Martin Swinger ~ M O O N
Swinger's songs are among the strongest released in 2011

Posted by Bill Realman Stella on Friday, June 10, 2011

Martin Swinger ~ M O O N

 

 It's Gay Pride Month here in New Jersey. Across the country and around much of the world, Pride is celebrated with partying, parades and festivals. But what else is available to us Queers — us Proud Gay Men & Lesbians, Bisexuals, Transgendered and Intersexed — to celebrate? How about our culture! How about creativity! How about breaking out of the box of "gay music" to discover great music by great Gay/BGILT-Q musicians?

  Yeah. How about that?

   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~ 

  Martin Swinger, much to his own surprise, was the first to record a full-fledged album of music directed at an audience of Bears — and we hairy, often bearded, likely as not (how shall I put it?) meaty men have as a group, I'm afraid I must report, barely noticed. That CD, BearNAKED, arrived in 2000, often with a furry frame hand-glued to the edges of the case by Swinger and his husbear themselves.

  M O O N  arrives after years (since 2004) without a new CD from Swinger, partly due to that undeserved lack of notice. A true labor of love, the results transcend the limitations of producing a CD independently. I haven't room here to praise every wonderful song, but will expand on this review over the coming weeks at my new blog.

  "Little Plastic Part" starts as an amusing observational song: "I was cleaning, vacuuming the room…/ The motor faltered… I'd broken… some Little Plastic Part/ …that makes the whole thing work/ …It's never gonna start/ cause there is no replacement for that Little Plastic Part." Then comes a twist and — well, that would be telling. I wouldn't ruin it for you.

  "From Your Gravity" is as beautiful a song as you're bound to hear this year. And its video can be seen at my new Bill Realman Radio blog. According to Swinger himself, "Gravity [was] inspired on Route One driving from Houlton Maine to Presque Isle, following the large scale model of the solar system. And [by] a difficult phone call. My sweetie and I worked it out and are still together celebrating 25 years!"

  But "Gravity", in my not so humble opinion, is not even one of the three best songs on the album. That honor goes to the three songs that conclude M O O N — "Wooden Boy", "Betty Boop & Buddha" and "Music In The Rafters". Together those are the three strongest songs at the home stretch of any album I've heard in years.

  Swinger's website MartinSwinger.com features the story behind the song "Wooden Boy" (and much more). What inspired it is important, of course, but I'll allow you to discover that, too, for yourself. Because although most of us, we — you and I — are not ourselves likely to have suffered under the same condition as "Wooden Boy"'s inspiration, I can attest to knowing his same feelings as a child. Thinking back to at least as young as 8 years old, I felt a deep connection with Disney's Pinocchio, even becoming him for Halloween. Then in high school, nearly a decade before I took on the name Realman, among the ways I saw my life were two long poems I wrote titled "Real Life Stories" and "Real Life Dreams". I have seen my experience, my sense of hiding inside for some reason, some need, reflected in the people around me, in their quiet shyness, in their angry lashing out. It's tough enough for most people to express their loneliness and depression. Why it is practically taboo to admit deep disconnection from the world, I don't know. It's the universality of "Wooden Boy" that matters most, more than its origins. And I've not heard its like before.

  Martin Swinger is just as deft at having fun and being joyful as he is at expressing anything else. "Betty Boop & Buddha" has been delighting audiences in concert for years now. Friends, upon hearing it has arrived on CD at last, have confessed how eagerly they've awaited it, and how much they want M O O N  for it if nothing else. " One simply cannot help going from zero to happy when "Betty Boop & Buddha" plays. It's an inspired pairing, a romance for the ages, and you'll be tapping your extremities, wiggling your wiggleables, and committing every "Bop-bop-a-loo-bop" and "Boo-Boop-i-Do" to memory, as with each verse Nirvana comes closer to fruition.

  As if that one-two punch of the poignant and the joyful weren't enough, finally "Music In The Rafters" brings the album to its gentle, rousing conclusion. When I hear "Rafters" — and I can barely stop playing it — I am reminded of the finest performers in the American Folk tradition, of the Pete Seegers and Holly Nears, and of the finest songs, of the "Rainbow Race"s and "We Are A Gentle Angry People"s. Launched from the sight and sound of a bird's nest being built, from modest "…songs of hunger being answered / as little wings learn how to fly / and make music", a sweet wise plain philosophy takes flight in song.

  "Rafters" is filled with small inspired moments, little touches like the just-subtle-enough cymbal to illustrate "shimmering", the doubled flutters of strumming guitars not tethered to each others' strum, the pull of a sense of community with the addition of mandolin and handclaps for the final rounds of the chorus, the complex but understated lead vocal, the duet vocal by Kathy Slack and the vocal harmonies, enhanced, I'm told in the credits, by "ImproVox + Referendum = Hot Buttah!" It could all have turned out too precious, but feels found afresh. One can only imagine the depth of preparation it took to enable such spontaneity in the performances.

  If ever there was a song that epitomizes what I mean when I say "Music is the Highest Common Denominator," "Music In The Rafters" is it. "Rafters" is like a gift you didn't know you wanted but love dearly from the moment you've received it.

  I've been praising the hell out of M O O N  and especially "Rafters" and, until now, I've silenced the voice of restraint. I know the disappointment of raised hopes dashed. But I can't be dishonest about "Music In The Rafters": The recording itself is a great example of how to open up a great song with great arrangements, production and recording. (And kudos to all those credited in the liner notes whose names I can't fit here.) But scratch that, focus just on the melody and lyrics, and "Music In The Rafters" deserves to take a place of honor among the great songs of our lives.

  Unlike all the manipulative demands of contemporary Pop musicians to herd fans into acting "impulsively" ("Put Your Hands In The Air!" "Say 'Hey'!" "Dance!"), Swinger wants to reach you one-by-one, and one-on-one. Maybe once, twice a year, an album greets my ears with songs that often cause me to tear up in witness to their beauty. It's an intimacy I can't tell you of; it's up to you to put yourself in a place where your heart is open to be touched, to let the music touch you. I wouldn't casually encourage you to embrace such artistic intimacy. Embrace the M O O N, and let the M O O N  touch you. And, as requested in big, bold letters at the end of the lyric booklet:

 Please Sing!

 

©2011 Bill Stella. Dancing To Architecture™, HowToFindTheBestMusic™, Bill Realman Radio™, Highest Common Denominator™ by Bill Stella.    All ©, ® & ™ items included in the column for review purposes are ©, ® & ™ their respective owners.

JUST ANNOUNCED!

Martin Swinger In Concert in New Jersey in August!

Especially excited to announce the August 15th performance at GAAMC!

 Friday, August 12, 7 PM 

Front Porch House Concert:
Martin Swinger solo show! Admission $15
308 Meadowbrook Rd. Robbinsville, NJ 08691
Contact Maggie Marshall 609-443-0577 

Sunday, August 14, 5 PM

Carmel Retreat Center
Martin Swinger solo show! Admission $15
DINNER AND SHOW: $30!
1071 Ramapo Valley Rd, Mahwah, NJ 07430
Call 201-327-7090 to make reservations.

Monday, August 15, 7:30 PM

Morristown Unitarian Fellowship
Martin Swinger solo show for GAAMC ~
 Gay Activist Alliance in Morris County! Donation $6!
21 Normandy Heights Rd, Morristown, NJ 07960
contact Info@GAAMC.org or call 973-285-1595.
 
More about Martin Swinger --

"Some songs are great to dance to, and some feel good to cry to, and others are fun to sing along to.
But sometimes you discover songs that simply invite you to stop and listen.

Martin Swinger sings Songs Worth Listening To.

M O O N has risen and shines just for you!      
MOON CD Teaser:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=Awn3GIvdvSg

Order M O O N ($15 check) direct at:
Martin Swinger, 52 Green St., Augusta, ME 04330  

OR at MartinSwinger.com

OR at www.cdbaby.com/Artist/MartinSwinger


Adult Contemporary Singer/Songwriter
www.MartinSwinger.com 

Songwriting in schools or multi-generational settings and family entertainment:
www.SwingerSongwriter.com


Improvisational singing and workshops:
www.Improvox.com

Comments

Leave a Comment