The Apocaloptimist James Lee Stanley


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Now Available the NEW James Lee Stanley CD, The Apocaloptimist.

Thanks to Facebook friend Gene M, I have a title for this first solo CD in four years…The Apocaloptimist. It’s a combination of the words apocalypse and optimist. See I think the world is going in a bad direction, but I believe in my heart it’s going to turn out all right. And I work at making that a reality with every day I am blessed with being here. So…

The Story Behind the Songs:

Living The Party Life came to me first as the guitar motif you hear that opens the song. In a matter of moments, the chord progression fell into place and I played it over and over waiting for something to take place lyrically. I wrote perhaps thirty verses to this song before I found the few that I used. Inspired by the mindless nihilism that seems to permeate our culture and our politics today. Quite a crowd on the background vocals and Stephen Bishop single background parts. Tried to channel Andy Summers on those guitar parts. Had a grand time.

Living The Party Life

Gypsies In the Hallway began as a phrase that popped into my head that wouldn’t go away. Then it became a poem that layed around the studio for a few weeks and then the melody just exploded onto it. Paul Barrere of LIttle Feat is playing that wonderful slide guitar. Stephen Bishop, Lisa Turner and I did the background vocals. You probably can guess who the gypsies really are in this fable. If not, think about lobbyists: the cancer in our congress.

Gypsies In the Hallway

Last Call was inspired by a little fantasy trip taken down memory lane, back to the days when I lived on the Monterey Peninsula of California up on the side of a mountain just south of Carmel. A dream of a time. Plus from working in so many bars thru the years, I always thought someone should write a song called Last Call. Turns out it was me.

Last Call

Drive My Car was a song I came up with for the another All Wood and … series but the all the folks I approached with the idea of doing the Beatles didn’t want to change a note of theirs. I love them as well, but I felt this was a fresh take on their song. Hope you like it. Corky did a truly amazing harmonica solo.

Drive My Car

Here We Have My Father started out driving on the road somewhere, in the car with the words and music just popping into my head wholecloth. When I got it home and tried it out on an instrument and found that it was really bad. Then I got the idea of putting space between each of the lines (something I started experimenting with that seems to bring remarkable results). After my father, it seemed that I had to include my mother and sisters and then, why not everyone else. The guitar part is one of my favorites. I tried to emulate the guitar part of McCartney’s Blackbird, but with my chords. I go up and down that neck across all twelve frets. Very fun. So there you have it.

Here We Have My Father

Highway 23 was a song I actually started when I was living in Santa Cruz, California out near 41st Avenue. The number 23 has always been prevalent in my life and seemed to lend the incomprehensible to the song. Put that melody to the words and then found I couldn’t do it justice as a player so I shelved it until last year when I popped back into my head warming up for a gig at Shank Hall in Milwaukee. I tried it out and found I loved the floating key centers and the imagery. That’s Laurence Juber taking that wonderful solo against my twelve string melody. He also added some amazing textures with his harmonics. Great player, great guy.

Highway 23

Etude in E Minor showed up while I was warming up for a gig in Boise, Idaho. The melody would not go away and I had to record it. Corky surprised me by putting some very evocative harmonica on the track.

Etude in E Minor

When You Get Right Down To It started out as a poem I wrote the morning that I heard of Davey Jones passing. He was a very gracious fellow to me and I always liked him. Very vibrant dude, so I wasn’t expecting his sudden demise. As I ruminated on him and the very transitory nature of all our existence, I started this little couplet that turned into a multi versed thing that I couldn’t stop and the music showed up in the middle of that session. That’s Lori Lieberman and I doing the background vocals. I love playing this song. I believe that Davey would have loved the playful take on life and death. RIP pal.

When You Get Right Down To It

Last All Night is something different in that I wrote it on stage at the Caspar Inn, run by one of my favorite people on earth, Peter Lit. I was playing solo and got to rocking out and suddenly the folks who were sitting there listening just got up and started dancing. Doesn’t happen too often with solo singer songwriters. I just sang this without thinking about it at all. When I got it home and started experimenting with the space and time thing I slowed it down put some olde fashioned swing to it. One of my favorite songs to play. It’s just nothing but fun. James Hurley does a wonderful job as the jazz guitar soloist and that’s me on the classical guitar prelude to the song.

Last All Night

Any Other Way was a poem I wrote to the love of my life, Eveline, for our tenth wedding anniversary. Soon after I gave her the poem, I started fooling around with a melody and it was just so very natural and fun I had to record it. But I never liked the other recordings of it, so I never included it in a CD, but Chad does such nice bass stuff on this one and that sly percussion just made me happy to listen to it. I think the work of Paul Simon inspired this track.

Any Other Way

Twinkle In Your Eye started as a song assignment given me by the lovely Dalis Allen at the Folk Alliance International conference a couple of years ago. You are given a phrase and have to come up with a song. I had just been talking with my sister, Sandra, about Alzheimer’s (her father in law suffered this sad disease, as well as several good friends of mine) and what a dreadful thing it is, so the two ideas just hooked up immediately. It took about ten minutes for this song to write itself, but a long time to get the right tempo, arrangement and accompaniement. Once I added those high twinkles on the classical guitar it came together.

Twinkle In Your Eye

Lullabye (for Chloe) is a two parter, in that I wrote the guitar piece at the home of John Batdorf’s sister Jackie in Ohio. Then that guitar part kept showing up when I would warm up and I thought that I should do something with it, as I liked it so very much. Fast forward a year or two and I am staying at the home of my friends, Patti and John Heller near Wilmette, Illinois. They were gone and I had the house to myself. I was sitting in the den with a fire going looking out the window at the pine trees covered with snow and thinking about the fact that they had just received word of their first grandchild’s arrival. The words just fell out. This is just what it’s supposed to be…a lullabyebye, the last tune on the CD.

Lullabye (for Chloe)

I recorded this using the Reaper program (my favorite of them all) through my D&R Dayner board. The guitars I used were my Collings D2H, my Taylor 810ce, and my 1964 Guild mahogany classical guitar. The keyboard was #11 of the Alesis Quadrasynth. Still love it. The Mic was an AKG 414 modified by the late and great Stephen Paul over a decade ago. Mic and guitar cables by Mr. Wizard, Ken Goerres and I ALWAYS use Elixir Strings.

5.00 out of 5

4 reviews for The Apocaloptimist James Lee Stanley

  1. 5 out of 5

    Rating by James Lee Stanley on March 7, 2017 :

    The Apocaloptimist – Love that word and it so perfectly describes this album. Thanks for sending us your new album, my friend. This one is a treasure and don’t get insulted if I say that it beautifully reflects the 70 years you’ve spent on this planet, even though you and I both know you’re really from another galaxy. “Living the Party Life” is just awesome. I don’t want to get into our current state of affairs under King Donald I. We have a couple of friends who have just applied for Canadian citizenship. I prefer to stay and stand up to the Orange Turd, as you so aptly call him.

    “Here We Have My Father” brought tears to our eyes, just beautiful. And “Highway 23” just wouldn’t happen to be Topanga Canyon, would it? J Oh, and Corky Siegel’s harmonica on “Drive My Car”… wow!

    This is a wonderful piece of work with so many exquisite songs. It will be my constant companion. Thanks again.

    PT/Scottsdale, AZ

  2. Rating by James Lee Stanley on February 13, 2015 :

    JAMES LEE STANLEY: The Apocaloptimist
    Feb 11, 2015Michael Tearson
    James Lee Stanley: The Apocaloptimist
    Beachwood Recordings


    The Apocaloptimist is James Lee Stanley’s 27th release. He has been a steadily prolific artist for a long time, and I always look forward to his new work. This is one of his best, and most polished, efforts.

    The title is of course a word James Lee has coined out of his dismay at the directions the world keeps moving in combined with his innate hope good results will somehow prevail. He has sequenced the album to tell a story larger than the individual songs.

    “Living the Party Life” captured the feeling of dancing in the face of all ill. (“What do wee do when we win? We Party/What do we do when we lose? Party harder.”) “Gypsies in the Hallway” is sung from the safe zone in one’s home dreading the dangers outside. Paul Barrere adds a wonderful slide part here. “Last Call” is a snapshot of sweet times at nights’ ends. There is a delicious take of the Beatles’ “Drive My Car” that in no way mimics the original and soars on a gorgeous Corky Siegel harmonica solo. “Here We Have My Father” is a loving portrati and missive of thanks to family members. James Lee notes the guitar part here is informed by the Beatles’ “Blackbird.”

    “Highway 23″ features Lawrence Juber on second guitar as it limns those never ending inner decisions about direction. Siegel again spices up the meditative instrumental “Etude in E Minor.” James Lee says the passing of his friend Davy Jones from the Monkees triggered “When You Get Right Down to It.” “Last All Night” touches on fleeting joys with some sweet jazzy guitar by James Hurley. “Any Other Way” is a gift to his wife Evaline. “Twinkle in Your Eyer” is sweet but heartbreaking as a snapshot of a loved one slipping away due to Alzheimer’s. The finale “Lullabye (for Chloe)” is the perfect closer, a peaceful moment in a safe place.

    The accompaniment throughout the album is just lovely, as bassist Chad Watson and percussionist Washington Tahr add immeasurably. And James Lee himself gives heartfelt and classy performances. Simply beautiful work, beautifully produced end to end.

    I have known and treasured James Lee Stanley’s work for a long, long time, and yet this new release feels like something extra special. The Apocaloptimist is one to treasure.

    — Michael Tearson

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  3. 5 out of 5

    Rating by James Lee Stanley on November 12, 2014 :

    James Lee Stanley – The Apocaloptimist (Beachwood Recordings)

    After previous albums dedicated to recasting the music of the Doors and the Rolling Stones in acoustic settings, tireless troubadour James Lee Stanley opts for a collection of nearly all new material under the unlikely heading The Apocaloptimist. Cast with arrangements that suggest a breezy tropical sway, “Living the Party Life,” “Gypsies in the Hallway” and an unlikely jazz-infused take on the Beatles’ “Drive My Car” show his penchant for easy, appealing melodies and a decidedly sophisticated pop flair. Stanley’s tender vocals fall somewhere stylistically between Cat Stevens and James Taylor, and with the tender “Here We Have My Father,” he carries the earnest, bittersweet sentiments that have always been synonymous with each. Stanley further asserts his skills with the accomplished instrumental “Etude In E Minor” and the lovely “Lullabye for Chloe,” making The Apocaloptimist a near perfect prescription. (www.jamesleestanley.com)

    by Lee Zimmerman


  4. 5 out of 5

    Rating by James Lee Stanley on November 12, 2014 :


    Here is Elmore Magazine’s review of James Lee Stanley’s ‘Apocaloptimist’ for your reading pleasure: http://www.elmoremagazine.com/2014/11/reviews/albums/james-lee-stanley-apocaloptimist

    All the best,

    Kevin Korber
    Elmore Magazine

    James Lee Stanley – Apocaloptimist
    Beachwood Recordings
    Album Reviews | November 7th, 2014
    81sP0hGJ6kL._SL1500_It’s unclear whether James Lee Stanley adopts different personae or he’s just a complicated guy, but many facets of this talented singer/songwriter come to light on this album with the tongue twister title (three times, fast, I dare you!). A consummate guitarist, Stanley has often collaborated on acoustic covers of the Doors and the Rolling Stones, but here goes (almost) all-solo, performing his own songs, with the exception of one seldom-covered Beatles tune, “Drive My Car.”

    Much of this personal album appears to chronicle Stanley’s life trajectory, from the jazzy opener “Living the Party Life,” where he questions modern-day values, to his sex-on-the-beach tune “Last Call.” “When You Get Right Down to It,” I swear, must have been a soundtrack for a movie scene where Jimmy Buffett shares a doobie with Freidrich Nietzsche, yet Stanley can still pen and sincerely deliver the tender “Lullabye For Chloe.”

    The instrumental “Etude in E Minor” highlights Stanley’s considerable acoustic guitar talent and it, with “Gypsies in the Hallway,” remain two favorites, although the entire album deserves an afternoon on the chaise longue, with a tall, comforting beverage and enough time to relax and get dreamy.

    – Suzanne Cadgène

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