creativity, Music

For The Love Of It

December 17, 2018

All my life I’ve enjoyed learning and I’ve tried to do things to the best of my ability. I do a few things pretty well that I’m kind of proud of:

I learned to play guitar and read music. I like to sing, make harmonies and write songs. I also have a great appreciation for listening to music.

I’m athletic. In High School, I high jumped six feet at a State Meet in Missouri during my Junior year. I played basketball and I was a left half back on the football team and we won the Championship that year.

I embrace and enjoy learning about other cultures and customs during my travels to different parts of the world. I lived in South Korea for 12 years. I learned to read, write and speak Korean. While I was there, I sang Korean songs on all of the Korean TV stations and two of the Korean radio stations. I also traveled throughout Korea.

I have three college degrees.

I write these posts about things that interest me the most.

I enjoy photography.

And last, but not least, I’m a father of three very special sons.

 

I’m pretty good at a lot of things but I’m not great at any of them. And I don’t know if that’s because I never tried hard enough, or I wasn’t motivated enough, or I simply am not talented enough to be great at one or more things.

But what I think is more accurate to say here is that I am as good at these things as I want to be.

Could I be great? Maybe or maybe not. I don’t seem to be motivated to attain greatness. I’ve always been motivated by the intrinsic value I receive in being able to do these things. I do it because I love doing it or because it interests me. I don’t know when I began to adopt this intrinsically motivated behavior, but I do recognize it in me. So whatever I do, I do it because it is just naturally satisfying to me.

However, I would like to say that there’s nothing wrong with doing things for both reasons: doing them because you love doing them and because you want to be great at them. Many people fit into that category and they inspire all of us with their greatness.

Disclaimer: 

I love singing, making harmonies, writing songs and playing guitar. But I’m not a great singer, songwriter or musician and I’ll be the first to say that. So after you listen to these songs I’m about to share with you, if you want to tell me that too, take a number and get in line behind me.

 

During my lifetime, I would write a song about once every two years, and then when it was finished I would put it in a folder labeled “My Songs”. I liked them but I rarely shared any of them. I just did it for the love of doing it. Someone or something inspired me to write them.

Babies, Nature, Korea, culture, travel, love, filial piety, singers (especially Lizz Wright), musicians and music have been some of the sources of my inspiration.

As you will see, if you listen to them, in spite of all the obvious imperfections, my creativity is apparent. As I have gotten older, I have come to think there might be value in sharing these songs anyway.

So that is what this post (and this web site) is all about. Sharing the things in this life that I’ve learned or that are naturally satisfying to me.

I’ve made a brief comment about each of the songs presented below, to give you a bit of the back story about how they all came about. I’ve written other songs too but I don’t have them recorded yet. Like I said, they were just stuck in a folder for a long time.

 

First Song…..”Remembering Good Times”

This is the first song I ever wrote. I was on a two-hour bus ride and I suddenly wanted to write a song related to what was going on in my life at the time. I borrowed a pen and paper from another rider on the bus and started writing the words and humming a tune that just came to me. I had to memorize the tune in my head until I got home, so I could quickly record it on a cheap little recorder I had at the time, so I wouldn’t lose it. So I sang it over and over, quietly to myself, to remember it until I got home. When I got home, I figured out the guitar chords to the tune I had in my head. Years later (in 1982),  I bought a multi-track recorder, added harmonies and re-recorded this version that you are about to hear.

I wrote this on June 6, 1972.

 

Second Song……”I Found You”

I was so surprised and happy that I could even write a song, after I wrote “Remembering Good Times”,  I thought I wanted to try and write again. This turned out to be my first love song. This version was also recorded in 1982, on that multi-track recorder. After I got that recorder I wanted to do a better recording of all of the songs that I had written before, so I re-opened the folder (“My Songs”).

I wrote this in the Summer of 1972.

 

Third Song……”Farewell Korea”

I had just spent one year in South Korea, working for the Air Force. It was my first overseas assignment. When I first got there, everything was so different from what I had ever experienced so far in this life, so I felt out of place for a while but I was open to new experiences. So after a year, I had learned some of the language, the customs and culture, and the music and food. I was getting to know Korea and also starting to like certain things about it. I had a lot of good experiences there and suddenly I had mixed feelings about leaving “so soon”. One of the Air Force guys I worked with and befriended, liked this song. He contacted a friend of his, who worked in the Armed Forces Korea Network (AFKN) radio station at Osan Air Force Base (where he and I were stationed), and arranged for me to do an interview on the radio and sing my song. So I did.

It was June 6, 1975.

 

Fourth Song…….”My Time Is Yours”

I had already done a one-year tour (1974-1975) in South Korea, went back to the States to study Basic Korean for one year at the Defense Language Institute (DLI) in Monterey, California, and I finished my second one-year tour (1977-1978) in South Korea. So I was at Kimpo Airport, near Seoul, Korea, waiting for my flight back to the States and my new assignment to the National Security Agency (NSA). While I sat there, I observed the people all around me. There was a young couple who got my attention. I was touched by their youthful tenderness and obvious love for each other. He was an American about to return to the U.S. and she was Korean and she was not going with him at that time. She would be joining him later on though. But they were both anxious about the separation. I was furtively watching and listening to them, growing interested in their saga. This went on for about an hour before he left but that was enough time for me to get the idea what was going on. So I felt an urge to write about them. Some things I actually heard them say but some things I simply inferred from their words, their silence or their gestures. So this is their song. (Btw, at the time, I was wearing a watch that only displayed the time digitally.)

It was December 29, 1978.

 

Fifth Song……”My Leaving”

This song is not my song. But I wanted to include it here anyway because I made the harmonies for it. It was a collaboration with another Air Force friend I met in Korea, Larry,  who was a very good guitarist and he liked to write songs too. This song was written by his brother. His brother sent the song to him. Then we modified it a little bit. Larry revised the guitar work and I added the harmonies to it. This was my first collaboration with anyone. I like the song a lot so I added it here.

It was sometime in April 1978.

 

Sixth Song…..”Seems Like I’ve Been Here Before”

I wrote this song close to the end of my second tour of duty (1977-1978) in South Korea as a member of the U.S. Air force. Larry (mentioned above) was getting ready to rotate back to the States. I was scheduled to leave in three months. So one day we were talking about our experiences in Korea and how we would miss some things about it and how we would miss our musical collaborations. So I offered him a challenge. I said, “Why don’t we each try to write a song to show our fondness for Korea? It can be an instrumental or a song with words.” He accepted the challenge and about two weeks later we were both finished with our songs. He chose an instrumental and he called it, “The Korean Haunt”. I wrote one with words and I called it, “Seems Like I’ve Been Here Before”.

It was some time in April 1978.

“Seems Like I’ve Been Here Before”

 

“The Korean Haunt”

 

Seventh Song…..”Shrimp Among Whales”

While I was living in Korea, I frequented my favorite book store in Seoul to find bilingual (Korean to English and English to Korean) lexicons, readers, and workbooks and short novels, to help me learn the language better and quicker. I bought and enjoyed studying elementary school readers, where I learned simple words like “grasshopper” and “hide-and-seek”,  which I hadn’t learned in my study of Korean so far at the government language school.

I remember a story in the 1st grade reader, in which some farm animals played hide-and-seek. The little yellow chicken hid in a Forsythia bush (Forsythia leaves are yellow, if you didn’t know) so he was the last to be found and won the game. What a fun way to learn, right? I didn’t even know as much as a first grader at that time.😂

At the school we learned the ABC’s of the Korean Language and the grammar, skipped the common stuff, and then jumped right in to learning military jargon and “other big words”, needed to do the job. I tried to fill in the gap on my own time. I really enjoyed studying Korean.

So on one of those trips to the bookstore I picked up a book of proverbs and maxims. I wanted to know how the Koreans say things like, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” and “You have to learn to crawl before you can walk”.  “A Shrimp Among Whales” is a song about one of those maxims (Shrimps Get Broken Backs In A Whale Fight) that caught my attention. Tap the maxim in the picture below, to read the explanation of the maxim.

It was January 30, 1979.

 

Eighth Song…..”There She Stood With An Umbrella”

I met and befriended a Korean singer in 1978, during my second tour to Korea. Since I knew his songs and could sing them in Korean he called me up frequently to come up to Seoul, the capital of South Korea, to either sing with him on stage or to “push me out” onto the stage and sing his song, in lieu of him going out, as was scheduled on the show, and I always gladly obliged. It was such fun. The audience liked it too because they hadn’t seen many foreigners sing on stage in Korean. So one day my friend, Kim Tae Gon, called and asked me to come up again.  So I got on a bus and headed north to Seoul. On the way there, the bus went across a bridge and I looked down the river and spotted a little girl standing in the rain, holding an umbrella over her Mother who was washing their clothes in the river. To me, that was the epitome of filial piety, an important virtue and primary duty of respect, obedience, and care for one’s parents and elderly family members. So I started writing the song in my head, on the bus, as I went to Seoul. When I got there I finished the song and recorded it on my little cheap recorder. Then I put it in my “My Songs” folder.

It was March 28, 1981.

 

Years later, when my son, Jesse, was in an art class in High School, he came home and said he had to do his first painting and asked if I had any ideas what he could paint. I told him I’d like him to paint the picture of the mother and that little girl in my song. And so he did. The next morning I woke up to find a chair on the dining table which he put up there to use as an easel to hold the painting he had done, so I would be sure and see it before I went to work. I was impressed with his first attempt at painting. He really captured the view as I remember from that day, so many years ago.

 

Ninth Song…..”She Called On Me”

The story behind this song is a little too complicated to explain.

It was March 28, 1981.

 

Tenth Song…..”Something About Her”

This is just a simple love song.

It was April 15, 1982.

 

Eleventeenth Song…..”Sarang Iran”

This is a Korean song. I didn’t write it but I included it because it was a song I got to sing on a Korean radio station. It was one of the many great experiences I had in Korea. My Korean friend, Kim Tae-Gon, asked me to accompany him to the station. He was supposed to sing and do an interview but he arranged for me to sing this song instead. It wasn’t one of his songs but he knew I could sing it well and he thought the audience might like it. At the time, it was a well-known and popular song by another well-known Korean singer, Cho Young-Nam. So in the recording, as I play the chords and sing the song, Kim Tae-Gon is in the background spontaneously adding guitar licks to complement the song. And in that little radio booth, there were actresses and comedians standing behind us waiting for their “air time” during the program. But they got swept up in the fun of the song and sang impromptu background vocals along with Kim Tae-Gon and I. The radio station gave me this copy of the song as a parting gift that day.

It was some time in 1978.

 

Twelfth Song…..”If You Only Knew How Much I Mean To You”

This was my attempt to try and write a country and western style love song with a cha cha beat and a title with a twist (pun). You’ve probably heard this kind before. A few examples come to mind: “Life’s Too Long To Live Like This”, or “There’s No Future In The Past”.

It was August 12, 2012.

 

Thirteenth Song……”Little Bitty Pretty One”

This is a song I wrote about my granddaughter, Evie, a few days after she was born on Thanksgiving Day.

It was December 8, 2012.

She’s six years old now and she just broke her first board, with her foot, in Taekwondo Class!😳

BTW, the Korean written on her right lapel says “Eburin”. There is no “V” in the Korean alphabet so they use a “B” because it is the closest, in sound, to a “V”. So they have options: they can pronounce it as it sounds, transliterated into Korean, or they could just learn to pronounce it the right way, in spite of having no “V” in the Korean Language 🤨 .

 

Fourteenth Song…..”Lizz Wright: The Sweet Honey In The Rock”

This is the first song I wrote about my favorite singer, Lizz Wright. I simply think she is amazing!!

It was September 23, 2014.

 

Fifteenth Song…..”Somewhere-A-Carin’ About You”

This is a song about rejection.

It was December 8, 2014.

 

Sixteenth Song…..”A Little Lost”

This is a song about Lizz Wright too. I wrote a post about this song. The post is called, “A Little Lost”. Click there, on “A Little Lost”,  and scroll to the bottom of the post.

It was October 25, 2017.

 

If you made it all the way down here, Thank You and Congratulations!

I didn’t share my music because I think it’s so great. I don’t think it is. However, I do like my songs. They are the best I can do for now.

I’m not looking for praise. This is not about that.

I just appreciate that I was even able to write these. Doing it gives me great joy and satisfaction. That’s the reward for me. Of course, if someone else likes them too then I’d be happy for that too. And If I ever did write a song that others thought was great, that would really make my day. I’m not immune to praise.

I think the take away is this:  Do the things that are naturally satisfying to you. Go for greatness if you are so inclined. That’s ok too. But don’t compare yourself to others. Don’t think you have to be great. Just do what is right for you. Just take one step at a time, see how it feels, and go from there.

P.S. Most of these songs have a longer back story than I have presented here. The longer story can be found in previous posts I have written. If you are interested to read about a particular song, just type the title of the song in the query line (the looking glass at the top right) and it should pull it up for you.

P.P.S. If you want to hear a really great singer/songwriter, checkout Lizz Wright on my other posts (just type her name in the query box at the top right of this post and it will pull up all Lizz-related posts)…..

……OR……

type her name on youtube.com. She has over 50 videos in there.

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