Embedded Reporter

Howard Lewis on Northern Spirit Radio

 http://www.northernspiritradio.org/index.asp?command=showinfo&showid=694073238127

SHED MY SKIN (from Local News)

by Howard Lewis

The back story:

The setting is the great cathedral of God’s creation. The storyteller, in an act of self-baptism, gives himself over to its power. The song is based upon a variety of personal experiences and influences. For example:

(Intro—Excerpt from “Let Me Walk In Beauty”, Native American Tradition – Spoken)

Spirit Who Comes Out of the East
Come to me with the power of the rising sun
Let there be light in my word
Let there be light on the path that I walk
Let me remember always that You give the gift of a new day.

Never let me be burdened with sorrow by not starting over

The song:

I walked out on a rocky ledge
A river looped below
I teetered on the jagged edge
To watch the river flow

A trail descended from the bluff
Then meandered through a wood
Where pine and larch, the mighty fir,
And giant redwood stood

A blue jay paused to laugh at me
A comic sideshow fool
But I moved on around a bend
Toward a quiet forest pool

A trout swam up and looked at me
As if to say hello
He kissed the sky then flipped his tail
And disappeared below

(Repeating Chorus)

I shed my skin, and jumped straight in
It seemed the perfect way
To lose my pain and misery
And wash my sins away

FIDDLE ME ON MY WAY (from Local News)

by Howard Lewis and Darrell Smith

The back story:

Jimmy Brennan drove a handicap bus here in Port Washington until he was diagnosed
with cancer. It was terminal. One day, a friend who worked with Jimmy sent her
husband to “check-in” on Jimmy who was living alone, having trouble getting around,
and not eating well. As he pulled-in to the driveway he spied Jimmy coming out of a
backyard shed. Jimmy’s running car was next to the shed, and there was a large hose
connecting the car exhaust to the shed.

As a response, my friend decided to be certain Jimmy had support during his final time on earth. She enlisted my aid (as a former medic and nurse) to help Jimmy die with some measure of dignity. So I began to visit a few days per week, helping him shower, making meals, playing guitar, and “chatting him up.” Mostly I chatted and Jimmy listened. He seldom shared any information about his life. Jimmy had a beautiful large black & white photograph on the wall of a three-masted sailing vessel.

“What a beautiful ship!” I said. “Do you know anything about her?
“She was mine,” he replied. “I took paying passengers as my crew on cruises throughout the Baltic and along the coast of Scandinavia. I did it for many years.”
Soon I learned about a key ingredient of his despondence. His wife, a young woman
from Myanmar was being blocked from entry into the U.S.A. by our State Department.
Their contention was that she had married Jimmy to get out of Myanmar.
Ironically, his wife was granted entry and arrived in the U.S.A. the day after Jimmy died.

I wrote “Fiddle Me On My Way” a few weeks after Jimmy’s passing. Like many of the
songs I write, it came to me very quickly.

The song:

My name is Jimmy Brennan
They burried me at sea
Off the fantail of a clipper ship
Bound for Barbaree.

We were making close to fifteen knots
In a southern ocean gale
When the captain sent me up aloft
To lash the topmost sail.
To lash the topmost sail.

There was ice a-forming in the rig
On the lines and on the wood
When she heeled about on a boiling swell
I lost my grip for good
I lost my grip for good

Down I fell through the raging storm
Twisting like a cat
When I smacked the rail athwart midship
It put an end to that.
It put an end to that.

 (chorus)

Ten thousand miles to Boston
Ten thousand miles from home
Some men are born to sail the sea
But none should die alone

I saw it all from the other side
The Boatswain’s look of dread
And the Captain’s face twist-up in pain
When he heard that I was dead
When he heard that I was dead

They wrapped me in an oil skin
Then bowed their heads to pray
The fiddler gave the best he had (Alt. The piper blew the best he had)
While they sent me on my way.

(chorus)

Ten thousand miles to Boston
Ten thousand miles from home
Some men are born to sail the sea
But none should die alone

So raise a glass in song dear lads
And bow your heads to pray
I gave you all the best I had
Now fiddle me on my way, hey (Now pipe me on my way, hey)
Fiddle me on my way. (Pipe me on my way).

HOW AM I TO BLAME? (from Local News)

by Howard Lewis

The back story:

In which the protagonist asks God why he is receiving punishment for crimes he did not commit. (A.K.A. “The Big Question”)

“When sorrows come, they come not single spies but in battalions!” — Emily Dickenson

The song:

Things are going wrong all around me
The world is falling down at my feet
Troubles, cares, and sorrow, they surround me
This ship of state has sprung a major leak

So I’m wondering God if I brought this on myself
Have I lived a life of heedlessness and shame
Did I sell my soul for power and for wealth
Please tell me Lord, How Am I To Blame?

But I haven’t got a dollar or a penny
I never had a nickel to my name
And power God, You know I haven’t any
So I’m asking Lord, How Am I To Blame?

It’s clear I didn’t make the world I’m living in
It hasn’t brought me fortune, power, or fame
It’s so hard to endure the punishment You’re givin’
Please tell me Lord, How Am I To Blame?

It’s clear I didn’t make the world I’m living in
It hasn’t brought me fortune, power, or fame
It’s so hard to endure the punishment You’re given’
Please tell me Lord, How Am I To Blame?
Please tell me Lord, How Am I To Blame?
Please tell me Lord, How Am I To Blame?

FLOCK OF ANGELS (from Unnamed Sources)

by Howard Lewis

The back story:

I was hiking at a nearby nature center, trying to deal with simple depression. It was a sunny autumn day. I stopped in the middle of a sedge meadow on a wooden platform, surrounded by trees in fall color. I faced east to pray, the sun over my right shoulder. As I was praying the breeze kicked up from behind me, sending thousands of maple seeds fluttering by like helicopters flashing in the sunlight. My thought? It’s a flock of angels! Within hours the song seemed to arrive fully formed.

The Song:

If you’re feeling sad or a little bit blue
And things aren’t working out for you
You are not alone, I’ve been there too
This is what I’ve found to be true.

All you got to do is get out of bed
Take one baby step ahead
You’ll find a Flock of Angels going your way,
And a heavenly band starting to play.

If that don’t work, try this instead.
Say a prayer, expect to be led
You’ll find a Flock of Angels going your way,
And a heavenly band starting to play.

If you’re a little beat-up or severely depressed
Get up out of bed, take a shower, get dressed
If you’re finding it hard to do for yourself
Get out of the house, help somebody else.

(Repeating Chorus)

All you got to do is get out of bed
Open your mouth, sing the song in your head
You’ll find a Flock of Angels going your way,
And a heavenly band starting to play.

MR. KAN’S HOUSE (from Local News)

by Howard Hinterthuer

The back story:

A rumination about what is truly important in this life. Mr. Kan’s upper incisors were missing, his skin was like tanned leather, yet his smile dazzled, and the walnuts he served were sublime. I visited his farm during 2002, on the other side of the world in China, to do a concert in Chengdu at the Sechuan Conservatory of Music.

The song:

Mister Kan lives on a road to Tibet
Mountains pile up to the right and the left
It twists with the river that runs along side
Reaching higher and higher toward the top of the sky

Mister Kan has made use of each cranny and nook
Planted seeds or a flower wherever I look
Now the fields are as yellow as Mandarin gold
While plum blossoms bloom at the side of the road

Growing out of the hillside is a cluster of barns
They could be one-hundred or one-thousand years old
And a house made of mortar and round river stones
A house made for many, but he lives there alone.

He hammers a walnut as we huddle inside
I crack two in my hand as a matter of pride
And he seems to delight in how different we are,
As I recount the steps that have brought me this far.

Three diplomas hang on a wood panelled wall
Three sons off to college the previous fall
And his wife traveled with them to clean and to cook,
And be certain they’re keeping each nose in a book.

Mister Kan tends his goats, waters seeds he has sown,
Builds fences of bamboo and eats what he’s grown,
And he waits for a warm wind to blow up the valley
Bringing his wife and his children back home.

Mr. Kan is a relic of antiquity
Some would say similar things about me
But you can’t eat Armani or dance with your car
At least Kan and I know how lucky we are.

Mister Kan tends his goats, waters seeds he has sown,
Builds fences of bamboo and eats what he’s grown,
And he waits for a warm wind to blow up the valley
Bringing his wife and his children back home.

(Repeating Chorus)

He’s living alone
His children have flown
But there’s life in the valley
And rice to be grown.

He’s living alone
His children have flown
But there’s life in the valley
And rice to be grown.

But there’s life in the valley
And rice to be grown.

PRAYER (from Unnamed Sources)

by Howard Lewis

The back story:

Many relationships don’t work out, but remaining spiteful and burdened with bad
feelings for a former lover tend to harm one’s self. Plus it is important to look at and accept one’s own culpability for failure. Not to do so is to risk shooting yourself in the foot again and again. But this one is about a guy who torpedoed his own ship, is going down with it, but asks God to take care of the survivors.

The song:

O Lord My God, Thou art great
And me, I’m just a reprobate
I should be praying with the saints above
For forgiveness and Your merciful love

My time’s running out, it’s well past eleven
I’m not asking for a place in heaven
If you will do one thing for me
I will go in the ground contentedly

Take care of my beloved
Give her a peaceful place
Beside a crystal river
Then bathe her soul in grace

Crown her head with flowers
Surround her heart with love
While mockingbirds sing for hours
Like angels from above.

Crown her head with flowers
Surround her heart with love
While mockingbirds sing for hours
Like angels from above.

One of the best folk groups around. Their original pieces are imaginative and poetic. Lyrics and melodies are imaginatively joined by a creative soul.

Fun/Inspiring Music for Weddings, Mitzvahs, Graduations, Homecomings, Anniversaries, & Retirements

Embedded Reporter does…

Folk, Country, Roots, Blues, Latin, Tin Pan Ally, TV Tunes, Movie Tunes, Broadway, Pop, Jazz, Classical, and more.


Howard Lewis and Darrell Smith of Embedded Reporter

Think about your guests.

They are diverse and interesting.

Why not give them music with the same qualities?

Embedded Reporter does…

Folk, Country, Roots, Blues, Latin, Tin Pan Ally, TV Tunes, Movie Tunes, Broadway, Pop, Jazz, Classical, and more.

Everyone in the band sings, often at the same time.

Embedded Reporter can help make the ceremony a moving experience and add sizzle to the party afterward.

Your guests will feel comfortable, appreciated, and joyfully entertained. Best of all, they’ll stick around.

WEDDINGS, MITZVAHS, RETIREMENTS DONE RIGHT

We celebrate major life milestones like weddings, mitzvahs, and retirements by bringing loved ones together in a spirit of goodwill and hospitality. The goal is to make all feel welcome, cherished, and comfortable.

Music is a key component in the celebration of life’s great moments! There are many choices. You can ask your cousin Heather to sing that special song by The Violent Rage, but chances are Heather will be nervous, likewise the guitar and/or piano player, and you will have to find sound gear and someone who knows how to make it work. These are real challenges. Plus there remains the hurdle of planning music for the rest of the event. Heather may sing like an angel, but she proably doesn’t have three or four hours of material.

You will have to hire a band or DJ, likely a big-ticket item. Let’s talk about DJ’s first. Most offer flexibility in terms of music, which is a good thing, particularly if you are trying to appeal to an audience that includes infants to centenarians. DJ’s are slick but sterile. It doesn’t matter how many flashing lights and humongous speakers they bring, it’s still a couple of guys playing records. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s nothing memorable about it either.

At least bands are alive and real. There are great event bands, characterized by interesting and diverse musical styles, skillfully presented via quality sound gear. They connect with the audience, and keep the focus on the honored participants (bride and groom; young person being confirmed in her/his faith or graduated magna cum lucky; or retiring employee, etc.). These skillful and dedicated bands work hard, making the experience special for everyone. The bumper stickers that say, “Live Music is Best” are talking about bands like this.

Then there are the other bands; bands that show-up late, fiddle with their gear well beyond the scheduled starting time, play only one type of music, get hammered along the way, crank up the sound to the point of pain, drive guests out the door, and collect a huge check when they leave. Reggae is fun. However, three hours of reggae can be torture. Likewise three hours of Peruvian flutes or polkas.

Think about your guests. They are diverse and interesting. Why not give them music with the same qualities? Embedded Reporter does Folk, Country, Roots, Blues, Latin, Tin Pan Ally, TV Tunes, Movie Tunes, Broadway, Pop, Jazz, Classical, and more. Everyone in the band sings, often at the same time. Embedded Reporter can help make the ceremony a moving experience and add sizzle to the party afterward. Your guests will feel comfortable, appreciated, and joyfully entertained. Best of all, they’ll stick around.

For more information about Embedded Reporter contact:

Howard Lewis
(262) 573–0325
hhinterthuer@hotmail.com

About Embedded Reporter


Embedded Reporter

Embedded Reporter does lowbrow music for smart people. It is all over the map stylistically including folk, country rock, blues, Tin Pan Alley, roots, TV & Movie tunes, Broadway, Latin and more. “We’re a singer’s band,” says Howard Lewis, Band Grand Poobah By Default.

Expect rich lyrical content. Instrumentation is “acoustic” except the band plays through a PA and juices the sound on occasion. About half of the songs are inventions in the sense that Lewis wrote them. “Darrell has added the class,” he says, referring to Darrell Smith (violin, hand percussion). “Stylistically the original material is also all over the map. We are called Embedded Reporter because we sing about what we see wherever we go. It’s fair to say we have traveled far and wide.”

Howard Lewis has been performing for forty years, playing acoustic guitar primarily, and piano when pressed. His first band, Alberta Blue, toured the East Coast from 1971 to 1976 successfully avoiding incarceration. Subsequently Lewis performed solo or with others on an ad hoc basis until meeting Darrell Smith at Riveredge Nature Center four years ago. Lewis and Smith have been gigging together ever since in venues ranging from posh to pernicious.

“It’s all good,” says Lewis. “We’ll sing anywhere. Our music is egalitarian and approachable for everyone.”

Selected Lyrics

An Angel Appeared

A Song That Wrote Itself

When the weather is warm I wander down to the harbor in Port Washington, find an empty bench in Rotary Park, and sing to the seagulls. One evening last summer I was hunched over my guitar when a pair of white sneakers with polka dot laces entered my field of vision. Scanning upward I took in the vision of an old lady, aglow in the warmth of the setting sun. The song accurately depicts what happened next.

Reflecting Ball

The Mighty Unknown

Dreaming Big

Walter Mitty dwells in all of us. We imagine great things but either don’t believe they are possible or don’t see a path. None-the-less a journey of one-thousand miles begins with the first step, and sometimes a person is compelled to take it in spite of the questions and conventional wisdom. Thank God!

(Note: The incredible Darrell Smith sings an elegant descant over the top of the chorus, but I am unable to replicate his part here because I’m always too busy focusing on the lyrics and chord progression to figure out exactly how Darrell’s part goes. However I can tell you it is the icing on the cake.)

Last edited by Godsil. Based on work by Tyler Schuster, TeganDowling, Embedded Reporter and Olde.  Page last modified on November 04, 2014

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