Summertime is the new song from the artist JB Proof (who happens to be my fourteen-year-old son). Instrumental, contemplative, easy-listening. He had zero help from me, which was a deliberate choice on both of our parts.
I’ve been writing and recording music in various genres for decades now (am I truly that old? yes), but this youngster is something else. The question of talent vs hard work vs inspiration is a difficult one. You can go around and around for days on that problem. JB is a mixture of talent and hard work. He definitely has a unique knack for melody and chord structure, but he will also happily sit at the piano for hours, practicing and writing and practicing some more.
When you join talent and hard work together, you end up with a potent mixture. A God-inspired mixture, in my estimation. I’m VERY interested to see where JB goes with this. He has a great many other songs in the pipeline…
The Inflatable Hippies just released their newest album, A Short History of Light. Mellow electronica. I’ve belonged to the Inflatable Hippies for years. Can’t remember exactly how long.
I recommend belonging to a band if you don’t already. It’s kind of the musical equivalent of carrying snow chains in your car. Better to have them than not. You never know when it is going to snow.
Please encourage your friends, your Aunt Marge, other relatives, family-members, neighbors, bridge club, former associates in the mafia you once worked for, the local chapter of the Audubon Society, etc., to have a listen. Available on Amazon, Apple, Spotify, Pandora, etc.
The Inflatable Hippies are already hard at work on their next album, which is tentatively titled A Short History of Shadow. Point, counter-point, of course.
The album after that one will be largely inspired by Tolkien in order to counteract the pernicious effects of Amazon’s bizarrely deficient Rings of Power series. A whole lot of deprogramming will need to happen because of that series. Feel free to start that brave effort by handing out copies of Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles, Patricia McKillip’s Riddlemaster of Hed trilogy, Susan Cooper’s Dark is Rising series, Ursula K. LeGuin’s Wizard of Earthsea stories, Robin McKinley’s Blue Sword, Jim Butcher’s Aeronaut’s Windlass, George MacDonald’s Princess and the Goblin stories, and, of course, three humble little books: The Hawk and His Boy, The Shadow at the Gate, and The Wicked Day.
All of these stories fit into the history of light. In different configurations, angles, points of view, sub-categories, spectra. Just as do certain music, sculptures, paintings, architecture, the oak tree, giraffes, lemurs, Neptune, dahlias, gophers (sadly so), sunrises and sunsets. And a whole lot of other stuff, plus all the grains of sand on the every seashore on every landmass on planet Earth.
My newest album, Love in the Time of Pandemica, has just gone live. These days, I’m mostly recording under the name Inflatable Hippies (which my wife hates), but this album is under the band name UDK (short for Upside Down Kingdom). I’m not going to use this name again; it’s only for this album (and, yes, I realize this is totally a dumb marketing move in terms of [not] building up an entity–but that’s not exactly my goal here).
I didn’t write these songs for my grandmother. My specific audience for them is epic fantasy readers who shop at thrift stores, like Dvorak’s New World Symphony, and are mildly irritated with Jim Butcher for not writing a sequel to the Aeronaut’s Windlass. A very well-written and crafted book.
Anyway, these are all rock/alternative songs, mostly dealing with mortality, meaning in life, fate, providence, totalitarianism (particularly “Time to Run” and “Dark Stories”). “She’s Got Fangs” is in honor of all the excitable people who made themselves greatly known in the last two years of the pandemic/shut down/the great oddity (whatever you want to call 2020 and 2021). “Feel Just Fine” is an old, stripped down, fairly raw version of a song that ended up on the soundtrack of the indie film The Fellows Hip.
I love writing and recording music. The process is intensely creative with almost immediate gratification. At least, it seems immediate in comparison to writing books (several weeks versus months upon months). A regular dose of creativity keeps me sane. I figure on putting together an album’s worth of music at least once a year. Probably do an electronica instrumental album next.
You can hear all the songs in the new album for free at my HearNow site. If you like them, feel free to buy them on Apple or Amazon, or stream them on Spotify, Pandora, etc. The songs are pretty much everywhere digital music is sold.
Odd thoughts at night are inevitable, particularly when you rarely sleep well. However, the rareness was exacerbated even further the other night by a harvest prep crew working on their machines. At 3am. On the other side of the fence from our backyard. With great enthusiasm, gusto, dedication, perspicacity, however you want to describe it. Combined with a lack of focus on how much noise they might be making in close proximity to a sleeping house.
I popped outside and had a few terse words with the crew. They initially expressed confusion and doubt as to the gravity of the situation, but then began to grasp my seriousness. After a few back-and-forths, due to the language barrier, they drove the rig deeper into the ranch. As you can see from the photo, the rig was also festooned with lights, not unlike a large Christmas tree that has fallen over but still remains plugged into the wall socket.
Regaining sleep after such an event, is usually unachievable. Therefore, the odd thoughts. In no particular order: asteroid mining, devising a plot for a book (a lighthearted, comedic version of Lewis’ That Hideous Strength, with an emphasis on lighthearted), whether or not fats are as unhealthy as “they” say they are, cats vs gopher snakes as antidote to gopher infestations, the nature of time if dimensions exist beyond our four dimensions (time becomes very negotiable at that point, doesn’t it?), and whether my kids should start learning Mandarin.
I also spent some time musing over my latest music album (about to go live on all the various streamers): Love in the Time of Pandemica. I used a loop on one of the songs without realizing that certain loops have different kinds of rights associated with them: personal, performance, sales, etc. At any rate, I used the wrong kind of loop and had to pull the one song. Which means a nine song album instead of a ten song album.
I’ll post the song here when I get a chance. Can’t sell it, but I can post it for free.
The topic of intellectual property is an interesting one. I have friends on both sides of the aisle. Everything in the public domain versus rights reserved for a definite amount of time versus rights reserved indefinitely (Leonard da Vinci, contact your heirs). Automatic public domain is a bridge too far for me. After all, what’s the difference between a loaf of bread and a song or a story? Not much.
But I’m not a biologist, so I’m not qualified to determine what are mice and what are men. Enough said.
Of music, however… I’ve been recording random songs for fun under the moniker Inflatable Hippies for the past few years. Rewrites of Christmas carols, electronica, etc. Purely enjoyable. Great way to exercise the creative synapses without needing to paint the Sistine Chapel.
Lately, though, I’ve been writing slightly more serious music in terms of subject matter. Also, with a more traditional rock approach. I’ve cobbled together ten songs, which are in the process of release under the band name Udk (upside down kingdom). This first album is called Love in the Time of Pandemica. Mild apologies to Gabriel Marquez, but not really.
I have to say, it’s immensely fun to create like this. Music is fast. Books are slow. Anyway, this will be live on Spotify, Apple, Pandora etc in a few weeks. I’ll post links when it spawns through.