Woke up This Morning – A Dystopian Nightmare


this was recorded in studio circa 1999 and was entirely an ad-lib session.

woke up this morning

dreams in my head

moment of silence

welcome my friend dread

my passions escape me

this weight that I bear

so damn used up

compromise all my cares

nobody gets near me

cause I push them away

spend all my time

acting like I’m okay

I know this seems wrong

but I’m blind in this haze

worries and troubles

push you down all the way

don’t want no trouble

don’t want to make me cry

don’t want self-pity

don’t want to tell myself lies

ask myself questions

look myself in the eyes

do I come up empty-handed?

sell myself alibis?

like the sun that shines on me

I’ll rise up one day

look back on these moments and forget all this pain

but for now I’ll just grieve

loss of my better sense

pack up my innocence and send it away

why can’t you save me

save me from myself

this monster I created by myself

this poor helpless soul

this motherless soul

A Song in the Heart

Have you ever listened to the radio when a song you haven’t heard in some time begins to play, and you are suddenly brought back to a time when you formed very fond memories of those around you when the song was popular?  The years instantly peel away and you again get swept up in the emotional memories that flood you with every word sung as the melody takes you back transforming your mood.

I remember thinking back to times when I’ve met people in my life that made me notice them and galvanized me enough to remember them with warm heartfelt memories that always leave with me an affectionate smile.  We may have parted company many years ago, but they sometimes occupy my thoughts as they are still a part of me to this day.  It is precisely these people who I hold dear to me for they have imparted with me a bond that remains enduring due to the connection held.  The connection I speak about holds important elements that keep it memorable and are sometimes overlooked in many of our relationships.

For me they included ingredients of trust, empathy, respect, and another emotive quality I cannot really verbalize.  Perhaps it is a recognition in the other person that possibly shares a similar attribute that we have.  Or it is seeing them for who they truly are with appreciative eyes.  The connection does not always mean there was a romance involved, but that something else was factored into the bond when it was formed.  Maybe they entrusted you with something very personal that touched your heart and forever changed the way you looked at them.

One of my life’s passion’s was to play music, write and sing songs.  I am able to express myself on a deeper level than just by speech alone.  The music taps into something profound within all of us when we allow it to do so.  I have on occasion written songs for people who meant much to me.  The feelings I felt and the emotional connection I sustained drew upon the way I experienced the other person.  I found that the music always came first before the inspiration of the lyric developed because the music was the emotive architecture that arose from the heart.  Creating the sound scape was essential for me to craft something meaningful.  On occasion I would just write the music not yet having any lyrics written.  Sometimes I would just leave it as an instrumental.  I have tapes and tapes of old material I never fully developed.  A complete and well crafted song does sometimes include lyrics when there is a story behind the song to be told.

Prior to creating my music, I (as many others) have a soundtrack to life’s special moments.  These moments would usually occur by association, having certain songs bond to my memory, and of course having an affinity to the songs would touch me allowing for the deeper connection to occur.  Whether it be the music, the words, or whether it be both, these songs will forever imprint their charm upon my memory.  We love many songs, and appreciate the immense catalogs of music in our lives, but for me, there are few such examples of truly enchanting songs that are very close to my heart.  When you can again experience and touch the positive energy that is created from these happenings, you will find that these connective forces vibrate similar positive frequencies existing in the universe.  This may sound something disseminating from a new age philosophy, but it is in alignment to what the ancient mystics and Quantum Mechanics purport.  These disciplines have a different language to express their principles, but they have very similar semantic structures that are more alike than not.

When these songs are heard again, they can bring me back to an immediate experience that is both profound and nostalgic since they are bound to fond memories that again live in my mind.


I ask the reader; what are the songs in your catalog that takes you to another place, brings you to another time, or replenished your soul with the joy in the memory of another person close to you or once close to you?  We can form these memories and bonds that take on a life of their own.  I believe we have an ability to make associations with people with kindred spirits, and I believe the ability to connect to this essence within them just may be responsible for our remarkable and curious closeness to them.  Songs can touch us in some very enigmatic ways for reasons that our logic cannot give any clear answers for.  But in the heart, there is no need to explain any reasoning, we just feel it, and that is all that is needed to calm our vexations.  It matters not to us because we are complete in the experience we receive when these feelings arise.  We are better for having them, as they lead us to some cherished moments from our bygone history.

A song in the heart can mend a thousand thoughts.  So I say to the reader, think on this…..No, I redact that…. let your heart sustain and maintain your being!

  The heart of the fool is in his tongue; the tongue of the prudent is in his heart.



“Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes. Because for those who love with heart and soul there is no such thing as separation.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Ballads and Other Poems
Fyodor Dostoyevsky

“A fool with a heart and no sense is just as unhappy as a fool with sense and no heart.”
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Idiot
Edith Hamilton

“The mind knows only what lies near the heart.”
Edith Hamilton, Mythology
Friedrich Nietzsche

“One ought to hold on to one’s heart; for if one lets it go, one soon loses control of the head too.”
Friedrich Nietzsche
Blaise Pascal

“The heart has its reasons which reason knows not.”
Blaise Pascal

The Sounds from 347 South Marshall

Toxic Music Studios

The year is 1998, the place is an old office above my drummers work (later dubbed: “Toxic Music Studios” or simply just “The Studio”); then known as superior pool supply in an industrial complex in El Cajon which we rented out every month.  A place where we practiced and recorded, for the band that was astutely named “Intoxicated”.  The name stuck from playing around pubs near San Diego State University, as the students would often give us their enthusiastic salutations under the influence of their favorite pints.  Thus the name “Intoxicated” became somewhat of a Trademark for us.  The “studio” we practiced in was across from a trolley station which enabled us to play as loud as we wished at all hours of the night due to the lack of anyone complaining about the music from the street below.  We would sometimes get visitors from the trolley station patrons that entered the stairwell below and walk up to peer into an opened door where we played and get a glimpse of where the music was coming from.  Our musical sets were diverse for that time, sometimes playing very loud as mentioned, but many times we had a quieter side, a melodic side that did not need a large volume of amplification.  It wasn’t the standard list of songs bands would do during those years.  We took some risks, but stayed mainly close to the songs we thought we could do fairly well.  We played what we liked, and really the “top 40” that commercial bands at the time would play, as we diverged by playing songs that many bands did not play.

Part of the fun was playing loud.  It is something that cannot easily be accomplished these days due to the places where a band can play.  Unless you have a sound-proofed garage, a studio that you rent in a sound proof complex(expensive), or some other remote area to perform (without any objections from neighbors), then you could bust loose and play without fear of noise pollution.  The amount of time to set up and break down takes effort, and if you rented a place you wanted to make sure it was secure, that you did not have to move any equipment every time you wanted to play, and that you had no restrictions to play after regular business hours.  So the idea of playing in a converted office above a commercial building in a remote area with no residential inhabitants sounded like the perfect place to set up.  Even if it was only once a week, we had a great time.

347 South MarshallWe had gone through several band member changes for the years we were together.  Some moved out-of-town, got new jobs and could not commit to the time any longer, and others just moved on to different things.  But overall we just loved to play.  When recruiting for other players we lost, I found other friends that also had a passion for playing music.  Personally I became a better guitar player, a better songwriter, and a better singer after playing with these guys.  From the beginning we may not have been the best at our instruments at the time, but we all showed a great deal of improvement through the years.  I think that has something to do with our passion and love of playing.  Having quality instruments was also huge.  The instruments we accumulated also seemed to trend with our enthusiasm.  At one time we had a complete organ, not just a keyboard that could emulate the organ sounds, but an actual Hammond B-3 organ.  Man that was a pain in the ass trying to move this from gig to gig, or even up and down the stairwell of our studio every time we had to move it.  I can say it did start some controversial conversations between why we needed a Hammond B-3!  I started with an Ibanez Artist hollow-body guitar, only to buy a Gibson ES335 studio, a Paul Reed Smith custom 22 top, and finally an American Fender Fat Stratocaster with Seymour Duncan pickups.  Not to mention all the guitar effects, P.A. equipment and sound system effects along with my Peavy 212 renown and finally  my Mesa Boogie Mark IV amp.  Man I guess I was in it for the endorphin release.  My favorite outlet was music.  It was how I could express myself.

We were a democratic band, but I must admit that if one of us wanted to do something, we all usually just went along.  Playing a particular song for instance, or playing a party gig we would usually support.  We started with some very modest means in terms of the equipment we used.  We slowly upgraded through the years that we were active.  We never really made any money when we played in public, but we were able to drink all we could drink along with a fair cash payment on services rendered for bringing in patrons to the local bar we happened to play in at the time.  I have to say that somebody suggested we call ourselves “In it for the P*#@y”!  A name we laughed at but did not employ.


Practicing in Toxic Music Studios c. 1998Its interesting when you think of a band and the influences they have on you.  Playing songs that others would suggest that you wouldn’t have thought to play without their comments.  Or maybe its the politics that develop over a time when a band of people come together to perform a united love and past-time.  Sharing musical influences that you like with influences they like doesn’t always sync together without some discussion of what we should play and what we should not play.  Thought must be placed in these decisions.  Just because we liked a song doesn’t mean we could necessarily pull it off given our talent level and our equipment limitations to emulate it, or even give it our own spin.  We found that after we became a tighter band, we were able to read each other better musically, and we could put our own “sound” upon a standard classic.  But there were times that we did not do the song any justice at all, even though the song itself was a great song.  Bands have to be their own critic’s before they try to perform a song that may not be right for them.  What would be a crowd pleaser and what would be very questionable for us to try had to be decided.  Could one of us sing it like them, or would we sing out of range?  It took some time to develop just what kind of band we would be.

Intoxicated My vision narrowed us down to playing more originals and the ranges when we did do covers, and for the most part I wrote original songs that I was happy to play with the band because they became our songs!  They defined us in more ways than just being able to play a popular song well, but playing a song we wrote ourselves.  Most of the influential music I liked was blues-rock based and had a huge impact on me when performing.  I was very passionate about some of the material we played.  Simply because I was proud of it.  Sometimes Clarke my keyboardist and rhythm guitar player begin a riff that he used while trying to do a blues jam, I would spontaneously come up with lyrics while jamming to it, and later we would turn it into an original song.  Other times I would introduce a song I had written playing it alone for them while they got the idea.  We would then all come together with our parts on the song as it took shape and form.  A team effort with everyone including the Bassist Dan, and the drummer Tony filling in with their parts they created.

Rotating Colored Christmas Lights!“Amanda”
Don Williams

I’ve held it all inward
Lord knows I’ve tried
It’s an awful awakenin’
In a country boy’s life
To look in the mirror
In total surprise
At the hair on your shoulders
And the age in your eyes.
Amanda light of my life
Fate should have made you a gentle man’s wife
Amanda light of my life
Fate should have made you a gentle man’s wife.Well the measure of people
Don’t understand
The pleasures of life
In a hillbilly band
I got my first guitar
When I was fourteen
Now I’m crowding thirty
And stillwearin’ jeans.[Chorus]

The song above reminds me much of those times.  I refer to the parts in the main lyric in each verse.  The pleasure of playing in a band can be very rewarding.  Singing a fair number of songs in this band I somewhat worked myself up into an alpha role within the band.  Writing the originals, singing the stuff I liked gave me a very enthusiastic performance level when we did it well, and placed me into a forefront place inside the band.  Only Tony was in the band before me being an original founding member.  I came into the band’s second generation a little later after they formed.  I was the “new guy” that could sing in higher ranges than some of the other guys and could play decent lead guitar.  As time developed, we changed players, and my role increasingly became more central as our song base featured more of my vocals.
Most of us were family men who on a part-time basis played for a few hours every week at the studio.  The rest of our free time was devoted to the wives, girlfriends, or children depending on the time we had all known each other during the later part of the decade and the earlier part of the next.
Boogie-Rock Band Intoxicated
“The more you drink, The better we Sound!”

The commitment to play under these conditions can be taxing on one’s life.  Sometimes we could not arrange schedules to play that week.  But when we made it, we made it.  We were hobbyist’s anyway.  There is nothing like performing for other people.  Playing songs you enjoy as well as others, seeing them appreciate what you play is second to none.



Outside in the Rain

The poring rain, a storm of summer rain befalling me as I gaze up into the sky.  A rain storm that drenched my body with warm summer drops, and in the excitement of this happening I stay outside in the rain.  I remember a time when I was just a boy, when a sudden storm immediately drenched my body as I remain outside splashing in the streets.  One of my favorite band songs to play also had this theme…

I’m outside in the rain

my mama tells me to come inside

I tell her no I’ve just got to lead my own life  Ah Yeah

And now I’m out on my own

I’ve never been so far from home

Its kind of strange but the answers to life are out there

I know

I’m outside in the rain

And I feel the same

I’m getting older now

I’ll find it somehow

the times are getting tough

People I meet they just come and go

I tell my friends that I’ve got to live on my own now

Ah Yeah

The years and years go by

I keep on searching but I don’t know why

If there’s an answer I hope I find it before I die


I’m outside in the rain

And I feel the same

I’m getting older now

I’ll find it somehow


I’m outside in the rain

And I feel the same

I’m getting older now

I’ll find it somehow

I’m outside in the rain

my mama tells me to come inside

I tell her no I’ve just got to lead my Oh -own life


I’m outside in the rain

And I feel the same

I’m getting older now

I’ll find it somehow

Outside in the Rain:
Words and Music: Rob Cleland & Todd Armer

The Genesis of A Passion


My earliest memory of playing guitar for the very first time was when I was only a small boy back in the nineteen sixties.  I sat inside that small neighborhood garage on Ridgeview Drive all those years ago, sitting with my childhood friends Phil and Larry Reeves, their father, and some of their family’s friends.  The recollection is that they would gather neighborhood friends from time to time to play music inside the garage of their house.  I think my brother and I were guests in their home while my mother was having surgery, and my father was overseas fighting the war in Vietnam, where Mr. Reeves was at home recuperating from his injury he sustained on duty.  My mother was in the hospital for what might have been a week, so the Reeves’ would care for us during that time.  We all participated in playing country and gospel music in that small garage on Ridgeview.  We were neighborhood friends, and we spent a great deal of time together during those years my father was away at sea.  The first time I believe I picked up a guitar was when I was only a boy of maybe 7 years old.  Phil and Larry were from Mississippi, and their father was partial to country music.

We the kids watched the adults play various instruments around those country jam sessions back in the sixties.  They had guitars and ukuleles, and possibly a bass guitar in those sessions.  I think there were even both electric and acoustical instruments.  There may have been different instruments but my memory cannot recall what they might have been.  The first song I ever learned was Hank Williams “I Saw the Light”.  My first chord I learned to play on the guitar was an “E” that I learned from playing that song.  I still remember how much fun it was the first time they offered to have me play with them in those sessions.  Mr. Reeves most likely helped us along with the chords, and the rhythm while he sang along to everyone playing in unison.  Funny my concentration was so intense that I don’t remember my brother playing with us, or even Phil and Larry, but they must have been there, and must have participated.  To this day I still recall the ambient sounds we made coming out of that small suburban garage.  The coolness of that evening was offset by the warmness of the company we kept inside.

My memory of having Mrs. Reeves’ hometown influence upon my brother and myself was quite a bit different from my own mothers touch.  When you’re that young and not used to other maternal styles you think nothing of it.  She was a direct women with a strong southern accent, but took good care of us kids.  My father loved country music as well, but my mother liked the more conservative classic songs of the time like Bing Crosby, Dorris Day, and orchestral types.  Memories of watching “The High Chaparral” before going to bed was a highlight for us kids when we stayed over at their house.  Our families were only a few blocks apart, Phil’s age was close to mine as Larry was a bit younger, and my brother was a year older than all of us.  We were childhood friends one does not forget about.  Our fathers both served in the Navy,  we all went to the same school, and we all lived in the same neighborhood.  The few years that we were friends still leaves an enduring impression on me to this day.  Sadly I remember them packing up and leaving town when Mr. Reeves either received new orders or possibly they decided to move back to Mississippi.  I still have the flashback of their Van driving away from me from their home never to see them again.  I once tried to look them up, but had no success.

In those years I considered them my best friends.  I learned to play guitar from that experience and I have never forgotten those childhood years.  I would not have ever guessed that the experience of playing old country songs in a small garage back in the sixties would have had an influence on me for the rest of my life.  I could have never calculated its impact, but isn’t that what makes it special?

Driftin’ Thru


c. 1995
Driftin’ Thru

Well I keep driftin’ thru these empty hours
These empty hours fill my days
Lack of direction, no connection
No decision I make helps me find my way
Where has the passion gone
I don’t belong
Sometimes I wonder just what the hell I’m gonna do
Whoa baby my lack of claim
Lord I’ve lost my way
I’m just driftin’ thru

Wonder what’s gonna change
Before I see my way
I think I’ve already paid my hard earned dues’                                                      Too many times I’ve fought off crimes
Thought I’d seen the last of them troublesome blues

Lord where has the passion gone
I don’t belong
Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever see this thru
My lack of claim
I’ve lost my spirit
I’m just driftin’ thru

Won’t compromise
My resolve I prize
No one’s gonna help me forget and undo
I know you’ve tried
But baby don’t be surprised
When I deny and swear that I never ever burden you

I stand before this world
A worried soul still not cured
I stand before you naked and confused
How long will this heart cry
If I am to survive
A woe so deep within this solemn pew
Where has the passion gone
Lord I don’t belong
Oh Mr pain I just wanna part with you
My lack of claim
I’ve lost my faith
Baby I’m just driftin’ thru