What’s up with Joshua Eli Kranz…LA Composer/Performer? No means not yes.

Our world is more settled since the end of January 2021.  I am hopeful a lot won’t go back to the way it was. It simply shouldn’t.  Some adjustments that have happened are big improvements.  We have had a huge amount of personal time to experiment and discover things about ourselves while we have been confined to living in a very narrow personal world. We have had an opportunity to evaluate what we do and to observe ourselves in a mirror and others also through our mind’s windows with less distraction that would compete and obscure our vision.  Definitely it is a once in a lifetime opportunity to experiment with our standard behaviors and routines.  I continue to write music but in a different way and with, I believe, improved results.  I completed my current song No Means Not Yes on January 25, 2021.  My process: I decided on an idea and wrote lyrics to make the idea come alive.  Then I edited them over a week plus until they felt and sounded when spoken as I wanted them to mean. Next over a few weeks I wrote music at the piano for syncing with the lyrics to get the sound that would convey the meaning I intended and be original to my ear.  For me a good song needs to tell a story that has meaning for me and I can react to.  Next, I try to get creative humming it and then singing it full out at piano.  I have noticed my best work takes time and could easily take more than a month if there are no competing distractions.  For the first time, at the same time I wrote 2 songs with the same lyrics: a comedic song and a torch song with a Peggy Lee jazz vocal with piano sound.  Both allowed me to become experimental and do interesting things with my music and my voice.  I uncovered many things about my versatility writing and performing while composing No Means Not Yes.  The day I sat at my piano and recorded my 2 songs on the sound equipment in my home studio did not feel like work at all because the 2 songs had been percolating for more than a month+ in my head. I did a Frank Sinatra that day.  He is famous for recording songs in only a few takes.  He had his long-time accompanist on piano who knew his every musical need.  For me it is the same because I am on piano.  As composer and lyricist the music lives in my fingers and in my head and chest waiting to spill out.  The comedic song turned out ‘as good as it gets’.  The result was as professional as any I have recorded or heard from others.  The jazz version will please jazz lovers.  For myself I am proud of what I wrote..  That is what this space of a undefined year in hiatus has done for me.  I appreciate who I am and what I can do and understand its worth.  The answer to reaching the next level is taking the time to get there.  I spent a lot of time writing this blog entry, too. Words do matter.  It is not time without tension because there has been plenty of tension in the past year. Tension often becomes the source for many of my ideas.  I have earned my own respect.

No Means Not Yes was inspired by the tension created during the past 4+ years. Sometimes an OP-ED written in a newspaper detailing facts doesn’t accomplish as much feeling as a song sung to music about a subject and that can be listened to over and over. No Means Not Yes written in G min is a call to STOP.

The first verse:

No isn’t a green light

To go,

More like a red light

To stop.

Not so hard to

Unless you ignore it,

It’s easier to pretend

And not hear it

When it’s said.

 

Then the chorus:

No means not yes.

What isn’t clear to you

Or do I need to say it

In a different way?

No matter how many times

You don’t want to hear it

Its meaning won’t change.

It’s the opposite of yes.

 

Jumping to the Bridge:

You have to realize

No,

Not everything is for you.

Like with Dickens,

You will meet some ghosts

To help you listen

Then do

What each must

When shown

It’s not the right thing to do.

 

And to the Post Verse:

No matter how many times

You don’t want to hear it

Its meaning doesn’t change.

Let me be clear.

I’ll whisper it in your ear.

No is no.

Now go.

Just go.

It’s no.

Though written as a reaction and for a purpose, this song applies to other situations and is useful to apply to them as well.

Please listen now to the 2 songs written with the same lyrics and enjoy.  I really liked performing them.  Here are No Means Not Yes.  Think about using earphones. You will hear every word.. The first song I refer to as No Means Not Yes, comedic version.  The second then is the torched jazz version.  Take a moment before listening to each version and read what was going through my head as it was written.  It will add color to each version of the song.

No Means Not Yes, comedic version

No Means Not Yesjazz version

The comedic version opens with a slow Bossa feel in G min resolving to a D9#5 chord simply and effectively to set the mood.  All 3 verses use the same musical format.  The verse lyrics create a stop and start sound to the music almost like a patter or longer stop time if it were in dance rhythm. The spaces give the comedic sarcasm a place to breathe throughout each verse.  The use of the dynamics in the piano and the voice gives the song’s target a snake-like quality.  Verse 3 uses a fun play on the word no at the end of the verse and then there is a big crescendo into the no means not yes at the top of the last chorus of the song.  The effect is to propel and build up the song to the moment of climax.  The choruses use strong push beats with the bass line of the song there walking up and down portraying that motion in the sound and rhythm.  It is through the chorus the strong point of view and overdone sarcasm of the difference between no and yes is laid down both in the lyrics and music. For the choruses I tried to vary the styling of each so each of the 3 doesn’t sound exactly the same.  Each, too, has vocal surprises.  When the song reaches the bridge it becomes a bit melodramatic:  I stretched out the notes in the vocals while the music is subdued especially where the lyrics talk about how as in Dickens you will meet some ghosts who will help you listen then do.. almost like a soliloquy of sorts.  The bridge music resolves to Gmin7/E to an E flat Dominant 7th/E flat to a D7 and then  back to a Gmin7/E.  The Post Verse mirrors the chorus in its musical chord structure and hits the listener with some fun and subtle things in the vocals especially when it goes from talking about things that he/she doesn’t want to hear to Let me whisper it in your ear.  The volume comes way down as does the tempo and the vocals focus on the lower timbers of the voice. In the outro accenting is used.  The lyrics are sung quietly building a little louder each time.   Frustration builds to the point the singer lets the object of his anger have it.  With one last accent after a guttural sigh the song ends abruptly with a dark Gmin open chord in the bass/left hand.

For the jazz version the music in each of the three verses varies.. each also using different jazz runs.  The feel of the song is pure Peggy Lee in the vocals.  There is no real plan for the vocals in the verses.  Both registers of the voice are used with the treble right hand and the bass left hand equally to create color and variations.  The piano heavily relies on the bass end of the instrument with chords that are not typical jazz chords.  This version of the song relies heavily on chords with 9ths and sharp 5’s.  I tried to make each chorus different in sound giving each a musical surprise in it. I varied the jazz runs not repeating them chorus to chorus.  The choruses have that smokey jazz feel you would hear if you walked into the Village Vanguard midnight show.  Singing and playing them produce the feel and sound of letting it all out in a small space as the sound echoes and reverberates around the room then fades away.  The bridge is the first occasion in this version of the song where the notes and vocals are held out in places.  Also, more pedal is used here to emphasize dynamic changes. The post verse has a gradual slowdown in the music like a car coming to a stop at a street light in the middle of a small town and with no cars coming. The music sits as it uses the whisper lyrics to wind down until the sound of the song almost fades away.  We have come to the end of the road and the vocals are behaving similarly.  The jazz version ends the way it started: unfinished and with a dissonant chord that most people’s ears aren’t accustomed to: Gdim9 with a #5.  It’s a perfect jazz sound to complete a song that has pulled you in to listen while slowly sipping a scotch on the rocks.. feeling totally enchanted by the music.

I had no idea when I set out to write these songs that life would change forever between the end of January 2021 and now. With pleasure I got vaccinated against Covid-19 and we are realizing the pandemic scourge is beginning to lift in the US, but Beverly Cleary, a very favorite childhood author of mine died, and then with overwhelming sadness I would lose my brother, too.  He and I worked together on one of my first songs. He wrote the lyrics for Not An Ending After All. It is unbelievably poignant and relevant. Our loss feels pretty horrible and unreal made even worse because it happened with no forewarning.  My feelings for him run deep and will migrate into my music forever. As long as we live, he too shall live.  In addition to the two songs I wrote and discussed in this blog, this blog will also feature the song I wrote with my brother: Not An Ending After All, and a song I wrote about him in 2018, He’s A Rebel.  Hands down he liked He’s A Rebel.  Also, another song, It Will Be A Great Day WHEN, that I wrote several years ago seems to belong with the two.   Our next big job is to get through the pain and be grateful for what we were given as long as it was.  Throughout his entire life my brother loved to read creating an intelligent and articulate soul.  He was a good writer. The day he died I saw a new huge tome on his bed table.  When we had questions about computer software and hardware we called him.  He was a film and history junkie and considered himself progressive loving TYT.  2 years ago he wrote a beautiful letter to our mother.  She framed it because she loved it.  He was a sensitive one.

Not An Ending After All

He’s A Rebel

And It Will Be A Great Day WHEN

………………………….

 

There is a perceptible and tangible peace in our chaotic world now.  Ramping up care for the sick, poor, and the middle class is an overdue government gift.  Some could say life is boring now.  Let life be boring while we care for everyone better.  I look forward to the next time you come over to listen to music I have written when I can share not only my music but the story behind the story I wrote for it.

“The world needs who we were ALL made to be and all the amazing and beautiful differences we each bring with us.  Maybe if we say it enough it will ring true and become the message…” Amen.

Be well.

Happy Mother’s Day, Moms, and especially mine!!  Our connection is super important.

Sincerely,

Joshua Eli

May 9, 2021

 A research analysis done by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimates the number of people who have died of Covid-19 in the US is more than 900,000, a number 57% higher than official figures. Worldwide the Covid-19 estimated death count is 7 million, double the reported number of 3.24 million.  In real terms that is the entire population of Denmark or almost the population of Israel or Switzerland.  EVERYONE needs to get vaccinated to keep all the citizens of the world alive. Just do it and then feel good about doing something significant to help those who don’t know your name but WILL LIVE BECAUSE OF WHAT YOU DID!  jek