Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Five Classic Albums for a Winter Night - Guest Blog Post

January is an inherently difficult month for pretty much everyone   I know.  Post-holiday spending diets, actual diets and weight loss ambitions, exercise, the darkness of winter and the depth and cold of an early January morning.  Things can feel tense, the days of winter short and the nights so very long, it weighs you down into hibernation mode where even basic things can feel a bit impossible at times.  

     Even nature feels this way in January.  The depth of the cold breaks fragile tree limbs when the icy rush of wind sweeps off the hillsides shaking loose the dead, the weak, mother nature and her natural pruning process take on new meaning in January.  

      If you can survive January out here and live to see another summer, then you are indeed a survivor of the elements. 

     Music gets me through my days and the long cold dark nights.  A while ago I wrote a post about my own musical influences from my parents, Thank You for the Music, and at the time I asked a musician friend of mine to write a post on the top albums he would reccomend to really listen to from start to finish. Enjoy! 

Five Classic Albums for a Winter Night    By John Rose, Musician, Singer, Songwriter - Atlanta, GA      
     Winter has been proven to be a time for inner-investigation, introspective, for a lack of a better word. We have gone through a lot in the last year. We have been thrust into new aspects of our lives, be it a new job, lifestyle, class, social circles, or maybe even moved to a new state. Ultimately, we feel alone during the colder, dark months of the year. I find myself looking back on memories when I was really young. I remember places, sounds, and faces. Some people remain. Others have died or ran away. I look back on the year and see how far I’ve come, no matter the degree. I look for my failures and ponder how I can improve myself as a human and how I’ll contribute more frequently and more humanitarianly to myself, and to those around me. A lesson I’ve learned is that I impact people’s lives, a lot of them. Chances are you do too. We can make the conscious decision on that impact. How we are remembered. 
All of this doesn’t seem to fit in with this blog about great music, but bear with me. Music, like math and science, is a language. No matter what language you speak, or what language the song is sung in, it tap dances on some internal button within you, conjuring emotions, memories and thoughts. As a musician for the past three decades, I’ve written my fair share of musical compositions, and when I was younger, even now, I have people stop and tell me what that meant to them, how my music made some mental or life change in their world. Even though I had written that song, I couldn’t connect with what they told me. I’d usually respond with, that’s great, or say something about that’s how music is. Later in life, I started to realize that I looked to music for answers. That’s what I’ve always done, and just now had I realized it. When writing music, you sort of create a barrier between you and the world. Music is a safe guard. You can say anything you want. Those emotions you have that you’re scared to show in person can be written on paper, accompanied by musicians to express these deep hidden emotions and thoughts. You give that to the world. People need that in their lives because we are all looking for answers. We are all looking to someone or something to tell us they understand how we feel and we aren’t alone. As a writer, I want to tell people that I’m on their side, and on the other side of the coin, I’m telling the world over one of my darkest secrets.
Here is a list of albums that speak to me, late at night when I need to look at myself through someone’s music. 
1. Carol King: Tapestry
Carol King was and still is one of our greatest songwriters. In her teens she was hired as a songwriter for a huge record label, writing for the likes of Aretha Franklin and many others. When she finally broke as an artist, it was soon realized not only by her peers, but by the world, how much she was in touch with the human condition and emotion. I dare say you find a better album to connect with. Without Tapestry in your record collection, you don’t have a record collection.
Songs to listen for:
So Far Away
It’s Too Late
Home Again
Way over Yonder
2. Derek and the Dominoes – Layla
This is Clapton at his finest. He was obviously going through something in his life; In love with Patty Boyd (then, wife of George Harrison who in turn was Clapton’s best friend), coming off the high of John Mayall’s Blues Breakers, Cream had just broken up, and he had recently just lost some great friends to drugs, people like Hendrix. This complicated set list exposes all of these emotions.
Songs to listen for:
I Looked Away
Bell Bottom Blues
Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out
Keep On Growing
Tell the Truth
Little Wing

3. Allman Brothers - Beginnings
This album is a combo of the Brother’s first two albums. It’s angry, it’s sad, it’s loud, it’s soft, it’s ultimately heart wrenching, drug induced, and beautiful. You find yourself nodding with every point that Gregg Allman sings. He could have written all of these songs after you told him your life story. He exposes every one of your weaknesses, joys, strengths, and backs it up with how you’re going to handle it. The lyrics on this album are enforced by the amazing talent that is the Allman Brothers. 
Songs to listen for:
It’s Not My Cross to Bear
Trouble No More
Every Hungry Woman
Whipping Post
Don’t Keep Me Wondering
Please Call Home
Black Hearted Woman
Midnight Rider
4. Jimi Hendrix – Electric Ladyland
If Jimi Hendrix was a painter, this would be his Mona Lisa. Beyond lyrically intriguing, the music is what moves you. Listen to every note and how it correlates to the backing instruments. How the music complements the words. All Along the Watchtower is dangerous, storming, dark, foreboding, and intimidating. Voodoo Child (slight return) is a night you woke up from in a haze. Every song casts strong emotions and mental states will surely get the brain and emotions synced. 
Songs to listen for:
Long Hot Summer Nights
Come On Part I
House Burning Down
All Along the Watchtower 
Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
Bonus song: Rainy Day, Dream Away & Still Raining, Still Dreaming
5. Cat Stevens – Tea for the Tillerman
For those seeking inner questions, self-wondering, and a deeper perspective on life, this is the album. Cat Stevens explores a variety of emotions, thoughts, and perspectives that resound even in today’s busy world. This album is so personal to everyone that hears it, that I’ll let you decide what it means to you.
Songs to listen for:
Where Do The Children Play
Hard Headed Woman
Miles from Nowhere
But I Might Die Tonight
On The Road to Find out
Father and Son
Tea for The Tillerman
Tip: Basically the whole album.

John Michael Rose, Atlanta, GA 
John Michael Rose was literally born with music in his ears. Brought up in a house of musicians, the record player was always spinning Hendrix, Clapton, Mark Knopfler, Carol King, Simon and Garfunkle, and Cat Stevens.  It didn't take long before John started honing is craft as an amazing guitar player, composer, and song writer. 
Pulling from all of his childhood influences he created his own sound of dominating guitar with intertwining musical compositions and emotional lyrics of life, love, and thoughts. His music, steeped in Blues and Americana, expresses a sense of intensity and emotion both lyrically and musically. 
From Paris, France to Paris, Texas John has traveled extensively learning from some of the best like James Cotton, Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes, Pinetop Perkins, and Buddy Miles.     Today, John plays in and around the Southeast with his band while still writing and recording. 
"He's the real deal!" - James Cotton 
"It's time for a (music) revival, and John Michael Rose is here to lead that." - Creative Loafing 
"John Michael Rose is one of the greatest guitarists and performers of our time!" - Oasis 
"When you listen and watch John Michael Rose perform, it's like watching someone break out of jail."  - ABS Magazine
Email: Wjmr81@gmail.com  

All nature photos taken by H.M. Wild at The Moose Lodge; Guest Blog Post Writer John Michael Rose provided his own photos for the purposes of this post.