PAST RAMBLINGS - 14
July 3, 2004
Howdy my fine summertime friends,
It was a unique version of Yellow Windows. I'm hoping nobody got it on tape.
I finished up my New England tour on Islesboro Island in Maine, staying at a lovely cottage on the rocky shoreline. In so many ways it reminds me of the Northwest, the water and islands, even the weather. The people were so friendly, welcoming me to their island and sharing stories and island lore with me. There was one thing that was distinctly New England about them and I got quite a great kick out of it. People would be sitting around talking, doing various things, and then one by one they would disappear for a few minutes and then come back into the room with different clothes on. I'm not kidding. They were dressing up for - I don't know exactly - evening, I guess. They were dressing up for evening or mid-afternoon. When they returned to the room, they would take up wherever they'd just left off; watching golf on tv, reading, having a drink. I was way underdressed for New England.
That's one of the problems with dressing for several cities on one trip. For one thing, I'm already carrying a guitar case, a bag full of CDs and my guitar effects, a laptop case and personal bag. (you should see me struggling at airports, people gather around and laugh and applaud) By the time I get around to packing clothes I'm limited to a very few items. If I happen to be playing a show in a cold climate and then another show on the same trip in a hot climate, I'm screwed. If people at my concerts only knew that I'm wearing the same damn shirt onstage in three cities . . .
Someone once approached me at intermission
at my concert at The Barns at Wolftrap in the Washington, DC area. They
held up a photo and asked if I'd mind signing this picture they'd taken
of me two years ago at my concert there. To my horror, I was wearing the
same shirt, vest and shorts. Well, I'm known for my songs, not my
This will win you some serious friends and
it's worth the hassles going through Security. So how do I get through
Security with an array of kitchen knives? I bring a tray of donuts. I've
yet to meet the Federal Airport Security Agent who can concentrate on
bomb sniffing once there is a steaming tray o' donuts in the vicinity.
I've even used a machete to portion the donuts and nobody seems to
notice. Bring fresh donuts and you can get drive a Hummer through there.
Do you recall the garageful of kittens I am
host to? I'll tell it briefly for those who may not have read last
I will be in Seattle most of the summer,
probably playing a few shows around the country again this fall. If you
have any ideas about concerts, I appreciate hearing them. About half of
my concerts in the last year have been private concerts, created by
folks on my mail list who want to bring me in for a celebration or to
share with their friends and family. If you're ever interested in such
an event just go to my "concerts" link and read all about my various
Two quotes have been sent to me recently
that touched me deeply. I've kept them printed on my computer screen so
that I see them often and I want to share them with you. The first one
is by Paul Ferrini, who has written some truly powerful, uplifting
books, among them, Unconditional Love, one of my favorites.
Well, a little brown spider just crawled
across my laptop and is heading for the leg of my shorts, so I must go
now and save myself from an unnecessary rash in a tender area. It's a
sign I guess, that I needed to shut up anyway.
|August 28, 2004|
Howdy my fine sweltering friends,
I'm writing you from a chair I've mounted atop a tall pole in my backyard. Actually, it's not so much a pole as it is a fire lookout tower. (that's what I have to call it if I want to write it off my taxes) Come to think of it, it's not really a chair either. I guess most people would call it more of a, well, a queen-sized-canopy-bed-with-built-in-massage-unit, but let's not get technical. It's so peaceful up here sipping tequila smoothies, cawing at crows and gazing out over the lovely neighborhoods of Seattle. And I feel safe up here, too - ain't nobody gonna sneak up on me, that's for sure. What pleases me most about my sky-high sleeping arrangement is waking up with the hundreds of little tweety birds each morning. It's a hoot to see them perched all over my pillow as I pry open my first eyelid at the crack of noon. What pleases me nearly as much is feeling around my bedding and finding that I've not plummeted to earth in my sleep. Not only would the fall itself probably be a bad way to start the day, the cats and raccoons and oppossums down there might pierce me with their sharp scissor teeth if I came zooming down on them at 90 miles per hour. (or however fast solid muscle falls) But let's not get ahead of ourselves dreaming up silly hypotheticals. I prefer to keep to the facts, ma'am.
I've had an interesting week. Last Saturday
I drove my '64 Malibu convertible up near the Canadian border to help a
friend of mine put up fence so as to keep her horses in. I didn't
understand that you can't just tell a horse to "stay in the yard".
It seems logical to me, but then I'm relying on all those cowboy movies
where the lanky rider would just loop the reins loosely around a post
and that dang hoss woudn't run away even during serious gunplay. So hey,
that's how I thought hosses wuz. Turns out, they gallup hither and yon,
wherever they want, and you have to have a damn fence stretched around
them if you want them to be there when you get in the mood for a trot.
(I recommend a gallup, you can crack all your teeth at a brisk trot)
I didn't know what to do. I was on a freeway
filled with rabid drivers, roaring trucks, cars, RVs; all speeding as if
there was a sale somewhere on tuna melts and not that slick, glaring
flood of rainwater on the road around us. It would be too unsafe to pull
over on the shoulder - I was going to have to fix that wiper on the
roll. So I cranked down my window and tried to reach outside and push
the rubber back down the track. This is nearly impossible to do while
steering the car safely because you have to time your lunge perfectly.
Everytime that wiper would come back I'd surge out the window and try to
grab the blade and stuff it precisely back down it's narrow track. My
little dawg Bungee got all excited because the window was down and she
jumped into my lap to sniff the air and see if there were any dogs to
bark at. So now I'm doing several things that, though not specifically
prohibited, are certainly not recommended in the Washington State
Driver's Handbook. One; I'm steering with my knees. Two; I'm driving
with my upper torso out the window. Three; I'm holding a crazy dawg
under one arm, her little legs flailing frantically because she has
suddenly noticed the rapidly passing asphalt and she's getting ready to
run if she has to.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
This afternoon I played a concert at Northwest
Hospital here in Seattle. I had been asked to join three or four other
bands and performers for a concert celebrating the healing power of
music. Because of the rain they'd moved us from an outdoor setting into
a lunchroom. I can't recall the last time I played a cafeteria. It
reminded me of schooldays when you'd pass the lunchroom on the way to a
class and you'd smell the yeast rolls and your stomach would cramp in
hunger, making it absolutely insane to even attend your next class,
since you'd have nothing on your mind but those buttery rolls. It was
like that about halfway through my performance, I got a whiff of apple
pie and my eyes fluttered and rolled back for a moment. Luckily, I do
that in concert anyway so people didn't notice.
There was an elderly woman in a wheel chair
who caught my eye as I was taking the stage. There was a sweet moment
between us when we both silently said hi, just the two of us for a
flicker of time. She seemed perhaps in her 70s or 80s, fragile and
frail. She had an oxygen tube in her nose and I could tell it had taken
some effort for her to even be in the room. So I sang my songs for her.
I didn't tell anyone, and she was far to my left so I couldn't look at
her and as I sang - the microphone being directly to the front - but I
sang to her nonetheless.
I hope you enjoy these final weeks of
summertime and that you will have a lovely autumn. Thanks for checking
in on me now and then.
Yer ol' fren,
|October 1, 2004|
Howdy my fine friends,
Directly across from my coffee shop window is a small maple tree evolving into several subtle shades of autumn; hues of scarlet and gold, lemon and rust, copper and bronze. (no, I do not write for the J.Crew catalogue) I know the Pacific Northwest, though famous for it's spectacular beauty, is not particularly known for it's autumn colors, but having spent my boyhood on the dusty Texas plains where dirt clods are considered real spetchel, I find this foliage exhilarating. The first year I came here to play a concert it was mid-autumn and I was thrilled to be immersed in such golden, melancholy beauty. After I finished my morning run through Volunteer Park and the back side of Capital Hill, I had an idea for something I wanted to do; I retraced my path and collected varieties of colorful leaves from the ground. It was exhilarating to breathe the brisk November air and crunch through piles of exotic leaves I'd never seen before. I couldn't believe how many types and shapes and shades there were. I slipped off my jacket and filled it with a bushel of brilliant leaves then carefully placed them in a large envelope. That afternoon I mailed them back to my girlfriend in Austin, where autumn leaves were not nearly as varied and colorful as in Seattle. I enclosed a card inviting her to enjoy an autumn day - on me, instructing her to lie back on the bed and toss them all up in a flurry into the air above her. I knew I didn't need to tell her to giggle. I'll leave to your imagination what I suggested she wear. Let's just say that her description on the phone a few days later assured my swift and eager return home.
I played a private concert in Beverly Hills a couple of weeks ago. I hadn't been to Los Angeles in quite some time and was surprised to arrive under a pale blue sky instead of the usual brown one. I was staying at a hotel on Wilshire Blvd and as I looked out over Beverly Hills from my room, the memories came flooding back to me of my first concert there - in 1986, I believe. I've had a rather strange career in music - if you can call it that. So much excitement in the years of my first several albums - and then over a decade of just barely having a career at all. There was a station in LA in those days playing five songs off of my first album, Run This Way Forever, and it astonished me that over a thousand people filled the Beverly Theater for my very first performance in L.A. I was giddy, absolutely tingling when I imagined where my new life seemed to be taking me.
As I sang last week I looked out on the faces and thought about those earlier days and how my life has evolved. I recalled seeing my songs written about in trade magazines and seeing part of my Universal Amphitheater concert broadcast on CNN and hearing the announcer describe me as a rising star. I remembered that, as much as I was thrilled by it, I was also wary of that commercial world of fame and celebrities, not so sure I ever wanted to become a person who was recognized wherever I went. I certainly enjoyed it at times, when I was younger it was quite exciting to be with my buddies and to notice pretty girls whispering my name when we would wander around Seattle. But even back then I knew that was about as much fame as I would ever actually need.
My friend John Johnson told me once about a
remark he'd heard Bill Murray make when asked what he thought about
being rich and famous. He replied, "I suggest that you just try being
rich and see if that doesn't do it for you." I like his philosophy.
That recent Saturday night in the lush backyard gardens in Beverly Hills, among fountains and night-lit pool and elegant table settings, I watched the people in the audience, noticed how their faces softened when they heard my songs, the way some reached out and touched each other and even leaned their heads over on their partners' shoulders. By normal audience standards it was quite a wealthy crowd, the driveway and street full of luxury cars and even a couple of limos. Yet the people were no different than others I've sang for over the years. I've seen those same expressions in the faces of tough street kids at an East L.A. concert and in old timer's eyes in a rowdy Montana bar back in my early years. It's the same tenderness - and the same wonder that music can touch something in you that you didn't even know needed touching.
I closed my eyes occasionally, getting slightly lost in my own stories and memories. And when I opened my eyes again it was a pleasure to see such delighted, radiant faces looking back, sending back to me every bit of the love I was singing to them. I don't usually think of Los Angeles as a soft and tender place, but it was that night.
After all these years of performing concerts, I'm still finding that there are new directions for me to go in playing my music. I'm beginning to share my songs at hospitals and schools. I make no money from these events and need to eventually find ways to subsidize or find sponsors for these concerts, but I'm not worried about it right now. Sometimes you just do the things you know how to do and allow the rest to flow together in it's own time.
I am looking at some ways that I might get sponsorship for special compilation CDs I create to give away at these events and for charities to sell in order to raise money for their causes. I'll describe the basic idea here and if you are a part of a company or organization that might like to join me, I'd love to talk to you about it.
The concept: Create compilation CDs from my body of work, ie., Favorite Recordings; Love Songs, Nature Songs, Songs of the Seasons, etc. These will have beautiful CD covers, allowing for substantial room on back and inside for sponsorship logos and information and also information about the charitable organization or cause. I've made a sample CD recently to benefit Children's Hospital. The CD is called, Songs from the Pacific Northwest. When I perform at hospitals or schools my ideal situation is to be able to give patients and children my CDs for free. If I can find sponsorship to help me with this, I am willing to make only a couple of dollars per CD rather than my normal $17 price. I will not make much money but this will help me to be able to do the concerts for free.
What's in it for the sponsor? Several
In order for me to create these CDs for
giveaway I must manufacture at least 1000 at a time and I'll generally
need in the neighborhood of $5000 to cover manufacturing, artwork,
printing and mastering - and a couple of dollars profit. If I'm working
with a larger sponsor who wants to create many more CDs, the price will
come down considerably.
I'm still working on My Book as I write these silly ramblings. Still writing songs, filling CD
orders, just generally doing the things one does when he is a
folkslinger with an hilarious little white dawg and a backyard full of
cats, squirrels, raccoons, opossums and birdies. What I've also been
doing lately is trying to avoid nasty politics on tv. This seems nearly
impossible. If one is going to actually watch tv and not witness this
slander it requires two things:
1) a firearm with plenty o' rubber bullets
2) a steady supply of tvs. Fortunately, I have a WalMart
account and receive an excellent new tv from Malaysia
every three days. (only $29.95 for a 19"!)
writing about the upcoming presidential election for several reasons,
among them a desire not to elevate my heart rate to statospheric levels.
But also because I honor that many people have highly emotional
attachment to certain philosophies, political views and parties. It's my
desire to find an authentic way to approach the subject and explore it,
but if I fall short, please forgive me and just know that I'm really
trying. To start out, may I suggest that we all take some deep breaths?
I have some questions: What if we were to step outside of our fear, outside of our blind habits and our overstressed thinking, ignoring our past voting records and our family's traditional party affiliations, and ask our own Hearts what is best? No one says we have to obey what we hear, but what could it hurt to sincerely ask? I'm talking about actually asking for the guidance to come through your heart and then listening to what comes up from within. Following the heart is often considered inferior to following the brain. But what if the heart could guide the mind? What if, even if we do not understand how this works, we were to breathe into our hearts and ask which candidate is capable of the greatest human understanding and leadership? Which is capable of the highest spiritual intelligence and the most genuine form of honoring humanity? What if we did not second guess this by trying to reason out why this or that person's approach will not work, but simply ask the question of our Heart? The answer may not appear as a great blaze of writing in the sky, but I believe it will come to us. And then we may decide if we will listen and trust the wisdom our hearts or not.
I keep remembering that it is not necessary to make one candidate wrong - in order to make the other right. They are both flawed humans. And so am I. And so is every human walking this planet. If we judge one and make him a villain, we will not be assisting our world or our country in becoming a more peaceful, enlightened place. That may sound simplistic but please consider it a minute. If we hate what we perceive to be the other side, we are participating in dividing our nation instead of healing it. If we follow our hearts and encourage others to do the same, we are for something, and not necessarily against something else. There is a difference. Being for something is a form of love and expansion. Being against something is a form of contraction, a form of anxiety or stress.
The news programs tell us constantly that we are a nation almost equally divided, yet I feel almost all of us want mostly the same things. Don't we all want peace in our lives and good health and decent standards of living? Don't we want children to be safe and happy and well-educated? Don't we all want the Earth herself to be healthy and vitally alive as well? So don't tell me that we are really all that deeply divided. We are only divided as to how those in power would define us - and do their best to keep us. Power wants to live, it want's to survive and grow and it cares not for who pays the price of it's survival. But benevolent, awakening people can see this and take the steps necessary to call forth their own authentic power. We don't have to do it with hatred, just take the steps necessary and move on. It is not beyond our capabilities and it never was.
On Election Day it is my plan to offer rides to voters who have no transportation. I will do this without asking a single person who they will vote for. I hope those of you who can join me in this service will put up notice around your neighborhood as well. We will be proof that we are not really a nation deeply divided, but a nation of people who honor each other and have faith that we will be guided to the highest good.
Thanks for visiting my site and for listening to my songs. Because of you I've been allowed to have an extraordinary life of creating my hopes and dreams in music. If I get any concerts in your area I'll be sure and send you notice. I hope you have a lovely autumn. Now get out there and play in those leaves. (with or without clothes)
Yer ol' fren,