Me in my Early 20’s About to

IMG_2737.JPGThis is me about 22 about 1992 about the time* I was about to:

  • Save $1000 dollars to put a down payment on a Toyota truck.
  • Read the Road Less Traveled
  • Realize I’d need half down for the truck and that a Geo Metro would be just as cool to drive off the lot that day!
  • Meet the girl(s) of my dreams, only in my dreams.
  • Power down raw eggs and shakes to gain weight but it never happened.
  • Write two of my best songs People and Talk to Me.
  • Work with my guitar hero Dave Sharp.
  • Graduate from Saddleback College with my AA degree.
  • Become part of the Christian subculture I would later walk away from.
  • Start taking “Men’s vitamin packets.” My doctor tells me most of these do nothing for people.
  • Walk through the neighborhood sometimes watching the moon in the night sky.
  • Party and regret it then do it again
  • Long for something more.
  • Start drinking coffee.
  • Realize there might be a true purpose for everything that happens. (note: this would alter in later years)
  • Finish my intersegmental general education transfer curriculum (IGETC) to transfer to Cal State Fullerton.
  • Be “the friend” to a few girls I had the major hots for (so difficult) but never got anywhere with.
  • Play guitar about once a day.
  • Start planning my life (oh, that planning thing).
  • Enter Bandwest in Anaheim for handfuls of practices with my band the 63 Lipless Fish.
  • Realize I still had lots to learn.
  • Give church a chance again, then be disillusioned with church again (dry, rinse, repeat).
  • Pray for a wife kneeling with the top of my head against the carpet, intensely, daily, straining.
  • Not have the wife prayer answered intil 2002 (age 33). It was Sarah and it’s clear those prayers were heard by the universe or God or whatever you call it!
  • Walk down a fine open road, find myself open to it.
  • see a future less like a brown Toyota truck, and more like a yellow Hyundai Veloster. Vroom Vroom.

I wouldn’t want to go back because my mistakes made me who I am. At what place (if any) would you want to return to: “when you were about to … ?” Happy Throwback Thursday!

*Some things happened as young as 19 and as old as 25 so family and friends I am giving this disclaimer in hopes you will not correct me in the comments :) If it’s there, it works in the piece and it’s close enough for blogging ;)


This song has quite a story. I grew up listenng to the 80’s arena band The Alarm. In 1991 I saw Dave Sharp, their guitarist, playing an acoustic gig at the Coach House 1991 near my hometown in San Juan Capistrano, It was an amazing show, he reminded me of a cross between the Clash and Bob Dylan. Since he is a huge influence on my guitar playing, I presented him with a business proposition after the show. He agreed to co-produce and play lead guitar on this song: People. What you hear is what we made in the studio in the month that followed. It was a life changing time for me, and we would later work with him again on another song called Talk to Me. Dave is on lead guitar and backup vocals. It’s basically a song abou the people that exist in all of our minds, whether real or not. We hold an ideal and reach for it. Here are a few Dave Sharp videos. He is an unreal talent and one day I will write at length about the time I spent with him. To me, I had achieved greatness when he accepted my offer to work with us.

I want to note that at the time this was recorded we paid Dave $500 bucks, my band that is. It consisted at that time of Jeff Koclanis, Sean Teer, and Jack Kilby. We played some local shows and mostly practiced more than played. We did do a pay-to-play show once and I asked family friend Gwen Stefani to come see us. As was normal for me then, I tried an embarassing move on stage trying to be like Michael Stipe.Let me explain, he would sometimes change his clothes down to biker shorts onstage during a show. Tupid me … needless to say, we never got huge but my friend Gwennie said it was “cute.” Bless her charitable soul. This is a photo at her Dad’s birthday party many years back (when my beard was brown). Gwen is a wonderful lifelong friend. Our parents were best friends in college and that is how I know her. When I was teaching in Santa Ana on an emergency credential and staying alive through coffee and carbs, she told me that she wished she were doing that. I’ll never forget that. She was just starting to hit big with “Don’t Speak.” I thought she was everyone’s envy and she said that to me. That’s who Gwen is to me, like family. I’ve included here in my notes because of that show, that fateful odd and humiliating show. Later at another show I would open for Dave at the Coach House and realize music perhaps wasn’t the best road I could choose.Damien Riley and Gwen Stefani


Where do the people Live
Where do the people roam
Where do the people live
Where do they call their home?
They must live far, far away

People are on my mind
On storms in the the abyss
I hope that they survive
I know that they exist
They must be far, far away

Been searching high and low
Everywhere I mean to go
Hope I meet someone real
I want to know how the people feel

Where do the people Live
Where do the people roam
What do the people ask
Where do them people know?
They must know far, far away

playlistSome of my Original Tunes. None of these are of high quality but they are all special. I keep growing this video playlist for posterity.

Get my songs other ways:

A special “music” RSS feed – My music posts delivered free from my blog.

Listen and Download them on Reverb Nation.

Order the Traditional CD PayPal For $10 and I’ll
burn all songs to a CD and personally mail it to
you. Please include mailing address in your
paypal payment notes.

my paypal address is:

No Kings

Download Mp3 File: No Kings 3.1MB

The video is just a montage of various family trips and experiences we’ve had. “In (love’s) parade there are no kings.” I wrote this song around 2011 but like so many guitarists will tell you, the ideas were hanging around for quite some time before they gelled. It pulls from several influences. There is that jangly REM Peter Buck influence using open strings and arpeggios moving around the neck with alternate string flatpicking.

There are also some shameless borrows from Dave Mason.
and Seals and Crofts.

The words are no poem but they are inspired by a poem I read in class my senior year of High School. I was struck then by the fact that love is a great equalizer. It can bring a low man high status and a high man, it can destroy. I find that fascinating,sad, and happy all in one. You can aspire to love and hear all the warnings. The truth is, you’re lucky if it finds you even once. After that, there’s no telling if it will go or stay. You can work at it and hope for the best. If you grow in love it’s far better than falling. The main point here is that you can’t boast because to know love, you must know risk and probably loss as well. That’s something that should quiet us all and in a very real way make us fear and revere in a self-protective yet healthy way. Here are my lyrics, then I’ll post the inspiring poem.

No Kings
by Damien Riley

I did my trying to st you free
hung on
Now I have lost
Slightly jaded in this house
Well I have lost you in my own way

Summer days seemed to last forever
I ,ight have held you for a Summer more.
Now my questions have been answered
No such Summer as the one before

Did my trying to set you free
I hung on for no longer that’d
Slightlyjaded I know one thing
In this parade there are no kings

Well I have lost you
slightly jaded
a little strange
in this [

Now the original poem that inspired “No Kings”

Well, I Have Lost You
by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Well, I have lost you; and I lost you fairly;
In my own way, and with my full consent.
Say what you will, kings in a tumbrel rarely
Went to their deaths more proud than this one went.
Some nights of apprehension and hot weeping
I will confess; but that’s permitted me;
Day dried my eyes; I was not one for keeping
Rubbed in a cage a wing that would be free.
If I had loved you less or played you slyly
I might have held you for a summer more,
But at the cost of words I value highly,
And no such summer as the one before.
Should I outlive this anguish—and men do—
I shall have only good to say of you.

My lyrics are all over the place and anyone can see she says her poem is far better than my chicken picken’ song. It’s basically saying that nobody rides for free, we’ve all been there, if you can’t run with the big dogs get back on the porch etc …

Love is pain sometimes there just ‘aint no way around that. Avoid it as long as you can. Embrace it as much as you can. I’m having a hard time explaining this to my 16 year old. Kings, prepare to be humiliated, paupers you may rise higher than you ever dreamed. In this parade though, there are no Kings as such. Remember this above all things, it’s not how high you jump but rather how straight you walk when you hit the ground again. My hope is he may get that some day. Like Woody Guthrie said: “Take it easy or hard but TAKE it.” Be present in the game of love, it’s a sweet and bitter thang but worth every minute of each.

playlistSome of my Original Tunes. None of these are of high quality but they are all special. I keep growing this video playlist for posterity.

Get my songs other ways:

A special “music” RSS feed – My music posts delivered free from my blog.

Listen and Download them on Reverb Nation.

Order the Traditional CD PayPal For $10 and I’ll
burn all songs to a CD and personally mail it to
you. Please include mailing address in your
paypal payment notes.

my paypal address is:

Blog Safari Sunday 10-26-14

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABlog Safari Sunday is a speedlinking series where I feature other peoples’ great blog posts that I really like.

Introduction to – Songs to Make Art To

A blog series of Original Music and Commentary by Singer/Songwriter and blogger Damien Riley. Music Recorded 1986-2014

l_85e879eb9973e39b2e68fcf9ed99880fBefore I was a teacher, I wrote music, played guitar, and sang in bands. I also performed solo at various places in California. These experiences connected me with many great people, yes you are remembered. Throughout my life, I’ve recorded and kept my original music. Now, here in 2014, It’s available on a Youtube playlist, Reverb Nation, and on my music page here at this blog. I was making an art project yesterday with glue and paper in my classroom, it’s called RIP art and the kids love it, when I had the notion to write about the songs I have recorded. That’s how this new series came about. Continue reading

I am Doing Well to Some Degree

IAB_CL1_PX01476This is a meme I’ve started doing called Stream of Consciousness Saturday. Today’s theme is “degree/degrees.”
It is not what plagues on but to what degree. After a routine cavity is filled I always see a homeless man with dentures that don’t fit (or something like that). His degree of tooth decay is far worse than mine. Another time I might think my blog is worthy of awards. At that time I read about Matt Mullenwegg who was a co-founder of WordPress and who makes his fortune now on Open Source ie; free technology. To what degree of success would you say HIS “blog” has made it? I tell my students when they compete and fail that there is always going to be someone above you as well as someone below. Shoot for your personal bests in everything you do. Continue reading

Grandma Knows Best

cosbyA friend of mine told me the funniest story one time about how kids are self-centered and that makes them extremely funny. It’s also a testimony to the wisdom of grandparents. Apparently, her granddaughter was in the process of becoming potty trained and every time she’d “make” her parents would praise her and sometimes give her a treat for the act. Well one day she did her business and asked her parents to look at her creation. The father said “good job” the mother said, “Sweetie I am so proud of you.” Even the older siblings stopped by to say “Wow!” Then the father flushed the toilet. The young girl began to cry and pout, stating she wanted grandma to see it. Her parents told her to get over it but she persisted. Continue reading

Halloween 8 Years Ago – at the Stanford House

2006there was a time that any year in the 2000s sounded futuristic,like 2006. Stankey Kubrick’s A Space Odyssey was only 2001 for goodness sake. For this Throwback Thursday post, I went through some old photos and decided to write on this one. It’s my lovely wife and I on Halloween 8 years ago. We lived in a rental on a street called Stanford. Oh and get this, it was at the corner of Stanford and Yale. The college names are fitting because we learned so much there. What it amounted to was just a little more about parenting and marriage along life’s open road. Continue reading

Devil That You Know

Snapshot 1 (10-18-2014 3-25 PM)Just busted this one out. Creepy sounds with the word Devil in the song, Just in time for Halloween.
It was inspired by the idiom:
better the devil you know (than the devil you don’t)
something that you say to mean it is better to deal with a person or thing you know, even if you do not like them, than to deal with a new person or thing who could be even worse

Continue reading

Steady She Goes

appleWelcome to another Manic Monday with my last week’s posts and a blurb going forward.

Here’s my posts from last week:

Now for the weekly blurb:

What can I say. I am taking on a lot. I hope i can keep up the blogging pace because this is awesome. If my blog is a ship, I say “Steady she goes.” Here are the waters I navigate every week:

Mon – tag: Manic Monday – Write a short post about what’s coming up for the week or a quick week/weekend post review.
Tue – Straight up Online Diary or Movie Review.
Wed – tag: Wordless Wednesday
Thu – Straight up Online Diary or Movie Review. (can: Throwback Thursday)
Fri – tag: Friday Funny, Flickr Friday, or Straight up Online Diary or Movie Review.
Sat – tag: Stream of Consciousness Saturday
Sun – category: Blogging tag: Blog Safari, Silent Sunday

Blog Safari Sunday 10-19-14

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABlog Safari Sunday is a speedlinking series where I feature other peoples’ great blog posts that I really like.