Tag Archives: guitar

A Brown Road Campfire

Hi gang, sorry I haven’t been around much the last couple months. I’ve been busy displaying my awesomeness in ways other than being a world-famous blogger. I promise there are some things in the works and that I will be back soon. Until then, in the spirit of Summer which is finally here and warm campfires on crisp, clear, starry nights, here’s a pretty epic old post from Summer of 2011 when this blog was a younger version of itself and which many of you have probably never had the privilege of experiencing.

So that you can vicariously enjoy the whole Brown Road experience and since I can’t think of anything to write about, here’s me singing a campfire song, including all of the outside bird and peeper sounds from the swamp behind us! One of the critters got so loud towards the end, I think maybe it was sitting right underneath me. Maybe it was singing along. I laughed because I thought it sounded like one of those combination music and nature sounds CD’s you can buy.

Sweet Baby James is one of my favorite songs.  My Mom sang it to me to help me fall asleep when I was a baby. I don’t really remember that, but I imagine that’s where it all started. My parents had a copy of the James Taylor album that this song was originally recorded on and I would listen to it all the time.

If you’d like, here’s a video I found on youtube of a crackling campfire, that you can look at as well!

You should play them both at the same time to really get the full effect! You may have to adjust the volume settings on the videos to watch them together, the crackling fire is pretty loud.

Have fun at the Brown Road campfire!

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The Grass Ain’t Always Greener

This is the latest from the Brown Road recording studio. I’ve been working on this song the last few days after a conversation Kim and I had recently about how people are always looking for something better, when in reality they have something really great right in front of them.

I’ve always been a “grass is greener” guy.  So yeah, this song is pretty much about me. Probably about a lot of you too. In my case, I’m not talking about the basic measurable things in my life. I’m not talking about my relationships or my material possessions or my lifestyle. I just have this tendency to always be looking for some kind of fictional, transcendental level of satisfaction with my life, no matter how good it is.  And it really is.  I think it’s why a lot of us write or draw or sing or create or do whatever we do to feed that monster that lives inside of us.

So Kim and I were talking about this the other night.  A few nights later I picked up my guitar and I had to write a song about it.  Having now written a few songs, I find it interesting how overwhelmingly obsessing it can be once you have it in your mind to write about a certain subject. I can only imagine what it must be like to be a professional musician with a constant flow of lyrics and melodies swirling through your head.

So here’s The Grass Ain’t Always Greener. The lyrics are below.

The Grass Ain’t Always Greener

Spending your whole life
Trying to find what’s better
Chasing dreams you can barely see on the other side

Looking for a life
Deep with inspiration
Full of schemes that will always seem to build your pride

Building castles in the air
Impractical ambitions
Planting seeds that may never grow to see the light

Keeping track of time
Your clock is always ticking
You just need to always know you’ll be alright

‘Cause the grass may seem much greener when you look at the other side
If you glanced into a mirror, are you trying to run and hide?
There’s so much good around you, it’s just hidden in plain sight
And the grass ain’t always greener, when you get to the other side

Like brush strokes on a canvas
Vivid imagination
Painted dreams of chasing rainbows in your mind

Pacing through your days
Your mind is always racing
Romantic flights of fancy fill your time

Searching down a road
Forks at every juncture
No signs to guide you safely on your ride

Trying to find your way
Transcendent aspirations
If you could only see you’ve found your perfect life

‘Cause the grass may seem much greener when you look at the other side
If you glanced into a mirror, are you trying to run and hide?
There’s so much good around you, it’s just hidden in plain sight
And the grass ain’t always greener, when you get to the other side

Soooo…. is this song about you? Are you a “grass is greener” type of person?

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Baby Can I Hold You

“Baby Can I Hold You” by Tracy Chapman

This was the very first “real” song I learned on the guitar. This song was released in 1988, while I was a junior at Colby College in Waterville, Maine.  For my Christmas present that year, my middle brother had traded in an old classical guitar that had sat around our house our entire childhood, for the Yamaha acoustic guitar (and probably lots of extra cash) that I still play. The guitar he bought me is nothing fancy, not a world class instrument by any means, but a piece of wood and metal and strings that I have fallen in love with over the years.  I will be indebted to him forever for the foresight in buying me an instrument that although will never be used in a professional environment (thankfully!), really changed my life in an indescribable way.

I remember sitting in my dorm room trying to figure out the chords to this song, at the time barely knowing how to hold the guitar in the correct position and the tips of my uncalloused fingers burning from trying to hold down chords. Of course, 1988 was long before we were able to go onto the internet and search for the chords to a song, which are now readily available. So I listened to the cassette tape (yes, cassette tape, I’m that old!) and picked and strummed and picked and strummed until I figured out what I thought were the correct chords. Honestly I still don’t know if they are the correct chords and I figure at this point, it doesn’t really matter.

Look, I’ll never be a professional musician, I accepted that long ago. But I do believe that learning an instrument and being musically inclined is a “hobby” that is more important and can provide a more profound, lifelong impact than many others, including sports. Both of my kids are currently involved in music programs and I hope they will continue.

So… if you’ve ever considered picking up a guitar, banjo, mandolin, flute, clarinet, saxophone…

Well, what’s stopping you?

So, here’s my version of “Baby Can I Hold You”. Okay, it’s tough to compete with the amazing voice of Tracy Chapman… whatever…

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A Girl and a Horse

Madeline and Jack

What is it about a girl and a horse?

What brings them together, what powerful force?

Not the beautiful tack,

Nor the ride on his back,

But the unconditional love, of course!

____________________________________

Here’s my favorite song about horses. Written by the daughter of folk singer Peter Rowan and featured on a CD called “Daddy’s Sing Goodnight” which I’d encourage you to get a copy of if you have little ones!

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A Brown Road Campfire

So that you can vicariously enjoy the whole Brown Road experience and since I can’t think of anything to write about, here’s me singing a campfire song, including all of the outside bird and peeper sounds from the swamp behind us! One of the critters got so loud towards the end, I think maybe it was sitting right underneath me. Maybe it was singing along. I laughed because I thought it sounded like one of those combination music and nature sounds CD’s you can buy.

Sweet Baby James is one of my favorite songs.  My Mom sang it to me to help me fall asleep when I was a baby. I don’t really remember that, but I imagine that’s where it all started. My parents had a copy of the James Taylor album that this song was originally recorded on and I would listen to it all the time. Of course, JT is one of the iconic singer/songwriters of our time!

If you’d like, here’s a video I found on youtube of a crackling campfire, that you can look at as well!

You may have to adjust the volume settings on the videos to watch them together, the crackling fire is pretty loud.

Have fun at the Brown Road campfire!

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Crybaby!

When did I become such a crybaby?

I know… sometimes I post stuff that might make you think I am an insensitive ass… but…

The other night we were sitting outside and my daughter was playing music on her iHome which is basically a dock for her iPod with an outside speaker.  I wasn’t really paying attention to the songs, but at one point heard pieces of a song that was mostly acoustic guitar and a nice female voice and that always tends to catch my ear.  A while later I asked her what the song was and she skipped back a few and we eventually tracked it down.

The song was “The House That Built Me” by Miranda Lambert.  My daughter played it again and I liked it because of the guitar fingerpicking, but I didn’t really listen to the words at first.  I asked her to play it again and this time listened a little closer.  It’s basically about someone that goes back to the house they grew up in as a kid.  You can listen to it if you want.  Maybe you’ve heard it already.

The song made me tear up.  Yeah, seriously, it did!  Then my daughter was trying to talk to me and I had to hide my face in my blackberry.  Of course I’d had like eight drinks so my “drunken sorority girl that’s like just been dumped by a totally hot guy she met a week ago” emotional buttons had been pushed. You’re surprised?  Go listen to the song and see if it doesn’t make cry you heartless sociopath!

Anyway, I used to be a pretty stoic guy.  I could sit and watch a sad movie and be completely untouched. My wife on the other hand would cry at everything, movies, news stories, hallmark commercials, whatever… it never took much.  Maybe that’s why we get along so well.  There’s nothing wrong with being emotional, I think its okay.  In fact, it’s probably healthy!  But, not me, I’d sit there and watch them haul “Old Yeller” into the back field and shoot him and not shed a tear.

Not anymore…

Now stuff makes me cry all the time.  Movies, books, songs, even the damn McDonalds commercial with the Apple Tree song!  In fact, I’m pretty confident that these days any time I hear sad violin music playing I am going to start to cry whether I am watching a movie or not. I’m beginning to wonder if I need to ask my doctor about Testosterone Replacement Therapy if there is such a thing or maybe have my tear ducts removed.  I try to fight it, the tears, the lip quivering, the sobbing and sniffling… but I just can’t hold it back anymore.  Now when we watch a movie with the kids my wife and I will sit there balling our eyes out and the kids look at us like, “dudes, seriously, it’s just the Sponge Bob movie, what is wrong with you two!”

I’m not sure when things changed.  I suspect it has something to do with having and raising kids and the emotional responsibilities that comes with that.  But I don’t know, I guess it’s been some kind of a growth process, something that comes with aging and seeing loved ones pass and knowing that my kids are growing up and won’t be living with us much longer.

Regardless, here I am, like a guy at an AA meeting saying “Hi, I’m Steve, and even though I have spent months and months developing this image of me being this kind of rugged, handsome Marlboro Man, on my ranch, caring for wild mountain goats and tending fences and doing other manly stuff, now I’m going to come clean.” Awhile back my family sat around one evening and watched Toy Story 3. My wife and I cried like babies!  Yep, you heard me right, TOY STORY 3!  At the end, Andy turns over all his toys to another kid.  Tears were flowing, tissues were flying, snot was dripping.  Disturbing…

After the movie I opened my Facebook account and posted “should I be concerned that I just watched Toy Story 3 and cried like a baby?”

I won’t share the responses…

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Strumming my Six String!

I play the acoustic guitar. I’m not a great guitarist, for me it’s just a hobby, a way to cool down, to take a break from all the crap we deal with every day, to have some limited kind of creative release. I’ve even posted a few videos on you tube: http://www.youtube.com/user/stevetwarner?feature=mhum, mostly to see, after all these years, what I really sounded like.  I like to call myself a campfire guitarist. It’s a nice skill to be able to sit around a campfire with friends and family or the fire-pit at our house and be able to bang out a few simple tunes and entertain a hopefully not-too-critical audience.

Still the one after all these years!

I have played the guitar since my middle brother bought me a used Yamaha six string around 1987 as a Christmas present. It was a gift I hadn’t foreseen, a beautiful blond body, shiny gold pegs, fresh strings that vibrated out beautiful, sensual notes when plucked and strummed.  I still play that same Yamaha guitar that he gave to me.  I’ve never upgraded it, never thought to replace it.  It’s the guitar I built my first relationship with, that I gave my musician vows to, that I touched and held and caressed until I learned to make it sing and it taught me to sing along with it.  It’s like an old friend to me, like a beautiful woman who has been, for so many years, by my side, held in my arms, sitting on my lap, hanging around my neck, and helping me make music for over two decades.

I would be cheating on Yamaha if I started strumming the strings, massaging the neck, cuddling the body, lubricating the wood finish and fingering the frets of a new guitar. My Yamaha would know, it would confront me. And if I did would the passion between Yamaha and me fade away like some lost relationship tossed away over a hot tryst between me and a sexy new Gibson Guitar at the local Guitar Center store? Just me and Gibson, sneaking away to the acoustic guitar room with its closable doors and its controlled climate, secluded away like some cheap mirrored-ceiling motel room, stealing away a passionate musical moment, away from the electric guitars with their thick strings howling and moaning their repentant tunes, away from the pianos with their keys being harmoniously finger stroked in a rapid fire of musical eroticism, away from the drums unleashing their sensual rhythm, banging and pounding away on their loose bass drums and tight snares. Yes, just me and Gibson coaxing out a little music, maybe even inserting a guitar pick-up into Gibson’s sound hole and plugging in to add some electricity, to amplify the experience, to hear the intense sound penetrate the walls of our secluded meeting place.  Just me and Gibson, playing and picking and strumming and caressing and rocking and vibrating and singing… and picking and strumming and playing and caressing and rocking and vibrating and singing and picking and caressing and oh, yeah, and foreplaying and Oh, Yeah Baby, and strumming and rocking and… OH MY GOD … GIBSON BABY… and fingering and plucking and… OOOOOH YEAH, play me an F# minor chord and maybe a B7 chord…. AND MY GOD, Hallelujah… TAKE ME TO THE PROMISED LAND BABY… OH YEAH, TAKE ME ALL THE WAY TO NASHVILLE… YOU HOT, CURVY, SEXY, SIX-STRING, MOTHER OF ALL GUITARS………

Yeah, I think Yahama would notice… and I think I need to go take a cold shower…

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