You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Recording’ category.

I was a bit startled to realize on my birthday this past Monday, August 27th, that it was indeed the 10th anniversary of the release of my second solo CD, All Six Senses.  I had what still feels like an idyllic, dreamlike time recording those songs out in Marin County, CA with producer Scott Mathews at his Tiki Town Studios.  Over the past few days, I’ve spent some time listening to those tracks with my friend Amy, who played them, intermingled with other tunes, from her iPod in her car.  It is sometimes annoying to listen to old recordings, but this time I really dug hearing some songs that have mostly fallen away from the set list (“Cling To You,” “I Skate Alone”) and others that have become standard fare (“Holy River,” “First Sight”).  It is a very rewarding feeling to listen and feel that All Six Senses, for the most part, really does sound like the songs that I had in my head.  It does a decent job of expressing snapshots of the spiritual growth spurt I was in when I wrote these songs (there is the one cover – a slow, jazzy take on “Cruel to be Kind”).  I hope it might still manage to inspire anyone listening to examine their own lives and take their own journeys.

I remembered how much I enjoy these tunes and the recordings of them, and then I remembered another anniversary.  It would take more than a short blog entry to tell the many stories and make even an attempt at the impact, but the super-short version is that I was (and still am) blessed in life to have met and gotten to know one of my greatest musical/lyrical/cultural heroes, Warren Zevon.  Since meeting him at The Stone Pony (his show [opening for The Band!] was August 26, 1994 – his after-midnight autograph says August 27th – now this story is even stranger), we kept in touch.  The day after my official, yet totally indie release of All Six Senses, it occurred to me that I hadn’t heard from WZ in a while.  I happily tapped out a long e-mail asking him what was going on, telling him about my life, the new recording, everything.  The response I got back was very brief:

He was ill.

“My lungs and liver are shot” he wrote.

I didn’t know, and couldn’t have comprehended on that day the seriousness of what he was saying.  If it wasn’t that very day that he’d gotten the diagnosis of inoperable mesothelioma, it was within a day or so at the very most.  I don’t have words for what I felt, or really know what I did the rest of that shocking day.

He asked me to send a copy along to him, so even in the midst of coping with finality he took the time to listen to All Six Senses.  He said he enjoyed it, was glad I was continuing to work on the music, and advised me to “keep chanting.”  I’ve definitely managed to do that.

I could say more – try to create some storyline about the impact of cosmic crossroads or the mystical fusion of wonderful-horrible anniversaries.  I won’t.  I will just try to sit with it all as it happened, and with my own uncomfortable twinge at having been moved to share this ball of entwined emotions with you tonight.

Advertisements

One afternoon on Facebook, Preetamdas Kirtana posted something like “F*!k tolerance!  What if God practiced ‘tolerance?’  Practice love!”  “That should be a T-shirt,” I commented.  He said I ought to go for it – and so it is. => here   Thanks, Preetamdas, for the inspiration.  The Coexist movement is headed in the right direction.  I hope this bit of in-your-face yoga inspires many more to approach life from a place of love.

Last week, I was at Jack and Jenn’s working on the preliminary recordings for the next chant CD.  As the day to begin work drew closer, I felt as though I was cramming for kirtan.  I had to solidify ideas that had been floating along for months.  I needed to make decisions about instrumentation.  I wanted to strongly suggest to divine inspiration that a visit would be more than welcome.  “This is no way to approach bhakti,” I thought.  These sounds should emerge whole from pure love, unabated.  I was angry with myself for my process.  All music should be effortless, right?  I was angrier that I had been letting relationships and meekness and random distractions throw me off my game for too long.  How long ago had the trail branched off?  I realized that Virgo Obsesso, my inner critic, was at it again.  I noticed that sometimes I manage to coexist with the process it takes to live and grow and create.  Sometimes it feels farther off than that, and I barely tolerate my own mind’s changes.  Life is a meditation.  The point is to notice the straying, and return to center. 

Recognizing that the shirt’s message must first be realized internally – spiritually – emotionally – was a revelation.  Seeing this brought on an immediate shift.  There is time to remember the breath and time to extend compassion to the inner struggle.  Time to remember that music and art and awareness of spirit all show up where there is kindness to self.  All of us woo-woo types talk about “You have to love yourself.”  It was good to actually get it in that moment.  I’m sure I’ll forget again and remind myself.  Again.  As with any practice, the hope is that the cycle becomes gentler as we move along the path.

I am now quietly excited about allowing the new sounds through.  Seven new chants and spiritual songs are in the works.  Recording felt easy, as if it was happening of its own accord.  I love one song that I am so far calling “Blessed Be – Namaste.”  It is exceedingly simple and is a blessing that seeks to make a bridge where the Pagan and Hindu traditions in me meet.  The words and melody were sweet enough to show up the night before the recording session.  I believe that often the best thing one can do for anything musical or poetic is to get out of its way. 

Blessed Be and Namaste.  May we be good to ourselves and practice love in our travels.  May the reminders harm none and lead us back in those moments when love has been forgotten.

Even as I am moving along into 2011 armed with optimism and new resolve, I find myself still looking back, trying to make sense of 2010.  Everybody may be sick of all the Top 10 Whatever lists we get pelted with in December of each year, but mine formed late.  So here it is.

I won’t  pretend that 2010 was an overall good year for me.  I am moving past it enough now, though, to have lost interest in enumerating the painful spots.  I would rather remember the important positives.  I’ve noted them in my cumbersomely titled Top 9 Very Good and/or Extraordinary Experiences of 2010, in chronological order.  I enjoy the Number 9 and multiples of 9.  I’m weird like that.

Top 9 Very Good and/or Extraordinary Experiences of 2010

1)      Recording with Producer/Musician/Composer Scott Pearson – February 7-9

It is not often when I hear the language that a song speaks to me, and find another person who hears more or less the same thing— plus huge leaps through a library of sounds just on the tip of my imagination.  In these sessions, we recorded two songs that I promise you’ll get to hear one day soon.   Scott Pearson is brilliant, insightful, and has hilarious stories to tell.   Add to it that getting to his Cary, NC studio involved driving through a blizzard, having my car buried in snow on a cul-de-sac in Alexandria, VA, and a tow truck to free the vehicle before another few harrowing hours of driving on ice, and you have a formula for quite the memorable time.

2)      Visiting with Anasakta – April 23-25

I met this Canadian mystic when he became friends with my former housemate.  His insights on Self-Realization are extraordinary, and he believes in my wisdom and inner awareness in the bhakta/tantrika realm more than I can fathom.  We talked for hours, laughed a lot, interviewed each other on South Street in Philly, and he even put up with my inexplicable obsession with Canadian folk singer Stompin’ Tom Connors.

3)      Gunnison Beach Party – July 24

Anyone who knows me at all knows that being naked in the sun is one of my favorite life experiences.  I have been part of a large group that gets together annually for a party at Gunnison Beach, the clothing-optional beach at Sandy Hook in New Jersey.  This year the weather was truly perfect and being in the midst of this social experience while making moments to commune personally and directly with nature was profound.  Being in the ocean to me is to be enveloped in the essence of Goddess.  My longtime friend and spiritual sister, dancing rabbit, stayed for the weekend.  Any time with her is never short of healing and magic.

4)      Rocking out with the MMB on my Birthday – August 27

For the last few years, getting the chance to perform with the Mutant Mountain Boys has been a highlight of my musical year.  We’re a bluegrass-styled band that pays tribute to Devo and the Church of the SubGenius.  The group is a brainchild of my banjo-playing Devo freak friend, Samantha.  This year we played on opening night of the annual DEVOtional at the Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland.  We performed what felt like our best show yet, and saw some excellent out-of-the-box bands.  That was a great way to celebrate another trip around the sun.

5)      Kirtan Cleveland, August 26 and 29

The Cleveland area was good to me in 2010.  Frank Barnett was a champion of the kirtan chanting community there, and he coordinated my first NPR station interview for the afternoon of the 26th.  It was a challenge and a joy to roll with linking my love of Devo with devotional chanting.  The kirtan on the 29th had Samuel Salsbury on violin and Joe Culley on tabla, and lots of enthusiastic people at Studio 11 in Tremont to share the experience.  The fact that Frank passed away two weeks later makes these moments so much more precious.

6)      Recording “Hare Krishna Christmas” – November 8

Last year, I finally got back in touch with my inner comic.  I have always loved parody, naughty limericks, cartoons, and all manner of zaniness.  Though “Hare Krishna Christmas” has humor, it also emerges from a heart sincere in love of Consciousness and blended spiritualities.  Finally, I followed friends’ advice and recorded this tune that has lived in my head for years.  I had never before begun a recording session by having to multitrack harmonies with the lyrics “Ding Dong Ding.”  Engineer/Musician/Composer Jack Walker and I tend to crack each other up no matter the recording project of the day, often with Warner Bros. toon quotes:  “This time, we didn’t forget the graaa-vy!”

7)      Silent Retreat – November 29

On this date every year, I have private, 24-hour long silent retreat.  I talked about it quite a bit in the previous entry.  This time around the silence was not so pleasant as it was functional.  Pain and thoughts and questions came up and morphed into much needed calls-to-action.

8)      Kye’s Birthday Parade Surprise – December 11

I really don’t know how I would feel if I were surprised by scores of people in costumes with twirling ribbons who came dancing and marching up the street to the front of my Las Vegas abode to do the box step and shout cheers for me on my birthday.  I do know that it was amazing to play The Cat in the Hat in this display for Kye Brackett.  Kye is one of the many extraordinary beings that make up the chosen family of people for dynamic and authentic living we call freedomcommunity.  I was overjoyed in this procession at the creativity and penchant for the absurd, and was moved to tears by the outpouring of love.

9)      Tears of Joy at the End of DADT

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was a terrible policy.  I was angry about it when it was instituted, and always thought it should go away.  I admit I never truly understood its impact until I heard the ecstatic and exhausted tears of joy and relief when a good friend called to tell me it had been repealed.  The repeal of DADT meant that she will be able to continue to live with the love of her life, a career military woman, without lies of omission and fear.  An impending promotion will not mean separation and emotional chaos, but a new home and a next phase in the lives of two people dedicated to one another.  Oh, Happy Day.

Happy New Year to you.  Here’s to a 2011 full of love, health, growth, fun, and music.

Blog Topics

Archives

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,292 other followers

Advertisements