXP DJ Notes on Baba O’Riley by The Who, John Richards Friday, October 13, 2017:

“Good morning and a very happy Friday. When The Who perform this live, the processed organ is played from a recording, since it would be nearly impossible to replicate on an instrument. The guitar doesn’t come in until 1:40, giving Pete Townshend some time to reflect on his work. “There is this moment of standing there just listening to this music and looking out to the audience and just thinking, ‘I f–king did that. I wrote that,” he told Rolling Stone. “I just hope that on my deathbed I don’t embarrass myself by asking someone, ‘Can you pass me my guitar? And will you run the backing tape of ‘Baba O’Riley’? I just want to do it one more time.”

As a writer, this particular quote from Pete Townshend hits home.

“I f–ing did that. I wrote that.”

By Impm at en.wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

There are many times when artists of all ways, shapes, and forms need “I f–ing did that.” as much as they need food or water. It is something creative people need to carry around with them as their weapon of defense when hit by self-doubt and creative panic. We need to step back, take a few deep breaths, and observe what we have created. Look or listen to what we’ve created and take a few moments to appreciate our own work. As creators, we occasionally need to be inspired by the fact we’ve created something wonderful before and use that to gather the artistic confidence to produce a new and wonderful work.

Here is a relatively recent live video of The Who performing Baba O’Riley. I chose this particular video over the dozens of other live performances of this classic song not because it’s any better than the other versions but because it shows the band’s age. It shows that old guys can still rock and roll.

Never stop creating. Step back every once in a while and appreciate what you’ve done. Take this moment to tell yourself, “I f–ing did that.” And then go out and create some more. Believe me, the world needs your work.

 

 

A Words Look: “Southern Accents” by Tom Petty

Tom Petty’s death was one of those deaths that sneak up on you and knocks you off the rails. He was one of those artists who were so damn good you hardly knew he was there. His constancy was so ingrained into the musical world since the mid-1970’s it was almost like the reliability of the ground under our feet or the sky above our heads. Tom Petty was that good.

Damn the Torpedoes was a game changer for a 15-year-old kid in 1979. Almost every song resonated with me. The power of a song and a lyric and the stories he told in his music, especially the stories he told in underdog songs like, “Even the Losers”. Everyman stories, for every man, by an everyman.

Over the years, this song “Southern Accents” has become a favorite. It is a powerful song about knowing where you come from, overcoming where you come from, and living a life that shines with the best of where you came from. Basically, it comes down to a song which I can closely relate too. 

From an interview with Billboard

“The radio has so many rules, and songs don’t. You don’t necessarily write to a rule book, unless you’re like just doing it professionally, which has never been my thing. I just like a lot of songs. ‘Southern Accents,’ I think that’s one of my best, really. That would have been 1984 and I wrote that on the piano in the studio at home, I had a studio and I just happened to be down there in the middle of the night, it was quite late, probably early morning, and I just started to play and a song just started to appear.

I’d work on the first verse, and I’d get it, and then I’d just go bit by bit. But the breakthrough of that song was the middle eight, the bridge. When I got to the bridge I realized, ‘Now we’re talking, I’ve got something happening here.’ And when I was done with it I was extremely excited. There’s nothing like that feeling of having just written a song that you know is ‘the song’ and you know it’s really great and you can’t wait to share it with people, you can’t wait to record it.”

I first heard “Southern Accents” on the groundbreaking Johnny Cash Unchained, American II album (which is a GREAT record if you’ve never heard it.). It is one of those songs Johnny Cash covers and absolutely makes it his. Cash owns this song like he did so many of the songs he covered late in his life. Tom Petty’s original is absolutely fabulous but The Man in Black takes it to another level.

“Southern Accents”

By Tom Petty

There’s a southern accent, where I come from
The young ‘uns call it country, the Yankees call it dumb
I got my own way of talking, but everything gets done
With a southern accent, where I come from

Now that drunk tank in Atlanta is just a motel room to me
Think I might go work Orlando if them orange groves don’t freeze
Got my own way of working, but everything is run
With a southern accent, where I come from

For just a minute there I was dreaming
For just a minute it was all so real
For just a minute she was standing there, with me

There’s a dream I keep having, where my momma comes to me
And kneels down over by the window, and says a prayer for me
Got my own way of praying, but everyone’s begun
With a southern accent, where I come from

Got my own way of living, but everything gets done
With a southern accent, where I come from

Here’s a live Tom Petty version that is very good:

Here’s Johnny Cash’s version of “Southern Accents”:

FAITHFUL by Michelle Hauck Release Day

The next volume in the Birth of Saints series is available now!

faithful-n1

Following Grudging–and with a mix of Terry Goodkind and Bernard Cornwall–religion, witchcraft, and chivalry war in Faithful, the exciting next chapter in Michelle Hauck’s Birth of Saints series!

A world of Fear and death…and those trying to save it.

Colina Hermosa has burned to the ground. The Northern invaders continue their assault on the ciudades-estados. Terror has taken hold, and those that should be allies betray each other in hopes of their own survival. As the realities of this devastating and unprovoked war settles in, what can they do to fight back?

On a mission of hope, an unlikely group sets out to find a teacher for Claire, and a new weapon to use against the Northerners and their swelling army.

What they find instead is an old woman.

But she’s not a random crone—she’s Claire’s grandmother. She’s also a Woman of the Song, and her music is both strong and horrible. And while Claire has already seen the power of her own Song, she is scared of her inability to control it, having seen how her magic has brought evil to the world, killing without reason or remorse. To preserve a life of honor and light, Ramiro and Claire will need to convince the old woman to teach them a way so that the power of the Song can be used for good. Otherwise, they’ll just be destroyers themselves, no better than the Northerners and their false god, Dal. With the annihilation their enemy has planned, though, they may not have a choice.

A tale of fear and tragedy, hope and redemption, Faithful is the harrowing second entry in the Birth of Saints trilogy.

Faithful– November 15, 2016

Harper Voyager

Find It: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | HarperCollins | Goodreads

grudging-1

Also enter to win a signed paperback of Grudging, the first book in the series: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A world of chivalry and witchcraft…and the invaders who would destroy everything.

The North has invaded, bringing a cruel religion and no mercy. The ciudades-estados who have stood in their way have been razed to nothing, and now the horde is before the gates of Colina Hermosa…demanding blood.

On a mission of desperation, a small group escapes the besieged city in search of the one thing that might stem the tide of Northerners: the witches of the southern swamps.

The Women of the Song.

But when tragedy strikes their negotiations, all that is left is a single untried knight and a witch who has never given voice to her power. And time is running out.

A lyrical tale of honor and magic, Grudging is the opening salvo in the Book of Saints trilogy.

GRUDGING

November 17, 2015

Harper Voyager

Find it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Goodreads

michelle_h-2

Michelle Hauck lives in the bustling metropolis of northern Indiana with her hubby and two kids in college. Besides working with special needs children by day, she writes all sorts of fantasy, giving her imagination free range. A book worm, she passes up the darker vices in favor of chocolate and looks for any excuse to reward herself. Bio finished? Time for a sweet snack.
She is a co-host of the yearly contests Query Kombat, Nightmare on Query Street, and Sun versus Snow.
Her Birth of Saints trilogy, starting with Grudging and Faithful (November 15, 2016), is available from Harper Voyager. Another epic fantasy, Kindar’s Cure, is published by Divertir Publishing. She’s repped by Marisa Corvisiero of Corvisiero Literary.

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A Words Look: “Trouble” by TV On The Radio

This song.

It is a beautiful song that crept into my psyche the first time I heard it in 2014. When one listens to the song—like most great songs—it can mean many things to many people. Anyone on that mental razors edge can relate to the feeling the song radiates. For whatever reason, for whatever situation, for whatever guilt that brings pressure bearing down on you in life, this song resonates.

It brings me back to my days in late teens/early twenties when I’d lost the ballast in my ship. The moorings snapped and I was floating through life without much direction or focus. The were many devils who had my number.

The song is a reminder, as the lyrics go to strap your helmet on and get ready to survive whatever wave is on a beeline toward you. Also, it reminds us that everything will be okay if we convince ourselves of the possibility and believe in it.

Really, everything will be okay.

“Trouble”

Oh, here comes trouble
Put your helmet on, we’ll be heading for a fall
Yeah, the whole thing’s gonna blow
And the devil’s got my number
It’s long overdue, he’ll come looking soon
Yeah, the whole thing’s gonna blow

Oh, here comes trouble
These people talk too much, need to shut ’em up
Yeah, I’d rather be alone
Can you, can you feel that rumble?
All this borrowed time, it’s been running out
It’s the ending of the show
But I know now, yeah, yeah, I know now, yeah

Everything’s gonna be okay
Oh, I keep telling myself, “Don’t worry, be happy”
Oh, you keep telling yourself, “Everything’s gonna be okay”
Oh, I keep telling myself, “Don’t worry, be happy”
Oh, you keep telling yourself, “Everything’s gonna be okay”

Oh, I’ve changed my number
Wore disguises and went undercover just to
Just to hide away from you
Oh, my ghost came a-calling
Making noises ’bout a promise I had broken
Oh, I’m gonna be lonely soon

Oh, here comes trouble
Put your helmet on, we’ll be heading for a fall
Yeah, the whole thing’s gonna blow
And the devil’s got my number
It’s long overdue, he’ll come looking soon
Yeah, the whole thing’s gonna blow

Everything’s gonna be okay
Oh, I keep telling myself, “Don’t worry, be happy”
Oh, you keep telling yourself, “Everything’s gonna be okay”
Oh, I keep telling myself, “Don’t worry, be happy”
Oh, you keep telling yourself, “Everything’s gonna be okay”

Everything’s gonna be okay

 

2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 310 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.