BK Bulletin – January 2019: Already…ugh!

I closed out 2018 and welcomed 2019 with a completely ridiculous sinus infection (as diagnosed, although I’m not entirely sure that was correct). That was quickly followed up by a stomach bug and now a slight cold. In the few hours of decent health I’ve had so far during this newborn year, I somehow managed to write my first real song in ages. Read on for more about that, and other odds and ends…

Continue reading “BK Bulletin – January 2019: Already…ugh!”

Time Takes Over: 30th Anniversary Mix

Me at my keyboard rig around 1990. "Time Takes Over" features sounds from the Roland U-20 synth on the top tier of my Apex stand (over the Ensoniq ESQ-1 on which I have my right hand).
Me at my keyboard rig around 1990. “Time Takes Over” features sounds from the Roland U-20 synth on the top tier of my Apex stand (over the Ensoniq ESQ-1 on which I have my right hand).
“Time Takes Over” is the first complete song I ever wrote. I was 17 at the time and it was strangely inspired by a co-worker of mine at the time who was only a year older than me, but had the personality and outlook of Archie Bunker.

Anyway, we worked at what is now a long-gone Pizza Hut in Point Pleasant, N.J. It was summer 1988 — in between my junior and senior years of high school — and the older sister of one of my classmates got a summer job as a cook/server/hostess with us. I had known her brother for years and knew her a bit, and never would have imagined her wanting anything to do with my overtly racist, sexist co-worker. But they wound up hooking up that summer.

Of course, she went back to college in the fall and since our business dropped like a stone when the summer tourists left, that left a lot of downtime for my co-worker and I to talk. And, for the first time, he sounded human. He really did care for her.

Shortly after she returned to college, my co-worker went to visit her. He expressed to her how he wish they had more time together, and — this is what he told me — she said to him, “Well…time just takes over.” And, at that, she suggested to him they just stay friends.

So, that’s the story behind this song. And it’s weird that one of the most stoic people I have ever known opened up his heart to me and inspired what I think is a pretty emotional song.

Anyway, the following summer he hooked up with another summer Pizza Hut employee and wound up marrying her (even though my classmate’s sister also came back to work with us that summer…which was awkward). I’ve Googled the guy in the past — and just did before posting this — and it appears he’s living in central New Jersey and married to the woman he met at Pizza Hut in 1989. But I haven’t seen him since the early 90s…well, except for one time when I drove by him when he was a cop in a Jersey Shore town a few years later.

Regarding the song itself, most of the instrumentation you hear on this track is from a cassette of the original instrumental demo I recorded in October 1988 using sounds from my old Roland U-20 synthesizer. It wasn’t until a year or so later that I got around to recording the vocals, but by then the arrangement had changed a bit (so I spliced and rearranged this a bit to fit the finished version). I recently added the vocals, wind chimes/shaker track and augmented piano/bass parts to this version, so I would have a complete recording of the original version in time for the song’s 30th anniversary in October.

Now, obviously, this milestone means nothing to anyone but me. My music career went nowhere, and I’m not really a musician anymore except for when my friend Christian Beach* needs me to be one or when I’m inspired and motivated to compose/record something. But I’m still proud of this song. I’m not sure how many 17-year olds were writing songs like this in 1988, but it couldn’t have been many. I mean, at its base, it really is a bubble-gum song about young love that is ultimately unrequited. But it sounds and feels so much bigger than that.


BONUS CONTENT

*Speaking of Christian, during our time in a band together from 1989-91, we actually played “Time Takes Over” in one of our live shows. Here is video of that performance (from 1990?), which features my trying — and mostly failing — to sing with a terrible head cold.

And here is the most recent update of “Time Takes Over.” I recorded this version in 2016.

Christmas 2013 YouTube Video Playlist

A compilation of some of my favorite songs celebrating Christmas and the holiday season, in general. The playlist starts with the latest “demo” version of a Christmas song I originally wrote in 2011, “It’s Christmas Time Again.” Enjoy…

Christmas 2013 YouTube Video Playlist

Includes:

  • “It’s Christmas Time Again” – Brian Kelley
  • “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” – Darlene Love
  • “Christmas Time is Here” – Vince Guaraldi Trio
  • “Happy Christmas (War is Over)” – John Lennon
  • “Thanks for Christmas” – Three Wise Men (aka XTC)
  • “The Closing of the Year” – Wendy & Lisa
  • “Fairytale of New York” – The Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl
  • “Do They Know it’s Christmas?” – Band Aid (1984)
  • “3 Ships” – Jon Anderson
  • “This is Christmas” – Curt Smith
  • “Never Gonna Be Alone on Christmas” – Work Drugs
  • “Holiday Face” – Dent May
  • “Christmas Must Be Tonight” – Christian Beach (The Band cover)
  • “Holiday” – Mike Doughty with Rosanne Cash
  • “Little Drummer Boy” – Nicole Atkins
  • “Skating” – Vince Guaraldi Trio
  • “Matches for Sale/Say What?” – GrooveLily

 

Enjoy the latest version of my Christmas song

32352_850957667094_1010370090_nI originally wrote this Christmas song in 2011 and recorded what is essentially a “demo” version with GarageBand on my MacBook. I updated it for 2012 and made some more changes this year. Here is the latest version.

It’s Christmas Time Again – Brian Kelley

© 2011 Brian J. Kelley. All rights reserved.

I had always wanted to write a Christmas song and I obviously plucked inspiration from “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” (especially since I’m a huge Midge Ure fan), The Waitresses’ “Christmas Wrapping”, Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime” and others. Yes, it includes many of the clichés you are familiar with from other Christmas songs. And when you think about it, most Christmas songs do tend to ask for quite a lot (peace on Earth, snow on Christmas Day, happiness for every boy and girl, etc.), so I refer to that with the line “well, it may be a daunting task/and an awful lot to ask.” But the whole nature of the holiday is this belief in Christmas dreams or miracles coming true, so why not ask for a lot?

Enjoy.

Time Takes Over…25 years later

When I was a teenager in the late 1980s and still had dreams of becoming a professional songwriter/musician, I wrote and recorded a song I called “Time Takes Over” in October 1988.  It was probably the first complete song (with words and music) I ever wrote.

The subject matter was based on sentiments expressed by a former co-worker of mine who was describing how he visited a girl at college after having a summer fling with her. He thought it was more than that, but she didn’t see it that way. Anyway, that was the basis of the lyrics, which—for the first time in my musical life—flowed out practically simultaneously with the music.

The original 1988 version below, written when I was 17, does not include the vocals, but you will hear them later on in this post in other forms. Please note that I transferred this from an old cassette tape so that accounts for the audio artifacts.

In 1989/1990, I was in an ill-fated techno-rap outfit called TMC+The New Generation and—after a few arrangement tweaks by my friend and then-bandmate Christian Beach—we performed “Time Takes Over” during a very poorly structured live show at the ol’ Green Parrot Rock Club in Neptune, N.J., which you can see below.

Finally, a few years ago, I recorded an updated version in GarageBand on my MacBook that includes vocals. In 2012, I re-recorded the vocals and made some additional tweaks. That is the version you can hear below. Enjoy.

Remembering my Ensoniq ESQ-1 and early musical experiments

BK_c1990_keybdrig001It dawned on me recently that this year (most likely, back in February) marked the 25th anniversary of my first purchase of a professional synthesizer…an Ensoniq ESQ-1 workstation (the image accompanying this post was taken around 1989 and includes the ESQ-1 and some later purchases: an Ensoniq Mirage sampling keyboard, a Roland U-20 synth, a Kawai Q-80 sequencer and an Alesis HR-16 drum machine).

The track below is a very rough recording of a song that was one of the first things I created using the sounds and sequencing capability of the ESQ-1…so the sound quality is poor and the song is pretty terrible. It just represents a trip down memory lane…when I thought music would be my life and I wanted to be the next Howard Jones.

By the way, I still have the ESQ-1 and all the other equipment, too…PLUS, an Alesis QS6.1 synth that I bought about eight years ago and is my main keyboard these days. However, the ESQ-1 has been dormant since it needs a new lithium battery installed. I found a place in northern New Jersey that does this for about $90, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet. I would really love to see that thing come to life again, though.

Untitled Early ESQ-1 Song