Friedrich Nietzsche said it best.

“I am one thing, my writings are another matter.”

I started the BobSongs Blog, because I wanted to write, and talk about my music… and the music of others.

However, life… (messy as it is) …got in the way.

Things sometimes tick me off, and affect me, and I feel compelled to write and explore my feelings.

So, (for instance) when news that convicted pedophile Graham James had received a pardon from the National Parole Board, and the Federal Government (tough on crime ??? Not !!!) …knew nothing about it… I was ticked.

When I was plucked from amongst other volunteers, to Run with the Olympic Torch, I wrote about it.

And, for over a hundred Blog posts… whatever the fallout, I wrote about it.

I’ve had some hate piled on me… one person, to the point that I had to block him.

But overall, the response has been positive, or it has (in some cases) inspired a debate… and that is good.

At its best, discussion brings together different viewpoints, and when done properly, is an inclusive process, showing us that we are more alike than different.

At worse, it allows me to vent, to bring to light something that I am proud of, or think deserves a bit more prominence.

There have been a LOT of very varied topics… but my original intention was to have my Songs and Songwriting featured, but my BobSongs Blog has evolved into a lot of other things.

Bob Gray - BobSongs - Bob's Songs - BobSongs.com

Thus, I’ve been looking for another Blog domain, that encaptures the “everything else”-ness of my writings.

Driving down the highway, in Washington on Friday, my sweetie and I were talking about it, and that’s when we came up with…

Bob… Blah… Blah…

So, from now on, the BobSongs Blog will be Music, and music-related Posts only.

Bob.. Blah… Blah… will be the home of “What’s In Store”, Caught on the Web, Musings and other NON-Music posts.

Thanks for checking both out, and I hope to see you back here… AND there… soon !!!

Had a conversation with a musician the other day.  He said to me that he didn’t need to establish a brand, he just used his name.

“So” I said, “You’ve got your name reserved, for your website domain?”

Well… no.  Someone else has that domain reserved.

“But then surely, on your Facebook page…”

Uh, no… I haven’t got around to securing my name as a Facebook nickname, yet.

“Twitter…. ???”

Well, I don’t get Twitter, so I haven’t secured the name…

“Are there any other social media or business networks that someone can find you on ?”

Oh, yeah… I’m on MySpace, YouTube and LinkedIn.

“What name did you use on those ???”

Oh, they’re all different.

*Stunned silence*

 

Make a name for yourself:

The guy is a great songwriter, and an amazing musician… but not surprisingly, not too many folks have heard of him… because he has a different name, everywhere you look.

One of my teachers used to say, “Whatever you do, try to create a name for yourself.”

A NAME.

Singular.

Not a string of names and clever acronyms that no one but you will understand.

I am my brand.

I am BobSongs.

BobSongs - Business Card

On my Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook… even, so help me… Flickr… (you know I’m not a photographer, right ???) …I am BobSongs.

I have as many variations of BobSongs and Bob Gray web domains sewn up, as are available.

The ones that weren’t available, I keep a list of, and check every few months to see if any of them have become available.

 

Patrol the Brands you are associated with:

Google Alerts is great for this.

If anything “hits” the web with Bob Gray, BobSongs, or any of a few other keywords I target… I get a weekly update, e-mailed to me.

Usually it is information about other BobSongs/Bob Gray’s, or tracking something from my Twitter feed or Blog…. but every once in a while it is something I want to see, or at least be aware of.  Pennywise the Clown, from the Stephen King novel “It”, was one Bob Gray.  Another Bob Gray that pops up from time to time is the professional speaker, who talks about how to expand your memory.  There are lots of others.  But if someone is saying something about my Brand… I want to know it.

 

Be constant, and consistent:

I’m a bad example here, and am currently unable to follow my own rule, because TOO many of my Blog posts are NOT associated with the music and songwriting of the BobSongs Brand.  The reason for this is that I haven’t yet found an alternate Brand that I am comfortable with, that is available as a domain, and on Twitter.  As soon as I do… Whoosh… my non-music content will be transferred from this Blog, to the new site.

On Social Media, I try to break down the conversations by category… so I have lists for Hockey Fans, Scotch Drinkers, Musicians, etc… as, many times, the groups with similar interests tend to talk about the same things.  If I do a LOT of chatting about a subject, I would consider having a separate account for that “voice.”  In my case, with my passion for all things Vancouver Canucks, I created the NucksBob Twitter account, to stop from ticking off my “other” Twitter followers, and so I can focus my tweets, in that account.

 

You don’t have to do any of this stuff.

Just like you don’t have to get gigs… be successful… sell your CD’s…

You don’t have to.

But by establishing and maintaining a consistent Brand, you make it easier for people to find and support you, and it makes it that much easier, when you find success, to further establish your Brand, and broaden your support base.

Someone recently said to me… “I didn’t put together the name BobSongs, with you being a songwriter.”

It got me thinking that some of the links on my webpage don’t get clicked through, often enough.

So, I thought I would make that the topic of a Blog Posting.

Over the past few years, I’ve been working on my basement, which is comprised of two main parts:

Black Cat Saloon Sign

Black Cat Saloon Sign

The Black Cat Bar…

which I will talk about in another post…

and BobSongs Recording Studio.

BobSongs Studio

BobSongs Studio

BobSongs Recording Studio is a one room recording studio, without the requirement of an isolation booth.

Because it is strictly for my own use, or for a very small group, I don’t require a separate room to run sound out of.

The Computer Controls and the “magic” all happen in the same room.

When I was building the Studio, I was concerned about the acoustics, so I took an extra year, and custom built a Birch Wood Wall, constructed with a recurring pattern of jutting box shelves, which acoustically break the flat surface of the facing wall.  It took me a year, because I had never custom built a wall before.  Seriously.

Studio WallStudio Wall

I have been writing songs for years, and had a recording rig setup in my house, but it always seemed that someone was using a weed wacker or a leaf blower whenever I wanted to record something… so I thought it would be best if I could finish a quiet, sound-protected corner of our unfinished basement.

Trumpet lamp

Trumpet lamp

Along the way, I had a lot of challenges and fun, and perhaps my favourite “touch” is the old trumpet, I turned into a lamp !

I don’t know if you have heard anything I’ve recorded… but I can assure you… I have no aspirations for being a recording artist.

My love is writing and crafting the music and lyrics, and getting it to a point where I feel it is “ready.”

My hope is that some day, someone will like one of my songs enough to publish or record it.

In the meantime, I will keep toiling away, with occasional shots of “inspiration” from the Black Cat Bar !!!

For the Sound Geeks, you may want to know I run ProTools with a DigiDesign 002 Rack.

Drums and many accompaniments and flavours are provided compliments of “George”, the Yamaha PSR-2100 Keyboard.

I have a few guitar brands represented, amongst them: Takamine, K. Yairi, S. Yairi, Bayou, Fender & Hohner.

My focus and hope is to get my Songs to a point, where my performance doesn’t distract TOO MUCH from the Song itself.

An example of this quality of production is: Whisky Haze

This is, I hope, a good enough quality demo, to prevent my poor singing and playing from being a distraction, and THAT is the purpose of BobSongs Studio.

I love and respect the craft of songwriting

From my earliest memories of listening to my sister’s records of the BeatlesGordon Lightfoot, and Monique Leyrac, to the constants of my Parents favourites, Vera LynnDean MartinNana Mouskouri…  I was blessed to grow up in an environment that embraced new and different styles of music, while still showing reverence to their favourites.

For my own “classic” favourites…
James TaylorTonicBNLGordon LightfootJohn DenverSimon & Garfunkel and, of course, The Beatles (either together, or in their various individual incarnations)

More recent favourites would have to include…
Lindsay Aline, Dan Mangan, Ken McCoy, Dave Mercer, Jessie Farrell, Carolyn Stewart, Misty Weaver, Carolina RainJars of ClaySwitchfootLady Antebellum.

I-PodMy I-Pod runneth over…

I am blessed to have a supportive wife, and Family that always encouraged and supported any Artistic pursuit.  Thus, my childhood lessons for piano with Mrs Gatz, and messing around with a guitar, were later combined with forays into creative writing and poetry, as encouraged by my Dad and “Doc” Ballard… into the songwriting I now love.

My Music Studio is a place of comfort, where I gather my thoughts, and assemble the lessons and influences of the past, and create songs that I hope folks will enjoy.

Here is a link to a few of my Songs

I further expounded upon the Songwriters who were “instrumental” in my love of the crafted word, in my posting… “Under The Influences”

Thanks for stopping by !

Who influenced you ???

Earlier this week, Raul Pacheco, a friend from Twitter, wrote a brilliant post about depression on his Blog, prompted by the children of Marie Osmond and Walter Koenig committing suicide… relating it to his own fight with depression, and the need to remove stigma from the issues of Mental Health.
 
Reading his post, gave me motivation to write this post, about my song, You Are Not Alone, and the reasons I had for writing it.

In the time since I wrote this song, I realized that the issues of Disordered Eating, stigma and silence, also apply to those suffering from mental illnesses…
 
“You are not alone,  I stand by your side, with all the others, who hide, as you hide.”
 
I also decided that any money this song makes would go to supporting Eating Disorder charities.

Regardless, I hoped it would serve as an inspiration and reminder that many issues that seem so large and insurmountable, are more easily faced with a friend… if a discussion can just begin.

I will also, in an upcoming post, talk about my own battle with depression.

I was inspired to write the song, when I met the man who founded the group Parents Awareness of Eating Disorders.  (Which, sadly, has since dissolved.) 

When I met him, he had his daughter with him… and she was back to a pattern of eating normally, after suffering from an Eating Disorder.  He spoke passionately and openly, about how helpless he had felt, and how lucky he was that his daughter had been strong enough to come to him, and tell him what was happening.  Together they had found a path back for her…  but he knew that many others were not as strong, and as a result, not all had happy endings to their stories.

I tried to take those feelings, and write a song of support and encouragement. 

It is a song about the view many people with Eating Disorders have… that they are alone, and isolated.  That no one knows what they are going through, or what they are feeling.   I wrote this song to remind them that others also have the same feelings and issues, and to create an awareness of the support and community that are available to help them, if they can just reach out.

The lyrics for this song were kindly posted by Isabella Mori, on her Blog, for Eating Disorders Awareness Week, in early February. 

You Are Not Alone

Music & Lyrics By Bob Gray   © October 22, 2003

 There is a light, beyond the darkness

There is pain, inside us all.

Sometimes we trip, on the roads we travel

As we reach up, sometimes we fall

And though sometimes, I know you’re lonely

With all my heart, I need you to know… 

Chorus:

You are not alone…  I stand by your side.

With so many others, who hide, as you hide.

With all my heart, I hope you will hear me

You are not alone…  You are not alone…

 

There is a peace, that you can get to

It will be hard, but you’ll be fine.

I’ll walk with you, in case you stumble

Reach out your hand, I’ll give you mine

And though sometimes, you may be frightened

With all my heart, I want you to know…

Repeat Chorus:

 Bridge:  

But, beyond the hurt…  Beyond frustration…

Beyond the mountains, we all must climb

There is the dawn, of a new tomorrow

The dawn of hope…           I hope we find…

 Repeat Chorus: 

 

 

Bob's 1983 Yairi Acoustic GuitarI have never cared for the spotlight.

I’m not one who seeks out opportunities to jump on stage and Perform, whenever I can.  I have a few friends and family that are like that… and I admire them for it.  One guy I know carries  a guitar in the trunk of his car, “… because you never know when a jam is going to break out !”  I am all for supporting spontaneous acts, but I won’t be the one in the centre of it.

My friends and family all say, “You’re just nervous.”  No…  Nerves have nothing to do with it.  I see the thrill that my friends get from performing, and the rush of pleasure that an audience reaction gives them, and while I am delighted for them… I don’t understand it.

I’ve gone up on stage a number of times, after each time being convinced that THIS time would be different !  And each time I come off afterwards, knowing that nothing had changed for me, and hoping that the audience got more out of that, than I did !!!

Those same friends encourage me to play guitar… but again, there are many much more talented folks, and I have no desire to impose my mediocre playing skills on their fun.

The Musicians are easy to spot… In the midst of a song, they will be absolutely LOST in the music… eyes closed… playing as if their lives depended on it, and absolutely loving it.  They could be playing for themselves, or they could be playing Madison Square Gardens… it would be the same for them, in that moment.

I don’t get that either.

The thing I love, is the crafting of a phrase.  The moulding of words and music into a single being.  Like driving a car fast around a corner, and straightening out from the curve at the perfect moment… that is the rush I get from making the words match seamlessly with the music.  The shadings of light and dark, fast and slow, staccato and legato.  Playing with words to express the maximum feeling and emotion, constrained only by the metre of the melody.

That is where I find my rush… my drug of choice is the written word.

We’ve established that I am not destined to rock a stadium full of crazed music fans.  We’ve also confronted the reality that as a musician, I am passable, but pedestrian in skill.

So, we are left with the Songwriting… and daunted by the marketing. 

If I cannot bring my product to the masses, how shall the masses have my product revealed to them ?

The purpose of today’s article is to frame the question.

The journey towards an answer shall be the subject of what I imagine will be an on-going series of posts, which I shall submit to this Blog as I get to noteworthy points along the path, either for their discovery, or for their revelation of a confounding dead end.

Stay tuned !!!