The Way Home from Rock of Angels

Time seemed to pass me by
As I walked on down the road
No one stopped to pick me up
Carrying this heavy load
But I’m not down, or turning round . . . .
Until I find my way. . . back home

Life seemed to come and go, as I worked away the days
Now I climb this path of stone, lost here in the maze
But I won’t crack, there’s nothing I lack
Until I find my way . . . back home

Love has turned her back on me, and left me all alone
To find my dream from reality, to make my quest my own
But I won’t quit, or stop searching for it
Until I find my way . . . back home

Time seemed to pass me by, as I moved on down the road
No one came to shelter me, left here in the cold
But I’m going on, until the sunrise dawns . . .
When I find my way . . . back home

“The Way Home” remains my personal favorite among the 30 or so songs I have completed remixing this summer as part of the “Rock of Angels” project. The full version of the song with the Joint Operating Band recording features amazing vocals by Monica Guzman, the great piano jam with Bill Miller, Lino Fernandez driving the beat and Casey McNerthney holding down the solid base line that helps glue the entire journey together. Even the echo effects and rudimentary harmonica parts all seem to meld into exactly the composition I first envisioned when writing the song during a dark and difficult time in my life. In many ways, the project did help me find my own way back home.
The underlying guitar lick came first and foremost, and I have to credit my guitar guru, Mike (Pikes) McGlaughlin, with guiding me toward the magic that produced such an inspiration. Mike at the time was getting me to think about playing individual notes, doubling, and other devices to wean me from my strumming tendencies. Also, I had been tinkering more with a capo, and the lick sort of arrived one night when I was tinkering in the key of G.
Driving back to my then-temporary apartment from one of our guitar jams, I recall hearing “Midnight Rider” by the Allman Brothers Band and marveling at the beautiful simplicity of the lyrics, the longing and uncertainty that is conveyed with such specificity: “Some old bed I’ll soon be sharing,” or “The road goes on forever.” Having recently gone through my second divorce, literally losing what had been my home of more than 10 years, the lyrics were written that very night as I tried to “find my way back home” from Mike’s place, winding through the backroads of North Seattle and Lake Forest Park to my subterranean existence in lower Mountlake Terrace, where I had a stunning view of a Laundromat and the parking lot for a 7-Eleven.
Deeper than that, the lyrics also refer to a personal experience with my quintessential roommate at Washington State University, the great merry prankster Scott Clark, who one winter’s day in Pullman convinced me we should try to hitchhike to Spokane in the middle of an incoming snow storm. We made it 20 miles to the crossroads at Colfax, where no one stopped to pick us up as the snow kept piling up and we were finally compelled to walk across the highway, quickly thmbing a ride back to college.
Of course, the chorus of the song sums up my own sense of personal perseverance in the face of all obstacles: “But I’m not down or turning round, until I find my way back home.” For me, moving to my home here at the ocean was the ultimate culmination of that song, and in many ways represents the journey I took to get here. It was hard, painful and full of sorrow, but there is a certain triumph of spirit in the end to know that such a journey only served to make me stronger, wiser, more determined and at pure peace with what I would go on to accomplish to finally arrive at the home of my dreams. It all springs from the joy of expressing a song from my heart and seeing it find a permanent home in the remaining recordings of my time.

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”

Rising Sun — New song in memory of Jeff Daniel


Rising Sun (In memory of Jeff Daniel)
Truth is a river that runs through the mountains, springing from peaks of doubt and despair
Flooding the valley on its path to the ocean, retuning with the rains, the tidal air
Life is a salmon that spawns in the gravel from rocks of ages rolling away
We have everything we ever wanted . . . Right here on earth
We are one with everything we see . . . Right here on earth
Right here on earth
The Sun is rising, the Sun is rising, like a song in my heart
The Sun is rising, the Sun is rising, a new day is starting
The Sun is arising, the Sun is rising, here at the edge of the earth
The Sun is rising, on the horizon, Sun of hope and rebirth
Time is a tree rooted to the ground, rising into the sky with rings of symmetry
Crashing alone after weathered endurance, reborn in the soil of a new century
Peace is the sound of the howling wind along the ocean of opportunity
We have everything we ever wanted . . . Right here on earth
We are part of everything we see . . . Right here on earth
Right here on earth
The Sun is rising, the Sun is rising, thoughts come in waves
The Sun is rising, the Sun is arising, a new song to play
The Sun is shining, seagulls flying, all you see is free
The Sun is shining, kites arising, alive on the beach
Coyotes roam the dunes with deer and raccoons
Butterflies in cocoons, songbirds always in tune
Nothing ever to lose, no questioning truth
The Sun is setting, the Sun is setting, on the window of my time
The Sun is setting, no regretting, all that passed me by
Night is falling, sleep is calling, until the Sun comes to rise


The story behind the song:

Rising Sun really started as two separate songs that appeared on my guitar last December, and neither one had lyrics when I recorded them together on a video clip posted on Facebook before Christmas. The first part is based on a riff that sounds like a waterfall as it progresses, and the second is sort of a D-based homage to Peter Buck of REM.
In March, the death of my friend Jeff Daniel shook the beach community that is my home to its very core. Jeff was the essential spirit of Ocean Shores – someone who fled Puget Sound country for the magic and wonder of the coast. He was a rocker at his core, the best real estate salesman I have ever encountered, an amazing father, a race car driver, a surfer, a friend, a guitar player, songwriter, journalist, author. I vowed after writing his obituary and covering his memorial celebration that I would do my utmost to continue his legacy and spread his spirit of hope and optimism for a better world, right here on the earth that we inhabit under our feet, on the sands of time that sustain us on this amazing peninsula of creativity and sustainability.
In that spirit, the lyrics of Rising Sun manifested themselves in April as I had decided to retire from journalism once and for all time to focus on my health, my music, my family, my home. Jeff made me realize, always, that you should pursue your dreams to their fullest potential. As I was dwelling on such thoughts and playing the guitar looking east at sunrise one morning, the heavens sort of opened and I began to chant the chorus of the song under my breath as I strummed along to the majestic rays of the day spreading out before my eyes. Later, I went for a run to the beach thinking of Jeff and how much he loved every sunny day when he could get out to the ocean – pretty much any and every day. At that very moment, I found an agate glowing in the sun, something I had never before encountered on the heavily used main beach of Ocean Shores. Farther down the beach, an eagle picked at the carcass of a salmon as the seagulls waited patiently for their shot at the leftovers, and the shells of razor clams literally littered the tideline.
Coming home from the run, I quickly jotted down the thoughts that make up the first part of Rising Sun, in many ways emulating Quinault Native American philosophy that we are truly stewards and vessels of the environment that sustains all life. The first working title was Here on Earth, and then I began to play it with the Rising Sun riff, and suddenly everything just fit together like it was always meant to be.
Songwriting is like that for me – an essential truth that will emerge with the passing of time if you just open yourself to the possibilities. I share this today as the first part of the ongoing narrative I have embarked upon to examine some of my more personal creativity, or preoccupation, in trying to make music that stands the test of time. Now that I have fewer years ahead of me, and as a small way to honor how Jeff lived his life, I have decided to head back into the “ocean of opportunity” with the “howling wind” of my guitars at my back, like a salmon spawning in the gravel of rocks rolling through the ages.

Real News about rocking through retirement with the new song, “The Well”

I feel more like Brian Wilson all the time during these glorious days of endless summer. So what’s an old beach boy to do, but play in a rock n’ roll band, cause in sleepy Seattle town, there’s just no place for a real news-writing man.  Here’s some of the newly remastered work from the beach studio, with a song written as sort of a lyrical arch outlining American history through my youth, intertwined with a few Biblical and mythical reference points. Of course, the basic guitar track is a direct homage to “All Along the Watchtower,” so the song is a bit long and ambitious, but rocks throughout with this new mix.

Still Running after all these years

For the first time since I had a heart tuneup almost two years ago, I have managed to log more than 1,000 miles, shedding pounds and pounding pavement as well as beach trails along the daily routine. Having previously logged two marathons, I can’t imagine going that distance again — while I take to the bike today and arrive home in time to watch the end of the New York Marathon. So, here’s the primary reasons I continue to run after a double-bypass and all the other strains on my body over the course of 63 wonder filled years:

Still Running Digital 2007

Starting at the end, looking back from The Future

To back into the story that will unfold here, it makes sense to trace time to where Real News Network originated in the form of the Joint Operating Agreement band. We were all employed by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer as journalists until 2009 and the ignoble end of our newspaper, and all had a passion for Seattle’s creative music culture despite age and gender, ethnic and generational differences. As the paper began to die its slow death, we began to play and perform or own original music as a way to keep our creative spirits vital on occasional Sundays over the course of the final year of the P-I.

Here are two of the original songs I contributed, “Struck by Lightning” and “The Way Home,” both of which we performed live and then recorded with a digital four-track and mixing on a computer system in my old West Seattle House on Trenton St.

Down the Road

Down the Road Final Master June 1 CLICK TO PLAY SONG
Songs always take me back to the places and faces I have known over a lifetime of rambling, both on paper, in print, even in song. “Down the Road” is the final song, or the last song, I wrote when I moved here to the beach to begin my life of rediscovery.
What I have discovered in starting to write about real life again is that some of the previous work still has a raw ring of truth to it, which makes me at least fairly sure I have been true to myself first and foremost in what I have tried to create outside the walls of real journalism.

Angelo on the beach in the sun

Real News from the Western Frontier

Angelo and Eagle
Eight years have gone by since my last online expository living novel, Song of Cecelia, muddled up this Real News Net website. Lately, close friends have been making a compelling case for an account of my lifelong career as a newspaper scribe, carrier of news, newsman and real news editor in this era of fake news and false realities. So to start the story at its proper point, I refer back to the recent self-made movie of my life that includes a few of the songs and much of the images that will come to even more lasting life as these pages progress. I am calling the book Real News from the Western Frontier for some obvious reasons. First, my first real paying journalism job was as editor of the Western Front. Second, before fake news was in vogue, I created this “Real News” network to essentially account for the realities of my creative life, which were not news in the least. If you have stopped in for a glimpse, hope you enjoy the ride because I sure believe that folks have the right to enjoy themselves, and that is pretty much the good news of the day. Now, to the movie:

Real News Net

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