What is a trope? The website TV Tropes explains:
A trope is a storytelling device or convention, a shortcut for describing situations the storyteller can reasonably assume the audience will recognize. Tropes are the means by which a story is told by anyone who has a story to tell.
How often have you watched a new movie or TV show and noticed that it is drenched in tropes? I notice this constantly. TV shows and movies resemble other movies and shows so often that some have written, tongue in cheek, that there are actually only an extremely limited number of plots. Are there only seven plots? Are there only six plots?
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I love this tune and this video.
The male singer is “Tom Jobim,” who is also the composer of that beautiful celebratory tune and many other classic bossa nova tunes, more often known in the U.S. as Antonio Carlos Jobim. I had never before heard him sing until I saw this video. The female singer, Elis Regina, melts me with her charm and voice. This must have been a tough tune and they seemed delighted to get this one in the can so beautifully intact. My girlfriend insists that there is no way to sing this song well without dancing while one is singing it. I agree.
I stumbled across this inspiring talk by musician Amanda Palmer. She gives considerable insight into the economics of the music industry. But she gives even more insight into human connections and the importance of asking as the prelude to those connections.
I’m including both her TED lecture and beneath it, a video of her performance of the “Bed Song.” There is a direct connection between these two performances.
I’ve played guitar and keyboard for many years. I’m quite experienced and confident in my playing, but my performances at local coffee shops have consisted entirely of playing “covers,” and it’s getting a bit embarrassing that I haven’t yet written my own songs (even though I do my own arrangements of the songs I sing). As I’ve forced myself to actually start writing songs with lyrics, I’ve become fascinated with the process. This interview with James Taylor offers lots of food for thought.
At this point, I’ve written two songs with lyrics. I do like the result, but it has taken dozens of hours to get these tunes to a point where I find them acceptable. I don’t know whether there is any way to speed up the process. It does feel, though, that I’m a the beginning of a compelling adventure.
Last week, I composed a short tune I call “Catharsis.” It’s based on a sound I’ve always enjoyed–essentially a cycle of major chords, each of which is stacked with a major chord one whole step higher. I played the tune on an amazingly affordable ($600) Yamaha P-105 keyboard with good quality weighted keys–It has become one of my favorite instruments recently. Mixdown of the Fender jazz bass and a bit of percussion was done on Logic Pro X.
The first five notes of Margaritaville are well known. You know, da-da-da-DA-da . . . Farrell Morris was the marimba player who played those notes (and a lot of others) on the iconic recording sung by Jimmy Buffett. I had the opportunity to get to know Farrell, but it was because he was a sculptor as well as a Nashville musician. He and his wife Bobbe traveled to art fairs to sell his works, including the annual Shaw Art Fair on the street where I live (Flora Place). I met them both about 15 years ago, liked Farrell’s work and bought a sculpture (see photo).
I thought of Farrell today when moving his sculpture to another part of the house. I looked him up on Google and was sad to read that he had been battling cancer and died in 2012. The first time we met, he played a djembe we handed to him, and it was amazing to watch what he did with it. With merely two hands, he struck, stretched, tapped and palmed the skin of the drum to make amazing sounds–in fact, it sounded like multiple instruments. Beautiful rhythms of a veteran percussionist. He was truly a gentleman too. He loved life and loved art. He and his wife returned to STL several times. I spent quite a bit of time visiting with them between customers. They were a wonderful couple. I remember on their last trip here, maybe 12 years ago, Farrell was not playing music anymore because of arthritis that affected his hands. My assumption was that this must have been devastating, but he seemed to be taking things in stride. After all, he was already had a long successful career as a Nashville musician, with hundreds of recordings on his discography, including many musicians who were household names.
This has been my brief tribute to Farrell Morris. Maybe you’ll think of him too when you next hear the first few notes of Margaritaville.