No artist is ever really comfortable writing about their own music. Of course, we would like to think it’s great and everyone is going to love it. That is, of course, not going to be the case. But some folks are going to like at least some of it, which truly is what I can hope for.
With my heart in my hand, I will write a little something about everything in the hopes that you will enjoy a self-critical, but in the most loving spirit, critique of my own music.
I want you to know how much this album means to me.
THE MAN BEHIND THE MUSIC
I was an out of work, rock guitarist, living in Malibu, California; the center of the artistic world for most of us. Malibu is revered as the place you aspire to live when you have made it big.
But back then, I rented a little (and I mean little) guest house at Chico’s Organic Farm at the corner of Morningview Drive and Pacific Coast Highway. Out my kitchen window lay Broad Beach; the crème de la crème in Malibu of multi-million dollar houses on the beach.
Chico was a very old man when I knew him;
in his 70’s and not in great health. He built this place for his daughter who never moved in. I used to beg any friend with a car to take me there to buy figs, long known as one of my greatest passions.
The old man taught me so much: the importance of organic farming and lifestyle, the advantages of which were many for many of us, but unknown to most due to the increased costs associated with eating organic.
Chico taught me how to make cheese, wine, anisette, and kickin’ marinara from all the bruised and half gone but organic and vine ripe, tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, oregano, basil (and the likes) and of course our secret ingredient: figs.
According to the old man, figs neutralize the acid of tomatoes. We used to cook it up in a 50-gallon pot on a single burner in the garage next to his walk-in refrigerator where he sold fruits and vegetables (and wine to those in the know) to the star-studded clientele who would pull in. It would commonly take 8-10 hours to come up to temperature.
After 18-20 hours of stirring the pot, we would jar it up in quart Mason jars for sale at $5 a jar. Back then, very few people were willing to pay that much for a jar of marinara, but it was so delicious there is no way of telling them how much work went into it and how great all of the home-grown organic ingredients were, and so it was really worth twice that.
Months turned to years at Chico’s. But the fact is that living off the land was so very difficult. You have to keep in mind that I couldn’t afford to buy the things we grew so I got the bruised and damaged stuff and made it work for me. It was not unusual to find me slaving over a big-assed pot of marinara for my own consumption.
Of course, I ate mostly vegetables because I couldn’t afford to buy meat, but we grew giant portobello mushrooms that were a fantastic substitute when drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper then broiled.
During the last few months of the couple years that I spent there, I was given access to this great TEAC 3340 ¼ inch 4-track recorder. It was quite the thing for home recording at that time, with its Sony condenser mic that married beautifully with the TEAC.
That was it folks!
You will notice throughout the 9 tracks of the album, there were blips and studders, as well as the knocking of the slide on the neck and strings of my guitar. It was far from rocket science. I hacked off a 2 1/2 inch chuck of brass tubing and polished it up. That was my guitar slide.
Years later, I actually mass produced these guitar slides commercially and sold them to music stores all over the country, and then the world, exporting to over 30 countries.
Eventually, it became a very serious business that made every part of most guitars from brass and nickel/chrome plated them.
That let me to eventually make every part of the most common electric guitars including the bodies and necks, electronics and hardware. People could order virtually any configuration in nearly any type of wood and hardware combination. This activity paved the way for the “Build Your Own Guitar” phenomenon which is still going 50 years later.
I still have a few examples of what could be done in my collection, but they are specialized and are best used playing rock and roll in the old school manner: turn everything up to 10 and have a bash. The primary guitars I used were my beloved 1961 Martin D-18. Regrettably, I sold it 40 years ago, and I still pine away for it. I have never sold another one of my “too many guitars to count” collection.
Realizing that you can only play one at a time, I have seriously cut back my passion for collecting guitars. The classical nylon string guitar is an inexpensive Japanese made guitar that I still have nearly 50 years later, and my ’65 Fender Stratocaster.
You will also hear a Leslie speaker which is an organ speaker that was modified to put a guitar through it. I still love that sound made famous by Beatle, George Harrison.
Another interesting factoid is that, the one piano track is the only piece of music I am playing piano on, and it happens to be a 9 ft. Steinway concert grand.
In fact, if you listen carefully, you might notice how much it resembles Carol Kings piano sound, because it was her piano. That track was recorded at the end of a late-night session and I asked the engineer if he could just let the tape roll as I banged through it in one take.
There was little, if any, fancy engineering or other recording technique, other than turning on the tape machine, and letting her rip.
It should be clear to anyone who listens to music that there was a ton of imperfect playing and recording, and that there are bits with flaws on almost every track, but you should also be able hear the incredible passion that lays with every note on every track.
On the track, Isis Moon, listen carefully and you will hear the birds who were outside my window singing with me as I played. I heard that years later when we were putting all of this together as:
Sea of Dreams: the oceans of deepest thoughts on love and spiritual awakenings for me as a young man of 23.
Now in my seventies and riddled with arthritis, I can only dream of playing these songs again with the same skills I possessed in my twenties. My friends, I present to you, for your listening pleasure, the best of my young guitar playing as re-discovered treasures of my youth.