Songwriting Stories – Bitter Jealousy (song from 2001)

Bitter Jealousy is another oldie I’m pulling from the vault. I co-wrote the words and music on this one, again in California. This time though, I co-wrote was with friend Dan Divanian. If memory serves, this was his first attempt at writing a song. Not bad for starters.

Musically, it has a fixed minor verse form, a pre-chorus and delayed but extended chorus. It plays kinda long and, since the focus was on telling an entire story with a beginning, middle and end, it might feel a bit repetitive by its conclusion. I’m proud of how it makes you wait for the major chorus until 2 and a half minutes in. It’s like a reward for putting up with a lot of story exposition.

The story was one Dan told me that I translated into lyrics. It was a specific situation he went through but I could tell right away that the situation is a common one. It takes a lot to make a love connection between two people. Sometimes, it’s the right time and the wrong place. For the two teenagers in this song, it’s the right people but the wrong time. In hindsight, I feel like the song is also about realizing you are about to miss out on something you took for granted.

I should add that the stuff about drugs was legit all made up. The song kind of had a brooding Sacramento vibe to it and the Weezer song “Hashpipe” had recently been released so I threw it in there. It wasn’t something I actually did. If you listen to the demo recording I did from way back in 2001, you’ll hear a sweet melodic intro riff that I don’t bother with in the video and you’ll hear me talk about freebasing coke or something else equally unbelievable.

Lastly, here are the words and chords to the song so you can all sing along.


Bm A F#m
Maybe it was the way you looked that night
Bm A F#m
Your hair tied high and your eyes burning bright
G A Bm
I never saw you that way before

Bm A F#m
Maybe it was the way I felt that night
Bm A F#m
I had a beer, a few rum and cokes and a puff of my hashpipe
G A Bm A F#m
I never saw you that way before
G A F#m G-F#m-Em
But I saw you that night and I saw more
G A Bm
I saw you that night and I saw more

For two years I owned a piece of your heart
In all that time, I never allowed it to start
Because I never saw you that way before

I don’t know what it is now
That’s got me turned around somehow
I’d never seen you that way before
But I saw you that night and I saw more
G A D
I saw you that night and I saw more

D A
So you say you’ve got a new boyfriend
D A
What’s his name? Does he treat you well?
D A
God, I wish I were him tonight
D A
God, I wish I were him tonight
D A
Tonight
D A
Tonight
D A
Tonight

G-F#m-Em G A

That’s okay. I’m better off without you
Strange to say, you’re probably better off without me too
Because we never saw each other that way

If we’d agreed we could have seen the best of me
But all I’m left with is my bitter jealousy
Because we never saw each other that way
But I saw you that night and I wanted to stay
I saw you that night and wanted to stay

So you say you’ve got a new boyfriend
What’s his name? Does he treat you well?
God, I wish I were him tonight
God, I wish I were him tonight

Songwriting Stories – Intentional (2001)

Here’s an old song called “Intentional” that I co-wrote with Trey Krueger back in 2001. This was written during my time living in northern California.

Meet Trey Krueger

I got to know Trey while hanging out at the Streets of London pub. We would sit outside on the picnic benches when the weather allowed, chatting about music and sports while lamenting our luck with the ladies as gents are wont to do. He also had a wealth of knowledge about American history and politics but I had limited interest in those topics.

At some point, this stranger at the bar turned into someone I looked forward to meeting as we talked about our developing musical goals and exchanged talk of musical heroes.

I don’t remember for sure but I’m vaguely recalling his interest in the Smiths, Morrissey and Joy Division-type stuff. He also hipped me to John Wesley Harding‘s music, which I still love.

He was a singer with a dramatic and emotive delivery, true to his influences. He also had a book full of lyrics, heavy on symbols and suffering. Since I tend to write pretty straightforward lyrics and I was big into comedy music at the time, I found his sincerity appealing. We sat down one night at my place to put some of those lyrics to music.

The Lyrics

The lyrics came entirely from Trey. All I can recall asking for was some repetition to ground the song with a refrain.

I don’t recall Trey’s story for the lyric but the words suggest to me a volatile exchange as a relationship comes to an end. I enjoy the lyric to this day because I can identify with the feeling of confusion and sadness. You’re trying to do the right thing but you’re not sure you can or will. Then, things get messy and it gets worse.

The Music

As I recall, I wrote the chords. It’s basically a Cmaj7 – Fmaj7 vamp for the verses and a little 8 – 7 – 6 walk down for the refrain with a big ending on the 5.

Originally written on an acoustic guitar, I had a very simple strum thing at first. As I moved back to Chicago and kept playing it, I made it a pretty intricate arpeggio thing with a pull off the high C to hit that maj7 note and the same thing on the F to hit that E. I think I felt self conscious about the simplicity of the chords so I wanted to make it seem more impressive with some fancy fingerpicking.

The melody was kind of there from Trey singing it a Capella but I remember guiding some of the rising for the second and third verses. I do have a mp3 version of him singing it somewhere but I can’t find it.

The Result

The reaction when I’ve performed this is usually lukewarm. It’s pretty long, the lyrics are a bit vague and don’t advance a narrative. By the end, I can feel the audience looking for a payoff or an ending, which makes me want to speed up to get through it.

It could have been a time and place situation, though. There may be an audience waiting for this song that I didn’t get in front of. I still like it, even if I’m not exactly sure what it’s about.

The Tab

Making small important talk
as the even tide rolled in
Splayed across the sidewalk
makes us see how long it’s been

cast iron smiles and bits of humor
can’t remove the thorny rumor
making small important talk
as the even tide rolled in…

And they say it’s not intentional
But things never really are
Pushing luck at people
F F/E Dm7
Makes me wonder just how far
F F/E Dm7
Makes me wonder just how far
F F/E G
Makes me wonder just how far

Now the chatter starts to wonder
Conspicuously from you and I
The heart has not grown fonder
So we both refuse to try
To pinpoint what it is we’ve lost
And by losing it, incurred what cost
Can either of us pay it?
Do we even want to try?

And they say it’s not intentional
But things never really are
Pushing luck at people
Makes me wonder just how far
Makes me wonder just how far
Makes me wonder just how far

Solo

I’m told speaking with candor
is the style that’s preferred
but our slippage into slander
makes candor seem absurd

And friends pile on the saccharine
In huge and leaping mounds
But still they are not large enough
To muffle hurtful sounds

And they say it’s not intentional
But things never really are
Pushing luck at people
Makes me wonder just how far
Makes me wonder just how far
Makes me wonder just how far

Rocky Top Piano & Solo Voice

A few weeks ago, I video recorded myself playing a few songs on piano, including Rocky Top with piano and my solo voice. The family was away at a camping trip and I stayed home to catch up on work and get a mental rest. There was a weekend overlap with their trip, so I chose to use that time for some creative low pressure music stuff like this.

The goal was to look through a book of music, find something I haven’t played in a long while, and run through it. I wanted to see and hear how I handled the mental test of processing info on the page and translating that into music from my hands and voice. In the video, you’ll notice plenty of pauses as I think about melody and piano chords but I’m satisfied with how I did. I think my big nitpicks would be that I tend to get creative in a too repetitive way with the melody. You can take certain liberties with melodic hooks on covers but the moment you’ve repeated that creative alteration 3 times, you’re kind of hammering the listener over the head with it.

There wasn’t any big reason I picked this song, other than I flipped to it in the book after I vetoed “Daydream Believer”. Plus, I’ve always tended to float into higher singing registers and this song by the Osborne Brothers is usually sung pretty high.

In hindsight though, I am pretty interested in Tennessee in general. I went to Nashville for the second time late in 2016 and was super impressed with the food, the music and the hospitality.

Video

Anyway, here’s the video.

Don’t mind the Los Pollos Hermanos T-shirt. I was in pajamas in the acoustic music room.

Hamilton Camp’s People in a Hurry

Hamilton Camp as a musician
Performer and writer Hamilton Camp. (courtesy of setcelebs.com)
I first came across “People in a Hurry” by Hamilton Camp on Slacker radio. I was probably listening to some crusty old folkie like Phil Ochs, Dave Van Ronk or even the big kahuna (Bob Dylan) when Slacker threw this cryptic little ditty my way. This was probably around 2007, because it coincides with the heyday of digitally downloaded music. This was the second mp3 song I bought (after Steve Goodman’s “Videotape”) on iTunes.

Welcome to Hamilton Camp LP sleeve
courtesy of hamiltoncamp.com
I always liked the song and felt like it should get some more recognition. The lyrics to me suggest an awareness of people wasting their lives saying and doing things of little consequence. Of course, the interpretation of consequence is the part that makes it interesting. Is political activism (anti-war, civil liberties, or otherwise) a respectable use of your days? Is the creation of art, for that matter, a good use of your time? Or, would we all be better off if our time was spent less on thinking and talking about existence and more on building things and pushing science to its limits? To that, I do not know.

What I do know is I like to hear this song and I wanted to share it when I play, so I wrote up the chart and the lyrics. I’ve shared them below if you’d also like to learn to play it. If you do, please share a link to a video or audio of your performance in the comments here. Would be great to see it someday.

Miles

The Chords

The chart is pretty straightforward but lacks a chorus. It’s more of a strophic verse thing with a slight variation for the intro.

Intro

C | Em | Am | F G |

chord chart


C | Em | Am | G |
F | Em Am | F | G |
F | Em | Am | C |
F | Em | F | Em |

Lyrics and chords

C Em
People in a hurry
Am G
Going nowhere in a hurry
F Em Am
Talking on of this and that
F G
Having nothing much to say

F Em
Smiling smiles that have no meaning
Am C
Outward laughing inward screaming
F Em
Devil take the one behind
F Em
And damn the one who's in my way

============
C Em
Give our children education
Am G
And we'll build a mighty nation
F Em Am
Teach them war and competition
F G
Pride of nation, race and kin

F Em
Dollars are the only measure
Am C
Dull the heart with empty pleasure
F Em
Fill the mind with thoughts and chatter
F Em
Never let the silence in
============
C Em
We have lost our sense of being
Am G
Seeing all yet never seeing
F Em Am
Grasping much and touching nothing
F G
Tasting nothing always filled
F Em
Racing hard with war and sorrow
Am C
Scheming for that sweet tomorrow
F Em
While today goes by neglected
F Em
Now is ever unfulfilled
==========

C Em
People, people in a hurry
Am G
Going nowhere in a hurry
F Em Am
Talking on of this and that
F G
And having nothing much to say

F Em
Smiling smiles that have no meaning
Am C
Outward laughing inward screaming
F Em
Devil take the one behind
F Em
And damn the one who's in my way

If you want to take it to go, grab the People in a Hurry by Hamilton Camp – Chords and Lyrics PDF.

More about Hamilton Camp

In addition to writing this song and having a great voice, Hamilton Camp enjoyed a stellar professional acting career. A tribute site with his music and career accolades has been built at hamiltoncamp.com.

Twin Rinks Sharks Hockey Logo

My son takes hockey lessons at Twin Rinks Ice Pavilion in Buffalo Grove, IL. From what I can tell, the Twin Rinks Sharks hockey program is pretty good. Coaches run multiple stations on the ice for different levels of skill and everyone seems patient and encouraging.

I grew up playing hockey not too far away but never came to this rink when I played. Now that I’ve been there a few times, I can see it was probably being built and designed as I was finishing up my career (mid-90’s). The rink’s local travel team is called the Sharks, which I guess was a spin off of the then-recent expansion team, the San Jose Sharks.

The Old Twin Rinks Sharks Hockey Logo

Unfortunately though, the Twin Rinks team design fell short of their NHL counterpart. Below is a photo from a rug in the rink, presumably displaying the team logo.

Twin Rinks Sharks Hockey Logo

Everything about this says early 90’s to me. the stick in the mouth, the body made from twin ovals and the lilac toned purple.

A New Twin Rinks Sharks Hockey Logo Idea

Anyway, I wondered what it would look like with the SJS logo, re-purposed with Twin Rinks purple. I pulled the SVG of the logo down from Wikipedia, opened it up in Inkscape and went to town.

Check the results below.

New Buffalo Grove Sharks Hockey Logo
a reimagined logo for Twin Rinks Sharks, adapted from San Jose’s logo

Pretty lazy on the lettering but it is a start. I also prefer to use the name of the town (Buffalo Grove) instead of the facility (Twin Rinks). To my mind, no one feels a sense of loyalty to a facility but they may take pride in playing for their hometown.

I wonder what it would take to get that concept pitched? I’ve seen many a local high school sports team borrow mascot graphics from other professional sports teams. Glenbrook South uses the San Diego (LA) Chargers bolt on their football helmets, the Niles North Vikings used the Minnesota Vikings colors and horns. I’d even say it’s almost strange when a high school doesn’t do it. Could it be done for a local sports facility? Wouldn’t it only serve in the best interests of the professional team?

Boy Playing in Snow Photography

I’m a longtime fan of Adrian Sommeling’s photography with his son. He has a neat hyper-reality style achieved by combining studio shots (I presume greenscreen-type stuff) with dramatic and often dangerous looking backdrops. Needless to say, I’ve wanted to try my own take on it since I first saw them.

Yesterday afternoon, I brought the camera outside to take a few snaps while my boy ran around in the snow. Realized a few minutes in that the time was right to give it a shot.

I started with a few snaps of the snow’s surface from very close to the ground, trying to approximate the angle at which I’d be taking pictures of him. Then, I took about 50 of him doing various things, keeping in mind the shadow lines of the backdrop photos to minimize time in the editing room.

Below is the composite I came up with. The shadow was borrowed from another object that I scrubbed out of the scene.

20160101--felix-mowing-snow

Why Musicians Don’t Like Going to Concerts (Unless They Are Performing)

A co-worker of mine knows I’m a musician. This morning, she asked me if I heard about the Lollapalooza lineup that was just announced. She seemed surprised when I mentioned that I generally don’t go to concerts.

Giving you an accurate and well-rounded answer deserves a long conversation but here’s a bunch of thoughts. Basically, the biggest reason is… I don’t enjoy them. I love live performances (theater, obviously) but the concert format rarely pays off for me.  I’m not the only one, either. A guitar teacher of mine quoted a famous musician (whose name I forget) that goes, “Concerts? I wouldn’t cross the street to see myself play [a concert].”

blurry concertThere are a myriad of reasons why I don’t enjoy them as an audience member (correlation with drinking and smoking, lots of standing, crowds, waiting in lines, not being able to talk, not being the center of attention, subjecting myself to OPC (other people’s cleverness)).

The polite and true answer is I genuinely prefer to be a part of music making. The impolite answer is, in most cases, you end up judging the band for their shortcomings in skill/style/approach/equipment. If the act does somehow exceed the impossibly awesome vision a musician has of themselves, it would no doubt be a depressing experience. Of course, I wouldn’t know. It’s never happened to me.

Either way, once you’ve been the one up there, it’s kind of ruined from the other side.

I tried to deny the reality of how I felt about going to concerts for years. I’ve been to hundreds of concerts. I’ve seen big name festivals and artists I admire, even musical heroes. Spent thousands of dollars, collected ticket stubs and road tour t-shirts. My feelings about who I really am were just confirmed with every attempt. Of course, not everyone is supportive. People assume I’m agoraphobic or a cranky old man. As I’ve said though, it’s not all events. Just concerts.

I do make rare exceptions though. The size of the venue or crowd is inversely proportional to the likelihood that I would willingly attend. In other words, the smaller the better. Second, if I personally know someone in the band. I will try to support people I know within reason (and reasonable distance).

So, I’ll close this post the same way I closed the email wrote to my co-worker. I’m glad she asked and I hope my readers can enjoy an honest answer.

10 Books I’ve read and enjoyed recently

10 Books I’ve read and enjoyed recently (per Eve’s request)

“The Energy Bus” by Jon Gordon
http://ift.tt/1wsJ4E3

“The Golden Age of Advertising: The 60s”
http://ift.tt/1AMGGpp

“What to Eat” by Marion Nestle
http://ift.tt/1wsJ336

“The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg
http://ift.tt/O0lTgc

“The Happiness Advantage” by Shawn Achor
http://ift.tt/lZbTeU

“Story” by Robert McKee
http://ift.tt/1ha5f6G

“PHP & MySql: Novice to Ninja” by Kevin Yank
http://ift.tt/1qJ59qv

“The Icarus Deception” by Seth Godin
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“Taxi: The Harry Chapin Story” by Peter Morton Coan
http://ift.tt/1AMGGpr

“Potty Training Boys the Easy Way” by Caroline Fertleman
http://ift.tt/1wsJ4Ea

“Monsters: The 1985 Chicago Bears and the Wild Heart of Football” by Rich Cohen
http://ift.tt/1wsJ3jn

Anyone else who’d like to recommend some books to read, please do.