Released in 1967 on Richie Havens' debut album, FOLLOW is one of my favorite new old songs. I started to re-discover the music of Richie Havens a few years ago. I had been a semi fan, but I started to dig a little deeper into his song catalog, when a good friend (Hi Debi), told me to listen to Follow, and I fell in love with it. It's now one of my all time favorite songs... one of those songs that makes you shush the entire room when it comes on, and makes you crank it and sing it out loud when you're alone.
Written by songwriter Jerry Merrick, Follow is a song about having the strength to find and pursue you're true purpose. The lyrics are a gentle push for us to listen to our inner voice. The lyrics open with "Let the river rock you like a cradle...Climb to the treetops, child, if you're able" urging us to have faith in our "dreams" and use them to find our true path in life.
But the singer acknowledges that that road calling may not be easy, "And close your eyes, child, and listen to what I'll tell you. Follow in the darkest night the sounds that may impel you. And the song that I am singing may disturb or serve to quell you." We're reminded of the expected norms society has set for us, but we're encourage to push forward.... "While the church bell tolls its one-note song, And the school bell is tinkling to the throng. Come here where your ears cannot hear."
The singer asks us to have the courage to live our lives for ourselves instead of living up to other's expectations... "And close your eyes, child, and look at what I'll show you; Let your mind go reeling out and let the breezes blow you, And maybe when we meet then suddenly I will know you.", or is the singer actually our own self conscious, begging us to be true to ourselves ?
For those of us who can't believe, those of us too rooted in what's expected of us, there is an out..."If all the things you feel ain't what they seem. And don't mind me 'cos I ain't nothin' but a dream". But I truly hope you don't take it.
FOLLOW is a beautiful song... I hope you take the time listen to it if you aren't familiar with it. Here is a link to Richie Haven's version... enjoy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QjefIsixrfU
Here in upstate NY, we've been experiencing the doldrums of winter. You know that feeling... cold chilly air, gray cloudy skies... the happy sense of carefreeness that the holiday had brought is gone... a new year has started, and for alot of people that also brings a time of reflection and maybe even some reevaluation. That feeling is well represented by Simon and Garfunkel's 1966 classic, A Hazy Shade of Winter. For those two young to remember back that far, you might recall The Bangles recording of it from 1987, for the Robert Downey Jr. classic, Less Than Zero (yes, the word classic is used very loosely).
I have to admit, all the times I listened to the song, I never really paid attention to the lyrics. I loved the tone of the song and just appreciated it for that alone. While searching for a song about winter to post this time around, A Hazy Shade of Winter popped up and I was intrigued. At face value, the lyrics are pretty depressing. Paul Simon uses the gray bleakness of the season as a metaphor for a midlife collapse of one's vision of their life. The singer has reached a point in his life where his dreams have died. The song uses the past tense and images of regret to convey a sense of surrender to failure..." Time, time See what's become of me. While I looked around for my possibilities, I was so hard to please", "Hang on to your hopes my friend, that's an easy thing to say".
There's even a sense of death, of dreams and perhaps even our narrator... "But if your hopes should pass away, Simply pretend That you can build them again." and "Seasons change with the scenery, weaving time in a tapestry, won't you stop and remember me at any convenient time? "
The singer's sense of despair is so bleak it's overwhelming. Do we as the listeners allow ourselves to be overcome as well, or do we take offense to his telling us to just pretend to build our dreams again ? Do we defend our dreams and keep pushing to make them a reality ? I live on the push side of the fence, and I hope you do too.
So if your leaves are brown and sky is a hazy shade of winter... knuckle down, gut it out, and believe. Warmer weather is coming and with it, clear skies. Stay true to your dreams and don't pretend... believe.
Written by Paul McCartney for the The Beatles 1968 "White Album", Blackbird is associated with the Civil Rights movement. While this is a subject Paul McCartney has addressed in numerous interviews, I think the song can also act as a metaphor for personal struggle, not just racial.
It's easy to succomb to personal set backs, whether it's in a career, a relationship or even financial, but we really have to ? Alexander Graham Bell said " When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us." (http://thinkexist.com/quotation/when_one_door_closes-another_opens-but_we_often/12671.html)
"Take these broken wings and learn to fly....
All your life, you were only waiting for this moment to arise...
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see...
All your life, you were only waiting for this moment to be free...
Black bird fly... Into the Light of the dark black night...
Full lyrics can read here... https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/beatles/blackbird.html
So when dealt an unfortunate set of circumstance, ask yourself if it's really an opportunity instead. Is this indeed the moment you've been waiting for ? Even better, is this chance going to come again ? The New Year is supposed to be a time for renewal, commitment and rejuvenation. So my promise to myself, and feel free to do the same if you haven't already, is to take your wings, broken or not, and learn to fly... and to recognize, that yes perhaps you have been, all your life, waiting for this moment to arise.
Happy New Year everyone.
The Martytoon Newsletter
The Thoughts, Designs & Process of Marty Qatani aka MartyToons.
Hi and welcome to the first blog post / newsletter of the all new revamped MartyToons website. Where to start ? I suppose a quick intro is in order for those of you who may be unfamiliar with me and what I do. I'm a cartoonist / character designer/ humorous illustrator. That sounds like a lengthy title, but none of those by themselves seems appropriate enough by themselves to describe what I do.
If I call myself a cartoonist, people tend to think I create a comic strip.... not true. If I call myself just a character designer, it seems a little limiting to me. I like to think I do a little bit more... make people think... wake people up, help someone remember a happy thought.... maybe even put a smile on people's faces.... hopefully. Calling myself just a humorous illustrator, just doesn't seem to have any "punch", "pizzazz", "sparkle"... you get the picture. I do like the sound of "Creator of Visual Enhancements for Artistically Challenged and Cartooning Impaired." It has a pretty cool ring to me, but it's a little hard to fit on a business card and still look cool.
What can you expect here ? How's a little doodle sound ? A little peek into what goes on in my working process and maybe even in my thought process ? That's my plan... I hope you enjoy. So let me dig into my archive, maybe shed a little light on happened and then invite you to comment. Sounds good ? Good... then lets get to it.
This is an early sketch of one of my favorite designs I'm working on. It's inspired by one of my favorite music artists, Cat Stevens, who know goes by the name of Yusuf Islam https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cat_Stevens . Check him out if you get the chance and are a fan of 70's "Soft" Rock, and especially if you're a fan of songs about being positive, hopefullness, and becoming a little wiser.
Music is playing more and more a part in my designs. I love many styles of music and I always have it playing in my studio while I'm creating. Alot of times I let the music direct what I'm going to sketch when I intentionally sit down to sketch, sometimes I'm not planning on sketching at all, but I hear a song and an image will just pop into my head, and I have to get it down on paper. I believe that's what happened here, but to be honest, I came up with this sketch several years ago, and I can't remember the exact circumstances that gave birth to this.
So there you have it. I hope you enjoy it. Got any questions ? Feel free to comment below.