I made another covers video for my YouTube channel. This time, John Hartford's "Gentle on my Mind."
"Gentle on my Mind" is simply one of the finest songs ever written. It's sentimental and chock-full of imagery. I think I've always loved it, always known it, that it was part of the ether growing up.
It surprises me sometimes how much songs like this fade from mind from pop culture, how something that seemed ubiquitous can become somewhat ephemeral. But the song's still out there, getting covered now and then by the likes of R.E.M. and Alison Krauss.
My uncle, Monte, wrote a comment on the bottom of the YouTube video:
There’s a personal connection to this particular song. My late aunt Lil, was John Hartford’s book keeper, when she & Uncle Evert lived in Sherman Oaks. John continued to send her Xmas cards yearly, after they retired to Redding [California].
So there's a weird little family connection to the song too, which I wouldnt've known if not for posting this video. Neat.
Recorded a video for the "Coronaoke" Facebook page.
I chose "Someday Soon" because I'd never really paid attention to it before I heard people sing it at karaoke in Agassiz. And when I first heard it, I didn't like it. But it grew on me. So it felt a fitting song to choose to post to a group of people who miss doing karaoke.
I kinda' miss karaoke too, but mainly I miss going to pub jams. So I did this recording and kinda' did a pub jam with myself.
While housesitting for my friends in New West, I recorded two little covers for my Under the Covers with Jeff series on my YouTube channel. My friend owns a pretty-great-sounding flamenco guitar so I used it on both of them. 'Tis strange to play an acoustic when you don't usually have one around.
The first one I recorded was Robert Vaughn's "House of my Friends," an obscure little song for which I can't even find the words for on the Internet. I did my best to transcribe them, but I feel like a couple of them "missed." One day, when I track down the No Sense of History CD where I discovered it as a hidden, uncredited track, I'll post that to YouTube so people can hear the thing.
The second song I tried out, a week later, was Leonard Cohen's "Coming Back to You." This gave me a good excuse to properly learn the song's lyrics, which I'd bungled many times before. It's an interesting song because it seems to be one of his most popular songs for people to cover; it even appears twice on the Tower of Song tribute album.
I'm back in Agassiz again, but will spend four more days in Coquitlam trying to teach this ESL camp again. In the meantime I've also booked a gig at a small hotel in Harrison Hot Springs for Saturday night, my first attempt at playing live in a formal way for the last couple years, since I told myself I wasn't going to play solo anymore. I'm a little scared, but hopeful.
And I'll get to see my kids again in a couple weeks! That's the most exciting thing of all.
My family's all broken up. A few days ago, my children moved an 11 hours' drive away, and I'm a bit of a mess. A few hours ago when I heard the phone ring, I literally jumped. In the meantime, I've misplaced my school keys and have absolutely no idea where they are. Clearly, my mind is complete mess and my anxiety's through the roof.
So a couple days ago, while trying to distract myself from my anxiety about their travels, I recorded this weird little cover of Taylor Swift's "Style."
Why "Style?" Because it's a perfect little pop song. It's self-aware in its shallowness and creates tropes where there weren't any before. Its melody is thick and it creates a sort of self-destructive image that makes me think of one of those Tumblr blogs that feature a series of disconnected images that create a singular, ephemeral sentiment.
I don't know when I first heard "Style," but I distinctly remember when it first stood out to me: I was at the Chilliwack Landing pool on one of their $2 Sunday night swims, and the "Take me home" section of the song echoed through the swimming pool, and I thought That's something special. I didn't know it was Taylor Swift, and I only narrowed it down to her a couple months later, when I was walking under some speakers outside a Shopper's Drug Mart and I thought That's really good.
Anyhow, I made a video. I probably should have changed the key to something a little more in my range. But I did it and it's done. And Now I need to find some other ways to distract myself from the fact that my kids are so far away.
Now where are those keys?
I appreciate the song's inner tension: I enjoy this thing, even "crave" it, but it's also wrong, because I have my share of analogous obessions. There are things that I enjoy that are wrong; there are activities that I love to partake in that aren't cut-and-dry in their ethics. Just like there's no clear ethical way to eat seafood, hedonism always carries a few ethical quandaries. And yet we still do them because life simply isn't bearable with a perfect ethical standard.
Be sure to check out the more polished, professional performances of "My Songbird."
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