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Joseph E Bird

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music

could einstein twist and shout?

abe partridge.

you gotta listen to the words.

between us

photo by anthony tran

there is distance
between us
and no distance
between us
when I see you
and you see me

and there are no words
between us
but there are volumes
between us
when your glance
meets mine

our hearts beat
between us
and breathless
between us
i know you
and you know me

there are feelings
between us
and emptiness
between us
because I don’t know you
and you don’t know me.

there is loveliness
between us
and loneliness
between us
because our love
was only for a moment


copyright 2022, joseph e bird

james

I’ve been writing less these days and playing more music. I’ve been a regular at the open mic night at Coal River Coffee, and though I have no misconceptions about my musical abilities, it’s been a blast performing songs that mean something to me. I never would have done this if not for the encouragement of James Townsend. James is an accomplished singer/songwriter, as you can see if you watch the Press Room Recordings below. He’s also an excellent writer. He’s writing a serial story about Billy the Kid and is currently writing a musical on the same subject.

Of the songs in the Press Room Recordings, my current favorite (my favorites change frequently) is Wars and Rumors.

Enjoy.

she came in through the bathroom window

One of the nonsensical (at least for me) Beatles songs that I added to my set list after watching “Let It Be.”

I subscribed to Disney+ just to watch it. I loved almost every minute of it.

Much has been written about it. Here’s an excerpt from an article written by Jill Lawrence for USA Today, speaking specifically about the concert on the roof.

“That mini concert, and this maxi documentary, underscore for all time the truth and universality of advice I’ve had posted on my bulletin board for years, from the late New York Times media critic David Carr: “Keep typing until it turns into writing.” For the Beatles, that translates into keep playing and singing until it turns into music. For politicians, keep negotiating until it turns into a deal. For scientists, keep experimenting until you get a vaccine. For my husband last week, it was keep trying until that box of boards, screws and what-not turns into an ottoman.”

Great advice.

You can read the entire article here.

the narcs were narcing

I’m a sucker for story-telling in song. I’ve never really listened to much John Prine but this morning this song popped up my YouTube playlist. I was mesmerized. Enjoy.

takin’ it to the street

what do you do when you’ve won an Oscar for the song Falling Slowly from the movie Once?

If you’re Glen Hansard, you keep busking on the street.

Story

We interrupt the James and Katherine story to bring you this story by NF.

So here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson

It’s just an E chord. Pretty basic. But I had figured out some embellishments to get the sound of the opening riff of Mrs. Robinson, the Simon and Garfunkle classic from the 60s movie of the same name. It’s a fun song to play. A catchy chorus that people of a certain age will hum and tap their toes to. So that was going to be my first song. My first song ever singing in public by myself.

Just me and my guitar.

That was last week at the local coffee shop.

I plugged in the guitar and tested the mic. A few soft chords to check my tuning and steady my nerves. And then I was off.

The opening riff was good. The intro was good. I got to the chorus, which in this song occurs before the first verse, and sang as I had practiced so many times at home. I was rocking, baby.

But somewhere along the way I missed a chord. Then I forgot a line. But I kept going. It was a little rough but I got through.

The baristas and two of my friends who were there applauded. There weren’t many other people in the coffee shop and most continued to fiddle on their phones or laptops. But it’s a coffee shop and their inattentiveness is to be expected in that kind of venue.

I moved on to the next song. Another upbeat tune, Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, I Need Never Get Old. And a chorus with some high notes that requires some projection. I had practiced and was comfortable with those notes. But that night, I didn’t hit them as solidly as I do when I’m at home by myself. But again, I got through.

And then, believe it or not, I sang some Elvis. A Little Less Conversation. If you know the song (or look it up) you know that it’s yet another upbeat song. But I play it slow and easy at first. Kind of cool and moody. Then when I get to the bridge, I turn up the tempo and the volume and end with energy and enthusiasm. That seemed to go over well, in spite of a few less than smooth chord transitions.

But to be honest, those first three songs felt like a wreck.

I took a break and let my friend, Rich, take his shot. He’s new at this, too. He did about like I did but he’s got a good country-style voice, so you could see the promise, despite the fact that he had a little trouble with his three songs.

My turn again.

I slowed it down. Bob Dylan, Not Dark Yet. Got through without any major problems, though my vocals were not as strong as they should be. Then Amos Lee, What’s Been Going On. Again, ok, but not my best. And finally, Foo Fighters – yes, the Foo Fighters – Times Like These, the acoustic version. And again, this song requires some projection to reach the high notes. And again, I didn’t quite nail it.

Rich gave it another shot and absolutely killed the last two songs he did.

And that was it.

I left feeling pretty bad about the whole thing.

A couple of people recorded my first song and put a clip on Facebook. After hearing how I slogged through Mrs. Robinson, I knew that this had been a huge mistake. I vowed never to do it again. And not just Mrs. Robinson, but I vowed never to sing in public again. I even decided I couldn’t show my face in the coffee shop.

I found out later that Rich had felt the same way.

A few days passed and I discovered Leonard Cohen singing Dance Me to the End of Love. An old guy like me, singing within himself. Not trying to do too much. I began learning to play it.

A week later, I was ready to try again.

This time I chose songs more suitable for me and my limitations. Me and Bobby McGee was first. Bob Dylan, Most of the Time. Amos Lee, What’s Been Going On? I mangled some chords and lyrics but it didn’t feel as bad as the week before. Then Rich did three or four songs and he didn’t miss a lick.

Then my turn again. Bob Dylan, Not Dark Yet. Then the Leonard Cohen song. I missed some lyrics and some chord changes, but overall, the song is too good to do too much damage.

By the time we finished, there was one customer. She applauded politely at the end of every song. Even thanked us for the entertainment.

But here are some truths.

Rich is good because he has a natural singing voice. The more he plays the better he will get.

Joe does not have a natural singing voice, as the video evidence attests. It was fun and I’m glad I did it and I might even give the Leonard Cohen song another shot. But I’m probably done. Yes, cooked like a turkey.

But I’m now in the club of live performers. I did it. I can mark it off the list.

As my good friend Clint Eastwood once told me, a man’s got to know his limitations. But a man also has to have the courage to try.

dance me to the end of love

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