Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Head and the Heart

There's a band called The Head and The Heart and they're currently on tour with Iron & Wine. I haven't listened to them much, but I like what I hear. And what's more, I like their name and it has set me to thinking.

I've had a pocketful of intensity in my life lately, and as a strategy for navigating through it, I have been playing a lot of guitar. New songs, old songs, spontaneous songs, it doesn't matter. I have become increasingly aware of how much energy moves through my being when I play the guitar, and it feels good. After one particularly visceral guitar session recently, I had to stop, put the guitar down, and move about the room while my body shook out the residual energy. Almost like Peter Levine talks about regarding our body's inherent healing mechanism that kicks in as a response to trauma.

The head and the heart. We are told they are connected, yet the times I actually feel this truth are far too seldom. But lately, I have become aware of something. As I'm playing guitar, my head swims with various thoughts. Some of the thoughts are about the music itself: the chord changes, the strumming, the picking, the tempo, and more chord changes. Sometimes I am able to simply observe this, and other times I judge what's happening. "That wasn't a clean chord," or "There's nothing original here," or "So and so is better." I have noticed something interesting with this judgmental part of my head jumps into the music - I start to miss. I miss chords, I miss the tempo, I make mistakes.

Then I remember to breathe, and breathe, and feel. And the music flows through again, typically with ease, simplicity, beauty, and without the heady mistakes listed before. I am reminded of a line from one of my favorite movies, "American Beauty."

"It's hard to stay mad when there's so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing it all at once, and it's too much. My heart fills up like a balloon that's about to burst. And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it. And then it flows through me like rain. And I can't feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life."

The head and the heart. The breath and the judgment. I judge and I am ejected from the flow of universal energy. I breathe, relax, and I'm back in.

My ONE SONG this week is "Rambling Man" by Laura Marling. Listen and you'll thank yourself.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

One Song

To blog or not to blog - a common conundrum for me. There are times I enjoy writing, and other times I write because I feel like I owe it to…to…

Well, I'm not sure. Many days I think I am the only one reading this thing anyway. And while I envision throngs of fans clamoring for my next blog as they glimpse whatever insight they can into the man behind the songs….well, for now it is simply not the case.

At any rate, I am writing again, and aim to someday make good on my personal commitment to blog every other week. Regardless of who does or does not read it, may there be purpose and meaning in the process.

I rediscovered something last night as my 5 year old daughter and I were having a dance party in the house: My love of the Grateful Dead. It's not that I had actually forgotten about them and their music. But listening last night (Franklin's Tower, live) sharing that music with my daughter, and attempting to explain to her (or rather, help her feel it directly) what I love so much about the music was a powerful experience. And it dawned on me: My goodness, she is already 5 years old and I've never really shared this with her. Not just the music, she's probably heard it. But I hadn't shared the ME-ness of it - why that music is so vital to my very being.

Caveat: Deadheads - you already know what I'm talking about, and I need to say nothing more. Non-believers - I'll never convince you no matter how much I type. Let's just leave it at that.

Music is my favorite thing and making it is a large part of my purpose on this planet. The reason I make it is that I love it - with every ounce of me I love it. I love to dance, to play guitar, to sing, to play percussion, to listen, to perform, to write and record - I love it. And not sharing deep aspects of this love with my already 5 year old? What else of myself have I not been sharing? And why?

I think I have a guess about the why. We were riding in the car the other day when she introduced me to her pet invisible dinosaur named "Busy." That was a clue. A sad cold slap of reality about how my daughter sees me. Busy. Hmmm…

So I come back to the music. I am thinking about writing a blog series about ONE SONG, and I will pick the song that is doing it for me the most lately. The "IT" varies of course, but you all know what I mean.

Tonight's song is Roll Away the Stone by Mumford and Sons. Listen to it if you can, many times. Especially the tail end of the song, when it changes tempo to 6/8 (or 3/4, I never really know the difference). And even more specifically when the lead singer goes for it. If you listen closely you'll know what I mean. Turn it up, listen again, and feel what happens in your body and your soul when you hear this. Then do it again and be glad you are alive.