This page points to audio clips of some of my original music compositions and of live performances with the bands I've performed with over the years. I have been struggling for some time to digitize this stuff in a format that does not overrun my available space on the server but also does not sound like chicken scratching. (N.B. The second goal may be unachievable with any format.)
I recorded these songs on 2-track Wollensak (the guys in my band used to call it the "Swollensack") reel-to-reel tape recorder. I can't remember exactly how I tracked self-harmonies over my lead vocals, but I think it had something to do with the fact that the tape recorder was broken. Needless to say, these are not studio-quality recordings. I have resisted the temptation to add echo or otherwise attempt to disguise the raw, ...er whatever contained in these songs.
All songs are in RealMedia format, optimized for 56K streaming.
This is how I spent my 2002 Winter Solstice break: recording a producing a cover of Cat Stevens' But I Might Die Tonight. I have owned a midi keyboard and Cakewalk software for several years and have finally followed through on my intention of learning how to use these things well enough to produce a song. So here it is, my first production ever, But I Might Die Tonight.
The first song my son, Paul, wrote, produced, and recorded back in October 2005 is, imho, better than anything I've ever written. And maybe ever will write. The name of the song is Autumn.
What Paul has been doing more recently is infinitely better. Check out his two albums on bandcamp.
This stuff was also recorded on the Swollensack (see above) in my basement. Distortion was almost inevitable, although we tried to control the volume on the Big Louie tape, a comprehensive legacy created at our last get-together. We also recorded a demo tape of some of Bill McCoy's compositions. He gave the tape to Todd Rundgren at a concert. Todd never called, but I really liked Bill's songs (especially "Melinda Be Mine")
and I wish I had a copy of that tape.
The Johnny Johnson Orchestra was the actual name of the band whose members included my grandfather, father, and three uncles. They used to play from the town band stand on Saturday nights. Follow this link to a letter written by my Uncle Hane in which he describes the band's activities. Their influence on me is strictly genetic. I find country music quaint, but rarely listen to it by choice. I used to say that I wouldn't be caught dead playing it, but I have to admit that this music has grown on me, particularly after I produced a CD of the Orchestra's music. This is real foot-tapping, happy music of many genres--ragtime, waltzes, reels, marches, hornpipes, and jigs. Fun stuff.
You can follow this link for a list of songs the Orchestra recorded in 1939 in Canton, Missouri. My father was attending Culver Stockton at that time and was building a broadcasting station as one of his course assignments, so he had access to the equipment at night. Only three members of the band were available for the recording session: my grandfather (violin), my father (mandolin), and my Uncle Hane (guitar). If I had unlimited space I'd make available everything on their set list; but you'll have to settle for one sample--Under the Double Eagle.
Here are some groups whose music has really touched my soul. Unlike some of my colleagues, whose musical tastes seem to be dictated by the strangeness of the group's name, how avant-garde and underground and obscure they are, etc., I seem to be affected merely by the catchiness of melody, harmony, and chord structure. Sad, haunting music is my favorite, although when I am in a good mood I love power pop.
100 years by John Ondrasik of Five for Fighting gave me chills every time I heard it and often brought tears to my eyes. (Music video is in streaming mov format.) It has worn off, sadly, now that they are using it as background music in commercials.
Eluvium does a number of interesting things with sound, but my favorite pieces are Matthew Cooper's classically-inspired numbers such as "The Well-Meaning Professor," An Accidental Memory in the Case of Death," "Perfect Neglect in a Field of Statues," "Genius and the Thieves, " and "Radio Ballet." The last two numbers are not difficult for anyone who grew up with Haydn and Mozart sonatas, so I play them a lot. Probably to the extent that I might be driving some members of my family crazy.
On the listening side, I use a mix of the following Pandora channels as background for my yoga every morning: New Age Instrumental, Yoga, Spa, New Age Ambient, Yogini, Enya, Ludovico Einaudi, Lyrical Pianoscapes, Ambient, Spiritual Waterfalls (mood mix), and Krishna Das.
On the composition side, I have been experiencing the sudden appearance of melodic phrases and chord progressions out of nowhere into my consciousness. When I hear these in my head I write them down. It feels like channeling. I've recorded some of these song bits and hopefully will develop them into full songs. When I do you will see links to them here.
John A. Johnson
1,000,000 broken links fixed and some new things added May 20, 2004. Two more broken links fixed and some stuff added on August 9, 2009. Some major revising on February 8, 2015.
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