Posts Tagged ‘In the Temple of the Muse

05
Jan
15

1.5.2015 – Books are Spaceships

I must have inherited my love of books from my mother, who – throughout her life – always had a book by her side.

The older I get, the more I enjoy reading.  As the world gets faster, I’m able to slow it down a little by “getting into” a good book.  It’s like stopping time for me – I can get lost for a while in some other drama, inside some other adventure – stepping back or forward in time – studying, learning, experiencing something other than my own existence – removed from the gravity of my normal daily, fast-paced routine.  As Susan Sontag has said, “Books are like spaceships”; they allow us to travel into different worlds and to escape on so many levels.  Books do that for me.… and, of course, they have also inspired many, many songs over the course of my career.

When I found the confidence to express the deeper side of my nature in my songs, books became the key to my inspiration.  “In The House of Stone and Light” was written after visiting and reading about the Grand Canyon; “The Door” (from the same album) was inspired by a book I read about the Nazi concentration camp in Treblinka; “I Guess I Will” and “Everything You Do” were fuelled by my heavy reading of Buddhist philosophy (both songs were featured in the “In The Temple of The Muse” CD).  In fact, the title, “In The Temple of The Muse” was based on an actual book shop that existed in London during the Romantic Poets period.  From the same LP, “Mi Morena” appeared to me after extensive reading of the great Chilean love poet, Pablo Neruda, and, over the years, many of my love songs have been informed by the reading of such Romantic poets as Keats and Lord Byron (I’m a sucker for the dark, melancholic sadness and sentiment that these great poets invoke).  “I Was Made For You” is a song that also pulls from that era of romance.  I love reading all manner of subjects, but history in particular has always had a tight hold on me.  I revere good songs that also allude to an actual occurrence in history – as many folk songs do.  “Story songs” based on true events (or old, traditional folklore) are not the easiest to compose – especially if you’re trying to keep it reasonably commercial (or contemporary).  Back in the 1900’s, Music Hall and Vaudeville did a wonderful job of creating songs that not only told stories of historical events, but were able to do so while still remaining entertaining and catchy – sometimes even with humor.  What skill those writers had!

Quite recently, I’ve been able to build a home library – one of the true delights of my life.  It has become a resource for many of my new songs – a laboratory I visit daily to stir the brain into creative activity.

So, in short, reading a book does a multitude of things for me:  it slows me down, focuses me, takes me away, informs and teaches me, broadens my horizons and turns me on to new song ideas and concepts.  And turning the pages of a book – with great anticipation of what the next page will reveal – is like reaching for the next chord on a guitar or piano/keyboard…. you’re never quite sure what magic awaits the eyes and ears.

Cheers.

 

– Martin

“Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend.

 Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read”.

                                         – Groucho Marx

 

“Books are solitudes in which we meet.”

                                         – Rebecca Solnit

 

 

23
Jul
13

4/23/07 – Lend Me Your Ears

Hello everyone.  I hope you are all well.  Thank you for stopping in. Let me say up front, I really do appreciate your support – especially the loyal souls who have been with me over the many years; you have been very encouraging – more than you could ever imagine.

Well, what’s been happening …:   I was recently invited to the ASCAP Annual Pop Awards, and to participate in the ASCAP Songwriter’s Expo the same week, here in Los Angeles.  I was a panelist on a song-listening session at the Expo, where I and three other professionals in various areas of the music business, listened to songwriters’ demos and offered them advice and guidance.  I was amazed at how large an audience this particular panel attracted.  I was also involved in “one-on-one” mentor sessions with writers, which I thoroughly enjoyed because of the intimacy of the platform, and I heard some great stuff.  The two days I was at the conference were a pleasure; the enthusiasm I encountered was infectious.  While at both events, the ASCAP Pop Awards Show and the Expo, I met two writers I greatly admire – Jackson Browne and Jimmy Webb.  And, it was a thrill to learn that “These Dreams” is one of Jimmy’s favorite songs.  The ASCAP organization certainly provides a valuable service to the songwriting community; they’re doing an amazing job helping us all realize and understand that songwriting is a noble art form that must be cherished, and they’re continually fighting to protect copyright issues and challenges to our rights, in Washington, D.C.  After the two days spent at the conference, I can happily report that the songwriting community is very much alive and well and hungry to create, which is good for us all!

This last month has been full of more preparation for the release of the new album.  The CD artwork is being designed and an official website is being constructed as I write.  I am also in the pre-production stages of an Electric Press Kit, which is soon to be filmed.  This video will document the making of “In The Temple Of The Muse”, among other things, including the stories behind some of the new songs.  I’m looking forward to filming; it should be a fun project.

When I have been able to step away from the business, I have found myself in bookshops – my favourite place in all the world to be!  For me, there is nothing quite like rummaging through great literature.  I am at my most content surrounded by books.  My mother was the same – she must have passed the addiction on to me!  (I am grateful).  So, I thought I’d share with you three of the books that I am reading and enjoying at the moment:  Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan — a book about Big Questions; The Oracle by William J. Broad – a fascinating look at the mysteries of ancient Delphi; and The Miracle of Mindfulness by Tich Nhat Hanh – a wonderful little book written by an author of great vision and compassion.  Any work written by Tich Nhat Hanh will contain deep insights into the human condition – he is a special teacher.

Well, before I sign off, I want to thank those of you who posted questions and comments here on my Myspace page.  I love hearing what you’re up to, what you’re thinking about, and answering your queries.  To have your feedback brings me a little closer to you, and makes it all worth it…. So stay in touch.

— “The closer you stand to the light house, the darker it gets”

—- Japanese Proverb

Thanks for lending me your ears.  Until next time …

— Martin.