Saturday, December 26, 2009

You Have Arrived At Christmastime

Me with my son Alexander on glockenspiel

This is a song I wrote a few days ago. I've always wanted to write a Christmas song but it never quite happened. In December of 1995, eight months after Paul's TBI (traumatic brain injury), I asked him what he wanted for Christmas and he said "a song". I wrote a lovely melody and chord progression but only a few words appeared. This song is that melody and starts with the original first sentence, the rest is what came to me on Dec. 23rd, 2009.

On the second verse the line "There's nothing so rare as a fair day in June in December" is a quote from Paul.

I love how new words or melodies arrive. It's always a great mystery. Where do they come from? In this case I was on my way home from the Giacoletti Music School staff party (I'm a guitar teacher there). A few words came to mind : the songs and the sights, the colored glass lights, you have arrived at christmastime. I didn't match them up with the old melody from 1995 until I got home. It was a perfect fit. Then the rest of the words suddenly came down quickly. I didn't get to sleep until after 2am, which is quite late for me these days.

As a songwriter I love the process of how a song comes into being. I think the majority of the work is done in fallow times. Stuff like reading books or poetry, admiring the great songs. And then being ready for the lightning to strike. That means making the time for the muse, 'cuz those inspired moments when a song wants to be born won't wait for you to do your laundry. And it is a lot like having a baby really. I've always held the idea that no matter what the baby will be like, a lousy song or a good one, I commit to birthing it. My friend Steve Poltz once said to me, " It takes 3 bad songs to make one good one."

Impromptu performance aside, I think this is one of the good ones.

Happy Holidays to everyone reading. And a very grateful thank you to those of you that helped my family get through this year. x's and o's, cindy lee b

In the event that the video doesn't work here, it can be viewed at:


  1. Cindy
    Very nice indeed. I love ALexander in the background.
    Did you receive the copy of my book I sent you?
    It was mailed to Paul's PO Box in Encinitas.
    -Brother Dave

  2. Alexander is a musical genius! Tell him I said hello. I like your song. You guys sound great. Happy New Year.


  3. Dave, I haven't received the book as yet. Did you send it to PO box 232517 Encinitas 92023 ?

    And thanks Laura, I'll tell Alexander you say hello.

  4. Cindy and Alexander.... what a great song.... very moving.... and special back story.... thanks so much for sharing your talent.


  5. Cindy, I wish all of you a Happy New Year. Hope you're keeping Paul supplied with good recorded music of his choice to make the days pleasanter for him. That can make a huge difference in his life which you're probably aware of though some other people in similar situations reading this may not have thought much about it for whoever their "Beloved Stranger" is.

    Don't remember when I last spoke or wrote to Paul except one email a couple years ago that didn't get a response. Possibly over a decade. I even have a different Encintitas P.O. Box # in my address book and a "still ?" after the phone number. Anyway, use your judgement and if you think it would please Paul pass on a Happy New Year greeting to him from David Keller.

  6. Thanks for posting David. I will say hello to Paul from you. As for playing recordings for Paul, unfortunately, though it's hard to fathom when compared to who Paul was for so many years, he doesn't get much joy out of listening to recorded music any more. Partially due to his hearing loss, he does have pretty good hearing aids, but mostly because, I think, his brain functioning is so slow now that he doesn't process it well. I bought him a number of recordings over the past several years, while still living at home, but he would rarely listen to them.

    Now that he lives at a nursing home I take my guitar in sometimes and play songs for him or when I bring him home. I think he enjoys the immediacy of live music now, the vibration of the notes seems to get through to him where recordings can't.

    I asked him what he wants for Christmas and he says a school play. So I"m working on that one now.

    A lot of old friends of Paul's felt let down or out of touch with him in recent years, especially friends like you that kept in touch via email. Paul stopped using the computer and email about 4 years ago. I think it became to confusing for him and he forgot how to make things work. But Paul still loves to read a letter if you'd like to write..

    Our address is PO Box 232517 Encinitas, CA 92023. Paul loves to hear from fans and friends.

    Happy 2010 to everyone here!!

  7. Ahh....the glockenspiel! A recent addition to my "favourite instruments that we take for granted" list. It now ranks alongside the cello and the oboe in my top three (not that I keep such a list of course, as that would be very sad indeed!)

  8. Hi Cindy,

    I don't feel let down about Paul not keeping in touch with me. The other way around, a bit. And I only emailed him once. Got the address from someone after mentioning I didn't have a current address or didn't know if I had a current one. I think I might have written or phoned back around 2005 or 2006 and not had current address or phone number; perhaps I just had the impulse after reading some brief letters/notes from him I came across while looking through some boxes.

    Are there any topics you think would especially interest Paul? Or should be avoided? Should I use a large font size for easier reading?

    I was probably assuming Paul had a Walkman or something of the sort when I mentioned music. Headphones give me headaches so I don't keep up on what the current technology is. You've probably already thought of this but as a generality the recorded music he's likeliest to respond to is mostly whatever his favorites were around his teens and early 20s and his really standout favorites from later. I mentioned this because I was training for CNA certification a while back and in the "dementia" unit they were big on the theory of "age appropriate" music & such but so clueless about what actually was age appropriate they they were mostly playing things from times more suited to the patients parents. At least Paul enjoys your live music. Enjoyment of music is such a loss for anyone...

    The post by someone who likes Kate Wolf and Sandy Denny and likes your music gives me more interest in hearing your music. I know where a real record store is in a nearby county, maybe I'll think to look next time I'm near that store.

    Sorry about the slow response. I've read your blog since then but somehow overlooked that. Best wishes to all,

    David Keller

  9. Hey David, Good suggestion on getting Paul to listen to stuff from his teen years. He loved the Stones and mid Beach Boys. Of course Blonde on Blonde. Paul has hearing issues and that interferes with his enjoyment as well. He's got hearing aids but it's not always clear how well they work for him.

    He'd love a note from you. If you type it make it around size 14 font, easier for him read.

    Thanks for hanging around the blog and commenting. -clb

  10. People seem to have a special bond with the music they liked in their teens that outlasts practically all others. I've read some theories about this and don't have very strong opinions about them but the phenomena seems to be true. I'm starting to see it in myself though I still love other music and discovering new music. Music I listened to a lot while tripping seems to have a special bond also for me though I don't know if that generalizes or how much is age overlap. Hearing aids seem to cause problems for headphone listening for some people and not for others. Music with a lot of "body feel" might be more enjoyable than some of the music that is beautiful and cerebral but doesn't also engage the sensation of riding the music is another thought.

    A 14 font is what I prefer now despite two cataract surgeries in recent years. And our mutual friend/aquaintance, Tim Powers, has worse vision problems which is why I thought about that. I'll definitely type unless Paul has a strong preference for handwriting as more personal. My cursive handwriting is barely useful for communicating with myself and my block writing isn't award winning quality either.

    I never knew Paul well but have only positive personal memories and great respect and good feelings for much that he's done professionally and socially. It's a better world because of his existence. I'm a procrastinator but I'll try to get something written soon. I just sent myself an email reminder to write.

    I've had some experience living with people with BTI, PTSD and such for short periods of time and have a tiny bit of insight about how difficult your situation must be. I wish you the best at dealing with things and not letting them bring you down or overshadow living a good happy life.