1. SLACK’S SHOW Sunday!!! The great people at Slack’s (562 Church Street – North of Wellesley) have graciously given PBB our own full night to perform. This Sunday, November 15th, please come see our hot little trio rock this hot little club in the Village! Show starts nice and early at 6:00 p.m. and goes only until 9:00 p.m., so everyone can be home at a reasonable time. Along with our vast set of originals, we will be throwing in some possibly surprising covers to keep things hopping. So come join the fun, have dinner and/or drinks, and sing along to a night full of sweet tunes (if we do say so ourselves). Hope to see you there!
2. FREE TIMES CAFE Show! The Songwriters’ Association of Canada (SAC) is hosts the latest installment of its monthly spotlight concert series Wednesday, December 2nd at the Free Times Café (320 College Street). PBB is proud to be one of the feature acts. We will be performing a semi-acoustic set of tunes primarily from the debut CD – Random Thoughts (from a paralyzed mind). Show starts at 8:00 p.m.. There will be some other great artists performing as well – please come and check it out!
3. We are now mixing the French version of Random Thoughts, to be released in early 2010. It is sounding fantastic! It’s gratifying to hear the songs stand up as well in French as they do in English…maybe even a little better in some cases! More info to come. Merci beaucoup!
This past Saturday night, I was honoured to be invited to the birthday celebration of a good friend of mine, (Nashville producer/songwriter) Terry Sawchuk. We hooked up at the hip Queen Street nightclub, The Drake. The wine was a-flowing, and the food was exquisite! I had great chats with all sorts of people, both in and out of the music biz. Of note, I spoke with Jazz singer (and Canadian & Japanese Pop-radio chart topper), Matt Dusk. Sweet guy! I also had the pleasure of speaking at length with Rob Lanni, head of Coalition Entertainment. Hope I didn’t talk his ear off! Coalition manages my good buddy, Justin Nozuka, who is in the U.S. now…about to take them by storm!!!
It was a terrific night, with a lot of serious talent in one room! Too bad Terry drank so much that he doesn’t remember a thing! HA! Happy 29th, brother!
I just caught my friend, Justin Nozuka, a couple nights ago (May 5th) at Hugh’s Room in Toronto. It was a great little night of current and former Humber Songwriting Workshop attendees strutting their stuff for all to see. Every performer was terrific! Apart from Justin’s intense and stirring performance, there were other memorable moments provided by the lovely Jeanette Lee, the ever-enthusiastic Ron Beer (his real name), the multi-talented Terry Gowan, and a new “one-to-watch” – Karen Ellis…wow, she was something else! The other performers will have to forgive me for not mentioning their names…they were, as I said, all terrific as well!
Thanks to Bill McKetrick for putting the night together, and to both (guitar hero) Rik Emmet, and (everyday hero) Blair Packham for performing.
I’ve added a few photos from the night to my MySpace page. Check them out.
Today I will compare my song, Walls, to some key concepts in Eckhart Tolle’s book, A New Earth. Walls seems to summarize much of the current human condition as Tolle sees it. It is the story of a soldier who is at first overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of nature – the magnificent land, sea, and sky that abound around him (“…the world awaits – a work of art no hand can trace… she’ll steal your every thought”). But as a physical being in a world of form and ego, his all-too-brief moment of wonderment, awareness, or “presence” is halted (“the moment skips, and slowly slips away”). He wonders why he can never fully feel a part of this greater “being” (“too far is as close as I can be… king of all imperfect harmony”).
The chorus’ first half which repeats throughout the song touches upon what I would argue is one of the essential dilemmas we grapple with as human beings – the desire to show the world who we truly are, and yet somehow never being able to do so satisfactorily (“These walls keep something inside of me… I want all the world to know… but I can’t seem to let it show”). The “walls” are in a sense the “form” – the physical and temporal, with which our mind (ego) identifies. The soldier feels that there is more to this life than what he sees and hears. But managing to verbalize that truth, and to “shine that inner light” is far easier said than done (“… another bird without a song… every word I write is wrong… all alone and tongue-tied to a tree… while its shadow hides the light you’ll never see”). The shadow of the tree (form / ego) is preventing the inner light from shining through.
Tolle uses various quotations from diverse spiritual leaders, such as Buddha and Jesus, to illustrate the common truth that is core to all of these belief systems – that we are all a part of a greater Being. He goes on to say that the trouble with subscribing rigidly to a particular belief system (religion) is that it is still at its essence a construct of the mind (ego/form). It’s what one believes or thinks – and therefore limits access to the greater truth of the universal intelligence or consciousness that is not bound by mind-imposed identifiers. As history has so often shown, aligning ourselves to rigid belief systems has been (and continues to be) the root cause of, or at least a contributing factor to, innumerable cases of violence and atrocities among people.
The second verse of Walls speaks to that issue. The soldier realizes that beyond religious belief systems, which have so often been corrupted and manipulated for earthly (ego) gain (“Choose your cross, the life you want… the truth lost… the liars won… ), there lies the simple truth about the essence of our origins and our nature. Each of us is an energy that manifests for an indeterminate amount of time, then dissolves back into energy, to once again manifest and dissolve, and so on and so forth ad infinitum (“… no one knows the limit… we’re in it till we’re gone… and then we go back to whence we came… soul path leads once again to on and on… ”). And sadly, until we are fully aware and acceptant of this truth, we as physical entities will never quite feel as though we are where we should be (“… we need to belong… forevermore a beggar for a home”).
The second half of the second verse seems to mirror the core lesson of Tolle’s A New Earth. He argues that until we learn how to truly live fully in the present moment, without being weighted down either by nostalgia or regrets of an unalterable past, or by the worries and anxieties of an uncertain future, we will never be fulfilled at our core. In fact, our very existence will seem to have little or no true meaning or purpose. Until the global “awakening” to the NOW, this will continue to be the fate of the vast majority of people. (“… A lonely wave bound for shore… all around a million more come and go… and no one knows we’ve been… life’s a riddle… how little now can mean”).
There is both a musical and lyrical intensity change in the bridge section of Walls. We get glimpses of a tumultuous physical situation unfolding. First, “… sand falls from the metal of a shovel”. This could be interpreted as either a trench or grave being dug. Next, a “… man calls for a battle with the Devil… all right boys, don’t miss your calling.” Is this the ultimate battle of “Good vs. Evil”? Is that our true purpose? What is “Good”? What is “Evil”? Apart from the literal meaning of the battle scene that is unfolding, the “loud noise of missiles falling” represents the chaotic sense of confusion, as the world seems to be crumbling around us. The soldier is panicked and desperate for help or “salvation” (“… I can’t breathe and I’m reaching for someone… Jesus, please – it’s me and I’m coming up for air… there’s no one there”).
The second half of the third chorus not only makes reference to the fact that the soldier has died, but also illustrates the cycle of life, as “a flower laid on lime above” his grave is “a final fading sign of love,” that “will find a way to play a part again.” He will, as will the flower, be physically absorbed into the earth. His energy or spirit will then manifest itself in a new form of physical life, and so on. The lines “too much time – it never came to me… too much time forever is plain to see” indicate both that the soldier feels he did not get enough time in this life, and also that the Truth never came to him… until now. Therefore “forever’ is indeed plain to see. At the moment of his death, he finally understands, or at least fully experiences, the infinite nature of Being. And so he comforts himself (and the listener) by stating, “you’ll never die if you never close your eyes… no goodbyes.” This could be interpreted as simple denial, but is better understood in the metaphoric sense that, as long as we remain “awake”, or “aware”, or “present” in the moment – connected with the infinite nature of Being – we will never truly die. Our body will, but our energy (spirit, soul) will not.
The soldier then refers one last time to the “walls” that keep something inside of him. This can be understood as the literal walls of his grave, and also as the physical (ego) barrier that had hereto prevented him from finding fulfillment. But in the end, he has indeed managed to do so, and he says to himself and to us all, “So now you know.” The Truth is known. And the Truth, as Tolle might say, is NOW.
Please check out part 3 of This Life Takes Its “Tolle”, which will illustrate how my song, A Little More Love, touches upon what Tolle believes one can do… NOW… to nurture one’s spiritual awakening. Thanks for taking the time to read this. Please share it with others. Peace.
Although I very much respect and admire Oprah Winfrey for her tremendous career and her many philanthropic efforts, I don’t tend to read a specific book simply because Oprah told me to! However, recently I was inexplicably drawn to reading the latest offering from her current “life guru”, Eckhart Tolle. The book is called A New Earth – Awakening To Your Life’s Purpose. Tolle has managed to synthesize a vast amount of religious, philosophical, spiritual and even scientific ideas and insights into a rather simple, coherent and enlightening thesis that at its very core simply rings truer than anything else I’ve read on the subject. If you are at all a fan of Deepak Chopra and the like, it is well worth the read.
Throughout his book, Tolle illustrates how he believes we, on a physical (form) level, are actually all temporary manifestations of the creator, the “I Am”, or “God” – the universal intelligence or “Being” of which we are all a part, and which is timeless and formless. Try as we might, by the very fact that we are in a time and mind constrained form, we can never fully grasp this Being’s true nature. However, if we are able to silence our minds for a moment and in so doing be truly “present” in that moment, we can indeed catch “glimpses” of the true essence of this Being. Eventually, as we become more aware of being, as opposed to thinking or doing, we will find our stress levels reduced dramatically. Ultimately, we will find true inner peace – a peace and fulfillment that no amount of external achievement and/or accumulation can provide. In other words, when we finally come to accept the true nature of existence (the ego) and its (secondary) relationship and relevance to that of simply “Being”, we will find joy in every moment, no matter how seemingly mundane or even painful it may sometimes appear from a physical perspective. This enlightenment, or “awakening”, will set us free to live the life we are meant to live, however short or long…at every moment… and be happy doing so!
As I got deep into the book, I started to realize just how “in sync” I am with this man’s point of view. In fact, as I will demonstrate, I am starting to feel that a couple of the songs from my CD, Random Thoughts (from a paralyzed mind), are in some ways synopses of the key insights of A New Earth. It is as though, by some confluence of universal energy, while Tolle was busy writing the longhand prose version, I was busy writing the shorthand (hopefully poetic) version! I would like to believe that the seeming simultaneity of our creative works has some deeper significance with respect to the spiritual awakening of which Tolle writes. It would appear we are indeed connected. If only I could get Oprah to endorse my CD as well… I would be connected and RICH!!! Uh-oh… that’s my EGO talking!!!
Please check out part 2 of This Life Takes Its “Tolle” – which examines my song, Walls, and its relation to key concepts in Tolle’s book. Thanks for taking the time to read this. Please share it with others. Peace.