The Making of an Album: Dylan’s Ghost- Songs of a Lifetime
The title tune in it’s entirety…and more to come in the days ahead..right here at Garcia Media Life!
But please buy the record! Instructions below…
The Story Behind the Album
Music has been an important part of my life for a half-century- ever since I first picked up a guitar and my mom helped me figure out the lead line to the Beatle’s Day Tripper- at the age of 8. But it is not until now, at the age of 59, that I have finally put together an actual record- an album- for the first time. It’s just six songs. But I hope folks will understand- a very special six songs, literally spanning one man’s lifetime.
This is ultimately a bid for immortality. I’ve had a couple of close calls in recent years. Having survived them, I became determined to create a musical work of some of the best tunes I’ve written- from 40 years ago to a few months ago- for posterity- in the hopes this musical part of my life lives in perpetuity somewhere in the digital cloud, long outliving my stay on this little blue planet.
Music Versus Journalism
I have always had a tortured relationship with music and the concept of being a singer/songwriter. I have loved it as an art. When it has devolved into work, like playing for drunks in assorted bars in my 20s, I found it could also be corrosive to the soul. It’s also an absolutely brutal industry. It chews people up and spits them out and humbles even the successful as staying at the top is as hard as getting there, and most never get to even a hint of the mountaintop and if they do it can be fleeting and elusive.
So I chose a career in journalism that I have now been engaged in for nearly 40 years. It has been rewarding and important work. I have worked for organizations like CBS, CNN, ABC and NPR. I have seen history up close and personal. I have worked with remarkable individuals whose courage and grace has helped the citizens of this country stay informed about their world, even at the risk of their very lives. I made the right choice.
But music has always returned periodically in my life, tugging at my sleeve and reminding me that the art of the original song was always my first love.
It’s one thing to cover popular tunes, but when you write music and lyrics- when it becomes personal and you’re pouring your emotions and musings and thoughts and loves and fears into something to share with an audience- well, that’s art and that’s what I want to share now with my friends, my colleagues, my family and anyone who wants to give a listen.
When you come out with a record, your distributors want to know what kind of music it is. Turns out after perusing through the various genres, that this is Folk-Folk Rock-Power Pop- Intellectual. But what it really is to your heart and your mind is a collection of songs with meaningful lyrics, music and melody that creates emotion and mood and is, hopefully, inspiring- and a performance and expression that is as honest as possible and executed with as much grace as one can muster.
With a Little Help from My Friends
It takes time to do this right. Work began on this record in April of 2015. About six weeks per song. I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Jeff Severson who produced and arranged it with breathtaking skill and sensitivity. Our collaboration was smooth and easy.
Jeff is a tremendous musician, a Master guitarist whose skills are in evidence all over this album. He has put out 11 instrumental albums, any one of which will knock your socks off. He was a driving force behind 4 out of 5 Doctors on the CBS label many moons ago, a power-pop band whose music is still fondly remembered and loved by their many fans. Last year, Jeff was inducted into the South Dakota Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame.
But there’s a knack to producing that is also one of Jeff’s strong suits. It involves getting the most out of the artist. It involves diplomacy, psychology, perseverance and of course, creativity. And then there’s his arranging skills- a whole other remarkable skill-set.
Turns out I had written a lot of songs that were actually only about 75% complete. They were all, like, 2 minutes and 15 seconds long. Though this is a highly artistic project, one does want to provide some semblance of commercial viability. Jeff is a wonderful songwriter himself and his diagnosis of what each song needed was spot-on. I wrote new lyrics. I finished unfinished verses. I added to breaks. And it was Jeff who pushed me every step of the way.
Here are the album notes. The artwork for this album was all done by Jeff’s brother, Scott, who is an old High School friend which is my good fortune, because he’s also one of the most talented graphic artists I have ever known. Scott’s cover concept of the “just left” Bob Dylan sunglasses and coffee cup against an East Village backdrop is just brilliant for an album called Dylan’s Ghost, don’t you think? Please note that in the lower left hand corner of the album notes there is a subtle image of little Gracie, a cat I rescued 15 years ago that I had to put down at the start of the year. It was the last photo ever taken of her. So this album is also a bid for Gracie’s immortality as well as my own 🙂
Here’s How You Can Hear the Album
Over the next couple of weeks, I am reactivating this blog to share these six songs with you. I will publish the lyrics, talk about their meaning and some of the textual and musical changes we made along the way. I intend to embed each of the songs in their entirety into these blog posts so you can hear what it is I’m posting about. I would still appreciate if you went to places like I-Tunes and CD Baby to plunk down a mere $6 for the whole album so you can hear it in its entirety and so your humble artist can recoup some of his production costs.
Purists who want the CD itself can drop me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll arrange to have it shipped to you.