The nuts and bolts of writing songs

Media interviews are part of a musician’s life and the best interviewers – Vic Fernandes in Barbados; Carlton James and Wanita Huburn here – will come at you with stuff that makes you turn inward and unravel things you learned along the way but never articulated. 

Not so

As I’ve mentioned before, for many years, living abroad, I have kept a kind of informal journal not as a record of daily events but as a storehouse of various thoughts or ideas or observations that come to me during the course of a day. 

Dis is Guyana buddy

I was in Miami airport recently, waiting to check in at Caribbean Airlines, and I ended up in an intriguing conversation with a Guyanese, living in Florida, who was travelling to Trinidad on business.

Race lessons from America

Hard on the heels of Donald Trump’s ascent to be President-elect of the USA, comes a striking example of racial tensions in that country with an incident involving public comments from Pamela Taylor, Executive Director of a government-funded non-profit group in Clay County, West Virginia.

Nature’s gifted performers

There’s a narrow trench running along the side of the road where I live on the East Coast, and it’s often fascinating to watch a chicken hawk diving down from the overhead utility wires to snatch an unsuspecting Kreketeh from the edge of the trench. 

Snow discovered in the Caribbean

In the course of some time spent this week with a visitor from Barbados, I heard a question I’ve been asked many times: “These songs you compose; where do they come from?” and while the answer to that is fairly complex, there are two fundamentals in play: One, fairly obvious, is that it is a gift a person is born with.

Beat is the man

Popular music used to be a river or a stream or even a tiny brook tinkling out some fragile notes; now it’s a waterfall, a thundering sound, actually a force, carrying us along; it reflects the time; but it has always been so. 

Racism cannot hide

Two of the most disturbing aspects abiding in mankind – egoism and racism – have been front and centre, as well back and sideways, in the recent presidential election melee raging in the USA. 

Razor thin wins

Sports watching can be one of the most engrossing pastimes, particularly in these days of live television and rebroadcasts of singular events, and while the overwhelming victory has its moments – sometimes the mathematics of what has taken place in a blowout are staggering – the highlight for me is almost always the finely balanced contest that turns on a miraculous play or a last-minute singular effort that turns into a heart-stopping victory – for our guys, of course.

Residue from the hard times

In recent days, I made a brief appearance in Orlando hosting a Caribbean American Passport Connection (CAPC) function honouring Guyanese immigrants who had made important contributions to Florida. 

Crime waves

Over the past couple of years, even casual attention to social conversations leaves us with the impression that crime and lawless behaviour is on the rise. 

Guyanese making waves

This past weekend I was in Orlando hosting the Caribbean American Passport Connection event (I had the name wrong in my previous column) where they honoured outstanding Guyanese contributors to America as part of our Jubilee Year celebrations. 

Guyanese inclinations

I  was a country boy of almost 21 when I migrated to Toronto, but almost immediately after my arrival there I began to notice the disposition in Guyanese to improvise, to fix things, to repair and recondition, which was not nearly so widespread in the Canadian community where there was a tendency to discard and buy new, instead of restoring or repainting or patching up. 

Silent despair

To be living in Guyana and coping with the daily dysfunctions in this and that, is to notice that while we are aware of the various big projects needing attention, the creeping feeling of despair rather comes from the small malfunctions that seem to confront us – some of them going on for years – on a daily basis.

Start to look at your self

This past week, even as we mourn the loss of calypsonians Lord Canary here, and of King Austin in Trinidad, the subject of calypso as an art form is again getting traction with comments by Trinidad & Tobago President Anthony Carmona delivering the feature address at the Top 20 Stars of Gold Show presented by the country’s National Action Cultural Committee (NACC).

Deteriorating public language

I haven’t noticed much mention of it but in the recent maelstrom emanating from Donald Trump’s run at the US Presidency, it is striking how much the choice of words coming from various persons in the campaign confuses the issues completely. 

Pause before you leap

As a youngster growing up in Guyana and going to Saints, my friend Stanley Greaves (yes, the painter) had introduced me to (I hope I have the name right) the British Council Library in Georgetown. 

Our history of discord

Anyone who is fascinated, as I am, perhaps even enthralled, by Caribbean history, would have to have noticed our disposition for disregarding what has gone before.

Some don’t fold

I didn’t know him when I lived in Guyana, but in my years in Toronto I became very close to Terry Ferreira from New Amsterdam who had migrated there.

Standup comedy

I came into music at a time when comedy was a big ingredient in the popular music of the Caribbean.

The honest sunshades men

Our esteemed Kaieteur News pundit Adam Harris, known for his daily fanciful dissertations, has dealt with some intriguing subjects in his time, but I cannot let Brother Adam’s recent comment on persons wearing “dark glasses” pass unchallenged. 

Songs as reflection

I did a television interview here recently along with Al Creighton and Ron Robinson on the subject of the arts as a propellant for social cohesion. 

Jamaica shines

This week as the world is agog with the outstanding track performances by Jamaican athletes in the Rio Olympics, it’s interesting to reflect on the remarkable ability of this relatively small nation to produce such a high standard in athletics.