they're gone. i had this old suitcase. it was filled with photos. photos from college, trips cross country, my childhood, holidays, shows, barbeques, hikes, parties, camping, baseball games etc, etc, etc.
(so important to me was this suitcase that it appears in the chorus of the title track on my last CD, Where the Songs Come From.)
i remember many of the moments in these pictures with pictures in my mind. i even have pictures of the pictures in my mind...some of them, anyway.
i mention this only because, not only can i not figure out where the photos have gone but i'm also not sure exactly how i feel about losing them. i thought of these photos as a window or bridge, of sorts, to those memories. a portal back to those times, when i'd crave the occasional visit.
but i think, maybe, they were more like a tether. snapshots are very one-dimensional. snapshots are often dishonest. much like soundbites. nothing in real life really happens in snapshots.
all of the smiles, the landscapes, the colors, the smells, the imperfections, the perfections, the beauty, the facts are more real and more accurate in my memory. my full experience of those events still exist in my consciousness. and i prefer knowing that the truth is stored somewhere in my experience to falsely reliving memories by rummaging through a suitcase of snapshots. so, here's to being released from the tether of the snapshots of my past and to embracing the present moment.
...or maybe i'm just rationalizing the loss :) -ce
this country is a different place . yes, it happened overnight. no, it wasn't any new policies, or changed style of government, or magnanimous politicians or any new law passed or old one overturned or upheld. it wasn't the words or wisdom of any one person.
we have a black President. an african-american President of the United States. it was a collective wisdom that made that happen. it has been a very very long time coming but...it happened overnight. and we are the better for it. this was a leap. this country is a different place.
the details don't matter right now. the big picture is out of our peripheral vision. policies, strategies, promises kept or broken, all that will happen is unknown. but...
for right now, take it in. the signing of the declaration of independence, the emancipation proclamation, or the reading of the gettysburg address. the world became a different place. with a snap of the fingers. i think this is one of those moments.
another collective moment of overnight transformation was 9/11. that was the only moment akin to this in my lifetime till now. though that was a day of horror and this is the opposite. that, a leap backward, this, a leap forward. change has come. how it manifests only time will tell. but for now...i say, take it in.
An NPR Analyst named Dan Schorr said very much the same thing but put it this way.
the 'still, small voice vibrating' is how walt whitman describes 'our choosing day' in his poem Election Day 1884. more grand, more subtle and more powerful than all of America's natural wonders is this day every four years. its challenging to convey ones affection for election day without sounding like a big NERD. without spouting phrases like 'civic pride and duty.' this poem accomplishes just that.
what excites me today is that i think today, unlike previous days i've voted, there are so many people who 'get it.' no explanation seems necessary. we're all participating and witnessing it at the same time...together. just like the first time i visited Niagara Falls. i thought it would be this hokey tourist trap but instead as i approached the falls that day its power almost seduced me to leap right in. it was amazing!
today isn't about who is chosen but the fact that we are choosing. and yes, the system is far from perfect. but, on a day like today, its hard not to want to jump right in.
Robert Pinsky (former US poet Laureate) wrote a great article in the Boston Globe today about the Walt Whitman poem:
i led 2 workshops this morning; a group of pre-k and another of k students. i've led a lot of songwriting workshops for kids before, though, never with groups this young. with the older kids the goal of the workshop is to write a song over the course of an hour.
today, with these younger ones, i decided to sing some traditional folk songs and talk to them about who it was that wrote the songs and the context in which they were written.
singing these songs today, "this land is your land," "oh, susannah," and "yankee doodle," i truly felt, for the first time ever, like a link in a long chain. i felt my arms locked with woody guthrie's, stephen foster's and richard shuckberg's (credited with having written the first verse of yankee doodle.) i was breathing their breath as these words and melodies were coming out of my mouth. i was peeking through an open window into the past...and the future...maybe outside time altogether. it wasn't a mystical experience but it definitely was transcendent. and most definitely unexpected!
these children who i thought would be running around within 5 minutes slamming on one of the various percussive instruments i handed out, instead were mesmerized. they sang along, listened intently and then asked me to play the songs again as soon as i finished them.
these guys just knew how to write a song. i feel that they are kindred spirits and it is when i play and hear these songs that i understand "folk music" as "people music." music for everyone. music that never dies...even long after their composers do.
i took the title of this blog, "Just So Stories," from a book written by the eminent writer Rudyard Kipling (the Jungle Book.) it is filled with tales of talking cats, camels, whales, kangaroos and jaguars in an enchanted world when the world was just beginning. a few years ago i released an album called Never Seen a Jaguar.
i wrote the music to the words of Kipling's poems. at the time, i discovered a deep connection with Kipling's writing. he manages to blend the innocence of childhood in equal part with the wisdom of experience. he taps into themes and ideas that transcend age or time. and this is something i always find myself aspiring to in my songwriting as well...so there's the connection.
"just so", to me, is a zen-like notion. its the way we see the world when we are kids. it is as it is...the world...in all its wonder, mystery, tragedy, joy, beauty, banality and on and on. right there in front of you. without judgement. clearly and innocently. that's how i aspire to see the world. in all its "just so-ness." its also the lense with which i try to share my experiences through songs. So these are my Just So Stories...
So...as you may have noticed i haven't been blogging much. I don't think that i had really gotten what THE BLOG is all about...until now.
Before, I'd get to thinking about what to write and think,think,think until weeks passed and nothing was actually WRITTEN!! and i realized that the only entries i actually made were NEWS UPDATES that you could find readily on my website.
So, let's consider this entry #1. From now on what you'll find here won't be on the website... and may or may not be directly related to my music. It'l be whatever's on my mind at any given moment. Here goes:
Let's start with a poem by the Persian poet/philosopher Rumi:
"Water and the Moon"
There is a path from me to you
that I am constantly looking for,
so I try to keep clear and still
as water does with the moon.
I love this idea of there being a path between each of us that is there for the finding. I think that path is understanding. Reading this yesterday, I got to thinking about the many levels on which this idea resonates with me; this path or connection in my deepest most personal relationships, in my relationship to the songs that I am writing, and in my connection with those of you who listen to those songs.
That path between all of us is elusive . I feel like my path in life is to keep searching for that path...if i'm lucky, illuminating it a bit...and managing to navigate it as long as possible.
I hope that this Blog will, in some way, help make that possible. Thanks for reading! And stay tuned. -ce
I'm going out to the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival next month in Lyons. I've been chosen to perform in their Songwriter Showcase. For those of you who don't know, I lived and went to college in Boulder so I have a kinship with the Rockies and can't wait to get out there again and be a part of this amazing festival!
I'll also be attending the Song School there in Lyons organized by Planet Bluegrass. For 4 days I'll get to sit around and write songs with guidance from such writers as Susan Werner, Paul Riesler, Josh Ritter, Melissa Ferrick Vance Gilbert and more. From what I've heard from countless other songwriters, it is a one-of-a-kind opportunity.
And I'll also be playing a bunch of shows while in Colorado so check my website or Myspace for dates.
I'm back from my tour to Texas with Chris O'Brien. We played tons of music and travelled thousands of miles of open road. My goal on this trip was to keep a road journal day to day as the trip ensued. I have come up a bit short in that the trip is over BUT....
I have taken a plethora of photos that i have posted here.
And I will give you a few of the trip highlights:
A session on WBVX radio in Knoxville, TN (home of one of my favorite authors Cormac McCarthy) Chris and I played an amazing show called "The Blue Plate Special" to a live audience. Here's one of the tunes i played.