Recently in Music Category

Piano Cover: Fix You

| By Paul | | Comments (16)

When you try your best, but you don't succeed
When you get what you want, but not what you need
When you feel so tired, but you can't sleep
Stuck in reverse

And the tears come streaming down your face
When you lose something you can't replace
When you love someone, but it goes to waste
Could it be worse?

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

And high up above or down below
When you're too in love to let it go
But if you never try you'll never know
Just what you're worth

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

Tears stream down your face
When you lose something you cannot replace
Tears stream down your face
And I...

Tears stream down your face
I promise you I will learn from my mistakes
Tears stream down your face
And I...

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

I really love this song. For me it is about trying in the face of failure, grief, finding oneself, and hope. "I will try to fix you", is for me a self-directed message to all of me. What does it mean for you?

Thank you for listening!


Unnamed Ballad

| By Paul | | Comments (14)

Yet another month has passed and I still find that I am having trouble writing publicly. Last month I wrote about it perhaps being a worry about being unoriginal after nearly two hundred posts. But I think has more to do with being public. I definitely feel more private about this aspect of my life nowadays. That does not mean, however, that I am ashamed of it. Rather, sharing publicly does not feel as safe as it once did.

That said, it is perhaps ironic that I have started several articles on a range of different topics, many of them have been explored in my private journal. Mind Parts has always been about providing me with an opportunity to synthesize my journal "wanderings" into clearer statements. So, we will see where that goes and how I sort this out.

For this month, I will share another piano recording of mine. It is in the key of G-minor, a key I almost never play.

The process is simple. I noodle around at the keyboard, then come to some chord progressions that I like. I write them out, then I improvise over those chords. The process is very much like an internal check-in. It has the effect, usually, of helping me become unstuck and create a flow of feeling. It is very much a "wandering" but it also has a sense of direction.

Near the beginning of this month, I recorded these same chord progressions. Back then it was about having many aspects of myself contributing. The recording had a little bit of everything in it. At the time, I wrote about this immense internal flow, which felt absolutely incredible. But I was not able to sustain holding all those parts of myself in the fore at the same time. Shortly after, it all broke down.

I am now recovering, and it is no surprise that this recording from last night is more reserved. It may not have as much interest as the last, but I feel as though I am in a much better place. This place I am in does not come at the cost of restraining parts of me. There is just more balance now and the "temperature" of me as a system is much lower.

I hope you enjoy it!


Chopin Prélude No. 4

| By Paul | | Comments (6)

I have had a difficult time writing publicly. I am not sure why that is. It may be that when I start to write, I realize I have said something quite similar before. I cannot stand not being original! I think they call that writer's block or not being very creative. I am not really sure.

Lately, however, my music has been original and creative.

A couple of years ago I would cringe to record, let alone share, me playing classical music. That is not the case now. In many ways I was stymied by the expectation that performing classical music be precise. That was how I was taught. No teacher ever told me that it was all right to "interpret" the music in my own way.

So I did that on my own, in private. And when I had lessons, I tried to play it "right", as the teachers "expected".

There is a life lesson in there.

In so many areas of life, we are taught to not be creative. Creative students are often looked at as nerds by other students. They sometimes make their teachers feel uncomfortable. They are different. They stand out.

Sports are probably one area where one is almost always positively rewarded for being creative. If you get the basketball in falling backwards, shooting with your non-dominant hand, as the opposing team fouls you, you're a hero.

However, if you make a painting that doesn't look like any of the other kids in class or you know π to 100 places, well that's most likely a different story. And that's unfortunate.

Not only did I have to hide the fact that I "interpreted" classical music in my own way, but it has taken me a long time to share it with others. I think that is because I have trouble sharing something this personal about myself. In this piece, for example, my emotions are directly attached to the music.

The Chopin Prélude No. 4 is probably the most emotive classical piano piece I have ever heard.

There is also a lesson about healing.

I believe healing from deep emotional wounds also requires creativity. Often, the problems we face are just too large to be solved by "one size fits all" approaches. Ultimately each of us learns that if our commitment to healing is solely going to therapy once a week, we will probably not heal.

Each of us must find out own path, whatever that is. Some of us may find healing in riding horses, in a certain type of yoga, in a sport, in art, in an intellectual pursuit, in love.

And that path is unique to each of us, which by definition makes it creative.


Hallelujah Piano Cover

| By Paul | | Comments (31)

Music has always been healing for me. While I have always found listening to music helpful, I have gained far more from creating and performing music. I have shared here a few covers over the past couple years—see my Music Gallery. While those pieces mean a lot to me, and I am glad I shared them, there has always been a fair amount of difficulty "sharing myself" through my music in any kind of public way that is emotionally authentic. As a result, how I play in private is almost always very different from how I play in public. I could attribute it to nerves, and there would be some truth to that.

But there is a history here that I should perhaps explain. When I was getting hurt as a kid and young adult, the only way I had to express my deep sadness was through my music. I would often play the piano, as I do now, with a a good deal of expression and emotion, often at night. I knew exactly what I was doing. I filled the house with music. It was a music that cried. And spoke. It was a language that was saying I was getting hurt. It was, of course, not a language my parents could decipher. They just heard it as beautiful and it serenaded them to sleep.

I played mostly classical, often Beethoven, and some emotional popular music. It was not until I was in my 20s and had begun my path to healing, that I learned to improvise. I learned that I could take a melody or a chord progression and just play with it, take it inside, attach my feelings to it, then make those feelings heard. It was freeing for me.

This recording is my take on Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. I first heard the song on the soundtrack to the clergy abuse movie "Deliver Us From Evil" about 2 years ago. Since then, it has been the song I play that is sort of akin to praying for me. It allows me to feel spiritual and close to God. I guess there is no better way to say it.

The first verse has particular meaning to me:

Now I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do you?
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah

The part of me who was most hurt in the context of religion is also the part of me who plays piano. And, so, for me this is a validation that my music somehow does indeed allow me to get closer to God.

The rest of the song is about love and sex and how that alters his relation to God. I see that in a very specific way. For me, I see what happened to me as so greatly altering my life, and in this sense I think about the lyrics as a sort of grieving.

While the lyrics are masterful, the original Cohen recording, for me, is not at all emotional or inspiring. For one, it is in the key of C and it sticks robotically to the 12/8 time. Jeff Buckley's guitar version stands out and gave the song attention it did not initially enjoy. It has since been covered by practically everyone, including Bon Jovi and Justin Timberlake. The one that I have found most inspiring, though perhaps a bit too elaborate, is k.d. lang's version which has been prominently featured many times, most recently at the opening ceremonies of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. Espen Lind's version, with Kurt Nilsen, Alejandro Fuentes and Askil Holm is also wonderfully done.

I take a rather reflective approach, which one can do as an instrumental. And I keep the voicings rather simple because I find that more meaningful. This recording of mine is in the key of A, for the simple reason that it is the best key for my voice. I often sing along in private as I play this piece, which has its own healing aspects to it. It is also in 4/4 time.

I have been wanting to record this for the past year. The timing now is right. Easter is traditionally very difficult for me. Last year I was in the hospital. And this year is very difficult. Sharing this piece here and now just feels like the right thing to do.

I hope you enjoy it.


Guardian Angels

| By Paul | | Comments (20)

As I wrote last year, I know this holiday period is difficult for many. I have not thought much about it this year. Christmas is certainly not as charged for me as Easter or Halloween is, both of which I spend a good deal of time preparing for.

But with "My Healing Guide" today, we did talk about my plans for the upcoming Christmas weekend and what some of the issues are that may come up for me. During the course of our discussion, we talked about a certain memorable song. Recorded in 1951, "Guardian Angels" was on Mario Lanza's christmas album. For many years while I was growing up, I played this song on our vinyl record player, often on Christmas Eve.

When listening to the song today, I was immediately in touch with what it meant to me so long ago. It was the first time in a long time, aside from flashbacks, that I had such a direct connection to the past. It is fitting, perhaps, that a year that has seen so much progress and so many changes, would lead to this deep connection.

The song—with its lyrics, operatic solo, and full chorus—has a heavenly quality to it and direct spiritual or religious connections.

Guardian angels around my bed
Joining me in my prayers
They hush the shadows when they dance about
They shoo away the bears

Guardian angels to comfort me
If I wake in the night
They gather all my dreams
Their halos are my light

They dry my tears
If I should weep
They tuck me in
They rouse me from my sleep

Guardian angels around my bed
Standing by till I rise
There's one with shining wings that holds my hand
And shows me Paradise

For me, nights were filled with fear. "Shadows", "bears", "discomfort", and bad "dreams" were the norm. The image of guardian angels protecting me was one that I found extremely comforting. I believed, and still do, in God, Heaven, and angels.

While I did not consider it back then, listening to the song was not just comforting. It was much more than that. First and foremost, it was validating. I can never doubt my past because I clearly remember it in the context of this song. I knew what was going on. I knew I was being abused. But, more than that, the song provided an opportunity for me to grieve about the position I was in. I cried along with song.

They were good tears because the message was hopeful. I knew full well that "Paradise" meant Heaven. Looking back today and being connected to what I felt way back, I realized that I longed for the safety of Heaven. It was not clear to me how I would get there. I know part of me understood one way was by dying, and that did not feel too far off to parts of me.

But today I realized that while I may have had help from my guardian angels over the years, I have the power to create safety and healing in my life. I have the power to create my own "Paradise" here on Earth. I have the power to chase away the bears and shed light on the shadows. That is all possible because of the progress I have made.

"Guardian Angels" can be found on the album Christmas With Mario Lanza on iTunes.


Piano Dream

| By Paul | | TrackBacks (1) | Comments (22)

I do not generally post my dreams or nightmares. I just think they are usually so far out there that they will be of no use to others. This one is no exception. But I am posting it today because it will help provide context for the next post later this week.

In the dream, I was with my wife and and eldest daughter at a rather odd hotel for a gymnastics meet. My daughter was off doing something with her friends. And my wife and I were taking our bags up the elevator to our room. I remember we were on the 6th floor. It was not an ordinary hotel. It was more like a really old cluttered house. We stumbled upon a room where there was a rather effeminate man doing something with a college-age girl of Indian heritage. He sort of reminded me of Detective Tardio from Martin Lawrence's "What's the Worst That Could Happen?" (a really funny but off color movie). He was helping the girl make some garments, and material was strewn across the large table.

I walked in and noticed he had a really old grand piano. It was not an ordinary piano, but a red-ish leopard finish and in great condition. It was old and exceedingly long. He immediately asked if I wanted to play it. I said yes. I said "What is your favorite song?" And he said Memory from Cats or anything from Phantom of the Opera. He fumbled around and found the sheet music. I played. And I completely fell in love with the feel of this piano. After I played his favorites, I then played all bunch of styles of music and put the piano through its paces.

So, I played and played. When I was done, I asked him about the piano. I asked how long he's had it. He said it's been through generations. He said "It has been in my family for nearly 200 years." Then he surprised me with "Do you want to buy it?" I said "How much?" The reply was $75. I thought he had been joking because I knew it was an awesome piano.

I was going to say yes. But immediately I thought that I had to clear it with my wife, which is something I rarely do in real life so I have no idea why I did it in the dream! She was way on the other side of the room admiring some of the furnishings in the room. I also thought about whether we would have the space in my music room.

But, before I could say yes, the Indian girl sort of randomly said she would buy it. The man accepted. I said that wasn't fair because he asked me. Plus I was the one who put the piano through its paces and she showed no interest. I got into an argument with the girl, even grabbing her by the front of her shirt. I started yelling. But she would not back down. The effeminate man sat quietly and did nothing. I tried to reason with him. But he wouldn't listen. I kept saying this wasn't fair.

It was then that I looked back in on the piano. It was a really eclectic piano. When closed, I was hoping the manufacturer of the piano was Steinway. But the name of the piano was SKELERTON (or something like that, I'm not sure really). But the lettering was really large like 8 inches high and shiny silver and covered the whole width of the piano. I had never seen anything like that on a piano. But I didn't care. The piano just played like a dream and that was all that mattered.

I kept fighting with the girl. She seemed to have no interest in the piano, but it felt like she was doing this just to get to me. The man said something about getting him a check. So, she went outside and got her mother. The mother came up the stairs and started arguing with me. I tried to reason with her. But she just kept talking over me. The mother was blonde and very American looking. She was doing talking nonsense, which to me said that she had no argument, but thought if she just kept talking she could not lose. So, that's what she did, she just kept talking.

At which point, I said, "Okay, you win." And I woke up.


The Inner Light

| By Paul | | Comments (16)

I have just started playing Irish whistles, otherwise known as "tin" or pennywhistles. In case you are interested, I have a John Sindt High D as well as a much harder to play Howard Low D. I thought I would do a quick recording and share it with you all. In fact, this summer has been about playing with my breath. In addition to the whistles, I have rekindled my interest in trumpet (an instrument I played as a kid) as well as harmonica.

This is not a random post to showcase music. It is a post with intention. If you follow my blog, you will know that I am in trouble right now. Serious trouble. But I intend to find my way without going into the hospital. This is one effort to soothe the parts of me who feel they need to get hurt. This song is a gesture of goodwill and peace.

What I play here is based on the theme from my all time favorite Star Trek The Next Generation episode called The Inner Light. The episode is about a long since dead race who sent what was basically a "time capsule" as a probe into space. The Enterprise came upon the capsule and it sent an energy beam into Captain Picard's head so he could experience a lifetime of memories with these people in the span of a mere 30 minutes. In this lifetime, he was a scientist, music was important to him, raised a family, and grew old.

The episode's writer, Morgan Gendel, named it after a song written by George Harrison and released by The Beatles, which is in turn based on the 47th chapter of the Taoist Tao Te Ching:

Without going outside his door, one understands (all that takes place) under the sky; without looking out from his window, one sees the Tao of Heaven. The farther that one goes out (from himself), the less he knows. Therefore the sages got their knowledge without travelling; gave their (right) names to things without seeing them; and accomplished their ends without any purpose of doing so.

Anyway, this particular episode holds a lot of meaning for me due to the complexity of his life. Maybe it is because to the crew he was Picard and incapacitated for 30 minutes, but really all this other "reality" was happening in his head. I immediately saw that as a parallel to my life, as I'm Paul but all this other stuff happens in the background that few people knew about.

Also at the time, in my early 20s, I could not imagine that I would ever make a life and have any chance at living to an old age. I cried and cried when I saw it. And there were perhaps more parallels than I realized. Reflecting on this piece and this time helps me realize I have accomplished quite a lot. I have my children now, my wife, my house, my career, my music. Yes, I struggle with safety, but I am not suicidal like I once was; and I have lived through serious attempts. I do not struggle with depression like I once did. I am much more aware and learning things about my system that I would never have imagined. Things have changed for me. Nearly 20 years have passed since I viewed this episode.

What made the episode so touching was that even though, in the end, Picard understood it was a probe, the memories of that lifetime stayed with him. It is a reminder to me that while some memories are painful and some are joyful, we learn from all of them. And they will always be a part of us.

If you are a YouTube fan, you may like the 6:37m video: YouTube: Inner Light. If you would like to view the entire episode, email me.


Edelweiss: My Anthem

| By Paul | | Comments (12)

On Christmas Day my wife, kids, and I watched the 1965 film "Sound of Music". It was a lovely movie and uplifting. I remember it being broadcast on television annually; it was a huge event for me along with the "Wizard of Oz".

I identified with the story on a number of levels. And only this past year did I know why. I was sure that it had parallels to my own life, with the multiple children each with their own "quirks", the nanny trying to get control and manage them, the father who was unaware of what was going on, and the threat of the German's and the fear that came with that.

Ultimately, as many of you know, the father protected his children and the story had a happy ending. I'd like to think my life will have a happy ending. Maybe I'm being too naive and too idealistic. But, who knows, maybe that's exactly how it will turn out!

It's all rather interesting because both of my daughters are playing and singing songs from the musical now. My youngest and I have been playing "My Favorite Things" together with her on violin and me on piano for about a month. My oldest is playing a medley of songs with her school band and chorus.

I took a particular liking to "Edelweiss" because the father, Georg von Trapp, sang that song to his children. It was a delightful scene in which he first became "aware", with the help of Maria, that he had not been paying much attention to them. There was another touching scene towards the end of the movie where he began to sing it to the large audience at the Salzburg music festival, could not get through it, Maria had to help him and then all the audience joined in as a statement of solidarity.

I've changed one word in the lyrics, next to last word, to make the song have meaning to both my inside and outside families:

Edelweiss, Edelweiss
Every morning you greet me
Small and white, clean and bright
You look happy to meet me

Blossom of snow may you bloom and grow
Bloom and grow forever

Edelweiss, Edelweiss
Bless my children forever

I have been singing this to my kids and quite like the way it "fits". I recorded this song along with a vocal track and published it here a couple of weeks ago. But I had to take it down because there was a visceral reaction. So, a couple of weeks removed from that experience, I just recorded an ever-so-simple piano track. I wanted to play the song very simply because it's kind of like a lullaby.

I think it's perfectly appropriate to make this song my personal anthem.


Merry Christmas

| By Paul | | Comments (6)

I know Christmas is a complicated time for many of us. For some, it's about getting through. For others, it's about enjoying the time. For most, it's a little bit of both. Whatever the case is for you, remember there is a "next week".

I know this song, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas", is wishful thinking. Sometimes wishing and pretending for a little while can be okay. We know that our troubles will be with us. But for a time, perhaps, they can be to the side a bit.

Here are the lyrics:

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Let your heart be light
From now on our troubles will be out of sight

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Make the Yule-tide gay
From now on our troubles will be miles away

Here we are as in olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us once more

Through the years
We all will be together
If the Fates allow
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now

It's interesting that the original version, written in the 40s, had very different lyrics which were dismissed by Judy Garland and ultimately changed. They are:

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
It may be your last
Next year we may all be living in the past

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Pop that champagne cork
Next year we will all be living in New York

No good times like the olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who were dear to us
Will be near to us no more

But at least we all will be together
If the Fates allow
From now on we'll have to muddle through somehow
So have yourself a merry little Christmas now

Use whichever version works for you!


Stuffed Animal Blues

| By Paul | | Comments (8)

These are the lyrics to a blues song I wrote when my daughter was just a couple years old. I wrote it with my little cousin who we were babysitting for a weekend. Thought people here may enjoy it.

My name is Angel, and I don't know many words
But I know all my friends' names, just ask Big Bird
I cry sometimes, but I'm really not blue
'cause I've got good friends like Lamb Chop and Pooh


Let's talk about Cookie Monster, he loves to munch
He eats tons of cookies, instead of a good lunch
Chocolate chip, raisins, or sugar, he doesn't much care
As long as they're cookies, instead of a pear


Meow, Wuff Wuff, and fish are my house pets
I asked daddy for some real ones, but he doesn't like Vets
But I said to my daddy, "You are so mean!"
You just wanna keep your little house clean





ELMO is red,
he sleeps in my bed
When I wake up,
he begs to be fed
So, I give him some Cheerios, and kiss his nose
Or I give him Oreos, and wiggle his toes


I have a lot of quack quacks, they live under the sink
when I bring them to the tub, they smile and wink
I do boom booms and splash about
once I get in I ain't never comin' out.


Laa Laa has a TV screen on her belly
when she dances, she wiggles like jelly
She spills Tubby custard on the floor
the Noo Noo picks it up and its not there no more




But my favorite friend of all is a monster named Grover
Me and him ride in my Mommy's Land Rover
But he doesn't know how to drive and neither do I
But he he's got a cape and knows how to fly


Nobody knows it, but when mommy's on the phone
They all get up and they start to roam
These are MY buddies, aren't they so cool?
You can't have them, what do you think I'm a fool?