Wednesday, October 03, 2012

the walk

i took the kids on a walk tonight
the sun getting ready to start on it's descent
the 5:30ish haze hung over us we walked East
into our shadows like so many nights before
and i remembered walking behind 3 year old Gavin
in the same sunlight
on this same street of ours
on a night almost exactly like this one
time playing tricks on me
time the deceiver
time slipping through the cracks in the pavement
now my son almost looks like a teen
and i'm following another 3 year old
our daughter Miette
she waddles along happily
heading to Ginger's house
a place where we always feel safe
the same feeling i used to get whenever i visited my Grandparent's house
it has become a family ritual to go see Ginger on our walks
it's become a place of great comfort to me
and to my children
she gives them cookies when we arrive
they are so happy to see her
and so happy to eat cookies
the sunlight is streaming in through the kitchen windows
i feel as if we are in some sort of Rockwell painting
i snap some pictures so i won't forget the moment
i feel safe
and happy
then in a moment we're leaving
waving goodbye
so many things happening daily
all whirring past
i want to bottle and store each beautiful moment like this one
tag and organize each memory
document it all so i will never forget
but i can't keep up anymore like i once did
writing about every little thing
here in this very place the place where all my words came pouring out
for over 3 years
now i feel like i've barely time to collect even a single thought
nonetheless write about all the things happening in my life daily
so today i sit for a moment and compose this message to my future self
how will you be when you read this someday?
i'm at the same desk
in front of the same window
looking out over the same backyard i looked out at when i wrote all of those words before
so much has changed
yet so much remains the same
how long will this last?
how fast will it go by?
i wish it could go on forever like this...

Sunday, October 30, 2011


Halloween is tomorrow
Gavin's very excited
he's 8 now
Miette will be excited once she see's what's up
that all she has to do is walk around in a Gnome outfit
and hold a basket
then people will pile candy in to it
and she can go crazy stuffing it all in her mouth
she's gonna love it!

Jayme is also going to be on TV tomorrow morning
Good Morning Texas
she's bringing a bunch of her large canvas photos over
to the TV studio early in the morning
she's never been on TV before
i think she's nervous but excited
i'm excited that she's getting some well-deserved attention
her photography is off the charts now
she's also been doing great since her last operation
the best she's felt in ages
i feel like both of us could go on the Oprah show
and talk about what we've been through
if only there was still an Oprah show

so here we still are
same house
same cars
same jobs
still doing our thing
being a family
running around
grabbing this
collecting that
making stuff
throwing it out
growing up
falling apart
coming together
sleeping (not enough...)
trying to keep up with the up keeping
and still dreaming
i have my good days
and bad
just like you all do too
it's all part of being humants, right?
things continually changing
and also remaining the same
as we try and make our way through this life
without being squashed
the ups
the downs
and everything in-between

back in '06
right before Jayme had another operation
i started writing things here
it was therapeutic
and then i kept doing it
hundreds of entries
thousands of words
it went on for several years
and now there are volumes of words to be found
right here
an archive of sorts
documenting a chapter of my life
when i look back at it now
i feel strangely disconnected
who wrote all of this stuff
what was he doing?
why did he do it?
where did all these words come from?

and now that i've finally come back here again
it feels a bit like stepping in to the old, worn out slippers
of someone whose gone away and left you
nothing but a pair of old, worn out slippers

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

saint georges

once when i was sick and running a fever
strange memories floated in and out again
some about Mrs. Georges
way back in El Paso
she was me and my brother's
childhood friend's mother
her name was, Anne
she was a tiny, demure lady
only about 5'2"
with long red hair
she usually kept it neatly tied back
and wore small, conservative wire framed glasses
we'd always pass by her bedroom
on our way to the TV/lounge room area
and sneak peaks in at a scene that almost never changed
it was as if it had been frozen in time
the curtains were always drawn
even on the sunniest of el paso afternoons
and almost always Mrs. Georges would be there
on the bed
playing solitaire
cigarette in hand, TV going
small cocktail on the nightstand
during the day
she was curt
with short clipped answers
she hardly ever had much to say except when she was shouting orders to her son
but as night would descend and wear on
anne would emerge from her bedroom solitaire match to refresh her drink
then wander into the TV room with a twinkle in her eye
she was suddenly gregarious and chatty
we usually didn't know what to say
we’d sit there uncomfortably
waiting for her to get bored with us and retreat back to her room
sometimes she’d just sit down and hang out
making sly asides and witty banter almost as though she were talking to herself
the next day
she'd slowly pull open the big oak front door
like it weighed a thousand pounds
standing in her bathrobe
hair down
dishevelled and wild
she’d barely even a nod for hello
our arrival seemed like nothing but a nuisance to her
she'd call out from her bedroom
"Jeffrey!! Jeffrey!!
i need you to run and fetch me some more beefamato!!"
”what was that?” we wondered
i tasted it once out of curiosity
and nearly spit it back out in disgust
she went through bottles and bottles of it
we were fascinated
we had no idea why she was doing this

it wasn't until many years later
that we realized beefamato was her hangover remedy
we'd been oblivious to it all
in our innocence we’d almost entirely missed what she was going through
when i was still in college
i heard she’d fallen down a steep flight of stairs
when it happened
she was making her way to a cocktail
while vacationing in their winter condo 1 xmas
drunk or buzzing no doubt
the tumble didn't kill her though
she was apparently surprisingly limber
or just drunk enough to be super elastic
she made it a few years past that
but not many
i heard the injuries shortened her life considerably
she was after all
a very small
frail person

originally posted 5/21/08:

the piano tuner tuned the hell outta Billy's U1
and talked a lot about Uriah Heap
while Bob and Billy ate Phil's burgers
and i sat on the funmaker bench
Bob took my advice and went with the 78704
a wise choice
from a very wise man
once the piano was ready to go
Billy moved his drums into the control room
while Bob and i ran over the song a couple of times
i stood behind him and strummed along
at least i know "saint georges" pretty well
it has a lot of words but i've played it live
more than any other song in the bunch
Bob and i sounded pretty good together right away
no real surprise there
the guy's a major talent
it did feel a bit weird to think the last time we played
one of my songs together was in El Paso
in 1988
a lot of life had certainly happened to both of us
since then
i wonder how he felt
he never said...
maybe i should've asked him?

anyway after 15 minutes of rehearsal
i went to the back of the house
where Billy had set up two mics for me in the amp room
we started recording
Billy on drums in the control room (front bedroom)
Bob on piano in the living room
me in the back singing and strumming the acoustic
before take 5
a little song came to me
and i started singing it
Bob and Billy fell right in behind
it was kind of a magical moment
Billy hit record and we got it all
i'm gonna use it somehow
after take 5 of "saint georges"
we all agreed it was good enough
and we started overdubbing on it
Bob played a second piano part with an unbelievable cool
manic ending
i was really happy with it now
he'd plugged into the "crazy" side a bit
and i relaly suited the story
then i asked him to sing some of the chorus vocal lines
"what is your name...what was your game?"
the plan was to stack his voice with Billy's and mine
for our gang style backups
"the kids" asking saint georges about her life
i think it pretty much turned out exactly how i'd envisioned it
which is actually rare
Bob's piano a little skewed in all the right places
Billy thumpy kick drum and floor tom
perfectly sparse
we'd accomplished exactly what i'd hoped
Bob was gone by 5:30 to hang out with his son
Billy and i still had a lot to do
since it was our last day
we fixed some vocal lines on "georges"
and did a rough mix

Friday, October 21, 2011

love is all around

i still remember the dream i had
as clearly as the clearest real life memory i have
even now
3 and a half years later
clear as day
a young kid, maybe 21
with shoulder length wavy dark brown hair
in a brown vest over a tan tunic and loose fitting tarp pants
was showing me how to play guitar
my fingers were awkward and fumbling
yet he smiled patiently
pointing to where i needed to place them on the fretboard
to make the right chords
i fumbled for what seemed like hours and then days
he never once lost patience
always smiling calmly, nodding and encouraging me to not get frustrated
then i was suddenly on a stage
with him and his band
playing to an arena filled with thousands of people
they were on their feet
singing along to each and every word
he was at the front singing and smiling
while i sheepishly fumbled with my guitar
back near the drums
burying my head in the mess of chords i'd made
a panic came over me
i didn't know how the song went or even how to play guitar
in front of all of these people
but he just looked back at me as he played
and smiled
in his eyes i could clearly get the message
"come on - you can do it Salim...just play"
and then a montage sequence began
us playing this song over and over again
to thousands of smiling, singing kids all over the world
arena after arena
by the end i was no longer fumbling
i was smiling and singing too
right beside my young teacher
when i awoke
the song we had been playing
was still there
fully in tact - melody and words
i called it "love is all around"

posted on 4/14/08:

i hardly ever remember my dreams
it's a running joke in our household
Jayme wakes up every morning
and gloriously re-counts every last detail
of her previous night's dream
down to the minutia of what she was wearing
or what the axe of the monster who was chasing her
tasted like
and usually
i've got nothing but a bad taste in my mouth
and a rat building a nest in my hair
i know i hear music a lot
i grind my teeth to the beat
i know i hear new melodies and songs
that i've never heard before
but no matter how much the music plays on
in my dreams
the second the shutters come up
and my eyes hit the morning light
the music is gone
like a puff of smoke
in thin air
and i can't remember a thing
it's always so frustrating

so i welcome you now
my friends
to my freaky freaky dream...

a kid with curly brown hair
and really piercing blue eyes
wearing some sort of vaguely futuristic threads
kinda baggy burlappy grey duds
was showing me how to play his songs on guitar
he was really patient
and kind to me
even though i could barely play them
he would smile at me gently every time
my hands fumbled over a chord
"'s this way"
and his hands would glide down the neck
to always find the right chord
it was effortless for him
we worked on the songs for a long time
i was playing a red sunburst Rickenbacker
with 3 pickups kinda shaped like a Gibson sg
(for those non-guitar enthusiasts - sorry!!)
but i don't think there is such a guitar in existence
after a lot of practicing
he tells me
"ok - now it's time to go play with my band"
i remember frantically trying to plug all my gear in
while thousands of fans screamed
and jumped up and down
the band started playing without me
the boy looked back over his shoulder at me
and smiled
"it's ok..." he nodded
but i still couldn't get my guitar going
and was getting really upset
so then he stopped the band with a wave of his hand
and said "let's wait until Salim is ready..."
the audience was fine with it
they waited too
and when i was finally ready
we kicked into the first song
i immediately forgot everything i'd learned
i was a tangle of fingers and thumbs
he looked at me again and smiled
so kind
so calm
and said "remember...this way"
chords back and forth from high to low
and then i got it
and started playing them the right way
the next thing i know it's montage time...

we're playing their hit song
all over the world
kids singing along and smiling
jumping up in down in slow motion
the boy looking over his shoulder between vocal lines
to smile at me
while i strummed my red Rickenbacker effortlessly
over and over we play this beautiful song
a high soaring melody
so innocent and carefree
over and over again
to people all over the world
the song is so beautiful
i am in euphoric bliss
and then i wake up...

the song is still with me
all of it
the entire melody intact
it sounds like nothing i would ever write on my own
a gift from my dream friend

thank you



posted on 4/15/08:

i walked over to Billy's house around noon
only 15 minutes by foot
(it's only 2 by car)
it was another perfect day
cool and sunny
not even the slightest breeze
what were the odds that L and L would live so close
to the only guy in texas i'd want to make a record with?
when i got to Billy's house
he was playing a beautiful finger picked song
on his couch
"it's not finished..." he smiled
it was really cool
i'm looking forward to hearing it when it's done
"so what do you want to do today?" he asked
i got out the scrap of paper with the dream song's lyrics
srawled on it
and laid it at my feet
then i played it for him
quietly singing the high soft melody
my dream friend had sent me
i felt kinda self-conscious
wondering what on earth Billy was gonna think of this
was it just silly
or totally gay?
after i finished he immediately said
"i think we should record this!"
i was pleasantly stunned
so then i told him the story
about the dream and this strange kid
who taught me his songs
i also realized it was weirdly symbolic
that in the dream i was my current age
yet fumbling around nervously not knowing anything
agitated about performing
and the kid was calm cool and relaxed
teaching me how to play
assuring me the whole time that it would be ok
Billy said it was a great melody
at first he was taken aback by the high vocal
but agreed that we should leave it in the original key
and not over-think it
we could layer the vocal in a wall of sound
he also smiled and said
"guess what? i hear drums on this one!"
so then we got to it
big dumb acoustic guitar strums first
then layers of vocals
billy set up the drumkit in the control room
and played the hell out of it
then i put down some bass in about 15 minutes
which is significant for me
because i resisted the urge to over-analyze it
normally i work on my bass parts for at least an hour or two
after that billy played the castanets
some harmonies
then at the very end
added a little wurlizter bit on the last chorus of the song
we both felt very satisfied
and happy with all of our progress
so we decided to knock it on the head
and call it a day
it was a fun
totally spontaneous experience
that could have only happened here
with billy's encouragement
i know i would have normally ruminated on something like this
for months
tinkered with the key
and the words
waiting for the right moment to strike
well today the right moment was NOW
i'm glad we just went for it

it made for one of the most memorable recording experiences
i've ever had

Saturday, October 08, 2011

the man who learned to love

"waiting and wasting a lifetime away 'til you came..."

i think this was the last song i wrote for Constellation
i've never been much of a love song writer
not even sure if i'd even ever written one
or at least if i did
i always banished them to the "never record" bin
anyway, at the time i wrote this song
i was really in to playing my recently purchased Guild Mark II
nylon stringed acoustic
i would sit on the bench in the back room of our house
while Jayme would be on the computer
stare out in to the backyard
and just noodle around on this wonderful guitar
one day this pattern came to me
and just about all of the words too
a very simple sentiment
after the realization that maybe i didn't really, truly know what love was all about
until Jayme came in to my life

"winter lasted all year long
heartless bastard never thawed"

originally posted on 4/17/08:

"so whatdaya got today?"
i'm feeling like doing one with rambunctious drums
i'm thinking "it's not enough"
Billy's not feeling it today so he mentions
this finger picked bossanova one called
"the man who learned to love"
i'm down with that
so i get out my old Guild spanish guitar
and start playing it
he says he loves this one
it's like a "flower that just opens up at the end"
we both agree it's worth recording
he puts a Korby c-12 on the guitar
i cut it to a click because the weird rhythm has to be locked
in to something
after 3 takes we do 3 takes of vocals
Billy says it's so nice he doesn't want to start throwing things
on it just because we can

Friday, October 07, 2011

pictures collected

"a picture of an Uncle who died when he was young..."

i lied when i said
"no one died in 1978..."
my Uncle Richard did
i'll never forget the sound of my Mother's sobbing
after she hung up the phone in our kitchen
i've never heard anything like it since
Richard was a wonderful & interesting person
he played piano
loved classical music
was well-read
taught at Rice university
died of cancer when i was 11
when i wrote this song
i was almost the same age as he was when he took his last breath

"pictures collected" started out as a little ditty about only being able to see out of one eye
i've been practically blind in my left eye since i was a kid
i soon realized "one eye" was going to be dreadfully misinterpreted
so i scrapped all the words
and re-wrote them

"Gentlemen take Polaroids in leisure suits
soldiers snapping photos in their combat boots"

back in the '80s
my sister Miriam was a huge fan of the English band
i snuck the gentlemen take polaroids line in for her
did she ever catch that and get a laugh out of it?
i hope so...

the following was originally posted on 5/16/08, the day after Billy Harvey & i recorded "pictures collected"

Billy was on today
in spades
the guy is so in-tune with songs
it's almost freakish...

we tackled "pictures collected"
a bubbly little tune
about the way us humans collect memories
we both agreed that we wanted to steer it away
from Kinks terrain (sorry Ron!)
we tinkered with the structure and key for about an hour
once again
me with my back to the front door in the striped orange chair
Billy sitting on the brown velvety couch
something bothered him about the verse melody
it sounded like a harmony part to him
higher than the chorus melody and bridge
i'd never thought of that
that was just the way it came out when i wrote it
i never second guessed it
he suggested moving the key from A# to D
so that i could sing a lower vocal part on the verse
and once the chorus hit it wouldn't be an energy lag
he was right on
what he said made a lot of sense
it did to this song what the French revolution did to France
well except for no one was be-headed

he built a strange drum loop around
get this
slamming the front door shut
over and over again
then looping it
this was our "snare drum" sound
at first i gotta admit i saw no way that this song
was gonna work to the loop
it felt kinda lurching
and contrary to the rhythm i heard in my head
but i didn't despair
i trusted him
there's no reason on earth not too
he's a pro
as Drakoulias would say "pro looks and chops"
so i just relaxed and enjoyed the ride
we put down a bass part first based around this Day Tripperish riff i had
then Billy plugged his Hofner Galaxy in
this time through a Rangemaster pedal
and POW!
crazy cool tone
i'm serious
one of the coolest tones ever
sounded like a straight up '60s Vox cranked
all from this pedal
it was raise the hair on your forearms hair raising
and the part he played
even better
we were kinda coming at this tune even more backwards
than usual
it was challenging
at one point 3 hours in it still sounded like a complete mess
but by the time we wrapped
around 10:30
we had a pretty decent little groove happening
me plucking away on Billy's Rickenbacker bass
some swingin' acoustic guitar
and this weird loop that somehow worked
i'm a believer baby
and i was a believer coming into today
but now i'm really a believer!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

back to unfinished business: the wrong raod

"do you ever get the feeling your life could've been
something better, more appealing than what i became?"

the wrong road came along one late night
on my way home from the Barley House
a simple sentiment really
haven't we all made a mess of our lives at one time or another?
then wondered "what if i'd taken another path?"
instead of the one we chose
i think i was thinking of a Nourallah Brothers reunion at the time
i know i was thinking about F singing those words
in his woeful soulful way
i also wanted it to be slyly smile inducing
not to take itself too seriously
because the humor in self-pity is well,
that it's oh-so dramatic
this might be my favorite 2 lines i'd ever written

"you expect the world to hold you in her arms and weep
and the terrible decisions you now clearly see"

here's what i originally wrote about recording the song:

Billy says
"so what do you wanna do?"
i don't know
i feel like nothing
sometimes the morning is not really my most creative time
i play "it's not enough"
a new one i like a lot
he says it's good
but he thinks the bridge might be too long
and it gets a bit depressing
i don't know
i like the long bridge
and the dark bit
so he says
"what about 'the wrong road'?"
i know that one is ready
so i play it for him
he kinda perks up and says "that one's killer"
let's do it
"you should play it on electric"
i know what guitar
he opens a closet in the front room
and pulls out an old beat up case
he carefully lays it down on the living room floor
and slowly uncovers a cherry red Gibson 335
just like Carter used to play
i was more than a little stunned
it was weird
so i play this beautiful guitar and sing
with no click
and after about 3 takes he says
"i think we've got a good one"
we start overdubbing
some backup vocals first
he puts the vocal mic in the washing machine
and has me sing into it
it sounds like i'm in a cave
then we both play bass
billy is starting to look tired
"i haven't eaten today" he says
i look at the clock
it's already 4
"let's get some food"
so we go to this place called phil's
i order the "78704" with a veggie patty
it's the best burger i;ve ever had
jalapeno cheese bun with sauteed onions
jack cheese and jalepenos
i cannot stress to you how good this thing was
and to top it off
these crazy sweet potato fries
that tasted awesome with it
(and i don't even like sweet potatoes!!)
when got back to the house Billy had a lot more energy
he's like Jayme i think
he forgets to eat sometimes
she does the same thing
so then he puts down some percussion stuff
a shaky thing
floor tom
then we play some floor toms together
he pulls out this crazy cool epiphone guitar
a 1960s red number
totally rare
i've never seen one like it
he does 2 takes of guitar
it's fantastic
then we set up two mics facing each other
and play dueling acoustic guitars
Lisa and Lee show up to get me
at 9:30
another 10 hours gone
in 5 minutes