For the past week, I’ve enjoyed seeing I Won’t Give Up sit at the top of the iTunes most downloaded songs, and in such good company. I’ve also been floored by some of the covers already gracing the pages of the internet. Like the beautiful freakies at the bottom of this post.
That song, along with the World As I See It, are the first of a dozen you’ll soon hear on a new studio album – an album about love; what one does in love to make it work, and what one does in love when it’s time to let go.
Since it’s inception I’ve referred to this collection of songs as the makings for “the Love album.” I’ve held onto a love inspired image for the album cover for the past two years. The image hangs on my wall. It’s etched onto my water bottle. It’s inlaid into a stone path that connects my home to my studio. It’s even painted on the side of my house. And over the past two years the concept and compositions have managed to collage them selves around the image. Thankfully, my vision board, to the best of my ability, is complete.
Music is the medium I use to recover from life’s often deafening blow. I constantly reawaken thru music. The act of making music is how I tune in and/or tune out to solve life’s puzzles, trying to make the most sense of that which I can’t seem to stop questioning. In life there are problems. In music, if not a direct answer, comes a divine perspective.
On this album my intention was to sing about what love is. The giving. The receiving. The Ups and Downs… And at first that seemed a fairly simple task. Almost every song I’ve ever written is about love or because of love. In some ways I thought this album would be easier than others to manifest.
But as I dove deeper, defining love grew a daunting task. What did I really know about love? Who am I to be so bold as to take this on? Ah, there’s the rub. Do you love yourself enough to be okay in every situation? So much so that no matter what you say you can have no attachment to how It and you are received?
After much exploration, listening, learning, letting go – A voice inside offered “Get out of your head and into your heart. Go be of service. In service you will find love. In service you will BE LOVE.” These are the thoughts that led me to tour again in 2011. By combining live shows with outreach and adventure, one gets his own greatness from others’ smiling faces.
In my travels I asked many what Love meant to them. For some it meant being love no matter what – expanding one’s capacity to love, regardless of circumstances – never giving up – loving what is difficult to understand – serving – accepting.
I began also to view love as the language everything speaks in the natural world. The essence of all there is. The sun for instance is perhaps our greatest source of love. It gives and gives and gives and never burns out. When a tree grows tall and its leaves reach for the sun, they too are sending their love and gratitude right back out into the world, paying love forward to others. Trees give us and many creatures food, shelter, and warmth. Animals, like humans, continue to serve and protect and share with one another. And so on goes that circle.
“There is only love. Everything else is our resistance to it.” – Terces Engelhart
Birds fill the skies with their complex music while dolphins and whales keep the seas flowing with their songs, which some consider to be the songs that contain the recorded history of the earth. All have a message to all. And at the root of every thought, is love.
To me, any creative act is love. Ever since the big bang, the universe, this earth, this civilization, has been some version of Love expressing itself. The word I use so commonly – Love – is so much smaller than what It actually is. It’s one of the greatest forces in the universe – yet it can’t be measured, let alone defined – yet that which propels us forward in thought, in action, can only be this One thing. (and still “One thing” sounds so small, when in fact “One thing” is everything, the sum of all parts.)
Child Educator & TV legend Mr Roger’s tried to warn us at a young age when he said, “understanding love is one of the hardest things in the world.” Thanks for heads up Fred.
I am happy and in love with who I am today. I found what I needed in myself to sustain an experience of love no matter where i am, no matter who I surround myself with. Whether I’m alone or among hundreds in a crowd, I am present to the power of love and the impact it has through all of life.
Love is life.
And now after two years seeking, celebrating and sorrowing, I finally have a record to share with the world. And what I figured out in the end is that Love isn’t always a pink heart on a valentine’s card. It’s also what breaks you apart when someone passes away as you lose the opportunity to share your eyes and adoration with that person.
Love is and will always be multi-faceted. It’s comedy in the face of tragedy. It’s romance on the deck of a sinking ship. It’s where the sacred meets the silly. It’s having compassion for your enemies and being nice to the dining room table after you’ve stubbed your toe. It’s what turns you inside out and makes you go nuts, like having a song stuck in your head for months, but you know it’s not a song at all. It’s your life.
Therefore, in summary, if you ask me what love is. I would simply say, in jest, and in truth,
I live near a military base. I don’t know much about it. It’s a place where Marines develop their skills and learn how to properly play with their toys I guess. Our friendly neighborhood airspace includes as many low flying helicopters and subsonic explosions as it does crows and their foretelling caws.
The base begins just beyond a storybook contoured landscape of farmland that cat-cows across a horizon on the opposite side of a valley below my house. At night the farm is lit with hundreds of well organized rows of bulbs. I tell people it’s a light bulb farm but the guy is really growing flowers. He produces many for the Rose Bowl parade and has for years. The night lights he uses hurries along mother nature.
Last night the base was firing something into the sky, adding even more light to the fields. The sparks moved like melancholy fireworks, each one a runaway from the pack. One soft light at a time trailing low over a canvas of stars held me a kept man and reversed my years. I wasn’t even a man anymore. I was just a pair of eyes, like how a child must feel before it’s first download. Each flare arced and faded languidly like shooting stars in slow motion. Mimicking it’s movement made my head turn.
The waxing full moon had my back which meant I was free to be lost in gazing. In gratitude for this new chance to see the earth in such great light, from such great heights, from a little house on a hill, at night, I smiled a warm smile, tucked my hands in my pockets, and levitated.
To some, the electrically charged flower farm and the military base could be viewed as wastes of energy; each operating out of some degree of fear or greed. But to others, the spectacle alone is beautiful and worth acknowledging.
How you choose to project your light onto others is “soul”ly up to you.
Looking for last minute gift ideas? Before buying a “thing,” that which will most likely be made in China and/or be obsolete and/or broken or discarded in the near future, consider the United States, a service-based country, and buy your loved ones a service. (Spa treatment, gardening service, flower service, grocery/produce service, organic pest control service, car service, photo service, educational service, flashmob, sky-dive, etc…) This will employ friends and neighbors while keeping your dollar circulating on the mainland.
For other items made locally, try:
SpokenGlass.com – Isn’t it time you stop buying water and use a reusable bottle instead. Everytime I see someone drinking from a plastic bottle I think of the wasted money AND wasted plastic. Spoken Glass are gorgeous glass bottles, customizable and inspiring.
Cafe Gratitude.com is Great for foodies and fans of peace, love, and happiness.
Live In Wonder, a book by Eric Saperston. With inspiring quotes, thought provoking questions, and plenty of room to sketch your own ideas and answers, Eric’s book is a spin off of the philosophy that you’re only one inspiring conversation away from your dreams. Whether you need directions on how to get there or instructions on how to put it all together, this book is filled with Q & A from his journey asking some of the most influential people how they got where they got and what others might consider on the journey.
Or support your favorite charity on behalf of someone you love. Write them a card that says, “I was gonna get you a new chia-pet, but by the looks of the moldy food in the back of your fridge, I see you already have a few. So instead, I put that 20 bucks into the Jason Mraz Foundation, an endowment that supports Education, Recovery, Humanity, and the Environment.” You’ll be everyone’s hero.
I’ve been thinking. It appears we humans might be a bacteria on the surface of the planet growing exponentially. We, a few billion fleshy bugs establishing and erecting crusty cities of concrete and mortar, causing almost irreversible transformation to the environmental landscape. “Almost irreversible” implying most of what we’re up to can’t/won’t be reversed within our lifetime but will certainly be taken care of in some way within the next billion years. But I’m not thinking about the planet. It’s much older than us and because it has already, it will no doubt live far beyond our years. I’m wondering what also we might be up to as humans. What’s the deal with our genes; those that got passed down to us and those we will pass down to our children? Are we not mere vehicles for our genes to ride around in while they evolve through lifetimes, ultimately riding off into eternity towards a sun that never sets?
It is worth wondering why and how our genes get to live on through eternity while we do not. Or do we? Our features and characteristics were passed down to us through eons of evolution. Our genotype is the instructions for who/what we’re born as, and we can’t help that other than to live the best life we can with whatever tools and gifts we’ve been given. From the start our genes grant us access to certain parties in life, or they introduce us to great challenges.
Though through our brave and adventurous lives, we do evolve. We overcome and transform ideas to better ourselves and/or the population. Some generations seem to take steps backwards. Others like it just as it is and don’t want to change anything. Ultimately by the time we pass on our genes to our kids, we will have affected our genotype and written a new set of instructions on our genes. Those that fought for freedom in the previous generations gave that freedom to us. They literally passed it onto us in our genetic make-up. Those who fought for women’s rights and those who once declared independence passed along those gifts of strong will and determination. Through this kind of science we can see that our actions DO make a difference. Our ancestors who discovered fire, basic tools, language, hunting, all the necessary to-do’s for survival through the ages, etc – gave US this opportunity to sit on our asses and read the internet.
And.. Also, if such awful ideas like slavery have been around since the beginning of civilization, isn’t it possible we could overcome and eradicate them too? I know our current generation is up to big things. Random acts of kindness, the starting of non-profits, and general support of charities is IN. Materialism is Out. This strangely aligns with what the Mayans predicted 2012 would be about. The world won’t end. But the world as we know it will. So, a new world is being re-invented everyday and it is through our consciousness and our conscious and careful actions that we are reshaping our reality.
Even if we’re not having children, we can affect future generations by making the environment one that encourages and inspires, thus affecting a person’s phenotype, that which is the accumulated characteristics of a person based on what they absorb through their life experiences. This is the basics of the science of natural selection. It is why we live much longer today. We now know how to avoid disease. We recently welcomed our 7 billionth family member. We are civilized beings with running water, electricity, digital music and stored food. This did not happen overnight. It appears to be the calculated accident of our genes telling our bodies what to do, how to live, how to thrive.
Though you’d think after the 1990’s we would’ve outgrown pants hanging down below our ass. Those “genes” are still worn by today’s young pop stars it seems. And if we keep this up, and those dudes continue to pro-create as they do, humans will be walking funny for the next 1000 years.
So what’s my point? I don’t know. I was just thinking out loud. Perhaps my point is to make a new years resolution to believe strongly in what you love and go for it. Even if all you do is sit and meditate on it, I believe it will affect your genes and make a difference. Future generations are already thanking your decomposing body for it.
When I was a senior in high school my favorite class was World Geography. It was a freshman level class but I’d failed it in 9th grade for never doing my homework which meant I had to take it again to graduate. The few years difference made all the world. Literally. I’m not sure if it was because I was older than everyone else and didn’t have close friends to distract me, or it was because I was so close to graduating and could hear the world wolf-whistling through the window that I excelled in the course. From memorizing state and country capitols to drawing political maps, I excelled and became a fan of the world at large. Besides wanting to sing, I added the possibility of being a tourist into the specifics of the dream.
There’s many things about my childhood that prepared me well in becoming who I am today:
Being Born. From the start I made an entrance to a small crowd of onlookers, thus preparing me for a life in the spotlight.
When I was around 3 or 4 I gazed out the window one night, looking up from my bed through the blinds where I could see a portion of the sky. With childlike curiosity I commanded the sky to blink and it did. Blink I said. And without missing a beat the sky flashed a bright light as if a small star had exploded and faded out quickly. It scared the shit out of me. Did I have that much power or was something out there so powerful that it heard me. Whatever it was I started sleeping under my parents’ bed after that. This was my introduction to the supernatural and I’ve been cosmic ever since.
Then, thanks to my parents’ divorce, I’ve been living out of a suitcase since I was 5. To survive life on the road, one must master the art of packing.
My dad and step dad both drove a van. Tour life would not be possible without at least 2 van rides a day.
My sister and her friends used to pick on me a lot. At least, I thought they did. So did this guy down the street. And his cousins. Yet because all these people lived on my block, I still HAD to play with them. Regardless, it made me pine for the road at an early age as I’d practiced running away a few times but never got past the edge of my neighborhood. I learned at a young age to love and accept judgment and criticism; a necessity for any artist.
Around 7 I was introduced to the School of Performing Arts in the Richmond Community (SPARC.) At that time the school existed only in church basements around our city, but 20 some years later it stands on it’s own with hundreds of students, programs and classes for the performing mind; teaching kids everything about life on and off stage, from singing, dancing, and acting to writing and lighting. I’m playing a concert on their behalf at the end of the December to celebrate their 30 years in action.
At 15 I started keeping a journal. It must’ve been a teacher who asked me to do it. Or a really loud voice in my head. Through writing I tapped into that voice and made a new friend. And since then, that voice & I have been making up all kinds of shit which is another requirement in the field of art.
Throughout high school our chorus department would take us on amazing trips. From New Orleans to New York we got to get out and experience how music could literally take us places. I saved all the hotel keys from those years. I’m not sure why. I guess I always felt I had places I could go back and visit. Like secret homes or hideaways. Since then I’ve saved every hotel key. Every single one. And again, I’m not sure why. I have thousands now. Someday I’ll build my own hotel out of recycled plastic hotel keys.
I’m sure I could think of many more things about my past that have contributed to my present, but a new day is dawning here in New York and I’m anxious to get out there. Today I’m planning to visit some museums and catch a Broadway show. Tourism 101.
I’ll leave you with this; one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen on the road. Ever. Enjoy.
There was a moment about 3 quarters of the way thru last night’s performance at the Sydney Opera House where I knew the show was going great and that it would be great all the way to the end. I liken it to the final mile of a marathon. I’d already covered most of the ground and still had lots of energy in my reserves. I knew I wouldn’t be struggling with high notes or transitions, nor would my mind be busy recalling lyrics of songs that hadn’t been performed in a while. The back half of the set was my baby. All I had to do was hold it. Having made a few mistakes, on piano especially, I quickly learned what it felt like to play wrong notes on the infamous Opera House stage. It didn’t hurt as bad as I thought it would. In fact, playing thru the mistakes made it more comfortable. I felt superb. I’d made all the mistakes I could possibly make and still I was accepted by the sold out audience seated 360, on all sides. Better yet, I was still accepted by me. My preparedness had paid off. It was the second of two shows; the last of 4 sets. A career high well done. Every bit of chi I’d been saving up was overflowing from Hermes cup. I needn’t over-think, question, wonder or worry anymore. 10,000 hours had brought me to this place. More than a decade of hustle. And when I scanned my electronic security badge to exit the stage door, I felt as though I’d walked thru a symbolic portal into the next chapter of my life. A ribbon had fallen. A race was over. The Opera House, and every hall from here on out, would now be my Home.
This entry, written over brekkie, in my boardies, wearing my sunnies, is written in gratitude to the Aussies. Thank you for the invite. Thank you for the songs. Thank you for the listen. And thanks for singing along. Many many thanks to all those who drove from Melbourne. Paul and Emma. Those who flew from the north, south and west. You are the best. Blessings to you Suze and Chugg and everyone at Chugg. And to my awesome Warner Family. You are Loved.