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Some Video Thoughts...


I suppose it’s time for more updates—not that I’ve done a lot lately. Been fixing a lot of squirrel damage in the Cascade Locks house. (Those critters are as bad as termites—only larger. And people don’t keep termites as pets. Do they?)

Got asked to do the lead to Vonee Rose’s “Texas Two-Step Rock,” and to set Beth Williams’ song “Foul Play” (it’s about baseball—sort of) to music. Both are kind of departures from the norm for me, and departures are supposed to be exciting. (Beth’s got another song, too—about love between socks—that is crying out for music. A waltz, I think, with washing machine noises in the background.) Still need to record “Twenty Chickens for Ixticihuatl,” the rock ‘n’ roll song that answers the question, “What happens when it’s time for the volcano god’s sacrifice and there’s no more virgins?” (Am I the only one who tries to answer these questions?)

I did think of a song I could do a slideshow video to, I think. It’s one that hasn’t been recorded since the days of vinyl records (it was on a vinyl record, in 1985, and it got radio airplay—one of only two songs I wrote that ever did). Hight “Paradise: The Columbia Gorge Song” (the subtitle was to distinguish it from two other songs entitled “Paradise,” one by Joni Mitchell and one by John Prine, both of which eventually became known by their subtitles—“Big Yellow Taxi” and “Muhlenberg County,” respectively).

A political song—it became the local folks’ anthem during the “Gorge Wars,” the decade-long fight over making the Columbia Gorge, where I lived, a Federal park. (We lost, by the way. It’s a park now—and I don’t live there any more.) It’s an instance of using words as weapons, which I try to avoid doing most of the time—they can cut very deep. (In this case, the use of words as weapons was deliberate. There was a war on.)

I don’t play the song any more—it makes people cry. (Probably because we lost the war. It was intended to make people mad, and then go do something.) That’s why I don’t write many serious songs. People are more inclined to want to pay you to make them happy rather than make them sad.

I always thought the song would be good background for a slide show—the Gorge is and was a very beautiful place. At one point, I had a slide show all scripted out—but the technology at the time was insanely expensive. It isn’t any more. I’d have to re-create the photography on the digital camera (they didn’t exist back then), and some of the shots might be difficult—I had had slides made from some historic photographs I borrowed from some, well, historic people. They are probably all dead now. (One or more of the local museums may have some of their stuff, though. I’ll have to check.)

I am here in the Gorge temporarily, and it’d be a shame not to try it. And when I go down to southern Oregon Friday, I could take the Tascam and maybe get some leads recorded to it. That would be fun. The song deserves more than I can put into it myself.

Most of my other songs don’t lend themselves to slideshow-type videos. An exception is “Born Again Barbie,” where I had scripted out a music video a couple of years ago—at Len Amsterdam’s request—that could be done with my digital camera (with a lot of creative zooming), using my daughter’s crates of old Barbies for a lot of my cast. I needed Windows Movie Maker, which I didn’t have at the time. I have it now. (I need clothes for the Barbies, too. They’re all nekkid.)

For most of my songs, I think the imagery is just too strange—it has to be left up to the imagination. If I were to do a video, it could be only a video of people playing the song. (I have seen those on youtube, too, and they’re okay. Porter Wagoner’s last song, “Committed to Parkview,” was done that way—in black and white, even. And it came out very nice.)

Then again, I could see a video of “The Termite Song” that was just four minutes of termites scurrying around doing termite things (which is eat, I guess). Could intersperse some photos of a partially-eaten house—which I have, thanks to the squirrel. Could be fun.



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