Monday, June 18, 2012

Also called "An Education in the Art of Waiting"

Quick disclaimer: for those of you who like finished products, please DO NOT WATCH this video. It's a super rough version of the song I wrote for my dad -- minimal lyric-editing and recorded right after I wrote it. It's rough, but people have been asking to hear it so I don't mind sharing it "in process" for those who like that sort of thing!

Here are the lyrics:

It's father's day and I'm not one
But thank You God I've still got one
Of all of the gifts that I treasure
This is one I must makes sure to count
Sometimes what you need most
Is the farthest thing from your mind
Behind the scenes and when no one's watching
You'll find what a person believes in

And this man would give his shirt (his car) away
Loves a good song and a mountain range
Fights through winter for the one he loves
(Though may, just maybe that's gone on for long enough)
I hear the southern weather calling
After decades of snow falling on these dreams
It's an education in the art of waiting
I pray the sunshine overtakes him when he least expects it
Like the thousand gifts he gave
When he least expects it
Some day like today

Some dads help you by talking
Others send you away
This man modeled the things he thought most valuable day by day
Now some of those lessons I learned
Others came back to haunt me
Like an iced-over window and a frozen door (lock)
The kind that my dad was always prepared for

Copyright June 17, 2012 Jonathan Reuel.

Some day Like today

I hear the southern weather calling
After decades of snow falling on these dreams
It's an education in the art of waiting
I pray the sunshine overtakes him
when he least expects it
Like the thousand gifts he gave
When he least expects it
Some day like today

For my dad... copyright June 17, 2012 Jonathan Reuel

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Next Steps with Music

Coming off of sabbatical I've been unsure about my direction musically. I'm writing some songs, and playing a concert here and there when it makes sense. I don't have a plan for the next album or a big tour. Surge On Smith is still on my radar and I'm doing a bit of collaborative songwriting.

It's my normal approach to dream big and launch towards those dreams with whatever I have at my disposal and figure it out as I go.

At the moment it feels right to approach it differently -- to take the opportunities that present themselves, take it step by step, watch as things emerge, and make plans when things are clearer.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Shifting Gears

One of the metaphors that's been tossed around in the leadership development circles I run around in is the idea of "shifting gears" -- especially related to taking sabbaticals of the sort that allow you to truly "go into neutral."

Biking with my dad last week that image became viscerally present to me again -- same amount of effort + new gear = different results (more speed, the ability to climb a hill you couldn't otherwise).

I am experiencing something like this personally post-sabbatical. I'm doing some of the same things I did before (playing songs, coaching leaders and artists) but it's working better. What's different? Hard to pinpoint but it has something to do with having been totally in neutral for a while and coming back with in a new gear and and -- perhaps even with access to a few new gears.

So yes, disconnecting and resting deeply and profoundly can and does have an effect on "the things you make" (which is what this blog is about).

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Coaching Songwriters

I was back in Ohio last week connecting with family, playing a few concerts and speaking at the church I grew up in. During my time there two friends of mine asked if I'd help them with their songwriting. This is strange -- it keeps happening to me, so I'm starting to pay attention to it.

I had good 2-3 hour sessions with each of them and they both made good progress in their craft, getting past writer's block, charting a course, etc. It was helpful for me too in that helping someone else move forward is making me clarify some of my own practices and approaches that have helped me consistently finish songs over two decades.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

What's Stuck in the Birth Canal

Last year experienced cowriting for the first time and really loved it (Surge on Smith). I thought I was going to be cowriting in Indiana on this last trip, but it ended up being something else -- more like assisting a birth. I joke about being a songwriting dula, but it's a pretty apt description. Here's what happened:

I first met with the songwriter for 3 or 4 hours helping him clarify what he really wants to say and explore through song, and what sort of songwriting would work best for this. Then we picked one of the themes and started writing. From there I threw out some chords and a line from time to time, but mainly just encouraged him and when he hit blocks helped him go over or around them.

It did feel a bit like a way scaled-down version of what I imagine prepping the would-be mother about birth would be like, followed by helping them through it (they do the real work, but they need the help -- maybe the metaphor breaks down a bit since you can't really stop mid-birth with a human baby and people do it with songs all the time), and then celebrating the "kid", messy and red-faced as it may be once it's over. (I suppose rewrites are like baths and cutting the cord, and all the other stuff that reveals the stunning reality that is under all that writhing, crying mess).

A lot of it came down to "you just got to get this stuff out." Not out into the world, just out of your own soul. Many of the songs you have push out don't need to be shared beyond a few friends -- but you never get to the ones more people need to hear if you don't write the ones that are stuck in the birth canal.

A bit of wider application for those of you who aren't writers: there may be things in your life you just plain need to do, things which may require some assistance to get pushed out of the birth canal. You may not want to do them. It's possible you procrastinate or ignore them, even though it hurts. There are many reasons for this. Maybe you're not very skilled at doing these things. Maybe they don't fit your image of yourself (or other peoples' image of you). Maybe it is just because doing something creative or meaningful is hard work and requires the use of your heart, which is a subtle, unpredictable and vulnerable organ.

Examples of this sort of thing that might get "stuck in the birth canal": Hard conversations with loved ones or coworkers, spiritual growth practices, weight loss, balancing the budget, taking a day off, etc.