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West Coast State of Mind, a musical project starting on Highway 101

Highway 101

I drove down Highway 101,
Winding into the setting sun
Shining like gold, brilliant and free.

Riding south down 101,
Open window to a life undone,
When past and future fade from view.

Take me back down 101,
Silver whale heading for home,
Where life runs in rivers, time stands still.

Running down Highway 101,
Rock of ages, the ageless son,
Changing like the coastline, waves crash ashore.

Turning back on Highway 101,
Returning as the chosen one,
At 47, parallel now, not yet halfway there.

Riding along Highway 101,
Arriving at the edge of dawn,
Awake with eagles and songbirds in the fog.

Leave me on Highway 101,
My soul adrift in the Redwood sun
On the King’s road where Giants still endure

Down to the River, or how a song floats into consciousness

 

In my convoluted lifelong pursuit of writing songs,  I have found certain guitars can become magical in the evolutionary process, unlike more methodical attempts I have made to compose on piano or in my head. My newest guitar, a Takamine 12-string purchased with my 2020 fantasy baseball fortunes in November, already has proved to have just such magic. Playing the big black Takamine around my beach house, my longtime friend Tommy M has declared it my best sounding guitar of all time, and I have started to complete a few more recorded projects where its sound can be highlighted. I do love the Byrds-like resonance that fits my big fingers well, and it has provided several new melodies and chorus fragments that turn into something springing from my heart and soul of experience and imagination. As a writer, I have long pursued the art of story-telling in song form, something that requires a concise concept and the fewer words, the better. As Neil Young once said: “You want to learn how to write a song, ask a guitar.”

“Down to the River” is the first song I have stitched together from a haphazard lick and progression worked out on the 12-string, with lyrics inspired by new digital recordings I have been listening to: Jimi Hendrix’s “Hey Joe,” and a live Crazy Horse version of “Down by the River.” The driving thought I had in the lyrical beginning was why the man always was the one going down to the river to shoot his woman, and what would happen if the woman pulled the trigger. The new song also alludes to a public Baptism ceremony I witnessed as a child in the Big Sur River during the 1960s. After the pastor would baptize someone, he would leave them to float off on their backs as they glided gently out with the current.

The recordings just sort of happened over a drum loop, with the layering of another three guitars, bass, a buried organ part and piano on the choruses, which center on the notion that what comes down the river ends up on the beaches of all our days. As the days go by in the passing years, I have tried to pull many of my songs together and examine some of the creative impulses and real-life experiences that go into the act of trying to capture life in such a musical manner. I am just thankful at this age to still be able to create with a voice that can give some definition to the words that spill out over the pages of my life.

Down to the River

I went down to the river to be forgiven, I won’t go there no more

I went down to the river to be forgiven, I don’t go there no more

I went down to the river, just another sinner, lost in the storm

I went down to the river with a gun and my sister on a dark, wet morning

Time has carried us away, to the beaches of our days,

Vanishing castles in the sand, driftwood on the tide, nothing we can hide

I went down to the river to be delivered, free of all my sins

I went down the river to be delivered, a voice said, ‘Come on in’

I went down to the river to be delivered from the life I was living

Time has swept me away to the valley of my soul

Seeds explode from fertile thoughts, thunder and lightning; no one would find us

I went down to the river, began to quiver as an arrow pierced my heart

I went down to the river and asked for forgiveness for all I had started

I went to the river, began to shiver, a fever washed over me

I went down to the river, a seeker not a giver, drifting out to sea

I went down to the river as she pulled the trigger to set me free

Time has carried us away on these streams once forsaken

We now awaken, alone cold and shaken, nothing is mistaken

I went down the river; it looked so much bigger than when I was a child

I went down to the river and I saw my sister swimming away

I went down to the river to ask forgiveness, I don’t go there no more

I went down to the river to be delivered, my faith restored (Repeat first chorus)

I went down to the river, jumped in with all the sinners, drowning in my days

I went down to the river and saw my beautiful sister . . . floating away

COVID-19 Blues


COVID-19 Blues
Woke up this morning and turned on the news
Brushed my teeth and shined my shoes
The President was saying he knew the truth
It’s all a hoax, you have nothing to lose
Then the stock market tanked like a lead balloon
Now I’m broke at home with the Covid Blues
Went out to Walmart for some toilet paper
Wipes and a mask to make me feel safer
Shelves were bare, everything was taken
Now I’m sitting here all constipated
Holding my gut, back on the stool
Bearing down with the Covid Blues
Checked on Facebook to find my friends
Bob vowed freedom to the bitter end
Said he would die before he’d bend
Posed with his guns live from his den
Freedom gives him the right to refuse
Now he’s on a ventilator with the Covid Blues
Went to the doctor to check my cough
My fever soared, my taste was lost
He said stay at home son, that’s what’s best
Don’t come back here until you’re tested
Nothing works no matter what you choose
We’re all living with the Covid Blues
Called upstairs for my beautiful wife
She yelled back down, ‘Have a good life!’
Told me she was tired of wasting time
The virus had changed her mind
I thought Hannity said, ‘It’s all a Ruse’
I’m dying alone with this Covid Blues.
Woke up this morning and turned on the news
The President was singing Covid Blues
The Covid-19 Blues -- Angelo's coronavirus isolation journal day 34, May 1, with a new song by AMB3

Anyone Can Be an Angel 2020

Anyone can be an angel,
Just spread your wings and sing your song
You’ve been living these words all your life now
This voice still clear and strong
Everyone believes in angels.
You just close your eyes and begin to sing along
To lift your heart, to lift your soul
No one chooses to be an angel, You either are one or you are not
But everyone sings with the angels, It’s a song no one can ever stop
You can’t plan to become an angel, the keys may not fit the lock
To release your heart, to release your soul
Songs belong to the angels,
Strum the chords and the notes come to pass
Open your soul to breathe deep, The tune will come to you at last
Hear the words of the angels, join along on their rising path
To lift your heart, to lift your soul
This song is for all the angels
Who spread their wings in times like these
We can never stop telling them how much they are truly needed
How they rise above and beyond, How they help the blind to see
To save our souls, to save our souls

Song Of Johanna Revised and Re-recorded for 2020

20190130_173640

SONG OF JOHANNA

I called into the wind, the name of Johanna. I called into the wind and blew her a kiss.

I dream at night I’ve been touched by Johanna, I dream at night no matter how I resist

I slept in her bed, right next to Johanna, I slept in the bed and she tested my heart.

I cry at night for the tears of Johanna, I run all day to make a new start.

Face of the angels, spirit of a soaring dove,

I breathe her name to sing her praises

I follow . . . every trace of her wandering love.

I search the world for words of Johanna, I walk the world for flowers for her soul.

I plant all day, seeds for Johanna, I pray all night and as dawn unfolds.

I shout to God, the name of Johanna, I write her words to sing to the stars.

I live and breathe for a word from Johanna, I live again to make a new start.

Heart of the angels, spirit of heaven above,

I write her name to bring her praises

I trace. . . every step of her lifelong love.

I waited at the gates for Johanna, I waited 10 years and came back for more

I waited my whole life for Johanna, I wait for the day she opens the door

Soul of the angels, wings of a wayward dove,

I call her name to chant her praises

I trace. . . every breath of her fleeting love.

I write every day in the name of Johanna, I write every day to speak to her mind.

I look everywhere for signs of Johanna, I look everywhere, what she allows me to find.

I work so hard for glances from Johanna I work at night and into the sun.

I wander the earth in search of Johanna, I wander the earth in search of her love.

I believe in life because of Johanna,I believe in hope in the nights that I dream

I believe in love with thoughts of Johanna, I believe I shall never know such love again.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Moses Climbed the Mountain 2020

Moses Climbed a Mountain

Endless summer fades to Dorian Gray, another generation has gone astray, another stone to roll away: Thou shall not steal, thou shall not lie

Witness here at the foot of the stage, another congregation bows and prays, another temptation takes us away: Thy kingdom come, on earth as in heaven

Moses climbed a mountain until there was nothing left to see Molten rock, a burning bush, barren trees. Balanced on that ledge, seeking only freedom; He climbed a mountain, and God parted the sea

Sirens scream across the town, another innocent man gone down, Now anarchists reign with Republican clowns: Thou shall not kill. I cannot breathe

The plague of ages marching in the streets, Ignored by our commander in chief[ Cities under siege in the summer heat: I cannot breathe, we cannot breathe

We climbed a mountain, until there was nothing left to see, Burning buildings, fallen statues, uprooted dreams, Bound by our past, we only seek our freedom. We climbed a mountain and now its buried by the sea.

Bible belt turns to combat zone, another 911 on the telephone, Another Presidential tweet to get the fires stoked: Dominate the streets! Make America Great Again

Descend now the chosen one, Another wing in the melting sun, Another false prophet on the run: In God we trust, Thy will be done

I climbed a mounting, and there was nothing left to see, Falling rocks, burning bushes and barren trees, Balanced on the ledge, one moment of freedom, I climbed a mountain and now it’s buried under the sea.

 

 

“Moses” is a song written from the perspective of the great leader climbing a mountain in search of spiritual freedom for people in times of trial and tribulation. In its first rendition, it ponders the fate of what would have happened if Moses had missed all the signs from God and returned with nothing but visions of a burning, barren wasteland. Given the state of the nation in 2020, the song was updated with a new sense of urgency and commentary to cover current events. I truly believe folks like Rev. Al Sharpton still embody the spirit of Moses to this day and that our freedom remains a spiritual quest as much as a physical longing that can only occur through the enlightenment within forces such as love, music, joy, harmony and peace of mind.

AMB3

Coronavirus musical journal continued

With 27 days of isolation behind me since beginning this musical journal or journey, it seems more than overdue to go back to my roots in writing to create the transition to the impending new reality that will grip us all post-COVID-19.

Since childhood, I always found ways to entertain myself on a path that was just as exciting to explore on my own as it was in the company of others who might or might not share the same passion for life and joyous but devious devotion to independence. I am quite sure it derives from being a first born son of a first born son and the first born grandson of both sets of grandparents.

Lucky for me, my father was the Alpha-male who kept me in line for at least the first 15 or so years of my upbringing. After I began to drive, life began to expand to horizons I had only been able to imagine before.

Hallelujah below is my 26th day of musical memory on guitar, and celebrates a new milestone in that is a song I had never previously learned to play until this period. I love the Tim Buckley version, but this version certainly owes more to Leonard Cohen. Such a great ode to a lost love, such a “cold and broken Hallelujah.”

New Year 2020

The past year has marked several significant milestones, as I have chosen to retire from newspaper life to further my creative and personal passions in their own time and place. I had the honor of writing two obituaries of friends who touched my life profoundly, and also was touched by the passing of another close friend who was married to two other close friends. The days seem more vital than ever as I run on daily toward the 65th year of my humble existence on earth. The steps are sure, solid, strong, precise, nimble and true toward a destination that only exists in my heart and soul. The things I have learned are that music and love are the building blocks for peace and joy, and life is in the living. So peace and joy to all those who read this space, and hope you enjoy my personal celebration at the end of this amazing decade of perseverance:

Real News about Trump Nation

Real News Network editorial opinion: The views expressed by the following song are solely that of the Real News Network fake news editorial board and any resemblance to real people is unintended.

Trump Nation (Round and RoundDonald Trump bald head)
Round and round we spin, like pinwheels in the wind
Round and round we turn and still nobody learns
Round and round we dance, victims of circumstance
Live on TV it's Donald Trump, talking like the Chosen One
Sucking up to Vlady Putin, twisting the truth for everyone
I don't care about his ridiculous hair; I don't care about kitties he's snared
I'm so down with Donald Trump; Build the wall, nobody cares
Round and round we go and still nobody knows
Round and round we spin, honesty the real sin
Live on TV it's Stormy Daniels, talking tough but fading fast
Showing off the size of her payments, soaking up the spotlight, having a blast
I don't care if she made some movies; i don't care about her sordid past
I'm so down with Stormy Daniels, and her oversized rack (That's a reported fact)
Round and round we Tweet like lemmings in heat
Round and round we spin, sucking it all in
Live on TV it's Kelly Anny Conway, bending over for all to see
Dispensing out some alternative facts, warping our realities
I don't care if her husband's a freak; I don't care if she bares her teeth
I'm so down with Kelly Conway; Her lies will set us free
Round and round we go, and now everybody knows . . .
Live on Fox News it's Rudy Giuliani, spouting corruption with wild-eyed glee
Sliced up like a shriveled salami, jowls popping out at the seams
We don't care about his travels to Ukraine; We don't care about his slurred speech,
We're so down with Mayor Rudy . . . Sniffing out those conspiracies

Round and round and round we spin, Round and round and back again . . .

The Future of Real News Network and AMB3

The Rock of Angels CD now is fully online at ReverbNation, and the blog here seems to be getting some traction, with Real News Network now ranked No. 35 on the regional Reverb charts (close to 10K plays since first launching the site 10 years in the past). Free music and free expression is what Real News Net is all about.

The Future is a song that sort of sprung from David Crosby’s great “Wooden Ships,” which is the basic E-minor to A-minor structure of what somehow turned out to be one of the best blues-based recordings I have managed to accomplish.

The lyrics refer to how I met my second spouse, Ceceilia, sort of spellbound love at first sight that lasted longer than either of us ever expected for a marvelous decade or more. Of course, there is the end where there is “no future,” or it wouldn’t be a blues song or true in the raw emotions at the core.

The recording features an old Epiphone Les Paul that Lino Fernandez let me borrow, and listening to the amazing guitar sounds it produces, I truly wish I had decided to buy that heavy axe when it was offered. I simply enjoy the mystical quality that seems to resonate from the final product since it was one of my earliest digital recordings

The Future

When I waded into the sea, I didn’t even know how to swim
Yet still I floated as in a dream until the tide washed my body
Back to her beaches

When I walked into the room, She didn’t even know my name
Yet still I felt to blame for everything that would happen
in the future

When she smiled and took me in, I had never seen her face
Yet somehow it all fell into place, like I had been staring
Forever at her picture

When I opened up the door, I heard someone call out a name
Yet it never did sound the same as when she called to say
There was no future

Reflections of a thousand years, she has left me with no tears, no fear
She has painted me into a corner, to drift along in mourning

When I waded into the sea, I didn’t even know my name
Yet somehow I felt to blame for everything that would happen
In the future