Music and me

So here it is, a possible preface to the book I’m thinking of writing:

There are those who imagine “magical” places like they are scenes from the “happily ever after” part of a fairy tale: in a strange twist, they believe the hereafter, the great beyond, and the future tense of once upon a time to be like the world initially encountered by the young Siddhartha Buddha, one without care, disease, want or sorrow. But the truth is these places are just like right here, with their absence from our immediate view the only advantage given their fabulous and dazzling marketing brochures.

Music is one of those magical places. People say music is a language, a conduit, a means for connecting. Those metaphors make it seem like another world, or at least a foreign country. Extending that metaphor, people don’t really talk too much about the place whose natives speak that language as their first tongue: there’s not a lot of information on its geography, customs, and government, nor its climate, flora or fauna, be they beneficial and friendly, or poisonous and otherwise harmful.

I’ve know a lot of people who have visited, including myself, but I don’t know if I’ve met anyone who actually “lives” there year-round or calls it their original homeland.

There is no authoritative guidebook or CIA fact book about this foreign place – although to some it may seem one is necessary. A lot of people THINK they understand musicians, sometimes, but at other times must be content to shrug their shoulders, shake their heads and walk away, puzzled and confused.

Think of this as the beginning, then, of a travelogue, a descriptive narrative of these travels to the land of music. Because music, especially singing, CAN transport you to another place, where your body, mind and spirit are entirely wrapped up in a universal current. The danger is that when you come back from that place, you cannot communicate what you found there, because it does require a different language, a non-language. And getting back there is hard. It is tempting, so tempting, to fake your passport to that land, or at least grease a few officials’ palms, by artificial means. But those artificial means only make you think everyone else understands you while you’re there. And then, at some point, the artificial means can betray you, leaving you standing at the border only able to look in, but not cross over.

10 SEP 2014

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Back to the Bassics

I recently acquired a Palatino VE-550 electric upright bass. Well, I’ve been playing it a bit every day since I got it (this past Tuesday) and although I have affirmed Brian Bromberg’s statement that electric and acoustic bass are almost two different instruments both requiring equal and separate attention to master, I find myself experiencing a lot of muscle, sense and touch memory. Bear in mind, I last seriously played acoustic bass about 29 years ago (circa 1983). Never actually owned one back then, just borrowed them from elementary, junior and senior high school orchestra programs – and played pretty consistently from age 11-18. In fact, the only reason I switched to electric bass in the first place was that Dennis Mack at Kenton High School? (who recruited me when I was in 8th grade to play with the high school jazz band) decided I wasn’t loud enough on the upright, and put his electric Epiphone (it was like the Jack Casady model) in my hands.

Still played some orchestral stuff after that (even successfully auditioned for the Lima Area Youth Symphony, and played on Ohio Northern University Band Camp and West Torrance High School?’s recordings (Woody Herman’s Woodchoppers Ball and Wagner’s Elsa’s Processional from Lohengrin), but my primary focus was electric bass from that time forward. It was the electric bass that got me the Louis Armstrong Jazz Award, I reckon, and bass I ended up playing in bands (along with other things, of course). When I graduated from high school, I said goodbye to the loaned bass, and rarely looked back.

Always WANTED an upright, of course, but situations never arose making it possible. Besides, there were significant other things to acquire: multi-track recording equipment, amplifiers, digital pianos, twelve string guitars, etc.

Later, when I applied to Berklee, because I didn’t really have anything that featured virtuoso bass playing, I shot for a scholarship as a voice principal, and was accepted as such. However, after the first day of placement interviews and auditions with the voice department, I realized there were (at that time, anyway) serious limitations to being a Voice principal at a school where almost every waking moment was spent looking for a jam session. So I picked up my electric bass, strolled into the bass department and asked for an audition. They threw sight reading (charts, lead sheets and notation), ear training, improvisation and other stuff at me, which I breezed through. They were anxious to have me in the bass department (and imagine how thrilled they would have been if I’d been able to double on acoustic bass!). Unfortunately, after a wee bit of research, they and I realized that changing my principal instrument from voice to bass would cancel my current scholarship, and since the award period was closed for that year, there’s no way I would have received another scholarship (on bass). So in order to stay at Berklee, I stayed a Voice principal. Not a perfect fit for me, or for Berklee, in retrospect.

Fast forward 23 years. About a year ago I broke down and bought an electric fretless bass, and I’ve been having fun with that and been pretty successfully translating fretted to fretless. But as I said before, electric bass and acoustic bass (and here I am, with a new to me equivalent of an upright bass) are the same, but really quite different, instruments. Yes, I’m experiencing muscle and sense memory of playing; but some of that memory is remembering how I had to unlearn certain things from the acoustic in order to successfully play electric. One of the biggest things, for me, is the switch between using the fourth and third fingers (pinkie and ring fingers). Because of the difference in neck length, you use different fingers, and switch positions in different places. String bending is another thing that’s different. And to be honest, in the playing I was doing back in school, there wasn’t a lot of high register work; that’s something that I learned on electric via Ray Brown’s Bass Method for upright, ironically. Plus, the electric upright width and depth are so different from a standard acoustic bass that you have to modify the traditional stance and instrument angle, etc., to accommodate that difference. So it’s like a native English speaker who became fluent in French and now has to go back to thinking in English (or really, thinking in both languages simultaneously). And I haven’t even started thinking about revisiting bowing. LOL.

It’s slow going. You need callouses in different places on your fingers, the hand and arm angle are different, the tricks and shortcuts you learn on one instrument may or may not be applicable (or even possible) on the other. Every day it gets easier to span the gap, but not being able to transparently shift from one to the other, without the aid of mirrors, so to speak, is tough.

However, it’s good to know that this experience confirms one thing for certain: I am a bass player. It’s not just what I do. It’s who I am. And that reassurance is something in this day and age, I can tell you.

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I Miss Lester Bangs

Hell, I even miss Greil Marcus and Robert Christgau; and that’s saying something.

Whatever happened to credible music criticism? How is it that so many bands that sound so damned similar (and equally monotonous, repetitive, derivative and absolutely non-unique or memorable) are all apparently critical favorites, alternative darlings and award-winners? Other than a few fringe elements, no one out there dares suggest the emperor’s clothing is a bit transparent. Hell, in the old days, even the “gods” of music got shitty reviews. In fact, there used to be a balance of reviews In most “music” magazines: reviews that lauded some and derided others. Where has all the discouragement of asinine, simplistic, rushed, underdeveloped and/or just plain ill-advised and bad music gone? With the record companies (who used to at least serve as a filter ensuring that music released was at a certain level) slowly receding into the background, and radio likewise losing its editorial voice and power of selection, the selection of available music is so large that no one has the time to weed through each week’s hundreds of new releases to find out if any of it is any good – and certainly, relying on the number of downloads, views and/or shares is DEFINITELY not an indication of quality or even listenability, because those numbers are driven by hype, novelty, audacity and/or shock value first, and then only distantly biased by musicality.

I’ve subscribed to a number of music industry publications over the years (Rolling Stone, Billboard, Spin, Creem, Guitar Player, Bass Player, Keyboard, Fretboard and Paste, to name but a few), and over time I’ve seen the number of even nominally negative reviews shrink. I suppose with reduction of print pages combined with the massive increase in releases contributes to this phenomenon – there’s simply just not enough time or space to cover BOTH the good and the bad. But certainly, magazines pretending to be the arbiters of modern taste should be providing some sort of balance, guiding their ever-revolving audience of neophyte listeners (and honestly, who but an neophyte listener needs someone else to tell them what’s cool?) away from what just plain sucks, as well as toward that which they tout as miraculous and ground-breaking.

Of course, that idea presupposes that there is, among the tons of dreck out there that as I said above sounds disappointingly alike (and as I’ve posited elsewhere about the Billboard Top 100, owes much of its song structure, dynamics and general vibe to Gordon Sumner’s late 1970’s pop-reggae hit “So Lonely”) a small percentage of stuff that is really, absolutely great. Otherwise, ALL the reviews would be negative, and could in fact be very short: SUCKS AGAIN. SAME AS BEFORE. NOTHING NEW, REALLY. TRY AGAIN.

But then again, even as recent as the early 1990s, music reviewers at least pretended to be literary, to know the history of music into which their latest discovery fit, or at least the published biography of the artist releasing. As the quality of journalism overall has deteriorated far below any heretofore acceptable (or accepted) level of professionalism, it is only fair to expect that rock and roll journalism (a dangerously quasi-gonzo genre to begin with) should likewise suffer.

But really? To foist upon a trusting and needing to know public as honest, unbiased advice a set of reviews that instead of spurring improvement, blows sunshine?

Where is Lester Bangs, when you need him?

6 AUG 2014

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A Flattery More Sincere

What is the point of a tribute band? When I was young, a musician being inspired by a band led to one thing: wanting to form a band of your own, to do what your idols did. For example, I think it was Brian Eno who once quipped, “Only a couple dozen people actual heard the Velvet Underground when they first came out. But every one of those people started a band.” You hear it all the time in interviews with rock and roll legends: the first time they heard Chuck Berry, Elvis, the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, Jimi Hendrix, etc. they were inspired to pick up the guitar, bass or drums. They were NOT inspired to create a band that was a carbon copy of their inspirations – even if they started out by playing other people’s music (e.g., George Harrison got his slot in the Beatles by playing a mean version of “Twenty Flight Rock” by Eddie Cochran), the goal was not to mimic, imitate or impersonate someone else. It was to find their own sound, create their own music, become equals with their heroes. Somewhere along the line, however, things got out of whack. Of course, it doesn’t help that the record companies (or media conglomerates, as the case is today) are always out looking for the next big “something”. How many artists were groomed by labels hoping they had found the next big Bob Dylan (someone who could influence record sales, churn out tunes, create their own image)? Kris Kristofferson, John Prine, Steve Forbert, Gordon Lightfoot, James Taylor, Jakob Dylan. The next Beatles? The Byrds, Hollies, Left Banke, Badfinger, Move, ELO, 10CC, Cheap Trick, The Knack, hell bands have even been manufactured to cash in – and don’t think it started with Destiny’s Child or American Idol.

Yes, there is a learning curve wherein, particularly if you’ve got no outside musical training but simply picked up an instrument after hearing a band, you mimic and imitate to get the notes under your fingers, the feel for a riff, the rhythm of a groove. But at some point, if you REALLY want to (or feel you must) use music as a vehicle of expression, of expressing who you are, you’ve got to remove the training wheels. At some point, it doesn’t matter whether or not you can play the solo from Stairway to Heaven note for note, right?

When did impersonation become tribute? They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but I’m not so sure. I think the Presley estate had similar doubts when it started suing Elvis impersonators, perhaps triggering the migration from impersonators to tribute artists in a attempt to avoid litigation from entities with significantly deeper pockets. But why bother? In the case of Elvis, I think that those running the King’s extremely lucrative post-mortem legacy wanted to emphasize their belief that the King was one of a kind, unable to be duplicated or even reasonably facsimiled. The ability to do an impersonation or impression introduces the idea that one’s mannerisms, delivery, etc., can be mimicked. Bad news for the unique legend business, I guess. My own case (because I was in fact involved in the Elvis business for a while, singing and speaking for Elvis weddings in Memphis for a couple of years, and in fact doing an Elvis-themed show at the world-famous Antenna Club in Memphis during Death Week 1994), is a little different. I never considered myself an impersonator or tribute artist – at least on a professional level, like some people I knew, like El Vez (or a couple of those guys from Honeymoon in Vegas). But I never wanted people to believe I was Elvis; and I never was really impersonating Elvis, either. I did Elvis songs like Elvis did them, and other songs like I thought Elvis might have interpreted them, from a slightly different perspective. I learned how to sing from Elvis records; at nine years old, I was absorbing his phrasing, tone, delivery, style (which of course, he borrowed in bits and pieces from a lot of others too). I could and still can sing a song with Elvis’ inflection, vowel shape and attitude, because that’s how I learned to sing those songs. I can’t really imagine them being sung any other way. Of course, as I’ve matured as a singer and performer, I add my own thing to them. But the underlying foundation is there. Is it a “tribute” to Elvis? No more than when Paul McCartney sings a song like Little Richard, Elvis or Chuck Berry. In either case, there’s something of yourself there, beyond a mere cookie cutter note-for-note copy of the original. If there isn’t, what’s the point?

Beyond the trials, tribulations and other assorted angst, trauma and self-flagellation involved in rock and roll (and tribute bands as well as finding your own “true” voice), pretty loosely described in the Mark Wahlberg vehicle “Rock Star”, tribute artists are like virtual reality. Sure, you can pretend you’re actually there, seeing your favorite (or your parent’s favorite) band in person (e.g., the Stones, the Beatles, Journey, ZZ Top, the Eagles). But you’re not. You haven’t seen them, and when you compare your experience to someone who actually HAS seen these bands, it’s a little insulting not to mention ignorant. Especially when the irony is so thick you can actually see it in the stage lights – like when a bunch of Americans put on fake English accents to sound like an English band who were trying to sound like American bluesmen in the first place – that’s what a Rolling Stones tribute band usually gets you.

Honestly, who wants to become the best copy in the world of someone else? Who really wants to become the world’s greatest cover band? You’re not really paying tribute to the artists you’re covering. You’re pandering to a crowd that wants an alternate reality – that wasn’t cool enough, old enough, in the right place, able to afford or for whatever reason unable to participate in an experience with an original artist. But you know what the funny thing is? If you were playing original music, doing your thing, presenting your interpretations and artistic achievement, they WOULD be participating in that original experience. And in that moment, you and they would be here and now, truly alive, and not tied to some sentimental, nostalgic bullshit about how today’s music sucks, how they don’t make ‘em like they used to. Because that’s what being cool is, really. It’s not about thinking you’re cool, or wondering who is and who isn’t, or measuring yourself against some imaginary and definitely illusory and transient standard of hip. It’s about making where you are important because you are there, and because it is right now – as if you could be anywhere else.

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Amerigeddon

There is no need to stop the clocks,
nor try to dim the constant noise;
let those who listen, soldier on,
despite the sonic din’s abuse.

There are no hidden codes to find,
nor secret doors along the wall;
let those who look, persist in vain
while their illusions peel and rust.

There is no gathering of tribes,
nor universal dream to come;
let those who would awake, sleep on.
The morning will come soon enough.

There is no right, there is no wrong,
nor side that always ends face up;
let those who would place bets dream on,
beyond the realm of win or lose.

There is no stirring battle cry,
nor mourning wail to soothe the dead;
let those who sing learn different tunes
in some more pleasing universe.

04 AUG 2014

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Somnambulism in the Rain

Conducting one’s life outside the immediacy of meatspace is ALMOST as exhausting as if one had to actually physically travel to conduct conversations with one’s geographically far-flung “friends” in the flesh. I’m so tired of the forced interaction and the need to constantly be entertaining, provocative or at the very least annoying – but once you remove sensation, disruption, shock and awe and the whole Sturm und Drang from virtual reality, all you have left is ennui, disconnection, general malaise and overall pathetic disinterest (both incoming and outgoing). They say, or at least they used to, that to be “interesting” you need to be “interested”. Well, I just can’t dredge up that kind of enthusiasm when I know that the minute I myself border on the every day, average and non-controversial, all those “listeners” out there in that land will with a quick carpel-tunnel click be on to the next car crash, celebrity rehab, political faux pas, Freudian slip or meme misquote. Honestly? Is maintaining a daily conversation with the world necessary or even possible? How urgent do our lives need to be? How important ARE we, anyway?

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A Drop in the Bucket

His Holiness came
to visit the Big Easy:
a mixed race culture.

He spoke to thousands:
they lined up for hours to hear
his message of peace.

His smiling face shone
on all those who assembled;
what great energy!

Practice compassion,
be kind and giving to all:
we are all the same.

After it was done,
the throng of rich, white faces
sought the French Quarter.

While poor, black people
(still the large part of New Orleans)
went about their day.

Five hundred thousand:
the dollars raised for this trip.
That’s a chunk of change.

20 MAY 2013

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Don’t Touch That Dial

This morning I was a guest on the KZBL “Jamming with Johnny” talking about the Tricentennial CD and my song on it.

I realized that the only other time I’ve been on the radio was about 30 years ago back in Los Angeles, when RJ, Dave and I dropped in at KXLU and talked about our new Faith Assembly demo. It also made me think about the three different times I auditioned for the Columbia School of Broadcasting (in L.A., Boston and Memphis) where they were eager to have me (all three times) but the costs were just prohibitive. Interesting to think how that life might have worked out. One of my father’s favorite one liners was “You know, you’ve got a face for radio.” That and the ability to approximate a flat American accent (think Iowa or Nebraska) and you might have a great career in broadcasting. But life had other plans.

I still think about trying to volunteer DJ from time to time, but my kind of playlist would probably put me on the alternative format in the 2:00-5:00 am slot. Think about it: King Crimson followed by Hank Williams (or Hank Snow or Noel Boggs) followed by Ornette Coleman. You’d have to have your ears wide open to take that set in.

Radio’s always been what music has become over the years: a field of specialization. Like medicine, the general practitioner often takes a back seat (due to decreasing number, perhaps) to the ear, nose and throat man, the urologist. Music, and by extension the media that broadcasts it, has become so compartmentalized into specific narrow genres that allow only minor variations among their content. There’s no cross pollenating, no real meeting of the minds or hands across the table between what should be just different conversations in the same universal language. Yes, there the occasional celebrity, novelty match up duets (usually an attempt to make one or more of the duet partners more current and relevant), but for the most part, behind the scenes, at least the musicians tend to work in their own small corrals. In some ways, of course, that’s become necessary. The big studio systems (except perhaps for Nashville) started dying out in the 70s. There’s not really a Motown, Muscle Shoals, Wrecking Crew or Stax sound or scene anymore. And each genre has become a little more demanding, I think. There are specific grooves, tricks, patterns and tendencies you need to know, and know expertly, to be accepted in a specific sub-sub-genre. As a result, most musicians who make any kind of real money are often forced to specialize, to develop a kind of tunnel vision that excludes any influence from outside that narrow world.

It’s like that phenomenon “not invented here” that prevents one industry from adopting a useful and effective practice from another industry – not because it won’t work or can’t be adapted, but because unless “we” thought of it, it lacks credibility. We’re unique, and special. You can’t possibly know our needs.

Seems like the only place where inter-species mixing happens these days is in bar bands – like the one I’m in, who won’t say no to a request, especially if it’s submitted on a 20 dollar bill. Hell, we’ve even got a cd called “$20 Tips”. It’s almost like I’m living the dream my mother envisioned (a steady regular studio gig playing whatever they threw at me). Of course, it’s my part-time gig, but what did Oscar Wilde say? “A poet is a writer with a day job.”

That’s sad. Because the best music (IMHO) represents an amalgamation of styles and influences that are gathered together in perhaps totally unexpected ways to produce something entirely new. Like jazz, for example. Or hip-hop. Like mbuki-mvuki (a Swahili word that refers to shucking off your clothes and dancing in wild abandon to music playing), which through its transmutation through boogie-woogie became the butterfly we now call rock and roll.

The future of music is NOT about increasing specialization, with only token incorporation of hip, happening trends lifted from other musical traditions. If that continues, I fear that music (and following its lead, the remaining performance and creative arts) will inevitably slouch toward an insular, narrow cultural signficance and even more sadly, an increased sense of parody and caricature.

If music is indeed to remain the universal language, we’ve got to ensure that we as musicians (who are, based on my experience, the largest group of music listeners) keep our blinders off, our ears open and our hearts willing. Because to a large degree, culture is passed from generation to generation by its music. Its songs. Let’s not drop the ball – or at least, try to grab it before it goes completely out of bounds.

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The Cruelty of Saint Valentine

St. Valentine, they say, was lost in love;
and on his heart’s desire was so affixed
that nothing here on earth or found above
could heal him from sly Cupid’s arrow prick.

St. Valentine, it seems, so loved himself
that selfishly he jumped in a canal
to punish she who put him on a shelf
and would forever be blamed for it all.

St. Valentine, such love is hardly true;
what good is love if it requires reward
or would avoid the perils that come due:
the fires of Hell, friends’ ridicule, the sword?

St. Valentine, I will not mourn your death,
nor worship your vain sacrificial leap;
I’d rather, with my fleeting, final breath
invest in something not so pale and cheap.

St. Valentine, my love inspires my life.
Unlike you, who would worship from the grave,
I sought a partner first, and then a wife,
to stand with and in unity be brave.

St. Valentine, retreat back to your tomb!
Your presence here is sickening to see,
inspiring only sad, insipid souls
who would by sheer luck find love’s secret key.

St. Valentine, would that you never lived
and by so doing, spoiled love for all time.
Your crime is one I just cannot forgive.
Your love is cruel, not merely more sublime.

14 Feb 2014

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Keith Jarrett and the Abstract Truth

Keith Jarrett once said that the more you know about the piano, about harmony, the harder it is to decide which note to play next. Because you’ve moved from thinking of seven possible notes (the ones right under your fingers, in the diatonic scale) into a world of chromatics, modes, extended chords and passing tones, you have a lot more choices in your palette.

Sometimes, it feels like this axiom applies to information. We have much data available, not just names, dates and places of historical or “newsworthy” events, but thanks to social media, we are exposed to a lot more information about a lot of people (only some of whom historically we would have called friends, the rest mere acquaintances, relatives, coworkers, and perfect strangers). It seems like we have more data with which to plan, justify and/or execute our next moves. But while browsing online may be an education of sorts, it’s not the kind of skill set expansion Jarrett is talking about.

First off, it’s unfocused. The breadth of available topics makes pointed study impractical. To take in all the news alone, compiled from dozens of sources worldwide, dictates a mere skim of the details, a sound byte or video clip’s worth to give us enough to form a quick opinion and reshape it into a 140-character tweet. Most of us aren’t actually delving deeper, doing the additional research and investing the time to appreciate the underlying issues.

Secondly, there is so much out there that either accidentally or blatantly isn’t accurate. Misquotations, news leads based on the popularity of someone (usually any random celebrity someone, but just as likely someone who by freak luck went viral), automatic knee jerk repostings, and hundreds of varying and often contradictory opinions (too often presumed as informed, educated and/or expert opinion without the benefit of credentials or evidence of wisdom).

Third, an education like Jarrett’s is based on an objective pedagogy. A thirteenth chord is a specific thing. Likewise, a Dorian mode is just that and nothing else. In other words, regardless of what you think or feel, although your choices may be subjective, the lessons are not. With information, however, particularly the data we obtain through social media, we tend to see first that which agrees with our worldview, second that which our friends believe or repeat, and only third that originated from our “enemies”, opposites or outside our comfort zones. That’s true of all information, I suppose, from the beginning of time. But the sheer volume of today’s “big data” means that many of us never get past the first set, never seeing the counterpoint, rebuttal, refutation or otherwise completely contrary information so essential to critical thinking, conscious decision making or evolution.

Finally, and not least importantly: not everyone has wherewithal to become truly educated. In fact, few people are educated about their world the way Keith Jarrett knows the piano and music. Becoming good at something, truly acquiring a skill or knowledge base, takes a lot of work. Most people would rather listen to music than do the work required to play it at least well. To reach Jarrett’s level requires a level of effort beyond most people’s comprehension.

Let’s face it. Most people are inherently lazy, at least when it comes to enlightenment (and truthfully, isn’t the purpose of education to lighten our load, our hearts, to see beyond the endless drudgery that can be daily living – or “making a living” – to something meaningful, joyous and in a suitable context for the pursuit of happiness?). Surfing, browsing, “liking” is easy. For most, there’s no need to do the research to validate or verify an opinion. There’s no time, after all, and what’s the point? It’s only idle conversation anyway, not an “approved” or traditional way of learning. If it were, perhaps it would be a lot less popular. After all, the modern trend is to disguise something nutritious as something fun (if your kids knew they were eating vegetables, they would be disgusted). In other words, eschew anything that even LOOKS hard. It’s so much more convenient just to parrot the party, church, national, racial or otherwise acceptable line. Like the Sufi story, in the end, everyone drinks the new water and there is peace. Well, homogeneity, at least. No one’s rocking the boat, judging the emperor’s wardrobe, or questioning the status quo. It’s like a warm bath. You can safely and quietly drift off to sleep.

But someone has to man the helm, right? If not you, then who? In this quagmire of essential diversity, freedom of speech, free enterprise, and information overload, if you can’t verify and validate for yourself, you’ve lost the foundation of liberty, of evolution, of actual personal growth.

When I was a kid in the 70s, there was a lot of focus on self-realization – figuring out what you were, what that was worth, and how to go about getting it. Yes, a lot of it was about material things. But it was personal effort, personal responsibility for your life’s outcome, personal solutions to personal issues. How else can a nation or world consider itself free, except as reflected in the achievement, responsibility, independence (and acknowledged interdependence) of its individuals? And being an individual has, and always will, required individual effort. Regardless of the amount of information available. Because Keith Jarrett didn’t learn how to play the piano using someone else’s hands or letting someone practice for him.

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words and music by john litzenberg