American Kid – Carsie Blanton

As we walk through the twilight of the year 2020, I doubt you will find anyone who is sad to see this year fade away. It has been vastly different than any one we have ever lived before, it has taken so much and given extraordinarily little. We all held our breath, as the votes were counted and now, here we are. A nation divided so deeply that regardless of your belief or convictions, we are simply divided.  The question that keeps rolling around in my head is how do we move forward?

“I was once an American kid
Growing up on hallowed ground
Rode to the river on a pretty red horse
In a pretty little country town”

I grew up amidst rural America, or at least a certain flavor of that. I was taught with rigor and fear on how you should believe, and some days, I believed it.  It surprises me even today at how much of those early conversations I watched and consumed. I was taught there is a savior and there is evil, and you will choose one or the other. These things are deep, they were spoken into you before you have memory… When you wake up one day and the world looks like everything described in the book of Revelations… you will look for the savior. It seems so incredibly sedentary when I think of those lessons. You look for your savior, that is what all of us do.  There are millions of our fellow Americans looking around and trying to figure out what is good and what is evil. They are choosing, and once someone has chosen a belief that they decide is theirs… they will defend it to their death.

“But I grew up fast, and I cast my vote
For the president
And I had my doubts, but I still had hope
Until I read the finer print”

I discovered Carsie Blanton while I was working through my “what now” musings. I am truly hopeful about how our government might start working for the people who fund it, but they can’t save us, only we can. Carsie’s music landed in my lap via a song she released about fishing with John Prine, “Fishin’ With You” . Yeah you really should start with that one, then take a stroll through her beautiful catalog of music. I found “American Kid” on her latest album, “Buck Up”. It was utter joy when I heard “American Kid” and realized that yet again I had found the magic. A song written just for my moment in time that will help me find the strength and hope to believe we can do this… God help the American kid… I am that kid.

“We stole this nation, fair and square
And a whole lot of people in chains
But it was all for the glory of God, I swear
And the glory of capital gains”

Part of the division that exists today is the fear that good ole uncle sam will turn into something other than white. I have sat in the pew when the preacher dismissed the raping of this land and justified it by saying we are the blessed ones whom God ordained to “own” this land…God help the American Kid, there is a reckoning happening right now, the white anger and the white rage you see around is that very fear of being caught and having that taken away.  Those of you that say it is too late for reparations are of the same ilk, we stole this nation and put a whole lot of people in chains. All of this starts with me, I am the only one who can be responsible for my choices, can I change your mind, probably not, but I am responsible for my own and I will own it.

“They’re gonna wonder what we did”

What did you do? What did I do? Once I accepted the reality of my privilege, there were many ways that I worked to find my voice and speak for those less privileged.  But I am not sure I changed a thing, so I write, I believe in the power of music. I know for a certainty that if you listen to artists like Carsie, you will be moved. No one can change your mind for you, it must come from you.

You may be agonizing over the sentiments of that loved one who rages against the erosion of whiteness is this nation, you can’t change them, you can only love them. So, love them and when they are looking for an answer, honestly looking, they will see you….

“All the little kids all around the world
Some have and others don’t
God loves all the boys and girls
God knows America won’t
I hear them holler in my head
Can you hear that lonesome sound?
Well it may be true that we made our bed
But I ain’t taking it lying down”

As I ponder this, I can only conclude that for some, there is no path forward, for others there is only a bitter narrow road that leaves them no hope and yet for others they see nothing but possibilities. I do not see myself on any of those roads, I do have hope but that does not come from the result of an election. It comes from within me, it is a belief that if I am honest and listen, I can learn and then grow. Hope for me is a product of growth, if I continue to grow then I will continue to have hope.

Who do you know that is not scared right now? Is there really anyone, regardless of whether you believe the pandemic will just disappear or whether you believe it will claim you. Each one of us is scared. It is that fear that is driving so many, to lash out and hurt those around them. My heart ached the other day when a regular at my local grocery store gig lost his cool and lashed out at me for telling him that we had a line to get in. I wasn’t mad that he lost his shit or that he made a scene, I was sad because he is losing his hope, and at that very time when he needed it, I couldn’t give him any. We are all scared…

“Don’t look now, but it won’t be long
They’re gonna wonder what we did
And we’ll have to admit that we done them wrong
God help the American kid
Oh, God help the American kid”

I am scared just like everyone else, but my fear is not a fear of the government or from the other half of the country that voted differently than me, my fear is from those who just don’t care to understand. We all have a story. Every single one of us and until we are ready to sit down and learn our neighbors’ story, we should stop expecting them to understand ours.  It is knowing these stories that will really open this land and start us toward healing. This won’t happen tomorrow or probably not even next year, but we must start walking towards it. Stop investing in the things we believe will enrich us and start investing in each other, it really is that simple. The challenge is doing it… If we don’t, well then shame on us…

You need to take a swim through this magician’s catalogue, find a quiet afternoon, put your headphones on and spend some quality time with Carsie Blanton, she is a magician. There are a few rare opportunities to meet greatness, this is one. Carsie probably eats bass players for lunch, but I would gladly be an entrée for her perusal… shit, she is the real thing.

Listening, learning, and growing…

Are We Alright Again – The Eels

We’re all in this circus, watching the mutations of suburbia

“Are we alright again?” I have listened to “The Eels” for over a decade, but mostly to the first things I heard from them. A really good friend of mine, whom I’ve had the pleasure of making a lot of music with, gave me their inaugural album, “Beautiful Freak”. I have always had a, “yeah the Eels”, kind of reaction to their vibe. It was such a cool day when my random wanderings through music landed me on this one. I’m lucky, I get a few days that I would call “cool” every now and then, honestly, more now, than then.

“Are we alright again?” I woke up a while back, asking myself this very question and for me I would say yeah, I am alright again. All the turmoil and anxiety of this year can serve to make us question that every moment of every day. I posed that question to myself because I wanted to be honest about my answer. I am really, alright again, I am determined to celebrate that.

If you haven’t found your own conclusion to the questions that swirl around, what will normal be? When will we get there?  Then sit back and enjoy this tune, suburbia is mutating all around us and I really don’t think things will ever be the same, in many ways that is alight. My most sincere hope for you is that you will be alright again, enjoy the circus and find your place in this new brave world we will emerge on.

“Walking down the street
Or walking on the moon
What’s it matter
Outa my cocoon?
Step into the sunshine
Man, it feels good
Birds and bees jamming
A theme for the neighborhood”

We must learn from how much our lives were changed and been disrupted by the events of 2020. We need to understand how much more could change. The very first thing to do, is to be sure you are alright.  You must get to alright again, to do the work that will make us all, alright again. I want you walk out of your cocoon.

What are we going to be when we get out of this? I am choosing to believe that there is hope for getting out to alright again. I also hope that we are better because of what we just went through, together, alone. Will we forget the truth that was shown to us about who we really are? We are just beginning to crack the book on unraveling who we really are. We need to be stronger today, I want you to be alright again.  I want you to thrive.  

“Are we alright again?
Are we all round the bend?
Am I lucky or brave?
Are you stronger today?
Are we alright again?
Yeah, I think we’re alright”

I see humanity, I am so fortunate to be where I am and doing what I do, while all this shit flies around us. I see you… I know there is hope for tomorrow, I know that even in a world beset by every kind of destructive force, we must get to alright again. I think we will be alright. But we will walk a few things, or maybe a lot of things. But at some point, we must get up and walk and say hey I think I am alright, look up in the sky, take this in. We are writing history right now. Will we be alright again, lucky, or brave? If we just be alright again, we will.

“Look up at the sky
Don’t you think you could
Birds and bees jamming
Their tune for the neighborhood, they say
“Do you wanna fly?” Hmm…
“Do you wanna get high?” Yeah, I do
“High up here where we are” let me up there
“Well, don’t you know it’s not that far?”

This is where we are, struggling to find what today means let alone next year. Do you wanna get high? Yeah, I do… yeah, I do… See if you can get outside today, there are birds and bees jamming a tune for your neighborhood.  I feel a current in the air that bodes change. Change is not bad and in the type of circumstances we find ourselves in this year we need to embrace change. If we don’t it could be an awfully long road back to a suburbia that simply has disappeared, then what…

I am one so fortunate to get up each day and have a job, my wife has her job, and we can pay our bills. I am not naive enough to believe that is true for anyone else. I can’t change your day by means, but I can give you some of my hope. It is real, it is what I must give. I am alight again…

“Looking back, I don’t know how
But I can see clear up ahead
Smiling skies with a chance of “yes”
Maybe it’s time to get out of bed”

This is the real question here, is it time to get out of bed? If you don’t believe you make a difference, then do it any way. I see clear sky up ahead and I feel in my bones the chance of “YES”. Yes, we can move forward, Yes, we can get out of the circus and be alright again.  But if you don’t get out of bed and say, “yeah I do”, then it may be an awfully long and rutted road. I am choosing to make this your day to be alright again.

“Hey Mr. Bluebird, give me a hit of that
And pass it over to that mangy cat
Well, he’s been through a lot now, more than you and me
Let’s give him what we’ve got, that’s who you wanna be”

How many mangy cats do you know? How many Mr. Bluebirds? We have all been through a lot. Some of us have been ok, some of us have really been beat down and we might just feel like that mangy cat.  A little while ago, I visited my dad. He turned ninety this year, we didn’t get to have the party he wanted and deserved, but I am relieved by his great attitude and resilience. Honestly, he has given me a great example of being alright, despite your surroundings. He told me that he couldn’t write anymore, because of the macular degeneration in his eyes. He was talking about simple things like signing a check or a letter and such, but he is a great storyteller. All my life, he talked about writing his stories, but he only wrote a few of those great adventures. When my sister and I were young he would tell us these stories, mostly about Indian Jake.  I have no idea how many nights we fell asleep to Indian Jake and his wanderings around the Big Sky country.

My dad is a cowboy, and all his stories are westerns, they are my first experience of storytelling and the power of wonder that it can stir within. I know for a fact that my ability to write is a gift I received directly from him. I am sad that he won’t finish writing those stories, but I will always have them, and so will my sister. I will do my best to never leave any of my stories unfinished and yes, I am alright again.

You’ve been through a lot, take a breath, and take a hit of that. Then pass it over to that mangy cat… He’s been through a lot too.

Listening, learning, and growing…

Strange Days – The Struts

The Odyssey of a Decade within a Year

The skyline has been an alien presence. Smoke, ash, and tar replaced the blues and grays that are usually dominant in my northwest skies.  I have spent my entire life in this area of the country, I have wandered much of Washington and Oregon, parts of Idaho, Montana, and California. I love the northwest and I am grieving for her.  I spent several nights sitting outside, processing my grief. I am no where near an evacuation area and have not seen a single flame with my own eyes, but I have breathed it in. I must allow this grief to teach me. I know for a fact that there are the remains of trees that allowed me to sink into them and absorb their beauty, in that smoke and ash. That is all that is left, and it is breaking me.  Letting this smoke and ash mingle around me is a way of honoring those giants who did nothing but clean up our air and provide us with timber for all manner of things. These are some of the most beautiful living beings on this planet and I am deeply saddened by their passing.

If you have not seen these forests and mountains you might not understand. These are not “things” that you can rebuild with money or legislation, they are just gone. I can never take my grandchildren to see them and absorb their love as I did. I have let them down and I have no excuse for doing that.

So many places have shared their love and magic with me. Whether it was camping or hiking among them or just walking into their midst and losing myself in their magnificent presence. I owe them so much for all the things that make me, me.  This is not like it was when Mt. St. Helens blew, I was there. This is not nature redirecting her energy. there is no way to sugar coat this, this is the result of humans raping the very thing that gives us life, we have turned a corner that we likely will never turn back from.  So I will grieve and I will walk out of this knowing that I have to do something, I have no illusions about any grandiose thing I could conjure that would change anything but even if it means voting and speaking up when I can, I will. I will never be able to look my grandkids in the eye again if I don’t.

And we go into tomorrow.

This year has honestly been a wandering decade of a year. In wandering I mean within ourselves, honestly so much has changed and nothing has changed all at once. It is strange…

Oh these are strange days
In many strange ways
A message to outer space
Send help cause we lost our way

We have lost our way; it doesn’t do any good to say otherwise. I don’t know how to reconcile the folly of my generation. I’m a boomer by a year or two. I’ve seen a few things but nothing I have seen prepared me for this. This song has been a raft that I have been floating on.

I have been a fan of The Struts since I first heard them in 2016. I love Luke Spiller, for me, he is the best rock voice since Freddy. “Strange Days” hit me hard, I was listening to this when I sat outside and mingled with the ash. On its surface, this a great rock ballad, just beautiful. But if you spin it a few times, some magic appears. There is a depth to the message here, a message to outer space may seem silly but asking for help because we have lost our way is not silly at all. Do you have a better idea?

So many of the songs I have heard The Struts sing are straightforward rock anthems, and if you are looking to escape into an anthemic afternoon of good rock and roll then I strongly suggest you explore their catalog.

“We don’t know, it’s unclear
Where we’ll be this time next year”

It feels like we found a rut, kind of like normal but not. Working and schooling from home, doing your thing as best you can but feeling alone, cause you are. This stuff we are living with is not normal, it is not even close

When has a lyric seemed more accurate? I do not recall a time in my life that I wondered where or if I will be next year. Every day I get up and groan, just like you and then I believe. I can do this for one more day. I love the reaction to joy I get when I see when one of the people who come to buy groceries receives a bit of my joy. It is a strange time to be alive, but I am alive. I am so alive…every little thing that you do goes a long long way.

It is true that it is unclear where we will be this time next year. My granddaughter and I talked recently, and she asked me about where we come from and I was honest. We came from everywhere. There is no one place that bears our banner. In some ways that may give me an advantage, but I am not sure. I remember my deep disillusionment when I was in ninth grade and learned that the US was not strictly a democracy but rather a republic. My patriotic view was shattered at that point and circumstances across the world because of what “we” did have done nothing to repair that. This does not mean I do not love my country, but it does mean I am sad for her. Structures of discriminatory behavior permeate every fiber of our nation. I still find beauty here every single day. I see beauty in the people that come though to get their groceries and I do believe things can change, but only if we all can understand just how strange this time is and just how important it is to do the work of listening and unraveling the lies and betrayals of what came before us.

Strange days, we are all strange. We are all trying to make the best of where we begin in this crazy world.

“But we don’t’ talk about it
But isn’t it good to be down here alive
Something money could never buy
It’s worth more than a million roses”

Just waking up every day and breathing are signs of hope for me. I consider it a privilege to walk this life and I am honored to have walked the odyssey of life that I have walked, and I will continue to.  I think we need to talk a lot more about how good it is to be down here, even if it feels so strange and terrible right now, take a deep breath and smile…

These are strange days in many strange ways

“When you stumble and fall get yourself off the ground
Play your favorite song and sing it out loud
Take a deep breath and in time you’ll begin to smile”

You should probably put this song on repeat… it may help you get through on more day… There is hope in this ballad. These guys wrote something that we are all feeling, and they rocked it.  Dozens of times over the last few weeks I have played this on my way to work, taking a deep breath and beginning to smile. Sometimes I do sing it our loud and sometimes I just let it bring me joy. It has helped me bring more joy to those that come in and need it. It really is good to be alive.

Listening, learning, and growing…

Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers

My Rabbit Hole

There is something I do when I take in new music. I find a song that sends me down a road that then leads to another and then an album, and then three. I refer to this as my rabbit hole, Alice had hers, I have mine. I heard “Passing Through” two weeks ago, it led me to this rabbit hole. I do that, I hear something intriguing and I go digging with my ears, looking to see if this is a new vein of magic.  Sometimes I am only digging for an hour, sometimes it is weeks. In the case of Joe Hertler and the Rainbow Seekers, I am still digging through their catalog and I am finding so much magic. Honestly, most of the time these rabbit holes yield maybe a smile from a song or two but usually not anything more. I still can’t believe I have never heard these guys before this. But, as I have said, you find it when you need it.

Maybe I’ll lose my shit tomorrow
Give way to all my sorrow
But today is not the day to fall apart

Those lyrics right there kind of sum it up for me and others I see busting their asses every day.  Maybe we will lose our shit tomorrow, but we are going to keep our shit together today. We are just Passing Through ya know… and we can see how close you are to losing yours.

We’re learning how to lose, cause we’re just passing through

This year, we have suffered so many losses, so we really are learning how to lose, all of us are. We are all just trying to pass through this and hoping to get to the other side of it…but we must get through it. I don’t think it matters what stage of life you happen to be in, this has been scary and agonizing. I do however have a bright glimmer of hope in my spirit these last few weeks. In large part due to the Rainbow Seekers range of honest lyrics and incredible musicianship, this group of humans delivers… so well. There is so much magic in this music for me, it walked me through a range of emotions that has been a bit like you would go through if you were grieving. They bring joy and speaking to your own story. I am a better person because of finding this rabbit hole.

Are you feeling kinda lonely
Like everyone else
Is your future looking stormy
Do you need a friend
Are you trying to find where home is
Then please take my hand
But you say you’re feeling lonely
Lonely, like everyone else

This one gets into my soul…this could have been written for today!!! What the hell kind of magic is this? But hear me out, if you’re feeling kind of lonely, like everyone is, then please take my hand, this will get you a little closer to understanding. “Lonely” speaks some real truth to what we need right now. This came out in 2017, but it couldn’t be more relevant today, and the funk… shit.

Am I the only one to see the sign upon the bathroom stall

Think about this as we face the next few months, as the nation who stood for peace and democracy for generations, we were the difference in both world wars. But all that time we have never removed the racial barriers and constructs of racism that lie deep within the fabric of our nation, we must unravel that. We need to understand our scars.

This is your story
These are your scars
Don’t you ever forget who you are
When it gets heavy
When it gets hard
Don’t you ever forget who you are
Don’t you ever forget who you are

Your Story, this did more for me than I can even describe. I feel like they have been on my shoulder for the last few decades and wrote this just for me There isn’t a lyric or note that doesn’t resonate with me, this song made me soar. I am writing my story; I am pulling out my scars so you can see them.

We all have a story, filled with scars. When you see someone in the store or at a traffic light in the car next to you, there is a story and a pile of scars, right there and they all need to be accepted for just that.  Not a single person could have foresaw the gravity of what is 2020, and we still have three months to go. We are locked at the edge of a storm, we are all in this together, for bad or for worse we get to ride this out or die…literally. What exactly are you going to do to survive, will you crawl into a corner and hide until 2021 or will you embrace joy?  Think of it as a puzzle, the pieces are all right there in front of you and we have extraordinarily little time to put them together.

You fueled your own furnace, when you spoke they all heard it
Like lightning at the edge of a storm
Every word was a wave, every thought was a cave
That bore through every mind that came before

I hope you can hear my story; it is fired by years of a furnace that had no pity or grace for my wellbeing, but I survived, and I am not willing to let those scars go unnoticed.  There are giants on whose shoulders I get to ride upon, I am a son of the Beard brothers, my father and his six brothers all served in WWII and Korea and they all came home. We have a way of surviving and I want to never squander the lessons they gave me in the service that they gave. This song, more than anything, gave me the juice to push forward and succeed. You may find it small and insignificant, but it really matters so much to me. I am writing my story every day; I get to choose my attitude and pass along a smile that hopefully throws a little light your way.

Am I the only one to see the sign on the bathroom stall or on your heart?

I have the brilliant privilege to see roughly ten thousand people a week, but what I dug into even deeper this week was the real joy in making someone else smile. I love what I do… When I get that one conversation that I know gave them a warm brilliant smile of joy inside of themselves, then I am good!!! Do not think that your story does not matter, it is yours, and no one else can make a claim to it or alter it for you. It is the fabric that makes up who you are. The scars, the stories, they all add up to you. They matter and you matter… I believe you probably have a chance like me to be a light to someone who needs it and my hope is that you grab that and shine.

The last few weeks have defined us yet again and we will face whatever comes in the next few weeks. I won’t ever forget who we are. Every day we write our story, I started a new chapter a year ago. I found joy, contentment, and some exceptional humans…  I am privileged.

We don’t need a hero; it takes all of us to heal this.

If you haven’t heard this band, stop what you are doing and listen. Their music will move you; this is an incredible group of musicians and I am so glad they found each other so I could get lost in a rabbit hole they inspired. They will astound your ears and then your heart, they exude magic. This is what I do when I am being rational, and a beautiful thing happened… I met Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers.

I have listened to three of their albums thoroughly so far, Terra Incognita, Pluto, and Paper Castle.  There is magic on every one of them. I could have talked about so many of their songs.

This is your story,

These are your scars

I am optimistic about what we could do as a nation if we acted with kindness and an offer of hope. Music gives me hope, it gives me inspiration and when I pay attention it guides me as well. Take some time to go wandering through the rabbit holes that come your way, we are just passing through…

Listening, learning, and growing…

Bronze Radio Return – Still Wandering

I hope I never lose my wonder and amazement at finding a song that hits me right where I am right now. That is what Still Wandering by Bronze Radio Return did… right in the ears…

I recently deleted my Facebook and Instagram accounts, my reasons were many but when I did, I signed off with the statement that I am going wandering. Wandering is where I have found joy, and hope, always hope. You see when I wander, I am giving life a chance to find me. I learned that when I am chasing life, I miss too much. Today as I was having my morning coffee, Bronze Radio Return stopped me cold and its been on repeat ever since.

“If this is being lost, then may I never be found”

Have you been lost today? Did it surprise you? What did you find?

Let’s talk about wandering, from birth I had the structures of religion bound into my thoughts and actions. It taught me that I would only find joy after death, it taught me the sheer terror of wandering into sin.  I have spent the last twenty years tearing myself free from those strictures. I am now at a place of believing that there can be joy today, and wandering is part of that joy.  As I let myself wander this life, breathing in all that is around me, I am able to experience hope and friendship that I would have missed before, because I was wearing the blinders of attempting to break the yoke that religion had on me. 

“I’m not lost, I’m still just wandering”

This wandering has taken me to places that renew my hope, just the other day I got to sit down and have lunch with a new friend, I would have missed him if I were not wandering. We found a common joy in music and being a source of hope for one another. This friendship has the potential of being a very deep lifelong bond and I am richer for it. While we are surrounded by fear and the unknown of what is 2020, we are all wandering, we are all lost. There is no normal or certainty about anything in a way that no one living today has ever experienced.  Embrace this journey, grab all the hope and joy you can find and embrace the wandering, you may find it will free you.

The timing of hearing this song along with that lunch conversation are no coincidence. It is not chance that I work at the neighborhood grocery store and have found a way to give what hope I can to those I work with and those that come through for their groceries. This is where my wandering has taken me, and it was a deliberate choice to abandon the predictable path that I was on and follow my own road. I have no idea where this will take me, I just know that I have found hope and I will continue to listen for the magic in music and sharing what feeds my soul.

Bronze Radio Return is a band that has crossed my aural path several times, but I am not intimately familiar with their catalog of music. There is no doubt that they have touched magic and sent it out for us to enjoy. Still Wandering is a simple song and that is where its magic is rooted. It does not try to enthrall us with complicated rhythms or rhyme’s, it just speaks to our souls. This song is a gift of incredible value to me. It is giving me another day of hope and an opportunity to see that my path is true. I will continue chasing death as hard as I can, pushing at that veil so it fears me and not the other way around. Still Wandering is about winning life, not just living it.

Each day we have choices, some are small and have almost no consequences. Others may seem small but can carry massive consequences. If you are open to seeing the universe around you and if you are willing to gather the story of those around you, then you can succeed and wander. From my side of the grocery store I see you struggling just to breathe. Sometimes you are open to a smile or a word of encouragement but sometimes you are just sad. Don’t hide from the wonder of the journey. I see your pain, you matter to me, put some headphones on and put this song on repeat. Let it feed your soul… the magic is real.  I want you to see the new normal with me, I want you to wander and discover this beautiful joy I have found… it’s your story, it’s yours to wander.

“I’m still out here and I’m still moving along

still wandering”

Listening, learning, and growing…

Mt. Joy – Rearrange Us

Each morning we wake up and are startled into the realization that yet again, something new or terrible greets us. We walk through it, we live in it and wonder when we will wake up, cause this shit cannot be real. But it is, and here we are.

I hope you have some form of coping mechanism. Mine is taking in music, soaking in it, and then writing about it. That is where I find peace, its where I find joy… it’s how I feed my soul. I have no idea when or if “this” is going away, we all must find a few things to grasp onto and hold tight, something that makes us feel at least a little bit balanced. How prescient is “Rearrange Us”? We’ve all been rearranged, a lot.  Rearranged, means a thousand different things to a thousand different people, but this is our new reality. For all of us it means masks, a distance we are not fond of… and a constant state of fear of those around you. This is not healthy… but this is our reality. If you are privileged, you get to have a smile on occasion. These last few months have been made a little easier for me, due to the release of Mt. Joy’s “Rearrange Us”. It has given me some light on some very dark days. I am always grateful for gifts like this, but this one is special. Countless hours with this in my ears have made for a lot of beautiful moments.

There are countless bands that have a star or two and are surrounded by capable musicians and incredibly beautiful things have happened. But on rare occasions something truly magical happens, a group of musicians find each other, for whatever reason, they find each other.  Mt. Joy is made up of five uniquely distinct artists, Matt Quinn (vocals, guitar), Sam Cooper (guitar), Jackie Miclau (keyboards), Michael Byrnes (bass) and Sotiris Eliopoulos (drums), in no order at all… Each of them is extremely talented and a star in their own right and they fit together like a beautiful song.

If you look back over the rocket shot ride of Mt. Joy’s career, you will start at “Astrovan”. That was on their self-titled debut album, Mt. Joy. I listened to that album so many times and was in awe of these young musicians singing about a deadhead Jesus and Sheep. I deliberately chose not to write about them because of my age-old philosophy that you really do not know what a band is made of until you hear their sophomore release. Then “Rearrange Us” happened…I am glad I waited.

Music captures me through its rhythm’s and then its lyrics. I need to be able to soak it in and discover some magic in it every time I hear it.  I have listened to “Rearrange Us” several hundred times conservatively, and every time I listen, I find a new magic.  That fact alone makes this an album that will be in my top whatever for the rest of my life. Its been an awfully long time since I have enjoyed an album from start to finish like this one. This kind of work is exceedingly rare and especially rare from a band that has been together for such a short time. I am so excited about their future; they seem to honestly love each other and that really matters. From what they post on social media, they have a righteous activism in their voice and that tells me they are not too naive. If they hold on to each other, listen to each other and ignore the noise of the industry, then I am sure we will be hearing a lot more from them, and it will be awesome.  

The album was released on June 5, 2020 and was recorded in Portland OR by Tucker Martine, I find it all kinds of interesting that Portland rolls its soul through this. I have some history there too, spent some teenage years hanging out on the north end with my older sister and brother in law. Learned a lot there, oh and I was born in Portland… never really lived there though.

It was the keys of Jackie Miclau, playing on “Strangers” that first caught my attention. Her work leaves me completely speechless. Throughout this album, you can hear her weave a beautifully subtle portrait of rhythms, or tear into a ground shaking, lead the band and blow your face to pieces type of riff… and she has a blast doing it.

Miss Miclau, you are a complete rock star. No one gets to question this…it is known.

“Staring at America, and if I blink I’ll drown”

Then they just pile on with those lyrics, there is so much magic wrapped in what they have written, every single song from this album has some. I know that all of this was written and recorded before the pandemic and the protests, but saying they are prescient would be an understatement. I have spent a lot of time letting this album soothe my soul as I have navigated the last few months. I will continue to let it make me smile. They only made me admire them more when I saw their post regarding their June 5th release. They wanted to postpone it; they did not want to self-promote while this nation was trying to come to terms with our ugly racist self. They couldn’t stop the release so in response, they donated all of the first weeks proceeds to Campaign Zone, a non-profit dedicated to reducing police violence.  That is a big deal, this is not a band who can sit on their millions from all their big hits! There is no doubt that they will have the opportunity to get there but they are not there, they are just getting started and the first week of sales for an album is not trivial…. It was the top selling album on vinyl that week… Mt. Joy has integrity…respect that.

“Hold on tight, I think I might have wasted all my time on fear
But if I were would you be so rude and tell me what I have to hear”

“Bug Eyes” is a brilliant beginning to this album, it is an example of how Mt. Joy constructs their songs, the way they build to crescendo and then ride from there, is not commonplace, and I love it. The lyrics of this song are so poignant and yet coy in how they dance around our feelings.  “May all your love be returned” may go down as one of the best lines on any albums opening song. This song introduced me to Michael Byrnes. This guy is one hell of a bass player. Every song he plays has a little of his soul wrapped up in it. Yes, I am partial to bass players, so what. This guy can play, he can play and play, and I will listen and listen. The bass line in “Bug Eyes” is a great example of how the bass can drive a song and yet remain a subtle fixture of your imagination. Michael delivers the precise bass line each song needs throughout this album; some are subtle, and some are in your face righteous bass lines. I am a fan of this kid. There is a beautiful joy in the way Jackie, Michael and Sotiris drive this song, they are locked in and so precise throughout this album. This opening tune is a demonstration of how a rhythm section should and can absolutely carry a song. Even if it has profound lyrics…

“Are you not worried, are you not worried
‘Cause we don’t have to lie like them, we’re all already lost”

“Acrobats” is a stunning romp of lyrics diving into a roar of magical music. This song takes you on a ride of absolute magic! Every member of the group makes a statement here, it’s like they are saying we are Mt. Joy, can you handle it??? This song has one of the most complete bridges I have heard in decades… Put this on repeat and repeat…

“If the future won’t hold it don’t let go
And if the future won’t hold it don’t let go
’Cause if the future won’t hold it just trust the moment
If the future won’t hold it just trust the moment
If the future won’t hold it don’t let go If the future won’t hold it just trust the moment
The future won’t hold it don’t let go
And if the future won’t hold it I will carry it”

“Come With Me” If there was a protest song on this album, this would be it… everything about this song gives me hope. Do you have any idea how many times I have seen a glimmer of hope only to have it crushed.? I was seven when MLK was killed, I was fourteen when we ran from Vietnam, and then in my late twenties, we had sunk into the gulf war. There have been so many times that the “future would not hold it” Something about today feels different, just trust this moment.  This song stands as an example of just how much magic this band has. It is the beautiful culmination of reaching for hope through music and lyrics. We are all alive in a moment of reckoning, we are all responsible for being the change that creates the same opportunity for every soul regardless of how they look or how they identify themselves. I am exhausted with being helpless to change what is happening to my brothers and sisters around me. I will keep helping you all feed yourselves from my neighborhood grocery store job and I will keep turning to songs like this to keep me alive.

I will not go through every detail of every song; I am leaving plenty for you to discover on your own, it is a great ride. I will leave you with this though… spend forty-five seconds of your life and listen to “Have Faith in the Good”, it is a beautifully simple spell of magic, all its own, just wash in it… you’re welcome.

Hold very tight to the people in your life, I do not remember a time when there was this much to worry about.  Each of those around us is struggling to understand what hope is or if it even exists. We should live and die and see the world through someone else’s eyes… be bug eyed and go fall in love with strangers…

Listening, learning, and growing….

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