The Story Behind The Song: Rockets and Dreams (for Jeff Turk)

“We can deal with rockets and dreams, but reality? What does it mean?” – Curtis Mayfield

Track number 9 on The Book of Jonah is the instrumental “Rockets and Dreams”. Like the album’s opening track, “A Hustler (In Spite of Myself)“, this song was originally part of the score I composed for Detroit native Lee Martin’s independent film, Top Ten Things I Love/Hate About The Hood. And like “A Hustler”, the title is adapted from one of my favorite Curtis Mayfield Superfly lyrics.

The recording always reminds me of my cousin, Jeff Turk, who passed away in 2006, so I dedicate it to his memory. I imagine Jeff leaned back in his wheelchair, vibing to the music. He exhales through his nostrils to clear the smoke from his lungs, and nods in agreement… “Yeah.”

Jeff’s birthday would have been on November 8th.  The blog I wrote five days after his funeral (reposted below with the poem my brother James K. McFarland, wrote and read at the service) tells some of Jeff’s story, but fails to capture his humor, his charisma, his intelligent, and complex nature. “Rockets and Dreams” does that a little better.

Happy Birthday, man. I miss you a lot.

~ ~ Nadir

My cousin John Frederick (Jeff) Turk passed away on Good Friday, April 14, 2006. He was 37 years old.

Jeff was 12 hours younger than me. I was born November 7 at 8:27pm and he followed at about 8:20 the morning of the 8th. Our mothers are sisters, and the family called us “the twins”.

Losing a loved one so close to you is always a difficult thing, but Jeff was a very special person, and those of us who knew him are all deeply affected by his transition.

When we were 19 years old Jeff had a motorcycle accident that left him paralyzed from the chest down. For the past 18 years, he suffered from bed sores, kidney problems and several other maladies. He had no control over his bladder functions and could not walk or feel his legs. [Read more...]

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New Blaxploitation: Nadir Records Strings for His Upcoming Album

Nadir’s upcoming album, The Book of Jonah is in the home stretch. In early January, Nadir recorded a string section in the Metroplex Room at Submerge for the track “A Hustler (In Spite of Myself)” as one of the final pieces of the puzzle.

An earlier version of this composition appeared in the score for the Detroit indie film Top Ten Things I Love/Hate About the Hood by CornerBoy Films, but Nadir is going straight “Superfly” on this updated version of the track.

“It’s blaxploitation chase music, so it had to have the real strings to feel right. This is the way I always heard this composition, so I’m thrilled with how it’s all coming together now,” Nadir says.

Michelle May, violinist and leader of Detroit world jazz combo Musique Noire, assembled a fine trio featuring Leah Celebi on viola, and Cecelia Sharpe on cello. John Celebi charted the string arrangement.

Special thanks to videographer Chariti Joi Ntuk, and video editor The War Time Journalist for pulling together the behind the scenes footage.

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Blame the Corporate Media

Less than one week after Don Imus was fired, only days after Oprah’s round table with hip hop, and days after a gunman killed 33 people in Virginia, nothing has changed in the world.

I was listening to commercial radio in Detroit for the first time in months. I’m giving a songwriting workshop at a high school next week, and I wanted to hear what the kids are listening to so I don’t seem “out of touch”.

I heard the word “ho” bleeped or edited out more than I heard any real lyrics or original ideas. Let’s not even talk about how bad the songs are as “songs”. Let’s just talk about the language and the subject matter. It’s ridiculous.

But alas, I know that this is the state of the music industry. As an independent artist, I can’t get a song on commercial radio without literally paying THOUSANDS of dollars, but these knuckleheads with NO real lyrical content and NO real musical content get played over and over in Clear Channel’s 14 song playlist.

Do I sound bitter? [Read more...]

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