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I love the periodic opportunity I get at Biff Bam Pop! to wax poetic about one of my favorite obsessions. Today, they published my piece on Steely Dan. I share some of my favorite tunes and some experiences in fandom. Check it out!
Biff Bam Pop! and The Dream Between would both love your shares and comments. Thanks!
I wrote a piece on one of my favorite albums for BiffBamPop.com. Here is a description of the column.
Each week, one of Biff Bam Pop’s illustrious writers will delve into one of their favorite things. Perhaps it’s a movie or album they’ve carried with them for years. Maybe it’s something new that moved them and they think might move you too. Each week, a new subject, a new voice writing on… something they love. This week, BBP contributor Robin Renee talks about Gary Wilson’s You Think You Really Know Me.
Check it out and let me know what you think:
Well, it wasn’t entirely a covert poetry operation. I posted these over the course of April on Twitter @spiritrockssexy. These micropoems represent my first real foray into approaching the grief poems and songs I’ve held inside me for way too long. I have been allowing myself to feel quietly torn apart over the last several weeks, and that is mostly a good and healing thing.
Some of the poetic tweets I wrote this month will never make it beyond scribbles in my journal. Here are a few I feel like sharing.
If I sit far from the antique aqua phone stand- taut, alert, and newsless-
would that cordless messenger still declare you gone?
He’d promised his sex elsewhere.
I pressed into the riverside, coke bottle shard curses flying –
a Zen garden traced, then erased
gruff face jumps at mirror
eyes still rise to clever, round frames, oh god I am startled
you are dead
Why do I wear this T-shirt?
Fingertip kiss, back of my neck one brush, not captured.
I am deep inside the broken notes.
Somewhere you remember, but not here.
dreaming dark chocolate summer, first baby breath wakes-
easy to forget lives not lived, just tongue on tongue
on heartbeat sweat
the OCD suitcase
that burned out aqua vibrator
one remorseful voicemail
and a few rocking tales of woe
C’mon, Shame. Decade-old vomit wants out –
with the bean burrito mash and the failure to thrive.
Make your nauseous warmth count.
The first no, first fracture, lover’s glow’s first dimming,
lips kiss back to task and pattern,
now we clutch desperate, unmasked
The first time I met Tarot Grandmaster Christiana Gaudet, I believe it may have had something to do with an impromptu seasonal celebration ritual held in a hot tub. Over the years, I’ve grown to love and trust Christiana very much, and we share quite a few things like dedication to spirituality, a penchant for discussions on grammar and usage, naturism, and a serious enthusiasm for music (Robin is to Devo as Christiana is to The Grateful Dead.).
A little over a year ago, Christiana began hosting an online show called Christiana’s Psychic Café, and decided to use my songs “Funky Bhagavate” and “Blessed Be, Namaste” as her intro and outro music. She’s also invited me on the show to chat on quite a few occasions, so turnabout is fair play, as they say. I am so glad Christiana has taken part in The Dream Between‘s 11 Questions interview series. Here are some of her thoughts on science and mysticism, the rewards and business of writing and music, entrepreneurial spirit, and more.
1. Do you think of Tarot as an art? A system? A spiritual tool? I am interested in how you describe it to someone who hasn’t encountered Tarot at all.
Yes, to all of the above. One of things that fascinates me about Tarot is how unique it is in all the world, but how it is a part of so many worlds – art, culture, spirituality, and history.
Tarot is a book of spiritual wisdom in picture form that tells the story of human experience. Tarot is a collection of archetypes and symbols that can help us communicate with each other and with the divine. Tarot is a source of creative inspiration and a tool for magick.
2. How do you balance science and rationality with mysticism and spirituality in your life?
My belief system is grounded in the reality that I observe in my daily life, so there really is no disconnect between what I believe and what is obviously scientifically true. I believe the sun will rise in the morning, and I understand the movements of the planets that make that happen. But I also honor the rising sun as a spiritual force in my life.
Nature is my Higher Power. I am face-to-face with God every day. I don’t need complicated dogma and doctrine to know, feel, and experience spiritual truth. When I observe nature I learn all I need to know about Higher Power. I find spiritual power in the tides and the stars. I see the face of the Goddess in fire as it dances. I see the Four Elements, Earth, Air, Fire and Water, as spiritual forces operating in my life. The magnificence and improbability of the world around us lead me to conclude that a divine hand is at work. To me, science proves the existence of Spirit. There is so much order to the Universe, it seems a divine order. The more I learn about science the more I see the sacred nature of life.
I have an argument with many religions. If your doctrine doesn’t hold true to the obvious facts around you, it is time to change your doctrine. That’s an interesting concept given I believe that cards drawn at random can have specific bearing in a person’s life. But, truly, divination is as old as recorded history. Divination is something we do quite naturally. The same is true with earth magick. What child has not collected rocks and shells from the beach, or sticks from the woods, knowing, deeply and inherently, that these items hold power?
3. You’ve written and published two books on the Tarot – Fortune Stellar and Tarot Tour Guide. Through those experiences, what are the most important things you’ve learned about the process of writing and publishing?
I learned that writing is an arduous task. If we only write when we feel inspired, we’ll rarely finish anything. If you force yourself to write whether or not you feel like it, the inspiration will come most of the time.
I also learned that writing is sometimes more about style than structure, and that typos are a fact of life.
I learned that publishing is rapidly changing. Whatever you knew about publishing in the past may not be true now. What we used to call “vanity press” is now “self-published” and is a viable avenue. The big publishing houses are crumbling, and self-published authors are actually making money.
I learned that unless you write a New York Times bestseller, the way to make money in writing and publishing is to be prolific. Yes, I am working on books three, four, and five right now.
Finally, I learned that books aren’t like fashion – they don’t have a shelf life. If you write a good book, that book will continue to sell year after year.
4. You and I connect a great deal around music and you’ve often incorporated music segments into your show, Christiana’s Psychic Café. What are you listening to lately?
The recent death of Pete Seeger has me revisiting my favorite folk singers. This week I’ve been listening to The Weavers, Pete Seeger, Holly Near, and Arlo Guthrie.
I listen to a lot of different genres. In terms of newer acts I like OneRepublic. Isn’t that cheesy? And I love Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. I think Grace has huge potential.
I’m a Deadhead. I catch as many DSO, 7 Walkers, Phil Lesh and Friends, Ratdog and Furthur shows as I can. We always wondered what would happen when Jerry died. Well, what happened was a lot of smaller bands mushroomed from the one. Fan musicians made it their mission to carry on the music, so there are still plenty of opportunities for us to experience those songs played live.
5. Does music help inspire your writing, preparation for readings, or other aspects of your work?
I can’t have music in the background when I write – I am easily distracted by shiny objects. I love meditative music, and I love chanting. I use music in magick and ritual quite a bit. Dance is an important part of my spiritual practice.
6. As the music business we once knew has changed so much since the Internet Age, many artists are struggling to understand how it will manifest in the future. Any predictions?
The changes in music are similar to the changes in publishing. On one hand, everyone has access. On the other hand, there are so many voices it is hard to be heard. I think one thing that is changing is there are more ways to be heard, and more ways to develop an audience. Often success will go to the diligent.
Where do I see things going in the future? I think there will be even more access to high-speed internet, recording technology, and marketing opportunities. I think the big labels, like the big publishing houses, will start to crumble. There will still be pop stars, but radio – the star maker of yesteryear – really is dying.
Right now, everyone who listens to adult contemporary knows the same songs. When Lorde won a Grammy, everyone knew the song. I see a time in the distant future where that might no longer be true. There might be so much variety available we will all listen to exactly what we like and we won’t all know the same forty songs.
In the meantime, my advice to artists would be three words: diligence, networking, and innovation.
7. Your show seems to have developed very organically and features many artists and practitioners who you know personally. How has this network of people come about for you?
When I agreed to do Christiana’s Psychic Café I knew I didn’t really have the time to take on such a project. I also knew I had a huge network of interesting people who would help me. Networks always grow. You were my very first guest. You, and many others, have introduced me to other people who have been great guests, and are now my friends. You are right about “organic growth.”
I have always been really good at bringing people together. I have organized festivals, huge parties, psychic fairs, and creative communities. It is something I do naturally. I am not as good at constantly nurturing a community. I am better at short-term projects and getting things started rather than tending them over long periods of time. Social media has allowed me to stay in touch with people that I have known over the past forty years. That is a lot of people, and a lot of energy, on which to draw.
8. In your work, you not only maintain a private reading practice, but you create a weekly newsletter, host the online show, and hold periodic worldwide Skype teaching sessions. What are your practical methods of generating many varied ideas and holding it all together?
I am grateful each day that my work allows me variety, creativity, positive human contact, and spiritual fulfillment. I work very long days, but I take frequent breaks. When I feel overwhelmed or under-inspired I picture myself working a regular job. That’s usually enough to get me back on track.
I have a lot of interesting ideas. They often come to me in the shower. My biggest problem is remembering them, since I can’t write them down while I’m washing my hair! So, the practical methods I employ boil down to gratitude for what I can do, fear of not doing it, and being open to inspiration!
9. What is the most gratifying aspect of your work?
Unfair question. That’s like asking a mother which of her kids is her favorite.
When I was really young I knew I didn’t have the ability to tolerate routines, power structures, boredom, and creative limitations. I needed to create a life where I had real passion for my tasks, and control over what those tasks would be. So I did. That my work is my work is my greatest gratification.
10. Do you have any advice or wisdom for anyone in any field who is striking out with your kind of entrepreneurial spirit?
Plenty. You have to want it so badly you can taste it. You have to believe in it when no one else does. You have to be willing to suffer for it. You have to be willing to do what it takes to make it happen, even when your friends are mad that you can’t play with them. If it were easy, everyone would do it.
When I was a theatre major at Baldwin-Wallace College for a semester I had a great teacher who said that success is the product of talent and tenacity. I think that is true for just about any kind of success.
11. What is the best course of action for creative artists in this Imbolc season?
Transform your fears, hurts, and disappointments into art. Let creativity be a source of healing for you, and let the depth of your pain energize your process. Let nothing be “good” or “bad” in terms of what you feel or what you produce. Experience everything as power, wisdom and beauty. Be free to heal, and free to create.
This is apparently a good week for the number eleven! See yesterday’s post.
I’ve known this for a very long time. I’ve even told a few people, but it didn’t really prompt me to take much action on it. To my credit, it’s hard to know where to start on a grieving project, which is what I feel like I have in front of me. So I suppose I put it on my Virgo to-do list, as if it is something I can tackle like organizing the basement (I’ve been notoriously slow on that, too).
Anyway, here’s the thing: I never really fully grieved when Warren Zevon died. Yes, I cried. Yes, I talked about it, and still do in comfortable contexts. I’ve written about it a little. But I also compartmentalized it – put it away in some corner of my brain where I could access it nominally and even feel sadness, without having to really walk through the fire. This has done a lot to block my movement through the other huge losses over the past decade. I believe it’s done damage to my ability and desire to write. I don’t know how deeply it’s worked to obscure my ability to be effective in life overall. I wonder what it’s done to my accessibility as an authentic, flesh and blood friend and lover and seeker of Spirit. I’ve got to write through tremendous grief build-up to get to the other side of Emotional Rehab Mountain.
It has been exactly 10 years today that I received the call from my dear friend Nancey:
Those were the only words she needed to say for me to understand immediately. I’m glad I heard it from her, one who really, really got the essence of this man & his music. Last night, she was the one to remind me of the anniversary. Earlier this year, I’d thought a lot about the looming date, but filed that away too, leaving it to wait in line with the process of grieving itself.
I had the amazing luck or karma or whatever to grow up to actually get to know this intense and brilliant man whom I idolized since I was 12. There is just as much rich life-stuff in knowing and understanding and learning from the letting go. It’s just not the easy part.
Back when I was allowing myself to remember the date, I gave some thought to what to do about this 10th anniversary. I tried to push myself to write some major article or even a book with stories of WZ as a major factor. One of the things he encouraged me to do is to journal daily. I’ve hardly lived up to that. The best way I can pay respects today is to start to remedy the reasons why. Ready or not, it’s finally happening.
Yesterday, Glenn Walker posted the last piece on the Robin Renée Blog Tour on his blog, Welcome to Hell. The original interview @ Biff Bam Pop! the day before ran so long that he rounded up some eclectic bits not included there for Odds & Ends. What’s covered? My jazzy version of Nick Lowe’s “Cruel to be Kind,” a makeshift Ouija board, true holiday sentiments and a bit of parody, some great new Mutant Mountain Boys videos, wighead art, a personal question (with some answers), and a 70’s smooth rock dude named Devo Dan. Odds and Ends – It’s an aptly-named article, I’d say!
Check it out at The Robin Renée Blog Tour, Odds and Ends
Miss anything? You can take the tour with this great recap. It includes a synopsis and link for every stop along the way for the interviews, podcast discussion, videos, reviews, and info on the new single, “All I Am.”
Thank you so much to mastermind Glenn Walker and everyone who helped put this together. It was busy and engaging and was a way I’d never reached out to new and old friends. The tour bus is home now, but I’m already psyched for next time.
Not much to say about this one – I’m just really happy with this interview. Got to name check some of my favorite people, talk about my musical history with the band Spy Gods, and to take a look at some of the bigger questions on life and creative work. – Nice roundup of rr live performance videos, too. There’s really a lot in there. Great job, Biff Bam Pop!
Read it here: Robin Renée – The Biff Bam Pop Interview
The blog tour ends tomorrow where it began – at Glenn Walker’s blog, Welcome to Hell. I think some of the more off-beat outtakes from today’s interview might show up there.
Thanks for following along!
Glenn and Ray of the “weekly nerdout” known as the GAR! Podcast have a rule: They don’t discuss the podcast beforehand. They just show up and hit record. Glenn told me they bent that rule a little to prepare to be a stop along this week’s Robin Renée Blog Tour. Luckily, whatever they talked about beforehand this time around took nothing away from the spontaneous, freewheeling conversation full of music geekery and beyond that ensued. Here is the list of topics they compiled:
Robin Renee introduction / cat listeners / DEVO / Devo Dan / making music in the digital age / live music / cover songs / Elvis Costello / BeeGees / David Bowie / Ziggy Stardust / Fishbone / more DEVO / songwriting process / Kate Bush and revisions / deadlines / productivity / Cerebus by Dave Sim / distractions / the tree question / musical instruments / Prince covers / album covers / All I Am / The You Will Rise Project / the music / – See more at: http://www.garpodcast.com/#sthash.u3om7WrE.n7ibL7BP.dpuf
Listen in to the conversation here: GAR! Podcast Episode 16: Performing Artist Robin Renee. I’ll be listening along with you to remember how we wound around to all these topics. The standard interview this was not! – and that is a lot of fun and refreshing. I’d love to be back on their show again soon.
Next up on the blog tour: a comprehensive interview on the excellent pop culture site, Biff Bam Pop!
Today’s blog tour stop takes me to the website of Tall Tales and Short Stories from South Jersey.
But today, Marie Gilbert’s interview with me is featured on the site. We cover a lot of ground in this one, including serious topics like the career pitfall of feeling less than enough and advice for young performers in a shaky, changing music business world. There are also fun references to my (very) early bands Solar Explosion and The Half Mann Band, J. R. “Bob” Dobbs, and The Barry Gibb Talk Show. Balance in all things, yes?
Here’s the interview! Super G Interviews the Very Talented Robin Renée
Thanks for reading & listening.