3:07 w t h?

Typically, I listen to music from my iTunes library on “shuffle” mode. That’s my default, which varies depending on the goal at hand (not that listening to music is always attached to a goal).

The songs, however, also can be lined up according their timed lengths, which can alter the way one passes time. “OK, I’ll go down to the pool and listen to 15, four-minute songs to get in an hour of sun.”

When recording the songs for “So Far So Good,” Ronnie Nice and I became conscious of a particular song’s length only if it seemed too short or too long in the demo versions. But for the most part, thanks to the fine example of “lean and mean” set over decades by the Ramones, to name just one of a million bands, we didn’t stress lengthening the songs that happened to clock in at under 3:00.

(And I do single out the Ramones if only to tell the story of how one time I stepped off a bus in some small town on the Argentine and Paraguayan borders – chaperone to a dozen teenagers on a church-sponsored “mission trip” – to encounter a street vendor whose cardboard boxes were full of CDs. Yes, 20 years ago, I still collected CDs.

The arpa (a type of South American guitar) music discs I picked up that day remain among my favorites.

But I also spied a bootlegged Ramones CD. A double-disc, “greatest hits” set, well worth whatever I paid, despite the cheap copy machine artwork and sleeve. Good memory.)

So today I noticed that the first two songs on “So Far So Good” are 3:07 in length. Which made me wonder how many other 3:07 songs I might find in my personal library.

The answer blew me away.

There are 90 songs in my digital music collection that time out at 3:07.

So, the Josephmooon songs, “Floats Boat” and “One Word,” are in good company, along with appropriately great tracks like “Brain Salad Surgery,” by Emerson, Lake and Palmer; Ava Max’s “Sweet But Psycho,” “The Kids Are Alright,” by The Who, “Go With The Flow,” by Queens of the Stone Age, and Nadine Shah’s “Washed Up.”

It’s a four-and-a-half-hour plus playlist.

So, the moral of this story is, don’t worry about listening to a song you might not like very much. It’ll be over in a few minutes. And try to not complain about it, because maybe it’s a song that someone else really enjoys.

Don’t be a bummer.

# # #

not even almost a little bit ‘famous’

My young songwriting partner in Josephmooon, Ronan, is consistently interested in how we can get more “famous.”

“Is so- and-so famous?” he will ask about almost anyone. Sometimes the answer is easy, but there’s a lot of grey area. If I bring up Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy as an example of a songwriter who is known and respected by a large group of music fans, Ro will ask, “Is Jeff Tweedy famous?” So, yes, to a large group of people he is well-known for making a lot of good music over the last 30 years. But does having 10,000, or 20,000, or even 1,000,000 people hanging on your every word make you “famous,” in a land of nearly EIGHT BILLION deserving souls?

Postcard invitation to DVD screening of a Jeff Tweedy Living Room Show.

Compared to Albert Einstein (Ronan’s benchmark example of someone who definitely is “famous”), however, “no so much fans,” as Tweedy’s young nephew once observed in a school report on his not-famous-enough uncle Jeff. That’s trivia for fans of the music that has nothing to do with the music. I guess that’s one definition of being “famous” – other people become interested in EVERYTHING you do, not just the talent that originally drew attention.

And always, I will try to impress upon Ronan that “being famous” should not be a goal. Writing interesting songs, and making interesting music, should be the goals. Then, if the music does attract an audience, you’ll keep writing songs, and as the years go by, more and more people will discover Josephmooon.

That is when you sell ‘em the t-shirts, coffee mugs, and mouse pads,” I jokingly tell Ronan. “After they’re hooked on the music.” It’s a nuanced concept for someone who only knows a world where all of the music ever created is available for listening with a few keystrokes. Where the music, sadly IMO, has become commodified and perhaps indistinguishable from the all of the other merchandising spewed out by the Corporate Music Machine.

Ronan obviously has invested a lot of time identifying products and services that could be attached to the Josephmooon “brand.” Over the last year I’ve created this list of things he has suggested could be affixed with the “Josephmooon” logo [in no particular order]:

Toilet paper

Men’s and women’s underwear

Face masks (Ronan actually did have these made!)  

All apparel (jackets, pants, hats, socks, etc.)


Cars (delusions of DeLorean and Musk)


Fake tattoos (great idea! resources?)



Footwear / sandals


Water bottles

Bathroom fixtures


Personal beauty / makeup



Air pods / headphones (if Dre can have his Beats . . . )

Beds, sheets, pillowcases

Toothpaste (cheese-flavored, of course)

Dog collars and pet accessories



That’s not even the whole list, but hey, PG-13 blog here! Hahaha. But we take the time to discuss each of these items seriously as they come up, and I think it is a good lesson to learn and to be repeated – what and why do you want to associate your BRAND with THAT? I mean, I don’t really want someone using Josephmooon toilet paper. It sends the wrong message.

The same goes with the housewares and appliances – those are bulky to ship, too. And it always returns to the meta-lesson: Without FANS who enjoy the MUSIC, there never can be a DEMAND for all of the other Josephmooon products you might have in mind.

So, go write another song.

# # #

stamina, accuracy

The 2020 Summer Olympic Games offered a delightful distraction to the day’s overarching situation – especially the spellbinding visuals displayed at the opening and closing ceremonies. To this viewer, the combined effect of lighting, projection, pyrotechnics, drones, and music, appeared magical and mystical.

I know, technology, but still, heart and soul always must exist in any creative team endeavor.

Sadly, not all hearts and souls are to be admired. Enjoyment of these spectacles almost certainly is marred by two controversies: the ceremonies’ creative director resigned after suggesting a plus-size female comedian appear as a pig, and a composer for the ceremony exited after old interviews revealed his abuse of disabled schoolmates. Tragic for all involved.

Twitter revealed that one segment of our culture – video gamers – were thrilled that “THEIR MUSIC” comprised a great deal of the opening and closing ceremonies’ soundtracks. It all sounded perfectly global and modern to these ears, an Olympic-sized mixtape, if you will.

How amazing would it be for one of the songs on “So Far So Good” to connect with an Olympian athlete, to inspire a transcendent performance, or simply get them through another routine workout? “High hopes,” indeed, calling to mind the ant and his rubber tree plant.

This week, Josephmooon takes one more small step on its imaginary march to immortality, releasing the song “High In The Sky,” and embarking on a limited strategic campaign that is unlike any I’ve ever done in my long career. It’s all digital, for one thing. Presumably no trees will be harmed in getting the Josephmooon story out to a select group of music journalists, playlist compilers, and other social media influencers, bless ’em all.

However, I can’t guarantee that fossil fuels won’t be burned to generate the electricity necessary to impact those people, to say nothing of the millions we hope to eventually download and stream the songs from “So Far So Good.” Tricky business, being green.

smiles for Biles

Over the weekend (31 July) the Matt Davies (Newsday) commentary you see here appeared in the Bangkok Post ed/op pages (ask your parents). A few days later, this comment appeared in the Post’s “letters to the editor” section:

“I consider the content of that cartoon extremely vicious. Cartoonists who mock mental issues are treading on dangerous ground. I am not an American citizen.”

Well, clearly the writer had misinterpreted the cartoon, so rather than leave other readers with the impression that the cartoon was “vicious,” I offer a different perspective in a letter published in the Post today (3 August):

            The Bangkok Post this week also ran a story from The New York Times regarding a study by the nonprofit, RespectAbility, and Nielsen, the big ratings company. The story had some good news about increased inclusivity in media over the last decade, but the numbers I took away from the story were not so rosy.

According to the report, “about one in every four adults in the United States has a physical or psychological disability.” OK, that’s roughly 25 percent of the adult population. However, only 3,000 out of the 90,000 evaluated movies and TV shows (released over the last century, since 1920) were viewed as having “significant disability themes or content.”

            That’s between 3 and 4 percent. Obviously the industry must do better. The media must do better. We all must do better to understand and celebrate our differences.

two months of prep

In the present moment, with a dozen Josephmooon songs recorded, mixed, mastered, and scheduled for independent release on all streaming and download platforms 1 October, our focus for the next two months turns to those ugly behemoths of commerce – marketing, publicity, and advertising.

For the last decade, these responsibilities largely have been assumed by the independent artist themselves, having neither the backing of a (major) record label staffed with professionals ready to do those jobs, nor the capital to hire freelancers to provide those services.

It is a less than desirable dynamic, and takes precious time away from the musician who likely would be more fulfilled expanding their musical horizons – not stuffing stickers and CDs into bubble wrap envelopes for promotional mailings or, Tweeting about a new Spotify playlist. However, those activities do build character and no artist should feel themselves beneath them.

So, to give the music we’ve created in the last year a little better chance of being heard, we are going to engage help on the publicity side to pitch “our story” to a variety of bloggers and traditional media – newspapers, TV, radio. It is an investment, and one every artist thinks long and hard about before making any decision. And most probably simply don’t have the resources to outsource their publicity. Some are barely putting food in the cupboard and gas in the Econoline.

Sell a few CDs at the gig, a few t-shirts, and voila, taco money!

“High In The Sky” is likely to be an “emphasis track,” as they say in the biz. I think I may have erred and submitted the iTunes information prematurely, without making “High In The Sky” what Apple calls an “instant gratification” track. Oh well, live and learn. And between ISRC codes, DDp files, BMI registration, IPR forms, and a myriad of other formalities, my head hurts.

But THAT is what it takes to be an independent music artist these days. And despite those hurdles, there are still lots of songs connecting with lots of listeners, every hour of every day.

The question remains to be answered – can Josephmooon do it, too?

“How to write a song”

After we’d had four sessions or so, Ronan sent an email summarizing some of the songwriting areas we had discussed. This is a version I’ve edited from his original email.

“For your first song it’s good to have a teacher. In this case you don’t need a teacher, because I’m the teacher.

These are things on how to write a song – the name of the song and the chorus – these are what we will focus on. It’s up to you if there is going to be a melody. You don’t need a melody. Each song you write will be a little different. We are focusing on just one song now.

You can’t just sing the name of the song the entire time. You need to sing other things, too. The lyrics are what you sing, and the chorus is what you sing over and over again. You need to have a chorus. A song without a chorus would be a boring song – and we don’t want a boring song.

At the top you can write what instruments you’re using for the song. Let’s say you’re using a guitar. You write down what the guitar plays. And let’s say there is more than one person singing. You can highlight in different colors who sings what. If there are two men singing, and their names are Dennis and John, highlight what John sings in red, and highlight what Dennis sings in yellow. And if there is a time when both John and Dennis are singing, you can high highlight it in orange.

You don’t need more than one person singing. It can just be you singing the whole entire time. And let’s say you’re going to perform a song. Before you perform a song you need to write it and then practice it.

What’s the name of your song you want to write?”

more backstory

It may seem a big strange for a “music tutor” and their student to be separated by 9,000 miles – I’m living in Thailand, Ronan is in Texas – so perhaps it is important to explain that my role is not as a traditional “instrument” teacher, but more of a creative coach.

[He also has a violin tutor as part of his homeschool curriculum.]

We first started working together five years ago (Ronan was 9 years old), in weekly face-to-face sessions. As he was not quite yet tablet- or typing-friendly, I was taking notes and making phone recordings of the ideas and lyrics generated during our sessions. In fact, at our first meeting he said that he wanted to write a song called “Snakes vs. The Earth,” and by the way, it would be a trilogy – three songs. And so it is. Here’s a sample lyric:

Rattler caught a skunk

Bit it on the leg

Then a big fat python

Wrapped around my leg

Snakes versus the Earth

A few more songs emerged – “Elliot Brand (Order of the Time)” and “Fake Tornado” – which we gamely performed at the music school’s monthly student showcases.

Then I moved to Thailand to start on a different kind of adventure. One of my first activities was recording song demos for a young Thai man named Pluk Fire. We’ve since lost touch, but I like to think I would always find time to share music with young people.

When the pandemic and lockdown conditions emerged early in 2021, Ronan’s parents wondered if we might not resume our music sessions via Zoom. I was certainly willing to give it a try, and there was little downside. We picked right back up in May 2020, talking about songwriting as a craft, the parts of a song, things to write songs about.

He even sent me a little essay called, “How To Write A Song,” which plainly summarized his understanding of our discussions.

In early July, a set of lyrics arrived via email. It was “Out of Tune.” (This is the original demo recording.)

And then another, “Reusable Money.” A few more.

When “Cost Time” arrived a few weeks later, I saw he was taking the songwriting seriously, so decided to try and make an actual “song” out of his words, so he could “hear” how his lyrics might be set against music.

My musical aspirations always have exceeded my talent, but I do my best. The idea for “Cost Time” was to keep it simple, to give him an opportunity to learn and perform the song himself. It has only one major chord (E), with an (A) chord accent, and would be very easy to play with a guitar tuned to open E.

I soon found melodies and chord arrangements for the other two songs, and another called “High In The Sky.” After each song was more or less completed, I made a demo recording on my laptop, singing and playing guitar. I sent each demo to Ronan, who responded by sending even more song lyrics.

At some point, I shared my primitive recordings with Ian Nice, an ex-pat from England who recently had opened, and was seeking clients for, Rocky Head Studios (a literal translation of the Thai resort town we live in, Hua Hin). He offered the services of himself and his 17-year-old son, Ronnie, to record the songs and give them a little polish.

We had no idea just yet where the music was headed.

josephmooon explained

Here’s the story.

Early in 2020, as a pandemic encouraged people around the world to “stay home,” Josephmooon was created as a stage name and music project for the lyrics by Ronan Boren. Ronan is autistic, and his imagination is vast, as revealed in the songs featured on the debut josephmooon album, “So Far So Good,” which is scheduled for release Friday, October 1, 2021, on all digital download and streaming platforms.

Track Listing

  • Floats Boat
  • One Word
  • Long Ago
  • Up All Night
  • Out Of Tune
  • Captolea
  • Busybodies
  • High In The Sky
  • Cost Time
  • Reusable Money
  • Check For
  • So Far So Good

The lyrics are Ronan’s, edited and set to music by yours truly. The recordings were created at Rocky Head Studios in Hua Hin, Thailand, where I currently live. Joining the Josephmooon team to make the music are the studio proprietors – Ronnie Nice, 17 years old, who has framed the songs with a fresh but familiar rock aesthetic, playing guitars, bass, drums, and producing. He has been taught well by his father, Ian Nice, a respected U.K. studio musician and solo artist who has recorded his own version of the Josephmooon song, “Every Right Now.”

This blog is designed to share the adventures of Josephmooon, past present, and future.

Your feedback and support is extremely important!

To be continued . . .