The Family Jail

I had a very happy childhood, but I had so many friends who couldn’t wait to move out. I wrote this song about that and with the added message that if a young person is having suicidal thoughts because they feel trapped, break free instead – it’s better than letting the oppressive family win. Pretty naive, I suppose, but that was me in my thirties – sure of my points of view and preachy as well, which is more or less what being thirty-something is all about. It’s how you make thousands of snap decisions every day to build your own family, which in turn can make the kids feel oppressed, so they have to leave to grow up to be their own person in their thirties and then do it all over again to their own kids. That’s how the species survives. You ever stop to think just how many of your attitudes are biologically driven by your age, rather than by personal growth? I suppose you do, if you’re my age…

An Erratic Boulder Takes In The View

An Erratic Boulder Takes In The View – Taken on our 2019 section hike along the John Muir Trail

A lone erratic boulder surveys the panorama from where it was dropped by a glacier thousands of years ago. Pretty darn cool to stand there and take in the view with friend rock.

Guyana Dreamin’

Back in the 1980s I was hired to edit a documentary on Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple mass suicide. 900 folks killed themselves in their settlement in the jungles of Guyana. Heavy stuff to work with each day, and my outlet was that it inspired this song – Guyana Dreamin’ – Loosely named after the Mommas and Papas song, California Dreamin’. I interviewed one of the survivors – an NBC cameraman who came over to Guyana with the congressman who was investigating Jones and precipitated a massacre at the airport by Jones’ henchmen that led to the mass suicide. Man, he was still wrecked by the experience and very bitter that he couldn’t get hired any longer because everyone thought he was in his words, “damaged goods” due to his experiences. And then there was the Super-8 sound footage we got a hold of that had been shot by Jones’ people in Guyana to use for fundraising back in in the States. There’s an unbelievably ironic scene where they are holding a feast with entertainment in the dining hall in Guyana and there’s a fellow playing guitar and singing the theme from M.A.S.H. which, if you don’t know, is entitled “Suicide is Painless.” And even more ironic, as you may recall, almost all of them died, men, women, and children, from drinking Kool-Aid laced with Cyanide. So we have this footage of Jones himself taking us on a tour of their food stores, and in one scene he stops and points out some supplies saying, “And this is where we keep the Kool-Aid.” So, as you can see, the weird, strained, discordant tones of this song, as well as the dark lyrics, were my way of getting my head around the stuff of tragedy and shedding it into the art. Now it’s yours! 🙂

Empty Vee (MTV)

This is one of my favorites of the songs I wrote in the 1980s. Very simple pop music compared to the things I write these days, but it does have some ambitious harmonies, and I particularly like the change-up in musical theme in the chorus.