Archive for the ‘Conscious Songwriter’ Category

Are you Conscious?

July 14, 2010


Yes, that’s probably the appropriate starting point for this conversation, because the odds are, you aren’t.

But you have been.  And you will be again.  And at some point, you may decide being Conscious is downright appealing.

A few definitions here.  I use “Conscious”, with a capital C, to distinguish from “conscious”, with a lower case c, which is more like the state in which you are not physically sleeping, passed out from the over-enjoyment of various amusing substances, or undergoing surgery while you are reading this.  Which might be more suited for a Discovery Channel special.  Or maybe the National Enquirer.

By “Conscious”, with the capital C, I am referring instead to a state in which you are perceiving the world around you, and yourself in that world, through eyes undistorted by culture, outer identity, and other lenses of received knowledge and “wisdom”.  In such a state, there is nothing but a sense of wonder and seemingly irrational bliss, which in itself is a pretty good rule of thumb for determining whether you’re “there”.

You all know what I mean.  You’ve all been there.  Not some woo-woo, goofball, spacier-than-thou thing.  Just a moment of joy.  For no apparent reason at all.  Very cool.

Here’s another distinction:  Conscious is not the same as Mindful.  Mindful is good, too.  It means you’re paying attention to the main task at hand.  Do not, for example, try operating a chain saw without fixing your total attention, mindfully.

But being mindful, as the word implies, involves the Mind.  Wheels turning.  Sensory inputs engaged.  And the Mind, which is quite full of itself, is behind the tendency to “multi-task”, because once those wheels start turning, it’s such a buzz that, surely, more is better?  And the fact that you were able to arrive at work after simultaneously driving a car, texting your BFF, eating a breakfast burrito and maybe even painting your toenails, well, surely, that makes you queen (or king?) of the Mindfulness universe, right?

Actually what it makes you is momentarily… lucky.  Not cool.  Stop it.

Mindful means tending to the One Thing you are doing.  Not fragmenting your attention until there’s not enough attention left on any one thing to do that thing well.  And if you’re doing so many things that do not require deeper attention, your life is really superficial, my friend.

I used to know someone who always insisted that the devil is in the details.  By this, they meant that one should get down into the level of detail, which in the case of that person, meant, for example, days or weeks comparison shopping, both before and after a purchase.

Then again, this person also defined “5-ish” as meaning “any time within the clock hour between 5:00 and 5:59”, which made scheduling social events a little dicey.

Another interpretation of the devil is in the details is this:  that the real and perilous temptation lies in letting our attention get sucked out as we obsess about little things.  Things that Do Not Matter.  Consciousness always lifts one out of the specific and into the global, even though, paradoxically, it is often something specific that sparks the moment, like really seeing some bit of beauty in nature, or in some everyday interaction with another human being.  It’s only in those conscious moments that we are not only free of fear, but astoundingly clear as to how to live our lives and conduct our affairs.

Of course, then you crash down to earth again.  Welcome back.  We missed you.

Details are necessary, of course.  If your accountant is too fond of using the phrase “whatever”, you could have a problem, and maybe you need to tune into your own details.

But between the detail-microscope in the lab, and the infinite-universe-blowing-your-mind telescope looking out into the vastness of space, there are those little moments when we see it all, head in the stars, feet on the ground, nothing occupying our own space but compassion and understanding.

Consciousness is what happens when you fleetingly lift your boots out of the muck of what we think of as “normal” perception.  It’s that moment of sexual release, when there’s nothing but the … whoosh!

Nothing but the smile.

Have you been conscious lately?  Even though these moments are fleeting and often far between, you know another one will sneak up on you sometime when you least expect it.  Very cool indeed, huh?

Serendipity & Songwriting 101

November 7, 2009

It’s here!

New arrangements.  New vocalists.  All the result of a serendipitous and unexpected connection to the amazing Michael J. Lewis, Emmy-winning, Grammy-nominated composer and producer, and his equally amazing partner, Alison Pryce.  Exactly the kind of thing I would have sworn (and often did!) never happens to me.

Early last summer, I was in Santa Fe fro a singer-songwriter circle organized by Lisa J. Carman, my newest soul-sister, fellow Cancerian, award-winning singer-songwriter herself, and a wise teacher.  We spent a weekend playing, singing and talking, and Lisa cannily challenged me to get clear on what I really wanted to do with my music.  And my spontaneous response was this:  I wanted a top-flight producer who loved my music and really gets it.  I don’t really care about performing, I want to compose.  I get an amazing kick out of hearing other people sing my songs, and I love using the scope of unlimited voice types and talents to take my music to new places.

Not two months later, a different girlfriend, my old high school pal, mentioned in passing that she hd a friend who “did something in the music business”.  Thought it might be interesting to get in touch, and did so, with no idea beyond a generic curiosity.  The friend turned out to be Alison Pryce, formed bassist with the Royal Philharmonic in London, and collaborator/partner of Michael Lewis, composer of dozens of scores for major films, commercials,, and a Broadway musical, who had tired of LA and moved to Austin (an hour up the road) a few years before.  Alison followed with her own move to Austin, where she met my old high school pal, Ann.

One descriptor that has always come up in terms of my music style is… “movie music”.  Alison checked out some of my tunes, mentioned them to Michael, and within a week, the two of them had approached me;  they loved my music, and wanted me to let them “do justice” to my songs.

And how!  It’s been an overwhelming experience, educational, challenging, expansive, and thrilling at every step.  Alison and Michael worked magic, and my first reaction on hearing waht they had done was… So that’s where my music wanted to go!

More entries will follow soon, to give all credit where it’s due, and recognize the fantastic voices on these three tracks, but for now, Please take a listen – at to Juarez, Darfur Lullaby, and Leaving Athens.  I hope you enjoy them!