I picked the winner for my contest this past weekend. I painted the piece for the winner, Zane, today. As I suspected he has great taste in music, giving me a choice between Bowie as Ziggy, Bono as the Fly, Marc Bolan, the Pixies, Pearl Jam, and Alice Cooper.
Zane gets it. He gets music. My wife read his story and said, "That's your winner." He captured it with excellent writing and deep passion. So he gets Alice.
This is not to diminish the other 9 entries I received. I am SO honored that people took time and thought to be creative for me, for the opportunity to win a piece of my creativity. I am posting them here, either the full text or a link to the entry online, in no particular order. I feel so lucky to be able to do what I do at all, that to have people care enough to try and win one is amazing.
So, anyway, here they are:
Norm Geddis - "I sat at our kitchen table with my son and his friend. Both of them are sixteen. The subject of "Inglorious Basterds" came up and as the soundtrack comprises songs from exploitation films of the sixties and seventies, a subject about which I could compete with Quentin Tarantino on Jeapordy, I was looking over my vinyl soundtracks to "Riot on Sunset Strip" and "Vampyros Lesbos" composing a playlist for the next week's radio show. I asked my son's friend if he had seen "Pulp Fiction" and I got the most shocking response I had ever received to one of the most common questions we all ask -- have you seen this movie or that movie. He told me he was planning on seeing it but that some of his friends had criticized "Pulp Fiction" as a "talkie".
A talkie! Were these friends mourning the days of Valentino and Mary Pickford?
What I learned is that for some words spoil things. For numerous members of my son's generation, this film that I have always regarded as the perfect threeway of art, exploitation and action fails because the characters talk too much. Such films are referred to as "talkies". Talkies are defined as action films that contain too little action.
I point out that my son and his friend are both just fine with "talkies", at the moment they are desirous of something more in their lives than Wii sticks up their butts. However, I fear that their taste and curiosity are atavism.
The lesson here made me sad and made me remember all of the good things that come from having to wait. My taste in music, film, and for that matter my libido were all born sometime after one in the morning on countless summer nights. I was fourteen years-old and I had cable television in my room. Just as young men before me developed interests in Archaeology, Anthropology, Astronomy and summers in Europe because of the pages after the pages of naked tribal women in National Geographic, I developed my tastes in music and art because of the movies after Emmanuelle on cable television. I stayed up to see tits. I stayed up later because I started watching A Clockwork Orange.
And I started buying soundtracks. This was knowledge earned at a cost of two hours, a bus ride to Tower Records and $7.99 at a time. I owned the soundtrack to More before I owned Dark Side Of The Moon. More is still my favorite Pink Floyd record.
The first compact disc I purchased was the soundtrack to Forbidden Planet.
Paul McCartney once said that when he sees a movie the soundtrack is the foreground and everything else is the background. That's kind of the way it always has been with me. There's no such thing as a good movie with a bad soundtrack.
I came of age on the cusp of the VCR. So for a few years soundtracks were my lifeline to a movie, and this, in a way, made a movie something like a novel, where it existed or evolved inside my imagination more, and for longer than it existed for the two hours I sat in the theater. The soundtrack to Star Wars provided me with hours of stories. Those days are gone. Availability alone can kill. When I can buy varying box sets of DVD's with multiple re-edits and numerous commentaries, my imagination seems intrusive. Add to the box sets video games and comic books and its like who am I to add to the Star Wars universe?
Therein lies where a soundtrack on a vinyl record contains more than another vinyl record of another genre. The format itself slows down the user, one last grasp on a time when a movie was re-experienced twenty minutes at a time. And where what the viewer saw, how the viewer remembered the movie was the most important vision."
Jeff Skonieczny - "Growing up I had always loved music, I received my first cassette (my parents took a little while to adapt to CD’s) when I was around eight or so and this cassette just happened to be Aerosmith’s "Big Ones." At around the age of eleven I received my first boom box and the first two CD’s I received were Bon Jovi "These Days" and Queen's "Greatest Hits." During Middle School I drifted away from listening to classic rock mainly because "It wasn’t cool." I listened to bands like Bush, Nirvana, Metallica, Rage Against the Machine, and Nu-Metal bands like Korn. Many of the bands I liked then I still love today, however none of that music was able to truly drag me in, and because of that, music was never a big passion of mine until my freshmen year of High School.
During my freshmen year of High School my parents left a copy of Pink Floyd’s "Wish You Were Here" sitting on the couch and in an act of pure curiosity, I decided to pick it up and give it a listen. First was "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" which I skipped right past because it was just too slow and dull for my taste at the time, I decided to go right into the title track and from beginning to end I was immediately captured, I had never listened to a song that had such an effect on me. I was completely struck by how powerful it was and in all honesty I probably had that song on repeat for two straight hours. Each listen never got old, every time the song came to a close I was in awe of its majesty and prowess.
When going to sleep that night I decided to give the album a listen from begging to end, but I just wasn’t able to get past that boring intro on "Shine On You Crazy Diamond." I just didn’t understand it. I decided to give "Dark Side of the Moon" a listen and I sat there strictly paying attention to every detail in the songs and it just wasn’t doing it for me. A few days later I was on the computer and decided to leave "Dark Side of the Moon" on in the background and when the CD came to a close without even realizing it, I said to myself, "What did I just listen to?" I wasn’t even truly listening to the music but for some reason it had this profound affect on me. From there on in, I played that CD as if it were the only one I owned, and by entering into the world of "Dark Side of the Moon" I was able to finally grasp the "Wish You Were Here" album and all of its beauty.
From that moment on I had found my passion, the one thing in life which mattered to me more than practically anything!
By listening to Floyd I decided that I had been holding myself back all these years in fear of being scrutinized for the music I listened to. Who would have known that it would be "cool" to listen to Floyd just a few years later?
Anyway, I decided my musical horizons needed to expand further than Floyd and I sought out to find other great classic rock bands. The first two bands other than Floyd I stumbled across were Led Zeppelin and The Doors, both of which I fell in love with. The Doors especially captured my attention, Jim Morrison and his conceptual and mysterious lyrics created this burning infatuation in me. I became obsessed with Jim Morrison; I bought Jim Morrison biographies, posters, even blankets. I was starting to love music on an even deeper level; I loved everything it stood for and every detail in its history. I wanted to learn everything I could about every band I listened to - listening just wasn’t enough anymore. I wanted to know why the music they created sounded like it did, what each song meant, the music in the context of the times, and anything else I could possibly know.
Throughout the years I have explored numerous classic rock and modern bands but none struck me like Floyd and very few bands were able to produce that rich abstract sound that Floyd created. Later on in High School a member of the track team introduced me to King Crimson and he told me that I really needed to listen to "In the Court of the Crimson King." Right after track practice I went right home and purchased the album, and it was incredible, this was exactly what I was looking for, they were just like Floyd, long compositions, songs that took me on a journey, with an amazing mixture of rock and free jazz, the album was just so powerful and moving. This is when I learned the splendor of progressive rock. I snatched up every album I could by bands like Yes, ELP, Jethro Tull, Genesis, and even the modern band Tool (who I listened to but with less appreciation.) Progressive Rock immediately became my favorite genre of music and that is where I stand to this day. Maybe my musical journey will continue to follow me into different genres but for the past few years my heart and ears have stuck with Prog Rock and Classic Rock, and even though I've listened to these albums hundreds of times, it never gets old. You can never spend too much time appreciating the complexities of the greatest music ever made."
Armando Mesa - "I would like to say that seeing Chris Isaak in concert years ago at the Arizona State Fair was a musical impact on me(watching the man himself appear on stage in a suit covered in the same glass and mirror material that is used for a disco ball was a visual spectacle to behold, I must admit,lol).. I would like to say that hearing a soulful ballad-type love song played at my sister's wedding was a turning point for me.I would like to say that listening to Mariachi music played at a person's funeral once impacted me profoundly. There are so many moments in my life that I would not just like but love to say that they made THE difference.While those moments were thought provoking,emotionally touching, and absolutely memorable, none can compare to one as on the day I had to be there for someone in my life.Someone that I love very much and has been a huge inspiration for me. Someone who needed me.My dad.
In the spring of 2008, my dad was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma cancer,stage 4 on April Fool's Day. It was devastating to him and us, his family, as the news came only a few months after my own mom (on Christmas night of 2007,to be exact) had suffered a series of five strokes.Not one, but both of my parents were soon dealing with very serious,life threatening illnesses;They continue to do so to this day even though their current states of health are 'stable'.My dad will be 79 as of this June 25th, 2009 and mom is going to be 75 on October 31st.Time is very precious to our family.What once was taken for granted, is no longer.Dad's illness is currently in remission(however,lymphoma can re-occur in the human body after it has made a prior invasion at any time and dad has told us he does not want to go through chemotherapy ever again) and my mom is doing fine but is on a huge list of medications,blood thinners,you name it, to keep her from suffering any more strokes---'aggressive preventive maintenance' as one of her doctors put it to us in a very serious and dire tone of voice.
Being the oldest of three,still single, I took it upon myself to step up and become my parents' caregiver. It is a 24/7 job.Having a regular outside-the-home job is not possible with both parents being ill and requiring absolute care and attention...As a caregiver,it is one of THE hardest and most difficult jobs I have ever undertaken(any other mundane 9-5 multi-tasking job outside of the home was a 'snooze fest' and 'siesta' compared to what would lay ahead).Between both parents and tending to all of their medical needs, there is no 'me time' as it is not about me but what my family needs from me(I, myself, am a portraiture artist but have not drawn in a number of years,especially,now, that my duties have changed drastically).I am caregiver, home medic,nurse,house keeper,chauffeur,gardener,semi-repairman---you name it, I wear the hat as Jack of all trades.I must take their vitals every day,twice a day, and sometimes three times a day...Mom requires that I administer all of her medications five times a day as she is on twenty different meds.She cannot take them by herself due to her strokes also bringing about the onset of her Alzheimer's and dementia.Our lives and lifestyles have changed drastically since the first time my mom became seriously ill and had to be hospitalized for her strokes on Christmas night of 2007. Between December 2007 and mid 2008, BOTH parents have had to be hospitalized due to complications from their illnesses numerous times.Some hospitalizations have been on major holidays(don't know what it is about the holidays)!---They have had several extreme 'rough rides' and very close calls, as they say.My dad has also endured two congestive heart failures as a result of his chemo treatment as well as his kidney fucntion at a low performace rate(almost close to dialysis)and other health related complications.Some hospitalizations or ER visits were non-associated with their initial illnesses as well!The bottom line is that they are still here on earth with me and my family(again, I cannot stress how precious time becomes and the most must be made as to cherish each moment with our loved ones,friends,neighbors,EVEN strangers---yes, strangers,as in the cashier you smile and say 'hi' to as she rings up your items at a store to someone you say ,'Excuse me', for accidently bumping into them at the post office).I also owe a LOT of gratitude to my Aunt Jennie who helps me immensely with my mom while there are times that I must tend to my dad fully.
I finally had a breaking point.The point of 'impact'.The moment where MUSIC was my salvation like never before was indeed bitter-sweet. For years I have been an avid music listener and collector (vinyl) and stereo hi-fi equipment nut and guru and thought all these years that I 'got it';What music meant to me. However, the real eye,mind,heart,soul and ear opener was a day I will NEVER forget as long as I live. It did not happen the first time that I took my dad for his chemo therapy treatment(as emotionally draining as that was as well,but on a different level for me as I was trying to be the 'tough guy' and hold back the tears welling up in my eyes from seeing my dad and the other patients),but the third time.Just the whole experience for me was emotionally draining(heartbreaking to say the least) having the image seared into my mind and memory of my dad sitting in a chair attached to an I.V. and it's mechanical apparatus releasing the 'medication' chemicals that would fight and destroy the cancer cells---'medication' that really is a poison to fight another poison in the body and that all too well damages other vital organs(which my dad already previously had an enlarged heart and near failing kidneys;How he endured the chemo is definitely a miracle).The image of my dad in his weakened state as well as seeing the other patients in a huge cancer treatment facility battling for their lives really dug into the very core as a human being and thought of my own mortal existence. I cannot even fathom what was going(and still goes) through my dad's mind as well as the other patients;To be in their shoes(knowing that remission for some is only 'borrowed time'). No never mind what I was feeling that day as it could not possibly compare to what my dad and the other patients were feeling and experiencing on all levels of their human existence(emotional,physical,psychological,etc.).To be concerned or even remotely consider what I was feeling would be a sign of selfishness (but the imagery and memory of it all still haunts me to this day);It was NOT about me but about my dad. My dad's treatments would last 6-8 hours. This went on for a few months on a bi and tri-weekly basis, depending on what his lab results would show each time with his cell counts and the activity of the lymphoma.
On the third time for his chemo treatment was the one that did me in.It was a day in which I had to leave my dad there alone at the cancer center without having a family member there with him for the first time. I had to rush back home to help my aunt with my mom and tend to her medical needs and to help bathe her as well.I also had to run some errands:pay bills,go to the post office,the bank, the pharmacy,etc. What once (before my parents became ill) would have been considered a not-so normal and hectic day for me was now a regular day;It was my job, my life.There was/is no time clock to punch in or punch out...
As I walked out of the cancer center leaving my dad behind I could feel this huge sob of sadness and sorrow about to emerge as I fumbled for the car keys.I got into my car(actually, my dad's Nissan Pathfinder) and sat there for a good 10 minutes crying; Making sure that I would get it all out what I had probably been holding in since my mom first became ill, since finding out my dad was going to face a great battle in fighting the lymphoma and seeing the cancer facility and the other people also battling a monster of a disease.To say there was a lot piled on my dad's plate was an understatement.I was too consumed with that thought to worry or start taking inventory of mine. That day, in late April I no longer had the strength or reserve I thought I did.Before starting the car I was going to make damn sure that neither my mom or aunt saw any signs in me of fear or that I had been crying.There was another reason in not showing the tears; My dad made us promise and begged us NOT to tell my mom about his cancer (especially since she had already suffered her strokes and was now dealing with Alzheimer's and Dementia).For all my mother has ever known is that I was taking my dad for 'special I.V. vitamin therapy treatments for his kidneys'---Partially true since my dad's kidneys have also been deteriorating over time and still require Pro-Crit injections(possibly, for the remiander of his life)....While sitting in the vehicle,crying, I had just the cd player on. In the mechanism was Vangelis' Blade Runner Trilogy soundtrack.The track that was playing was Blade Runner Blues...It has since become my 'personal soundtrack theme'.On that day, music became not only my haven but my sanity. I realized that listening and feeling it is what made me focus and to continue the rest of my day and life with a new found inner strength---Strength that I also wanted to share with my dad and mom as I knew there would be days they would have none on so many levels!
I have been an enormous fan of the works of master synth and soundtrack guru Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou---simply known as Vangelis--- since I was twelve and heard his Blade Runner soundtrack for the first time in 1982! In fact, I had just received the 25th Anniversary Blade Runner Trilogy package a few days ,in December of 2007, prior to my mom having her strokes.I used to think that if heaven has soundtrack music it must be akin to something like Vangelis'. If there was ever a time in my life that music fit a moment it was then in the car sobbing over the ordeal my dad was experiencing.Was the impact that Vangelis' music had on me in the vehicle a negative one? Absolutely not.True, it was at a very sad time in my dad's and our lives but the music made me realize something;There is faith and there is hope! That light and life do exist and almost sound the same(as quirky as that may sound).Can't explain it or make it any clearer than that as to how I felt listening to Vangelis.It was comfort on a level as well that I had never experienced before with music.I had heard and listened to music before, but now I really felt IT!I GOT 'IT' !...The drive home I continued to listen to the Blade Runner soundtrack and it was as though just a ton had been lifted from my shoulders and something inside me said, 'From this point on, life will be o.k...." Now, in my life, I absolutely do not take for granted what music is or what it means to me.Vangelis' Blade Runner score has MEANING to me;It's not just a 'cult classic' score.While the score can be moody and somber at times, there is definite delicately detailed and textured aural beauty akin to a Gilbert Williams new age luminescent painting at times and then there are parts of it that possess such wonderful and thunderous musical moments like a fantastic loud and abstract painting....Listening to music every day from that point on is not just 'something to do'; It is a ritual for me on a very personal,private,emotional,intellectual,fun,and spiritual level!---But when I can share in the listening with others, it becomes that much more of a powerful experience! Incidentally, the film Blade Runner, as well as the Vangelis score, has a very deep message or question about our own mortality and time here on earth;What does it truly mean to be human?I'm pretty sure I felt that question burning inside of me for the first time as well as finding part of the answer on the third day of my dad's chemotherapy treatment."
William Foster Hillis - "My name is William Hillis. I was born Louisville on Derby day of 1945..The music they would have sang that day is of Course "Weep no more my lady, weep no more today.We will sing one song for my old Kentucky home, My old Kentucky home"I didn't hear it. I was bathed and baptised in that song...and ya kinda have to be from Kentucky to understand the soul of the song...As a child we used to visit the Stephen Foster Home long after his death of course but it was kept up as though he were still alive and beautiful women in anti-bellum dresses carrying parasols strolled the grounds and an ancient black gentleman with white hair played the banjo and sang the songs of Stephen Foster...and when he sang my old Kentucky Home women put their hats on and men took their hats off....the only other music at all that I heard as a very small child was in the Waterford Baptist church every Sunday and there they sang songs like "On the old rugged cross" and "Bringing in the sheeves" On my mothers side of the family no one played radios..Not because they didn't like music but because they preferred the quiet....My father had a beautiful voice and I enjoyed hearing him sing love songs to my mother...He didn't have or need or want any accompanyment...He just sang softly in perfect pitch on top of all that quiet the songs my mother loved....He was from Texas and when I was about six we moved there and all of a sudden there was music everywhere and the radio came to life and I first heard that song "Your Cheating Heart" and people like Earnest Tubb singing "Waltz across Texas" and Patsey Cline and Merle Haggard and George Jones....My grandmother would have turned that music off if she's had a radio....That was beer joint music but I liked it and easily learned the words and sang along....at night we listened to dixieland broadcast from the Roosevelt hotel In New Orleans and that was something else...Satchmo himself would talk sometimes and the sound of his voice was even more of a revelation to my young ears than the sound of his music because he was turned on tuned in and dropped out a hundred percent and it was all about music with him. and when I heard him play it was all about music with me....Music live from the Blue Room in the Rosevelt Hotel in New Orleans was the thing I looked forward to...Daytime was just something I had to get through...It was the night time that was the right time for me....For my Christmas present when I was eight my father took us to New Orleans and my present was he took me to the Blue Room of the Rosevelt Hotel and there were like a hundred huge white Christmas trees strung with all blue lights and they swung these doors which were about ten feet tall open and there in front of me was Live Jazz and they took us to a table and served me a 7 up with an umbrello in it and Time and I just stood still and I looked at my father and mother and the umbrello in my drink and all those musicians and I felt what it was to feel true happiness, clean and pure.........the next thing that happened to me in my late night radio wandering...I had my own radio and my own room now...was that after 11:00 oclock Iat night I could Pick up W.L.A.C Nashville....this was a very famous Rhythm and Blues station that broadcast all across the south....the reception went from Kinda bad to pretty bad to very bad but I could have cared less. I was not an audiophile . I was being introduced to and trying to get up next to that whatever they were playing....I suddenly dug it even more that dixieland...My favorite disk jockey was "Jiven Hoss Man Allen" and he was playing hard R&B for a 99.99 percent southern black audience....Bobby "Blue" Bland, Junior Parker, Howlen Woolf , Muddy Waters anything on Chess records and all those kind of record companys...Things we now call race records.... and Redd Fox and Moms Mabley....and Gospel records, the swan silvertones, the five blind boys of Alabama, Shirley Ceasar, the soul stirrers...Reverend Gary Davis....all that stuff and the advertisments were like for wine and Clovereen Salve.......I took this station to heart. It was my private world and I had to play it quietly because it happened very very late at night...i learned the names of all these singers and when they played a song by someone whose name I didn't know I made it my buisness to learn their name...I copped this music. A-Z...and we moved back to Kentucky and I was thirteen now and both ready and not ready for the music that awaited me there...Beatniks were in and squares were out and there were coffee shops and in those coffee people sat in almost total darkness and recited insane poetry and listened to hard bop...We don't think much about it now but during those times and especially being thirteen I had a lot on my plate especially after a steady diet of Etta James and little Walter and all that.....to take this bop thing in...It was a cerebral thing not a physical thing....It was not about what ever this other stuff was about it was about something else and something which alluded me...but I pretended to like it because I liked the people who liked it...So I just kept my mouth shut, which was fashionable at the time and listened...Charlie "Bird" Parker and it makes me laugh that I called him "Bird" when I was thirteen...It was all about "Bird" wasn't it? I knew enough to know that it was all about "Bird" wasn't it? It was all relative to "Bird" All of it...that was the measuring stick until people got so sick of being measured by that stick that People like Ornette Colman and Sun Ra and John Coltrane...and all the crazies came along...the really crazies, people who played stuff that was not fun to listen too...and you kept on having to say to yourself..."It's not about fun" It's about something else....It's about something that's hard to put your finger on...something I can feel now but cannot discribe..it's about wolves in the ghetto it's about wolves in the snow....When I was sixteen I hitch hiked to New York with a hundred dollars to see it for myself....I hear you saying "Why you couldn't get into bars at sixteen" Well, all I can think is that I'm glad you weren't some prick doorman there in those days or I would have had to find away around you....I went everywhere I wanted to go and I saw, I wont say them all, but I saw all of them them that were there...Monk ...Roland Kirk, Bill Evans, Miles, Dizzy, Yusef Latif, Don Cherry, Lambert Hendricks and Ross, Dexter Gordon,Jerry Mulligan etc etc etc....I wanted to be a bop drummer, Jimmy Cobb was my guy at this point......after all this the 1960's happened and in 1966 67 68 I lived in the Haight Ashberry....I don't want to talk about it...Everyone knows everything about it..even people who've never been in America knows it a-z and can sing along...half of it I'm trying to remember Half of it I'm trying to forget....i helped to create part of it and I got caught up in what was left.I went to prison because of it and kept my musical roots in spite of it...Black Music...that's what I loved...I was a white boy lost in the blues but by then I was no square....I was not a wanna be because I did not always wanna be what I always was....It was afro-cuban music that had my ear now.....through out all these periods starting with the beatnik thing I'd always been a conga player...because that' what beatniks did play the congas, play the bongo without having any idea what they were doing....It was irrelavent...express yourself, that was the thing....Well it was pretty hard to play My Old Kentucky home, or baptist church music, or Hank Williams, or Dixieland, or Bobby Bland or Dexter Gordon on the Conga Drums...so I just flailed in no mans land with no rules no concept no time no background no idea............and when I began to see Cubans play in san Francisco, they were ripping it up so bad I was forced to realize I had no idea what the fuck I was doing...but I decided there and then they no one was tearing it up as bad as the big Salsa bands and I was going to cop that....everything was just a prelude to this...It was the african thing ...it was the jazz thing...it was the latin thing...it was the crowning ring a ling for me....so that's what I've been doing for the last forty years...trying to cop that thing.....a couple of weeks ago I saw an incredable piece of art by a guy named Daniel Edlen...it was a painting on a record in black and white of a jazz guy...I recognized him as a great jazz artist and thought to myself...I want one of these records....today I heard he was heaving a contest and I thought to myself well if I can't win that contest there's not a Jesus......"
I know some of these are long, but they are amazing to me. I hope you've read a few, and checked out a couple of their links.
I got an email yesterday from a lady who wants me to paint Neil Young for her as a reminder of her brother who died unexpectedly when he was 23. They'd just seen "Rust Never Sleeps" so I'm painting a younger Neil on that album. She says, "Yeah, we need music to keep us sane."
That's why I paint these.