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)!

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.)

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'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.)

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.

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.

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....


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 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

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'


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. 
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!