I don’t know if it’s going to be better than WordPress, but it is a different community and I’m going to give it a try for my autobiography. I wanted somewhere separate where I could write and publish my new book as a serial, where you can listen and read at the same time. It doesn’t have as many features as WordPress, but it has a strong community, so I’m going to give it a go.
It’s called Substack and that’s where you will find In My Life. There is only one chapter up so far, which you can read while listening to some great music from The Beatles and Miranda Lambert. Even a song from me.
So if you like my writing, or my music, come and have a look. Let me know what you think.
Here is a chapter, not yet edited and maybe not yet complete from a boy called Gino (who didn’t know his name was Luigi) around the age of 4. The Chapter is called Please Turn the Record OverI Can’t Sleep. The book is based around 500 songs that influenced my life. If you are interested in checking out what those songs are, you will find them here, on Spotify.
I must have been about 4 years old. I couldn’t go to sleep without music. We were living in Union Street, New Brighton, in Christchurch.
Entertainment came from the radio or the record player back then and there was always music in our home. I remember calling out to my parents to put on another record, or turn it over because I couldn’t go to sleep in silence. This practice, (not calling out to my parents), has continued to this day. I always listen to music or a podcast as part of my routine to close my mind from replaying my day or focusing on what I have to do tomorrow.
One of those records I listened to back then was a Big Bill Broonzy 78.
What is a 78? It’s a thick black record made of brittle shellac that plays at 78 rpm or rotations per minute. The original record players had a big fat needle and records were often scratched as people lifted the needle off the record, or the record player was bumped, forcing the needle to slide over the grooves.
Many years later at my Glen Eden Intermediate school, and other fund-raising galas around the country, people would pay to throw cricket balls at 78 records mounted on pedestals, and win prizes based on the number they smashed. I never liked that. Sometimes, I would rummage through the boxes to see if there was anything I thought should be saved and ask if I could buy it. I rescued a few, most of which sadly got broken over the years, becoming even more brittle over time.
Now they are becoming harder to come by. One that I saved included Little Richard’s Tutti Frutti and the label says ‘featuring an electric guitar’. Another which I saved, but was disgusted by, and wondered how it found its way to New Zealand had a song called “I caught a n**** in the cornfield”, and I felt it should be kept just as an example of the world my blues idols grew up in.
In Episode 36 of the great podcast ‘A History of Rock Music in 500 Songs’ by Andrew Hickey, he tells a great story of how the great Carl Perkins, a close friend of Elvis Presley, who wrote Blue Suede Shoes, cried when he went to a record store to buy a copy of his latest record and the owner of the music store presented him with a record made of vinyl. He wanted a real record. He was eventually pacified when the owner explained that this was the way young people wanted to buy their records. The fact that Hickey’s podcast is based on the concept of 500 songs may have influenced my decision to base this book around the same number.
One of the Big Bill tracks I fell asleep listening to as a young boy was Minding my Own Business. I don’t know when the album was recorded, but he passed away in 1958.
Later I would perform some of his songs in my blues repertoire, such as When I’ve Been Drinking. It’s fascinating that he copyrighted over 300 songs in his career, yet his fame was overshadowed by people like Robert Johnson who only ever recorded 29 songs.
Broonzy left Mississippi to escape racism and his records were in fact sold as ‘race records’ mostly for a black audience. Another song my parents had on 78, that I loved was the story of John Henry, the ‘steel drivin’ man’ who took his hammer to the captain and said he was ‘gwine’.
John Henry was actually a real person who was convicted of theft in 1866, sent to the penitentiary and worked alongside steam-powered drills, building the Lewis Tunnel in Virginia for the C&O Railroad. They were pretty much treated as slave labour, and his rebellion made him a folk hero. His story can be found in this video from the Virginia Museum of History and Culture.
Eventually my parents got tired of being disk jockeys for me and bought me a clockwork radio. You had to wind it up to give it the power to play and the power wasn’t enough to drive a speaker, but it came with a couple of earplugs, the father of those we wear today.
Some 50 years later, my daughter Tracy bought me one which she knew I would like because I love technology. But I don’t think I had told her how important my first one was.
The radio sat on the white wooden window sill above my bed. Each night I would wind it up, painstakingly get the fiddly dial to tune onto a station that played music, and I would go to sleep.
As any kid does, I would toss and turn in my sleep, pulling on the cord attached to the radio and wake up when there was no give anymore and the radio would be pulled down to fall on my head. Sometimes the cable would have to be soldered back onto the circuit board.
Have you noticed how you can track your life with music? You hear a song and it takes you right back to a special time in your life?
In my last post, I mentioned that I have decided to write my autobiography. People have said I should because I have so many stories about things I have done, places I have been and life experiences, like in this photo, getting to spend time with Claudette, Robert Johnson’s granddaughter in Crystal Springs, MS. Maybe it’s that time in my life, but I have to tell you, I have a lot of living to do and more experiences to come.
The first question was how to do it. I really want to have a multi-media biography and from the earliest age, I have been about music. So I have decided to make it about the music that is the ever-changing fabric of my life. Hence the name “In My Life”.
Copyright restrictions won’t allow me to do what I wanted to do, which is to have the songs playing while people read the stories that tie in with them. But I will find a way that doesn’t infringe. For starters that will be with a link to Spotify where the songs have been selected to weave the stories about can be found.
It’s called In My Life – Luigi’s Top #500 Songs. I have drafted a few chapters already, but am not quite ready to share. Believe it or not, I’m also struggling with which songs to include in the 500. I need to cull some and add some.
Are there songs that resonate in your life, where they evoke memories for you? My song Another Stretch in Iraq did that for a group of retired marines who served in Desert Storm, when I performed it in Longwood, Fl. They came up to the stage in tears, and I was getting a bit worried that I had offended them. Quite the opposite, they adopted me for the night and said it took them right back to those intense times.
Anyway, watch this space for news on my work in progress. Comments are always welcome.
What an amazing time we live in. How have you been? Are you still there? So much has changed in the last couple of years of COVID lockdowns.
My family has grown as you can see and I have been remote working, which has been a blessing under the circumstances. I have enjoyed being surrounded by my children and grandchildren. On the other side my father passed away in June and I was fortunate that we were able to have people attend the funeral before the latest lockdown, but haven’t been allowed out of Auckland for 4 months since then to see and support my mother who is living alone.
As always I am involved in many things. I am working for a health research company as a field coach, currently supporting around 30 people after having spent around a year with the same company as a contractor doing COVID close contact calls and quickly moving to shift leader and team leader roles. It has been great to be part of a team of people.
I have had to leave most of my writing clients because after working 50 hours a week for a guaranteed income, I also wanted time for my own pursuits. I’ve been writing in LinkedIn, mostly about location-based services, which I used to do in the SoLoMo Consulting blog. SoLoMo isn’t currently trading.
If you are a supporter of The Cancer Diaries, that is still a work in progress. I bought Band in a Box software to help me with backing, whether that ends up being how I do the recording of the EP, or whether it is just the tool I use to shape the songs hasn’t been decided yet.
I have been writing jazz arrangements for guitar and am looking forward to opportunities to gig again, even if just in an open-mic environment. I wrote a new song called Quarantine and have started recording it. I’m still working through the arrangement, and it has the same potential for pub-goers to sing with the hook, just as I used to enjoy when performing songs like You Oughta Run.
So often I get comments like “You have lived such an interesting life, you should write an autobiography”. My life is far from over, but I took that on board and have started writing. More in my next post.
We are in the process of trying to sell our property and moving out west to a lifestyle block. I knew but had forgotten how stressful it is to buy and sell your home. We listed just over three weeks ago and it was passed in at auction 2 days ago as were the other lots. Times are changing and our property is a rare one, but one that needs an extended family or a land banker. The next open home is tomorrow, so today we will be once again making sure it is clean and presentable.
Anyway, I’m back writing here and apologise for the radio silence.
This Sunday at 5 PM (NZ ST) I will be performing my last Live Stream with Boosted to raise funds for my HAG Project. Yep, it’s a fundraiser as I will explain below. Every penny helps. If I can raise $1,000 Creative New Zealand will match it!
You Have Cancer
These are words nobody expects or want to hear.
A few years ago, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer after a routine blood test. I had no symptoms, but farther testing showed I had several tumours. I’ve lost family members and friends to cancer and while I kept a brave face, there were times when I was close to rock bottom. When you watch TV shows like American Idol, you see people who have amazing journeys as a result of adversity and I wondered if I might have one of those moments.
The Cancer Diaries
The moment hasn’t come yet, but perhaps you can help me turn it into one, even a modest one, through this Boosted campaign.
I have written a series of songs about my journey, starting with the day I threw my director’s chair onto the carpet, smashing the chair and ripping the carpet. That motivated the first song in what I now call ‘The Cancer Diaries’. If I Could Turn the Table shares how I felt at that moment. Most cancer patients will relate.
I want to be able to create a legacy EP and series of music videos to tell the stories and donate it to the Cancer Society, with any proceeds going to them.
After I wrote the songs for The Cancer Diaries and looked at what I would need, it included everything from a jazzy bass to a gospel choir. I found the whole thing pretty intimidating and expensive. I, therefore, didn’t give the project life.
They say things happen for a reason. Maybe this is it.
Care to help me?
I am in remission and the last song in the Cancer Diaries turns this Boosted campaign into a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal). The song is called Dare to Dream. To make it shine, I need the backing of an inspirational gospel choir. In the song, I ask what remission actually means. I sing about writing a bucket list of meaningful things I want to see and do, and the song climaxes with a huge rousing finale.
I believe it will lift a lot of spirits and bring HOPE to people who have cancer or who have friends and family going through such a journey.
So how about it folks? Would you like to come on my next journey with me? Maybe help with a donation in honour of someone you care about who is on a cancer journey? Writing music is a cathartic process. So is listening and watching. I’m also keen to hear from anyone who can help with recording, backing music, video and of course that gospel choir.
There are four songs on the EP. I estimate that studio recording of the first three will cost around $500 each. Recording the fourth song with the gospel choir is likely to be more in the range of $2,500 given the logistics. It would need to be recorded in a venue such as a church and will need a lot of gear and expertise. Mastering adds on around $800 leaving a couple of hundred dollars over for design.
These costs are based on not having to pay for backing musicians and choir. If I am able to oversubscribe, then it would be awesome to be able to give them koha too, especially in these difficult times when virtually no one in the music industry is earning a living.
Hey folks. 111 people came to check out my Boosted live-stream last week. That’s a cool number. Better than most bars are getting right now, sadly 😦
I’ll be up again tomorrow at 5 PM for another half-hour set. I’ll be sharing a COVID19 parody called Your Wipe and will be accompanied for one track by our local tui who seem to like my music on a song called Raglan Rain.
When I was told that I had cancer, I wondered if I might turn it into a moment. When you watch programs like American Idol, you hear of the hardship people went through, which motivated them to enter the competition.
One such ‘moment’ was that with my promotion of Relay For Life, I told my story about catching PROSTATE CANCER early, which motivated more than 20 men got themselves tested, which is awesome.
I started writing songs about my journey and decided to create an EP called THE CANCER Diaries and combine that with a music video, which would tell my stories of tough times and of hope. The final song, which is half-finished will culminate in a song called Dare to Dream, which needs the backing of a gospel choir for the emotionally inspiring (I hope) finale.
The intention was, and is, to donate the finished product to the cancer society. I am hopeful that it will help other people on their journeys with cancer or in support of people with cancer, as it did me in writing and playing the songs.
Anway, life got in the way.
Since COVID19, the good people at Boosted have set up a program for artists, especially musicians and songwriters to raise funds and koha because they are unable to perform live during the lockdown period. I told them about my idea and they said that it sounded like a great project for a Boosted campaign.
So I have set one up, which you can find here. I will be performing live on Sunday evening at 5 PM right there on that page. Hopefully, it will go well. It took me most of yesterday to get my sound gear working for streaming. It’s probably been a year since I was last on Twitch or YouTube live.
So the plan is to finish the songs, record them in a studio together with a few volunteer musos and create The Cancer Diaries EP and video. I’m also hoping for support from other people who can help with video and especially with a gospel choir. Do you have one hanging around somewhere?
I also need your help to spread the word about the campaign which runs for 30 days from today, in any way or form that you can.
I wrote this 3 weeks ago. Since then almost 80,000 people have contracted the virus, 2,130 people have died from it and whilst some say it is reaching a plateau, the cruise ship in Yokohama and increasing spread in Asia is growing dramatically.
I continue to be most disappointed with the racist behaviour all over the world, including my home country of New Zealand. Most of us said that the mosque shooting in Christchurch had changed us and that we would call out inappropriate behaviour when we saw it.
Well, I’m calling it out. There is plenty of racism in this country and when we stand proud of what makes us Kiwis. We need to embrace the multiculturalism. Yes, this started in China. That does not make people of Chinese ethnicity bad people, or people to be afraid of. I’m sure many of them are far more afraid of each other, but not because of their ethnicity, simply because of where they have been.
Come on Kiwis, pull up your grown-ups pants and set the example! If and when we get Coronavirus, wouldn’t it be ironic if ‘patient one’ is of European or Polynesian ethnicity. Imagine if people were afraid of us?
I know if you read my blogs that you are not racist. I also know we have to call out this scourge when you see it. I’m horrified by news stories of people asking why Asians are allowed on buses, or in our swimming pools, yelling at school children! We need to be careful, sure, but we are damaging relationships with our own people here, which will take longer for some to recover from, than the virus.
Johns Hopkins CSSE has developed and published a GIS web map tool, whereby you can live track the spread of Coronavirus on a map. I feel the pedigree is important, because when I listen to my Alexa news brief each day, no two news broadcasters have the same numbers.
Like you I want to know how serious this is, especially now that WHO declared Coronavirus as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) and today as a Global Emergency.
You can view the map in detail, zooming into any part of the map and see the geographic spread inasmuch as ‘facts’ have been reported. I suspect given the pedigree and resources, this will be as good information as any.
Adding a glimmer of hope, it not only shows the number of deaths and where they occured, but also the number of people who have recovered and where…
Today I read a translation from a Chinese expert, saying that while the Coronavirus doesn’t float in the air for long, it can survive on a smooth surface for several hours and if the temperature is right, they have found that the virus survived for 5 days! If you see someone who isn’t washing their hands, say something politely to them. Maybe rather than worrying about whether you can get face masks, a strong antiseptic spray would be a good investment.
I was horrified in my last place of work by the number of people who did not wash their hands when they finished their business in the restroom and shared this blog with them.
This is really a story about men’s hygiene in the bathroom, but it probably applies to some women as well. I was listening to the Ante Up Podcast as I showered this morning and they were talking about men who leave the washroom without washing their hands after doing their business.
Ante Up is a great podcast about Poker and has lots of great information for amateurs like myself and even those who think they know it all. What’s more they very kindly played my new song I Tilted on their show.
Anyway, they covered an issue that really anoys me, which is guys who go to the toilet and then return to the poker table without having washed their hands. The thing is that of the guys that have been in and out of the bathroom at the same time as me in poker tournaments, as many as 50%…
I was listening to the news on Alexa this morning and they were saying that in Japan (as in many countries) there are a growing number of Baby Boomers on the pension and people are worried about there being enough tax payers to afford to pay them.
I have an easy solution. There are a huge number of people over the age of 50 who want to work, but they find it very difficult to be considered over younger people. If they were working
They wouldn’t need to be receiving a pension; and
They would be paying tax which would help pay pensions for others who are unable to or don’t want to work.
The irony to me is that businesses are missing out on a wealth of experience and capability such that they can contribute significantly to the profitability of employers.
Let’s face it, people are fit and healthier longer than before and most of the over 50’s I talk to, want to travel and enjoy a lifestyle that they could not afford on a pension.
Some people might have concerns about employing people significantly older than themselves. However, if you want the best for your business or business unit, would you rather employ people requiring a lot of training, who may not have a good understanding of how business works, or people with years of experience who are prepared to be led by younger employers?
There is an irony in this situation of course because the people who don’t want to pay taxes for pensions were mostly raised by the people who need them, many of whom have paid taxes for 40 years or more, underwriting the cost to create welfare states and all the amenities we all enjoy. The younger ones may not relate to middle age, I remember, it seems like it will never happen to us, right?
Whether it is equal jobs for women, older people or people with disabilities, shouldn’t the only factor be best fit and capability to do the job well?
How is it that companies will employ women because they are poorly represented in a company but ignore older people? Personally I appreciate a workplace that reflects the community, but I also prize the benefit that comes from years of experience.
Just as a closing thought. With some notable exceptions, we prefer to elect country leaders who are over 50, because of their experience. If that’s the case, why ignore them for your business?