Saturday, October 18, 2014

Coming Down by Anais Mitchell

Sometimes, you can say a lot with a little. Sometimes by leaving things out, you allow folks the freedom to fill it in. In this very beautiful song, I think Anais Mitchell says just enough.

I never felt so high,
I never felt so high, 
I never felt so high,
I think I'm coming down.

The music is also sparse. The video (at the bottom of the post) too, taking place in a room containing little besides a mechanical film projector. Black and white video evokes nostalgia for high times. 

I never laughed so loud,
I never laughed so loud,
I never laughed so loud.
I think I'm coming down.

Please, don't leave me,
Easy feeling.
Don't leave me like that.
Not yet.
Don't set me free...

I like here how she boils the emotion down to a feeling rather than a particular person or experience. 
My mind fills in the gaps with new love, meditation retreats, and psychedelic adventures amongst other things. Yours?

Nothing gonna stop me now,
Nothing gonna stop me now,
 Nothing gonna stop me now...

Paul @

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Well Worn Welcome Home by Paul Russell

There's a great documentary about Bob Dylan by Martin Scorsese called No Direction Home. In the film, Dylan answers a question about the impetus for his musical journey and his answer includes this striking line, "I was born very far from where I'm supposed to be, and so I'm on my way home." Here's a video clip of that particular segment -> No Direction Home.

“As wide as you travel, 
as far as you roam,
As your old life unravels
and your new life unfolds,
Here’s a place to put your feet up; 
to rest your world-weary bones,
A well worn welcome home.
A place where we can simply be
At ease with ourselves & each other.”

Home is where the heart is. It’s a simple truth, and with this song I did my best to convey a sense of coming home to serve as a reminder and guidepost for me and anyone else who could use it.

Above is a photo of my ideal home. It is pretty Hobbity, I admit. Hobbitesque, you say? No, just Hobbity. A cabin of wood and stone. Hot tea. Warm soup. Home. Very earthy. (I tend to be such a space case that a grounding environment is a big help.)

My good friend, it's been way too long,
Since we raised our voices together,
and listened real close for the sound of the song,
That's carried on the wind, and rustling in the leaves.
It's singing with the birds that are singing in the trees.
It's a song long forgotten and covered by the snows,
until the sun comes and thaws
all the places where this heart had froze.
Now it's warm and I remember,
And this is how it goes...

I wrote this song after break-ups with a job, girlfriend, and mentor in close succession. Afterwards, I moved out of a cookie cutter suburban townhouse and into a tiny mountain apartment - a good move towards Hobbity. Contact with nature did a lot to heal my heart and to bring me back into contact with something simple and essential.

"Through the days
and the dark lonely nights,
When we lived in the shadows
and we begged for the light,
Where we wrestled with falsehood
in search for what’s true,
And wondered how
we’d ever come through. 
Sometimes I still do.
It’s so good to see you."

All this remembering and forgetting. Is it something like a divine game of peek-a-boo, or what?!

Paul @

Friday, October 21, 2011

If You Don’t Get it at Home by Greg Brown

Listen to the song here --> If You Don't Get It at Home

This is one of my favorite songs. Greg Brown takes this pithy title, "If You Don't Get it at Home, You're Gonna Go Looking" and proceeds to deepen and transform the meaning with each verse. Masterful, really.

Here's the chorus:

“If you don’t get it at home, 
you’re gonna go looking.
If you don’t get it at home, 
The need for love
Won't leave you alone,
And if you don’t get it at home, 
you’re gonna go looking."

Damn, Greg! Tell it like it is. Now, maybe it's just me, but I think about 8 of 10 folks think of sex in the place of 'it' when they hear the title. You know 'it'. Did you do 'it'? Get 'it' on. 'It' is like a linguistic fig leaf to cover culturally conditioned sexual shame. So naturally, when given half a chance, the mind goes 'there' to 'it'. But check it out, Greg zigs where we expect him to zag and goes instead to a potential sexual outcome, a child.

 “Children they don’t need a lot of stuff. 
Children sure do need a lot of love.
They need love to give them pride,
to make them feel real good inside.
If they don’t get it at home, 
they’re gonna go looking”

Gabor Maté is a Canadian healer and psychologist who has invested his career in researching and applying means to transform drug addiction. He says that a common name for heroin and opium is mother's milk. Thus, it serves as a substitute for the feelings of safety and well being that are ideally transmitted to us as infants (and before). To whatever degree this and other needs are not met, we enter a process of trying to get them met in, well, other ways.

Here is an emotionally moving Ted talk on the subject by Gabor Maté - The Power of Addiction.

 "Lovers got to feel it 
real and strong.
One kiss can mean more
than making it all night long.
With no kiss and no embrace,
You get to feeling out of place.
And if you don't get it at home, 
You'll go looking."

Ok, now sex. 'It' has got to involve physical, emotional, imaginative, and devotional elements or it's incomplete, no? And then...

 "It ain't down at the bottom of a jug,
and it ain't in the broke-down palace of drugs.
It's right there in our hearts,
That's where we gotta start. 
If we don't get it at home we'll go looking."

Such great songwriting. The meaning of the title gets opened up by being turned around, or within. Big moment! Although we may be far along in a misplaced search for unmet needs, and gnarled and bent with cultural and familial baggage, becoming adult involves stepping up and taking claim of our inheritance including both its garbage and treasure. Take courage!

Here's a very potent work on the subject: Jodorowsky - Metageneology: Family, a Treasure and a Trap. The link includes a 100 page preview of the book.


"As the branch is bent,
so shall it grow.
That might be true but even so,
A strong wind of real love 
Will straighten us right back up,
And we might find a place
our heart is welcome."

Unconditional love. I've heard that it's closer to our heart than our heartbeat.

Paul @

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

BeesWing by Richard Thompson

 "Oh she was a rare thing, fine as a bee's wing.
So fine a breath of wind might blow her away.
She was a lost child, oh she was running wild.
She said, "As long as there's no price on love, I'll stay.
And you wouldn't want me any other way.""

BeesWing is a touching character portrait sung by English musician Richard Thompson. It is a song that tells a beautiful and tragic tale illuminating something of the fragility and vulnerability of love and of life and how our human heart tries to bear it.

"Brown hair zig-zag around her face,
and a look of half-surprise.
Like a fox caught in the headlights, 

there was animal in her eyes.
She said "Young man, oh can't you see,

I'm not the factory kind.
If you don't take me out of here,

I'll surely lose my mind.""

I will guess that this woman is irresponsible but very responsive in love. And who IS "the factory kind?!" This wildness that I've seen in the eyes and felt in the hearts of a number of women can be maddeningly attractive and also quite destructive. What brings this about?

"We busked around the market towns
and picked fruit down in Kent.
And we could tinker lamps and pots
and knives wherever we went.
And I said that we might settle down, 
get a few acres dug,
Fire burning in the hearth 
and babies on the rug.
She said -Oh man, you foolish man, 
it surely sounds like hell.
You might be lord of half the world, 
you'll not own me as well.

One longs for stability and the other for motion, yet both long for love. In this song, never the twain did meet as one ends up longing for love lost "I miss her more than ever words could say" while the other wastes away "...they say her flower is faded now, hard weather and hard booze." Can the endless procession of relationships that end in suffering be transformed somehow?

Love, Paul @

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Iron and Wine (Postal Service) - Such Great Heights

I am thinking it's a sign
That the freckles in our eyes are mirror images
And when we kiss they're perfectly aligned.

These lyrics are so sweetly romantic as the lyricist edges shyly toward the mystic. It brings me to stop and reflect on the beauty of love where two long so deeply to live as one. Where else in the ordinary life do we get such a strong sense of longing to penetrate through the appearances of separation into the unity of things. Every wedding ceremony that I’ve been to, no matter how immersed in trivialities the surroundings appear to be, I've felt a window of holiness open. A flash of lightning in the dark of night. A momentary ascent to such great heights. Tragically, it doesn’t seem to me that our culture supports these openings in any substantial way, and the descents appear to be coming ever more hard, fast and frequent.

And I have to speculate
That God himself did make us 
Into corresponding shapes
Like puzzle pieces from the clay.

I’m currently reading the wonderful book Inner Revolution by Robert Thurman. A significant portion of the book chronicles the spiritual ascent of Tibet around the middle of the second millennium. The outer form the ascent took the shape of a culture that held the spiritual development of the populace as the highest priority. The culmination of the year was a prayer festival where it is said that a spiritual world of unity (like puzzle pieces from the clay), love, compassion, wisdom, and infinite joy was clearly manifest for all to participate in to their deepest heart’s content. It seems to me that the bizarre shadow of this celebration of divinity manifests in our materialistic swampland of a culture in the form of the drunken mindless glittery tinsel confetti strewn descent of a giant disco ball. I miss the prayer celebration.

They will see us waving from such great heights,
“Come down now,” they'll say.
But everything looks perfect from far away,
“Come down now.”
But we'll stay...

To me, this sublime chorus lucidly and radiantly defies the dictates of a soul dead culture. I hope this couple will stay at such great heights forever and ever. For bringing this song to the world, I think they deserve it.

Love, Paul @

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Back at the Scene of Our Beautiful Crime

 "I went back to the scene 
of our beautiful crime,
A sweet insurrection
in mythical time.
The atmosphere steeped
in the colors of dreaming,
Our silence was deep
and it quivered with meaning.
  We tore down the artifice 
and took back the art, 
Stripped off romance
and dove deep in the heart, 
Shattered the masks
and our faces did shine,  
Back at the scene of our beautiful crime."

Many elements of our so-called culture appear to me to be mad. Mad as a fucking hatter. Upside down to the extent that many acts of sanity have come to be regarded as criminal. I submit that acts of sanity in an insane world are not only not criminal, but are indeed beautiful. Beautiful crimes!

We tore down the artifice and took back the art,
Strong among the influences of Our Beautiful Crime 
are the writings of Hakim Bey, Temporary Autonomous 
Zone especially. In this seminal work, Bey gives widely 
and wildly varying examples of ethereal free spaces ranging 
from pirate enclaves to quilting bees, but the common root 
of every TAZ is an unmediated exchange.

We stripped off romance and dove deep in the heart,
I think that many of us share a disdain for the mass marketed hallmark holiday. Fundamentally, in our heart of hearts we 
reject any substitution for love. Many a beautiful golden 
ornament has been spurned, not for its lack of beauty, 
but for its subterfuge in acting as a stunt double 
for the immediacy of our unbridled affection. 

 We shattered the masks and our faces did shine,
What can account for the radiant beauty of a person’s
countenance after naught but a week of sitting meditation? 
What can account for how humor and sublime delight
can flow without impedance when a psychedelic loosens 
the laces of a rigidly “socialized” personality? 
And how about the way love can break us open? 

Back at The Scene of Our Beautiful Crime.
This is where our artificial needs are released and our 
true desires realized. This is where a scattered smattering 
of apparently random encounters connect and reveal a 
meaningful design. This is the hidden enclave where the 
musician meets his consort, his Daemon, his Muse.

"People said we’d gone mad, 
that we’d lost our way,
That our dreams we’re unreal
and our lives lived in vain.
But we followed our hearts
as they ached and they strived,
And emerged from a dark
with a light in our eyes."

 Artwork by Banksy.
 The artists website:


BEaUTiFUL CRImE Roll Call!

Rob Brezsny’s Pronoia
His beauty and truth lab is 
an insurrectionary institution. 
Long may it thrive!

Hakim Bey’s introduction 
of the TAZ into our culture 
gave birth to Burning Man. 

The Continuum Concept
by Jean Liedloff about
the ancient wisdom of
raising sane children.
A very beautiful crime!  


Commit and submit your beautiful crimes
and suggestions for the roll call, y'all!
Love, Paul @

Monday, September 12, 2011

Leonard Cohen - A Thousand Kisses Deep


“The ponies run, the girls are young, 
The odds are there to beat.
You win a while and then it’s done,
Your little winning streak.
And summoned now to deal

With your invincible defeat,
You live your life as if it’s real,

A thousand kisses deep.”

I walked into a “family entertainment center” yesterday and my senses were assaulted by clanging bells and whirling lights in an environment more overtly disorienting than a Las Vegas casino. In this vortex of confusion, kids petition adults for metal tokens to feed hypnotic machines that promise the reward of paper tickets to be traded in for plastic toys. As a matter of course, the real “reward” ends up being depleted energies and fragmented attention.

“I’m turning tricks, I’m getting fixed, 
I’m back on Boogie Street.
You lose your grip,
and then you slip into the masterpiece.
And maybe I had miles to drive,
and promises to keep. 
You ditch it all to stay alive
  A thousand kisses deep.”

The Soul’s Code by James Hillman is one of my most treasured books. In it Hillman speaks of the Daemon, a kind of guardian angel or inborn sense of our deeper purpose; our “promises to keep.” But we forget. We lose our way amongst metal tokens, paper tickets, and plastic toys.

The first two verses of the song portray our forgetfulness in a strangely familiar wet dream of gambling, blossoming sexuality, prostitution, impotence, and maybe a drug fix. From this perspective, what can the soul do but desire but to escape from this “family entertainment center.” Masterpiece? Ha!

“And sometimes when the night is slow, 
The wretched and the meek,
We gather up our hearts and go
A thousand kisses deep.”

But now, with impeccable craftsmanship and bodhisattva spirit, Cohen begins to radically shift our perspective regarding what it means to live a thousand kisses deep. Where once we saw only a quagmire of meaningless pursuits, now we see an intentional act of preparation to enter into this same realm with a new compassionate intent.

“Confined to sex, 
We pressed against the limits of the sea.
I saw there were no oceans left 

for scavengers like me.
I made it to the forward deck, 

I blessed our remnant fleet, 
And then consented to be wrecked, 
A thousand kisses deep.”

Leonard Cohen is no world denier. He doesn't deny the beauty of our sensual world, but it seems to me that he's gone to the edge and understood how even in personal fulfillment we're left thirsty. Our time here is limited, but our soul longs for an experience of the limitless. I dig how in this song, with a shift of perspective and lift in consciousness, meaning is found in the same place where it is lost.

paul @