The Smiths – Ask (cover)

I didn’t drive as early as most of my friends did whilst attending LACHSA. As a matter of fact, I used my modest chemistry scholarship to buy my first car after I had graduated. Amongst others, my bro’ Jerry Rodriguez (same birthday as me!) would drive me to school in his little Honda Civic. Naturally, as music students, we would be playing music the whole way. On cassettes baby! Jerry often played The Smiths.

He was the one who turned me on to them. He would tell me stories about all the fanatics in the UK. We had an English teacher named Mrs. Lyons and she actually brought Jerry back some Smiths memorabilia as she was English and would return home often. So, the seed was planted.

I’ve been a big Smiths fan ever since. My favorite song is “This Night Has Opened My Eyes”. What a mood…

Some years ago I heard the Gene Loves Jezebel version of “Ask” and completely fell for it except for one of the parts where I felt the vocal was rather sharp. Honestly, though I also love GLJ, it ruined the song for me. I remember thinking I would do it differently. Some months ago, the song re-surfaced and the idea was set in stone. So here I present to you, my version of Ask inspired by both The Smiths and GLJ.

My lyrics are a hybrid of The Smiths, GLJ and my own grey matter. I have nothing but respect for Moz. I actually rather enjoy when lyrics are changed in live performances and Moz has certainly done that from time to time. In that spirit, and in defense of Morrissey’s underrated sense of humor I went ahead and did my own thing. I have always interpreted “Ask” as a love song for humanity. I hope you enjoy it.

Shyness is nice and shyness can stop you
from doing all the things in life you’d like to

Shyness is nice and shyness can stop you
from doing all the things in life you’d like to

So if there’s something you’d like to try
If there’s something you’d like to try
Ask me
I won’t say no
How could I?

Coyness is nice and coyness can stop you
from saying all the things in life you’d like to say

So if there’s something you’d like to try
If there’s something you’d like to try
Ask me
I won’t say no
How could I?

Spending warm summer days indoors
writing frightening verse
to a buxom girl from Manchester

Ask me ask me ask me
Ask me ask me ask me
because if it’s not love then it’s
the bomb that will bring us together

Nature is a language can’t you read?
Nature is a language can’t you read?

So ask me ask me ask me
Ask me ask me ask me
because if it’s not the bomb then it’s
the love, the love, the love that will bring us together

If it’s not the love
It might be the bomb…
Can you help me do this?
We got what we need
…Shyness is nice…

(Chant 1)
Will you bring us together?
Oh I want to bring us together
Will you bring us together?
I’m asking will you bring us together

(Chant 2)
If it’s not the love then it’s the bomb, bomb

Duran Duran – Lonely In Your Nightmare

Another bass guitar cover in the hat! For non-musicians I should explain that the instrument I am playing in this video is a fretless bass guitar. This means that it’s more like an upright bass or a cello, where the fingerboard does not have any metal note markers like most guitars do. The sound is rather unique and beautiful while the skill is difficult.

This is also appearance #2 for Sugar. She made her debut appearance in my Girls On Film video. Then it was spontaneous. This time I couldn’t help waking her from her slumber.

I can’t tell you how many times I listened to Lonely In Your Nightmare as a kid. I was definitely a daydreamer, looking at my Star Hits and BOP magazines, wondering what it would be like to be wearing a cool suit in Sri Lanka and meeting a beautiful woman. Such a dreamer…

Duran Duran - John Japan

John Taylor somewhere in Japan. Hey, I think he’s daydreaming too!

I hope you enjoy the video.

Duran Duran – We Need You

Here is my latest YouTube post. This happened quite organically. The song just popped in my head and I proceeded to dig it out and listen to it a couple of times. My Ex-Factor was out, ready to be played. It seemed as if it was begging to be played. I decided to give it a go.

The bass performance was recorded quickly – two or three takes. The rest was quite comical. First I ran out of juice on my trusty Creative Vado. Of course I didn’t notice. I finished one of my monologues that I thought went quite well only to realize it wasn’t recording at all anymore. I switched to my digital camera. Guess what? Then I saw the dreaded “Memory Full” mid-take. Then there was the take when I never quite activated the record button. I tend to be very driven and stubborn about getting these things done. Yeah, I stayed up til 3:45am. Sleep is gonna feel quite nice tonight.

I’ve always loved this track. Warren’s arpeggio guitar line and the almost hypnotic chord movement paired with the super simple, super effective bass line by John work so beautifully together. Add in Simon and Nick and you’ve got a stellar track. It should have been a single! I also love that it’s short and sweet like a great Smiths song.

I’ll elaborate on the chord movement just a bit. The chord structure is arranged in a pattern of three. The song does not have a triplet feel, it just eschews the standard pop pattern of four chords. I believe this is what gives it that drone-y, hypnotic feel. The bridge lets you of the hook a bit because the D chord is repeated twice, giving you the familiar sound and feel of four chords to a phrase. Try and listen for it!

You will hear the Kubicki’s amazing 36″ D string in the bridge section. In the words of my old professor Craig Kupka (when referring to the bass guitar notes below E), “It’s the voice of GOD.”

I would love to know what was in Warren’s effects chain. It’s such a cool sounding guitar part. He is someone who knows how to play his effects as if they were a part of the guitar itself. Oh, and let’s not forget that Simon really delivered too –

Time will see we’re not searching for a wild excuse
To put emotions back on hold
Too much has gone down we know what you’re doing
But do you feel the same way
You look sharp inside your pointed shoes
I have this picture hanging in my room
And I refuse to take you down or shake you down
We could bring you gently round if that’s what you choose
For a point of view coz words like sand just get blown away
All those things we’d like to say

Those first two lines really hit home for me. I was certainly running for a while there. It’s coming back to me now. Music is meditation. Talking is therapy and good friends are more valuable than ever.

I would like to dedicate this one to Phillip Kubicki who passed away earlier this year. He may be best known for creating the Ex-Factor but let’s not forget that here was a man who once built a custom rosewood Telecaster for George Harrison. The following is taken from the Fender website:

“I remember when I saw the guitar for the first time in the Let It Be film. I was so thrilled I almost jumped out of my seat.”

Thank you for creating such a wonderful instrument. You will be missed.

Hurts Me Like a Child

Today I’d like to share a track I recorded with my wonderfully talented friend Elysa Gomez. I’m sure you’ll agree she has quite a beautiful voice. She really made this song come alive. I remember almost being in tears (of joy!) when I first heard her sing it.

Now, I don’t like saying this because it sounds like I’m boasting but, I actually wrote the basic framework for this track when I was about 16 years old. I even have cassette tape proof of me attempting to sing it quite poorly. Oh, if that tape ever saw the light of day…Any how, I finally felt I had finished the song when I wrote the end section. It was one of those awesome moments when the parts just came to me all at once while I was in the shower.

It’s a simple love song, really. You long for someone, wonder how they feel about you, maybe get together with them yet, when you lose them, the middle is somehow an absent blur and gives way to the painful end. You simply have to let go even when hoping for a return to the past.

This song is currently part of a songwriting competition. Please click here and support me! I would really appreciate it.

 

Is it so wrong of me
to want your company?
You’ve made it clear to me
You say nothing’s forever

Remind me when you’re around
Can’t see two feet in front of me
I’m stumbling can’t you see…
Will you really not care for me?

I only wish I could see
The reflection of you in my window
‘Cause only then I’d see
Do I matter at all?

In dreams your picture I see
In smiles your laughter
There are many others around but
You only want what you can’t get

Last night you danced with me
Then reality wakes me
To be what I don’t want to be
Do you really not care for me?

I only wish I could see (the reflection of you)
The reflection of you in my window (’cause only then I’ll know)
‘Cause only then I’d see (the reflection of you)
Do I matter at all?

Been a long time…hurts me like a child…we don’t get along

So I have to let you go
Shouldn’t be this hard
Maybe I’ll just…
Take my chances
You’ll come home

It’s been a long time since I ran away but
It hurts me like a child when I hear you say
That we don’t get along over and over again

I’ve been around now long enough to know
That you really don’t love me if it doesn’t show but
I don’t know how to live so I’ll follow you anyway

The Waitresses – Christmas Wrapping

I have finally put together another YouTube bass performance. Here is a quick performance of this fabulous Tracy Wormworth bass line. As usual, this is NOT a note for note cover. This is my interpretation. Just having fun here! Apologies for the bad camera angle. I’ll get it right next time. 🙂

Happy New Year everyone!

Mom’s Lullaby

Sharing the music I create is one of the more legitimate reasons I started this blog. To kick it off I am sharing something I wrote years back for my own momma. One day, I was thinking of all the amazing things my mom has done for me.

To this day, I’m not sure my mom really gets me but that has never seemed to matter to her. She has always given to me selflessly, tirelessly, effortlessly…I wanted her to know that even if I act like a jerk, even if I disappear for a while or even if I simply don’t say much that I love her dearly, I’m doing okay in life and I fear the day I will be forced to live without her.

This one’s for all the mommas. Your own. Your ex’s. Your best friend’s. All of them.

 

Mom,

I love you so much
I want you to feel special
even when I’m not around

I’m sorry
When I treat you bad
Pretending that I’m mad
When I’m really rather sad

What you don’t know (things I should have said…)
is that my life
turned out alright
I’m happy, I love you.

Mom,
don’t worry so much
Yes I’m eating fine
see I even packed a lunch
I’m sorry when I see you cry
Life is always tough
when your daddy drinks too much

What you don’t know (hear my voice instead…)
is that my life
turned out alright
I’m happy, I love you.

I can’t stand to think
that nothing really lasts forever
It woke me from my sleep
It scares me…

Don’t go
my life
can’t know
how to be alone

Somehow
please know
I’d do it all again…
somehow…

You’ve done
so much
by now
it’s got to be enough
and still
when I see you smile
there you go again…you give me everything

The John Taylor Experience

Bass Player Live! 2012

8:19 PM 10/28/2012

It was one week ago today that a long time dream was finally realized. I MET JOHN TAYLOR!!! My childhood hero, my reason for playing bass, my reason for becoming a musician – he has been all of those things for me. As I write those words, I realize that some of that is not entirely true. Not in a strict sense anyway.

I didn’t really meet him but by the end of it all he did know my name and that’s gotta count for something. This wasn’t a meet’n’greet. It was a book signing, really. I was lucky to get the pictures that I did. I heard “John isn’t taking pictures today!” more than once that day. Also, I like to call myself a musician, but in a professional sense I am anything but. I suppose I define myself as a musician in a spiritual sense. It’s how I want to be remembered. It’s who I am. Before hearing those brilliant notes of Is There Something I Should Know in a bedroom I shared with my brother, I wanted to become a jet fighter pilot. I had just barely started John’s book prior to attending the Bass Player Live event, but already I saw that there was much about my childhood that oddly paralleled his own. Is it a bass player thing or mere coincidence?

John details his catholic upbringing, building scale models, his love for cars, his shyness as well as discovering music beyond a listener. He even mentions his Catholic Guilt, a condition I diagnosed myself with long ago. Those were all things that were on my mind as I sat there in my chair waiting for him to arrive.

This was an event for bass players, but I knew two things going in. First, John wouldn’t be playing bass as most of the other players would be doing. Second, the majority of the crowd would not be musicians. I secretly hoped that he would play bass but I knew I wouldn’t be wrong about the crowd.

I showed up about an hour before the “clinic.” There was already a line. Dammit! Then, I realized that the non-musician fans were probably already in Clinic Room B, saving their seat as they patiently sat through the previous act. In this case, that previous act would be Bobby Vega. I wonder if Bobby Vega looked out at the crowd and thought, “What the fuck are all these middle-aged women doing here?” I hope he had a good time with it. He’s a pretty funky dude. I hope he wasn’t annoyed.

Eventually, my brother, (ex-) girlfriend and I snagged some pretty good seats in the third row. We’re talking about a room that would probably burst at 100 persons. I was probably no more than 10 feet from the stage. It would be a good 30 minutes until John came out. There was a semi-annoying woman in front of me with her small boy. She had named him John, as she was obsessed with John Taylor. I always manage to sit next to noisemaking kids but that’s another story for another day. I would say those first three rows were mostly the housewife crowd. Make no mistake though, there were definitely musicians in the crowd who were as excited as I was to be there.

The stage began to take form. It looked like a presidential debate. Two chairs were laid out in front with a podium off to the left.  I had hoped that someone would wheel out some Peavey amplifiers and a Cirrus bass or two but that time came and went with no gear in sight. We wouldn’t be treated to live bass today. There was also a TV set up on a stand in back of the chairs that would eventually play a really slow moving slide-show of sorts while John spoke. I didn’t look at it much. Why two chairs I wondered…

About 15 minutes before the scheduled start time we were treated to some tasty Beatles tracks. I knew that Duran Duran were Beatles fans. John describes their influence in his book as well so this was fresh in my mind. It all made sense.

In a moment that almost seemed to arrive too soon, there was John strutting in the room from the back entrance. My initial thoughts seemed almost superficial. “Damn, he’s tall! Damn, he’s pretty thin!” We’re not talking Big Thing cocaine thin here, just very slim. The all-black attire and boots accentuated those observations.

Photograph courtesy of Anna Delores Photography

It turns out the other chair was for Tom Sykes who John co-wrote his book with. He made a comment about John basically writing the last half of the book himself while he just hung out at John’s house and ate his food. What a lucky cat that Tom guy was! In the beginning Tom would pose a question to John and that’s how the conversations were started. Later, John would read excerpts from his book at the podium. He seemed reluctant to use the podium but I guess he figured “What the hell. it’s there. May as well use it.” In order to keep the event legit, I suppose, the conversations were kept as musiciancentric as possible, including the excerpts he read from the book. The funniest part for me was when he was describing standing in for the bass player in his son’s band in the very place we were all sitting in now. Apparently, the band said he could fill in permanently if he wouldn’t mind playing behind the stage. “Those fuckers! Last time I played with them!” he said.  He was also much more candid than I thought he would be about his drug use. He said cocaine ended up being a really bad idea for playing, but downers were great for jamming hours at a time. Near the end of the clinic, the floor was opened for questions but there wasn’t much time left.

Photograph courtesy of Anna Delores Photography

I don’t believe more than four questions were asked. The first was a question about his Bernard Edwards influence. He seemed to like that question and spent a lot of time talking about it. Of course I had been obsessing over what I could ask him for days now. I was suddenly hit with the reality that I may not be able to ask him anything at all! Astonishingly, the universe was on my side and I asked the last question!

Before I asked him anything I took the opportunity to tell John that I was thankful to him for the turn my life took after hearing Is There Something I Should Know years ago. Then I stumbled out this question – “When you are songwriting away from Duran Duran or just gelling out ideas (jamming, etc.), what is your instrument of choice? I know you’ve played keyboard bass here and there, like on the Arcadia track.” His first response was “I’m glad you asked me THAT question.” “Really?!,” I thought, feeling quite proud. Well, he didn’t really answer my question but proceeded to talk about how, in this event for bassists, he felt it important to say that keyboard bass should be embraced. He spoke of always keeping a Korg loaded with bass patches nearby. Previous to my question, he spoke about not using the bass as a songwriting or accompaniment tool. My guess is that his answer would have been the guitar. The clinic ended and the book signing began.

Photograph courtesy of Anna Delores Photography

The line for the book signing seemed so long. It would go quickly though. I soon realized the allotted one hour time slot for the book signing was way too much time. Maybe they would allow photos after all. I had wrestled with the idea of bringing my Aria Pro II SB1000 or my Kubicki Ex-Factor for him to sign. If not properly prepared though, a signature on an instrument doesn’t live long unless you don’t play it ever again. I play those basses! I ended up bringing two much smaller items – a solo CD of his called Retreat Into Art and my copy of his book. This meant I would wait in line twice. The first signing of the CD was uneventful. I kind of thought seeing his solo CD would spark more of a reaction, but he just signed it and went to the next one. There weren’t many people left when I came around for the second time (to have my book signed).

Photograph courtesy of Anna Delores Photography

This time he looked at the pink sticky you were supposed to write your name on and asked “Zuma?…Were your parents big Neil Young fans?” I responded by saying that it was just part of my full name. As he nodded and went to actually sign my book, I knew this was the opportunity I had been waiting for. No matter how uncool or corny it may be, I just asked him “John, do you remember that Shadows on Your Side video on YouTube?” “What?,” he asked, amidst the rumble of noise that so many bass players were making around us. Louder, I started to repeat, “THE SHADOWS ON YOUR…” then he cut me off and asked excitedly, “That was you?!” “Yeah,” I blurted. He burst into laughter and said something like, “I remember thinking  fuck me when I saw it…AWESOME!” and then gave me a high-five followed by a handshake. I felt like a little kid. Giddy is the best word I can think of. It was definitely a highlight of my life. I can only imagine it will continue to be for quite some time. I’m not the kind of person to be star struck easily, but any members of Duran Duran definitely hold that privilege for me, especially John.

Photograph stolen from the Duran Duran Facebook page

Photograph stolen from the Duran Duran Facebook page

I made a quick run around the event and returned to the Elixir booth where John was. No more than five minutes had passed. Though there was still commotion at the booth, John was long gone. I was quite proud that in my years of attending the Bass Player Live event, not one artist caused the ruckus that John did. He had packed the place and brought some much needed energy to it. Granted, some of that was housewife energy but who’s counting?

Today I won. Great Success. Now if I can only get off my ass and make that next YouTube video…

Zuma

Thank you to Alex Laise and Luna for helping me edit my post.

Bonus:

My friend Ben Post sent me these photos of his bass that was signed by JT at a recent event. It reads “To Ben…with love…signature…The Aria Pro.” I included his son and the kitty pic because I simply couldn’t resist.