Horror Movies gave me hope...yeah.


With the Halloween season upon us, and a hiatus from my performance and personal songwriting on the horizon (more on that in another blog), I couldn't help but take more than my usual passing glance at the TV to catch some of the great B-rated horror movies and franchises on the various cable channels. I was definitely one of those kids who had a passive-aggressive love of the genre, finding myself enraptured with movies like "Friday, the 13th," and then being unable to leave the TV room for fear of some unknown undead assailant lurking near the bathroom. Needless to say, it only got worse (or better, LOL) as the years wore on; my nightmares did too, but I was able to control them. I think.

I've always had a penchant for all things macabre. The fact that one of my favorite authors is Stephen King should give you a basic idea of where my head is at when it comes to preferred literature on my downtime. With movies, it's the same. Maybe it's my love of music & the imagination that draws me to the scary and fantastical, who can say? Whatever the reason, that fetish reared its head over the past few weeks via movies & Pop culture pseudo-psycho killers. But the reason this blog came about is because of two specific behind-the-scenes documentaries, and their impact on my music.

Me being the nerd that I am, alongside watching the movies being shown, I did a little YouTube research about the origins of two of the biggest horror franchises in American film history; specifically, the stories behind the making of "Friday, the 13th" and "A Nightmare on Elm Street." I love hearing about the nitty-gritty that goes into turning an artistic idea into a tangible product. But I was taken aback at several points of the documentaries. Not only taken aback, but inspired.

Without going into too much detail, what struck me about these first films was the guerilla-style work that went into getting them budgeted, financed, filmed, and distributed. Anyone who knows anything about these horror titans and their movies knows that they are currently owned and handled by New Line Cinema. What lesser-learned filmgoers might not know is that New Line, at its heart, was a low-level fledgling production company that happened upon Wes Craven's script for "Nightmare," and later acquired the "Friday" franchise. There are accounts of Bob Shaye, New Line Cinema's former CEO and the man behind the first "Nightmare," being so stressed about getting money for the movie and then getting it finished, that he bit his nails past their ends to the point of bloodiness.

Likewise, the kind of conditions that the actors and crew went through on the set of "Friday the 13th" were probably some of the poorest and roughest of any set. Betsy Palmer, the brave woman who played disillusioned maternal killer Mrs. Voorhees, took the role simply to help pay for a new car (a Volkswagen Shirako), hoping against hope that the film would fall into B-movie obscurity. Over time, she learned to accept the fan-dubbed title, "Queen of the Slashers." "Friday" was a hodge-podge of over-acting post-teens, fake blood, cheap spring-loaded camping bunks...and yeah, Kevin Bacon. The result? One of the US's hugest and most popular horror films off all time.

The reason why these accounts translated to my work in music boils down to these memories of their conception. I think it's easy for many of us struggling on the "C & D Lists" of the industry to get discouraged, put-off, and blindsided by the images of music celebrity success. On a more visceral level, those of us on the creative side of the fence can become dissuaded to continue our work when we see writers, producers, and personnel flaunting their ease at getting work and subsequent fame in the business. Let's face it, I can't lie about feeling slight twinges of envy when I see folks like Rodney Jerkins tweeting about his back-to-back sessions and chart-topping hits. But now, having watched these horror film documentaries, I've gleaned a little more hope for myself.

Seeing the accounts of these movies and their histories has reminded me that none of us, wherever we are with this passion in music, starts out with super-prodigy-like artistic genius (OK, OK, Mozart & Beethoven are exceptions, LOL). Nor do they start out with astronomical budgets, award-winning music, or a stocked curriculum vitae. We all start small, with an idea, a dream, and a drive. Many of us who write or produce begin with a home setup and work out of it for extended periods of time before we ever see the inside of a professional studio (and at the rate that the pro studios are closing, who knows when that will be for the next wave of creators?). As a college-trained classical vocalist, I didn't receive a full operatic role until the Fall semester of my fourth year, and in most conservatories, major roles are usually only given out to graduate students.

The end of this story, if anything, is to give you, faithful reader and/or musician, the same hope that was passed to me through this journey through the horror idiom. Whatever your dream, whatever your passion, do not feel bad that you're on a lower rung of the ladder of success than someone else. You have my guarantee that that person above was once where you were in some shape or form. If what you do has integrity and you are willing to put in the work, then enjoy these "C & D-List" moments; they will be some of the most treasured experiences in your journey towards your goals. And who knows, maybe you'll be the person featured on the soundtrack for "Freddy vs. Jason part IX!" Hey, one can dream, right?


Happy Birthday John Lennon


Were the circumstances different, musician & revolutionary thinker John Lennon would've been 70 years old today. The dream of a world at peace is one I won't ever give up. Happy Birthday John.


Imagine there's no Heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one


An Open Reply to an Open Letter

Recently, Hip-Hop artist and staple, Nas, sent an open letter to the executives at Def Jam, expressing his disgust and frustration with their lack of attention to his project and his brand.

You'll need to read it to understand my response, so to do that, CLICK HERE :-).

This was the comment I wanted to post, but it was obviously too long. So here goes.

As someone who has been a fan of Nas since my introduction into Hip-Hop Music in '98, I'm sad to see something like this open letter be the last straw for him in 2010. I've said in posts of my own that traditional controversy should end with a press release, and it seems that Nas is at his wit's end, hence this letter. The real question that needs some research is: Why has it come to this point?

I feel that what is taking place is an "Everybody's Fault" situation. On the executive side of the table, we have LA Reid and his band of music business pundits, trying to steer what is the essentially sinking ship that is Def Jam records. Mind you, this ship is sinking in a sea of toxic waters known as the music industry. Having realized all this, the upper brass at the labels and media corporations are doing whatever they can to salvage their profit; the difference here is, unlike non-entrainment companies & the financial sector, they refuse to cut their losses (i.e. cutting down their roster, reeling in miscellaneous spending, etc.) and instead have chosen to eke out whatever money can be had with whomever is working for them & whatever product is up for purchase. Everyone knows that artists on a record label roster are a tax break for the company, and so we have a contractual and financial deadlock, one that the personnel at the labels are unwilling to break, even if it was for the betterment of the industry as a whole.

From the perspective of the artist, Nas is faring no better with his career decisions. What he seemingly fails to realize - or is unwilling to utilize - is that Def Jam or no Def Jam, he himself is still a brand. Nas the Rapper is one of the most prolific and well-known artists to come out of Rap, and has been arguably considered one of the best in the past 15 years of an almost 35-year genre. Instead of bemoaning & griping about the obvious underhanded business practices of the music industry, FIGHT FOR YOUR BRAND. Prince, an artist who is a champion for freedom of musical expression and good business, has shown that one can prove to the labels the power of the artist & what they can achieve outside of the confines of corporate music contracts. As someone who has helped to define Hip-Hop music, Nas needs take similar steps at playing an active, administrative, and effective role in doing the same thing, REGARDLESS of whether the label is in agreement with this role. The effectiveness of internet promotion, viral campaigns, photo campaigns, viral music releases, and artist-to-peer-to-fan marketing has proven to be something that one can not only do for FREE, but can also be exponentially effective at creating an artistic & business success. If all of this is already going on and not working for Nas and his camp, then this dude needs to gather up his crew & come up with a new game plan. Now.

Ultimately, I wish all parties well and hope that some solution can be worked out, but I doubt it. Without knowing the details of his contract, I'm sure Nas is locked into a situation that only a rash legal battle will resolve, should he choose to step away from the Def Jam family. But what everyone needs to realize is that these are the types of results we are going to get if we continue to let a business that is supposed to be about music (a gift, not a right) be consumed by it's own poor business. I most certainly agree that Karma and universal reciprocity will provide the true justice that some of these industry thieves deserve, but that same Karma will not work in your favor until you make a move to call that favor to you.

Just some thoughts.

P. Murray


A Bit of a Rant

Sorry guys, couldn't help myself with this one! Read from the bottom up. For those on my Facebook page, this one is easier to read. LOL.


Speak On iT!


I rarely post something non-music on the text blog, but this one stood out. Whoever this was couldn't be more right. My Uncle is a Catholic Priest and would tell you the same thing. Let's stop committing intellectual suicide and listen to our instinct as well as our beliefs.