Michael has finally remixed Lights Over The Bar, the sixth and last of his previously published albums, and he’s still confident that lots of people will ultimately want to own it.
This is and isn’t a theme CD. Confused?
Well, think about it. What is it that would make the problems of the world go away or at least make them more bearable? Love and mutual respect. The three “non-political” songs on Lights Over The Bar are all about love and mutual respect.
Track number three, Ellen, is a sweet folk song about teaching and learning “what is right”.
Dylan’s song “Gates Of Eden” contrasts how things look with how things are. Al Hodgson’s touching lyrics to “Streets Of Eden” go a step further. They contrast how things once were with how things are. Don Henley’s words “end of the innocence” fit “Streets Of Eden” perfectly.
“Streets Of Eden” is not Dylan nor Henley, however. “Streets Of Eden” is the sad yet accurate collection of perfect lyrics written by Alan Hodgson riding upon the creative music of Michael Bonanno.
This song could be destined to be a classic; not because of the similarity between its title and that of the great Dylan song; not just because it’s written by Michael Bonanno who, as mentioned, actually did not write the lyrics, but because its backdrop is one that many people can remember and personalize.
“The Same Way” is a kicking, uplifting country song. Life would be pretty miserable “if I didn’t think you loved me and thought about me in the same way.” Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?
It’s not much of a reach to turn “you lit the lamp and waited knowing I’d be back someday” into “we lit the lamp of hope knowing that there would be peace someday.” The combo guitar/trumpet solo is excellent.
“When Will We Learn” is a question which, if answered, can reinforce that hope for peace and trust. “When Will We Learn” is a savvy example of eclecticism in and of itself. It goes from folk song to country, fiddle and all, to rock, with a guitar solo that has the potential to be one of those Eric Clapton “My Guitar Gently Weeps” solos.
Michael reminds us that we’re not quite there yet with the brief but didactic “The Music”.
“Why Don’t We Go” is a poignant look at the suffering caused by war from a compassionate soldier’s point of view. The outstanding four part harmony is the perfect musical medium for the bittersweet message.
In “Their War”, Michael delivers the same narrative as he delivers in “The Music” and “Why Don’t We Go”, but the delivery differs once again. “Their War” isn’t meant to teach and doesn’t contain the poignancy of “Why Don’t We Go”. Nonetheless, the message contained in the satirical lyrics and repetitious big band interval is the same. If we just look at those that supposedly are our leaders, we’d force a change in direction but quick.
“You Promised Us” attempts to further describe what we call leadership in The Former United States of America.
“Open Up To Colors” doesn’t encourage escapism as, for example, Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” seems to do. “Open Up To Colors” tries more to explain why people are still hiding from reality instead of trying to change it. The reverse drums just reinforce how surreal reality can be.
Michael says that he also had his daughter, Leyna, in mind while recording "Open Up To Colors". He's absolutely certain that she's utilized colors to their fullest potential by painting some of the most beautiful images he's ever seen.
Michael collaborated with two fine poets on Lights Over The Bar.
If one wants to read Jim Bush’s poetry, one merely needs to go to OpEdNews.com. Jim asked Michael to put music to “Crossroad Bridge #3”. “Crossroad Bridge #3” is a free verse poem. One would think that putting music to poetry with no rhyme or meter would be difficult. The words in “Crossroad Bridge #3” are mesmerizing and picking a guitar to that kind of image can sometimes come naturally.
That last song of the album is the quintessential song about hope. “Peace Is Possible” is the mantra of a group of activists in Central California. The Mount Diablo Peace and Justice Center works 24/7 towards turning the possibility of peace into the reality of peace. “Peace Is Possible” is upbeat, not only because of its title and message, but because of its reggae arrangement.
What makes Lights Over The Bar an album worth owning is the creative presentation of the theme that we truly do need one another, that human beings are much more successful when they realize, as the brilliant radio talk show host Thom Hartmann continues to remind us, that a “we” society works so much better than a “me” society.