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For week 28 of #songaweek2016, I called on Stephen Crane – well, his poetry – for a little help. Here’s a poem of his that I set to music.

Once, I knew a fine song,
— It is true, believe me —
It was all of birds,
And I held them in a basket;
When I opened the wicket,
Heavens! They all flew away.
I cried, “Come back, little thoughts!”
But they only laughed.
They flew on
Until they were as sand
Thrown between me and the sky.

(published 1896, public domain)

Turn to Love

Week 27 of #songaweek2016 was a horrific one in US news. Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, shot and killed by police officers. Brent Thompson, Michael Krol, Patrick Zamarripa, Michael Smith, Lorne Ahrens, shot and killed by a sniper at a protest against Sterling’s and Castile’s treatment by police.

All seven of these men, real people, with complex lives and stories, each with a constellation of people who loved them, people who depended on them, people who knew them as the human beings they were. The ones who took their lives, I believe, didn’t see past the color of their skin or the uniforms they wore.

I spent a day trying to write a song in light of these events. Nothing was working out. Then I came across a quote from Jeff Hood, organizer of the Dallas protest, and the song almost wrote itself. Interestingly, the quote originally appeared in this article, but didn’t survive the article’s updates since July 8th, the day I read it. I had copied the text and saved it in the course of working on the song, so here it is:

[The Rev. Jeff] Hood, one of the organizers, said he spent hours searching for his wife as chaos unfolded in the streets.
“Ultimately, I spent those three hours talking to people, asking the question, ‘Why? Why? Why is this happening? The only answer I know now, and the only answer I knew then, was turn to love, we’ve got to turn to love, we’ve got to stop shooting.”

Everything is broken everything is bleeding
everyone is crying out for relief
everything is shaken everything is shattered
everyone is deeply aching for peace

turn and return eternally
internally externally
turn to love

this is nothing new, no this is just the latest
page in a story we’re weary of
where fear and hate and greed gain strength and gather speed
and take aim at the suffering body of love

give it all your heart and give it all your mind
soul, strength, voice, eyes, ears, hands and feet
be patient with your neighbor show mercy to the stranger
be brave in generosity

Not My Week

During week 26 of #songaweek2016 I’ve been traveling with my parents & kids to visit relatives out east. No guitar, very little alone time, no special recording equipment. “But I said I’d write, so I’m writing right now . . .” and this one got recorded on my phone in the car on the way back to my uncle’s house from a day at the Jersey shore.

 

Friends. I’ve been posting my song for #songaweek2016 each week here on my blog. I joined that group at the invitation of my friend and fellow singer/songwriter – but not fellow Bloom:) – Jen Bluhm. This song of hers from a recent week is so good that I wanted to repost it on my blog so more people could hear it. She’s posted the lyrics on Soundcloud, so if you click on the “Soundcloud” icon at the top right corner below, you’ll go to Soundcloud where you can see the lyrics.

 

What If

What if you are more than what you think? What if we are all more valuable than all that we believe?

Here’s my song for Week 25 of #songaweek2016:

What if I were you, what if you were me?
Could we listen to each other, could we let each other be?
What if we were both about to die?
Could we find a common mercy looking in each other’s eyes?

Or is this sad race to the end the best we can do
and when it comes right down to the wire is it me or you?

What if I told you I’m not so sure
would you ridicule my weakness, add a point to your score?
What if I found out that you’re afraid
would I crow that you’re a coward, have a cynical parade?

Is this sad race to the end the best we can do
and when it comes right down to the wire is it me or you?

What if we both took a flying leap
off our high-minded horses
into heart-deep conversation?
Could we make some waves of grace
that ripple out from you and me?

What if you are more than what you think?
What if we are all more valuable than all that we believe?

When writing my Week 24 song for #songaweek2016, I was feeling the weight of hate in our country – the Orlando shooting, Donald Trump rallies, comments sections and Internet memes of all stripes.

Tried to write something coherent, but I think I felt most strongly the wordless singing part. Not my best week, too squeezed for time this time, but I’m committed to doing this every week and posting it here, so here it is. With electric guitar by Nathan Bloom.

 

 

Don’t Forget

Sundays are usually tiny vacation days for me, in which I don’t check email or go on social media. So I didn’t hear the news about the Orlando shooting until I was checking email at breakfast this morning. Tears with my coffee.

The song I wrote for Week 23 of #songaweek2016 was submitted on Saturday, but I offer it here as a little lullaby in the face of the tragic news we are all processing.

 

 

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