Sunday, November 20, 2011

Coat of White


I'm a Pennsylvania Yankee, born and bred.  That means that I like my Christmases with snow.  I have to admit that we didn't always have snow on Christmas growing up in Erie, PA, but most of the time we did.  Living in the snow belt on Lake Erie generally guaranteed about 50-60 inches in December, before the lake froze over.

So when I go outside on Christmas Day, I want to see both my breath and the ground white.

Which brings me to 'Coat of White'.  Some years ago, sometime in late Fall (as I remember), Adam wrote and recorded this song.  However, he never really released it, so it's basically been sitting on our computers as an 'in house' Christmas song.  But I've always loved it and have listened to it regularly.

So, since it's about that time of the year for some serious Christmas music, I want to share it with you.  I hope it takes you back to some wonderful Christmases past!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Hypothesis



Well, I've been away for awhile.  But Adam's song 'Hypothesis' is well worth coming back for (he actually got it ready for the internet since the last time I posted something here).

When Adam first played 'Hypothesis' for me several years ago, I was smitten.  It is simply a great, great song, with a wonderful story, terrific chords, and a superb solo vocal.  Yet most people have probably never heard it.  This song definitely deserves to be heard! 

Adam has included 'Hypothesis' in a new playlist of songs he has called Life's Child.  This and his other albums can be heard and downloaded on the website aplmuzak.bandcamp.com.

So, what's your hypothesis again, Adam?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Grandmother Tree



'The Grandmother Tree', from AppleBlossom, has a dreamy, child-like feel to it, of two innocent, pre-adolescent children who, attracted to each other but having not yet bitten Eden's apple, would rather go play in the meadow on a lazy summer day than make-out in the barn.

Adam fishin' on Presque Isle, Erie, PA
In some ways, it makes you wish that our horny hormones were never invented.  But then again, if that were the case, I suppose there wouldn't be any children around to go play in the meadow, would there.

Adam, I love your vocals, guitar work, and easy rhythm in this song.  And Sam, I love your understated drumming.  Beautiful work here.  It reminds me a lot of 'Magnolia Moon', from Seals and Crofts' Takin' It Easy album, always one of my favorite (though mostly unknown) songs.

Lyrics:
If you want, I will marry you
Once we both turn eighteen.
But you just laugh and run off
to the Grandmother Tree
In your bare feet.

There you swing underneath her tree
I can see your hair blowing.
Stars and tears are the same for me tonight
Yeah, their coming out bright.

I strip down to my barefeet
and wrap my arms around yours.
If you want, I will marry you tonight
while things are alright.

I call out to the Nightingale
and lap up the evening stream.
Watch over her as she wears her veil
watch over us we sing.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Hold Here





'Hold Here', from Houses, speaks of the consolation and love that can be found with family (or at least a family where love has managed to survive the ravages of time).  However, to get the full impact of 'Hold Here', you need to have listened to the previous track 'Uphill and Downhill', which of course is not a song at all, but a recording of Adam's grandmother 'Noni' describing what it was like to experience her father's death when she was just a teenager.

This song reminds me of Cat Stevens' Wind, in its originality, sensitivity, and quiet spirituality.  (Trivia: did you know that Cat Stevens was also part Swedish?)

If you're part of a family (whether 'blood' or not) who can hold each other to sooth, console, and help heal the inevitable wounds of life, you are a very lucky person.

Lyrics:
Hold here, close to me
How often do we get to meet?
Your brother and your sister know
When you come here
I wish you'd never go, away.

My hands hurt, my love is dead
You broke up with your last boyfriend.
You know how we both hurt so
Just hold here and
I swear it will go, away.

So come back, even if you're well
I'll hold you here.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Lipsynching Life


Friday night (or Saturday) is often movie night for us, so what better day to listen to 'Lip Synching' from the Croakies album.

This song seems to be about the price that has to be paid for a shot at stardom in our American celebrity culture.  For every star or starlet who 'makes' it, there are thousands who start climbing that celebrity ladder, only to fall off (or be kicked off) before they make it very far.

But beware!  The water in that ocean is full of sharks and other predators who are more than willing, indeed eager, to take a big bite out of the innocent young 'things' who flock to that place of dreams.

Lyrics:
Fool me once, fool me a second time
"You should know us you should know our work"
But I'm a dunce, I've been missing lines
"Here's a word that we don't think should hurt"

You should leave, no you shouldn't stay
"Who'd be here to pump you up tonight?
You're living life you're an advertisement."
But you place the price out of sight!

I was believing you. All of you.

Where's my car? Where's my skinny jeans?
"Business has it's ups and downs you see?
You've got your looks, your pretty face"
Well ain't it enough to want them to want me.

You know I was lip synching life
Cause I was believing you
You know I was lip synching love
Cause I was believing you
You know I was lip synching it all
Cause I was believing you, all of you.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

8th St. Mother's House


APL has a way of hitting you right in the gut (or 'solar plexus', as we used to say when I was young) when you least expect it...with his music, of course.  I'm talking now about '8th St. Mother's House' from the Houses album.

While it sounds like just a jaunty, playful little tune about nothing much at all, this is actually one of Adam's most profound compositions.  (I think I keep saying that about every song!)
Preacher for the Week at Topsail Beach, 1987

This song is about time, and memories, and life passing.  It feels like it's about me at age 60, looking back at all the life I've lived (and with much less in front of me than behind me).  When I'm standing at my computer, scanning boxes of our pictures from decades past, these lyrics are speaking directly to me: "Remember it well, remember it well.  But the older that you are, the more those memories carve your life away."

The word 'poignant' comes to mind.  This is definitely a poignant song, as in 'evoking a keen sense of emotion, especially sadness.'  But it's not just sadness, because with memories there is (or should be) gratitude and pleasure as well.  Hopefully, that's what memories do for us.  But I'll admit that it's a mixture for me these days.

Writing the other day on this blog about the Castle, built by Hedgie and Tom Dean and the scene of many of our best family memories, was a poignant moment for me, because it was sold some years ago and is no longer in the family.  It's just a memory now.
I remember the chain
That locked up the front door
And blocked the bay-front window.
I remember the feeling that
a memory is all I'd have.
Same thing with my family home in Pennsylvania where I was raised: sold (actually, under contract as I write), gone now, only a memory, along with most everything else from that time of my life, including most of the people. 

But that's our life as mortals, is it not.  Each moment we live in the present quickly becomes only a memory, like the grains of sand passing through the hour glass, going from the top to the bottom.  But unlike a physical hourglass, we can't turn our lives over and start it running again.

Perhaps here's the lesson I would take from '8th St. Mother's House':  Cherish the moments as you live them, and then cherish the memories you make of those moments.

And also take lots of pictures!!

Lyrics:
I remember it well,
the cat on the front porch of your 8th st. mother's house.
You gave me the front door, a sip of you lemonade.
You said it was homemade. No, I saw the powder there.
But I didn't care.

All the old days, cause the current age to race away.

I remember it well:
The old grand piano, that played through the bay-front window.
The blue-satin pillow, that held your hair so well.
Your Grandmother Willow, that never would stand still.

All the old days, cause the current age to race away.

Remember it well, Remember it well
But the older that you are,
the more those memories carve your life away.

I remember the chain
That locked up the front door
And blocked the bay-front window.
I remember the feeling that
a memory is all I'd have.
As though I was peeling towards,
The core of life that's so sad
It's so sad.

That all the old days, cause the current age to race away.

All the old days, cause the current age
The older that you are,
the more those memories carve your life away.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Unbound


APL's first song on Ancient Tune, 'Unbound', has all the signature APL characteristics: an opening recording of natural outdoor sounds, a very catchy beat after the spoken/sung intro, complex lyrics, layered background vocals and some unusual instrumentation.  As to the latter, I particularly like the (what we used to call back in my day) 'Moog synthesizer' sound halfway through the song.  I first remember hearing something like that when the British group Emerson, Lake and Palmer came to Thiel College for a concert.  The endings of their hit songs ('Lucky Man' and 'From the Beginning') typically had that wild synthesizer sound.  I still have those two songs as mp3s on my computer.

Mary Beth, Sarahbeth, and Adam in the Kitchen
The only instrument that Adam normally doesn't himself play on these recordings is the drums, for which he relies upon his friend Sam Huff.  How in the world he puts down all of these layers of instrumentation and vocals, one after the other, is beyond me.  Indeed, it is a complicated craft all in itself, separate and apart from the playing of each instrument or singing each part, let alone the original composition of the song. 

Like the weaving of fine cloth, it is.  Or cooking a delicious meal, perhaps. And definitely worthy of admiration and aural delight.

Lyrics:
A window is open wide
A Sunshine car tells me why he’s alive with his horn
He says he was born to wander dated streets
The same reason that created me
I guess we were bound to meet

I’m letting life take a page
I’ve learned that love is more than just building a cage for your hearts
But when you’re apart from that love you have
A set of shoulders and a sturdy back
Can’t keep you from feeling sad

I’ve strayed far away, so far away

And one day the sun won’t shine
He’ll say it’s cause he has not near enough time for himself
And when his wealth comes from that energy
He’s pumping out for you and me
He can well afford a day of sleep

I might be a man of dreams
I might search above all the practical things in life
Like a climber who’ll reach a peak
Knowing there’s nothing else to seek
I might come back down quite readily

I strayed far away, so far away

So I buried in them hills
A tin of gold with the requisite skills to life
And on a quiet night I burned the map
thinking there was no need for that
Cause my baby you know she’s got my back

Don’t walk away, I’ve got your back

I strayed far away, so far away
But I’ll come down unbound, unbound

I’m coming down, unbound

Monday, April 4, 2011

This Tin Roof


In a way that I don't really understand, a songwriter is often able to tell a complete story within the confines of a couple of verses, and then write music to go along with it, all of which evokes incredible feeling and pathos.  That's the case, I think, with 'This Tin Roof' from the Houses album.

Sarahbeth, Adam, and Nathan in the Rockies
This song is about a love that is lost, due to the inability of the loser to 'speak'  love.  It tells of a soul that is so isolated by thick layers of  self, that it remains impervious, withered, and  'dry' to love's moistening and enlivening 'rain', which it effectively keeps out.

'This Tin Roof' is a sad song, and ultimately a tragic one, because this soul, despite its knowledge of its self-imposed exile from the realm of love, is never able to make the decision to break down the barriers that keep love away.  And it therefore dies 'alone', a powerful form of hell on earth.

It has been said that the artist is a prophet to culture, bringing a message of truth and wisdom to its time, or at least shining a revealing light on culture's true condition, and I think that's true.  If that is the case with this song, I think the message for our time might be this: the true Love that our humanity needs requires an intention and willingness to move beyond the thick layers of protective selfhood that can develop in a person, into a shared, unselfish, and just plain risky, interpersonal mutuality of adoration, commitment, and communication. 

In our world of impersonal sexual encounters, mindless intoxication, and a pervasive and stubborn refusal to totally commit to the wellbeing and care of another person, this song is a reminder of both the tragic costs of such personal narcissism, as well as the ultimate benefits and blessings of true Love.

Lyrics:
You wrote your letter the day you were married
and sent it to me
It said you were happy, happy there with him
But you would never forget me

The rain comes, the rain comes, the rain comes down outside

When love is shared I keep it unspoken
And I lose it
But it's easy for me in this fortress unbroken
I'm tired of it

The rain comes, the rain comes, the rain comes down outside

This roof keeps, this roof keeps, this roof keeps me dry inside

It's all, It's all I can do
I know, I know, I know
To keep the rain from soaking me through
I'm alone, alone, alone

I'll stay alone, alone, alone

The rain comes, the rain comes, the rain comes down outside

This roof keeps, this roof keeps, this roof keeps me dry inside

I'll write my letter, the day I am dying
but you'll never get it
And you stay there with him
Happy and breathing
And never regret it.
Ps. Click on the picture above, for an incredible closeup of a beautiful mountain landscape (and three beautiful people)!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Breathe in the Good Days


I have the perfect APL song for this Lord's Day: 'Breathe in the Good Days', on Ancient Tune.

There is a metaphysical/spiritual/religious--call it what you will--side of Adam that comes to expression occasionally in a song, and it perfectly captures, both in lyrics and music, a basic spiritual principle of life.  In the case of this song, I would say that the spiritual principle being expressed is 'faith'.

Adam and his loving big brother Nathan
"Everything is under control" is the basic refrain that is repeated several times in several different ways.  In other words, this reality we experience in life is not a chaotic void or merely a product of random chance, but rather it is, behind all the more superficial appearances and beyond all the real pain and tragedy, a 'uni'-verse that is harmonious and good and beautiful, because it is ultimately under the control of a 'good God'.

In this song, Adam begins with a gorgeous acapella vocal that sends my soul soaring.  It has a 'holy' quality to it, as if it were being sung in a beautifully resonant sanctuary.  It reminds me a little of the eucharistic responses that I used to sing behind the altar, during our services of Holy Communion in the churches I served in Highlands, Morganton, and Lexington.

Adam's music wouldn't normally be thought of as 'Christian' or 'Praise' music.  But this song is, in my opinion, a beautiful and faithful musical expression of the perennial religious vision of humanity.

Lyrics:
Breathe in the good days, Breathe out the bad
Your problems will dissipate fast
I know you can make it
You won’t have to fake it
Everything is under control

If a good god has got us, you’ll see what I mean
When trusting is slippery but it’s free
I know you can handle it
but if you need to take a candle to it, you’ll see
Everything is under control

Let’s culminate and generate
Let’s fall in love and stimulate
I glimpsed the goodness in you
Let’s burn the light through the night
Kiss me ‘cause it’s only right
that I touch that beauty in you
You’ve got all you need

Pebbles are my body, water is your soul
We’ve made it, so rivers can flow
There’s no disaster that we won’t look at after
as a waterfall that was under control

Let’s culminate and generate
Let’s fall in love and stimulate
I glimpsed the goodness in you
Let’s burn the light through the night
Kiss me ‘cause it’s only right
that I touch that beauty
I hold that beauty
That I glimpse that beauty in you
You’ve got all you need
and all I need too.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Snorkling with Obama (A Dream)


Today is Saturday and that means fun!  So I wanted to post an APL song that is pure fun.  And that would be 'Snorkling with Obama (A Dream)', from The Croakies album.  (Get ready for some fun!)


Adam and Cousin Tim Doing Their Thing
 This song, especially at the end, has always reminded me a little of Barry Manilow, performing 'Copacobana' on stage, with his feathered boases just flying!  And the beginning takes me back to Highlands and The Best CD in the World, and the 'Potato Farmer Oratorio', which has always been one of my favorite songs for its wild zaniness. 

The question you have to ask is: did somebody slip something into Adam's drink before he wrote this song?  Or was he just spending too much time with his cousin Tim?

One more thing: if you don't happen to like Obama, don't worry about it, because this song has absolutely nothing to do with Obama, that I can tell!

Lyrics:
Various dream dialogue

I have every word of it, I have every word written down
just in case you come to cop that dream from me

Dialogue

Oh, say where we going?
Take me the center of this dreamscape
Happy time's much more pleasant
in the present landscape
where the kangaroos, the cockatoos, Maya Angelou
all reading from the pages of the National Review.

Come again another night.

We got in the car and left the Italian Villa behind us, turned on the radio and there was some strange progressive folk on.
Coming up we saw the lights of the disco,
I said "Everybody, Let's Go Dancing!"
"Alright!"

I have every word written down.

Wake up honey.
I'll come again another night.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

An Ancient Tune (How to Rip Off Leonard Cohen)


I tend to remember where I first heard one of Adam's songs.  (And he almost never tells us that he's working on a song, but rather springs it on us full-blown.)  In the case of the title piece from  'Ancient Tune', we were at a little social gathering at the home of friend and parishioner June Craver.  June had asked him to play some music, and so he did.  One of the pieces was 'An Ancient Tune' (or it's acoustic guitar version, I should say), and I loved it immediately.

This was the tune that I was referring to when I mentioned Simon and Garfunkle in an earlier post.  Can't exactly say what it is, but the feel is the same to me (especially Paul Simon's later solo work).

One of the memorable experiences for me was being a part of this recording with my trumpet, the one instrument at which I'm halfway decent.  Adam handwrote the part (in three part harmony, if I'm not mistaken), and then coached me to play each part perfectly and record it two times each (that six perfect performances).  As you can imagine, that took a while!!  But Adam was incredibly patient (though I was also incredibly cheap to hire as a performer!).

Also, at some later time, his sister Sarahbeth contributed a vocal harmony part.  And the nice thing about a recording like this is that while it's just vibrations in the air (or bits in a digital file), it's like a picture in that it's also as permanent as anything can be in this life, short of something built in stone.

I'm not sure that I understand the message of this song, but I've always liked the biblical quote, "it's better to be poor in the body than poor in the soul."  That's a tough choice, no doubt, but, as they say, it's in 'the Good Book'. 

But mostly I just like the upbeat feel of the song, the metaphors, and, of course, the trumpet part (LOL)!

Lyrics:
Honey, You make it hard for me when we’re apart it’s just hard to be
Money, you run just as fast as you can, yeah you’re leaping out of my hand, out of my hand

Taxi, take me out of this world, All I want is me and my girl, me and my girl
My feet are feeling sore
and the subway is hotter than ever before,
Hallelujah that’s part of an ancient tune

Heartache, you are the worst of them all, somehow I’m always willing to fall, wiling to fall
It’s funny, knowing I’ll be dead in the ground, that won’t silence the sound
Somewhere down in Lincolns tomb
He strokes his beard as he listens to the
Hallelujah of an ancient tune

Hallelu, Hallelu, hallelu, Hallelujah

Judy, Don’t come to hear me play in the band, it’s music that you won’t understand, you won’t understand
Timmy, I know you worry about the money you owe, it’s better to be poor of the body then poor of the soul
One day when we all have a break
We’ll take the kids down to Waccamaw Lake
We’ll rent a canoe and sing that ancient tune


Sister Sarahbeth and Adam at Topsail Beach
 One day when this world’s gone
I’ll be looking for a song to hum
Hallelujah It’ll come as an ancient tune
One day honey you and I
will earn the keys to a better life, but not too soon

Hallelu, Hallelu, hallelu, Hallelujah
I’ll never know, where I’m gonna go, I’ll never know

Monday, March 28, 2011

If I...(Grandma Hedgie)




The Castle
 If there is one person in this family who has attained a near-mythological status, it would be Adam's maternal great-grandmother, Esther Wilkins Hedges Dean, or as everyone referred to her, 'Hedgie'.  When I was dating Mary Beth, way back in 1972, one of the first pilgrimages I made upon my first visit to her hometown was to 'the Castle', the home of Hedgie and her husband Tom, perched on a hill overlooking the valley on the way to Arkport.

Actually, I'm convinced that Hedgie was a hobbit, somehow mysteriously liberated from the mind of J. R. R. Tolkien.  And, believe me, the Castle was not a normal home, built for normal people.  Oh no, it was definitely built for (and by) hobbits, who are the size of Hedgie.  As a human, I hardly fit through the doorway or into the bathroom.  It was the Shire of Middle-earth, somehow transplanted to the outskirts of Hornell, New York

And just like a hobbit, Hedgie was not only smaller than humans, but she was also more innocent and wiser than we humans are.  Finally, she had a cherubic face that only a hobbit could have.  I'm not kidding.  I have many pictures that would prove this to you.

Adam, Dad, and Great Grandma Hedgie
Anyway, when Adam wanted an introduction to his song 'If I', on his Appleblossom album, who better to turn to than his great-grandmother Hedgie, because she was always saying or doing wise things.

Actually, knowing that Adam has some 'hobbit' blood in him, explains a lot.  (As does my wife...have you ever noticed that Mary Beth has no wrinkles on her face?  'That is no accident,' as they say.)

Lyrics:
Great Grandma Hedgie--"If a person, with all the things they learn in 82 years, could turn around and have another family, you know, that'd be quite an idea! I wonder if anyone worked it out. (Laugh...)  Maybe I'll have another chance!"  [Hedgie, I got your number...you're a hobbit!]

If I could buy a box of crayons
and tailor the world with my own hands
I'd draw you here with me
in red and blue-berry
If I could buy a box of crayons

If could sing a thousand songs
I'd sing them all for you so long
as you just realize
they're all written in your blue eyes
If I could sing a thousand songs

If I could live without regret
If I could pass that snare, jump that net
I promise I'd settle down
I promise a softer sound
If I could live without regret

If I could take you anywhere
To see secrets I've hid there
I'd take you deep inside
to where my spirit hides
If I could take you anywhere

Da da da da da....

If I could love a thousand times
with every love I think I'd find
It won't be put upon the shelf
cause love is life itself
If I could love a thousand times

Maybe in the end I'd see it's true
I would have spent all that love on you
If I could love a thousand times.

Da da da da da...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Crayon Colored



It's Sunday, so I'm going to post one of Adam's songs that deserves a Sabbath's consideration: 'Crayon Colored', from The Croakies album.  I dare say it is a song that most of you have never listened to.  But I'm going to tell you the story that will allow you to enter the very beating heart of this beautiful and most meaningful song.  So read on please, and in fact, why don't you wait to listen to the song until you read what I have to say.


Adam and Grandma Lindquist
 Let me begin by saying that Adam inherited at least part of his musical talent from his paternal grandmother, Evelyn Lindquist.  Mom played both piano and organ well enough to be one of the keyboardists at church for decades, and she forced me to take piano lessons as well (though I preferred the trumpet).  And when Adam began to show exceptional musical interest and ability, Mom was particularly pleased.

Mom died two years ago on January 2, 2009, in the house in which we had been raised in Erie, PA, where my brother Paul and his family were now living and caring for her.  We (all five of us for once) had just visited them for Christmas  and were on our way back to North Carolina, when my brother called to say Mom was dying, with just hours to live.  We turned back and drove six hours, reaching Mom about an hour before her death.  Paul said he felt she was waiting for us to get there.

Mom was lying there on her bed, barely conscious, and as we waited by her bedside, all nine of us, her breathing got slower and intermittent.  Please understand, I've been with many people as they have died in my job as pastor, but our kids had not, so it was a rare and difficult experience for them to be with anyone who is dying, let alone their grandmother.  At some point, Adam quietly left the bedroom and began to play the piano down the hall that Mom loved (and that I had played as a child), in what turned out to be a perfect accompaniment as Mom slipped away into eternity.

A few months later, Adam composed 'Crayon Colored'.  When I first heard it, I frankly couldn't believe my ears.  Though Adam has never actually explained it this way--in fact, he never interprets his songs to us--to me this song is a profound expression of the Ultimate Hope, of what happens to us when death comes and our souls rise to meet the Holy One.   I consider this song to be a wonderful benedictory gift from Adam to his grandmother.
From this humble bed, with the blue sheets over my head
I rise to meet you, holy one
Though I have left, I am not yet gone
I can hear crying

And I put my memories, a crayon colored book
On a screen of stars so that all can look
As I pass through the sun's gold rays
I can hear laughing, I can sense joy
I'm one with you

Grandma and APL at Brevellier Village, Erie, PA


From this humble bed, with the blue sheets over my head
I rise to meet you, fully one
Though I have left, I am not yet gone

And the years will drain like a cold water bath
And your arms reach for the warmth at last
Someone said when you breathed last
you should go.
I'm one with you.
Ps. When you've finished listening to the song, go back and click on the second picture, and look at my Mom's expression.  It's....heavenly.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Golden Coin



Young APL
 One of APL's most haunting songs is "The Golden Coin", the 8th track on his most recent album Ancient Tune.  This album began its life in the streets of Brooklyn, New York, where Adam went to live for three months during the summer of 2009.  Like so many young people, past and present, he was drawn to New York City, the artistic bosom of American culture, where the most talented of the nation's young gather to nurse from the creativity present there in massive quantities.

Living off bananas and beans, while taking in every free cultural offering available in the city, Adam finally came back home around Labor Day, exhausted, underweight, and absolutely broke, having spent all of his golden coins in NYC.  But now he was ready to focus on his new work of art, his fourth album.

He set up his recording studio in the (unused) living room of our Lexington, NC parsonage, where he proceeded to create Ancient Tune during the fall and winter of 2009.  It was the first time we in his immediate family had been so exposed to his creative process, and it was fascinating to watch and listen, as he laid down track after track on his Mac computer, in what can only be described as an incredibly arduous  process.  But as we all know, when you are doing something you are passionate about, when you are 'following your bliss' (as mythologist Joseph Campbell once put it), then you can simply lose track of time, in what is probably the closest we'll ever get in this life to experiencing 'eternity'.

The Golden Coin is, it seems to me, an indictment of modern suburban/exurban life, with its empty materialism and competition for 'who ends up with the biggest toys', symbolized by the sprawling developments of McMansions from horizon to horizon, filled with the omnipresent American SUV.  In place of this expensive 'wanting', APL offers a different kind: the simpler but ultimately greater joys of nature, art, and human love.

That's my take anyway.  (And I think that APL managed to hijack some of the vibes of Simon and Garfunkle while he was in the Big Apple.  See if you don't agree.)

Lyrics:
What I fear is I could disappear
If I end up staying here, my life would pay
me a meager sum just to slip away, slip away

The houses here are empty wooden cribs
they are longing for their kids, who’s lives had left for good
slipped away through the neighborhood, left for good

But beating on the stop signs and the playground swings
is the sense that people aren’t guilty of anything
but of wanting, but of wanting, wanting

The golden coin, the chance to shine
the hero fool, the dreamer’s crime

Far from me, in a rain-soaked mountain tree
that’s where I dream you wait for me
with a book of your rhymes to lend me out some peace of mind

And there among the river rocks and streams
neither you nor I will be blamed for anything
but of wanting, but of wanting, but of wanting

The golden coin, the chance to shine
the hero fool, the dreamer’s crime

Oh so far away, so far away
I’m wanting, I’m wanting, I’m wanting you
Your golden hair, your secret signs
your humble heart, oh love of mine.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Young Lennon


I have to confess something: Houses is my favorite album by APL (so far).  It's almost as hard as saying that you love one grandchild more than another (though I don't have any of those yet...cough, cough.)  But, even though there are individual songs and other aspects on the other albums that I really love, there is something about this album in toto that is just very special to me.


Christmas in Bradford, PA
 And although 'Winterhouse' is probably my favorite song on Houses, running a close second is 'Young Lennon'.  Adam doesn't write many songs dealing with social issues or the pursuit of social justice, but in the midst of the expectations and political turmoil of 2008, 'Young Lennon' came to light.  As a child of the '60s, this song 'took me back' to a time when young people were in revolt against an unjust war, racism at home, and other social corruptions.  It was a heady and idealistic time, and that's what 'Young Lennon' feels like to me.

One more thing: one of the real gifts to Adam musically has been the drumming talents of Sam Huff, Adam's friend and musical collaborator.  Sam's percussion graces many of Adam's songs, and they bring a rhythmic sophistication that adds so much to the music.  If you haven't paid attention to the drumming, listen to this song and focus on it, because it is VERY good.

Lyric:
I need the faith of a principled young man with something to say
I need the love from a mother's hands to take away the pain
I need the patience off the prison walls that held Mandela in
I need the fire, the kind they say young Lennon burned in him.

I need it here right now, I need to feel it right now.

I need the guns, and the bombs of this state to throw them away
I need the cause of the simple heart to take the noise away.
I need the words that as a man a house divided cannot stand.
I need the sound, to the doubts to say we can't oh yes we can.

I need it here right now, I need to hear it right now.
I can't let the fear win out, I need to hear it right now.

I won't be split here as I'm telling it
No, don't distract me, I cannot pull out
'Cause I've got to be it, right now.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Words I'll Never Regret


"Say what you will, but I will be yours forever.
Those were the words I'll never regret."


Montauk Point, Long Island, NY
 These opening lines to Adam's first true 'love song', the third track of his Apple Blossom album, reveal him to be a Romantic.  And the odd thing is that, even as his father, I never really thought of Adam that way, until he started writing his beautiful songs.  Growing up, it seemed that his 'essential self' was more interested in airplanes and Boy Scout knots, or perhaps clowning around with his male friends. Then, after he began to be interested in music, he started composing crazy songs like 'Potato Farmer Oratorio' on his 'Best CD in the World' album.

But there was always a side of Adam we almost never saw, because it was so private. And it is this Romantic side ( in the deeper artistic/literary/philosophical sense) that has begun to come out more and more in his twenties. The side that believes that the deeper realities of life lie in the feelings, emotions, and intuitions of the human being, the non-rational side of life, rather than logic or rationality or cerebrality.

This is why Adam is able to evoke such deep emotion in his music, including the longing of human love and intimacy.

Lyrics:
Say what you will, but I will be yours forever.
Those were the words I'll never regret.

Changed as we are so we can't be together.
Babe you are someone I will never forget.

I hope to keep talking and watching you grow.
With the ones you are walking.
So don't forget me just know that I'll always be here,
I'll always be here, I'll always be here.

In my mind, it never shakes
nor will it ever untangle.
But there's a taste of the courage
that I took from your pillow.
Changed as we are, at life's insistence
Babe I'll be on your side
and I will cheer from a distance.

I hope to keep talking and watching you grow.
With the ones you are walking.
So don't forget me just know I'll always be here,
I'll always be here, I'll always be here.

The Day I Was Born



On three of his four albums, APL uses musical 'interludes' between songs, some of which are purely brief instrumental recordings, while others incorporate an audio recording of one of our family members, taken from our family achive of audio and video tapes which I've collected and digitized over the years.


Mama, Nathan, and Adam
  The very first example of this is the first track on Apple Blossom, entitled 'The Day I Was Born'. (An appropriate way to begin your very first album, I would say--with an announcement of your birth, actually made the day you were born by your mother!) After Adam's birth, on November 18, 1982, his mother Mary Beth and I got out our cheap little cassette tape recorder that we had brought along with us to Children's Hospital in Buffalo, New York, so that we could make a recording to take back to Little Valley, NY (where we were living at the time). Our first born, Nathan, was two and a half years old, and Mary Beth wanted him to hear her voice so that he wouldn't be worried, and so she could prepare him for what was coming with her when she came home!

Somehow we managed to keep track of that and a number of other cassette recordings for over 20 years in a little shoebox, when I began to digitize them via computer and then make them available to our children. (I did the same with our VHS video recordings.) Hence Adam had access to a number of these historical family recordings when he began to compose his first album and incorporated a number of them into his songs, as either prelude or postlude.

Hence his Apple Blossom album became a very personal and intimate family portrait. In fact, the very title comes from a recording (video) of me saying something like, "spring day...blossoms are out on everything," as I'm videorecording the blossoms in the yard (track five). I think you can imagine how shocked I was to be included this way in my son's first album.


On the Highlands (NC) Parsonage Deck
 But that's APL for you. We Lindquists are a tight bunch, and family means a lot to us. So I suppose it wasn't surprising that that would come out very clearly in Adam's artistry.  His music is an expression of his soul, if I may put it that way. And (speaking as his father, who has known him 'since the day he was born') a beautiful, well-grounded, and loving soul it is.

The Croakies




Adam has managed to produce an album a year for the past four years, plus a miscellany of other songs which, while very good, haven't found their way onto an album or online. In 2009, APL put together an EP (shorter than a full CD) of music which he entitled The Croakies that was quite different from his previous work.

Whereas his previous two Albums--Apple Blossom and Houses--had made immediate sense to me musically and conceptually, "Croakies" was initially a quite jarring experience, and I wasn't sure that I liked it--though that soon changed!  


Electronic and somewhat fantastical, his new musical foray demonstrated APL's ability to take his talents in a whole new direction.  Replacing computerized for his more typical acoustic instrumentation, APL also revved up his voice as well, using his higher ranges to good effect. And metaphorically, the title song of the album reminds me of an animated movie, where the animal characters tell a human story of hope for change for the better in the face of disaster.

Rumor has it that this song was being considered last year for a major motion picture, it's that good. It didn't make the final cut (or you might have heard it in the theatre, because the movie has been released), but that was obviously encouraging to us all!

Listen carefully to The Croakies: it's an upbeat song of hope for change in a troubled world.

Ps. The man on the album cover over is not Adam (for those who don't know him)!  He told me who it was one time, but I forget. It’s some Muslim Russian noble from a couple hundred years ago. What can I say, Adam liked it....

Lyrics:

Some trouble with my balance
Falling forward in the water, with the Croakies, in the water
And now my gills are revving up
for a quick swim in the water, with the croakies, in the water
ooooh so cold!
but it's feeling sweet and cool, recalibrated
and now i feel my feet turn into fins

The turtle talks to me with care
"these times they are 'a changing
these times they are 'a changing"
And Flion points his fins to where
the sunglow is appearing
the sunglow is appearing
Oooh it's so beautiful!
I'm feeling sweet and cool, recalibrated
Now I see these forces moving in.

Everyone's watching
Everyone's waiting
Everyone's dancing
Everyone's singing!
Li, Li,l-li Li

I might follow currents leading to warmer water
the colony may swim apart
But the stars will always shine in full
and the waves will always crash and grow
It will be so wonderful.

Everything....
Everything is coming into view
Sweet and cool recalibrated
Everything is coming into view....

Calais Tune, Chalet View



Some of you know that Adam lived from ages 11-19 in Highlands, NC, where I served the Methodist Church. He and Nathan were still in Middle School when we bought them their first instruments: Nathan an electric guitar and Adam a bass guitar.

Nathan wrote his first song about two weeks after getting the guitar, so we always thought that perhaps it was he who was going to be our 'young Lennon.' But it actually turned out to be Adam who became the professional composer/performer/producer in the family. Which is weird, because he was always going into the Air Force, until one day in high school he said he wanted to go into music instead.

Adam wrote and recorded, I don't know, maybe two dozens song that still aren't available online, including the infamous album The Best CD in the World that he and his cousin Tim Bailey wrote and recorded in the Highlands Parsonage basement, and sold around town on CDs they burned on our computer. Maybe, if he ever makes it bigtime, that album will become the subject of some serious scrutiny.

Anyway, the first true 'album' that he wrote and recorded was in 2007, and he called it AppleBlossom. Simply put, it blew his mother and I away the first time we heard it!  Adam's routine for his first three albums was to write and record the entire album before playing any of it for us, so that we have the same experience that you do upon listening to the album.

"Calais Tune, Chalet View" was inspired (I think anyway) by a trip to France Adam took in 2003, in order to visit his brother Nathan, who was studying at the University of Lund in Sweden. While in France, he saw a certain young lady, and, voilĂ , "Calais Tune, Chalet View" was born!

 (And one more thing: did you know that Adam recorded Appleblossom in his Wilmington apartment bedroom, using one microphone and his Apple computer? It boggles the mind, since it sounds like it was done in a fine recording studio.)
Feel this, with me
Hear this Calais tune, chalet view
Skillfully

I'll pour out the sky
The door is waiting for sunrise
Ten 'till four

Sure the sun waits, this I'm sure
Just the way your eyes create your allure

What change, I have made?
I had to lose to create
Ten 'till four

Sure the sun waits, this I'm sure
Just the way your eyes create your allure

I'll take you anywhere....
I'll take you everywhere...
I'll take you anywhere you care

Come on, Stay awake!
Stay through the changes we shall make
So much more

Sure the sun waits, this I'm sure
Just the way your eyes create your allure...

Sarahbeth adding a flute line to 'Best CD in the World'


WinterHouse



This first song is 'WinterHouse', the 8th track on Adam's second album Houses.  How does one choose the first song for a blog like this?  Well, it wasn't easy, because there are so many songs of Adam's that I like, it would be impossible at this point to choose my favorite one.

At the Castle in Hornell at Christmas Time around 2002
But 'WinterHouse' has always been special to me because it speaks of the love that we share as a family, a love that transcends the material world around us and that 'centers' us as a family as we move through this life.  I think perhaps as well as any, this song expresses where Adam's heart is at.

Because I think Adam's lyrics are as important as his music, I'm going to append the lyrics at the end of each of these posts, so that you can easily refer to them. 
Lyrics:
There's a crowd here in my house
they all love one another
I sing a song for them, losing the tune
But they ask for another
We all love one another

And there's a message in my ear
It's the voice of my brother
He was faraway thinking of home
We're losing track of each other
But we love one another

Oooh so I've strayed
to some strange sunny places
Chasing the storms
But a thousand and one
of those houses of sun
Don't hold the warmth
like a cold day here at home.

And I have little left this year
Towards a gift for my lover
But she said tenderly lying me down
All we need is each other
And we love one another

Ooooh so you've come
with your thick jacket on
to show me the lights
And a thousand and one
of those lights shining on
keep me outside

Adam, Sarahbeth, and Nathan at Shamrock House

On this cold night

There's a crowd here in my house
and always room for another
I hear words that we're singing aloud
Keep your faith in each other
Keep your faith in each other

Why I Created This Blog

I've decided to create this blog so that I can collect in one place the songs of my son Adam Paul Lindquist, aka APL.  In addition, I'm going to offer my 'take' on his songs and give you some background on how they came to be, from the unique perspective I've had as his father.  Hopefully, these comments will increase your understanding and enjoyment of the music of APL

Adam and Dad, The Castle, 1983
I ran the idea of this project by Adam, just to make sure that he didn't find it objectionable.  And while I'm not sure that he was as enthusiastic about it as me, he said it was okay for me to go ahead.  I wanted you all to know that, because I'm doing this on my own initiative but with Adam's permission. 

I'm doing this because I am arguably Adam's #1 fan (though I'm sure his mother would take issue with that)!  No one could have listened more to his music, or gotten more out of it, than me. 

I began this project on Facebook (and will continue it there), but I found that this blog will be a better place to centrally locate each of the daily songs and comments.  So, thank you Blogger.com!