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Harvey Reid's 1995 Newsletter, Cyber edition

It's time for my once-a-year newsletter to all y'all, ayuh (as we say in Southern Maine), to tell you all the good news, try to make my pitiful life look glamorous, and perpetuate the myths. I hope those of you who don't want this forgive me for having your name in my mailing list, and those who do will actually read it.
I stayed home a lot this year (downshifting, I heard it called...) & did not tour as much as in the past, so you may not have seen or heard from me this year. I had my first garden, pruned trees, planted rose bushes, scraped my first paint, and had a blast doing a lot of normal things you regular people do all the time. Even bought a tool belt.

News Briefs
Harvey Reid's Concert Schedule
Nice Guitar, Dude ...
The Artistry of the 6-String Banjo
Voice Mail at Woodpecker Records
Rusty Licks and the North Dixie Road Kings
An Open Letter to the alternative media
Recordings on Woodpecker Records, and how to order them.

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On Augut 27 at 2:04PM I paid $1.12 a gallon for 93 octane gas at a service plaza on the Indiana Turnpike. Being thirsty and it being summer, Î also bought a liter of drinking water (which falls from the sky, and is virtually free) for $2.09, which calculates to $7.87 a gallon, nearly 6 times as much as gasoline. Oil has to be located, drilled for, pumped from the earth, shipped halfway around the world, refined, trucked to the service station, and sold to me. I figure if I can understand how this can be I might gain much insight into how the world works. I wonder how the cost of these things varies around the world.



A number of you bothered to vote last year and let me know what you wanted me to work on next. Thank you. Quite a few of you indicated wanting something instructional, which is too bad because I don't read or write music, and it is hard for me to do such things. I have been negotiating with Homespun Tapes about doing a fingerstyle guitar video, and that will probably happen. I am currently working on (and may have finished, but I doubt it...) an album of vocal duets with Lynn Rothermich and am collecting concert recordings for a live, in-concert album. Am also starting to work on a new Christmas album and possibly another guitar project. I still have to release the collection of partial capo music I promised in last year's newsletter, though.


Long ago I learned that the act of playing guitar for people was a perfect activity. I played at parties and campfires and on the streetcorners and in thousands of bars. When you play music for people and find a connection, the experience needs no other elements. (Money, fame and power are not needs.) You might be just crooning in the moonlight, or leading your family in Christmas carols, but when it's done the old way, it simply cannot be improved upon. Recordings, managers, agents, sound engineers-- all that stuff just gets in-between the performer and the listener, and it can only interfere, which explains why I perform and record the way I do. I do not think it improves the spirituality of music performance to move it to a more glamorous setting. I am haunted lately by reading about the minstrels of old who actually would play for armies on both sides during a war. Those soldiers were camped in the woods and had no music, and were so grateful for music that they would allow the minstrels passage through war zones. Hmm.

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"...for there is no man that imparteth his joys to his friend, but he joyeth the more, and no man imparteth his griefs to his friend, but he grieveth the less" (Francis Bacon)


Solving the Mystery of the Harveys

the harvey reidsI had been hearing mysterious rumors for years about the times I had supposedly been playing in Ann Arbor, MI, when I wasn't. I finally went there, and tracked down Harvey Reed, a master jazz piano player who is a fixture there in town. He said "Man, I been hearin' about you..." (He's checking my ID here.) There are 27 Harvey Reid's in the CD-ROM 80 million-name list who have phones in their name. One has my middle initial, too.

Transmogrification of Songs

Any musician who plays in a band for any length of time knows how much fun it is to invent parodies of the songs in your set list. A few years back I hit upon the idea of what I whimsically call Transmogrification of Songs, when I realized that Chuck Berry songs and Carter Family Songs were interchangeable, both being metrically perfect. Try to sing the words of Johnny B Goode to the tune of Wildwood Flower. Or Promised Land to the tune of Will the Circle Be Unbroken. It's harder than you think, probably because the part of our brain that remembers songs seems to store the words and music together (which is what ancient ballad poetry stuff is all about- it's easier to remember your tribal history when it is a song.)

Once you learn to Transmogrify you find that you often end up with a good song. It works. When I tried to sing various songs to the tune of each other (there are endless possibilitites) I learned that 1) it is hard 2) it is hilarious 3) only some songs work well 4) sometimes listeners don't even notice you are doing it. It's a perfect thing to do to your friend's songs. It's good clean fun, and you might as well do something with all those dumb songs that are stuck in your brain forever.
The more tired you are, the harder and funnier this is. Certain lyrics will fit the tunes of many more songs than others­p;they seem to be the best-known songs! Perhaps there is something about why a song becomes universal that has something to do with this property. So far Johnny B. Goode is the winner, and Greensleeves is 2nd place. (Try switching them with each other.)

It is of course especially fun to sing the words of a cool song to the tune of a dumb one and vice versa, since if you switch two songs in the same genre, chances are no one will notice. You almost have to do something jolting for people to catch on. Here is a list of some common un-cool melodies that you can sing the words of Johnny B. Goode to: Puff the Magic Dragon, Froggie Went A Courtin' (you have to add uh-huh after each line, which is the best part), Ghost Riders in the Sky, Turkey in the Straw, Yankee Doodle, Summertime (hard, but very peculiar because it's a good song that doesn't remind you much of either of them), House of Rising Sun. You can also fit it to the Tennessee Waltz, Bad Bad Leroy Brown, Old Time Rock & Roll and almost any of those worn-out or trite songs they always want to hear when you play in a wedding band. Good luck & be careful. You might damage some neurons if you overdo it. (HR)

harv + alan

IN MEMORIAM Death's icy hand strikes so close sometimes. Top right is Alan Whicher, a high school friend from Beltsville, MD in the wrestling team photo our senior year. Alan died in the explosion at the federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19. Top left is me--155 lb class. Rest in Peace, Alan.


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