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Pre-christmas Updates...


The Oregon Coast has had snow—one of those “never happens here” occurrences—and both the Friday Night Group sessions and the Saturday Thing at the Tillamook Library got cancelled. Well-stocked larder; power’s still on; most of the TV channels work; the regular telephone still makes local calls (no cell service, though); and in my spare time, I can shovel snow—if God doesn’t melt the stuff first. And we only lost the Internet for a day.

THE SONGBOOK turned out to be a bigger project than I thought. It took days. The upgrading of “Alice” the computer 15 months ago to Windows XP destroyed all prior document files (curse you, Bill Gates!)—over half the lyrics that were going to go in the book, in other words; some lyrics I could download from Soundclick and add chords, but a lot of them simply had to be re-typed. Most pre-WinXP photos are gone, too (and I had concert photos going back to 2001). The songbook is 91 pages long, with 60 songs—and even with the losses, a lot of photos. (Found a bunch of photos from the trip to Nashville in 2007 that I’d never run through the photo software.) Found a spare 3-ring binder, too, which was good—those won’t be cheap until the big office-supplies sales in January.

THE “BROKEN RECORD” CD is waiting on just three more songs (of 16), and 3 more photos (out of 19). I’ve given the participants a Christmas deadline. After that, I can decide what order the songs go in, and send them off to Albert for mastering. Artwork and liner notes are pretty much done; just have to plug in the last lyrics and photos. Got more blank CDs—and more of those expensive printer cartridges—when I got out to the store. I believe I have everything else.

ANOTHER SONG “MUSICATED” (that’s a Beth Williams term)—a Don Varnell song hight “Another Crappy Christmas” (being poor and unemployed, I tend to be partial to the darker stuff). Overtones of Kris Kristofferson and Merle Haggard in there, and I did my best to get on tape (or on chip) what I heard in my head, but it took a while before I had something I was satisfied with. Now we’ll see if the author is satisfied, too. (I used Audacity to add fore and aft sleigh bells for that festive touch.) Since I haven’t written a Christmas song myself this year, one by somebody else is going to have to do. (My “Christmas Roadkill” song from a couple of years ago got turned into a music video, though—very impressive. The rabbit-in-the-headlights shot that pops up in the chorus is a nice touch.)

“DEFINITIVE VERSIONS” exist for some of the stuff I’ve done, things I’d be comfortable dropping onto a record because they’re about as technically perfect as I can get: “The Cat with the Strat” done by The Collaborators, “Oil in the Cornfield” with Vikki Flawith and Vic “Mississippi Spud” Bonner, “Hey, Little Chicken” with Dan Doshier, and Diane Ewing’s heart-rending “Alabama Blues” on which I did the music and played all the parts. The first two of those are pretty professionally produced, but the latter two were just done by me on the Tascam.

Most of the rest of my home-recorded songs I would re-do, I think; I can spot flaws in them even if nobody else can. But there is enough just-about-perfect material on hand to produce the Five-Dollar Album, and I probably should do it. It’s a Depression out there, and like Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland used to say, “Let’s put on a show!” I designed a simple cover and label--I scanned a $5 bill (changing the size, of course, so I don’t get in trouble with The Gummint).

Having (or getting—I don’t have it yet) the Five-Dollar Album doesn’t obviate the need to go performing. Playing in public is the only way to showcase my material. What the album does is give me “merch” to sell when I play—as well as an excuse to get the CDBaby account, the Website, and the Publishing Company going. I’d better get to work now.



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