Tag Archives: geoffrey code

George Harrison – Dream Away

georhe harrison
People often look at me like I have two heads when I tell them that my favourite movie is Time Bandits.

What?!? What the hell is Time Bandits?

In fact, it’s a movie that came out in 1980, was pretty popular, (grossed in the neighbourhood of $45 million) and is an epic journey of bizarre proportions.

The IMDb sums it up thusly: A young boy accidentally joins a band of dwarves as they jump from era to era looking for treasure to steal.george time bandits

It’s a little more involved than that, of course. The scene shifts from modern day England to the Battle of Castiglione and Napoleon to the Middle Ages, to Ancient Greece, the Time of Legends, the Fortress of Ultimate Darkness where the Supreme Being, in the guise of a bureaucrat, finally materializes, and dispenses with Evil.

This is a colourless, if not accurate, description but the movie is brilliant.

After all the hi-jinx, poor Kevin, (the little boy) is wandering on his street, perplexed. His parents have blown up in a mysterious explosion, (Supreme Being says, minutes earlier: Be careful with that stuff. That’s concentrated evil.), a crowd is gathering, his house has burnt down and he is calling out to his mom and dad.

And the music starts.

The music to which I refer, is a song, which George Harrison contributed to the movie, (it was produced, after all, by his company, Hand Made Films). The song is called Dream Away. It appeared on his album ‘Gone Troppo’,(1982) which turned out to be his last studio album for five years, until Cloud Nine, (1987).

The song is a great song. And that is an understatement. Perhaps because I love the movie so much, and the lyrics are a summary, lyrically, of the action in the movie as stills from the movie flash by, I also love the song.

george time map

But there is more to it than that. It’s a well-crafted song, meaningful, refers, symbolically, to a life cycle, (more about this and George Harrison music later in this George Harrison series of blogs) and has one of those melodies that is at once hopeful and filled with melancholy.

freddiemercuryimg461These are the best songs – hopeful yet melacholy. They are all too rare, (which is why, I suppose, they are all the better), and, when one can write a song like that, it is a song to be cherished. (Other examples of hopeful, melancholy songs, by my definition, would include:roger hodgson
Along Came Mary – Roger Hodgson, Hide in Your Shell – Supertramp, Spread Your Wings – Queen, Ten Years Gone – Led Zeppelin, Back Seat of My Car and Too Many People, both from Ram, by Paul McCartney. There are others I should put here but am forgetting and others that I have forgotten about all together – songs that were important and have drifted forever into the ether.)

I remember where I was when I heard Dream Away for the first time on satellite radio. Yes, a seminal event indeed.

The song has that particular instrumentation that George Harrison was fond of, (before he began collaborating with Jeff Lynne, formerly of ELO, which produced another unique sound) and, if you like, you love it. If you don’t, you hate it. I like it and, ergo, I love it. When you listen to George sing, it’s hard to believe he spent a life time smoking. His voice is soft and gentle as he takes you on a guided journey through whatever world to which one of his songs is referring, in this case time travel through time holes, robberies with international criminals, Supreme Being, Ogres and Evil.

This is the song that began my habit of sitting through the credits when I go to a movie, or watch one on television. The credits are sometimes interesting, when you recognize that someone you’ve heard of did something in the movie, but it is also a time when many page jonesproducers play a great song, (as in, during the credits of The Song Remains the Same, Led Zeppelin’s great concert movie from 1976, when they play the studio version of Stairway to Heaven, followed but utter silence – great moment). It is also a time to gather your wits, think about what you just saw, wait for the crowd to thin out.

Dream Away is the conclusion to a movie that explores such themes as reincarnation, good vs evil, the existence of a Supreme Being and if He created the world in six days how did he do it, doing the right, (or wrong), thing with the tools you have, trust, friendship, persistence, and, underlying all this, silliness.

Dream Away, by George Harrison. As the song says, so I do.

george let it be

Sweet E – A Quirky song About a Pretty Girl

Sweet E

There are times when you’re talking to me

And I should be listening

There are times when you’re talking to me

I don’t hear a thing

 

If you take a look at me

You will note the glassy look I have in my eye

I’m not looking through you

I’m lookin’ at you

 

And I wonder in amazement, thinking,

“My you’re pretty!”

And the words you say just slip right past me

Such a pity.

 

There are times when you’re walking with me,

Hand in hand along the street

In the midst of our reverie

I can’t help but note

 

Every guy that walks past us

Is checkin’ you out surreptitiously.

You don’t seem to notice

And I just smile inside

 

And I wonder in amazement thinking,close up sunglasses sideview

“My you’re pretty”

And I want to take you all the way to

Quebec City

 

There are times when you’re talking to me

And I should be listening

There are times when you’re talking to me

I don’t hear a thing

I don’t hear a thing

I’m glad you wear my ring.

 

The cover is a painting by Tanya Loviz from Australia. We have one of her prints hanging in our house. She was kind enough to give me permission to use it. My friend, and graphic artist, Thelma Freeman, of Napa, California put the whole thing together. She did a great job.

cabin cafe close up singing (2) square

– See more at: http://www.geoffreycode.com/site/category/lyrics/#sthash.Yey5s0A9.dpuf

 

 

 

Available now on iTunes
Available now on iTunes

 

Turnin’ Me – Lyrics

The lyrics to Turnin’ Me, to be released in advance of the forth-coming album ‘Later’, due in spring 2014.

Turnin' Me

Wonderin’ when I’ll see you

Missin’ you more each day

I’m thinkin’ about you so much

My feet are turnin’ to clay

 

Wonderin’ where it went wrong

It seemed such a good thing

But I can’t take the silence

What’s worse than this? (Nothin’)

 

Case for my Takamine. It's been around since '82
 

(You’re turnin’ me)          Sideways and upside-down

(You’re turnin’ me)          Inside and out

(You’re turnin’ me)          Sideways and upside-down

(You’re turnin’ me)          Out and about

(You’re turnin’ me)          Sideways and upside-down

(You’re turnin’ me)          Inside and out

(You’re turnin’ me)          Sideways and upside-down

(You’re turnin’ me)          Without a doubt

 

When I sit, think about

All o’ the things we done

What does it mean to me now

All o’ that time?

 

And all o’ that effort, from you n’ me

It stands unacknowledged now

What does it mean, to you know

Its such a damn waste

IMG_4366

(You’re turnin’ me)          Sideways and upside-down

(You’re turnin’ me)          Inside and out

(You’re turnin’ me)          Sideways and upside-down

(You’re turnin’ me)          Out and about

(You’re turnin’ me)          Sideways and upside-down

(You’re turnin’ me)          Inside and out

(You’re turnin’ me)          Sideways and upside-down

(You’re turnin’ me)          Without a doubt

 

 

And I don’t wanna think what’s next

Don’t want to head out west

Don’t want to pack my chest

And I think of where we missed

Where we wrongly guessed

In pursuit of our quest

other promo image

(You’re turnin’ me)          Sideways and upside-down

(You’re turnin’ me)          Inside and out

(You’re turnin’ me)          Sideways and upside-down

(You’re turnin’ me)          Out and about

(You’re turnin’ me)          Sideways and upside-down

(You’re turnin’ me)          Inside and out

(You’re turnin’ me)          Sideways and upside-down

(You’re turnin’ me)          Without a doubt

slideways logo

 

Snow Wonder – a new traditional Christmas carol

 

I was out in Penticton, BC once in early October. Had spent the day doing non-outdoorsy winestuff. It was pouring really hard. Went to a couple wineries, tried  and bought some wine, brought it home, chopped some wood, (I guess that counts as out-doorsy), started a fire, cooked dinner logsand sat down to drink some more wine.

 

 

 

As is my usual custom when I am sitting about not doing much of anything, I grabbed my guitar. The blustery weather put me in the mood to do something I had thought of doing before but hadn’t – write a Christmas song. It happened very quickly. I just started picking on a D chord and decided to try a descending bass line with an ascending melody would be d chordinteresting. The second chord was a rough one but necessary – a chordA/C# – with another high A at the top. Yes, I know you non-players don’t know what that means – let’s just say it is pretty rough making that transition from a D.

 

 

 

The whole song was written in about 45 minutes, at least, the main guitar part. There were still other parts.

My beautiful Larivee D-03
My beautiful Larivee D-03

 

Those mostly came in the studio when the layering of the various instruments was to take place. You see, it was meant to be a song evocative of the Christmas’s of my generations music studioyouth, (as can be seen in the video).

 

 

 

Now, my generation, who grew up in the ’60’s and ’70’s, was NOT the generation which used candles on trees and popcorn on a string as an ornament but we were damn close. We had shopping mall Santa and Charlie Brown Christmas and the Rudolph TV show in that strange animation, (it will air another 428 times this December in Calgary – maybe more in your town). We had eggnog, staying up later and getting up early and family get togethers, charlie brown xmasneighbourhood parties, caroling door to door and, most importantly as relating to the video, who could forget that we had “Go play outside!” from the adults. And we would. For hours. And hours. Even in this frigid city.rudolph

 

 

 

I think that instruments like the shakey bells that the Salvation Army people shake in the malls and the organ are considered by my generation to be traditional instruments, as are tubular bells, music box(main melody) and the music box, (accompanying the guitar as the background music).

 

tubular bells

 

I will grant you that the tertiary melody played with guitar harmonics make be a bit of a stretch when defining tradition but …

 

I think the song is really a nice guitar backdrop with a series of contrapuntal melodies weaving around on top. Yet, to my ear at least, it never gets dizzyingly complicated. In fact, because the tubular bells tend to dominate, you might miss the other guitar playing along-side them. The shakers definitely get subsumed by all the other instruments but they are there throughout, (the verse).geoffreycode_snowwonder

 

Regarding the video, it is vintage footage taken from the Prelinger Archives, mixed with some silly footage of me playing my guitar in various places around the beautiful city of Kimberley BC. Great snowstorm that day. Took some footage of me playing the keyboard too but it just doesn’t have the same edginess as walking around with a guitar in a snowstorm.

 

 

Snow Wonder – A Christmas Album

I will admit the landscape is not completely barren. All I Want For Christmas is a pretty catchy song. I still consider it a new entry into the canon of Christmas carols – and it came out in 1993! imagesmariah

 

Of course, some people consider that rather dreary version of Little Drummer Boy that David Bowie concocted with Bing Crosby to be a new entry.

I suppose new entries into this market are so rare, that even old entries are considered new.

8_McCartney

There are some Christmas carols that are good, (O Holy Night – Jon Anderson), some are corny, (Wonderful Christmastime – Paul McCartney and Wings), some are uplifting and some are just plain bad, (Jingle Bell Rock anybody?) And we get to hear them for six weeks every year.

anderson

Rather than complain about it, I did what any sensible musician would do – recorded my own Christmas album. Snow Wonder.

 

The album, (or, more properly, the EP) is six songs – four covers and two originals.

 

The covers are as follows:

Silent Night. Recorded with four guitars it retains its serenity and pastoral feel, (except maybe with that bent note near the end of the third verse. I considered re-doing that but left it in. It still buffaloes me.)

O Holy Night. A raucous affair featuring even more guitars layered up that Silent Night. The slides, which occur throughout the song, have always reminded me of the architecture of a Medieval Cathedral – purpose built to get you to gaze towards the heaven, so the soaring guitars are played to up-lift the listener.

geoffreycode_snowwonder

In The Bleak Midwinter – More of a Winter than a Christmas song but it certainly captures the mood of the title. Yet, the song is pretty enjoyable and brings out that certain melancholy one feels in the bleak mid-winter.

The Wassail Song – a nod toward the New Year after all the Christmas celebrating is done.

The two originals are called Snow Wonder and When the Flowers and the Dust Have Gone. I will post more about these two songs in the lead up toward Christmas. Oh, and, uh, Merry Christmas to all!

home_feature

Music Genres – aaaaaugh!

Mind-boggling. One wouldn’t think so but trying to pigeonhole your music into the proper genre is maddening. There are too many.

 

I grew up listening to Led Zeppelin, Queen, Slade – all the greats, which I considered ‘rock’led-zeppelin bands and, in my ’20’s, after music school,  then went through a huge ‘folk’ phase, listening to mostly Donovan but throwingDonovan at the Hollywood Bowl some Nick Drake, Don McLean, Dave Van Ronk, although he may be considered to be a part of the phase of my life in my ’30’s when I went through a ‘blues’ phase, including such notables as Sonny and Brownie, Sonny Rhodes, (whom I met at the King Eddy in Calgary one night),  and, of course, many others.

 

All along the way, Led Zeppelin was really the soundtrack of my life, (thank God for bootlegs – 9 studio albums gets old pretty quick!), but I always listened to the Raspberries, Rod Stewart, Fleetwood Mac, the old, middle and new formations, (the middle one, with Bob Welch is the one I consider the best – check out the link to their great songs Come A Little Bit Closer and Future Games).  Always listening to rock, folk and blues. I have always thought genres are pretty easy to figure out.

 

So, when it comes time to releasing an album, you must slot yourself into, first, a main and then a secondary, genre. For my second album, Snow Wonder, it was pretty easy – Christmas – done. For my first album, the easy choice was “Instrumental”, however, that doesn’t tell you too much. It could just as easily be instrumental of the 500 violins, (aaaah Summer Place by Percy Faith and his Orchestra – great tune) or of the The Great Gig in the Sky from Dark Side of the Moon.fleet

 

The logo from my first album!
 

I broke down the 12 songs from Slideways into the genres I believe they fall into, excluding the instrumental category:

Downtown – Outta Town – pop, country

Drake/In Flight – adult comtemporary, avant garde, new age

New Horizon – easy listening, blues

Thinking Twice – pop, epic pop, sophisti-pop

Too Bad – blues

Collaboration – pop, adult contemporary

Urban Hop – folk, contemporary

Wyatt Café – blues, ’50’s electric blues

Dey Ha’ T’ Go – blues, blues-rock

Blues Riff in E – blues

Fire – psychedelic rock, stoner

Waterfall – pop, easy listening, folk

 

If this is accurate, I guess the album would be classified as a blues album since that is the majority category. You would have a hard time convincing any bluesman worth his chops, however, that Urban Hop is a blues song.

Starting+Over

Being a spatial, as opposed to a linear, thinker, I find these labels exasperating at best and vexing at worst but I do see the need for them. Some system of organizational flow chart is needed. But, c’mon, how many bloody genres do we need. Check out this link about genres from Wikipedia.

 

 

I counted close to 300 and that only includes folk, rock, pop, blues, easy listening headings, It excludes ska, country, electronic, hip hop, jazz, and R and B. Wow.

 

As I continue to record music, I find myself having an internal debate about what the best way to release the series of songs I am working on. At the moment there are 22 songs in various stages of completion. Some of them are quite clearly blues songs, whether long or short or multi-versioned. Others are nice little pop songs. Some are brooding ballads, (I’ll have a blog about this coming up soon!), while others are more difficult to classify.

 

I suppose I could fit them all onto one album but that solution creates many issues, the least of which is that if a pop song is released onto a blues album, the listener expecting to hear blues will be miffed because there is a non-blues song on the album, and the pop listener will have a shallower life for not having heard the pop song lost on a blues album.

 

The solution? A series of singles? Nah. That would involve too much time spent on marketing.

 

A series of EP’s? This is the direction toward which I am leaning.

 

That way, I can release three to six songs on a blues EP and they all fit the description, just as all the pop songs will fit on the Pop EP.

 

Once the songs are complete, you can spend a little time working on all the various components of marketing and playing the songs and then follow it up with another album in short order.

 

And it is slowly dawning on me that the day of the album is doomed. People will buy songs, usually the hits, and move on so they can create a play-list, the current embodiment of the ’80’s mixed tape. And iTunes even has a “genius’ that will mix it for you so you don’t have to spend too much time bothering with your music. Let a machine do it. Bah!

 

In the spring of 2012, as I watched the hockey play-offs, there was a Lexus commercial thatSMALLL-Watson-K-T-c813398f24v2 had this great song as the background music. I did a little research and found out the song was by a North Carolina singer named Kristina Train. I checked out her website, listened to a bunch of her music and ended up buying the whole damn album. She has a great voice.

 

If this is out of step with modern sensibility, then to Hell with modern sensibility. I bought the whole album of someone who, half an hour previously, I had never heard of and I loved it. And this is what I usually do. I would rather listen to great but obscure music. I suppose that is what I record too. Too bad most people never hear it.

Talking Blues

Christopher Bouchillon
Christopher Bouchillon

A genre that was begun in the 1920’s by comedian/musician Christopher Bouchillon when he recorded a song called Talkin’ Blues and was popularized by in the 1940’s by Woody Guthrie and developed into a political protest genre. As it continued to develop, it retained its protest characteristic as Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash used it on several occasions, notably when Johnny Cash protested against the Vietnam War. Bob Dylan used it once as a dig against a political movement, (John Birch Society) and it turned into a protest against CBS when they stopped him from playing ‘Talkin’ John Birch Society Paranoid Blues’ on the Ed Sullivan Show.

Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash
Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash

Many people have used it and it has developed into a form of parody.

I use it as a metaphor.

Woody Guthrie
Woody Guthrie

I have written a song called Talkin’ Bicycle Blues, the recording of which is in progress and will appear on my up-coming EP, ‘Its Been a Long, Blue Day’.

A blast to record but incredibly difficult. The music is fairly standard as it is meant to remain strictly in the background while the narrative rambles on. But, finding the correct voice to do the talking, where one should find that vocal place where you are monotone, flat, and rhythmic yet coupled with the music – tough. And it is not a quick dip into the pool. Rather, it is a marathon as the form allows for excruciating detail to evolve in the lyrics as the tale unfolds.

What Am I Hearing? The G Chord

I must have played a ‘G’ chord on my guitar thousands of times. It is my preferred key on the guitar because, as a soloist, it is very versatile. On my current set list, shown below, no fewer than 11 of the guitar songs are in G.

I was in a duet about 10 years ago called the Dirty Ol’ Buskers. I played guitar, harmonica and the kazoo, (specifically for a cover of the Ringo version of ‘You’re Sixteen’) and my partner, Rob White, played a set of drums one might find a busker playing. A real simple set and he stood while playing. It was a great set-up. We both sang.
The Dirty Ol' Buskers logo
The Dirty Ol' Buskers

I will take a minute to explain what a G chord is to you non guitar players as it is relevant to what I will explain later. A guitar has six strings, (duh?!?) and to form a G chord, at least the way I do it, is to press down the 6th string at the 3rd fret, (bass) with your second finger, mute the 5th string, press down the 3rd fret of the first string with your 3rd finger and strum. The key is that strings 4, 3 and 2 are left open and ring out once you strum until you stop them. Great chord!

Two of the songs we did were Squeezebox by the Who and Rave On by Buddy Holly. We played both songs in G and the reasoning was thus: Both songs involve a simple boogie pattern over a shuffle beat and it sounds good with the full G chord but the real magic is that, when it came time to do some sort of guitar solo, I would get my two fingers in the position described above and start flying around the fret board, hitting chords at frets 3, 6, 7, 8, 10, 15, 20. The beauty of this is that you are actually playing a solo, whether you are focusing your strum on the high notes or the low notes, and those three open strings I mentioned just continue to ring out, basically acting like a rhythm guitarist.

So, we had two singers singing in harmony, one set o’ drums and one guitar acting like two guitars, essentially a five piece group. It was an effective way of filling out the sound.The Dirty Ol' Buskers - photo shoot

I have G on my mind because I was sitting down to do a little work on the guitar the other day and, after tuning up, struck a G chord. It was another of those strange aural phenomena I wrote about earlier, (see Barely Audible Music). When I struck the G chord, this one note really stood out. So, rather than doing what I had set out to do, I decided to spend a few minutes chasing this sound that just came out of my guitar. What resulted was a finger picking song that, with a little more development, is now being worked up with the working title ‘Quirky Riff in G’. (I dunno if I will stick with that title?)

And this song just emerged from a chord that I had played thousands of times.

It is a wondrous instrument.IMG_4366

This is my current set list, (songs in bold are piano, italics are in G.)

I Threw it All Away – Dylan
Victory – Code
Sail Away – Neil Young
Deliver Your Children – McCartney
One Too Many Mornings – Dylan
All Things Must Pass – George Harrison
The Way – Fastball
Shooting Star – Dylan
River of Tears – Ian Hunter
Yesterday’s Love – Code
The Crystal Ship – Doors
Flowers and Dust – Code
High Flying Bird – E John

Don’t Think Twice – Dylan
The Weight – The Band

Always on My Mind – Elvis
Richard Cory – McCartney
New Orleans – Arlo Guthrie
Most of the Time – Dylan
You’re So Square – Elvis/Queen
I’m Wandering – Kristina Train
Louisiana – Randy Newman
Let It Be – Beatles
Desperado – Eagles
Skyline Pigeon – E John

Downtown Train – Rod Stewart
Sweet Painted Lady – E John
Make You Feel My Love – Dylan
You Stepped into My Dreams – Ian Hunter
The Man You Wanted – Code
Walk a Thin Line – Fleetwood Mac
Love Minus Zero/No Limit – Dylan
Out on the Weekend – Neil Young
Who’ll Stop the Rain – CCR
Standing on a Rock – Ozark Mountain Daredevils

Catch The Wind – Donovan
Say it Ain’t So, Joe – Murray Head
I Shall Be Released – Dylan
Here, There and Everywhere – Beatles

Come a Little Bit Closer – Fleetwood Mac
I’ve Just Seen a Face – Beatles
There’s a Kind of Hush – Herman’s Hermits

One of the Boys by Roger Daltrey

Barely Audible Music

One of the Boys by Roger Daltrey

A long time ago, a friend and I were driving home after a party out in the country. It was the middle of the night and we were just driving along and chatting. Being good friends, a lapse into silence wasn’t uncomfortable as we drove along.

We drove in silence for a while. The radio was on, at such a level that it was unobtrusive. A song came on, ‘Say it Ain’t So’ by Roger Daltrey’, …  and the most interesting aural phenomenon happened. The music was barely audible at the level we had the radio but the vocals were clear. I listened intently to the vocals trying to pick up what was going on with the music.

Now, of course I realize I could have simply turned it up but I didn’t want to change either the mood of the car or the song.

Not being able to hear the music properly sparked up my imagination as far as the song went. It also was a huge complement to whoever mixed that song. Roger Daltrey’s voice is so clear in the first voice and chorus. I can hear at least three acoustic guitar guitars in that first verse and, bass joins in the second first before the song ramps up. The bridge, with the soaring background singers and the odd lyrics sustains the phenom. It is masterful because the same effect is present even as I listen to it now. It is all capped off in the third and fourth verses as the other background singers come in.

That ‘barely audible music’ phenomenon has stuck with me ever since, although, if you listen to the music I have recorded over the years, you’d never know it.

I grew up in the ’70’s. Zeppelin has always been my favourite band but in my formative years, Queen was a huge influence on me. Anyone who has listened to Queen will know that, at times, their production is just a little over the top. I always loved ridiculously over-produced songs like March of the Black Queen, (II), The Show Must Go On, (Innuendo), Now I’m Here, (Live Killers and Sheer Heart Attack) and others. The way Brian May layered his guitars in that way that defined Queen’s sound was something I wanted to do.  And I did do it on one song in Particular – Thinking Twice from my Slideways album.

What has all this to do with, you ask
I am recording a song right now, working title ‘Little Prairie Town’. I wrote it in Kimberley BC about a place I used to live, High River, Alberta.

The connection to the ‘barely audible music’ idea is that, after letting the song roll around in my head for a few weeks, the recording that is coming together right now is taking on the feel of the barely audible music. There is drums and bass and separate acoustic guitar tracks for the verse and the chorus. The guitar is recorded to be quite minimal. It fits beautifully with the bass to form an unobtrusive backdrop and, because of its minimalism, stands out more prominently than if it was a solid strumming pattern.

Production experiments amaze me.

 

Various photos

close up sunglasses sideview

Cabin cafe guitar, singing

Available now on iTunes
Available now on iTunes

jaffray sign

SweetE2

Jennifer Kapp - she sang the vocal on 'When the Flowers and the Dust Have Gone' from the Snow Wonder album.
Jennifer Kapp – she sang the vocal on ‘When the Flowers and the Dust Have Gone’ from the Snow Wonder album.
Gracie, my Beagle. "You're crackin' me up!"
Gracie, my Beagle.
“You’re crackin’ me up!”
Gracie - my Beagle "I am not amused!"
Gracie – my Beagle
“I am not amused!”

 

 

 

 

Case for my Takamine. It's been around since '82
Case for my Takamine. It’s been around since ’82

culvert-guitar-profile2