Influences: Donald & Walter, Nick Lowe, Marvin Gaye, David Scott & The Pearlfishers, Pops Staples & The Staples Singers, Jimmy Webb, folk and old-style country, Brian Wilson (in my dreams).
I'll be around listening and commenting during March.
This felt like my best FAWM (of seven) in terms of quality and output. None of the songs came easily, though, except the two skirmishes and the words for the Keeping On Song. Everything else involved late-night labour pains and lots of self-doubt. In earlier years I probably would have given up and gone to bed, but experience has taught me that if I push through, something good will happen. FAWM is a class in life, not just songwriting.
2020 is my seventh FAWM. I got Wins in 2018 and 2019, which means I didn't win the first four years. It took time to figure it out. Skirmishes and collabs, that’s the secret. Keeping a notebook where everything goes, and nothing is too lame to write down.
Every February is a scary blank slate. The best song writing tools are courage and hope.
Here's a less pretentious photo than my profile one: a shot of my wife and me singing our native cowboy soul music at a London venue.
Some of my family are here too, and they're good.
@joeblomberg my long-time brother-in-law and longer time songwriting partner.
@hazzard , my niece.
Musical bio for anyone who's read this far and has too much time on their hands. I was born in USA, grew up in Venezuela, and have lived the last 25 years in England and Spain. My family is from Colorado but we left before I was three. The music of my childhood was Latin-Caribbean folk and pop, hymns, and my parents' collection of classical piano records and Stephen Foster songs. Later I joined a salsa band on keys, and produced some albums for various artists. I moved to Chicago USA to study, and managed to fit a four-year college degree into eight years, mostly by writing a rock opera and playing a lot of acoustic guitar music in bars and coffee-houses. Then joined a funk and soul band on keys and played clubs on the South Side for a couple of years.
In 1984 I married a bluegrass musician and moved "home" (for the first time) to Colorado, where she played the festival circuit for several years. I added a mandolin to my instrument collection, and a lot of bluegrass and country to my music influences. I mostly played in church then, but also produced an album in Navajo of which I'm still immensely proud, and that still gets radio play on the Reservation.
In 1995 we upped sticks and moved to Europe for good. Raised our kids in Manchester UK where we both did advanced degrees and taught. I've learned to get along anywhere, but there's something about the combination of working class directness, multi-culturalism, and "chapel socialism" inherent in Manchester that seems right, and I feel at home there. Even the rotten weather can't bring me down when I go back. Didn't play much music during those years but saw some great shows at the Apollo, Band on the Wall, and local pubs.
In 2005 we moved to Spain and joined the city Gospel Choir, and I spent ten years as pianist with them, and also studied jazz at a local academy. I'm a mixed up mess linguistically, culturally, and musically. It comes out in the songs.
|#1||Courage (Psalm 31)||
|#2||Wet Socks @pearlmanhattan||
|#3||Harry and Meghan||
|#6||The Republic Goes Sailing Away||
|#7||The Same Ones @beat||
|#8||A Room With A View @joeblomberg||
|#9||You Is @cynthiawolff||
|#10||Waiting (The Book's Rebellion)||
|#13||A Day Without Prayer @joeblomberg||
|#14||Time Out of Time @sherrycanary||
|#15||The Keeping On Song||
Thanks for listening and I’m very happy indeed with how it was interpreted by the other participants. The only person I already knew is the drummer but the rest where total strangers to me. So it was was a bit scary to just let them do their thing but I think it turned out great.
Thank you for that lovely comment John on my piece Don't Get Caught. I appreciate that you took the time to listen and to give such an in-depth comment. I'm grateful. Hope you had a great FAWM. 😀
Thanks for your kind comment on my ukulele piece and also thanks a lot for telling me about the cuarto instrument. I hadn't heard of one before but Youtube is full of some really interesting pieces. The techniques are fascinating. Learning about this instrument will certainly keep me busy during the lockdown period. Hope all is OK in Spain, we left two weeks ago to return home.
Hey Jon, thanks for commenting on Fall Down - glad you enjoyed the "live" version on Saturday - agreed it's a fuller more complete song with other instruments 😀
Thanks for your friendly comments! I hope this lockdown ends without much drama.
Thank you for your awesome comments on my songs. Cool story, too, about discovering your musical inheritance. Love this!
Thank you for your wonderful comments on my songs. Very much appreciated. By all means, please share 'I'll Be Fine' with the friends you mentioned. I hope they'll find it comforting.
Yeah! You are so right... Keep your Distance has taken on an entirely new meaning. maybe I should re-write it as a topical song 😊
The Liverpool Echo writer is a former musician! We may have to research that ....
Wow, that’s an amazing response to ‘Instruction Manual’!! Totally blown away by that! 😃Thank you!
Thank you for your knowledgeable comments on my blues track! Hope you are around for 50/90.
thanks for your comment on to the end of the street, there is a story that spans 30 years behind this song. it is a story that still remains a mystery to me, and always will. at one time or another, each of your interpretions were true except for i care but not all the way. it is a story of circumstance and indecision.
It's funny that you mentioned that you haven't heard me sing this way before... by the time i got to Day After Day, I was so frustrated because I couldn't figure out the right mix and my vocal was always fine but never exactly how i thought it should sound. i knew it was a production problem, but i had no idea how to fix it. so i decided to try something totally different- essentially i decided to use the mic the same way i would at a jazz open mic, and for some reason something clicked. i was able to find the right level and actually control the sound much more effectively. excited going forward with this insight!
thanks! i seem to work best with a hard deadline... congrats to you too!
Glad we did finally collab. May it be the first of many!
I hope you will have some time to do a better recording.
Let me know and I can send file
Enjoy your celebration today!
I just read your bio! I've always wondered about you, because I knew you lived in Spain and yet sounded so American. Thanks for filling in the blanks. What a wonderful and unusual life! I'm just a Jersey girl...
Just before your midnight 😀
Hi Send you an email asking you to send link to my email.
Could you send chord changes? I improvise melody best within the changes, Thanks. It's beautiful
Anyway my email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Don't mind putting it out here
Hi Jon, I've fixed the link to Kev's song now. (There's another one on the album as well)
Jon..It is beautiful.
I am fairly sure I can come up with something...
Thanks so much for your listen to end of the trail..
You have been such an inspiration to me this FAWM
Thanks a million for your generosity
Thanks for listening to my song "Bench by the Sea", always appreciate your visits!!!
Go for it! Can’t wait to hear it! Glad to have sparked anything at all!
Thank you for commenting on my songs "Half Way There" and "The Naked Eye" and my collab song "In Her Garden", I appreciate it!
Hope we can do collab!
Cool story about the theremin! It's actually Liz (kahlo2013) who has the theremin and let me use it for that track.
Let's keep our eyes out for a four-track cassette machine for you -- would love to have you participating!
very close Jon.
Thank you so much for taking the time to listen to and comment on I Wish I Believed. I was so captivated by Jon's lyrics and immediately heard a melody in my head. I think what grabbed me the most was the conversational aspect of the lyrics - and the hoping back between new life, life on the train and death. I also loved the ... I hope she's still - I just really felt that as a beautiful pause that I wanted to capture. So thank you - it means a lot to me that you felt I did the lyrics justice musically.
Thanks so much for your comment on my collaboration with Nancy! 😀
Thanks for the listen and comment on my Sedaka-ish song!
i dont know the beach boy sons, but the town of kokomo entered the blues lexicon in 1928 when scrapper blackwell recorded kokomo blues, a song that eventually morphed into the better known sweet home chicago..
Thanks for commenting on my collab song "Who We Really Are", I appreciate it!
just sent it back. Cheers.
Thanks very much for the comments on Quiet Town and The Lambeth Talk.
Briticana is just a term I made up. We all know Americana of course which is a catch all term to denote shared American musical influences. A large variety of disparate artists have been labelled with this. But there is a large group of British artists that clearly draw from American influences but are quintessentially British. I'm thinking here of artists like Ray Davies, Nick Lowe, Billy Bragg. So it's just an attempt to coin a catch-all for this type of artists. Cheers.
thanks for your help with "rose colored" -- i knew it needed editing but the outside perspective was so necessary for this one! love the pic of you and meta in your bio! warmfuzzies!
got it. thx.
Just had to finish this W2 thingi here. Sometimes one just gets the home blues, right?
Read ye soon Jon.
Tata and cheerio.
Sounds very inviting Jon... *]
yes I would luv to have a go at it.
Still got my mail address, right?
I’ll open a dropbox folder for you once I’m done with it.
Am looking forward to your file.
Still have to do some listening up on you, saw that you’ve been busy.
Cheers from up north.
by the way, I think I know why you didn’t recognize a scale in my One, it’s all whites but there’re no chord progressions in any usual way. Just followed the mood and my ears... ‘/
Glad you liked my tune to Arthur's "Universal Thoughts"
I am almost musically illiterate, so your explanation of what I was doing in the song was fascinating. One of my retirement plans is to learn the logic behind what I have been doing instinctively for years. I am sure I will expand my pallet by being aware of what may work, in certain circumstances, instead of having to strum out chords until I get the one I can hear in my head. Thanks again.
thanks for you comments on hollywood. glad yo liked the emoty marquee line, as i had my doudts about it. youwil never see an emoty marquee in hollywood. tere is always somebody who will pay to have their name on it. but in the same year i revisited holywood, 1989, i spent some time n seatte, and all but three of the downtown movie palaces had been converted for other uses. then, around 20 years later, the last of the neighbood theatre were sporting empty marquues. so those too cities leaked together a bit. i dont know if gary Busey will or will not sing a buddy Hoollt tune these days, but rught adter he wo the oscar, i was at his sisters birthday party and he showed up witht he actors who played the cricets n the movie and played a set of Buddy Holly tunes. He was the man of the hiur and i was feeling kind of sorry for him because i had the premonition that it wasnt going to ast, that all the vutures crowding him with praise would soon abandon him and he wouldnt know why they disappear
Getting to your comments about prosaic names, the name was chosen as the result of a coin flip. We'd be Boston if it had gone the other way. Your mention of Streettown made me laugh because Portland was once known as Stumptown: The city was growing so rapidly that the stumps of trees were left behind until manpower could be spared to remove them. In some areas the stumps remained for so long that locals whitewashed them to make them more visible
Thanks Jon! That spontaneous fizz is the result of ignorance and incompetence. I might go for "knowing confection" if I ever learned how
Thx for listening and writing Jon.
Thanks for your comment on my take on Elizabeth's "Colors".
Totally agree that this would work with a full band too!
Thanks for the listen and comment on my week 2 challenge song, totally right - should be 'worse' (think I sang it that way?)
Thanks for yo.ur obsevations on my collab with Arthur, I got that approach to the chorus from songs like Marty Robbins' Devil Woman and Townes Van Zandt's Pancho and Lefty. Tell the story in the verses wth a minimal tune and and a quick pace then slow it down and cut loose with a more expressive chorus. Thanks for noticing. You are always perceptive in your observations and often draw my attention to things that either I didnt think uch about or diidnt expect many people to catch onto,
So you're an honorary "maño" are you?
We pass that way quite a lot en route to Pais Basc where we have relatives. Plus, it is not that far from our place (pity the motorway is so bloody expensive). It'd be great to come out and do a gig . I haven't done a gig in "Spain" yet... 😜
Thanks so much for your lovely comment on “King Midas”!
Thanks, the b-day was good. 😀
Thanks for the nice comment! You really hit the nail on the head with that remark about Vom's musicianship. If he weren't kicking such prodigious ass people might notice that I'm just rocking between those two chords and not really going anywhere 😀
Glad you liked my "Vision". Yes, Garage Band's sounds are incredibly good for a free piece of software (though i-pads are way over priced, of course).
Early Christianity had a lot to admire, but once it became a tool for keeping the Empire in check it moved so far from the man born in a stable and brought up as a humble carpenter. A man who questioned the ruling authorities and was killed as a common criminal. IMHO, organised religion is the biggest block to spirituality there is. I have only ever been in the presence of a person I recognised as inherently evil and he was a fundamentalist christian preacher.
I see you are in Spain... Whereabouts? (if I have asked you before, forgive me. MY memory ain't what it was). I am in Catalunya.
Thank you so much for your wonderful and profound comment! You are too kind...
Glad you liked our Hammock collab. I was pleased with this one. Especially as It was lyrics to a tune by Pabrizzer, who I admire greatly.
Thanks for the comment on my blues number from last night. (BTW, it is not about my soon-to-be-ex, just needed to vent!)
Hi Jon, and thank you for your detailed observations on Argentina. I have read Neruda, but do not know him. My inspiration for seeking out a unity through semngly unconnected verses comes from Eliots The Waste Land, for which he used the device of different, although unspecified, voices for various passages, I really need to read Neruda more thoroughly. I never read Rushdie. probbly because one day during the great controversy, I saw a guy in a laundromat reading the Satanic Bible, holding the book up proudly and self righteously for all to notice he had the courage to read it. Ill have to check out The Jaguar Smile...Looking forward to more songs from you!
Glad you liked it in the end, Jon. You picked up on everything I was trying to do with the song too! Kudos!
Thanks for listening and commenting on my Week 1 Challenge song, Travelin' On.
Thank you Jon!
A collab?/ Yes Yes
Alright, I'll write something tonight
Hiya, Ya, sent you an email, but sometimes FAWM email is .... faulty! We're paired, hit me up in email if you like, or through the slack or discord boards and we can develop a game plan, I have done all kinds of collabs so I'm flexible with how we do it... I can send you lyrics, we can work together on lyrics, or whatever 😀 Happy FAWM! I got about 10 or so more hours till midnight... *sigh* LOL
I hope you're here this year! I'm looking forward to hearing your new tunes. Best of luck!
Would be a pleasure to appear on one of your tracks again Jon
Let’s have fun then...
Hi Jon, good to see you back. Hope you have a great one too.
I hope a "wisp of a song" will move your heart along, on a journey to find the music in your soul and mind.........Good to see you...
Here we go. Wheeee!
Welcome back, Jon. A couple of your songs were highlights of my FAWM last year!
29/365 this year! woo-hoo! see ya in the trenches 😝
Greets from up north Jon. Have a jolly month.