Jul 30, 2010

All Cows Eat Grass

In 2006, I wrote a song called 'Goodbye Piano' - it's a metaphor for
letting go. When my grandmother died many years ago & her house was
sold, the prospect of throwing away her piano - the piano my Mom, my
aunt & uncle, and even I had learned to play on - proved a bit
heartbreaking. It was as if getting rid of the piano was like getting
rid of all the memories & good times involved with this instrument,
even tho it was dilapidated & horribly out of tune. I wanted to
capture the idea of loss, and love/hate between a man & his instrument
rather than a man & a woman, and I found the two to be pretty
interchangeable - enjoying good times & memories that become marred by
twists of fate & karma, having to let go of something you once loved,
& once made you who you are, and dealing with the pain of knowing it
must go.

My parents still have the piano that *I* grew up playing in their home
in Pennsylvania. 7 years of lessons on that light brown upright and
then I gave up because I guess that's what most 12 year olds do (or at
least what they did in the late 1980s). They get bored, they get into
sports, into girls, into video games (y'know, like the Commodore 64),
into their friends. I often regretted stopping, knowing that I never
realized my full potential at the instrument I knew & loved the most,
but 20+ years later, I'm determined to start up again. It's never too
late. I still try to make some time for the old piano during my rare
sojourns out to my parents' house (the riffs that would become 'John
Hughes' were born while sitting at that piano), but it's not the same
as having one in my own house. When Return To Earth signed with Metal
Blade earlier this year, I was determined to take my share of the
advance money and buy a piano of my own. I had even reserved space
for it in my living room from Day One, anticipating its eventual
arrival into both home & life. I am an analog keyboard junkie - I
still own a Korg 01/WFD, a Nord Lead 2, a Korg N5, and a Microkorg.
While the rest of the world has moved to virtual synths, I remain
steadfast in my love for the analog synth. I still feel like I've
barely scratched the surface with a lot of these boards.

Playing the piano on these boards is just not the same, tho. The
weight of the keys, the pedals, the sound - the *feel* - are unmatched
compared to the real thing. A little over a month ago, the piano
arrived - a Yamaha P22 upright, ebony finish. Modest, but gorgeous.
I whipped out the old sheet music and went to work. Sheet music for
'The Muppet Show' Theme, John Williams' 'Star Wars' Theme, Henry
Mancini's 'Pink Panther' Theme (I used to play this during my
elementary school assembly as kids in red clip-on ties carried the
American flag down the aisle), We Are The World, and David Lee Roth's
version of 'Just A Gigolo/I Ain't Got Nobody' (I kid you not)
currently reside atop the keys. I remember my grandmother buying me
the latter two pieces during a Sam Ash detour on a trip into the city
to go see 'The Flying Karamazov Brothers' on Broadway.

Piano = Memories. Memories = Inspiration. Inspiration = Music.

I'm learning to play again. Gotta start slow, it's been awhile. I'm dedicating time every
week to scales, chords, practice practice practice. I bought staff
paper. The only song I can play perfectly from memory is 'Frosty The
Snowman'. I'm hoping to expand my catalog, to be able to call myself
a 'musician' with a clear conscience, to write write write.

I've already written a new song on the new piano - it's got a real
sweet gospel vibe with a nice swing to it and I hope to release it in
the coming months as part of my Q*Ball Collaboration Project. So
thanks Metal Blade. And 'Hello Piano' - hopefully we'll be friends
for a long time and start up a whole new lifetime of memories & music
together. First, let me see if I can remember how to draw a treble
clef.....