About Jim's Spirit SongsThese songs are some of my 'deep water' tunes. They reflect on personal stories and ideas, some quite difficult, but ultimately healing. I wanted to make a 'Rainy Day' record reminiscent of albums by Nick Drake, Donovan, the Moody Blues and others incorporating classical and world music sounds for a mellow ride through deep conceptual waters.
Thank you Brian Whistler for the wonderful arrangements. The songs were recorded in a Russian River canyon at Tree House Studios over a 5 year period. All these songs can be found on my 2010 release 'Pop Tunes for Mystics'.
Comments about the Songs
The Lennon Song
I put John Lennon on my shoulder to help me write this song about universal love. The process was difficult since I know Lennon was notoriously discerning. Each line and metaphor was under his scrutiny as I imagined how he would have reacted to them. Ultimately I was rewarded with this song, and it led to a life-changing insight that when everything else has left us, love remains at our side. Slide blues guitarist Roy Rogers does an amazing George Harrison style solo.
Deep Blue Sea
I have inherited panic disorder, and my particular kind is a fear of wide, open spaces...mountain tops, bridges, the universe, everything vast. I take no meds, and make a practice of just witnessing the thoughts and feelings as they wash through me. This song was written in the midst of a very strong attack, and I tried to just write about what it felt like during those moments. The benefit of the struggle is that it keeps my consciousness keenly focused on the temporary, beautiful aspects of life. We combined a Sitar with a Stratocaster to evoke the sound of something deep rising to the surface.
Time Runs Away (written with KD Ocean)
Time is three characters in this song. The first is a kid who steals a pie off your table and leaves only the scent of it behind. The second is a burglar who breaks into your garage at night and makes off with your car. The third time it comes as old age and steals your memories. We used a Hammond V3 organ to evoke the sounds of early Procol Harem.
This song describes the mixed feelings of scientists as they stare into the abyss of what they still don't understand. According to astronomers we only see 4% of reality. An astronomer, a physicist, and a biologist all reach a place of wonder in the midst of their questions and routines. The moral: Life is meant to be loved as well as studied. We used an array imbera , clay udu pots and an extraordinary sample of an Armenian flute.
I grew up in the Midwest in a dysfunctional family. We lived in trailer parks, and when tornados threatened we would run for our lives. Though we never lost anything to a real twister, I realized many years later that a metaphorical one raged constantly within the walls of our home. Tornados for me were the outward reflection of what was happening inside the walls of my parental home. Orchestral sounds create a lot of drama in this one with real thunder taking the song out.
Child of the War
My mother was born in Germany and spent her childhood years growing up during the rise and destruction of the Nazi era. She witnessed and lived through the saturation bombing of her hometown Stuttgart. Thousands of German children were killed in the cross fire. Afterwards, she never came to grips with what her parents’ generation did, and died denying the holocaust. Achingly beautiful arrangements tug at your heart climaxing with a vocal siren going up and out with the strings.
This song describes that curious place when you lose everything, but feel oddly liberated as old structures break apart, and a new phase of life arrives to carry you forward. I had lost a lot of money, and a couple friendships when a music festival I was involved with tanked. Life went on, and through hard lessons learned, is now much better. Sometimes the husk comes off even when we try to keep it in place. A song about letting go with a Celtic feel. Concertina and harmonica spike the rhythms.
Window The one purely romantic song on the CD. When love is this good, it's like a clear window to view the world. This song was written for Kathy, my partner of 10 years, and we’ve also used this song as part of our recent wedding vows. It's arranged in a minor key which reminds us that the deeper we go with our loved ones the sadder it'll be one day to say goodbye. There’s some real ear candy in this one featuring a great solo by Brian Whistler expertly using an Armenian duduk sample.
Drop of Time
This song was written for a friend who was leaving this world. I played it for her four months before her death. We sat around the kitchen crying and laughing, knowing that she was about to go away on a very long trip. It was one of the most profound experiences of my life. This song has two parts one—a very simple folk melody, the rest an epic journey reminiscent of classic Moody Blues.
Fear and Love
Though most of my songs are non-fiction and auto-biographical, this song is a fable describing love and fear as actual characters involved in a long and complicated relationship. Love teases fear along and fear chases love until he unwittingly is transformed into courage in the end. True transformation occurs when we face our fears, and understanding replaces trepidation. This barn-stormer of a song was recorded in Nashville featuring the great players of the Grand Ol Opry , Kerry Marx, John Gardner, Bob Patin, Byron House and vocalists Randy Anger and Sarah Reynolds of N.CA.