Inspiration can come like a bolt from the blue, or emerge slowly in the process of grappling with mundane practicalities. Because of all the altered guitar tunings and capo positions I use, putting together a set list that doesn’t involve an hour of re-tuning can be a challenge. So I decided to be sure to write at least two songs per tuning/capo set-up. To meet this dictate, I realized I needed a second song in standard tuning, with the capo at the fifth fret. Oh, and something a little upbeat wouldn’t be a bad idea either. So with parameters set, I let my fingers do the walking and they came up with this quiet arpeggiated pattern. Oh no! – Another delicate ethereal ballad. But wait, with a little arranging, the finger-picking could be part of a more straight-up rock number. Yes, please. A new rhythm pattern emerged, and soon melodies for verses and choruses presented themselves. OK, now we’re on to something.
Now comes the blue bolt part of the story. The opening line popped out of nowhere, and hinted at a theme that I could develop for the verse narrative. Great! But when I got to the chorus, the only actual word to emerge from all my nonsense syllable vocalizing was “waterfall.” Couldn’t figure how the verses could relate to that word, so I discarded it and went looking for better solutions. But nothing else came. Uh oh, another song that would languish half-finished for decades. Put down the guitar and go to that mediation workshop on your calendar. Sitting there with legs crossed and eyes closed, the instructor talked about the challenges of meditation, letting go of conscious thought, tuning out the active brain, “where our thoughts often come tumbling like water over a waterfall.” No way. The resonance of that word echoed loudly in my mind, and with that cosmically random validation, the song was complete. The meditation session was shot all to hell, but a new song is another way of achieving peace of mind. At least for me. What does go on in these heads of ours…?
SIGNS AND WONDERS
SIGNS AND WONDERS
Sometimes I start to think – ok, maybe this is it, time to stop. Wrap this album up and put the guitar away. In fact, don’t pick up the guitar. Otherwise, a new song might come and then you’re obligated to continue the band and, God forbid, make another album. Well, this is that song. It emerged as we were wrapping up the mixes for A Slight Departure, and try as I could to avoid it, I now had a new song to record. The title was inspired by a throwaway line for Tommy Lee Jones in No Country For Old Men. Turns out to be a Biblical reference (most literary references are either Biblical or Shakespearean, though Star Wars and Harry Potter are coming on strong). But thinking about the glorious majesty of even the smallest elements in nature, and finding some other references between nature and superstition, I arrived at a lyric celebrating beauty and meaning as we take in the world, rather than just moving through it.
Filmed in several locations in Rhode Island, the video is a collaboration with artist Savannah Barkley, whose work incorporates both handmade objects and environmental sculpture. I owe a massive debt to her, and to cinematographer Thomas Danielczik for spending hours in the snow and catching below freezing ocean breezes at 5am…