Way Out of Living (2011)
I was living in Palm Desert, California when I first heard the music of DJ Day. It was around 2014 and we had been living in the desert for two years. We first lived in downtown Palm Desert and then moved out to a gated community type of place.
We were both keeping busy. Stephanie was working for Tiffany or appraising jewelry with her Gemology degree. I was co-writing a novel and involved in a writing group called the Palm Springs Writers Guild. I was on the board for a number of years.
Some interesting authors in the desert. Such a great discovery for me, the lifelong writer. In the desert, I ended up co-authoring a great historical fiction novel with a navy captain during this time. I’m very proud of the book we wrote.
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And, during my desert years, I wrote a lot and took a lot of photographs of the desert. I also began writing a book on the history of Palm Desert and its founder. I shared my manuscript with the Palm Desert Historical Society and got to know people in this incredible group. They directed me to the exact home that Hopalong Cassidy (William Boyd) lived in – the black and white house – when he lived in Palm Desert during his later years of life. I often hiked the Hopalong Cassidy Trail in the mountains above Palm Desert.
The hiking trails of the desert were grand challenges at this time and I hiked many of the nearby trails in the hills surrounding Palm Desert. I got to know a few mountain goat type hikers in a hiking group I joined and they took me on some incredible adventures on hikes in the mountains above the Coachella Valley.
Yet overall, the desert seemed a stark place to Steph and me. Especially after my mother passed away and we decided we didn’t want to live in Los Angeles.
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Great mountains surround the Coachella Valley. Mt. San Jacinto above Palm Springs rises faster than any mountain in North America. It is a most dramatic mountain in the true terms of Hollywood.
Where the numerous desert cities splash up against the chain of the San Bernardino Mountains. We’re not happy with the desert after a few years living in it.
We were both just treading water in the desert in the year 2014 and much of 2015. Both of us knew we didn’t want to live in the desert. Others might be ecstatic about the desert. But not Stephanie and me. Especially, not me after coming to this desert since I was two years old.
The Nest – Indian Wells
During this period of trying to decide what we would do, where we would move to, most Friday nights we would go up to the Nest in the nearby town of Indian Wells and hear a great live band. In the later part of our time in the desert, the band of one of the owners of the club. We would dance on the postage size dance floor with a little with a fairly mixed-age crowd.
I missed music. Not just the action of music but this muse of mine called music. The muse that was behind by writing the biography of John Coltrane in my book Spirit Catcher. My music muse. She fights with my other muses. My writing muse. My photography muse. My film muse?
My type of music. At the time we lived in the desert, there was much music going on at various clubs and restaurants in the chain of desert towns pushed up against the mountains. Piano players at restaurants all over the desert. Top 40 rock bands or combos singing in perfect harmony. People our age surrounding us at the place we were.
An Assualt on a Palm Springs Mountain a Friend Took Me On
My kind of music was hard to find in the desert. It had been developed during the years I lived next to Berkeley, California. But before this, it had really been developed within me from hearing my father play his saxophone for me, the same one he had played in his Dixie-land band he created while he was a student at LSU.
There were none of the jazz clubs in the desert like the ones in the Bay Area I had experienced for so many years.
And places like the nearby Nest we often frequented. I had been going there since its early days when my parents moved just a mile or so away from where it is today in the early 70s. It was always the place that the golf pros, in town for the Bob Hope Classic, would use as a nineteenth hole. My father was a championship golfer and was in the Bob Hope Classic for a number of years.
Steph and I returned to California (again for both of us) to Palm Desert to live with my mother who was in her 90s. We lived in the desert for three years, almost two years after my mother passed away.
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As I say above, my kind of music was hard to find in the desert. But then, you could always count on the Nest to have a great live band and this was OK while Steph and I decided what we were going to do, where we were going to go after leaving the desert. (See the official site of the Nest at https://www.gotothenest.com.)
But I did discover that my type of music was surprisingly nearby. In Palm Springs there was a person d-jaying at the Ace Hotel named DJ Day. We never made it up to the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs to hear DJ Day live. I first heard him on his album Land of 1000 Chances. His third album.
It changed my perspective on the desert. For the first time, it presented the true music of the desert. A music that no one had ever captured before.
What was this magical quality of this album for me? (It was interesting that I came to DJ Day as a total neophyte not knowing anything about him. Now, later, reading up about him and all, I realize he is one of the greatest leaders of modern music today)
I’ve listened to a lot of different music over the years andLand of 1000 Chances landed on me like a ton of bricks. I heard much of the lost spirit of John Coltrane in this music. It seems so impossible that such a grand creative musical force might be living out here in the California desert.
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We’ve escaped from the California desert. But I’ll always remember the music of DJ Day. He gave a true music to the desert for me. Yet the power of this music extends far beyond the desert.
There are three major albums of DJ Day right now – in our mid-year 2019. DJ Day has recorded a number of songs on the Internet and clever people might capture this output. They music is contained in his albumsThe Day Before(2007), Way Out of Living(2011) and Land Of 1000 Chances(2013).
An Old Resident of the Desert DJ Day Pays Tribute To
Listen to a powerful cut from DJ Day’s 55-minute Way Out of Living now available on MixCloud https://www.mixcloud.com/DJDay/dj-day-way-out-of-living/
In our era of short snappings of social media, brief soundbites, quick-fixes and imitation tent-film babies of the grand film, protecting all of the prequels of the film. All familiar and safe to the listener.
Yet, here is a very long piece by DJ Day. An obscure piece in his own musical biography, one might argue. Yet, a brilliant piece of music that continues to evolve for the true listener to what DJ Day is saying.