Top Posts Of 2018

Not only do I love this time of year as a season, since beginning this blog 5 years ago I also love that it allows me a chance to sum up some of my favorite posts written the past 12 months. This year has been challenging personally, but as we are in the home stretch for 2018, I feel it is a good idea to see where I have been as a writer/photographer as well. So whether you saw these the first time around, or it is  your first time reading them, join me as I look back at some of my favorites of 2018. In no particular order I give you-

For The Music In My Head I wanted to answer a few questions that I have been asked many times. Namely, how do you know so much music, and how do you bounce around from one style to another so quickly? I wanted to describe how playing one song can lead to an exploration of an entire genre, or one particular artist for days on end. This post also is about meeting some very special people I came to know as a result of this blog.

Art Deco In The Sky. Looking back, if you had asked me if I would be writing about or referencing Duke Ellington twice within the same year I would have thought it highly unlikely. This post is about my love of skyscrapers, and especially one in particular. Its also about a love for art deco…and a tune by Duke Ellington

Storms came about from the photograph used in the post and a conversation with a friend and fellow blogger. This is a rarity on this blog in some ways in that it is an instrumental track. I love instrumentals of course but have found it difficult to express the emotions of my photos without the aid of song lyrics. This is an exception by Bruce Cockburn I found especially fitting.

To me the discovery of new music is always exciting no matter when or how you hear it the first time. But when you hear that music live and in person, it hits you deep. In Where Do We Go From Here? I relate such an experience with a band I came across over the summer. I urge you to listen to the music of Jules & The Jinks. My jaw dropped the first time I heard lead singer Julissa Lopez sing, and I know yours will too.

Retro ‘things’ are in now it seems. Actually I feel that most of them never truly go away. Along with vinyl records and film photography, one of my personal favorite retro obsessions has long been old Signs painted on buildings. It used to be a common sight but seemed to fall out of favor. But like those vinyl records and typewriters, they are making a resurgence. Musically I needed a song that incorporated some retro elements. So a song by BR549 about a punk rocker going country and trading her Doc Martens in for cowboy boots seemed perfect!

When you get right down to it, music is quite often about The Right Time. I have long observed people who proclaim to loathe an artist or a song, only to surreptitiously tap their foot or fingers to a song by said artist when it comes on. But it can also be about when a song you know takes on a new meaning. A song by Scissor Sisters did precisely that when I added it to my running playlist.

It is no exaggeration to say that I struggled with creativity here this year. So much so that I took a break for about 6 weeks in the spring to recharge. That it coincided with Spring was probably not a coincidence. It also coincided with me getting out and trying some different approaches to photography, and I hope it came through in the photo I used.

Stepping away from music briefly, when I turned 50 in July, I decided I wanted to create a 50 Things @ 50 bucket list. I chose one of the more difficult and terrifying ones on the list first. I was genuinely surprised at the reaction. I decided to write about one of my favorite subject matters. Here is my first attempt at writing a Poem

When I started to write this blog I suppose in some ways I wanted to expand on the lyrics of a song and relating them to my own experiences and ideas. When the song is written by the fantastic Ralph McTell that is a tough place to start. He has been one of my favorite songwriters for years now, and his classic song Michael In The Garden has an awful lot to think about.

Finally, last month I celebrated five years of Soundtrack Of A Photograph. Despite the ups and downs, highs and lows, I still think about ideas constantly. And for a fifth anniversary I thought about ways to celebrate. And having Stevie Wonder’s song (there’s that Duke Ellington again!) Sir Duke, there is no better way of celebrating. Because with Stevie, You Can Feel It All Over.

Join me next week for a look back at some of my favorite photographs I have taken in 2018. Thank you all once again for your support of this site. I appreciate you all!

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All Photographs By Robert P. Doyle



In The Garden

In The Garden

Well after a few weeks off I am ready to dive back into some new music related posts for all of you. During my little break I thought about the origins of this space, about what made me want to combine my own photographs with music in the first place. I was also thinking about how in some ways I slipped away from ‘owning’ this idea of mine recently.  I can now see  how ideas evolve and grow over passage of time. As my photography continues to evolve, so too does my writing.  The things I write today are quite different from what I wrote over four years ago at the start. Sometimes though things can unintentionally go off course. I realized during my break that I had always intended this place to be so much more than just writing about a song. I wanted it to be a creative space, linking words, music, and imagery all together as one. Finding connections between them all. In this coming year I plan to get back to that and I have some ideas for making this happen.

Another thing I realized is that sometimes I hear a new song and know exactly what I want to do with it.  More often than not however, I might know a song for years but do not feel like I have the right photo that pairs up with it in a satisfactory way…because I have not actually taken it yet. Once I find the right one though it reminds me of why I started writing in the first place. Why I wanted to ‘create’.  I can listen to a song and nod my head in agreement with the story or sentiments of the song. I can look at a photo and remember the moment I took it.  When I first started this all off I chose a song by Ralph McTell for my first post.  As I recall the origins of this blog I thought a return to his music might be a good idea. And an idea formed  when I looked back on some photos I took of a butterfly last summer. Continue reading “In The Garden”

Soundtrack Of A Photograph-Part 1


Ralph, Irving & Peking


“Well I found that ship in Hamburg, her name it was Peking”


I do not recall the first time I saw the majestic ship Peking, which has been berthed at the South Street Seaport in New York City since the late 1970’s. I may have seen it on some school or family outing at that time, but it was when cousins opened a shop at the revitalized Seaport around 1983 that I started going there on a regular basis. My mom was doing the books for the shop, and at one point my sisters were working there as well, so there were numerous opportunities to leave the suburbs and go to downtown Manhattan to walk the cobblestone streets around Schermerhorn Row, get some ice cream and visit some stores, all the while surrounded by the pungent smells of the nearby Fulton Fish Market. More than anything though, I remember that even as a teenager, no visit to the Seaport would be complete without crossing over South Street and under the FDR Drive and heading over to the piers. Then, as now, directly in front of you on the pier is the Ambrose Light Ship, its bright red hull and Fresnal lens on top of its mast drawing you over to look. Off to the right, behind a large obstruction is The Wavertree, a fine old sailing ship in its own right originally from England. The obstruction to the Wavertree, dwarfing it in height, length, and just about every other category is of course the Peking, whose black hull and enormous masts take up almost the entire length of the pier. Whether it was in 1983 or today in 2013 every visitor to that part of Manhattan turns their head to gaze at this wonder of a bygone era. So it has stayed moored at the Seaport, year after year in the same spot, through rain and snow, brutal summer days, and even hurricanes, much like the conditions it no doubt experienced in its years as a working vessel since being built in Hamburg, Germany in 1911.

“An acre of sail was up aloft, some seventeen stories tall”


Over the years since I started going to the Seaport I began learning more about the Peking’s history. The first thing that became obvious to me was, why a sailing ship in 1911? The Titanic’s maiden voyage was in 1912, which despite its demise, was certainly of its era, technology wise. But this four-masted barque built in that same era was a bit of a mystery to me. Of course the museum had the answer. The Peking and her sister ships (the so called Flying P-Liners) were used primarily in the nitrate trade on routes the new fangled steam powered ships had difficulty covering. Of these there was no route more perilous than a trip around Cape Horn. So it was on that route she spent much of her early life, with a slight interruption during World War I, when she was given to the Italians in war reparations, before they in turn sold her back to the original owners to continue the nitrate trade. Around this time in the story, a man named Irving Johnson came to serve aboard the Peking. Johnson, a Massachusetts farm boy who dreamed of the sea made a film about his 1929 voyage on board the Peking, ‘Around Cape Horn.’ When her life as a commercial vessel was over, she was purchased by the Royal Navy as a training ship and renamed Arethusa II, and then Pekin.

Continue reading “Soundtrack Of A Photograph-Part 1”