Friday, December 9, 2016

thinking about John Lennon today. I wish the war could be over...

In Tribute...

Listen to: "Music Of My Life"

I was inspired to start writing this one day right after I had finished reading this huge book about the Beatles, who were one of my earliest exposures to music, growing up through the 60's - 70's.  And I would have to say that John Lennon is one of my top 5 people that inspired and influenced me as a musician. Reading the book really gave me some perspective, as to what their personal lives were really like behind the commercialized image that was created for them, and what was going at the time and what inspired the songs they wrote. For years I had always had this feeling that seemed to lurk somewhere right on the edge of my subconscious, that I needed to try and somehow capture and express musically, what I felt about music's place in my life and how it has carried me from childhood to now. I guess some would call it my "life opus". It seemed like it would have to have orchestral movements, since life goes through so many gradual and sweeping changes over the years, but how long would a piece of music like that be, and how long would it take to write something like that? If I were a real composer, I guess I could sit down and just write it all out, note for note, but I never had that type of training - I'm a music illiterate. But what I'm able to hear, and feel, somehow I've been able to translate - it's like a painter who can reproduce what he or she sees, in all its intricate detail and color. That's how I see music, like colors that come together to paint a picture and tell a story.  So, at a very pivotal point in my life, after reading that book, which seemed to assemble some puzzle pieces for me, and illuminate foggy corners of my own story, I finally found this song rising to the surface, and I just started painting as fast as I could before the image went away. What I wrote that day could fill pages and the song at least an hour long... well maybe not quite, but you get what I mean. Trying to boil it down to 5 minutes and still get my point across was a challenge, but that's what you do, right? Distill it, chip away until you get to the  finished shape and let people see what it is you're trying to say. This was my first attempt - it's a work in progress... but isn't life?  
Thanks for listening.


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Christmas (The Way It Used To Be)

Well, it's that time again - The Christmas season is upon us. Every year it seems to come and go quicker than before. I can't help but think about how it was when I was a kid, before I really knew anything. All I knew was that feeling of excitement and anticipation in the air, the decorating, the cooking, the presents, and the story...

Our Mom made sure that she emphasized the true meaning of Christmas and the reverence that should accompany the celebration. That gave it a sense of history, spirituality, magic and wonder. It seems that more and more that feeling has become lost or at least eclipsed and obscured by the more commercial aspects of the holiday, which makes me sad. As one gets older and deals with the realities of life, it becomes harder and harder to recollect those feelings of innocence and pure joy. But every now and then, something - a photograph, a smell, a song - will bring it all back, even if only for a moment, and remind us of the sweetness of those days gone by. I was fortunate enough to have such a moment a few years ago, and it changed me forever - for the better. Something was added back, and now it is mine forever. So the best thing I can do now is to share it - I hope it may give you something as well...

 - Some of you might know the story already...

I had decided that year (2013) that I would put up a REAL tree for Christmas again, after not having done so for many years. I hadn't gone through the trouble for several reasons; lack of space in the apartment we used to live in, the girls had grown up and were out on their own, my brothers and their families both live on the West Coast, Dad is in DC, and since Mom had passed on several years ago, it just never really felt quite the same.But since my wife and I had recently moved into a house with much more room (and even a working fireplace!), I just decided that it felt like time to revisit that old tradition - we love having that "living" entity in the house, and the smell of the pine is just so cheery, nostalgic and intoxicating. It really adds something to the home environment, and brings good feelings and memories.

So, I went down to my storage unit to retrieve the old box of ornaments and decorations that had been in my family for generations, and brought it back to the house. I hadn't seen that box in a long, long time, since it had been buried in the back in the storage locker after clearing out the house we grew up in. I started to get that familiar excited feeling I remembered from back when I was a kid and I knew it was time to start decorating for Christmas. Well, let me tell you; as soon as I opened that box, I was hit by a tidal wave of memories and emotions that seemed to possess my whole being all in an instant. It even still smelled like Christmas at my Mom's house! How was that even possible after all this time?

As I pulled out box after box of ornaments, lights, candles and all kinds of decorations, the feelings became so overwhelming I felt like I could laugh and cry at the same time. A song that I had started writing several years ago, but had never finished, awoke and started swirling around in my brain, and some of the blanks started to fill in, even as I went digging around trying to locate the original pages of the lyrics I had written before. Fortunately, I found what I was looking for pretty quickly and was writing furiously again. Before I had time to even think much about it, I had the finished pages and along with my guitar, started working out the chords. It was like I could hear it playing in my head, and I just had to capture it and play back what I heard. Soon, I was ready to record a rough draft and try it on for size, so I grabbed the laptop, went into a quiet room and started sketching it out. I'll cut to the chase here and not bore you with all the details of the whole process, but suffice to say; I was consumed by this whole thing - morning, noon and night, for about a week, until I had it down to my satisfaction, and I felt like I could once again breathe and return to somewhat normal life, knowing that I had captured and interpreted it just as it needed to be. I know it still could use some polish, but for now, I think I'm satisfied that it's alright. I'm so happy that it came to me, and that I was able to express what I felt and needed to say. It went a long way towards making the holiday feel joyous again, like it used to be, when I was younger.

So, all that being said; here it is...
I wish you all every bit of the warmth, togetherness, good memories (old and new) that life has to offer and many many blessings during the holidays and at all times.
Merry Christmas!

From me to you,

<3 p=""> Los

You can now download the new version on iTunes!

<3 p="">
<3 p="">And on Amazon

Christmas (The Way It Used To Be)

<3 p=""><3 p="">Carlos Jones - 12/17/13

I remember younger days
when it was Christmas
so much joy and happiness
and love all around us
I can close my eyes
and see my Mother's smile
and feel alright again
all of us together as a family
those scenes play back in my memory
when I think about those times
before the innocence was lost
it wasn't all about the stores
and how much things cost
the child inside of me cries out for
that sweet simplicity
when what we truly celebrate
comes for free
It's another silent night
It’s time to light the lights
And decorate the Christmas tree
and let's make Christmas...
The way it used to be
Now that I've come of age
faced with so much responsibility
I look into my own child's eyes and see
how much she depends on me
I know that I must try
to make her realize
just exactly what this day means
to somehow teach the meaning of
a day that's based on peace and love
I just have to search inside
for the gift my Mother gave us all
She made sure that we knew
The origination of it all
She reminds me that our spirits
and our hearts hold the key
to everything this season brings
And I believe
And I remember so much that
Everything she touched
she did so lovingly
and that's what made Christmas
The way it used to be

And as we think of our loved ones dear, who are no longer here
We hold them close in our memory
And remember Christmas...
The way it used to be

<3 p="">
<3 p="">2016 UPDATE:

So now there is more to add to the story:
Since the time that the song was originally written and recorded, it has taken on renewed life, as a new version has now been recorded and released, with the help of my manager Larry Koval. He brought it to the attention of Tony Nicholas, who works with the legendary R&B group, The O'Jays. Tony brought in a group of highly talented studio musicians to record a new arrangement, and then had me come in to record the vocal track. And as if that weren't gratifying enough, imagine my shock and surprise to come out of the vocal recording booth to find none other than Walter Williams Jr. (1/3 of the O'Jays) sitting there, grooving on the song, which he told me he really liked! Talk about feeling validated - one of my musical heroes that I grew up listening to, digging on something I wrote! And what's really cool is that, back when I was first recording the song, I had envisioned the O'Jays singing it! I could hear it in my head, and thought to myself, "how cool would it be to be able to get this to them, and have them do it." Well, to be this close to one of them and to be able to tell him that, just seemed like a dream, and who knows what might happen in the future? What a gift to have been given. 

Thank you Mom!

<3 p="">

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Okay, well first of all; this is my first submission to the CAMBA page since I joined up a couple of years ago. But after getting in such a damn good ride today, I felt like I HAD to write about it - tell somebody... anybody! I have been enjoying the trails at West Branch, of course, and have taken the long trip down to Mohican a time or two. I have been promising myself that I'd check out as many different trails as I could over the course of the summer and fall, but haven't really gotten too far, with gas prices being what they are and time constraints as well. But I gotta say that I have been able to derive great joy from the little 2.5 mile loop that CAMBA, along with Cleveland Metroparks, installed near the Harvard Rd & E. 49th. entrance to The Ohio & Erie Canal Park. The trail starts right next to the Canalway Visitors Center and begins innocently enough, meandering through tall grasses and wildflowers on a high ridge overlooking marshes and ponds, bordered by massive towers supporting high tension power lines coming from a nearby electric power station. At first the contrast is a little jarring, but you kind of get used to it, and even start to appreciate, in an odd way, their own strange imposing beauty. The view from the ridge is inspiring. You can see for quite a distance, and can even make out the top of the Terminal Tower downtown, and I think I may have even caught a quick glimpse of the lake, but that could have been an illusion. Birds are singing everywhere. All you hear are the sounds of nature, (and perhaps the distant hum of the industrial sections of the valley) but for the most part you can almost make believe you are in some remote part of the wilderness.
Well, before you even get a chance to think about it too much, the tight singletrack takes a dive down into the woods, and that's when the real fun begins. The trail starts to swoop and swerve, and you start having to really pay attention. There are a few rough spots to test your lo-speed handling skills at the beginning, but then after that, it's pretty much just twists and turns as the trail gets faster and steeper. There are the occasional short hillclimbs, which, if you're not quick on your gears, or weak of limbs, you'll lose your momentum or even fall off, but they serve to only set you up for the next screaming descent and wicked switchbacks.
A note to the novice rider; if you're not used to riding out of the saddle most of the time, and don't have confidence in your braking and cornering, then you may not want to try this rollercoaster just yet. Even though the trail may not be as technical as West Branch, there is potential for real danger here. one missed turn could send you crashing down into the ravine, pretty much guaranteeing you some painful injuries and possibly costly bike repairs. Other than that, it's a gleeful little romp with thrills enough for the gonzos who like to hang it out over the ragged edge, and laid back enough for the guys who like to take a more zen-like approach and just roll with it like an eagle riding the thermals until being gently delivered out onto the basin floor. Either way, you'll have a big smile on your face, and the desire to go one more time around. I just want to say thanks to all the people involved who built this cheeky little playground. You can tell they put a lot of thought and love into it. I'm thinking I'd like to organize a little informal get together for my friends who love reggae music and like to roll with Mother Nature. We could call it the "Roots Rock Reggae Ride!" I'm already working on a song that started coming to me while I was on the trail one day, called "Roots Rock Ridin." First though, I've got find some riders who might fit that description. So if you know anybody that might want to link up with me and check out that trail, give me a shout at, or come to a PLUS gig and say "let's ride mon!"

Peace & mud,