ABOUT RAR: For those of
you new to this site, "RAR" is Rick Alan Rice, the publisher
of the RARWRITER Publishing Group websites.
Use this link to visit the
RAR music page, which features original music
compositions and other.
ATWOOD - "A Toiler's Weird Odyssey of Deliverance"-AVAILABLE
NOW FOR KINDLE (INCLUDING KINDLE COMPUTER APPS) FROM
CCJ Publisher Rick Alan Rice dissects
the building of America in a trilogy of novels
collectively calledATWOOD. Book One explores
the development of the American West through the
lens of public policy, land planning, municipal
development, and governance as it played out in one
of the new counties of Kansas in the latter half of
the 19th Century. The novel focuses on the religious
and cultural traditions that imbued the American
Midwest with a special character that continues to
have a profound effect on American politics to this
day. Book One creates an understanding about
America's cultural foundations that is further
explored in books two and three that further trace
the historical-cultural-spiritual development of one
isolated county on the Great Plains that stands as
an icon in the development of a certain brand of
American character. That's the serious stuff viewed
from high altitude. The story itself gets down and
dirty with the supernatural, which inATWOOD
- A Toiler's Weird Odyssey of Deliveranceis the
outfall of misfires in human interactions, from the
monumental to the sublime.The
book features the epic poem"The
well as artwork by New Mexico artist Richard
Meets Larry McMurtry
I am offering another
novel through Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing service.
Cooksin is the story of a criminal syndicate that sets its
sights on a ranching/farming community in Weld County, Colorado,
1950. The perpetrators of the criminal enterprise steal farm
equipment, slaughter cattle, and rob the personal property of
individuals whose assets have been inventoried in advance and
distributed through a vast system of illegal commerce.
It is a ripping good yarn, filled
with suspense and intrigue. This was designed intentionally to
pay homage to the type of creative works being produced in 1950,
when the story is set. Richard Padilla
has done his usually brilliant work in capturing the look and feel of
a certain type of crime fiction being produced in that era. The
whole thing has the feel of those black & white films you see on
Turner Movie Classics, and the writing will remind you a little
of Elmore Leonard, whose earliest works were westerns.
Use this link.
EXPLORE THE KINDLE
If you have not explored the books
available from Amazon.com's Kindle Publishing
division you would do yourself a favor to do so. You
will find classic literature there, as well as tons
of privately published books of every kind. A lot of
it is awful, like a lot of traditionally published
books are awful, but some are truly classics. You
can get the entire collection of Shakespeare's works
for two bucks.
Amazon is the largest,
but far from the only digital publisher. You can
find similar treasure troves atNOOK
Barnes & Noble site),Lulu,
page is the primary outlet for RAR tunes. Here you will find original
compositions, mostly recorded in my PC-based home studio on Cakewalk's Sonar
Producer software. In addition to RAR originals, you will find information on
special projects, such as the CD presented below, as well as biographical
Something about the
Winter months seems to put yours truly (RAR) in the mood for the slower tempos and
sweet ruminations of what we now call "Classic Country". I
grew up with this schmaltz, with particular exposure to the
songs of Hank Williams, Jim Reeves, Ray Price, Marty
Robbins, Willie Nelson, and others who were likely to be
played on AM radio in America's heartland. My first record,
given to me by my paternal grandparents, who were first
generation Nebraska homesteaders, was Reeves' version of
"Billy Bayou", the story of a Louisiana boy whose fate
seemed inextricably intertwined with quicksand. Check out the video below
for a taste of what it was like back in the '50s. (And for the record, I was a
dedicated Boy Scout, as were "we" all.) And then
after you have recalibrated your silly meter with "Billy
Bayou", please continue this journey through Classic Country
right on into heartbreak land, with Willie Nelson covers and
a RAR original.
Click on the covers shown above to
hear the individual tracks.
My little tribute above includes two covers
of classic Willie Nelson tunes leading to a RAR original,
the last provided as an example of how the influences of my
formative years have expressed themselves in my later
creative life, which is most certainly an arc experienced by
many of the readers of the site.
"Something to Think
About" is an attempt to capture that strange feel of a
Willie Nelson performance, with its scratch and jab guitar
playing so free of technique and artifice that it feels
inspired. I'm not sure that I achieved that, but the
song achieves something poetic and great, as does "Hello
Walls", a paean to abandonment and loneliness. I have an
Arkansas cousin who as a kid used to go around singing "hewwo
wahs", which speaks to the influence of this soundtrack on
my very DNA and among my native kin (rather like Kenneth, of
"30 Rock", and his brethren the "Hill People").
The "Hello Walls" cover is unadorned,
just the bald honesty of the lyric against that beautiful,
simple but dramatic melodic structure; beautiful even
with me singing it. (In the spirit of full disclosure, I was
rejected by TAXI when submitting this song regarding a
request for classic country cover tunes. They didn't find
the vocal up to snuff.)
"Hoping that You're Lonely" is the output
side of my own personal sausage factory, an original
composition that owes everything to those early County
influences. The guitar playing, however lame, owes much to
my appreciation for the far-more legitimate playing talents
of a certain "Ghosty McToasty".
(You know who you are.)
For me personally, "Hoping that You're
Lonely" taps into the same well of loneliness and
introspection that I feel from "Something to Think About"
and "Hello Walls" - bittersweet reminiscences suitable for a
cold and lonely winter's night.
songs listed below are complete demo recordings of original material.
site is updated frequently as new material or new recordings of older material
are added. Most are recorded using Sonar Producer 5 digital software, more
recent ones Producer 6. Some may
be digitized 4-track audio tape recordings, and you will recognize the
difference in sound quality. I may post mixes of old 16- and 24-track recordings
at some point. All are in a state of constant development and
are welcome to download these songs for your own entertainment, though of course
all copyright protections apply regarding reproduction or distribution for sale.
Click on the graphics or links
provided to listen to the following originals from the RAR catalog.
Donald's House came
into being as an exercise in chord substitution, ala the kind of thing
that Donald Fagen does with his "fake jazz" (his words). The song
"Donald's House" is nothing like a Steely Dan or Donald Fagen song, it's
just that I think of the compositional technique as being "in Donald's
And while I was there I thought I would steal some stuff. As a song,
"Donald's House" turns out to be about social mobility, or lack thereof,
unobtainable dreams, and grand larceny.
Phrygian Dominatrix - On another compositional track, the tune "Phrygian
Dominatrix" is an exercise in writing in the Phrygian mode. This is one
of those modes that the likes of Dream Theater get lost in because it is
just inherently spooky and dark. I used it to build a really lovely
story about somebody in a dead relationship who can't find anything on
his car radio so would just prefer to die.
We have this cat, a Snowshoe Siamese, who my
wife named "Magnolia Thunder Pussy" after a '60s San Francisco radio
spot, and who came to us as a replacement for our dear deceased cat
"Gary Gilmore", also named by my wife. (One can imagine the
psychological damage or purr enlightenment the children have
endured.) Anyway, "Maggie" was a rescue cat, plucked from the
Stanford University campus by a student who found her injured, starving,
alone; a refugee from God knows what. Maggie grew to the size of a house
living in the student's apartment, but upon graduating Maggie's
student-savior had to give her up to move wherever Stanford graduates
move to, so she put Maggie on Craigslist and my wife brought this fat
cat home. She slimmed down, given some room to roam, and is now a much
different cat from that which she was when she came to us - accept
for her monotonic meow. I have no idea what this cat is saying. It
may be "hello"; it may be "there is a tarantula on your head", I don't
know, it all sounds the same. I assume her issues in this song.
Yours truly is offering up a little
Jazz-Pop confection, with all admiration for the ancient Romans, like
the playwright Plautus, who inspired the tile below and knew a thing or
two about winging it philosophically and comically.
Oh perversity at the county fair! I'm
sure involvement with the Future Farmers of America has ruined more than
a few young boys, what with all the glamour and all, and the exposure to
breeding stock... This song is just stupid, which is a part of my
personal cathartic process based on the assumption that no one is
listening anyway. Surprise be mine, I have had this song referenced by
others as a RAR favorite. I have never understood these things.
Memphis", a tribute to stable types such as my actual
Aunt Betty (Olita) in Memphis (not shown here), as well as to all those
weary road warriors out there playing the soundtracks to everybody
This is one of those songs
that started as a guitar exercise a little along the lines of "Little
Wing" and then just kept morphing into something bigger, more operatic
in structure, if not vocal arrangement. I have no idea where the song
came from or why this particular one made it this far. I write 10,
record a couple, and this one moved quickly from idea to finished demo.
It is derivative, to be sure, referencing everyone from Pink Floyd to
The Beatles to Tears for Fears and Tom Petty. In that, it breaks a
cardinal rule against imitation. On the other hand, I feel this tune
personally so it can't be all bad.
Walty's Dead" is a cowboy yarn about a villain - portrayed by
the late and wonderful Warren Oates (below) - who has left an
unfortunate legacy for himself (see chorus...). Walty is my metaphor for
early 21st Century predatory capitalism, a force that must be dealt with
so that honest souls can carry on.
I can't seem to get my country roots out of my system
- I hear Marty Robbins in my sleep - and yet can't do a country tune
without turning it into a joke. I love those sappy background vocals of
1950s-era classic country and I tried to replicate some of that with
this tune, which, by the way, I love. I hope you do too.
Glory be unto Angie Omaha, whoever she is,
pictured below on the cover to my re-recording of "The Glow of Your Dark
Eyes" introduced several years back as a tune about "the dark side of
loving a dark soul". Our girl Angie may not let me exploit her in this
way for long, but as long as she does isn't she perfect? I mean, for
Sometimes songs just arrive unannounced and this is one that did so with
great impact for me. The whole feeling of the piece is helped along by the great
photo above, the photographer of which I am trying to find. Click on the
picture (left) to hear the RAR original, "The Clues," a new personal
"Just Eleven Minutes" comes from a few years
back, and from the same box as "The Glow of Your Dark Eyes", but the
versions provided below come much closer to my ambitions for this story
of a cuckold speeding toward a crime of passion and revenge. Almost the
entire song is the single chord of E, with brief passes through A-B, for
those keeping score. The "psycho" version was the original inspiration,
but the Nashville chicken-pickin' version has some nice qualities.
Unfortunately it probably also shows that as a guitar player I am no
Randy Barker, though I hope to be when I grow up.
"Laughing (Nuke'em From Orbit)"
DOWN FOR REPAIRS
The line "nuke them from orbit, it's the only way to
be sure" resonated both comically and viscerally. It came from the film
Aliens, and carries such broad metaphorical potential for social
commentary and self hatred that I sang this song for years before
finally getting around to this draft.
Inspired by the
demonstrations in Zuccotti Park and other Occupy Wall Street locations
around the country, "Start A Fire" explores the motivations of those who
aren't quite ready to make the commitment that those people living
outside in the cold are making. Click on the cover shot above to listen
to "Start A Fire", a RAR casual. And thanks to whomever is pictured in
the shot above, taken recently in Zuccotti Park.
Other than for a few musical devices common to earlier Beatles
recordings, this song doesn't really have anything to do with that band.
It has more to do with a desire to capture a certain feeling of youth
and of the redemptive power of love that really typified later Beatles
recordings. Mostly, it is about the energy of dreams yet to be explored,
a gift exclusive to the young.
"Porn International" is a tune of mine
from the ’80s previously known as "If We Get Buzz." I recently revisioned it around some of the great sound samples available at
freesound.com. I grabbed a variety of sounds and mixed them, hopefully to
humorous effect, to create the appropriate ambience for my tale of
temptation, pornography and free market capitalism. I felt compelled to
rename the song because the voices in the freesound samples seemed
obviously Asian, so my bump on the American porn industry morphed into a
riff on porn international. I don’t really know anything about the porn
industry, but I like this tale of this older guy who gets into the company
of impressionable nubiles, "understands" and ultimately exploits
Lay it light on
Uncle Bob: This one was written for the 2006 election cycle and I may
bring it back every two years just to remind myself why we vote...or
don't. (That's my Aunt Lillian on the left, my Uncle Chas in the center,
my Dad Phil on the right.)
"Essential Me" is just Eros rising. It
portrays inner character that is universal, though not revealed in the
same way with everybody. This guy’s a little much for my own comfort
level. (You sense split self?) Interesting to me is that this song, which
I did as a knock off, is one I get the most positive comments on. Weird,
A film directed
in my mind, infer nothing, apologies to the great guitarist
"Dime Bag Darryl" could be considered a
racist slapper-doodle (thanks Ricky) if it weren’t so silly. It is a
soundtrack for a video I have been trying to get produced and it would be
helpful to scroll through story boards to get the actual nature of the
piece. It is a joint on the weird schizophrenic yet symbiotic relationship
that many white people have with a certain segment of the black community.
The visuals are all about poking fun at white insecurity and need, and an
Alice In Wonderland cast of ghetto community representatives climaxing in
the image of Dime Bag Darryl himself, who I have always seen as Samuel
am sure that everyone who reads this site - primarily musicians - can relate
when I talk about the influence that commercial radio had on me as a kid.
Memories of songs from about 1957 to 1965 imprinted on my brain in a way that
influenced the rest of my life. Today when I hear songs of the period it is as
if I am flashed back to a certain moment in time, riding in a car with my
parents, or listening to the radio that sat on the counter in our kitchen in
time to time, in recent years, I have done home recordings of some of my
favorites from the era, mostly for my own amusement and memory archive. Singing
these songs is emotionally satisfying to me, a connection to an earlier, less
complicated version of myself, more about the future than the past. Now that's
irony given the era these tunes come from, and yet they are timeless, capturing
a certain feeling or narrative that for some reason resonates still (at least in
feelings for and performance of some of these tunes will doubtless leave some
shaking their heads, but not caring is a blessing. They are un-disputably
"Karaoke Rick" in nature and not intended to be more than that,
recorded primarily for family. I am committed to leaving behind for my kids some
record of who their dad was and what sort of cultural DNA they've been issued.
On A Horse In Colorado is the caption of the photograph on the CD jacket.
The photograph of my brother and I on horseback was taken around 1960. I was
about eight years old. That caption implies to me an indeterminate existence in
a remote realm, which sounds like what I remember of those first musical
stirrings and life at that age: romantic, mysterious, awe inspiring. I had no
context to place the music within. I could not have known at the time that pop
music was morphing from surface innocence to a sadness that would be the
unintended outfall from a social revolution that in other ways was quite
uplifting. But change is hard. Much is lost as much is gained. "Wouldn't It
Be Nice" sentiments were morphing into "I Am A Rock" solemnity.
are sample tracks from the CD, which is available for handling and production
charges only. This is a personal, not a for-profit venture.
Get Used to Losing You" (Re-Master) - A 1963 hit for Andy Williams (Words
& Music by Jerome "Doc" Pomus & Mort Shuman), it was a
kitchen counter favorite. Pieced together from midi in my own arrangement,
not intended to be an exact cover.
- Roy Orbison classic, a singer's minefield but a tune I have enjoyed
performing when the opportunity has presented. Midi cover from infi.com.
A Little Bit Closer" (Re-Master) - The Jay and the Americans classic (Words
& Music by Boyce/Hart/Farrell), midi sequenced by Chuck Duklis. I love the
not-too-serious story of seduction, danger and cowardly escape.
the 1969 Broadway hit Hair. First posted along with a feature on composer
Galt MacDermot, this current version has a little better vocal than did the
previously posted version.
will rotate these tunes and offer different ones for a listen from time-to-time.
covers project referenced above is part of a larger "Influences" collection I am putting
together that includes CDs of my originals presented in each of the genres I
write in, as well as additional cover compilations, including "Jazz Vocal
Standards" and "Classic Rock." - RAR
time to time I will use this space to post "project files" for sharing
with various musical collaborators. Current files include:
This is the Cowboy Junkies' arrangement of the Gram Parsons
tune. It includes all parts, either played via midi notation or live
guitar. Also included are backing vocals. All that is missing is the lead
This file was produced using Cakewalk's Sonar Producer
digital software. Individual tracks are available as .wav files
(preserving their timing), which can be imported into your digital
production environment. This would allow you to replace tracks per your
own design, while preserving other parts of the performance. Contact Rick@rarwriter.com
for additional information or details.
- Sonar Producer 4, 5 and 6 Digital Recording Software and Plug-Ins
B-1 Condenser Mic
Nylon String Guitar
Like many people my age, I started playing music in 1964
- about a week after first seeing The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show.
I was eleven years old. My dad rented an electric guitar from a downtown Denver music store as part of a package deal that included lessons. So, I spent one summer in a little practice room with a couple amplifiers and a country western lounge lizard learning the basics of pick and strum, before trading in the rental (and the lessons) for a guitar of my own. (For the record, the guitar my dad bought for me was a Les Paul Junior, 1959-60 vintage, the finest playing guitar I have ever been stupid enough to eventually part with.)
I started playing around the neighborhood with similarly inspired guys, a practice that would continue through high school and college and on into my adult life, and I started writing songs.
My parents were in their early 20s when I was born and the radio was on a lot in our house as I was growing up. I recall hearing Jimmy Rogers, The Everly Brothers, Ricky Nelson, Roger Miller and Skeeter Davis. There was a sparse but eclectic collection of LPs around the house, ranging from Sinatra, Johnny Mathis and The Platters to Marty Robbins and Burl Ives. The first LP I ever owned was "Meet the Beatles," the stateside analog to their "With the Beatles" U.K. debut album. (My grandparents gifted me with a 45 RPM of Jim Reeves' 1958 recording of "Billy Billy Bayou," which was probably my first adult record.) Denver radio went through the folk era playing The Kingston Trio, then Leslie Gore, Gene Pitney, Roy Orbison, and The Beach Boys crowded them out and The Beatles made them disappear altogether.
My backdoor neighbor Mike Miller started playing the drums around the time I started on the guitar and we very quickly established ourselves as "rock'n roll stars" in the neighborhood. The two of us would do shows in his back yard, and most especially in the back yard of a neighborhood girl named Jeannie Gregg. Her family happened to have a back yard that had the shape of a natural outdoor theatre, with seating on the grass hillside overlooking the stage area below. We would charge neighborhood kids a quarter, dime, nickel -- anything they had. And we would play Beatles songs or any simple thing we could manage. Then we would sign autographs. We were in the sixth grade at the time, still able to make believe and sweep our younger neighbors right along with us in our fantasy stardom.
My musical aspirations took a hit when my parents moved our family away from Denver and to a small Kansas farming community. I did my best to export it as best I could, though I hadn't exactly moved into a hot bed of rock culture. I did find some guys with guitars and drums, most notably my high school classmate David Domsch. We would get together on weekends, usually at his house, and practice. I remember playing Gloria by Van Morrison's band Them, and The Animals' version of House of the Rising Sun, Paint It Black by the Stones, You Really Got Me by the Kinks, and I'm a Man by The
somebody's parents would be out of town overnight and we would play at
their spur of the moment house parties, sometimes with an older guy named
Skip McCain who played the drums. We weren't magic. In fact, a common
rejoinder from my local detractors, when I would opine on which popular
bands were good and which weren't. was -- "Well they're better than
the Rice-Domsch band!" You can imagine our prospects.
first rock concert I ever attended was Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young,
at the coliseum in Denver in 1970. They were awful, but they had an effect
on me. During my college years I was overtaken by an unfortunate fixation
with acoustic folk-rock. I had been quite a Dylan and Simon &
Garfunkle fan already -- in fact had lived in that Bookends album
after being parted from my first crush, the burgeoning artist Elizabeth
Kay (at left, see the links page.).
the time I went off to college in the fall of 1970, The Beatles had broken
up, Hendrix and Joplin died in September and October of that year, and Jim
Morrison was within months of joining them and The Doors had waned anyway.
As far as I was concerned rock music was dead. I was no fan of Led
Zeppelin and the heavy metal that was starting to surface, and wasn't even
aware of the avant garde Velvet Underground and other such acts on the
east coast (who might have saved me). I had drifted into a neo-hippie
bliss, which was easy because Lawrence, Kansas in the early 1970s was a
very hippie-trippie place, even if the last vestiges of the "movement"
were a little suffused with wistfulness. There was still a lot of "love" and
"brotherhood" in the air. I fell in with a large group of hippie
musicians, and we would get high, listen to Joni Mitchell's Blue
album and think in sweetly poetic ways. Those were wonderful days. Cat
Stevens became a personal favorite, as did James Taylor. I was drifting
dangerously close to the mellow shoals. I was also drifting dangerously
close to people who had more talent than I did. There was one guy, in
particular, who had mastered a note-by-note cover of Jimi Hendrix' classic
Spangled Banner solo, complete with descending bombs and explosions, and he had
this big Marshall amp, which I wasn't likely to get, and I got scared and
Richard's Music, in Lawrence, I
traded a 1959 or 1960 Gibson Les Paul Junior, plus cash, for a 1969
D12-20, to the gentleman pictured on the right -- Richard Petrovits, known
primarily as "The Stomper."
as we called him for short, owned this local guitar shop where all the
local players would get equipment. He
was a teddy bear of a guy who lavished attention on me whenever I would go
in there, usually with my girlfriend at the time, Valerie
Hale (pictured on the left), who was a
knockout along the lines of Tuesday Weld. Oh did Stomp love to see me.
we "partnered" on what was surely one of the most
short-sighted (on my part) transactions ever known to man. You
cannot now get even a hammered 1959 or 1960 Gibson Les Paul Junior for
less than $3,700, but you can get a stinking D12-20 for...oh never mind.
Let me just say that I didn't even get the girl.
didn't have a guitar other than that stupid 12-string for the remainder of
the 1970s, which seriously hampered my development as a guitarist. It was
rekindled in the 1980s when I purchased a Gibson ES-335, with a neck that
recalled (but was not as good as) that of my beloved LP Junior. During the
1970s I played in public rarely and almost always as a solo or in acoustic
duos. Music, like everything else about the '70s, was holding little
appeal for me. I was veering more toward being a writer and was working on
publications anyway. I recognized that
there was a crossover between my musical and literary ambitions -- I had
always been more of a songwriter than a musician -- but the life style of a solitary writer suited my
introverted nature more than being a musician. Musicians are often
extroverted, and I tended to go unnoticed in that company. While there is
a part of me who enjoys showing off in front of people, I am not a natural
performer. I'm not even a big fan of live music, more of a "record
record man has kept me a part of the music community, and my enthusiasm
for songwriting and for playing instruments, especially the guitar, have
kept me in to music. It is a huge part of my life. Some guys fish,
some golf, some garden, and I write and record music. I am, by
temperament, a producer.
* * * *
my music I strive to build songs around melody, though some of my most effective
are "dumber" than that. I strive to avoid cliché musically and
lyrically, even knowing that cliché is really at the heart of making things
"radio friendly." I endeavor to paint a sonic landscape, to the
extent that my technical skills allow. I attempt to create a mood, to
tell a story, usually with humor, and I can't help but be ironic.
A NOTE ON THE BEATLES
To me The Beatles remain in a class of their own.
Everything about them was just cool, from their wide musical range to the
graphic design of their logo to their dark early look.
They seemed so comfortable within themselves that it elevated their music. Critically, I believe they have suffered a bit with the Fred
which is to say that they made it look too easy. By the time we in the states saw them they had been playing together professionally for
years, and doing it in hard places. I always thought it ironic that between The
Beatles, who sort of played the clean cut rockers, and the Rolling Stones, who
portrayed the bad boy image,
it was The Beatles who were the true working class heroes. (I don't think, for
instance, that either Mick Jagger or Keith Richards would have fared well in a
street fight with John Lennon.)
For those who doubted the individual Beatles'
musical virtuosity, Paul McCartney probably didn't do the band any favors by mounting the Let It Be movie, which has scenes of them struggling through the process of birthing new material.
As a musician, I found it inspirational, but detractors could get stuck on the
parts where they struggle. It is in McCartney's amazing hubris to expose the innards of his music machine.
songwriters, I think both Lennon and McCartney paid tribute to legacy and
tradition, which I think was key to their charm. Lennon was musically responsive
to R&B and rock'n roll, but equally powerful were his connections to Lewis
Carroll and Salvadore Dali. So, you got songs like Lucy In the Sky, To the
Benefit of Mr. Kite and I Am the Walrus along with Revolution and Happiness Is A
Warm Gun. McCartney always seemed in homage to
musical theatre and to the tradition of the variety show. So, you got songs like
Good Day Sunshine and When I'm Sixty-Four along with I'm Down and Oh Darling. George Harrison, on the other hand,
wrote like a guitar student, driven by romantic progressions and, in every song,
some signature voicing of a principle chord. Pick any Harrison song. The
resulting Beatles' songbook is so rich it is staggering. There are other great oeuvres,
but to me none match The Beatles' in range and general likeability.