Rock of Angels, the music of AMB3 and Real News Network

Big Sur marathon


Still Running, Rock of Angels
Most people would never figure me for a runner at first glance, or even prolonged ones for many, but I cover about a 1,000 miles a year on the earth each year and have done so for decades, with absences due to heart surgery and others matters of the heart. Many people also seem surprised to find that I am an unabashed singer/songwriter of my own compositions that now number at least as many years as I have been privileged to have lived in the time afforded.
In the days that remain, with the freedom now to fully focus on what is lasting and what is truly unique about my peculiar preoccupations, I will revisit some of my favorite songs and stories that all come together in the series of recordings/writings I am calling “Rock of Angels.” Many of the songs now are available for listening and streaming and such on a great platform called ReverbNation, which has been giving independent music a public forum for a decade or more.

When I first began recording with the Joint Operating Band experiment in the last years of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, “Still Running” was the first song I played for the band members/journalists, and one we did live and then recorded fully in what I believe is one our most complete performances.

Songs for me all come from real experiences, and they are like gifts from the angels, because I can never quite say how they end up on my guitar or in my head or in my heart. I remember making up songs to put me to sleep way back when I slept in bunk beds with my brother, and I would often change the words to hymns sung in church, staying right in key so they sort of blended in what everyone else was singing. I could walk into a packed church and find where my family was sitting on the opening hymn because my grandmother, mom and uncle all had the best voices in the congregation. Singing and music was always there, with a piano in the house that my mom and sisters all played, trumpet lessons in fifth grade, guitar lessons at summer school, even drum lessons, baritone, marching band.
With that grounding, I began writing down my songs as early as my high school years, when I was of course trying to impress an otherwise unimpressed love interest who only wanted to rock out to Jimi Hendrix or the Rolling Stones. In the many years I was gainfully employed as a news reporter/editor and sports reporter, I continued to write songs and play guitar as a means of connecting with the roots of my life, while the soul and spirit of what I was experiencing sort of became etched forever in the memories of my music.

“Still Running” defines the way I run and the way I make music – slowly, one step at a time. The song comes from a run I took in Washington, D.C. on a reporting trip when I ran into fellow runner Sen. Slade Gorton out for his daily jaunt, and then a parade of Communists out protesting across from the Capitol. Back then, I had run the Hood-to-Coast relay with a team that started at the top of Mt. Hood and ended 171 miles and a day later at Cannon Beach, as well as the Big Sur Marathon. The song also comes from the U2 song, “Running to Stand Still,” which is exactly how I feel when I take off each morning for distances I could never have imagined as a child.

Like almost all songs, the melody, the chords, the rhythm come first in the very act of sitting down to plunk on a guitar. I the old days, I knew only a few songs – “House of the Rising Sun,” “Gloria,” “Helpless,” “This Land is Your Land,” “Blowing in the Wind,” “Satisfaction” – so I just began to adapt those into new ideas ringing out from my awkwardly big hands and fingers. Lyrically, the song is a statement of purpose in my life, as well as a statement of fact. I have “run from rocks, from dogs and from fathers,” and I have run to “escape the rest of my life,” and I have run to “dull the pain.”
“Running farther on . . . You run, run, run and you’re gone”

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