Sunday, June 20, 2021

SET YOURSELF FREE" (Back-story, Lyrics, & Link to Song on YouTube)

Back-story:

Ok, here’s the big question that often arises when discussing a song like this.  Do we fall out of love with our partner, or do we discover our developing identities are no longer compatible enough to sustain the relationship?  If you are a person who believes that love and identity have little to do with each other, this might not be a song for you.  On the other hand, this will be a song for those of you who feel a couple needs to share some common philosophical ground to enjoy a healthy and happy relationship.

From the mid-1960s up until 1982, when Siobhan and I started “living in sin,” I, like many young people, drifted in and out of love relationships.  Rebounding from these relationships was not easy, regardless of whether the decision to leave was mine or my partner’s.  During the time I spent healing from the loss of these lovers, I found great solace in music, especially song lyrics.  Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice,” Jim Croce’s “Lover’s Cross,” Dave Mason’s “We Just Disagree,” and Dave Loggins’ “Please Come to Boston” are just a few of the classics I wore out on my turntable as I recovered from the loss of each lover.  (Did I say turntable?  You younger readers will have to look up this term.)

Anyway, as these songs, and others like them, imprinted their themes into my soul, I took great comfort in becoming aware that falling out of love was not really the reason for relationships not working.  They simply do not work if you are not on the “same page” with your lover.  There must be some common denominators that will hold a relationship together.  Living simply or extravagantly, having or not having kids, traveling or staying at home, integrating with others or isolating yourselves from them, are just a few issues that can cause problems if you and your partner do not feel the same way.  These issues, along with many others, are the ones I confronted with my lovers until I got lucky and met Siobhan in the early 1980s.  Ironically, I wrote “Set Yourself Free” after I met Siobhan.

 In the mid-1980s, a close friend of mine was watching his marriage of fifteen years fall apart.  I knew him and his wife very well, and they were both great people.  As Dave Mason puts it so well, “There ain’t no good guy; there ain’t no bad guy; there’s only you and me, and we just disagree.”  These lines, and others like them, were the ones I would introduce to him as he struggled to find out the reasons for his failing marriage.  I worked at trying to get him to see that love was not the issue at stake here.  He and his wife were merely discovering that they were not the same people they were when they were teenagers.  The philosophies developing in their souls had been kept dormant by those attractive joys of youth, sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll.  While some couples are fortunate to emerge from the pleasures of youth with compatible philosophies, many, like my friend, do not.  If you are one of the unfortunate ones, you are confronted with the tough question.  Do I live in quiet desperation, or do I set myself free?  My friend chose to set himself free.

Arriving at this decision was not easy for him.  It took many beers and many hours of discussion.  It was during many of our long conversations that the lyrics of “Set Yourself Free” developed.  In fact, I merely took words from our talks and put them into a meter and rhyme scheme.  As you look over the lyrics, you will see that my friend was a guy who preferred a simplistic approach to living, while his wife discovered that she wanted extravagance.  Was either of them wrong?  Of course not!  They learned more about who they were and moved on to better lives.  Here’s something I’d like to run by you.  Try viewing divorce as an indication of growth rather than a sign of failure.  After all, isn’t that what it really is?

Because of the nature of the topic of the song, I chose a sensitive delivery.  With a guitar, fiddle, and bass, John and Joe Dady help me create an atmosphere that deftly enhances the mood evoked by the narrator as he describes his feelings.  It’s far from being comparable to Bob Dylan, Jim Croce, Dave Mason, or Dave Loggins, but I like it, and I hope you do, too.

Big thanks to John and Joe Dady for helping me record this one!  For over forty-five years, John and Joe, quintessential musicians and now members of the Rochester Music Hall of Fame, brought much joy to the greater Rochester area as well as other areas of the United States, Canada, and Ireland.  Unfortunately, Joe succumbed to leukemia in 2019, a great loss to the music community in our area.  John, however, is back performing again.  Of course, the show is different, but he still delivers.  Catch one of his shows when you can.

Lyrics:

Verse 1

I like the country; she likes the city life

I wish she told me this before she became my wife

She likes to wander those canyons made of steel

I like to analyze the way those breezes feel

Chorus

And I'm not feelin' so good

And I don't get the peace I should

And my heart keeps on tellin' me,

"Set yourself free"

Instrumental

Verse 2

She likes the big house, pool out in the yard

I'm not the kind of guy who likes to work that hard

She likes to socialize just about every night

I like to sit at home by that firelight

Chorus

Instrumental

Verse 3

She likes those fancy drinks; I like those homemade wines

She worries 'bout most things when I think things are fine

I guess it's time for me to move on down the line

Yes, it's time to let my heart rule my mind

Chorus Twice

Instrumental

 

Here is a link to the song on YouTube.  It’s an auto generated video created FOR YouTube by CD Baby, our distributor.  If an ad appears when the link opens, click to dismiss it, and the song will start.  Enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8lRyWdMEeNc&list=OLAK5uy_kSbj9yfSEKDWEK5SeeIaMUH6BLcLQkh48&index=2

If you Prefer, you can stream this song on all the major platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Prime, etc.

Monday, May 17, 2021

"BOOGIE WOOGIE THERAPY" (Back-story, Lyrics, and Link to Song on YouTube)

 

BOOGIE WOOGIE THERAPY (Back-story, Lyrics, and Link to song on YouTube)

Back-story:

I believe songs come out of the air.  They come into your soul and form from the ideas, feelings, and emotions you are experiencing.  Most of the time, the creation that takes shape is temporary.  However, when the concept will not go away, you are on your way to scoring a new song.  “Boogie Woogie Therapy” emerged when two unrelated ideas came together.  The first, my belief that action plays a major role in getting rid of the blues, merged with the thought of Siobhan and me wanting to create a new sound with her bass.  When these two notions would not leave me alone, I knew I was off and running with a new song.

We all encounter the blues, and here is what I quite often experience when it pays a visit to me.  I usually wake up with a real empty feeling inside of me.  Everything seems hopeless, and struggling with the daily activities of life seems futile.  All the negative aspects of my life bombard my spirit, and they take over.  I feel like I am in a boxing match with the world champion, Mr. Negativity, and he is kicking my butt all over the ring.  Each punch he throws at me reminds me of what I haven’t done, what I can’t do, or what a failure I am, and the only solace I get from this experience is I realize it is temporary.  Just like the weather, these emotional Thunderheads clear, and the sun comes out again.  I have discovered you can wait for these clouds to move on when they are ready, or you can precipitate their disappearance with action.  Since I am a person who does not like to wallow in negativity, I usually just start moving, and within a short time, my emotional lows start to drift away.

When I start moving, I usually begin by choosing rather simple activities.  For example, I’ll start cooking or cleaning, and after my head clears a little, I’ll put on my headsets and listen to some music or a podcast on my phone while I am working.  The actions of cooking, cleaning, and listening slowly begin to erase whatever grip negativity has had on me, and I start to feel better.  Walking in our neighborhood or on our treadmill, cycling on our tandem bike, playing the guitar, and going out to listen to music are just a few other simple activities I use to trigger the evaporation of my pessimism.  Occasionally, when I am out listening to music, I’ll get up and dance, but it is not one of my favorite actions for getting rid of the blues; I have gotten myself into too many bar fights by accidentally drifting into dancing with someone else’s partner.  Nevertheless, I have observed the tremendous positive impact dancing has on those who love to do it.

 One day while Siobhan and I were in the midst of a rehearsal, I thought about how dancing helps to shake off the blues.  We had just finished playing “Shotgun Boogie,” an old boogie tune by Tennessee Ernie Ford.  This was the first boogie tune we ever learned, and we were psyched because it gave Siobhan an opportunity to create an awesome new sound with her bass.  Unfortunately, while we were ecstatic about the sound of the bass, we were not very thrilled with the content of the song.  Learning a song is somewhat similar to writing one.  You learn it, rehearse it, and try it out on your audience.  If it doesn’t feel right to you, you scrap it from the playlist.  Unfortunately, “Shotgun Boogie” did not feel right, and we got rid of it.  However, learning the song was not a total waste of time because it gave birth to “Boogie Woogie Therapy.”

 Unwilling to give up this great new sound we were getting with Siobhan’s bass, I spontaneously broke into the first verse and chorus of “Boogie Woogie Therapy.”  We played it over and over again, and it felt right.  I then added a harmonica break, and we played the verse, chorus, and harmonica break until we were exhausted.  Being so juiced from the new song we created, I went to my computer, and within a few hours, I had the remaining verses to the song.

“Boogie Woogie Therapy” is pure Americana.  It is an upbeat tune depicting a philosophy you can use when the blues gets its grip on you.  The philosophy is simple.  Whether you are eighteen or eighty, you will always encounter emotional lows.  You can either wait until these lows move on of their own accord, or you can trigger their disappearance with action.  Of course, the song suggests you get up and get going.  By the request of many, Siobhan and I recorded this song without the help of any studio musicians.  In addition to our basic sound of the guitar, harmonica, vocals, and bass, I gave the recording some depth by dubbing in some additional harmonies, an electric guitar, and blending harmonicas.  Pay attention to Siobhan’s bass in this one!  It’s exquisite!  I guarantee it will jumpstart your day!  Hope you have time to check it out!  I like it, and I hope you do, too!

Big thanks to Rich Cooley, a great singer/songwriter, for letting us record this one in his home studio.  Rich, a great neighbor who lives around the corner from us, showed Siobhan the ins and outs of recording and mixing, and started her down the road to creating her own home studio, where we now do all of our own recording.

 

Lyrics:

Verse 1

Well, I got something you can do

When you’re feeling sad and blue

It’s so simple, it’s nothing new

Well, get up and boogie woogie, it’ll get you through

 

Chorus

Boogie woogie,

...Boogie woogie,

Get up and dance around

...Get up and dance around

Boogie woogie,

...Boogie woogie,

You just can’t stay down

...You just can’t stay down

Boogie woogie,

...Boogie woogie,

It’ll free your mind

...It’ll free your mind

Well, it’s the best damn therapy you’ll ever find

 

Verse 2

When you’re feeling sad and low

And you’ve got no place to go

And time seems to move so slow

Well, get up and boogie woogie, and just let it flow

 

Chorus

 

Instrumental

 

Verse 3

Now, when your heart’s about to break

And there’s no more you can take

Here’s a move that you can make

Well, get up and boogie woogie, it’ll ease the ache

 

Chorus

 

Verse 4

Now, when the world has you on trial

And you feel you’ve lost your style

And each step feels like a mile

Well, get up and boogie woogie, it’ll make you smile

 

Chorus

 

Instrumental

 

Verse 5

When you meet folks who are blue

And they don’t know what to do

Tell them just what works for you

That Boogie Woogie Therapy’ll get them through

 

Chorus

 

Here is a link to the song on YouTube.  It’s an auto generated video created by CD Baby, our distributor.  If an ad appears when the link opens, click to dismiss it, and the song will start.  Enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4nonYzAdW9g&list=PLmaM3h4AoHN-pRSCzG9xMGkJuCeDDLaf4&index=20

If you Prefer, you can stream this song on all the major platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Prime, etc.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

"LEAVIN' ALL OUR TROUBLES FAR BEHIND" (Back-story, Lyrics, and Link to Song on YouTube)

 

LEAVIN’ ALL OUR TROUBLES FAR BEHIND (Back-story, Lyrics, and Link to song on YouTube)

Back-story:

Folks, is there anything better than a road trip?  It has to be one of the top ten great experiences.  In addition to letting us let go of our anxieties and responsibilities, it gives us time to relax, reflect, and renew our commitment to whatever personal goals we have set.  It lets us live in the moment, the most satisfying place we can be.  Most everyone I know has been on a road trip, but if you haven’t, you owe it to yourself to get out there and try it!

Siobhan and I have been going on road trips for the past Thirty-nine years.  As with much of what we do, we keep it simple.  We take very little with us: favorite audio books, favorite music, and just the essentials regarding clothing.  In the 1990s, after Siobhan started playing bass, we began taking the music along with us so that we could practice and play some impromptu gigs if the opportunity arose.  The focus of our trips has been, and will probably continue to be, visiting family and friends.  So far, our destinations have been New England, Ohio, Maryland, Washington DC, Virginia, West Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Florida.  Unlike many travelers, we do not rush to these destinations.  Instead, we take our time, staying in little interesting towns we find along the way.  We love to meet new people and listen to the stories they have to tell.

In the mid 1990s, we traveled to Alexander, North Carolina, a little town just north of Asheville.  Our friends, Marianne and Raymond Jacque, retired there, and built a beautiful home up in the hills outside of Alexander.  “Leavin’ All Our Troubles Far Behind” was born on this trip.

 We were on highway 81, an interstate that starts in upstate New York and ends in Alabama.  When it passes through western Virginia, it travels along the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.  Somewhere between Winchester and Christiansburg, with the music blaring, the details of the first verse of the song came together.  The imagery is nothing special.  I merely put the sights, sounds, feels, smells, and tastes of the road into a simple meter and rhyme scheme.  I felt good about this first verse, but I did not immediately know where to go with it.  Here is what happened.

 When we arrived at Marianne and Raymond’s house, the awesome setting of their home inspired me and gave me an excellent opportunity to complete the song.  I am an early riser, and usually have at least two to three hours of alone time before everyone else gets up.  Sitting in the sunroom located on the deck in the front of the Jacque’s home, I composed the second and third verses of the song as the dissipating fog dawned another beautiful Carolina morning.

 When it came to creating the chorus, it was simple.  Road trips allow us to detach from our past and future, and, if we let it happen, they let us get into the now and enjoy the moment.  I have been working at living this philosophy for most of my life, and as I get better and better at it, I find life becoming more and more rewarding.  Many folks who listen to my songs wonder if I am a Buddhist.  I’m not, but I sure think they have some cool ideas!

 The song is a fast moving somewhat folk, country, Americana  song.  With a guitar, a fiddle, a mandolin, a banjo, a harmonica, a bass, drums, and backup harmonies, John and Joe Dady (now members of the Rochester Music Hall of Fame) and Tim Chaapel (owner of Mobile Music in Canandaigua, NY), all quintessential musicians, help Siobhan and me create one of those hard-driving road tunes.  Big thanks to these guys!  The song is  far from being anything like the classic road trip song “Take It Easy” by the Eagles, but it has that feel to it.  I like it, and I hope you do, too.

 

Lyrics:

Verse 1

It's August and the summer's nearly over

Here we are on Highway 81

The Blue Ridge, the Smokies, and you right by my side

It's time to take a break and have some fun

As we roll along and sip our cups of coffee

The sun is rising in the eastern sky

The leaves upon the trees blow so gently from the breeze

The truckers nod and wave as they go by

 

Chorus

And here we are without a past or future

Suspended once again in space and time

Enjoying each and every precious moment

Leavin’ all our troubles far behind

 

Verse 2

Way back up in those woods outside of Asheville

Off the beaten path, out of the way

All alone sits a little home from where no one would want to roam

A place where time just seems to fade away

It's here we sit and play our good time music

Bluegrass, country, folk, and rock-n-roll

And as we sing, the hills soon ring, and suddenly everything

Harmonizes to become one soul

 

Chorus

 

Verse 3

And sometimes on those Carolina mornings

The fog is like a lazy hazy dream

So we reflect, select, reject, and finally connect

With that sun that carves a bright and vivid scene

And often on those Carolina evenings

The thunder rolls and rumbles through the hills

We watch each flash, feel each crash, listen to that water splash

'Til the moon returns serene and still.

 

Chorus

 

Instrumental Break

 

Repeat first half of Verse 1, and then the chorus 2 times.

 

Here is a link to the song on YouTube.  It’s an auto generated video created by CD Baby, our distributor.  If an ad appears when the link opens, click to dismiss it, and the song will start.  Enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jvMmUbPQBgU&list=PLmaM3h4AoHN_cKb13jMDd4mDim-mU_khW&index=13

If you Prefer, you can stream this song on all the major platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Prime, etc.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

"YOUR LOCAL STAR" (Back-story, Lyrics, and Link to Song on YouTube)

 

“Your Local Star” (Back-Story, Lyrics, and Link to song on YouTube)

Back-story:

When you play music, as with most ventures, there are many important decisions you need to make.  Just to name a few, you need to decide what style of music appeals to you, what kind of audience you want to attract, what venues work for you, the number of shows you want to play, and how far you are willing to travel.  Regarding such decisions, I have followed my heart over the years, and it has brought me to an extremely comfortable place with music.

With an acoustic guitar, acoustic bass, a harmonica, and vocals, Siobhan and I deliver a considerably basic presentation of folk, country, bluegrass, rock, blues, Caribbean, Irish, and original music.  We do not try to target any specific audience.  If you enjoy listening, we enjoy playing for you.  For us, the music is merely a mechanism we use to have fun with people.  While we enjoy playing a variety of venues, we are the most comfortable performing in a small bar, winery, restaurant, coffeehouse, back yard, or small concert.  It is in these settings that we have our best results at establishing an intimacy with our audience.  Singing and bantering with the patrons of any local neighborhood pub is something we live for.  In our earlier years, we played two or three times a week, but “Father Time” has forced us to slow it down a bit now.  Most of our gigs have been and are within an hour of our home. We have appeared in venues from Maine to Florida, but most of those shows resulted from being in areas where we were visiting family or friends.  Keeping it simple, playing for mostly the locals, and staying close to home has always been the Meyer and McGuire philosophy, and this should help explain how “Your Local Star” developed.

In the late 1980s I started playing music for Bill and Robin Mallwitz at The Trolley, a little restaurant/bar in Shortsville, New York.  At the time Siobhan ran my sound (eventually joining me on stage with her bass in 1992).  We had many great nights with the patrons at this awesome little pub.  In 1990, Bill and Robin needed to expand because their dinners were getting too popular.  They left The Trolley and moved across the street to a bigger restaurant, The Whipple Tree, which they renamed Buffalo Bill’s Family Restaurant and Tap Room (now known as Sidetrack Bar and Grill).  All the regulars followed them, and soon many new patrons were appearing at their door.

 Buffalo Bill’s had a great little stage area for its musicians.  It was a raised area in front of the windows at the front of the bar.  It faced both the bar and the dining area and placed the musicians about ten feet from the patrons, making it quite easy to interact with them.  It was on this stage that “Your Local Star” was born.

One night, after an incredible time of having fun with the regulars, Siobhan and I were packing up our equipment, and I started thinking about the satisfaction I received from playing music for people.  I speculated that my music heroes must feel a similar contentment when they play their big shows.  While they were national and international stars, I was just a local one.  From here, my mind started playing around with the words guitar, bar, and star, and in a short time, I completed the chorus of the song.

When I got home, I tried to figure out where I could go with this chorus.  After analyzing my feelings, I identified three things that brought me pleasure from playing music for people.  Hearing people sing with me, bringing smiles to their faces, and shaking their hands or hugging them at the end of the night were the events that contributed to my great sense of fulfillment.  From these events, I carved out the verses of the song.

The song is a slow country waltz.  With a guitar, fiddle, harmonica, bass, drums, and backup harmonies, John and Joe Dady, now Rochester Music Hall of Famers, help me create one of those good old country songs from yesterday.  It is far from being a Hank Williams or George Jones tune, and my voice is a younger one, not the more seasoned voice you hear when we perform now.  Hope you enjoy it.

 

Lyrics:

Chorus

I go out on the weekends to play my guitar

You see I'm driven to play all these small country bars

And I know that you know that I won't go far

'Cause I'm so content to be your local star

 

Verse 1

Well it brings me great pleasure when I hear you sing

It confirms a truth money don't mean a thing

And when this bar fills up with your harmony

We all become one with my melody

 

Chorus

 

Verse 2

The smiles on your faces make it so clear

Why the Old Boy up there done sent me down here

He said, "Hey, Buddy, for you I've got one simple goal

"Go out there on the weekends and ignite their souls."

 

Chorus

 

Verse 3

The handshakes and kisses and the hugs mean so much

Ain't it funny how our stress disappears when we touch

And of all the things in life that I've learned to do

The best one of all is to share songs with you

 

Chorus Twice

 

Here is a link to the song on YouTube.  It’s an auto generated video created by CD Baby, our distributor.  If an ad appears when the link opens, click to dismiss it, and the song will start.  Enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9SoTpNrXuo

 

If you Prefer, you can stream this song on all the major platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Prime, etc.