composed by Reynold D. Philipsek 2018 copyright Zino-Rephi Music (BMI)
Both of my parents passed on in the past few years. Suddenly I realized I had neglected to appreciate my heritage.
My paternal ancestry came from Upper Silesia and more specifically a city in Poland called Opole.
Quite rightly they settled on homesteads with other immigrants in Central Minnesota close to a township called Opole.
I also have Bohemian and Czech roots.
When I was growing up I heard Polish spoken. My maternal grandmother was born in Poland and spoke little English. Many words were also very similar in Czech.
“Matka” for example, means mother in both languages.
As a kid I was not interested at all by this cultural treasure.
I was wrong.
My new album “Picture This” pays homage to this heritage in several ways. “Bohemian Flats” (the opening track of the new album) refers to a low-laying region of Minneapolis which at the turn of the 20th century became a “little Bohemia” and was occupied by Czechs, Slovaks, Bohemians and Poles.
By 1950 this area was extinct.
“Silesian Mist” (another song on the new recording) refers to the Upper Silesia connection I have previously mentioned.
This attempt to retrieve my heritage is not a gimmick. It is an honest attempt to reconnect.
I regret the arrogance of my youth. I felt almost embarrassed by the fact that my folks spoke what was referred to as “broken English.”
I didn’t ask any questions and ran away from this heritage which now I wish I would have embraced.
Maybe it is a case of too little to late but I want to make amends.
Since this song is entitled “Matka” I can’t help but thinking of Evelyn (my mother.)
I am joined on this little bolero by my friend Denny Malmberg on accordion.
In the almost 50 years I have made commercially available recordings (I made the first one when I was 15 years old), the recording world has changed greatly.
Of course, in the beginning of my career, vinyl discs (45RPM singles and 33RPM LPs) were the creative medium. Later of course this evolved to cassettes and then CDs.
Now we are in the era of the digital download and other forms of digitized delivery.
The demise of a physical product replete with artwork you can actually hold in your hand depresses me a bit. But as Yogananda would rightly say, “be the willow and not the oak.”
In other words, don’t hold on to anything too tightly.
The planning of an album was always a lot of fun for me. I took to it much as I would assume a novelist plots a book. The sequencing of tracks in an order that created a sense of drama was something I took seriously and only recently became somewhat quite adept at. But the music world aims at marketing individual tracks or songs these days.
My last album (which quite literally may be just that) is therefore my best effort.
“Picture This,” unlike my other records was not initially available in the digital download domain for that precise reason. It was only available by direct order on my website or at my gigs. In the past couple of weeks, it has been made available on digital download sites such as:
In the end, I too, ended up having to conform to the new reality.
If I write and record songs from here on in, I may only make videos and have them available on YouTube.
For now I am getting friendly with the idea that my back catalog must speak for itself.
Or maybe I can go back to oil painting.