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"I Know What I'm Doing"

 

The 9th tune on the new CD from UniversalDice, "birth, love, hate, death" is "I Know What I'm Doing". Since this is a rock opera about love, from birth to death, it wouldn't be realistic or legitimate if it read like a happy fairy tale. At least that is what I think is typical even of true love, or perhaps especially for true love...

 

YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ug7qc2MnppA&index=9&list=PLDzwgiI-BVobZER3kiWxPtZne0rne9Hoz

 

Spotify:

https://open.spotify.com/embed/track/2GXbbQPNb9LkdldwgLlv7V

Charlottesville: "Out of Many, One"

 

With the awful events this weekend in Charlottesville, I wanted to share a song that we recorded a few years ago that unfortunately becomes very appropriate all too often: "Out of Many, One." This song is inspired by the first official motto of the United States and it's a motto that should never have been replaced.

 

YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGyHdDxi25M&index=2&list=PL7-2FnjsTc1SK-B2GADW7YCNfulb5iqKT

or visit our website:

http://www.universaldice.com/the_music/a/out_of_manyone

Spotify:

https://open.spotify.com/embed/track/0dRqwUUwgQeCtPfgUTObAF

Learning from the masters: "Desperado"

 

Our latest CD is a departure for the band; it's all about "love." Previously in our CDs we explored faith, religion, politics, reason and social issues with a smattering of songs about relationships. This album is about love and nothing but!

 

One of the reasons I have avoided the topic of love, which, of course, is the most overwhelmingly common topic in popular music is because I have been intimidated in attempting to write something that has not been said a million times already or write something that can compete with tunes already written.

 

One of the things about "love" that I find most interest

"I Love it When They Hate It"

 

So far we've introduced all the characters in the rock opera - except for one - the "Sugardaddy." One of the things I struggled with was what to call this character. I was not sure that "sugardaddy" was dated or not dated, but I did not have a better title for this character, so, at this point, this is the name of the character, for better or worse.

 

The song is sung by this fellow who is seemingly arrogant and totally insecure at the same time. He also seems to have little regard for women and abuses them to inflate his own self-esteem. Yet he is a human being and vulnerable.

Spinitron

 

More progress on airplay for our latest CD, "birth, love, hate, death." Apparently the CD has been discovered by Spinitron.com where they are play out tune "I Know What I'm Doing". What is awesome is that they followed out tune with Eric Clapton! Great company we're keeping! Thanks to Spinitron.com:  https://spinitron.com/radio/playlist.php?station=kafm&plid=30087

Visit us at: http://www.universaldice.com/

Our first recording!

 

One of things we have to do to promote the band and the new CD is check the Internet for new mentions of us and in doing so I found a unique item. The very first recording I ever made, along with Sam Cimino who appeared on the first 3 UniversalDice CDs and others is still available for sale! Why is this amazing? The reason is because this recording was made in 1981 on vinyl only! Yes you can see this item here when we called ourselves "The Zoots":

Write what you care about & tell a story

 

Just a quick thought on songwriting; After having written well over 100 songs (maybe 200) I often wonder to myself what is left to write about that is not a repetition of something I've written before? What is left for me to write about?

 

One answer for me is to write what I care about. If I care about something, I am easily motivated to work on a song expressing what I am thinking and feeling. It is fine if you are unsure how you feel; that can be what you say in the song! What you should not do is write something you know is untruthful of ridiculous just because others have written that or believe that. Do not go for the comfortable orthodoxy - unless you understand it, are informed and really mean it.

"I Can See for Miles" by the Who

 

Unbelievable performance of an unbelievable song. STILL the best live band I've ever seen and I've seen a few. We are not worthy.

Watch the Who Perform Thrilling 'I Can See For Miles' on 'Fallon'

The Who performed two bombastic classics, "I Can See for Miles" and "You Better You Bet," on 'The Tonight Show' Wednesday.

ROLLINGSTONE.COM

Danielle by UniversalDice from "birth, love, hate, death"

 

So far I've written about the first 6 songs of the rock opera where the two main characters were introduced and their backgrounds explained. They meet in the 5th song "My Hands Are Tied," where, at first, the young woman, Danielle, rejects the young man and he takes it poorly. However, she feels badly about the encounter and follows him to the roof of a building where she literally takes him off the ledge of the building in the next song, "Take Me Home."

Dear God by XTC

 

Besides telling you about our just released CD, sometimes I just want to tell others who may have an interest in songwriting and music about the songs that not only inspired us but set the bar high and led the way.

 

A truly brilliant song that always moves me is "Dear God" by the band XTC. This song consists of a brilliant melody and incredibly intelligent, biting and emotional lyrics that deals with some ultimate topics; God, good, evil and life and death. 

A "Great" Music Video

 

I wish I had a music video this good!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0HfWDLR-hI&feature=share

"Take Me Home" by UniversalDice, on "birth, love, hate, death"

 

The sixth tune on the new CD from UniversalDice, "birth, love, hate, death" is "Take Me Home". I have to admit the following; this particular song was written a long time ago and was not written specifically for this rock opera. BUT, this tune, in a sense, was the core idea and the model for the two lead characters in the opera; the somewhat naive young man and the jaded young woman. Obviously the naive young man was easy for me to identify with those many years ago and that is why I was able to write songs using that character - I knew what is going on in that character's mind.

More inspiration: "A Salty Dog" by Procol Harum

 

One of the great things about having this Facebook page is the opportunity to share with followers some thoughts, and in this case, some of the sources of inspiration that I have experienced as a songwriter. Often the inspiration comes from those that came before.

If you have never heard of the song "A Salty Dog" by Procol Harum, I urge you to give it a listen via the link below. 

An Impossible Bar to Clear: "Let Down" by Radiohead

 

One of the more frustrating things about being a songwriter is loving a style of music and being utterly incapable of replicating that style in any artistically acceptable way. A song that I love is "Let Down" by Radiohead from their masterpiece "OK Computer." I have not been able to approach this album or tune in particular, but then again, no one else has either. Take a listen:

A Great Cover of a Great Song

 

This is a tremendous interpretation of the masterpiece "Eleanor Rigby." As a songwriter, this is one of those songs that you can learn from - it has everything, lyrics, music, melody and a perfect arrangement. How does this fellow do it justice on a single acoustic guitar? Please listen.

My Hands Are Tied

 

The fifth song on our new rock opera CD "birth, love, hate, death" is "My Hands Are Tied."  There is a simple premise underlying this song; the character, a young man, is intimidated by a girl he met (at a party or club) and has a difficult time dealing with her due to his inexperience and social awkwardness.  I certainly identified with the immature character in this case.

FGM (Take the Knife Away)

 

Inspiration for songs can come from many places; it's nice when inspiration comes from a loving or some other uplifting source but often it comes from a place of sadness or outrage.  A story in the news last week reminded me of a song I wrote a few years back that is as relevant as ever.

A Libretto!

 

I am putting together the libretto for our new CD "birth, love, hate, death," a rock opera, for the purpose of sending it out to a couple of producers/directors and playhouses. I will be concentrating on the local market since this is where, for reasons of practicality, that I can actually work on a live production of the opera with actors, sets, etc. Long Island is actually pretty active with live theater although NEW musical (or dramatic) productions are uncommon.

50th Anniversary of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

 

June 1, 2017 is the 50th anniversary of the release of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album by the Beatles. Considering the literally millions of albums released in the history of the universe, the very fact that this album always is in the running for the greatest of all time says plenty. I would like to point out that there are a number of things that make the case for "Sgt. Pepper' so compelling.

The Prophet (from "birth, love, hate, death")

 

So far I have written about the first three tunes of our new CD, "birth, love, hate, death" and they all have been intros to the story and characters.  The 4th song, "The Prophet," introduces us to the character named "Danielle," a young woman who was born into a cult and was the victim of an arranged marriage.

Chris Cornell, part 2

 

One of the bits of wisdom I pretend to have learned on this journey through life is how captive we are to our natures. Some people, maybe most people think that we are blank slates when we are born; our experiences create who we are. Many believe all of our attitudes and preferences are "social constructs." The truth is that there are no absolutes; we are a mixture of how we are born and what we experience. 

Chris Cornell

 

One of my favorite singers and a great songwriter, Chris Cornell has died.  This is painful to write about, not only because he has died, but because it has been reported as an apparent suicide, meaning that he was most likely feeling deep pain and anguish in his final moments.

"Your Son"

 

In the last couple of weeks I've posted about the first two songs on the new UniversalDice CD "birth, love, hate, death". The first song basically was an introduction in the grandest sense: "Welcome to the World." Although the song sounded upbeat and rocked, there was a certain strain of realism within the lyrics.

What is "Classic Rock"? Is UniversalDice a "Classic Rock" band?

 

One of the things that I have learned about promoting music in the age of social media is that you must label yourself and your music.  Digital music re-sellers demand that you tell them whether you are rap, metal or country or any one of dozens of other possible musical categories.  

Spotify

 

Today I am asking our friends to "follow" UniversalDice on Spotify. You can open an account at Spotify (for free using Facebook) and download their free Spotify app. The more that we are "followed," the more airplay we will receive on Spotify, and that would be a good thing for us! We might even receive a small check someday for our music - wouldn't that be a novelty! In any case, "follow" us by pressing the green "follow" button on Spotify - go to https://open.spotify.com/artist/5UqnHMQA5AgmLcD4W7BGLM .

What I was trying to accomplish with "birth, love, hate, death"

 

One of the things I wanted to accomplish with the new CD, "birth, love, hate, death" was to have songs that were "true." I do not mean "true" in the sense in they are accurate historically or biographical, but instead, true to life. I also wanted them to be that rarity in music, and in all of art; works in which the characters (in the song in this case) poured their hearts out in truthful and articulate ways, in ways that would move the audience and be edifying at the same time. It did not have to be Shakespeare (and it isn't), but I wanted it to be understandable and honest. Romanticizing the subject matter was not on the agenda. Understanding and reaching deep down was. I hope I was able to at least approach these daunting goals.

Promotion in the era of social media

 

Now that the "birth, love, hate, death" CD is out and available everywhere, there are new goals at hand; 1) promote the new music as much as possible 2) see if there is anyway to play live while doing the music justice 3) and start creating new music for the next (5th) CD.

Promoting the music amounts to getting the music into the hands of reviewers and internet and terrestrial radio, podcasts, etc. It's also spreading the word via Facebook and other social media. That is in process.

Playing live is trickier; being able to do that on any kind of regular and meaningful basis is difficult when people do not necessarily know your music in advance - why should they come to your show? Also having responsibilities in life is a huge handicap. For many, to truly meaningfully tour to support new music would mean quitting one's job - that is not always an option.

"birth, love, hate, death" available at your favorite digital outlet!

 

Finally - the new UniversalDice CD, "birth, love, hate, death," a rock opera, is now available at most of your favorite digital outlets, including iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, Google Play and CDBaby. You can preview all UniversalDice tunes in their entirety (for now) at our web site for free and purchase/stream the songs at whatever web site you prefer!

New CD is available!

 

The new CD release by UniversalDice, "birth, love, hate, death" is available for streaming or purchasing on the UniversalDice web site via CD Baby. This is half announcement/half test to see how the "sharing" feature on CD Baby works. This is intended to be a link to the first song, "Welcome to the World" which is an introduction with a dose of realism for a newborn into life itself. What could be a better tune to start a CD titled "birth, love, hate, death." Well, there could be NO better tune!

As I have discovered subsequently, the CD Baby audio player not only shares the single tune you are trying to share, it shares the WHOLE CD. I will be working on a fix.

Here is the fix:

http://www.universaldice.com/music/s/welcome_to_the_world

New CD about to be released by UniversalDice featuring Gerry Dantone!

 

It has been about 12 years since I last released a CD with my band UniversalDice but a new CD is imminent.  In fact, it actually physically exists as we speak but is still in the process of being distributed to the many digital outlets that would include iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Spotify and so on.  They should all have the CD and the individual tracks available for download in about a month which would mean by the end of April 2017.

A New Music Manifesto: Humanist Music - A declaration of principles

 
Humanist Music - A  Declaration of Principles
 
1) Humanist music is music that is not bounded by any musical condition except for one; it sounds "good."  If you want to make Humanist music, make it sound good.  Music that sounds "bad" is not  Humanist music although it may serve some other purpose.
 
2) Additionally, Humanist music should not cause harm or lessen the well being of those who hear it or are affected by it.  Optimally, it should increase well being.  Music that serves as a call to an action that would lead to misery or promotes ideas that one could reasonably conclude would lead to misery is most certainly not Humanist music.

Writing new songs! (2/18/17)

 

As a songwriter, I am always working on something. After completing the songs for "birth, love, hate, death" I started considering what I should write about for the next CD. Typically I like to have a focus or theme for my collection of tunes. For example, our first CD, "My Name is Thomas..." was a rock opera totally about faith and reason, meaning and purpose. Our second CD, "mostly True Stories" was a collection of songs about dogma, religion and ideology.  Our next CD, "Out of Many, One" was more political in nature.

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