In February I released "For Everything/Physics," a two track release that I suppose could be thought of as an A side/B side single... Without a clearly defined single. I have been lax in posting blog updates, but my intention has always been to give info about my music from the perspective of a writer... So I suppose it's time to climb back up on the horse.
These two tracks originally came from an EP I had hoped to release titled "For You, When Yours Was Mine." The recording process stalled (new equipment, and other various excuses), and I was left with a set of recordings that I thought unusable. A few months later I was able to take a refreshed listen and discovered that I had been too harsh on some of the work that I had done... And "For Everything/Physics" is the result.
*Not that it hasn't been said enough already, but should you listen to these tracks and enjoy them -- They're available for download free of charge.
I've never been able to gauge whether anyone has ever really perused my blog, but if you have then you know that the lion's share of my songs are inspired from events from my life, and these songs are no exception.
'For Everything' is a song I wrote shortly after moving to Harrisonburg in 2009, and I consider it to be one of the most transparent sets of lyrics I've ever written. It is written in the 1st person, and bemoans the fallout that can occur after severely hurting your significant other -- Both between the two of you and the people (most notably family) around you. The first verse lays out the situation as vaguely as possible -- "For everything that I've done they've kept me away from you." The Second verse is a more personal reference to the woman I was writing about, and the bridge finally addresses the indiscretion -- "I'd had too much; I was out of my head."
Musically I have always had reservations about this song... It seems so sparse when performed for an audience. The recording is complete with dual harmony during the verses and three-part during the chorus to add some meat to its bones.
'Physics' is from two or three months before I made the move to Harrisonburg. It is more or less what I would have liked to have said (Yep... It's pretty petty -- But we all have those moments) to a rather specific person, but naming names is extremely bad etiquette. Suffice it to say that all contact whatsoever had been broken off between us, and I was contacted by a mutual acquaintance to see how I was. The person made the mistake of informing me that they were asking for the individual who shall not be named (wow, this is convoluted as hell), and I suppose it hurt my feelings/pissed me off.
This song is special to me on several levels - 1.) Yes, it's extremely personal. 2.) The guitar part has always been fun to play, and 3.) It is the first song I ever wrote in that style and it kicked off a whole new series of writing exercises, revisions, etc. In essence this song is a large part of the reason that my other songs wound up the way they were recorded.
I truly hope to be adding a fair amount of new content to the sites this week and the next. Keep a look out, and as always -- Thanks for listening.
Well, folks, the truth is that I want to perform on a regular basis, but possess neither the experience to effectively book myself, nor the money to hire a manager. What this amounts to is that I am trying, and will continue to try until I am able to learn the game.
In the meantime, however, I am going to (in an attempt to relieve some stress) shift my focus back to writing, recording, and producing. I have one unfinished project, as well as two new ones in the works. Rather than reveal a whole lot of information beforehand (some of you can guess what the unfinished one is) I am going to wait until one or all of them are complete.
I will try to keep anyone who is interested up to date both through posts and periodic blog entries. If you have a question and it seems to have been awhile since I've posted anything up, feel free to shoot me a message on Facebook, Reverbnation, or Twitter (@josephgearheart).
As always, Thanks for Listening!
So I've been taking a little break from daily posts (I can only assume that it can be annoying seeing the same thing over and over:), and I've been doing work on my recording... Or, rather, had been working. Last weekend when the storm hit my power went off several times in the span of an hour or so (I was one of the ultra lucky ones whose power came back on and stayed on), and my project files have all been corrupted. I assume the power outages are to blame, otherwise I'm about to have to drop a wad o' cash on a new Mac. Either case, I have to start over, which is a major ass-burn, but I'll start as soon as I can and try to reschedule sooner than later (I was getting fairly excited about the new work). I did escape with a demo, and I'll post later on today so you guys have a chance to hear what I had in mind :). Thanks for your patience, and as always -- Thanks for listening!
I was having a conversation today that brought to light the answer to a question I’d never considered: Why do I care so much for certain musicians, and care none for others? Seems like such a basic question. Probably a question that a lot of people have already asked themselves, but I had not, and was struck by the simplicity of the answer: I listen to artists that not only write music that moves me, but have something to teach me. Once those things are out of the equation I seem to drift away from them. I consider all of the artists that I truly enjoy to be masters. I think of them as people that kick my ass at songwriting, and when I start to feel like I could do better is when I find myself not enjoying their albums quite as much. It’s a conceited way of looking at it, but it makes sense. I spend a very small amount of my time listening to other people’s music. It hurts me sometimes, because I don’t believe you can grow as a musician if all you ever hear is your own work. There are a wealth of musical techniques, licks, and flat-out “tricks” that you can learn just from listening to other people, and I hardly ever do. But, the time I spend listening is spent listening to people that play things on a guitar that make my head spin, or sing in a way or with a power that I can only hope to match someday. Why take the time to write about this? Mostly because I think it’s important, but also because I also care more for the artists I listen to that do put their thoughts out there, whether it is as mundane a topic as this, or as important a topic as where they’re headed on tour next and what they hope to accomplish. I guess I hope that other people feel that way as well :). Updates to come concerning this summers projects (For You, When yours was mine and The Rat). Thanks for listening. :)
I've had a lot of fun the last few weeks with all of the recordings, site updates, graphics, etc. It's been great to have something to do, but it has also been great being able to share it all so easily. I haven't tried this in several years, but the last time I did I didn't put the time into it I should have, and the music wasn't as mature. I should be playing shows, but I'm still new at booking. I'm hoping to make some real headway in the coming weeks. Since shows aren't coming quick enough, I'm going to keep doing what I can: writing and recording. I have endless projects just waiting to be finished. Just to give you guys an idea for what's coming, here are some upcoming albums/EPs I'll be working on in the coming weeks and months: The Rat 1. The Rat 2. A Hell of a Haul 3. Don't Trust the Shark 4. Stones and Means 5. John, Jane, and Doe (The Shark's Plan) 6. Vegas Sands 7. Three Questions 8. Who? The Rat is a concept album that follows from the perspective of three people the events leading up to and following a casino heist in which a team member has played the rat. I've been posting a lot of examples of my folk, but The Rat is an example of Blues and Swing. Folk III 1. Early this Morning 2. In the Chair 3. New Orlean's Blues 4. I Know You 5. For You 6. Runaway 7. Maybe We Can Be Friends 8. A Time Another group of folk songs. Not much more to say, other than that I am just as excited to get these tunes out as I was for Folk II. Two songs that I would consider to be closely related to Black Sea start it off, and I also have the song I wrote to be paired with Akimbo on the list. In other words, I feel safe saying that if you like folk II, you will dig Folk III. Curse 1. Hoodoo Mama 2. Nothing and Nobody 3. Man of the Law 4. Vision of the Broken Bow 5. Curse 6. All Crossed Up 7. In the Throes 8.Right Where I Left Her 9. A Tragic End Curse is a concept album born purely out of the enjoyment I got from writing The Rat. It features more of a blues and jazz feel than folk or swing, and also follows an entirely different type of plot-line. Curse tells the story of a corrupt lawyer that commits vehicular homicide while driving drunk one night, and successfully keeps the fact hidden. The victim is the daughter of a hoodoo woman who sees her death in her dream, as well as the driver, and places a curse on him. I don't want to ruin the story, but I will say that it's somewhat tragic. I won't be doing much work on this one until The Rat has been completed, but I am incredibly excited at the prospect. And those three are just for starters :), provided I can get some shows going everything will round itself off. If there is one thing I have, it's time to spend on my music, so keep checking back. I can practically guarantee there will be a lot of updates.
The Rat is what started it all, and I wrote it between August and November of last year. If I had not written the title track, I honestly don't think I would have a site, or be trying to reach you folks like I have been over the course of the last few weeks. The reasoning behind this is that I received so much positive feedback on The Rat that it encouraged me to give my solo material a shot. I began tracking The Rat, and abruptly hit several brick walls. My problems were mostly know-how based... As in, every recording I put down had a severe balance problem, and I didn't know how to fix it. The demos I have (the title track in my player feed, and the two that I have for download at http://tinyurl.com/cfbu6t3) sound ok. The problem is that trying to make them sound better results in headaches due to a severe loss of quality (whatever quality they have). So I registered for Reverbnation and made myself an artist's page on Facebook, and then let them sit there. It wasn't until February that I realized that I may not have been able to record The Rat, but I could record Folk II. It feels like it went so quickly. It's awesome to me that despite not having mentioned The Rat but here and there in weeks, the title track remains one of the most popular ones to listen to on my site, and that gets me siked, because I finally got just enough know-how to lay it down and sinch it off :). Since I haven't spent any real amount of time explaining what The Rat is (I've mentioned it was a concept album, and there's a brief informational .rtf in the download), I am going to use this article to give some details about it. The Rat follows the events leading up to a doomed casino heist, from the forming of the team, through the planning, execution, and events that follow. It has a small cast of six characters, but only three of them make themselves known (all of the songs are sung from one of their points of view), and it opens with the title track, which is a confession from one of the team members (if I told you who the rat was, it wouldn't be as much fun) confessing to betraying the group. I spent every ounce of my free time for two and a half months writing and over-thinking this album, and the result is that I have seven tracks of dialogue telling a story, and one instrumental track (the actual heist). I ended up going with that format because the heist isn't actually what I thought was important... It's the relationship between the characters John and his grandfather, the mastermind of the group known as the Shark. It's energetic, and a true workout to play live. I hope someday soon I have the opportunity to play it for you.
This may be a long one, so I'll start with the announcements first :). By now everybody connected to my sites knows that Folk II will be released for sale tomorrow. To give you guys a little something extra, I've decided to upload two unheard demos from my next album, "The Rat." They'll be zipped in a file with the Folk II Lyrics booklet under downloads at https://sites.google.com/site/josephgearheartfolkbluesswing. I can't say that when I release "The Rat" they'll be exactly the same, but I can promise they'll have a much better production. Either case, happy listening, and if you dig it, pass it around :). On Sunday I uploaded The Liar and On the Spot, so I'm going to take a moment to give some background: The Liar's lyrics were written while walking from John Lennon's memorial in Central Park to my hotel on Amsterdam in New York City. Needless to say, I remember, because how could I forget? These lyrics are the result of having seen way too many episodes of Law and Order before ever having set foot inside the city. When I finally reached a guitar (all the way back in Radford, Va), I set it with a chord progression that damn near matched a much older tune, titled Malice note for note and beat for beat, so I did a rewrite that incorporated the two into one, and The Liar was born. If you listen closely to the upper harmony in the last few moments of the song you'll get the gist. There's no real telling whether this guy has done what he claims, is innocent, guilty, or whatever. You simply can't trust the bastard. You may notice that this song lacks the plentiful harmonies throughout that the lion's share of the other track have. To be honest, I saved all harmonies for the end to try to drive the point home... On the spot is in a whole other hemisphere from The Liar; sung to a woman that is endlessly supportive, yet cryptic about the state of her relationship to the singer. I'm not sure what the lesson to be taken from this tune is (or if there really is one at all), but if I had to answer on the spot (so to speak) I would say that sometimes people show love more than they say it, but that doesn't make it any easier for their significant others. This has been a great month, and I'm hoping for many more. Thank you for listening, and please keep checking out the site.
I mentioned when I wrote about Julie that I had written two songs as a first attempt at telling a story. Fall Away is the second of the two. I had heard several songs about mining disasters over the course of that year, and have a lot of family with ties to the mines in WVA, so I just sat down and wrote it out. Lyrically speaking it's pretty cut and dry. The only thing I've found is that the double-negative in the chorus causes some minor confusion as to what the man is saying to his wife, so I'll clear it up: He's saying that he may not see the setting sun again, but if he does he is going to spend it with his wife. He's more or less saying that he won't leave her side again if he makes it out of his situation alive. Musically I don't have a whole lot to say. I wrote this one right before I recorded it, played through it once or twice and then hit the button. Sometimes it just happens that way. Poor Boy's Gospel is another example of a song written right before recorded. It didn't take long to write, because it was pretty much improv. Incidently, it took the least amount of time to write, but the most amount of time to record. I simply got caught up in the harmonies. I'm almost certain there are five to six voices singing at any given time during the chorus on this one. I hadn't done very much with harmonies before, and when I had gotten a few good results I became addicted :). There is just nothing like two voices playing off of each other. Get's me everytime. "Folk" is going to stay up for free download. If you haven't gotten a copy, but you'd like one, you can download individual tracks from Reverbnation, my Facebook page, or https://sites.google.com/site/josephgearheartfolkbluesswing. Keep on coming back, I've got a whole lot in store for this year, and I haven't even made a dent in my goals yet.
Some of these tracks I can say more about then others. Down to Play is one of those tracks. It's lyrics were written during the summer between my time at community college and my acceptance to RU during the final real "family vacation" I think I have had since. Growing up we would sometimes take two small trips in the summer as a family, one to Hungry Mother State Park in Marion, VA. The other to an amusement park. We didn't do this all the time, but when we did it was awesome (I am still shamelessly excited by roller coasters and cheap gimmicks :). The last time we went down it was to Busch Gardens, where we stayed at a big old Ramada Inn. What makes the trip so memorable for me was that I hadn't really gone on any trips yet as an adult (traveling is still not something I have done a lot of), and I spent a lot of restless time wandering the hotel property, smoking cigarettes and writing song lyrics. The lyrics I wrote during that trip were so absurd that I can remember two other sets other than Down to Play that I don't even have copies of anymore. I had recently seen Children of the Damned (I know... kind of an obvious inspiration :), and ended up writing something like twelve verses around the idea of different insidious ways a group of evil children would try to keep adults busy enough to stay away from them, usually something violent. I always liked the concept; like the way the lyrics moved, but was unable to write a good guitar part for several years. There was even an incredibly brief couple of attempts to make this into a Secret Agent T song, but it made very little sense then, and it makes absolutely no sense to me now. When I sat down to record "Folk" I realized that I didn't have any really good "down-home" stomp type tracks... These lyrics had been in the back of my mind (if I like lyrics enough I will try everything to get them into music, something that I've just recently gotten reasonable at doing). I recorded the main progression, had no form (notice how the solo goes on for a strange period of time), and then went back and made it as country as I possibly could.
Ah, memories... :)
To be honest, I had already recorded a few tracks, and I was really getting into the idea of recording a full album when I realized that I didn't have any older material that felt like it meshed with what I had already done. I wasn't very experienced in writing folk, and in my mind the best ones tell a story (something else that I had next to no experience in writing). Needless to say I decided that I wanted to write two more songs that told stories. I had been listening to a great deal of Gillian Welch, and I couldn't resist at least trying. Julie is about a man who's wife runs out on him and their son only days after giving birth. The child dies, and he never sees her again. Basically a real down tune. Ok, tomorrow I'm loading the last two tracks of "Folk II," and it will be in the Reverbstore for purchase as both individual and album download. Physical copies will also be available. I'm going to load some bonus material with the lyrics booklet to https://sites.google.com/site/josephgearheartfolkbluesswing on 3/26 (hopefully it will be ready in time, if not, 3/27:). Thanks for Listening.