SONGS FOR WOMEN I DON’T SEE ANYMORE
And yes, before you ask, my name is spelled Michael in spite of what the cover of this album might say. I learned a huge lesson when I made this one – don’t use substance-impaired graphic designers! Anyway, the album art may be a bit wonky but it’s a good listen all the same. Here’s the story for this one.
I was in the sixth grade when I composed my first piece of music: a pleasant little ditty on the piano that I titled “Theresa”, for a girl I had a terrific crush on at the time. I fancied that, upon hearing this inspired composition and recognizing both my great talent and my tender feelings for her, she would be pretty much overwhelmed. The reality fell far short of my fantasy, and it was not the most encouraging beginning for a new, aspiring songwriter.
Still, I persisted. Midway through my adolescence I had begun to learn the guitar; and by the time I went to college I had adopted it as my primary instrument and as an almost constant companion.
There was a girl in college, named Mary B., who had beautiful long blond hair, an infectious laugh and a ready wit (just my type). This time I wrote a four-movement suite for solo guitar that I called the “Mary B Suite”. But history was repetitious, and Mary was not moved by my efforts.
While in graduate school, I met a gal that I nicknamed “Grace”; because she managed to spill an entire potluck dinner in my lap the first time we met. Our romance progressed and we were engaged to be married. So, when I was inspired to compose a little tune and title it “Walking with Grace”, I was confident that no ill could accompany this affectionate gesture. Within a month of writing the piece, “Grace” broke off out engagement and ran off with another guy.
Not all my songs for women have been instrumental but a substantial portion of the instrumental music I have composed has been inspired by this or that female.
Over the last couple of years, several of my fans asked me to produce an album of my solo guitar efforts. I had pretty much decided to do so, when a gal at one of my performances approached me during a break, handed me something scrawled on a napkin and said, “I’ve got the title for that solo guitar album when you get ready to make it.”
And that is how the album came to be called Songs for Women I Don’t See Anymore (thanks Kathy).
Not all the songs here have such a dire history. A couple of them relate to the theme in a somewhat more oblique fashion, and a handful of them are here only because they please me and the people who have been coming out to hear me over the years. As for this chronic predicament (which I have recently begun to refer to as “God’s Cruel Joke”), I have been thinking of writing songs only for women I really don’t want to see any more.
Mary B Suite
· Mary B. Suite Chelsea Cakewalk (3’25”)
· Mary B. Suite Waltz Bohéme (4’51”)
· Mary B. Suite Blonde Lullabye(2’52”)
· Mary B. Suite Mary B. Reel (2’42”)
The Chelsea Cakewalk is named for Chelsea, Iowa (hometown of the girl in question) and is loosely inspired by Debussey’s “Golliwog’s Cakewalk” and Peter Townsend’s “Tommy”. Mary was of Czechoslovakian descent and frequently referred to her “Bohemian” ancestry; hence the title of the second movement (and the inspiration to set it in 5/4 time). Blonde Lullabye needs little in the way of explanation, and the Mary B. Reel is an attempt to make the guitar sound like a bluegrass banjo (more or less).
Walking With Grace(2’24”)
I found a book called “Modern Chord Progressions” by Ted Greene and therein lay the initial inspiration for this piece. Other than that, it was just meant to be a feel good thing.
I spent a couple of summers working for the Bigfork Summer Theatre in Bigfork, Montana; and it was there and then that this arrangement of Gershwin’s classic tune began to evolve. I dedicate this tune to the actresses of the theatre that I hit on at the time.
Reverie (Hayden) (2’42”)
This is a composition by a woman named Carrie Hayden who lived in St Louis in the last century and performed, composed and taught guitar. I lost the book that I originally found the piece in and have subsequently taken a few liberties with the composition over the years.
Angie (Jagger/Richards) (3’30”)
I may get in to trouble for the next story: this is an arrangement of the old Rolling Stones hit. I dedicate it to a girl of the same name I met in graduate school. One night she and her best friend showed up with a bottle of wine and a case of beer, the three of us and a roommate set about to do some serious damage. During a lull in the conversation, Angie shouted “Let’s have an orgy!”. We all laughed of course. Then Angie pouted and muttered “Nobody ever takes me seriously.” I picked her up and carried her to the bedroom. “What are you doing?” she asked and giggled hysterically. “I’m taking you,” I said, “seriously.”
Hilton Head Shuffle (4’18”)
This resulted from a summer playing at Hilton Head Island, and is dedicated to all the women I flirted with there (see the notes for “Summertime” – a pattern begins to emerge).
Colorado Sunrise (4’23”)
This is the first guitar piece I wrote upon moving to Colorado and was named after performing at an ungodly hour on a radio show in Boulder.
Last Song for Rebecca (4’55”)
Sort of post-mortem composition; this is dedicated to the woman I was married to for a couple of years. I can’t say enough and on the other hand, could easily say too much. Best to let the song do all the talking for both of us.
Beatles Medley (Lennon/McCartney) (6’28”)
Another arrangement that doesn’t really fit the theme of the album. But a lot of folks would have been disappointed if I didn’t include it on this first instrumental album.
Greensleeves/Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring (Trad/JS Bach) (3’58”)
These two pieces were favourites of my maternal grandmother Mildred Patrick. I remember going to visit her and grandpa when I was a kid. Grandma had a raspberry patch in her backyard and there was many a summer afternoon spent picking and eating raspberries. When she died a few years ago, I was asked to play “Jesu” at her funeral. My folks were concerned that I would be too grief-stricken to maintain my composure while playing. I was fine, though. Later, however, we were at the gravesite and I saw some bushes just a few yards away. They weren’t raspberries but they had a strong enough resemblance to remind of Grandma’s raspberry patch. The tears couldn’t stop for a long time after that. Needless to say, I still miss her very much.
Throwing Caution to the Winds (2’00”)
Not long ago there was a woman I was dating, and I explained to her why I did not intend to write a song for her. It seems I couldn’t help myself, however, at one point I was inspired to write this piece. Not more than a week later she told me that she had met someone else.