"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Listen to my song "Pulse" inspired by tragedy

Hope for the future. Remembering what was good. Such are the themes that emerge when you write a song based on a tragedy, or inspired by a tragedy. The Pulse nightclub seemed like such a wonderful and innocent place for young adults to gather and enjoy each other's company. It was in Orlando FL.
It has been six months since the horrific event that impressed the name of the place on everyone. The six-month anniversary is being marked. Myself, I decided that the club was worthy of a song of remembrance and hope. The hope is based on how we can strive to erase the sense of conflict that can influence a madman to do the unthinkable. I invite you to listen to the song I wrote, called "Pulse," recorded at the Nashville TN studio of Bob Angello. It's a wonderful guitar/voice presentation. Here is the link from YouTube:
Thanks to Gulsvig Productions of Starbuck MN for getting the song online. If you have media needs that require a "geek's" expertise, contact the Gulsvigs. Our family lived in Starbuck for about six months when we first settled in the Morris area. In my memory it seems longer than six months. I still remember the laundromat with the stuffed animals! Here in Morris, Carl Benson of Benson Drug had the famous reputation of the "stuffed animals" motif.
We rented a place next to the Samuelsons. The Samuelsons ran the drug store and had a collie dog named "Rexall." These were lake places on expansive Lake Minnewaska. My dad had grown up on the shores of that lake in the Glenwood area. He graduated from Glenwood High School in 1934. The Great Depression was hovering. The famous gangsters of that time were having their heyday. John Dillinger was famous.
Howard Moser once told me that those notorious souls would stay on the loose by crossing state lines. Once a line was crossed, the pursuers had to shrug and say, "well, they're the problem of (the other state) now." 
Gangsters were heroes in the minds of some. They stole from institutions that appeared oppressive in some ways. My father grew up acquiring the classic traits of Depression-influenced young people. They were noted for keeping their frugal, conservative traits throughout their lives. My father did. Such people could grate on us younger, less-scared people with their attitude. They memorized the prices of everything. They were highly reluctant to discard anything. There was no TV yet. A business like Gulsvig Productions would have struck them as something out of Flash Gordon.
My father wrote choral music. He never prodded me to experiment in music composition. Maybe he was too familiar with the rat race of professional music to want to encourage his son. It was essential for me to be in band or choir. Looking back, I'm genuinely puzzled. Band seems to have left no skills for me to use permanently. We performed music where sections were labeled A, B and C etc. I learned nothing about popular song structure.
Academic music people seemed to look down on "popular music." We would have to be total self-starters. We'd have to acquire a guitar. Our public schools would have nothing to do with the guitar instrument, or piano either. Private piano lessons would have to be sought. Why? I have long held a theory about this. The purpose of school is to promote conformity. School stands for nothing if not for promoting conformity. It's a model for going out in the world and dealing with all the world's unpleasantness such as holding a job that might stink most of the time.
I can paraphrase something I once read: "School is unpleasant because the purpose of school is to prepare you for a world of work that you'll likely find unpleasant much of the time." You take orders. You follow instructions.
To ply songwriting a la Woody Guthrie with a wonderful guitar at your disposal, flies in the face of the conformity aim. It is so easily anti-conformity.
The guitar and piano are instruments of individual expression. Our traditional school model thus feels threatened by this. Society can feel threatened by how songwriters weave their view of the world and of inconvenient topics. Look at Pete Seeger. Do you recall any pro-Viet Nam war songs? Well, maybe there were one or two. "The Green Beret?"
Artists took up a primary role in the ranks of Viet Nam war skeptics, to say the least.
In my case with my song "Pulse," I strive for passivity and an underlying love, and faith in, humanity. We need to put aside religious schisms and the schism between gay and straight. The "Pulse" club was gay-friendly but its clientele was not exclusive that way. It was a place of love and unconditional friendships. It's the last place in the world anything destructive could be imagined.
God bless the departed souls and their families. "Good will conquer evil, Satan will be crushed," as my song lyrics say.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

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