Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Moment!

On Monday night I attended a Toad the Wet Sprocket concert with a beautiful friend in Providence RI. The club, Lupos Heartbreak Hotel, a former theater, was intimate in size and we had seats right up front. If you sift through my blog, or have been a reader, you know how important music and especially this music has been to me. I was aware of Toad's music, but only in a surface way through the songs most played on the radio, like All I Want. I owned several of their albums, but only listened to those few songs. Three years ago, I took on the project of converting all my music to digital files to listen on my computer, as well as from an MP3 player. (10,000 songs later, still not done) Well, in the week after Vicki's memorial service I was listening to those files randomly through my whole house music system. Any song could have played and they did, from The Beatles to Steely Dan to The Black Eyed Peas. But, while at my computer, I heard this melody that lured me enough to get up and go to find out what the name of the song was and who played it. It was of course, Windmills, by Toad The Wet Sprocket. I had never heard this song before! I listened closely and looked at the lyrics and was moved beyond words. When I first heard it that day I could sense Vicki's presence near me. This was the first time, but not the last that I would feel this presence during the year or so after she died. Anyhow, the music seemed spiritual, heavenly and light. Ethereal is probably the best word to describe what I felt. Mystery, to use author Richard Rohr's word for God in Falling Upward. I looked up the review of the album and this is what it said. The title of the CD is Dulcinea....

"Dulcinea is Toad the Wet Sprocket’s fourth release. Without changing the formula too much, they conjured up 12 more hooks, stretching them ever so slightly to make the alternative tunes a bit edgier and the mellow ones a little folkier, and scoring a couple of modest hits along the way with “Something’s Always Wrong” and “Fall Down.” One of the thematic threads of Toad’s music has always been a certain spirituality, a sense of awe and wonder in regard to life and death. Dulcinea exploits and explores that theme with reverence and humility, going so far as to close the album with “Reincarnation Song,” a delicate examination of a soul’s transition shrouded musically by a veil of electric guitar feedback. One of the best songs on this album, and perhaps their entire catalog, is “Windmills,” a moody look at the fragility and futility of existence that will cause not only the exquisite melody to linger with you, but contemplations of your own purpose in life. Every song on this record creates a world of its own that is impossible not to be drawn into."

Do you see the synchronicity? The mystery? I have not tried to understand, explain, or rationalize any of this. I just accept it as meaningful and mysterious. This began a journey with TTWS that is hard to explain and have anyone else feel, so I won't go that far here! Only those who have taken this sacred journey will understand. But songs like; Way Away, Fall Down, Good Intentions, Whatever I fear, I Will Not Take These Things for Granted and more seemed to each coincide with important themes in my life these three years since Vicki's passing. So seeing the band became a priority and I finally got the chance. It was a great concert and they played all the best songs and sounded great! I was jumping out of my seat when they announced they will be releasing a CD of all new music in 2012 and they played two of them Monday night. I was hardly able to stay in my seat! Here is one.....The Moment....

I tend to explore what interests me deeply, and so I have been exploring Toad's music closely and especially Glen Phillips, the lead singer/songwriter. That is his picture above. Here are a few excerpts from his story..."Phillips was born in Santa Barbara, California, United States, and began making music at age 14. Glen grew up in a household where Reform Judaism was practiced and Eastern Religion was studied, and his spiritual curiosity has been one of the major themes of his writing. Phillips began Toad the Wet Sprocket in 1986, at the age of 16. Phillips is frequently barefoot when performing with the band."

Yes he was barefoot at the Providence concert. I ordered from Amazon, and have enjoyed his solo work which began after a break in 2001. The titles of the CDs are Mr. Lemons, Ablulum, and Winter Pays for Summer. Here is the second new song that they performed that night. Friendly Fire....

I cannot wait for this Cd to be released.

My very first post was in April of 2009. It was titled, I Will Not Take These Things For Granted and contained the Toad song by the same name. So in a way I have gone through a full circle or cycle in deep meaning. In that post I said this....... "Anyway, I believe in the following quote, "Truth can only be expressed aesthetically--in story, picture, film, dance and music." This is a quote from "Dark Nights of the Soul" by Thomas Moore." I am sure you agree the word story, as mentioned in that quote, would include poetry, mythology, and even SONG LYRICS. In the book I have just read by Richard Rohr, Falling Upward, he is discussing the importance of myths in our spiritual journeys and he says, They hold life and death, the explainable and the unexplainable together as one; they hold the paradoxes that the rational mind cannot process by itself. As good poetry does, myths make unclear and confused emotions brilliantly clear and life changing. Lastly, I want to add another quote to create the trilogy of truth that was once explained to me as a very young man. I was told when you hear something three very close attention! The quote, which I found in Dark Nights of the Soul is from Ralph Waldo Emerson's essay, The Poet. .....the poet...."stands one step nearer to things" and "turns the world to glass." Clarity, truth, life changing...good terms for the last three years. All three quotes overlap and clearly support the idea of the sacredness of things in the secular world if your eyes are open and clear. I guess this would be a great spot for another Toad song that I am presently digging....Eyes Open Wide.....

I have much more to say about Falling Upward and Richard Rohr, but I will save that for the next post. I want to say one more thing. Thomas Moore points out that..."Many Poets and artists created their best work out of their emotional darkness." Finally, I'll end with the beginning for me and this Night Sea Journey. Ironically the quote is from Falling Upward.....Sooner or later, if you are on any classic "spiritual schedule," some event, person, death, idea, or relationship will enter your life that you simply cannot deal with, using your present skill set, your acquired knowledge, or your strong willpower. Spiritually speaking, you will be, must be, led to the edge of your own private resources. At that point you will stumble over a necessary stumbling stone, as Isaiah calls it; or to state it in our language here, you will and you must "lose" something. This is the only way that Life-Fate-God-Grace-Mystery can get you to change........ This, I think is where I have been........ This song is a great introduction to Falling Upward......

Thanks James!


  1. All I can share is a smile and a prayer... brilliant post and exceptional tunes, brother.

  2. Amen, and traveling mercies, Steve. Glad to see "back" here.

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