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"The Best"

You are one of seven billion people on this planet, which is one of 40 billion planets in our galaxy, which is one of 100 billion galaxies in our observable universe. So what makes us humans so special? In the grand scheme of things, not that much. We could get hit by an asteroid or be burnt up by a solar flare and the universe would continue to expand without us, but for now we are here and we are the only living species in the universe (that we know of) who is vaguely aware of our position in the universe. But what I find even more amazing than our consciousness, is our expression. Amidst the chaos of the universe there is an extremely fragile and infinitesimal planet that holds seven billion people who each have their own stories, talents, relationships, strengths, weaknesses, and creations. Seven BILLION different perspectives on life with the ability to express them and literally project them across the world and into the universe.

Now, I know I’m basically regurgitating things that people like Carl Sagan said much better than me, but that is actually the point I’m getting too. Many people connected to the things that Sagan said because he had a broad knowledge of science with a unique, philosophical perspective of the universe and was able to communicate it clearly and effectively. Does that make him the best scientist? The best philosopher? The best teacher? Some may say yes on all accounts and others would disagree. In a world of seven billion people, it seems that our society is always trying to determine who is “the best”.

As a creative person, I have found this to be a very troubling subject and I think we all fall into it’s traps. We watch awards shows, give out trophies, read celebrity magazines and countless blogs and articles about the best and worst of every. single. thing. The problem with this is there is no such thing as ”the best”.  People have given themselves a false sense of authority in things that are entirely subjective and often extremely personal. Whether it is film, music, art, poetry, dance, food, comedy, architecture, or one of the hundreds of other forms of human expression, all of us critics exalt those we deem worthy and disparage those who fall short of our standard of excellence.

It bothers me that we can’t just let people connect with one another without judging the integrity of the person expressing themselves. It could have a mass appeal or a small niche attraction and it doesn’t make it any better or worse. It just connects to different people on different levels, because people are different.

We all have strengths and weaknesses even within our own skill sets. Many of them are purely biological and others are products of our environment and/or relationships. Most skills are a result of years of hard work, but some people are just fortunate. There’s no need to inflate our egos and even less to degrade our fellow man for simply expressing themselves. In the end, I would like to have created something honest that represents me, the people I love and our short time on this “pale blue dot”. For now, I look forward to connecting with many more people through our personal expressions.

Source: SoundCloud / TheClifton
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Hey folks! My friend Deanna recently asked me if I could help her record a song as a gift for her husband. I’m always sharing my own projects on here, so I asked her if she’d mind me sharing this one. This is her cover of ‘Stick with Me Baby’ by Robert Plant & Alison Krauss. Thanks for sharing your voice, Deanna!

Source: SoundCloud / TheClifton
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Check out my cover of this classic folk song on SoundCloud and YouTube!!

Source: SoundCloud / TheClifton
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http://www.youtube.com/attribution_link?a=odBxo7ONiIU&u=/watch?v=BAo6-POxmIM&feature=share

Five Hundred Miles is a 1961 folk song written by Hedy West and performed by The Journeymen. The song has been performed, recorded, and rewritten by dozens of artists in the past 50 years including, Peter, Paul and Mary, Bobby Bare, Sonny and Cher, Nick Cave, Elvis Presley, and most recently by Justin Timberlake and Carey Mulligan in the Coen Brothers film, ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’. It is thought to be related to an older folk song titled, ‘900 miles’, which itself may be related to the traditional american songs, “Reuben’s Train” and “Train 45”.

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Hey folks! I wasn’t playing shows for a little while there, but I’m coming back! Here is a brand new song I recorded called ‘Verbose (A Word in Edgewise)’. Enjoy!

Source: SoundCloud / TheClifton
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Here is a spankin’ new tune I wrote last night at 2am. It’s a bit of a somber sounding tune, but I think you’ll like it. This song came to me while thinking about my musical aspirations. Recently I have been looking for a day job, which as a musician can sometimes feel discouraging. You hear all these rock stars on the radio singing about how they quit their nine to five and are living their dream, just as I am putting my dreams on the back burner. But the more I thought about it, I realized, that’s bullshit. I didn’t learn to sing and play the guitar to be on the radio, play stadiums, or sign a major record deal. I did it, simply, cause I love to do it. I’ve been singing since I was child because I love music.

I still (and probably always will) have these dreams and aspirations, but it doesn’t mean I stop doing what I love. I am fortunate to live in one of the wealthiest places in the world, where I have the luxury of even owning a guitar to write songs with. I have the ability to record and share my melodies on a worldwide platform and I will continue to do so as long I’m here. I’m already living the dream. So, I will continue to sing for the sake of singing. 


For the Sake of Singing

I will never stop singing

even if I’m never heard

as long as I’m breathing

as long as my feet walk this earth

And you may never know my name

and I may never see your face

cause we all have our roles to play

a single strand inside the braid

I may never stop dreaming

even if they don’t come true

as long as I’m bleeding

as long as my heart beats with…

you may never know my name

and I may never see your face

cause we all have our roles to play

This song’s for you

This song’s for me

A song to sing

A melody

Source: SoundCloud / TheClifton
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'Light Up The Dark' EP

AVAILABLE NOW @
noisetrade.com/clifton

**25% of all tips will be donated to The Down Syndrome Association of Greater Toledo** 
*remaining 75% will be used to finish a full length album with Rewire Media*

DSAGT is an organization in the Greater Toledo area that helps support families with children with down syndrome like my awesome little lady, Evangeline, who you may have seen in the youtube video ‘Good News Evangeline’. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4snlv4mGBI


Rise & Shine is the second track off of the ‘Light Up The Dark’ EP. This is a song I wrote a few years back with my long time friend Micheal Abalos. Actually, I have to give him most of the credit. This song was his brainchild, but I was there as he was writing it and I sat down with him and we hammered out all of the details together.

As I listened to the lyrics of the song it had a real effect on me, as I was going through a divorce at the time. Most people have or will go through a rough break up so, I think this is a very relatable song. You wake up alone in a bed you used to share realizing it’s over and you start to analyze how and where it went wrong. In hindsight you can see the slightest nuances; even their facial expressions changing over time. It’s a very dark place to be, but there is no avoiding it. I remember suggesting the title to Mike and we both loved the irony of the title paired with the first line of the song sung over that heavy E minor key. Having to wake up in such a dark place is very difficult, but I also think that break up songs like this can help people cope and work through that inevitably dark time. 

RISE & SHINE

You were all the way gone this morning

I tried to be strong this morning

It’s not about how 

my life was run

Right about now 

I’m wishing I had one…reason to live

You caught me by surprise today

The look in your eyes…gone away

There was no expression on your face

It’s not about how 

my life was run

Right about now 

I’m wishing I had one…reason to live

Wish you were here holding my hand

Right about then you’d understand

Just how I feel when I cry all alone

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Some of you may already recognize the Dexter reference in the title ‘The Dark Passenger’. For those who aren’t familiar, Dexter is a television/book series that follows a serial killer who only kills other serial killers and also happens to work for a police department . He is not a vigilante though, he actually has a strong urge to kill and is obsessed with blood. Throughout the series he describes this “urge” as an entity that he refers to as, “The Dark Passenger”.

I found the The Dark Passenger fitting as the opening track of the ‘Light Up The Dark’ EP, because it addresses the darker side of our nature and how we battle with it. I think we all have this metaphoric “Dark Passenger”. I believe that we let it tell us lies that ultimately defy our own humanity. We often allow this dark passenger steer us toward our prideful, selfish and fearful instincts, but I believe we have an even greater potential for altruism and love which conquers that darkness. 

The Dark Passenger:

There’s a killer in all of us

He tells us that we are alone in the world

There’s a  killer in all of us

He tells us all lies til his plans have unfurled

There’s a killer in all of us

He fills us with hate then tells us it’s right

There’s a killer in all of us

He leads us through black then tells us its white

There’s a killer in all of us

He tells us humanity is undignified

The killer in all of us

He feeds on our fear and fills us with pride…

…and he’s never satisfied

There’s a killer in all of us.

Source: youtube.com
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NEW FACEBOOK PAGE:

Keep up on all the musical ventures of “Clifton & Other Such Rebels” at:

facebook.com/cliftonband



NEW ALBUM:

          New music is coming in November! I will be releasing a 5 track EP including the title track, ‘Light Up The Dark’ as well as, ‘Good News Evangeline’, which can both now be heard on YouTube.  The EP will be released exclusively on noisetrade.com as a digital download. Noisetrade allows anyone to download any album absolutely free with the option to tip the artists any amount of money. I will be donating 25% of all tips to the Down Syndrome Association to help people like my little girl, Evangeline. The other 75% will go to finish recording a full length album featuring a full band. 


BEHIND THE SONGS: 

          Light Up The Dark is a love song inspired by the best gift I’ve ever been given. Before we were dating, my wife came to my apartment to try and write some songs with me. At the time, I did not have much. In fact, every piece of furniture in my room belonged to my roommates. I commented to her at one point that I didn’t even have a light in my room. The next week she came to a show to see me perform and afterword we were chatting by my car and she told me she that she got me something. She opened her trunk and pulled out an ugly dollar store lamp as she said, “Everyone needs light in their life.” About two and a half years later I wrote this song for her as a surprise for our first anniversary and a just over a year later we had our first child, for whom we both wrote the song, ‘Good News Evangeline’.

          I had the idea for ‘Good News Evangeline’ when we chose the name Evangeline for our girl and discovered that the name Evangeline means “good news”, but I never knew quite how to write it until after we got to meet her. When we learned that she was diagnosed with Down Syndrome, it became much clearer the direction the song would go. We read that 92% of babies diagnosed with DS are aborted. That is a truly staggering statistic and sad statistic considering that we live in a day and age where people with DS can live a long and normal life. We feel blessed to have this unique experience to raise a child and spread the message that Down Syndrome does not have to be bad news, but that it can be good news.

“You were born to be good news, Evangeline…good news, Evangeline.

Light Up The Dark:

When I was left with nothing

You came and gave me light

And when I sat in darkness

It pierced the dark of night

When I was lacking vision

It gave way to my sight

And in the darkness weak and worn

You were my will to fight

As I sit and think 

of all the light I’ve found in you

I’m more taken by the fact

 that you have found light in me to

You listened to my sad songs

I couldn’t take my eyes off you

And week after week you sat right there

Til I wrote a song for you

You broke right through my darkness

And found the light inside

I broke right through my fear and doubt

And then I asked you to be mine

As I sit and think

of all the light I’ve found in you

I’m more taken by the fact

that you have found light in me too 

As I sit and think

Of all the darkness we’ve been through

I know we’ll stand there hand in hand

And I’ll light up the dark with you 

Source: youtube.com
Link

Good News Evangeline

About a year ago we shared the news with everyone that we were expecting our first child. About 4 months ago we shared then news that she had arrived! A couple weeks later we received the news that she had Down syndrome. At first that last but of news scared us a little, but as it turns out it was as good of news as the rest. We weren’t sure what to expect, but every day this little girl exceeds all of our expectations and truly lives up to her name. 

Fun Facts: My wife, Sarah, and I both wrote this song and I wrote most of the melody by singing out loud to myself while mowing the lawn.