Alanis Morissette – Diagnosis

The last three months have seemed like a year, I have watched humanity change and I have changed. It will still be some time before we really understand the depth of change that the last three months has wrought. I am still holding tightly onto hope, but I am tired. I do not know anyone that feels more secure than they did a few months ago. In truth I meet very few people who seem to have a good hold on hope at all. I keep hearing about getting back to normal, I keep hearing how hard it is… All the while my co-workers and I keep doing what we do, and you get to keep eating.  But we are getting tired… we are getting tired of how invisible we are to you. We are tired of risking ourselves when you do not even know we exist.  The seasons have started to swing and as they do, we all look forward to the trappings that come with that swing. Only this time in 2020, we are not sure what the seasons will bring.  Many want to believe that the warmth will give us back our normal, but we don’t know… I am very worried that we will choose to believe whatever suits our crisis of thought and then as a result we will make this worse…

I came awfully close to just saying I am done last week. it was nothing in particular… it was not the woman who did not want me to touch her groceries and made me feel so dirty. It was not the guy packing a gun on his hip, waiting for me to ask why… I just felt empty, I had given all my hope to everyone around me and found myself empty. One tiny, impromptu conversation with a co-worker who asked and really wanted to know how I was, made such a difference…we had agreed to check on each other.  I am going to be fine, I still might get the bug, but I will be fine. I have found a place of my own peace that allows me to be what you need, to make you feel comfortable. I don’t even care anymore

Call it what you want
Cause I don’t even care anymore
Call me what you need to
To make yourself comfortable

Alanis Morissette released this song on April 24th and for six days, this was the only song I listened to; I drove to work with it…I walked around my place with it…. I drove home from work with it…

There is still so much I am breaking down with this song, the timing of its arrival in my life. I needed this so badly.  To feel the spirit of this incredible songwriter. Just the pure musicality of this song… it is breaking me, in a way that we should be broken.  The breaking is my need to justify myself to people, to meet the requirements of their label or their diagnosis. This song is helping me find a place of not caring anymore.

How many of us have been doing what we do, just to make someone comfortable? Call it what you want…. I know so many people that never give thought to their comfort and work their whole lives trying to mold themselves into someone else’s comfort.

I’ve not left the house in a while
I’ve not felt a glimpse of ease
And I have not made much headway
Since I have come back from the war
And I no longer give a damn
‘Bout things that used to matter
And I am covering my eyes
As I am frozen on the spot

I wonder what we will all look like after this war, this is the line that spun magic to me, the one that made me stop and listen.  I do not know when Alanis wrote this song or recorded it, that question hit me when I heard the first line in this verse, so many people have not left their houses in a while. Regardless of when she wrote this, the timing of this song was simply perfect in every way.

I have struggled to write and struggled to listen to music, the daily dose of fear and trying to make everyone comfortable has taken a toll on myself and so many others that are out there right now working through this.

Please do your best to embrace all the joy you can find. We have no idea what the “other side” of this looks like, we do not even know when we will get there. If you are like me, then fear and questions tend to pass through most moments. This song gave me some respite from that, it was very much like being bathed in peace.

And all of you are so frustrated
And everyone around me is tryna help as much as they can

But I’ll move on in this meltdown
Of nervousness diagnosis

There are still so many people out there who care about those around them, like me they are tired and so frustrated. But we are alive, we can still choose to win this. There are over 80,000 people in our nation that cannot make that choice anymore.  If you have chosen to disbelieve the science and ignore the precautions, you have chosen to risk my life and I am not cool with that. But I will still give you my joy because you matter to me.  I’ll wear my mask and sanitize my hands between every customer that comes through my line.  We are all trying to help, we are all in this and I would like very much for all of us to get out of this alive and with our joy.

Thank you, Alanis, for bearing your soul to us. You gave me magic when I really needed some.  As I let this break me and mold me, I am stunned at the brilliance in your music and how you pour your whole soul into your songs. Humanity is so fortunate to have you amongst them. Looking forward to hearing the rest of “Such Pretty Forks in the Road”.

Listening, learning, and growing…

Reaching for Hope

I hope you are all staying at home and that your heart is not growing too weary. Our world has changed, this virus is still very much a mystery and over the next few months I truly hope we can find a new normal.

I am not writing about a song this time and it isn’t for a lack of music to write about, god no… In a time like this I find music around me full of magic and it helps me to find hope but I wanted to write about hope, finding hope in the humanity that surrounds us.

When I am not writing or enjoying time with my beautiful wife, I work at one of those neighborhood grocery stores, I am one of those essential workers that still gets to go to work and for that I am very grateful. The last several weeks have been a study in the human condition and how we respond to crisis. I and the people I work with have seen everything, from a level of hording that demonstrates a complete and utter lack of caring for anyone besides themselves, to a depth of compassion and caring that reaches beyond any selfless act I have ever seen. I will never forget the woman in my line that started weeping because she felt guilty for buying two weeks of groceries for her family of five and her heart was breaking as she stared at the sparse shelves around our store, I tried my best to assure her that she was not depriving anyone of their share of groceries. Believe me if you have stood behind a cash register over the last few weeks like I have, you know exactly what selfishness looks like. But like this beautiful soul that stood there weeping for others, I have seen human after human trying to find hope, trying to find reasons for all of this when there are none and I decided to try and capture some of that hope I have seen and pass it on to you. There is hope, there is an astounding amount of love in this world and one of the reasons I took this job a while back was because I thought it was a unique opportunity to spread some hope, little did I know how much I would receive in return.

Every hour that I work I see countless people who are just trying to survive and at the same time they are aware of others around them and care about their survival as well. I have completely lost count of the number of times I have been thanked for being there and doing what I do. I am surrounded by a group of people who are working as hard as they can to make sure you get food in your house. I see their weariness and their frustrations, and I love them for what they are doing. These folks are not making six figures, not even close, but they are some of the most caring and loving people I have ever had the pleasure of working with, it is truly an honor to be a part of this team.  There isn’t one of my teammates that drives to work and thinks, “I am a hero”. But we all show up and do what we do. It might be as simple as making the rent, or something as other worldly as getting enough hours in for insurance. These are a collection of my hero’s; these are my co-workers and whether you know it or not we care about you and we feel joy when you find something that makes you smile.

Tensions have been high and not every customer that comes through my line is interested in me or anything other than getting out without catching something. So we just smile and try to give them a little bit of our joy. Overwhelmingly, those that come through to pay for their food are just like me, they just want to eat and live, and they hope.

This has been hard for us all, in as many ways as there are individuals who have experienced this. It’s kind of macabre, but I realized that those coming to buy food were having their most relevant social experience they can get right now.  We will try and make it the best experience we can, that is what we always do here, so it’s kind of natural. We understand the tension and fear that you are facing, we face it every day we show up for work. We are part of your community and you matter, if you are struggling to find hope, I have some for you.

We will continue to stock the shelves after you leave and before you get there in the morning. We will answer questions and we really do care about you as a person, you are part of our community and you are loved. Food is part of the magic of love…

My hope is that the rabid need to count deaths will somehow equate to lives lost through this struggle and sober us to how we take our next steps. Those who make it out of this will define a new normal and my greatest hope is that the people I meet every day will choose to be part of the solution and ask, what can I do for you. Those who are working to fight this thing are our hero’s and we should treat them as such and at the same time ask ourselves if the fabric of humanity that is supporting and feeding this country right now should always be trodden upon. I am fortunate enough to be fine financially, but I have so many people coming through my line that have no idea if they will be able to come back for more later. Let’s remember those who are the fabric of our daily lives and that we all matter for more than the job we do. Vote every time you get the chance and remember this time we are in, remember how our leadership responded and make sure we have leaders who will see us through to the end without regard for their personal gain. 

I am reaching for hope, I am choosing to embrace the beautiful humanity that I work with and for.

Part of my own therapy is listening to music and writing about it. I have two or three songs I am working on writing about. I encourage you all to put some headphones on and get lost in some good music, tonight it has been John Prine, this is where we are… take a listen to Mt. Joy, listen to Martin Sexton, listen to Jamestown Revival, listen to Roo Pane and yes, listen to some Queen. It all has magic that can soothe you, it can ease you on your way to a new normal.

The love I feel today is better and deeper than it was yesterday…and thank you to the guy in my line that gave me that gift card, you were too kind…

Listening, learning and growing…

Bear’s Den – Only Son of the Fallen Snow

Happy new year friend!

This New Year brings us not only a new day, but a new decade. The places we have come from, the places we see out in front of us. We all try to be the one they think we should be. But we all just run, trying to find that ancient corridor… There are days that we get to look up, we get to smile and remember why we like winter.

I have always written about a single song in my posts. A song that I have found magic in, but this time I am writing about a broader work. “Bear’s Den” released this EP on December 6, 2019, titled, “Only Son of the Fallen Snow.” The title track was released a short time before the EP and I knew when I heard it, I would write about it, and then when I heard the other two, “The Star of Bethnal Green” and “Longhope”… I knew I would write about them too.

All three songs are treasures of magical wonder. I couldn’t just write about one or two, I had to explore, ponder and extrapolate the magic from all three. A feat, ladies and gentlemen, yet to be accomplished on this lullaby of prose and magic. But this is right and perfect, because this release from Bear’s Den is right and perfect… aw the magic. Kev and Davie, I thank you…

Welcome to the new decade, one hundred years beyond the roaring twenties. That was when my grandmother became a teenager and saw the flower that bloomed become a thorn. Later she became a mother and later her daughter brought me into this world.  Edith was a woman who owned her own veil. She did what she wanted even if she had to try and hide it, very badly most of the time. But she was true to something deep within her own spirit that only she knew and loved. I remember the last time I saw her… it was not that long after Chet had passed, and she seemed a little lost.  I don’t remember a single thing she said that day, except that she loved me… But I remember her calm readiness to get on with it.  I remember so many things she said when I was a kid visiting their home at the foot of Mount Adams. Her laughter at how free I tried to be and her encouragement to run after that. She roared like one who grew up in the roaring twenties. She was so imperfect, but she was one of the best examples I will ever know of being the authentic you.

Oh, the man that I was
And the boy that I have become

When we grow up, we get to be responsible. In my experience we just get numb. The more mature we get the more we just don’t feel.

I’ve had a chance to chat with the man that I was and the boy that I have become.

Sometimes a song hits our ears just in that moment, like they knew we’d be here. I understand that music hits me in a different way than it does most. It is in this that I have found great joy. I am beginning to understand the who of me. I am beginning to let that kid, the one who laughed with Edith, at the most ridiculous things, see where we can go wandering.  

I am different, I am unique. I hear the magic in a song, and I understand that it will only strike in that moment when my souls’ ears are ready to hear. I have embraced my gift in finding the magic in music. It makes me unique and gives me joy, over and over.  If you can be moved and washed away by a song, let it take you where you need it to, and then drink.

This EP from Bear’s Den is just that, three songs that found me, listening, it found me ready to learn and then I grew from taking their magic in.

Only Son of the Fallen Snow

This song interrupted my daydreams. I was exploring who I was as a kid and trying to find what I buried back there. Through their magical lyrics they awoke in me a clear view of the boy that was and how it could take the place of the man I had been. I cannot profess expertise in how this song was written. But I can profess a deep gratitude in how it impacted me.

The magic of music should disrupt your norm, it should make you think, bring you joy, make you grow. and it might make you weep. Those are just a few of the traits that are part of the magic in music.  Andrew Davie (lead vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar) and Kevin Jones (vocals, drums, bass, guitar) have given us a treasure in this EP, they exposed a piece of their soul as they wrote these songs and they allowed the magic of music to take flight and bring those of us who were in that place, a chance to drink deep and be quenched…

This song couldn’t be simpler, musically. It’s truly a beautiful, sweet, wandering of sound. The horns, oh those beautiful, fallen snow of horns. They build something very subtle and beautiful when they work into the line about going wandering. The foundation of the drum, the constant of the acoustic guitar, the piano, just outside of your conscience ear, but carries the vocals, like a bridge walking from chorus to verse… The music of this song has made me weep.

I listened to a podcast about this EP and I heard a few things about what they poured into each of these songs. They talked about the place where their dog used to reside and the one whose eyes were deep water. They talked about the wine glass that fell. They talked about how long they have had this song, just waiting for that moment it fit.

You can wake up tomorrow and go to the gym, get ready for work, head out the door and then you are struck by a song.  The one that marks a period in that day of your life and becomes a profound moment in time. A moment that you will be able to go back to each time you hear that song. This one will be one of those for me…and because I am who I am, it will take me back to thousands of places, because I let it.

It is kind of like a wave, when you stand out in the ocean, feeling the sand at your feet…then it washes over you and you can choose to dig your toes in or you can let it carry you away. The latter is scary but that is where you can find the magic, it only happens when you let it. This song took me wandering to so many places, and it brings me great joy, right now as I write this.

Edith was one of the places this wave took me, she ran down that same corridor as I did. She ran for joy and taught me how to do the same. Today, the boy that I have become can roll around in that joy and smile…

The Star of Bethnal Green

I know that there are many of you out there that have been caught by a song, you were caught and taken along a spiritual journey. It can happen in a wide variety of ways, driving in your car, sitting on a bus with music in your ears or just sitting and quietly listening. There are times when music can simply transport you and take you through a thought or emotion, it can ease a pain or bring it to bear for you to be challenged and learn from. If that isn’t spiritual, I don’t know what is. 

The word spiritual means: “Relating to or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.”[1]  That very succinctly describes the magic in music that I seek out and consume. When you listen to this song you are given a beautiful example of the magic of music.   I have listened to a musician pour their heart out on a stage and make me feel as though the heavens have opened and I am there all by myself, basking in the beauty of that song. I have seen an entire audience sing as one voice in response to a musician’s magical music and then be completely silent, their spirits soaking up the moment.

I have chased the idea of gods and religions for a large part of my life and it has taken great work for me to separate the constructs of manmade belief systems from the pure joy of letting your spirit soar. I experienced the joy of music through the first stages of my life in church and some of that music still holds magic for me today. In some simple way I heard that thought and that emotion written about in this song. Listening to the The Star of Bethnal Green  gave me a space and a moment to let go of my struggle of detangling religion from spirituality and just fly.

I hear the orchestra as I stand in awe
I felt so close to the Lord
I’ve tried my whole life to ignore

I listened to this again today as I drove to work on a wintery northwest day. It is perfect that Bears Den launched this in winter and referred to it as a winter themed EP. So much of finding the magic in music relies on timing, are you open to it, do you have room for it, are you afraid of it?  I can’t say exactly what Kev and Davie were thinking of when they wrote this, I heard their conversation about how this song started from a ditty on a piano, and when saved on their iPhone it was mistakenly geotagged for a pub a ways away and became this beautiful gift. They developed their own ideas and vision for this song. It is remarkable how something like this song can mean so much to so many different people. When Bear’s Den decided to produce a video they worked with Jake Graf, who found magic in it and made an immensely profound video that gave life to his experience of that magic. This song has the potential to move so many people and speak to them in the way that might need to be heard just at that moment. To write this, Kev and Davie, is an accomplishment of the highest art and your treatment of it after being entrusted with this is a brilliant example of a musicians love for their craft. Even the name of the song is magical, the mistaken geotag, I would say, is a beautiful happy accident.

This song also talks about someone who leads you…

Your hands guide mine over the braille
I felt each word without fail

It talks about someone who loves you. I let this song carry me through the writing of a letter, an idea that was sparked by the third song on this EP, but we’ll get to that later.

Over the last eighteen years I have been with my best friend, she is my Star of Bethnal Green, my wife. In her quiet, beguiling way. she sings to me, her own song of the who of her. And there have been so many times she has been the guide for my hand over the braille.  This song forever, will bring her beautiful face to my eyes as I listen. That is the beauty of the magic in music.


This was the first song on the EP I wanted to figure out how to play. The opening of the acoustic guitar with that synth, pseudo organ echoing in the background and then that first verse… wow! I heard a bass line in this song the very first time I heard it. The song doesn’t have any emphasis on bass in its arrangement at all. Which doesn’t take anything away from this arrangement, it is musically one of the most beautiful songs I have heard in years. All I can say is that the first time I heard it; I heard a bass line. It made this song especially unique to me. It pulled its way into my soul and fed me. I’ll keep working on playing what I heard, I’m not there yet. But its such great magic….

Then the lyrics hit me, that happens a lot with me…a song will pull me in with its music and then days, weeks or even sometimes years later I hear what they are saying. Fortunately, this time it only took a few days.

Don’t leave her hanging around, she won’t wait there forever
Has a cat got your tongue?
Are words locked in your lungs?
Just breathe in and breathe out

This punched me, hard enough to write that letter I mentioned. In opening yourself to someone even after so many years, you might still need a gentle nudge. But if you have the chance, tell the one you love that you love them, however you do that, just tell them… I am so fortunate to have such a powerful strength in the one I share this life with, sometimes when I can’t see anything clear, she sees in the places that are so dark to me.

I chose not to leave her hanging around, so what I couldn’t say I wrote. Writing provides me a way of coming home. Which for me, means to be at ease, to express and bask… “Just breathe in and breathe out.” When I write I can be free and express what I would normally stumble through. Words get locked in my lungs, so I write. There is something truly liberating about laying your thoughts and feelings out in a way that you hope some will understand and writing that letter was just that, and so is writing this blog.

That night as we drove through the sleet and the snow
I think of all you’ve endured, please don’t let us fold

My wife and I have driven through the sleet and the snow and we did not fold, no matter what we endured. In fact, we are stronger. I know every one of us has a different story, we have all walked a path completely unique to us. But music is a constant, it is a magic that can transport us to whatever destination it has for us.

Do you let music transport you, can you lay back in its current and just drift, in the magic of the song? I get washed away; I always have…magical music does that to me.

I will ponder the weight of these lyrics for years to come.  Each time I listen, I get a little something more from it. If I was to think of a word for what this song means to me, it would be balm. It just eases over me, then it flows into me. Sometimes…you can even fly.  _____________________________________________________

I have listened to these guys since I heard “Above the Clouds of Pompeii”. I have explored them; I recommend you do the same. Their catalogue takes you wandering through some seriously magical corridors. Hopefully they continue to pursue that magic, so we can hear from them over and over.

These three songs are an abundant gift of magic, it is remarkable to think about how young Davie and Kev are. They have an incredible gift that shines through their music. My hope is that they keep listening to whatever their source is and keep being incredibly honest with the artist within themselves. We will all be richer for it.

I am going wander off now, I’m going wandering, down those ancient corridors and maybe I will see Edith and she’ll laugh at the little boy she used to see and shoosh me on my way. Oh, the man that I was and the boy I have become…

I will keep working out that bass line, its close…

Listening, learning and growing


Jamestown Revival – This Too Shall Pass

If you’ve read my blog, then you may be thinking that I only find magic in sad or somber songs, but the truth is, a happy tune is just as magical. “This Too Shall Pass” has given me an amazing amount of joy. Over the last few months, I have tried to write about this song, but have found myself just wanting to listen and enjoy its magic, one more time…just for me.

The magic in music will wait for us, we’ll only hear it when we are ready. We may acknowledge that we just heard a good song or find it simply lingering around in our mind, but when our life is in the place it needs to be, that song can then reveal its magic to us. That is how it was with this song.

My life took some bizarre turns over the last year or two and I found myself spending a lot of time trying to understand my place in this world. Over this last summer I managed to get some insight into my place. Through that and some incredibly good days of life, I have found a place of contentment. I intend to stay here and a part of that is to hang onto some of the magic that helped me get here.  “This Too Shall Pass” helped carry me through that journey, it didn’t just give me hope, it gave me joy.

Zach Chance and Jonathan Clay wrote about walking through life… that bad decision that leaves you by the side of the road kind of life. Seeing the need to let go….and then doing fine. In a four-and-a-half-minute song, they gave me some magic to hold on to. It didn’t promise me roses and sunshine, but it gave me joy. They take us through a life lived very much like many of us have lived, making mistakes, questioning who we are and then getting through it….

“I tell you, my brother, if you only knew
Beyond the horizon’s a beautiful view
And if you keep moving, you’re gonna find
Maybe you’re doing, you’re doing fine, doing fine”

The lyrics of this bridge just make me smile, these four lines, they’re just magic for me. I know we all walk a unique road but there is so much that so many of us can relate to in this song. And so much joy to be gained from the way Jonathan and Zach gave it to us.

Jamestown Revival laid a foundation of rhythm, then they incrementally built pieces upon it. Using all kinds of interesting voices and instruments, and yet, keeping this a very simple and brilliant master work of music. This song starts quiet and then takes a gentle uptick as momentum kicks in, adding instruments, vocal harmonies and a meandering sense of conversations about the joy of life mumbling in the background, telling you quite frankly, this too shall pass… and whistling… This song doesn’t lead to a crashing crescendo of emotion, but rather, it just gives you hope and encourages you with a more subtle crescendo of a roomful of joyful good feels, stomping the floor kind of good music!

and whistling…

This is a beautifully magical piece.  It is an example of how a tune can powerfully do more than just fill a room with sound.  This song has a fluid foundation of rhythm that moves through the changes of what it’s trying to build. It delivers a subtle, coursing, roiling…just under your skin kind of song.  In some ways this song has enough careless strength to carry you up and through many a thing.

Yeah, you should really plug this in and just let it play…and play…. Let it wash you up a bit and make you smile. Keep listening hard to this tune, find its magic.

The happy, chatty and laughing crowed in the background is just icing… and there is whistling

“This Too Shall Pass” was released on the album San Isabel by Jamestown Revival on June 14, 2019.  It is just one of the many from that album that are worthy your listening investment.

I’ll have to keep my ear on them…

Listening, learning and growing

Hope – Old Sea Brigade

I know almost nothing about this artist, I just discovered him tonight, a random, auto generated playlist and wow, you get blown over.  I will remedy my lack of exposure over the next few days, but I wanted to write about this one while it was fresh. I am just going to focus on first impressions, this is a good example of how music moves me, how its spirit speaks to who I am or what I am seeking. Or, it could just make happy.

In the opening line of this song, Ben Cramer manages to encapsulate a perfect wish or plan for your life.

“I wanna feel hope when I die

So I know what I left behind”

It could be just where I am at right at this moment, but this really struck me hard. Here I am fifty-eight years and humming and somebody wraps a lyric around this thought like that.  I have spent a great deal of time over the last year and a half really trying to see where I wanted to go and what I wanted to find once I got there and this really is it. I want to feel hope, not just when I die but right now and every day until then. Hope is joy; it can get you out of bed in the morning and help you walk through the last few hours of the night. All the miles I have walked and fallen; it really is as simple as hope. I have always chased hope, and in the depth of this tune I hear that in the melody and the lyric.

”I don’t wanna feel alone when I sleep

Heavy chest, I’m tryna breathe

Don’t rob me from what I might need

Joyful mind in the breeze”

When you chase hope you will drive all the way back and then some, you will go wherever that hope takes you. Many people can be very confused about how they should chase the end of their life. I feel a deep sense of gratitude for the brief chance to glimpse my own soul and figure out my own bit of confusion. I will chase the end of my life with wild abandon, I will choose each day for a chance to make history and provide some glimpse of hope for all of those around me. I too, want to feel when I die, and I also want to know that I passed loves test.

Mr. Cramer, if I ever have the chance to see you and say thank you, I look forward it, this is a tremendous work of art and I am very grateful. You are an artist who has found their way to bringing the spirit of music to life.  Own that my friend, and choose ever day to make history.

Just a joyful mind in the breeze…

Listening, Learning and growing….

People Get Old – Lori McKenna

Have you ever felt like a song was written just for you? No matter how many times you listen to it, you always feel like it is reaching into the depths of your soul and pouring something in. No matter how raw your moment might be, it still speaks. If you have found this in a song then you’re as lucky as me. Keep that song close and burn up the repeat button, let it pour into your life.

You’ve probably already heard Lori McKenna’s tunes, the list of artists who have recorded her songs is longer than your arm or leg. I am so incredibly thankful that she decided to keep this one to herself. Her voice and the musicians she surrounds herself with have created something truly magical. This song does what is should do, it takes you back and lets you see how beautiful your life has been. Some songs take you forward, looking at what you can do and how you can be what you’ve dreamed of. All of these things matter, all of it is the magic of the soul of music. Lori McKenna is an artist I will adore for the rest of my life because, with this one she took me back and let me look forward all at once.

When I listen to this song I experience it from two perspectives, the dad and the kid. I am in that late in-between stage of my life, my dad is 89 and my kids have kids. When Lori sings about riding in the cab of that truck its a kind of duality for me. It takes me back to when I was eight or nine riding next to my dad in Montana. I still remember waiting for that water tank to fill on the back of that truck, and that arrogant horse rubbing his ass on the front of said truck cause he knew we were not going to move quite yet. Yes, we didn’t have running water so we had to haul it in… Fast forward twenty some years and it was me driving down those ditch roads in eastern Washington and my kids sitting there thinking we were flying and the dust behind us would never have a chance of catching us. At the same time I listen and it takes me to today, my kids have run off and made a life of their own, working to feed their kids and searching for what really brings them joy, just like me. I hope they always think of me as forty-five, cause I sure do think of them as kids…

“Someone said youth is wasted on the young” In many cases this is a true statement but I hope for you it is not. Its not for me, I have held on to those pieces of my youth with all I have. That does come with a cost, you are supposed to grow up and be responsible. I had that Timex watch and cigarette and I twirl my youth around my arms like its all I have… cause it really is. Youth, a fond reference to younger, innocent days. When in actuality its just talking about the soul you are supposed to carry, the belief that what you see is not what you have to accept. That beautiful belief that all around you, miracles can happen. So many things can happen that erode and chip away at our youth and so many things do….divorce, death, unemployment and yeah, people get old.

If you have found the time to read this then please take the time to listen to Lori’s song. I hope it can take you where it took me. If I could give you a wish then it would be to twirl your youth around a few more times. Look at what is in your arms, whether its your beautiful child or your own youth that you are trying so desperately to hold on to… gaze at it and love it, cause just as she says… people get old

I am not going to write about the musical perfection in this one because if you can’t hear it… well I can’t help you. What I will write is a simple thank you to Lori McKenna, you took me to a place I haven’t seen for a very long time and I am grateful…you are magical.

Listening, Learning and growing….

Dawes – Crack the Case

“I want to sit down with my enemies…and say we should have done this sooner”

Taylor Goldsmith is a young man and years ago I would wonder how someone so young can write something so deep. What is their life experience that equates to a song that will pour out of them and make ripples across time and space?  But clearly someone’s age has nothing to do with it. I have heard countless examples of masterful songwriting that has nothing to do with their years of experience. Dawes, headed up by Taylor, is a band that I have followed since their first album in 2009. Uniquely they seem to just get better and better as they write and record more. I have often said that an artist has their entire life to write their first album. It is what comes after the first one that tells who they really are as an artist and songwriter. Dawes is a band that has stood that test of time.

So, this song, it starts with a good play on the game of telephone. I can only imagine how many times the boys of Dawes have had their words tweaked and misconstrued. Then Taylor talks about a friend, who is finally ready to kick her husband out. Then you get to that line,” I want to sit down with my enemies” … How many of us would look forward to looking our adversaries in their face? Maybe as Taylor suggests, if you knew some of what they have lived through, you could see them in a different way. There have been countless times over the year that this song has been out that it will give me pause to ponder how I can have hope in very troubled times. Those troubles can be a disagreement with family, losing a job or watching the destruction of simple respect for your fellow man.  This song does a remarkable job of helping you consider how things look from the other side of the table.

“Finding out that we occupy, Somebody else’s opposing side”

This line stops me cold almost every time I hear them sing it. Think about for a moment, every person you have had a disagreement with sees you as the opposing side, just like you see them. It may not make them right or just but hopefully it makes you think with reason and a rational understanding of the fact that they have dreams too.  This was for me the most poignant song of 2018, thank you Taylor….

Musically, this song is close to perfect, it doesn’t try to do anything to overshadow the intent of the writer. I am particularly appreciative of the bass line, yeah, I know I am supposed to be but honestly, that is not the first thing I usually gravitate towards. But this one is so perfectly subtle and pure… it literally carries this song through wherever it chooses to go. Starting with a delicate piano woven through strings that lead into a beautiful melodic foundation for a very profound song. “Crack the Case” can be found on the 2018 album “Passwords” by Dawes. I really think you should go check it out.

Listening, learning and growing

I Guess I just Feel Like – John Mayer

I Guess I just Feel Like” is John Mayer’s latest release and I have been hesitant to write about this one, mostly because it took me a while to be able to get my head around the emotions that it brought forth. I am not sure I am there yet but in the soul of this song is tremendous power and I wanted to try and put that into words.

First a few things about John Mayer, yes I know he is a pop star, I don’t care about that. In my introduction I mentioned that I wanted to discuss more than just genre, feel or origin. When I listen to music, I am not thinking about how popular they are or what label they are signed to and certainly not what genre they belong to. I am just listening for good music. I remember when I saw John play “Gravity” on the Grammy’s in 2006, it evoked such an emotional response in me, I still get that same response today. That is music with a soul. I also realized just how good of a guitar player he was, he is a once in a generation player. I am not just talking about chops either, I am talking about the emotion and how much of his own spirit he pours into playing. He is truly one the best alive right now and it shines brightly in “I Guess I Just Feel Like”.

I had the great fortune to be a chaperone for a high school jazz band when they participated in the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival at the University of Idaho in the late 90’s. I was lucky enough to get a seat in a workshop there with Ray Brown, the father of Jazz Bass. I will never ever forget what he taught that group of twenty or so lucky people. This was the first time in my life I ever saw and heard anyone put into words what it meant to pour your soul into music. That festival had players from all over the world who were masters of their craft, even Lionel celebrated his 90th birthday there. We had all seen “chops” over and over and over that week. But Mr. Brown showed us how to play with soul. I will never forget how he came in pulling that big old double bass and getting set up, all by himself. Then he smiled at us and talked about all the amazing talent we were seeing this week and how much we could learn from this and then he said he wanted us to just sit and take a few things in. He played a slow deep melody on that beautiful bass; it rumbled and sang with a voice I have never heard a bass player produce before or since. Then he told us about opening your soul and letting it flow through your hands, he said not worry about how many notes you can fit in, just let it sing for you. Then he played some more… I am not a religious man, but I am spiritual and that was one the most spiritual experiences of my life. When I find music that someone has poured their soul into as Mr. Brown described, I can be right back in that room in Moscow Idaho, sitting one the floor listening to a master teach. I think John Mayer could someday, be one those masters and “I Guess I Just Feel Like” is a step in that direction.

When this song was released a short time ago, I was undone. Music can play off the state of your mind and where you are at in your life. This one found me in a place of questioning who I am and what I am doing with my life. I am finding out that no matter how old you are or how accomplished, you can feel like giving up. I have had more than my share of privilege and great opportunities. But the circumstances of the world or your own personal surroundings can cause you to question your purpose and how you should push forward. This song embodied that for me in such a personal way, and that is truly the magic of music. I haven’t solved any of the world problems and almost none of my own, but I did receive a balm in the guise of a masterful outro, ala John on the guitar….

Listening, learning and growing…

Mansion – NF

I know this song is not “new” but it is new to me. My son sent it to me yesterday…

I don’t know if I have ever heard anyone describe a state of mind quite like NF does in this song. The rooms with walls of a blank expression. The mansion where the rooms exist. This is raw, this is a brilliant wordsmith masterpiece. If you can listen to this song and shrug it off, then cool…but…

You may have listened like me and were broken to your knees because someone just spoke to your soul… This is the kind of music that is magic, if you can breathe this in, you can be different as a result of it. Let’s be very clear, this song doesn’t need to describe your precise situation. But its description of the way we place those critically important experiences into rooms within our mind, is a brilliant illustration of how music can reach our soul.

The magic…the music that makes us hear and respond, the soul is how the lyrics reach out and grab you, take me for example, my son sent this to me in response to an email conversation I started about chasing your dreams, music and other dad nonsense. This song just stooped me in my tracks. No matter why I needed to hear it, I did and so here we are…

Music can be incredibly personal, when an artist chooses to show us this kind vulnerability, they give us a gift. A gift that is so precious and priceless. I feel a debt of gratitude to NF for this song, and to my son for sending it.  This is what I talked about in an earlier post about soul. In the context I am using it, soul is not tied to a genre. It is a reference to an artist offering a piece of themselves in their music.  This kind of depth of vulnerability is rare, don’t wait to listen to this.NF released this song in 2015 on his album, “Mansion” and he has released two since with albums in “16 and “17.  You can be assured I will digging through more of his work, but I was so struck by the soul of this song that I had to write about it. NF provides a precious example of how music can reach so deeply and unexpectedly…and it can come from anywhere.

Listening, learning and growing…

Soldier of Hope – Roo Panes

Every now and then a song comes along with so much soul that it causes you to weep the first time you hear it.  Roo Panes gives us one of those gifts with Soldier of Hope. This originally was released by Roo in 2017 but is included on the Deluxe Edition release of Quiet Man that came out today.

I think many of you will feel the same when you hear this tune, there is so much in the air today that causes us strife and tension or just sadness.  This song is a source of hope and offers a respite to some of that. It calls upon us to come home and live life with a lighter mind. Some may hear him singing a spiritual song and others, like me, just hear hope.

I have been listening to Roo for a couple of years now and have found his music to be a source of a sweet quiet peace. His music has a soul that soothes the listener as he weaves subtle guitar notes throughout. His use of backing vocals offers a gentle quiet as well. This is not complicated music and I thinks that is part of the charm, it is beautiful music.

This is the kind of music I love to play along with on my bass, late at night with no one around.  There have been times when life has beaten me down to a point that slipping into midnight while playing this over and over can lift me up again.  That is just one of the magics of music, feeding your soul. I think that most anyone can hear a song from some point in their life and instantly be taken back to that moment. That is one of the magics as well, but there are magics within the music that can heal, bring joy or provide you with insight. It might be in the melodies or the lyrics, or just the rhythm.  I have spent a lifetime seeking out these magics and have been so richly blessed as a result. Roo Panes Soldier of Hope is just one example of the magic in music.

Listening, learning and growing…