The Big Reveal

youtube sessions

A big shout out to my friend Arthur for inspiration on this new country (again!) song.  We worked this very intense job back in March and we would try to make it bearable by talking through anything and everything.  He was telling me about this new girl that he really liked but she didn’t quite know it yet.  Now, we won’t talk about how it turned out…but, the inspiration he provided produced this tune.  Enjoy!!

Download the MP3 here.  Play: [audio:http://benwardmusic.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/Big-Reveal.mp3|titles=Big Reveal|artists=Ben Ward]

Crossroads

One of my favorite shows on TV is CMT Crossroads. It pairs a country artist with an artist from another genre (usually pop/rock). They sing each others’ songs and chat it up about their various musical experiences. There are a few duds, but I love a lot of them. One of my favorite games to play is “Who would be your Crossroads artist?” I love thinking about doing the show and what artist I would get to meet and collaborate with…cool. (a few possibilities: Springsteen, U2, Coldplay, James Taylor (he was taken by the Dixie Chicks, though))

Here are my favorites and links to videos.

Little Big Town and Lindsey Buckingham – Best by far!! “Bones” is basically a modern day Fleetwood Mac song anyway.

Brad Paisley and John Mayer – Both amazing guitar players although you feel a little bad for Brad because it seems John isn’t really into his music as much.

Dixie Chicks and James Taylor – Their version of “Carolina in My Mind” is one of my favorites that comes up on shuffle. Just James’s guitar, voice, and harmonies by the Chicks.

Kenny Rogers and Lionel Richie – Went to the taping of this with my HUGE Lionel Richie fan sister-in-law Norah. Their chemistry was awesome. They should do an album and tour together.

Jason Aldean and Bryan Adams – Brand new one, but what a hit. Their voice sound amazing together and Bryan should do a country album!

Do you have a favorite??

Withholding

Have you ever had a falling out with someone in your life?  Have you parted ways with the possibility of never speaking to them or seeing them again?  The fault may be yours, it may be theirs, or (most likely) the blame could be shared.

I have.

And then, later on, I decided I was wrong in so many ways and it was ridiculous that we weren’t friends anymore.  I called to apologize and say what an idiot I had been and could they please forgive me.  But, that wasn’t enough.  They couldn’t forgive.  They weren’t even interested in talking about the situation or the relationship.

This was painful.

Now it has been seven years.  This seems crazy.  We were like best friends!  I sent a little note the other day and got no response.  It’s possible they didn’t get it, but more likely they feel the same way they did years ago.

At what point is it too late?  What constitutes the line that, after you cross, you can never go back?  You see it all the time: husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, mothers and daughters, friends.  Why can’t the offenses be overcome?

Jesus said it’s in my best interest to forgive:

Matthew 6:14-16
14For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Matthew 18:20-22
21Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”
22Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

Why is it so hard?  What’s going through people’s hearts and heads when they withhold forgiveness?  Especially when someone asks for it.

The hardest part of my situation is that I miss the friendship.  I miss the laughter, the crying, the boring, the crazy times.  Maybe they feel this is the price I must pay for my offenses.  But I still hold out hope that the forgiveness I long for won’t be withheld forever.

And, even more urgent: Can I somehow give forgiveness when it’s deserved and even when it’s undeserved?

You can come undone

youtube sessions

This is the sixth week of the YouTube Sessions!  I’ve got another country song for you.  This one has quite an interesting inspiration…I was watching an interview with Jessica Simpson last week on TV.  It struck me how she had been through so much — some self-inflicted, some not, but yet, for those few minutes in that studio she could just talk about music and leave all that stuff outside.

This got me thinking about how a person can do that for someone else.  How “In Here” the outside world can just disappear for awhile. 

Obviously, this song is just inspired by Ms. Simpson, not directed toward her :).

Download the MP3 here.

Live, Live, Live

A couple months ago I posted a status on Twitter/Facebook stating that I loved live albums and asking people for their favorites.  I got a great response.  Lots of classics.  So I decided to follow that up with a list of my favorites in no particular order…

James Taylor – Live – Great musicianship and, of course, songs.  No overdubs!

Coldplay – LeftRightLeftRightLeft – The enthusiasm of the crowd is amazing.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band – Live in New York City – The energy of this band is unparalleled.

Simon and Garfunkel – The Concert in Central Park (1981) – Great harmonies and great fun.

David Wilcox – East Asheville Hardware – Funny, poignant, real.

Darrell Scott – Live in NC – Mix country, bluegrass, southern rock, jam band, and a voice like no other.

John Mayer – Where the Light Is – Comprehensive.  The acoustic set is my favorite by far.

Darrell Evans – Let the River Flow – Taught me so much about worship.

Hillsong – Shout to the Lord – Classic.  Nothing else to say.

U2 – Rattle and Hum – Not a complete live album but the closest I had in the 8th grade.  I loved the passion on this…I wanted to sing like Bono so bad (Part of me still does:)!

How about you?…

Unopened

“Another issue is the fact we don’t have many record stores left. The experience we all grew up with of spending the afternoon browsing music in a record store, doesn’t exist anymore. So let’s wake up. Yeah, sales are down. But how many stores do we have? I wouldn’t be surprised if some smart young business person finds a way to open 25 or 30 wildly successful new CD stores. Because there is an audience for them.” – Scott Borchetta, President/CEO Big Machine Records, Think Tank: A Music Row Special Report, August 2007

Record/CD stores drove me crazy.  Because I love music, I always wanted to go to them (when they existed) and check out the selection.  But, it never failed, I left disappointed.  Maybe it was cooler before when vinyl was the thing – at least you could see real cover art.  But, looking through a bunch of CD cases to see what was new?  You could listen to a few CDs through greasy headphones that had been on who-knows-who’s head before you and usually never the one you wanted. 

Don’t get me wrong, I liked the idea of the record store, but not much more. 

Even when the stores started to get digital sampling stations where you scanned the barcode and heard the music, it was always a few seconds and, knowing the record company it was the intro or instrumental section, not anything helpful like the chorus (this still drives me crazy on the iTunes store – think about what you want people to hear!!).

The one exception to this was Blockbuster Music’s (remember?) short-lived program to let people listen to any CD in the store.  They opened the package for you and you listened and then they sealed it back up in their own plastic.  This was amazing!  I would go up almost every night and listen to all kinds of albums.  I discovered David Wilcox and listened to his entire catalog.  I bought several of his CDs.   I always went back to the rack, though and bought the unopened copy.  Thus, this was the fatal flaw in Blockbuster’s strategy: people listened and then didn’t buy.

People talk about the “scene” at record stores.  But, as a kid (and even an adult) breaking into that scene can be quite intimidating.  But most of the music stores I knew were chains where the “scene” never existed.

What kills me about Scott Borchetta’s quote above is that it is so off-the-mark.  So many people running record companies are so out of touch.  It has been this way and continues.  When will the new generation of leaders take over the music business with new ideas and exciting visions?  When will they choose to make music rather than computers and software?

So, I’m all for retail music stores and digital music stores.  Just don’t make people walk or surf into a store and leave without the experience of amazing music.  If we do, the music and  the wallets will stay unopened.