Tuesday, November 25

Sunday, November 23

Bone Tired

I'd post something relevant, witty or profound but I'm bone tired.

Today, Sunday, the Sabbath, the day of rest went like this:

9:30 - 12:15 - performance at Hobson United Methodist Church
2:00 - 3:15 - performance at Bordeaux Long-Term Health Center
4:00 - 6:00 - working through the rough spots from the performances and preparing for the end-of-season concert

A schedule like that is pretty tough on the vocal cords. I'm glad to have a little down time over the Thanksgiving holiday.

At this moment, there is absolute silence at the retreat center and I'm glad. I don't want to speak, sing or even think.

Hoping you had a restful Sunday.


Singing: The Key To A Long Life

I believe in singing. I believe in singing together.

A few years ago a friend and I realized that we both loved singing but didn't do much of it. So we started a weekly a capella group with just four members. After a year we started inviting other people to join. We didn't insist on musical experience — in fact some of our members had never sung before. Now the group has ballooned to around 15 or 20 people.

I believe that singing is the key to long life, a good figure, a stable temperament, increased intelligence, new friends, super self-confidence, heightened sexual attractiveness and a better sense of humor. A recent long-term study conducted in Scandinavia sought to discover which activities related to a healthy and happy later life. Three stood out: camping, dancing and singing.

Well, there are physiological benefits, obviously: You use your lungs in a way that you probably don't for the rest of your day, breathing deeply and openly. And there are psychological benefits, too: Singing aloud leaves you with a sense of levity and contentedness. And then there are what I would call "civilizational benefits." When you sing with a group of people, you learn how to subsume yourself into a group consciousness because a capella singing is all about the immersion of the self into the community. That's one of the great feelings — to stop being me for a little while and to become us. That way lies empathy, the great social virtue.

Well here's what we do in an evening: We get some drinks, some snacks, some sheets of lyrics and a strict starting time. We warm up a bit first.

The critical thing turns out to be the choice of songs. The songs that seem to work best are those based around the basic chords of blues and rock and country music. You want songs that are word-rich, but also vowel-rich because it's on the long vowels sounds of a song such as "Bring It On Home To Me" ("You know I'll alwaaaaays be your slaaaaave"), that's where your harmonies really express themselves. And when you get a lot of people singing harmony on a long note like that, it's beautiful.

But singing isn't only about harmonizing pitch like that. It has two other dimensions. The first one is rhythm. It's thrilling when you get the rhythm of something right and you all do a complicated rhythm together: "Oh, when them cotton balls get a-rotten, you can't pick very much cotton." So when 16 or 20 people get that dead right together at a fast tempo that's very impressive. But the other thing that you have to harmonize besides pitch and rhythm is tone. To be able to hit exactly the same vowel sound at a number of different pitches seems unsurprising in concept, but is beautiful when it happens.

So I believe in singing to such an extent that if I were asked to redesign the British educational system, I would start by insisting that group singing become a central part of the daily routine. I believe it builds character and, more than anything else, encourages a taste for co-operation with others. This seems to be about the most important thing a school could do for you.

by: Brian Eno

This essay was broadcast on NPR's "This I Believe" series. Jump onto their website here if you'd like to read more.

Tuesday, November 18

Dandelion III

i dared cast my gaze
toward the sun
an eclipse
the lowly dandelion

who pushed its way through
grit and gravel
to birth a single flower

its brilliance burned
bands of light
on my retina

now a golden orb floats
in the dark pool
of my mind’s eye

a constant source of light
when the gray pall of winter

Monday, November 17

Dandelion II

Fatigue [its own form of gravity]
will keep you low
to the ground
seeking food, shelter,
a place to pause

a wisp of an orange butterfly
drifts into a puddle of sun
the edge of its wings tattered
as if beaten atop dry grasses
or the jagged winds of an endless journey

it lingers in mid-air
then collapses on the blossom,
delicate black feet part compact petals
urgent as an infant
it suckles nectar from the heart

the waning scent of summer
drifts on the air
fanned by tattered wings
slowly rising and falling
to the pulse of another season

Sunday, November 16


in the middle of a dull gravel road
where no tires tread
a lone dandelion breaches
the hard-packed surface
and grows in a puddle of sun

its leaves are not free to unfurl
like its kin in the meadow
but held in the grit of contraction,
birthing its one golden eye

a beacon
should it survive
for the passerby to pause,
crouch low and gaze upon the face
of a humble flower

who owes no apology to the rose
or the orchid for that matter
for its lowly residence
or eagerness to invite itself
into the landscape

its saffron mane of summer
signals plentiful nectar
to buzzersby and butterflies
and in the fall, transforms to silken
gossamer globes

awaiting the stir of a gentle breeze
or the pursed lips of children
to blow their seeds in ever-widening arcs,
landing where they may
emerging in spring among kin in the meadow
or alone on a dull gravel road

Tuesday, November 11

Nashville in Harmony Ends Season on a High Note

Nashville in Harmony uses music to build community and create social change. What does that mean? Yes, it means we are a group of singers who make quality music (it IS Nashville where there's a great singer on every corner) but what you have here is a group of intentional

men and women
and their Allies

who stand shoulder-to-shoulder singing in one voice the message that we are all God's children and equal in every way. You see, when we stand together as one there are no labels, only harmony.

It's been an exciting season for us and it's about to get even more exciting. On December 12th & 13th, we'll be performing our holiday concert and recording a live holiday CD. If you're going to be in Nashville on either of those dates, you won't want to miss this. Here's where you can purchase tickets:

News Flash:
Nashville in Harmony is submitting an application to perform at the Presidential Inauguration in January. If any of you in the blogosphere have some pull (and I know you're out there!) put in a good word for us!

Change is not only on our lips, but in our hearts and minds. Nashville in Harmony is modeling effective, lasting change in one of the most conservative states in the nation. I'm so very proud to be a part of this group.

Friday, November 7


I perused the shelves of the Cheatham County Library today. They have more books on NASCAR than they do poetry.

Something must be done.

Spotlight On Fall

Even the smallest of saplings takes center stage with its multi-hued costume.

Monday, November 3

Quiet Solitude

The surface of the lake captures what the eye sees,
what the lense cannot.
A Sunday morning walk with Mocha.
Each footstep drawing me closer to a place of quiet solitude.

Autumnal Awe

The Dogwood tree, their leathery-white blooms in spring create the illusion of stratus clouds floating in the understory of the forest. I doubly adore them for the brilliant red berries they produce in the fall. From a distance, berries are shielded by the curvature of the leaves. If you stop and look up, the explosion of color against a clear blue sky is manna.

Saturday, November 1


twine connects then and now
mental dental floss
playing tug-o-war with the psyche
a little cat-and-mouse
with consciousness

twine, whose strands are twisted rays of light
pierce the fog of perception

rays of light diffused
by confusion and fear
eventually return
to a linear state of clarity
connecting then and now

into a taught line of truth
each end waiting
to be undone