My fourth album “Heading West” is an interpretation of the landscape and peoples of the American west through the senses of a travelling Brit. I wanted to express the emotions of my experiences and to convey the character of the places that I visited, although some of the music I composed turned out to be more abstract than that.
One example of this is my song “Hope”. I’ve had some really lovely comments about this song which is always nice because you never know whether or not what you are doing is perhaps a cliche – the listener always decides this of course. “Hope” is not easy to describe, which is why I gave the song that title after I had composed and recorded it – if one word can describe an abstract thing like a piece of music, then “Hope” was it in this instance.
When it came to putting together a video for this song, I started trawling aimlessly on the internet looking for inspiration. It wasn’t long before the amazing photographs of Dorothea Lange jumped out at me as the perfect representation of what the song is about.
Dorothea Lange (1895 – 1965) was an amazing American documentary photographer and photojournalist, best known for her depiction of the Great Depression era which affected the world in the decade immediately preceding World War II. Lange’s photographs humanized the consequences of the Great Depression in the American west and documented the migration of so many people intent on finding work and a place for themselves and their families.
In 1941 Lange was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for her excellence in photography.
The picture on the video thumbnail is entitled Migrant Mother, and the woman is Florence Owens Thompson. Look her up on wikipedia, the story of how the picture came to be taken and of her life is fascinating. I hope you like the video and the music.
This song is about the destruction of the great buffalo herds of North America in the late 1800’s, which coincided with the final demise of the last remaining native Indian tribes at that time. Like them, a very small remnant of the original buffalo population survived in Yellowstone National Park, and they are still there to this day.
The song is on my new album “Heading West” released on January 15th 2013. The album grew out of reflections on an epic journey I once took across the North American continent. Occasionally it’s good to give oneself up to a particular landscape in your experience, to wonder upon it, to dwell upon it and to listen to the people who made their mark on it. It isn’t simply the sublime thrill of moving through magnificent plains, mountain ranges, valleys and cities. It could be the sigh of the wind through juniper trees, or the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset, or the smell of an old wooden church on a quiet street. Distinctive music often defines cultures that have emerged from such a landscape, and so drawing on folk, gospel and jazz influences, the songs on Heading West are reflections and dreams from my journey.
Lovely itunes customer review for “Time Stands Still”, thank you Brewmaestro 🙂
There’s something very unique and special about Mike Howe’s music and his sound. This is not your typical New Age guitar music. This music touches me instantly and continually. Beautiful, peaceful, and relaxing, yes, but there’s something more that seems so natural, yet very special. I learned (from RealMusic) that Mike is a Welsh national park ranger. “I hope that people can hear the deep-felt respect for people and wild lands in my music and that it helps bring peace, warmth and curiosity to a small part of their day.” I do, and it does. Thanks, Mike.