The Purpose of this Video Series
The aim of this series of videos is to get out some of the over 300 songs that I have written that never get played in bars or festivals because they are more solo acoustic concert songs than lively drunken melodies. In order to do so, I will record them at home with my iPhone and small Zoom recorder, and try to capture the raw sound. I am going through a small AC-33 Roland acoustic amp with a touch of reverb, but otherwise the sound is natural. The idea is to get out a song a week—52 songs a year. To choose the songs, I will fish them out of the archives based on topical themes or just pure whim of the moment. I hope you enjoy.
Written on Line
This is a relatively new song, planned to be released on the next Pagan's Album, Instagrams and Polygraphs, dealing with the realities of our online digital world. I think anyone can relate to the misunderstandings that arrive from texting and the inability to perceive the emotional intent of the person's text. If you follow my lyrics at all, you may come to notice a theme found throughout various album in the words "the little boats of love." The idea behind this is that each of us is a little boat in the sea of life. Our love is what saves us in the oceans of chaos and often despair that engulf us in this world. The concept is that we are our own saviours, we can help each other through universal compassion. Of course sometimes personal love does the opposite, it sinks us. We have all had that sinking feeling sometimes as we lose love. After gigs, I'm often alone on the train at night returning home, and geared up from the gig, I cannot sleep, so observe the people around me, and I try to imagine their lives. Watching a couple one night obviously falling out, the woman storming off the train at her stop. The man still on the train then desperately texting her, and I guessed with no reply... came up with this song. Searching for images, I came upon Janet Ballard's Sinking Dory, which seemed to match perfectly the mood of the song. She graciously allowed me to use it. This is a rough solo take. I look forward to being able to record it properly. I hope you enjoy.
Superman's in the Kitchen
"Superman's in the kitchen cooking up a storm...Wonder Woman's in the office, she's the chairman of the bored." We live in an age in which gender roles are changing rapidly. Some people, mainly of a monotheistic conservative bent, are extremely bothered by this change. By using their own iconography, this song suggests that this change is fine, "none of it really matters, as long as you don't hurt anyone else. Be just who you want to be, but don't think just of yourself." Celebrate life, but care for it. Jesus and Mary are brought into this pagan song to show what matters is kindness. The only thing we should be up in arms about now is the greedy who are pushing policies that result in poverty and climate change. As Noam Chomsky recently spoke in an interview, the Republican party is the most dangerous political party in the history of humanity. For if we follow them, civilisation and humanity itself will cease to exist.
The 6th video in the Lone Cut Raw Fish series, The Swerve is about how we are often pulled away from ones we love, or would love
by forces that are larger than ourselves, or even just by our own desires and "destinies". On this 30th anniversary of the Hubble
telescope, I thought I would add images from it, suggesting the power of the gravitational forces and orbits that move us. The sorrow we feel is like the gravitational pull of a planet spinning in its orbit, the greater in importance that person is to us, the greater the weight of the pull.
Moon on the Ocean (in Honor of Kirk MacGeachy)
Moon on the Ocean: by Kirk MacGeachy. (1950-2006) Kirk was one of the greats of Canada's music scene. Kirk founded and headed the band Orealis with the famous Gossage brothers. They performed regularly in Montreal, the Canadian festival circuit and at Universities in the US and Canada. Orealis backed the Pogues and the Waterboys. Sadly Kirk died suddenly in 2007 of a heart attack after performing a series of shows even though he had suffered a fall down the stairs at his house in Scotland earlier in the week while painting. It was a great loss to all. Kirk was a magical person. Gentle hearted and full of laughter. His voice was like silver moonlight on a lake. He wrote many wonderful songs and played a mean celtic guitar. His wife Pat, is organising his 70th birthday this Saturday April 18th, 2020, and asked me to contribute. So I recored this song of Kirk's from his album of the same name. I had helped write the lyrics to the original-- mainly the chorus and all the heavily worded phrases. Kirk's original is much lighter and nicer on the tongue and ear. I've performed my version here, also found on the Born Again Pagans Album The Emergent Sea under the title Kirk's Caledonia, with its more Canadian country sound, but I hope you enjoy and take the time to check out his original and his other music, much of which can be found on youtube. He was a brilliant musician and such a kindhearted and humorous man. We miss you Kirk. For a longer tribute/obituary and the lyrics, please visit: https://romanrhodes.com/track/2129304/kirk-s-caledonia-moon-on-the-ocean And click the info button
Only Men Break Hearts
One year it seems to me there were endless songs coming out about what bastards men are. From Billy Holiday to Beyonce, Alanis Morissette to Taylor Swift, there is an endless lament and critique of the unfair gender. Fair enough. So many of these songs are powerful and brilliant! Who cannot rock to You Oughta Know? Further, there are a lot of male bastards out there and we oughta know! Still I felt I had experienced enough on my own, and heard 100s of stories about the other side of the story, I felt it needed a little more recent representation. So I wrote this with its slightly sarcastic title. Whether the are my experiences or stories I heard, "I'll never let you know."
After the first couple of darker songs, I thought it would be nice to sing about light. This song, The Gleam is about how the beauty of nature can open our minds and hearts and relieve us of pain and fear. Humans are obsessed with the beauty of lights. Light represents everything from goodness to gods. In Rumours of Glory, Bruce Cockburn sings “See the extremes of what humans can be…beneath it’s shining like gold but better.” As a Christian he is referring to the spirit, and something separate from the world. To monotheists the world is an illusion that we should not worship, we should rise above the world. Pagans have the same idea that life is an illusion of sorts—indeed they had it long before monotheism existed—and that we need to learn to detach a little from life and the world to survive its pain. However, the world is not something bad to ultimately be escaped in some heavenly afterlife. Heaven and hell are right here created by us, and the world is a beautiful teacher, even its pain teaches, just as the brevity of beauty increases our appreciation. To a pagan the world and the spirit and god are all intermixed. Our sense of awe and spirituality evolved directly in connection with nature. It’s all part of “god,” not separate. This song sings of the spiritual beauty of nature, how it inspires us. From the youngest age until now, I have always gotten a kind of mind/emotional/spiritual rush from moonlight on a clear night reflecting on water, trees etc. And reflecting on its reflection has often brought me peace and joy even in dark times.
String of Pearls
String of Pearls was written soon after my daughter's birth. When I got home from the hospital on the day she was born, I got a call from my father. I thought it was to say congratulations, but it was to let me know my mother, who had a stroke the month before, had tried to climb out of her hospital bed in the night, crashed to the floor, suffered broken ribs and an epileptic fit. The doctors were certain she would die that day, and my dad had called to prepare me for her death. She lived, thankfully to see her granddaughter, but the contrast between the joy of my daughters birth and the sorrow of my mother's impending death at the same time, combined with a feeling of the presence of my long dead grandmother gave me a sense of the balance in the universe and continuity through life in DNA. I sometimes see our paths through this weft block universe as the quantum warp threads of DNA, along which individual lives are like pearls woven into the tapestry of some greater history and being. We are singular points, or colours in a pattern we do not always see. All a little much for a song, but I hope I catch some of the mood in the song of the experience and vision which helped me deal with the feeling of pain at the time. I would like to redo it with less strained vocals.
Don't Lock the Gate
The song I am starting with is: Don’t Lock the Gate, written in 2003. What inspired me to start with this now, is that we are in the midst of the Corona Virus lock down around the world, most people are stuck at home, or trying to get back home. I was recently listening to CBC news podcast about Canadians stuck abroad unable to return . As a Canadian ex-pat in Japan (or in woke terms, an immigrant from an developing western country living in a developed eastern one ; ), I have often felt this sense of dislocation. I am sure immigrant from around the world share this feeling of trying to make a living in a distant land far from your family. You know your parents are getting older and could use your help, but you’re barely making ends meet in your new country and the ability to go back and help gets harder every year as your develop more obligations in your new land and less contacts in the old. It gets particularly sad and painful when your parents get sick. This was my situation in 2003. I was back in the summer and I could see my mother was not doing well. Always coughing. Her local doctor missed all the signs, and in December of that year she had a stroke that paralysed her down one side, from which she never fully recovered. The song was written before the stroke, actually in response to general feelings of uselessness. But I believe the stroke made me tighten up the song and gave it the passion. I hope you enjoy and for anybody who has a similar sense of being unable to be the source of support you wish you could for your parents or other loved ones, I hope this touches and heals that part of your heart. I imagine it is a common feeling even for many people who have not even left their countries, as we are mostly all part of the downturn of the economic wheel in which our parents generation had or has more wealth than we. The gate is the gate of the heart, but also the gate of our ability to return to our home country.