This is a picture of my new dog, Ryder. Pretty darn cute, eh? Like a living, breathing Beanie Baby. Why am I blogging about him, you ask?

Well, seeing as he’s a sort of gift from my good buddy Jeff from Birmingham, MI, and seeing as Ryder is also from Detroit, I thought I should name him after some famous Motor City music Icon, and since “Marvin” or “Smokey” (or “Tammi”) didn’t quite seem to fit, I liked the homage to Mitch Rider and the Detroit Wheels, (with a special thanks for the intro to “Devil With a Blue Dress”).A few days after I named Ryder, I thought to myself, “Hey, Ryder (AKA “Rider”) might be a cool band name, eh?” So I called Gary. “What about ‘Rider’ or ‘The Riders’ for a band name?”

“Hmmm….” said Gary. “Well, Georgia and I have been loving ‘Blue Sky,'” he replied. “Then how about ‘Blue Sky Riders?'” I asked. “I like it,” said Gary. “Good image.”

So it appears we are finally landed upon a consensus, the all-important “Band Name”… Blue Sky Riders. Is there a “The?” I don’t know. Does it need one?

Gary, Georgia and I got together again in December to write and hang out in Santa Barbara, and I’m happy to report two very cool tunes came from our 3 days together; as well as a really fun hang.

The dynamic of three “pretty good songwriters” composing together at the same time is new to me, and the three-way dynamic is fascinating, to say the least.

Did I mention that Gary and Georgia are “a couple?” It’s a credit to Gary’s maturity as a man and highly accomplished songwriter that he isn’t tempted to engage in a creative pissing contest as we’re immersed in the writing process. A less confident man might sense a threat to his relationship if he doesn’t come out “Alpha Male” here. Perhaps he’s reassured knowing that his dick is way bigger than mine, and she’ll simply sense that in the long run 😉 (No “show n tell” needed, folks) And Georgia doesn’t feel the need to constantly flatter or side with Gary artistically, simply to pacify him and keep him knowing he’s her #1.

But I digress.

This time together in Santa Barbara, I think we somehow magically wrote a kind-of theme song for ourselves, called “I’m A Rider (Finally Home.” Actually, I think we were each a bit surprised by how sneakily the band name wove itself into the song, even though none of us spoke about it as it was happening. I’ve always said that songs seem to have a mind of their own, that if you get out of the way it will write itself, and these tunes certainly have been no exception.

This music is a kind of home-coming for me, perhaps back to my country-rock roots of 1970, to the music that helped lay the foundation for L&M, the simpler musical beginnings of the skinny 18 year old boy from Alhambra, writing “Danny’s Song” in the bed- room of his parent’s Villa Roma apartment. Strangely, it seems as if each song we write is delivering a secret message to me about where I’m at in this phase of my life. Just as “Dream” told me to press on, to keep the faith and trust my heart, “I’m A Rider (Finally Home)” seems to be saying that this is where I belong right now. It is a song of arrival, a song of celebration for what IS, and as such, has been a long time comin’ ..

“I’m a Rider
Cross the Great Unknown
That horizon
Don’t need to get no closer
Let the wheels keep rollin’
Cause wherever I go
Cross the Blue
Cross the Sky
I know I…
I’m Finally Home.”

The second song we wrote in S.B. is a ballad I started almost 5 years ago, while I was still in the emotional bends of my divorce. The original melody had a pivotal line in it, “I’ll die without you.” But I just couldn’t bring myself to write that lyric. Bad mojo. Didn’t want to set that kind’a crap in motion, if you will.

So when I showed the verse melody to Gary and Georgia, I told them a bit of the melody’s history, but added, “…so where I’m at right now is, I’d like it to say somethin’ like, “I thought I’d die, but looky here…I didn’t!” Gary grabbed ahold of that and jumped right in with the first two lines of the chorus,

“You feel like you’re gonna die
But you don’t
You think that the world will stop
But it won’t…”

And thus “Little Victories” was born. I believe we wrote a song of hope for everybody going thru difficult times. And Georgia, with her “Texas Rust and Texas Dust” country-soul voice, delivers that vocal with the kind of honesty that most singers only wish they could muster.

I could never have been a part of writing a song like this if I hadn’t gone thru the last 6 years of my life, “thru” being the operative word. This song signals to me that those tough days are finally in the rear view mirror.

Take what you learn and pass it on. That’s my job. And suddenly a wave of gratitude flows thru me. This is what I live for.

This is a song that needs to be heard, though I’m not sure everyone will ‘get’ it. You kind of need to have “been there” in your own life to really grock this one, but then, sooner or later everyone does get there.

Sure hope you like it. I know it gets to me every time I hear it.