Category: Music

24 Bits of Bartok

Bartok at his midi workstation

Imagine if Bartok had given up on symphonies, quartets and concertos and focused on composing Please-Hold music for corporations to be performed while their customers waited for the next available Service Technician or loops to set the mood of a podcast, a DIY video on YouTube, a TikTok nothing. Had the maestro owned a copy of Ableton Live or Bitwig, what influence would he have had on producers of dance and trance scores? Ponder a dance in 5/4. Art is a difficult subject and yet it is not avoided at parties like religion or politics. I have never known of fisticuffs and dissolved friendships brought about by a disagreement over Bob Ross versus Picasso or Led Zepplin versus Tupac. If you have a soft spot for 80’s New Wave, no one really minds too much. People usually indulge your passion and nod and smile politely while you go on and on about the sound of an analog Moog synth. Bartok would have enjoyed Moog’s laboratory. He might even have been added to the product development team. That is a lucrative iron in fire for a song-slinger between gigs. Bela was never too flush. Art is a difficult path.

 

On the subject of music, please be sure and visit my music page. After all, you are already here: https://johntruelove.com/music-sweet-music/

Truelove’s New Music Page

After a lengthy legal battle, I have won back the rights to all my intellectual property. Just kidding, there was no legal battle but I did add me a brand new page to this here website. The Music, Sweet Music page will feature tunes that I have written and recorded. You can access it in the Menu section (upper right, click on the hamburger) or you click this link. Crank it up!

Thursday

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Thursday dawns without inspiration or impulse. In my liminal state before coffee, I searched the dark for a sketch of the day to come. All I found was the base animal instinct to rise and begin prowling the earth for food and procreation. If I have a muse, he has taken Thursday off for personal reasons. Who can blame him, assigned to the likes of me by the force governing the universe, for needing a break? It must be frustrating: guiding my clumsy fingers along the fretboard or ivory keys, helping me choose words. Indeed, it must be exhausting. If only I could crack into my skull and reconfigure the dip switches to genius mode. I asked the neurosurgeon to do some tinkering around while he was in there removing a tumor but he couldn’t be bothered. He was too worried about saving my life. Besides, my insurance did not cover elective procedures like aptitude modification or synapse diversion. And so I am stuck with what I’ve got and a muse who takes Thursdays off.

Heroin

Jeffrey Lee Pierce

No one wants to have a medical procedure, unless you have a fetish for that sort of thing. I do not. However, even the best models breakdown every so often and have to go in for a tuneup.

The worst part is always the preparation leading up to the big day: endless paperwork, tests, restricted diets, fasting, choking down vile solutions, NO ALCOHOL. Perhaps the greatest torture is having nothing after the witching hour the night before which means no morning joe.

But all of these miseries are worth suffering through when you finally get your hit of Propofol. (is it a coincidence that it rhymes with alcohol?). I understand why the Prince of Pop used it for recreational purposes. I understand why people keep finding something wrong with them and keep going back for more outpatient surgery.

I have to admit, this time was good but not as good as the first time. That is a typical complaint of heroin addicts, incidentally.

And on the subject of heroin, the first time I heard “She’s Like Heroin to Me” by Gun Club I was hooked and, unlike junk, it delivers the same high every time. I am a Jeffrey Lee Pierce devotee. Not only because of his songs and his enigmatic poetry but because of his ability and relentless determination to make music using whatever raw materials he had despite the limitations he faced. Not everybody was born a McCartney or Prince or got to record in Studio A.

I could never match the raucous energy of the original so, in the spirit of JLP, I made it into something of my own. Below is a performance of my version from about 10 years ago before I got hooked on Propofol ;). Stay in school and don’t do drugs.

She’s Like Heroin to Me

Music by the Lost, Words by the Found

No Guitars were harmed during the recording of this song.

I spent countless hours of my youth poring over the liner notes of every record I could get my hands on. No detail, from studio location to assistant engineer, went unappreciated. Lyrics were always a welcome bonus.

As a young, wannabe musician I was particularly interested in the songwriting credits to learn who did what in the band. It was usually: Music by Guitar Player X, Words by Singer Y. But sometimes there would be a wildcard.

The theme of being lost and found again is a popular one in both secular and non-secular music. It got me to thinking what would happen if Lost and Found wrote a song together. Press play and crank it up! Lyrics are included.

Music by the Lost, Words by the Found – John Truelove copyright 2021

The saved will ring the bell
The damned will beat the drum
As this day is lost
So shall tomorrow come

Join me in a song
There are verses for the weak and the strong
We all know the sound 
Of music by the Lost
And words by the Found

Let the Angels pluck the string
Let the Demons blow the horn
As we die today
So shall we be reborn

Join me in a song
There are verses for the right and for wrong
We all know the sound
Of music by the Lost

Words and Music by John Truelove copyright 2021

T for Texas

McGovern Centennial Gardens

I have moved to Texas, Houston, to be exact. After over 20 years in NYC I finally threw a dart at a map and headed west. “I loved the crime and the traffic but it just was NOT hot and humid enough,” as that old bon mot goes. The time was right to escape. The events of 2020 destroyed everything I liked about the city, I started feeling less and less safe and I didn’t want to be trapped under the rubble when the metropolis finally collapsed under its own weight.

In other news, I have a car for the first time in over 20 years, a condition that will only add to Houston’s vehicular congestion and another …er..um… imperfect motorist to a population already replete with drivers on the offensive. (At least when they aren’t busy backing into a parking spot – a peculiar Houston idiosyncrasy)

Galveston Beach

Things are refreshingly different here. For instance, the weather is mild. As of this post a good old fashioned nor’easter is dumping two feet of snow on my old home. Snow is only fun once a year, the first fall of the season, and then only if you are inside with no where to be and a drink in your hand. It is isn’t quite mild enough to perform my famous cannonball off the swimming pool high dive, however, although the clear blue of her undulating skin beckons. This amenity is another first. Access to a pool in Gotham required a steep membership fee and 6 a.m. lane reservations. Yawn.

It was not warm enough over the extended weekend in January to go plunging into the Gulf of Mexico but walks on Galveston beach and delicious Pier Beer in the warm sunshine was pleasant, indeed. Having this new car sure is handy for getting away for the weekend. Corpus Christi and San Antonio are next on the road trip list and beloved Lafayette and New Orleans have never been more accessible.

I am going to miss my friends. I am going to miss walking home from my favorite bars. I am going to miss my band Dixie Automatic. Yes, ironically enough I was in a New York band called Dixie Automatic. It was a good group and we always had a lot of fun together playing Country music for Yankee hipsters.

Below is a sample from a live show in NYC before they boarded the place up.

Honeymoon by Dixie Automatic

I Don’t Sleep on Planes

truelove_plane

I have spent longer periods of time getting from point A to point B but the longest single flight was a trip from Newark to Tokyo. I was sure, given the duration, that I would be able to grab a little shut eye if not from fatigue at least pure boredom but I was awake the entire passage.

I studied my conversational Japanese and wrote this song. Rather than using my typical means of production, I arranged and recorded it with a free version of Ableton Lite software. It was a challenge to fit everything into the limit of 8-tracks and, frankly, learning Japanese was more intuitive but the software helped me achieve an ethereal sound that works for the theme of the tune.

Download it and play it in your future travels. Yes, (ha, ha) it could indeed help you fall asleep. Send me a postcard.

http://www.johntruelove.com/music/2016/sleep_on_planes.mp3

 

X Spells Christmas

window-sale

Christmas day is nearly upon us and it is with no small amount of pride, relief and astonishment that I can shout from the roof top: I am ready!

Shopping – check.

Decorations – done.

Cards, RSVPs, Gifts – mailed.

Christmas song – Christmas song? Yes, that has also been written, recorded and posted here for the public.

I hope you all have your holiday ditties in the can by now because musicians are hard to book on such short notice this close to December 25th.

Regretfully, I waited too late to produce one of my more bizarre Christmas videos. So, fans of the King Truelove Festive Film Festival® may be disappointed at having to watch reruns. But I hope you will enjoy this addition to my Christmas Oeuvre.

or Download the MP3

A note about this song. There is usually some hubbub around the more secular spelling of Christmas, Xmas. It makes more than a few Christians uncomfortable when Christ is dropped from one of their holiest holidays. There is more on this here Xmas Reading.

If you are devout please keep in mind that in this song X spells Christmas because two lovers have parted.

The guitar was played by country music superstar John Carini.

Archives of the King Truelove Festive Film Festival®.

Christmas 2007

Christmas 2008

Christmas 2009

Christmas 2011

And of course some heavy metal

Iron Maiden Christmas

African 12 Gauge Trance Music

My 12 Gauge

I love shotguns. Handguns are sexy, rifles, efficient but nothing says you mean business like a shotgun. Just the word alone has power. Go ahead, say it out loud and listen to those hard consonants and feel that dark aftertaste it leaves on your tongue.

I am not allowed to own a shotgun where I live. Even if I could possess such a thing it would fall into disuse here in the city. It would collect dust much like the balafons, ngonis, and djembes that have been collecting dust around your own house.

Instead, I have  bass guitars. Singers make the money, guitarists take the glory but bass players are the dark horse, we know a visceral secret. And we get the girls.

I have a 12 string bass who I call 12 Gauge. If it were to play in an ensemble with your dusty African instruments it would sound something like this bit of music by Nhoj Serya.

Download Free MP3 (right click to Save As…)