Saturday, September 27, 2008

VIDEOS: Bob Dylan in Concert

Here's a few mighty performances by Bob Dylan:

Like a Rolling Stone:

Blowin' in the Wind:



Facts about Bob Marley

Facts About Bob Marley by Richard Heap

Bob Marley, the Natural Mystic, may yet prove to be the most important musical artist of the twentieth century. Bob Marley's songs of determination, rebellion, and faith found an audience all over the world. Bob Marley was reggae's leading practitioner and emissary, embodying its spirit and spreading its gospel to all corners of the globe. Bob Marley free speech carries with it some freedom to listen.

Reggae's most transcendent and iconic figure, Bob Marley was the first Jamaican artist to achieve international super stardom, in the process introducing the music of his native island nation to the far-flung corners of the globe. Though he died prematurely at age 36, the heartbeat reggae rhythms of the enormous body of music that Bob Marley left behind have endured. However, in the two decades since the great man has gone, it is clear that he is without question one of the most transcendent figures of the past hundred years.

The last Bob Marley and the Wailers tour in 1980 attracted the largest audiences at that time for any musical act in Europe. Bob Marley and the Wailers was now the most important band on the road that year and the new Uprising album hit every chart in Europe. Bob Marley has always defended this often maligned herb. By popularizing reggae music and its marijuana celebrating lyrics, Bob Marley has prompted many people to question what they have been told, to take a fresh look at the evidence.

The Bob Marley Foundation seeks to maintain a dynamic foundation which will enable individuals, groups, and/or communities in developing nations, particularly Jamaica and Africa, to create and implement programs that assist in the empowerment of the oppressed people and the elimination of generational poverty through sustainable projects.

Richard Heap is a writer interested in drum and bass records and writes for

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Story of The Who's 'Won't Get Fooled Again'

Mick Jagger Makes Sure the Who Won't Get Fooled Again by Virgil Vince

The album 'Who's Next' provided fans with some of the most cherished songs ever written by the band. Rising from the smoldering remains of Pete Townshend's emotional breakdown and thwarted artistic vision, the band was able to cherry pick from the reams of compositions that Townshend had lying around unused from previous projects. For The Who Won't Get Fooled Again, the epic eight and a half minute track that closed the album, would become their anthem, a stunning tour de force that railed against the dangers of false revolution.

The Who weren't enamored with the song when they first laid it down in 1971. Originally recorded in New York, the band felt that the track could stand some revision, and so they employed the services of the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio, a great recording studio on wheels that was popular amongst bands of the day who wanted to record their albums in off the wall places. These usually ended up being enormous, empty mansions isolated from fans and possessing unique acoustic properties. In the case of The Who, they kept the Mobile Studio close to home and worked on the track at Mick Jagger's Star Grove residence in England. The biggest change between the original track and that which would emerge from their work at Stargrove was the decision to again use parts of the synthesizer demo that Townshend had recorded earlier in the year. Juxtaposed with the rising and falling organ part during the solo break in the middle of the song, this new edit would make its way onto the final record.

Given the lyrical content of the track, it is unsurprising that many political movements and pundits have appropriated the track to represent their particular cause and champion the overthrow of the status quo. According to The Who Won't Get Fooled Again partially represented their backlash against the pressure they felt from radical revolutionaries to give their music over entirely to whatever movement happened to come calling. The lyrics had their root in the plot of Townshend's failed 'Lifehouse' rock opera, in which the villain attempts to convince the hero that they are almost the same people - to which the hero sings this stunning rebuttal. The song remains a cautionary statement to those who would get caught up in the promise of change without examining whether they are merely trading one power structure for another that is equally deficient. is the mystical rehersal studio for rockers DEMON TWEAK. Listen as they prepare for battle with the evil trickster Loki by playing home brewed classic rock direct from Ragnarok. Also read articles on your favorite classic rock band written by resident historian VIRGIL THE STORYTELLER

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The Story of The Pinball Wizard

Novelty Aside, For the Who Pinball Wizard Represents a Crossover Favorite by Virgil Vince

'Pinball Wizard' is one of those songs that has taken on a life of its own. Completely removed from the context of the original rock opera 'Tommy', for which it was written, 'Pinball Wizard' seems to be a strange, somewhat whimsical tale of a 'deaf, dumb and blind kid' who has somehow managed to master playing pinball. His skill level is great enough to defeat even the most talented of sighted champions, and he goes on to become the king of the local pinball community. It may even seem as though the song was written for children, given its non-threatening acoustic guitar breaks and seemingly light lyrical content.

The meaning behind the track and the reasons for which it was written are of course quite different. 'Tommy' was the story of a boy who was robbed of the standard senses that human beings are usually afforded, and as such it is not a lighthearted tale. The band was worried that perhaps the overall message and themes explored in 'Tommy' were too dark for public consumption, and that something had to be done in order to keep people from falling too deeply into the spiritual abyss. This concern was amplified when critics responded to a rough assembly of the album with limited enthusiasm. To The Who Pinball Wizard was a way of giving their title character a quirky skill that would endear him to the audience, even though Pete Townshend was never happy with what he considered his 'clumsy' arrangement for the song.

The song was originally intended to be a bit less clean cut and cheery than the version which was put on the album. Townshend had written slightly raunchier lyrics and had hoped to imbue the song with the kind of schoolyard cheekiness and humor that he felt was appropriate for the characters in the story. It is also interesting that of all the songs on 'Tommy', this was the single which was picked up by rock radio and which became extremely popular. Given that the entire piece sounds like a novelty song outside the confines of the work, perhaps it is not unusual that for many casual fans of The Who Pinball Wizard is the only track from that album with which they are familiar. The appeal of 'Pinball Wizard' was not limited to fans. Artists as far ranging as Rod Stewart and Elton John recorded cover versions of the track, and it continues to be a popular cover song for modern rock group as well. is the mystical rehersal studio for rockers DEMON TWEAK. Listen as they prepare for battle with the evil trickster Loki by playing home brewed classic rock direct from Ragnarok. Also read articles on your favorite classic rock band written by resident historian VIRGIL THE STORYTELLER

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OPINION: Greatest Guitarists?

Greatest Guitarists of All Time by Steve Krenz

On the list of greatest guitarists of all time there could be literally hundreds of names. There have been so many influential guitarists who have changed the world of music for the better. However, there are certainly a few that stand above the rest. Not only are they incredible in how they play, but they have endured the test of time and really have been inspirational for so many up and coming guitarists.

The one and only Jimi Hendrix is at the top of the list for many reasons. Considered to be by far one of the greatest guitarists in rock music history, Hendrix achieved world wide fame back in the late 1960's. Starting in England he made a name for himself at the Monterey Pop Festival and then later at Woodstock in 1969. He was a pioneer of guitar feedback and was the first to incorporate overdriven amplifiers, which until then were thought of as a way to make bad music. Hendrix played one of the most amazing guitars of all time with his Fender 60's Reverse Headstock Stratocaster.

Second on the prestigious list of greatest guitarists of all time should be the incomparable Jimmy Page. Joining the group The Yardbirds before starting the band known to all as Led Zeppelin, Page was one of the most versatile guitarists in history. He was ranked number nine in Rolling Stone's list of 100 top guitarists of all time. Playing his Gibson Les Paul Classic as well as his Gibson Custom Shop Jimmy Page Double Neck Electric he was pure magic on stage.

Also one of the original members of The Yardbirds, Eric Clapton is a name that is synonymous with amazing guitar playing. With a nickname such as "Slowhand" Clapton won several Grammy Awards and is one of the most successful guitar players and musicians in the 20th and 21st century. With an amazing three inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Clapton is the reason that many youngsters even pick up a guitar for the first time. He was a pioneer for blues-rock as well as psychedelic rock while playing his famous Eric Clapton Artist Signature Stratocaster.

Making this list of greatest guitarists of all time, you can't help but remember Carlos Santana. With his blend of rock, blues, jazz fusion and salsa, his music is truly inspiring. Santana is one musician that can change with the times and adapt his guitar playing to the various types of music he is working on. With a decidedly Latin flair, his music reaches to the core of your soul. Playing on a PRS Santana II named after him or the Gibson SG, Carlos Santana sounds great no matter what music he plays.

Whether your choice for greatest guitarist of all time would be someone in heavy metal like Slash from Guns N Roses or Angus Young from AC/DC or someone more rhythmic like Keith Richards there are certainly many choices out there. The one thing they all have in common is that there is literally no end to their natural talent and their ability to really rock the guitar.

Stop wasting money on 1-on-1 guitar lessons! Check out Steve Krenz's awesome Learn and Master Guitar course, it beats the pants off anything out there. It's the most comprehensive and thorough instructional guitar course available today. Advanced guitarists should check out for 35 killer licks to add to their arsenal.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

VIDEOS: Howard Stern on the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Here's an interesting view of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi - by Howard Stern, the shock jock of American radio.

For your information, if you don't know much about the Maharishi, he was a notorious figure in the 1960s. He was born in 1917 and died in February this year. He founded the Transcendental Meditation technique and related programs. He became known in the West in part due to his interactions with The Beatles and other celebrities. So here are the videos and they are fascinating!


Monday, September 15, 2008

Led Zeppelin - A One-Off Reunion Concert?

Going Down Slow Like a Led Balloon - The Rise and Rise of Led Zeppelin by Robin Piggott

The news, just released, of a one off reunion concert in London, in November 2007, of arguably the Band that changed the face of Rock Music, will be something that will be talked about in generations to come.

Led Zeppelin, fronted by Robert Plant; he of the cherub face and long blond curly locks strode into Rock and Blues History in 1968 with the release of their first album. On this piece of vinyl magic Jimmy Page, John Bonham, John Paul-Jones and Mr Plant, with the fatherly figure of Ahmet Ertegun, head of Atlantic records wove a spell that will never be broken! It’s hard to believe that it will be 40 years in a few months time that this little piece of music history first saw the light of day.

Its worth mentioning that the genesis of this Band came about as a result of the demise of another R&B legend namely the Yardbirds. All three of the Lead Guitarists of the Yardbirds went on to create their own chunk of Rock and Blues history and still create a lump in the throat wherever they appear. Eric Clapton…Jeff Beck…Jimmy Page all came to prominence in the years 1963 to 1966.

Eric Clapton left the Yardbirds, making way for Jeff Beck as Lead player, to join the Godfather of British Blues …John Mayall. The year was 1965.

Jimmy Page joined the Yardbirds initially as Bass Guitarist, after the departure of Paul Samwell- Smith who became a record producer. He then transformed the Band with a two guitar line-up which proved successful. If you get a chance get hold of the film “Blow-Up” by Antonioni and you will see a clip of the Yardbirds playing in a small club with this line up. As the Band was beginning to creak at the seams, Jimmy Page, in being obliged to honour an American Tour that was imminent changed the name of the Band to “The New Yardbirds” and from this beginning Led Zeppelin was born.

Eric Clapton as we all know steamed into Rock Legend with John Mayall followed by Cream and a solo career subsequently.

Jeff Beck, while not perhaps as celebrated commercially as Jimmy or Eric built up a loyal and fanatical following but remained in the shadows.

November 2007 in London will give an opportunity to those who were not born when Page, Plant, Bonham and Paul-Jones strutted their stuff on the world music stage, to glimpse a slice of Rock History.

Robin Piggott is a Driving Instructor and Blues Disciple in Ireland, who brings four decades of experience to his Astral Driving School based in Limerick. take a peek at his web site Here you can find a treasure trove of everything for the Learner Driver and while you are at it ... Pick up a free seven part mini course"Passing the Driving Test First Time" and stack the cards in your favour.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Santana - Supernatural

Santana Supernatural Rock Music CD Review by Clyde Lee Dennis

Supernatural is an album from Rock Superstar Santana, and is another great one by this talented musician. Supernatural grabs your attention right from the very first note with Yaleo and won’t let go until the very last note of the very last song The Calling, which is another great track by the way.

Rock music fans will recognize some of the well known contributors on the project including Dave Matthews and Eric Clapton plus a few other notables as well.

I’m of the opinion that Supernatural is certainly Santana’s best work in a few years. A totally enjoyable CD and an outstanding release. What I call must have music. I give it two thumbs up because it’s a collection that even the casual Rock fan can appreciate and enjoy.

While the entire CD is really very good some of my favorites are track 2 - Love Of My Life, track 6 - Do You Like The Way, and track 10 - Wishing It Was.

My Bonus Pick, and the one that got Sore [ in "Stuck On REpeat"] is has to be track 5 - Smooth. What a nice track!

Supernatural Release Notes:

Santana originally released Supernatural on June 15, 1999 on the Arista Records label.

CD Track List Follows:

  1. Yaleo, (Da Le)
  2. Love Of My Life - (featuring Dave Matthews)
  3. Put Your Lights On - (featuring Everlast)
  4. Africa Bamba
  5. Smooth - (featuring Rob Thomas)
  6. Do You Like The Way - (featuring Lauryn Hill/Cee-Lo)
  7. Maria Maria - (featuring The Product G&B)
  8. Migra
  9. Corazon Espinado - (featuring Mana)
  10. Wishing It Was - (featuring Eagle-Eye Cherry)
  11. El Farol 12. Primavera
  12. Calling, The - (featuring Eric Clapton)

Release Notes

Personnel: Carlos Santana (vocals, guitar, congas, percussion); Everlast (vocals, guitar); Dave Matthews, Rob Thomas, Lauryn Hill, Cee-Lo, The Product G&B, Fher, Eagle Eye Cherry (vocals); Eric Clapton, Francis Dunnery, Al Anderson, Sergio Vallin, JB Eckl (guitar); Danny Wolinski (flute, saxophone); KC Porter (accordion, programming, background vocals); Mic Gillette, Jose Abel Figueroa (trumpet, trombone); Marvin McFadden, Javier Melendez, William Ortiz (trumpet); Jeff Cressman, Steve Turre, Ramon Flores (trombone); Alex Gonzales (drums, background vocals); Billy Johnson, Carter Beauford, Horatio Hernandez, Rodney Holmes, Greg Bissonette, Jimmy Keegan (drums); Karl Perazzo (congas, timbales, percussion, background vocals); Raul Rekow (congas).

Producers include: Carlos Santana, Steve Harris, Wyclef Jean, Jerry "Wonder" Duplessis, KC Porter.

Engineers include: Steve Fontano, Glenn Kolotkin, Mike Couzi.

The Home Source
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Saturday, September 6, 2008

OPINION: 10 Great Albums! Do you agree?

10 Records That Changed the World by Phil Stutt

There have been many good records, but most did not change the world of music. There have been some that did and here is my top 10. (Please feel free to argue and let me know your top 10. It is all subjective after all.) These either changed the direction of music or were the pinnacle of their genre. each record comes with a brief explanation which I will expand on later posts.

1. Tutti Frutti (Little Richard)

There are many early rock and roll records that could claim to have laid the fundamentals for what was to follow. However Tutti Frutti is my choice for its sheer power and energy. Coupled with with the fact that this was a major hit for a black artist at a time when that was almost unheard of means that Tutti Frutti just has to be on my list.

2. Move It. (Cliff Richard)

Sir Cliff. This is widely acknowledged as one of the first rock and roll records made outside of the USA. No matter that S.C.R. was a pale shadow of Elvis, this record told the youth in Britain that we could play real rock and roll and make it ours. there are those that would argue for Rock Island Line by Lonnie Donegan but for my money this record deserves its place in history.

3. Revolver (The Beatles)

Revolver is perhaps the most contentious inclusion in this list. There is no Sgt Pepper, no White Album, in this list, this is The Beatles at their best. This is the pinnacle of good, catchy pop songs, never equalled and often copied. It is also the only Beatles album I own...

4. Trout Mask Replica (Captain Beefheart)

Suddenly it was alright to meld Blues and Jazz and shake them both up to produce something not of this world. It was also alright to use free form lyrics, stream of consciousness writing. It was alright to be an artist and to work in rock. With this album rock came of age.

5. Velvet Underground and Nico (VU &; N)

The cliche is that not many people bought this album but everyone who did started a band. Well, I bought this album when it was released and did not start a band. The list of those that now claim this as a major influence makes the inclusion of this, flawed, magical album inevitable, and deserved.

6. Horses (Patti Smith)

1975 and music is boring. Born of a passion for Hendrix, The Who, and other rock acts from the 60's Patti Smith launched herself on the album buying public with this stunning debut. the breadth of her vision and the execution of that vision is a sensation. Punk attitude with an artist's honesty. Simply a must have album.

7. Thriller (Michael Jackson)

before Thriller most albums spawned one or two singles. After Thriller albums would be packed with possible singles. For better or worse this album changed the music industry for ever. (Personally, I think it was for the worse, and I hate this album).

8. King of the Delta Blues (Robert Johnson)

RJ was not the father of the blues as some claimed in the 60s, but he was a very close relative. The reason that this album has to be included in this list is not that it was unique when the tracks were recorded in 1937. The reason is that this album changed white music forever when it was released as a double album on CBS in 1967. It was the first time that most of us white kids had heard real, traditional blues. That so many of us still listen to it and that the music still speaks to the following generations proves how influential this record was, and is. It led directly to the revival of the fortunes of John Lee Hooker, Muddy waters and the rest. If ever a record changed the world of music it is this one.

9. Apache (The Shadows)

Love it or hate it (guess which camp I am in!) This record changed the face of music in the UK. Hank Marvin was voted the best guitar player in the NME for years. Strat rock in the UK was born and countless budding guitarists bought Bert Weedon's 'Play in a Day'...

10. My Favourite Things (John Coltrane)

I had not heard this record for years. About 18 months ago I walked into the studio to prepare for my radio show. The proceeding programme was on and this was on. I was stunned at how good this still sounded. There is genius at work here. JC takes a small insignificant and mundane song and turns it into something sublime. This made improvisation not only acceptable it made it fundamental for any musician. If only more musicians were as good at it as JC.

Well, that is my list. What is yours?

I am passionate about real music which is why I started so that I have an excuse to talk about music, and bore people with my views! I also have a blog and I use that to talk about things going on in my life, and bore even people about music...

I am in my 50s (it hurts to say that, my mind feels 36 but my body....). I live in the UK. I have all the usual bad habits, alcohol smoking etc. I am in a great relationship with a very understanding lady (she has to be).

I love Blues, Captain Beefheart, Wreckless Eric, Tim Fite. I hate Celine Dion, boy bands. 'Nuff said.

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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

OPINION: The Ten Greatest Guitar Solos

The Ten Greatest Guitar Solos Ever by Ricky Sharples

As with everything else, everybody has an opinion as to who is the greatest guitar solo player and what was their greatest solo. All this is a matter of opinion of course but we can still learn from the opinions of musicians on what makes guitar solos great. Today I thought that I would run through some of the so-called great guitar solos and see what we can learn from such a list. I have decided not to number this list. I just want to bring these classics to your attention.

Stairway To Heaven was recorded in 1971 and never released as a single in the USA but is still among the most requested songs ever. Composed by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, the final version of the song was a result of many hours of work in the studio by Jimmy Page.

Sultans Of Swing by Dire Straits introduced to the world the sparse arrangements and lyrical genius of Mark Knopfler. The version of the song that appeared on the album was voted number 22 on Guitar World magazine's greatest guitar solos.

Another song that was transformed in the studio was All Along The Watchtower. The guitar solo fits the song as though it was made for it but Jimi Hendrix took the original song by Bob Dylan and added layers of electric guitar music until the original could no longer hold up its head. In fact, Bob Dylan now uses Jimi Hendrix' interpretation.

Sunshine Of Your Love is famous for its distinctive riff and Eric Clapton's use of the Rogers and Hart song Blue Moon to start off his guitar solo. The solo is classic Clapton in its tone and phrasing.

Sometimes things work out in the end. Like the day Van Halen's record producer heard Eddie Van Halen fooling around on the guitar and insisted that he include it on their first album. The result was an instrumental track called Eruption.

One of the first songs to feature distortion and feedback, I Heard Her Call My Name is on most lists of top ten solos. Taken from Velvet Underground's second album, I Heard Her Call My Name is Lou Reed's claim to fame as a guitar player and a precurser of heavy metal.

Songs that start slow and work up into a sweat are always popular with audiences, and Freebird by Lynyrd Skynyrd became the number audiences hung out for. This is another song that is on almost every list of great songs or guitar solos. The transition from ballad to up tempo rock has to be experienced to be believed.

In 1977 The Eagles released an album called Hotel California with the title song being interpreted in many dark and mysterious ways. The song was famously changed to an acoustic number featuring eight guitars but in its original form the lyrics were just there to put in the spaces between the guitar parts.

You Shook Me All Night Long by AC/DC is a favorite amongst fans of Angus Young, a showman who loves playing the guitar and giving the crowd what it wants.

Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd features two guitar solos. They are a mixture of several solos improvised in the studio and blended together by guitarist David Gilmour. This was supposedly a routine way of working for Gilmour and in this case it resulted in guitar solos that feature on everybody's list of greats.

So that is a list of great guitar solos. Your mission now is to go to YouTube or a music store and seek out the songs you have read about here and give them a listen. Then if you are intersted, go and find some other top ten or top one hundred lists and find bands and music you have never heard of and make them part of your musical background. And keep playing the guitar.

Do you want to learn to play the guitar? Learn How To Play A Guitar For Free is a constantly updated blog which contains all the resources you need for: learning to play solo guitar, how to learn guitar chords, how to learn to read and play easy acoustic guitar tabs, finding a free online guitar tuner, looking for free guitar lessons online, and how to learn guitar scales.

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BOOK REVIEWS: Some recommended biographies

Some Recommended Songwriter Interviews and Biographies by Del Boland

Lately, I have enjoyed reading about some of my favorite songwriters. It is an attempt to understand their thinking and perhaps glean some of their methodologies, if such a thing exists. I was able to find a rather broad range of biographies in my local library. I will provide a brief description of a few books that I read recently and provide some additional comments.

First of all, there is an excellent compilation by American Songwriter Magazine appropriately entitled "Song" that has some very nice interviews with a wide variety of songwriters including Tom Petty, John Prine, Willie Nelson, Jeff Tweedy and Sheryl Crow. Each interview provides insights and recommendations to other songwriters which may be helpful. I recommend this book to those folks who may not have the time to dig into full blown biographies. It is a compilation of somewhat condensed interviews and many of the artists provide suggestions to aspiring songwriters.

I happen to be a Wilco fan since moving to the Chicago area, so I read a book called, "Learning How To Die" by Greg Kot. It is an interesting story of a group that defied the industry's formulaic approach to popular music and songwriting. It also offers a very nice example of a band that managed to break through despite a variety of challenges. This book provides not only a very good insight into the current trends of the music industry, but also helps folks to understand how the music business operates. Furthermore, it helps distinguish the more avant garde approach of a singer songwriter from the more commercial approach of a pure performer or a pure songwriter.

I read Warren Zevon's biography, "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead" written by his friend and former wife, Crystal Zevon. It is a tragic story, but it provides a very nice description of the underappreciated Zevon, who wrote with a style that we may never really see again. Zevon is to music what Hunter S. Thompson is to literature. He was the epitome of "gonzo", a term coined by H.S. Thompson. Hunter seemed to recognize this particular characteristic in Zevon as they became fast friends.

I recently read "Paul Simon", a biography by Laura Jackson. I find this book particularly enjoyable as I recall the events surrounding the emergence of Simon and Garfunkel in the 60's. I find it particularly interesting that some of my favorite songs written by Paul Simon had distinct ties to events in his life as well as events in history. There are too many songs to list but I especially love "Sound of Silence", "The Boxer", "Bridge Over Troubled Water", "America", "Late In The Evening", "Graceland", "Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes", and "You Can Call Me Al". While it would be fun to provide an analysis of these songs, I will not spoil the book for those who may have an interest in reading it for themselves. However, I did find it interesting that Simon employed a habit of collecting somewhat random thoughts and observations in a notebook which were later infused in his writing.

I have just completed a biography written about the late Woody Guthrie by Elizabeth Partridge entitled, "This Land Is Your Land". This book is very readable, yet, for me, it was extremely dark and depressing. After reading the book, I wanted to hug my 14 year old and go outside to see if the sun was still shining. It was, thank God. While Woody Guthrie is one of the most prolific songwriters of modern times along with folks like Leonard Cohen, his life was worse than I could have ever imagined. Nonetheless, it is difficult to cast Woody Guthrie in a 100% positive light. I cannot pass judgment on this man other than to say he was extraordinarily unorganized in every way except for his unique gift of songwriting. Incidentally, it was my interest in Bob Dylan that led me to Woody Guthrie. I had heard Guthrie's name many times growing up, but I was not prepared for his tragic story.

If you are interested in songwriting, I would encourage you to learn more about the songwriters who have made an impression on you. It is interesting, but it can also be a bit frightening as you may find some characteristics similar to your own. There is definitely something that draws certain folks to this art form and it is interesting to see certain similarities that weave through their lives, in both circumstances and behaviors.

Perhaps one very positive attribute that stands out the most for me is the tendency for all great songwriters to be extraordinary observers of life, in general. They seem to have a peculiar ability to put words to things that are indescribable for the rest of the population. These words allow listeners to instantly identify with human thoughts and emotions in unique ways.

A bit on the darker side, there are certain characteristics that are very difficult to understand for those of us who are tied into society's framework. Some songwriters have exhibited self destructive behaviors that seem to coincide with their success. For some of these people, there seems to be a common thread of introspection, depression and mania. While my list is rather tame compared to some of the others who were, perhaps, not able to achieve the same level of notoriety, there seems to be enough similarity to give us good reason to remain vigilant with regard to our own lives. Extreme circumstances and behaviors can provide ample material for a songwriter, but it just makes good sense to temper it with moderation (when possible) for the sake of maintaining the self control and respectability that I believe is necessary for a sustained, happy life. Art is a wonderful thing, but there are plenty of very good examples of art that exists without tremendous suffering as a prerequisite. If you have suffered, then by all means, find a way to convert your experience into art. However, I would urge anyone not to go through life looking for opportunities to suffer for art's sake.

Finally, these books provide an added bonus for fans of music during the most prolific 50 years in the history of music. There is a cultural aspect to each book that perhaps provides a better understanding of the environmental elements surrounding each artist. These elements include history, politics, social change, economic conditions, and pop culture. In addition, each of the above books is a "Who's Who" of influential folks surrounding the music industry during this period.

Article distributed by permission of Del Boland and is a free online community for songwriters, bands, and musicians.

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