Tag Archives: live music

Sing Another Song

Sing another song:
don’t make it too long,
make sure it’s nice and strong
so we all can sing along.
Sing another one
when the first one is done;
we’ve only just begun
having fun.

Sing something
that makes us feel all right;
something simple,
nothing too demanding.
Sing it like
you’ve always done before;
when you’re finished,
sing it just once more.

Sing another tune:
play the paid buffoon,
make us laugh and swoon,
we’ll give you the moon.
Sing another verse,
the same as the first;
no need to rehearse,
it can’t get much worse.

Sing us one
to get us through the night;
something sweet
that makes us feel like dancing.
Sing it like
you mean each single word;
sing the ones we like,
the ones we’ve heard.

Sing another song:
sing it loud and strong.
If it’s not too long,
we might sing along.
Sing it once again.
Make it never end,
like your life depends
on making us your friends.

08 DEC 2010

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By Request Only: a capitolo

Oh, how I love to take requests, while playing,
for songs outside the realm of what I do.
How subtle the reminder I’m not slaying,

in essence, “what we want to hear, ain’t you.”
It’s really quite an overwhelming feeling,
that overwhelms my fragile ego, too;

the knowledge that my style is not appealing,
and folks would rather hear the juke box play.
Each time, I roll my eyes toward the ceiling,

and send the hopeful querents on their way,
while promising their song, which I can’t stand,
is next in the rotation, anyway.

Have mercy, please upon all dance hall bands;
don’t make the sole condition of your staying
the way your favorites turn out in their hands.

27 NOV 2010

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The Same Old Song: a ballade

Each night we play, you come to catch the show;
to see and be seen seeing, more to fact:
to smile like you alone are in the know
regarding “hidden treasures” like our act .
Let’s hope the grand veneer won’t start to crack,
and everyone will want to sing along
when next week, at the same time, we’ll be back
to play, almost by heart, the same old song.

Your faces melt in constant ebb and flow.
Sometimes, there’s no one there; sometimes, it’s packed.
The seasons change as students come and go,
but we remain to strum right through the slack.
Some nights, we’re less on stage than out in back,
yet no one says a word or thinks it’s wrong.
You only wonder just when we’ll get back
to play, almost by heart, the same old song.

It’s a grand institution, we all know:
a music that will always take you back
to when you felt alive and free to grow,
before you learned the social art of tact,
to multiply in silence, and subtract
each year when it arrives, and shuffle on,
another faceless card dealt from the stack
to play, almost by heart, the same old song.

Another night: we’re on, and you’ve come back;
the rhythm, like a river, moves us on
and on again, along life’s winding track,
to play, almost by heart, the same old song.

11 NOV 2010

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State of the Union

OK, so I’m now 45 years old. I’ve been playing music onstage since I was 8. That’s 37 years in some kind of band or another, on stages of all kinds, in six different states and on at least three TV channels.

And here’s the bottom line, for me.

I don’t want to play in any more bar bands. As a matter of fact, I don’t want to play at any venue (except as a huge personal favor to a good friend or two) where the main purpose for attending wherever the music is playing is something other than the music onstage. And that includes places that use as their marketing campaign something like “Fridays and Saturdays, live music” as if the music were some kind of gracious amenity that attendees got as a bonus. No more gigs where you show up to do something else, and there just happens to be a band playing.

I’ll go one further. The audience (which we’ve already stipulated has to be primarily motivated by wanting to hear live music) also must be there to see me. Not accidental live music, not breezing through town and luckily catching the only live music in on that particular evening, but deliberately coming either because they know me (or have heard of me) or because the venue has specified “ME – live and in person” and is likewise excited (to some degree) about having, promoting and paying for non-anonymous performance.

I’m not so foolish as to think it must be exclusively ME. It could be me solo, me as or in a band, or even me opening for another band that folks also are interested in hearing. It’s also not about the money – although if you’re coming to see live music, and not just getting it included in your meal (solid or liquid) like a free dessert, you ought to be willing to pay for it. It’s a privilege, not a right.

One final stipulation … when you come to see me play, it’s to hear what I WANT TO PLAY. I’m not your human jukebox.

I think that covers it. If your gig doesn’t meet this criteria, don’t call me.

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Monster Set List: The Cover Songs

OK, so here it is. The current list of songs by other people that I might throw into a set.

Ain’t No Sunshine
Almost Cut My Hair
Baby What Do You Want Me To Do
Back Door Man
Bartender’s Blues
Blue Christmas
Born in Chicago
Brown-Eyed Girl
Call Me the Breeze
Casey Jones
Cheap Thrills
Crying Time

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King of Americana

Being the King of Americana
might mean nobody knows your name:
except for the local bartenders
who still serve you just the same,

while you’re sitting on the mike for three hours,
singing songs that nobody knows,
wearing out strings for a hobby that brings
in about thirty dollars a show.

Being the King of Americana,
you know at least a thousand songs by ear;
but in a three-strong crowd, there’s always one who’s loud
with something else they want to hear:

another song about scraping the bottom,
another ditty on the journey down;
and you hate it, but you play it, one more time,
just before you pass the tip jar ’round.

One more round, please, for the band,
who’ll shuffle, waltz or swing
at your command; the next four hours
they’ll play anything.

Hold your applause until you hear
the last guitar chord ring…
then give it up again
for the Americana King.

Being the King of Americana
might mean you know no one cares
about how songs are born and die
in curses, tears and prayer;

and each one takes another’s place
to catch the public’s ear.
You hope to find enough of them
to pass for a career.

One more round, please, for the band,
who’ll shuffle, waltz or swing
at your command; the next four hours
they’ll play anything.

Hold your applause until you hear
the last guitar chord ring…
then give it up again
for the Americana King.

05 SEP 2007

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The Dead Room

I wonder why you come to hear the blues;
there is no recognition in your face
of any depth beneath the music’s steady pace,
nor rhythm to the rare tap of your shoes.

While those around you sway and nod their heads,
acknowledging a lyric with a shout,
you sit in awkward silence; and no doubt,
imagine yourself somewhere else instead.

And yet you come, and sit, and watch me play,
absorbing the crowd’s energy, and mine;
you leave no tip, no word of thanks, no smile.

Where did you learn to act in such a way,
a black hole dousing every light that shines,
that counters all catharsis with denial?

24 JUL 2007

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