At the beginning of 2016 I dearly wanted to make a new record and knew the time had come to launch into it wholeheartedly. I’d been formulating ideas for years, stockpiling them away in my subconscious and on my laptop but the real work of committing to the actual songwriting, sitting down with the guitar and a blank word document had only just begun.
As the friends on my VIP List already know, I can’t say this latest collection of songs is my most personal. I’m often writing about the whole world and perhaps the nature of the universe we are afloat in. But I can tell you these songs are by far the most meaningful to me. Every step of the way I was checking in, asking myself, “Of all you’ve gleaned from life so far, what do you want to share most of all? What matters most? If these were the last songs you’d ever record what would you wanna be remembered for?” Distilling my thought process down to the essentials of feeling – and being – revealed a few simple themes and ideas that give my life meaning and direction.
One of the main ideas that kept coming to me was this: how to let go of entanglements of the past (that often hold us back and clutter our minds) and then carve out a spaciousness within from which to create the future. I have been learning over the years that one of the best ways to do this is by watching nature. The natural flow of death and rebirth all around us is a great teacher. Some of those observations have made it into the songs the new album, for sure. Like in The Art Of Being on the music player here at the top of the homepage. I’ll tell you more about that one later.
Another theme and emotional touchstone that matters most to me is of course love. As Pierre Teilhard de Chardin said,
“Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.”
Wow, I love that quote. I am fortunate to have been destroyed by love and resurrected by it. The kind of love I’d like to become a master of is love for oneself. And to encourage that in everyone around me. Haven’t you found it is almost impossible to love someone who does not love themselves? And then when you find those special ones who do love themselves in the most humble, honourable way – they are easy to love. Virtual love generators who magnify the good around them and easily share it with the world. That’s the kind of world I wanna live in. And the kind of world I am writing about in the new songs.
One of the songs in which I look at this, and the possibility that love goes on after death into other realms, is in a song called Afterlife. It uses some Taoist references about acceptance as a taking off point and looks at how I believe love is something inclusive of yet beyond the physical.
One of my favourite songs on the new record is Sing Your Prayers. I started writing that lyric years ago in a magical place in L.A. I was sitting in the garden of Paramahansa Yogananda’s Lake Shrine and Meditation Retreat. Yogananda was an enlightened sage who brought Hindu teachings to the west in the 1920’s and started a church of all religions. I’ve been fortunate to study a lot of his teachings through his Self Realization Fellowship. They must eventually bubble out through my songwriting. I admit I’m most happy when that happens. Break up and make up songs are all good fun, but this stuff about greater love is what I love to write about most of all! In Sing Your Prayers I was not so much asking for anything in the “prayers” I mentioned, but am getting at how there is a prayer like mindfulness that can inform all of our actions and activities as we go about normal, daily life. Through us then, is how magic happens.
I will have more to tell you about each song on the new record when it’s available. It’s more fun to be able to go straight and listen to what I’m talking about anyway, isn’t it? Meanwhile, I hope that gives you a bit of an idea of where I’m coming from and where my head’s been the last couple of years.
In signing off I’m remembering how people say you should “share your process” here online, like it would be of great interest, but I’m not sure it is… Picture this: Me with bed hair, sitting on the floor with the laptop and guitar and a cold cup of coffee,.. going into a bit of a trance state and mumbling melodies to myself,.. then piecing together something stronger and better until it sounds like a song. Sometimes being struck by lightening with a whole melody or chorus forcing its way out of nowhere. That’s the best part. But I’m still not sure it’s fun to look at. lol.