Why did Sonny Bono have Bob Marley arrested?
Because he shot the Cher riff
© Composer Yoga
© Composer Yoga
© Composer Yoga
Count me among the esteemed club that this is their favorite Christmas song of all time.
I like it even more than John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over).”
Even more than Sir Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime.”
Even more than “Silver Bells” (made famous by Andy Williams then Bing Crosby) which I’ve performed with my Grandfather on vocals.
Even more than “Little Saint Nick” by The Beach Boys.
Even more than Wham’s “Last Christmas.”
Even more than other perennial pop favorites like Brenda Lee’s “Rocking Around The Christmas Tree” and The Waitresses’ Christmas rock classic “Christmas Wrapping.”
Yep, I like all those quite a bit too so you know I’m not some morose Emo Shoegazing Scrooge when it comes to holiday music.
So why is Greg my YuleBox Hero? Because “I Believe In Father Christmas” hits deeper musically and lyrically than anything else I’ve heard. It’s truly a heavyweight Christmas song in it’s unequivocally arresting sincerity and thematic undercurrents. Let’s put a red nosed spotlight on this tune, make a list and check it twice.
The haunting sincerity of Greg Lake’s voice was the first thing that captured my ear years ago. There’s a timeless quality to this song as if it exists outside any particular decade or time period. I’ve loved this song long before I understood its lyrics and meanings.
“I Believe In Father Christmas” paints frosted dreamy windows peering into canvases of Christmas pasts.
There’s a resemblance in mood and tonal sacredness to Simon and Garfunkel’s “Scarbourough Fair”, another song which has echoed in the recesses of my memories since childhood.
Greg Lake’s meditative ode on the Christmas Spirit stands the test of time exceptionally well—It’s just as pleasing for me to hear now as when I anxiously awaited the arrival of the traditionally pictured type II diabetic Saint Nick and gifts from his pint sized North Pole posse. And I wasn’t helping things leaving cookies.
The folk sensibility of this song is palpably and unmistakenly devastating. It’s disarming, unifying and asks deeper questions beyond the reflexive shop and buy holiday routines. It dares to be confrontational and does so softly through a folk song.
“I Believe In Father Christmas” is folk singer Greg in his finest form just like on “Lucky Man” and “From The Beginning” with Emerson Lake & Palmer (ELP). Other examples of his folk stylings include “I Talk To The Wind” and “Epitaph” with King Crimson.
It’s the same brutal honesty and unpretentious delivery to your ears that’s a Greg Lake trademark no matter genre he sings in. It’s a simultaneously therapeutic and cathartic craftsmanship of sound.
The acoustic guitar melody is a soft intimate fireplace and the deep synth bed that comes in on the second verse becomes warm grounding covers to tuck yourself happily under and let out sighs of relief, gratitude and contentment.
Greg’s heart piercing Psalm is undeniable. His vocals are a tuning fork of resonant re–centering for the all too common mindless treadmill stress paced lifestyles people accept as “normal” while drinking half their body weight in coffee before lunch.
Plus with the steroidal retail season which tends to overplay holiday music starting midnight on Thanksgiving, “I Believe In Father Christmas” is one of the songs I’m ALWAYS glad to accidentally hear in a store or on the radio:
“I Believe In Father Christmas” was written by Greg Lake and Peter Sinfield, who wrote lyrics Greg sang with King Crimson and ELP.
As with these kinds of writer/singer relationships like Bernie Taupin and Elton John and Neil Peart and Geddy Lee, there often is not only a divergence of opinion, but a myriad of meanings. This happens because one person writes lyrics while another sings them so there’s a fusion of interpretations and meanings.
Sinfield wrote the lyrics about the loss of innocence and childhood belief towards Christmas. For Greg Lake, he sees and sings about the over commercialization of Christmas which drowns out the more elevated meanings of peace and goodwill towards everyone.
I can see both meanings in the song. The disillusionment is out in the open in Peter Sinfield’s lyrics yet it poetically walks the tightrope over the pitfalls of cynicism:
It’s a deceptively simple song when you first meet it—I appreciate it much more fully now having years of built up perspective to match it. The lyrics unravel wrapped up memories and allow the listener to superimpose a myriad of images from their own ghosts of Christmas past. This is particularly the case with the following verse:
Call it the Sting effect. slipping in really brutal lyrics in an unassuming pop sounding song. The Police classic example being “Every Breath You Take.” Which actually, Greg Lake preceded it with “Lucky Man” over a decade earlier in 1970.
“I Believe In Father Christmas” opens itself up in layers over time. It connects on multiple levels as I experienced as I got older. It’s rare for a song that allows you to grow into it and unwrap deeper meanings and nuances. It baits you with multicolored hooks. It has a pleasant outer covering but then there’s some disturbing subjects inside which need deeper examination.
As with songs like these, the listener will shift to confront the darkness they elicit when they are comfortable doing so. The songs can be enjoyed and connect with listeners on multiple levels.
There’s a lake of emotion behind what Greg Lake sings about and his vocals are only the release pressure valve. There’s something far more massive behind just the words that’s at stake. As he sings, he inverts one particular day to a universal, to a planetary level and not just the holiday of one particular religious faith.
Greg Lake’s normally upliftingly positive vocal affectation also tempers what could have been a sleighwreck of horror and nihilistic negativity in the hands of another less versatile vocalist. With Greg Lake, no matter how negative the subject matter, you could always hear the hope in his voice, the light inside dark places. This is especially the case with the closing verse and lyrics of the song:
This is the part of the song which has brought my eyes to tears. It’s the pairing of Greg’s singing and these words. Think of another vocalist who can sing these words and mean it like Greg Lake. It takes a singer the depth of Greg Lake to pull it off believably. He’s not flashy, he’s not the typical “rock star”, he’s a genuinely honest singer who lives inside what he sings.
The “I wish” verse is a beautiful prayer hidden in a pop song. An overture to a larger common humanity that is beyond “isms” and temporary identities false distinctions.
It even has some Sergei Prokofiev (The Russian composer known for Peter And The Wolf) thrown in for good measure. The “bell melody” in between the verses is an excerpt from Prokofiev’s Lieutenant Kijé Suite, which was Keith Emerson’s idea.
“I Believe In Father Christmas” was Greg Lake’s first solo track released in November 1975. The music video for the track was filmed in the Sinai peninsula of Egypt and also the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. There’s also footage of the Vietnam War which was still fermenting it’s bitterness into the global culture at large.
Like George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley’s “Last Chrismtmas”, “I Believe In Father Christmas” also went to #2 on the UK singles chart. The band that kept it from number one was Queen with their epic track “Bohemian Rhapsody”, another very early music video pre–MTV.
So what does Prog know about Christmas? It seems more than mere stocking stuffers for deservedly titled Godfathers of Prog Greg Lake and Peter Sinfield. Actually Sinfield also wrote a Christmas song for members of another legendary Prog band named Yes (bassist Chris Squire and drummer Alan White). The track is called “Run With The Fox” and is written in more of a lighter upbeat holiday vibe:
So if the Prog world is still waiting for Rush to weigh in on a holiday track, I guess we’ll all have to wait for
“The Christmas Spirit Of Radio.” In the meantime, here’s some winter safety tips fromGeddy Lee:
So remember the message from Saints Peter & Greg in “I Believe In Father Christmas” and have the wonderful Christmas you deserve. And try to deserve it more each year by shedding more light into darkness you find inside and out.
Because like the opening line in ELP’s “Karn Evil 9 (1st Impression Part 2)”, “Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends.
And hopefully for those of you who live in areas where weather permits, as Greg Lake would likely paraphrase, “See the snow, see the snow!!”
© Composer Yoga
© Composer Yoga
Sometimes brief encounters are more life shaping and single experiences more life defining than the vast catalog of experiences we draw from. Instead, these actually draw us with their unique distinctive nature and personalization.
Serious injuries give you a much different perspective on life—
A perspective most people never get the “benefit” of internalizing via direct experience. Empathy can only extrapolate so far. Though they’re unfortunate and painful to the victim, they are teachers that cauterize knowledge into us through multiple layers of our Being.
Injuries are a most humbling experience. The most basic thing most of us take for granted, a normally functioning body, is suddenly not there. In a second, you’re knocked back down an ancient chromosomal ladder.
When I was ten, I suffered a compound fracture to my arm. The bone from the shoulder to the elbow cracked in half (not a “clean” break) and the two bones going from the elbow to the wrist twisted and reversed position. It was a mess. I could feel it was a mess without even seeing it.
The moment of impact, it was like someone unplugged all my senses and all I saw was black. Pitch black. I don’t know if I was out for a second or several. I came to while lying on the ground, turned my head to the side to look at my arm without needing to know what I already knew.
I remember I could feel my arm but sensorily knowing that if I tried to move it, it wouldn’t work the way it always did before. And I didn’t want to know what that mashing of bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments now felt like if I had tried to move it. Electrically it felt differently as well. On some level, I felt I still had an arm but physically it wasn’t matching that Etheric blueprint anymore.
Adrenalin thankfully numbs excruciating pain but it also makes you think and feel strange things. My first thought was “Well, I’m going to be missing some school” and laughing inside about it. And I always liked school.
Then the reality sets in. I could not move a part of my body. You wish ambulances were hovercrafts. And in the Emergency Room, that’s when I found out there really are needles the size Bugs Bunny might have stashed in his fur.
A hypodermic needle going into your bone and depositing fluid is a feeling I could not even vocalize. Who knew we have nerves inside our bones? That was ANYTHING but a pleasant discovery. It crossed the point where my brain couldn’t distinguish it as extreme pain or extreme pleasure.
I had a cast on for six months. Had to take baths a certain way, sleep a certain way, have a special bus pick me up and bring me home from school. I watched my brother and neighborhood friends play outside and couldn’t participate. I put models together and made use of my time doing other creative things.
After the long wait, my surgeon finally took the cast off and the pins out. For six months I was a better weather forecaster than anyone…”Trust me it’s going to rain.” My arm now looked like a see through medical model, like those Visible Man and Woman kits. It was whiter than a vampire, and the skin was so translucent I could see things normal skin pigment obscures.
Once the cast was removed, I had to relearn how to use my arm again. It took months. It hurt. It was weak. It was frustrating. It became a series of little victories. And every victory counts.
Ten years went by and I went to see the same surgeon for a minor injury I had in college. There we were face to face again a decade or so after he put me back together as a 10 year old boy. A college guy and by then a surgeon in his mid fifties who’s done thousands of operations before me and thousands afterwards.
Tears in the corners of both our eyes.
None of the “Hi, how are you doing” or other Physician/Patient formalities.
“Lemme see” he said gesturing for me to roll up my sleeve as he came over to me and looked at his resculpturing of my arm.
He remembered me. He remembered that operation on my arm. He was as genuinely happy seeing his success years later as I had been living it.
What do you say to the person who gave you your arm back?
Somehow I managed to say “You did a great job” over a surge of backlogged emotions that was muting my vocal chords with the momentum of tears.
I finally got to thank him as an adult. There was a therapeutic closure in doing that.
I’m never at a loss for words but that reunion was one of those moments for me. The only time in my life I was speechless. I’ve given several eulogies about people I was close to and kept it together in front of people amidst the sadness of such events.
But that moment of gratitude in that room with him broke my normal centeredness down like nothing else. It was just such a devastatingly humbling experience.
Do you know what it’s like to not be able to pick your own self up off the ground? Be carried out on a stretcher? I learned that at 10 years old. I wonder how many dictators, terrorists and warlords would become dictators, terrorists and warlords if they learned what that feels like at 10 years old.
The injury happened playing sports where I was hit and landed on my elbow during a football game. Even with all the protective gear worn you can still get badly injured.
And this doesn’t include long term accumulative damage which is gaining more scientific traction with CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) in current and retired NFL players. Along with boxers, I would include Professional Wrestlers in that category as well even though it’s a “pretend” sport.
My Surgeon was decades ahead of the research curve on the long term damage of football. They didn’t even have a name for it back then. He told my mother adolescent boys should not be playing tackle football— that because they’re still growing, injuries can create lasting damage and may never heal properly.
I never played organized tackle football again. I wore an elbow pad when I played outdoors from then on. And in the neighborhood, we switched to two hand touch “tackling” though there were some slip ups out of our earlier habit of tackling each other.
My mother told me years later that he talked with her before the operation. He informed her that he wasn’t sure he would be able to repair my arm to full mobility due to the severity and jaggedness of the fracture. I was told I may not be able to touch my shoulder again after the cast came off and not to expect to regain the full range of motion.
I still have a scar on my arm several inches long. I really don’t care. I don’t have any concerns for vanity of appearance about it because my arm works again. From my perspective, the things most people are concerned about and worry constantly about relating to peer pressure and “fitting in” seem so trivial in a post injury world.
I see now that it was a blessing that I felt that level of gratitude at 20 years old instead of having to wait to the last years of my life. Why wait til you wipe your feet on death’s doorstep to feel gratitude? There’s plenty of things in your life right now you can practice on.
Gratitude is a muscle that needs exercising just like an arm or leg.
And gratitude is a more highly evolved emotion that benefits long term health and the immune system. Feeling and practicing feeling highly evolved emotions is transformative and even medicinal.
Studies have shown gratitude lowers blood pressure, improves relaxation and resistance to stress. It slows breathing and heart rate providing a sanctuary of calm in your life.
It’s calming, cathartic and continual. I still cry about this man now and then to this day. They’re the right kind of tears. I don’t cry anymore about close relatives and friends I’ve lost because the normal healthy grieving process ran it’s course and has been transmuted into gratitude for knowing them and treasured memories.
But some gratitude will always be bigger than you and that’s a good thing. I’m glad I still cry when I think about the Surgeon who gave me my arm back.
Movies about love stories don’t really make me cry. Movies and stories about friendship, loyalty and camaraderie always do and always have.
Gratitude is emotional alchemy and turns lower base emotions into gold.
I look at the current social, cultural and political landscape and see masses of people getting Ds and Fs in gratitude.They’re stuck fighting and arguing in lower untransmuted emotions of anger, hatred, intolerance, fear and aggression. All toxic emotions dangerous and volatile to others including and ESPECIALLY the host.
It doesn’t matter if you’re Conservative and don’t drink or smoke. You’re drinking and smoking a bunch of toxic emotions already. At some point it will cash a check your body can’t cover and you’ll wake up to a health crisis.
Just taking care of yourself on the physical level with a healthy diet and exercise won’t get you unlimited brownie points over negative unevolved emotions accumulated over years and decades.
There’s a better healthier practice. Instead of increasing feelings and perceptions of distance and difference with toxic emotions, gratitude folds emotional space onto itself and builds connections. Gratitude is a bridge.
Those are all gifts. You don’t need 30 people to tell you the same thing. Really all it takes is one. You can be that one to someone else.
A few genuine words can change someone’s entire trajectory in life. A few moments of genuine attention towards someone can make an enormous difference in their self esteem and emotional landscape. A few moments can save someone’s arm, someone’s life.
In a post injury reality it’s hard to be arrogant. It’s hard to be narcissistic. It’s hard to be an A–hole. It’s hard to be egotistical after not being able to move a body part for 6 months.
It’s hard to be self absorbed when someone you didn’t know gave you their best talents and some of the finest hours of their life and energy to make you normal again.
And there’s people much less fortunate than me that never regain full use after an injury and amputees.
It almost makes you wish all the brash, superficial, entitled braggarts and bullies on the planet would experience this because it seems it would be the only thing (along with serious illness) to make them look deeper at themselves and their personal defects and change into better upgraded versions of themselves.
Ironically it’s those very people who are not emotionally and psychologically fit enough to cope with a negative life event like a serious injury that puts you out of commission. It’s crushing and they’re actually really soft and vulnerable to begin with, which is why they bark the loudest and try to scare and intimidate people—it’s to protect their fragile tender insides. They can’t hide from or fool those of us with post injury eyes.
It’s hard to take your body and your health for granted as well in a post injury reality. Why abuse your body with poor quality food or drug use? You don’t feel the gradual degradation over time as noticeably this way but it will happen.
With a traumatic injury, the degradation is INSTANT. The road to recovery isn’t.
So I don’t wait for magic pills and magic cures. I started taking my long term health by the reins in high school with weightlifting and regular exercise. I then phased out soda, candy, sugar and junk food and began eating cleaner healthier Organic foods later on.
Gradual movements over time will get you you there—The same way I learned to use my arm again.
You can live without your dream job, dream house, dream relationship, being in love, finding your Soulmate, all those things and still have a fun, fulfilling life and a great quality of life. A lot of people have a hard time believing that.
It’s a foreign concept to me. Things like this are much more primal. If you don’t have usage of an arm, leg or properly functioning body, your quality of daily life will never be the same. Those of us who’ve had these kind of experiences know this. I live in a post injury reality and it’s colored my life lenses ever since.
So I consider myself very fortunate. Most people don’t take the time to realize this about themselves just as they are right now with fully functional arms and legs.
Don’t wait for a license to enjoy life from someone else or external circumstances to magically change. To this day, it doesn’t take much for me to be happy and enjoy life. I’m always planning my next adventure, working on my next project.
Learn to appreciate simple joys in life and to celebrate daily life. The joy of taking a walk, the joy of hearing birds sing. The joy of a wonderful meal with family or friends. Don’t waste your life sitting at a desk even if you have to for income. Get outside now and then and make a date with nature. It’ll always look better in person than on your TV, phone or computer screen.
Watch a child discover the joys of doing something for the first time like whistling or snapping their fingers. You were that way once too. What happened? I hope you don’t need an injury to realize it and get back to that state of mind. Children have what are called “Beginner’s minds” And Beginner’s minds are never cynical and deflated of wonder.
Yes my Surgeon was paid for his skills and orthopedic expertise but I can never repay him for what the operation was actually worth. Beings beyond our little economy here in this dimension are the bookeepers for that kind of currency.
So consider this my tribute to a man who doesn’t need to be named. It’s comforting knowing there’s even one person like him on the planet and his bank account for gratitude towards him will always be in the positive. Even if I’m the only one, though I am certainly not. There are thousands he healed and helped in his 8 decades on the planet.
The Surgeon I mention left the Earth plane this year (2017). I rarely saw this man. Yet over the years I always thought about him a lot. And I still have a connection to him I do not fully understand. We are somehow related on a different level than family and there is a closeness that far exceeds the amount of time we crossed each other’s paths in our respective walks through life.
I’ve come to realize he was an Artist like me only he doesn’t sign his works. Now you know I’m one of them.
Oh, and I can touch my shoulder again.
© Composer Yoga
On this planet, even Mother Teresa would post #MeToo.
Sad but true. Most everyone has been aware of Sexual Harassment long before Alyssa Milano and the #MeToo tag and posts across Twitter, Facebook and the other virtual continents of social media. And the majority of women victimized by it weren’t anywhere near the Entertainment Industry or a dream stained casting couch.
I’ve heard stories from women I know over the years from music, dance, modeling, Hollywood and everyday life at corner package stores and checkout lines.
It’s amazing still hearing men using the “She was dressed provocatively” excuse in their defense. Guys, You learned to control your bowels at around 3 years old so why is this so difficult? There’s also “primitive” societies around the world where women walk around nearly nude and topless due to the climate who aren’t sexually harassed so what’s your excuse?
Granted the people that really need to read this article and take a deep look at themselves and their behavior are the ones who won’t bother. Their ego, arrogance, narcissism and sense of entitlement form a massive wall of denial that excuses their behavior to themselves.
But the fact of the matter is even if you don’t ever get caught or sued in a legal setting, there ARE consequences of Sexual Harassment beyond just your Human life.
Let’s call it for what it is on the spectrum of Higher Consciousness: Sexual Harassment is spiritually pathetic. It’s another example of DNA at it’s lowest level of expression—the toxic cacophony that includes power, war, terrorism, tribalism, religious fanaticism, mental rigidity, gang violence, racism, and sexism among others.
See the behavior for what it is. Sexual Harassment is done by those with lower consciousness so don’t be fooled by someone’s back account, success or level of fame.
Sexual Harassment is about power but ironically it’s done by those without power—Spiritual power. The economic and social power that the abuser often has is temporary and positional. Spiritual power isn’t and doesn’t depend on others fearing you or being subordinate to you in any way. You can still have Spiritual power stranded on a deserted island. Your economic and social power? Forget it. The palm trees don’t give a rat’s ass you’re a CEO, film mogul, famous athlete or media personality.
Sexual Harassment is done by men who have no authentic Spiritual practice and have no greater experiences and pursuits than sex and money.
There’s also men who pose as enlightened gurus and use spirituality as a ruse to sexually harass and abuse their female followers. This is particularly heinous due to the ongoing psychological manipulations and long term damage to victims who are often young and underage.
On a deeper level, the current form of Humanity is a primitive species. Earth is one of the lower worlds. Our sun is a small star so Humanity doesn’t grow at a faster pace in consciousness. If our sun was bigger it would send out more energy which causes greater and faster Spiritual Growth. These aren’t easy things to hear because it’s not the “pat on the back” anthropocentric view of ourselves we like mirrored back at us in TV, film, literature and religion.
The fact is, we’re a long way from the evolved culture portrayed in Star Trek.
From Hollywood to Hip Hop, the prizes most often portrayed across culture and media are money and women. Men fantasize about a Hugh Hefner Playboy life like there’s nothing higher than it or the Universe has nothing grander and beyond those in the vaults of Infinity.
There’s more scum in Hollywood than Mos Eisley spaceport.
Millions are stuck in the culturally fixated worship of he benchmarks of materialism: money, power and sex.
Harvey Weinstein, Bill O’Reilly, Roger Ailes, Bill Cosby, some presidents, actors and professional athletes, the list goes on and on. You don’t have to look too deeply to find entitled bulldog egos in the kind of men who sexually harass women. Some hide it better than others as that’s why it’s called acting. The public sees their “fame face” and thinks that’s who they are 24/7.
The sad reality is, I live on a planet where people are constantly excusing the behavior of abusers because of their money, power and fame. It’s like they cannot believe people who’ve attained the success they dream of are capable of such behavior.
If you have to excuse or defend your heroes, get better heroes.
How about raising the bar? There are male role models like Yogananda and the Dalai Lama. Find any dirt on men like them. You also don’t need to excuse, rationalize, defend or intellectualize away their behaviors because there aren’t ethical violations on other people. Look up to role models who live a higher degree of ethics.
The Human experience is too limited for Yogis who seek to transcend it. They don’t wish to get bogged down in the endless addictions, distractions and attachments on the Earth Plane and actively practice to rise above it.
If you need a more “down to Earth” role model, Paul Newman was light years from douchebag as well. Look at all the positive charitable things he did with his wealth and fame. That’s called GRATITUDE, which is a polar opposite of ego, arrogance, entitlement and narcissism. His legacy isn’t stained with shame and disgrace or the Karmic damage incurred when abusing the gifts of wealth, fame and power.
If you mistreat any girl or woman, how is the Divine Mother ever going to like that? People with lower consciousness do not have such forethought and don’t believe there are consequences to their actions outside of this dimension. And that is beyond dead wrong as they will not be pleasantly surprised by.
You can’t hide from or fool Divine Beings. They see you on levels you cannot even see yet. Only an unconscious person ignores that fact and violates the freewill of others for their own needs or addictions. Doing so is sociopathic behavior. Sociopaths have little to no concern for how their behavior affects others. The also do not care about the consequences of their behavior.
You can’t wear the Halloween costume of lip service faith, and be the “Go to church on Sundays” crowd and expect it to pass off as genuine to Beings with Higher Consciousness. You can hide your behaviors and thoughts from your friends, family, co–workers and neighbors but not them.
Those who get away with Sexual Harassment, they’re only getting away with it on Earth.
Keep that in mind. With behaviors like Sexual Harassment, doorways to Higher Consciousness and greater powers will be closed to abusers. Such abuse is not evolved behavior and definitely not looked upon favorably. The material powers of money, fame and status abusers wield on Earth are small change compared to what’s out there in Higher Dimensions.
When you commit Sexual Harassment, rape, sexual abuse, molestation, domestic abuse you are disrespecting the Divine Mother—which is part of you and everyone, part of WHAT is sustaining your own life. There is enormous negative Karma for doing such things against forces that sustain you. These are all very deep spiritual crimes that cause lasting psychic damage to victims. And that Karmic boomerang you set in motion doing such acts will return to the red handed source of the reckless ripple better than laser guided munitions one way or another.
God, the Creator, or whatever you want to call the ultimate creative energy of the Universe, manifests itself in countless forms yet still exists outside of all form and beyond all form. And all Gods and Goddesses are part of the Body of God. Beings who are beyond form can manifest in a myriad of forms to better connect with people and races at a more familiar comfortable relatable level of their understanding.
The Divine Mother can manifest as Mary and fiercer forms like Durga and Kali, the Goddess of the Siddhas. Even Yogis who don’t want to or need to be with women anymore still honor and seek the Divine Feminine archetypal energy of the Universe. So it may only appear as “renunciation” at an Earthy level. Both male and female energies are needed to become more of the whole.
And to pass the tests of Kali, one has to have zero impurities as she sees all your flaws, all your darkness. All such dreck must be burned away before she grants one passage to the level of consciousness of a Siddha. Needless to say, Sexual Harassment is not something the fierce Mother Goddess looks kindly upon. She cannot be bought, tricked or coerced. Billionaires are still ants compared to the wattage she cranks out. And anyone who wants to dance with Kali, best be sure their hand or even thoughts don’t slip inappropriately.
It’s hard to prevent antisocial and predatory behavior in people who are so unconscious, asleep and spiritually poor they don’t understand the value of a clean conscience. And millions or billions of dollars can never buy it.
Worldly money, power and fame do not by themselves give Higher Consciousness. Instead they more often become stumbling blocks to it. The observation Jesus made over 2,000 years ago about it being easier for a camel to pass through the eye of the needle than for a rich man getting into Heaven is just as accurate today, perhaps more so in our time period with it’s greater wealth and power lateralization and panoplies of distractions.
Still, there are advanced Yogis whom all worldly pursuits are a joke to, a waste of their time on the planet. The things most men seek are bread crumbs compared to the forces they are connected to. The abilities and experiences that are normal for people at their level of consciousness are off the scale of the material world. Even a few appetizers of experiences from these Greater Realms and it’s all over for many.
You really can get to this point without even being advanced. It’s surprising. It makes you see human life from a higher plateau how “lost in matter” most people are because you have reacquainted with yourself on higher more subtle levels of the ultimate reality of YOU, which your physical human body form is only a small part.
In my pursuits towards Higher Consciousnss, I’ve had encounters with fiercer facets of the Divine Mother (Divine Archetypal Female Energies) in the forms of Durga and Kali. Kali hammered myself and another friend of mine—lots of energetic and emotional upheaval.
Durga has periodically dredged up several dark internal weeds and energetic albatross anchors in me as well. All these occurred during voluntary practices and ceremonies mind you. Furthermore, my friend and I haven’t committed the devolved behaviors of the abuses and transgressions against women mentioned here.
The Divine Mother’s standards of purity and integrity far exceed and are far more rigorous than Man’s. This is what is meant that the Divine Mother, with your permission and request, will knock all darkness and impurities out of you to hammer out the sword of your spine to her precision forging and attunements. These were unbeneficial things inside me I myself could not yet perceive and I’ve been on this path for a few decades. And those were kind, friendly wallops. For the men guilty of the topics in this article, what do you think you’re going to get?
What’s going to happen to you when meet more powerful female energies in this Universe who do not require bodies, meaning your physical size and strength as a man in a mortal frame does not apply? Ever think about that?
And with that, Sexual Harassment is seen as another form of spiritual poverty in the person who engages in such behavior—Someone who is asleep, a soul still in diapers who hasn’t passed even entry level soul tests.
And they not only accrue heapings of negative Karma for hurting others but close doors to themselves to wealth beyond their limited levels of understanding all for small temporary pleasures.
And moreover, worldly success does not hide spiritual failures.
© Composer Yoga
Tickling the Ivories?
Well you can most certainly Shred on those venerable black and whites and this happened long before Jon Lord (Deep Purple), Rick Wakeman (Yes), or Keith Emerson (ELP) ever plugged into an amp. No siree, Shredding is not the exclusive domain of gutarists—Composers and Pianists Shred too. There’s some Shred to High Heaven here so let’s take a look and delve into some of the treasure trove of Piano Shred…
Frédéric Chopin was definitely a Shredder. Look no further than “Fantaisie–Impromptu” Opus 66. Case closed after this soundboard scorcher. You might want to soak your fingers in a bucket of cool water with lavender, chamomile and Epsom salt after playing it. This composition is TOTAL piano Shred then gets mellow in the middle, with an “Eye of the storm” arpeggiated legato melody and slowed tempo change evoking a delicate soft center amidst the frenetic fingerboard fusillades it’s famous for.
“Waltz in A Flat Major” Opus 42 is another marathon of Shred. The section after the opening trill of partial chromatic runs is a real finger tightrope walk and brain hemisphere head trip to play to say the least—more difficult than the multi octave faster part it leads into which sounds more difficult. There’s plenty of fretboard fireworks at the finale here so light fuse and duck behind your couch with the nearest spaghetti colander as a helmet.
Check out “Waltz in C# Minor” Opus 64 for more awesome arpeggios that melodically meander over minor and major scales after the opening section. Chopin unleashes cascades of broken chords like the musical equivalent of hitting Class V Rapids or going over Niagara Falls in a piano. Stand under the majestic waterfall of notes and get a rapturous Baptism of Shred.
“Waltz in D Flat Major” Opus 64 No. 1 is yet another Ode to Shred. Known commonly as the “Minute Waltz”, it was actually originally given the subtitle “Valse du petit chien” (The little dog waltz or Waltz of the little dog). It’s said Chopin’s inspiration for this piece was watching a little dog chasing it’s tail. The music publisher gave it the title “Minute Waltz” which was then misinterpreted: Meaning “Minute” as in small or miniature not a measurement of time. It’s NOT supposed to be played in a New York Minute—it usually clocks in at a minute and a half to 2 and a half minutes depending how many amphetamines the performer has ingested in the last 24 hours. Become a Waltz Whisperer by aurally connecting with Chopin’s inspiration and don’t forget the doggie bag.
Similar to it’s more famous Speedy Gonzales Waltz brother above, “Grand Valse Brillante in F Major” Opus 34, is another worthy contender in the Ring of Shred. Valse means waltz by the way, but who cares when our ears need more fresh squeezed Shred? The piece reminds me of going up the first incline section of a roller coaster then gaining velocity downwards and being flung through twists, turns, loops and corkscrews. You may need a doggie bag here too for different reasons.
The verdict here is Shreddingly clear: The “Poet of the Piano” was also a Shredder of the Piano. Frédéric Chopin Shedded when the piece called for it and had amazing compositional sense in it’s ideal placement and not to overdo flash and his technical mastery at the expense of the Almighty Melody.
Another known accomplice in the Romantic Period Posse was Franz Liszt, who was friends with Chopin. Liszt was probably a frustrated electric guitarist born too early as he loved to Shred. If he were alive today he’d probably be on a G3 Tour with Vai and Satriani. “Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2” in C# Minor is one of the gems on the piano to grace the planet. This is one of the only lengthier piano compositions where every part and section of it has become famous especially in cartoons. Even in the slower Lassan opening section Liszt manages to weave some Shred. This piece is chock full of rock star from marathon fingerboard runs to octaves banging like gavels in judgement for the Shred. There’s tornadoes of Shred all over the place, plenty enough make your Chihuahua hide under the couch.
Liebesträume No. 3 in A Flat Major (Dreams of Love or Love Dream) is another favorite to Shred Out to. This piece is often also spelled Liebestraum No. 3. Umlauts or not, Franz unpacks the suitcase of Shred in a killer cadenza section tossing tumultuous tidal waves of notes at your ears. It’s a torrential downpour you’ll want to get drenched in again and again. Get ready for a tasty melodic sandwich with some spicy Uber Shred in the middle.
Mozart regally Shredded in “Rondo a la Turka” (Turkish March) which is the finale section from “Piano Sonata in A Major” K. 331. The section immediately after the main opening theme is especially fun to play as it’s like being inside a fine precision Swiss watch, your fingers being the bronze gears spinning out the melody synchronized in harmony. It’s some of the finest Upper Crust Shred mine ears have ever had the pleasure of meeting at any Black Tie colonial white wig event.
The first “Van” to Shred was not Van Halen. It was Ludwig van Beethoven. The mighty composer Shredded in “Moonlight Sonata” and not the more well known slow arpeggio part (first movement) that you may have blasphemously heard as background music on sh*t like Hemorrhoid creme commercials (no pun intended). The famous slower excerpt that’s become known and performed as a solo piece is part of “Piano Sonata No. 14 in C# Minor” Op. 27 No. 2 which is called Quasi una fantasia (Almost a fantasy). Listen to the THIRD movement of this sonata to get your Ludwig van Shred fix. This finale section is where Beethoven breaks out of the straitjacket and Shreds like a madman howling at the moon.
Sergei Rachmaninoff brought us the Red Shred from Mother Russia as did fellow composer comrade Alexander Scriabin whom we’ll no doubt cover in another edition. Some of Rach’s finest Shred moments can be heard in “Prelude No. 1 in C# Minor” Op. 3 No. 2, one of his most famous works. It’s a piece where your hands can easily get tangled up with all the block chords played by two hands overlapping each other. After the intro melody, there’s some schizophrenically cool Shred as Rachmaninoff pours eerie arpeggios into the ether like hes summoning Jack Nicholson to bust his head through your closet door screaming “Here’s Johnny!”
“Prelude No. 5 in G Minor” Op. 23, No. 5 is a playfully creepy syncopated Shred stroll through the woods. This composition has sections where Rachmaninoff delivers a pummeling beat down of block chord Shred, something he was particularly fond of. It’s more uptempo than the C# Minor Prelude and it’s many a cartoon super villains dream to have a piece like this as his or her theme song.
“Prelude No. 2 in B Flat Major” Op. 23 No. 2 takes it up a notch to Mach 2 or Rach 2 as the case may be. The main theme is a prime example of how the melody surfs a tidal wave of left hand Shred. It’s a beautiful showcase of regal imperial elegant Shred worthy of the Tzars.
Taken together, these are three of my absolute favorite Sergei Rachmaninoff compositions.
French composer Claude Debussy did Impressionist Shred. This is notably illustrated on “Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum” from Children’s Corner. This piece is similar structurally to Chopin’s “Fantasie–Imromptu” mentioned earlier in that it hits you with a Wall of Shred initially then has this beautiful slower section in the middle to sip an afternoon tea to. Although “Clair de Lune” from Suite Bergamasque is perhaps his most well known work, Doctor Gradus is the one to call for a Shred Checkup.
While not intended to be played fast as he noted on published sheet music, the Godfather of Ragtime himself Scott Joplin also Shredded. Joplin came into greater deserved prominence with the 1973 Robert Redford and Paul Newman film The Sting. Composer/Conductor Marvin Hamlisch even won an Academy Award (Best Music, Scoring Original Song Score and/or Adaptation) for the soundtrack to the film which featured numerous Scott Joplin compositions.
Although not generally on the menu of the musical genre he helped pioneer, Joplin dished out some side orders of Shred. While “The Entertainer” and “Maple Leaf Rag” are among his most well known compositions, the piece I most enjoy getting my Shred on is “Pineapple Rag.” Ragtime is structured into 4 choruses and the chorus that peaks the Shred-o-Meter is the third one. It’s a trip to Ragtime Shred Heaven.
Let’s not forget George Gershwin and Jazz Shred with that masterpiece “Rhapsody in Blue.” This is the piece that makes me wish Gershwin wrote more instrumental works to showcase the greater range of his talents instead of mainly writing songs with his brother Ira Gershwin for Musicals. Yes it’s understandable the Musicals payed the bills, but “Rhapsody in Blue” is his open canvas stream of consciousness meandering melodic Tour de force unrestrained by the structures of verse and chorus. Playful, elegant, and powerful, “Rhapsody in Blue” is the one piece that shows Gershwin DEFINITELY rubbed elbows with the Masters.
Well we hope you enjoyed this sojourn of Shred on the aural autobahns. Definitely some essential Piano Shred to add to your collection: A showcase of Shred for different moods and over different genres. Since I’m not waiting for Merriam–Webster, I’ll describe Shred this way: Shred is controlled melodic velocity that is musical and not simple hypersonic arpeggiated dexterity or technique masturbation. There’s a ferociousness to it when it hits the spot because composed well and executed properly, it evokes the “Holy Sh*t!” response. And by it’s fruits, Ye will know the SHRED.
© Composer Yoga
Count me among the minority who truly likes all genres of music and yes, no ones going to drive a bulldozer over my disco CD’s either. F*ck no. Not Donna Summer! Not Saturday Night Fever! I’ll be like the famous photo of the student in Tiananmen Square facing the tank. And a guitarist friend of mine who’s toured with Arlo Guthrie and other Folk legends like Willie Nelson will join me in solidarity and brotherhood here as he is a die hard Bee Gees fan too. So there. Say what you want about Barry Gibb’s “faggy falsetto” voice in misdirected machismo, he’s a great songwriter. Grease is the Word, brothers and sisters. Barry wrote that. See now you can’t possibly make fun of him out of ignorance anymore.
Okay. Moving on. Since plenty of my family and friends are 80’s freaks, I felt it appropriate to give out some suggestions for 80’s music lovers everywhere still lost in the land of Loverboy headbands. Which by the way yours truly has seen and they are fantastic as well as TONS of fun live.
Actually, the Archangel of 80’s music, Archangel Flockofsegulliel commanded me to enlighten the masses an iota (technically, more than a tad). So it is by Divine Decree I write this article. You’re probably asking “So how’s things in your padded cell?” Couldn’t be better. Cable TV, internet. Thanks for asking.
Anyhow, another reason that lead to this list was a musical comrade and I were talking about our Desert Island Discs, a concept of which has since been negated by the invention of the iPod. I then thought about the more obscure albums most people don’t know about from the era of music known as New Wave or 80’s.
My friend rightly calls The Cure’s Disintegration “a gift to Humanity.” Indeed, but the average 80’s fan knows about that album. I’m partial to the Cure’s Faith too. It’s got the grooves I need to “Let the coolness flow into our vertebrae” in the words of a Mel Brooks film History Of The World Part I.
In fact, years ago I developed complications due to wisdom teeth extractions. I got a post op infection and had to take heavy painkillers every 4 hours. I remember one night sitting in my living room after the painkillers whisked me away to groggy land while listening to The Cure. Boy did Mr. Smith’s music make so much sense to me then. It occurred to me that I was very near to the state most of it was written in and from. Robert Smith has stated he doesn’t remember writing or recording the Pornography album because he was so strung out on heroin. My friend does a fantastic Robert Smith impersonation of this interview blurb complete with the British inflection “That’s the album I don’t remember writing.”
In the same vein (pun intended), author William Burroughs doesn’t remember writing Naked Lunch, the novel which gave Steely Dan their name. Yes they remain the only Grammy Award winning act named after a dildo. So that said, let’s stop talking track marks and start talking tracks!
Worlds Apart (1981)
Heads Or Tails (1983)
Saga is an oh-so-underrated Canadian band that you should definitely know more about. This is intelligent yet danceable grooving Proggy New Wave from Canada. They do other things up there besides play hockey and drink Molson you know. Seems Billboard needs to be reminded that Canada exists from time to time. Listener’s also need to be tipped off that there are other acts from the Great White North besides Rush, Bryan Adams, The Guess Who, Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot, and Neil Young. Oh and surprise, that other band I mentioned earlier, Loverboy also wear maple leaf underwear too.
Saga is reminiscent of the Power Pop style of The Outfield but with way more keyboards. I put them in the same category as far as energy vibe and positivity goes. They have over 20 studio albums in their catalog and have been recording for over 35 years. They’re only a one hit wonder to boneheads who wait to be spoon fed singles by MTV, commercial radio and record companies . They won a Juno award in 1982 (The Canadian version of a Grammy) after this album dropped for Most Promising Group Of The Year. Our friends Loverboy still hold the record for 6 Junos in one year, so rock those red Mike Reno headbands with pride kids because they are indeed a symbol of Canadian recording industry royalty.
Saga had two singles released that got some airplay off of Worlds Apart, their 4th album: “Wind Him Up” and their biggest single “On the Loose” which peaked at #26 on Billboard. However, in “On the Loose” much of the instrumental solo section was chopped off to fit the anal retentive 4 minute radio decree from Mount Sinai which is of course the Eleventh Commandment. One hopes the karmic entertainment in hell people for such song sushi chefs consists of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Led Zeppelin, Golden Earring and the Grateful Dead among others. The Beatles fell from grace too with “Hey Jude.” Thankfully Saga was saved from eternal damnation here but you can hear the song in it’s entirety safely on the album.
Another track which I always groove out to on the album, “No Stranger” could have also been released as a single. But again, the slower intro/build section topping 2 minutes would have been seen as “dead space” to commercial radio and would have been chopped off by the radio station sushi chefs.
Another Saga album from the 80’s you should definitely own is Heads Or Tales. It perfectly showcases why I love the guitar player in this band, Ian Crichton. He has such a physicality to his licks, riffs and solos. Ian’s playing is very animated and slippery with notes and phrasing. Listen to my favorite tune off this album “Catwalk” for an example of this. There’s a visual animation to his style almost as if the music was made for a soundtrack to a film but can surely stand on it’s own without accompanying visual images.
By this I don’t mean overacted facial expressions, atomic windmills or overdone stage gestures. I’m talking about the Holy manipulation of soundwaves. The producer on these Saga albums was Rupert Hine. Yes, you may know the name from your The Fixx albums. What you don’t have any The Fixx albums? No Howard Jones either? You need remedial ’80s then. You can chew gum and throw paper airplanes in that course. This article is for those who know about the Journeys, Loverboys and Madonnas already.
For you ’80s 201 students, Rupert Hine is a Composer/Producer who has also recorded his own albums. They tend to be hard to come by. One of the songs you’re probably familiar with if you’ve seen a bunch of John Cusack movies is “With One Look (The Wildest Dream)” off the Better Off Dead soundtrack which plays during the end credits. This is a quirky classic 80’s movie I’ve seen probably 900 times:
“Go that way really fast, if something gets in your way, turn.”
See I told you. Rupert Hine wrote much of original soundtrack and the title track mentioned here features The Fixx vocalist Cy Curnin and guitarist Jaime West-Oram. A Saga track on Heads Or Tales that sounds like it could have just as easily been a Fixx tune or a Rupert Hine solo track is “Scratching The Surface.” There’s often a lot of “musical overlap” with Producers and the groups they write and work with, and you can get a decent 80’s Fixx (haha) with any of these.
A seeming technicality on the album release date of April 1979, but New Wave and the music considered ’80s actually started in the late 1970’s. Before you knew him singing about “Cars” Gary Numan was in this group. “Cars” is a classic 80’s track, a song where drums accent on the 4 and by a white British guy before 1980. Wow. I’m speechless.
Replicas is a science fiction epic which you can nicely zone out to. I heard this album on college radio and had to pick it up. Thanks WRPI!! College radio is a beacon of actual music variety even more so than internet radio which tends to be just one genre per station just like commercial radio.
Although Replica’s lyrics and themes are science fiction, don’t let that turn you off. It’s not inaccessible, overdone and definitely not 80’s campy (but still fun) as Styx’s Kilroy Was Here (Domo Arigato Mr. Roboto–Japanese for “Thank You Very Much…”). There’s some really cool keyboard work on Replicas as far as 80’s goes–several tracks on par or exceeding “Cars” in my opinion. That being because essentially Tubeway Army was pretty much all Gary writing. Some of my favorite tracks on Replicas are “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?” which was released as a single and reached #1 in the UK, “You Are In My Vision”, “It Must Have Been Years”, and the bonus tracks off the 1997 and 2008 Beggars Banquet reissues “We Are So Fragile” and “We Have A Technical.” The 80’s synth on this album will put a Miami vicegrip on your eardrums.
Utopia was a project of Todd Rundgren, another writer/producer known for singing “Hello it’s Me” and “Bang the Drum All Day.” Don’t we all Todd. And what do Grand Funk Railroad’s We’re An American Band and Meat Loaf’s Bat Out Of Hell have in common? Todd produced those albums among others. Not too shabby for a boy from Pennysylvania hey? I guess Hall & Oates, Cinderella, Paul Gilbert (Mr. Big) and Poison carried that states pride in the 80’s too.
Todd also wrote “Love is the Answer” and Utopia recorded it on Oops! Wrong Planet, then England Dan And John Ford Coley recorded it shortly afterwards and that’s the version everyone is used to hearing on the radio. Yup, the Carole King Effect strikes again.
The Carole King Effect: When you write a song, record it and later somebody else records it but makes 10 times the money you did.
Carole wrote it first dammit!! So if you want to protest outside BMI headquarters there’s some picket sign
Anyhow, 2 Utopia albums any 80’s collection is lonely without are Oblivion and P.O.V. Really any album by Utopia is worth checking out. Rhino records released a double CD a few years back called P.O.V., Oblivion & Some Trivia. It has both albums plus the 2 new tracks from the Trivia compilation album. This is a great starting point to get you into this under the radar late 70’s-80’s group. This CD is also worth it for the song “Fix Your Gaze.”
The 2 albums included on this release have some of the coolest Utopia songs on them. EVERYONE in Utopia sang lead vocals so you get a variety of singers and really fat full multi part harmonies. The musicians Todd had with him in Utopia were professional touring musicians and session players as well. Keyboardist/vocalist Roger Powell for one toured with David Bowie. Bassist/vocalist Kasim Sulton toured with Meat Loaf (bassist on the Bat Out Of Hell album), Hall And Oates, and Joan Jett (was a Blackheart). So I’d say there’s a tad more than garage band creds here folks.
Some of the tracks on these albums that rock 80’s style are “Bring Me My Longbow”, “Crybaby” ,“Welcome to My Revolution” and “Winston Smith Takes It on the Jaw” from Oblivion and “Zen Machine” and “More Light” off of P.O.V. There’s plenty of lost 80’s gold buried on these albums. It’s like totally an 80’s tragedy that NONE of the tracks off of Oblivion were released as singles. There’s some absolutely slamming uptempo tracks like the ones listed above as well as some amazing slower introspective tracks like If “I Didn’t Try”, “Maybe I Could Change” (which has a gorgeous piano arpeggio intro) and “I Will Wait.” Still, the album charted in the US at the number 74 position despite the lack of a single. If it had even one single, it would have climbed higher instead of getting lost in the oblivion of radio station shelves.
I’m not sorry I own any of these 80’s albums and you won’t be either. Mike Reno gives his blessing for you to own them as well. Some I found in bargain bins, which just goes to prove the old axiom one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and with music, one man’s earwax is another man’s earworm.
© Composer Yoga