WILD BIRDS ACROSS THE MOON–image with song

"Peace," by Laura West

“Peace,” by Laura West

I have long worked with images and songs to evoke a stronger impression together then either could do on their own.  Here is an example of a pairing I think works very well.  Artist and spiritual leader Laura West created the image and I wrote and performed the song.  Please click the player above to hear it.  I hope they touch you.  If they do please share your experience on this post in the space provided.

WILD BIRDS ACROSS THE MOON
© Hilary F. Marckx, BMI, all rights reserved
I HAVE LAIN AWAKE AT NIGHT;
BREATHED ITS DARKNESS DEEP INSIDE.
I HAVE SEEN THE COMET’S FLIGHT;
ICE ACROSS MY FEVERED LIFE.
COULD NOT DREAM THOSE TROUBLED NIGHTS;

BUT I HAVE SEEN WILD BIRDS ACROSS THE MOON.
OH, I HAVE SEEN WILD BIRDS ACROSS THE MOON.

AND THERE IS A THOUGHT ABOUT TOMORROW,
COMING ‘CROSS THE MIDNIGHT STRAINS OF AIR;
AND I YEARN TO BE HELD IN LOVING MERCY,
AND I YEARN FOR SOMEONE ELSE TO CARE.

STANDING IN THE LIGHT OF DAWN;
LEARNING LOVE COMPLETELY SURROUNDS;
WINGS OF JOY HEALING HEART AND SOUL;
FINDING HOPE IN THE SEASONS’ ROUND;
WINGS AND FEATHERS AND A HEALING SOUND.

OH, I HAVE SEEN WILD BIRDS ACROSS THE MOON.
OH, I HAVE SEEN WILD BIRDS ACROSS THE MOON.
OH, I HAVE SEEN WILD BIRDS ACROSS THE MOON.
OH, I HAVE SEEN WILD BIRDS ACROSS THE MOON.
OH, I HAVE SEEN WILD BIRDS ACROSS THE MOON.

# # #

Though I’m known for my Honky-Tonk and Rockabilly, I write in other genres as well. “Wild Birds Across the Moon, ” is an example of a thoughtful and reflective style I have written in off and on for forty years. I don’t write a lot in this style, but I do write them. Recently I have begun adding these to my sets, and I have been surprised at the positive response I have been getting. Who woulda thunk?

In the mid 90s I was hiking on a rough trail at about 7.500 feet and somehow I developed blisters under both little toenails. Talk about pain!!! WOW, I was hardly able to walk. I was three days in on a seven day hike, and I was in dire straits.  On the evening of that third really bad day as I was hiking at around tree line, I heard a whooshing sound.  It was night hawks hunting between the trees.  There was an early moon that evening and every so often they would rise up and fly across it.  It was one of the most healing experiences of my life.

The pain did not go away, but I relaxed.  I felt noticed and cared for.  I hiked for another mile or two and found a place to make camp.

SIGH…

I Just Keep on Tryin'

I’ll Just Keep on Tryin’

I worked for a week and a half on a new song.  I got it recorded, put in the various tracks: drum, toms, bass, more bass, piano, synth, five vocal tracks.  tomorrow I’m going to scrub the whole lot and begin again.

I want it right.  It’s a good song, but I laid in a bad foundation, and then spent a lot of time trying to make it right to no avail.  I have a deadline, but under no circumstances do I want to turn a less than well made song.

I have some timing issues, that just cannot be fixed.  I tried quantizing, and oh well…

There’s nothing for it but to start again.

But think about it for a second.  How many times are we tempted to settle for not quite as good as we would like just to get the darned project finished.  I want good.  I don’t demand perfection because that not only is it impossible to attain, but it will drive me crazy trying to achieve it.  I do expect excellence from myself.  And by that I mean that I expect the best I can do at the time.

The project has a deadline, but tough if can’t get this right.  Though I do believe I will finish well before the deadline.

So tomorrow I start again.  It is something I know I can do well—starting aver again and a gain until I get it right.  Been there, done that, bought the tee shirt.  Sigh…

THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD?

The Little Engine Doesn't Run Here Anymore

The Little Engine Doesn’t Run Here Anymore

For years I have thought of myself as a lyricist only.  My claim is that I can play guitar well enough to write songs, but I am not a guitar player.  My self image is that because I only play rhythm guitar, I am not really a musician.  I have learned recently just how wrong I have been all these years!

It all started with a Christmas CD I wanted to do. I had a few Christmas songs written, and I really wanted to do a CD for last Christmas, it was October and time was running out.  I wrote the needed songs to fill out the CD, and started to record.  I realized that I need more instrumentation than just a rhythm guitar and a harmonica.  I needed steel guitar, mandolin and synth sounds to fill in and complete each song and to help each song be unique.  I also realized that I had no studio musicians to hand to whom I could turn the songs over, and get the sounds I wanted.  I realized it was up to me if I was going to get anything at all.

I began learning how to play the needed instruments.  Not well, and certainly at a master-level, but good enough to fill in and make interesting the recorded songs.

I began recording my practice sessions track by track.  I would work on a line here and a line there.  Just hoping that I would eventually have enough good sections to piece together and get something interesting enough out of to use in the overall recording.

It came together.  It was hard, but I got it done.  At first I was skeptical of the finished product, but then again I have several friends who are accomplished producers, tell me they liked the album.  It’s titled, “Cactus Christmas Tree,” and you can find it at, http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/hilarymarckx2 if you want to check it out.  It could be better, but by doing it I got the courage to do another one, which will be a whole lot better.

CK Chesterton once wrote something to the effect, “If something is worth doing at all, it is worth doing poorly.”  I take this to mean that if we just put off doing something until we can do it with perfection, it may never get done.  But that we should start and just get it done.

I remember a little book my mother used to read to my sister and me titled, “The Little Engine that Could.”  The story has a very small engine with a very big load, on a very steep grade.  All the way up the grade the little engine says, “I think I can!  I think I can!  I think I can!”  Then after it finally makes the summit it says, “I knew I could!  I knew I could!  I knew I could.”  But sometimes you don’t know you can until after the fact.  Now I know.

Success is a product of dreams come true.  You start with the dream.  You work/struggle/fight/create through the process, and then, sometimes surprisingly, you succeed.  Then, success breeds more success.

I am now in the final stages of a new project.  It is for a Broadway Musical, and as usual, it is a hell of a lot bigger than I am.  I have just completed several of the close-to-final mixes and I am getting excited.  Much if it is way out of my genre and much more complex than I have ever attempted.

Out where I live the trains have ceased to run.  The long, lonely, whistles have ceased their calls.  The clack-clacks of steel wheels on steel rails have been silenced.  But in my mind there is a small child who still remembers the steam and call of a whistle in the night.  And a too small engine that challenges me to attempt the impossible.

More to come on this.

NO BAND, BUT PLENTY OF WORK!

Twang

Twang

I WAS TRYING TO put together a new CD, and I thought it might be interesting to do some posting around the lyrics and both the process of writing them and putting together the Album.  I’m still trying…

The Album itself has gone through a whole bunch of permutations.  First, it was titled, “Vinegar Pie,” because it was named after a song that is in the collection.  Also, the collection was only nine songs.  I had been asked to write songs to support a one person, three act play by the same name.  I wrote the nine songs as a kind of dialogue with the various acts and their themes.  They were performed before, between, and at the end of the acts.  I thought the whole play was kind of a moment of genius on the part of the playwright, but the feeling apparently was not reciprocated and I was fired.  Stuff happens! I mean, I don’t like rejection any better that anyone else, and it hurt and I was pissed, but I got over it and moved on.  What I got out of the deal were nine really good songs.

As I wrote above, I had produced (sort of) the nine songs and put them onto a CD titled “Vinegar Pie.”  However, with the firing event, I decided to re-release the songs with an additional three and re-title the collection, “The Quilter.”  And that’s what I did.

Recently I realized that all my earlier releases were in desperate need of some tweaking and refining.  I bought a mastering program called OZONE, that works really well.  I set about re-mastering my CDs.  To say re-mastering is actually a joke because they were not mastered in the first place.  OXONE really made a big difference in the overall sound of my first project, “Preachin’ to the Choir,” which, when re-mastered I actually put out on CD Baby.

After I was finished with “Preachin’ to the Choir,”  I turned to “The Quilter,” and to my dismay, I discovered that my recordings were atrocious.  YIKES!!!  I am now re-recording the songs and getting them “right.”  The good thing about learning to really hear, is that you can hear what you do as it really is.  That is also the bad thing about really learning to hear.

In the process of re-recording, I decided to add four more songs to the collection.  While you might think that this is over kill, I might say in my defense that many of my songs are only around two to two and a half minutes in length.  Also, I am in favor of the idea of giving my fans more bang for their buck/

The Title will be, “On My Mind,” but don’t hold your breath for it.  It seems that other projects keep jumping up and getting in the way.  Earlier, I wrote about the project for the Medical Marijuana musical, and just last week I was approached to write for another musical.  So while I have “On My Mind,” on my mind, right now, that’s all it is…  Do not read this as a complaint!

By the way, please, when you read this, if you have something to say to me, post it on this site by pushing the  “Comments” button.  Thanks for that!  I will respond.

Hilary Writes a Soundtrack for a Musical — Part 1

A Musical About Medical Marijuana.

A Musical About Medical Marijuana.

I have sure had a number of things on my mind.  I am figuring out how to perform without a band, and still keep it interesting.  More on that later.  Also, I have been working on a musical.  I am trying to produce my songs so a playwright can write a script for a Broadway Musical.  I am just so far out of my league that I am running in circles and snapping at my tail.

I am working with Coni Congoli Koepfinger who is Associate Director, and Playwright-In-Residence at the Spiral Theatre Studio, New York, who has written over forty plays of which over fourteen have been published.  She holds an MA in Literary and Cultural Theory from Carnegie Mellon University.  She is very prolific and talented, and a little scary when I realize that it is my work she is scrutinizing.  So far it is going very well.  To find out more about her check out http://www.doollee.com/PlaywrightsC/ciongoli-koepfinger-coni.html.

She is an amazing writer, and she has a team working with her with a vast array of experience.  The Spiral Theatre Studio is the brainchild of Paula J. Riley who is rebirthing the Legacey of her mentor, Iza Itkin, and it is a phenomenal concept in and of itself, and if you are interested in more information about it, I suggest you check out  http://www.thespiraltheatrestudio.com/ or http://thespiraltheatrestudio.blogspot.com/ to find out more.

The play, Livin’ the Green Life,” is based on a collection of songs I wrote about four years ago depicting the development of the Medical Marijuana Movement.  The songs begin with the bad old days and dark beginnings, and proceed to the Movement it has now become.  My lyrics tell stories about fear, death, paranoia, hope, family systems, and the everyday people caught up in the overarching story that is Marijuana.

My idea, originally, was to write my songs and give them to a producer who would then, using studio musicians, develop them into finished, mastered, songs that could be used for a soundtrack.  My problem became clear as I attempted to find producers who could do this.  I soon discovered that they did not have my particular and peculiar vision for how the songs should be produced.  YIKES!!!

What I had produced as rough sketches, were just that, rough sketches.  I then needed finished, studio produced, mixed and mastered songs that were complete.  I had to learn how to do all that.  AND that my friends is what this last year has been about—learning how.  Not an easy task, this learning thing, but doable and fun.

I have had to find musicians to play on my songs.  I have limited expertise, musically, and need lead guitar players, sitar players, to lay in the tracks for my songs.  Finding them has been a trial, but that is getting done.

I have learned that it is I who must decide on what songs to use and how to order them.  I had thought that some genius producer would jump in and wave a magic want and get that done in a flash.  I am working on the ordering of the story songs to fit an overall movement on meaning as stories within the story.

More on my progress at a later date, but know that I have committed to completion by the end of May or June.  I have a series of important meetings from July through the end of Trout season with a number of important rainbow trout, and I do not want to miss out on those stream-side sessions.   So onward, forward, charge—tie those flies!