PAST RAMBLINGS - 14
(collection of past Homepage greetings and stories)
July 3, 2004   -to-   
Oct 1, 2004
 

Michael Tomlinson - Past Ramblings
Ramblings 1
3/13/99 - 7/11/99
Ramblings 2
7/27/99 - 1/8/00
Ramblings 3
3/6/00  - 8/7/00
Ramblings 4
9/18/00 -  11/19/00
Ramblings 5
12/17/00 - 4/10/01
Ramblings 6
5/9/01 - 6/25/01
Ramblings 7
07/23/01 - 10/07/01
Ramblings 8
10/19/01 - 2/18/02
Ramblings 9
3/22/02 - 8/5/02
Ramblings 10
8/27/02-12/22/02
Ramblings 11
1/24/03 to 5/31/03
Ramblings 12
7/18/03 to 12/24/03
Ramblings 13
1/11/04 to 5/28/04
Ramblings 14
7/03/04 to 10/1/04
Ramblings 15
11/03/04 to 2/22/05
Ramblings 16
4/01/05 to 7/1/05
Ramblings 17
08/21/05 - 11/16/05
Ramblings 18
12/20/05 to 6/11/06
Ramblings 19
07/19/06 to 11/13/06
Ramblings 20
12/02/06 to 4/2/07
Ramblings 21
5/21/07 to 9/4/07
Ramblings 22
11/9/07 to 3/1/2008
Ramblings 23
5/16/08 to 11/8/08
Ramblings 24
12/11/08 to 09/06/09
Ramblings 25
11/01/09 to
10/21/2010
Ramblings 26
5/10/10 to
12/4/2010
Ramblings 27
4/01/11 to
10/1/11
Ramblings 28
2/1/12 - Fall 2012
Ramblings 29
Spring 2013 - Present
Ramblings 30
Spring 2014
 
July 3, 2004

Howdy my fine summertime friends,

Speaking of summertime, I was just doing something that I haven't done in too long. Nope, I was not running nekkid through a farmer's market. I was at a park, lying on the ground, cool grass under my back, gazing up at the evening sky through the branches and leaves of a tall maple tree with my little dawg lying on my belly. It's important that you know your trees when you do this, the last time I did it I mistakenly chose the ground under a magestic Chestnut tree and guess what happened - you got it - a rock-hard, spine-covered chestnut dropped from oh, seventy-feet up or so, and struck hard in the center of my forehead. Yeeeeooowwwww! Had it hit me in the crotch it would have been my duty to sue the city, but as my forehead is like cement, I shook it off and moved under a willow tree for further soul searching.
But I didn't call you here to talk about trees, what I had in mind was a heart to heart talk about firecrackers! I hereby recommend that we discontinue their use. Does that sound harsh and unreasonable? (please don't say unpatriotic, it seems like everything I believe in lately is being called that) I realise that, with my background, I'm not the most obvious person to lead this crusade against little explosive sticks. I'm referring of course, to the time in junior high when I ended up on the 10-o'clock news because I happened to inadvertantly toss a firecracker out the window of the car my friends and I were cruising around in. It wasn't so much the tossing of the firecracker, it was more the way our driver turned around to laugh in great glee at the poor, unfortunate boy who I'd intended to startle. Oh, he was startled alright, but less at the sound of the firecracker than the louder sound of our car hitting two parked cars and coming to an astonishing halt. This really happened. Less than an hour later I was lying like a thief to the tv reporter holding a microphone in my frightened little face.

"Well, the way it all happened wuz we wuz just drivin' by the school and talking about our homework and then we thought we heard someone say 'lookout, there's a firecracker!' and we all closed our eyes to protect 'em from sparks and stuff and well, them cars just got in front of us!" I pointed to the two trouble-making automobiles, a Buick and an Olds that seemed almost to be mating. (the Olds was all hunched up over the tail end of the Buick)

I prayed that my parents had already gone to bed and were not watching Channel 7 that particular evening. As it turned out, they were in bed but my aunt called them to tell them I had been in a wreck and was on the news. Naturally, mom went into hysterics until my aunt explained that you could see all my limbs on screen and that none were missing. Unfortunately, we had been hauling a watermelon and it pretty much splattered every window of our car. We quickly drew a crowd of people who thought the watermelon juice was blood. I'm sure I looked odd on the news, licking my hands and forearms and all.

So anyway, my point is, I'm being forthcoming about my past concerning fireworks, explosives, various cans o' gasoline with socks in 'em, and even the harmless backyard fires I used to start as a poor, misunderstood boy. Despite my past, I really think we ought to outlaw handheld explosives. I mean really, here we are in the age of terrorism, you can't bring a toenail clipper onto an airplane, but little kids can run all over the neighborhood setting off mini-bombs and bottle rockets? Isn't something off-kilter here? Do we just allow this sort of thing because we always have or could we possibly rethink this?

I'll say no more about it for now, but I'm hoping to start a dialogue concerning the sales and ignition of gunpowder sticks of all kinds. Feel free to invite your neighbors over and talk it over. Let me know if you accomplish anything. For the moment, my work is done here.


Morning in Maine


I drove around New England for a week last month, playing several concerts and making new friends. It was beautiful there, though considerably warmer than I'd hoped. Two of my concerts were outdoors and I found out the heat was the least of my problems. Have you ever seen mosquitos the size of hummingbirds? Have you ever tried to finish a song while ten or so of them are drilling for blood on various parts of your body? It's difficult to sing tender lyrics as such a time. I have to say, people seemed shocked when I began in insert random curse words into some of my most sensitive ballads.

And I walk these sumbitch! hidden roads,
I love these snowflakes and shit! this cold
And these nodnammit! homes with yellow windows
Shine their #%@! warmth into my soul

It was a unique version of Yellow Windows. I'm hoping nobody got it on tape.


One of my favorite B&Bs
Noble House in Bridgton, ME

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.


Singin' on the porch at Noble House in Maine

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 fashion sense.

Returning to Seattle was a loooooonnnnggg ordeal. My flight out of Portland, ME was cancelled. They put me on another flight that would go through Chicago and get me home an hour earlier than I'd planned. Alright! Then on the way to Chicago our plane was diverted for thunderstorms to South Bend, Indiana, where we remained for a few hours. Then on to Chicago  where I missed the next three scheduled flights to Seattle. Arrived home almost exactly 24 hours after I'd set out that morning. In the hours I was waiting for my flight in Chicago I came up with some travel tips that I thought I'd share with you - free of charge. I just hope you have the good sense to use them.

Michael Tomlinson's suggestions for a safe, trouble-free flight.

1. Wear something sexy to the airport. (I wear a sock, but this may be less attractive on a woman) It's often good for a first-class upgrade if the "right person" is at the ticket counter. If a highly receptive agent is at the ticket counter, it'll be good for first class AND a free car at your destination. (not a free rental car - a free car, to do with as you wish)
2. In case you don't get the upgrade to roomy first-class, bring garlic to chew. I do this always and it assures that the arm rests on either side of me will be free for my own very sensitive elbows. I don't know about you but I simply cannot allow my elbows to bang about off of people's chins for an entire flight.
3. Bring one of those electric jaccuzi-style foot-baths. Ask the flight attendant to fill it with Ginger-ale and to bring you a "tootsie-towel" when you finish. She'll know what you're talking about and take good care of you. I suggest you bring your own extension cord, they'll probably have to run it to the cockpit and unplug the co-pilot's blender, but they won't mind if you're wearing the sexy stuff.
4. Start drinking on the way to the airport. This is critical because most flight attendants will only serve two-to-three alcoholic drinks per person during flight for fear that a brawl or worse, a harrangue, will result. A good buzz is a must for a happy flight.
5. Bring at least two EXTRA carry-on bags that you simply acquire somewhere in the terminal. Usually you can procure these in the restroom or in line at McDonald's when someone is ordering a McBreakfast and all in a tizzy about the excellent sausage. It doesn't matter what is in these bags, you'll be gate-checking them both. Their value is in the bartering power they'll gain you. No matter how full the flight is, a gate agent will feel that since you've already given up two bags, they simply cannot ask you to give up your other four and the pole lamp, too.
6. Getting through Security is serious bidnis these days. What I've done is to incorporate certain items into my wardrobe that would not normally be allowed in the passenger's cabin - yet all are of great value to me in my travels. I absolutely MUST have a full set of kitchen knives at my disposal when I travel. Though I personally do not eat meat, if I DO get upped to First Class, I like to be able to cut other people's rancid steaks for them. It's a courteous gesture and I use the opportunity to talk about factory farms and the merits of delicious veganism. Many's the time I've simply elbowed my way between a honeymooning couple and started dividing her sirloin into little diamond bites, then turned to chop his Cordon Bleu into the consistency it should have been in the first place.

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.

These are just a few of the excellent tips I have for the hip, joyful traveler. Hope you find them helpful.


Where the heck are those kitties?

Do you recall the garageful of kittens I am host to?  I'll tell it briefly for those who may not have read last month's rambling.

A sweet, abandoned female cat started coming to my yard. I soon found out she was pregnant and that concerned me. There are lots of feral cats, raccoons, opossums in the neighborhood and I knew her kittens would be endangered. I hoped she'd have her litter on my porch but nothing doing, she chose to give birth directly under my couch as I sat watching tv. I made a cave-like home in the garage and set about learning how to raise cats. I hardly saw the kitties for the first couple of weeks, not wanting to disturb them or alarm the mama cat, who I named Gracie. When I got ready to travel last month I was really worried about what I was going to do with them. Luckily, my neighbor agreed to feed them and check in on them daily for me. I felt that the kittens were going to need more room to explore so I moved my classic convertible out into the drive under a picnic awning that is far too small. It looks ridiculous and I'm sure the folks on the street wonder what the heck I'm doing, but I figured my car would not suffer too badly for a couple of months until I find new homes for the kittens.

And that's where YOU come in. Want a sweet tabby kitten for your very own? The miracle is that a friend of mine has agreed to take Gracie and TWO kittens! So that leaves three more. I'm going to keep them for four more weeks, allowing them twelve weeks with their mama before I send them off with anybody. These kittens are going to be so well-adjusted and healthy. I feed them very well, I gradually have started touching them more, rubbing their little bellies and picking them up now and then. I want them to be very affectionate cats like Gracie is.

If you think you might be interested in adapting one, please email me and I'll arrange a time for you to meet them.


singing to the sunrise in Maine

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 concerts.

I'm also still trying to come up with the finances to record my next band CD and will let you know when it's happening. Quite a few folks have been mail ordering my new acoustic CD, Standing in Troublesome Creek, and I'm getting great feedback about it. Still, I look forward to seeing what a full band does with those songs and possibly a few more I'm writing now.


On the roadside in New Hampshire

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.

He says, "Authentic spirituality is the path to your own heart.  It leads through all of your fears and self deceptions.  It is not a journey of escape.  It is a journey through your pain to end the pain of separation".

This calls to me because I see myself in the words. I see my own struggle in this lifetime to end separation, and I feel that this is something all human beings are experiencing. The wars being fought on this planet are not separate events, having no connection or roots in humanity. War is fought because there is separation in our hearts, the misconception that we are not All One People. It eventually manifests on a larger field to reflect back to us who we are and what we are doing. This is how I feel about it.


The next quote touched me just as deeply, it is by someone I'm not familiar with, Doc Childer.

He says, "Be on the lookout for strain in each other, and with compassion and understanding, lend a helping hand and a mature heart. Helping each other manage emotional strain can yield creative alternatives and build a new foundation for heart-based communication and hope."

I think of a friend who I've not felt as connected to lately, I think of people I don't know at all in lines in stores, in cars on the freeway. And I realize that I do not always take into regard their strain, their own burdens in life. What I desire to be is aware of that, conscious of the difficult strain others are experiencing so that I'm more understanding, patient, loving and forgiving.


Hanging out in the woods with Daisy in Maine

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.

Thank you for listening to my songs, for sharing my music with your friends, and for checking in on me now and then through my website. I hope this summer is a sweet one for you, get out there and lie on the ground under a tree and think summertime thoughts. And keep away from them dang gunpowder sticks.

Yer ol' fren,
   
 ~Michael


    Read the Summer 2004 email Newsletter


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)

My friend with the horses is Laurie. She also has a couple of donkeys, some chickens, a dog - and very soon, the two kittens and mama cat she's adopting from me. What I found that Laurie also owned was quite a number of steel fence posts that needed hammering into the ground. The very idea goes against my basic sense of what is right and wrong. Hammer a steel shank into perfectly innocent ground? Certainly not! But that's what I ended up doing. They make a tool strictly for this purpose. I'd call it a special tool but it is nothing of the sort. Thousands of years after the very first fence post was ever sunk, all our inventors have managed to come up with is a piece of heavy steel pipe with one end welded shut and a couple of handles that run up and down each side of the pipe. What you're supposed to do is to hold each handle, lift the heavy pipe high over the fence post and slam that sumbitch down with all your might, driving the post downward. Not once or twice - but about forty or fifty times. Per post. Can you visualize this? Can you really see one of your favorite all-time folkslingers, the same fellow who sings Yellow Windows with such tenderness, out there on the range slammin' that damn pipe up and down like Atila the Pummeler until sweat was spurting from my pores like ten-thousand little geyzers? Let's put it this way - I didn't whistle while I worked.

Afterwards, I drove two hours home in a dark rain storm. On a nice sunny day my convertible is a wonderful ride. In a storm it sucks. Rains squeezes through every seam and drips and drizzles onto my legs and head. The windshield fogs up because the defroster puts out about as much air pressure as a mouse breathing. About halfway home I noticed one of my wipers was making a racket. I looked closer and saw that the rubber blade was sliding out of it's track and flapping around on the windshield. If it slipped any further, not only would I have no rubber blade to squeegee away the rain, I'd have a metal blade scraping arcs into my windshield glass.


These aren't Laurie's horses...this is just how it felt driving on the freeway

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.

I tried turning the wiper on and off, hoping to stop it as it leaned left toward me. But it wouldn't stop there. It always returned to the right, well beyond my reach. I realized I had no choice but to grab the thing and force it to stay long enough for me to fix the blade. The problem was, I couldn't get the rythm. I kept lunging at it for ten minutes before it occurred to me that the wrong song was playing on the radio. It was some stupid country tune about chrome I think. I switched channels until I came to a song that was exactly in sync with the wiper blades and you'll never guess what it was; yep, Donny Osmand's Puppy Love. I have no idea what station was playin' that piece of shit but I'm grateful to 'em. It took me only a couple more tries and I finally trapped that blade and yanked it down. The wiper motor began a shrill, high-pitched screaming but I ignored the pleas and went at it. With Bungee clutched hard under my arm, I locked my right calf hard around the steering wheel to keep 'er between the lines and took several interminable seconds to rearrange that contraption with both hands. It couldn't have been a pretty sight, but then many heroic deeds are not particularly beautiful in their execution - just gorgeous in retrospect. In a rugged, manly way, I imagined it as a sort of man vs. machine ballet, me wrestling that wiper and my little dawg squawking like a chicken under my arm had to have been art of some kind. Whether you would agree that it was a beautiful dance or not, let me just say that rubber blade ain't slidin' nowhere ever again.

As for somebody to hammer some fence posts? I've moved and left no forwarding address.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

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.

After I finished my short concert I looked over at her and she was smiling up at me. I packed my guitar and walked around to her and asked if she had a way to play CDs at the hospital. She brightened and said yes. I told her I wanted to give her a CD and she lit up even brighter, beaming with pleasure that I would offer her a gift. I walked over to the table where they were selling my music and grabbed Watching the Storm Roll In. I think of it as one of my most healing albums, partly because it's just me and guitar and the falling rain, but also because I recorded it with peace and respite in mind. I walked back over to her and she said, "My daughter had to leave the room because she started crying when you said you wanted to give me your music."

A lump came to my throat . I'd just made a very small gesture, an offer of an inexpensive gift to an old lady who might not be around many more years. I hadn't thought of it as a thing that might make someone cry. I asked her name so I could sign the CD for her and she said it was Laurel. I love that name and told her. As I bent over her table to sign, she said to me "The world is so full of love. Isn't it wonderful how full of love the world is?" I looked at her and tears came to my eyes. The small gesture I'd made had opened some beautiful current in her heart and she seemed suddenly overcome with how much love was in the world. I went back and picked up another CD for her daughter and signed it for her. Another lovely name; Anina. I left it for her, knowing she'd return when she was through crying. As I gathered my things a few minutes later and walked out the door, I looked back and the two of them were looking at me and smiling. Sometimes a small, almost insignificant gesture can give you the hope and faith we lose again and again in this crazy world.

I shared this with you in hopes that you'll remember that you have something to give. Give any small thing you desire. A smile. A touch. A kind word. A song. Offer to help your neighbor rake the leaves this fall. Offer a massage to the love of your life. And more beautiful even than any of these gestures is the genuine gift of blessing another human being. Bless those you love and those you don't.

In these last few years I have struggled with a relationship that has not come to peace. In my life I have almost always had the great, blessed fortune of seeing my love relationships continue on as friendships. We were once lovers and partners - we are now friends, brother and sister in some ways. But there is one that I've struggled with. I know the struggle serves me, brings up who I am and what I came here to learn and to triumph over. But there has still been pain and loss and loneliness. Recently I began reading a beautiful book that she had given me years ago. I opened it to a chapter that talked about the times in our lives when our thoughts are troubled over someone. No matter the cause or the situation, it hurts us to be compelled to think of someone and experience pain and turmoil when we do. Here is what I read that I should say to any person who I am troubled over:

"I am sending you the Fullness of the Divine Love of my Being, to Bless and Prosper you."

And so that is what I've begun doing every time there is someone I have troubling thoughts about. The expression of this has relieved me greatly, whether I am directing it toward a driver who has  made me angry, a friend or family member, or the President of the United States. It just feels good to me to bless people that I am troubled over and I hope plenty of people are out there blessing me as well.

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,
     
~Michael Tomlinson

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.

Every so often someone will email me and preface their message with "I know you choose not to sell millions of records and all, but . . ."  and I have to chuckle. Believe me, I don't seek poverty and obscurity. I'd happily sell millions of records and not look back. The first thing I'd do is buy a home for the first time in my life - which is considered quite the accomplishment in famously overpriced Seattle - some friends recently showed me an ad for a sad little shack in North Seattle, not much more than a garden shed, poorly maintained, 600 square feet, dirt yard. The real estate company enthused with shameless brazenness; "Urban Cabin! Only $229,000!" Whee! Life is good! Now, I'm seriously considering shellacking the heck out of a tent and seeing if I can get 100-Grand for it. (Canvas Castle! Reduced to $100,000! New zipper; close to busline! Excellent ventilation!)

No, it's not at all that I never wanted to sell a bunch of records, it's that I have never been willing to do the things necessary to make it happen. Record labels were always trying to get me to do duets with artists I didn't know; trying to pair me up with someone that would help me get more attention. (Michael Tomlinson and Tiffany!) I always said to them, "You know, if I ever happen to meet certain artists and we hit it off, I just might give it a try. But I'm not going to do it because it would be a sharp commercial move." Actually, it wouldn't take brilliance to get played on certain formats. For years I've known that the surest way in the world to get a song on Smooth Jazz radio is to do an instrumental remake of a pop hit - and make sure you put a saxophone in it! Gots to have that saxophone.

Somebody recently wrote me and said, "How great it must be to be an artist that cannot be categorized! To be so uniquely who you are that your music cannot be easily called one thing or another."  Her words took me aback. I wondered if they were actually true. People have forever asked me what I call my music and I have never had a good answer for them. What I usually say is this: "Instead of telling people what kind of music I sing, why don't you just tell them how it makes you feel?" Honestly, I never set out to be anything but myself in what I sing and write. I just always wanted my music to be an expression of what I feel and experience - and so melodic that you sing can sing it for years and not get tired of it. It may be true that this will never cause me to sell millions of CDs, but it sure feels good when I sing my songs and find that, whether I'm singing one I wrote twenty years ago or yesterday, I am soulfully satisfied with it.

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 things:
(1)  Prominent, attractive display on the CD cover. For instance ~ This CD to benefit Children's Hospital is made possible by a generous grant from The Evergreen Corporation. Company logo and contact info and other information can be included.
(2)  Sponsors will be posted on my website and given onstage acknowledgement whenever I'm performing related benefit concerts so that people in the community know this organization is supportive of community events and causes.  
(3)  Arrangements may be made for sponsors to receive CDs to give away to their own staff, employees and customers.
(4)  Arrangements may also be made for private concert for sponsoring companies or organizations.

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.

If you have ideas or leads for sponsorship, please send me an email.
mt@michaeltomlinson.com


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"!)

I've avoided 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,
     
 ~Michael Tomlinson

 
PS, if there is the slightest chance that I have a defunct mailing address for you - I send postcards sometimes when I have a show in your area - please be sure and send me your correct address. If you think I might not have your correct email for early notice, please send it to me, too. I never share my list, so your privacy is always honored.  Email me at mt@michaeltomlinson.com

     
Go to Past Ramblings XV

 


   

   

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