Archive for October, 2011

I’ll Write You A Song

October 25, 2011 4 comments

A devastating circumstance shook my world almost two years ago which prompted me to explore music further and start writing my own songs. Before that point in my life, I never knew I was capable of doing that. Every time I held my keyboard or guitar, I usually just pounded or strummed a couple of chords chopped from a good song of a known artist. I found out that songwriting is an excellent way of converting all the negativity in my thoughts and emotions into something creative and tangible for other people to listen or even relate to.

I was struck with disbelief when I wrote my very first original. At the same time, there was a mixed feeling of satisfaction and pride with the lyrics, melody and rhythm I came up with for I knew that all of them were created by me. However, I had no idea then if they were good enough for others to listen to. Fortunately, the first people I asked to hear my early works were kind enough to give me the pat on the back I needed. Thanks, friends! haha Since then, I never stopped writing.

Usually, I would spend the late hours of the night strumming my guitar, repeatedly playing a chord progression until I come up with a melody that suited my mood. It was a trial and error process until I arrived at something that really sounded great to me. Then, I start thinking of the words that would complement the melody and rhythm I created. There were some instances when the lyrics came first but those were very rare. I often start with the music.

I’m very thankful to Mathew, Dawn, Chemae and Francis, my bandmates in Manaha, who helped me put some of these songs to life. Without them, my songs’ demos would forever sound like a mad cow singing with a guitar. I really dream of the day when all of us would share the same stage again. Until that moment comes, I’ll just keep on mooing and writing my heart out.

But music was his life, it was not his livelihood
And it made him feel so happy and it made him feel so good.
And he sang from his heart and he sang from his soul
He did not know how well he sang; it just made him whole. ~ Harry Chapin, Mr. Tanner


The Great Gig In The Sky

October 23, 2011 Leave a comment

If you were given the chance to put together an all-star band that would play on the most important rock show on earth, who among the great rock legends would you put on the roster? I’ve always had this question in my head so I decided to finally make an entry out of it. I’ve spent a great amount of my time listening to old school rock music and I always found myself in awe with the excellent musicianship displayed by all the individuals who contributed to the genre’s beginnings.

First off all, my ideal rock gig should be headlined by a blues-oriented, guitar-driven jam band. It would have three guitarists, a bassist, a keyboardist and a drummer. Here’s the lineup I came up with:

Drums. Mitch Mitchell

Drums: Mitch Mitchell
From: The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Mitch Mitchell is the powerhouse drummer behind Jimi Hendrix’s brainchild. Three words are enough to sum up his greatness: “Bold As Love”.

Bass. Berry Oakley

Bass: Berry Oakley
From: The Allman Brothers Band
Long running bass lines were Berry Oakley’s signature style and it created a different kind of groove which complemented Duane Allman and Dicky Betts’ guitar solos, which is best exemplified in “Mountain Jam”.

Keyboards: Billy Preston

Keys: Billy Preston
Often considered as the fifth Beatle for his role in the band’s legendary rooftop concert, Billy Preston was a session musician who worked with other famous acts such as Ray Charles, Eric Clapton and the Rolling Stones to name a few. He eventually had a very successful career as a recording solo artist. “That’s The Way God Planned It” is probably the song that truly displayed his passion for music.

Guitar. Duane Allman

Guitar: Duane Allman
From: The Allman Brothers Band
As a guitarist, one of my greatest frustrations is to learn the slide. For that reason, I truly admire Duane Allman who was a proficient slide guitarist. Like Billy Preston, he was also a session musician before he started the Allman Brothers. The entire live album of the Allman Brothers at the Filmore East is a mind-blowing experience.

Guitar. Jimi Hendrix

Guitar: Jimi Hendrix
From: The Jimi Hendrix Experience/Band Of Gypsys
Nuff said about the man. He revolutionized electric guitar playing with his wild solos and his guitar technique, which combined both lead and rhythm styles into one. It would definitely be interesting to see how the smooth and fine sound of Duane Allman’s slide would jive with the thick and raunchy rhythm of Jimi Hendrix. “Little Wing” captures both the complexity and soul of his remarkable playing style.

Vocals/Guitars. John Lennon

Vocals/Guitar: John Lennon
From: The Beatles
The late great John Lennon: the artist and the rebel with an attitude. “Yer Blues” from the Beatles White Album proved that not only can he play the blues, he can also sing it.

DISCLAIMER: Images used for this entry are taken from the links listed below.
Mitch Mitchell:
Berry Oakley:
Billy Preston:
Duane Allman:
Jimi Hendrix:
John Lennon:

We All Want To Change The World

October 22, 2011 Leave a comment

I’ve been going through my old posts on my Facebook account and I stumbled upon a rant I wrote more than a year ago. I can’t seem to remember what came over me when I did this. Something really annoying and ridiculous must have caught my attention then. The short note is entitled “Ang kabataan ang pag-asa ng bayan”, from Dr. Jose Rizal’s famous quote.

“Not anymore. Not with the way parents handle their kids. Not with the way the media depreciates our morals and values. Not with the way our institutions mold the minds of our youth. Not with the way technology undermines the value of hard work and manual labor. Not with the way globalization murders our sense of national pride. Not with the way our own way of thinking forces us to conform with society and give up our individuality.

Well, I think I really was pissed over something or someone when I punched those harsh lines on my laptop but I can’t remember what or who that is. I probably must have seen something dumb on T.V. or read something ridiculous on the Internet. That’s pretty common nowadays. Rant it may be, the sentiment that I had then remains pretty much the same especially when I take a closer look at all the crazy things that’s been happening not just in our country, but across the globe. Look around and see what’s going on: climate change, earthquakes, abortion, rape, price hikes, corrupt leaders, military dictators, genocide, extrajudicial killings, corporate greed. The world has become a circus of negativity and we all have front row seats to see all the action that’s been coming down.

Unfortunately, most of us don’t give a damn. The sad truth is, we are fixated with the idea that our personal growth is the most important ordeal in the entire universe. In effect, what should just be a short phase in our lives becomes an endless cycle that consumes us until we are too old enough to enjoy and live life. I think, it’s because of this selfish perspective that most of us have no deep sense of being and purpose. As a race, we are disconnected from each other with no aspirations of transcending to a higher meaning of existence. We are hindered by this infectious concept from being aware of what needs to be done to correct the things that lead us to our current state of disarray.

I admit that it’s our fault why we chose to be stuck in this daily grind. However, I can’t help but think that maybe the entire system we are exposed to from birth to death is designed to cripple us to conformity in exchange for a measly monthly fee at the expense of our freedom, passion, time and soul. In the grand scheme of things, we probably are an endless supply of laborers whose voices are contained and whose welfare are undermined. Is it possible that maybe, this quest for personal growth as employees is not an innate necessity but just a promising idea implanted into our minds to keep the system running?

I agree that work is a necessity for survival in this modern day and age. I have nothing against earning a living and I think that it is every man and woman’s lawful right to have a well-paying job that would enable him or her to start a self-sufficient life. The thing is, this never comes true for everyone who’s on a payroll. What supposedly is a reachable ambition for the common people has turned into an elusive fantasy which would probably take a lifetime to obtain. What’s worse, the improbability increases with every generation that is born. Unless we do something about it, we might end up spending the rest of our lives in an endless and unrewarding chase.

We live in a world with a flawed economic system designed to give more power to the ruling class who makes up a very small percentage of the global population. The way I see it, the rest of us who belong to the larger chunk are made to feel helpless and powerless by the need to survive by their rules. Every time we abide by them, we lose the strength of our character and will as they are replaced with a false sense of self-satisfaction inspired by mediocrity. We forget that there is a need to change the world for the better, for the common good. We then become a shell of our former selves: empty, desolate, despised.

I have no idea what it is like to be really wealthy though I admit I often dream of being filthy rich to spare me from the maddening routines of an eight to five career. It scares me to think that I might lose all these sentiments if I started getting a higher pay or better recognition in what I do since it might turn me deaf and blind to the realities faced by the working class I belong to. At this point in my life, I am heavily dependent on the system for the sake of my family especially Athan’s. I know that there will come a time that this would eventually end and that I will be able to provide for my loved ones with the fruits of my own labor, exactly the way I planned it.

There is a great need for change in our world and there is enough room for us to improve its condition. The moment we give in to the pressures and promises that are shoved upon us, then we lose the chance of making a difference in this life. It is always possible that the things we do, as long as they are driven by truth and kindness, could ignite the movement that would bring about a revolution that could positively change the way we live.

People, this is just a dream away
I see us walking to a better day
Gonna be alright when tomorrow comes
After the heat of the revolution ~ Derek Trucks Band, Revolution

The Beat Goes On

October 3, 2011 Leave a comment

Video streaming sites are one of the best things man ever brought to existence. Thanks to these gold mines, I’ve been getting glimpses of an era that I missed more or less by two decades. I spent the past couple of days watching live performances by old school bands who laid down the foundation of rock and paved the way for the hundreds of artists who followed suit and eventually thrived on the scene. Among them are the Beatles.

The original Fab Four from Liverpool greatly influenced my passion for music. Though I learned about them when I was five, I still have the same amount of interest in their craft when I first saw them featured on a TV documentary which was aired everyday on a local channel. Back then, I only knew that they were a band that were very popular during a time when both my Dad and Mom were just teenagers. It never occurred to me that those four lads with mop-tops managed to change the world and had gotten away with it.

As I grew up, the curiosity I had for them eventually turned into admiration which fueled the desire to learn more about John Lennon, the cynical genius, Paul McCartney, the sentimental charmer, George Harrison, the spiritual introvert and Ringo Starr, the easy-going comic. Each of them contributed a great deal of their soul to what is probably the most influential rock band of the previous century.

From L to R: Ringgo Starr, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, John Lennon

What started as a skiffle group matured into the most iconic figure in rock history that crafted songs that revolutionized the scene. Their sound, which rooted from the rock n’ roll influence of their predecessors such as Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry, developed its own entity that is timeless at the same time, unique. Listen to a Beatles track and you will immediately recognize the distinct formula, which bears the template of modern rock music. Initially a guitar-driven act, the sound of the Beatles is composed of John’s impetuous rhythm guitar coupled with George’s blues inspired lead guitar riffs, which are both layered on the combined groove of Paul’s melodic bass lines and Ringo’s trademark drum shuffle.

Perhaps, what really brought the Beatles to their legendary status is the potency of their skill in song composition. Their success is often credited to the most successful songwriting team in rock, the Lennon-McCartney partnership. This collaboration filled up the band’s repertoire from cradle to grave. Though John and Paul’s personality and perspective often clashed, their joint effort brought out the best in each other’s craft. It is also worthy to note that the Beatles also had in their arsenal the raw and budding songwriting talent of George, who also penned a number of superb songs which reflected the spiritual tone of his character.

These elements drove the Beatles from anonymity to fame, which eventually led to the transcendence of their influence beyond the music scene. The Beatles’ presented a simple idea: freedom. This probably was the reason why they instantly became a hit back then. They started a revolution which took the globe by surprise and forever changed how common people lived their lives. In a way, they offered an alternative to the uptight way of life folks back then were accustomed to.

Some say the Beatles’ rise to fame wrought adverse effects to our culture and even started the emergence of sex, drugs, alcohol, and other negative stuff currently present in our society. That may be true. However, you can’t help but think about the fact that the Beatles have come and gone yet, most of us cling to the temporary fixes these things offer. Personally, I think the Beatles gave the world an excellent perspective on how to live life with freedom, peace and love but as always, the rest of us only noticed the superficial perks that came along with it. I think at the end of the day, whatever trend or fad may be shoved unto us, it is always our personal responsibility to choose whether we accept all that it has to offer and let it dictate how we live or just incorporate the good things from it into our lives and let it guide us into making this world a more livable place to be. I choose the latter and for me, the Beat will go on and on.

A dialogue between a young John Lennon and Paul McCartney from the 2009 movie, “Nowhere Boy”:
John: Why do you know so much? I mean you don’t seem like the rock and roll kind of guy.
Paul: What you mean because I don’t go around smashing things up and… acting like dick?
John: Yeah.
Paul: No. It’s the music. That’s it. Just the music. Simple.

DISCLAIMER: Image used for this entry is taken from the link below.
The Beatles: