…counting down….

Since I am experiencing EXTREME technical difficulties (laptop is pooched beyond repair- or at least beyond any repair I’m willing to pay for at this juncture), I’m resorting to a reblog of last year’s holiday post as my way of expressing my thanks and best wishes to all of you who contribute so much to my life here in this WordPressWorld of ours.

Last year’s ice storm is a thing of memory (although the substantial bill associated with the damage still wants paying), in fact, it’s ’round about 10 degrees Celsius here in my City on the Lake this holiday Eve.

Much has changed since this time last year, and, as soon as I’m up and running- computer-wise- again, I’ll have some reflecting to do on those changes. The good and the very sad.

Until then, all the very best for the holidays (whichever holiday(s) you may/may not be celebrating) and all best wishes for peace, love and grooviness in 2015.

Enjoy the time with loved ones- and the playlist.

xoxo

colemining

I might not like their coffee at all, but this picture really sums up the last couple of days here in TO.

Well.

That was interesting.  We got a bit of ice hereabouts.  And that ice weighed down all the hydro lines and left electrical power just a fading memory to a fair number of folks here in our sleepy little burgh.

The temperature has plummeted and it’s not looking like some peeps are going to get the electricity back before Wednesday.  Generally speaking my little part of the town is all okay.  I have hydro, and the commute to work is such that the streetcar and subway closures didn’t affect me.  Hoping that the situation stays okay- but preparing just in case.

The shopping is all done- so there’s no more running around required, at least.  A little more in the way of food prep for the day itself- and…

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“If I was young it didn’t stop you coming through…”

TBT. Need to shake off this mood…

colemining

If you’ve been kind enough to follow along with me as I reminisce, ramble and (sometimes) rant in my little corner of the blogosphere, you likely have come to realize that I love music.  I love the way it tells our stories and marks moments in time that illustrate aspects of specific cultures and of humanity in general.  I love the way it can change a mood with a few chords or a well-turned lyric.  I love how it connects us to the people we love AND to those we will never meet.

Music is Powerful.  Capital ‘P’ full o’ Power.

I have friends that have nurtured and educated me in this love, and our sharing of music is one of the wonders of my life.  From records to cassettes to CDs and then the digital MP3s/MP4s and formats I haven’t even heard of yet… each new package mattered little to me.  I wanted the…

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‘Who Told Tomorrow Tuesday’s Dead?’

I think that’s one of my favourite lyrics ever.

No, not the words in the nursery poem, the words in the title.

I know. It’s Wednesday, but I was thinking about that song, and the guy who wrote it, a lot today .

I’ve talked about him before – in the context of another song. A song that helped to set the story of my life, thus far. Truly. It helped to put me on my own particular Road to Find Out in ways both conscious and un-.

And given the crap that’s been going on around here the past while, and the results of yesterday’s election in the States, I really feel like I need an interlude of Cat.

Seriously, neighbours? What’s going on down there?

Not being an American, you’d think that the results shouldn’t be bugging me so much. To be honest, I didn’t pay the midterm election all that much mind. We have had a fair bit going on north of the border, and, honestly, I’m sort of out of sorts about the whole reactionary-engagement-with-politics-thing that seems to be epidemic (and more problematic, on this side of the Atlantic anyway, than a particular virus I could name) lately.

But I just. Don’t. Get. It.

So. Let’s intermezzo, shall we? (yes, I used intermezzo as a verb).

Yusuf Islam is out and about on his Peace Train… Late Again tour (forever the most dexterous of wordsmiths. How GREAT a name is that for Cat/Yusuf tour?). I wanted ever-so-much to go and see him when he comes to town- he’s playing Massey Hall, which is certainly one of my very fave venues for live-and-intimate shows in my hometown.

But… tickets went on sale just as I was boarding a train headed for his hometown, so I wasn’t really in a place or position to be online and looking to buy. The show sold out in a matter of minutes.

This is partly because, other than brief television or special appearances, he hasn’t toured North America since 1976. Yes, I said 1976. So I’d imagine that there are a whole lot of people like me desperate to see him and say hello. Since I was six the last time he hopped the pond to play shows, it kind of goes without saying that I’ve never had the pleasure of his company.

And I’ll be missing him again. He has, rightfully and rather impressively, made sure that scalpers and those crummy and criminal ticket resale companies won’t be able to (easily) get their hands on tickets and fleece his fans, so there aren’t even any tickets floating around on Craig’s List or the like.

I admit that I’ve been creeping his fb page and checking out the set lists as he plays to his first North American audiences in almost four decades, and living a little vicariously through those who will have the privilege of hanging with him for an evening.

The Road to Find Out and Tuesday’s Dead aren’t (so far) in the rotation.

It’s understandable- he has such an incredible and extensive body of work that includes bigger hits and better-known songs from the eleven albums that he recorded as Cat, back in the day, and he is also playing selections from his 2006 and 2008 albums, An Other Cup and Roadsinger, and his brand new offering, Tell ‘Em I’m Gone.

But. Those songs.

One of the many beautiful things about music is its accessibility. I can go back and listen to the songs any time I want- or, for that matter, sing them to myself when tuning in (and tuning out) with the Shuffle Daemon isn’t appropriate.

The lyrics have been written on my heart- and they are in my head when I need to call them up for a listen.

Two of his albums, Tea for the Tillerman (1970) and Teaser and the Firecat (1971) are among my all-time favourite records. Of his, certainly, but by anyone, really. I grew up with them- and still know the lyrics to all the songs.

I have a bit of an uncanny (for lack of a better word) knack for remembering lyrics (and the accompanying tunes, of course- but the words are paramount, for me). Some of my old friends still bug me about this ability for recall- but I don’t see anything all that peculiar about it, myself.

It’s part and parcel of my way of engaging with the world- concentrating on those things I find important, or beautiful, or educational, or fun. Or any combination of any and all of those things. It is the primary way that I attempt to be mindful of my context and present in my life. There are distractions aplenty, but focusing on something and really appreciating it? It leads me toward gratitude and appreciation of the relevance and reliability of my fellow human beings, usually when I most need to be reminded of these things.

Great words deserve remembrance. Whether they are shaped like stories or speeches or songs (or poem- which are songs without music), they carry power and retain import that speaks to both their specific contexts and, in the case of the best of them, to their timelessness. The ones that hold the most wisdom transcend temporal settings and retain the ability to impart vital imagery.

If I make a mark in time, I can’t say the mark is mine.
I’m only the underline of the word.
Yes, I’m like him, just like you, I can’t tell you what to do.
Like everybody else I’m searching thru what I’ve heard.

Whoa, Where do you go? When you don’t want no one to know?
Who told tomorrow Tuesday’s dead

Oh preacher won’t you paint my dream, won’t you show me where you’ve been
Show me what I haven’t seen to ease my mind.
Cause I will learn to understand, if I have a helping hand.
I wouldn’t make another demand all my life.

What’s my sex, what’s my name, all in all it’s all the same.
Everybody plays a different game, that is all.
Now, man may live, man may die searching for the question why.
But if he tries to rule the sky he must fall.

Now every second on the nose, the humdrum of the city grows.
Reaching out beyond the throes of our time.
We must try to shake it down. Do our best to break the ground.
Try to turn the world around one more time.

Tuesday’s Dead is something of a thematic follow-up to, or continuation of, the examination of his quest for meaning and understanding of the world he sang about in On the Road to Find Out. Crazy love for both these tunes.

A number of interpretations point to Xian imagery contained in the song (as is the case with Road, as well), but, like my readings of pretty much everything else, I see the themes as being without specificity of creed, denomination or over-arching system of belief. They are human lyrics- that acknowledge the wisdom of the past, the movement toward the future and our ability to work toward change.

There are those who have suggested that the whole thing about ‘Tuesday being dead’ has to do with that old fortune-telling nursery rhyme up there ^^^^^

If Tuesday=Grace, a possible exegesis of the line thus follows that the biblical concept of Grace is that thing that isn’t dead.

I get that interpretation. I don’t agree with it, but I get it. We all make connections that resonate and make sense and create meaning for us. If Xian exegetes want to appropriate the song, it’s all good. My interpretation is far more humanistic (go figure).

The rhyme, recorded as early as 1838, but with traditional versions going back far longer, had a dual- to describe the personalities and help to set the destiny of children born on each particular day of the week. Its later iterations have changed up the characteristics, moving them about in accordance with specificity of interpretation and association.

One version switches up Wednesday and Friday’s characteristics- based in the Xian superstitions regarding bad luck and Fridays (originating with a story about a crucifixion). Being a Wednesday myself, and not especially woe-full, I tend to prefer that one…

Yusuf has said that he’s not entirely sure exactly where he was going (coming from?) having some unknown individual telling ‘tomorrow’ about the death of Tuesday. It’s one of those random lyrics that just fit. Which makes it all the better, as far as I’m concerned.

We don’t always know what we’re talking about. And that’s okay. It’s part of the whole human-thing. We hash it out as best we can- and, in so doing, often come up with the wildly wonderful in the process.

So.

One more time.

Let’s keep trying to turn the world around. In spite of those who attempt to rule- the sky, the earth, the people- based in fear and misinformation and polarizing politics.

I’m not saying anything new here. But allow me to underline his underline, and the underlines of all those who came before him. And continue to echo the mark of his voice- 43 years- and counting- after the fact.

Safe, and peaceful, travels, Cat/Yusuf. Better late than never. Please come back and visit again soon.

Bonus (not-at-all-woeful) Wednesday feel-good tune? THIS one, by my beloved Monkees (written by David Gates- of Bread). It mixes up the days even further- and I’m not sure I like the ‘you’ll live your life apart, now’ as Wednesday’s foretold fortune found here- but hey. It’s all in the interpretation…

Cottage on the Bay

Deja vu. All over again. Funny how much can change in a year- and how much stays the same. The weather gods are, once again, messing around up there. It was unseasonably warm for a stretch (after a colder-than-is-normal summer) and now, with the annual cottage weekend approaching, the temps are about to plummet. Again.

Nevertheless, I will be heading north Friday morning for some good times on the Bay. The reading material is different this year (was hoping for Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam’s memoir- but it’s not out until next Tuesday, so I’ll pick out something in its stead), and the cast of characters will be slightly different- due to other commitments and that whole life thing.

But there will be music, catch up chats, silliness and tranquility (and that Risk tourney- but I’m pretending that won’t be happening). And the lake. And the stars. And friendship. A chance to just relax and reflect and absorb the past 12 months- the good, the bad, and the life-altering.

Oh- and extra firewood this year. LOTS of extra firewood. Have to avoid the hypothermia at all costs. Flying off on vacay next week…

All things for which I am thankful. I’ll be holding onto that anticipatory feeling tonight as I watch the POTUS address an increasingly distressing international situation.

One last summer weekend… Bring it on!

colemining

What’s up with the weather gods in TO?

Seriously.

Tuesday and Wednesday we were dealing with temperatures hovering around 40 degrees (that’s about 100 degrees Fahrenheit if you’re still using that quaint means of measuring) when the humidity was factored in.

Today?  Chilly north wind.  Tomorrow?  CHILLIER north wind.

And I’m going to be on a rock in the middle of the Bay.  About 2 degrees Celsius overnight.  TWO DEGREES.

I’m not ready for summer to end, so, despite the less-than-ideal temperature, I will do the true Canadian thing and head north this afternoon for an annual pilgrimage with some of my best peeps.

We try to do this every year.  A couple of nights away, sans spouses/significant others, to just hang out and catch up a little.

We have known each other for decades (as I both date myself and make myself feel old) and have been hanging out…

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30+ years… and counting

It’s been a long, dispiriting couple of weeks in manymany ways.  The news isn’t good (understatement, that)- and seems to be growing ever darker.  My last post– and the direction in which my mind has been traveling the past little bit- has tended toward the apocalyptic- which is, in its current parlance, foreboding and pessimistic by definition.  But it’s hard to hold onto the doom and gloom- on a gorgeous Friday in TO, with the CNE open and heralding the end of summer, people heading to a baseball game, and a festival of street performers bringing crowds of people together to celebrate community and creativity.  Soooo- I’m going to set aside all that ‘end of days’ chatter and focus on the present- and the joy of the past that have helped to get me here, to this place, right now.

Last week I wrote about the loooooong car trips we used to take as a family when we were kids.  As I mentioned, I pulled out all kinds of crazy stops to keep the sisters (and myself) entertained in those days loooooong before anyone thought to put a movie-watching machine in a moving vehicle.  To give themselves some peace and quiet from the ongoing silliness prompted by that alien from outer space, my parents let us take it in turns to control the tape deck (yes, we had a tape deck- at least it wasn’t an 8-track player).

In the summer of 1984, home from camp and on the road to see every freakin’ fort on the Eastern Seaboard, my go-to and oft-repeated choice was an album called Into the Gap by a British band called the Thompson Twins.  I loved that tape.  By the end of the holiday my sisters and I could sing along with all of the songs.

Once home, along with the usual gearing up for the start of a new school year, my parents had to contend with my end-of-the-summer birthday.  They asked what I wanted as a gift, and my answer was something that could be easily accommodated (the way my 14-year-old self saw the world, anyway).  The Thompson Twins were playing the Grandstand at the CNE two days before my birthday.  Perfect, thought I.

The parents?  Not so much.  For some reason they had an issue with their 13-year-old (those two days meant much more to them than they did to me, apparently) heading to the Ex all by myownself for a concert (that wouldn’t end before 11pm).  But they knew I reallyreallyreally wanted to go (TBH, my constant expression of this fact might have had something to do with that awareness).

So… the compromise.  Dad, wonderful man that he was, opted to get us tickets and take me to see the band.  It.  Was.  Awesome.  The initial pangs of embarrassment I might have felt about going to a concert with my Dad faded pretty quickly as I stood, enraptured, as the band took the crowd through their songs of wonder.

Including this one:

There were more, and I’ll likely talk some more about the rest of them (placeholder), but this one- and its video (which I hadn’t seen in decades before I went looking for it this week) is super-resonant with the directions in which my brains is running right now.

I’m glad in these hard times – day in
day out.
There’s hope in your eyes – hope in his eyes.
I don’t need a religion – too hot
too hot.
‘Cause this love never dies – love never dies.
I believe in today – believe boy
believe boy.
It’s better that way and you work through the night.
I know what it means
to work hard on machines.
It’s a labour of love
so please
don’t ask me why

That concert, 3o years ago this weekend, is one of my happiest memories.  Not just because of the great music, but because of the time I got to spend with Dad.  He enjoyed the show a great deal- and watching him watch the band and feeling the energy of the crowd started to bring home the fact of his person-ness- as opposed to his Dad-ness.  At least a little. While he would always retain his Dad-ness, that show help to set us on the road to the friendship that we would develop as I grew up- a relationship that remains one of the great privileges of life filled with good fortune.

Fast forward a number of decades to the end of a difficult Spring and an email message from an oldold friend.  He isn’t exactly the Boy Next Door, but he comes pretty close.  Len and I grew up a block away from each other- went to Kindergarden and onwards together, and then, as happens, lost touch for a decade or two.  Through the miracle of social media (mixed blessing though it may be), we reconnected via the facebook a number of years back and discovered a shared love of music and common ways of approaching all kinds of things in this here world.

A few months back, Len, with his connections to the world of music, heard the first inkling regarding a concert that was in the works.  A show that would bring together a passel of the great voices of the 80s and have them share a stage of an evening.

Ultimate result?  That up there ^^^^.

As coincidence (or providence, or fate, or whatever) would have it, they’re stopping here in town.  Almost 30 years to the day that I last saw Tom Bailey perform those songs, with my Dad at my side.

It should go without saying that I will be in attendance.

Now Len, being an even bigger fan than I, is seeing them three times (yes THREE) before the tour hits our hometown.  He was at opening night in NYC and is at tonight’s show as I write this.  I’m putting aside my jealousy (and absurd degree of eager anticipation) in gratitude that I will be experiencing it all for myself in just a few days.

But it’s hard.  The line-up is phenomenal- a musical journey down memory lane that I can’t wait to experience in person.  So I’m getting into the proper mindset by running through the old faves and re-familiarizing myself with some gems that the Shuffle Daemon and I have neglected recently.

I did see these guys, live and in person, last Fall.  I wrote about that show (although the post won’t link for some reason- search on ‘Persuasive Danger’ if you’re interested in giving it a read)- and the fact that it felt like hanging with old buds seeing them at Hugh’s Room.

I have written about this guy before, too.

I missed him the last time he stopped in Toronto with a solo show, so I’m very much looking forward to hearing him play the hits- from his days with Ultravox, Visage and his solo albums (it’s also almost 30 years since he co-wrote a song that started a revolution in the way we think about popular music and its ability to affect change and raise awareness.  But there’ll be more on that anniversary as we approach the holiday season…)

Quite some time before Alanis so spectacularly misused the concept of ‘irony’, an English dude named Howard wrote this little ditty about expectations not always meeting the reality.

Howard also requires a placeholder.  Bigtime.  I’ve seen him live a few times over the years and he never fails to disappoint.  Revisiting his catalogue over the past little bit has reinforced the reality that strong musical ability and intelligent (and positive) lyrics can still have popular appeal.  I could write dissertations on his turns of phrase and clever use of language (okay, that might be slightly hyperbolic.  I’m a little overexcited right now) and he deserves more than a bare paragraph here.

Rather than drive myself (and those around me) completely nutso with my jittery anticipation, I’ll be spending the next few days catching up with these old friends in advance of hanging out with them next week.  Their tunes- and the memories they provoke and the messages that still shout their wisdom-  will be the backdrop to my weekend.

But I’ll still be counting down the hours… and thinking back over the years.

Happy weekend!

The Road

It’s been a long week- with a whole lot happening that has made for a whole lot of dis-ease. It’s Friday. This morning, as I walked to work, the first song to pop up on the Shuffle Daemon was one I wrote about a little over a year ago while feeling a little down and disenchanted.

Interestingly, while I was on the fb last night, I noticed that Yusuf’s page had a post in the feed asking for best Yusuf/Cat memories.

This is my fave of his songs (and boyohboy is it hard to choose a fave from his catalogue) and, like it always seems to do, it snapped me into a semblance of clarity.

However long-lived or truncated that clarity might prove to be, it’s leading me into the weekend with some thoughts in my head and a song about positive energy in my heart.

As my buddy Doobster noted- with his characteristic insight and ability to strike at the central point- on one of my posts a little while ago, ‘we’re all in the same boat and there’s no such thing as a hole in just one end’.

So.

‘Sometimes you have to moan when nothing seems to suit ya, but nevertheless you know you’re locked toward the future.’

The song encouraged me to have a very productive day- at work and, since I’ve been home, on some of the things that I’ve been neglecting lately. Enough wallowing. Time to grasp at the clarity and get back to contributing rather than complaining.

Happy weekend everyone.

colemining

It seems, lately, like I’ve strayed from the originally plotted course for this forum.

I love the stories, don’t get me wrong.  They are my life, so to speak, and they can do so much to help us heal this world.  There is undeniable wisdom to be found within their characters and plots and ultimate messages and they deserve examination and re-contextualizing for our time and circumstances.

Looking at our myths with new lenses can truly aid us in moving forward.  Perhaps not repairing the injustices of history- that is beyond even the significant power of myth- but certainly helping to advise us when we are searching for the right way to proceed from here.

But something happens when the seasons turn in Toronto.  Especially after a longer than usual winter (although the meteorologists would say that this one just past was more in keeping with historical temperatures and snowfall)…

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Happy Birthday Canada!

Well.  Between my little rant last night, the fact that I got to do my civic duty as a voter not once but TWICE this month (in addition to our provincial election earlier this month my riding had a federal by-election yesterday), the evidence that journalism might just have a redemptive future in the form of one of my former students who is now an intern with a major news organization and who is producing wonderful articles (as evidenced here: http://globalnews.ca/news/1425365/climbing-parliament-hill-on-wheels/), the fact that I’m not affected (directly, anyway) by the insanity of SCOTUS’ latest decision (seriously, SCOTUS?  WTF?), the end of a wonderful World Pride- lovingly hosted by my hometown, and the fact that THREE of my very favourite Canucks were awarded the Order of Canada, I’m back to being the shiny-happy Maple Leaf Forever cole of yore.

Chris Hadfield- our astronaut extraordinaire- was one of recipients.  While he was up there on the International Space Station, along with recording an awesome version of Space Oddity, he did an incredible job of educating our young folk about the importance of, well, education.  Since his return he continues to lead by example- talking about the beauty of this planet we call home and the need to majorly up our concern about its future.

Still brings a tear of pride to my eye.

Rick Mercer has long been my fave homegrown comedic relief to the ins and outs of the political realm.  His rants are things of glory and insight spoken with an honesty that is becoming all too rare.

He’s off for the summer, but his remarks about the ‘mayor’ are points well taken.  The problem isn’t all with the train wreck that is the person, it’s the fact that the politics still resonate with too many people.  Who don’t know better.  And don’t want to know better.  Wait.  That’s taking me back toward my rant of yesterday.  And today I’m shiny-happy cole.

Guy Gavriel Kay… Jebus.  What can I say about that guy?  I have a post that has been languishing in my drafts folder for almost a year now.  I just haven’t been able to bring myself to hit ‘publish’ as of yet.  Any words of mine seem to pale brutally in comparison to his mastery of character and history and plot.  Suffice it to say- for now, at least- that he is my favourite Canadian author.  Someday I will stop with the hyper-self-editing and offer up my fulsome praise of the novels that have impacted me so greatly.

A friend and I have this thing we do when a correspondence requires a complete response and we don’t have the time- or insight- to provide one immediately.  We send a ‘placeholder’ text or email which marks our intention to get back to the discussion asap.

Let’s call this a placeholder about Guy.

Anyhoo…

My Canadianess is a complicated thing.  I love our people, our diversity, our landscapes and lakefronts.  Our history of making important- if sometimes understated- marks on the world stage is something in which I take great and ever-growing pride.

But it’s summertime.  And in summer my thoughts turn, as they often do, to music.  OUR music- one of our enduring contributions to the record of humanity north of the 49th parallel.

So… the Shuffle Daemon has the wheel today.

When I first got up this morning- to cloudy skies and heavy rain (which have since cleared up), my pal Booksy had beat me to the punch with her literary/musical Canada Day tribute.  It’s awesome.  Go have a look: http://lostandfoundbooks.wordpress.com/2014/06/29/mixed-tape-canada-day-music-for-book-lovers/.  I second every single one of her choices (especially the Rheostatics, her Hip choice and, of course, Gordie Lightfoot) and won’t duplicate her selections in my list here.’

But… since we were just talking about the Hip…

‘Courage’ was my original choice- it is, as Booksy noted, based on Hugh MacLennan’s Governor General’s Award Winning The Watch That Ends the Night– and therefore Canadian times two.  But ‘Bobcaygeon’, like much of the Hip’s music, is infused with that same sense of completeness in its Canadianism.

Named for a small town in the Kawartha Lakes district of Ontario (and not far from where I spent my first cottage weekend of the season a couple of weeks ago), the song references the 1933 Christie Pits riot in Toronto (that I spoke about briefly in the post about my Grandad) started by a bunch of xenophobic anti-semites during the Great Depression.  The song evokes both the complicated history of our multicultural heritage and the wonder to be found as the ‘constellations reveal themselves’ in the sky over cottage country.  Love.

Arguably the best thing to come out of Hamilton (I’m from Toronto, I’m supposed to dis Hamilton).  I bought Teenage Head’s ‘Tornado’ on 45 at the ‘5 and Dime’ in Wiarton, Ontario (while on our annual family vacation to a Lodge on Lake Huron) more years ago than I care to acknowledge.  They were Canadian punk heroes and I love them.  Okay, so they caused a riot at my Horseshoe Tavern in 1978, and then again at Ontario Place in 1980, but for this I forgive them.  I was waaaaaay to young to have been there, anyway.

Wow, just realized I’ve been referencing a whole lot of riots in this post.  We’re not a riotous people, really we aren’t.

Back to the Daemon…

I’ve been thinking about this band a lot lately- started a post all about them, actually.  But, once again, haven’t had the time to devote to doing them justice.  There seems to be a renewal of chatter about them out there lately- that 80’s resurgence thing, I guess- and I’m following Ivan on the Facebook and the Twitter.

Back in the early 80’s they screamed Canada to me.  Not only were they offering up solid synth-based danceable and fun tunes, they incorporated both official languages in the songs on their Rhythm of Youth album.  I think I wore out the tape, playing it on my Walkman so often.  This will be another of those placeholders– the band was certainly part of my youthful exuberance.

One placeholder leads to another… The Band.  On the Wikipedia they are described as ‘American-Canadian’, but Robbie is ours.  They deserve their own post, and they’ll get it, eventually.

For now…

Okay, so it’s a song about American history, but it is so well-crafted and -researched that it deserves its place as one of the great Canadian tunes.  And Levon was pretty awesome, too.  Even if he wasn’t Canadian.

Broken Social Scene is the exemplar when it comes to the wonder that is our music industry up here in the North.  With its ever-changing line-up of contributors, the band is all about contribution and collaboration.  They reject the moniker ‘super-group’, but they’re pretty damn super, if you ask me.  Their impact on Canadian music- indie and otherwise- has been profound.

Strangely, I like Feist when she is with the band.  On her own, not so much.  Togetherness is better.

Speaking of indie bands- and liking the chick vocalists better with a band than on their own (same thing holds true with Neko, IMO)…

And, since I can’t stay away from these guys (and because I saw them a couple of weeks ago- touring with original member Pete Cash for the first time in years), a little number from my hometown guys to send me off out into the Canada Day/evening and its festivities.

Ah, so young.  Although Andy is surprisingly unchanged.  And his dancing has altered not at all.

Let me just say again, in case you might have missed it before.  I love my home and native land.  Our patriotism tends to be somewhat more self-effacing than that of some of our neighbours, but I am proud and privileged to call myself Canadian.  Our national birthday provides the perfect annual opportunity to sing that from the rooftop patios, balconies, lakeside beaches or city streets.

Happy Birthday Canada.  May you have many more.

The Devil’s Music

I have such a love/exasperated (can’t say ‘hate’- I ‘d never hate them) relationship with U2.  They have made some of my favourite music.  Seriously.  So many of their songs figure prominently in the continually developing soundtrack that is my life.  But man, some of the stuff that comes out of Bono’s mouth these days…

The other day Pete Yorn- a fabulous singer-songwriter who I follow on the Facebook (seriously, check him out.  Great stuff)- was asking people to name their fave U2 song.  It got me thinking.  There are a whole lot of great ones to choose from.  As I say, they are a formative/foundational band in the development of my youthful love of music.

This one is near the top:

‘Don’t believe the Devil, I don’t believe his book’

Sure, the song is (at least partly) about the unauthorized biography/biographer of John Lennon, but the imagery of the devil and ‘his’ book is just tootoo apt, in my humble opinion.  The creators/recorders/redactors of the mythology, theodicy, rules and rituals of diverse and often-disparate biblical literature assigned a whole load of culpability to one figure- and those minions who chose to follow him in rebellion.

‘But the truth is not the same without the lies he made up.’

We use the devil to illustrate the opposite of what is ‘right’ and proper.  Without him- and the many ‘wrongs’ he manages to consistently and continually tempt us to execute- we have a great deal of difficulty determining proper course.

It isn’t enough that we have long lists of things we are supposed to be doing- whether those things are mandated by religious command or communal laws and consensus- we are, apparently, so easily influenced that we require constant and ever-changing (these things are culturally relative, after all) examples of ways not to behave.

These bad things are fluid to a ridiculous degree.  Unlike the larger prohibitions that are written into our legal systems- the big stuff like murder, theft, property damage (although even these things can be ‘condoned’ in specific- generally politicized- circumstances)- elements of our morality are subject to change according to the times and the ideology that holds the most power at any given time.

These actions are most often associated with that Devil Dude.  If a particular group of people decides that, say, a type of music is the result of the persuasive intervention of an external entity messing with the ‘proper’ order of things, and if that group has money and power and the means to communicate this message of ‘evil’ to a community of followers… the Devil receives all credit for culpability of origin.  The behaviour comes to be associated with him- and as something that is directly in opposition to his ‘good’ counterpart.

And if that type of music can also be associated with a marginalized group of people, then those people are also lumped in with the horned one and his disruption of all things good and ‘godly’.  As mores and tastes change and evolve, the music might eventually come to be regarded as ‘mainstream’- and acceptable to those who hold true to ‘strong values’- yet the stigma of association with the Big Baddy remains.

Labeling something as ‘evil’ or ‘against god’ gives its negative association an unreasonably long shelf life.  Those things that his detractors claim belong to the Devil are incredibly tenacious in their resonance across time and generations.

U2’s God Part 2 is an appreciative echo of John Lennon’s God.  In it, John deconstructed a whole passel of beliefs and constructs that he saw no need to hold onto as he remade himself as ‘John’- no longer the Dreamweaver, or the Walrus, or 1/4 of the Beatles.  Just John.  With Yoko.  Believing in the two of them- but not in the idols (religious and secular) he listed after declaring that ‘god is a concept by which we measure our pain’.

‘I don’t believe in magic
I don’t believe in I Ching
I don’t believe in Bible
I don’t believe in Tarot
I don’t believe in Hitler
I don’t believe in Jesus
I don’t believe in Kennedy
I don’t believe in Buddha
I don’t believe in Mantra
I don’t believe in Gita
I don’t believe in Yoga
I don’t believe in Kings
I don’t believe in Elvis
I don’t believe in Zimmerman
I don’t believe in Beatles

The song marked his new beginning as he let go of the trappings of the past to move in a new direction- one that would eventually lead to Imagine– and its beautiful vision of a world without religion, heaven or hell.  A world focused on this life- that we spend here together on this big ol’ rock in that we call ‘Earth’ for the duration of our lifetimes.  The song remains timeless in its simple beauty- both for its music and its message.

That guy knew.

(Short aside here- again with the links and connections that I keep harping on… As I write I have Forrest Gump on in the background- 20th anniversary of that movie.  How did THAT happen?  Where has the time gone?- and it’s just at the scene where Forrest is on Dick Cavett’s show with John- ‘inspiring’ him to write Imagine.  Weird).

And then there’s this:

‘I believe we’re not alone
I believe in Beatles
I believe my little soul has grown
And I’m still so afraid…

What made my life so wonderful?
What made me feel so bad?
I used to wake up the ocean
I used to walk on clouds
If I put faith in medication
If I can smile a crooked smile
If I can talk on television
If I can walk an empty mile
Then I won’t feel afraid
No, I won’t feel afraid
I won’t be Be afraid
Anymore’

Bowie recorded that song for his 2002 album, Heathens.  Since much of it was written and produced after the attacks of September 11, 2001, most of the album illustrates the pervasive anxiety felt across the country and around the world in the immediacy of the aftermath of the terror.

He has said that the album in its entirety is one of deep questioning- hence its title and the subject matter of many of its songs.  He stated in interviews that it was reflective of our collective trauma but that he wasn’t seeking to resolve the trauma.

Great songwriters do that- as they play the Devil’s Music.  They reflect and comment upon our experiences and sometimes even posit new directions that might make a difference to our overarching existence as human beings.

Gods and devils are both concepts which we use to measure our pain.  As metaphorical markers they have value.  Our earliest attempts to understand our world use story and metaphor.  We learn- and teach- using universal concepts that resonate with us because of their apparent immutability and simplicity.

‘Good’ is better than ‘Evil’.

Pretty easy, right?

Too bad the simplicity is always complicated by greed and politics and power plays.  This inevitability is part and parcel of our human nature.

So.  If John Lennon, David Bowie and U2- and all those who came before and after them- are playing the Devil’s Music there’s even more reason to appreciate the Horned One, if you ask me.  He obviously wields some mighty influence leading to incredible songs that are also expressions of our human nature.

Sometimes you have to take the bad with the good.  Unfortunately just what fits into which designation isn’t always all that easy to discern.

Musicians contribute their voices to the battle for the maintenance of the goodness and rightness of our humanity, often speaking out against governmental and other power-based inequities and wrong-doing.

I’ve said it before.  I’ll likely say it again.

Music.  And Science.  Both associated with the Devil.  Both often running counter to the accepted traditions/norms that fight change in favour of clinging to obsolete ways of viewing our world.

I think there are patterns forming hereabouts…

 

‘4am in the morning’

A day to myself.

It’s been so long since I’ve had one of those…

All day yesterday- truly one of the longest days of my life (that whole ‘time is relative’ thing again)- I kept thinking that ‘if I can just keep standing until tomorrow…’

I have a day off.  I’ve given it to myself- and firmly told myself that I needn’t do anything today that I don’t want to be doing.  I have the rest of the week to get things done and to gear up for the start of my new job (!) next Monday.  Today is for quiet and rest and the beginning of the recovery of my resources- which are a little tapped out right now.

We hosted a lovely celebration of Dad’s life yesterday.  So many wonderful people coming together to speak about him- either as part of the ‘formal’ celebration (it was hardly formal in any traditional sense) or during the reception afterward.  So very many wonderful people.  Friends, family.  People I hadn’t seen in, literally, decades– yet who took some time out of their day to share their memories of Dad- and of Mum- and of my sisters and I when we were but wee things.

I am quite drained.  Emotionally, certainly, but physically as well.  I’m not sure what that’s about.  I feel like I’ve been running marathons or something- and I sure as heck ain’t no runner.

But I don’t do idleness well.  After sitting on the couch this morning- catching up on local news (why do I DO that to myself?), I’m itching to get something accomplished.  There are lists to be made (oh, how I love lists)- of thank you cards to be sent, tasks that need accomplishing as a means of getting going on the realities that require attention after such a loss (the legal, the financial, the day-to-day things that need de- or re-constructing)… so much still to be done.

I’m not sure I have the requisite concentration level at the moment.

But this time of transition is about more than the great loss of Dad.  That’s the biggest thing, of course, and the one that it is hardest to wrap my brain around.

But…

For the first time in over 5 years I am not looking for a job.  I am not checking the myriad online job boards I have bookmarked on the laptop, or researching potential employers to better explain my suitability to join the organization in a tailored cover letter, or adapting my CV yet again to better convey the reasons why I would be an asset to the company.

I’m sort of at a loss.

Those who say that looking for work is a full time job know what they’re talking about.  And, for years, I was doing so whilst working a full time job.  And volunteering at my Museum.

Did I mention I don’t do idleness well?  Especially enforced idleness- even if I’m the one acting as the enforcer.  I told myself that today is just about chilling.  Not sorting through papers, not catching up on chores, not taking things to the dry cleaners.  Just vegging on the couch.  With a book.  Or catching up with my WordPress peeps.  Or a movie.  Or some music.  Hanging with the cats and with me.  With no one else around.  There hasn’t been much of an opportunity for that in the past few weeks.

I know this is a temporary thing.  I will be kept on my toes once the new job begins- lots to learn, people to meet- and I hope to pick up the volunteering again- slowly, and possibly in different ways than before- as I settle into a new routine.  I’ll be back running and feeling like there aren’t enough hours in a day in no time- of this I have no doubt.

So today is supposed to be about time for a little reflection and to catch my breath and sort through my own head a little.  Even though I was there when it happened- peacefully, and with the three of us at his side- I still have moments when I just can’t believe that he’s gone.

There is much to be taken on board.  Much of the ground beneath my feet has been rendered somewhat treacherous for the gaps in the foundations.

Ever since the Shuffle Daemon managed to shake me out of the total lack of clarity I was feeling after Dad died (as least insofar as I claim any real return to clarity.  I remain in more of a fog than is usual- even for me) I’ve been letting Mike Oldfield help soothe the jangled nerves.

Sometimes this is a little counter-intuitive.  Much of music is pretty much the opposite of ‘soothing’.  His hugely elaborate Tubular Bells (1, 2, 3 and the Millennium Bell) and Hergest Ridge albums feature movements that can shock you either awake or into awareness with their power.  The guy- and his talent (he plays all guitars- bass and otherwise- organs, glockenspiel, mandolin, bells- tubular and otherwise- and timpani.  Basically all the instruments)- are pretty staggering at times.  He was 19 when he recorded Tubular Bells.  19.   NINE-bleeping-TEEN.

But, in addition to the wondrous orchestral masterpieces, he has a number of songs that are more in keeping with the ‘singles’ that you might hear on the radio (radio still exists, right?)- with vocalists and everything.

The Shuffle Daemon seems sort of stuck in the way in which it is rolling out these songs for my listening pleasure.  In addition to the song I wrote about the other day- and included in the post I wrote about Dad, which I managed to read at the celebration yesterday- two others keep popping up, both featuring the wonderful vocals of Maggie Reilly.

Family Man tells the tale of the unsolicited attention that a gentleman receives whilst in a bar one evening- and his insistence that he isn’t ‘that type of guy’.  Nothing, really, to do with any of the memories I have of Dad, of course (but, as I noted the other day, our parents were people before they were parents, so who knows…) beyond the title.  Dad was certainly a family man.  We were the centre of his world- of that there was never any doubt- and my Mum was the love of his life.

Hall and Oates did a cover version of this song- which changes its tone quite completely.  At the end of their version the family man in question succumbs to the lure of the ‘lady of the night’- although it was too late to manifest his illicit choice.  And the quintessentially 80s video is so endearing in its cheesiness.  The clothes.  The production values.  That moustache!

And then there’s this song.

This lovely live version of the song- while lacking the crashing Oldfield-esque guitars of the album version- highlights the sense of loss that the lyrics evoke so beautifully.

It’s hard to choose a favourite from amongst the works of this guy.  Heaven’s Open is up there- for many of the reasons I discussed the other day- and for all the new associations that it has brought to me this week.  His artistry makes it reallyreally hard to pick one song above the others.

But Moonlight Shadow.  Moonlight Shadow.  I can remember the first time I heard it- and the many many many nights I’d sit in my bedroom listening to it on repeat.

‘The last that ever she saw him, carried away by a moonlight shadow,
He passed on worried and warning, carried away by a moonlight shadow,
Lost in a riddle that Saturday night, far away on the other side,
he was caught in the middle of a desperate fight, and she couldn’t find how to push through.

The trees that whisper in the evening, carried away by a moonlight shadow,
Sing the song of sorrow and grieving, carried away by a moonlight shadow,
All she saw was a silhouette of a gun, far away on the other side,
He was shot six times by a man on the run, and she couldn’t find how to push through.

I stay, I pray, I see you in heaven far away,
I stay, I pray, I see you in heaven one day.

Four a.m. in the morning, carried away by a moonlight shadow,
I watched your vision forming, carried away by a moonlight shadow,
Star was glowin’ in a silvery night, far away on the other side,
Will you come to talk to me this night, but she couldn’t find how to push through’

Some have suggested that it was written in response to the murder of John Lennon (despite the lack of correspondence between the timing of the events of that tragedy and those in the song), and Mike has allowed that it may have had some level of influence.  He had arrived in New York the day of the murder, and was staying a short hop away from the Dakota where Lennon’s profound voice was silenced.  Mainly though, he was thinking about a film he had loved about Harry Houdini (starring Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh), particularly about attempts to contact the late illusionist after he had died.

Like Mike, I am fascinated by the life and times of Harry Houdini- particularly by his attempts to expose false spiritualists who made money from the pain and loss of others.  I loved that about him.  That, and the close connection the guy had to his mother, and the loving relationship- which encompassed both the business and the personal- he and his wife Bess shared throughout their life together.

This song resonates, for me, personally, on a very specific level.  Years and years ago, my grandfather (Dad’s Dad) was staying with us while Dad was out of town on business.  One night, very late, I woke up and heard someone moving around in the kitchen.  Grandpa was down there, opening and closing the refrigerator door and wandering pretty aimlessly.  I asked him what was up, and he admitted to feeling restless and if something was wrong.  I put the kettle on and sat with him at the kitchen table.  In my memory of the event, I glanced at the cuckoo clock my parents had brought back from Switzerland, noting that it was 4 am, just before the phone rang.  The phone call informed my Grandpa that his youngest brother had just died.

A couple of years later, my Mum woke me up to say that she and Grandma (who was staying with us while Grandpa was in the hospital- Dad was out of town with work again) had to go out for a bit.  I was in charge- although my sisters were sound asleep.  I dozed off again, but startled awake not long after, feeling as if something was wrong, but also overcome by the feeling that my Grandfather was with me.

Unable to fall back to sleep, I went upstairs (I was sleeping in the basement, since Grandma had my room) and turned on the tv- catching the late night replay of CBC’s Video Hits.  A little while later they came home- surprised to find me awake in the middle of the night- and told me that Grandpa was gone.  It was 4am.

After Dad was moved back to hospital from the rehab clinic where he had seemed to be making solid progress, I found myself waking up in the middle of every single night.  Each and every time at 4am.  After the first couple of nights I didn’t even bother checking the clock.  I’d settle in on the couch, cell phone beside me, awaiting the phone call I felt would inevitably come.

When the call did come, it wasn’t at 4am.  For the first time in weeks I had slept through my own personal witching hour, until the nurse called me at 5:30.  As I called my sisters and arranged to pick them up to head to the hospital to be with Dad, a big part of me was honestly thinking that this couldn’t possibly be it.  It wasn’t 4am.  We had passed the ‘danger time’.

I don’t know why Mike Oldfield chose 4am as the pivotal time in his most wonderful of songs (I also don’t know why he included the redundancy ‘4am in the morning’– but I’ve tried to let that go in the name of artistic licence and lyrical metre) but it has always served to very personally connect me to the song.

4am is random- even when I look at my own experiences of that particular time of day/night.  It does serve to reinforce my awareness that we are all connected- to those we love and to those in the larger world who have had the same types of experiences- of family, of love, of loss- and that we all seek to share those experiences in the best ways we can.

Mike Oldfield is a musical genius.  He expresses and shares that genius through his songs.  My family and friends contribute their own forms of genius on a daily basis- sending their strengths and insights out into the wider world, and teaching me as I am touched by their examples.

So, even though it is my ‘day off’, I can let myself get away with ‘working’ since I am still taking my own prescription to chill and try to absorb all that has happened lately.  Writing, for me, can be work, certainly.  But it is also therapy- and the way I sort through my own feelings and experiences as I attempt to make manifest the gift of my life- and share the things that I have learned at the feet of teachers greater than myself.

PS- Even though I have run on more than long enough (even for me, this post is extremely long-winded), I need to thank all of you- here in my WordPress world- for the beautiful messages of condolence that you have offered in the past few days.  Anyone who claims that the online world is lacking in humanity or any sense of real connection certainly isn’t hanging with peeps like you all.  The messages are lovingly received with gratitude.

And a special shout out to Rachel at Rachel Carrera, Novelist for her kindness in nominating me for a couple of lovely blogging awards.  As usual, please, if you are so inclined, take some time to browse her site, and those of the other wonderful writers that I am lucky enough to interact with regularly here at colemining.  People are awesome.

Dad

He was my first ‘follower’.

When, after thinking and talking about it for ages, I finally started this blog as a way of writing about some of the things that I deem important, my Dad was the first one to subscribe to colemining.  Even though the blogging world was a bit of a terra incognita to him.

He always encouraged us- me and my two sisters, and pretty much anyone else who came into his charismatic sphere and stayed for any length of time- and he knew that I had things to say that needed to be said.

He was my biggest fan.

Always.

We were so very fortunate- growing up and now, as adults- to have been raised by parents (and an extended family of grandparents and aunts and uncles- biological and otherwise) who encouraged us to find our own way in the world and pursue those things that most resonated with us, personally.

You see, they knew that they had raised us to be concerned about things larger than just us, that they had instilled in us the reality that we are part of a community.  They trusted us- and they trusted themselves- enough to know that they had created three responsible, independent and thinking citizens of the world.  Individuals who learned the most important lessons that can be taught- and who will hold firm to the mandate that shaped both their lives: that we are all required to do our best to leave this world a better place than we found it.

Our own paths- guided by intelligence (both inherited and nurtured) and kindness- perhaps kindness above all else- are the legacy of two wonderful people that anyone who ever met them feels privileged to have known.  Being supremely lucky, I got to have them as my parents.

When Mum was diagnosed with a form of early-onset dementia, Dad became her constant and always-doting companion and care-giver.  We often forget that our parents were people before they became our parents, but, through Mum’s long illness until her eventual death, we got to witness the playing out of a love story that Hollywood couldn’t come close to imagining.

One of their oldest, dearest friends sent this memory to me- all the way from Australia:

It is always so sad to lose one’s parents, regardless of their age or yours. It is the end of an era. Take comfort in the fact that he had a great, happy, long and useful life. When we were young and used to go out together, it was such a joy to see your parents — a couple so very much in love — I think your Dad beamed from ear to ear during the whole of their wedding ceremony! It was also the very first time that they had ever met or even heard of (her boyfriend at the time, now husband of many decades) as I was otherwise engaged, so the invitation did not include his name. Whilst other friends heartily dispproved, when I contacted your parents, they graciously said, “whoever you choose and want to bring to our wedding is alright by us. We want you to be happy and you both will always be welcome in our house” and they certainly stood by their word and the rest is history. We have never forgotten their kindness and generosity over the years.’

And this:

 ‘How time flies — it seems like yesterday when your Mum would call home to see if Rick had written and if there was a letter, she’d fly home during lunch hour to get it. So all of us knew that it HAD to be serious! Your paternal grandmother said she KNEW it WAS, as she didn’t think that your Dad was capable of holding a pen in his hand, let alone producing a letter as he had never ever written to HER when he was away so Betty HAD to be very special to get even one line from him!’

That last bit was news to me and is so veryvery ironic, I can’t even tell you.  It has become a running joke- in our family and beyond- that Dad must be on the no-fly lists of a whole bunch of countries- starting with our own.  He LOVED to write letters.  To politicians, especially.  And had NO problem AT ALL spelling out exactly where they are falling short of his expectations of them- and the responsibilities of the job to which they were elected.  (See?  I come by it honestly.)  I guess all those love letters he wrote Mum served to loosen his pen…

I lost my Dad this week.

We lost my Dad this week.  My sisters and I, and everyone who knew him.  The condolences and memories that are flooding in a constant stream into inboxes and voicemailboxes are markers of the impact that this man had on his world.

You may not be aware of it, but those of you who are kind enough to spend some of your precious time hanging with me here in the WordPress World also lost him.

All the words I write, all the truths I seek to discover and all the stories I try to tell, they all have a kernel- and sometimes a great deal more than a kernel- of my Dad at their heart.

Another of his lovely friends wrote this in an email to me today:

‘When I think of your dad I always think of him as a seeker of knowledge and truth.   I see him with his beloved books reading passages to us that he thought needed to be read aloud and discussed.

I think of him in the middle of many and varied lively conversations holding us accountable for our opinions…

I don’t need to tell you how proud he was of the three of you. He wanted you all to find your own path and pursue it with zest. He would tell us all about what was going on in your lives. (Don’t worry he didn’t divulge any of your secrets).  He loved to read your “colemining” blog and was especially touched when you wrote about your grandfather.’

Yes.  I definitely come by it honestly.  I am my father’s child.  Of that, there is no doubt.

He was proud of us.  There is, truly, no higher praise.

I was proud of him.  All my life.  The person he was filled me with constant pride and amazement.  His ethical conscience and concern with social justice was unmatched.  His life was spent in service to others- to ideals that are bigger than any one person, certainly, yet, somehow, seemed summed up in his very being.

He led by example, instilling in us the reality that boundaries- of race, religion, socioeconomic situation- are human creations– and, as such, subject to constant examination and re-evaluation.  Prejudice- of any kind- is unacceptable.  Unexamined beliefs have no place in rational discourse.  People matter.  Outdated ideologies do not.  Except as cautionary tales and reminders of how far we have evolved and developed as civilizations.

The Shuffle Daemon hit me hard, on the way home this evening.  It does that, sometimes.  Picks up on what I’m thinking and figures out just what I need to hear.

This is that morning
It’s waiting for you
The face of destiny
Standing before you

This is zero hour
Now is for you
Can you feel that power
Inside of you?

Through this priceless moment
In your possession
Answers to mysteries
Stand in succession

This is zero hour
And there’s no way back
Can you feel that power?
In its arms you’re wrapped

All through the night-time
‘Til the sun comes in
Now heaven’s open
Just to fly right in

Now you stand in that garden
This is that vision
Out on the world’s edge
It’s your baptism

This is zero hour
And your hands are free
Can you feel that power?
It’s ecstasy…

There is irony, I realize, in including a song called Heaven’s Open (the version isn’t the best quality, TBH, but it’s the only one I could find) in a post dedicated to my father.  Dad didn’t believe in heaven.  He was all about the importance of this world– and about living a life that positively affected this world.  If he believed at all in destiny– it was about the need to create and fulfill one’s own goals- schooled in experience and education and awareness and engagement with the world around him.

You gotta know that I don’t believe in heaven.  But, as I wrote in the post I reblogged yesterday, the idea of heaven, as a metaphor, or archetype, drawn from our shared mythology as a means of dealing with loss and pain, is beautiful, and so very human in its hopefulness.   So that, along with the evocative power of the lyrics of that song…

The Shuffle Daemon knows.

Mike (or, in this case, Michael) wrote the song in 1991 as part of the final album he was contractually obligated to provide for Virgin Records- with whom he had something of a contentious relationship (after he pretty much ensured the success of the label for that Branson guy with the success of Tubular Bells).  It’s a kiss off.  A lovely and elegant kiss off, but a kiss off all the same.  It’s about new beginnings- and it’s about finding the power within oneself to move past the things that have kept you stagnating.  Or imprisoned.  Or confined in any way at all.

I love Mike Oldfield.  He is a musical master.  And an interesting character.

I love my Dad.  Dad loved music.  It was a significant part of his life and he made sure that it was a significant part of ours.  He was also an interesting character.

He spent much of the last few months imprisoned by his own body, laid low by various infections that the doctors couldn’t quite seem to get a handle on controlling.

He’s not imprisoned any longer.

Thank you for giving us the tools to create our destinies, Dad.  Wrapped in the arms of the power you gave us, we will try to live up to your example.  We will leave the world a better place than the one we inherited.  Just as soon as we figure out how to navigate a world without you in it.  Which we will.  Eventually.  You taught us well.

Heaven’s Open, Dad.  Fly right in.