Tag Archives: music

White Christmas

A little song we did…

Christmas here in Michigan, as with many traditionally cold places in the U.S. this time of year, was unseasonably warm and FAR from white. But we still enjoyed good food and some family time at home.

Hope you all (who celebrate) had a Merry Christmas and wishing you all a happy, healthy, prosperous New Year!

Perhaps we’ll see you all more in 2016!

Here’s the “professional” version that I recorded for my Soundcloud page:

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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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Kathy’s Song

Love this song. Been trying to learn it for the last several months. Took about a zillion takes to get a decent video, but finally one came out alright!

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Hobo’s Lullaby

Just doin’ a little croonin’…

These days I don’t seem to pick up the guitar as much as I used to.

I used to like this song a lot, hadn’t heard it in years and tripped over it today on youtube. It was written by a guy names Goebel Reeves, but the most well known version is probably the very somber Arlo  Guthrie rendition off of his album of the same name.  I like the dark, graininess of the video too… fits the song well. Its a simple three chord song and when you have my limited skills, those are the best kind!

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The Greatest Song Ever Written

What is the greatest song ever written?

That’s a discussion that has gone on for decades, if not centuries, and will continue to go on for an eternity. Radio stations have Top 100 song marathons on holiday weekends. Websites abound categorizing music fan’s varied choices. Music pundits are always available to share their expert opinions based on sales and stats and song rankings and weeks stuck atop the music charts.

Well, I’m here to set the record straight.  The greatest song is not Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven. It’s not Don Maclean’s American Pie. It’s not a song by the Beatles or the Rolling Stones or Nirvana or Elvis Presley or Woody Guthrie. It’s not even a song by my all time favorite musician, Jackson Browne, whose music has had a more profound effect on my life than any other. It’s not a song written during the 20th or 21st centuries when what we all know as traditional Rock and Roll music became the backdrop to our every living moments.

The greatest song ever… well, it’s not really a “song” per se. Let’s see, what’s the proper word… it’s a Piece, it’s a Movement. In fact, it’s the 10th movement of the cantata Herz und Mund Tat und Leben, BWV 147.

Huh?

Don’t worry, if you don’t recognize the formal name, you’ve heard it, believe me. I don’t have scientifically garnered evidence of this but I’d venture to guess that no piece of music has been covered by as many musicians, arranged more often into so many distinct versions, played by so many different musical instruments. It’s been performed on church organs, pianos, and classical guitars. It’s been performed by full symphonic orchestras and small chamber groups. It’s been performed with vocals and without. It’s been played on kids xylophones and recorders and toy pianos. Check out youtube… there are classical versions, pop versions, heavy metal versions. There’s even a guy who plays it by rubbing his hands over a table full of water filled wine glasses! Very cool!

Here’s a particularly stunning rendition of it in my opinion. Although not originally written for guitar, I find classical guitar versions the most powerful and moving. Take a listen.

Yes… you’ve heard it.

I grew up playing the cello. I started in fifth grade and stopped when I graduated from High School. I took personal lessons and played in the school orchestra. I participated in contests and festivals.  I got pretty good at it, although not as good as I could have been if I had really put the effort in. When I went away to college the music department wanted me to continue playing but I was tired of it. I wanted to drink and chase girls and screw around… oh, and of course, study. These days I realize that I will always regret not continuing but it was one of those decisions that you make as a teenager that sounds right at the time. Although I still own the instrument, these days I can barely bang out Mary Had a Little Lamb.

What it taught me though, was a love… okay, maybe love is too strong a word… how about a deep respect for classical music. Colby College, where my wife Kim and I went to school, offers what is called a Jan Plan, a month-long class you can take during January when the school is mostly closed down and most of the students have gone home. One year Kim and I took a Chamber Music class taught by a four piece, string chamber group, who would basically sit in the front of the lecture hall and play for us, while teaching us the musical structure and history of chamber music.  It was one of the few classes in college where I somehow managed to pull off an A grade.  But Kim and I would walk to class together and walk back to the dorms together. We would eat together in the cafeterias. We would sit through the class in the mornings and when it was over, the days were free with no other classes or homework to be concerned about. It was a part of me that I was able to share with the girl I was falling in love with and although many of the details are lost to my aging memory, it was a month that I will remember always.

I still listen to classical music occasionally. It’s very soothing and grounding to me. I often like to have it playing in the background if I am working at home or washing dishes or writing. It puts me into a place and a frame of mind that is very difficult to obtain in this hectic and stressful world we live in. When it comes to composers, Johann Sebastian Bach was the fucking rock star of his day, in my opinion the greatest to ever compose music. In a very simplistic viewpoint, without over analyzing every note, his melodies are happier and more upbeat than any other composer, less dissonant and grating than many of his counterparts. I won’t claim to be an expert on any of this but I know what sounds good to me.

And his greatest piece of music… Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.

Now don’t go thinking I’ve gone all religious and spiritual on y’all. I have not! But if there is a piece of music that can put someone, even a hell-bound, heathen like me… in a spiritual place, this is it! I don’t really consider it a wedding song, like I consider the classic Pachelbel Canon which was played at my wedding, although I understand it has become a wedding staple.  I don’t really consider it a Christmas song either, although it gets a lot of play time in its many versions during the holidays.

For me it’s a piece of music that transcends all of that. If you’re happy it can make you happier. If you’re sad it can make you sadder. It makes me cry… yes… cry, pretty much every time I hear it. I can’t help it… I’m listening to it as I type this… can you see the tears falling on my keyboard? It’s the one melody that I think, if I had to hear over and over for the rest of my life, I wouldn’t tire of hearing. It’s a melody that reminds me of my Mom who is no longer with us. It’s the background music to a life of love and friendship and family and happiness and sadness. It’s classical music that has become mainstream and will stand the test of time longer than any other piece of music. And in my opinion, it’s the greatest song ever written.

It turns out the underlying melody that has become so recognizable to the world was not written by Bach himself, but by composer and violinist Johann Schop. I never knew that until reading some Wikipedia notes. That’s okay, just like today’s musicians who don’t write all their own songs, if it’s your face on the album cover, you get all the credit.

Even 300+ years later!

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Fall in Love Again

One of my blogging friends, Robyn at Love vs. Goliath wrote this post the other day about investing in her relationship with her husband.  These two (and her kids) tell an amazing love story about being reunited after a long immigration battle. I’d encourage you to visit the site and poke around, it’s very interesting and uplifting.

Her post reminded me that it is so important to make time for your spouse or partner, to find time away from kids and jobs and all the stressful and time-consuming things that envelope our lives, and find ways to rekindle those incredible feelings that people feel when they first start falling in love. My wife preaches this to me sometimes, and while I have to admit she is pretty good at it, frankly, me being a guy and all… I am not always very good at it.

Reading Robyn’s post hit home for me and I sat down and wrote a little song. I’m not much for New Year’s Resolutions, but perhaps this year I’ll try to make more time for my relationship with my amazing wife.

You can listen to the song on Grooveshark here:  Fall in Love Again

and here are the words:

Baby, let’s fall in love again.
Head over heels in love again.
It’s much too easy just being in love with you.
I want to fall in love again.

Baby, let’s fall in love again.
Head over heels in love again.
It’s not enough just being in love with you.
I want to fall in love again.

Let’s climb to the roof and stare at the sky and watch shooting stars go by.
Let’s jump in the car and go for a drive with nowhere to go in mind.
Let’s lie in the sand, grab hold of my hand and know that the world is right.
Baby, let’s feel that way again.

Baby, let’s fall in love again.
Head over heels in love again.
It’s much too easy just being in love with you.
I want to fall in love again.

I’m looking forward to reading what you all have to say this year. Wishing you a happy, healthy 2012!

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Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas!

MERRY CHRISTMAS from the folks at BROWN ROAD CHRONICLES.  I asked my family to get together with me and make a little Christmas carol video. This is what we came up with… yes, there’s a few bloopers included! Please take a few minutes and watch the whole thing. I hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed filming it… yes, we laughed A LOT!  To all of you subscribers and readers, THANK YOU SO MUCH for your loyal support and more importantly YOUR FRIENDSHIP! It is valued more than you understand.  I hope you have a wonderful and magical day with your family and friends.  Wishing you the Merriest Christmas and a  Joyous, Healthy and Happy New Year!!

Steve

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