reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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how ’bout them apples? [merely-a-thought monday]

them apples 1

everyone does it.  in the middle of conversation.  in the middle of silence.  in the middle of a piece of music.  in the middle of a dance.  you vamp…buying time.

my poppo would vamp through a silence when he couldn’t think of anything else to say by quipping things like, “how ’bout them apples?” or “how do you like them apples?” or “do you think the rain will hurt the rhubarb?”  he didn’t really expect an answer in particular.  (well, except for the rhubarb question, in which case the standard ‘correct’ answer, accompanied by rolling of eyes and laughter, was always “not if it’s in cans.”)  my dad was a better ponderer than conversationalist.  my sweet momma handled most of the conversations of their over-70-years-together time.  but you could always count on my adorable poppo for this tad bit of random.

my very-excellent-“it’s-fine”-producer ken can pick out my “how ’bout them apples?” notes in a millisecond.  he recognizes them instantly and will say, “thinking note” as i vamp through a thought process heading in some direction or other with a melodic conversation in a piece of music.

some people say, “ummmm.”  others say, “liiiiike….” or “welllll….”  or “okaaaay….”  we each have our own colloquialism, our own phrase that buys time.  it’s all good.  ummm, well, ok, like, as long as we’re having conversation.

but really, how ’bout them apples?

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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(it is) as it is. [k.s. friday]

AS IT IS songbox copy.jpg

ken calls this my MUSH album.  he is an amazing producer and i feel fortunate to call him my dear friend as well.  he produced 14 of my albums and, although one of my albums and a few vocal singles were done in nashville, now i can’t really imagine any other recording projects without him.

MUSH stands for made-up-shi* and is aptly named.  this album came at a really inspired time for me.  artists have their highs and lows, inspiration-wise, and this was one of the highs.  i’ve mentioned the story before, but i’ll short-story it here again:  i had a list of titles – titles i wanted to use eventually for compositions; i carried a notebook and scraps of paper everywhere i went.  i had this list with me as i recorded two other full-length albums in nyc at yamaha artist services.  in-between recording the two other albums, i would choose a title and play it.  simply play it.  my heart is laid out in the tracks of this cd; every title was meaningful to me, every piece tells what it means.

AS IT IS is the title track so it’s interesting that i gave over the melody line to a flute, the only piece on all of my albums that has a flutist playing.  it’s also rare for me to step away from the piano and, in the production-post-initial-recording phase, play a keyboard.  but life is like that. you have to give over sometimes.  the texture changes.  the melody isn’t yours to own; sometimes you are support staff.  make peace with it.  it is as it is.

AS IT IS:  life.  we are right here…where we are supposed to be in this part of the journey…the best time is now.  simply because life is as it is. (liner notes)

purchase and download the album AS IT IS on iTUNES or CDBaby

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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AS IT IS from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood

 

 

 


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unfolding. [k. s. friday]

unfolding song box copy

“…and whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should…” (desiderata by max ehrmann)

when i listen to tracks i have recorded i can either picture the time i spent writing at the piano or the time i spent in studio recording.  this piece drums up the same image; in a time of pronounced inspiration and the transferring of much emotion into music, this was simultaneously written and recorded at yamaha artist services in nyc back about 15 years ago.

even then, i could see the willows-bending-in-the-wind characteristic of life – it will unfold as it should, despite our best efforts to stymie it or change it or enhance it.  and so i loved when ken, my truly amazing producer, added a bended electric guitar line, arching and buckling, flexing around the melody line, a musical painting.   even now, and i suspect as will always be, i try to be that willow, bending as the wind takes me, allowing the universe to unfold.

“unfolding: trying to trust that life is unfolding the way it should be” (liner notes)

download AS IT IS on iTUNES or CDBaby

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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UNFOLDING from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood


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the lights. [k.s. friday]

THE LIGHTS song box copy

“…i love to watch the lights shine on my baby’s face…”

the place this song came from.  motherhood.  the full-body-overwhelming-love-feeling for me of holding my babies those first christmases.  seeing the lights from the tree play on their faces was magic-on-earth.  i suddenly understood my sweet momma and her joy having us there at christmas, surrounded by her babies (forever her babies, regardless of age.)  this is a story-song.  i’ll say little else about it.  you’ll understand when you listen to the lyrics.

download THE LIGHTS on iTUNES OR purchase the very-limited CD

read DAVID’S generous thoughts about THE LIGHTS – thank you, d. i love you.

oversizedjoy copley place website box

THE LIGHTS ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood


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divine intervention. [k.s. friday]

divine intervention song box.jpg

divine intervention. from whence it all comes…

right at 2:08 in this recording is an ambient sound.  it is a sound that my producer and i deliberately decided to leave in the recording, an audible sound of divine, a tiny punctuation in our project from across the barriers of physical being-ness.

we were recording remotely on one of the northwestern university stages, ken (my amazing “it’s fine” producer) having built a small studio off in the green room, separate from the stage space where the piano was.  everything was moved or padded so as to avoid interruptions or rattling or vibrations or overtones, anything we didn’t want included in this solo piano album.  it was a tedious process and we recorded straight through a twenty-three hour stretch.  with me were items – totems of a sort – to keep me company as i recorded this first album.  one was a stuffed animal i had given my beloved big brother during his chemo treatments, three short missing-him-years prior.

divine intervention was the last piece up.  the last piece of the very first album i was recording, released 23 years ago november 11 on my sisu music productions label.  teetering on that balance point, no idea of where i was to go next or what would become of this album, i was emotional and exhausted, determined and vulnerable.  i spoke words of prayer and began the next take of this piece.

at 2:08 i heard a sound.  it sounded like an old wooden screen door closing, but i didn’t really know what it was.  i was sure, however,  it would be on the recording since i could hear it on-stage.  i kept going anyway, thinking we’d go back and re-record the piece. when i finished playing, tired tears in my eyes, i walked into the green room to find ken standing in astonishment.  there was an empty can of pepsi in that little studio, one i had put in there and secured by towels deep onto a shelf.  at 2:08, the can somehow moved out of the spot it was nestled in and clattered onto the floor.  the sound.  even without listening to the cd i can hear this sound in my head every time i play this piece.

we listened back to the raw recording.  sure enough, it was there.  and so was something else.  a feeling that somehow, some way, the divine interrupted.  intervened with a small nod.  perhaps it was my big brother, in jest, stopping by in the middle of the last take of the very last piece of my very first album, to make a little noise.  perhaps it was something else.  either way, we knew.  and we left it in.

i still have the can.

15. divine intervention (3:16):  the feeling i have about this whole project.  there really isn’t any such thing as chance.  those who are just on the other side sometimes help us to sort and place the clues of our life’s story. (words from released from the heart jacket)

purchase the CD RELEASED FROM THE HEART or download on iTUNES or CDBaby

read DAVID’S thoughts on this K.S. FRIDAY

hands website box copy

DIVINE INTERVENTION from RELEASED FROM THE HEART ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood


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peace. as it is. [k.s. friday]

peace song box

i distinctly remember recording this.  i was at yamaha artist services in nyc and it was winter.  the word “peace” was on a list of words i wanted to use as titles for pieces.  “peace” is a big word for me….i’ve talked about how there are peace signs and the word peace all over our home and it was no different when i wrote this.  the trouble with writing and using a big word is that you feel an imperative to make it count.  there is a kind of heavy emphasis on this choice to use THIS word as a title – that you write well enough to support such a big word, that you do it justice, that it FEELS what the word feels like.  it’s super-charged with self-induced pressure.

but the moments i spent composing this were extraordinarily special and i was wrapped in a cloak of peacefulness and love.  it is not a complex piece of music; it has a repeating theme and, like a song with lyrics, returns to that theme again and again.  like statement-question-answer-lift-statement-question-answer-lift structure.

“it’s fine” ken, in his infinite wisdom, orchestrated this so my heart weeps with gratitude each time i listen.  cello lines and strings and french horn pull the simple melody out of the place of simplicity and reach, for me, a depth of being.

every artist has compositions that are their favorites, the ones that really express who they are. maybe it’s because i can so distinctly remember initially recording this.  maybe it’s because i remember being back in the studio in chicago with ken as he tracked the other instrumentation.  maybe it’s because it’s THAT word, the piece with THAT title.    regardless of the reason, THIS is one of mine.

download PEACE track 5 on AS IT IS on iTunes or on CDBaby

read DAVID’S thoughts on this KS FRIDAY

K.S. FRIDAY (KERRI SHERWOOD FRIDAY) – ON OUR SITE

PEACE from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood


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let me take you back [ks friday]

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LET ME TAKE YOU BACK from the album AS IT IS

take me back product BAR copy

one of my treasured concert memories is a concert where The Boy played with me.  i loved all the laughter leading up to it as he wailed on his tenor in my studio.  we had so much fun.  this song LET ME TAKE YOU BACK (listen below) makes me think of him.  originally a solo piano piece and the title track for a pair of albums LET ME TAKE YOU BACK Volumes 1 & 2 (my solo piano arrangements of 60’s and 70’s songs), the infamous ken orchestrated it for the album AS IT IS with saxophone and thereafter, in live performance, it belonged to craig.  let me take you back totally takes me back to those days.

have a cup of coffee (or, if it is later in the day, a glass of wine) and sit back with me.  and, since the LET ME TAKE YOU BACK albums are no longer available, maybe dig out your old 45’s of john denver, dan fogelberg, pete seeger, gordon lightfoot, bread, bob dylan, loggins and messina, jim croce, carole king, joni mitchell, carly simon…well, you get the picture…and play them on a record player.

TAKE ME BACK products (click here or on product bar above)

click here to download LET ME TAKE YOU BACK from AS IT IS on iTunes

click here to download LET ME TAKE YOU BACK from AS IT IS on CDBaby.com

KS FRIDAY (KERRI SHERWOOD FRIDAY) – ON OUR SITE

read DAVID’S thoughts on this KS FRIDAY

LET ME TAKE YOU BACK from AS IT IS & TAKE ME BACK products ©️ 2004 & 2018 kerri sherwood

 


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ks friday

jacketasitisjpeg copy 2i could hear the saxophonist on the corner out the window; it’s not uncommon in nyc.  at yamaha artist services to record the two solo piano hymn albums, i was caught up in the christmas carol he was playing, only a little concerned that it would bleed onto the recording.  the amazing “it’s fine!” ken can handle anything.

my task was to get onto tape (so to speak) the material for both of the hymn albums:  ALWAYS WITH US Volume 1 and ALWAYS WITH US Volume 2AWU v1 jacket copyit was easy for me to compile a list of the hymns to play; so many years of church music gives me an advantage that way.   but on every album, even if it is music i haven’t written but am giving my own voice to (like the hymn albums or christmas albums or lullaby album) i always include one or two pieces that i have composed – a signature of sorts.  for always with us volume one it was the title track.  ALWAYS WITH US is a statement of my belief that we are never alone, we are always AWU v2 jacket copysurrounded by infinite grace and love – God is always with us.  like all the tracks on the hymn albums, this piece is solo piano.

part of that time in the city, i also recorded the album AS IT IS.  i had a list of titles and in-between recording hymns, i would take out the list and simply play the word.  but i’ve talked about that before.  this album was a personal creative challenge and took on a life of its own.

back in chicago, in post-production work, ken wrote orchestration arrangements (he is brilliant) and brought in musicians to record on tracks for the AS IT IS album, starting with the solo piano recordings. these new tracks went beyond the solo piano versions – in texture, in diversity, ultimately, in emotion.

yesterday i wrote about process in david’s painting.  the same -yet different- process exists in recording music.  the coming-together of layers, with what is in a layer below sometimes hidden, a breath you can’t hear, but can feel.  i am awed by what the whole becomes from the whole.

always with us exists in two forms.  both are relevant to the album they are within.  both speak a language.  but both tell the same story – for those who listen – that we are never alone.  God – or whatever you call this presence- is always with us.  and if you listen, maybe with your mind’s eye, you might even hear the strains of a saxophonist on the corner in the city at night.

ALWAYS WITH US – on the album AS IT IS

ALWAYS WITH US – on the album ALWAYS WITH US VOLUME 1

to DOWNLOAD ALWAYS WITH US from AS IT IS track 14 from iTUNES

to DOWNLOAD ALWAYS WITH US from ALWAYS WITH US Vol. 1 track 2 from iTUNES

to purchase the physical CD ALWAYS WITH US VOLUME 1 (AS IT IS is out of stock)

KS FRIDAY (KERRI SHERWOOD FRIDAY) – ON OUR SITE

to see some fun PRODUCTS that go along with this piece ALWAYS WITH US:

leggings, wall art, mugs, beach towels, cellphone covers, cards

always with us SQ PILLOW copy

throw pillows, blankets

 

always with us RECT PILLOW copy

throw pillows, rugs

 

always with us LEGGINGS copy

leggings

 

always with us TOTE BAG copy

tote bags

 

always with us iPHONE CASE copy

cellphone cases, laptop sleeves

 

always with us FRAMED ART copy

wall art – in some of these pieces i could not resist using david’s art

 

always with us COFFEE MUG copy

mugs, travel mugs

 

ALWAYS WITH US from ALWAYS WITH US Volume 1 and AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood


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chicken marsala monday #3

fallingdown WITH EYES jpeg THIS COPY copyevery summer i break one of my two little baby toes.  every single summer.  last summer alone i logged tons of miles on my $2 old navy flipflops as a result.  i even talked about it on this blog.  what did i learn?  in particular, what did i learn THIS time as opposed to all the other times?  i learned to either 1. slow down a little  2.  watch where i’m going a tad bit more  3.  never go barefoot.  the thing is, i’m pretty sure it will happen again.  i’m still learning.

i haven’t fallen off my bike in quite some time (and hope not to cause these days it will hurt much more than it used to) but i can relate in countless ways to our chicken marsala monday in the melange this week.  i can distinctly remember taking off the training wheels and teaching the children to ride their two-wheelers, running down the sidewalk next to them.  for that matter, i can totally -and (yougetthis) viscerally- remember teaching them how to drive.

we’ve been watching the olympics.  athletes of inordinate ability who had to start somewhere – and, for sure, who fell in the process.  not afraid of failing, but keeping on keeping on.  being an ace anything is far off.  do any of us ever really get there?

as an adult (ugh, i guess 58 qualifies me if for no other reason than sheer number) there are a lot of things i still want to learn.  a few years ago i wanted to throw pots.  i spent more than i bargained on for clay and lessons and studio time and more clay and ended up with the most wonderful tea light holder. (ok, i also threw a cereal-size-bowl and a few other assorted incredibly-shrinking-bowls as i struggled to center them and not have the clay collapse on the wheel.)  let’s just say i was not gifted at this.  but it did (and still does) make me laugh.  and i know that i will someday try it again and i will add to my assortment of teenytinyclayobjects in which i can store paperclips.

when we see my amazing son and his boyfriend, we seem to be developing this tradition of bowling together.  now, even though i live in wisconsin – and it is practically a law to be a good bowler here – i am pretty bad at bowling.  every now and then i do something (like pick up a spare or get a strike) and am shocked, but most of the time i am aghast at how the ball creates splits in the pins and i find myself leaning while watching it careen (generous term) down the alley.  the thing i must say, though, is that each time i do a little better.  and the reallybadscores will, if i dedicate any time at all to practice, perhaps improve.  mostly, i laugh.  and i wish i could bring that to ANY thing i am learning – be it a new sport, an artform, a study of some philosophy or political issue, or – a big one – relationship.  we fall.  we get up, brush ourselves off, ask for grace and try again.

even though there are so many venues of crashing, the recording studio is a prime place to watch yourself fall down.  you’ve written music, lyrics.  you’ve practiced and practiced – there’s muscle memory in each measure.  you’re ready, water and coffee by your side.  (for me, not so much water once in the studio as it ….toomuchinformationalert…makes throat noises i can’t avoid.)  and then you start.  there’s so much riding on the line.  and some days?  some days you can’t get through a track.  something is amiss; something is wrong.  the first track of my first album was recorded in a studio in evanston.  ken, my producer, was a stranger to me and i drove down with a posse of friends.  i felt a little nervous, but mostly felt confident i was prepared.  hours later, i had recorded the solo piano track for galena (the album released from the heart) and ken gave me a cassette tape (how funny is that?!) to listen to.  i put it in the cassette deck of my old chrysler blue minivan and turned it on.  and was appalled.  rigid playing met my ears.  it sounded nothing like me or my playing, or my piece of music, for that matter.  all that confidence translated to a coldness, an unemotional-ness instead of a good track.  i called ken (who i barely knew then, but now the same brilliant producer who has produced 14 of my 15 albums) and he suggested that, “maybe you should just write the music and have someone else play it on the recording FOR you.”  what???!!!  uhhh, i didn’t even know what to answer that would sound in the least bit polite.

and so i painfully listened to the recording again and sat back down at home on my bench.  and i realized i needed to be ready -at any moment- to fall.  THAT is what would make the piece sound like me and sound like, well, music.  the rawness, the every-moment-ness, the vulnerability to mistakes and moving beyond them.  that is what would make it shine as a learning.  preparation is wise, flexibility is a must, a sense of humor is required, confidence is irrelevant, perseverance is utmost.

and falling down is a gift.

FALLING DOWN IS AN ESSENTIAL PART OF LEARNING MERCHANDISE

chicken falling down mug copy                    chicken falling down pillow copy

CHICKEN MARSALA MONDAY

kerrianddavid.com/the-melange

check out DAVID’S thoughts on this CHICKEN MARSALA

falling down is an essential part of learning ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood