Thursday, December 20, 2012

"Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?"

It's Tuesday night December 20th, 2012. I've spent the last week couple of weeks plugging my Christmas projects.
Sometimes it's uncomfortable to promote your own album projects but when you're a record company of two (my precious wife and myself), you just gotta do it. Now, at least the bulk of my Facebook Friends know about it and I have to move on to more important issues.

At this time we have more homeless people in America, than ever. People living on the streets, out of their cars or in abandoned homes, etc. I'm not about to forget our responsibility to homeless animals either.
Many people I know are financially hurting in this economy. With Christmas coming on maybe we can give a little something...give our time serving a meal at a local homeless shelter, donating warm clothing we no longer wear. Give what you can to your local rescue missions. Seek out legitimate organizations like Friends Of Animals. 

In the Bible Jesus gives us the example of the parable of the Good Samaritan.
YOU are my brother, my sister, my neighbor. Forget that iPad, the Big Screen TV and even my little CD/music downloads if it takes you away from sharing your time or donating a little money to charity.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Was that you God?

When we talk to God, we're praying.  When God talks to us, we're schizophrenic.  ~Jane Wagner, In Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, 1985, performed by Lily Tomlin

Last Christmas season was a joyful time for me. It hasn't always been though. It's evolved into something special because of my wife and her family's love toward me. Still the holiday season can get a little sad at moments since my Mom's passing. She has been gone for some eighteen years now. I loved her greatly.

Friends who have known me for a long time will remember my larger than life mother, Katherine.

Mom was a wonderful actress who never stopped acting although her career in stage and film ended when I was born.

I was missing her a little more than usual last Christmas.

At times I find myself still talking to her as if she's right next to me. Even in my prayers, I sometimes ask God to let Mom know I miss her. Anyone else ever do that?

So... over the holidays there was a beautiful documentary shown about actress and Mom's studio friend, Ingrid Bergman. I remember, through the years, the wonderful stories Mom told me about getting to work with Ms. Bergman.

As I'm watching this documentary, a clip comes on the screen from the Spencer Tracy version of "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." Mom was Ms. Bergman's double in it but also had an uncredited part as a barmaid. I start thinking about Mom and feel that sense of loss come over me. At that moment, she happens to appear in frame, right behind Ms. Bergman's shoulder. I suddenly felt very happy. It was as if Mom was saying "Hi Richard."

This experience could have been a coincident and nothing more. But I think God loves us so much, He'll send us little gifts to remind us that we're not alone. ~Richard

Friday, October 12, 2012

Cadillac Coupe Deville

Maybe it's moving to Las Vegas that has been provoking these childhood memories I've been having at night before I go to sleep...

Back in the late 50's early 60's, Mom, Grandma and me would leave late at night from Granada Hills, CA and drive to Las Vegas usually for the holidays. Two ladies and a little boy in a Cadillac Coupe Deville. It was much cooler to drive at night than in the heat of the day. I guess we had air conditioning but I don't remember using it? One of Mom's "trip rituals" was to put a "clay pack" on her face. She could give herself a facial while she was driving. But it also made her look like a zombie! Those clay packs were green and when left on the face for a period of time, would start cracking. It was creeping looking. She said she did this facial thing partly for our protection driving late at night. I mean who would want to mess with a zombie in a Coupe Deville!

I asked her once how did she come up with that idea. It seemed to work. We never got hassled. Lot of strange looks though.
She related a story about her driving cross country years before on her way back to LA from Wisconsin. It was late at night. She came on a long stretch of barren road, pitch black, not another car in sight. Bored, she decided to give herself a facial. She applied this green clay pack stuff as she was driving. Farther down the road with still no cars or town in sight, she sees what appears to be two bright lights in the distance quickly approaching. They looked like they were coming down from the sky and heading right toward her. What she couldn't see in the darkness was the highway was actually heading up a mountain (it was the lights from another car). Frightened that it might be a plane trying to land, she pulled over to the side and the car slipped off the road and went off into a gully. Fortunately it wasn't a steep gully but Mom was shook up. She sat there for a few minutes and out of nowhere she hears the sound of an old pickup truck screeching to a stop. Looking up toward the road, Mom sees an old farmer (her words) with a flashlight and his elderly wife getting out of truck beginning to make their way down the gully towards the Coupe yelling, "are you all right, are you all right?" Mom yells back, "yes, I'm all right!" The old man and his wife come up to the drivers window, shine the flashlight into Mom's green face. They began screaming at the top of their lungs as if they just saw a ghost. They immediately start scrambling back up the gully. The farmer drops his flashlight. Their both screaming like banshees now. Practically climbing over each other as if it was every man for himself. They couldn't get back into that pickup fast enough. Start the engine, hit the gas, make a u-turn and take off like as bat outa... Mom then regains her composure, puts the Coupe into drive and slowly maneuver's it back up onto the road. About half hour later she sees a gas station. She pulls in, quickly gets out of the car unseen and makes a dash for the ladies room. Washes off the green clay pack. Walks back to her car where the station attendant is standing. He says "filler up?" Mom says,"please!" The attendant shaking his head then says, "Ma'am, you would not believe what I saw a little while ago. An old pickup truck comes roaring past here. Had to be doing at least eighty. Some old couple driving, screaming their heads off out the window. Never seen anything like it before!" Mom paid for the gas, got back on the road and continued on to LA.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Praying In Tones

"Here's what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won't be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace." Matthew 6:6 (The Message)

I talk to God in many ways throughout my day but my favorite way is sitting in front of a piano (these days it's a virtual piano keyboard hooked into a computer) and just start playing my prayers to my Creator.
That's how "The Prayer Closet Series Vol 1 & Vol 2" came about. I feel His pleasure when I play. I call it "praying in tones" because He understands (much better than I ever will) the deep language of music. He created music.

This series is all improvised. That means I don't know what will happen from one moment to the next. It's my conversation with God. I don't try to go back and "fix things" later, which is easy to do these days recording into a computer sequencer. It's pretty much spontaneous and in my mind that keeps it honest for me. When a synthesizer sound appears, it's much the same approach. I can't tell you the name of the sound I'm using most of the time but I know it inspired me in my musical dialogue.
This time out on Volume Three and the upcoming Volume Four, the gifted sound designer Eric Persing was so very gracious to mix and master the projects. Eric and I share a special friendship that goes back almost three decades. I am blessed to call him my friend.

My desire is that this music will inspire you to want to pray and talk to your Creator.

My dear friend, this life is so short, if you don't know God, it's time to begin your dialogue. At least ask if God is real! But... be open for an answer.
I can assure you, having come so close to death several times in my life, it's not over when the old body gives out. You are a spirit that lives in a body. Find your own Prayer Closet and begin the greatest adventure of your life. Getting to know your Creator.

The Prayer Closet, Vol. 3 - Richard Souther

Richard Souther: The Prayer Closet, Vol. 3

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

CENERE: My Tribute To Eleonora Duse

"So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable." ~Christopher Reeve

I've been blessed since the first time I touched a piano at the age of three. I fell in love with music at that moment. I knew creating music was what I wanted to do the rest of my life. Our next door neighbor in North Hollywood was the then retired Professor Thomas Giles of the University of Utah. He saw the potential in me and decided take me under his wing and mentor this little kid till he passed away. I was twelve then and devastated at the news. I loved that man. He made learning music fun and I've tried to do the same with my students.
We lived in North Hollywood the first few years of my life because it was only a few blocks from Universal Studios. Mom was a contract player and could walk to work. That stopped when she had me. My Mother's acting mentor, dear friend and my godmother was Eva Le Gallienne. I only saw her a few times in my life but she made a lasting impression on me.
Our last meeting was when she was appearing in the 1975 production of The Royal Family. Her last words to me were, "hey Richard, take care of your Ma!"
Ms. Le Gallienne wrote a short biography on one of her own acting influences, Eleonora Duse titled "THE MYSTIC IN THE THEATER: ELEONORA DUSE."
In reading the book I discovered that Duse had only made one film in her illustrious theatrical career. That film was a little Italian silent movie called, "CENERE" pronounced "chen a ray."
Oddly enough she wasn't very happy with her performance in the film but then again she was the consummate actress with a legendary reputation as a known perfectionist.
In 1987 I was on a recording label with the dream of finding this little film and putting my own orchestral score to it. In a way it would have been a tribute to my Mother and godmother (both who had passed on by then). Needless to say it didn't pan out but the dream stayed with me all these years.
Without any budget, I sought out a copy of the public domain film, found a ten day trial of orchestral software and began to compose a score to the film. I love this little film and hope the readers of this blog will discover it too along with the soundtrack. But most importantly I want to encourage all who read this to never ever give up on your dreams no matter what anyone says to discourage you!

To purchase a DVD copy of "Cenere:Tribute to Eleonora Duse" with the new soundtrack, click here

To watch "Cenere:Tribute to Eleonora Duse with the new soundtrack" online click here

To purchase the "Cenere soundtrack" by Richard Souther, click here

Visit Richard Souther's Official Website, click here

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Waxing Nostalgic In The Christmas Season

Oddly enough, many of my early childhood Christmases were spent in Las Vegas at a hotel called "The Hacienda."
Both my Mother and Grandmother liked room service. My family was anything but conventional. I was always near a TV ready to get lost in Christmas movies. It's A Wonderful Life, The Bishops Wife and of course, A Christmas Carol (Scrooge 1951). Films that took me to a special place and created some wonderful and nostalgic memories. I still watch those films and they're always new.

Mom and Grandma are gone now and I do miss them at this season. My wife's family has more than made me feel loved and a part. I will eternally be grateful to them. Cyndi always goes out of her way to make Christmas special for everyone around her...especially me!

Cherish the moments you have with those you love. ~Richard

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Summit Of Our Years Together

I honestly don't know how people get married today. We live in a ME society and the spin is "it's not my fault!" Look what you did to ME! I want out! You were different when we just lived together! You were nice and cared and you listened to me. We connected...
I can tell you how my wife and I have lasted through the twenty-some years. Three things: God, commitment and our deep love. In that order. When God came in second or third became a series of "dissociated episodes." Marriage ain't like all those romantic movies we grew up with. It's a willingness to die to yourself for the other person. Sometimes on a daily basis. It isn't about YOUR needs anymore. You are a team now. God being the focus point. All eyes and hearts on Him first. In my humble opinion, it is the only way you don't bail out of marriage. It's not always roses but when you find your true companion, it's the best! There is no "perfect person." Soul mates reads well in novels. Why should we stay with each other then? They say "the grass is always greener on the other side" and it probably is for a moment, without God at the top of the summit...

A friend and and I wrote a song about getting married many years ago and it still holds up. And we both still believe it.

Standing In The Son
Man is sometimes called to live alone, but loneliness is hard for one to carry.
Most need someone to help them make a home, for their hearts won't be complete until they marry.
Yet, I've seen so many promises get broken, when the dreams don't always turn out like they're planed. And a love that started out to be a fortress slowly crumbles like a castle made of sand.
So let's build our lives upon the Rock and the wind and rains can come. Then our love will not be shaken we'll be standing in the Son
Yes, we'll build our lives upon the Rock and the wind and rains can come.
Then our love will not be shaken because in His eyes we're one.
Some women dream of havin' one to care for, for caring is a word they understand.
Responding to the one their love was meant for, as both hearts are fashioned by their Master's hand.
So they'll walk this life together and follow where He leads them hand in hands.
And as they reach, the summit of their years, they'll look back to the day it all began.
Man is sometimes called to live alone, but loneliness is hard for one to carry.
Most need someone to help them make a home, for their hearts won't be complete until they marry.
So let's build our lives upon the Rock and the wind and rains can come.
Then our love will not be shaken we'll be standing in the Son
Yes, we'll build our lives upon the Rock and the wind and rains can come.
Then our love will not be shaken
because in His eyes, in His eyes, we're one.
.....Standing in the Son
Words & Music by Richard Souther & Peter York
©1987 Birdwing Music.