A small autobiography below the picture.
Father’s Day is almost here. My Dad and I had a Father’s Day moment on June 8, 8 days early. Three of us are the Be Wild About Music team involved with song writing, performance, recording, music publishing, and production. My mom is my chief supporter in all things business and artistic with her steady presence. My dad is still doing his job in colleges in the area and supports with his computer skill and design work fashioning lyric videos. He also reviews my work. My mom is also discriminating.. reasoning acutely but with sensitivity. Her perspective counts. My dad is involved in a different way but opinionated. Yesterday after I finished recording my new song Better To Forget To Remember, he listened to it with my Sennheissers while viewing the lyric sheet on my music stand and said, ” It’s exquisite!”, his word for better than beautiful. The important thing to know is that the two of us aren’t always in agreement regarding all things. For me that statement was like getting a professional music award. Special days like Father’s Day should be filled with reciprocal appreciation. I appreciate my dad’s honesty relating to what is important for me. He has provided financial support when my artistry needed it, but most of all he has never left my side. That’s my dad. … and I write music so the people I love can enjoy it, too. They most of all can appreciate its evolution. The pictures at the top of this blog and near the bottom are throw backs from 20-25 years ago. My dad was there when the pictures were taken. I was just my dad’s and my mom’s kid then. While doing some spring cleaning to create space for things that were getting crowded out, I spotted the vintage pictures of me that I included in this blog as a compliment to Father’s Day.
Now please listen to Better To Forget To Remember but with earphones because you’ll catch every word, and you will get a great sound.
Walking through the largest room on the top floor at the Marciano Art Foundation in Los Angeles, there is an oil painting with only words, referred to as text in the art world. The artist is Ed Ruscha. Those words stuck me like a pin sticks and are the reason for my new song Better Forget To Remember. Everyone has experiences or thoughts that can relate to Remembering to Forget to Remember or we aren’t human. The idea expressed in just 5 words is a standout and so I wrote down a chorus on a museum brochure:
When my thoughts/Are rolling in my head/And all I want to do/Is push them away/Because they feel too real/ I have to Remember/To Forget/To Remember.
Then the bridge which in this case is the song’s synopsis:
Remembering/Takes on a life/With its own rules/If not worthy…/Better to Remember/To Forget/To Remember.
Memories can be fleeting, pleasurable and unforgettable, ones we must not forget out of necessity as an actor or artist must, ones we want to forget but can’t because of trauma, and ones that we try to push away if we can. Memories tend to be engraved and so take real effort to remove like the ordeal of removing tattoos. They essentially are our story and probably should be removed only with effort. We have a commitment to ourselves to know our story and improve upon it.. not jumping in and out of it…like the broken parts of something that can be discarded. Memories are our legacy and the results of the ways we contribute in a lasting way to the world to make ourselves into something we can be proud of. Still this song speaks of the burden some memories leave us with and the desire to push them away even though it gives no real prescription for doing so. Maybe the prescription is the space created by letting time roll and lengthen. I composed Better To Forget To Remember in F min using the music created by using both minor and major chords and the notes corresponding to their scales to create the feeling of an emotional tug and pull and perhaps a release. I created its melody imagining an evening rowing a boat solo on a lake with the moon lighting the way.. remembering but looking forward. The chorus has musical undertones of a film score emulating Barbra Streisand’s Papa Can You Hear Me with its Yiddish feel. (More than just a few music professionals compare my music style with Michel Legrand and just once I sat next to Marilyn and Alan Bergman at a workshop..the composers of the score for Yentl. A dream and then a memory: Ms. Streisand will sing my songs with me.) Better To Forget To Remember being reminiscent could be a power ballad in a Sondheim show but without the extreme dissonances he uses in his songs. While singing at piano, Better… feels like a prayer that needs to be shared.. but very personal. The bridge departs from the chorus using jazz chords that have a pleasant dissonance …not taking the ear too far into a strange place. The lyrics are reasoned and intelligent yet emotional. I especially like how the Outro dressed up and finished the song meaningfully. I have so many memories piled up from my experiences writing and performing music and performing on many stages even from commercial shoots and with many types of people…some of the best and some I would relish to push away.
The next step in the run up to Father’s Day we went out to find a secret beach located in the direction of Point Dume. With sketchy directions we went looking for it and in fact had to stumble on it as there is no signage and only word of mouth got us there. It is essentially isolated because of a difficult access allowing its natural untouched rugged quiet yet stunning beauty to be valued as a pristine resident on the southern California coast. The Los Angeles film industry uses the location… contributing to its isolation and mystery… also supportive of leaving it unmarked. It was described as a secret beach in a private cove; it felt that way the day we were there. Arriving purposefully at low tide, we climbed over the sharp angled rocks seemingly piled to refuse the climber from moving forward, to get our first glimpse of the cove. At that first sight, we felt like we were allowed to view a secret. We then descended after that difficult climb over the rocks wedging our shoes into narrow spaces finally walking on the solid ground of the beach. The beach inside the cove was being rhythmically washed as we walked across the wet sand while capturing with our eyes the setting from many angles and so discovering some table rocks to rest on and where we could set up the lunch we had prepared. While eating white cheddar and seasoned pureed avocado and green chili pepper and yellow pepper sandwiched in fresh french bread also munching some fresh cucumber and crunchy vegetable straws all washed down with orange Fanta and finished off with Bartlett pear and apricots, we listened and appreciated the ocean entertaining us. It was a few hours of real contentment sitting outside in the cool air, the ocean’s salty odor providing its special perfume, fressing and talking, and all the while watching the natural performance and sound of the waves and the sea birds flying into the wind and buoyed by it while the tide slowly dragged the ocean closer to our table. We mostly had the cove to ourselves save for a very few in their early 20’s playing ball at the other end of the cove and some rock climbers quietly scaling the promontory at the cove’s entrance.. that monolith along with the sharp rocks you have to climb to get to the cove keep the cove hidden and hard to get to for the public. We were visiting a beautiful natural place with a private aura about it. It felt like for those hours it was almost ours to own and perfect for a private celebration. The pull of the tide pushed us to wrap the day. This memory capped with scaling the rocks again, but easier the second time, to return to a more common world likely will find its way somehow into a new song some day. Back at the beach parking, an ice cream truck played its song to attract ice cream seekers, and we stepped up to to get some. Tomorrow my brother will be have his shot at doing his thing for our dad.
As every new season begins there are new opportunities to think and write stimulated by the feelings that emerge from seasonal change. I feel that and my mind records it. Summer is sun and high temperatures and swimming in hot springs and hiking and climbing while exploring… opportunities to really break routines and freedom from institutional rigors like school and lots of opportunities to listen to music in the plein-air.. and even to make my own music there.
One of our pets is having a difficult battle for her life. I want her to pull herself through it with the help of her new specialist so that the end will be kicked further away. This is why we have to stay strong and prepared the whole of our life. When the challenges come up, stored strength is ready and available like a savings account. We did bring her along on the drive to the beach and later both of our dachshund dogs walked with the breezes off the Pacific Ocean lifting their big ears. That was fun to see as they seemed ready to take off.
To the fathers who read this blog and listen to the music I post on it, thank you for doing those things! I hope you will listen to your kids speak and love them for the way they are. They will make you proud for many Happy Father’s Days. Who knows.. maybe they in time will listen to some of my music and read what I have to say and ask you something about it. Then you will get an additional opportunity to interact with them.
Sincerely, Joshua Eli
16 June 2019