1. Tortoises of the Tall Grass - written for my daughter in-law, Veronica. I was in the discovery mode with V. I was intrigued by the blend of her engineering side and her kind, nurturing side and topped off with her love of turtles (which I think is very cool). I wrote this for a birthday gift. I wanted it to be soft, comfortable and methodical. The title is also a wink and a smile to Frank Zappa's toads of the short forest. Written in all Major 7 chords, 1st position; a very simple progression with a warm, pastoral feel. 2. Suenos de Isabella - written for my standard poodle Isabella. She was my biggest and usually only fan. She would lie at my feet when I would be practicing and doze off; going through her dream phases. I wrote this trying to copy that. Izzy loved this song and would react when I played it; somehow knowing it was hers. The accompaniment with the didgeridoo, strings and St. Michael's effects are to summon her to sleep and dreamland. 3. God's Will (live improvisation) - composing on the fly. I had some licks and chords that I liked; but it was far from a complete arrangement. This is played with a miked 12 string and was basically a sound check that had a will of it's own. It was played in Open C tuning as homage to Justin Hayward's Question and Leo Kottke's Busted Bicycle...and it is still an incomplete arrangement; I thought it would be fun to keep it and play it against the tidied up version on track 10. Key learning: The recording studio is not just a place to record; but to create and grow. 4. Panamint - written in Panamint Springs near Death Valley. I walked out into the desert at first light and fooled around with my guitar and returned with the piece fairly complete. It was as though I found it lying there. I mimic the call and response of the flamenco guitar and dancer, but use the soul of the guitar and the spirit of the desert. Leo really picked up on this conceptually and literally became the spirit with many voices; echoing and responding to the guitar's lament. This is our signature piece; "A lonely guitar laments, to the desolate landscape, the desert awakens, replenishing the soul." 5. Cliché - the first in the "Suite in D Major, preludes and variations". The next 5 pieces are in the same key, same chords and essentially the same notes. This was common practice in the classical period, where prelude represented a musical thought or mood. A piano driven piece, Cliché started as a sardonically themed poem, saturated with double entendre's and clichés, I wrote after the horrifying realization that all the words I had spoken to a young lady were words that I had spoken before. They were sincere and heartfelt to be sure, but I wanted them to be original, not like a script. I was depressed; "Is my life nothing more than a series of sad clichés?" I scrapped a few takes because I couldn't capture the feel I wanted. I thought of the acoustic piano as a way to add a melancholy touch. It was also a perfect way to showcase Leo's piano playing, which I really enjoy. 6. Rabbit Waltz - written without a guitar while hiking Iron Mountain in Poway. Early in the morning, first on the trail, there dozens of rabbits nibbling on the weeds along the path. My gimpy stride created the syncopated rhythm, the bunnies would hear me coming, pop their heads up, hesitate, and then bolt for the heavy cover. It was a dance that lasted about 2 miles. I drove home grabbed my guitar and captured it. 7. Jus' Lazin' the Day Away - started as a poem about having spring fever and being lovesick; lounging about and staring at the clouds is about all you can handle when in this space. I purposely do not use lyrics to tell people how to feel and leave them free to interpret and feel on their own. I think the music becomes more intimate that way. I use the lyrics to put my head in a place to create a musical mood or tone I want. 8. Om Re - My answer to the Moody Blues' In Search of the Lost Chord - Om. For me Om is D (Re). When learning guitar, I was desperately trying to get past the tedium of practice and play the damn thing. I don't like to play covers, but I use them as study to find sounds. I was looking at a tab of Black Crowes' "She Talks to Angels", tuned to Open E. It was recommended that Open D tuning be used and capo-ed on 2 to put less strain on the neck of the guitar. I did and after one strum the world changed. I could play these big, fat chords and if I ever got lost; just let go and you're at home with an open D chord; just what I needed. The melody of this tune was played on 1 string, the F#, leaving the DADADs to drone on in harmony. Stupidly simple, yet somehow effective. It was great fun saluting the Moody Blues, the Beatles, and other '60's era groups that used the 'eastern sound'. 9. Trees in Love - written in Sequoia Park. I traveled there on vacation, with poodle and guitar. We spent the night holed up in a cabin during a powerful thunderstorm. We awoke to an empty park and a beautiful sunrise; everything had a shiny golden glow to it. Here in this tune, being in love is a location, not so much an emotion. During the recording process, I blew out my voice giving a garden talk while competing with street noise. A perfect time to record vocals with an unearthly tone. 10. God's Will - Studio. A tighter arrangement with percussion and angel voices. I like this piece because it is very busy technically but makes me feel calm. There is a lot going on beneath the surface. The 12 string gave me the breadth to play different lines simultaneously. 11. String Theory - 14 Billion Light Years to Home. If you travel across the universe to before the Big Bang or if you journey on a quantum level, inside an atom, down to where the strings of energy are jumping between 11 dimensions, you will end up in the same place: at Home with The Creator. So, where do you go with this musically? I had this concept, but my first attempts did not gel, so I got cold feet. I didn't want to continue because I did not have an arrangement written. I was afraid it would be an embarrassing cacophony. "It's OK, I'm happy with 10 tracks". Leo egged me on to, at least, give it another try. He wanted to do it; it is where his space minded head is. I used a Les Paul and a La Patrie classical for the guitar sounds; Leo used all 3 Yamaha synths. Once we started, it came together very fast. Everything except for the guitar part at the end was improvised and usually done in one or two takes. We did the first section in one session. Inspired, I went home and worked on the remaining guitar part. I stole the end chord progression from the first song I had ever written, "Spend Some Time". It seems to work and really brought me and the tune back home (pun intended). Leo created the rocket roar and the ocean out by combining and layering multiple synth sounds. So much of this track was serendipitous and captured "in the moment" that it cannot be repeated. We could do it over, but it would not be the same. It was more fun than you could imagine; I am so glad Leo stuck to his ray guns on this and made me get out of my own way!!!