Saturday, November 25, 2017

Circle of Life Moments

I wish I had a video of it...but it's etched in my mind. My whole family experienced it so at least I have a few people I can share the memory with.

A small woodpecker was peacefully eating at the bird feeder, flew off, and SMACK! slammed into the picture window (making us all jump).  Stunned, it seemed to float in mid-air for a few milliseconds. JUST THEN, a hawk...a big, beautiful, deadly hawk, swooped in and picked it off in mid-float!

...all of this happening in just a few seconds moments after we had just finished Thanksgiving dinner!

We have hawks all around our land, but we've not seen one near the bird feeder (or as we now call it...the Hawk Buffet), until 30 minutes earlier. It must have flown in, seen the opportunity, and perched in nearby trees just waiting for his moment. Now, I'm not sure a Hawk has a degree in physics, but it certainly seemed to be thinking, "Aha, there's my entree fattening itself now at the bird's a speedy little thing but if I can just move my wing enough to startle it into flying SSW at 92 degress, it will fly straight into that which time I will have 0.348 seconds to swoop in while it floats startled at the impact"

...and that's exactly what happened. A classic "Circle of Life" moment. Right in front of visual memory, but something we'll remember for years.

But that was not the only Circle of Life moment that day.

90 minutes earlier, our cat brought a soon-to-be-cat-food mole to our back door...and proceeded to join us in Thanksgiving meal ... where we could audibly hear the cat consume the mole...starting with the brain...leaving only the stomach and liver. I didn't take a video of that either. But we'll remember it for some time.

...but I do have a photo that captures glimpses of other Circle of Life moments from Thanksgiving that I'll remember for some time: seeing our nearly-grownup kids interacting, having fun, playing games, and talking about their experiences in this soon-to-be-their-world-to-conquer. seeing my oldest and his girlfriend help make Thanksgiving great by bringing food, fun, conversation, and sharing their journey through what committed relationship requires. seeing Grandpa seeming to find peace in his surrounding family...even as his memories fade, conversations shorten, and independence shrinks. seeing gaps where loved ones not with us any longer used to be...knowing some day that'll be me. seeing a smaller gathering with immediate family only. I'll always cherish our past Thanksgivings with extended family, but maybe those days are gone? It seems the mantle has been passed to me to keep this family engaged. seeing my wife, who has been by my side as we journey through this life, some times happy, some times sad, many times (especially lately) struggling to find peace...struggling to find each other...yet always finding moments to connect.


So many Circle of Life moments...I wish I had a video of them all...but they're etched in my mind. My whole family experienced them so at least I have a few people I can share these memories with.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Song Insight: Forevermore

This song, "Forevermore", best represents my artistic journey in my early 20's...

Take a listen...

As I mentioned in a past Facebook post, "Back in 1991, this was the "Anthem" song that closed out my arena shows and had everyone singing on the drive least in some alternate universe...".

I wrote this during my year in traveling with Up With October '90 in the middle of Northern Italy.  I remember the inspiration quite clearly: I was feeling blue that day (sounds like a life theme), and I walked into a church. I was the only one there, and it was quite dark, somber, and reflective. As I was soaking it all in, all a beam of light suddenly appeared and lit up the cross. I was deeply moved. Later that day I wrote this song.

For full context, I seemed to have always been a believer, and "grew up in the church". That resulted in a very protected environment...which made my faith shallow.

No that's not right...

...made my faith simplistic.

I was passionate about my faith, and my year in Up With People, at least in my journal, was filled with my impressions, thoughts, as if I was giving Jesus a daily account of my adventures. (For some reason when I read that journal now, I cringe a bit...because of that simplistic view? because it distracted me from other observations?).

But, on that day, in that Church, the beam of light deepened my simplistic suddenly appeared tangible...something I could taste and see...something real. (Now, I also know I can explain it away today as, "well did you pay attention to the weather? Seems like it was overcast, and there was a small break in the clouds that allowed the sun to peek through the stained-glass windows, which, by human-designed architecture, pointed all incoming light to the front of the church...where the cross was.)

Even so, it affected me enough to write these lyrics, which I think are pretty good...and write the melody over an interesting chord progression. I actually remember the first moment I wrote the piano chords for the verse (the first thing I wrote) how I wanted it to sound a bit dissonant that then resolved into something epic. Later, when I recorded the version above in the Fall of '91, I also added orchestration so you'll hear strings, french horn, and the final solo is doubled to add depth and power to it.

It's now been 27 years and after rediscovering these master recordings, it was so delightful to remaster this....

...and even now when I listen to it I think back to that day and get emotional.


Oh, and if you are curious about my earlier Facebook post, I did truly think I was destined to "make it in music" (more evidence of my simplistic youth)...maybe that's why my life's theme seems to have a sad/blue undercurrent.

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