Notes from Michael - Archive
This was originally published on the web on June 28, 2012
I’ve been enjoying my “time off.” I think this is the first time since we’ve been married that my wife and I have been able to spend so many uninterrupted weeks together.When I’m not in my little studio writing, I’ve been trying to keep up with the lawn and help with the garden (we seem to be growing every variety of organic tomato known to man). Our bird houses and nesting boxes have had “No Vacancy” signs since Spring. Last year we had wrens and phoebes, this year it’s purple finches and bluebirds, much to the delight of the six inside cats who watch them longingly from the windows.
The band and I are looking forward to the dates ahead, which begin on July 21st in Toledo. After all these years together we are truly a family and we miss seeing each other and miss the hang. If your town is in the line-up, then we hope to see you out on the Road. If not, please understand that I don’t create my itinerary (although I truly appreciate all your requests and suggestions). Promoters have to contact my agent and invite me for a gig, so it really depends on them. If the guarantee covers the band/ crew salaries, hotels, and airfares, then we’re there. Occasionally, I get isolated offers from European promoters, but often these never congeal into any kind of reasonable itinerary. A few wonderful exceptions in recent years have been dates we played in Paris, Monaco, the Canary Islands, and Spain. But I wish we could appear somewhere near all of you!
As always thanks for all your love and support.
Wishing all of you continued
Health, Prosperity, Happiness, Peace
This was originally published on the web on March 23, 2012
I wrote a short introduction to the French compilation. It expresses so much of what I feel about my life in music that I thought you might enjoy reading it:
As I review the songs included in this collection, most of which derive from my 24 years at Warner Bros., I am reminded of and impressed by all the wonderful musicians with whom I’ve had the pleasure of recording.
My memories of the recording sessions are always the most vivid. My first project at Warner Bros., The Art of Tea, in which I found myself surrounded by Joe Sample, Wilton Felder, Larry Carlton, and my late friend, John Guerin, was a most auspicious beginning. Though I had released a self-titled album two years earlier, which also included an impressive list of sidemen, The Art of Tea sessions really helped to crystallize my sound.
The compositions in this anthology reveal, I think, my consistent musical influences over the years: Jobim, jazz standards, R&B, the Great American Songbook. They also contain references to my life-long interests in art and literature.
It seems strange to be writing about this retrospective a few days before my 67th birthday. What you find in these four discs is an elaborate thumbnail sketch of my life’s work so far. I say “so far” because for the past two years I’ve been immersed in writing and recording a new album called Time Together. It’s difficult to describe the joy and fulfillment I feel now, and have always felt, being lost in the creative process.
My songs are almost always autobiographical in the sense that they usually begin with a personal experience or observation. They often express, very literally, my own personal emotions. I’ve performed them on every continent except Antarctica, and I never cease to be amazed by how they connect me with my fans around the world, joining us together like beads in a “string of pearls,” an expression my guru’s guru used.
If I had to summarize how I feel about my career at this point in time, I would say “gratitude” is the first word that comes to mind. I’m grateful for my life experiences, both the good and the painful. I’m grateful to have found my guru, Yogananda, and a path that sustains me. I’m grateful to be married all these 35 years, to be a vegetarian, to live in the woods surrounded by the natural world I so deeply appreciate. I’m grateful to all the musicians, arrangers, producers, and engineers who have collaborated with me on this musical journey. Although I am a reclusive person by nature, I’ve always loved the company of musicians and always enjoyed “the hang.” I count most of them as my life-long friends. I miss the ones who have passed but am deeply grateful their music lives on.
It’s hard not to feel somewhat wistful when “looking back.” I always try to live in the present, to “be here now.”
Music propels me toward the future. In a wonderful and miraculous way, it’s always whispering to me and circulating inside my head. I suppose, in that sense, I’m always writing.
My love for France must be obvious. My wife and I have visited many times, both for work and for pleasure. I taped an hour long television special in the early 1980’s for Antenne 2 and during the several weeks of shooting we traveled the entire country. The people we met are forever etched in our memories. When I sat with my guitar in a rented room as a college student at the University of California, studying jazz chords and learning Jobim songs,
I never imagined I would be invited to perform in France, let alone appear on television. These are some of the images that come to mind as I consider this beautifully produced retrospective.
Thank you for listening!
I wish all of you
Health, Prosperity, Happiness, Peace