Monday, November 28, 2011

Live at the Yellow Sofa, Friday, December 30

Mr.
Silverstone
and the Silvertone Horns  
Friday, December 30th     6:30 p.m.
Yellow Sofa Café  
   
24 Main St., Northampton (opposite Fitzwilly’s)
4-piece band, amazingly good set of original songs featuring slightly older guys playing adolescent rock and roll with occasional ballads. As featured on “Acoustic Café” WMUA 91.1 FM.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Emily


I always think when I'm walking around Amherst, that I could go to Emily Dickinson's house and find her there. I know where her room is. I've been in her house where she looked out the window. I even got to look out of the crow's nest windows at the top of the house, where no one but Emily's ghost usually ever gets to go (during a week I spent at the house a few summers back thanks to a federal grant for schoolteachers from the National Endowment for the Humanities.) I have this sense of missing her, and a sense of her presence from all the poetry, the pictures, the places, the letters, all the things that convey the sense of someone. I feel like I know her better and more personally than some people I know who live in our time now. A lot of people in Amherst and elsewhere probably feel this kind of heart- and mind-based connection with her across time too.

The shape of the absence of someone, is the same shape of their presence, when it is filled in enough. This, I think is the most powerful consolation of art, of poetry, of music. We miss people we love when we no longer share a time of being alive with them, but when they say "Music alone shall live," (as is painted on the wall of the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton) that's what it means to me--that both the presence and the absence of what we appreciate deeply in our heart has a life eternal. In a field of feeling we can experience the presence of souls we love that way--even the ones we never met face to face in life.

Here's a song about that. . .

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Mr. Silverstone and the Foregone Conclusions Show Show Tonight at 6:30-8:00 @ the Yellow Sofa

I had booked a spot at the Yellow Sofa for tonight (Sat. July, 16tth @ 6:30 p.m.-8:00) but my usual backing band, the Silvertone Horns, could not make it due to mandatory vacation time they had to take to recover from the rigors of our incessant and punishing rehearsal and recording schedule.



So like they say at discount fire sales, "Our setback is a bonus for you, the customer." Instead of putting an ad in the paper in the slim hopes of finding and rehearsing with a new schoolteacher/bass player and attorney/lead guitarist in time, I called in some favors and got the very best unattached rock and roll wrecking crew in the valley, The Foregone Conclusions, with Ray Yelle on Percussion, and the Moushabeck brothers, Ramzi and Simone who take turns playing killer bass, guitar and more as the situation requires. They are hands down the most talented musicians young, old or in-between to be found anywhere, or, more to the point, in my rolodex. In case you suspect this whole referring to myself as Mr. Silverstone thing is a spoof, I first met two of the three members of the crew, like, for real, dude, when I was their 2nd grade teacher, a fact that you will quickly find surrealistic when you hear how seriously, precisely and assuredly they rock, like well-brought up, considerate, assassins.





Why just yesterday we were in the studio recording tracks for the next Mr. Silverstone album. In the video above, and you can see a glimpse of the monster talent Ramzi commands as he adds lead guitar licks to the outro of our climate change balad "The Ice Age Hotel" while our studio producer Jim Matus oversees the recording at the Old Schoolhouse Recording Studio in Hadley, our home away from home. There will be an advance 3-song EPs will be available at the gig tonight for the lo-lo price of $5.00. You can also listen for free, or download for a fee, at the URLs included below for thee:

http://michaelsilverstone.bandcamp.com/track/the-ice-age-hotel-studio-version

http://michaelsilverstone.bandcamp.com/track/i-believe-in-you-2

http://michaelsilverstone.bandcamp.com/track/in-the-way-it-feels-right-now-studio-mix


Proceeds to go to The Foregone Conclusions who were never in it for the money, but wouldn't mind it if their fans showed the love.

But wait, there's more! This concert will feature massive audience participation as a parade of beloved Yellow Sofa frequent performers will join me for duets on our favorite cover songs, many of which we've actually rehearsed harmony parts for.

Don't miss:

Christopher Goudreau -- Eight Days a Week
Christa Joy -- Love Hurts
Dave Franklin--These Days (Jackson Browne wrote it when he was 17)
Jeremy Anderson -- Time (beautiful Tom Waits song, reminding us once again that Tahm waits for no one)
Tom Neal (From West Hartford, CT) and his blue ukelele -- Old Paint (Loudon Wainright III version we used to sing at the dorm in Oberlin)
Frank Cable -- Daniel (Elton John song we both liked in our separate elementary school days)
Chris Griffin -- Pony Ride (You haven't heard of it--yet--it's a Mr. Silverstone song)
Plus the Sofa's good friend, the always delightful, Manny Menimore

Just to give you a flavor of the show, we now include and conclude this blogcast with a video recorded back on Thursday. Hope to see you there, or that you can experience the groove virtually or actually. Wishing harmonious vibrations and dissolution of limitations across all superfluous boundaries from all of us (all one of us at the moment) here at Mr. Silverstone's music funhouse.

For more videos of recently written and performed songs, see the MrSilverstoneMusic channel on YouTube:


http://www.youtube.com/user/MrSilverstoneMusic?feature=mhee

Monday, July 11, 2011

Tempting Fate (Plenty of)

Wrote this imagining Robbie Robertson/Rick Danko/Garth Hudson/Levon Helm playing it in the style of The Band. Playing it on a guitar, that's how it seemed. A kind of ragged band of heartbroke guys with their Civil War era hearts on their sleeves feeling. . .
Here's the original. My friend Tom says the shadow obscuring the singers' face makes it look like he's (I'm) "in the songwriter-witness protection program."











But it took a much different turn in the "studio" (our converted garage, literally). In the world of synthesized virtual music reality, there are orchestral string sections, horn parts and such, and it became a major production that is much more R & B, if you can call anything with a string section from the Hollywood Bowl R & B. The lead singer is me, and the back up singer is--me. That kind of affects the authentic context for the song. It's the me-brothers, laying it all out on the line for you, baby.


I shouldn't tell this to any of you, but Randy Newman has this song "Marie" which features a string section and a really vulnerable and sincere lyric. I always loved that song. I'm gong to erase all this information soon, so I'm going to pretend I never said any of this if anyone asks me. It's bad form to box in the interpretation of a song, because then it always has to be linked to the facts that leak out about it, which are interesting but often less relevant and interesting than what gets evoked in people because of what they bring to it.


What's especially interesting to me is that as the song went from the backyard guitar to the orchestral production I kept changing the words and what the song was about. Just now, when I reviewed the video and the studio recording that are in this post, I made changes again. I didn't like my third verse because I didn't think people would know what the word "imprimatur" means. I am not sure I even know how to pronounce it correctly. At the time I made the video, I didn't actually have words for the third verse, so I just sang, "This is the third verse/and we're going to the home stretch" etc. It turns out, I decided to ditch the third verse on the studio version and actually go with a new verse based on that messing around, which I found a way to make fit. The latest and probably final version of the lyrics are printed below. To hear the studio version,
http://michaelsilverstone.bandcamp.com/track/plenty-of


click the line above to listen to the song (at my site on bandcamp:):






Lyrics printed below. . .













lyrics












Plenty of
Music and Lyrics by Michael Alan Silverstone
7/10/11
©2011 Mr. Silverstone Music Publishing/ASCAP

I’m probably tempting fate
I shouldn’t attempt to get so high up on a ladder
I can imagine you talking with me
Saying o.k. but right now
that just doesn’t matter

‘cause all we once had
may be gone to us now
and all we have is what we love
and what I never presumed before to know

Not good to deny ourselves
We just live once and may not get another chance here
Desire may call to you
Never knew how to choose the ones that really need an answer

But all we have now may be lost in the end
What we find is what we love
And what I never presumed,
in my life, to know

The only one
I ever knew
To care enough
So real and true
So beautiful
Though opposites
All I could do
was to delight in it

The way it is
The way we were
Before anything
Had yet occurred
I knew the place
I had to be
Where you are
Forever
Is where I want to be. . .



We’ll probably never know
Why we’re unsure
Maybe that’s just how we want it
Maybe didn’t take first last time
But I can feel in my bones
We’ve got no cause to act sardonic

All we have
May be gone anytime
And all we can give is our love
Which I know our life has always had
Plenty of
Which I know our life has always had
Plenty of

Plenty of
Plenty of
Plenty of




















Thursday, July 7, 2011

Ain't Summer Great?

Ran into a friend in the library. I live in a company town and a lot of us all seem to be working for the same company, public education. Len is a wise school psychologist. He noted, "I was reading that we actually need stress, but there's a range that makes it healthy--too little, you get unfocused, too much, and you get run down. Right now, it's great to just take it easy." I smile inwardly and outwardly even now just recalling how sweet that moment was to share with a comrade, enjoying our earned temporary rest with our armloads of genius held against our hips under the skylight of the beautiful Jones Library reading room. He had a stack of videos and books like mine, Quentin Tarantino's "Inglorious Basterds" (However that is supposed to be misspelled--it seems overly fastidious to actually look it up), Vipassana meditation books, and Landowska recordings of Bach. In short, a rich trove of rare and special things that your most wonderful adult self might want for soul and mind nourishment apart from its direct utility in making you more skilled at your vocation.

Teachers liberated from daily concerns for the next day, the next week, let alone Monday morning its own bad self are decompressed, stressless, refreshed in ways they may not even remember they had in 'em. It's rich in itself to re-discover what we hunger for, and what we have been skipping: Nutritious food, naps in the afternoon, sunlight, whole days writing and recording music from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. In other words, exactly the stuff that doesn't fit in with a demanding 9 1/2 month long job around working with and for young people. I freshly realized how I am fitting myself into a shape that come to think of it, is not actually natural to me as is mine in this freedom. This week, I had a beer, I've grown a beard, I stay in the house. I do Yoga for an hour like I got all the time in the world in the morning.

If anyone who doesn't work in a classroom for a living tells you the answer to improving education is extending the school year or the school day, I say:

Maybe for you. Not for me, thanks. I think I'm going to be a better teacher next year because I got to stop being a teacher for long enough to find out what the part of me is like that isn't necessarily one:

http://michaelsilverstone.bandcamp.com/track/i-believe-in-you

studio version

Of course, when I am a teacher, I don't have to wait for summer. When it gets to be something I need to not do 24 hours, I am drawn to music.  I get my most inspired connection to music when I simply need a place to go where things assume the quality of who I am apart from what I have to be to meet my responsibilities. A songwriters' songwriter, the heroically great Ron Sexsmith (Check his new release "Long Player Late Bloomer") calls that kind of discontent, often caused by pressures or inevitable times of human unhappiness, "songwriting gold." You don't need special dire circumstances to experience this, ordinary life dishes it out pretty routinely, really. I know without songwriting, I would have dealt with it in a milllion ways I'd wish I could take back but wouldn't have been able to.  Neuroscientists have discovered that we humans have a bias toward current pleasure that makes us more or less incapable of imagining the benefits of disciplined self-control. (I suspect that self-control is more often than not, a matter of being locked into habits fueled by anxieties that steer us around pleasure-seeking impulses.) Wouldn't a hamburger taste great right now so easily overpowers all the benefits of a zesty the garden salad. But wouldn't music be great right now can usually overpower most other choices I might make. There's a lot to be said for that, even if it also keep me from stuff some better version of me would manage to get done.


Here's the live version of the song I linked a few paragraphs back. . .




So, to wrap up this meander. . .musical escape ain't perfect, because sometimes it works a little too well, and I don't face what I've put off. Still, it's good to have a realm available to you where your mind and being can be transported to something fabulous, outside the usual outer and inner grind.  The late, but immortal Gregory Corso said that when things got really bad and he was completely sick of everything he would "go to the movies/it hasn't failed yet".

One last note on this song:  I made up this riff a long time ago and forgot it, then it came up again when I was messing around at the piano a few days ago. There was a funny process for writing this. I  made a little in camera video of me playing this riff, then took it to the kitchen table with a white sheet of paper and a pen and listened to it. I started to list phrases that I felt or heard, but then after I got the first line: "They're playing winner take all sometimes/but before they know what they have won". . .I kept taking the lyrics into the other room to play them at the piano, then I'd come back to write.  I must have done this about 9 times, back and forth. I don't know why I didn't just write in the room where the piano was. It's like I wasn't admitting that this wasn't all a paper and pen time. Each time changed rooms, I acted as if it were the last time I was doing it, and that I was the writer visiting the music side of me, this morning.

What I like about the song is that there are a lot of American conversation idiomatic phrases embedded in it that also fit with the rhythm of the music. In fact, the whole thing is made of these phrases, practically. This makes the voice  not me, but not-not me either. I love it when writers do that. My heros of this are Aimee Mann, Elvis Costello and the late comic novelist (and writer's writer) Stanley Elkin. I hope it has some of that flavor for listeners, 'cause I want it so bad that I'm hoping to take it on naturally it the way a little kid will walk just like his daddy until that is the kids actual walk.

That's all I got to say. Gotta take it easy, its summer. You know why else I like this summer? My team is in first place going into the All Star game. Maybe that's not a big deal a lot of teams, but when your team is the Cleveland Indians, its time to take a deep easy breath and let it out in gratefulness for a world with compensations so sweet to help us survive the necessary difficulties.

Live version, pushed out on stage the day after it was written:

Sunday, June 12, 2011

. . . And What We Don't Know

Wrrote a new song this morning, not intending to write a song, but just intending to wake up. But I went to sleep on a Saturday night alone (my earth angel was a jet-flown distance away for the weekend) and I had been stretching out in glorious lonliness searching on YouTube for the most intensely sad song by Townes Van Zandt I could find to learn and ended up hearing this incredible version of a different tremendous song I had never heard before by Steve Earle called "Goodbye" which he got to sing in duet on television with EmmyLou Harris, sometime in the 1990s. So many things about it are astonishing that I had to listen with my hand bracing the center of my chest. it's that painful and that gorgeous.

Earle was likely about 20 years from finding and marrying Allison Moorer, and that's kind of an eternity, or might as well be in a life that has had all the tough breaks and hard living his has. Even though he was much younger than he is now, he looked older--beat, bloated, and with unwashed hair hanging down, and harmonica holder around his neck--yet brilliant, tender, sad, and in the kind of misery only an angel like EmmyLou Harris can temporarily save you from.

EmmyLou is in this video a silver haired unicorn princess of alt. country music--then and now, impossibly, painfully gorgeous, but this was like, oh my god, as pretty as her voice is, that's what she looked like, and totally tuned into him during the duet as if to say, I love you Steve, God loves you, music loves you, and all I care to do right now is sing this pretty song about regret which is one of the greatest songs that has ever been, which you happened to write, with all the sincerity there is in the world, and appreciate the beauty and sadness of it while I look right at you.

Now if you think I'm exaggerating, you can just look at this right now:


So I listened to it 208,345 times according to the YouTube hit counter, and tried to get all the timing and chord changes right. It's got some unexpected things in there, sudden E minors where there were none in the first chorus. Also in the line about Mexico, the melody goes all mariachi all of a sudden where it wasn't in the parallel line before.

And then I went to sleep but first played myself the recording of the anthemic piano thing I had played and jotted down in the afternoon. I thought if I heard it right before I went to bed that I'd wake up with words or a riff.  And I did, only it was for a completely different song. . . This one.



Wrote it after stumbling awake in the dark, getting my tea, sitting down , written down in morning journal writing, and refined on the bed in front of a video camera with a guitar. Had it by 8:35 a.m. I don't think it has that much to do with the anthemic piano thing or the sweet consolation of country music regret sung by supernatural angels and fallen men. But its something. 

". . .And What We Don't Know" 6-12-11
Music and Lyrics by
Michael Alan Silverstone
©2011 Mr. Silverstone Music Publishing/ASCAP

Now just to get songwriting productivity thing in perspective, before thinking I'm all that and a bag of chips. . .

In an autobiographical chronological summary of his career on his website, entitled "Lies and Inventions" Elvis Costello says that some time in the summer of 1993 he wrote six songs in one day.

These include, "13 Steps Lead Down", "Clownstrike", "Sulky Girl" and "Too Soon To Know".

Those are great songs, really complicated, gorgeous ones too. I've gotten three ideas for songs in one day, but writing 4 masterpieces and 2 complete songs??? Geez, I'd need an air cannon to reach a bar set that high.

Maybe he was kidding, lying or inventing, but somehow I don't think so.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Sometimes Yagottagetdownonyourknees

I wrote about 20 songs when I was 20, then, with a few exceptions did not write any for 30 years. At this moment, I can't really understand or explain what accounts for the gap.

Actually, it's quite common to go 30 years without writing songs. If you find 1000 people over the age of 30, there are probably at least 991 of them who can say the same thing. What even I am struggling to understand or explain is why I started up again.

This is almost impossible to explain. I used to listen to new songs by people who's music I liked and view them as complete magicians. I never thought I would be able to write a song, even though I had done it when I was too young to realize how challenging it was. Something happened, that was a kind of anti-trauma, that is, an unexpected, accidental event that leaves life changed. . .for the better.  Since this is a blog after all, I might as well use the tools of the medium to tell this story. Click on this video and you'll see what I mean.




And here is Marc playing this song. There are 2 different versions he did on network tv such as this one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vWW5jSf6fc8&feature=related

But here's one he did in a more intimate setting at a concert that I really like:



Marc told me once that he had met a lot of people who had done it, and he was convinced that I could have been someone who could have had a recording career. I found that flattering at the time, and thought he was just being a kind friend, since it never occured to me to have that intention. It seemed way too dependent on things I didn't know how to rely on--like megabucks lottery-level luck. But Marc's words also gave me the permission to activate the ability to make music that I apparently either always had, or had steadily developed in the course of singing and playing my son to sleep when he was young, and singing along with the radio for 30 years.  Seeing my name on this song with Marc's really changed something in me. And the songs I held back from being written essentially burst through the dam of being held back all those years. I began waking up hearing melodies, It became familiar to have two or three complete song melody structures come to me in a day. I started recording, refining, rewriting, I started playing piano. I essentially learned how to play piano in three years after playing guitar for 30.

It all seems very mysterious to me. . .how songs come to be, how great it feels to create music, how much of it surprises me even when I'm supposedly the person it is coming from. I don't understand how it is possible. I don't understand why it is so powerful--but it is among the greatest things I know of.  I'm not feeling very articulate about this, but don't mind as much as I might have before I stopped believing in the power of words alone to convey what I mean anyway. What I believe in now is the power of heightened occasion, of harmonics and natural human melodic phrase, of the blend of repetition and emotion and the magic of the repeated hook and friends and rhythm and emotion and incantation and, o.k., words, too.

http://www.usatoday.com/life/music/news/2007-10-14-marc-cohn_N.htm

As I say in the video, "Well, that's my story, and I'm sticking to it." I didn't want the story of "Live Out the String" to swamp what I was trying to share with the music, so I waited until I had enough music behind me that it could be part of what I do. But I think it feels like that time is here, or at lease close enough. Some times ya gotta get down on your knees, especially when you are teaching 2nd grade.








Saturday, May 21, 2011

You Must Check Out the Yellow Sofa Cafe, Northampton, MA

I'm an unabashed fan and booster of the Northampton's mighty Yellow Sofa Cafe and its live music. The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville has nothing on this East Coast mecca. Every Thursday evening from 7 to 10:30 there is for everyone in the house, the continuous possibility of witnessing sublime and miraculous moments, astonishing to everyone in the room. I haven't seen anything like it since the Cat and the Cream Coffeehouse at Oberlin College in the late 70s, of which much has been written (well--in my journals from the time, probably). Northampton owes a debt of gratitude to Gabriel Moushabeck and family for making this live music venue possible in the heart of downtown Paradise City. Everyone must go there and spend money. If you are anywhere near Northampton, do it this week.  These aren't the 'droids you're looking for. . .divert generous amounts of your extra hard-earned Money. . . to Yellow Sofa Cafe. . .that is all.

I've only seen Star Wars twice, in fact, but I always liked that scene. . .


Here's a peek at some of the open mic proceedings from this week. I love that I got to play this favorite song of mine. To hear it, and the story behind it, click on the picture.






For full screen version, go to:

http://www.youtube.com/user/MrSilverstoneMusic?feature=mhee#p/a/u/0/dLVs1HwP99Y

What an evening (though a classically typical one by Sofa standards). It was innagurated by two 2nd graders from Crocker Farm Elementary School who sang Bill Withers' "Lean On Me" followed by the Beatles' "We Can Work it Out" with poise and charm, not to mention vocal and performing talent, that led one observer to say, "That was amazingly good, not just good for them being 2nd graders. I mean actually, amazingly good." Bluesman Robert Wilfong (Fongster100 on YouTube) played a characteristically scorching version of "Death Don't Have No Mercy." Artistic wildman Azwan played a mashup of David Bowie songs on acoustic guitar, and as always, some of the area's best singer-songwriters including Scott Cadwallader, Laura Titrud and Chris Griffin played original new material better than nearly everything currently slucing through the polluted main river basins and tributaries of American radio.

The evening ended, as has become customary lately, with an everyone-in version of a Bob Dylan song. This time it was, "Million Miles" from the 1997 album "Time Out of Mind" with everyone left in the joint with an instrument getting 12 bars of blues in the batting cage--and some fine players hit 'em out of the park to send everyone home happy.



  For full screen version click on the link below:




http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAHybrVp__s




We are in the golden era of the Yellow Sofa Cafe, I tell you. Long may it run, but if I were you, I'd plan to be there Thursday at 6:30 to sign up for one of the 18 slots, 'cause the only time guaranteed is right now, now, now, daddy-oh.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Love and Acceptance

Went to a big city. Got kinda weirded out by unfiltered exposure to public space in this era. Came home and slept in my own bed waking up with the words, "Come back to yourself, come back to yourself." Went into town. A song seed started growing, a tune that kept turning on the phrase "Love and Acceptance". It started to take over, but I wasn't home and didn't want to lose the song. Tried to find a pay phone. There aren't any damn payphones any more, and the last ones are winking out in public spaces, even those that were there in the summer. Thought about trying to find a person with a cell phone, but that would have meant looking crazy for borrowing it to sing a song with gibberish lyrics into along with the repeated phrase "Love and Acceptance". Resolved to keep the song alive manually by repeating it, adding to it until I could get home--like I was doing CPR until I could get it to the hospital. Got home and recorded the song idea, then finished the words, then started recording it. It sounded like this.







Then I made a "Wall of Sound" radio version by adding bass, backing vocals, guitar, a horn section, and more. It sounds like this.

http://michaelsilverstone.bandcamp.com/track/love-and-acceptance-radio-version

I feel better now. It rocks, and it means something that means something to me.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Aimee Mann Experiment

I mean to post this with humility, if such a thing is not a contradiction. You've seen those people who hang out in museums with painting easels trying to copy masterworks. It's kind of a cool thing to do. But the people doing that probably don't show those paintings to people and say, "Look at this cool thing I made!" For one thing, most of them probably hope to spend the rest of their time in this life maybe one day good enough to scrub the brushes of one of those Dutch guys. For another, they realize that they haven't actually broken an artistic sweat. It's the original artist that did all the heavy lifting. It's a little like being born rich and thinking you did something to deserve that.

There's one more incentive I have to be more apologetic about this if I don't want to look too dopey. Aimee Mann, in addition to being a sublime songwriter, is one of the greatest vocalists ever recorded. I'm the greatest singer in my shower only on a good day. (That's a day when my thunder-traumatized dog doesn't climb into the shower with me during a rainstorm. It occurs to me only just now that I probably should stop taking showers during electrical storms.)

On Aimee's soundtrack album to Paul Thomas Anderson's movie "Magnolia" there is an instrumental version of her great song "Nothing is Good Enough," which would later appear on her album, "Bachelor No. 2." Paul Thomas Anderson is to me, my favorite movie director, who's art I regard with reverence  even though, and maybe even, in part, because, his father, played a guy named Ghoulardi and wore a fright wig when showing horror movies on Channel 8 when I was growing up in Cleveland.

To make this video, all I did was import the stand-alone instrumental track from iTunes to a basic track in Garageband, then I started taking over the song like a squater in a luxury appartment, layering on vocals, a reverb/pop lead vocal, a copy of that, some gospel voice oooh, ahhh harmonies, even a megaphone nasal line or two, just to make it interesting. I raised and lowered the volume of these' tracks depending on what was supposed to be building up, or whether the main vocal was supposed to be delivering the lyric cleanly at the beginning of the verse. I'm really a primitive as far as mixing and mastering goes. I throw in too much, and it gets muddy and I still pile on more--but that's small potatoes compared to the damage I do by discarding Aimee's vocal tracks with her unmatched tonal purity and her Virginia regional accent that sounds exactly like this girl I knew in college. To top it off, I replace it with my nasal, reedy, limited-ranged, tenor instrument. This is where the humility comes in, or should.

To make the visuals, I just went outside and lip synched the song while listening to the recording in headphones while holding the camera an arm's length from my face. If you think it was easy to synchronize the recording you're crazy--or rather it's me that's crazy. It took more than 14 ten minute tries of nudging the soundtrack in 10th of a second increments around the 3 second mark. It probably still looks like a dubbed Japanese Godzilla movie, but that's the best I plan to do for now.

The "Magnolia" soundtrack album, by the way, also contained the song "Save Me" that was nominated for an Academy Award in 1999, losing out to  "You'll Be in My Heart" from the Disney movie "Tarzan", which I'm sure is a super swell song too.  Was "Save Me" good enough to deserve an Academy Award? If it isn't, then Nothing is Good Enough, I'd say.


















Having Awesome People to Play With

I record under the name Mr. Silverstone and the Silvertone Horns. The origin of this name is that as an elementary school teacher, Mr. Silverstone is the name I am called 100 times an hour sometimes. If I or  someone else reveals my actual first name, my 2nd graders act like they've stumbled onto some kind of clandestine insider information. The movie actor Tony Curtis was actually born with the name Bernard Schwartz, only, I guess this was some kind of big secret in plain sight with a similar flavor to it.

In addition to my Turn it Up Records buy 10 get the 11th free card, I carry an ASCAP membership card, mainly for the thrill of showing them that it says Mr. Silverstone Music--which feels like clandestine insider information to me, that I actually am probably one of the few 2nd grade teachers who carries the same card as Dr. Dre and Lady Gaga.

As for the Silvertone Horns, they were first imaginary beings created by computer synthisized trumpets and saxophones on my home recordings, but then I realized that these sounds were standing in for the eventual real life horn players who would be in my band. Over time, playing at the open mic at the Yellow Sofa, I've met talented and brilliant musicians like bassist Rob Douglas, gutarists David Waldfogel guitarist Christopher Griffin, and percussionist Bob Adelson, and when we play my songs the joke is that we are the Silvertone Horns, even though no actual member of the band yet plays a wind instrument except in cyberspace. But my motto for the band has always been: pretend it's real until it is. It's worked brilliantly so far.

Here is a video of what real life versions of the electronically produced studio versions of two of the new songs sound like. As cool as it is to create string sessions and percussion ensembles on these tracks, it is way gooder to experiment in real time, face to face, and with surprises, improvisations, unexpected gifts, and weird problems, like buzzing amplifiers. It makes me so happy to play with genius people like Rob and Jesse, Bob and David, and Xxxxx and Yyyyy, and Zzzzz,  horn players that I'm confident will one day appear the same way I used to imagine my future son and me walking down some street together, me holding his hand, more than 10 years before there was a hand to hold. When it did happen, it was a lot like I imagined. But right now, playing music with real life awesome people is more surprising and fun than anything I could have imagined.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Brand NEW POWER POP!! from Mr. Silvertsone and The Silvertone Horns

Fresh from the studio, this brand new smash single, "Strategies of Love" is available for a free listen at:


CLICK ON THE LINE OF TEXT JUST BELOW THIS LINE :




THE LINE JUST ABOVE THIS ONE

We want our song examined...You need your ears excited ...We'd like you to join the partiy ...And you are all invited .

Happy May Day everyone, everywhere!

Love,

Michael Silverstone and the The Silverstone Horns


Saturday, April 30, 2011

See That Little Window To The Right That Says: "FOLLOW BY EMAIL?"

If you appreciate the contents of this site please type your address in there and the latest version will always be cued up for you to read. This will be very encouraging to the staff, which will know that there are actually people potentially reading the next post. The intent of the postings will be to explore, explain and document discoveries that spread the means and methods for composing, performing, and sharing recorded music as ordinary humans playing the interesting cards dealt to those of us doing this in 2011. It fuels our industriousness to know there is a reader. Otherwise, it seems crazier than usual to be spending precious time not listening to "How I Wanted To" by Richard Thompson off his 1983 album "Hand of Kindness" or following the success of the Cleveland Indians as the surprise of major league baseball this summer that I was completely unprepared for. Yrs. Trly.--Mgmt.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Woodja B With Me: Live @ the Yellow Sofa Cafe, Northampton

I had booked a spot at the Yellow Sofa for tonight (Sat. July, 16tth @ 6:30 p.m.-8:00)  but my usual backing band, the Silvertone Horns, could not make it due to mandatory vacation time they had to take to recover from the rigors of our incessant and punishing rehearsal and recording schedule.



So like they say at discount fire sales, "Our setback is a bonus for you, the customer." Instead of putting an ad in the paper in the slim hopes of finding and rehearsing with a new schoolteacher/bass player and attorney/lead guitarist in time, I called in some favors and got the very best unattached rock and roll wrecking crew in the valley, The Foregone Conclusions, with Ray Yelle on Percussion, and the Moushabeck brothers, Ramzi and Simone who take turns playing killer bass, guitar and more as the situation requires. They are hands down the most talented musicians young, old or in-between to be found in the Valley or, more to the point, in my rolodex. In case you suspect this whole referring to myself as Mr. Silverstone thing is a spoof, I first met two of the three members of the crew, like, for real, dude, when I was their 2nd grade teacher, a fact that you will quickly surrealistic when you hear how seriously, precisely and assuredly they rock, like well-brought up, considerate, assassins.





Why just yesterday we were in the studio recording tracks for the next Mr. Silverstone album. In the video above, and you can see a glimpse of the monster talent Ramzi commands as he adds lead guitar licks to the outro of our climate change balad "The Ice Age Hotel" while our studio producer Jim Matus oversees the recording at the Old Schoolhouse Recording Studio in Hadley, our home away from home. There will be an advance 3-song EPs will be available at the gig tonight for the lo-lo price of $5.00. You can also listen for free, or download for a fee, at the URLs  included below for thee:





Proceeds to go to The Foregone Conclusions who were never in it for the money, but wouldn't mind it if their fans showed the love.

But wait, there's more! This concert will feature massive audience participation as a parade of beloved Yellow Sofa frequent performers will join me for duets on our favorite cover songs, many of which we've actually rehearsed harmony parts for.

Don't miss:

Christopher Goudreau -- Eight Days a Week
Christa Joy -- Love Hurts
Dave Franklin--These Days (Jackson Browne wrote it when he was 17)
Jeremy Anderson -- Time (beautiful Tom Waits song,  reminding us once again that Tahm waits for no one)
Tom Neal (From West Hartford, CT) and his blue ukelele -- Old Paint (Loudon Wainright III version we used to sing at the dorm in Oberlin)
Frank Cable -- Daniel (Elton John song we both liked in elementary school)
Chris Griffin -- Pony Ride (You haven't heard of it--yet--it's a Mr. Silverstone song)
Plus the Sofa's good friend, the always delightful, Manny Menimore

Just to give you a flavor of the show, we now include and conclude this blogcast with a video recorded back on Thursday. Hope to see you there, or that you can experience the groove virtually or actually.  Wishing harmonious vibrations and dissolution of limitations across all superfluous boundaries from all of us (all one of us at the moment) here at Mr. Silverstone's music funhouse.




For more videos of recently written and performed songs, see the MrSilverstoneMusic channel on YouTube:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Amelia and Julia--Live at the Yellow Sofa Cafe in Northampton, MA

Thursday nights from 7-10 the Yellow Sofa Cafe in Northampton (run by the great people who also run the Northampton landmark Booklink Booksellers) offers a superlative Open Mic where performers play 2 songs and stay to listen with sweet and holy attention and appreciation. It's best to arrive slightly before 6:30 to be assured of a spot, as they almost always get all given out by 7. There is a cover charge of $5.00 which is not nothing, but as close as the realities of running a business could allow.

Here's a link to a video of a song I did there called Amelia and Julia. Thematically, it might remind some of the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young song, "Triad"  But for reasons my friend Tom explained to me--Tom who like me, loves  both Amelia and Julia and Neil Young--found it reminded him of how Neil came to write "Long May You Run."  I probably will quit giving this kind of information out anymore and just shut up and play, but if you're interested, this somewhat complicated story goes fully public by the end in about minute 5:32.





(I don't mean to make anyone have to watch this just to find out. Amelia and Julia are my god daughters, and it's really challenging sometimes to be so crazy about them both at the same time .  . .But its a really good song about love complications, even if you don't have two overwhelming appealing god daughters who want to fold paper cranes and do hand clapping games and tickle you at the same time.

Woodja B With Me (Released: April 22, 2011)

The latest from Mr. Silverstone and the Silvertone Horns is now available to listen to or download.

There are some songs that get written magically in about 10 minutes. 
This was one of them. Yeah, yeah, o.k. That's cool. Whatever.
The precise wording of these rediculously simple lyrics took about 4 hours. Still normal. 
But the magic happened when putting down all that percussion, bass, distorted guitar, horns, harmonies-- which took like, forever--and the process took hold of us all and it kept getting crazier and crazier, and no one left, ate, or even took a break until the thing burst into flame, destroyed equipment, burned down the studio building, and spread to adjoining villages and forests until it was stopped only by the waves and wind and the consumption of all fuel, ultimately raging unto sweet extinction by the limitless expanses of the sea and sky over vast aeons of time.

But don't take our word for it. Click and take the "Woodja B With Me Challenge." Be prepared for the rockinitious turbulence of a severe field of groovitation.

New Music from Mr. Silverstone and the Silvertone Horns on Bandcamp.com

A college newspaper correspondent at the Academy Awards ceremony this year went backstage to ask Randy Newman for tips about how to break into the Music Industry. He reportedly said, "Who would want to break into it? It's like a bank that's already been robbed." Wit this mordant and self-effacing is always to be treasured, even in someone with so little need of sympathy as the most successful composer of movie scores in the history of brilliantly done blockbuster computer-animated features appealing globally to families with young children. But the genius of Randy Newman has always included his ability to make charmingly humorous mockery of some otherwise pretty bleak realities, so good on him for this.

Speaking of trying to break into an industry which is has almost ceased to be, over the last three years, I have picked 30 songs I like well enough to want them to be played in headphones other than my own and posted them on Bandcamp. Though there are numerous ways to put music on line,  Bandcamp is particularly wonderful for emerging bands and songwriter/performers because of its power and low (no) cost, which allows you to post whatever amount of music you want and have people find it and even pay you for the privilege. You can also simply give it away for them to download as a way to get familiar with it in the quixotic hope that you might someday be able to  crow "a record company, Rosie/Just gave me a big advance!" like Bruce Springsteen.

A visit to Bandcamp.com, demonstrates its enormous utility for people harboring any hope of receiving actual renumeration for their music recordings. Here's my example:  http://michaelsilverstone.bandcamp.com, but after seeing this, you can also go browsing around and find amazing things, like I did yesterday by clicking on one of the "tags" at the bottom the pages, such as a location tag, (New York City) or a genre tag ("death metal") which allows you to find kindred souls (or perhaps kindred soul-less zombies), in the same location or genre. I picked my hometown area of Northampton, MA and found bands and writers I had heard of before mixed in with interesting strangers. It was an enlightening and often surprising experience to click around. For example, for some reason, there was a lot of music coming out of Israel on webpages laden with Hebrew text when I looked under the genre of pop. I hadn't even considered that making popular music was not an entirely NY/LA Amero-centric phenomenon. This just begins to scratch the surface of the surprises that await, I'm sure.

Some performers (nationally known, and I now presume in Israel, Yemen, and the Ivory Coast as well) sell a lot of their music directly on Bandcamp. I have had this experience. It was kind of mindblowing when it happened. I got an e-mail saying that there was money in my PayPal account from the sale of a some downloads--a statement that took me right back to the extistential questions: What is money? And even more to the point, what is PayPal? Is it real? Are you, reader, am I? And who is the I that asks the question?


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