Gordon’s 2015 Preview: Life and Creation To Come

PENTAX ImageThe past couple of years have been relatively quiet in my corner of the stratosphere.  I had to make room for other things in my life, things that needed time and space to flourish.  My particular life, with all of its hopeful and sometimes ill-fated pursuits, needed to be experienced, and I certainly lived out quite a bit of all that.

Some things failed.  In fact, perhaps the most significant thing failed, but that’s okay.  Don’t people always say that mighty winged creatures rise out of ashes all the time?  That’s what I’m working on right now I suppose.

I wanted to give you, oh faithful WPR reader, just a little preview of what’s to come in the new year from me, your glittery Asian.

By varying degrees, I guess you can say that I am rebuilding the house that I built.  I tore it down over the last year, and then burned the remains into a smoldering pulp.  This time around, I’m taking greater liberties with the original design.  Letting in lots of sunlight.  Letting the outside in.  Building something that fully represents who I am.

I am committing myself to the heavy lifting and hard work of taking my creative life back to its distilled and authentic form.  Then I’ll reflect it outward as much as I can.

First of all, there’s going to be a good bit of writing.  Before I deemed myself a pianist, singer, performer, or visual artist, I was a writer at my core.  Being able to express my thoughts through my own perspective and voice has always been the foundation for everything I’ve done.  It just so happens that words were my first instruments.

As such, there will be plenty of new blog posts, issues of my monthly e-zine The WWoG (The Wonderful World of Gordon), new poetry, and of course, new music.  Yes, there will be more of all of this.  (The work of recording my next full album-sonically documenting my musical words-will continually bubble under the surface of these things.)

I will also proceed with new visual work.  This will manifest itself in some wonderful ways.  There will be plenty of photography and new portraits of Oreo and Buttercup, as well as the continuation of my ongoing 100 Drawings project, which should resume this summer.

In addition, I also crave connection with people and the world at large.  Not many people know this about me, but I can live the life of a hermit, in complete and utter isolation, quite easily.  I possess a stout and stubborn introverted spirit that is often at almost violent odds with the side of me that loves to perform in front of any number of people.

I spend plenty of time by myself, and in contrast, I hope to find ways to connect with other actual human beings in 2015.  This means I will be back to a consistent performing schedule, but it also means that maybe even you, dear reader, might spot a not-so-invisible Asian fluttering about all topsy-turvy in your neighborhood.

So, those mighty winged creatures that rise out of ashes all of the time–do such things really happen?

Well, I guess we’ll find out.

-gordon

365 Days of Thankfulness In 2015

365dotSo far in my life, I have come to learn that we should be thankful every day of our lives.  Thankful for some things.  Thankful for everything.   We should.  We must.

Why?

Well, because it is a form of happiness.  Mind you, that’s my answer, and it is a personal truth I have come to own.

I, like many people, have often wondered what happiness is.  Maybe it is a fleeting, momentary occurrence of bliss, like a flash of sunlight in between large passing clouds, or an accidental rainbow, or a hug from someone you love.  Maybe happiness exists only in memories, as we smile while looking backwards at the distances we’ve crossed and the lives we touched.

Maybe happiness is all of these things.  Sure.

But thankfulness is not a maybe.  It is a concrete assurance that all that you have, all you’ve been given, and all that you hold dear has value, even if all of these things don’t seem to amount to much.  Thankfulness means that there can be dignity even if you are downtrodden.  It means there can be comfort in times of great crisis and despair.  It means there can be sustenance in times of hunger.

Thankfulness is that incremental slice of something that makes all of the other miserable somethings a little more bearable.  Imagine if we had more of those incremental slices.

That could be happiness.  In my mind, it is.

So, instead of being thankful once in a while, what if we could be truly thankful every day?  If thankfulness is happiness, then what could that mean?  In 2015, I hope to find out.

For all of 2015, I will be posting my thankfulness EVERY DAY on Facebook and Twitter.  You will see a post from me expressing my gratitude for one thing or many things that give my life value and meaning.

Here’s the best part!  You can do it too!!!  Join me and post your gratitude every day with the hashtag #365DaysofThankfulness

I think it’s gonna be a full and wonderful year to come.

Happy New Year.

-gordon

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas from WPR!

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Happy Holidays!!!  Merry Christmas!!!

Steinway, Oreo, Buttercup, and I wanted to give all of our WPR readers tidings of great joy!!!

To celebrate this momentous occasion, here is an adorable compilation of the best cat and kitten videos from youtube in 2014.

You’re welcome .  .  .

Enjoy the food, the merriment, the family, the friends, and all the love!!!

-gordo

You Don’t Have To Try

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About three months ago, I was driving along in my car and flipping between NPR and a local pop radio station.  It was still morning, and I wasn’t expecting to hear much outside of the news and the same set of pop songs on rotation.  Well, I was wrong.  The radio dj introduced the newest song from Colbie Caillat called “Try”, and to be honest, I really loved it.

It didn’t have the heavy beats or the vocal gymnastics that seem to be a prerequisite to get on the radio these days.  Don’t get me wrong, I like those kinds of things when they are done well, but it was refreshing to find a song that seemed to be built completely around its message.  Caillat doesn’t over-sing or over-sell this song either.  It just floats gently along with very little drama, all the while not losing an ounce of its effectiveness.

To me, the best part of this song is its message.  I’ve been thinking about it a whole lot ever since I heard it three months ago on the radio.

We live in a time when we are encouraged and expected to try our hardest at just about anything, to do our best, to BE our best.  Women are pressured to look and dress as beautifully as possible.  Men are pressured to be fit and macho.  We are all pressured to be successful and smart with all kinds of other things.

This particularly strikes home with me since I have always been the kind of person to do my best and try extra super hard to accomplish or be something.  I’ve come to learn that my successes had little bearing upon how I actually felt about myself.  Achievement and a poor self-image can co-exist just as much as failure and a poor self-image can.  I know this all too well.

The problem is that we let these pressures, goals, and expectations get mixed up with how we view ourselves.  Ultimately, whatever the outcome of our efforts, we, every single one of us, are worthwhile, lovable, and amazing in our own ways.  Whether we succeed or fail, have makeup on or not, have huge muscles or not, have the best clothes or not, we need to see, protect, and celebrate the beauty and tremendous self-worth that we inherently have regardless of any of those actions and possessions.

In the end, we don’t have to try to be anything.  We can just be.  Be who we are.  Be who we want to be.  And this is enough.  This is plenty.  This is everything.

On the day each of us was born, we were all cute, valuable, lovable, and adorable just as we were.  At what point did this change?

What if how we saw ourselves directly affected what we did with our lives?  If we loved and believed in ourselves, what if that prompted us to do great things and effect positive change within our own lives?

So, if you haven’t heard it already, here is the video for the song I’m raving about.  (I’ve also included the lyric video.)  Thankfully, the song and video focus on women’s self-image, but I really believe that the message is far more universal.

Underneath all of those things that make you look gorgeous or more likable and popular, there is someone who is already pretty damn amazing.

It’s true.  We don’t have to try so hard.  The value that we see in ourselves is only as good as we make it.

The next time you are by yourself.  Take off that shiny jacket and those cool shoes.  Let your hair down.  Wipe off your makeup.  Peel off every layer.

Then ask yourself if you like who you see.

If you don’t, that’s ok, for now.

Just know that the only answer that truly matters is the one you give to yourself.

-gordo

My Favorite Break-up Songs, Like Ever

I guess I’m not your garden variety hopeless romantic because I really love break-up songs.  There is generally nothing fun about them, but they are so rich with heartache and emotion.  Anyone who has ever been in love and given their heart and soul into a relationship only to have it end can surely sympathize.

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I wanted to share with you, my lovely WPR readers, some of my favorite break-up songs, and in my book, they generally fall in three categories:

1. Defiance
2. Loss and Regret
3. Bittersweet

I love all three, and in this post, I will Asianly (yes, that’s a word) explain what each category entails.

1.  First of all , there are the defiant break-up songs that contain an underlying sadness but with a shiny and thick layer of resilience drizzled on top.  The juxtaposition of all these things together makes for a formidable and surefooted statement–often one in which someone is called out for their misbehavior or dishonesty.

In this category, a beloved song by Madonna comes to mind.  It is one of my all-time favorites from her.  The production of this song is very minimal but effective.  It starts off quietly with a Spanish guitar and builds dramatically with pounding drums, moody electric guitar, and soaring vocals by the Queen of Pop.  The title says it all.

You’ll See .  .  . 

Another defiant break-up song worth sharing holds a special distinction for me.  It also happens to be my favorite piano ballad OF ALL TIME!!  Yeah, that’s a tall order, but this song seriously delivers on EVERY level.  The piano, with notable key and time changes, ebbs and flows continuously through the song as strings accentuate every nuance of the melody.  What brings this song home are Fiona Apple’s vocals.  Her delivery shifts between soft and lilting to brazen and accusatory, and by the song’s end, a gentle, fragile falsetto closes it out onto a heavy-handed and heavy-hearted piano outro.   To top it off, the lyrics of this song are incredibly poignant and devastating.  This song is perfection.  It is defiance, and it is OH.SO.BEAUTIFUL.

Never Is a Promise .  .  .

2.  The break-up songs that deal with loss and regret are often the most haunting.  These are the songs I personally have a tougher time listening to.  I’ve had my share of missteps and losses in matters of the heart.  These kinds of experiences never really leave you.  Sometimes, they never stop hurting.  You cannot change the decisions you made in the past.  That’s what makes these kinds of songs so daunting.

One song that comes to mind is by Vienna Teng.  The production is appropriately sparse because it’s the lyrics that paint the picture.  Teng creates a sprawling sense of desolation in this song, signaling the end of what was struggled for and ultimately lost.  This was a break-up that started at regret but grew to encompass so much more.

Kansas .  .  .

And then, there was Bruno.  Bruno Mars that is.  This funky and phenomenal pop star created one of the most heartbreaking break-up songs of recent years.  This song slays me every time I hear it.  It slays me over and over and over again.  The words say it all.

When I Was Your Man .  .  .

3.  Perhaps the best break-up songs are the bittersweet ones.   There’s no denying the sadness of a break-up, but when it also becomes transformative, that is the finest, the richest, of what we could hope for at the end of it all.  To survive the break-up and come out of it genuinely wishing the other party well, that is the stuff right there.  It’s an experience when love, even though lost, still lives on somewhere in the hearts of those who held it.

A recent and fine example of this is a song by Adele.  I remember the first time I heard this song on the radio.  I had to stop the car because it hit home in so many ways.  The part where she sings “I wish nothing but the best for you .  .  .” takes this song to a different place.  It’s not a scorned lover or an angry one.  It’s the sound of someone who has laid everything to rest, even though it still hurts.   A soft spoken hopefulness carries every word.

Someone Like You .  .  .

And finally, the MUFASA of bittersweet break-up songs.  It pretty much TOWERS over all the others in this category.  It tells the story of someone stepping away from a hopeful place, but not begrudgingly.  It tells the story of someone who holds on to the feelings that made the experience magical to begin with, and by so doing, is not destroyed in the process.  It tells the story of how sometimes loving someone means letting them go. This song was originally written by Dolly Parton.  It wasn’t until it fell into the hands of one of the greatest pop vocalists of all time that it reached its fullest potential.  Made no less bittersweet by the passing of Whitney Houston herself, this is the most hopeful break-up song you could ever hope to hear.  Therein lies its beauty.

I Will Always Love You .  .  .

There are other break-up songs out there that are quite notable, but these select few stand out to me personally.  It’s no accident that most of these are piano ballads.  Naturally, those tend to be the saddest.  I hope you enjoyed this little foray into something that I kind of geek out on.

As a musician, there’s nothing like a song that hits you where you hurt the most.  Isn’t that the point of it all?  To FEEL something?  To EXPERIENCE something?  To KNOW something?

To me, that is the best kind of song there is.

-Gordo