Go Boldly Into the Night

This song started because I have theological issues with that old song “I’ll Fly Away.” And then in the course of being written, it picked up an allusion to that Dylan Thomas poem you probably read in high school.

It’s my last song for #songaweek2021. I did miss one week (or was it two?) because I was on summer vacation and I’m proud of myself for being okay with that (as opposed to being okay with being proud of myself for that).

I’m gonna fly but I won’t fly away
I’ll keep soaring over every blessed thing
And when you feel the wind in your hair
Remember I carry you upon my wings

I’m gonna die but I won’t die away
I’ll keep singing over every precious thing
And when you feel the music inside
Don’t try to keep quiet, let the anthem ring

Go boldly into the night
Death only takes your life

Go boldly into the night
Death only takes your life

Time’s gonna come for every last one
Finally forever to let our selves go
And when we feel our last breath escape
We fall on the grace of all we do not know

Go boldly into the night
Death only takes your life

Don’t worry when good stories end
Love always comes again

Christmas ’21

Well it’s been a busy day of holiday preparations but I kept my priorities straight and recorded my song for this week 51 of #songaweek2021. If you look closely you can see the flour on my sleeve from the pie-making marathon I had just finished.

I dedicated this song to American health care workers and educators because I’ve been thinking of them often lately in these continuing difficult times of pandemic life.

May we each and all find at least a moment of peace this holiday season, and share some good will with one another.

Merry Christmas, it’s good to feel you near me in this dark and deep
Happy new year, let’s be the resolution that we want to keep

Sing for everything we’ve hoped and held
Make room for everything to be lived and felt

Season’s greetings, there’s got to be some joy for everyone to find
Happy holidays, we need to find some time that we can all unwind

Sing for everything we’ve hoped and held
Make room for everything to be lived and felt

Peace on earth, I still believe it’s possible to get along
Good will to you, the kind that sinks in deeper when you pass it on

Sing for everything we’ve hoped and held
Make room for everything to be lived and felt

Remember December

For funsies.

Hey Mr. Snowman, welcome aboard
You’ve joined a wonderful world
But I gotta warn you, there’s things you don’t know
Because your brain is made of snow

Remember December is not the only kind of month
With its crystalline cold
There’s others coming that you won’t like so much

Your small creator is fickle and young
And prone to temper tantrums
So man you’d better make every moment
count for something before you go

Remember December is not the only kind of month
With its crystalline cold
There’s others coming that you won’t like so much

Sweet little birds will peck out your eyes
Don’t take it personally
We’ve all got problems in our lives
As I am sure you’ll come to see

Beware of dogs and thirteen-year-olds
They’re unpredictable dolts
They might befoul you or decapitate
But they can’t take your luminous soul

Remember December is not the only kind of month
With its crystalline cold
There’s others coming that you won’t like so much

The Guest House (Rumi poem set to music)

This is quite a thought-provoking poem (of course it is, Rumi wrote it!). A creative way to look at moods, feelings, circumstances – not necessarily the only way. It’s a good balancing idea for someone who was raised to resist negative emotions, give them no quarter, don’t let them take control.

I’m fascinated with the idea of treating every new mood, thought, happening, as a guest in the house of my life. You give your attention to a guest, interact with them, ask how you may serve them – but you, as the host, remain the master of the house. So you don’t let these guests take over your life, you simply pay attention to them, treat them with generosity and hospitality, until they inevitably go on their way again.

(What I’ve found is that trying to “resist” a negative thought or emotion is really an impossibility – if it’s here for you to notice, then it’s already a reality. Of course you can keep yourself from acting on this negative emotion, but trying to pretend that it isn’t there at all doesn’t make it go away – it might just sneak in your back door and take up residence in your basement, and one day you’ll wonder, what is that awful stink?)

Things like love, joy, wealth, health are desirable guests. Rage, depression, poverty, sickness – not so much. Welcoming these things as guests feels close to the idea of loving an enemy. You are welcome here, but there are house rules, healthy boundaries, that I as the host will require.

In the act of serving a difficult guest – seeking to meet their needs, sharing conversation with them – you may come to understand them better – why they are here, what they need to move on. In the act of serving a delightful guest – turning your attention towards them – you may gain even more delight, deeper memories that stay with you after the guest has gone.

Beneath the video I’m including the lyrics I made and then the English translation by Coleman Barks that I worked from.

Each human life’s a guest house, each day brings something new
A joy or a depression might come and visit you
A moment of awareness, a miserable mean streak
Could end up unexpectedly walking up your street
Welcome and serve them all

And if a crowd of sorrows violently sweeps through
And empties you of everything, still this way is true
Give honor to each guest who comes into your life
They could be here to clear you out to hold a new delight
Welcome and serve them all

Dark thought and shame and malice, arriving in their time
Meet them each with laughter, invite them in with kindness
Be grateful for whoever comes, for each and every one
For each one has been sent as a guide from beyond
Welcome and serve them all

Coleman Barks translation:
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Who Loves You

“Against” is not necessarily a negative word. Nor is “close.” I was thinking about this when I jotted down the first verse of this song months ago. You can lean against someone for comfort or protection or just to feel cozy. You can sit close, draw close, in love; rather than close your mind or your heart or your door. The hard s or the soft s, the adjective/adverb or the verb – they all come from the same Latin root.

The prompt for week 48 of #songaweek2021 was “tell me everything.” When I sat down to write my song last week, I revisited that first verse idea and then looked up the prompt for development ideas. I wanted each verse to set up some sense of juxtaposition – things that feel at odds that actually aren’t in a true love relationship (which is not at all limited to romantic ones). So the prompt helped me write verse two.

As I was playing the first two verses the song felt a lot like a lullaby. The first verse felt reminiscent of late nights holding my second baby, who would wake up crying hard and long and simply would not be comforted. I ached for him to just relax into my arms, against the warm loving body of his mother, but he’d twist and fight until he wore himself out.

I can be that baby too, with the people closest to me. I don’t want to open up and share my pain and mess with you. I just want to blame you for it, pick a fight to use up some of this bad energy I’m feeling.

Verse two describes the kind of loving conversation I think crying babies like me most need – a listening ear and heart, a recognition that you can never completely understand but that you want to know me. “Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity,” said Simone Weil.

The juxtaposition in the first lines of the last verse may feel harsh on the first listen. But we all know it’s true, in any and every relationship – and I think in the most deeply loving ones we find gentle honesty about it. The song ends with a reminder that morphs into a question that is also about paying attention.

Lean up right against me
You don’t need to fight against me
Come close, don’t close yourself away

Tell me everything
You don’t need to speak a word
I know, I’ll never understand

I am here for you
Until I am gone away
You know I’m not the only one
Who loves you . . .