world’s oldest musical instrument

I loved museums when I was a boy, and I still do. The great ones in New York City,  especially the Natural History Museum, were places of wonder to me. Some shows last week along the southern Atlantic coastline led me to the Smithsonian, where I spent hours wondering at this flute, discovered in a cave in Germany just ten years …

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still life

My right arm is all strapped up and bandaged. It’s just bruised. I tripped over a guitar cable and down some stairs. For comedic relief, I’m telling everyone else an entirely different story. Some people I tell I was injured practicing the mysterious art of Japanese Ninjutsu. Parachute-jumping. Rock-climbing. Bull-riding. A good songwriter never lets facts get in the way. I’ve …

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living room music

There's a tempo they want. A sound quality they want. There are subjects they won't air. The music industry (like any other successful industry) is about formulas and rules. Follow them, and you will succeed in it as a songwriter and, for better or worse, likely remain a part of it for life. Incidentally, the formula looks like this: This Brightness plus that Tempo plus this …

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how to tune a guitar

You go for a drive with the top down and let the guitar sit in the passenger seat. Make the first left, that way your destination is farther and the road to it prettier, the blossoms absurdly violet. Lose your location. Fiddle with the radio dial. Brush past the popular music stations to the one of choice. Pause there just to adore …

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masterpiece

The thing I most dreaded when I began making up songs as a teenager was being struck down by an F-150 before the world could hear my masterpiece. Not so much anymore. These days I don’t sit and wonder if my next song will be liked by hundreds of thousands of people. I don’t care whether the world will …

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10 crayons

There’s a lot of data in the brain that informs the song sequence on a live performance set list (or LP, for that matter), but essentially it’s a “feel” process: – Is it time for a lift of tempo? – Have I leaned on the guitar for too many tunes? Is it time for a song with those wide piano chords I love …

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