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The "Why" and "Disclaimers"

 

The first question that comes to mind is, "Why are you doing these videos?" The answer is simple. I have plenty of time. But, perhaps most importantly, I'm proving to myself that after the left humerus break back on 23 February 2020, I am recovering and getting my skills back. There are still a few twists and turns with the arm that I never realized I was doing making some of those chords; now, I realize there's still work to be done. But, I'm getting better with every week of physical therapy.

So, after over 3 months of physical therapy, it became clear that the left arm wasn't rotating properly under the tendons, shoulder bone, etc. It was apparent from the physical therapists and the orthopedic doctor that the metal plate that had to be placed up high on the humerus to heal, was acutally hitting those other parts trying to rotate. And in the process of working PT but not being able to do this particular move, scar tissue had formed and matted down on the metal plate. Therefore, on 1 September 2020, the doctor when back in and removed the plate and PT has started all over again. But, in just two weeks, the movement is much better. Here's hoping for a full recovery. Meanwhile, I occupy my time multi-tracking songs.

My disclaimer is that I'm only "covering" these songs because they are fun and favorites. I do not own any copyright on these songs. I usually try to perform them as the original artists intended then to be done. There is no intent to make any money from this page by showing my work.

I hope you enjoy these songs. The text before the songs is what was posted on Facebook when I originally posted them there. The songs are separated by a yellow horizontal rule across the page and they are in order from the latest to the first one posted on 15 April 2020, about a month after the initial surgery.

 


SONG LIST - Click on the link to the song of your choice


A SUMMER SONG

I ran into a couple old geezers practicing a run through of a song that they sang years ago. Actually, the "Foresters" at Wake Forest University sang this song at a concert at Mitchell College in Statesville in 1967 and during the summer in Germany. It's a Chad and Jeremy favorite mixed with the version made popular by The Lettermen. There's nothing real spectacular in this video, just a nice version of an old song. Enjoy Summer Song - our love now gone for this year.

SONG LIST


GARDEN PARTY

When I was a young teenager, I'd watch "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet" on TV every week. Of course, they made their son Ricky Nelson a teen idol by showcasing him every week in the later years at the end of the show. Years later on October 15, 1971, Ricky went to Madison Square Garden along with a bunch of folks to do a concert. After playing the old songs, he started on some of his newer work and was booed. It wasn't well received as these people came to hear his old hits. He sang one more song and closed his set and walked off the stage and out of the building. He learned that you can't please everyone, so you got to please yourself. He wrote this song after it was over. It was one of his few "hits" in his later years since he really did do lots of concerts in the 1970s singing his old songs. So, I hope you'll enjoy Garden Party.

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COME MONDAY

Well, I said my previous song was the last for a while; partially trying to figure out what new guidelines were being enforced on Facebook and partly because I'm going to take a short vacation - well deserved. But, I recently purchased a Webcam. I note that a lot of people are using built in cameras on Macs or purchasing Webcams for their Windows PC to be able to do various things such as a recording. I've said some of this in the video, but I'm using different inputs than the stereo camera on my Logitech Pro C920 so I can control my sound better and perhaps do a little editing - which I did on this song. I hope you enjoy the old song "Come Monday."

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NO ONE TO TALK MY TROUBLES TO

This may be the last video posted on Facebook. If you've kept up, they are supposedly changing their guidelines tomorrow and not allowing streaming of musical offerings like this. We'll see how that goes. Meanwhile, back in the 1964 timeframe, our high school folk group The Crestwoods did a song that was recorded by The Journeymen when John Phillips ran the group before he formed the Mamas and the Papas. We loved this song and always performed it when we sang in public. I've never really done it as a solo song over the years. I pulled it back out for this presentation. It's probably not a song you know. There's nothing really fancy about this video other than "stitching" together 3 videos that Dolores McDowell helped me record this morning. It's called "No One To Talk My Troubles To."

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IT'S ALL RIGHT

22 September 2020 - Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions did this song back in the early 60s. Huey Lewis and the News redid it the 1980s. I sang it with an A Cappella group named Colossal Nerve in the 1998-2006 timeframe. So, while my arm is still recovering from surgery and it's still a little difficult to play some guitar chords, I thought I'd perform an A Cappella version of It's All Right. I hope you enjoy it.

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NEVER MY LOVE

31 August 2020 - Back on April 4, 2020, I posted a video of Never My Love and I was singing along with a track I had and my arm was in a sling. I decided to redo the video with my own track and vocals and so this is it. I love The Association's harmonies and this is the last in my list of their favorite songs. This will be my last video for a while as I will be laid up after having the metal plate surgically removed from my arm tomorrow morning. As soon as the healing is far enough along, I'll probably start working on some more. Meanwhile, enjoy Never My Love. 

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THE MARVELOUS TOY

20 August 2020 - Occasionally, Bill Gaither used to ask Mark Lowry, "Mark, how stupid can you get?" And Mark would reply, "You ain't seen nothing yet!" Well, that's somewhat how I felt when recording this video. You see, this is a children's song called "The Marvelous Toy" and you can't sing a children's song without acting like a child. And so, this crazy man put on his best children's smiles and created this video. I hope you enjoy my crazy antics.

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PUFF THE MAGIC DRAGON AND DON'T THINK TWICE

9 August 2020 - My last post was "The Gambler." My good friend Curtis J Collins commented on the song by requesting that I consider an old song by Peter, Paul, and Mary called "Puff, the Magic Dragon." I guess he thought I couldn't still do it. Well, challenge accepted and here it is with an extra song from our high school days during the 1960-64 years. Our folk singing group in high school sang both of these songs. It only took three days to pull this one together because there isn't anything really fancy here and I knew the song and all three parts. I don't have a double bass, so I played and recorded the bass part on my son's electric bass, converted it into a MIDI file, and then played the MIDI file back out with a double bass sound. I decided NOT to show myself playing the bass; someone recently "criticized" how many copies of me were in the last video ... as if I really care. 🙂 But, here are the three singers pulling it all together. I hope you enjoy these two throw back songs to the folk singing era - my early finger picking roots.

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THE GAMBLER

3 August 2020 - It's time for my next COVID-19 video selection. I've sung "The Gambler" for a number of years - mostly on my own. I just felt like it was time to give this one a try. As usual, I do NOT play drums so I got some "help" on the drum track. However, everything else is mine. I even recorded my grand piano for a fuller sound on that. And as usual, I brought out the whole gang to give me some help with the song. And Dolores McDowell helped me with the video. We went riding around last Friday evening late getting video for outside the train window. In addition, I had to learn some new video techniques. The trick on this one was to record myself at the table twice, interacting to some degree with each other. That was a stretch, but I think I made it work. If you notice anything "unusual", just let me know. I hope you know when to fold 'em - please enjoy this offering.

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NO FAIR AT ALL

26 July 2020 - After The Association had a huge hit with Cherish, they needed to come out with a song with similar harmonies. Hence, this song called "No Fair At All" was released. It made it to #51 on the charts and then their studios released another song they had recorded and it caught the ears of the general public and knocked this one off the charts. It didn't do that well in general and it wasn't until their next big hit "Never My Love" that they really charted again. So, many of you may not even remember this song. In the early 1969-70 timeframe, I owned, and still have, a Sony TC-255 sound-on-sound stereo tape recorder. I had a 6-inch metal tambourine and my electric guitar and multi-tracked a version of this song. I still have that old version digitized and saved. I decided to update it and do a clean version for my newest video. I started with nothing; that is, I didn't even have, nor can you find, a lead sheet. So, I used my Sibelius software and created a leadsheet with all the harmony parts written out. I transcribed the electric bass and flute parts from the original mp3. Then, I created a MIDI drum track that I recorded but didn't play. I did play the bass, flute (on a keyboard), three guitar parts, and sang all the vocals. At one time, I had 9 vocal lines in my ProTools project trying to save all the parts so that they made sense to me. The Association really loved tight vocals and often used an unusual bass vocal harmony. The electric bass part on this song was especially interesting as well. And so I offer "No Fair At All" as my newest video. Looks like COVID-19 is going to be around for a while, so I'll keep learning new things to do with video and have fun creating videos of my favorite songs. I hope you enjoy this song about a lost love. Have you ever said something like, "Man, that just isn't fair at all?" Sometimes you don't know what you have until you've lost it.

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HOMEWARD BOUND

19 July 2020 - I've been playing Homeward Bound since my college days back in the 60s. And since then, I've played it more times than I can count, especially in my duet adventures with Blair Dougher Holland. So, I decided this was a good song to work through. I brought the "whole gang" in for this one. I've been working on it for a couple of weeks getting the instruments the way I wanted them. I found out after listening to the original, that there were several nice guitar licks I have never played as a solo guitar; so, I added them in as well. Then, I tossed around a number of ideas for the background and finally settled on a "train adventure." That took longer than expected. I finally got to where I am and said, "That's enough!" Here is Homeward Bound. I hope you enjoy the trip.

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LONGER

2 July 2020 - It's been over two weeks since I posted my last video - Cherish. It's hard to believe that that was #28 that I've done over the past several months bottled up here at home. So, I got started on Longer by Dan Fogleberg. I love his stuff, but this one almost whooped me. I had a version that I had worked on for about a week and every time I tried to "fix" something, it just didn't work. So, I did the smart thing; I trashed it and started over from a different perspective. I am playing all the instruments on this one. I had to play the flute part on a keyboard, but it worked. I added in some nice classical guitar licks as well. There's also a "duet" string part, but I only showed me playing the top part. It's sometimes hard to get strings to sound good through synthesizers if not played just perfectly and I couldn't play both parts at the same time anyway. Somewhere in recording that first version, I realized that I was playing some of the guitar licks wrong; so, I found an on-line note-for-note tutorial on how to play the song. After a few minutes, everything fell in place much better. Dolores helped me with the video in the woods near the Neuse Greenway Trails. Of course, we went out at 2:30 in the afternoon heat and I was wearing a black shirt and blue jeans - dumb! But, we got it done. My friend Roger who lives in Whiteville, NC gave me some feedback along the way as well. So, here's #29. I will definitely do a "30" but not sure what it will be. I'm going nuts just sitting around taking PT and watching Hallmark. Y'all have a great day.

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CHERISH

11 June 2020 - Right after Cherish by the Association first came out, our folk singing group at Wake Forest University was moving to a folk rock sound and we picked up the song. We sang it in Germany for the servicemen during the summer of 1967 and kept it in our repertoire until our final concert on 18 May 1968. It's not an easy song to perform because it has so many vocals. The Association was usually a six-man group and everyone sang; they may have even doubled some vocals on this song. Now, I'm not a drummer, so I used a drum track from my backing tracks and I also used the bass guitar track from that as well. However, all the vocals, guitars, tinkle bells, tubular bells and piano are my tracks. This one has taken a long time, but I was having fun. I even included a hound dog helping me out on the high notes - look for it. I hope you enjoy my version of Cherish.

SONG LIST


MARGARITTAVILE

30 May 2020 - I've been watching all these programs on TV with the "multiple box" effects. I figured if they can do that with Zoom and whatever else is out there, then I could do it with my video software. So, here's a fun song I like to perform by Jimmy Buffett called Margarittaville using the "black boxed" effect. Who knows what's next. Since I play other instruments, I decided to really overdo this one. I hope you enjoy this. My background pictures are actually from Cancun over the past several years. I miss that place - ready to go back for a week - hey Steve Gregg - are you ready yet?

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LEADER OF THE BAND

27 May 2020 - I've always liked Dan Fogleberg and over the years I did a couple of his songs. This is a favorite of mine that he wrote in honor of his father who was a band leader. The video background was taken on 18 July 2013 when my son David McDowell and I were hiking and summitted Mount Bierstadt in Colorado. It has a height of 14,065 feet. It was a fun hike and one of four that week in July.

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WHATSHERNAME

22 May 2020 - Here's the next song in my "green screen" series. Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul, and Mary recorded a song called "Whatshername" on their album called "Album 1700" in 1967. They were starting to change their style a little by this date, but this was a solo song. Unless you've studied their history, you might not know that Paul was a jazz and rock artist when he first met up with Peter and Mary. He didn't know folk music; their first song together "practicing" was "Mary Had a Little Lamb" just to see if they would click vocally. So, this song is a return to more of his jazz roots. I always wanted to sing it but never could. There's no sheet music available (though I created a lead sheet with chords) and so learning it was extremely difficult. Back in February of this year, I had decided that I was going to learn this song from beginning to end. I had finished most of the learning cycle and then crashed the bike. This past week, I decided it was time to get back to it. Most of us have had an encounter with a friend from our past that we haven't seen in years. And, we always ask how they are, what they've been doing, and remembering some friend - what was their name? Hence, that's how Paul wrote this song trying to remember the name of a girl he used to date before he got married. I've enjoyed putting this together. I had to learn how to place a feathered/fading matte around part of a video and overlay it over a background. I hope you enjoy it; it's way out of my usual wheelhouse.

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(YOU CAN) CLOSE YOUR EYES

16 May 2020 - This is a classic James Taylor song that I've never sung before. I saw James, his wife, and son do this song on Jimmy Fallon about a week ago and thought this would be a nice, new song to learn. So, I've spent the week working on some rather interesting James Taylor guitar licks that I don't recall on his other songs. It was on the flip sing of his #1 single You've Got A Friend. It was written to his one-time girlfriend Joni Mitchell. He's performed it with Joni and with Carole King as well as just solo performances. Here's my take on it using some "green screen" techniques. I've got much more to learn in that regard.

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DANNY'S SONG

9 May 2020 - Well, most everybody's got too much time on their hands; I know I do. So, I decided to do a video using the "green screen" effect. Now, I've never done this before, so I had to read up on the technique. It's really simple and my software works just fine. However, when you're singing and being the producer, you sometimes miss a few things. There are a couple of glitches in this video, but I decided for a "first take" at it, I'd let it go. So, I packed up my equipment and went over to Falls Dam and took my backup singers and acoustic guitar players along with me. Here's my three guitar version of "Danny's Song." I had fun.

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SUMMER BREEZE

4 May 2020 - SUNDAY PORCH SERIES - Finally, this is the last/10th song in the porch series from Sunday, April 26th. I used to play this song with our group Winterwood back in 1973-1975 here in Raleigh, but I didn't sing the lead. After we broke up, I never performed it again until about a year ago. Seals and Crofts made it popular in 1972 and was a number 1 hit. Here's "Summer Breeze."

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VINCENT

3 May 2020 - SUNDAY PORCH VIDEOS - This is number 9 in the series of 10 videos I recorded last Sunday with one left to "clean up." Don McLean is famous for American Pie and several other songs from the 1970s. In fact, I was in a folk rock group called "Winterwood" that was named after one of his other songs. I also sang "Vincent" as a solo number. The first time I sang it was at "The Frog and Nightgown" over in the subway at Cameron Village around 1974. There are lots of words to the song and the verses can easily get tangled up and intermixed with each other. So, I started off singing "Starry, starry night..." and my brain went blank. I had no clue what the next line was. So, I stopped and placed my word cheat sheet on a small clip on the mic stand and started again and finished the song. I looked up at the manager/owner Peter Ingram in the back of the room and I thought he was going to die because I had started over. Oh well, we were invited back numerous other times because we always did a great job and brought in lots of people. But, I'll never forget that empty feeling not knowing the next line. Here's my version of "Vincent." Eat your heart out Don McLean.

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RAINY NIGHT IN GEORGIA

2 May 2020 - SUNDAY PORCH SERIES - This is number 8 in my postings from last Sunday's recordings. Brook Benton recorded this song in 1970. I never sang it with any of my groups over the years - mainly because the range made it difficult to hit the top notes AND the bottom low notes. But as my voice aged, the range changed. I decided last year that it was time to include this song in my solo selections. "Rainy Night In Georgia" was written by Tony Joe White who had several hits on his own. This was just one hit by Brook Benton as he had several other popular songs such as "It's Just a Matter of Time." I hope you'll enjoy my acoustic version of this song. I have two more left from last week's Sunday series that I'll try to get out today - things are so busy you know! But I do have to go walk on the greenway trail shortly and then come back to the last two. Since, I'm "recording" my improvements over the weeks from my broken arm from way back on 23 February, I'll have to come up with another set for my next selections and maybe a different way to present them. Stay tuned - have fun, stay home and be safe.

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IF YOU COULD READ MY MIND

1 May 2020 - SUNDAY PORCH SERIES - I've had the next song ready for several days now and just got side-tracked working on the others. Gordon Lightfoot had several really great hits that I sing including "Early Morning Rain", "Sundown", and "If You Could Read My Mind." For some reason, around 1970, I played for a program involving Meredith College and I remember singing "If You Could Read My Mind." I've always enjoyed the song but never sang it with a group. But, I've always kept it in my repertoire. Supposedly, the song was written as a result of an early divorce in his career. Here's my version - enjoy.

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MANDY

1 May 2020 - SUNDAY PORCH SERIES - Barry Manilow, a huge artist in the 1970s, is only 76 years old and continues to tour and show up on TV programs singing his greatest hits. I was in a 5-piece band from 1975-1982 and I sang "I Write the Songs"; but I never sang "Mandy", his first hit in 1974. Around 1970, he came through Raleigh as the pianist for Bette Midler when she performed at a place called "The Frog and Nightgown" over in the subway at Cameron Village; I missed that show. Of course he's known as a pianist and so in the past, I chose not to perform his songs solo. But, I realized that a guitar can give the same "piano effect" if fingerpicked appropriately. So, here's song number 6 from last Sunday's selections - Mandy, by Barry Manilow.

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CATS IN THE CRADLE

1 May 2020 - SUNDAY PORCH SERIES - Here's my 5th post in the series though out of order of how I recorded them. I actually have 6 of the 10 done and may post another later today. This song is called "Cats In the Cradle" by Harry Chapin. I tried it a couple of weeks ago but wasn't quite able to do it justice. There are several interpretations of the song; I like the following one. Supposedly, the "son" in the song doesn't only represent the child. He also represents the family as a whole. The father is too busy with work and doesn't have the time to spend with his family. As the lyrics say "the cats in the cradle" - the family is at home - "and the silver spoon" which is a symbol of wealth the father has to earn. The "little boy blue" is the child that is sad because his father is away, while the father is represented by "the man on the moon" - the one far away who is unreachable, idealized by the child who sees the father as his male role model. So this is the way of describing the family which is in contrast to work and the sad and left-alone boy in contrast to his never-having-time-for-him father and role model. The song's intention is to make the listener think about the balance of time spent with the family/children and the time spent with earning the money and gaining wealth. At the end of the song the father realizes that the way he lived was unbalanced and that he wasn't a good role model for his son and this is the reason why the now grown up boy became like his father once was, with little time for his family. Perhaps this coronavirus pandemic has given more time for fathers and mothers to be home with the children and serves to undo this bad example of role modeling. I think parents wish to spend more time with their children and just can't find or make time for it to happen. It's a criticism to society in general.

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LADY

1 May 2020 - SUNDAY PORCH SERIES - Here's my 4th posting in the series. If you've followed some of my other videos, you know that I like the songs of Kenny Rogers. I tried this one earlier, but I couldn't make my left arm do the chords right. Now, it's finally working better so I gave it another shot. It was a strange Sunday afternoon and if you'll watch carefully at about 2:14 into the song, I'm swatting at a carpenter bee that was driving me crazy (having already chewed into my front shutters). Such is part of recording outdoors - but I kept playing. Here's a song written by Lionel Richie for Kenny Rogers and it started quite a long term relationship between them. If you'll do a Google search on this, you'll find a great story about how the song was chosen and written. It's called simply "Lady."

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LEAN ON ME

30 April 2020 - SUNDAY PORCH SERIES - This song is not in the order of my recordings last Sunday, but for several reasons, I decided to launch it next. We've seen various versions of "Lean On Me" on TV ads related to the Coronavirus issues; and, then in the middle of all of this, the writer Bill Withers passed away. So, here's my version in memory of Bill Withers and hopes for an end to COVID-19 soon and a return to a new, safe normal.

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THE GUITAR MAN

29 April 2020 - SUNDAY PORCH SERIES - The first song I posted was Diary by David Gates and Bread. Here's another one of their popular songs called "The Guitar Man." Enjoy!

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DIARY

29 April 2020 - SUNDAY PORCH SERIES - That's what I'm going to call this video series. Last Sunday, April 26, 2020, I did some additional videos out on the front porch. I especially like the stone background and that's why I used the porch. The last time I tried the outside just with the iPhone, I didn't like the sound very much. So, this time, I took part of my studio equipment with me. The guitar is actually connected to my small mixer with two cables that give it a stereo sound. The vocal went through my mixer into a separate channel as well. Those three channels were exported to a small multi-track recorder and recorded separately. Then, the tracks were imported into my ProTools software where I could balance out parts, add a little reverb, and basically make a better final mix. So, it may not sound just like an acoustic with voice standing on my porch because I intentionally cleaned it up. Oh, and I used my Sony HD Handycam that I've had for a number of years to get a "better than iPhone" quality picture. It took some creativity to get all this video and audio synced up after the fact. I recorded 10 songs so I don't know how many I'll actually post. Three are "mixed" so here's the first cover from David Gates and Bread back in 1972. It's a nice song called "Diary." I hope you'll enjoy some of my new selections. And then the question is, "Why are you doing these?" The answer is simple. I have plenty of time. But, perhaps most importantly, I'm proving to myself that after the humerus break back in February, I am recovering and getting my skills back. There are still a few twists and turns with the arm that I never realized I was doing making some of those chords; now, I realize there's still work to be done. But, I'm getting better with every week of physical therapy.

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THE WEDDING SONG

15 April 2020 - Last Sunday afternoon, I decided to test my skills totally by myself - just raw guitar and voice, no backing tracks. I only had a few birds singing along with me. So, I recorded 9 songs that were somewhere on the neck of the guitar that I could reach. My right hand is picking just fine but the left hand, fingertips to be more correct, feels like needles trying to press down on the strings. I'm trying to build them back up but it's taking a while to get those callouses back. I've done this song perhaps a dozen times over the years for various weddings. It's not one that I perform when I'm out on a "gig" for the most part. I hope you enjoy it.

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