The Road is Long – Hwy 207 just north of Floydada, Texas
Copyright © 2010 Jeff Lynch Photography

The interminable (sometimes painful) vastness of the Texas landscape has been the subject of numerous books over the years from writers of both fiction and history.

Despite Texas’ apparent political, social, and cultural irrationality—e.g. a “red” state whose population is composed of 37.6% Hispanics to 45.3 Non-Hispanic Whites (Demographics of Texas), governed by a Republican controlled state legislature and a Republican governor that create laws that seem bent on limiting the rights of that same Hispanic group—I have long been strangely fascinated by this state.

Perhaps I am fascinated because the vastness of Texas and its complex culture, those endless miles of highway that cover the state, is really a metaphor that represents the distances between the various ethnic groups that live in Texas.  Here’s an interesting quotation from author Mary Laswell:

“I am forced to conclude that God made Texas on his day off, for pure entertainment, just to prove that all that diversity could be crammed into one section of earth by a really top hand.”

Or perhaps I am fascinated because of the larger-than-life history of Texas that tends to represent its past more as myth than as reality (cf. the deeply-held, reverent attitude Texans have for heroes like Davy Crockett: the Crockett mythos of the man as “King of the Wild Frontier,” like many of the Texas legends that are “historically unproven and even historically insupportable,” is still fiercely defended and proudly lauded by its citizens—I almost bought a Tee shirt with a quotation attributed to Crockett that says “You may all go to hell and I will go to Texas”).

A road trip into Texas is no small matter and should not be taken lightly.


Learning Django

The following is a post I wrote last February, but got too sick to polish and publish.  Here it is now:

I’ve got a week’s relief from chemo, so neuropathy side effects, particularly in my hands, have all but disappeared, a good thing since I can now resume my guitar playing.  I’ve been wanting to get back to practicing the Django Reinhardt tune I’ve been working on for the past year—”Minor Blues.”  I’ve managed to get down the first 33 bars (out of 45) of an arrangement by David Blacker, a superb swing guitarist and instructor for TrueFire.com.  Blacker classifies his arrangement as “beginner,” but because of the timing and rhythm of this piece, which is swing time and relies heavily on flurries of 1/8th note triplets throughout the tune, I would place it in the “intermediate” level category.

There’s two versions of Django playing “Minor Blues” that I know of.  Blacker’s arrangement is one of them:

Hubert Rostaing (1918-1990) plays clarinet solo.  Rostaing is probably best known for his clarinet playing on Django’s “Nuages.”

“Dizzying Heights”

Sometimes being “chemo sick” robs a person of their creative connections, not always, but often enough so that when those cool, lucid, and inspired moments do occur, I have to take advantage of them.  Hence, a post containing original music.  A first for me here, but after all, it’s all about “call and response.”

The solo was written, recorded, and mixed, using a my 2001 Fender Texas Strat (Humbucker pick up)  played live through my little red Fender 25 R amp, recorded through an Olympus DM-20 digital recorder, HD, and and a omni-directional mic suspended and balanced between live amp and computer backing track.  Reggae style backing track composed using Chord Pulse 2.4 software in the key of Am.  Sound was mixed using Audacity.  All photos edited in Windows Movie Maker, using Google images from “public domain.”