Auriol Hays

Awareness through music

Archive for the 'life in general' Category

Ben Harper – With You

Everyone seems to think I am a stalker. A Ben Harper stalker to be exact. The fact that I wrote a song for him on my Call It Love album (With You)  does not make me look innocent by a long shot. So allow me to explain and then you can decide whether I am guilty of those charges or not..

It all started when I saw Ben Harper live in Montruex. I was so new to his music that I  couldn’t even sing along! I stood alone at the back of the hall, the night before I was meant to take the stage,  and…cried. I cried because I felt alone. I cried because I had no idea of the life I wanted to live. A few years later when I found myself at the beach at 3am devoid of all hope and again I sobbed bitterly. Deep  within there was a void (forgive me Zakes Mda) and I had no idea if anything could fill or I heal it. In that moment of blackening despair his music, the cadence of his voice pulled from that abyss… Finally I could curl my back against the world and feel safe…

My daughter calls him The Harp and loves ripping me off. I often wondered if I could ever express how his music affected me. Alas, life took care of that when her world was torn asunder by my divorce. Suddenly this happy-go-lucky kid was transformed into a sullen, silent stranger. That is until she found solace in Green Day, Kurt Cobain and a host of rock and punk musicians. Finally, she understood. Now she sings along to The Power Of The Gospel, pulls weird faces and mockingly proclaims, “Hey Momma! This is my jam!”

The love of music is our common ground. She sketches, I read and the music plays. Just the other day she gifted me with all the Arctic Monkeys music available online. Yes, yes, it was her favorite band until I stole them. Payback for stealing my beloved Radiohead by the way. Before you ask I do make fun of her favorite musicians (it is my sacred right as her Mother).”Girly, if Shmeagol from Lord of the Rings had to start a punk band…then they would sound like Bring Me The Horizon!” Yet  often I find myself humming along to their music. When she catches me in the act she says, “I see you like Shmeagol and his gang.” And Dammit all…I do!

Back to the seriousness of music. Musicians like Ben Harper remind me why I chose to be a musician. And often I need to be reminded especially when money runs low or I have a bout of writer’s block. I sing, we sing not for fame or fantastic wealth (yes, it would be great if it came, along with tall male groupies!) I sing, we sing…because there is nothing else we would rather do. We sing because by doing so we heal ourselves. We sing because when we do so we offer the best of ourselves to those who will listen, to those who need to hear.
I will leave you with this Ben Harper quote. “Music is the last true voice of the human spirit. It can go beyond language, beyond age, and beyond color straight to the mind and heart of all people.”
So go home, kick off your shoes, make some coffee, switch off your tv, lie on your couch with a blanket, put on some great music and… listen.

posted by auriol in life in general,My music and have Comments Off

Leave Before The Lights Come On…

You have to be better. You must try harder” Those are my two recurring thoughts and they usually hit me after a show. It’s a rare experience – being satisfied that I did my best and gave my all. For a while I wondered, “For who do you want to be better? Why do you feel as if nothing is ever good enough?”

I wish I could say it was for my audience wherever they are…but it really isn’t. I am not going to lay blame at anyone’s door. Instead I will trace the genesis of that thought and how it impacted my life. Yes, it started with my father. The man was brilliant, educated and very debonair in his day. He had this wide angled view of the world. Often I struggled to understand just how he could keep a handle on so many complex thoughts and political theories. I remember one particular incident when a thought lodged itself in my brain as I heard my Father speak, a dirty, mean thought “Auriol, you don’t understand because you can’t.”

I spent a great part of my life trying to prove to him and myself that I can indeed understand and wrap my head around the way he viewed the world. Him, whom I admired so greatly. I can. I must. Be. Better. Maybe then he will accept me. Maybe then I he will see me…

And then a miraculous thing happened. My daughter came into my life and threw my world asunder and right side round. She was also the first person I sang to. I did that partly to stop myself from going out of my mind. Years later she has a deep love of music and even has thoughts of starting her own punk band 21st Century Hurricane. (The posters look great but I have heard no song as such. I live in hope…)

“I must do better. Be better. For her.” I never felt I was a good Mom to be honest. I hate cooking, ironing and generally being confined! I would rather spend hours reading to her, singing songs badly, composing all manner of stories or just watching a movie with the girl. As the years went by I realized (to my surprise) that perhaps I am enough. At least for her. That her quirky and remarkable wit has a little something-something to do with… me?

Being my daughter it’s her moral responsibility (she claims) to rip me off. She jokes about fame every now and then. How to explain to her that it doesn’t matter that people love my music or are moved to tears at times.  Often I go home and dissect the show in my mind. Ah… you did that wrong. Oooh, you missed your entry note there…in short I live with constant doubt. Just like the butterflies before a show… Doubt keeps me on my toes. Stops me from accepting empty applause or flattery. Doubt keeps arrogance at bay.

I reckon each emotion (if given the space to breathe) has a lesson, a meaning. Once that is deciphered, it leaves. It’s work is done.  And that’s how I chose to live my life and sing each song… with Doubt at my side. How else to keep moving… into what’s next?

 

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Jolene

“Auriol, you over-think everything. One day you’ll be on your way to an asylum to visit a friend – or so you think!  Only on your deathbed will you come to know the sad, ugly truth.  We were visiting you all along!”   I won’t lie.  I paused to consider this possibility!  Why do you ask?  I over-think everything my friend. Just like Vincent said in Quentin Tarinto’s Pulp Fiction, “A foot massage is never just a foot massage “  Yet all it took was one glance from my daughter for the epiphany to hit me.
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Whenever I page through my song books I can pin point with crystal precision where I was, what I felt and even the clothes I wore!  This is a feat of astronomical proportions especially if you consider that I can barely recall what I cooked the night before.  As I listen to those songs, I am transported to a time when I was tormented, bemused, bedeviled, intoxicated and positively possessed with lust, rage, love…  You must understand – I write music and sing as an act of complete remembrance.
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There’s something deeply macabre about the workings of the human heart.  We hold on to memories that flagellate, torment and threaten to tear us asunder.  As I stared at my daughter, who was obliviously texting and humming along to The Arctic Monkeys, another realization hit me.  There’s something bitter sweet about being in the midst of profound happiness – knowing it is ephemeral and savoring it nevertheless.  I knew that I would never be able to capture the rebellious splendor of who my daughter was in that split second ever again…
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“Every memory is turned over and over again, every word, however chance, written in the heart in the hope that memory will fulfill itself, and become flesh, and that the wanderers will find a way home, and the perished, whose lack we always feel, will step through the door finally and stroke our hair with dreaming, habitual fondness, not having meant to keep us waiting long.”  - Marilynne Robinson
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Living in the present… I haven’t mastered that art just yet but music helps transform good memories into great ones and allows me to leave the past behind.  Or I hope that’s what it does or pretty soon I will be visiting some friends at an asylum…
posted by auriol in desire,life in general and have No Comments

Do You Wanna Know?

I am not the most practical person on the block.  Ask any of my friends and they will nod their heads in shameful agreement.  Right now my sincere desires is being able to park perfectly – everywhere, every single time.  I am being dead serious and allow me to share my reasons.  I use to think it a great failing on my part that I am overly emotional and view everything in my life through that lense.  However, once I discovered music it all just fell into place.  Finally I could let it all just hang out!  I always walk away feeling more balanced and in tune because I managed to rid myself of that excess emotional energy…

I once heard it said that whatever one lack (or assumes so) is mirrored in another form… Many of my friends are incredibly practical.  Also it explains my insane attraction to men who are intellectual and very practical.  I know this will sound horrid but when I meet a man who is too eager, too in touch with his feelings – I will toss him to the hyenas.  Again, in my mind it makes perfect sense as a balance needs to be maintained…

Right now the music I write is not as emotionally charged.  I have a few Muses I draw upon when I am in a bind.  I do find it odd that I always stop myself from writing an incredibly happy music.  Every time. Mid song I stop.  Especially when the word love rears its head.  Love, like rage are two emotions I tread carefully around.

I lost my balance at two stage of my life and vowed never to re-visit that it.  So I take everything in my stride.  If I feel hurt by someone’s actions – they should expect a mail.  If I care for anyone or have regard for them – I will ensure they are aware of it.  Isn’t that all any of us can do?  Share what we know to be true and hope we are understood?

Wendyl, a journalist, once remarked after watching the tv-show Jam Sandwich (where two musicians with very dissimilar genres had to create a song), “Auriol, I expected you to be more aggressive and fight for your sound…”  I prefer to observe and watch the chips fall where they will.  I am not going to fight and argue – least of all about music.  In the end I always follow my own path. However, I have discovered that there are times when one has to speak up, shout and make oneself heard.  Again it’s balance I am trying to master.

However, there is light at the end of the tunnel… my parking has improved by leaps and bounds (even my neighbors have noticed) and fewer men have been thrown to the dogs!  See?  Progress… one step for mankind… the leaping will come later.

posted by auriol in life in general,Reality and have No Comments

A Rush Of Blood To The Head

“Hell is other people” I have heard this so often. I was about to say the same thing when I realized that “Hell is my perception of other people.” Honestly, I wish I weren’t so full of shit or weighed down by my expectations of others.  Sometimes I expect too much or too little. I am big enough to accept responsibility for that. After all no one else can be held accountable for the way I view others. When I loose faith in my ability to understand people only two things get me through – my love for my daughter and my love of music.

I don’t waltz over the keyboard immediately and start writing music. I lie on the bed with all my cats (they always know when it’s a code blue situation) and listen to Ben Harper for a while. Then I question myself about those expectations and what it reveals about my state of mind. I have been accused of over thinking, but if I do not take the time to understand myself who will? In the Wisdom of the Tao it says, “”One who understands others has knowledge. One who understands himself has wisdom. Mastering others requires force.  Mastering the self needs strength.” I am tired of feeling weak and out of control.

A recent visit to a homeopath was more than surprising. After 30 minutes she looked at me and said, “You do not share easily and keep everything locked inside you. This is why you are having problems breathing.” And I thought I just needed to exercise! When I troubles with people I do not share them – least of all with those involved. I talk my way around it, under it or try to resolve it through music.

If I weren’t a musician I would be a diplomat. I could spend all my time hiding behind other people’s troubles. But music doesn’t provide me with that as option. Ben Harper said it best,  ”You can’t fool music because it exposes you to the depth of who you are, who you really want to be….Whether I am honest as a man is up for debate within myself…but as a musician I know nothing but honesty.”

Sometimes things have to be said, confrontations had so that all that the energy can be released. But, first I have to deal with my ego, its conditioning, prejudices, expectations and once I am resolved – only then can I face with person I am having issues with. And if I am lucky a song comes…if not at least I have peace of mind for a while…

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Give Till It’s Gone

I don’t like playing games or showing off. It might seem like fun but ego tripping, inevitably, bites you in the ass. Once, a silly boy told me he thought I had no personality because I did not respond to jokes or conversation the way he was accustomed too. Reciting names and facts do nothing for me. I guess I am just not interested in appearing smart.

Self worth is a tricky thing and when you have little of it your ego takes you on all kinds of unexpected detours. Most of my life I have always waited on others to step in because thought I wasn’t good enough. When I started off in music I felt that most keenly but had people to guide me. I always knew that my musical career was about more than simply singing a tune – it enabled me to find my own voice so I could say “Dammit-all I am good enough and can do this on my own terms.”

There is greater value in being honest with yourself  first – especially when you are scared and don’t know which way to turn. That is something I learnt a few years back. I cannot afford to play games with myself or be in denial. Luckily I have family and friends who won’t put up with my crap when I can’t find that honesty! So I don’t have to be piss drunk or falling to pieces before I can own up to my feelings or what needs to change in my life.

These people keep me grounded but even they get it wrong at times. I have a friend who is one of my most trusted advisers. But something tragic happened just the other day. I came to realize that I have outgrown the need for his advice. That was an epiphany I never thought I would have. Sometimes this dude has no idea what he is talking about and it’s time I said, “Hold up mister. You are wrong …”

Aristotle was right when he said “the ultimate value of life depends upon awareness and the power of contemplation….” I just have to learn to do something valuable with all that awareness and contemplation…

posted by auriol in career,human nature,life in general and have No Comments

Swordfishtrombones

“There I was, baby, addicted to saying things that matter to someone.” That line come from the movie Waitress. How can anyone argue with that? In my darker moments that lines crashes into my mind and  bounces off any surface it can find. Do I really matter to anyone? Take away the band, the clothes that don’t belong to me, the lights and photographers who can make anyone look uber cool….when all that’s left is me…would anyone really care? This is why Phil Collin’s interview struck a chord. I could relate.

Everyone wants to know they matter to someone. The “you-complete-me”, soul mate idea holds no water with me. I am a realist. I expect little. The rest of the planet cannot be counted on to always act in accordance with their better natures. Maybe I adopted that attitude after having front row seats to my parent’s terrible marriage, who knows…

It’s perplexing the way the past casts a spell on everything. It creeps up on you and bites you in the ass in the moments you least expect it. Like last night while listening to excruciatingly boring classical music. I know it will take a long time for me to be free of my own prejudices and hurts. Being human means being honest with myself about who I am and what I am capable of.

I know that I can’t always be the bigger, better person. Sometimes I will be completely unreasonable and loose my shit. And yes, I need to grow up, build a bridge and get over or go see a therapist but is anything ever as easy as it sounds?  What helps is knowing  you matter to someone. Someone who can see past their own agendas and just be there for you….

posted by auriol in life in general and have Comment (1)

Blue Valentine

I once wrote a song called I Don’t Believe in Happiness. It’s a song that will most likely never get on
to any CD. I wrote it because sometimes I really don’t believe in happiness.
We all have those moments where the possibility of ever being happy is gone. When you are so sad and broken that  you
can’t  breathe…
Life is littered with those painful moments. If you’re lucky you get to move past it…and if you hit the jack pot
you won’t need to  relive them. Well, that’s my opinion. But human beings are seldom that smart. We turn on each other, turn
on ourselves, withold love and get scared too quickly.
One of the best gigs I had was at a place called Jonathan’s when I was singing with Keira Witherkay.
There was nothing remarkable about that night except the fact that until then I never sang
feeling that worn out, broken and sad. When I sang I could feel the depth and the layered emotions of every single word.
There’s something strangely magical about that…
And capturing that feeling is what I need to do in my next album. I want to feel emotionally connected
to all of the songs so I can live them out on stage. Make them my own and give them to whoever
will listen. That’s why I am a musician…to articulate and make sense of those painful moments.
That reminds me of another important fact. I should never ask my daughter for help with lyrics. Just the other day she
says, Mummy, I have an idea for a great song.” It started out rather nice.She even had a
good tune so I paid attention. “I was lost and now I am found…in the kitchen” Somehow she managed to involve pots and pans
and all manner of utensils into that song….and I burst out laughing. The poor child could not understand why I
found that funny! What a weirdo!
Anyhoo,she makes me happy. Real happy. Sometimes I look at her with her and even though she is no longer 3 years old…
beneath all that crappy attitude and dodgy clothing…she is still my girl. And that is why I can never live my life
not believing in happiness…because those bad moments always pass.

I once wrote a song called I Don’t Believe in Happiness. It’s a song that will most likely never get on to any CD.  I wrote it because sometimes I really don’t believe in happiness. We all have those moments where the possibility of ever being happy is gone. When you are so sad and broken that  you can’t  breath…

Life is littered with those painful moments. If you’re lucky you get to move past it…and if you hit the jack pot you won’t need to  relive them. Well, that’s my opinion. But human beings are seldom that smart. We turn on each other, turn on ourselves, withhold love and get scared too quickly.

One of the best gigs I had was at a place called Jonathan’s when I was singing with Keira Witherkay. There was nothing remarkable about that night except the fact that until then I never sang feeling that worn out and broken.  I could feel the weight and depth of each lyric and it transformed the notes I sang.  There’s something strangely magical about that…And capturing that feeling is what I need to do in my next album. I want to feel emotionally connected to all of the songs so I can live them out on stage. Make them my own and give them to whoever  will listen.

That reminds me of another important fact. I should never ask my daughter for help with lyrics. Just the other day she says, “Mummy, I have an idea for a great song.” It started out rather nice.She even had a good tune so I paid attention. “I was lost and now I am found…in the kitchen” Somehow she managed to involve pots and pans and all manner of utensils into that song. I burst out laughing. In fact I was beside myself with laughter and my poor child could not understand why! What a weirdo!

Anyhoo,she makes me happy. Real happy. Sometimes I look at her when she’s in the kitchen or busy watching tv. Beneath all that crappy attitude, dodgy clothing and even dodgier movie choices…she is still my girl. That is why I can’t really sing that song (I Don’t Believe in Happiness)  because painful moments always pass…somehow. The only thing any of us can do when we don’t believe in happiness is hang on…

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It’s Probably Me

“People don’t have time to listen,” says the Husband. “They people get into their cars on their way from work and they blank out. They will accept whatever’s playing on the radio because some of them don’t want to think. They want somene to tell them what’s good. They want escape” Our conversations about music always get heated.
A while back I got a mail from someone who bought my album. “I thought every song would be like Take it Slow and Turn up the Volume. I didn’t like it that much.” That has always been a problem for me. In fact I spoke to my record boss about this when they wanted to release another single off my album. I did not want to be classed as a pop artist just because it would be more acceptable. Anyway, that is not what I am…
Just the other day my daughter wrote a little article about the evils of the Disney channel. Even she can see how young children’s tastes in music are being moulded and crafted so that they can squeeze more money out of their parents.
“Disney is just a big scam. They take people and make them famous  and then slap there big faces all over the web, the shops and the TV. They play there songs over and over again until you are a robot underneath Disney’s spell .They make terrible TV shows like Jake and Blake and play it over and over again until you get use to it. They then release a song and because you   heard it so many times you just give in and your subconscious says ‘Hey I have heard this song so many times so I will buy the CD’ It is sick”
And while I am glad my daughter can think for herself, I refuse to believe the worste of people. This is my philosophy. No matter what you do, you have to bring what’s important to you  - to it. It has to be sincere. If you do it will resonate with people. These days people it’s the spectacle that gets people attention.”People have been amazed to learn that a homeless man might have an unusual ability, just as they were dumbfounded that an unattractive woman, Susan Boyle, did” said Andy Borowits from the Huffington Post. There is so much choice when it comes to music. Music can be copied and downloaded. So to a certaine extent I understand the need for spectacle. But fans these days require and demand more from the people they spend money on.  They don’t only  buy into your music but who you are an an individual. And if you give back recylced and regyuritate music based on what makes other people popular and succesful then you might as well be a puppet. But hey…that;s my opinion.

“People don’t have time to listen,” says the Husband. “They people get into their cars on their way from work and they blank out. They will accept whatever’s playing on the radio because some of them don’t want to think. They want escape” Our conversations about music always get heated.

A while back I got a mail from someone who bought my album. “I thought every song would be like Take it Slow and Turn up the Volume. I didn’t like it that much.” That has always been a problem for me. In fact I spoke to my record boss about this when they wanted to release another single off my album. I did not want to be classed as a pop artist just because it would be more acceptable. Anyway, that is not what I am…

Just the other day my daughter wrote a little article about the evils of the Disney channel. Even she can see how young children’s tastes in music are being molded and crafted so that they can squeeze more money out of their parents.

“Disney is just a big scam. They take people and make them famous  and then slap there big faces all over the web, the shops and the TV. They play there songs over and over again until you are a robot underneath Disney’s spell .They make terrible TV shows like Jake and Blake and play it over and over again until you get use to it. They then release a song and because you   heard it so many times you just give in and your subconscious says ‘Hey I have heard this song so many times so I will buy the CD’ It is sick”

And while I am glad my daughter can think for herself, I refuse to believe the worste of people. This is my philosophy. No matter what you do, you have to bring what’s important to you  - to it. There has to be real sincerity. If you do – it will resonate with people. These days  it’s the spectacle that getting people’s attention.”People have been amazed to learn that a homeless man might have an unusual ability, just as they were dumbfounded that an unattractive woman, Susan Boyle, did” said Andy Borowits from the Huffington Post.

There is so much choice when it comes to music. Music can be copied and downloaded. So to a certaine extent I understand the need for spectacle. But fans require and demand more from the people they spend money on.  They don’t only  buy into your music but who you are an an individual. And if you give back recycled and regurgitated music based on what makes other people popular and successful then you might as well be a puppet. But hey…that’s my opinion.

posted by auriol in career,life in general,My music and have Comment (1)

Pennies From Heaven

“You have been in a bad mood since the new year started!” The way my sister said it you would swear we
are heading towards August! And even though I denied it vehmently while chatting to her, I knew she had a point.
I never go into a new year the way I want to. (with Radiohead, friends and family in a desert)
I always find excuses to not do something exciting. A few days passed and then something miraculous happened.
I happened to catch Quincy Jones’ tribute to Ella Fitzgerald.
I watched the show and marveled at what Ella achieved in her lifetime and if she
ever saw any of it coming. I feel this attachment to her for many reasons. Consider
how the political and social climate in which she sang. Hell! That she did what she did
in spite of all that drama.I watched the show, made notes and even forgot to be full of crap.
Sometimes a bit of inspiration comes at just the right time.
I then also remembered another musical love of mine – with Negro Spirituals. Old Pops use to play
and sing (badly) those songs when I was a kid. Rather ironic considering that the man is a aeitheist.
Maybe it was the element of resistance and defiance that he liked. Whatever it was that love stayed with me and found its way to my music.
On the new album there is a slave song called Pray for Rain.It was a song I always wanted to write.
Still, I don’t know what it is about this new year but I feel the buzzing energy everywhere pushing and prodding me into action.
I really do have a lot of things on my plate. A new album, a show in CT, recordings, filming projects, two music videos and then I
want above all to sing at the CT International Jazz Festival. I thought about all these things as I scribbled while watching the tribute show.
Even though I do not like
Natalie Cole’s squeaky voice, I had to admit that her rendition of Mr Paginini was
so classy. That reminded me that if I want these things to materialise I have to graft my ass off. Do as much as I can by myself and ask for help when I need to.
And if I do feel stressed out I can always challenge my daughter to a sing-off and loose. Not because I feel sorry for the girl! Hell no! I don’t think I could ever beat her
singing along to the Jonas Brothers…lol!”You have been in a bad mood since the new year started!” The way my sister said it you would swear we

“You have been in a bad mood since the new year started!”  The way my sister said it you would swear we were heading towards  August! And even though I denied it vehemently I knew she had a point. I never go into a new year the way I want to – with Radiohead, friends and family in a desert. Yes you read that right. In a desert….I always find excuses to not do something exciting and then fall into a dirty mental funk.

And then something miraculous happened. I happened to catch Quincy Jones’ tribute show to Ella Fitzgerald.  I watched the show and marveled at what Ella achieved. I really did wonder if  she ever saw any of it coming. Consider the political and social climate in which she sang. Hell! I don’t think that I could do that. Look at how bitter it made Nina!  I watched the show, made notes and even forgot to be full of crap. Sometimes a bit of inspiration comes at just the right time.

As I watched the show I  remembered another musical love of mine – with Negro Spirituals. Old Pops use to play and sing it badly when I was a kid. Rather ironic considering that the man is an atheist. Maybe it was the element of resistance and defiance that he liked. Or maybe he liked the bitching tunes!  Whatever it was that love stayed with me and found its way to my music. On the new album there is a slave song called Pray for Rain. It was a song I always wanted to write.

Still, I don’t know what it is about this new year but I feel the buzzing energy everywhere  - pushing and prodding me into action. I really do have a lot of things on my plate. A new album, a Jazz  show in CT, recordings, filming projects, two music videos and then I really, really want to sing at the CT International Jazz Festival.

I thought about all these things as I watched the tribute show. Even though I do not like Natalie Cole’s squeaky voice, I had to admit that her rendition of Mr Paganini was so classy. It would make Ella and her Dad proud.  Seeing her sing reminded me that if I want things to materialize I have to graft my ass off. I am nowhere near where I would like to be.  I have no choice – I have to do as much as I can by myself and ask for help when I need to.

And if I do feel stressed out I can always challenge my daughter to a sing-off and loose. Not because I feel sorry for the girl or because of some misguided maternal instinct! Hell no! I don’t think I could ever beat her when she starts belting those Jonas Brothers tunes…lol!

posted by auriol in life in general,Uncategorized and have Comment (1)