Clear Cut Music

We all have an opus in us. All one need do is drag, push or pull it out. That’s the solitary part—the cutting off one’s ear part. The art part.   At any rate, here’s an early look at my “Magnum Opie” and I hope you hear something you like. If not, like the working title of the project “There’s Nothing Here” says… :-)

The tracks here aren’t available as a CD, they’re an online music offering that is always evolving. Many of the tunes above are being arranged and will be re-recorded for an upcoming CD release, release date unknown. It’ll be ready when I’m happy with it. Which means all the early scratch/work tracks are free!

About the Songs

Pretzel Logic * (3MB)
Cover of timeless Steely Dan tune. Tuning: DADGCF

Planet Turning Brown (4.5MB)
Here’s the alternate “rock” version: Planet Turning Brown (4.5MB)

Two arrangements of a an environmental song I’m liking so far. We’ll see which treatment ends up on the project.

All My Life * (3.4MB)
Written by Pat Donohue, the guitarist in the Prairie Home Companion orchestra, Guy’s All Star Shoe Band. One of the world’s greatest fingerstyle guitar players specializing in jazz and blues, he has also written some beautiful ballads.

Stationary * (6MB)
September 15, 2006: Written by the fabulously wonderful singer-songwriter Susan Werner. Well, my sister doesn’t like it because she’s a Susan Werner fan already. She’s heard the original. But hey it was a challenge and I learned a lot trying to put it all together.

No Choice * (3MB)
February 2012: In the depths of a particularly difficult winter here in outer Montana, I became aware of Buddy Mondlock. I was knocked out and had to learn this tune.

All God’s Critters * (6MB)
September 14, 2006: All God’s Critters was written by one of folk music’s true living legends, Bill Staines. He happens to play a right handed acoustic guitar upside down better than anyone. And he yodels great too. Thanks for this great song and so many more, Bill.

Woodstock * (4.8MB)
July 18, 2006: Joni Mitchell’s Anthem for My Generation, Redux. It sounds somehow more authentic in a minor key given how climate and geopolitical events are unfolding in our sad world – courtesy of this generation’s failure to honor or heed the laws of nature, and mostly, our failure to deliver on our cherished “acid test” promises to love each other unconditionally and reach for the deepest possible understanding of life, no matter where it leads, including a cleaner better world at peace. All instruments played by me, one take only.

Big Easy Town (4.6MB)
July 3, 2006: Nice Nawlins feel to this song. Some of the words have changed since this early take, as well as the arrangement, but toe well. Hope you like it enough to go spend some tourist dollars in the French Quarter because it may not be around as long as we would all like to think. I played the guitar, banjo, bass and drums..and of course I’m the writer of the song. I look forward to recording it with real live musicians for the upcoming CD release.

Where’s My Money? (2.8MB)
July 3, 2006: Early look at this song in a scratch phase, with Mike Henderson on bass. Sorry I’m not more of a drummer…

It Hurts Me Too (2.8MB)
July 3, 2006: By the great, late blues heavyweight, Elmore James. One take only, with Mike Henderson on bass.

Lefty’s Knife (2MB)
A completely different arrangement and lyric of Singers Working Nights. Sort of a Texas songwriter story treatment…

Dark Force (4MB)
The American Dream; remember that? Murdered by Demolican Republicrats.

Singers Working Nights (1.7MB)
Folk rap about the eerie life of a working musician. A throw down to the inattentive audience. Yes, it happens. Enjoy.

Hurricane Wind
A song in progress about Hurricane Katrina, and dedicated to my late mother, who predictably refused to evacuate, even though her home was less than a half mile from the beach. It was a wild ride.

Whatever you’ve seen, heard or read about Katrina’s destruction, it was worse. Obliteration is a far better descriptor. I was in Gulfport visiting with my mother and sister before, during and after the storm, if that makes any difference. It was a profoundly sad, moving experience (no pun intended) and with damage that will be felt for decades in the Deep South. We were lucky to survive and since I’m back in Montana and not facing the awful truth down there, I’ve felt the need to at least write a song about listening to the weatherman when the next big blow happens!

Smoke and Mirrors (4MB)
A true-to-life jazz lamentation of love won and lost.

Unreal Love (3MB)
A song in progress. I love you is such a rich cliche, especially when you really feel it.

In Outer Montana (7MB) In Outer Montana Alternate version (5.65MB)
(September, 2004) A song in progress that sums up life so far in outer Montana…indeed one of the last best places in America. Now in two distinct flavors. And no, I didn’t hurt myself with the chainsaw.

I’m My Own Grandpa (3.5 MB)
Written by Moe Jaffe and Dwight Latham, 1947. I learned this song (actually quite a few songs) from Hardin Davis, a well known folky and musical godfather in Utah.

You Don’t Know Me (3.5 MB)
Written by Eddie Arnold. One of the greatest love songs…

The Ace (6MB)
Written by the Red Clay Ramblers and performed by notsolonesome me, direct to hard disk in mp3 format. Enjoy or cringe… This song captures the way we all doubtless felt and acted as young folk back when hormones were raging, the best girls were “hard to get” and brains were scarcer than money. I learned this song from Hardin Davis, a former employer and great singer-guitar player at Acoustic Music in Salt Lake City.

Kind Hearted Woman (6.5MB)
Robert Johnson’s timeless blues is deceptively difficult to play and sing. After all, I am white, live in a house that’s paid for, and nobody’s trying to poison me that I know of. But it’s fun to dig deep for the falsettos and keep the guitar churning at the same time.

Christmas in the Trenches (6MB)
Written by the one and only John McCutcheon, who I had the pleasure of presenting in concert a couple of times. Based on a true story, as timeless as war is senseless.

Howl at the Moon (5MB)
A bleak tome indeed, Howl at the Moon was written in a couple of days and recorded in my studio (Nowhere Studios) in 1993. This song was #7 in “Folk Utah” a compilation of songs done by local songwriters, also produced by me. It is out of print, but I do have a few dozen or so copies left if you want to purchase one. You might not like this tune because it doesn’t make one’s tail wag…which was and continues to be the intent. Thanks to the great Steve Wesson for the eerie-good fretless bass.

The rest of the recording is better music really…but that didn’t stop one Salt Lake City music critic, William Athey, from selecting Howl at the Moon as the best song on the album. The lyrics contain some vivid images about slaughtering and merchandising anything “with eyes” in the age of hyperglut, and because I love everybody, being a run of the mill American hypocrite (who me?) who likes…”the taste while dining upwind from the smell.”

Where Do The Children Play * (3MB)
A cover of Cat Stevens that I’ve always loved.

A Showman’s Life * (2.8MB)
The late Jesse Winchester was a brilliant, if painfully shy, songwriter and performer. I opened a show for him way back in 1992 or so in Jackson, Mississippi, and he blew the room away when he did this song.

About the Tunes

Baby Steps (2MB)
A short but aerobic musical jaunt on 12 string.

Smedley’s March (4MB)
Original improvisation. “Smedley” is my imaginary butler who will happily and with great pluck march across deserts and oceans (and even cut glass) to bring me what I want out of life. I love Smedley, he’s a trooper.

Little Martha (4.2MB)
Duane Allman and Dicky Betts wrote and performed this acoustic instrumental as a duo nearly 35 years back now. This is a hard tune to play solo! For keener ears, there is a small digital edit toward the end of the piece…

Vignettes: a series of short instrumentals in “Orkney” tuning (CGDGCD):

A Reason To Smile (3MB)
Silly As Love Can Be (2.5MB)
Spanish Fly (2.5MB)
Rubato Morning (2.5MB)
Spanish Fork (3MB)

Guitar and Didgeredoo Improvisations by Jay Toups and Aaron Lebowitz

If Pigs Could Fly
Requiem for a Place
Funky Kangaroo
Sneaky Pete

On Broadway Short version (2MB)
Written by Cynthia Weil, Barry Mann, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, first performed by the Drifters, and later popularized by George Benson. Here’s a rough, short cut of an instrumental arrangement I’ve been working on.

Radio Blur (5.2MB)
Now here’s something you don’t hear everyday: a new recording of an original composition performed in reverse using computer-aided wizardry.

Recording Notes

As you may notice, some of the files have background hums and pops, and others have timing issues, mainly because I’m not a time robot. It isn’t perfect but it is pure me in the musical buffedness! And hearing the tunes as they take shape is not something that happens everyday. So it’s a unique opportunity to hear the progression of the tunes from early drafts to finished works.

If you enjoy the music, please leave a comment. And if you’re really a psycho-philanthropist looking for good causes, please feel free to make a generous gesture of support for my future musical endeavors.

Files should automatically stream (play) in your brower’s embedded player or computer’s media player, provided you have it configured, and the bandwidth (or patience) to receive multi-megabyte files. You can also save files to your desktop and listen to them later (Best way to hear mp3 files for dialup users.)

Stay tuned to Clear Cut Music, where everything’s muddy because we make it that way.

©2017 Jay Toups. All commercial rights reserved. Other copyrighted songs credited with an asterisk are the property of their respective holders.

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