I was going to release the album on Wednesday. I liked the date 2020-09-23 as the numbers add up to 9, my favorite number. But why not release the album today?!?! It’s the beginning of a new week. It’s rough out there. This music is upbeat and might make some of you smile… I hope.
Perhaps you can help me… I have to select the one song that is featured on Bandcamp. I first picked Dance 4 Me, then settled on Walking Beside U. Which one gets your vote? Bittersweet?
The new album vision 2020 is hopeful, certainly, but I am not optimistic. To be an optimist is to display a positive outlook that is based on the expectation of success and the most favorable outcome possible. An optimist is the kid that goes to school knowing that there will be a test and, despite not having studied at all, expects to do well in that test. Or the person who runs along a tree that has fallen across a ravine or a river… without stopping to look whether the wood is rotten and can’t support them.
I find this attitude rather useless. Don’t tell me everything will be fine. Don’t tell me not to worry. Also don’t tell me that everything sucks and all will end badly. As I become older I find optimists as well as pessimists tiring. They presuppose an outcome that is not guaranteed. This following story illustrates my point, I think:
There is a Taoist story of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically. “We’ll see,” the farmer replied. The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed. “We’ll see,” replied the old man. The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. “We’ll see,” answered the farmer. The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. “We’ll see,” said the farmer.
(I mentioned this story in a 2005 post about accidents)
I love this quote:
If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.
– Orson Welles
I have been wondering about an aspect of manhood that I observe in worldwide culture and, if I am honest, also in myself.
Men seem to have this tendency to fight up to a point and then they say fuck it and storm off. Or they threaten to burn it all down. Maybe this is a result of thousands of years of fighting and wars. I think at times everyone was walking around with PTSD because they were force-drafted into battles and most men had seen and smelled the horror of a battle’s aftermath.
The modern version of this is, of course, to vote for a populist “politician” who promises to destroy the establishment – a worldwide phenomenon supported by the rise of Facebook and social media. Let’s end it all, because to slowly, slowly fix and repair and rebuild is not something that most men do well.
You may have heard of the term Truemmerfrauen, literally Rubble Women or Ruin Women, a German word for the women who cleared the ruins after WW2. They say it’s because there weren’t a lot of men to do the job as they died during the war or were injured or in POW camps… but I don’t think that’s the whole truth. To sift through rubble, to slowly mend something… most men don’t do that well.
I am trying to become better at mending and building. Doing things that take time and that unfold slowly, helps… like baking bread for example. But the urge to say fuck it always lurks somewhere underneath in the dark recesses.
That’s the cover for the new album, which will appear on Bandcamp within the week. The design of my name is a nod to my dad who, when asked how to spell his name, always said “Liebe mit RT”. Liebe is the German word for Love and “mit” means with.
This morning I listened to the album – I should keep count on how often I listen to a mix before it becomes final… hundreds of times, I’m sure – and couldn’t find anything I would want to change.
There is one piece, track #5, called Afternoon Waves, that reminded me of the saying (Tibetan?) that while clouds and storms come and go the sky above them is always blue. Why? Because there is a rhythm guitar, on the left side, that keeps going at the same pace even while the verse is 59 beats per minute (halftime) and the chorus is 118 BPM. All other instruments change with the tempo, except that one guitar. It’s the blue sky above the storms.
“Years ago, anthropologist Margaret Mead was asked by a student what she considered the first sign of civilization in a culture. The student expected Mead to talk about fish hooks or clay pots or grinding stones. But no, Mead said that the first sign of civilization in an ancient culture was a femur (thighbone) that had been broken then healed. Mead explained, that in the animal kingdom, if you break your leg, you die. You cannot run from danger, get to the river for a drink or hunt food. You are meat for prowling beasts. No animal survives a broken leg long enough for the bone to heal. A broken femur that has healed is proof that someone has taken time to stay with the person who has fell, has bound up the wound, has carried the person to safety and has tended the person through recovery. ‘Helping someone through difficulty is where civilization starts’ said Mead. We are at our best when we serve others. Be civilized.”
from the Upaya newsletter
I think that’s the first time I experienced snow on the ground in September in over thirty years of living in Santa Fe. The light this morning is grey and directionless, as if a snow globe had been placed on top of the landscape.
Since 1981 the earliest snow fall was October 17, in the year 1999.
A couple of months ago I started making paella. I read a person describe risotto as comfort and paella as a party. That sounded intriguing.
I learned how to make sofrito. Then I made my first paella and it was good enough to be encouraging.
Yesterday I made a “Korean” paella, with kimchi, edamame, and tofu. It was a party.
I was working on the last song I wanted to record for this new album and didn’t notice that the clock was set to 96kHz instead of 88.2kHz.
Let me back up… I record my music at 88.2kHz instead of 96kHz because there is no distinguishable difference between 88,200 and 96,000, certainly nothing I can hear, and because I have to convert the music files to 44,100, which is the format for CDs and mp3s etc.
Converting the files from 88,200 to 44,100 is a simple division by 2. However, converting from 96,000 to 44,100 is a division by 2.17687074829932…. Sure a computer can handle that easily, but it has to decide to round up or down and I don’t like that. It just looks mathematically messy to me. Like enough of an error that flying to the moon you’d miss it entirely. (right Jane?!)
So I always work with 24 bits at 88.2k. Except one time a few weeks ago! I had discovered some music from 2007 – a collaboration I did with Andrew Gaskins. And one of us had started the collaboration in the 24/96kHz format. I switched my clock to 96k and made a mix of the old track and afterwards forgot to switch the clock back to 88.2k. As a result this new track ran at the wrong speed. I was a little suspicious of the song tempo but for some reason didn’t follow that up. I had already recorded all of the guitars when I realized my error. Changing the clock back to 88.2k meant that the guitars were slower and therefore lower than they were recorded. What a mess! 96,000 : 88,200 = 1.08843537414966 – therefore the tempo of 120 beats per minute became 130.6122448979593. That’s quite a difference.
I started over and recorded all of the guitars at the correct speed/clock. I liked the piece at both tempos and thought that some of the melody I had played for the version that was too fast was nice. I decided to send both versions to Jon with the instruction to change his clock to work on the faster version.
As you would expect Jon came up with different sounds and bass lines for the two versions. So now these two versions bookend the album. The slower version (still 120BPM!) is track number one and is called Bittersweet, one of my favorite pieces on the album.
The faster version is called Think Error.
Now say that with a German accent!!
Hint: did you ever see that Language school commercial where the English captain says “Mayday mayday we are sinking!” and the German Coast guard officer replies “Okay. What are you sinking about?”
My favorite water container is a repurposed pickle jar. It can hold 16 ounces of water. Recipe: buy pickles and eat them. Put container in water until label peels off easily. Put the glass and top in dishwasher. The glass was usable after one wash, but it took six washes for the lid to lose its pickle sent. The top basically took up residence in the back of the dishwasher for a couple of weeks. And the water tastes better than out of any metal water bottle!