Getting ready, COUNTING DOWN… next Friday begins the big BIRDSONG BIRTHDAY BASH for our 12th Anniversary! Hard to believe, but July 4th 2004 was TWELVE years ago. I can’t believe it! I mean I CAN believe it, I HAVE to because I’m me and I’ve seen the whole ride. But it’s surreal from in here. Wonderfully surreal. So next Friday – more stuff in inventory including some really collectable pieces, the 12th Anniversary bass will be revealed, and it’ll ALL be on sale (it is as of now, just not all marked, CALL or email if you want something at the sale price) – all Birdsong AND SD CURLEE TOO because there have been SD Curlee instruments rocking stages for 40 years as of 2016, so it’s a double sale & celebration! Brace yourself, offload those other basses, get permission from the other half (or start coming up with a plan)… here it comes!
So while I cut and carve to the music of the woods and the tunes of the tools, background tapestried by whatever music I might have on, I think about music too – this path, this river of notes and vibration. How it called to me; how I came to it. How music brings us where it does and how it affects the goings there – our lives, our whole experience of life. Deep thoughts from a kid with frosted hair and a BC Rich guitar cranking the debut EP from Ratt.
So tell me - what popped you? There is background music, filler music, but then something is heard that moves us into action. Many times that action is to change the station, but that’s not what I mean! My ears were young in the 1970s and waking up into the early 80s to this amazing realization that what I was hearing was in layers – this blob of noise coming out of a 6x9 car speaker or fake wood home stereo unit was made up of things happening together. Notes moving up and down, sometimes at the same time, and usually phrased around the beat. I had discovered the groove.
On guitar it was hearing Gary Richrath on the REO Speedwagon radio hits that tossed me and Leigh Stephens blasting out Blue Cheer’s version of Summertime Blues that hit me; Neil Young’s “Hey Hey, My My.” “I must make that sound.” The bass layer opened up to me through noticing how Ross Valory wove his notes to and through the drummer’s foot and fills on Journey’s Escape album. Probably “Who’s Crying Now” – a similar rhythm section groove to Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” – once I noticed that motion, the bass note being a sonic extension of the beat, and how it stayed on some and was just a quick note on others – that a groove was painted with silence as well – I was hooked.
What made it all accessible to me once I woke up to how music moved were the better players around me showing me things – I remember going to my friend Steven Harris’ house and he’d show me a Zeppelin guitar part, something way out of my league, but made no big deal over it. "Here – do this." Ok. And my fixation with Neil Young & Crazy Horse. I can play everything on here! Oh, and this is how a song is structured too. Hmmm… and then the times, there was guitar EVERYWHERE.
I was talking with a retired buddy of mine the other day, he’s got 20 years on me. We were talking about what could be looked at as a sort of a big bang of rock band formation. A huge cross-section of players on drums, bass, guitar, singer-songwriters, you name it – if they’re within certain age brackets it doesn’t matter if you’re interviewing a guy in Iron Maiden or a new age pianist – long before they ended up as what the path led them to be, they were a kid in front of the TV when the Beatles played The Ed Sullivan show in 1964. That’s a DNA moment for so many; it woke the world as we know it musically up. But that was five years before I got here. My “Beatles on Ed Sullivan” moment was the Woodstock movie.
Who couldn’t find something musical happening somewhere in there that, in that context, made an appealing something to be a part of? Wrapping the power of music in good times, whether one popped at jazz in a smoky nightclub or psychedelic rock in the sunshine or singing in harmony to a backbeat on TV, that’s the magic sandwich right there. You bite and the world changes. Your life forms with every chew. And looking back on 34 years of being hands-on with it, music delivered the goods and delivered me and I know even for most who haven’t lived it and breathed it full time, or those who participate only as listeners, the big truth is that once music is part of your life in any capacity you end up differently than you would have otherwise. It changes a life.
So who popped you? What moment was your open door? Remember those, remember them. May you - in all of your travels and chapters – keep the magic of that moment inside you.
SEE YOU NEXT FRIDAY, RIGHT HERE!
Listening to: Re-Whipped (Herb Alpert remixes); Eric Clapton’s 1st album; Deep Purple Stormbringer.