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Don't take any of this as gospel. I'm not taking sides other than right and wrong, and I'm not here to be an influencer. I've had many thoughts the last couple of weeks, and that's all this is. I'm not preaching at all here, a lot of this is me working through my thoughts to myself and typing them out here.
I see a lot of memes and posts saying that if you're not outraged by what happened in Minneapolis, you're on the wrong side. I think it goes without saying that George Floyd's death was atrocious and disgusting. Why can't we just be decent with each other to begin with? I can't even wrap my head around why we were ever in this position or why this shit is still a thing. Why is hate still being taught? That includes jokes about white people too. You know the memes "Sounds about white", "White people be like…..". If we're going to do this, we need to go all in, but we all do.
Replying to "Black lives matter" by saying "All lives matter". Of course all lives matter, that goes without saying. Not all lives have been oppressed in this way for centuries though. "All lives matter" isn't an argument to be had. I'm embarrassed to say that I've just recently clued in, while watching from my own little world, to the sentiment of "Black lives matter". I'm terribly sorry that I didn't before, but rebutting by saying "All lives matters" is like going to someone's concert and continuously shouting, "I play music too!"
Just to state my own perspective on a very simplified scale.
I shake my head at people on social media who are arguing while agreeing. We agree that it's time for change, and what needs to change, but we argue behind keyboards about the semantics of how it's being done by the people who are in the thick of it.
I shake my head that it's our duty to make our voices heard, but we're only allowed to do it where the authorities say we can, and currently with curfews, the same authorities that are being protested. You just need to blindly comply? Last night, I watched peaceful protesters exercising their first amendment rights of free speech, peacefully, but there was a curfew so they were arrested one by one. What I've been watching is bullshit.
On the other hand, while I obviously agree with the peaceful protesting, I also support the more aggressive protesting towards government buildings as tempers boil over. At first I tried to understand and validate the damage to businesses. Where I am, I saw a business burn down at their own doing and they had a new building erected and named after the business owner. I've changed my perspective now and I'm appalled after seeing multiple videos of looters attacking shop owners. It's gone too far. I never felt ok with the violence towards other people and opportunistic stealing (looting) from people who are in the same class as the protesters and looters, but if we're going to say that looters represent the protesters, then all cops are bad cops. They're not. I've met more good people who are police than assholes with a badge. That's just my experience though. I've also seen more viral videos and from my observation, they're sheep when they're in a group.
There's one thing I've been saying for years; that I don't understand why police kill anyone when using live ammo. Those five or six rounds you fired into their torso could've gone into their legs. Although I don't know what it's like to be in either sides' position, police are apparently trained to drive and use their computers, so shouldn't they be able to keep it together under pressure also? If not, should they be in that position?
I won't write about politics because all I have are thoughts, opinions, and ideas, and it's too easy to lose sight of the topic in that rabbit hole. I recently got into a discussion with a local politician who started talking about what it's like to be a politician. We went from talking about people being involved and as I was speculating as to why they might not, the discussion into him saying how people elect a leader then try to tell them what to do. If they can do it better, they should run for office. I'm not saying he's wrong, but we got way off topic from speculating why people don't get involved. Nothing against him, but I see why they don't now. I understand the system as well as astrophysics. So I feel I should be able to rely on the people elected to lead us and listen to us, instead, there are too many that will tell us we're wrong without saying those words. I will say without a doubt, and so did a couple people on CNN, that not enough is being done within the system for this specific topic and I question if voting and peaceful protesting is enough anymore.
I'll never know what it's like, I was born on the easy side of ethnicity. I will say that watching authorities react to people boiling over is reminiscent of every time I've boiled over at someone who then turns around and plays the victim or punished me for acting appropriately to their jeering.
I've been singing this song in my head for a few days and wanted to learn it, but felt I needed to actually record my own cut after I watched a video from Dallas of a shop owner being beaten nearly to death (I researched and he's alive). It made us feel sick. Maybe it’s just me, but it's so easy to be polite and courteous. Even Gandhi apparently had his moments of anger, but they were just moments of human emotion. I prefer to endorse faith and understanding. Faith that my bad days are leading to a good day, and understanding by asking "Why?", and searching for the root of an issue.
As I posted this, I discovered that Burt Bacharach performed this song at The White House in 2014.
I'm not saying we should all just hug and be happy all the time, that's insane, but it shouldn't be this bad.
Freezing Fire • Timbercreek • In Circles • Riverbend • Country Roads • QEW • Love You Anyhow • Moonshine • Afraid Of Ghosts • Annabella • Wildflowers • Still Standing • Millionaire • Tiny Dancer • Unforgiven •
Prison Bound Man • One More Shot...
"A Life That's Good"
"At the end of the day, Lord, I pray, I have a life that's good."
I've heard it said that people in Nashville don't watch "Nashville". I don't know if that's true or not but I watched the whole series and determined that if it's true, people in Nashville are really missing out! I love the story, I got so attached to the characters the way you do with a show that you submerge yourself in a series, and I loved most of the songs they featured. (*SPOILER ALERT* I also love how the very last scene of the series showed the entire cast and crew on stage at The Ryman, with series creator Callie Khouri thanking viewers and the City of Nashville for a great 6 years making the series. It was very cool to see something like that type of appreciation. *SPOILER ALERT OVER*) I love most songs I hear, but when they're used in a story, I feel that extra connection. This song has been sitting with me a lot lately. Ashley Monroe and Sarah Siskind did a fantastic job writing one of the most humble songs I've ever heard. This week, I'm needing some uplifting songs. I'm sure a lot of people are. This is a great song about home, rather than dreaming about reaching for the stars.
"Gonna take what scares me the most, and turn it into something real."
It's been a while since I've posted anything here. Truth is, I've just figured out how I want to execute this blog and get the most out of it. As I write this, we're in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, I spend most nights not even realizing I haven't gone to bed until the Sun comes up, and I'm riding a pendulum between alright and fucking miserable. Since I posted the news on Facebook and Instagram as it happened, it probably won't be terrible to write about it here, on my actual website. Natalie and I had an amazing baby girl named Annabella on March 14th. Although we were prepared for what was going to eventually happen on March 17th, it was absolutely soul crushing when she passed away. Butch Walker's album, "Afraid of Ghosts" is one of my all-time favourite albums, it also happens to be mostly inspired by his Dad passing away. I can't stop listening and humming the title track, so a few nights ago....well, at about 7am a few mornings ago...I made a cover video.
This is "Afraid of Ghosts" from Butch Walker's album of the same name.
"Days Like This Come Often"
I woke up one morning, full of doubt about my work and my self-worth. I find being creative and constructive always helps me clear the fog from around me. So I started writing what turned out to be this song and posted a video on Facebook. It had a great reception from people who related to the song. My producer Iain McNally, who was working with me on my album "The Moonshine" at the time, thought it would be a great addition to the album, so we decided to add it as the last track. I always thought it would be great to try this concept for a music video, so I took some time to reach out and collect some clips from folks I'm connected with and I'm most happy with the diversity of these signs.
© 2018 ChevyCat Music
Written by Chris Strei
Music by Chris Strei & Iain McNally
"A smattering of Tragically Hip in there as if they were doing a new country song."
- Big Rude Jake.
I've already done a feature on this song, so this blog post will likely be pretty short. As I mentioned in my earlier post, this is a can't walk away kind of love song. Some people go crazy not being able to get out every weekend or need they're coffee every day or else they can't function. I don't know what I would do if I couldn't play or make music. That's what this song is about. There have been many times when I thought I wanted to give up on music, turns out I just needed a break from music as a business. You can visit my acoustic video if you'd like more of the story.
© 2018 ChevyCat Music
Written by Chris Strei
Music by Chris Strei & Iain McNally
Chris Strei: Lead Vocal, Acoustic Guitar, High String
Iain McNally: Electric Guitars, Bass, Shaker, Banjo, Tambourine
Rick Roach: Drums, Background Vocals
Jay Riehl: Background Vocals
Janna Leduc: Background Vocals
Prison Bound Man
"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go."
- T. S. Eliot
I usually make come silly comment like, "Although I haven't been to prison yet..." and then hold for a moment to allow some laughter or something. It's true though, although I haven't quite made it to prison yet, I wrote a song called "Prison Bound Man". I used to worry at first if people would think I was playing some part, which is one of the reasons I made the attempt to grow a beard. I feel like both have worked out pretty well. This is kind of my "Folsom Prison Blues", because although I haven't been to prison yet, neither had Johnny Cash when he wrote "Folsom Prison Blues". I have met with the police more times and a couple of those times I thought I was going for at least a night. Harmless things like speeding, parking tickets, and getting caught with a beer in a place where I probably should've kept the cap on it...more than once. I've somehow managed to avoid wearing handcuffs, but not without thinking that was going to change because of my ambition to seemingly push my luck. Although most stories from my early 20's would likely keep me out of any public office, those stories aren't bad enough to not laugh at now. With a little bit of extra inspiration from Chris Stapleton's "Midnight Train to Memphis"; a song about going to jail for not paying a fine. I had some inspiration to run with and "Prison Bound Man" was born. I have no clue how the I came up with the guitar piece though. It just kinda happened.
Love You Anyhow
I like to summarize this song as an song about unconditional love. That would be most accurate if I were to describe the song's sentiment in two words.
The journey with this song, in my opinion, is rich. I debuted it in Stouffville at the Guinness World Record Longest Running Concert, went on to play it at The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville that August, placed second in an NSAI Chapter Challenge for a publishing deal with Ole, then played it with Dayna Manning in Stratford. This song is attached to so many cool memories for me.
I wrote this song near the beginning of 2017, around the same time as "Moonshine". 2017 was kind of a shitty year, musically. Things weren't meant to work out for me until near the very end. I'm more mature and confident to be open about it now and say how I failed to execute everything I aspired for. If you fast forward though, it's exactly what was supposed to happen. This was also the timeline that caused me to start making my exit from the music scene I grew up with in Brantford. Don't get me wrong, there were (and still are) plenty of good people there who support the hell out of me. Life didn't think I needed them around at that time though and wanted me to strive for something out of my comfort zone. I've had a very oscillating relationship with music and at the end of that year was when I found myself having to rebuild again. I've survived band break ups all because my name was in the band name, band break ups because I wasn't being diligent enough to do all the foot work because we had a band name rather than it being my band, and this time I had the rug pulled out from under me at my only two regular bookings. It hurt like hell, but I always remember The Simpsons saying how the Chinese word is the same for crisis and opportunity. From anything I've found, that's not true, but I like the sentiment so I endorse it. I ended up being asked to open for The Trews that December. It wasn't a big break or anything, but after being chosen from a few submissions, this gig made me start truly believing in myself to put a real effort into building a career. I started learning more about the music industry and getting more connected with artists and writers that are in the music industry. It's been interesting to watch this new path unfold, I've met some incredible people who have become friends, associates, or both. I've also invested the time and energy on taking chances just to see what happens.
"What lies ahead I have no way of knowin'."
- Tom Petty
"Time To Move On" from the album "Wildflowers"
Timbercreek is song about goodbyes. It was at one of the many times that my life with Natalie changed in order for us to be in a better position. In 2016, as our heads were just above water, we found ourselves enough hard luck to sink us completely and have to move on from an apartment that we turned into such a comfortable home. Movie nights, fights, make ups, songwriting, and just growing together and becoming more acquainted. It was a sentimental process with a few trips down memory lane. These lyrics are a bit more specific than I think I meant for them to be, but at the same time, I meant for it to be autobiographical like most of my songs are. So I hope you like our little love story.
This song wasn't actually planned to be in this group of songs. I originally told Iain I wanted to have an EP ready for my BlackBird Tour. We ended up running out of time because of work schedules, so we decided it would be a better idea to take our time and get the best product we possibly could. Then I remembered "Timbercreek" - along with some others that I had put on the backburner - and started thinking it would be fun to add more songs and make it an album.
"I, I, I wanna get out of this one horse town by the moonshine, yeah. By The Moonshine (on BandCamp)"
I think sometimes, when you need a vacation, you really just need to decompress. Go for a late night drive. Maybe even park somewhere secluded, or semi-secluded, and just sit and stare out the windshield with nothing but the glow of the car radio. I love late night drives. I love the night. One night in 2017, life was feeling awful and when life feels bad I like to get out on the road. So I headed for the car with Natalie on a Thursday night. Grabbed 5 cans of beer (drank 2 in total) because it was the night before pay day and we only had money for a 5 pack, and we parked on the side of the road behind the Brantford airport. It was great, it was just us, the country music on the radio, the full moon, and no where to be. I'd love to say that my music transcends to deeper cause than reflecting or painting a picture, but I can't. I write most of my songs when I need to journal about something and then I dissect them on here. I love that this song really paints the picture of that night, and I love the tweaks that Iain McNally made to the chord progression.