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Well, if you’ve ever had the urge to quote me on any number of topics, this is your week to gather material. Today’s stop on the Robin Renée Blog Tour is an interview by award-winning author Fran Metzman, whose book, The Hungry Heart Stories, I mused about here. She got me to think a lot about the step-by-step process that happens in the act of writing as well as kirtan’s effect on my singer/songwriter pop music and vice versa.
Read all about it and post your comment here: Fran Metzman Interviews Robin Renée
Tomorrow, the next stop is at Tall Tales and Short Stories from South Jersey.
Today’s blog tour stop brings me to Patti O’Brien’s blog, A Broad Abroad. I have enjoyed following her travels from time to time, so I’m honored she’d take a moment to write a bit about me, highlighting some of the places I’ve journeyed.
You can catch up with Patti’s discovery of Mantra-Pop, my upcoming trip to Canada (Finally!), and more here:
Tomorrow’s stop: A guest blog by Fran Metzman. You can check it out here.
I really love today’s stop on the Robin Renée Blog Tour. My friend Glenn Walker has had This. on his iPod for a few months now, and it is clear he’s really been listening. Coming from a perspective of someone with no background in kirtan, yoga, or concepts from those traditions, he took in the sounds, did a little research, offered his impressions of each song in turn, and gave me the chance to respond. It was a great experience to hear what he had to say and to get a unique real-life glimpse into another person’s encounters, questions, and growing fondness for the music. It was just as cool to take some time to respond to Glenn’s questions and impressions. Even though it was a challenge to explain what, for the most part, lies beyond direct explanation, I still managed to find plenty to say.
Read Glenn’s great blog entry here: This. Song by Song.
Remember to check out tomorrow’s travel-themed blog tour stop @ Patti O’Brien’s blog, A Broad Abroad.
It looks like I’ve waited a little too long to blog about my experience at Zombie Run. A week ago Sunday, it was exciting to run though the campy horror-fantasy, but today posting pics and going on about death at a race event does not seem the thing to do. So, another time for that. My 6k run in Berlin Park yesterday evening could hardly approach the impact and dedication of a world-class marathon, but I ran it as an offering of love and healing to everyone affected by the madness in Boston.
This has truly been a season of Monkey Mind for me, but Monkey Experience has been keeping pace. New romantic curiosities, absurdly awful (non)communications, another easeful friendship deepening. There was the closing of Fluid Nightclub, where I rediscovered essential bits of my being. Played at a great event last week, the first Hub City Music Festival, and got to share the stage with old friends who I admire hugely. I’ve been asked by a friend to write a song or poem about the problem of transphobia, so I’ve been letting those thoughts percolate. There isn’t a whole lot on the official schedule, but that is actually a good thing right now. My brain is busy catching up to a thousand details.
I keep trying to find words to express how I feel about the Boston Marathon bombing, but they don’t show up. It seems as if I couldn’t say it any better than the compassionate internet memes that are already trying. Petty concerns of all of the above – and just about anything – are snapped way back into perspective. I am recognizing more than ever how music and art soothe and teach, learn, respond, and heal. So, yes. More of that, please. At this moment, I am much more a listener than a maker of sounds. I will, however, be chanting kirtan this Sunday in Langhorne, PA – the more voices the better: http://rainbowsofhealing.com/kirtan-with-robin-renee/.
I want to be sure of what I think I believe and how I behave that I believe – that by living quietude we can have a small part in helping quiet the angriness in the world.
Getting the word out on the new chant CD, This., has so far been a gradual, but purposeful process. The official press release is finally here. I have been sending some info out myself as well as finding more efficient, mental health-conducive ways to let people know there’s new music about. The business of music had me down when I last wrote here. Now I find a great deal of optimism in new approaches, and so today you (and I) have a happier me. It’s a buzzword, but true – I feel incredibly empowered to make different and better decisions, having decided to dispense with the status quo.
I listened to “Keshava,” the first song on This., today, and it made me smile. It is one of my favorite kirtans to share live. Having not been on the road much at all in recent months, I am looking forward to singing this with others for the first time in a while tomorrow evening near the Jersey shore. Another of my favorites on This. is “Blessed Be, Namaste.” It is one of those songs where the lyrics seemed to show up fairly miraculously at the right time and in the right order. Bridging and blending spiritual traditions is important to me, and this one does that. It feels good to enjoy the music again, after a bit of time away from hearing these recordings.
One common frustration I’ve heard other musicians talk about is the need to perform and publicize the current project while the creative impulse has already moved onto the next. I have been taking an easeful approach to the new songs. They are in there, but not yet clamoring desperately. Interesting phrases and definitely some wild dreams have been showing up. I’ll court the REM stage influence for a while longer and find instrumentation I’ll love. Today it felt comforting – not at all a frustration – to immerse myself again in the sounds of This. and embark on finding more ears to hear it and souls to sing along.
New Year / New Order – 1/4/13
Dancer’s invisible hand, this time
did not push me to the platform
No particular synth rhythm
tonight is motion, sex
shiny with silver fleck sequins
‘wish you cud see the glitter’
the ones not here
on stage, suddenly
leading pristine, sweaty, t-shirt, gender bent ball gown crowd
in a chorus of electric
she joins me
hips hair arms miming the instinctual
I pretend not to see DJ’s camera
as saving grace
She is taller than I
I wait for kisses
to take them
we draw a small crowd
of admirers – I know the beauty
is in every face mid-lyric
with favorite song
in silver-painted spikes
in blue luminescence
in every joyous dance floor grind
as much beauty here
as on renunciate mountaintop
and the living-the-moment
make desperate, impossible love
right here, in public
just below the balcony
until which is which, a memory
for armchair gurus.
I was ordained by sound before the womb
into the Order of Bodylight
Dance trance rishi has spoken
and this is my mantra.
♪ I know, you know, we believe in a land of love
I know, you know, we believe in a land of love ♫
Too-drunk chick yells above edgy guitar thump
“YOU… are a PARTY girl… and I DON’T take that LIGHTly!”
Nor do I.
I posted these lyrics on Facebook yesterday and am happy that quite a few people are enjoying them. I was just about to post it here earlier this evening, but started watching the 12-12-12 Concert for Sandy Relief that is going on at Madison Square Garden. Just then Adam Sandler came on and sang a Sandy-ized rendition of “Hallelujah” which was… well… interesting. So, it felt like pretty much perfect timing to share this here.
Here’s my perennial silliness meeting my love of celebration – a parody for the Pagan folk. And of course, Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas, and Joyous times to all! Perhaps there’s a holiday album in my future… I am apparently accumulating the tunes.
The Yule Song
- to the tune of The Chanukah Song by Adam Sandler
Lyrical adaptation by Robin Renée
It’s gonna be so cool again, time to celebrate Yule again
Why not play the fool again and have some fun at Yule again
Yule is the holiday of returning light
The sun gets stronger after the year’s longest night
If you feel like the only one with no Nativity,
Here are some Pagan people just like you & me:
Robin Gibb’s wife Dwina was a Druid Priestess
Alice Walker knows what the Sabbat feast is
Do you wanna hear a Pagan while you’re driving in your car?
Tune in to Margot Adler on NPR
Not sure if his mom served tofu pups or brisket
But who was raised a Wiccan? Fred Durst from Limp Bizkit!
You don’t need Silent Night or The Chanukah Song
‘Cause you can rock with George Takei around the fire all night long (Oh, myyy!)
It’s gonna be so cool again, time to celebrate Yule again
It’s like a shiny jewel again, the sacred time of Yule again
Barack Obama – not a Pagan – It’s easy to perceive it
He’s not a Muslim either, but some people won’t believe it
And yes, she spent a lot of time speaking out for PETA
‘Cause Chrissie Hynde’s one badass vegan Pagan mamacita
Not everyone’s a Pagan who holds nature dear,
But I think Captain Planet is, and every Planeteer!
There are so many holidays that people find pleasin’
But remember Winter Solstice is the reason for the season
So don’t be a hooligan
Just spread the love at Yule again
And tell the kids at school again
It’s the lovely time of Yule again
I’m like a stubborn mule again
Determined to do Yule again
So feel the inner fuel again
And sing the songs of Yule again
The season is so cool
So have a happy, happy, blessed, happy Yule!
Robin Renée December 2012
It’s actually happening. The finishing touches are finally being put on the new chant recording. A very brief post about it yesterday caused a little ripple on Facebook; in a way it served as a first bit of encouragement from outside the project. While working on This., I felt much more in a vacuum than during other recordings; I am not being coy to say the response was an honest wake-up moment about the coming of interaction with others again around the music. Soon I’ll be touring my way down to Florida and back. I’ll be inviting more people than I ever have to take part in helping the music to be heard. Possibly the most exciting and daunting part for me is that I’ll be working on the second half of the follow-up project, .. and everything else.
Back when I became completely immersed in kirtan, I spent almost a year listening to nothing else. Life was a constant meditation on the drone of harmonium or tampura. I absorbed mantras and melodies and the stories of Hindu deities at such a rate that when people asked me where I learned this or that, I truly had no idea. During that time I wasn’t sure I’d ever write another song. It only seemed relevant to talk about the totality of things. Life stuff was happening, but Om was the only relevant response.
Somewhere it became clearer to me that my path continued to be one of staying engaged in the day-to-day and writing down the stories. But by then I’d been through a kind of vortex that made it a strange exercise. I was frustrated over this for a while, but now I am giving myself a break over the times I wasn’t writing. Yes, some of that time away has probably been about avoiding pain or focusing on the minutiae rather than any larger project at hand. I suspect most of us do those things. But even more than that, I’ve been in a relearning pattern. Life feels a little different having been through this particular spiritual vein, and I am ultimately grateful for the shift. While grasping onto stories is still not as easy, they do feel rich and relevant. Lately, I’ve been in a primordial soup of happenings:
My home ashram has been steadily coming into fruition; there was an intense weekend with visiting Tantra teachers (Ran Baron and Monique Darling, with Edie Weinstein on Cuddle Party duties) and more and different events are in the works. Friends have been around sunbathing, picnicking, and enjoying the space. Some old friends seem to have left my life unequivocally, while others remain stuck in uncomfortable balance or misunderstanding. Other old friends have been reappearing in wild, wonderful, wacky, sexy ways. There are stories to fill a volume or two in these changes alone. I’m startled at how physical I want daily life to be these days – I can groove on hours of yard work with pruning, hauling branches, mowing, then swimming or running or tennis or hiking – it’s nearly all I really want to do. That is, if it weren’t for booking the upcoming tour, hopefully through D.C., Raleigh, Asheville, Atlanta, Miami, and back again. Meanwhile I have kept an eye out to see if there’s any way in the universe I can get to the UK for Robin Gibb’s memorial service, and I have met online friends who get why this continues to mean so much to me. I was sad to learn that I will be in FL on the day of a plaque dedication, but there may be another time to gather. I’ve been true to my promise to self to not let summer fun pass me by. Rocking out (well, blue grassing out, anyway) with The Mutant Mountain Boys in oppressively hot Southern Ohio on the 4th of July was a blast, as was rediscovering my love for the strangely wise absurdity of the Church of the SubGenius. I have had some joyful days at Gunnison Beach and a good peaceful time at this year’s Northeast Naturist Festival. Oh, and my friend LauraLynn Jansen and I are planning to co-lead a chant and yoga retreat in Nicaragua, January 2013.
At first, I thought it was ironic that the chant CD is on its way as I feel itchy for a full band, wanting so much to step back into the role of rocker chick. Really, it’s just typical artist stuff, I think. Project done and my being is moving onto the next, to be painted in singer/songwriter/rock sounds and maybe some spoken word. I do ultimately trust that when it’s time to be in the midst of any of these expressions, I’ll show up and be present. I hope This… and everything else together will tell more of the story as an exploration of life – or at least as extrapolated from this particular life – in something close to 360o.
I began this blog last night. It was going to be something very different. As I woke up on this warmish, misty Ostara morning, it was as though all the things I was poised to worry about in writing had put themselves in order. Whether coincidental or a function of syncing spirituality with the seasons, I do feel balance on this Equinox.
The making of the new chant CD has happened in about as opposite as fashion as the last one as possible. The kirtans and other spiritual songs on Live Devotion came quickly, jumping into my head as I worked, drove, or sang other songs—anytime, and when least expected. A few rehearsals, one long day in studio, and it had arrived. I already knew that what we were affectionately calling “Studio Devotion” would be a more traditional recording experience, but I didn’t think it would be a year in the making. Given that a lot of the year was pushing past emotional obstacles ad absurdum, I am happy to say that the gestation period for what will officially be called This seems just about over. I would like to release it well – with some traditional and innovative promotion and viable distribution. I’m open to suggestion from all quarters on how that may best happen. In the meantime, it is a wonderful feeling to be just about through with recording and mixing and to feel the emergence of new spiritsong on the first day of spring.
A recent blog by my friend LauraLynn Jansen inspired me to reflect on “What is yogic?” Today, I believe it is the practice of remembering, of coming back to center, and living a life that allows all sorts of activities and interactions to be the instrument of balance. Music, when I lose myself in it, does this work. Lately exercise – especially swimming and biking – are just as much music to me, just as much a journey toward Center. I am undertaking a sprint triathlon training, also inspired by LL. I keep finding more and more depth in meeting the challenges. I have considered the workout to be a form of meditation before, but it is new for me to think about fitness as art. The metaphor of Oneness meets the day-to-day.
April is coming, and that means NaPoWriMo. It may make me very busy, but springtime is emergence is yoga is staying in the flow of writing.
I am feeling like a fully erotic being again, after too long a hibernation.