Years ago, I used to listen to bands like DC Talk, Audioadrenaline, Nirvana, Tom Petty and Relient K and I loooooved them all. I loved growling guitars, strained vocals, double kick-pedals, soaring choruses and poppy hooks. To be honest I still do. My musical tastes are not sophisticated. I like four-on-the-floor. I like Katy Perry. I can’t help it. I just do.
Playing music and writing songs has expanded my horizons some and I appreciate a lot of music now that I used to turn my nose up at. I can sit and listen to jazz now. I can tell the difference between a great drummer and a good one. I get joy from music that would have left me unmoved twenty years ago.
But to be honest, I still get really happy when I hear a straight forward rock and roll song. I still love a great pop song. I don’t even think about who the artist is when I hear something I like. I don’t think about genre. I don’t wonder where the hook is. I don’t think about how many songwriters and versions the producers went through before the polished, radio-ready version I’m listening to happened. I just hear it and I like it.
In the world of popular music, artists tend to live in their work clothes. The public image is a carefully crafted thing and it includes everything from hair and wardrobe, to personality and attitude. Social media being what it is, the public image has expanded way beyond show-time and the stage. It’s become a 24/7 responsibility and it’s exhausting.
Personally I never thought that much about my public image. I tried a few times but I resist constraints more effectively than I heed the importance of them. Consequently I have no real public image. From a marketing standpoint, I am a disaster. I still can’t quite answer the question, “What kind of music do you play?”
But in spite of my reticence to be any one particular thing, I have tended in my later years to write sombre, folky, acoustic songs. The minor keys always seemed to be where I wanted to dwell. The less energetic, picking and strumming seemed to suit my disposition. So that’s mostly what I created.
But back in the day I really wanted to play happy punk songs or something like that. I wanted to play guitar solos and power chords and I wanted to be singing as loudly as I could when I did it. I wanted it all to appear to be effortless. I wanted the guitar to be an extension of my arms and the melodies to be flawless and I wanted it all to be very loud and happy and fun.
Needless to say that never really happened. But I did write a few songs during that phase, most of which are thankfully stored on a hard drive on my dad’s computer (and possibly on a myspace page) where he can listen to them and love them, but where they are safe from ever being heard by anyone else in the world (barring those few who still visit myspace on the reg).
Recently I revisited one of those old tunes. Since I had my friends Les Paul at hand and since I didn’t have anything else to do that night, I recorded it. I know it’s a little weird to admit it but I’ve been listening to it consistently over the past couple of months and it’s probably as close as I’ll ever get to the original vision I had for the song…and it’s fun…and it makes me happy. So I’m gonna let you hear it.
This is “Runnin” and the last time I remember playing it live was at Zack’s in Hillcrest, KZN, South Africa sometime around 2004/2005. I played it as loudly as I could on an acoustic guitar, all by myself.
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