Solstice


At 12:24 this morning local time in NYC the sun reached it’s highest point over the north pole, and its lowest over the south pole, then stood still in the sky. It didn’t actually stand still but, according to Wikipedia, “the word solstice is derived from the Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still), because at the solstices, the Sun stands still in declination; that is, the seasonal movement of the Sun’s path (as seen from Earth) comes to a stop before reversing direction.”

Somewhere along the line our planet’s axis, relative to the sun, got knocked a little off-kilter. The consensus among people who form such consensuses is that some large celestial body – an asteroid or another planet – slammed into us before careening away. Maybe it was the moon. In any event, the light of our sun doesn’t fall evenly across our planet during the course of a year because we’re a little wobbly. Today is the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere and the winter solstice in the southern.

 

The rotation of our planet on its axis has been slowing over time. 4.5 billion years ago a day was only six hours long. 350 million years ago, during the Carboniferous Period (late in the Paleozoic era), a day was a relatively relatable 23 hours long. But seasons, if there were any, were indistinct and the planet was mostly covered by ocean, except for the area where Pangea was forming. So, not that relatable. We’re up to 24 hours a day now, and growing.

I hope this longest day of the year (or shortest, depending on your whereabouts), is a good one for you.

 



Good day sunshine
Good day sunshine
Good day sunshine

I need to laugh, and when the sun is out
I’ve got something I can laugh about
I feel good, in a special way
I’m in love and it’s a sunny day
Good day sunshine
Good day sunshine
Good day sunshine

We take a walk, the sun is shining down
Burns my feet as they touch the ground
Good day sunshine
Good day sunshine
Good day sunshine

And then we lie, beneath a shady tree
I love her and she’s loving me
She feels good, she knows she’s looking fine
I’m so proud to know that she is mine
Good day sunshine
Good day sunshine
Good day sunshine

The Summer of Love Experience: Music

 This is the fifth in a six-part series on The Summer of Love, inspired by The Summer of Love Experience exhibit at the deYoung Museum in San Francisco.

                                                                     

Chuck Berry set off a time bomb in 1957 that took a decade to fully detonate. In the intervening years, Bob Dylan and Phil Ochs brought the social consciousness of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger to a new generation; Motown and Stax artists blew gaping holes through music’s boundaries; and The Beatles and Beach Boys filled the world with strange, wondrous new sounds.


It’s hard to hear the phrase “The Summer of Love” without thinking about music. More than just a pivotal year in music, 1967 marked the awakening of a new dimension in music that is still being explored. The only completely original form of music created after that season, hip-hop, uses looping and sampling technology that can be traced back to psychedelic sonic experimentation.

On June 18, 1967 Jimi Hendrix kicked off the Summer of Love down the coast from San Francisco in Monterey, along with some of San Francisco’s greatest talent – Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother & The Holding Company, and The Grateful Dead, all of whom either had or would release their debut albums within the year. Other artists who released their first albums within a year on either side of the summer of love include James Taylor, Randy Newman, Joni Mitchell, The Band, Fairport Convention, Fleetwood Mac, Buffalo Springfield, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Cream, Sly & The Family Stone, The Doors, Traffic, Os Mutantes, Genesis, Pink Floyd, Velvet Underground, and David Bowie. The sounds on those albums were not incremental steps forward – they were staggering leaps. They moved ahead at the speed of sound. You could hear the foundations of popular music creaking. 

On June 1, 1967 The Beatles released their groundbreaking album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Three nights later Jimi Hendrix opened his show with the title track.

Guitars squealed in frightening, painful, uncontrollable, ecstatic, inescapable new ways. Manipulation of sound was as important as any other part of the performance. Grace Slick and Janis Joplin sang with a ferocity that their foremothers had not.

It’s hard to believe that music once had such impact. A new song from The Temptations or Rolling Stones sent ripples across the globe as a generation experienced immediate mass communication in a way that hadn’t been possible before. This music belonged to a new global community, especially to the generation making the transition from adolescent to adult.  

Music reverberates deepest with people having their first taste of love. Not all songs are love songs but when you’re falling in love for the first time they all sound that way. When all-encompassing love evolves from fantasy to reality it feels like nothing can stop it. It feels like there ain’t no mountain high enough. It makes you feel like a natural woman. It feels like all you need is love.

NEXT UP: CONSCIOUSNESS

Demo: Within You and Without You

I was noodling around on guitar the other day and stumbled onto this melody. The Irish songs I’ve been working on rely more on notes than chords and this song does the same thing from a land 5,000 miles east of Ireland.

George Harrison’s Within You And Without You kicks of side two of The Beatles’ monumental Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band record and is his sole songwriting contribution to that album. It made enough impact that each of The Beatles’ subsequent ones had at least two of George’s songs.

We were talking about the space between us all
And the people who hide themselves behind a wall
Of illusion
Never glimpse the truth
Then it’s far too late when they pass away

We were talking about the love we all could share
When we find it to try our best to hold it there
With our love
With our love we could save the world
If they only knew

Try to realize it’s all within yourself
No one else can make you change
And you’ll see you’re really only very small
And life flows on within you
And without you

We were talking about the love that’s gone so cold
And the people who gain the world and lose their soul
They don’t know
They can’t see
Are you one of them?

When you’ve seen beyond yourself
Then you may find peace of mind is waiting there
And the time will come when you’ll see we’re all one
And life flows on within you
And without you

Julia

In 2012, I met a woman named Julia and was inspired to learn this song. Julia’s a common enough name but one that I hadn’t come across much in my life. Earlier in 2012 my first full-length stage play Digging Up John Barrymore, was produced by the good people at Dreamcatcher Entertainment. The name I gave to the sole female character in the play was Julia. The actress that played her was also named Julia and I’m now in a writing workshop that includes two Julias among my eight classmates. It seems like I can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a Julia these days.

Another woman named Julia was John Lennon’s mother, the namesake for this song.The one who inspired me to learn this song is celebrating the memory of her first day today. Happy birthday, Julia.

Half of what I say is meaning less
But I say it just to reach you
Julia
Ocean child calls me
So I sing a song of love
Julia
Seashell eyes
Windy smile
Calls me
So I sing a song of love
Julia
Her hair of floating sky is shimmering
Glimmering
In the sun
Julia
Morning moon
Touch me
So I sing a song of love
Julia
When I cannot sing my heart
I can only speak my mind
Julia
Sleeping sand
Silent cloud
Touch me
So I sing a song of love
Julia
Calls me
So I sing a song of love for
Julia

Let It Down

George Harrison’s son Dhani (and friends) with a killer version of George’s “Let It Down” from All Things Must Pass on Conan O’Brien’s show last night.
 

Though you sit in another chair, I can feel you here
Looking like I don’t care, but I do, I do
Hiding it all behind anything I see
Should someone be looking at me

While I occupy my mind, I can feel you here
Love to us is so well timed, and I do, I do
Wasting away these moments so heavenly
Should someone be looking at me

Let it down, let it all down
Let your hair hang all around me
Let it down, let it down
Let your love flow and astound me

While you look so sweetly and divine, I can feel you here
I see your eyes are busy kissing mine, and I do, I do
Wondering what it is they’re expecting to see
Should someone be looking at me

Let it down, let it all down
Let your hair hang all around me
Let it down, let it down
Let your love flow and astound me

Let it down, let it down

Nobody Loves You (When You’re Down and Out)

I was fired last week from a job I’ve held a little less than two years. Every other job I’ve had ended when I decided to walk away. So it was a new experience for me, and not an entirely unpleasant one. The only thing I ever liked about that job, I liked way too much. I could never get the right balance.

I fell into a bit of a funk, which was actually a deepening of a low-level funk I’ve been in for a long time. A conversation with a friend, unbeknownst to her, helped turn me around. When I heard how pathetic I sounded talking to her, I realized I’d been wallowing in self-pity, which is not only an ugly thing to do but it’s also antithetical to my normal outlook and personality.

So I’m good now, but while I was in the gutter this tune came up on my iPod and struck a chord with me. From the pen of my favorite songwriter, John Lennon: Nobody Loves You (When You’re Down and Out):


Nobody loves you when you’re down and out
Nobody sees you when you’re on cloud nine
Everybody’s hustling for a buck and a dime
I`ll scratch your back and you scratch mine
I’ve been across to the other side
I’ve shown you everything, I got nothing to hide
But still you ask me do I love you, what it is, what it is
All I can tell you is it’s all show biz
All I can tell you is it’s all show biz
Nobody loves you when you’re down and out
Nobody knows you when you’re on cloud nine
Everybody’ hustling for a buck and a dime
I’ll scratch your back and you knife mine
I’ve been across the water so many times
I’ve seen the one eyed witchdoctor leading the blind
But still you ask me do I love you, what you say, what you say
Every time I put my finger on it, it slips away
Every time I put my finger on it, it slips away
Well I get up in the morning and I’m looking in the mirror to see, ooo wee
Then I’m lying in the darkness and I know I can’t get to sleep, ooo wee!
Nobody loves you when you’re old and grey
Nobody needs you when you’re upside down
Everybody’s hollering about their own birthday
Everybody loves you when you’re six foot in the ground

Girl – Mike’s Musical Monday

I may be a little long in the tooth to be singing about a “girl” without coming off creepy but I couldn’t resist taking a crack at this bit of genius songwriting from my favorite band, The Beatles. Don’t we all know a girl, or a woman (or a boy, or a man, for that matter) who are the kind you want so much it makes you sorry, still, you don’t regret a single day?

I recorded this one up in the Catskills, on the deck of my friends Terry & Bob. The sunlight coming off the lake kind of overwhelms the picture. Backing vocals are provided by several species of bird.

Is there anybody going to listen to my story
All about the girl who came to stay?
She’s the kind of girl you want so much it makes you sorry
Still, you don’t regret a single day

Oh, girl
Girl, girl

When I think of all the times I’ve tried so hard to leave her
She will turn to me and start to cry
And she promises the earth to me and I believe her
After all this time I don’t know why

Oh, girl
Girl, girl

She’s the kind of girl who puts you down when friends are there
You feel a fool
When you say she’s looking good she acts as if it’s understood
She’s cool

Oh, girl
Girl, girl

Was she told when she was young that pain would lead to pleasure?
Did she understand it when they said
That a man must break his back to earn his day of leisure?
Will she still believe it when he’s dead?

Oh, girl
Girl, girl