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Last Saturday was Paul’s funeral. It was a beautiful mass at the Incarnation Catholic Church of Sarasota. You can replay the entire mass, Angela’s eulogy, or my performance of These Days by Jackson Browne.
On the theme of Paul’s life, below I will unfold 3 musical examples, 2 music lessons, and 1 way to create something this week.
I. Myakka Woman
I was not in the family picture yet when Paul was active with his main act, Rastus Kain Band. But, from what I’ve heard especially since he passed, many people love the song, Myakka Woman. Myakka River State Park is a peaceful retreat on the eastern outskirts of Sarasota, Florida.
Angela has shared with me how she, her mom, and her dad went to the park as a family. She recalls them as happy childhood memories.
II. ‘Those’ Days
In early 2020, Paul gave Angela the Jackson Browne album, Solo Acoustic, Vol. 1 to listen to as she recovered from a long and traumatic hospital stay. Little did she know, the song titled “These Days” from the record was a special song they bonded over years prior. American Songwriter states, “Though Jackson Browne is often associated today with the social and political consciousness of his songs, ‘These Days,’ one of his earliest and often-covered compositions, deals with images of love, loss, and regret.”
Here are the lyrics written by Jackson Browne:
Well I’ve been out walkin’
I don’t do that much talkin’ these days
These days I seem to think a lot
About the things that I forgot to do for you
And all the times I had the chance to
And I had a lover
And it’s so hard to risk another these days
Now if I seem to be afraid to live the life that I have made in song
Well, it’s just that I’ve been losin’ for so long
Well I’ll keep on movin’, movin’ on
Things are bound to be improvin’ these days
One of these days
These days I’ll sit on corner stones
And count the time in quarter tones to ten, my friend
Don’t confront me with my failures
I had not forgotten them.
Hidden messages can be found when someone gives another person an album or a song. Paul communicated with people, especially his daughter, through songs with feelings which he could not express in words alone. Take a listen to Paul’s favorite version of These Days (Live) on Apple Music or Spotify.
III. Streets of London
Streets of London by Ralph McTell has a very personal meaning between Paul and Angela for which I will keep in secrecy. But, if you want to learn more about the song and the album where it originates, you can read about Spiral Staircase on Ralph’s website. For guitar lovers, my favorite takeaway is when Ralph says:
“My love of guitar-based work has managed to coexist alongside my more poetic leanings right up to the present.”
Guitar playing and poetry coincides with Paul’s music. We spent evenings on his Florida-home lanai where he serenaded us with songs while plucking his acoustic guitar. Unfortunately, those memories are only sounds in our minds and were never recorded. One day, Angela may remake those songs especially ones no one ever heard, to honor her father.
So how can you tell me that you're lonely
And say for you that the sun don't shine
Let me take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of London
I'll show you something to make you change your mind
Lyrics from Streets of London by Ralph McTell
I. ‘These Days’ on Guitar
In preparation to perform for Paul’s funeral mass, I transcribed the version of These Days by Jackson Browne he loved most. Although transcribing a song can feel like a tireless activity, the payoff in the end is quite rewarding.
Lately, I’ve used Soundslice as a tool to sync video/audio with music notation. I cannot recommend it more. It has been invaluable to my own progress as well as my students’. The most beneficial tool to them is to vary tempi (speed) with their favorite recordings. My students are enjoying it as a practice tool for their favorite songs.
Check out my transcription of on Soundslice. For now, it is not published on my Soundslice channel and is exclusive to whoever is reading this newsletter. Feel free to follow me there if you’d like updates on future transcriptions and music lessons.
Related: On October 21, 2020, I was featured with my Bossa Nova sample of Girl from Ipanema. See/hear it below and check out all the other great transcription featured on Soundslice’s Instagram.
II. How to Transcribe
Whether it’s via music notation, tablature, or a chord chart, I recommend writing out your ideas as any literary author would. When we transcribe music, we’re exercising a combination of senses: aural, sight, and touch. It can help us understand the music on a deeper level.
The art of transcription is a dense topic that does not translate well without proper direction. But, everyone does not have the time or energy to learn from the ground up. What do you know and what would you like to transcribe? If you have any questions, please leave a comment.
I. ‘These’ Chords
Staying on theme, exercise your skills with These Days by Jackson Browne. Most of the arpeggio harmonies simplify to a handful of chords. Stack the pitches from each quarter note and identify the chords. (Ignore the capo, read at notated pitch.)
I’ll give you the first beat:
Even though 1 on the 2nd string is not in use, its implication occurs later. I use ChordPic as a quick way to illustrate chord diagrams. Again, you can find the transcription in its entirety on Soundslice.
Coming up this Saturday: Celtic Guitar from Folk to Flogging Molly
Like last week, I’ll close us out with lyrics written by Paul Galestro. This song is called, Lonesome Side of Blue.
Well it’s a funny world
You live til’ you die
The first thing you do when your born is cry.
Go to school
So you can get learned
Try to get smart so you don’t get burned.
Play by the rules
Try to live right
Have a few kids and damn, a few wives.
Just when you think you’ve got it all down
The good lord comes and says
It’s time to check out.
Rest in peace, Paul. You are missed dearly but will live on in our hearts.
Until next week friends, keep plucking.
P.S. If you’d like to help out our family through this difficult time, click here to learn more.