A small autobiography below the picture:
The art of the moving image in color together with the human form is beautiful and meaningful. The result with sculpted eyes tied in spectacularly with the song I wrote. Read below and then listen. I went to the Henson exhibition for one thing and discovered other things.
The sound is tops if you listen with headphones
Composing music and lyrics is always a discovery for me. Everything I do becomes a discovery. I went to see the Jim Henson Exhibition that was organized by MoMI. It connected with my early roots and was a true discovery. From a post: “the [museum] will highlight how Henson’s characters and stories represent individuals and communities of diverse backgrounds and abilities, inspiring the public to look beyond differences and cultivate a more compassionate, inclusive world.” In 1969 the creative world of entertainment and psychology married for all to benefit. Of that marriage Sesame Street was born. At the exhibition I saw Grover, lovable and full-size. Remember when Grover did not succeed it never broke him or his ability to keep going or gut his optimism or his I will help spirit because he was super Grover. I smiled ear to ear seeing full-sized Bert and Ernie. They were real friends and so different. Both accepted the other as he was and they laughed and always had room to forgive when it was time for that, too. I am now starring at Kermit. I brought him home with me. Jim Henson’s voice was Kermit the frog. Kermit sitting near where I work is like a personal psychologist reminding me my appearance isn’t all that I am, encouraging me to accept myself and speak out. It is not hard to appreciate the message of free speech and the importance of mental health and equality in all its forms including abilities and the importance of compassion taught to children starting at an age before bias and discrimination have a chance to set in. We are those grown children needing to return to our roots to refresh our memories and to speak out and to speak up before too much is lost and our successes of the last 50 years erode for the sake of money and power. That is a big discovery. A few years ago I was handed a big disappointment. I needed to become a pioneer in the words of Joan River: “To be a pioneer, you have to be willing to go where others haven’t, or simply won’t.” I believe I have become a pioneer in my own work and that all of us must become pioneers to repair our world today. I recently finished a song called Where I Want To Be. I was inspired to write a song that had the feeling of Tennessee Ernie Ford’s song 16 Tons. He was not the composer but he was the one who resurrected the song and made it very famous in the mid 50’s. I wrote Where I Want To Be before I even thought to see the Jim Henson Exhibition. The song does express the grit required of a pioneer. Here is the first verse. Times were tough/I was down on my luck/Couldn’t find a job/Or anyone to take a chance on me/Or loan me a buck/So I got up and said/”I’ve got to do it/I know I can.”/And packed it all up in a moving van. The chorus: Moving/Moving on/Loading up/Getting out/To a new place/To a city that has/A heart/I’m on my way/And I won’t look back. I wrote this song to explore the male bass voice singing as low as the E an octave below middle C and as high as the F above middle C. Those parts of the scale serve as scaffolding when constructing a multi-part vocal sound, but this time those notes stood on their own to be appreciated for their distinct beauty and depth. The song almost sounds religious with its emotional magnetic message. It is hard and beautiful to sing bass notes well. Life Is About What You Do With What Happens To You, another song I have written and will appear on my new album: Joshua Eli…In His Element, is definitely a relative to Where I Want To Be. I wrote Where I Want To Be in the key of A minor with jazz chords. 16 Tons had no jazz chords just a bass line. When it was placed in Ross’s Forever Plaid in October 1992, 16 Tons became a hit again. I was an understudy in that show in 2000 when Jason Graae directed it. Someday……..While recording this song I had a summer cold and struggled a bit with the bass sound, but all “tuned”out well. I wrote this song because of contentment not for acceptance or money or anything else. I don’t even know where I will find to use it, but it definitely tells a good story and is my version of 16 Tons. I could have titled the song I won’t look back because I believe pioneers need to press forward trying hard not to look back but not forgetting to remember. It is good to feel good and today I feel good like Kermit and Grover would. Yesterday I was contacted about a music arrangement I wrote for Kander and Ebb’s song And The World Goes ‘Round and that I played and performed in the show by the same name. P N wants to perform and sing my arrangement in a cabaret show in DC. That request was a surprise and a present. Thanks to pryorv in Indiana for listening to Waste No One’s Life Anymore and The Simple Things For You And I and Hello and I Just Can’t. Each of those songs leaves me with a significant message after performing them. At the top of this blog you can listen to Where I Want To Be. Thanks to each of you for coming by and listening and hopefully thinking about the messages in this blog. Please invite your friends to come over. We are in those funny feeling days closing out the summer. Wouldn’t it be nice if we would have a beautiful cool fall to look forward to?
Joshua Eli August 21, 2018
Burt and Ernie with Richard Hunt and Jim Henson and Frank Oz (L to R)