WALT WILKINS – “PLENTY”

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In 1977, Jackson Browne pleaded with himself, his culture and anyone else that would listen that we have enough. That we have love, and the lyrics of “The Pretender” are the echos of our souls groaning for truth and peace !

I’m going to be a happy idiot – And struggle for the legal tender

Where the ads take aim and lay their claim – To the heart and the soul of the spender

And believe in whatever may lie – In those things that money can buy

Though true love could have been a contender

Are you there? Say a prayer for the pretender

Who started out so young and strong…Only to surrender

So here it is 2012 and I’ve been listening to Walt Wilkins’ new solo record “Plenty”, and the same echos are there. The same yearnings to hold onto contentment, and let love do its thing. Let love be what fills our hearts and souls, not the desire for more and more and more, and wonder again and again and again why it isn’t ever enough. It was never intended to be. It’d be like pouring sweet tea into a ragtop Caddy and then wonder why your not cruisin’ down the highway !! Love is what makes us humans thrive, not the eternal chase for the legal tender.

This is familiar territory for Wilkins. An artist that I perceive as being more interested in the threads of life that the finished garment. A person that is fully aware that the tension between heart and mind, soul and shell, will always linger to challenge us. One way makes us feel accepted and the can nourish our souls if we trust in it. In “Just Be” he reminds us that we can slow down and just let all the nonsense pass right on by. Why fight it?, why struggle?, we don’t have to engage it…we can “just be”

I’m gonna sit right here- under this tree

sit right here under this tree and be, just be

stay in the shade for a while

in the shade for a while

and if trouble comes to find me

I’ll just lay back and smile

I would say Walt Wilkins is a son of Texas and not that that’s not true, but I see him more as a child of Texas. He holds the wonder of his home state with the awe as if seeing it for the first time. In “A Farm To Market Romance”, he laments “These are the fields and the hills that I love and if I ever leave it will be just for heaven above”.

Take yourself to that place, where peace abounds, where worry doesn’t live. Open your eyes to the beauty that surrounds you, to the love that is in a strangers smile, or hell, just slow down long enough to really, really realize just how good that enchilada you are eating with a cold Victoria beer is !!!!!

Things may not be perfect for us, but perfect really doesn’t exist, unless you let life unfold on its own. I’m gonna let “perfect” slip on by and pitch my camp under the sky of “plenty”.

I hope these thoughts have resonated in some way with you. I send these words out as if standing in front of a mirror. I am at the front of the line needing to live these thoughts. I thank you for allowing me to share. Find “Plenty” at itunes. I promise Wilkins’ music will be an investment into the ever flowing peace of your soul !!

Let me know what you think or better yet, go check out Walt Wilkins live and let him know !!!

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Acummulation or Appreciation

The year is 1980, I am living with my Grandparents on “M” st in Pensacola. Anyone that has ever lived with their Grandparents at 20 years old certainly understands the need for privacy. The front room was mine and my records were my best and closest friends. I spent so many late night hours listening and re listening to my favorite records of the time. I knew them inside and out, every song and every yell from the crowd on a “live” record. At the time I was working in a record store called the “Record Bar”. It was the musical education of a lifetime. My late nights took me through the likes of  Michael Franks, Bob Marley, Miles Davis, Willie Nelson and Tom Petty ! I played those records over and over. But the point is that I was sitting still when I was listening. Listening is what I was doing, not something else with music in the background. Big difference.

My friendd Walt Wlikins told me one time he and his wife would lay on their bed late at night, lights out and listened to Jackson Browne records. Just being in the moment.

Last night my wife and I sat on our couch for 2 hours, lights off and candles on, listening to our music. We didn’t hop up to change a song and we didn’t talk much. We listened. Every turn of the phrase, every beautiful bass inflection, every piano note. Perhaps music is meant to be listened to in the way we would watch a movie. The music is the entertainment, the focus, not something to have on when we are doing other things. Not that we can’t use it for that but the true and richest experience comes from the slow down, from the total immersion of yourself into each bar of music. Let it wash over you, it is wonderful.

It was one of the best nights we’ve had together in a long time. Just she and I, our music, mine and hers, memories, and the beauty of spending time together with an art form we love so much.

Maybe we have accumulated so much music and that added to our multi tasking lives really makes it harder to enjoy what we have. Last night we listened to twenty or thirty of our favorites out of the ten thousand songs on my ipod. but we listened quietly and found an even deeper connection with each other and the music we were sharing. For me the accumulation came at a price of appreciation, but the small movement of the scales last night was worth every drop. We can’t do this all the time but if and when you can with someone or by yourself I urge you to do so. It can be a very spiritual experience. Happy Listening !

The Seasons Change

It is becoming camp fire season here in the rolling hills of middle Tennessee. The intensity of the long summer has faded, temperatures slipping down and the humidity has gone. It is a beautiful time. I have spoke of fires before, but it is such a good thing it bares re telling and reminding those that don’t do it to take some time and give it a try.

Our world seems to spin faster everyday, and everyday I move a little bit slower, care a little bit less about the things the world can hold dear. Crop have been harvested, canning begun. In the Minnesota woods I’m sure the ricing is underway. Traditions abound with  sacredness ,  beauty  and thankfulness of simply being a part of it all.

In our little place on the earth, my wife readies our home with fall traditions of decorations. she exchanges the plastic tubs of summer clothes for sweaters, and long sleeve shirts. Even I break out the sock made for my flip flops or slaps was we call them, so I can continue wearing them.

Today I’ve had a campfire going all day long. It fills the air with memories of many a past campfire with friends. We have talked with our brothers and sisters through life’s questions, disappointments and joys. We’ve listened to great tribal drums and pow wow music; James Taylor and Jackson Browne have been the backdrop too, on many nights. Sitting around with the warm glow, stoking the fire, drinking a cold beer, being in communion with friends is a comforting time. Do yourself a favor and park yourself around a campfire soon. It will do your spirit good, I promise !!

Better Than the Sum

The other day was a stressful one at work. The kind of day that really makes you question what you are doing, especially when you are rolling down the backside of life. You know those kinds of days, right?, where you start entertaining the thought of the stress-less days of a Wal Mart greeter !!!

That day I’d driven my wife’s car that has been passed down from her father. It’s a 66 Mustang, mostly restored and runs really good. So I leave work, hop in the Mustang, with my three legged dog, Josey in the back. It’s a rare low humidity August day in Nashville, so I slide the windows down, turn on my ipod, and put ear buds in. The first song that came on was a live version of Jackson Browne’s “My Stunning Mystery Companion”. All of a sudden the stress of the day all slipped away. Cool evening breeze, and 289 engine that sounds more like a well oiled Harley, Josey smiling in the back, not much traffic and Jackson’s sad but reassuring voice telling me that it’s all gonna be just fine.

“what with all my expectations long abandoned, and a future I no longer saw my hand in / how I found you is beyond my understanding, my stunning mystery companion.

Ahh that voice, that sweet melody that is a true Jackson Browne signature….he continues

“what with all my expectations long abandoned, and my solitary nature not withstanding / You’re the one who pulled me out of that crash landing, my stunning mystery companion.

It was all these elements together, thinking of my wife who is my own stunning mystery companion. Thinking of my children, my life. With the breeze on my face and a smile of gratitude on my lips, I was born again and again in those moments. And while a car ride alone or even Jackson’s music as much as it holds a dear place in my life, or Josey in the back, can totally transform me, these single parts were shadowed by the sum feeling of what a wonderful world it can be. Thanks to my wife and family, my dogs, to Jackson, and to that sunny Nashville evening drive home…..

Here is a studio version of “My Stunning Mystery Companion”…..

 

 

Shine A Light: Bruce Springsteen

A favorite story of mine involving Bruce happened at Live Aid. The story went that Tom Petty was about to follow Springsteens set. Petty was in the wings with Jackson Browne, and the crowd was screaming and screaming BBBBRRRRUCE….Jackson told Petty, “don’t worry, they aren’t booing you, they are saying Bruce, to which Petty says dryly “what’s the difference”!

It’s really hard to explain to folks who weren’t there just how big Springsteen was in the early 80’s. When “Born in the USA” came out, it was beyond big. Of course the old “Boss” fans felt he was selling out and it was too commercial. Springsteen was just traveling on his own musical journey and to prove it, the next record was recorded at his kitchen table. The record “Nebraska” was dark, haunting, and yet beautiful. Stripped down and bare, real and raw.

Springsteen has done this many times, with hip LA records like …….and another stark story in the form of “The Ghost of Tom Joad”.

There is a long road of Springsteen music to choose from. Hard Jersey barroom, Pop rock, singer songwriter. He is the Boss. A True American, believer and searcher of truth. He has great things to share in his music. Give him a try.

Stuff

About 5 years ago I moved into a new house and it had more room than the previous one. One thing my wife and I noticed as we set up house was how good it felt to be able to move around with ease in closets and drawers and even the living space. We made a “deal” that to keep this freedom of space, we’d get rid of something every time we bought something new. Yeah right! “Can you move some of your junk so I can put my stuff down”, is a polite version of the old George Carlin bit on stuff.

It’s amazing isn’t it just how much stuff I can accumulate? It’s very subtle. A little more and a little more and pretty soon I’m stepping over things to get the thing I want. Most of my stuff is “wants” and not “needs” anyway. Stuff becomes clutter and clutter hides what I’m trying to see. In trying to defend himself against a Zen practice of only have three possessions, Jackson Browne asked “does  a guitar collection count as one possession”? I know how much I like to justify  when it comes to my stuff.

It’s the same thing in my personal journey. I carry way too much clutter. Too much stuff, too many views. Too many voices, too many worries! Trying to be everything all the time. I think somewhere all of that is connected to me not being able to trust enough. To just be quiet, let go, and trust that it’s all gonna be OK. To trust enough in simplicity. To trust enough in me. To trust enough in my Creator. I need some spiritual Feng Shui!

So I will continue on, adding then subtracting. Reshaping. Hopefully resurfacing with a better, cleaner, clearer, less cluttered me! Maybe then I can see the back of the closet as well as see God without all of the obstacles that bring confusion. Without all of the stuff.

Shine A Light: Bob Dylan

Well what can be said about Robert Zimmerman, north country boy who we later came to know as Bob Dylan? Probably not much, right? It’s all been said, sings with heart, can’t sing at all. Voice of a generation to “I just don’t get it”. I think Dylan is a poet, a great writer and interpreter of what and how he sees the world. For the record, he didn’t want to be called “The voice of a generation” or “the voice of anything”. He just wanted to be able to write and perform his music in the way he wanted at whatever time.

One thing that did amaze me was that Dylan didn’t start writing his own stuff until well after he arrived in New York City. He came as a folk singer, singing the traditional folk songs he knew. I thought he would have been the kind of guy writing amazing poetry as a child. But no, that wasn’t the case at all. All the stars were lining up. The turbulence of the 60’s, post beatniks and Kerouac devotees, social and racial injustice, Vietnam, Kennedy, King.

It was all primed for a voice, someone writing about what was going on. Someone to help us make sense or at the very least shed light on the world that was coming through our TVs and newspapers; the voices on the winds. “Love Me Tender” or “Beach Blanket Bingo” would no longer suffice. Not in times of such chaos and transition. So maybe the times, the newness of this type of writing, I don’t know what all the forces were that put not only Bob Dylan’s music, but Dylan himself square in the middle.

But Dylan did the only thing he knew how; he just kept writing and following his life’s journey. Wherever his road led, he followed. Into electric, back to folk, torch music, Gospel music and if I might add his “Christian” stuff was way cooler than a lot of “Christian Music” at the time. He, the one all other writers looked up to, joined a group. A group where he wasn’t the focus. A group of big names, but just guys that wanted to be a part of a band, that’s all. So Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, Bob and George Harrison formed the Traveling Wilburys. What a cool and fun thing to do. What a cool reminder to us that these guys didn’t consider themselves anything like what the press and the public made them out to be.

My thanks to Bob Dylan for many years of great music. I know all the jokes about understanding him these days live, but whatever. He is still a troubadour, a wandering player of music, still searching, still looking at the world and telling us what he sees through his music. He is in it with us. Not leading but reflecting.