This is just a quick announcement to say that my official blog, WPR, is currently undergoing a migration to a new, community-based blog-hosting platform. There will still be all of the usual posts like my book reviews, new album updates, thoughts on current events, and my usual amount of quirky weirdness, but there will be a couple of new features on this site starting very soon.
In the meantime, come on by and check out our new digs.
Thanks for reading!!
I wanted to start a new instalment here on WPR about the books that I have been reading. I've been an avid reader all of my life, and I just love it. In my opinion, it offers far more to its audience than watching television does. Don't get me wrong. I don't mind television at all, but it is incredibly passive. Everything, including the plotline, the visuals, dialogue, and the performance is handed to you on commercialized and glossy plate. There is often very little, if nothing at all, that is left to the imagination. (Don't even get me started on all of the advertising. That's a whole other can of worms.)
To me, the beauty of reading is in its simplicity. First, you can grab a book (or e-reader) and take it anywhere. Whether it's in solitude, on the train heading to work, in the bathroom, or in bed before you go to sleep at night, you can read. It's unbelievably convenient. You can also go at your own pace or stop completely if you don't like the book you chose.
Reading a book also offers something incredibly vital. It invites you to use your imagination. I often create scenes in my head and imagine faces and foreign places when I read. It also invites you to contemplate different meanings and ask questions. Everything isn't offered right off the bat. You, the reader become engaged and invested in the content. It is among the most active things you can do without lifting a finger (outside of actually turning a page, that is).
So there. Reading will save the world. It is an age-old practice that has inspired great art and started revolutions. Give it a try. Find a book about something you like or are curious about at your local library. Find a cozy spot, and read.
As a gay man, I've never quite known what to think about marriage. It has always been just something that was available to someone else.
Sure, I've fantasized about what my wedding could look like, but I've never believed those dreams.
There are two new segments I wanted to add to my regular roster of posts here at WPR.
First off, there will be a new segment called Creativity. I want to discuss and explore the process of creativity across numerous platforms. In my case, I play piano, sing, perform shows, write songs, write poetry, run this blog, draw, take photos, knit, and do a bit of web design, and so the creative process seems to permeate through my entire life. How does the creative process differ between various forms of expression? How is it the same? How does one stay motivated and inspired? These are all questions I hope to find answers to. I'd also like to interview other creative people across various fields and see how they feel about what they do. This should be fun.
Secondly, I'll be doing a new weekly segment called The Weekly Pic Pick. Over the last few years, I've been growing more and more interested in photography. Now that I have both a very good digital camera as well as a solid cell phone camera, I'll be posting one new pic per week from my adventures out and about in my life. Whether it's something striking, humorous, or just very editorial, I'll be posting the best of what I've photographed every week.
These new segments, in addition to my book reviews (Reading Will Save the World), thoughts on current events, and posts about simplicity and simple living, will begin over the next couple of weeks.
Well, here it is!! After months of research and planning, you are now looking at my official website. More and more features will be added in the coming months.
Consider yourself forewarned!! The look and feel of the site will be changing constantly over time. This site is an ever-evolving art piece.
I decided to go with a blog format for my site and, by so doing, engage in an ongoing dialogue with the world at large. This is now the central hub for all things Gordon Roque. Photos, weekly features, and all the latest news about shows and my forthcoming album can be found right here.
Please feel free to subscribe to this blog's feed or to leave a comment!!!
I've also just announced my Featured Artist of the Month for April 2008--the poet Kathy Skaggs. Be sure to stop by the featured artist page to read this wonderful profile.
So, during the past few days, I've been thinking a lot about smiling. This might sound weird, but who cares? I think of all kinds of things.
Lately, every time I go to a supermarket or a store, I make sure that I smile at the cashier and make direct eye-contact. (This is part of a much bigger thing that I've been lately enamored of, but more on that later.)
What I've found when I've done this is that I get much better treatment from these people, and I get a smile back!! There seems to be a very innate response to seeing a smile, and this seems to occur in all of us. Of course, I have to clarify. I'm talking about the kind of smile that grows out of sincerity, kindness, and gratitude. If, for example, you are smiling just to flirt. This is another thing entirely (and a whole other blog post).
To me, a smile is a nonverbal way of giving kindness. Right now, I'm all about carrying out random acts of kindness--to be thoughtful, generous, sincere, and caring particularly without wanting anything in return. I feel that our world is in desperate need of more kindness.
Some of you might be wondering about the song "Sailing" that is in my music player right now. This is a song that's been in my repertoire for quite a while. When I wrote it, I wanted to compose an escapist sort of song. If I could go anywhere, be anywhere, and be with the love of my life, where would that be and what would it look like?
I actually wrote this song during a particularly rough week, and working on it helped me to get out some aggravation. As many of you know, I grew up in the South Pacific, and so, home is anywhere the ocean is. I spent countless hours when I was a teenager sitting out at a beach and staring out into the endless blue--lost in thought and enjoying every minute of it.
I've been land-locked living here in Nashville and having been in Charlotte, NC for so long, and I sure do miss the blue.
I'm glad I wrote this song. These days, it makes me quite happy.
So, I woke up early this morning, and I'm not really sure why. I have every reason to stay in bed and sleep in, but it's as if something was summoning me into wakefulness.
The sunlight pours into my window as my curtains do all they can to mute it's brilliance. They do so to no avail. There is perhaps nothing more formidable than the sun. I've joined them now, my dear sweet curtains, in conceding to the onslaught of day.
I took a shower and made a mental note in my head to tidy up my room (we'll see how that goes). My mom called. She has this funny habit of calling me in the early morning--which is just fine. She makes me smile.
So, now, here I sit in front of my computer--overcome with the need to say something but not knowing what to say. I'm thinking about the week that is to come. It will be one of my busiest weeks in a long while. A voice in my head is telling me to soak in the quiet and absorb the peacefulness of this moment. Just a quiet hum from my computer is all there is to hear.
Before too long, my world will shift and grind its gears. Engines will rumble. Soon enough, I'll be whisked away--a million things will be calling for my attention.
I wanted to give a little preview of the album and talk about one of the songs in particular.
Early on in this process, I spent a great deal of time figuring out which songs would appear on this album. There was one song specifically that I knew belonged on "Seahorses". It's exactly one of the songs that exemplified all of the ideas and themes behind this album. Foolishly, I decided to leave it out. I did this because I could not figure out the best way to present this song. Of all my songs in my repertoire, this one demands a certain degree of reverence. It did not feel right to go for something fully produced with a complete band of instruments behind it, and I felt that it would cheapen its intention and its meaning by making it available on a commercial album.
Well, as it turned out, I changed my mind, and of course, I did it at the worst possible time. The deal-breaker was that, as the recording sessions were coming to a close, I felt more and more that excluding it would be a mistake, and I would physically beat myself up for this many years down the road. Furthermore, this actually is not a commercial album. I would certainly love to sell many copies of it, but if only one was sold to someone who really connected with it, then I would be very happy. It is, more than anything, a work of art--my art, that is. It is a series of thoughts, stories, musical compositions, and feelings that I am compelled to share.
On the final night of recording, when the main vocal parts for several of the songs were done, I said, "To hell with it!! Let's do it!!". Given our constraints in time (studio time is so not cheap), this last minute inclusion required a certain degree of determination. I decided to just record it live. By this, I mean that I was going to just sit at the piano and play while singing into a mike. This meant that there would be no full band or rhythm section behind it, and unlike all of the other songs, the vocals would not be recorded separately from the music. So, even though I knew my voice had reached it's limit after already singing so much, I performed it anyway. Ben, my producer, just hit the "record" button, and I just played.
It was about 2:00 am (very late!) by the time we did this. We recorded the song all the way through twice over, and by the time I heard the second recording, Ben and I knew that I got it right on the first try. In fact, I honestly believe it is one of the best versions of the song I've ever performed. Perhaps it helped that my voice was tired and that it was so late at night, but the finished recording delivered everything that this song needed to give---every intonation, every lilting cadence being so honest, with every word and every note nestled upon the crest of a tidal wave of emotion.
Constant vigilance. I feel like this is something we must all keep--a faithful, undeterred watch over ourselves. I've had several times in my life when I feel as if I lost myself in the fray of everyday living--a busy 40-hour work schedule, endless to-do lists, doing more for others and increasingly less for oneself.
First of all, there seems to be such a premium for selflessness. If we constantly do unto others, then we are kind and chivalrous. I don't disagree with this, but I believe we could do better by doing unto others AND ourselves.
Secondly, it's so easy to abide so strictly to one's priorities that everything becomes more of a chore. Things that once were fun and meaningful devolve into shear drudgery. Our true needs and desires somehow eventually get lost in the shuffle.
For myself, this week continues to be one of the most hectic I've had in a while. In spite of the fact that I will be off from my day job in the next couple of days, my schedule will reach its most frenetic during this time. (I can't wait for this week to be over!) I'm not doing so badly right now though. Past experience has taught me a few things that I try to live by with a vengeance. I list them here now in hopes that they might be of assistance to you.
1. Whether it's just ten minutes or two hours, take some time every day to do nothing and decompress just a little. Turn off the radar (and your cell phone too, for that matter), and just relax. Personally, I like to fit in a little power nap on particularly hectic days. Doing this helps me pace myself better in order to get me through what I need to do.