Friday, December 30, 2011

Song Insight: "Gonna Get High"

Composer: Greg Hintermeister, ©2011
Arranged: Greg Hintermeister
Performed by: Greg Hintermeister
Recorded: 2011 in Hint of Light Studios
Emotions: Passion, Love, Community, Magic of life!

Listen and Watch:              Other song insights

Background:
It all started with an inside joke referenced in a post, "Just got pics of my new guitar from my PRS Supplier".

It ended with a surprisingly passionate and uplifting song.

Here are the pics I posted:

I assumed everyone in my friends list knew that I joke regularly about my "addiction" to my guitars...that, for me, my passion for my guitars, and the music/worship/relationships that resulted from playing them are so core to my life that I can't imagine living without their influence (you know, small things like meeting my wife, traveling the world, life-long friends, leading others in worship, ...all directly resulted from playing guitar)

Naturally, since I found a guitar dealer who over the years I've grown to fully trust, and who helps me build an outstanding specimen (he seems to have a secret tunnel into the PRS factory, where he sets out the best wood and chooses the best builders), I can honestly say I have a supplier for my PRS guitars. This dealer, Jack Gretz, knows the kind of music I play so he offers suggestions as to what options and wood choices I should make to get the most out of my guitar.

I have purchased three PRS guitars from him: My PRS Hollowbody II, my PRS Swamp Ash Special, and now my PRS Tonare Grand acoustic (I have a fourth PRS, a Starla, that I won at the PRS Experience event in 2008).

Surprisingly, some comments in that original post made it clear not everyone was 'in' on the inside joke. I actually removed the post since I started to get some concerning comments about how I shouldn't take a scourge on society like drug addiction so lightly. 

My first thought?

Write a tounge-in-cheek song using all the drug-use metaphors I could think of about how I'm addicted to this new guitar (you know, lyrics about breathing deep, holding my breath, holding my addiction between my fingers, seeing places I've never been, and, of course throwing in the suggestive comment or two about gliding my fingers across a g-string).

What did I end up with?

A surprisingly passionate and uplifting song that I completely adore.

I think I found a way to communicate what I feel when I play guitar...a sense of wonder, passion, exploration, and excitement that fills every fibre in my being...especially when I'm playing a new, freshly written song.

I hope I can live up to these lyrics in songs to come. and I hope you get a glimpse into what it feels like for me to play my guitar.

Enjoy.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Technical Specifics:
Recording Unit: Cakewalk MIDI software, Soundscape DAW
Drums: Roland XV-5080
Acoustic Guitar: Paul Reed Smith Tonare Grand Custom
Guitar Amp: Fender Hot Rod Deluxe
Acoustic Guitar Mics: 12th fret: CAD E100, 3ft back: Rode NT1
Electric Guitar Mics: close: Shure SM57;  3ft back: Rode NT1
Keyboard pad: XV-5080
Bass: RD-500


Recording Specifics:
The first version, acoustic-only, was the first one I recorded so I could see how the guitar sounded on its own. Here's the acoustic-only YouTube video:

Once I recorded that, I felt there was a lot of un-tapped energy I could release if I added more instruments. The version at the top of this post is the full version with drums, bass, and electric guitar. I could have added even more vocal harmonies, guitar solos, but I think this is a great blend of instruments to squeegee out the passion I wanted to convey without making the song too hard-rock. I really wanted to keep the acoustic a driving instrument through the song.

The tuning of the guitars was unique:  C# - G# - C# - F# - A - C#      

However, this let me chord on the 3-5th strings with normal fingerings, yet have the 1, 2, 6 strings ring open for much of the song, which gave it the full acoustic sound I was looking for.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Lyrics:
Verse 1:
Gonna breathe in
    breathe deep
Slowly let out my breath
Go places I've never been

Gonna find love
Gonna find pain
Gonna find there's a secret for livin' this life
and I'm holding it in my hand

Chorus:
Gonna get high
High on this guitar
Gonna dig deeper
Down to the depths of who we really are

We'll play songs of laughter and tears
we'll play songs to lovers and friends we hold dear
and who knows   what we'll find...  when we're high

Verse 2:
Gonna sing out
Gonna sing loud
Sing with all my breath
with feelings I can't speak out

Sing about faith
Sing about peace
Sing from the depths of my inner most dreams
I might even have to scream

Chorus:
Gonna get high
High on this guitar
Gonna dig deeper
Down to the depths of who we really are

Lets touch our soul through these strings
Let this wood carry our heart when it rings

'Cause who knows what we'll find...  when we're high

B:
Let's close our eyes

Verse 3:
Gonna breathe in
    breathe deep
Slowly let out my breath
See places I've never been

Gonna find truth
Gonna find grace
Gonna find we're all here for a reason tonight
Lets all raise our hands and say

Chorus:
We're gonna get high
High on this guitar
Gonna dig deeper
Down to the depths of who we really are

The thrill of a lifetime is here
It's you and it's me and what we believe
and Who knows   what we'll find...  when we're high

End:
Gonna get high

Gonna get high

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Song Insight: "Christmas Morn"


Composer: Greg Hintermeister, ©1995
Arranged: Greg Hintermeister
Performed by: Greg Hintermeister
Recorded: 1995 in my home studio
Emotions: Fond memories, regret, hope


Listen:      Other song insights


Background:
I've received some amazing gifts on Christmas morn. I remember early Christmases when our family of four would sit around the tree, play music from an old reel-to-reel, and share the time opening presents one at at time. The best part was watching my mom's reaction after opening a gift from my dad...who knew exactly what unexpected gift to give that perfectly showed his love for her.
 
Here's an early shot my Mom took of us boys. Sometimes we'd have Christmas in our home, sometimes at Grandpa's farm, but we were always together. Sometimes we'd have our Christmas early since we were lucky enough to take some trips to Florida during the break.

Other Christmases were filled with pets. My dad grew up on a farm, so having a pet in the house was not his idea of fun (let alone 4 guinea pigs!)...and the smell was not a fond memory-maker I'm sure. But many Christmases included laying by the lights of the tree with my guinea pig, Snowball.
(I think he's excited about Christmas too! Oh, and look at the wallpaper in the background...loved that pattern!) My brother's had one named Tippy, who, we later learned, was NOT a male since a few weeks after we brought him home we had baby guinea pigs!

I remember sledding on Christmas morn. A lot. Sometimes it was on a hill near our home, and sometimes it was on a hill at the camp my uncle ran, but it was always with friends who was glad I was with them. I tell ya, there's nothing like feeling wanted as a kid.
This is one Christmas morn a few years ago when my kiddos went sledding (yep, on a sled that he got for Christmas.)

One Christmas in 1986 included spending time with a young lady I met over the summer.
This is from a party for our youth group. It was then I realized the glitter of a Christmas tree can't compare at all to the sparkle this girl added to my life.

Yep, I've received some amazing gifts on Christmas morn.

But as I look back, the only gifts I remember, the gifts that really meant something, weren't wrapped under the tree. Sure the presents under the tree added to the atmosphere, but the gifts I remember were far better:
  • My whole family being together, focusing on each other
  • Seeing my mom open a gift that my dad picked out...and seeing the love shown at that moment
  • Pets, who love no matter what
  • Exploring as a family on warm beaches
  • Friends who actually wanted me to sled with them
  • Sweet smells from the kitchen making the family know there's a mom in the house who loves everyone enough to bake and cook.
  • A girl who added sparkle to my 17th Christmas morn and every day since
  • Four children who continue to show me how magical life can be

...and then there's the most important gift I've received.

I hesitate because I don't know if I've treated this gift well. Sometimes I've left it outside while I went about my business. Sometimes I embraced it in private only to tuck it snugly inside my pocket while out with friends. Sometimes I misplaced it, sometimes it felt fake, and sometimes it seemed so out-of-date that I wondered if it's worth mentioning.

But, sometimes, I would pin this gift on my chest and share it proudly with all who were curious.

In the end, the gift I received when I was seven by asking my Savior, Jesus, to lead my life, has changed everything. This is the gift that makes all Christmas mornings magical.

Merry Christmas. I hope you receive some amazing gifts this year, too.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Technical Specifics:
Recording Unit: Recording Unit: Yamaha MT1X cassette 4-track Acoustic Guitar: Ovation 1712 Custom Balladeer
Acoustic Guitar Mics: Recorded directly into 4-track
Vocal Mic: Old Yamaha dynamic mic

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Recording Specifics:
I wrote and recorded this in 1995 in preparation for our first 'real' album release called "A Hint of Christmas"
Karyn and I sang Christmas carols together (a pure and joyful experience that we've let slip away in the chaos of life...need to get that back). One year we sang during intermission of "A Christmas Carol", and we kept hearing, "Where can I buy this music?". So the next year we decided to record a real album. We gathered the songs together in July (trips to the library), and we started arranging and recording the songs. Some we recorded in our home studio (like "Christmas Morn"), but others we recorded at RP Recording Studios, a local recording studio in town.

I loved that experience of recording in a real studio, especially when we got to use $2500 microphones! (someday I'll get the courage to talk about when I borrowed one of his $1000 mics, I set it up and recorded only to later discover that the mic was pointing the wrong direction!...still embarrassing to think about)

The album was the first for many things, including getting the rights to the songs, working with duplication companies, graphic artists to render what Karyn created (isn't it a cool cover!?!)

This song was fairly straight forward to record and was all done on my 4-track cassette recorder (hence the hiss in the background).

I am quite proud of this song, and frankly the whole Christmas album.

I think it's time to record another one for next Christmas.

Question: What are your favorite Christmas songs?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Lyrics ©1995 Greg Hintermeister
Verse 1:
Last night I dreamed of Christmas Morn
The sun came through my window,   I was four
I knew when the light came I would be
playing with my two guinea pigs by that tree

Chorus:
And I............loved,  Christmas morn
And I wondered, who’s that present for

Verse 2:
That sun came through my window,  I was ten
thoughts filled with snow men, hayrides, and my new sled
I’d go so fast down that hill
I must confess, I was sure that I could fly
I waved to my mom and dad as I flew by

Chorus:
And I............loved,  Christmas morn
And I heard somewhere a little boy was born

Bridge:
I’d feel the sun on me like some one song to be sung
Every year the light would be there
Even when I didn’t care
My memories would play tricks on me
And I could see an echo of what used to be  beside that tree

Verse 3:
Last night I dreamed of Christmas morn
The Son came into my heart, for that, He was born
I know now that when I wake, Christmas morn t’will be
I’ll that light on my window
And I’ll believe

Chorus:
And I............love Christmas morn
I can’t wait until I wake to see the break of dawn
And I............love Christmas morn
And I’ll be there.....on Christmas morn

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Raising HINTERkids: Defending REAL Song Meanings


Do you love a good rock song as much as I do? I simply love the energy, the guitars, and the memories that flourish when a favorite rock 'n roll song hits the radio (too 20th century? sorry...let me rephrase), ...when a favorite song appears in your playlist after a mathematical algorithm determines among the 13,437 songs that today, right now, this second, you should hear "Hot For Teacher" that was ripped from the vinyl record you purchased in 1984 and hid under your bed because the cover showing an angel smoking a cigarette was example #285 your dad would use as to why this music was "of the devil".

The problem?

The four kids in the back seat when the aforementioned song starts playing.

They're young but not stupid.

Given 45 seconds, they'll figure out what the song means and realize that you do NOT spend every waking moment focused on the finer points of Calvinistic Eschatology like you want them to believe.

The solution?

HINTER-apologetics! 

Simply put, this is the ancient skill of defining and defending the HINTER-meaning of the songs you love so that the listener (your kids) hears long-lasting, valuable lessons, while you can rock out to "Ice-Cream Man". 

Lets run through some recent examples of HINTER-apologetics so you can see how it works. In this case, hearing these songs while flying down the highway with the kids in the back seat...


"Back in Black", By: AC/DC (1980)
You see kids, the 1980's brought new fashion trends. The 70's were filled with bright colors and pastel shapes. AC/DC had great fashion insight, what with school uniforms and scottish caps. This was simply a cry for sensibility, formalism, and the color black. It just works for all occasions.

What's that? The lyric, "Of a Cadillac Number one with a bullet, I'm a power pack"? Why that merely a poet exploring the use of the sound "ack", which in 16th century Hedonic culture was a praise to the Lord. 

In fact, some philosophers propose that Brian Johnson (lyric writer, lead singer) was the brother of C.S. Lewis who wanted to escape from his brother's stuffy persona, and who later regularly traded places with C.S. Lewis himself!


"Paradise By The Dashboard Lights", By: Meatloaf (1977)
Listen closely, my dear children, and learn the influence of corporate america. This song by Mr. Loaf (whose father was a farmer and the inventor of modern beef processing), was pure marketing genius! Unknown to most, Mr. Loaf spent his early years selling "Paradise", a line of all-weather sweaters...specifically meant to wear on summer nights. Unfortunately, he struggled to make a dent in the summer-sweater fashion market. 

One day after the Paradise Sweater Inc. quarterly earnings meeting, he had a brainstorm. "What if I make an 8 minute commercial and disguised it as a real song!?!". The rest is history. Take a listen to some of the lyrics:

"Though it's cold and lonely in the deep, dark night, I can see Paradise by the dashboard light" - an obvious and blunt effort to market his Paradise sweaters to fashion-concious truck drivers (those tractor-trailor dashboards are lit up like a runway and made the  Paradise sweater sparkle like a diamond!).

What's that? the lyric, "Ain't no doubt about it we were doubly blessed. 'Cause we were barely seventeen and barely dressed"? Why, that simply refers to the exquisite feel of the Paradise sweater...they felt smooth, they felt tight, they felt so good...they felt so right. This 8 minute commercial used metaphor to suggest a consumer could wear a Paradise sweater, feel young, and not worry about what else they wore because all attention would be on their Paradise sweater.

In a tragic turn of events, the week before the commercial's release, the Paradise Sweater Factory was overrun by bats...which was a rare occurrence in Hell, Michigan. The bats were transferred out of the city, but not before all sweaters were ruined.



"What Do You Do for Money Honey", By: AC/DC (1980)
Ah. A favorite from the Back in Black album, but not the most popular. You see kids, the Young brothers fore-saw the 'me' decade of the 80's coming, and deftly and introspectively asked the future graduates of 1987, "What, in fact, do you do for money? Is Money what you will focus on? Do you not see value in your relationships, serving society, and working for the greater good?" (HINTER paraphrase). Angus was Gandhi in knickers.

What's that? The lyric, "Never gonna give it for free"? Why, that is a scathing commentary on the lack of community service and volunteerism. The "IT" refers to your time, skills, values, and most searingly, your heart. 



"Pour Some Sugar On Me", By: Def Leppard (1988)
You see kids, children's music comes in all forms. This song is the endearing story of a strawberry named Razzle and a raspberry named Dazzle who sneak into a candy factory to make their favorite dessert: Peaches and Cream. We soon learn that Razzle loves television because when it's turned off they can dance and see their reflection...like a mirror. While in the factory, Razzle sees a display and starts dancing, and rascly Dazzle sneaks up and pours sugar on Razzle!

Razzle decides that dancing while making their dessert was an improvement and throughout the song encourages Dazzle to pour all the dessert ingredients on top of her to optimize the mixing process.

What's that? The lyric, "Sometime, anytime, sugar me sweet; Little miss innocent sugar me; Take a bottle, shake it up; Break the bubble, break it up"? Why, that's recipie instructions for the parent to remake the Peaches and Cream treat after this sweet, innocent, song-for-the-ages story is over.

How lovely such a wholesome song can still be heard by youngsters today.


Congratulations! You are well on your way to becoming an expert in HINTER-apologetics. Next time we will cover advanced topics, including:

  • Adding illustrations to reinforce that "Love in an Elevator" by Aerosmith is really describing how the heart of a child has ups and downs and depends on his fathers sacrificial love to see them through the various floors of adolescence. 
  • Hot for Teacher: Van Halen's tireless effort to improve education using allegory and acronyms
  • 1999: The push for a capitalistic society by Prince, Warren Buffett's secret financial advisor
~~~~
Question: What rock song do you love? What HINTER-apologetics would you apply?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

2011-11-27: George Winston


11-27-2011: George Winston
Where: Mayo Civic Center, Rochester MN
Went with: Wife
Times: 4th

This concert was a "Full Circle" type of experience.  

Here's my ticket stub to the 11-27-2011 George Winston concert:   

And here's my program to the very first George Winston concert I attended: 
For both of them, Karyn sat by my side. 

It's just for the first one, it was the very first date Karyn and I went on.

Nearly 25 years ago to the day, I asked Karyn out for a date. We met earlier in May '86, and in what will have to be a deliciously fun future post, we had a VERY interesting summer of music, Valley Fair, relationship-drama, church, 4th of July poster-making, midnight excursions, and...the "other" boyfriend.   

At her madrigals and choir Christmas concert in the Ridgedale center court, I asked Karyn to the George Winston show. My logic was that even if she was not sure, she'd probably say yes to an expensive concert so it would at minimum get me one date :-)  (just enough to let her experience my HinterMOJO)

Luckily she said yes, and in Dec 23, 1986, we went to Orchestra Hall and listened to George. I sat on her right, and I remember holding her hand for the first time and putting my arm around her (which, I quickly learned, is NOT a comfortable position for your arm to be in on its own...but when it's surrounding a creature like Karyn, it becomes totally worth it)  

From that first date, to now...25 years later, we have traveled on a crazy-lovely-dramatic-musical adventure, and I wouldn't trade a second with this lady.   

The music that George played at this latest concert brought us back to our early dating. Funny how music can be such a potent memory and emotional amplifier. I probably hadn't heard some of that music by Karyn's side since the last George Winston concert.    

His playing is so clear, crisp, and dynamic. Sometimes he play loud and it sounds like a guitar amp in over drive. His pianissimo is so quiet, but has complete clarity. When he needs it even softer, he reaches into the Steinway 9' grand, mutes the strings with his palm, and continues to play... evoking images of scampering autumn creatures. Sometimes he'll pluck the individual strings for a sitar effect.  

Simply amazing. His playing seems to reflect  the life Karyn and I have formed:

Sometimes we're snoopy-dancing...

Sometimes we're curled up in a cold December night listening to the wind...

Sometimes we're exploring the forest...sometimes lost and a little scared...sometimes in awe at the life that surrounds us...

...and sometimes we're emerging from winter into spring...and enjoying every essence of life.

But always she fills my life with beauty, wonder, and love. 

I've said it many times before, but to sum up, she simply adds the sparkle to my life.     

If you have never heard George Winston's music, take it for a spin. December is my favorite album (probably because it was our favorite) but he's got a lot of great work.

Thanks George, for a great concert, and great memories.

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