Category Archives: music

That Voice

Mellifluous – Word of the Day

Sade, Mazzy Star, Stevie Nicks, Sarah Brightman, Carla Bruni, Hannah Reid, the list goes on, all with unmistakable mellifluous voice. Enya is supreme, that honeyed, mellow, smooth, hypnotic voice captivates, inspires and lifts the soul. She is unmistakable, her Celtic influences in looks, sound and word, are all striking.

Enya, Eithne Padraigin Ni Bhraonain (Enya Patricia Brennan) born of a large and musical family was known for her role in the group Clannad, and then in her solo work from the early 1980s where she burst upon the charts with a string of hits. She is intensely private, and has never done a concert tour as a solo artist and rarely performs on TV. She has a number of music industry awards behind her, and many chart successes. She can play several instruments and her vocal range is mezzo-soprano and instantly recognizable. Enya refers to her voice as an instrument.

The first time I heard Enya was in 1989 with her second album Watermark and the single Orinoco Flow, and I was hooked immediately. If I’m needing something peaceful yet not passive (those two should never be confused) I like to listen to her music, which I find nurtures my soul. So in that sense she is my soul food. I find that her voice transports me beyond the carcophany of the daily and into a melodic and contemplative space.

Some of my favourite Enya quotes:

“There is no formula to it. Writing every song is a little journey. The first note has to lift you.”

“The success of Watermark surprised me. I never thought of music as something commercial; it was something very personal to me.”

Enya never sought commercial success and refuses to live as a star or to court fame. Her commitment is to her passion to write and to create music. I think it’s obvious really that her success has come from focussing on the heart of her passion. And her music has attracted people even before they knew who she was, so that it wasn’t originally personality based, her success was firmly based in the music itself. That itself is a gift. If we take her as an example, then to live out of the heart brings our creativity and passion to life in powerful ways.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Ramble On

Gallivant – Word of the Day

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I’ve travelled and rambled a little, but I would say as Bilbo said to Frodo (and later Frodo recalls it) “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”  J.R.R. Tolkien (Fellowship of the Ring)

But unless you go out that door there will be no adventure. One doesn’t need to ramble far for adventure, there’s enough going on in every local community to constitute an adventure of sorts. Adventure isn’t always about excitement or danger, it can be enterprise, chance, venture, to take a risk.

For some the risk is maybe even just going out the door, or, having to talk to people, taking the time, travelling even a short distance, being out of your comfort zone, going into new experiences … but to think, there may be conversations, sights, colours, wildlife, history, events, or the beauty of solitude in nature, whatever the outcome, there’s always an experience to be had. It may not be earth shattering or exciting, but yet it may well be profound. And, does it matter where you’re swept off to? Predictability and over thinking are kindred spirits to ruts. A true adventure has to have surprise and spontaneity somewhere in it, and you can’t plan that.

But isn’t that life? Life is an adventure (that’s my experience), life is an invitation to ramble on, you can’t nail the whole of your life down, you can’t control every day of every year. We need to open the doors of our hearts and minds, even to just leave the window of opportunity open to entice us. Strangely enough, all the ifs and buts become a faint memory once you’re out the door.

The tales of the “Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” are all about rambling, adventuring gallivanting, but also a tale about life itself, as most fiction is. The band Led Zeppelin were steeped in Tolkien. If you peruse their lyrics there are phrases from Tolkien all over their original works. But the emphasis is always metaphysical, always rambling, always love and adventure, hence the song “Ramble On” on their 1969 album Led Zeppelin 2. Below is a sound track of that song where the accoustic guitars have been separated out – so no heavy guitar on this one, and the lyrics come to the fore (simple as they are).

Ramble on!

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Filed under bush walking, community, life, Literature, mindfulness, music, quote

Paperbark Writer

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The paperbarks (Melaleuca – one of the 300 Myrtaceae family) are shedding a little later this year. Another theme of winter is shedding. Some animals shed a summer coat in order to prepare for winter, many plants shed their blooms and slow down in some part, some of our birds fly elsewhere for the winter though we get visitors from other shores. We, perhaps, can live unaware of our own needs. What do we need to shed in order to prepare? Mind you, the converse is also something that we need to attend to, what do we need to gather in, soak up, put on in order to prepare? Self care and nurture are fundamental to well being, body mind and soul. For me the continuity of writing and meditation are part of that nurture. How about you?

“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” Albert Camus

Paul,

pvcann.com

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The Satin Life

Satin

The Moody Blues’ ‘Nights in White Satin’

The only time I spent in satin sheets was murder, I spent the night trying not slide everywhere every time I turned, it was bizarre, and they were hot, but not in the right way, sweaty hot (like wearing silk shirts in the height of summer). Each to their own. We vowed we’d never buy them ourselves.

Satin is quite an interesting weave.

If you know your satin you’ll know that it has a shiny side and a dull side. This is created by the method of weaving – called satin weave (which is one three basic weave types), where there is no strong diagonal line and which therefore renders a smooth, unbroken surface. Silk was the main material for making satin, but other materials are now used as well, though, for example, when using cotton the resulting fabric is usually called sateen.

Satin is a bit like life itself, it has a shiny side and a not so shiny side. The shiny side doesn’t constitute all of life, and can’t, because nothing remains smooth or unbroken. With all due repsect to R.E.M. we can’t be Shiny Happy People all the time. The not so shiny side is somewhat more representative of real life, not dull necessarily, but perhaps our more regular routines and patterns of living that can sometimes drive us mad, or make us yearn for a glimpse of the shiny, glossy, sexy, fun side of life. The two go together, too much of one or the other unbalances us. Without the less shiny side, the shiny wouldn’t stand out, without the shiny side, there wouldn’t be a foundational rhythm in contrast. And, as soon as the shiny side becomes the regular reality, it becomes monotonous anyway, and we begin looking for the new shiny. Perhaps in the shiny life we are slipping and sliding too much and need to be grounded more in the routines of ordinary living.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Broken Mornings Restore

Broken

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Morning had broken. Post sunrise at Augusta. You can see the plume of smoke on the horizon from the controlled burn. This was the day before the storm across the southern half of the state last week, which is traditionaly the break of season. We now move from autumn to winter.

With every sunrise I think of that old hymn ‘Morning Has Broken’ and it has stuck in my mind ever since I heard Cat Stevens popularize it. Stevens included it on his 1971 album ‘Teaser and the Firecat.’ As a single it charted at number 6 in the US according to Billboard, and number 9 in the UK. It was on the radio for weeks. The wonderful piano that makes it so great was devised by Rick Wakeman in conjunction with Stevens.

I like to take time to watch the sunrise, sunset, the stars, the change in the sky, just to soak up the moments. In another sense, the sky and all its gifts are part of the rhythm of life. The sun’s movements are the bookends of each day, but also a reminder that each day is enough in itself, that to live is to live in the moment and not in any other day. The irony is, that if we do live in the moment, we build a capacity, a strength that helps protect us from breaking. Living in the moment is letting go, nurturing grattitude, accepting the elements of the day, reaching out to others, sharing love, touching the joy that is somewhere in us and perhaps needs intentionally drawing out. Besides, worrying never changes the outcome anyway!

I believe that each new day is a new opportunity, a new experience, and a new horizon, by which we have a fresh start and new opportunities to explore. And, as the song says, each new day begins, like the first one. There is a rhythm of life, it is a gift, it is faithful, it is there for us to be in.

Two of my favourite quotes about living in the now:

“Life is a journey, not a destination.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Be present in all things and thankful for all things.” Maya Angelou

And of course the song – an earworm for your day 🙂

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Filed under Country, life, mindfulness, music, nature, quote

Rave Up And Rave On

Ceremony

Buddy Holly, such a tragic early death (plane crash, 1959), was a bit of a raver, changing the tone of music, setting the scene for others to cut lose. Simple as it is, if you listen to his guitar solo on Peggy Sue, for that time it was progressive, it had momentarily, a hard edge – a sign of things to come in rock-n-roll.

‘Rave On’ was written by Norman Petty, Bill Tilghman, and Sunny West and charted in the US at 35 and in the UK at No. 5 (1957). In fact if you look at his discography the singles were, surprisingly,  more popular in the UK and Europe than in the US. Rave on was typical of Holly’s style. Holly had started out in country, but moved over to rock-n-roll, yet you can clearly hear the country style in the playing and the singing, it’s a wonderful blend, and it is his unique sound.

“Rave On’ is a short  (only 1.54 mins) simple (read, unsophisticated) and innocent song about love, a young man reeling in euphoria, standing on the threshold, breathless and adoring. It was the 1950s! The song conveys the energy of young love in its rhythm and beat. It’s about the young man desiring that his girlfriend rave on to him about her love for him, that she declare her passion passionately, enthusiastically because that would assure him.

What always intrigued me was the latter part of what constitutes the chorus:

Rave on, rave on and tell me
Tell me, not to be lonely
Tell me, you love me only
Rave on to me

It makes sense if you contextualise it to its period and cultural setting. Yet the song is clearly suggesting that love is connected to loneliness, it is an antidote to loneliness. Not only does this objectify the lover, the respondent woman, it objectifies love itself. Here love becomes a tool for one of the couple to avoid loneliness. That might be a good thing ordinarily (for some, not all, it can be intensely lonely without a partner), but is that about valuing the other unconditionally, because, isn’t that what love is about – being unconditional?

Perhaps I’m going a little too far out for some, stretching the connection, but I really do think the seeds of a society’s views are in the cultural material it produces, or uses to respond to existing practices. In my view the Harvey Weinsteins of this world are the product of a mantra that has objectified men and women, a mantra that has revolved around power.

To effect change in how we relate to each other, whether we are talking about heterosexual, transgendered, gay, or celibate people, we really must start valuing each other for who we are and not for what we believe (or have been lead to believe) we can get from the other. It is a shift in view, it requires a change in our thinking and language towards a mutuality, and an unconditional acceptance of the other.

I still really like the song, but I’m also aware that I don’t subscribe to the notion that I need another to complete me, not in that needs based way. So rave on to me about self-acceptance, value, unconditional love, mutuality …

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Fame! It’s A Trap!

Famous

 

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The Beatles. Most people now know the story well about how the four young musicians from working class families in Liverpool became a world famous band. How Skiffle was the trend, how the drummer was removed and Ringo brought in. The years of going to the Reeperbahn in Hamburg, Germany to make cash, playing at the Cavern in Liverpool, and encountering the quiet businessman Brian Epstein who became their manager. The wonderful alliance of Lennon-McCartney as the primary song writers, and the creative relationship with the late George Martin as their producer at EMI. Beatlemania, pop, rock, experimental music, trend setting, controversy, religion, drugs, a whirlwind of mayhem and success.

What makes me laugh out loud every time is the following comment by Decca records. The Beatles had been taken to London for an audition at Decca Records for new years day 1962, the session was recorded and a decision promised in the days after. Eventually Decca responded, rejecting the Beatles, saying: “Guitar groups are on their way out.” and “The Beatles have no future in show business.” I’ve often wondered if they did a debrief on that a couple of years later. Instead, Decca signed The Tremeloes (also known as Brian Poole and the Tremeloes), a band that performed well and hung around for forty years as consistent recording artists and concert performers, but were never famous. But maybe the Tremeloes had a better time?

By 1966, and five years of hits and relentless international concert schedules, the Beatles stopped touring. It was no longer fun. The freedom and success they had achieved had started to impact their lives in ways they may not have foreseen or understood. They were public property, cultural icons, trend-setters, and they were adored. Privacy was almost nil, and demands were heavy.

Fame also impacted the band relationships, tension, jealousy, power games all played their part, and eventually they went their separate ways, making it a public split in 1970. Even though over the years up until Lennon’s death they were offered staggering sums of money to reunite, they could not bear the thought of it.

The money the Beatles made must have been staggering, the adoration initially seductive and welcome, but for Lennon it contributed to his shooting, Harrison was attacked in his home and stabbed, McCartney lived in fear of being attacked, Ringo hit the booze for a time, it wasn’t pretty. Stress, relationship problems, anxiety, fear, substance abuse related issues, and more.

But while we sit in judgement of those who rise to stardom, where do we fit? At our own level, do we fall into the same patterns? How many of us have not coped with stress, responsibility, fear, money, relationships? As a parallel to the stars we too fall prey to our own behaviours, worries, and desires, just on a smaller scale. We may not have broken up the Beatles, but we may well have broken up with dear friends.

What I take away from the cost of fame for people like the Beatles is that I too can seek popularity, a more localised version of fame, I can seek wealth over relationship, I can ignore those closest to me, I can be busy with my important work to the exclusion of others, I can be jealous when I perceive that I fall short (the disaster of comparison), and I can be anxious about my image. The movie ‘The Devil’s Advocate’ (Al Pacino, Keanu Reeves) makes this point very strongly, the last scene is profound as a truth, that we will sell ourselves to fame and be totally unaware.

True contentment can only ever be in self-acceptance, and thereby building confidence and self-awareness. I believe that fame is best when it is conferred rather than pursued, when others see it in you, rather than making it happen. To be content, to strive, and to be real, that is the road less travelled, and a different type of famous.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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R.E.M.

via Daily Prompt: Rapid

R.E.M., remember the band and those wonderful songs? As the story goes Michael Stipe was looking for a name for the newly formed band and plucked R.E.M. from the dictionary. So, no deep connection there at the start, but a name that stuck in the public mind.

Generally speaking, there are five stages to the sleep cycle (some say four stages), and the fifth stage is known as R.E.M. or rapid eye movement. The R.E.M. stage is when the body is so relaxed it is as if paralysed, the brain signals the spine to shut down muscle activity, and the body enters deep relaxation. However, the brain enters a phase of intense activity, alsmost as if we were awake, and it is in this phase that we have those memorable dreams. Notably, there is perceptible, rapid movement of the eyes during this stage, hence the name.

Without the R.E.M. stage we are deprived of our deep restorative sleep, the proteins produced at this time will also be lacking, it affects our memory, and our memorable dreams don’t occur. Our diet affects our sleep stages, and if we are not preparing by overstimulating the brain before sleep we will battle to gain the deep sleep and if we are lacking in physical and creative experiences in our day, that too affects our sleep.

Sleep like exercise, play, and creativity, is a natural physical need for healthy living, but it affects us body, mind and soul. Without the restorative and refreshing stage of R.E.M. we are sluggish, sleepy, forgetful, and phsyically, mentally and emotionally flat. It affects mental health in particular. In typical cyclical fashion we need sleep in order to be creative, physical and playful, and we need play, exercise and creativity to help us sleep.

Problem is, we moderns have packed in so much in our lives that we are not all getting the good sleep we need for our health. We are literally cheating ourselves of our health. But, as with play, we can make the change, it’s simply prioritising. But the results are amazing.

The Dalai Lama has said: “Sleep is the best meditation.” 

Paul,

pvcann.com

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That Cockburn Sleeve

via Daily Prompt: Sleeve

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Contrary to the nay-sayers of the 80s the vinyl LP has hung around. My Bruce Cockburn album “Dancing in the Dragon’s Jaw” from 1979. The one that finally brought him to international attention, especially in the US. Cockburn, a Canadian, was quite popular in his native Canada, but until this album (don’t think I’ve used that term in a while) was only ever on the fringe elsewhere. The cover is a painting by Ojibwa artist Norval Morrisseau.

The cardboard outer was earlier called a record jacket, technically it was a protective sleeve that became an artform in itself in the late 60s. The plastic liner was an inner sleeve, an anti-scratch protection. Earlier eras used paper inners, even as jackets in some cases (especially on the old 78 rpm – a brown paper jacket).

Bruce Cockburn is a folk-rock artist (sometimes called the bearded mystic) who has been an activist for environmental and humanitarian issues through his writing and performing. He has been associated with Oxfam, Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders, World Vision, Friends of the Earth and more. He has advocated for humanitarian aid in Mozambique, Iraq, Mali, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Honduras and more. He has toured to raise funds for humanitarian crisis relief, including being a leading spokesperson for the banning of landmines, and on the subject of third world debt. He stood with the Haida people of British Columbia in their land claim struggle, and has also raised money for aid for former child soldiers. Just a sample of his commitments. He once stated that his music asks something from the listener, it invites the listener to get involved in the causes, or he asks existential questions, a more general raising of awareness of issues and questioning the listener’s stance.

Cockburn came to my attention through a friend in 79, who urged me to have a listen to this guy who wrote amazing lyrics. I did and I was hooked. But I was hooked again by his personal beliefs, his political stance, his activism. For me he embodied the meaning of integrity and commitment. I aspire to that.

Cockburn is respected by his contemporaries and younger artists, and has worked with a number of rock and folk luminaries throughout his career. He has recorded over 300 songes and made 33 albums. However, Cockburn hasn’t aimed at fame, instead he has given back to his community, and indeed to the world through his writing and activism. I would say he has invested in people and the environment.

I’d like a few more Bruce Cockburn’s around, but then, we’re here!

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Mallet of Healing

via Daily Prompt: Mallet

Camille Saint-Saens is credited with the first use of mallet percussion in an orchestra in 1874.

The video is a performance piece by the famed percussionist Evelyn Glennie and guitarist Fred Frith (he of Henry Cow) improvising in a vacant factory. Glennie is internationally noted for her use of mallets, the striking sticks used to play a number of instruments like the marimba and the zylophone. Glennie is stunning to watch in concert, and what makes it more intersting is that since she was twelve, she has been profoundly deaf. Which goes to show that what we might consider as a barrier, a disability, an impediment or block may not necessarily be so. Glennie is on record (see her TEDx talk, also on Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=383kxC_NCKw ) as saying that deafness is misunderstood, and that she used other parts of her body to learn to listen.

In a twist of irony, the malleus or hammer shaped bone is a part of the ear, which for Glennie, is parallel to her work in percussion. The musical mallet is used to strike an object, an instrument, in order to create a vareity of sounds that will be heard. The act of striking is an intentional process, persistent, rhythmic, hopeful, that a sound will be yielded by wood, skin, or metal, that can be heard.

I am struck (no pun intended) by the idea, and the reality, that you can train yourself to listen with different parts of the body. Some of this we know – in some forms of meditation we are learning to listen with the heart, and also the body as a whole. Music can evoke a range of emotions too that enable us to listen deeply and with different parts of the body, the skin included. My heart races with some music, whereas with some other types of music my heart is overcome, other music makes me warm, or gives me goosebumps, sometimes I have different feelings around pieces of music, for me there is always a bodily reaction. For the musician it can be an ecstatic response, have you ever noticed of someone who is playing an instrument just how emotionally connected they are with what they are playing?

Clearly, if you have a passion for something, then that can sometimes help you overcome difficulties in order to follow and achieve that passion. And passion opens the door to the heart. Besides, we commit more to what we really love and enjoy most. If you have a passion for something, your heart is already deeply engaged, so that it is not just will power or intellect that drives you. Music also has an advantage in this as it is considered to be healing in its own ways.

How I see it, we need to open our hearts to that which can move and transform us, to find that which potentially heals us. We need to get in touch with what our passions are, and we need to deeply listen with out bodies. As passion strikes at our heart, just like percussion mallets, the door to healing and creativity opens, then, who knows what can happen? For Evelyn Glennie, percussion was a way to both listen, and to be creative, and in spite of her profound deafness.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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