September 15, 2010

Rickenbacker - Full Circle

I joined my first band in 8th Grade, supposedly to play bass. There were two other guitar players, along with a very talented drummer. – One guitarist had just gotten a Farfisa keyboard and wanted to play that, which was fine with the rest of us, as it was great to have a keyboard in the band. The other guitarist, having lots of money and not a lot of rhythm, got a Rickenbacker 12-string guitar, and couldn’t play it. So, he wound up as the bass player and I got to play a Rickenbacker 12-string, during the heyday of Roger McGuinn and that distinctive 12-string sound of the Byrds, the Turtles, and so many of the 60's groups. My fingers and ears never again felt comfortable with just 6 strings.

Eventually the band members went separate ways, and I said a lingering goodbye to the Rickenbacker. From that time on, I've always been a 12-string player. Over the years (with the famous Manny's and Bronen's music stores nearby in New York), I acquired a multitude of 12-string guitars, some later sold, and some being keepers to this day. These included a Vox Teardrop, Hagstrom electric, Guild acoustic (still a favorite!), Yamaha electric, Ovation Adamis, and at least 5 others that have come and gone. But I never had a Rickenbacker --- until today. I came across an offer I couldn't refuse, so here it is. It feels just like it did back in 8th grade, with that same great sound, except I hope I can play it a bit better now.

...Bill Pere

September 11, 2010

Sept 11 Reflections

Sept 11, 2010: Having spent so much time in lower Manhattan as a child, it hit home especially hard as I watched 9/11/01 unfold on TV that morning. A week or so later, I started to write a song about it, and after a day or two, I had parts of a verse and chorus set to music, some assorted images, and pieces of other lines. To this day, it remains unfinished, as I came to find it had more meaning being left in fragments.

A short time later, Kay wrote her 9/11 reflection, "Because the Sky Fell Down", a wonderfully crafted song that captured much of what many of us wanted to say, woven in her own unique and artful way. I find it moving every time she performs it. It was recorded in Nashville and released in 2005

As the next several post-9/11 years unfolded, I wrote "I Am Erica" (using deliberate white space and oronym techniques to morph it into "I America"), released July 4 2008 on the "American Sampler" compilation and soon to be re-released on a 30 year retrospective album.

The songs we write, as well as those written by many of my colleagues, speak of the importance of tolerance by all people, for all people, of all beliefs, for all beliefs. Any type of extremism can only fan the flames of intolerance, and we've seen enough fire to last more than 3,000 lifetimes.

Music and songs can reach people in a powerful way, but still nine years later, it seems the lesson has not yet been learned, the message not yet heard. The music of the 1960's had tremendous influence on the social and political issues of those turbulent times. In this 21st century world of internet sound-bytes, the voices singing out on the important issues of our day are drowned out by pop, glitter, spandex, and pyrotechnics. Perhaps it is time to turn up the volume.

…Bill Pere