High School Can't Last Forever

High School Can't Last Forever

Rich Chambers

"High School Can't Last Forever" has been percolating within me for many years. I first started humming the chorus to myself when I used to walk from the Burnaby Mtn. park parking lot to nearby Simon Fraser University where I was attending classes (I wasn't able to get a parking pass that semester... hmm.... or maybe I was just being cheap? ... can't quite remember! LOL!). That simple tune has stuck with me for more than 25 years, but it wasn't until this last February that I finally made it into a complete song.

But it makes sense. On one hand, I conceived the song as a simple and innocent sounding three-chord rocker, but on another level, I completed it using the institution and concept we call "high school" as a foundational metaphor for how we perceive innocence and dreams. 25 years ago I didn't have the proper perspective to inject this concept into a basic three-minute rocker. In the end, I am very proud of this song as it combines two very different times in my life into one cohesive underlying challenge for all of us to consider--how do we each define innocence?

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Summer Looks So Good On You

Summer Looks So Good On You

Rich Chambers

There is something absolutely wonderful about a sunny day and a great song being played on the radio. I think we have all, at one time or another, dreamed of driving to the beach on a sunny day in our convertible with the top down and a light-hearted, feel-good song blasting on the car radio. I kind of like to refer to it as “the Beach Boy effect.”

A couple of years ago I found myself living that moment one day while driving home from work. It was a sunny and hot July afternoon, and I had the radio up louder than it probably should have been. I must admit, my KIA Rio was not quite the 65 Mustang convertible I envisioned myself driving, nor was my congested bumper to bumper choke-filled commute really holding up to a California coastal road with the beach and Pacific Ocean following alongside the car, but my imagination was fueled by the music, and it was taking me there nonetheless! Ah yes, the power of music!

The song that caught my attention that day, and caused me to crank that radio up, was Lisa Loeb’s “Summer.” It could have been Katrina and the Waves “Walking on Sunshine,” the Beach Boys “California Girls,” or countless other songs that all of us associate with the sun and fun, but on this particular day, for me, it just happened to be Lisa Loeb. Without realizing it, I found myself singing along with Lisa at the top of my lungs, which I firmly believe is what one should do when a great summer song comes on the radio in the middle of a July heatwave. It was right then that I decided I needed to write my own feel-good summer song!

During the rest of my commute home that day I started thinking of all kinds of ideas, and it was the notion of a new love emerging in the summer that seemed to really stick. I then thought of how beautiful everything seems to look on a clear summer day and equated it to how beautiful a new love seems to all of us. Merging the two concepts into one, the opening line, “Summer Looks So Good On You,” and ultimately the title of the song, emerged. When I got home, I quickly ran to my acoustic guitar and immediately started strumming jangly open chords. My goal was to keep it all light and fun. About 30 minutes later, I had the entire song written, lyrics and all. This is not the norm for me as most of my songs take a lot longer, but when I am as inspired as much as I was that day, the song just kind of came out. “Summer Looks So Good On You” is a feel-good song that celebrates the proverbial promises of love, hope, and happiness that a beautiful summer day often seems to provide us! --RC

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Sorry Isn't Good Enough

Sorry Isn't Good Enough

Rich Chambers

A few years back, I entered myself into a country music competition at a local county fair in Washington state. The winner of the county fair competition moved onto the state fair competition, which then led to a national competition that promised some big money and exposure for the winner. With such a carrot dangling at the end of this road, I figured I would throw my name into the local county competition and see if I could make any headway. The only problem was, at that point in my career, I had only ever written and performed rock songs. I needed something country. So, on a sunny afternoon a week before the competition, I decided to sit down and write a country song.

My first few attempts at writing country, unfortunately, were just a little lacking. My pickup truck had broken down, my girl had left me, and my dog had died. Yep, I was pretty much writing the stereotypical, cookie-cutter boring country song. I then decided to take an approach that quickly turned things around. What if my “hurtin’” country song never actually talks about what happened to cause all the hurt? What if I set up the ultimate hurt and regret, but never say what got me there? This approach made a lot of sense to me. If I could write a song that allowed the listener to put their own unique hurts and regrets into the story, then I would have a song with the potential to resonate with everyone, regardless of age or demographic. Fuelled by this inspiration, I then sat down with my guitar and wrote “Sorry Isn’t Good Enough” in less than 30 minutes, which is beyond fast for me.

A great by-product of wanting to write a song with a universal theme that resonates across demographics is that I ultimately wrote a song that also crosses over into multiple music genres. “Sorry Isn’t Good Enough” is as much country, as it is rock, as it is adult contemporary, which is something I am particularly proud of.

Okay, I still have to finish the story because it does have kind of an “entertaining” ending to it. With “Sorry Isn’t Good Enough” ready and my guitar in hand, I walked onto the stage of the local county fair music competition that Saturday afternoon, plugged in my acoustic guitar, and strolled up to the microphone ready to sing my song. Just as I was about to hit my first chord, a little boy sitting in the front row had his balloon suddenly pop, and hell, it was surprisingly loud. Not sure what the heck was in that balloon? The place suddenly went silent... for maybe half a second… and then the little boy’s wailing began, and holy heck, did this little guy have a set of lungs! I stepped back from the microphone and took a moment before stepping forward and breaking into the song. Somehow, I was able to recover from such a non-auspicious introduction and pulled off a pretty darn good performance.

At the end of the competition, standing on the stage with all the other performers awaiting the judges’ decision, I was feeling pretty good. I had a chance. The MC smiled and thanked all of us and then read off the placements and the winner. Unfortunately, I didn’t win. I placed 5th. I guess 5th wasn’t so bad, although I often try to forget that there were only five performers in the competition that afternoon. To this day, I still blame it on that damn balloon… hell, I’d rather tell a story about a balloon popping than my ego popping!

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I'm So Tired

I'm So Tired

Rich Chambers

On January 6, 2021, I watched with mouth agape as an angry mob of Americans stormed Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. I couldn't believe what I was seeing, and as I continued to watch the coverage, I quickly became aware of just how sick and I tired I was with it all. Tired of the misunderstandings, the differing ideologies that refused to see other perspectives, and the unrest. By pure fluke, I had written and recorded "I'm So Tired" just days earlier, and it suddenly dawned on me how fitting the song was as social commentary (perhaps my subconscious was at work when I was writing the song), so I put together the accompanying video and decided to put my voice out there!

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