Joy’s Song

by j on February 12, 2014 · 0 comments

in my music and performances

Let me tell you about a song I just wrote for someone I appreciate and admire. It’s a Valentines Day song.

A few years ago I ran a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to make my second album, FOK DUB. For $100 you got a custom song. Here, finally, I am delivering a song to Joy Haynes, a fantastic artist in her own right, that I know from high school. (Check out this wonderful documentary she produced about a psychiatric hospital in DC.)

custom song for $100She wanted a country song with the chorus: “I’d rather be doing nothing with you than something with someone else.” So I asked her for a list of things she likes to do and here’s what she gave me:

  • play games (boggle, scrabble, cards)
  • drink wine
  • travel
  • eat out
  • act junky (that means watching tv on the couch in my pajamas snuggled under a blanket)
  • go on long walks
  • sleep nine hours a night
  • listen to NPR
  • listen to country music
  • go to any live event (sports, music, theater)
  • read
  • drive with the windows down and the heat on
  • tailgate
  • have intense, life inspiring conversations
  • guffaw
  • go to photo exhibits
  • concoct conspiracy theories
  • keep my feet on the ground and my head in the clouds
  • never run out of things (toothpaste, milk, whatever)
  • did I mention drinking wine!?!? :-)

What a great list! I put it all into a song, we went back and forth about the ending a bit and viola! Here it is on Soundcloud:

I’d Rather Be Doing Nothing With You (Than Something With Someone Else)

I like to play scrabble on a Saturday night
Go to a game, stop for a bite
Or we could go to a show at this theater I know
I like play cards and I like to drink wine
Put em together with you it’s divine
Let’s take a long walk, sit on the dock
We’ll talk and not talk, then talk and not talk
Cause I’d rather be doin nothin with you than
Something with someone else

I like to cruise around with the windows all down
Feelin the beat with the heat on my feet
There’s always some toothpaste at my place my friend
Intense conversations, inspiration to lend
When you’re not around NPR is my friend
When I’m sick of the news it’s country music again
Or sitting on the couch watching TV
Actin junky in my PJs is OK by me
But I’d rather be doin nothin with you than
Something with someone else

Wander with me to the new gallery
Look at the walls and tell me what you see
Feet on the ground and our head in the clouds
Guffawing along a little too loud
I got my sweet nine of sleep last night
So I’m ready to go, lets find a good show
Conspiracy theories we’ll make up a few
As long as I am doin nothin with you
I’d rather we just threw a party for two
Than rendezvous with somebody else
Let’s me and you, no switcheroo
Yes I’d rather be doing nothing but you
Than anything with anyone else

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Use The Tools To Fight The Resistance, Do The Work To Give Great Art

the-tools-bookcover

I recently listened to The Tools and was amazed at its brilliance. I loved this book. It immediately awakened a powerful affinity for its sense of possibility and inner strength, spirituality and courage. It also stoked my growing desire to become a therapist. Unlike therapy (and most self-help books) the tools are meant to be truly practical, immediate relief for people with specific problems who need something to work today, now.

In many ways it feels like the culmination of a string of self-help actionable books I’ve read over the past few years, an awakening that kicked-off with Linchpin, found a full-blown creative, spiritual worldview in The War of Art, and includes others like Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, The Advantage, Meditations, The Artist’s Way, The Six-figure Musician, The Four Agreements, Decisive, The Dip, The Icarus Deception, Poke The Box, The Power of Habit, Reality Is Broken, Incognito, and Ignore Everybody.

The five tools it refers to are sort of Jungian self-help visualizations to help break through common emotions keeping us from being courageous and finding our purpose: fear, anxiety, anger, insecurity. Practice connecting yourself to The Grateful Flow, for instance, by getting in the habit of enumerating things you’re grateful for, and get out from under the black cloud of worry or negativity. Or avoid the maze of the past by connecting to the Outflow of Love and neutralize those that invade your thoughts.

the-tools-diagrams

Barry Michels and Phil Stutz

The tools, it turns out, were invented by Phil Stutz (in the tan jacket), a New Yorker psychiatrist who amazed and taught Barry Michels (in the gray shirt), a skeptic lawyer turned psychologist, these methods before they became partners and SoCal therapists to the stars. Stutz is the prophet and Michels is the disciple and evangelist. Stutz’s tough-guy delivery makes it cool and authentic, despite the originality and audacity of his spiritual imagination. Both tell their own conversion stories and present the whole thing like a psychotherapy revolution and new-age religion.

The first thing that amazed me is that Phil identified and filled (pun-intended) a conspicuous weakness in the therapist’s abilities: to give patients specific, practical, immediate relief to overwhelming problems in the form of visualization homework. Don’t rely on months or years of talk-therapy, start practicing the tools and feel stronger.

The second thing that amazed me is how empirically spiritual Stutz’s worldview is. You don’t have to believe in the invisible mechanisms he posits, just try the tools and feel the effects. But there are spiritual laws and forces at work and soon you will feel and use the force and see these archetypal dynamics as the key to your inner greatness, succeeding by imitating and becoming one with them.

The emphasis on higher forces will undoubtably be a stumbling block for those not predisposed to some sort of faith. Michels takes us through his trouble believing and is ultimately convinced by a miracle of coincidence. As with the 12-step model, the emphasis is on what works. Higher forces can be thought of as the collective unconscious or the spiritual world, and is referred to as the source, the universe… mystery. This is just the type of undogmatic approach that awakens my sympathetic sense of the spiritual world.

After the first part explains the five tools, the focus telescopes out from personal psychotherapy to societal spirituality. Here we see the tools as part of the new religion, which are personal, practical amalgams of any tradition or system. Modern sinners are consumers and addicts and modern saints are creators and risk-takers.

Their conclusion rang true as they apply their worldview to society at large: we are a culture of consumers who need to become creators.  This is a familiar message, both because I hear versions of it all over and because it’s something I say to myself frequently. The Tools takes it a step further to say that only through the example of individuals accessing higher forces will our ultra-individualistic society find the hope to face our shared challenges.

The book’s structure and spiritual system closely paralleled Stephen Pressfield’s credo in The War of Art. Pressfield also spends the first part talking about the practical battles the artist must wage within, daily, then switches to a holistic, religious worldview that explains the greater spiritual reality. See Sunni Brown’s visual summaries of The War of Art below, click to enlarge and see part 1&2.

The-War-of-Art_Pressfield1

Seth Godin, since Linchpin, often echoes Pressfield’s central demon, The Resistance. Resistance comes up in The Tools too, as a similar sort of spiritual workout opportunity. For the unfocussed individual The Resistance is a self-sabotaging demon, for the spiritual warrior The Resistance is like weights at the gym. Only through adversity can we build inner strength.  Only by battling the resistance head-on can we do our best work.

Linchpin manifesto

The philosophies in these three books – Linchpin, The War of Art, and The Tools — speak to my my highest ambitions with a common language about how to be a courageous artist, doing the work, giving gifts of great art, and inspiring others to be brave. They also give a system to my spirituality, already reawakened by the recovery method’s emphasis on higher powers, called higher forces by Stutz and Michels.

I believe in the artist’s ability to channel higher forces and now I’ve got a good framework for doing the work. I highly recommend these three books to all the artists out there, even if you don’t think of yourself as one, yet.

Related Resources

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This song is the realization of several visions I’ve been trying to bring together: It’s a mantra. It’s reggae, it’s dub. It’s got a killer horn section. And it achieves a sort of introspective spirituality I’ve begun chasing a lot lately.

It’s the second song I’ve posted with horns arranged by local legend Mark “Speedy” Gonzales, and by far the most far out song from this session as you’ll hear in the second half when the horns take turns playing through a delay pedal that I was operating. This song shares  the same long, repetitive structure as Lub Dub. I didn’t realize until we were recording it that it is a sort of continuation of that instrumental, this time with meditative lyrics.

I’m not gonna to try to change anyone but myself
I’m not gonna to try to change you, I’m through
I’m not gonna to try to change anyone but myself
I’m gonna try, I’m gonna choose my truths

believed em when they told me i could do, anything i choose, i put my mind to
now it sounds cruel and funny as i’m runin out of time and money
so much less in within our control than I knew in my youth, but now i know the truth
we don’t choose what we believe for a long long time, but when we do it’s divine
I’m not gonna to try to change anyone but myself…

we’re all in way over our heads, taking our meds until we’re dead
thought that there was something i could say but it doesn’t work that way, so i’ll save the cliches
i could waste my time trying to change your mind, by why? it’s written in the sky
no one wants to hear what you think they should do, we just want someone who’s true

I’m not gonna to try to change anyone but myself…

so, i go out and i sit in the sun, close my eyes, turn my hands up the sky
i sit real still for a while, breath real slow, forget everything i know
i see the world as it will be, without me and my misery
unconsciousness connects me to everything else and for a second i get let go of myself

I’m not gonna to try to change anyone but myself…


Jason Molin – vocals and guitar
Gray Parsons – drums
Doug Snyder – bass
Mark Gonzalez – trombone
Dan Bechdolt – sax
Kevin Flatt – trumpet

IMAG2349 horns2

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Paige Fest 2013

by j on January 28, 2014 · 0 comments

in my music and performances

I had a great time playing at Paige Fest 2013 and am looking forward to playing it again this May. Mike just posted this video slideshow of pics that starts off with my version of Un Momento Perfecto – recorded on stage last year – as the soundtrack.

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Here is Gray Parsons (on piano) and I (on guitar and vocals), practicing for Lacie’s House Concert. Recorded on my phone (on Gray’s piano). Thanks to Kermit the Frog and the Muppets for this classic.

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