Waves crashing in…waves crashing out…

Funny thing this. Last year at this time I remember thinking once my best of the year posts were published, I would take a few weeks off and recharge the batteries for the new year. But I felt I had to write one more post in the week between Christmas and New Years. Once again I think… I feel I need to do that once again this year. Maybe all the pressure about shopping and gifts and visiting people that comes this time of year freezes me up from finding space to write about a topic and once the New Year is upon us I find it again. Maybe I do just need to tell myself-shut up Doyle, as one acquaintance famously said to my wife and I once in a lighthearted jab. In any event on Christmas Eve I took a few photos that seemed to sum up my year on many levels.

This year seemed to be defined for me by one word-waves. Waves along the river where I enjoy walking. Ocean waves at Rockaway Beach where I visited twice this year. Waves at Coney Island, on the shore of Lake George, on the New Jersey shore, on Long Island. That rhythmic push/pull of actual waves seemed to define my year on many levels.

For whatever reason I have not taken advantage of taking photos from the roof of my building but on Christmas Eve I did because I saw a particularly epic sky looming in front of me. But instead of skylines and colors what I saw was a pattern that looked like waves crashing over the nearby buildings. And it made me think that maybe I should work on one more post. And it would involve that so simple yet so meaningful symbolism of waves.

Waves crashing in-new friendships made or rekindled, old friendships continually strengthened.

Waves crashing out-friendships lost out to sea for various reasons.

Waves crashing in-physical health of those nearest to me in good shape

Waves crashing out-mental health of those nearest to me not in such good shape

Waves crashing in-good things to look forward to in 2018

Waves crashing out-2017 not a particularly good year personally for no particular reason

Waves crashing in-this place, my creation doing better than ever yet…

Waves crashing out-audience and friendships seem to be drifting out to sea for reasons I cannot define.

Waves crashing in-feeling that my words and art are becoming more defined yet…

Waves crashing out-wishing it could be so much more

Waves crashing in-continually inspired by the art of others but…

Waves crashing out-struggling to capitalize on that inspiration in my own voice

Waves crashing in-learning after almost 50 years to speak up for myself

Waves crashing out-wondering why the fuck it took me so long to do it

Waves crashing in-having ideas to break out of this introvert cloud

Waves crashing out-seeing those ideas collapse because of it.

Waves crashing in-happy with the growth in my photography this year

Waves crashing out-wondering where I go from here with it.

Ideas like this are not really new or unique of course, and I’m sure most of us play this game in our minds. I truly did have some good times this year and shared a lot of laughs and quite a few glasses of beer or wine with my wife and friends. But there just seemed to be a fog, or malaise over 2017 as a friend of mine recently pointed out. Politics, economics and news cycles may play a part, but I’m not sure it is the only cause. The temptation is always to say “I’m going to start fresh in the new year” with promises of losing 30lbs, changing jobs, travelling the world. Great if you can manage to do a few of those things, I am not so cynical to say it will never happen. But life gets complex sometimes and for some of us, the best we can manage is one or two of those goals. And that’s okay too.

Earlier this year I wrote a post about how when I get in a photography rut that it helps to do the opposite essentially and I used a song lyric to prove that point. It actually did wonders for me. And as I sat in an amazing new coffee shop just now trying to come up with a way to end this, I realized that I need to do the same thing with life this coming year. Turn it all around and where what I wrote above starts with the positive and goes negative, waves crashing in and crashing out, I need things to go in the opposite direction. Waves crashing out taking away the negative. Waves crashing in bringing the positive. And that cycle that continues every day, every month, every year will bring good things with it.  Now how about a happy little song to close this year out here at Soundtrack Of A Photograph? Here is a song from Thea Gilmore’s excellent album ‘The Counterweight’ released earlier this year. Happy New Year everyone!

Sounds Good To Me-Written By Thea Gilmore

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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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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.