It has been a fun, busy and beautiful week here at the little workshop in the woods, named Wingfeather because the feeling of it as a nest where flight begins… this perpetual springtime never leaves. Every day something good, some manifestation of our best and highest, works its way closer to being born through our hands. Here is a doubleneck coming together for HD Custom Guitars, one of a very few retail sources for new Birdsongs. They like the custom stuff and give me creative freedom, and it doesn’t get much more custom than a doubleneck fretted / fretless bass with a 7 piece, figured-top body and a hand carved scroll. They’ll have this as soon as it’s ready, contact them with questions. They also have one in stock, a special build of a Cbass out of hundred year old brewery tank redwood! That was a lot of work, but a lot of fun. They put up beautiful pictures, so hop on over there and check it out! (snort).
There are easier ways to do all of this – more efficient, less messy, less costly. But isn’t that life? Sometimes it’s not about efficiency or neatness of process or watching the pennies. Sometimes it’s about the journey you take and the ripples you make. The results. Which are really not yours though you helped them to be; they belong to the sea. You get the journey, and know it has meant something. Not everything is a convenience store sandwich, MalWart yard art, or a Hyundai that looks like a Ferrari. Those have their place; but there are also devoted chefs and sculptors and machinists doing what they do – and it costs – and you pay – and they pay too.
Been grooving to an album I came across by a great jazz guitarist Doug Raney – Back In New York. Not only is his guitar tone one of the best to my ears I think I’ve ever heard, but the recording is pristine and the band behind him is fantastic. I can’t believe I had never heard of him, and I can’t recall hearing his father either – jazz guitarist Jimmy Raney; I had heard the name or seen it on album credits in passing. So many artists and players – and craftspeople – do what they do only known in certain circles. Even great ones. Forget fame & fortune, most don’t even make a living at it. Some of us are very VERY lucky; you can put all the right pieces together and there’s still no guarantee. That’s how life works. The only guarantee is that if you don’t try it won’t happen. Past that, you can carefully stack the odds better... but life happens.
Sometimes artists really do give us their best – I don’t mean “best shot” but the best of what is inside them. Really THEIR BEST. All that’s worth sharing of lives teetering on edges unseen to those of us on this side of the wax. Some live hard lives, not having the tools to stay intact, perhaps half a bubble over that fine line between creativity and insanity. But whatever their failings and fallings, we have these incredible documents of their most shining moments of transcendence, and we spend a few bucks on them one time and have them as part of the soundtrack – threads in the tapestry – of our lives. They move us, they inspire us. No matter who you are, give your best to something - those ripples will spread, even if your life just goes completely to shit. You will be remembered. You will be loved. Just give us something, share the beauty inside you... we may not find you or be able to fix things, but your best has a home in the hearts of more people than you'll ever know.
Doug Raney died last year but you didn’t hear about it. I didn’t hear about it. I didn’t even know he existed. I will never play like that but I can definitely squeeze a few precious drops of direct inspiration into my cup and carry that forward, and with his music filling the air, craft beautiful tools that will sing all over the world in the warm hands of artists in their moments of bliss.
LISTENING TO: Doug Raney jazz guitar albums, Boston's 1st two albums, Joe Puma It's a Blue World, Bruce Forman Pardon Me!, Bill Evans & Jim Hall Intermodulation. (Hey, I post these so you'll go look them up and taste something different off of life's buffet. Look them up on YouTube, go find & buy the ones that move you.)