Bob Blah Blah…

Friedrich Nietzsche said it best.

“I am one thing, my writings are another matter.”

I started the BobSongs Blog, because I wanted to write, and talk about my music… and the music of others.

However, life… (messy as it is) …got in the way.

Things sometimes tick me off, and affect me, and I feel compelled to write and explore my feelings.

So, (for instance) when news that convicted pedophile Graham James had received a pardon from the National Parole Board, and the Federal Government (tough on crime ??? Not !!!) …knew nothing about it… I was ticked.

When I was plucked from amongst other volunteers, to Run with the Olympic Torch, I wrote about it.

And, for over a hundred Blog posts… whatever the fallout, I wrote about it.

I’ve had some hate piled on me… one person, to the point that I had to block him.

But overall, the response has been positive, or it has (in some cases) inspired a debate… and that is good.

At its best, discussion brings together different viewpoints, and when done properly, is an inclusive process, showing us that we are more alike than different.

At worse, it allows me to vent, to bring to light something that I am proud of, or think deserves a bit more prominence.

There have been a LOT of very varied topics… but my original intention was to have my Songs and Songwriting featured, but my BobSongs Blog has evolved into a lot of other things.

Bob Gray - BobSongs - Bob's Songs -

Thus, I’ve been looking for another Blog domain, that encaptures the “everything else”-ness of my writings.

Driving down the highway, in Washington on Friday, my sweetie and I were talking about it, and that’s when we came up with…

Bob… Blah… Blah…

So, from now on, the BobSongs Blog will be Music, and music-related Posts only.

Bob.. Blah… Blah… will be the home of “What’s In Store”, Caught on the Web, Musings and other NON-Music posts.

Thanks for checking both out, and I hope to see you back here… AND there… soon !!!

Tune In…

So, at this moment, I am feeling slightly old, and VERY out of touch.

I have a collection of over 280 GBs of music, which I have collected (100% legally) through buying CD’s, and digitally through I-Tunes.  At last check, I had a little over 30 days of music, if I was to play them consecutively.  (Yes, I have nightmares of a hard drive failure… thanks for asking)

Anyhoo… I grew up in an environment where all my friends downloaded music illegally, and I always made a big deal out of it… A) Because it was illegal and B) Because I was a songwriter, I feel that the Songwriters and Musicians should receive benefit from their music being played.

Now… I am on Twitter, and I constantly see folks using to “play” music… and tonight, I became a DJ.

blipfm_lgHowever, it goes against everything I have been saying for a long time.  I sent a link, to my 500 (or so) Twitter Followers, asking them to watch and/or listen to music for free.

I referenced a recent Blog Posting, and acknowledged two glaring omissions from my “Under The Influences” Blog, which were James Taylor (Fire and Rain) and Jim Croce (Lover’s Cross)

However, the addition of their names to my Honour Roll of Songwriting Rock Stars, doesn’t in any way diminish the fact that I have been dragged, kicking and screaming into the 90’s.  I posted music without it being paid for.

I’m not too sure how the Canadian Government (or, for that matter, the US Government) view the advances of technology that allows us to type in the name of an Artist, and have access to their catalogue of musical performances, for broadcast to the world.

I understand the popularity of YouTube, and hey… I love a good cat video as much as the next guy !!!  I’m just not sure that I’m ready to take that step, and cross that line.  It is something that I know labels like Nettwerk have been working to break down the walls… but they appear (IMHO) to be one of the few.  Others are still licensing music differently, and behaving as if we were all listening to LP’s on a record player in the living room.

I have an I-Pod, and it is crammed with a diversity of Music that makes my wife’s head spin… (when we listen to music in the car together)  I just am uncertain if I am prepared to endorse broadcasting songs for others to listen to, when they aren’t my own… or I haven’t paid for them.

I think I will have to think a bit more on this, and do some research.

I’m not certain what I think, and I think that some of what I think, is because of my age… and THAT makes me feel old !!!

— Follow Up —

I’m posting a Follow Up, directly IN this posting, as I feel that the comments of @StacieBee were of such profound impact, as to allow me to “get over myself”, and embrace the Technology that allows us to Tweet links to songs to our Followers.  As I stated in my “Under The Influences” post… many of these songs are the cornerstones of my awareness of songwriting, and I believe, being able to share them, is a joy and a gift.  Below is Stacie’s comment:

Bob, virtually everything that *I* blip, is in my iTunes so I don’t feel guilty.  Before I switched to digital music, I had hundreds of CD’s that I’ve since copied to my computer. I’m usually listening to my iTunes library when I decide to blip a song.  To me, is for sharing music with people not so that they don’t have to pay for it, but for them to discover music they like and can go buy.  I’ve bought songs that I’ve heard because of other blippers and I’ve had more than one person tell me that they bought music because of what I blipped. 


Thanks Stacie !!!  You ROCK !!!

Cheers, Bob

Under The Influences…

BobSongs logo

BobSongs logo

About a month ago, I was on Twitter, and a Tweet from @LisaSawyer317  caught my attention.  I didn’t favourite it, but Lisa was on, and was Tweeting some of the songs she was playing, and the lyrics contained in the songs…

“Hello Darkness, my old friend.  I’ve come to talk to you, again…”

And it got me thinking about the Songs that I grew up with, and helped form my love of Music and Lyrics… and which songs were the songs that stuck out as being “instrumental” in my learning and loving of songwriting.

I started thinking further, and it has been a long process… one which has revealed many “old friends” which lay dormant in my I-Pod.

I list them, largely, in no particular order, but must include a brief “blurb” about each, to explain it’s place on the list.

1) It Never Rains In Southern California

This IS the exception to the rule, because it is Song # 1.  It was the first song that I heard, that I thought… “That guy is SO sad, alone and desperate”

I think (other than the word “bread”) lyrically, it holds up as well today, as it did in 1972.

It is my favourite song, and far and away, the song that EVERY time I write a song, I try to capture the emotions of.

A massive tip of the Songwriter Hat to Albert Hammond and Mike Hazlewood.

Suzanne – Leonard Cohen

Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, my parents were not Large “L” Liberals or Hippies, but were cognizant of the arts movement, and aware that many different and diverging voices were suddenly being heard.  Poets like Rod McKuen, found a place beside the Works of William Shakespeare… Literature like “Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee” was placed between George Orwell and P.G. Wodehouse… and the Songs of Leonard Cohen was placed between The Beatles and Vera Lynn.

Suzanne is a song which speaks so powerfully of lust, longing and the desire for those things which are beyond reach.  It combines a series of vivid images, with the first and last being about Suzanne herself, and the middle verse being about Jesus, and how many people don’t think about God, except in times of need…  “All men shall be sailors then, until the sea shall free them”

It was, I believe, the first song I encountered which dealt with Spirituality in a mortal context… rather than the Hymns and Songs of Praise found in Church.

YesterdayPaul McCartney & John Lennon

What superlatives can you pile on a Lennon/McCartney composition ?  Their later songs opened my eyes to the inclusion of many chords that had fallen out of favour since the halcyon days of the Gershwins, Irving Berlin and the Big Bands.  Their lyrics are evocative, but the music stands alone, as well.

Kathy’s Song – Paul Simon

Simon and Garfunkel epitomise my memories of childhood.  I’m sure that their harmonies, like the Everly Brothers for this children of the 50’s, are reverberating in my genes.

Wednesday Morning 3 am…  Sounds of Silence… I Am A Rock… The Boxer… For Emily (Whenever I May Fine Her)… A Hazy Shade Of Winter… I could go on and on.

But I remember seeing a note in a Simon and Garfunkel book, how Paul Simon had been passed a note after finishing “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and asked to add another verse, because it was too short. So the “Sail On, Silver Girl” verse was written… but never quite meshed or blended in to the rest of the song.

This was the introduction to what songwriters call Second (or Third) Verse Hell.

Lyrically, or Musically… again, I could only hope to attain a portion of the altitude.

I selected “Kathy’s Song” over “For Emily” because of the line…

“So you see, I have come to doubt, all that I once held as true.  I stand alone, without beliefs.  The only truth, I know, is you.”

C’mon.  EVERYONE wishes they had said that.

Close Every Door – Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice

The first time I heard the song was in an elementary school auditorium, with an elementary school choir singing a capella with only a piano for timing.  In my head, I HEARD the strings.  I heard the Cellos, the Violas, the Stand Up Bass.  The whole String Section powering in, at the end.

THAT is the power of music.

House Of The Rising Sun – Folk Song

I thought this had been written by Eric Burden… and was stunned to find out it was an old folk song !  I think it opened my eyes to the opportunities of “messing” with songwriting… that it doesn’t have to be structured like Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus.  There IS no Chorus in this song.  It just goes Verse to Verse… and is none the worse for it.  An invaluable lesson.

Last but not least…

We’ll Meet Again – Ross Parker and Hughie Charles

Vera Lynn sang the heck out of it, every Sunday night in my Parent’s house… It was “Big V” night, as my father turned up the record player as loud as my Mum would let him.

Dame Vera had (still has) a powerful voice, and for my Dad, it was a time to reflect on the loss of five years of his life, and a great number of his friends, to a terrible war…  It was a promise to family and friends that had passed, that the day of re-union would come for us all…  It was a reminder of a brief respite in a canteen in Egypt, with my father and a friend playing piano for a group of battle-weary Brits, who had seen too much blood, and too much hurt, and wer egoing back to do it again.  It was, for my Father, so many things that I’ll never understand, that he prayed I would never HAVE to understand.  For that reason alone, it gets included.

In a few months, I will probably look at this list with fresh eyes, and slap my head thinking “Why didn’t I include THAT song” !!!  But after reviewing my selections, through recent days, I feel that my selections are (with Si/Gar and Beatles exclusions aside) as good as any group can be.

To select one song from these artists, demeans and diminishes the rest of their catalogue, and I mean no disrespect in making my selection.

But THESE are the songs that spoke to me as a child, and made me want to be a Songwriter, and helped form me into the writer I am today…

So blame THEM !!!