Have you read the news lately? Anytime in 2017? Does it give you the tight feeling in your chest and gut that it gives me? I must say that in my moments of greatest peace and clarity I’m almost always focused on the present moment. Breathing deeply, going for a run, chasing my KIDS©, having a conversation, volunteering at the Food Bank. This week’s song – Open Your Eyes – encourages us to be present to this beautiful world and engage.
Thursday Nights is an audio sketchbook of my works-in-progress. Gentle feedback is always appreciated.
Rich, Sheldon and I spent a rich ten weeks meeting as a triplet at our church.It’s begun a beautiful friendship and started some great music-making. When the arrangement is fully polished you’ll see it on my Music Page. Enjoy!
I have the incredible privilege of making my music daily. I explore musical ideas, arrange new or classic songs, rehearse with musicians professional and volunteer, or sit down and let it flow on the piano. Not a bad way to spend a life. Thursday nights after rehearsals at church seem especially poignant. Everyone has left the building and I can turn off most of the lights and enjoy the quiet, and play a very nice piano. I thought I’d share some of my musical thoughts along the way. I think they’re worth a listen or two.
One of the songwriting tools we played with at the Glen was meter. Since I’m steeped in the hymn-singing tradition I have a deep love and understanding of the subject. Look at the bottom of a hymnal page and you will see a series of numbers: 126.96.36.199.8.6. or 188.8.131.52. or C.M.D. This secret code is not illuminati messaging, but refers to the number of syllables in each line. The metrical pattern is consistent through every stanza or verse. I often use this tool to change the tune for a hymn when the music given is too difficult or too mind-numbingly boring. So when I was challenged to write a couplet on the spot, this came out. I started with a phrase from one of my fellow songwriters. It seems somehow appropriate for this week…
This might be the time to lie.
the truth can wound more than deceit.
A slight omission smooths the way
a lets the ignorant happ’ly eat.
Do you really want to know
the ins and outs of every choice?
You’ll stuff your brain ’till it explodes
and weep until you have no voice.
One week ago Christina and I left The Glen Workshop in Santa Fe. The Glen is a weeklong program for writers, poets, songwriters, artists, etc… created by the people at Image Journal. It’s dedicated to exploring the intersection of faith, art and mystery. The surroundings almost accomplish the intention without the workshop. Santa Fe is high desert: beautiful, dry, mountains and plains. You can see hundreds of miles to the horizon. The adobe buildings, green juniper and sage, and blue sky inspire a kind of visual meditation. Combined with a lack of reliable cell coverage, it was a true aesthetic retreat.
The workshop was just as rich. I was part of the songwriting workshop led by Over the Rhine. Spending five mornings with Karen, Linford and 14 other fascinating songwriters was a feast for the soul. I wrote a song on the way down, finished an old one on Tuesday, and co-wrote another for Saturday morning. My kind of vacation. Did I mention that during this all richness the kids were having a great time with Grandma and cousins? Christina and I relished our time away. Can it really get any better? Yes, actually. Food (sometimes great, sometimes meh) was provided all week by St John’s college. I didn’t have to make a meal for anyone for eight days. Blessed relief.
We’ve officially checked all the boxes: July 30th – August 6th was the best week of 2017.