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Collection One Production Notes/Lyrics


Collection One Production Notes/Lyrics


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bruceleycollectionone.jpg
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The Peacock, the Deer, and the Moon

We cannot see the tendrils that trail from one thing to the next,

but we are woven together, all of us, the peacock, the deer and the moon,

all warp and weave traveling through time,

heartstrings and memories one,

moving, who knows where?

 

The vast darkness,

the interceding light crackling with laughter born of love,

all move in a grand sweep of grace,

majestic and bold.

But the movement is not solely the instrument of some great other,

though that grounding both holds us fast and propels us forward.

The direction we move is guided by the invisible bracelet wrapped around our wrist,

binding us to the beloved in breath and woods and sky.

 

When lovers entwined stand open faced toward the moon,

the peacock in hopeful anticipation spreads his courting robe,

and the deer nibbles contentedly on the winter wheat and dreams of spring.

 

Is it not better, then, to gather in the world’s embrace,

holding fast to one another and our eternal goodness,

which, though so often obscured by our conceits, burns eternal no matter our intent?


In humility lies hope.

And in our professed love for one another a way forward. 



Production Notes for Bruce Ley Collection One Project

Musicians

Scott Bruyea, drums, percussion

Bob Hewus, bass

Steve Kennedy, soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophones

Larry Kurtz, blues harp

Eric Mahar, lead guitar

Larry Kurtz, blues harp

Bruce Ley, lead and rhythm guitars, keyboards, percussion, lead vocals

And here they are…….

Background Singers

Steve Kennedy, Carole Warren, Russell Jones, Bob Hewus, Scott Bruyea, Leslie Arden, Aaron Solomon, Rob Lang, Graham Corbett, Norm Trudeau, background vocals,

First Friday Soul Singers:

Juliette Reynolds, Anne Thompson, Laura Wark, Lisa Watson, Alta Wilber, sopranos 

Candice Bist, Jenna Kessler, Joanna Mackie, Julie Mae Nemeth, Amy Ouchterlony, Laura Walton, altos

Graham Corbett, Russell Jones, Rob Lang, Norm Trudeau, tenors

Production Team

Recorded by Bruce Ley at Bruce Ley Studios

Mixed by George Semkiw at Amber Studios

Mastered by George Graves at Lacquer Channel

Yvonne Valnea at Last Tango Productions, publicity

Cliff Hunt, Adam Hunt at Yangaroo, DMDS notification, digital downloading and so much more…….

Zip the Dog, CD manufacturing

Tipher Ley, Candice Bist, art direction

Zip the Dog, CD manufacturing

Rick Moses, live concert editor/mixer *** we don't have anything up on the web site yet, but Rick has been working tirelessly on this part of our project

Images

Barbara Stoneham, photo of Bruce with accoustic guitar under 'Storied Lyrics', black and white photo in 'painting' section, photo of Candice in lyric section

Jim Waddington, black and white photo of Bruce on stage playing electric guitar under 'recordings', closeup of Bruce in sunglasses on stage at the microphone

Nancy Falconer, close up of Bruce's hands on piano keys used under the production credits on the booklet of the physical CD, Bruce's feet and hands/guitar at the beginning of notes on the band

And...

Special Note of thanks to Dr. W. G. Hughes, affectionately known as Buddy, and the owner of the original painting 'The Peacock, the Deer, and the Moon' for his support and generous spirit.  

Closing Notes: Above you will see a long list of people and their contributions to this particular CD collection. We tend to do this - give credit for things people do - and so it must be, of course. But the greater gift, both to us, and to this musical collection, is not so much what they have done, but who they are as people. They have given their talent and time with a generous spirit and hopeful heart, blessing our work with their presence, and making of a dream a reality. We are gratefully in their debt. 

 

Bruce Ley, Candice Bist, producers

All songs registered with SOCAN 2014.

How Does She Know?


How Does She Know?


How Does She Know? 

A salute to all the women calling us back into some kind of sanity.


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I am beginning to notice a lot of people in what I would call Quaker or Bodhisattva battle dress. They are disguised as ordinary people. They generally walk gently, though sometimes they dance, and occasionally they stamp their feet. Firmly grounded on earth, they none the less reach for the heavens and willingly gather all those who want to come along for the ride in their warm embrace.

They have chosen to follow Joseph Campbell’s wise command to follow their bliss and in doing so found that what they desire for themselves, they also desire for others. Like all of us, they have moments of uncertainty. Like all of us, they doubtlessly stumble. But their chosen way is one of inclusion, charity and hope.

Though men and women are equally well represented on this mythical battle field, this song salutes the particular women in our neck of the woods who inspired the lyrics and sends encouragement to women everywhere who are part of the revolution of consciousness that is well underway. Bisous et le courage à mes chéris. CJ


How does she know what she knows without looking?

She leads the revolution with the way that’s she’s cooking,

Going left when the crowd is leaning right,

Listening to angels in the middle of the night,

Peering out from her shades she sees into the shadows,

Reaching out her hand she grabs hold of the battle,

Nothing passes easy, nothing’s left to hide,

Her white charger is a streetcar, her lance a subway ride.

 

How does she know, what she knows, what she knows?

How does she know, what she knows, what she knows?

How does she know, what she knows, what she knows?

How does she know, what she knows, what she knows?

 

What does she know that she’s not telling?

What does she know that she won’t say?

Where does she get the strength that’s inside her?

How does she triumph day after day?

How does she know?

 

How does she do what she does without talking

Leading the revolt with the way that she’s walking?

With the tiniest of shifts in her splintered heart,

She’s gonna tear this whole wide world apart.

 

How does she know, what she knows, what she knows?

How does she know, what she knows, what she knows?

How does she know, what she knows, what she knows?

How does she know, what she knows, what she knows?

 

What does she know that she’s not telling?

What does she know that she won’t say?

Where does she get the strength that’s inside her?

How does she triumph day after day?

How does she know? How does she know?


Scott Bruyea, drums

Bob Hewus, bass

Steve Kennedy, tenor saxophones

Bruce Ley, piano, guitars, percussion, lead vocal

Steve Kennedy, Russell Jones, background vocals

Candice Bist, lyrics

Bruce Ley, music

All rights reserved SOCAN 2014. 

Broken Hearted Fool


Broken Hearted Fool


Broken Hearted Fool

You can’t beat a blues ballad about someone who refuses to give up on love.


Bruce-Ley-piano-player

I am not entirely sure where the lyrics for this song originated. Bruce dropped the track off on my desk one morning and a broken hearted fool took it over.

Sometimes lyrics are like that. It is as if the music already has a story and the lyricist is simply a scribe. But it is an interesting process because scribes don’t live in vacuums. When you are taking the download it passes through your own messy mind and naturally bits and pieces of your life that are attracted to the story glom on to it - hence the specific references to spice shelves, cats, books and bed sheets – the ordinary matters of life that are part of my day.

But the heart of the song – and I think the lead guitar holds this tension really well – is our inability to direct the stronger currents of our heart. There is an element to love between two people that is outside of them, woven through them, yet separate. One may love another, be devoted in every way. But that does not necessarily guarantee that the beloved will either return one’s affections or be constant with them.

I have to say, I love this song. It is a particular favourite of mine. There is something in the yearning within it that honours the woman who left, the devastated man left behind, and the stream of love that moves to its own rhythm between and beyond them both. CJ


You don’t love me baby, we both know its true.

You don’t love me baby, there ain’t nothing we can do,

‘Cause love won’t be commanded,

It won’t do what you tell it to.

 

You don’t love me baby, and that ain’t gonna change.

You don’t love me baby, no matter how I rearrange.

The heart has its own fire, girl,

And it flickers with its own flame.


Your smell is on the bed sheets,

Your spices on the shelf,

Your music’s on my headset,

I can’t think of no one else.

Your cat it keeps on crying,

Your mail lies there unread,

I peer ’round each corner for you

You’re still spinning in my head.


‘Cause I still love you baby, I’m just a broken hearted fool.

Your heart’s flame has flickered out, girl, 

But mine’s still burning bright and true.

 

You don’t love me baby, there is no kindness in the fact.

You don’t love me baby, my soul is stretched out on the rack.

There’s a bleak landscape before me,

And a cold wind’s howling at my back.


Ain’t the heart a strange thing

Taking prisoners as it will,

It don’t ask permission,

When it sneaks in for the kill.

We were both so willing

For its fiery embrace,

But now I’m burning up inside

And you’re gone without a trace.

 

You don’t love me, baby, what more is there to say.

You don’t love me baby,

You’re already miles and miles away.

 

I’m just a broken hearted fool for you, honey,

‘Cause I still love you anyway,

‘Cause I still love you anyway,

I’m just a broken hearted fool. 


Scott Bruyea, drums

Bob Hewus, bass

Steve Kennedy, soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone saxophones

Eric Mahar, lead guitar

Bruce Ley, piano, organ, guitars, percussion, lead vocal

Steve Kennedy, Carole Warren, background vocals

Candice Bist, lyrics

Bruce Ley, music

All rights reserved SOCAN 2013. 

Resisting the Pull


Resisting the Pull


Resisting the Pull

The onslaught of rabid consumerism threatens to smother us. Resist. 


temptations-Bruce-Ley-Paintings

When you live in a place like Bruce and I do, where economics and culture are driven by an insatiable need for ‘more’, you have to be paying attention to opt out. It is so easy to escape from the chaos of fear with the certainty of a ‘thing’.

Dorothee Soelle in her book The Silent Cry: Mysticism and Resistance declares that mysticism is resistance. And I would add that resistance is mysticism. And by that I mean that when we resist what seems irresistible, or inevitable, an open space emerges full of creative potential in the midst of ordinary time. It is a space that offers new responses to old patterns.

The lyrics of this song call us to resist the onslaught that pushes us to feel inadequate, to feel as if we are not complete within ourselves and must always be reaching for what we do not have to be fully alive.

We are already fully alive - when we decide that is how we want to be. CJ


I’m sitting right down

Gonna stay awhile resisting the pull.

I’m sitting on down

Gonna stay awhile resisting the pull.

You can’t draw me to you

Playing on greed,

I’m not buying what I don’t need,

Resisting the pull,

Resisting the pull.

 

Empty condo’s sell peace of mind,

Empty temptations of every kind,

Expensive cars so you can go faster,

Expensive clothes to make you look like the master,

Pretty women selling dreams for the night,

Pretty handshakes to make your world right.

 

Spend your money so you won’t be alone,

Spend your money right from home,

The whole world’s telling us that we’re small,

The whole world’s turned into a shopping mall,

It doesn’t matter if you need it or not,

‘Cause baby don’t you know it’s ‘bout the stuff that you got.

 

I’m sitting right down

Gonna stay awhile resisting the pull.

I’m sitting on down

Gonna stay awhile resisting the pull.

You can’t draw me to you

Playing on greed,

I’m not buying what I don’t need,

Resisting the pull,

Resisting the pull.

 

I’m not saying that it’s easy,

Sometimes I give up and give in,

But if you don’t try

They’ll suck you dry

You lose and they win,

They’ll take every dollar

Leave you dry as a bone

They don’t care if you end up on the street all alone, no, no.

 

Looks like a culture but it’s simply a store,

Looks like a culture but it’s all about more.

The spirit of craving gnawing at the heart,

The spirit of craving’s tearing us apart,

It’s all an illusion telling us to buy,

It’s all an illusion don’t you dare ask why.

 

I’m sitting right down

Gonna stay awhile resisting the pull.

I’m sitting on down

Gonna stay awhile resisting the pull.

You can’t draw me to you

Playing on greed,

I’m not buying what I don’t need,

Resisting the pull,

Resisting the pull.


Scott Bruyea, drums

Bob Hewus, bass

Steve Kennedy, soprano and tenor saxophones

Bruce Ley, piano, organ, guitars, percussion, lead vocal

Steve Kennedy, Carole Warren, background vocals

Candice Bist, lyrics

Bruce Ley, music

All rights reserved SOCAN 2014 

Great Big Bottom


Great Big Bottom


Great Big Bottom

Complete silliness but so much fun.


Kim Kardashian's Booty

I have to say this is a fun song to sing. Bruce was channeling his younger self, harkening back to a time when there was this pressing urge to find some risqué word or phrase to fit into the conversation, something that bordered on rude, but not quite. Once you had a phrase you could kind of get away with, you ran around screaming it as often as you could. This is Bruce’s grown up version of that youthful tendency with all its inherent innocence.  

What I have found amazing is how many women passing through our house and studio think this song might be written about or for them – including me.

 It’s not.

Its original spark came from a newspaper article Bruce read about women’s concern about the size of their back end. Somehow this was surprising to him and the idea stuck, passed through his preadolescent self and arriving fully formed in this blues shuffle. CJ 


My little girl she’s got a face so sweet,

It makes me wanna holler, it makes me wanna weep.

She’s got legs, man, they’re so fine,

They make me wanna walk the line.

Ooo my my she’s built like a tank,

She’s got money in the bank.

Talk about assets, well, man she’s got ‘em,

What tops it off is her great big bottom.

Her great big bottom,

She’s got a great big bottom,

She’s got a great big bottom,

And that’s all right with me.

 

She’s so high toned, it’s obscene,

Like some girl in a magazine.

When we go dancing, I feel like a king, 

‘Cause everybody loves it when she shakes that thing,

Her great big bottom,

She’s got a great big bottom,

She’s got a great big bottom,

And that’s all right with me.

 

When we go strolling accidents happen,

Some men whistle and some start clapping,

It’s enough to make you go into shock,

When my baby walks that walk – with her

Her great big bottom,

She’s got a great big bottom,

She’s got a great big bottom,

And that’s all right with me.

She’s got a great big bottom,

She’s got a great big bottom,

The girl’s got a great big bottom,

And that’s all right with me.


Scott Bruyea, drums

Bob Hewus, bass

Larry Kurtz, blues harp

Bruce Ley, piano, guitars, lead vocal

Aaron Solomon, Russell Jones, Rob Lang, Graham Corbett, Norm Trudeau, background vocals

Bruce Ley, lyrics and music

All rights reserved SOCAN 2014

Walking Free


Walking Free


Walking Free

Why, when there are so many possibilities in life, do we stay inside the prison of our closed minds?


Rumi, the thirteenth century Persian poet and Sufi mystic, asks this marvelous question: “Why, when God’s world is so big, did you fall asleep in a prison of all places?” Why, indeed, when there are so many possibilities in life, do we willingly stay inside the prison of our own thinking, our own apparent ‘rightness’ and our restricted view of the landscape?

We stay trapped within the limits of closed mindsets, long held prejudices, and generations’ old ideas of what might constitute truth. But mostly we are trapped by the hardening of our hearts.

When we steel ourselves against another and gather around ourselves the ragged though familiar cloak of fear and anger, the door to our world silently closes. We are fettered by our own refusal to look up, to look out, to look within, and to imagine another way of being.

This lyric is my gloss on Rumi’s original quote. CJ


Hey, whatcha’ doing

Down there in the dark?

That ain’t no place to sink on down,

That ain’t no place to park.

Of all the places

In the world so big and wide,

Why d’ya choose a prison?

It’s a foolish place to hide.

 

We can be captives,

Of many different kinds,

In isolation,

Held hostage by our minds.

Fear and anger,

Refusal to forgive,

They keep us locked up inside,

And that ain’t no way to live. 

You could be walking free,

You could be walking free,

You could be walking free,

Liberty.

 

That door can open,

You have got the key.

Why don’t you come on out?

You can be walking free.

Come on and look up,

The sky is bright and blue.

It’s a brand new day,

And it’s waiting here for you.

You could be walking free,

You could be walking free,

Don’t ya want it?

You could be walking free,

You could be walking free.


Scott Bruyea, drums

Bob Hewus, bass

Steve Kennedy, soprano and tenor saxophones

Eric Mahar, guitar solo

Bruce Ley, guitars, percussion, lead vocal

Steve Kennedy, Carole Warren, background vocals

Candice Bist, lyrics

Bruce Ley, music

All rights reserved SOCAN 2013. 

I Want You Back


I Want You Back


I Want You Back

Ah, yes, A classic musician’s struggle between the woman he wants in his life and the band. Ongoing.


pearl-necklace-bruce-ley-painting

The lyrics for this song emerge from a mash up of images, sound clips, memories, imagination and petulance on my part, not a pretty emotion at the best of times. The original musical riff emerged from a jam session where Bruce, Scott and Bob were testing out some newly acquired studio equipment. Bruce thought it might make a good jazz instrumental with no lyrics, though he did have the chant happening in the chorus.

I loved the track. The first time I heard it, it sketched out for me a fully realized vignette, like those stylized photo shoots you sometimes see in high fashion magazines, all impossibly expensive clothes worn by women changing babies and nail polish with equal ease.

Like most women – and men I imagine – when things aren’t going so well on the home front I have what I call ‘leaving fantasies’. I’m generally younger in these Scorsese directed bits of fantasy, and Bruce is always sorry. They never last longer than it takes to wash the dishes, but well, there you are. Mixed in with this foolish indulgence is a simply great photo of Michelle Williams with a Louis Vuitton bag hitched over her shoulder all red lipstick and smoldering sexuality looking back at what I imagine to be the instantly regretful creature she has left behind. (Alas, Louis Vuitton threw off the rhythm of the line, hence, the Prada bag.)

Add to this a James Taylor interview wherein he muses at the tug of war between family life and life on the road with his band, a regrettable incident with my recent birthday, and the on going obsession in our culture with impossibly high heels and scanty lingerie and you see where it all ended up.

I love this girl, who I don’t think is actually leaving in any real way, but she’s headed over to her girlfriend’s for a few days just to make it absolutely clear that she is not pleased with the current status quo at home. And bless the musician’s heart – and I admit here to being partial to the musician’s inner sanctum – he looks up from his guitar long enough to see the error of his ways.

It is a bit of fluff in a way, but in the same way that a dandelion head is fluff. It still represents the flow of life. CJ


You walked out the door swinging those fabulous hips,

You muttered something rude, but hey, I could read your lips.

You took the keys to the car and the dog and the cat,

That pouting red mouth, and my best ball cap.

You had your Prada over your shoulder and your leopard skin purse,

And those stiletto heels you know I love but I’ll tell you what’s worse,

 

You wore that grey pencil skirt, with the zip up the back,

And I know you’re not wearing much under that.

You wore your red cashmere sweater pulled tight across the top,

Showing off all your charms, just in case I forgot.

Oh, sweet girl, I’m beginning to see the error of my ways,

Give me one more chance, come on back and stay.

 

I want you back baby, I want you back.

I want you back baby, I want you back.

I want you back baby, I want you back.

 

O.K. alright I know things got a little out of hand,

I’ve been spending way too much time with the boys in the band.

I know your birthday present wasn’t exactly what you had in mind,

And where your friends are concerned I haven’t been perfectly kind.

But you know I’m a gentleman at heart and I'm a  lover too,

And if you give me one more chance, I’m gonna prove it to you. 

I want you back baby, I want you back.

I want you back baby, I want you back.

I want you back baby, I want you back.

I want you back baby, I want you back.


Scott Bruyea, drums

Bob Hewus, bass

Steve Kennedy, tenor saxophones

Bruce Ley, piano, organ, guitars, lead vocal

Steve Kennedy, Russell Jones, background vocal

Candice Bist, lyrics

Bruce Ley, music

All rights reserved SOCAN 2014 

Mayflower Blues


Mayflower Blues


Mayflower Blues

Rock from before Plymouth Rock.


sailing-painting-bruce-ley

As happens from time to time, Bruce will hand me a track with a line that has lodged in his mind while writing the music. In this case it was, ‘I’m just sitting by the Mayflower’. He imagined the Mayflower to be a third rate bar of some kind and the man singing to be drinking himself into oblivion as he waited for a date that didn’t show up.

But I liked the idea of The Mayflower - that wind blown hulk of a ship so deeply embedded in the early history of North America. It is a tragic story - a poorly equipped boat whose trans Atlantic voyage was plagued with bad weather, disease, and short supplies before arriving off course to a harsh winter that left half of the passengers and crew dead by spring. And yet, this pivotal tale is not without its triumphs for it is drenched in the human capacity to endure much in the moment for the sake of a hoped for future.

So, I moved the man in question to the dock yards of the Pilgrim’s boat, waiting for the woman he is hoping will come with him on his great adventure. When we read history with its lists of facts and figures, we often forget that in the midst of the grand sweeping narratives there are smaller stories of hoped for loves, broken promises, and regretful decisions. I wish she had gone with him. But, then, maybe he didn’t make it to spring.

On a historical note, I’m not sure that rum was widely available in England at the time of the Mayflower, or even if it was, given the puritanical overtones of the voyage, that it would have been part of the cargo. But by the time this was realized, we had already recorded the song - my apologies to all historians and drinkers of sugar-cane residues.

Bruce tells me that his first band, The Pharaohs, would have loved this song. CJ


I’ve been sitting by the Mayflower,

All this time, just waiting for you.

Right here at the Mayflower,

Wondering what you’re gonna do.

My bags are stacked up in the dockyard,

Beside a different point of view.

 

I’ve been sitting by the Mayflower

All this time, just waiting for you,

Right here at the Mayflower,

I swear I’m gonna see it through.

The dawn is breaking,

And I am breaking too.

 

I wake up in the morning

And from the first light to the last

I’m cramped and cursed

And kept down in my place.

But I’ve heard that in the new world

A man can be what he wants to be,  

And mostly what I want is to be free.

 

I’m sitting here at the Mayflower,

Watching as they load up the rum.

Just sitting here at the Mayflower

Polishing my boots and my gun.

I’m still waiting for you baby,

I’m still hoping you’ll come.

 

How I talk and hold my knife,

My profile and my hands

They hold me in my place

Just like a vice.

But my dreams won’t be contained

Nor my worth stamped on a page,

A man can’t live his life inside a cage.

 

Well, I’m leaving on the Mayflower,

Hadn’t planned to leave without you.

I’m sailing on the Mayflower,

You have to do what you have to do.

I’m so sorry you’re not with me,

Wish you were sailing too.


Scott Bruyea, drums

Bob Hewus, bass

Steve Kennedy, baritone and tenor saxophones

Bruce Ley, organ, guitars, lead vocal

Steve Kennedy, Russell Jones, Bob Hewus, background vocals

Candice Bist, lyrics

Bruce Ley, music

All rights reserved SOCAN 2014 

Let's Get it Right


Let's Get it Right


Let’s Get it Right

A love song for and from my wife


tulips-in-a-vase-romantic-bruce-ley

This lyric is another mind meld mash-up incorporating the strongly imprinted album cover for Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited, Bruce’s and my love of walking slowly side by side out of the way of the crowd, our collective human indulgence in wondering what if, and the never ending quest to be truly seen by those we love.    

I like the forward movement of the man in this song towards the woman. Romance, when it is intentional, has no less magic than when it is unexpected. The heart is ever a mystery of surprises. 

I am hoping this song will call all lovers to some slow dancing and serious romancing.

Because there is never enough of that. CJ


Oh, my sweet one,

I’m talking to you,

Come on let’s take a little stroll,

Let’s amble round the corner, babe,

And leave behind the rock and roll.

 

I’ve got words,

I’d like to whisper,

Words I’ve been saving just for you,

It seems like ages since we wandered

Arm in arm alone, just we two.

 

Would you like to hear some stories

About the way things might have been,

Or tales of how they might yet come to be. 

I won’t take my eyes off you baby,

Just smooth talk you all night long,

I’m so hoping that you’ll spend this time with me.

 

Hip to hip,

Walking slowly,

I’m not rushing you through the night.

There’s nothing on in the morning,

So let’s take our time and get it right.

 

Would you like to hear some stories

About the way things might have been,

Or tales of how they might yet come to be. 

I won’t take my eyes off you baby,

Just smooth talk all night long,

I’m so hoping that you’ll spend this time with me.

 

Hip to hip,

Walking slowly,

I’m not rushing you through the night.

There’s nothing on in the morning,

Come on over here, let’s get it right,

Come on girl, let's get it right, 

Come on over here, we can get it right.


Scott Bruyea, drums

Bob Hewus, bass

Steve Kennedy, tenor and baritone saxophones

Bruce Ley, piano, organ, guitars, percussion, lead vocal

Steve Kennedy, Russell Jones, Bob Hewus, background vocals

Candice Bist, lyrics

Bruce Ley, music

All rights reserved SOCAN 2014.

Smooth Faced Blues


Smooth Faced Blues


Smooth Faced Blues

How we look at other people matters. If we look without love, the devastation is real.


penitent-man-painting-bruce-ley

The lyrics for this song were written by our friend and fellow conspirator Rev. Rodger Hunter. Roger is the chaplain of Boarding Homes Ministries. Under its expansive umbrella he gathers those huddled on the edge of society and those ensconced in the middle of it and invites them into community with one another. Rodger’s work, and the wisdom he has drawn from it, have profoundly influenced Bruce and I, and our whole family, in particular our daughter Madelaine who has spent many years under Rodger’s tutelage.

Rodger has taught all of us to see differently. He has instructed us in a way of looking at others that moves past categories and mines instead the depth of richness and possibility beneath outward appearances. In the beginning this is difficult, but this way of regarding others, once learned, can be profoundly healing for the one gazing at another with love and for the one being gazed upon.

This song was originally written and recorded for Cat Jeoffry Songs and Hymns, a project commissioned by BHM that seeks to heighten understanding of “our relations with the gifted and beautiful people in the mental health community who have so much to teach us.” The song invites its listeners to use their gaze as restoration. This may seem a simple matter. But the practicing of it will prove otherwise. Never the less it must be attempted, for looking at others with love changes the viewer, the viewed, and the view, drawing us all back to our original loveliness. CJ


My face is cracked-up little tiles,

Like some dried-up old river bed.

Searin’ desiccating hatred

Been blowin’ all round my head.

Why don’t you oil me? Come on and oil me,

My love, anoint me,

Oil me some more.

 

My face been chiselled by the clever,

A pummelled Easter Island Dope.

I’ve been chipped right down, and tipped right down,

My face is runnin’ out of hope.

Why don’t you oil me? Come on and oil me,

My love, anoint me,

Oil me some more.

 

Eyes can create, so take my face,

And make my face and shape my face.

Ease round my eyes, all twisted from lies,

Knead my tired face I need your care,

Design me with your lovin’ stare.

 

My face truly polished by the smooth,

Been well buffed from all the push offs.

I got those low-down-dirty-down

Gone-all-featureless-smooth-faced-blues.

Why don’t you oil me? Come on and oil me,

My love, anoint me,

Oil me some more.

 

Eyes can create, so take my face,

And make my face and shape my face.

Ease round my eyes, all twisted from lies,

Knead my tired face I need your care,

Design me with your lovin’ stare.

 

Nurse my sad face,

Nestle my sad face,

Soothe my tired face

With love’s own eyes,

Can you oil me?

Can you anoint my burned face?

My spurned face,

It’s right out front

It takes the brunt,


Scott Bruyea, drums

Bob Hewus, bass

Steve Kennedy, tenor and baritone saxophones

Bruce Ley, piano, organ, guitars, percussion, lead vocal

Scott Bruyea, Bob Hewus, background vocals

Rodger Hunter, lyrics

Bruce Ley, music

All rights reserved SOCAN 2011

Hunger of the Heart


Hunger of the Heart


Hunger of the Heart

There is a hunger that is roaming the earth. If we can bear it, it will lead us home.


tenor section-first-friday-soul-singers

There is a hunger in the human heart. It searches after a home that is welcoming, a home that values each person for the gifts they have to offer and a home that shares what it has with all whose who enter. This hunger understands the connectedness of all things and yearns to find a way for humanity to live peacefully within both the abundance and the limits of its earthly home.

We stumble and err and falter. But as long as we keep our focus on the desire for goodness and hold hands on the journey, we may make it.

If not, we will know that we did our very best.

And that surely counts for something. CJ


We come from different places, we all search different skies.

Sometimes we are foolish, and sometimes we are wise.

We’re all searching for a pathway through the dark,

We're driven by the hunger of the heart.

 

We wander and we wonder, we pick through the debris

Of a shattered landscape where ain’t nobody free, 

Through the mess and through the muddle that’s tearing us apart,

Driven by the hunger of the heart. 

 

So hold on now,

Hold on tight,

Stand together, 

Till the morning light.

You know, change takes time,

We need to hold each other tight,

And stand together,

In the morning light.

 

The sun rises each morning, a parade of endless days,

We each have our burdens, we all see in different ways.

But gathered all together, embracing all who roam,  

The hunger of the heart will lead us home.

 

So hold on now,

Hold on tight,

Stand together, 

Till the morning light.

You know, change takes time,

We need to hold each other tight,

And stand together,

In the morning light.

We're gonna stand together,

In the morning, light.

Yes, we will, 

In the morning, light.


Scott Bruyea, drums

Bob Hewus, bass

Steve Kennedy, tenor saxophone

Bruce Ley, piano, organ, guitars, percussion, lead vocal

Steve Kennedy, Russell Jones, Bob Hewus, background vocals

Candice Bist, lyrics

Bruce Ley, music

All rights reserved SOCAN 2013. 

It's Complicated


It's Complicated


It’s Complicated

Isn’t it? I find it so.


wise-man-bruce-ley-painting

Bruce and I tend to work back and forth in a kind of free flowing way so it is sometimes hard to know what came first with any given song - the lyric, the dream or idea, or the notes on the piano or guitar. But in this case the lyrics were written first as an extension of a conversation Bruce and I had about art in its various forms. “I don’t want it to be said that I hide my art in complication,” he said. I did not hear much after that because that one thought captured my imagination, trailing into my on going internal search after truth.

Gandhi began by thinking that God - the thing that he sought to understand as primal to human existence - was love. But later in life he changed his mind on this matter claiming he had come to see God not so much as love but rather as truth. As such Gandhi thought it a worthwhile pursuit to incorporate truth in one’s life, even though the attainment of such a thing was clearly beyond the capabilities of even the most consummate human mind.

So, we are to search after truth. Seems simple enough. 

But you, know – it’s complicated.

Oh, and Bruce says I should tell you that Annie refers to Annie Dillard and her book “Teaching a Stone to Talk.” I am a huge fan of her work. Her approach to all matters spiritual is infinitely complicated and always moving, yet her writing astonishes with its clarity. Read any of her books. You will see what I mean. CJ


I don’t want it to be said

That I hide my art in complication.

I don’t want it to be said

That I hide away from what is cruel.

I don’t want to think that I was capable of hatred.

But the truth, it’s complicated,

In truth it’s complicated.

 

I don’t want to spend my life

Chasing photo-shopped realities,

Wanting for the easy things

You can touch and you can hold,

Quantifiable results that others have created,

But the truth, it’s complicated,

In truth it’s complicated.

 

Calculations, numbers, approved or not approved,

Everywhere are scales and measures leaving my soul bruised.

Where to rest, where to wander?

Where to be alone?

Where to curl up with Annie and whisper to a stone?

 

I don’t want to waste this life

With lofty self ambitions,

Slithering through the endless gutters,

Passing all those in need.

I don’t want to reach and fail until my breath is abated.

But the truth it’s complicated.

The truth is complicated, 

In truth it's complicated

The truth it's complicated

The truth it's complicated.

The truth it's complicated.


Scott Bruyea, drums

Bob Hewus, bass

Steve Kennedy, baritone and tenor saxophones

Bruce Ley,  piano, synthesizer solo, guitars, percussion, lead vocal

Candice Bist, lyrics

Bruce Ley, music

All rights reserved SOCAN 2014. 

Ellen's Song


Ellen's Song


Ellen's Song

After a life of struggle, she fell into a deep sleep, and then, awoke to a bright new day.


Bruce had left me a minor blues ballad to consider the afternoon I opened a note from my friend Barbara. She had written to say thank you for a CD we had prepared for her daughter and to tell us something of Ellen’s last days in the hospital and hospice centre.

Ellen had spent much of her short life at Mortimer House, one of Jean Vanier’s homes in his L’Arche movement. Barbara and those who had long cared for Ellen and loved her, were concerned that the unfamiliar and sometimes harsh sights and sounds of the hospital would unnerve her for she was deeply connected to ‘home’ - her people and place of belonging.

the-bishops-defense-painting-bruce-ley

To help surround Ellen with soothing sounds and voices of home a CD was made that incorporated gentle music and the loving encouragement of her community of affection. Barbara was much appreciative of this CD, and along with her thanks gave me the inspiration for ‘Ellen’s Song.’ She wrote, “After a long battle, Ellen succumbed to sleep, and at the time in the morning when she would normally rise, she awoke to a bright new day.”

Barbara is part of what I would call the mystical persuasion, and I mean that as the highest of compliments. I am partial to mystical thought, particularly when it is accompanied, as is the case with Barbara, by devoted study and service, for it emerges from a place of considered stillness, with a deep empathy for the human condition that rises above doctrinal bickering and drops us down in the gentle meadow of wondering.

We do not know what comes after life, or before it for that matter. But there is a long history in human consciousness of ‘beyond’. I have sat with enough people through their dying, as they left behind their chrysalis and spread their wings, to welcome Barbara’s metaphor of ‘the bright new day.’

So, with thanks to Barbara and Ellen for the lyrical inspiration as well as to all those who live and work on Jean Vanier’s sacred vessel and remind us of the unique contribution of each individual granted life. CJ


Wondering in the morning how I’ll find you,

Wondering in the evening how you’ll be,

Knowing that the time is near to leave me behind,

And let yourself be set free.

 

Watching all the people that have loved you,

Watching the parade that passes by,

Listening to the gentle words of comfort,

And the sorrow in their sad goodbyes.

 

All your life you’ve struggled just to make it through the day,

To breathe and stretch and tell us where you’ve been,

Courage comes in forms that we never would suspect,

And saintliness is not always serene.

 

Now after all the struggles, peace descends upon your soul,

You sleep so sound, it must be time to go.

 

Wondering in the morning where you’ll waken,

Wondering how it feels to drift away,

Knowing even now as tears begin to flow,

You’ll begin a bright new day,

You’ll begin a bright new day.


Scott Bruyea, drums

Bob Hewus, bass

Bruce Ley, piano, guitars, percussion, synthesized strings, lead vocal

Candice Bist, lyrics

Bruce Ley, music

All rights reserved SOCAN 2014. 

No, No, No


No, No, No


No, No, No

Sometimes when things seem like they might be heading to the dump, you just have to say no, no, no.


circus-bruce-ley-painting

Where Bruce and I live in the country, the garbage is picked up once a week to be taken to the dump. Between our compost pile and the recycling depot, there is very little that ends up there, but never the less ‘the dump’ has become a euphemism in our family’s lexicon for a dead end place where missed opportunities, foolish mistakes, and mounds of unpleasant business smolder in a stew of self recrimination while the steam of old resentments rises from the whole mess and settles on the visitor’s shoulders like a shroud. It is not a good place to be.

But even though we know that, sometimes one or the other of us will get into that old beat up truck of despair and head off to the dump. And sometimes we invite company along.

But a good friend, someone who really loves you, will simply refuse to ride shotgun because nothing creative ever happens at the end of that dead end road. Sometimes the truck gets stuck in the well-worn tire tracks of old stories and you can waste a lot of time rocking back and forth in a perpetual state of unhappiness.

Bruce and I help one another out by simply refusing to go along for the ride. Sometimes our “No” has to be repeated a few times before it is heard, as in “No. No. No.”

 If you find yourself going to the dump, don’t.  If someone invites you to the dump, stay home. Everyone will be better off. You know it's true. CJ


 If you’re going down that road, babe, you’re not going down it with me.

If you’re going down that road, babe, you’re not going down it with me.

Because the only thing down there is a graveyard of use-to-be’s.

 

There’s nothing down that road but pain and misery.

I tell you there’s nothing down that road but pain and misery. 

Go on ahead if you want to, but you’re not going down it with me.

 

No, no, no,

I’m not coming with you,

No, no, no,

I mean it this time.

No, no, no,

Ain’t nothing but meanness,

No, no, no

Bad tempers and traffic fines.

No, no, no

I’m not coming with you,

No, no, no,

And I’m telling you that I mean it this time.

 

Just a pile of bad memories and a long list of ‘should have dones’,

Just a pile of sad memories and a very long list of ‘should have dones’,

Nothing good coming from it, no love making babe, simply ain’t no fun.

 

No, no, no,

I’m not coming with you,

No, no, no,

I mean it this time.

No, no, no,

Ain’t nothing but meanness,

No, no, no

Bad tempers and traffic fines.

No, no, no

I’m not coming with you,

No, no, no,

And I’m telling you that I mean it this time.


Scott Bruyea, drums

Bob Hewus, bass

Steve Kennedy, baritone and tenor saxophones

Eric Mahar, lead guitar

Bruce Ley, piano, guitars, percussion, lead vocal

Steve Kennedy, Carole Warren, Leslie Arden, background vocals

First Friday Singers, background vocals

Candice Bist, lyrics

Bruce Ley, music

All rights reserved SOCAN 2013. 

Ain't There Ever Any End


Ain't There Ever Any End


Ain’t There Every Any End

Sometimes, trouble seems to drag behind a person like a soiled shirttail. Still. There can be much wisdom in their midst.


Musically this song has been arranged a dozen different ways. In the end Bruce found this up-tempo interpretation for a lyric that is decidedly not, and somehow, strangely, we liked it best of all.

The original track was heavier and came to me with the worn out luggage of a man down on his luck, humbled by his mistakes and mired in regret, yet having experienced the flickers of wisdom that often emerge from ugly living.

He showed up muddy, soiled, and smelling of dank marshes and labour. I loved him from the moment he arrived. I knew his secrets would never be mine. Some loses leave their mark upon a person and can never be shared. There is a kind of sacredness to patient desolation, a priestly bearing that makes of each movement a ballet of sorrow.

He is not in the habit of letting others too close. But I wrapped my prayer for him in the paper aeroplane of this song and sent it gently over his shoulder when he was deep in thought.

And just to make sure it flew the right way, I placed a kiss on the right wing.

I hope it eased his burden. I do. I do. CJ


Ain’t there ever any end

To the troubles that I see,

Will there ever be a time

When I am walking free?

You know I drag so much behind me,

And I carry so much inside,

I am running out of places I can hide.

 

The tongues they wag

And the gossips, they all had their day.

They tossed me casually about

Like they were scattering loosened hay,

With no thought to how it rent the weave

In the fabric of us all,

Sometimes it’s really hard to stand up tall.

 

When I wake up in the morning,

It’s hard to bear the weight,

Of all that’s come before this day,

All that seems to be my fate.

Sometimes my great accomplishment

Is just putting on my shoes,

And turning back from all these dragged down blues.

 

Sometimes in the evening,

There’s a prayer within the wind,

That lifts me very gently,

A soft hand beneath my chin,

And I offer up my life,

With all its broken dreams,

A part of all the mystery that’s unseen.

 

Ain’t there ever any end

To the troubles that I see?

Will there ever be a time

When I am walking free?

I drag so much behind me,

I carry so much inside,

I am running out of places I can hide.

I am running out of places I can hide.


Hell, There's Trouble


Hell, There's Trouble


Hell There’s Trouble

Good heavens we are making a mess of things. Inside and out. 


It is many years ago now I sat in an old growth forest in northern Ontario at the feet of Gary Potts, then the Chief of the Temagami First Nation and the Teme-Augama Anishnabail in Temagami. was simultaneously transfixed and confounded. I had come to interview him as part of a series I was producing for children on the environment. As he spoke I felt myself wading into unknown waters, pulled into word pictures hitherto unexplored. He appeared to be speaking of ordinary matters – lakes, trees, land – but I knew he was also communicating at some subterraneous level I could not translate.

Chief Potts was calling my spirit to reawaken. And it did. Though it took its own time stretching out its bruised tendons – the inevitable result of a lengthy snooze in close quarters.

I have since sat at the feet of Thomas Berry, Pierre Teihard de Chardin, Annie Dillard, Wendell Berry, Matthew Fox, Brian Swimme, David Suzuki and a host of other wise and compassionate teachers of concerns ecological. But all my study and reflection comes back to what was revealed to me in that long ago conversation redolent of pine resin and black earth.

All difficulties concerning the environment, our economic/political policies and our social structures are in essence, spiritual. Because spiritual matters at heart are concerned with who we are and how we see ourselves in relation to others and to the world around us, both natural and created.

The world of trouble outside ourselves is but a reflection of the trouble within our own divided hearts. CJ  


Hell, there’s trouble,

From here to Nappanee,

Nothing but trouble,

As far as the eye can see.

There’s a world of trouble out there,

And a world of trouble inside of me.

 

Careless with the water, reckless with the land.

Stepping over people, pipelines in the sand,

Building up the arsenal with trickery and greed,

Piracy and plunder, ignoring real need.

 

Rhetoric and error, polemic double speak,

Bullies run the numbers and leave behind the weak.

We’re still cutting down the trees and shutting down the young,

Keeping up the pretence, falsehoods on our tongue.

 

Hell, there’s trouble,

From here to Nappanee,

Nothing but trouble,

As far as the eye can see.

There’s a world of trouble out there,

And a world of trouble inside of me.

 

Putting up the fences between the different tribes,

Racking up the debt, taking in a bribe,

Spending all our time taking what’s not ours,

Spoiling for a war and fighting in the bars.

 

We’re stealing from the old, pilfering from the lost,

Dumping in the ocean, never counting the cost.

We keep on pumping out the oil, tearing down the past,

Raising up the ante, making what won’t last.

 

Hell, there’s trouble,

From here to Nappanee,

Nothing but trouble,

As far as the eye can see.

There’s a world of trouble out there,

And a world of trouble inside of me.

There’s a world of trouble out there,

And a world of trouble inside of me.


Calling Out


Calling Out



Calling Out

The voice of being speaks to us all. Sometimes we listen. Sometimes we act.


The story of the Good Samaritan originates in the Christian scriptures, in the book of

Luke, a beloved and frequently referenced parable taught by Jesus. But the ‘Good Samaritan’ has moved beyond his place of origin, as all good characters do, and lives in our archetypical story telling, in our ethical teaching, in our dictionaries as a description of a charitable person, in our legal systems where Good Samaritan laws protect those offering aid to another.

 It is a story often used as an example of how we might behave, who exactly our neighbour is, and how we might treat them.

But I was always wondering what was going on in the life of this ordinary Samaritan when he stumbled upon another man lying on the road. How was his day going? What was he thinking about? What did his countenance reflect? And most importantly, what drew him to stop when others did not?

I have come to think he was responding to a gentle call, a tugging at his sleeve, a whispered promise of miracle, a hand that took the hand of his brokenness and put it in the hand of the outwardly injured man. I believe each religion has a particular gift of understanding to share with the larger collection of perennial philosophies. The Christian faith has this thought to offer: calls are specific to time and place and person. Everyone receives them. Not all answer. But for those who do, an adventure of the spirit awaits.

I am indebted to Ivan Illich for this understanding, and to David Cayley, for introducing me to Illich’s astonishing work, particularly their collaborative book The Rivers North of the Future. CJ


He’s just walking down the same road, 

He’s travelled many times before,

His head is down, nothing makes sense,

Any  more.

 

Then he sees, there on the roadside,

A broken down and bloodied man,

Who cries in need, through words unspoken,

 “Come lend a hand.”

 

Calling out, calling for him,

Calling just with him in mind,

No turning back, no turning from it,

No being deaf, no being blind.

 

There’s no other, no one around him,

He’s the one must answer need,

And if he does, his heavy heart,

It will be freed.

 

Calling out, calling for him,

Calling just with him in mind,

No turning back, no turning from it,

No being deaf, no being blind.

                                                                                     

He bends down and catches teardrops,

That run ‘cross a blackened cheek,

His gentle hands heal and comfort,

The poor and weak.

 

And as he does his spirit answers,

To the call that calls us all,

And with this choice, he no longer stumbles,

But stands up tall.

 

Calling out, calling for him,

Calling just with him in mind,

No turning back, no turning from it,

No being deaf, no being blind.

 


I'll Be Beside You


I'll Be Beside You



I’LL BE BESIDE YOU

In sleep our perfection shines.


Jewel

It is not an uncommon experience to come upon a beloved one while they are sleeping. In relaxed pose we see the grace, the possibility, the beauty of another in a way we can’t distinguish when they are awake.

I have woken to find Bruce studying me.

I have felt his gaze upon me even as I slept.

So, when he handed me this beautiful piece of music, I channeled the gentle man whose gaze I often find brushing my cheek and handed him back his own self.

He seems pleased with the results, so I guess I got the nuances. 

I have felt his gaze upon me even as I slept.

So, when he handed me this beautiful piece of music, I channeled the gentle man whose gaze I often find brushing my cheek and handed him back his own self.

He seems pleased with the results, so I guess I got the nuances. 


I watch you sleeping

Drifting through your dreams,

The light from the morning ‘cross your face.

I’m filled with wonder

At the marvel of it all,

Everything in its perfect place.

 

Your beauty is richer

And deeper than your youth,

Holding our memories in its care.

The love that I’m holding

Is all reflecting back at me,

And all that I can do is stare.

 

I’m gonna stay here,

Until I’ve seen you,

In every light of every day,

All through this lifetime,

And into the next one,

I will be beside you all the way.

 

The line of your cheekbone

It’s  the curve within my hand.

Your skin is the warmth that calls me home.

Your eyes are the colour

Of everything I see,

Your breath the rhythm of my own.

 

I’m gonna stay here,

Until I’ve seen you,

In every light of every day.

All through this lifetime,

And into the next one,

I will be with you all the way,

I will be with you all the way,

I’ll be beside you all the way


Redeemed


Redeemed



Redeemed

We are born into this life trailing ribbons of others in our wake.


We don’t come into this world unscripted. We arrive with endless connections, a tattered mess of wool and bees wax, twisted golden threads stretching back into that inky mystery we call time. You cannot unravel it. Nor are we meant to. But we can be respectful of the complicated histories we hold, both individually and as part of that designer collection called humanity.

The man who sings this song feels the warrior blood of long ago generations in his veins. He knows it may have served others well in the past. But he knows equally well, it will not serve him, nor anyone, in the future.

Our seemingly natural predilection for violent response is not an easy thing to adjust. Heaven knows I am still working on it. But work on it we must, for that is the way to our own freedom, and by connection, everyone’s freedom. To seek freedom from our past bondage to brutality is to seek redemption.

Redemption is a word heavily weighted with doctrinal cement. It need not be. To be redeemed is to be gifted with grace. It requires only that we desire to change the way we are going.

It does not require that the entire script we were born with be re-written. 


Traveling along the road of sorrow,

That runs deep within my veins,

Back before I lay my head down in this land

Warring spirits ruled, tempers were untamed.

The fighter in me leaves no quarter,

He cuts no slack and leaves death behind,

But this life of slash and burn, it has seared me to the bone,

Left me trapped behind enemy lines.

 

How can I make my way

Forward through this life

A figment framed and carved of lies,

Where every gesture is a threat

And every comment is a fight

And I just grab and grasp

And all around me dies?

 

But for all I’ve done that’s not deserving,

And for the destruction that has been

I can’t let go this thought: I stand and here I am,

And there must be something left to be redeemed.

 

I never offered grace or mercy,

I cut my foes down to the quick.

Behind my back a graveyard stretches through the mist,

Prideful vengeance, fouled landscape, blood runs thick.

I’m not the only one who stands here low and lost,

We are men and woman through all time,

Anger and resentment, war after war, 

Ever since we stepped out of the brine.

 

Dear God in heaven,

Can you hear us call?

Don’t know what to ask, but we ask still,

For all we’ve done can’t be undone,

Or I at least we don’t know how,

But here we stand

With strength and life and lust and will.  

 

It’s true there’s little that’s deserving,

And much destruction that has been.

But I can’t let go this thought: we stand and here we are,

And there must be something left to be redeemed,

There must be something left to be redeemed,

There must be something left to be redeemed,

There must be something left to be redeemed


Hard to Hang On


Hard to Hang On



Hard to Hang On

Change is the one given in life. But when you are trying to make your own changes, determinedly so, the way is not also easy.


Around the time this tune arrived on my desk I was pondering a lengthy conversation I had had with a friend who use to work in the sex trade. She had lived on the street for as a young person, having left a volatile chaotic home, and the trading of sexual favours for cash was the natural outcome. It was, she told me, a dangerous, murky life. All these years later, it’s mark was still upon her.

At the same time there was much public debate about the legalization of prostitution in our country. And in the life of my local community, there were too many suicides of young people. Somehow this all melded together into my imagining a young prostitute pulled between her current life, the life she desires, and the equally powerful pull to end life altogether. Like a butterfly that has been pined through the mid section, she feels immobilized, longing to move away from where she is, but seemingly unable to move forward toward something new. And in the midst of her quandary lurks the ever present possibility of giving herself over the appealing numbness of death.

It is not an uncommon posture to be in – trapped between what is and what might be.

In mindfulness we might recognize this stance more often. It is all around us. It is us.

And sometimes to tip the balance one way or the other, all that is required is a hand offered in a gesture of friendship and welcome.


Sitting down at the side of the road

Wondering which way to go,

Sunrise twinkling over the hills,

And shadows playing over her soul. 

What’s a woman suppose to do

She’s pulled in two different ways,

So hard to hang on,

Yeah, It’s hard to hang on.

 

Sitting down there thinking

Resisting all she knows,

Waiting for some understanding

Of the way that she should go.

Her high heels steady on the ground

Hold her captive here,

It’s hard to hang on,

Yeah, it’s hard to hang on.

 

A soul split down the middle

A heart that’s torn in two,

Just trying to live right and sane

In a world that’s not ready to forgive you.

Knowing life is precious

But not knowing you are too,

It’s hard to hold on,

So hard to hand on.

 

And now there is no going back

But forward is a burdened task,

Filled with doubts and so many worries

And questions she’s afraid to ask.

Is there anyone out there

Who can hear her silent cry?

It’s hard to hang on,

It’s so hard to hang on.

 

A soul split down the middle

A heart that’s torn in two,

Just trying to live right and sane

In a world not ready to forgive you.

Knowing life is precious

But not knowing you are too,

It’s hard to hold on,

Yeah, it’s hard to hang on. 

I'm in Love, I'm in Love


I'm in Love, I'm in Love



I’m in Love, I’m in Love

What a way to wake up in the morning. Nothing beats it.


Bruce is the lyricist on this tune. It was written in the summer after our children had left home and we were tumbling around together writing a lot of music and feeling younger than our years.

It is Bruce’s hat’s off to Gene Vincent, Buddy Knox, Eddie Cochran and all the early rock and rollers who birthed the innocent newness of a fresh sound that seemed to herald endless possibilities. Even as a child, this new beat called to Bruce, as it did to so many other young people. How could it not, with its infectious rhythms, simple lyrics and some element of pure delight that called everyone to life.

Steve Kennedy brought his considerable chops to record many versions of the saxophone instrumental. We chose the one that seemed to careen out of control with such joy and exuberance it feels as if Steve himself might just jump out of the speakers. 

The song seems like it is about a girl, but in truth, I think, it is about all the musicians who have the courage to just stand up and sing and play their hearts out from the sheer joy of being alive. 

 


I’m in love, I’m in love,
Yea you know it’s true,
I’m in love, I’m in love oo eeooo,
I’m in love, I’m in love,
I’m in love with you.

I love the way you move
And all the games you play,
I love the way that you look,
And all the things you say,
I love you more and more,
Each and every day.

When I wake up in the morning
Ooo I feel so fine,
And the reason that I feel so good
Is ‘cause I know you’re mine.

I’m in love, I’m in love,
Yea you know it’s true,
I’m in love, I’m in love oo eeooo,
I’m in love, I’m in love,
I’m in love with you.

When I wake up in the morning
Everything feels so right,
And the reason I feel so good
Is what happened in the night.

I’m in love, I’m in love,
Yea you know it’s true,
I’m in love, I’m in love oo eeooo,
I’m in love, I’m in love,
I’m in love with you.

I’m in love, I’m in love, oo eeooo,

I’m in love, I’m in love,
I’m in love with you.

 


Let Love and Grace Abide


Let Love and Grace Abide



Let Love and Grace Abide

There is never a moments regret from choosing the way of love or grace. Would that we chose it more often.


The voice behind this lyric comes from a collection of sages of various faiths and forms who have offered up their thoughts to help us along the road. If I am feeling low, this song never fails to lift me out of the doldrums, which are, always, in essence, about my own self- absorption.

 Rainer Maria Rilke, who knew a thing or two about matters of the heart, said that we should not waste time chasing after answers, but learn to live in the questions. That’s a good thought, and more, a humbling one.

 Living from our questions allows space around us, room to move, to swing our arms, to feel unfettered in our thinking and movement. It allows new considerations to emerge, new insights to percolate. I have always thought it the greatest form of violence to press our spiritual though upon another, but as time passes, it seems that the pressing of our opinions on another in any form, is violent.

 The voice to be cultivated, and the voice which the scholars in this song adopt, is that of humble love. They speak with deep compassion from a place that values the unique soul belonging to each person. This is how we must move forward – gently, letting go of unnecessary baggage, seeking the best in the other, embracing and blessing the best in ourselves.

 We will stumble, of course, but that is part of the journey. It cannot be otherwise.


It’s not a march this life,

It’s a wander down the road,

Bring your best whistle and a friend.

Go on and throw your head back,

And spread your arms out wide,

Let love and grace abide.

 

Lay your tender trinkets down,

And let the breeze pass by,

We all have things to leave behind,

Broken dreams, little love notes,

Wasted thoughts and wasted pride,

Let love and grace abide.

 

You didn’t know back then,

All the things that you know now,

We only understand the mind

When it sinks into the heart somehow.

Here you are still dreaming

Still alive another day,

There is still another hand to hold

A chance to walk another way.

 

Take a look around you,

Attend to what you see,

All that you need is where you are.

Resist doing what you always do,

Cast your fretful self aside,

Let love and grace abide.

 

You didn’t know back then,

All the things that you know now.

We only understand the mind

When it sinks into the heart somehow, 

Here you are still dreaming

Still alive another day,

There is still another hand to hold

A chance to walk another way.

 

Reason only goes so far,

And the rest we take on faith,

The kind that knows all will be well.

In the midst of loss and sorrow,

Is the steadfast changing tide,

Let love and grace abide.

Let love and grace abide.

Let love and grace abide.


Can You Hear Me?


Can You Hear Me?



Can You Hear Me?

Sometimes silence is the appropriate, and in truth, the only, answer. 


The lyrics for this song are written by Rodger Hunter, a man of extraordinary insight into matters of the spirit. Bruce and I have been strongly influenced by his thought over the years. With tongue firmly in cheek, but no less regard for seeking truth, he muses about the end of a love affair and the power struggle that inevitably occurs. Rodger writes:

“Is there ever any end to the peevish spate of pettiness that spills out of humanity when it descends from love? Maybe not. It can all be very hurtful. Even so the song is cast in a somewhat goofy tone because humanity and its antics rarely deserve to be taken seriously.

Still the song does pose a serious question. When faced with power are there times when a person should just remain silent? Certainly when Jesus realized that the jig was up he didn't fight back or even respond to accusations. Could that be the same in relationships in which various mean spirited Pontius Pilates hold power?

It would be a gift to know when to strive against power, and when to just remain silent. 

Can you hear me?”


She put my Levi’s in the shredder

And she told me I was deader

Than a duck if I came around.

My cryin’ eyes were getting’ redder

And my jeans looked like feathers

But I never made a sound,

No, I never made a sound.

 

Can you hear me? Can you hear me? Can you hear me?

I hated what occurred but I said not a word,

Can you hear me? Can you hear me?

 

She put my mojo in the blender

Used to be I could send her

And we’d shimmy all over town.

Now our love took a header

And I’ve only come to dread her

But I never made a sound,

No, I never made a sound.

 

Can you hear me? Can you hear me? Can you hear me?

I hated what occurred but I said not a word,

Can you hear me? Can you hear me?

 

Her chillin' glare made me tender

Got me fearin' for my gender

It froze me all up and down.

I’ve got ice on my tender things

Ice on my Fender strings

Now they don’t make a sound,

And, I never made a sound.   

 

Can you hear me? Can you hear me? Can you hear me?

I hated what occurred but I said not a word,

Can you hear me? Can you hear me?

 

There are many Pontius Pilates

Shreddin’ folks ‘cause they like it

Nailin’ people all around.

Sometimes, in front of power

When you know that it’s your hour

Should you ever make a sound?

Well, I never made a sound.

 

Can you hear me?

I’m gettin’ hoarse from all the silence, 

Just bummin’ around, no jeans, I feel a draft,

Goosebumps, I took my lumps,

I guess I’ll go now,

Hell no, baby, I’m just heading off,

I feel adrift, Lord I’m miffed

Maybe you could call me later,

Come on, babe, can anybody hear me?

 


Every Girl Wants a Cowboy


Every Girl Wants a Cowboy



Every Girl Wants a Cowboy

Well, now, that’s not exactly true is it? Except inside this cowboy's hopeful mind.


O.K., just for the record, Bruce and I are very aware that not every girl wants a cowboy and not every cowboy wants a girl – for a whole variety of reasons.  But this song is written by a fellow who apparently thinks otherwise, or at least professes to at this moment in time. So, here he is, trying his pick up lines with the local country girls, wearing his three-piece suit and jovial, boyish grin, his blithe attitude completely absent of malice.

He was another character that just showed up with the music, a happy go lucky guy home from some business in town who slides his sleek Prius in beside the bulky pick up trucks parked at the country bar he spies on his way home.  Things have gone well for him this particular day of his life. He is feeling flirty and more confident than usual. And he is sure the girl he is searching for is there for the taking. He’s going to give it his best shot.

Maybe he is a real cowboy. Maybe not. I’m not sure. Does it matter? We have all had days like that, when we feel larger than our own small selves, a little dangerous and nervy.  Hope it works out well for him. 

 

 


Every girl wants a cowboy,

And every cowboy wants a girl,

So come on and dance with me,

And give the Wild West a whirl.

I left my hat out on the dashboard,

And my horse he’s tied up lame,

But I swear I’m a cowboy just the same.

 

Every heart needs a homestead,

And every homestead needs a heart,

So come on and do a little two step with me,

And let this romance start.

My boots are at the cobblers,

My saddle by the open flame,

But I swear I’m a cowboy just the same.

 

I know I might not look like

All those cowboys in your dreams,

But you must know the way things are

Aren’t always as they seem.

I might be dressed up for the city,

And looking a little tame,

But I swear I’m a cowboy just the same.

 

I know I might not look like

All those cowboys in your dreams,

But you must know the way things are

Aren’t always as they seem.

I might be dressed up for the city,

And looking a little tame,

But I swear I’m a cowboy just the same.

Yes, I swear that I’m a cowboy just the same.

It's Dark


It's Dark



It’s Dark

Real Freedom Fighters are most often found in the everyday combats of ordinary dress. They are all around you.


I used to travel fairly regularly to the city through the dark winter months. Still half asleep in the murky early morning light I’d be jostled through the portal of the bus door to be transported with other strangers into the big smoke we call Toronto. As we travelled through the darkness, the bus’s instrument panel would blink out its carnival lights as personal computers opened and closed allowing Tinkerbell snippets to sparkle and trail throughout the bus. And I would imagine that as we travelled, great swaths of coloured ribbons trailed behind us, densely covered in the endless stories that belonged to those of us inside that magical bus.

 The secret lives of all those I pass during the day touches me. I see their faces, hear their voices, watch them interact, and all the while wonder at the universe of stories stacked in neat files in the library of their minds - some marked ‘do not open.’

 In my own life, there have been times it has taken every ounce of courage just to dress myself and head out the door for the simplest of errands. I know I cannot be alone in this. Which is why when someone in front of me is taking a long time at some portal - a cash register or door of a bus or stop sign - struggling in some way, my heart lurches.  And I wonder at their courage, at their story, at their unique contribution to the whole. And I wonder too at what part of their internal tale they are currently working through.

This man struggles perhaps with some malady we have named – addiction, depression, despair – but mostly he struggles to live out his own story, to battle the demons that surround him, to find a way to exist in wholeness, even as past traumas and present anxieties snatch at his coat sleeve.

 Next time you are out milling about, you might notice him. He’s a real freedom fighter. As are we all, when we fight to become who we are.


Woke up in the morning with a hatchet in his hand,

The black dog a’howling, a mouth full of dry sand,

Desperation in his veins, a knife between his eyes,

Lined up and blindfolded, hell, everybody dies.

 

Oh, God it’s dark, dark, dark, dark,

Oh, God it’s dark, so damned dark.

 

Witching hour at daybreak, demons at his side,

Devil’s spoiling for some fun gonna take him for a ride,

Dangerous delusions are crawling up the wall,

Mocking condemnations are lined up in the hall.

 

Oh, God it’s dark, dark, dark, dark,

Oh, God it’s dark, so damned dark.

 

Standing all around his bed the judge and jury speak,

“You’re useless and unworthy, cowardly and weak.”

 

Somehow he pushes off the deadly weight 

His feet they hit the floor.

One foot in front of the other

He makes his way so slowly to the door.

 

He’s standing right before you, his heart is in his hand,

The strength it took to get him here you’ll never understand.

He’s leading the resistance, his hello a stifled sob,

He’s a true freedom fighter, don’t you leave him to the mob.

 

He stands so still,

Carrying all our fears,

Can you see him now?

 


Pathway Home


Pathway Home



Pathway Home

The way home is always the way of love. It can bear our weight. 


There is a lot of letting go involved in loving deeply. In romantic love this means loving another enough to let them stretch their wings when they are called to fly, standing on the shore line, constant in affection, waiting for their safe return.

With children, loving them requires a whole series of losses as they move from one age to the next. The loving is always at a slight distance, for each day requires the leaving of that little bit of space for their expanding life. And when in adolescence, they push away from your loving arms to embrace their own life’s’ journey, what is there to do

but blow them kisses from the shoreline and wish them well on their journey out to sea?

And when at life’s close we mark the time of departure for one we love, there is nothing else to do but stand and watch them go, a sentinel of love, holding steady, standing guard, offering protection from the rocky narrows through which they must pass, knowing the journey must be taken alone.

The pathway home, whether it is the treacherous journey to fullness of life here on earth, or the searing, lonely walk of courage that is death, is always love. For love is that soaring creature that may travel from one life to the next, winging as it does on pure devotion to that which we can never fully realize, but which, when we submit to it, pours its grace upon us.

May traveling mercies abound for all those negotiating a particularly harrowing passage May grace and courage abound for those into whose hands they have placed their care.


I can feel you slipping away, 

Though I hold you close in my arms,

Your thoughts they travel past what I know,

There’s no keeping you down on the farm.

Somewhere deep in that heart of yours

Is a secret place of your own

Wander where you will, my love

Until you find your way home.

 

I thought you stood on steady ground,

Now I your feet are in sand,

The beach it leads to the water’s edge,

As you let go of my hand.

Of all my gifts, this is the greatest one

To watch you cross over alone,

And send my love out over the waves,

As you find your way home. 

 

Leaving home,

Use my love as a beacon to keep you from harm.

Coming home

There’s no map,

Just turbulent waters no land marks in sight

Just a landscape that keeps stretching on.

 

It takes will and it takes grit

To weather the waters unknown.

But trust me, love, I’ve travelled there too,

There’s no other pathway back home.

 

Leaving home,

Use my love as a beacon to keep you from harm,

Coming home,

There’s no map,

Just turbulent waters no landmarks in sight

Just a landscape that keeps stretching on.

 

Keep your eyes on the horizon line,

And know that you’re never alone,

The light will keep you safe, my love,

For love is the pathway back home,

Love is the way back home,

Love is the pathway home.

 


A New Hymn


A New Hymn



A New Hymn

It feels good to sing with others. Here’s a modern hymn for community singing.


When Bruce sent me this song, he had already titled it ‘A New Hymn’. I have kept that title because, well, that is what it is. Much like ‘Let Love and Grace Abide’ there is the well-digested intellect of numerous philosophers/theologians/thinkers behind it. But in the end, it is my own thought on how we might better stumble through the day.

This is one of the purposes of hymns, to instruct us and help us be more peaceful in our day-to-day lives.  

 We hear world peace spoken of either as a tired joke confined to would-be beauty contestants or as a lofty, yet clearly unattainable, utopian vision beyond the grasp of reality. But neither contempt nor fantasy have any place in the hard work of attaining peace.

Peace is sought firstly in our own hearts, and then, in the heart of the other as we go about our daily lives desiring it. The way of peace, is the way of desiring peace.

And thus it goes, between two hearts, and in all hearts.


Here we are and here we’ll stay,

Living side by side each day,

Struggling on, struggling true,

Doing what we have to do.

 

We may know day from night,

Though not always wrong from right,

But grace presides where ere we go,

And mercy like a river flows.

We may wander from the pathway,

We may wander from the truth,

But if we’re here, another day,

There’s one more chance to find our way.

 

You broke my heart and there it lay,

You

think I’d walk, but still I stay,

‘Cause broken hearts let in the light,

And lead us through darkest night.

 

We live best, when we live free,

When we’re afraid to be

The one whose lost, the one afraid,

The one who seems to be beyond all aid.

For it’s the humble that are strongest,

On the backs of the broken that we can dream,

So spread your wings, I’m safe and sound,

My feet are firmly on the ground.

 

We wake and there we are,

Hand in hand, we’ve come so far,

How much longer we can’t know,

I don’t want my fear to show.

But from my wonder in the morning,

And the love I hold for you,

Life is Sabbath all the time,

And you are forever mine,

Life is Sabbath all the time,

And you are forever mine.


We Are Stardust


We Are Stardust



We Are Stardust

How is it we continually forget our precious transient nature? It defines our existence. 


Our bodies are made up of the same elements as the stardust that was present some ten billion years ago in this universe we call home. Doubtless, we will continue to be amazed at the discovery of the cosmos’s endless possibilities stretching through time. And hopefully, we will come to hold it every more precious, as we do ourselves.

Bruce had the first two lines of this song, but nowhere to go with it. It sounded like a sad bar song. But there are already so many of those.  And as I was reading Thomas Berry and the boys that particular summer, I was drawn to connecting one man’s personal heartache with the vastness of the stars and the tentative tendrils that connect us all.

In a similar vein to ‘A New Hymn’, this song parallels the universe story with one person’s personal story, with all the inherent longings and unfulfilled yearnings that mark our desire to connect deeply with another.

It is worth remembering that we are stardust, that we are gold, that we are one another, that we are both temporal and eternal. It allows us to exist without having to know everything. Or as Rilke would have it, it encourages us to ‘live in the questions.’

Living in the questions allows us to love without the need for a guarantee of permanence. And when we let go of that need, then the ethereal secrets of love will unfurl.