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What a wonderful random email I received. I had *no* idea that Ramona Falls (the waterfall) was named by John Mills, because of catchy song ! "I was courting my bride-to-be in those days and my mind was full of the song, ‘Ramona’," Mills said.The song includes this line : “Ramona, we’ll meet beside the waterfall” and can be heard here : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTm_ZQn9JWsPhoto of a frozen Ramona Falls by Alex FoxContents below pasted with permission.________________________to : Ramona Fallsfrom : Joel Mills I thought I’d pass along this rare photo taken last month, Dec. 2013 of a frozen Ramona Falls. It’s an really incredible and unusual picture.I’ve rarely seen a picture of Ramona Falls in the winter, and I’ve been collecting pictures of Ramona Falls for years. It was taken by an avid outdoorsman Alex Fox who crossed the Sandy on snow covered log, plus hiked the 7+ miles through the snow, to get to and from the falls.My father, John Mills, discovered and named Ramona Falls, in 1933 while working for the Forest Service. He was surveying a route for the Timberline Trail which now circles Mt. Hood.He named it Ramona for a popular song at the time, that was stuck in his head as he worked alone in the woods. The song was on the sound track an Academy Award nominated movie of the same name. He was also romancing my mother during this time. They were married in 1935.Below is a link to the of the song.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTm_ZQn9JWsEnjoyJoel Mills____________________________With heartfelt thanks to both Joel and Alex for making my day.<3 B of ®ƒ

What a wonderful random email I received. I had *no* idea that Ramona Falls (the waterfall) was named by John Mills, because of catchy song ! 

"I was courting my bride-to-be in those days and my mind was full of the song, ‘Ramona’," Mills said.

The song includes this line : “Ramona, we’ll meet beside the waterfall” and can be heard here : 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTm_ZQn9JWs

Photo of a frozen Ramona Falls by Alex Fox
Contents below pasted with permission.

____________
____________
to : Ramona Falls
from : Joel Mills 

I thought I’d pass along this rare photo taken last month, Dec. 2013 of a frozen Ramona Falls. It’s an really incredible and unusual picture.

I’ve rarely seen a picture of Ramona Falls in the winter, and I’ve been collecting pictures of Ramona Falls for years. It was taken by an avid outdoorsman Alex Fox who crossed the Sandy on snow covered log, plus hiked the 7+ miles through the snow, to get to and from the falls.

My father, John Mills, discovered and named Ramona Falls, in 1933 while working for the Forest Service. He was surveying a route for the Timberline Trail which now circles Mt. Hood.

He named it Ramona for a popular song at the time, that was stuck in his head as he worked alone in the woods. The song was on the sound track an Academy Award nominated movie of the same name. He was also romancing my mother during this time. They were married in 1935.

Below is a link to the of the song.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTm_ZQn9JWs

Enjoy

Joel Mills
______________
______________

With heartfelt thanks to both Joel and Alex for making my day.

<3 B of ®ƒ

Brent, I once read a Bjork interview where she discussed how politics infused in music, specifically lyrics, creates a lackluster product. Rather, she was in favor of emotional lyrical content. I'm not saying she's correct, just noticing a pattern. I am an avid lyric-reader and yours seem to be mostly issues of the heart as well. Do you specifically steer clear of political issues or are you just not interested? Why not use your platform to inspire positive change? Just curious on your thoughts.

Anonymous

I love this question. 

It’s interesting you mention Björk.  I know that I prefer her (apolitical) Joga to (overtly political) Declare Independence,  The first song puts me in a state of almost spiritual euphoria.   I have trouble emotionally connecting to the second song, despite the fact I *think* I agree with what she’s saying lyrically (especially the part about “protect your language”).  Both music videos are insanely genius, of course.

I think the lyrics that leave me most in awe, in a political sense, are from Talking Heads, in particular Don’t Worry About the Government.  Take a minute to look up the lyrics, they’re astonishingly subtle yet devastating.  One man’s wish for productivity and convenience leads him to choose a building “over there,” necessitating highways, parking, and commutes.

One reason I’m shy (at the moment) about being overtly political is that it’s easy to be (mis)read as endorsing a particular political movement or candidate.  Since (recent and distant) history is chock-full of hypocrites and fallen angels (Lance Armstrong, anyone?), I’m reluctant to associate the music of Ramona Falls to any specific well-intentioned cause or person, lest the music be tarnished or associated in an unsavory way with something outside my control. 

It’s also tricky to champion a political issue without creating an us/them division.  If you really want to improve the world, starting from a place of compassion (rather than piety) seems most attractive to me.  I think about the times in my life when my mind was changed, and it was because I felt I was allowed to ask questions, and someone compassionately listened to me and walked me through the logic of different perspectives.

It’s also difficult to address certain political issues without it seeming banal.  Take, for example, the scourge of human trafficking.  The fact that slavery still exists in this world is so utterly horrifying.  This is not exactly an interesting stance to take, it’s like taking a stand against Evil.  I know that I could write lyrics that express how much I deplore human trafficking, but it’s unclear to me whether doing so would actually improve the situation.  Sometimes I’m paralyzed by concerns of efficacy.  Would it be better for me to try to write the next “Call Me Maybe” and donate the proceeds to HIV vaccination research?  

I suppose the socio-political issues I’m most interested in seem (to me) to be non-partisan.  Walkable cities.  Literacy.  We shouldn’t take more from the Earth than it can replenish.  Anti-corruption.  Wage Equality.  The Scientific Method.  Non-violence.  So, to answer your question, I am actually interested in political issues, and I do feel like I occasionally include political ideas in my lyrics (Archimedes Plutonium, Evil Bee come to mind).  

Your question “Why not use your platform to inspire positive change?” is hard to answer, because :

  • we might not define “positive change” the same way
  • political lyrics, if clumsy, would undermine the “platform”
  • songs that inspire social change seem few and far between

Is that a cop-out?  Maybe.   I guess I can say the policy I try (and sometimes fail) to follow is to make the lyrics feel true to the song, regardless of whether political undertones are involved.

Will Ramona Falls’ contribution of a song to this upcoming compilation result in positive change?  I really hope so.

So, please tell me : what songs (or which artist’s platforms) do you feel inspire positive change?  

Thanks so much for the thoughtful question.  I appreciate it so much,

<3 B of ®ƒ

p.s. To anyone that disagrees with me politically, I’ll let Patty & Selma’s manager at the DMV express what I think of them.  To those that agree with me, I thank you, because you’re all individuals.  ;-)

Ah, the circle of life.  Happy Halloween&#160;!

Ah, the circle of life. Happy Halloween !

Don&#8217;t be frightened of my punk&#8217;n pi(e).  Happy Halloween!

Don’t be frightened of my punk’n pi(e). Happy Halloween!

Aug 6
My TEDx TALK&#160;: Reflecting on Creativity and Mutations. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RqlIZ6bFxds&amp;list=PL10B92EC1DC626D7D&amp;index=1 I build a version of &#8220;Melectric&#8221; with live loops on the piano using homemade software (Deeler) then talk for a bit about my song-writing process. &lt;3&#160;B of ®ƒ

My TEDx TALK : Reflecting on Creativity and Mutations.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RqlIZ6bFxds&list=PL10B92EC1DC626D7D&index=1

I build a version of “Melectric” with live loops on the piano using homemade software (Deeler) then talk for a bit about my song-writing process.

<3 B of ®ƒ

My wish to learn guitar started when I first heard Smashing Pumpkins.  (Snarky hipsters : back off, I was a country boy and didn’t have wheels or the internet.) 

Well GOOD THING!  And who would ever make fun of Smashing Pumpkins? All these years later and I am still listening to them. If that’s nerdy I don’t want to be cool. 

Brent, you're an inspiring multi-instumentalist. I always find a lot of depth in your piano playing. Is there any way you can plot your course of learning various instruments? What did you start on and how has that effected your current playing/song structure etc..?

Anonymous

I took piano lessons age 5-11 (thanks Kathy Sherman!).  At one of my first recitals, I transposed and played “Axel F" in all 12 keys, and it’s still one of my favorite songs ever made!  I was always better at playing by ear than reading sheet-music.  In fact, my inability to read music without stressing out caused me to quit piano lessons in grade 6.  So, I joined band in middle school, and chose to play French Horn, but my braces made playing really painful!  Around that time, I discovered Depeche Mode.  I kept teaching myself by ear, and learned songs like "Memphisto" on the piano.  My wish to learn guitar started when I first heard Smashing Pumpkins.  (Snarky hipsters : back off, I was a country boy and didn’t have wheels or the internet.)  Anyway, I found a dusty classical guitar in my parent’s basement and started sounding-out tunes like "Disarm.”  I later fell in love with alternate tunings, thanks to Soundgarden.  (Do you care to know the tuning for Saltsack is BBDF#BD?)  In college, after failing three auditions for voice lessons, I took guitar lessons (thanks David Newsom!) instead and he taught me modes (which is like eating from the Tree of Knowledge).  Later, I took lessons in upright string bass (thanks George Rubino!) because there were no openings for learning cello.  You can hear me playing a borrowed upright on Menomena’s “Friend and Foe" (thanks Nate Query!)  I picked up a crappy trombone on CL, but I’m terrible. It takes me 30 takes to play anything presentable.   (You can hear it on both “My My” and “Saltsack.”)  The instrument I wish I could play well is the drums.  

Anyways, I’m really into chord-structure (as if that isn’t obvious), and I have a philosophy that most pop music can be played with two notes at a time : a bass note and a melody note.  Weird Al made me love pop-music (as a sheltered kid who wasn’t allowed to buy sexy secular records), later : Depeche Mode and PJ Harvey made me love chord-structure, Tool and Soundgarden made me love strange tunings and meters.  In my 20s, I started getting hip to less mainstream music.  Recent obsessions include Kishi Bashi and The Zombies. 

Is any of this useful to you? 

<3 B of ®ƒ

Do you have crazy fans? I've wondered what the fans of Ramona Falls are like.

Anonymous

99.99% are incredibly kind and gracious.  When I was feeling really low back in February, several fans on different occasions said “thanks for doing what you do, please keep going” and that was the most encouraging thing I could possibly hear.  Later, in Moscow, a fan gave RF a hand-painted Matryoshka (stacking/nesting) doll, adorned with replicated LP artwork.  It blew our collective minds.  We’ve also had fans buy us a tank of gas (how incredibly generous!!!)  I feel so lucky, honestly, that Ramona Falls receives such amazing support from listeners.  <3 B of ®ƒ

Hi Brent, you and your music are wonderful! I was wondering, what movies/tv shows you like the most? And who are your favorite musicians? :)

Anonymous

I rarely find time for movies these days, but This is Spinal Tap, Harold and Maude, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless MindThe Shawshank Redemption, and Alien come to mind.  It’s been a long time since I watched much TV, but The Simpsons, Twin Peaks, and Arrested Development are classic.  The list of my favorite musicians depends on how you define “favorite,” but if you’re asking which artists I find inspiring, it’s a long one.  On it are Talking Heads, Sly and the Family Stone, PJ Harvey, Kishi Bashi, Talk Talk, and LCD Soundsystem and sooooo many others.  What movies/TV/musicians should I check out? 

<3 B of ®ƒ

please don't take offense to this by any means, but are you gay? i only ask because i am and all of your songs (including the ones you wrote for menomena) resonate with me very heavily

Anonymous

I would never take offense to this !  I’m truly glad the songs resonate with you. 

<3 B of ®ƒ