Playing in the Musical Sandbox

Playing around on my Iphone and Garageband trying to hear what the different digital instruments sound like. I don’t understand musical theory so I get stuck sometimes, like when I wrote this song in A minor, but played a D major on the guitar in the chord progression. Which didn’t matter until I tried to use those preset”smart” settings on the digital piano and the digital violin strings for Amin scale. I faked it though.  For the verse I pretended as if I was having a conversation with someone and then suddenly found my inner Enya, whose music I love, and filled in with ooh’ing from the word “you.”

Music is such a fun place to be, if you can get over all that self-judgement stuff!


” I Gotta A Phone Inside My Head, Ok?…”

As I was walking down the street to drop off some papers at an office that is just off the campus where I work, I saw a fellow sitting next to a curb that had a busy street on one side of it and a church on the other side. I immediately classified the man as one the mentally ill people who wander the town during the day and I don’t know what they do at night. There was a divide in the concrete path I walked on, with one option taking me right next to the man and the other providing about three arms’ length of distance between us. I chose the path Jesus wouldn’t have taken.

As I got almost even with him, he said in an angry voice, “I gotta a phone inside my head, ok?” Then he continued a conversation with the unseen ones. I first thought, “Damn, that is a great song lyric. If I followed him around I could probably write a really creative song.” Apparently the act of plagiarism doesn’t bother me, but that is pretty common, I think, for singer-songwriters.

As I continued on my journey, I quickly realized that I could say the exact same thing, “I gotta a phone inside my head.” All sorts of imaginary conversations and scenarios keep interrupting my present moment. I make such a big deal out of little things. So many of those little things are about dealing with change. And, when I say little, I mean little, especially compared to the 13.5 billion years our universe has existed- or so they say. Or, compared to 2.5 million years of “human” existence on our planet. Or, even the fact that I share a lot of DNA with a chimpanzee. Now that is real change.

On the way back from my errand, I took the closer path to the gentleman that I have so much in common with and I looked him in the eyes and I said, “Good morning, sir.” He looked me in the eyes and said, “Well hello.” As I continued past him, I heard him start yelling again at the unseen ones … and I understood.



I don’t think it is really called the heart – this thing that I am writing about. Spirit doesn’t seem like the right word either, or should I say the “write word.”  Soul? Nah. It is like an unseen place where our deepest needs exist.  Some would say, it must be in the brain; All things come from the brain.  It certainly isn’t knowledge-based or an intellectual connected place.  It is where tears come from. Let me call it that- Where tears come from. From my observations, it is a place much in need of our attention.

I work in an intellectual factory that has stripped away the importance of Where tears come from. If it can’t be quantified and verified, it is not of much value. In this factory, we state facts, the students write down the facts, and then later on their memories are tested for the retention of the facts. It they are successful, they are labeled as smart. If they are not successful, well then all sorts of excuses are provided for their failure from their exposure to poor parenting and a lack of access to good schools to possibilities that the college student is just plain lazy.  We ignore the possibility that we might need to pay attention to Where tears come from.

Not just in my factory is this a problem, I see it everywhere. In professional offices colleagues create social scapegoats with no regard to Where tears come from. We treat each other as if we were some type of machine that only has mechanical functions and issues.  I see the problem on social media where we represent ourselves in such an unrealistic manner.  The intense pain from Where tears come from is covered up with posts and tweets and photos that lead the viewer in the opposite direction of our own Where tears come from. Like escaped convicts, we try to throw the hound dogs off of our scent.

Alcohol, drugs, sex, food, exercise, religion, sports, making money, video gaming often act as tour guides on the path that diverts us from Where tears come from. Ever see someone read one romance novel after another, head buried in the book, dreaming of a real life romantic life-but missing everything around them that would lead them in the direction of their desires? Been on an elevator lately? This was always the most awkward social situation anyway and now our solution is to ignore others with our sole attention focused on our cell phones. Cell phones are the most powerful tour guides today.

These tour guides that lead us away from Where tears come from can sometimes be quite sneaky. The television is one of the most obvious, but there are others. This morning I stood next to a gasoline pump, for what must have been at least the million’th time in my life, putting fuel into my car.  On the other side of the pump, another person did the exact same thing. We ignored one another like two guys pissing on the same fence post. We used the pump as a barrier to Where tears come from.  Here in the States, we often politely ask someone “How are you?” with absolute no expectations of receiving a truthful answer. In fact, if someone did reply honestly like, “Oh I am an alcoholic who has been hiding my pain behind a bottle of booze for so long, I just want to die,” we’d go scrambling looking for the 2nd page of our script. “Fuck, nobody has ever gone beyond “Good, thank you.”

We all have that place Where tears come from. Why don’t we just admit it?  Why don’t we help one another? Maybe because the key to Where tears come from is called vulnerability. So our fear keeps us fearful. To be vulnerable means to open yourself up to ridicule, more pain, rejection and public humiliation. Yuk. To not be vulnerable, well, that leads to a life completely apart from Where tears come from.  But here is the kicker, Where the tears come from is like the trump card of Life. It is more powerful than the Aces, Kings, Queens, Jacks and even the Wild Cards in our life’s deck of cards. Where the tears come from will eventually be heard. It will demand priority in our life and it will probably do so at the worse time possible. Me think it is far better to recognize Where tears come from now than later. Also, me think that not only do sad tears originate there, but so do tears of joy and gratitude.

I think I need to pay more attention to Where tears come from. Maybe it is time for Dreamer and Storyteller to help me understand more.




I don’t do lines.  I don’t mean that statement in the context of the decadent 80’s either. I mean if I am heading to a favorite eating establishment and there is a line of people waiting to get in or be served, I will immediately decide to go somewhere else.  This also holds true for movie theaters, doctors’ offices and grocery stores.

   There is something about standing in a line of people that makes me feel very uncomfortable. The feelings get even worse when I am in a crowd of people.  Funny thing is, I wasn’t born that way. I remember feeling just the opposite when I was a teenager. I used to feel excited going to the county fair and being surrounded by others. I used to find crowds of people to be very exciting and someplace I wanted to be.

I can almost remember exactly when my mind changed about crowds and lines of people. In the college town where I work, Halloween used to one huge party that sometimes went on for three or four days. Young people from out of town would come by the thousands to party in Chico. It started getting very rowdy and many young males would come into town just to cause chaos. What started as a really cool tradition, where families could go out at night and look at all the local college kids dressed up in amazing costumes, turned into a night where out of town police officers would be hired to patrol the town and sharpshooters would be on top of the buildings. Of course this didn’t happen overnight, it took years for it to morph into chaos. One night I was walking among the costumes, I realized I didn’t know who was really behind those masks and what their intentions might be…and I no longer liked crowds.

Maybe it is both the masks and the lack of them that makes me now so line-o-phobic. People wearing masks that hides their humanity and other who you wished might put on a mask of kindness to cover up their humanity. Not sure. Maybe it is just all about my own attitudes. 

This weekend is the start of the big Coachella music festival in Southern California, out in the desert. Thousands of people with lots of money travel there and they stand in lines to listen to their favorite bands and artists. I have spent quite of bit of time in that area helping kids from a low income background get into college. If you want to see what the potential of capitalism without a conscience looks like, go to the eastern side of the Coachella Valley, opposite of Palm Springs. Here many, many folks work so hard and make so little. It is the land of the Haves and the Have Nots. Right in the middle of that land, the rich people come and stand in line at the Coachella Music Festival and give nothing back to the local poor communities except monstrous traffic jams.  I think as I continue to make my own music, subconsciously I have been trying to make it something that nobody has to stand in line for. ‘Hear’ it is. No line required. 

You can divide America into several binary categories- those who think the Three Stooges are not funny, and those who do (which is closely correlated to those who think a fart is not funny and those who do) those who like Miracle Whip and those who like Best Foods mayonnaise, those who constantly play video games and those who don’t get a thrill from it, and those who enjoy being in a line of people and those who don’t. With all those categories, I am in agreement with the 2nd option. Farts are really funny, lines are not.

The Sprouting Grass Moon

I walked out to lock up the chickens for the night and not being aware of the moon’s cycle, I looked up and saw this beautiful, yellow moon just over the top of the tall pine trees. I felt compelled to sit in a chair that I usually sit in to watch the chickens wander and I just looked at the Sprouting Grass Moon. 

Native American tribes would refer to the April full moon as the Sprouting Grass Moon. They also called it the Pink Moon because so many little pink flowers were in blossom. Being the first full moon after the vernal equinox, it signals that the following Sunday is Easter. It also is the start of Passover. 

No particular thoughts captured my mind as the beauty of the moon overwhelmed my chaotic mind. It was a peaceful half hour and it was free. It was religious and it was spiritual and it was simple. What a gift.

Flash Songwriting

Been slowly recording songs for my 2nd album. Even though I’ve written over 30 songs,I still very much question what the hell I am doing. It is a curse and I know I will have to fight that dragon for a long time.

So what I occasionally make myself do is to sit down and write as quickly as possible whatever comes to my mind and record it…and post it on Soundcloud where I have to directly face my insecurities.

I just wrote this one this evening and it probably does reflect the less than 15 minutes I put into it, but hey, “Come on dragon. I’ll fight your ass!”