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Thoughts On This Warm Winter Day

January 11th, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments
My country road by morning...

My country road by morning...

Sometimes I feel as if I’m in sepia tone, like an old photo from another century. Some things remain fresh, however. I got home yesterday from a round of errands… nothing big, just time consuming. I went into the house and my guitar called to me from its case. I opened said case and withdrew my Martin M-30 where it made its way to my right thigh where it feels most at home. I felt that same commanding place in the universe that I did when I was fifteen. I would open the cardboard guitar case (simulated alligator exterior) and take out my Gibson J-45 and head for the tile bathroom to play and sing. In those days, the bathroom was the best place in the house to play. No one would bother you, and the natural echo properties of the room were outstanding.

Well, no need to head for the bathroom… the tile and wood of the middle room of our 1830’s farmhouse sounds pretty darned good to me. Anyway, what a great place to be at this point in my life. I’m gathering tunes for a new Jorma project so I spent some time writing a new song. Then with a tour coming up I spent another hour or so just playing and singing songs… doing what I have to do to get back in the performance groove. Some of these tunes have been mine for over fifty years, but they cannot be taken for granted. I try to play them lovingly with the same energy that was mine when I learned them so long ago.

Things change over time, without fail. My playing style is still mine and as such, totally recognizable… but it has mutated, changed for the better I would like to think. Well, maybe I’ll just let it go as changed since when I hear old recordings of myself, I always think, ‘I wasn’t too bad.’

Think how lucky I was to come of age as an artist in the Sixties when the art of the time was inextricably entwined with the evolving culture. The music, the graphic art, spoken work and literature was a touchstone for the times. I realize that it is a cheap shot to compare the musical scene of the Sixties and Seventies with today. What I perceive of today is such a soft target. The artists that become visible and pass for today’s mainstream are far more proficient as musicians… players and singers, whatever… than we ever were and yet to what end? To me, the music was a means to convey a story. Now, not every story has to be War And Peace… sometimes it’s just Goldilocks And The Three Bears, but a good story is always a good story. On those rare occasions when I listen to mainstream ‘popular’ musicians, I find very few stories worth listening to and I’d like to think that it is not just because I’m an old coot.

On the other hand, it is a big world out there what with all this internet stuff, and without regard to how much the internet can dissipate our powers of concentration there is indeed a world of multidimensional artists singing songs that matter in any given context. Wow… is that good news or what?

OK, I’ve ascertained that the future is safe at least for music. It’s a deep mine out there and lots of us miners. The fact that at my age I still love the guitar, the music, the poetry and performing for people sometimes amazes even me, but there it is. My gratitude is boundless for being able to feel all these things.

I will be leaving for the Coast soon and will be playing for folks across this country for a couple of weeks or so. I will be accompanied by friends… Jack Casady and Barry MItterhoff… and one of my oldest friends of all… the flat top guitar.

How good does it have to get?

PS I got a comment from Susan on my Merry Xmas On Day Late entry that I felt warranted comment. Nuff said…

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  1. Kate Sullivan
    January 11th, 2013 at 23:32 | #1

    Hmmmmm……..I admit that I don’t listen to many new artists and one reason is that I am consumed by building banjo repertoire and listening to bluegrass music. But, for me, a more heartfelt reason is that all of the important ideas and words were already said by the amazing songwriters of the 60’s and 70’s. So much of that work is still relevant today. At the risk of sounding like “where are the good old days”, how many artists can genuinely top the words and music that shaped our lives. If there is one current day songwriter that I should be listening to, somebody out there please let me know.

  2. Joey hudoklin
    January 12th, 2013 at 00:22 | #2

    I’ve often wondered, what does a Jorma play when he’s by himself? Buddy Boldens’ Blues? Ain’t No Tellin’? One of my fave shows was at the Merken when you did the Mississippi John Hurt tribute. That was a treat. Thank you for talking about that feeling when the Guitar hits the thigh. Magical. I got that yesterday after not picking up for a few days, going into Children of Zion, and Baby let me lay it on You. Both of which you taught me at FPR a couple years ago. I love it.
    I agree the music from the said era was just special. It will last forever, or some division of…
    Anyway…blah blah. Thanx Jorma for providing this forum. Awsome!

  3. Jimmy k
    January 12th, 2013 at 02:03 | #3

    Amazing you are. They don’t make them like you anymore.
    Love you.

  4. Joe
    January 12th, 2013 at 07:25 | #4

    So very true ! At 63 , I have to work hard to find “storied” good new music . Oh well, you just have to keep on truckin’ ! Thank you Jorma for your thoughtful reflection and Good Luck with your new project .

  5. Steve Levenson
    January 12th, 2013 at 12:37 | #5

    I used to tell my boys “If you’re a teenager and your music doesn’t piss off your parents it probably sucks”. Several hundred years ago, when I was a teenager, I’d use headphones and sing along. Shortly after my Bar-Mitzvah my Dad caught me belting out “12 Gates to the City” and was less than pleased. He didn’t have to say anything….
    And I will never forget the day I caught him tapping his foot to “Honky Tonk Women”. I really thought, back then, it was some kind of victory.
    And there is a wonderful, very young sax player named Grace Kelly, who is certainly is helping to keep the future safe for music. I’d love to be around 50 years from now to see what she’s up to.

  6. Joe in DC
    January 12th, 2013 at 13:48 | #6

    Thanks for the words Jorma. I am looking forward to the ‘Jorma” project you mentioned. Though I am still a youngster, 58 years young, I have always felt like I missed something coming of age in the 70’s rather then the 60’s, yet I share your views and the other posters thoughts on days gone bye as related to the social, cultural and musical issues which were at the forefront of everyone’s lives back then (perhaps they still are today?). We all have our time and place in the grand scheme of things, and I would just like to thank folks like yourself for more or less paving the way for people like me who came just a bit behind you, chronologically speaking…. And on another note just scored some Tuna tickets for PA (front row) and VA this summer….looking forward to the shows.

  7. FrankF
    January 12th, 2013 at 15:49 | #7

    Albeit on a completely different level, I find myself at age 62 to be similarly amazed at the peace, love, and enjoyment that a guitar on my lap, or hanging from my shoulders, continues to bring to my life. Never might I have imagined when I started playing in 1964 (ouch!) that I would still be out there in 2013 giving it whatever I can give in front of people who somehow seem to want to listen. Discovering FPR some 10 years ago has helped keep the fire alive. Thanks, Jorma.

  8. Barbara Jacobs
    January 12th, 2013 at 22:37 | #8

    Jorma likes to reflect and do some deep thinking.
    I also like to reflect and do some deep thinking.

    Jorma sings and plays music.
    I can’t do either.

    So I always have loved Jorma for his talents, his skills at writing and playing music, singing and being a good human being.
    The thing we have in common is our skill for writing our thoughts and we both love to kibbitz.

    This was always the case, even before Jorma found out that he’s Jewish.
    I always knew that I’m Jewish. He always knew that I’m Jewish. He always knew that Bill Graham was Jewish. Bill never allowed me to forget that I’m Jewish (not that I wanted to do so.)

    We all got along, even with those who celebrated Christmas and those who referred to it as “Xmas”. Maybe on a Christmas card, perhaps by way of mention.

    Whatever-ish we all are, we share a love for great music and musicians.

    I Lova my Jorma.

  9. chuck newman
    January 13th, 2013 at 01:06 | #9

    Love hearing that Jorma is working on more great stuff. To those who are looking for artists currently writing great stuff I would recommend Kathy Mattea, Nancy Griffith, Natalie Merchant,JJ Cale,John Prine,Lucinda Williams and that’s a pretty good start. Also you can check out Al Kooper who writes a column each week about new music for those of us from awhile back. Peace.

  10. Cyndy Consentino
    January 13th, 2013 at 11:16 | #10

    Dear Jorma,
    Beautiful words written by a beautiful person!
    Looking forward to your new project and seeing you out there soon;)

    Stay well,

  11. Ellen
    January 13th, 2013 at 13:20 | #11

    Thanks Jorma – love reading your blog! Love you and Jack – Hot Tuna is my absolute fave. Regarding “new” music – thanks to WFUV in NY (which you can stream online) I have been introduced to tons of fabulous artists. Saw the Kennedys last night and they were great – highly recommend!

  12. January 13th, 2013 at 19:29 | #12

    Looking forward to seeing you at the Musical Instrument Museum on 1/26 and see what friends you might bring.

  13. Kate Sullivan
    January 13th, 2013 at 22:40 | #13

    @Chuck, of course how could I not mention Lucinda…thanks for the reminder.

  14. Brett
    January 14th, 2013 at 09:59 | #14

    Great post Jorma…As always Thanks for your perspective

    Enjoy the FPR on the road workshops and the upcoming tour


    PS: Lucinda Williams….Heck Yeh!!!!

  15. Steve Singer
    January 14th, 2013 at 11:02 | #15

    Relatively new compared to Jorma & Jack- Buddy & Julie Miller

  16. January 14th, 2013 at 11:32 | #16

    Jorma: It truly does not get any better than that. I am also grateful that I got to share (somewhat) your musical journey. It has been a huge part of my life, and I have the same enthusiasm in anticipation of the coming shows on the West Coast as I did when I was seeing you/Hot Tuna back in the 70s. Rock On!

  17. jim hitchcock
    January 14th, 2013 at 18:52 | #17

    Bathroom acoustics. The first arena for so many good players 🙂

  18. John B
    January 14th, 2013 at 19:42 | #18

    Thanks for sharing Jorma. As long as you continue to get out on the road road i will continue to come out and listen to your beautiful music. It is evident how hard you work to keep it all sounding fresh both for yourself and for us. From the balcony of the Beacon Theatre this past December i could feel the excitement that you played with ; especially the second show . At the break i sensed from you a very positive energy about the just concluded first set. It was as if you were ready to leap for joy as you left the stage. Hot Tuna= one of the true joys of my life. I am thankful to God that he has enabled me to appreciate music. Especially live music.

  19. January 14th, 2013 at 20:57 | #19

    I love your blog, Jorma, and I’ve loved your music since I was knee high to a grasshopper. It’s a marvel to hear you tell stories, whether they be written or through the strings of a guitar, and nobody does either better than you. Long live Airplane, Hot Tuna and the Fur Peace Ranch. Y’all make the world a better place. To me, there’s no greater compliment. Thanks for so many years of enjoyment.

  20. David F
    January 14th, 2013 at 23:48 | #20

    The Day Before Christmas

    Twas the day before Christmas
    And I was running around
    Doing some errands for Mom
    In a Texas Hill Country town

    When what did appear in the front of the store?
    A very kind couple, with three bags of groceries (or was it four)?

    The man looked me over, saw my hat and he said:
    “Does that say “Fur Peace Ranch” on the top of your head?”

    “Yes, sir, it does” I replied, not knowing where this was going
    But I was sure I was going to hear a wonderful story

    “I love Jorma and we saw him in Austin not long ago,
    He and Jack put on such a great show.
    I’ve wanted to see them since the days of my youth
    It’s been a few years since then, you know that’s the truth!”

    So to Jorma my hero, I dedicate this attempt at a lyric
    Because he has inspired so many with his life and his music.

    Thank you for all you do, Captain…

  21. carlo pagliano
    January 14th, 2013 at 23:55 | #21

    California all smiles.
    Happy stay & work @ FPR “On The Road” workshop.
    Always grateful Jorma!

  22. kathy
    January 15th, 2013 at 18:26 | #22

    Just checked in to see what condition Jorma’s condition was in and as always it’s just fine. What a beautiful piece about life and creating music. I find that there are plenty of today’s artists that move me just as much as the folks I grew up on -folks like you. I just have to look a little harder. And lord knows, there are so many I overlooked or never knew about that I go back and re-discover. It’s the adventure of living. Thank you for doing what you do. Travel safely. Can’t wait for the next Jorma project. Kathy

  23. January 26th, 2013 at 02:10 | #23

    Jorma, did you ever consider that you yourself bear responsibility for the current shallow state of music which you note in this blog through your part in promotion of the philosophy of “sex, drugs and rock n’ roll” which destroyed the morality, the minds and the spiritual discernment of an entire generation? They are still waiting in front of the Fillmore 50 years later for the show to begin saying…”spare change, man?”