Black Bow Tie

I was looking for my black bow tie for a performance I have this weekend. I couldn’t find it anywhere. I throw things away sometimes, but don’t remember throwing away the black or red tie. Why would I have done that? Those can be handy things for the odd gig.

On the way I looked into a box that sits on a high shelf in the closet. I dug through that assorted stuff, which was kind of a mess, and didn’t see the ties. But I saw everything else.

And I suppose because of the space I’m in I started going through it all and looking at things. and I suppose because of the space I’m in I started seeing these things differently than I had before. Old greeting cards from people congratulating me on this and that, most of them either dead or I just don’t see or talk to anymore. Odd photos. Old program sheets from high school piano recitals and college recitals. A few letters people had written to me back in the day when people still did that. Including my mother.

And I suppose because of the space I’m in I ended up throwing away most of what was in there. I don’t need the paper to keep the memories that matter, or the things I am most thankful for. I throw things away sometimes when I don’t feel I need them anymore.

That one letter from my mother. Despite everything, it sounds pretty sincere. She wrote it when I graduated from college. A proud moment for moms, no doubt. She sounds sincere, and I have to choose whether to pour grace over it or not. If I don’t, does that mean I’m still holding on to judgments? Does it mean I have decided not to pretend certain things? How do you know the difference?

I believe her: she was proud of me because of the music. She even admits she wasn’t “always strong and supportive,” but she was a single mom back in the day, when they didn’t have all the social support stuff they do know, for whatever difference that might have made. We’ve never been emotionally or affectionately close, and that’s the leftovers of it. But, if nothing else, it was always the music that held us together in any way, and made her proud.

I decided to hold on to that letter, I guess because of the space I’m in.

And discovered some old music, and all the old vellum music manuscript paper I never used, still in perfect condition, which I must do something with…even if it’s just to put in some museum so people can look at how things were done before we had the internet and digital technology that both blessed and fucked up our lives.

I threw out most of what was in there. I suppose because of the space I’m in. And now I’m in even a weirder space than I was before. I’m moving through a time when I’m thinking about what my spirituality is, and what a spirituality of music really means. And I’ve learned a hell of a lot about letting go. Letting go of anxiety, bad memories, bad head-talk, negativity, judgment, obsessiveness. Letting go of things I can’t control. One of them being whether anyone reads this, or whether it matters because I’m certainly not selling anything (“Life is pain; anyone who says otherwise is selling something” — the Dread Pirate Roberts). And if someone reads it, it doesn’t matter anyway because I’m not selling anything. Not looking at the stats.

I’m just talking out loud because writing is a way for me to do that, and it does something for me. Yeah, sometimes I think maybe I’ve written something that might be helpful or thought-provoking for someone who might read it, but I’m not selling anything, so odds are not.

The space I’m in. No expectations of what is to come. No assumptions, no ambitions – other than making the music. Don’t need to “make a name for myself” or “claim my voice.” I just play music and sing, like I have since the day I was born. That was always enough for me. Just that. The perfect way for me to get through life. And maybe along the way show someone else how to do it who seems like they’re hungry for it, too. I’ll end up counting them on two hands. And that’s okay. Even one is a trip.

I haven’t found the black bow tie, so I guess I gave it to Goodwill or something. I sure as shit didn’t throw it in the trash. Guess I’ll have to borrow one for the concert.


i lay myself out

flatten into the bottom

melt into the good earth

which is my mother

releasing, relinquishing


as i came into this life

with nothing

and will go out with nothing

from ground to ground

element to element

spirit to spirit

energy to energy

everything is given

every worthy thing

so I am free, floating on the current that

takes me wherever it will

i was never saved

until i was

when it was time

for me to receive that baptism of surrender

to that which is greater

than me, than me

than me…

and so

whatever door is opened

before me

that will i pass through

and whichever is closed

i will forget

me walking, moving

with the energy loaned to me for a little while

along the path i know

a little and by little

carrying gratitude easy

lightly preciously

for the gift it is

in living the gift everything is

so as he sings

as we all sing…

Thank you for sunshine

Thank you for rain

Thank you for joy

Thank you for pain

It’s a beautiful day

It’s a beautiful day

Give Me A Home


how a three-chord ambient sound

repeating over and over

for a half hour or more at a time

can hold me –

Major mode largo

effexed for deep tone and soft transitions

moving like a quiet slow-rolling river

in no hurry to get anywhere

My soul to flow like that

So give me that home

where the mysteries roam

and the violins quietly play

where never is heard

a discouraging word

and my mind is not clouded all day


I see him standing on the sidewalk of the main drag. He has his music on, always. Always.

You can easily tell that he loves his music because he dances. He moves and he dances while waiting for the bus. He dances his walk. He takes six steps, bounces, turns, walks back and bounces some more. He’s grooving.

He smiles almost constantly. And he gestures to the traffic. He’ll pull the rope for a trucker. He’ll hold out his phone toward drivers at the intersection, as if he’s showing everyone, or encouraging them to listen to how cool it is. Occasionally he’ll pump his arms into the air above his head – some kind of victory move, some kind of superpower he feels in his bones.

He waves at anyone, everyone, randomly, as if knowing that doing so is not only just the thing you do, but also how you pass on the love. And as he does so, he dances, moves, constantly. This kid has a motor inside of him.

I have no idea how old he is. He works at Albertson’s as a “courtesy clerk” – the company’s pretty name for a grunt that bags groceries, collects carts, and keeps the entrances cleaned up. You’d think this kid had volunteered for it. He moves with purpose, and knows his job. He is usually smiling while he works, his eyes wide open and active. He has no fear of eye contact. If he happens to catch your eye, he’ll say “Hi,” or “Hello,” and accompany that with a signature wave. He seems to pick people out as they walk through the parking lot. “Hi!” he’ll shout from the next parking aisle, even if you didn’t see him there.

Later, you’ll be driving through the downtown core and see him standing on the corner, doing his thing. He wears a backpack but sometimes takes it off and lets it sit while he jives. Obviously, he has no scruples, no social filters, no apparent shame or shyness, no reservations. He never accosts, never assaults, disrupts, or disturbs. He does not scream at anyone or talk to himself. If you happen to walk by him, you’ll hear him singing. And he’ll address you: “Hey! How you doing? Yeah, man, yeah!” Like, daring you to join him in the dance.

He’s just wide open and all out, all out loud. He is living out loud.

Would you hazard any guesses as to what’s wrong with him? Would you feel compelled to play analyst? Would you, without reflection, jump into that seat?

Not me. I watch him. I’m aware that he’s weird. Odd. Abnormal. Non-conformist. Maybe he’s even got a diagnosis, although I seriously doubt he gives a shit.

Frankly, a part of me wishes I was just like him, but I’m not. So I’ll keep watching. And cheer him on behind the wheel. And be thankful there are folks like him. Grooving to his beat, easing on down the road.

Easing on down the road, and not, like me, carrying some heavy load.

Culmination of Collaboration

Rub a dub, three men in a recording studio, where the talk is like the music itself, which

is in play and in flux and is a form of communication underscored by a form of communion of which astrophysicists speak after sitting at a black board for months to work the terms of a black hole until it all finally falls into its proper actuation, with

the nominal and phenomenal exception that we don’t know where we’re going while floating in this tonal tub, but we’re working it all the same, as

phraseologies and currents of frequency bounce off three pairs of ears, of oars in the water, processed

through three separate brains in real time and sometimes you struggle to say what you’re thinking next, but

we all hear with more than our physiognomy and it always works one way or the other in real time,

four-quarter time, syncopated and synchronized in that shared space of rolling signal flow, now

then again the air is punctuated by the emotional high of a sequence that comes together, a trio of voiced rejoicing, the sound coalesced into fruition, the kind of which you never saw coming and therefore is all the sweeter for the fruit.

You happy? You good? I’m so good, we’re all so fine with it, we’re all so very fine. This is music, not as determination or even destination, but soley the process of getting somewhere by good intention and faith the size of a semitone. If the whole world knew that kind of magic, why…

it would feel like we could all say adios to war.

Four naked children dancing by Johan Teyler (1648-1709). Original from The Rijksmuseum. Digitally enhanced by rawpixel. by Rijksmuseum is licensed under CC-CC0 1.0

Why You’ll Never See Me in TV Ads

Apparently, marketing strategies aren’t built with the capacity to identify and classify the singularities of the individuals to whom they market.

My shaving supply vendor is entirely unaware that my pate is smooth as an eight ball. I could, of course, opt out of the marketing emails, but gosh, why would I do that? This is entertaining.

First, the shampoo ads. Then, the conditioner ads. After that, the hair gel ads. All specially formulated to work together for fabulous hair because, well, they’re all sold by the same company.

Myself, I’ve never known a man who used conditioner, although I have met a few teenagers who would apply copious amounts of gel – usually about a week’s worth – to give their young manes (and young names) that special sex appeal.

(They also used obnoxious body sprays, the odor of which was worse than the smell of a boy’s locker room.)

I get these ads regularly and have a good chuckle when they show up. Three bald guys walk into a salon and the stylist says, “Um.”

But then came the face products. You see, you’re supposed to use the specially formulated exfoliating facial scrub, followed by the special face toner (a revelation), and finish with the special face lotion.

All this time I’ve been using nothing but soap! SOAP! Little wonder my three-score face resembles the tree bark of a 50-year-old cottonwood.

I jest. But, seriously folks, it’s enough to get me questioning my own hygiene. Should I be taking better care? Shouldn’t I respect myself more? I should strive to be a better steward of the only body I will ever have.

A gaggle of attractive ladies stops a guy on the street to gush, “Ooh, excuse us, sir, but may we have a snapshot of your countenance?! It just radiates!”

And that’s a better joke than the last one.