Hard Love

24 07 2017

From his album The  Heart of the Flower, Bob Franke’s ‘Hard Love,’ is quite poignant. Each verse seems to have been carved into him through life and the muse. ‘For the Lord’s cross might redeem us, but our own just wastes our time
And to tell the two apart is always hard, love’



Little Wheel Spin and Spin

20 07 2017

Recently watched a documentary called The Pyramid Code, and it was quite an interesting video. Directed and produced by Carmen Boulter, one of the more interesting episodes was A New Chronolgy, which mentions a Hindu time frame called Yuga. The yuga describe cycles of the universe, and bring an interesting thought process to today’s linear thinking.

In the episode called The Empowered Human, a parallel is drawn between chakras, or energy centers of the body, and the seven glands, which produce most of the endorphins and neurotransmitters. One of the charts that was used provides an excellent representation of hemispheric balance. As technology improves, many people seem to believe that older art forms are passe, yet IMHO, the ritual practices of music, painting, sculpting and even cooking are essential providers of knowledge of eternity and cyclical transcendence.

An interesting line from the series is ‘matriarchy is not the opposite of patriarchy.’ There seems to be a strong bias towards patriarchy in this ‘age,’ and as it is mentioned in the series, not honoring the ‘divine’ feminine may be the reason for such disruption and lack of balance, or as the Hopi say ‘koyaanisqatsi.’

Curiously, as our nation faces challenges seen and unseen, patriotism can be redefined to allow for compassion and wisdom, instead of a finality which excludes, taken from the phonetic meaning, the federal government, or ‘Fed Her All,’ doesn’t have to use up all resources for the benefit of a few, allowing our geographical location ‘Turtle Island’ to become again a land of plenty, or as Woody Guthrie says, ‘This Land Was Made for You and Me.’ Hopefully, it won’t be too long until the wheel spins again, and our little corner of the universe can be brought into balance.


Parallel Psalms – Affects of Arpeggios

17 07 2017

I was ‘catching’ up on The Lord of the Rings movies, which may become a personal Bastille Day tradition. Of course, my musical memory was triggered, and by sheer ‘coincidence,’ ‘The Battle of Evermore,’ and ‘Freewill,’ were the psalms which percolated through my parietal lobe.

‘The Battle of Evermore’ is traditionally referenced to The Lord of the Rings, and I recently noticed the lyrical similarities between it and Rush’s ‘Freewill.’ I have previously written about the Zeppelin – Tolkien corollaries. The initial comparison, is Zeppelin’s ‘The sky is filled with good and bad, that mortals never know,’ and Rush’s lines ‘A planet of play things, we dance on the strings, of powers we cannot perceive.’ As with any artist utilizing archetypes, there will of course be similarities drawn from the human condition, perhaps it is the connection to planetary powers in each of these songs that drew my attention to them.

The first lines in these songs also are curiously connected. ‘The Prince of Peace embraced the gloom, and walked the night alone.’ from ‘Evermore,’ and in ‘Freewill,’ ‘A host of holy horrors to direct our aimless dance.’ These associations are not as direct, perhaps even diametrically mirrored, as Prince of Peace is representative of hosts, and gloom a synonym for ennui, or aimlessness.

This dark night of archetypal song, touching the emptiness that humanity can feel described through the songs from the point of view of night and day, or so it seems. ‘No comfort has the fire at night, that lights the face so cold.’ and ‘You can’t pray for a place, in heaven’s unearthly estate.’ Since these songs seem to typify the Yin and Yang, then the next comparison no longer seems such a stretch, as Yin is considered to become Yang, and vice versa. ‘The magic runes are writ in gold to bring the balance back. Bring it back,’ being the manner of Yang instituting it’s power can control, while ‘I will choose a path that’s clear, I will choose freewill,’ representing the ethereal and constant change of Yin, thus never having left the balance, their is no need to restore it with stringent statutes.

In conclusion, as was stated about ‘Stryder,’ before he publicly became Isildur’s heir, ‘All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost.’

Bastille Day – the song heard round the world!

14 07 2017

Vive Le Français!

The end of feudalism, the beginning of fugualism – the song heard round the world!

As poignant as Bastille Day is to liberty in France, the song begins with a sharp paradox of thought, traditional of Rush’s lyrics. ‘There’s no bread, let them eat cake, There’s no end to what they’ll take. Flaunt the fruits of noble birth, Wash the salt into the earth.’ The phrase let them eat cake, usually attributed to Marie-Antoinette, though most likely uttered by another of France’s royalty, summarizes completely the reason that the people of France had every right to end feudalism. As the word nobility, is from the latin gnobilis, which broken into it’s parts becomes, gno – from gnosis, to know, and bilis meaning ‘able to be,’ thus providing the word noble with the definition – ‘to be able to know.’ Since the phrase ‘let them eat cake,’ demonstrates total ignorance of baking, (in France no less) ending the waste of resources, ‘flaunting the fruits,’ which at the time meant washing the salt into the earth, the result of feudalism, became imperative to the French people.

As the subtitle, I paraphrased ‘the shot heard round the world,’ as it is traditionally used to mean that the first shot fired in the American Revolution inspired the French Revolution, leading eventually to Our Lady Liberty. Yet, as today, many of the circumstances seem to be repeating themselves. It seems to be close to the point of ‘let them drink covfefe,’ yet with communication resources, and ability to discern between news and propaganda increasing, today’s people ought to be able to ‘Guide the future by the past.’ Today, we have witnessed peaceful revolutions, and though ‘All around us anger burns,’ there seems to be enough compassion within today’s people that we wish to show our children and descendants that we have learned the lessons from the past, and don’t all believe we must drink the covfefe.





Catch A Fire

10 07 2017

Lately, while taking a (well deserved) break from  reading four plus novels a week, I turned to movie series which I have always enjoyed. I am also reading the books for the first time, and as always, there is a distinct difference between the two perspectives, though the movie certainly catch the entertainment theme studiously. I am referring to the Hunger Games series here, and fortunately, there is a song (no coincidence in the millennium blues universe) written by Bob Marley, and later, picked up by his son. The second book in the series is called Catching Fire, which is a strong parallel to the refrain in Bob Marley’s ‘Slave Driver,’ and when remade by his son Damian, called ‘Catch a Fire.’

There are an interesting amount of correlations between the songs and the Suzanne Collins’ series of books. For those of you unfamiliar with the Hunger Games, uh, well, listen to the song Slave Driver. The most obvious first, when Katniss states emphatically in Mocking Jay, ‘if we burn, you burn with us!’ easily directly comparable to ‘Slave driver, the table is turn; catch a fire, catch a fire: gonna get burn. catch a fire. There are almost too many comparisons to mention here, yet some are not as obvious as the titles. In ‘Slave Driver,’ the line ‘It’s only a machine that makes money,’ could be construed as a reference to the Hunger Games’ Capitol’s ability to create and manipulate genetic code to produce ‘muttations,’ because the Capitol clearly uses their technology to control the districts which they ‘govern.’

There are a few lines in Damian Marley’s ‘Catch a Fire,’ which could cause consternation in a re-active mind, which I will go ahead and address now, (in order to generate controversy and through it,SALES!) ‘You influence di youth a turn dem gays and fags, and rest den can afford not even torn up rags.’ While on a cursory listening, or reading the line seems to be disparaging (specifically male) homosexuality, the lines in fact are not referring to people born gay, rather referenced in the second line, the use of money to sway people’s choices, in order to procure desired results. This thought is summarized excellently in the roof top scene, before Katniss and Peeta’s first game.  Peeta’s line ‘…they don’t own me…’, is there a better way to describe staying true?

Each of these creative works are stand alone as songs and novels, my interpretation of the similarities is purely subjective, and entirely co-incidental.


Small Circle of Friends

6 07 2017

To be ahead of your time, and outside of time seems be best described symbolically as a circle. Phil Ochs, as an activist and musician, seemed to embody the philosophy that he espoused through his music during the social movements of the sixties and early seventies. Having recently seen the excellently produced Phil Ochs There But For Fortune documentary, I have been reintroduced to the music of the phenomenally prolific poet of people power.

One of his songs which steps outside the culture of the day and into literary level lyricism, is ‘Small Circle of Friends.’ Perhaps it is the fact that though marijuana is now legal, many of the other ‘social ‘situations which he critiques in this song are still significant in today’s societal struggle. Ochs describes indifference to sexually based violence – ‘there’s a woman being grabbed, they’ve dragged her to the bushes and now she’s being stabbed,’ and lack of concern and compassion based on fear ‘Thirteen cars are piled up, they’re hanging on a cliff. Maybe we should pull them back with our towing chain, but we gotta move and we might get sued.’

Each verse pointing out the smallest and perhaps most functional structure existing today, a group of friends. While he doesn’t offer particular solutions to the difficulties of race, or poverty, he does emphasize a distinction between haves and have-nots through his use of the word ‘captured’ in regard to an arrest for marijuana possession and subtly suggesting that for the have-nots the point of law is to maintain the status quo, regardless of the obvious imbalance: Wouldn’t it be a riot if they really blew their tops?  But they got too much already and besides we got the cops.’

The documentary suggests that Ochs lyric’s were not accessible because of the overt political messages, and on more than one occasion describes his relationship to Bob Dylan. Dylan’s songs were inherently political at the beginning of his career, though the truth in the messages of his songs also ring true today, because ‘the times they are a changing.’


5 07 2017

During the ‘long’ weekend, I had an opportunity to watch a some biographical documentaries of two incredible musicians. Searching for Sugar Man, and Phil Ochs, There but for Fortune which is also the title of the written biography. Perhaps it was the vitality and creative spirit of these poetic songwriters that allowed me to listen to Laurie Anderson‘s Strange Angels with a new ear. While each of the songs stand out with her signature style, Ramon especially was inspirational lyrically.

Listening to the words describe the duality of cosmic connection and singular truth through always entertaining turns of phrase was a delight. ‘Last night I saw a host of angels, and they were all singing different songs.’ Angels of course, being marvelous agents of creation, while singing different songs demonstrates the dissolution of cohesion. Of course this leads to unpleasant auditory experience. ‘it sounded like a lot of lawnmowers, mowing down my lawn.’ Imagine a bunch of angels doing whatever they want, no one the universe is so busy, keeping up after all powerful beings must be a resource drain.

The next lines are interesting as well, as they refer directly to the (apparently eternal) battle between logic and emotion. ‘And suddenly for no reason,’ and ‘travelling at the speed of sound.’ Since logic (formation) is a foundation of light, then the reference to sound is also painting the psychic canvas with the ‘relief’ motif.

Then the ‘plot twist,’ ‘Just as I turned to go, I saw a man who’d fallen he was lying on his back in the snow.’ Then presenting the listener with the the daily dilemma which we all seem to face. We never seem to find out if Ramon is the man who had fallen, or if he is the narrator, either way, the answer to the dilemma is presented in the lyrics, ‘So when you see a man who’s broken, pick him up and carry him.  And when you see a woman who’s broken, put her all into your arms.’

This imperative continues to build the tension lyrically, while the song fades with the paradoxical description of weight and weightlessness, ‘And you? You’re falling. And you? You’re travelling. Travelling at the speed of light.’




Rivers of Babylon

28 06 2017

I’ve yet to meet someone who is not moved by the song ‘Rivers of Babylon.’ The first group performing it musically is usually considered to be The Melodians, arranged by Brent Dowe and Kenneth Bilby. The popularity and the seemingly universal appeal is seen by the number of musicians who have recorded a version. Dennis Brown, Boney M, Steve Earle, Linda Ronstadt and The Skatalites, as well as Sublime are among the many who have recorded a version.

Perhaps one of the reasons that the lyrics resonate with so many people are the qualities of humanity represented lyrically through the reference to voice and heart, used poignantly to express the suffering of an oppressed group of people, due to their removal from their homeland, and suppression of their culture.

As sound travels as a pressure wave, the voice in this instance can be taken to represent the physical world, while the heart is a traditional representation of spirit. The tone of the words, and the redemption found through the aching question ‘How can we sing King Alpha’s song in a strange land?’ provide an insight to the original writers of Psalms 137 and 19. Having experienced such a level of joy to be placed in a position of slavery, yet still being able to create, in the manner that their faith places great value upon, the human chorus, the expression of experience through emotive emotional enunciation eradicates and surely provides catalyst for catharsis regardless of the cataclysmic conditions.

Perhaps then, it is not so far a stretch, to consider that to the ‘ears’ of one who stated ‘I am that I am,’ that these words, though not expressing gratitude, or providing wisdom, as many of the Psalms do, are still able to bring joy to their creator because they are proclaiming what is. The truth of these words then may reverberate and be pleasing to their creator for their truthful description of their situation, therefore, still fulfilling the advice to worshipers found in Psalm 100: ‘Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.’




Uber Alles Uber Alles

26 06 2017

“History does not repeat itself, but it does instruct.” – Timothy Snyder

“Life imitates art far more than art imitates life” – Oscar Wilde

In March, Jens Kruse spoke at the Orcas Center comparing today’s U.S. political environment to the late stages of Germany’s Weimar Republic. Needless to say, there were several correlations, which for those who pay attention, causes some concern. As Timothy Snyder says in his book titled On Tyranny, whether life is imitating art, or art is imitating life, history seems to be teaching some practices which do not benefit a nation built to further liberty.

There have been several comparisons of political figures to the third reich’s mustachioed megalomaniac, perhaps the most famous being the Dead Kennedy’s 1978 ‘California Uber Alles,’ re-popularized by The Disposable Heroes of Hiphopracy’s masterful mc’d version of 1992.

While Franti specifies more of the current California’s governors actions in his verse than did Biafra, the list could have been taken from Mr. Kruse’s talk. I no longer have the CD which contained the lyrics, but I believe ‘Sales tax, snack tax, excise tax Informational tax with a newspaper tax’ is very close, as well as a way of weakening the freedom of the press.

The reason I titled this blog Above All, Above All, is to point out how the determination to always be ‘in control’ is self-defeating, as there are no examples in nature of a system which maintains the peak of perfection in all permeations, so there is no way to study and learn how to accomplish such a feat.

To be King of the Hill, is by nature, transitory, and therefore planning on what happens during the waning of power is a better way of continuing influence, instead of believing that power will always be available. Of course, in a topsy-turvy world of political puppetry, it may be best to remember the idea that Douglas Adams suggested through his two headed, four armed thieving civil servant, the point of politics is to distract from the real power.

The true patriot then, realizes that the protection of a nation’s pulse belongs to the populace, and not to a propped up persona.


Roots, Muse and Symbolism

23 06 2017

I recently wrote about Music and Economincs, using the song ‘The Trees,’ to tie together points of Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbin’s use of a Marx quote in the recent elections in the UK. This article uses symbolism in the title, in order for me to address some of the apparent discrepancies between the lyrics and the idea that I presented. Normally, I would not presume to take any writers words out of context, yet, even though it is generally well known that Neil Peart, (Rush’s main lyricist) went through an Ayn Rand phase, in regards to ‘The Trees,’ Peart has stated the song is ‘A very simple statement.

Symbolism, (archetypes) as the visual side of Poetic Phonetics, finds that his statement recalls the paradox described in the first chapter of the Tao Te Ching. The Oaks in the song are described as natural leaders, the maples, the megalomaniacs. Acting as any over sized brain, the maples form a coalition (in the song, union) in order to enforce political pressure and try to take over the world. Here is (imho) where the ‘roots’ of symbolism speak, though Peart seems to be writing from Rand’s perspective, in regards to consolidating community with a purpose. Though historically, unions have been formed to protect and enhance the rights of workers, in the song, the use of the word ‘union’ emphasizes Rand’s definition. This usage might be preferred by Marx’s bourgeoisie, as it overlooks that the leaders of corporations reflected, during the birth of the industrial era, and in many areas today, tendencies described as megalomaniacal, sociopathic, and narcissistic.

Interestingly, these behaviors, which most societies rally against, bring us to the ‘underground’ where the roots of change are always growing. Essentially, the current class structure uses a leveraged (unnatural) state, to uphold elitism, while denigrating the physical (natural world) intellectually. Perhaps the (not so subtle) debasement is due to the fact that honoring the values and principles of the laws of physics develop qualities attributed to ‘natural’ leaders. The paradox is further seen, while the ‘maples scream oppression,’ yet claim moral high ground in ‘legal’ actions such as raising the price of Daraprim 5,000%. These epidemics, promulgated by the privileged, create the tension which is addressed by the final lines of the song, pointing to communication (a state of oneness, unity, union) as the foundation for the ‘logos,’ (plan, speech) which can then be twisted, allowing ‘the trees (are all) kept equal by hatchet, axe and saw.’

As a musician, and an artist, I am often surprised when others notice symbolism in my words or images which were placed either supra- or sub- consciously. Occasionally, I am in the zone enough to knowingly create double entendres, yet most of the time it seems I am still only a monkey in a tree, not knowing that I am seeing things upside down.