Sunday, June 17, 2012

101 degrees

Yesterday we put a blanket out on the grass in the back yard and drank a bottle of chilled white wine in the heat.  I was told that it was "easily" 101 degrees yesterday.  It was hot, to be sure.  The wine was nice and I put on a few old Beatles albums.  The boy sure does like to be naked.  I would have gotten naked too but we share the backyard with a few other people who also own townhouses here.  The sight of Rhys and I naked on the back lawn, me drinking white wine from the bottle, might have been too much for them.  

No, I used a glass.  But it was so hot I could have easily done otherwise, and was tempted to do so.

I am slowly getting better at the piano, teaching myself the various chord inversions so that I can more easily strike the needed chord without having to always go to the first inversion.  It is difficult and I am not always being systematic.  Instead I am just trying to learn a few songs using what is known as the "inelegant" technique.  But in doing so the chords are slowly starting to come.  The piano really helps remind me how similar in nature some chords are with others.  Things that I learned long ago on the guitar but am now re-learning.  I don't know how to do suspensions or augmentations or anything fancy, or useful.  The coolest chord I know is probably an F#minor or an Fmajor7.  The latter is the only chord I know yet that uses 4 notes.  I needed it for one of the songs I've learned.  I'm much better at the 3 note chords, for now.  My left hand just fumbles along playing individual bass notes, usually much too soft or far too loud.  I do best with the index finger or its neighbor when I am playing only one octave lower then the chords, all towards the center of the keyboard.

I have taught myself to play "Dirty Work" by Steely Dan, "Boys Don't Cry" by The Cure, "Hey,Hey, My, My (Into the Black) by Neil Young, "Helpless" also by Neil Young,"Swingin' Party" by The Replacements, "Do I Ever Cross Your Mind" by Dolly Parton, "James Alley Blues" Trad., but I've learned it the way Wilco does it, "Have You Ever Seen The Rain?" by Credence Clearwater Revival, "The Moon" by Cat Power, "Take A Chance On Me" by Abba, "Creep" by Radiohead, "Breakdown" by Tom Petty, "Running To Stand Still" by U2, "Wicked Game" by Chris Isaak, and J.J. Cale's "After Midnight."  Pretty standard stuff for a guy my age, I guess.  I just ape my way through them, skipping over chords I don't know yet or holding the previous chord until I get to one that I can play, hoping that the singing will suggest the change enough to make it work.  Sometimes this technique gives a song an unexpected caesura that works, other times it does not.

Rhy seems to like it a lot.  I put him in a little swing next to me while I play and he rocks back and forth smiling at me, seeming to really enjoy my song choices.  

I'm currently taking requests.  The song must be easy to play, easy to sing, and memorable. That's currently where my talent level lies.  I'm not very good at any song that is in the keys of F#, G#, A#, C#, D#, etc.  Anybody that knows the piano will understand.  I know all of the easy chords, the majors and minors whose root are the white keys, the naturals.  That'll be the name of my ensemble, "The White Kilos"...

It is fun though.  I keep finding individual keys that I believe to be out of tune, based on my perfect-pitch singing, only to find out upon inspection that the key is precisely in tune.  I have been checking them with a guitar tuner and most of them appear to be fine, which is perplexing once I begin singing again, because they sound so far off.  I can't figure it out.  There's no obvious explanation for it.