Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Readers of the Future

Here's a song I wrote last night, inspired by something Paul told me many years ago (ed.-someone chastised me a few months ago for not saying who Paul is, if you need to know look at my little description of this page over on the far right)

Paul's books were on a series of small publishing houses. When I met him he was writing a book called Rock and Roll: the One Hundred Best Singles and he didn't actually have a publisher for it. Apparently he'd had one in England but somehow that had fallen through about half way through the writing of the book.

At any rate, I asked Paul if the lack of a current publisher or the prospects of being on a small one had an effect on his writing or finishing of the book. Not at all he said. His answer was honest and deliberate, something he'd worked out and set to work in his brain, and was able access in the face of any doubt. He said he could "feeeel the future readers" as he wrote the words. As though they were reading them as he was writing them. And that was the thing that spurred him on.

In fact, the stunning thing about the way Paul worked was he had little interest in where the book might end up, that was something he'd work out once the writing was done. And then when it was done, he'd be on to some new writing and let go of the economic hopes or failings of the last one. All that mind-kipple never seemed to impede his progress.

The painting of Paul is by Drew Snyder.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Car Accident Reflections

Night before last Alexander and I were in a car wreck. We're okay, sore, no broken bones, recovering, still have our wits.

* * *

Many years ago, back in 1990, I had a yogi friend named Tom. He'd been to India to study with some heavy spiritual types including one of Richard Alpert's gurus, Neem Karoli Baba. Tom was a disciple of sorts of Hanuman and sometimes lived at the Hanuman Temple in Taos. He was a free spirit, a twin to my own Gemini wiles and one of those kinds of friends you have for a brief but important passage of your life.

Tom was helping me pack my belongings into the back of my newly bought yet thoroughly battered 1970 VW bus. At some point during the packing I hit my head on the roof, not hard but enough to stop me in my tracks. And I started crying. One of those moments Tom called an Aha. It was a marker for an important time of change in my life, and he knew it. I was moving from New York City back to San Diego and I'd made a six month stop over in Taos New Mexico. Sort of a clearing of the energies, a place to hang my hat and have a few adventures and decide where I was going next in life.

Tom sent me off with a picture of his guru and stuck a little stamp sized sticker of the Indian trickster god Hanuman on my dash board. I didn't think much of it...until 2 weeks later I'm in San Diego, staying with friends and my VW bus starts honking at 3 o'clock in the morning. You see, one of the oddities about this old bus I'd bought from a Taosino was that it would randomly start honking it's horn when you'd start the car, not every time, but maybe every 3rd time you'd crank the motor.

I ran outside to see two scruffy guys in my bus, which was still full of almost all of my stuff, frantically trying to get it into gear, while the horn is honking away like crazy. I yelled at them "get out of my car", but they pulled away from the curb and slowly got the bus to move on down the street turning a corner and then out of site.

Days later the police found the bus, I went to the tow yard to see if there was anything I could salvage. Nothing. Not even a tire. Just a hulk, a shell. Not even a scrap of my belongings were left in the car. Well, the only thing left behind by the car thieves was the small stamp sized picture of Hanuman. It had been ripped off of the dash board and the mischievous monkey smile was glaring at me face up on the floor of the car.

I didn't even have a belt for my pants. Alot of my stuff was gone. Strangely, what was at first a very bad thing, having nothing, made room and time for a new life for me. Out of this came my Garage Orchestra album and a whole new way of approaching music. And then meeting Paul, who was, as he attested at the time, the embodiment of The Fool.

* * *

And now, for the first time in many years, I have no car. Our car is in a tow yard, very likely totally unfixable. I can rent and find a way to buy one again. But it's that bump on the head time again, figuratively ( fortunately I didn't hit my head in Friday's car accident).
It's the time in between fixed points.

* * *

As for our car accident, Alexander and I were traveling home from his piano lesson and my giving a guitar class. We were heading south on old Coast Hwy 101. It was drizzling and dark. I was going my customary 30-35 miles per hour, cuz it's a bit of speed trap right in there. On my left are multi million dollar homes on my right a guard rail and about 10 feet of bluff dropping 50 feet down to the ocean.

Suddenly a black sports car, out of seemingly nowhere, backs over the double yellow line into oncoming traffic, which is me. He was backing up fast and there was nowhere for me to go except for head on. Brake for 2 seconds and brace for impact.

I don't know what happened for a few seconds, I had my eyes closed during impact, but when I opened them we were moving forward again toward the guard rail and the ocean bluff. I pressed as hard as I could on the brakes and we finally came to a stop. My son Alexander, who's nine, said he couldn't breath but then he started crying and I knew he was breathing. I grabbed my cell phone and ran to the back to be with him, trying to remember how to dial 911.

A lady came over and said she was a doctor and lived across the street she looked at Alexander and stayed with him while I looked out for the ambulance. When finally it came my legs went weak, I didn't have to be the strong- hold it together force now. The paramedics took over eventually determining we were okay, but transporting us by ambulance anyways to get x-rays and evaluations...

And thank you to Susan and nine year old Guthry Hahm for being with us at the hospital, calming our nerves, bringing us back to ourselves. And thank you to all of you that have left us heart felt comments on FB and by email.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

I Should Be Doing Something Instead I'm Doing This

While some say they are afraid to look on the Infinite
the great big story we play out,
Some of us here have found a home
and the infinite is our window out.

* * *

in a trip to the Sierra Nevada's
at a very young age
my mother drove us east of Delano
and I became a little girl lost in the snow...

wandering away from mommy
lured by damned curiosity
and down a snowy hill
and past an old wood house
past a road
'til new snow began to fall
and down some more
and she knew she was alone.
she knew this for the first time:
she must awaken, become more.
and her own engines began to fire
her mind sputtered, sparked, started
then hummed
and she was afraid
She was in a place She'd never been before:
it was silent as snow
it was LOUD, with many voices
it was strangely familiar.
It was home.
and she turned around
retracing her steps
finding her mommy standing with nervous park rangers
her mommy, so long ago,
her mommy, who seemed like a stranger.
first secret. welcome home.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Meeting Paul, Part 2

Paul and I rendezvoused at Canters Deli on Fairfax, it was the day after we first met, at the Dylan Pantages show of 1992, it was about noon. We shared a pastrami on rye and some pickles. He brought along the manuscript to a book he was working on, The One Hundred Best Singles of Rock and Roll.
It wasn't finished, but he'd already written about three quarters of it. He showed me the table of contents and had me pick out a song on the list and then proceeded to read it aloud, over sandwiches. I'd chosen the chapter on the Beach Boy's Don't Worry Baby/I Get Around, it's still one of my favorite pieces of writing by Paul. (Sadly I don't have a copy of the book around the house, or I'd quote a passage.)

Paul was really easy to talk with. He didn't have an attitude about his past and it was fun asking him about the cool stuff he'd done. We finished our lunch, paid the bill, gave a bum a pickle on our way out and then proceeded to drive through LA to Santa Monica in my 1971 VW bus. I'd just made the trek up that way a few weeks earlier with my friend Mark Fried (formerly of BMI Music). We'd driven all the way up to Malibu in my bus and visited Papa John Phillips at his place. Now Paul and I were driving up that direction and talking about the process of music making and it's spiritual ramifications, talking the whole way.

I played him a song I'd just recorded, (something that's never been released called Cindy's New York) with some of my first experiments in self production. Paul really dug it and said he could feel the Brian Wilson type producer in me arising. I was amazed he could see where I was trying to go. All this was, of course a year and a half before I recorded my first self produced album, Garage Orchestra. He shared with me a concept he had about Brian as a "primitive" that is an artist formally untrained- that feels the music, hears it in his head and then has the ability to translate it via other musicians.

That idea still fascinates me, what exactly makes one a primitive? At any rate later in the year, as Paul saw me write and process the music that was to be Garage Orchestra, he used that phrase often to explain my own way of interpreting the music running around in my head. I don't think the head of Warner Brothers, where Paul introduced me and my music to the great Lenny Waronker, understood that phrase any better than me.

We drove back to Canter's and I dropped Paul at his car, then drove the 2 hours home to San Diego. On a cloud,.... (of exhaust from my 1971 muffler).

There are times when you meet someone where you feel the future and the past in the present moment. It's where our linear idea of time breaks down, doesn't make sense. It's important to recognize these moments.