Photo Shuffle-The Queens Curve

I pressed play on my Ipod and this is what I heard….Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard By Paul Simon

'The Queens Curve'
‘The Queens Curve’

Those of you who have been following me for awhile now know that last year at this time (more or less) we moved to Queens after years in Manhattan. I have touched on this in a few posts already, but when I am playing Photo Shuffle, I have to follow the rules, so this change to our lives is coming up again. Not that it is a problem at all. This song, and the artistry of Paul Simon are far from being a chore to write about.  Paul Simon needs no introduction of course, be it as a solo artist or as one half of Simon & Garfunkel. As a songwriter he is right up there with the best of them. I have always loved the ‘pictures’ he paints with his songs. Little stories and vignettes that though they are not bound to the New York zeitgeist, certainly feel like an integral part of them. It may have only been an afterthought as a lyric, but his song Me & Julio Down By The Schoolyard will be forever linked not only with the neighborhood of Corona, but of Queens itself.

Depending on the map, and depending on who you ask (opinions strongly differ) we either live in Astoria or Long Island City, Queens. So not a Paul Simon neighborhood (he is from Forest Hills) but an integral part of the pulse in this borough regardless. To be honest,  I had kind of a snobs attitude to Queens for much of my life. Though we moved from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn when I was young, I always figured that Brooklyn would wind up being my life someday. I was born there and work there currently after all. Continue reading “Photo Shuffle-The Queens Curve”

Photo Shuffle-Waterboy

I pressed ‘Play’ on my Ipod and this is what I heard…Waterboy by Rhiannon Giddens.

AOdetta Memorabilia

A few weeks ago, my friend Adam and I went to a Folk Music In New York City exhibit at the Museum Of The City Of New York. It was actually the very last day of the exhibit but I am sure glad Adam  persuaded me to go to see it. There was lots of great memorabilia from both the pre-WW II folk scene of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, through to the folk revival of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s that introduced people like Bob Dylan and Odetta to the scene.  I think I may have first encountered her name in my early days of music exploration in college, when she was mentioned in one of Maya Angelou’s books. At the museum exhibit her name cropped up repeatedly. In the full size glass cases there was memorabilia from people one might expect like Woody Guthrie,  Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, and Leadbelly. But for some reason the case I stopped in front of and really took in was the one devoted to Odetta. There was just something about that fantastic outfit, and the beautiful wood paneled guitar together with that intense face of concentration in the photo that compelled me.

Even without knowing much from her catalog I have to admit, she had one of those voices that just stops you dead in your tracks when you hear it. Bob Dylan himself said that hearing her sing was the pivotal point in making him trade in his electric guitar for an acoustic. Others like Janis Joplin, Joan Baez and Harry Belafonte spoke highly of her as well. Martin Luther King Jr called her the “Queen of American Folk Music.” Odetta was also an actress and a key figure in the civil rights movement of the 60’s. So as I stood there in front of that museum case I thought for a few moments about what singers today carry on that sort of legacy. I am really happy this song came up on my Ipod shuffle because it reminded that the torch has indeed been passed on to singers like the wonderful Rhiannon Giddens. Continue reading “Photo Shuffle-Waterboy”

Photo Shuffle-When One Door Opens

 

I pressed ‘Play’ on my Ipod and this is what I heard…When One Door Opens (Another One Opens Wide) by Carrie Newcomer

For some peculiar reason, I love taking photographs of doors. I am not exactly sure why though. Sometimes it might be because I admire the architecture of a building or a house and the doorway inevitably finds its way into the shot. Other times it might be a color contrast. A bright red or green door contrasted against a neutral color house just screams to have its photo taken. It may also be that I love the rustic look of the door, quite often because it is in disrepair, such as in the photo above. Whatever type it is, there is something very ordered and symmetrical about a door. Photographers spend a lot of time trying to ‘frame’ their shots in a way that draws attention to the core element of the shot. So for me, when I find a door that I find interesting enough to take a photo of, it is always the ‘star’ of the shot.

But as it turns out, I am certainly not alone. Entire photography books and posters have been published about them, usually along the lines of “Doors Of London” or other cities around the world. It also is not surprising that writers and musicians have utilized them in their own works. There is good symbolism contained within the simple act of opening and closing a door so maybe it is not so peculiar that I take photos of them myself after all.  One such artist that wrote a song utilizing the theme of a door is singer-songwriter Carrie Newcomer. If you have never heard the name before, Carrie has been writing and performing wonderfully crafted songs for close to thirty years now. So long in fact that I can’t recall exactly where I heard her music for the first time, but I knew that though lots of people can say they write songs, Carrie really writes songs. I have been a fan since.  In addition to the music, Carrie has also written a book and has been a cultural ambassador, in addition to other humanitarian causes.

Before it came up on my Ipod shuffle today, it had been awhile since I played this song. I was reminded just how gifted a songwriter Carrie is. Those opening gospel flavored chords give way to a song teeming with thoughts built around the idea of opening and closing doors. My favorite are these lines-

There are windows and doors, you’re not finished with yet
It’s not always getting what you want, but wanting what you get

Symbolism can be great, but there are times when speaking directly is the best approach. I think that is what I admire about this song especially. Of hopes and desires  you may not even realize you have. Of looking for more. Of realizing that in those moments after the door has been slammed in your face that there is always another door starting to open. You just need to keep looking.

When One Door Opens (Another One Opens Wide)-Written By Carrie Newcomer

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All Photographs By Robert P. Doyle

*Photo Shuffle is a new, very short slice of my regular blogs based on setting my Ipod on shuffle and matching up one of my photographs to whatever comes up.

Photo Shuffle-Many Rivers To Cross

 

I pressed ‘Play’ on my Ipod and this is what I heard…Many Rivers To Cross By Jimmy Cliff

First off, I must apologize for the lack of Photo Shuffles recently. I had planned it to be quick little blogs I could do once or twice a week but recently I seemed to get interrupted which kept me from writing more. However, I do have plans to expand Photo Shuffle in 2016, including opening the idea up to more people to contribute so if you are interested, please let me know.

Since I have not done a Photo Shuffle in awhile, I could not be happier with the selection that came up today by Jimmy Cliff. I have long wanted to write a blog about him and his music. He has long been a favorite, and a few years ago I crossed him off my list of ‘must see’s’ in concert. From his early beginnings releasing singles like Hurricane Hattie and Miss Jamaica in the early 60’s to the years of major success starring in, and contributing to the soundtrack of the Harder They Come right up until 2012’s stellar album Rebirth, Jimmy has never slowed down. Indeed his shows are high energy affairs with him moving around with the energy of a 20 year old. More than that, his music from the beginning has been filled with social concerns and love, which radiates outwardly to audiences around the world.  A big reason for the the worldwide popularity of reggae in the late 60’s and early 70’s  came from both Jimmy Cliff and Bob Marley.

Many Rivers To Cross, one of his signature songs is something more though. It is a song born of loneliness, sadness, anger, confusion and loss. Despite all of those things, there is an ever so slight hint of hope- “and I merely survive because of my will”. Combining that with the imagery of many rivers to cross “but I can’t seem to find my way over” is powerful. Many of us lead our lives with emotional baggage or disappointments of some sorts, yet we press on. We keep searching, we keep trying new things. The reason I thought this was a particularly apt song for today is because we are about to head into a new year. For most people that means resolutions and goals to set and a hope for a better year than the previous one.  Though we often only attain a few of the goals we set,  when the next year comes around again we still try. We may not cross the rivers of our hopes, we may wander and become lost but we still try to get closer to the other side somehow. There might be new challenges, and new problems, but we keep going, one river at a time.

Happy New Year Everyone. As Jimmy Cliff says, Blessed Love!

Many Rivers To Cross-Written By Jimmy Cliff

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*Photo Shuffle is a new, very short slice of my regular blogs based on setting my Ipod on shuffle and matching up one of my photographs to whatever comes up.

 

 

 

Photo Shuffle-Ted The Mechanic

I pressed ‘Play’ on my Ipod and this is what I heard…Vavoom: Ted The Mechanic, By Deep Purple.

There are many truisms in life as we all know. Moments that can be summed up in simple phrases. We get a lot of them from our parents growing up especially.  “Two wrongs don’t make it right”, or “a watched pot never boils.” All true of course and ones we relish passing on ourselves as we get older. However there are other types of truisms we only learn as we grow older, that come from situations and places we only encounter as adults. One that I have gradually learned to heed and not partake in anymore is not to discuss heavy subject matters in bars. No politics, no religion and in my case, definitely not who should play left field for the Yankees next year.

Though some of  this comes to play in Deep Purple’s song Vavoom:Ted The Mechanic, the song is about something much more I think. It is more about those shady characters one meets in places like bars or other public places who have a lot to say about everything. You know the ones who despite your best efforts to look away or act disinterested always seem to target you making you wonder if you have a big sign over your head saying ‘Talk To Me!’ The ones you are slightly wary of who deftly weave tales of their lifetime of hardship and woe better than any poet can. Who have more opinions about life than the op-ed section does in the newspaper. The ones who struggle and tell you about every hardship they have ever been stricken with yet somehow maintain an incredible “oh well, that’s life” sort of attitude.  Much like the character of Ted The Mechanic in this song by Deep Purple. Inevitably, the reluctance I feel in those situations is often replaced by a sort of reverence towards them and feeling much as they say in the song- “the beauty of it was that he was right!” Usually it ends with a drink and a glass raised as I think in private, well done you clever bastard, well done!

One final quick thought about Deep Purple themselves. This song comes from their 1996 album Purpendicular and marked a bit of a change of sound for the band courtesy of a new guitarist. The one thing that has remained in all versions of the band is that they still rock and above it all are LOUD. I would like to take a moment to personally thank Deep Purple for causing loss of hearing over a 24 hour period after seeing them perform in the late 1980’s, chiefly due to the organ playing of the late great Jon Lord.  I salute you all!

Vavoom: Ted The Mechanic-Written By Ian Gillan, Roger Glover, Jon Lord, Ian Paice & Steve Morse

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All Photographs By Robert P. Doyle

*Photo Shuffle is a new, very short slice of my regular blogs based on setting my Ipod on shuffle and matching up one of my photographs to whatever comes up.

Photo Shuffle-Clampdown

I pressed ‘Play’ on my Ipod and this is what I heard…Clampdown, By The Clash.

The song that popped up today on the shuffle has provided probably the easiest song and photo pairing I have ever done. Much has been written about the importance and history of The Clash over the years. A band that came along at the right time in rock and roll history with little regard for playing it safe, and a middle finger raised upwards to anyone who got in their way. The aggression and attitude in the music and songs was balanced by great music. Punk rock sometimes gets erroneously labelled as three chords played fast and aggressively. Hearing The Clash you realize how incorrect an assumption that is with music that is tinged with reggae, ska, funk, and with a nod to the early roots of rock and roll. Maybe even more importantly, their song lyrics spoke to a generation of disenfranchised kids in a way that mainstream rock and roll was not doing.

That can be said about much of the punk ethos in fact.  Much like with hip-hop, punk inspired art and fashion (not to mention hairstyles) soon developed. Like most anything that becomes popular the original intent can sometimes become diluted, and the music and fashion become very different than the origins. One area that I like to think keeps some of that punk ethos that I am seeing more of lately is street art. It isn’t something I paid much attention until this year I have to admit.

Moving earlier this year from Manhattan to Queens one thing I noticed early on was that it was everywhere. On fences, walls and metal shutters you can scarcely walk a block and not see some form of it. In fact not far from where we live is an entire area dedicated to it called the Welling Court Mural Project. Building and property owners agree to let artists use their space as the artist’s canvas. The art varies from esoteric and dreamlike, to that more subversive and punk aesthetic. The overall Street Art movement seems to be growing. Now that I am more in tune with it, I seem to spot it everywhere now, and not just in my neighborhood. So it was that in May I noticed this great memorial to the late great Joe Strummer of The Clash in Greenwich Village. Which is why my choice of photos here was so easy!

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Clampdown-Written By Joe Strummer & Mick Jones

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All Photographs By Robert P. Doyle

*Photo Shuffle is a new, very short slice of my regular blogs based on setting my Ipod on shuffle and matching up one of my photographs to whatever comes up.

Photo Shuffle-Coffee & Roses

I pressed ‘Play’ on my Ipod and this is what I heard…Coffee And Roses By Thea Gilmore

Since I started this occasional Photo Shuffle series last month I realized that one of the best things about it was that I could feature more artists here. Often times in my regular blogs I am searching for a substantial theme, with lyrics that really match the photo, and a photo that really matches the lyrics. Though that is still the goal here, the brevity of these Photo Shuffle posts allows me to operate on a simpler level and make quicker decisions based on a lyric or even a song title. Therefore I was especially glad to see this song and artist come up when I hit the play button this morning for I have long wanted to feature the songs of Thea Gilmore on this blog but I could never figure out how to do it.

There are few better songwriters out there these days than Thea Gilmore, whom I first heard some 14 years or so (has it really been that long?). Right away I was impressed with her writing and over all these years the admiration has never waned. It is impossible in such a short space as this to dissect her lyrics which is the reason I have found it so hard to do a blog devoted to her up to now. Her words are by equal terms forthright, heartbreaking and vitriolic and full of startling observations. One of those songwriters whose seemingly simple reworking of a phrase hits you hard. In her canon of songs this happens quite often, from Juliet (Keep That In Mind) comes “Well I know you want to make the news but lately all you do is memorize the headlines.” From The Things We Never Said, “I’m pretty good at curtain calls, in fact I’ve been practicing my swan song”and from the song featured here Coffee And Roses, “I’m the architect of sorrow, the girl in in minor key disguise. Lyrical observations like this are why fans of her music include people like Joan Baez, Neil Gaiman, Mike Scott and Bruce Springsteen and why humble bloggers like myself look back in awe at what she does.  How does she do it? I would need another separate blog devoted solely to her words to be even close to explaining it all.

Which leads me to the photo I have selected for this song, built simply around one word in the title-coffee. I don’t know what importance that magical elixir coffee might have on how Thea comes up with such wonderful lyrics, but I can attest to what it does for bloggers such as myself. The one thing you will find from looking around other blogs as much as I do is that love of coffee seems to be the one commonality shared between all of us who write them.  In the ‘About’ pages for most of the bloggers I follow you will usually find some sort of devotion to this wonderful beverage and I add my name to the list for assisting me in getting these blogs to you. So go on, pour yourself a cup and listen to some Thea Gilmore. I promise both Thea’s music and the coffee will be satisfying!

Coffee And Roses-Written By Thea Gilmore

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*Photo Shuffle is a new, very short slice of my regular blogs based on setting my Ipod on shuffle and matching up one of my photographs to whatever comes up.

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Photo Shuffle-When I Paint My Masterpiece

 

I pressed ‘Play’ on my Ipod and this is what I heard…”When I Paint My Masterpiece” By The Band.

Today’s shuffle choice may have been the easiest one to pair with one of my photographs. Not because I consider this photo to be anything resembling a ‘masterpiece’ by any means. But after taking the photo several years ago while on vacation in Cape Cod, I realized it had an odd and unintentional similarity in some ways to something I do consider to be a masterpiece-Andrew Wyeth’s painting Christina’s World. You can view the painting here. Wyeth painted it in 1948 in Maine and it was exhibited for a short time  before being purchased by the Museum Of Modern Art in New York. The painting is immediately striking to the eye. Big swaths of greenish-brown grass in a treeless landscape and the figure of the inspiration for the painting, Christina Olson lying  on the ground stricken with polio. It says so much but shows so little in the stark landscape.

Volumes of books and blogs have been written about the lyrics of Bob Dylan. Though some day I may do one of my longer pieces about one of his songs, this Photo Shuffle series is meant to go easy on the analysis. Suffice it to say there is a lot going on in the song lyrically and though most Dylan fans would not proclaim it to be his masterpiece as a song, it has always intrigued me. It is interesting to note that The Band recorded this song even before Dylan did, and their breezy, accordion and mandolin driven take and those raspy Levon Helm vocals is thought of more highly of than Dylan’s own version by most. The one thing the song does for me when I hear it is makes me revisit in my mind the trips I have taken to art museums since I was in my teens. Early on I did not know what made a work of art a masterpiece but as I continued to explore I began to realize why certain works were more regarded than others. Personal preferences still mean a lot when it comes to art and music, but sometimes you really have to recognize why paintings like Wyeth’s really stand out over other works.

In terms of my own photography, I may never truly be satisfied enough to proclaim my ‘masterpiece.’ I tend to be my own harshest critic and find minor flaws with almost every photo I take. But it doesn’t keep me from continuing to try every time I press click! What is your own definition of masterpiece? What are your favorites?

When I Paint My Masterpiece-Written By Bob Dylan

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All Photographs By Robert P. Doyle

*Photo Shuffle is a new, very short slice of my regular blogs based on setting my Ipod on shuffle and matching up one of my photographs to whatever comes up.

 

Photo Shuffle-Edge Of The World

I pressed ‘Play’ on my Ipod and this is what I heard….

“Edge Of The World” By Runrig

“The adrenaline infrastructure bringing on it’s troubles some more”

Today’s shuffle choice is a particularly good one for me. One of my favorite songs, by one of my favorite bands, Runrig. I briefly wrote about them as part of the My Four Seasons series but I have been eager to return to their music here. The basics are that they come from Scotland and have been a band for over 40 years now. Their music is deeply influenced by both the landscape of Scotland and its language. Runrig were certainly among the first bands to write new songs in the Scottish Gaelic language. Edge Of The World is obviously not one of them, but I hope you do some exploring of more songs yourself.

I have been to Scotland only once and the photographs I took at that time were more of the vacation type so the photo here represents the song rather than Scotland itself. The edge of the world has always been an interesting concept to me. Of course some people once thought the world was flat and had an ‘edge’ to it. Beyond that, I don’t think there has been anyone who hasn’t  looked out on the ocean and thought they were on the edge of the world. Staring at the horizon and feeling exposed to the elements, knowing there is mostly an emptiness beyond much like in the words to this song. I say mostly because the reality is that though the view might be of the vast ocean beyond, we know there is always another side, and someone else perhaps thinking similar thoughts on the other side.

I have been thinking of this idea in the last month especially due to the refugee crisis in Europe. Complex issues but I think of those refugees heading out, looking out at the edge of the world themselves as a way of escape. Hoping to step away from the precipice that others are pushing them towards. Then getting pushed back again  by people that don’t really want them there. It makes me feel that as a society if we keep pushing one another to the edge pretty soon there won’t be one left to stand on. What do we do then?

Edge Of The World-Written By Calum and Rory MacDonald

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All Photographs By Robert P. Doyle

*Photo Shuffle is a new, very short slice of my regular blogs based on setting my Ipod on shuffle and matching up one of my photographs to whatever comes up.

Photo Shuffle-Sundial

I pressed ‘Play’ on my Ipod and this is what I heard….

“Sundial” By the Travelling Band

My Ipod could not have chosen a more perfect song to play for me today. I am heading into a long weekend. This is my favorite time of year and the weather is cooler now. It is nice to have that little chill when you get up in the morning. Similarly, there are a lot of songs that give me a little chill whenever I play them. It might be the harmonies, or a particularly well played solo, or it might be the entire song. As I wrote about here in 2011 I fulfilled my number one music related bucket list item in attending a festival in England. I was beyond excited to be there and the first band I heard when I finally arrived was The Travelling Band. After I got my bearings, breathed a sigh of exhilaration and got myself a beer, they played this song. Even though it was the middle of summer, I got the chills deep inside. I can’t really define why exactly. The performance just excited me and whenever I hear it again those chills come back again. Along with a big smile at the memory.

The reason I chose this photo (which I actually only took last week near our apartment) is for one line from the song-

“Cause we’re all sundials, casting shadows on the ground”

Light is of course both the friend and the enemy of a photographer and it can be tough to find a balance in a photo, so there was just something about the line, ‘we’re all sundials’ that knocked me back when I heard it. Whenever I load my photos up on my laptop and see the results of a photo like this,  the interplay between the sun and shadows  always makes me think of that line in particular. And I get a little chill. Happy Weekend Everyone!

Sundial-Written By The Travelling Band

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All Photographs By Robert P. Doyle

*Photo Shuffle is a new, very short slice of my regular blogs based on setting my Ipod on shuffle and matching up one of my photographs to whatever comes up.