Sunday, July 5, 2009

Requiem (One Way Home)

Words, toys of the mind, the building blocks of consciousness. Consciousness, the essence of humanity. Humans not only know the space around them, but understand their space in time. The placement of memories one after another, defining us as individuals. We define ourselves by our memories. We all have heard the phrase, "life passed before his eyes", in a potentially dying moment. People who have died on the operating table, to be revived, almost unanimously speak of being out of body, and heading to the light. We all question where we go when we die. I remember being in the hospital with an aunt who was dying of cancer. She let go after my mother whispered in her ear that everything was ok, and she could let go. And so she did. And I distinctly felt her around me, and then looking down on me. I will never forget it. I believe, we all go back. Back to the ether, from where we came. Only one way home.

This should auto play. If you're reading this outside of blogspot, you can listen here, "Requiem".

Requiem (One Way Home)

Part I: Departure

spoken - I think it's time. Honey, Honey, hey I'm right here. I just want you to know it's ok, you can let go now. Everything is ok. I love you.

Part II: One Way Home

There’s only one way, there’s only one way home

There’s only one way home at the end of the day.

Do you remember the beginning of time to the earliest thoughts running through your mind
Now play it all back, life before your eyes, while you stare at the light like the sun in the sky

Do you feel it calling out your name, like nothing heard before, but it feels the same
Like the voice of your mother calling through the womb, the voice of an angel crying through the gloom

You live your life always fearing the end, but the end is the beginning, like a trusted friend
Back to the ether where we started from, our souls are in motion like the light of the sun

I’ve been gone so long I can’t find my home

I’ve been gone so long I can’t find my way, the fog is rolling in at the end of the day
I can feel the room start to fall away, as I am floating above where my body lay

There’s only one way only one way home only one way only one way home….

Part III: In the end, the beginning

Notes: This song has been evolving for two years now. Starting out as a simple guitar loop, minor seventh. Evoking for me, early Pink Floyd. A repeated refrain, "one way home". I wanted to add a down-beat rhythm, and finally did this past winter. I began to add a singing melody answering the refrain, but nothing seemed to work. I had a flash of an idea one evening that I should rap the lyric. This is something I've never tried. The final part, tumbling through space, I decided to add an old family tape recording. Of me, at three years, singing my first song, "Hocka-dee-dar".


  1. Lord. Have. Mercy. You've blessed us all with this jewel - these jewels. Faith built in Light: a gift from your mother and aunt to you, and you to us.

    Brought to mind Eliot's "Little Gidding":

    Every phrase and every sentence is an end and a beginning,
    Every poem an epitaph. And any action
    Is a step to the block, to the fire, down the sea's throat
    Or to an illegible stone: and that is where we start.
    We die with the dying:
    See, they depart, and we go with them.
    We are born with the dead:
    See, they return, and bring us with them.

    Peace/out, my brother.

  2. This song is wonderful and haunting, how magical!
    Thank you so much for visiting my blog and leaving such a lovely message.
    Thank you again!

  3. could not hear it .. but the words are really impressive !! glad to visit here :)

  4. Whoa. VERY Pink Floyd. And you're right; it goes great with what ShapeShifter is up to this week!

    Very cool; can't wait to hear more creations.

  5. Paschal - Thanks for the props, as usual, but even more so the Eliot. Great poem.

    Gem - You're very welcome! And thank you for taking it all in. It's always appreciated.

    Wayward Sea Nymph - Sorry you couldn't share in audible bits. Glad you enjoyed the words! Thanks.

  6. Neat stuff, a great exploration of a theme I think we all think about (or should).

    And whoa, thanks for the props, man.

  7. Great words. Deep and poignant. As for the out-of-body stuff, I've studied this quite a lot myself. A fascinating mystery.

  8. The lyrics are very moving. I'm not cluey enough to listen on my blog yet but I'll get there! I actually want to record some of my poems to put on my blog and I'm waiting for my very busy daughter to show me how to do it.

  9. Wow nice one! I love the voice on the song. Is that you? The post also is well expressed; I too believe that there is something more to this life, it doesnt just end in death.

  10. Susan - I wouldn't steer you wrong. I can't wait to create them!

    Thom - The props are well deserved, man. Your writing is very sharp. I look forward to it every week.

    Tony - Fascinating indeed! Some folks don't like to think about it. Death is an iminent fact of life!

    Rinkly - Please come back when your daughter hooks you up! Thanks for your kind words.

    Retro - It's all me. Begining to end. Thank you so much for taking the time!

    Verbal Lass - That is a highest compliment!! Happy to get on your nerves!


  11. I've been itching to come back here and give a listen - the puter is in the living room and I had to fetch the ear buds. The fam doesn't appreciate when I ramble the net audibly (though I will make them listen to this and they will be glad) This was one of those that would silence conversation in the room - any room! Gotta go - gonna listen again :)

  12. I have played your song 3 times. The sound is so wonderfully moody and your voice fantastic. Thank you.

  13. Dee - So glad you came back! Yeah, my 10 year old son was creeped out by the intro. And my 12 year old daughter totally embarrassed by my rap. I'm honored that you're going to hold your family hostage! Thanks.

    Tammie Lee - Thank YOU!!!!! :)

  14. Been drowned and buried in all manner of circumstances and emotions, but I had to make it here. This Requiem (One Way Home) is a big deal, music man. This is the most pleasant situation of not knowing where to begin than I can remember knowing.

    Any composition of yours has all of you in it, but not always do we know what parts and where and how. And when we know more of that—what all of you and your life went into a thing and where—it allows us the pleasure of being all the more blown away.

    On top of that, you’re dealing with things that are out of this world. The worldly things—your aunt, your mom, your words rapped out, your killer guitar, your cute little kid voice that grew into the deep voice I love to listen to—they imitate the things of the ether, and we who listen know from whence they came, maybe from some remembrance of where we’ve been or some intuition of where we’re going.

    I took your “Do you remember…” stanza as our earliest thoughts, if they were played back, would be our life played before our eyes. And it reminded me of a short story by John Edgar Wideman, “newborn thrown in trash and dies.” The narrator is a baby who says your life doesn’t flash in front of your eyes before you die, but when you’re born. “You begin and right in the eye of that instant storm your life plays itself out for you in advance…” and this baby's narration goes on so amazingly more from there.

    And fearing the end but it is the beginning, like a trusted friend. Awesome words.

    I only half apologize for this “dissertation,” for you started it, invited it with the revelation of your ever-expanding talent. You asked for it in going beyond the kitchen sink to the universe with this impressive multimedia production. It’s you, not me ; )

  15. Alicat - Awesome words, you!

    Your third paragraph, wow! Leaves me breathless. This thing wrapped itself up so nicely last Sunday I felt like a paintbrush in the hands of an artist. I can't explain how seamless the addition of the childhood tape was. I loaded it onto the recorder fully expecting to edit the time sequences. The glissando of my child voice was keenly echoed in the glissando of the synth sample. I didn't have to edit it at all! Not to mention how the voice ends in the split second before the fade to black. It was uncanny.

    All of the lead guitar parts before the rap were also done very quickly. Three or four takes for the forward and reverse sections. The more I listen to it, the more I'm amazed how it fell into place.

    And as you said, there is so much of my entire life in this four and a half minute window. It certainly feels like MY requiem. It's somewhat unnerving to me.

    Between my requiem, and your comments?! Ok, I can let go now.....

  16. ...OK, you let go, you’re “gone” but I’m still here holding on, fascinated all the more now that you’ve told me more of the creative process involved. It is both wildly exciting and unnerving: exciting because you were a paintbrush in the hands of an artist, and that I understand; unnerving because your feelings are a little too close for worldly comfort to Mozart’s when he took on the Requiem in D commission. Add in the perfectly synchronized “Hocka-dee-dar,” a prophesy in itself, that you would grow up to sing and play music that you write, and oh lord it’s really all too much, too big to take in. I’m still working on grasping the magnitude of it all. Your kids’ reactions are almost a necessity to relieve the dramatic tension and I’m noting that here specifically for that purpose (I especially loved your daughter’s reaction because I remember those eye-rolling days well) or I might never be able to let go!

  17. ... well, it's funny you mention the kids relieving the dramatic tension. All of the heartbeat to flatline to spaced out machine throb at the beginning smacks of a horror flick. And in the end it's the innocence of the children's voices, my sisters' and mine, that disarm the tension of the journey through death.

    None of this was premeditated, mind you. To me, it simply felt right as I went through it. Only now does it appear to have some obvious structure to it.

    It's much like Mr. Booker's poetry. He says it just spills out of him happenstance. But to us, there is obviously some genius behind it! (and there is that giant brain you always speak of) As if he were some sort of watchmaker delicately crafting tiny gears of perfection.

    It must be that over time, these often traveled patterns of thought allow these things pour out like spring water through a mountain wall. Appearing to the eye, like the creation of some higher order. Truly fascinating stuff, Miss Alister.

  18. Yes, truly fascinating, what we’ve thought about thus far, and what additional thoughts you’ve just tossed onto the already out of control bonfire! And we could go on and on with revelations that come to us from this happening of yours, and we should, and we will, but here I just want to add one more thing, how I know that we will go on and on with it. All the while I was reminded of Shirley Jackson’s and Flannery O’Connor’s words in regard to gifts of creation plopped into our laps, like this Requiem dropped down into place on your lap. And it’s not only that these things are given and we record them easily with no need to rework them, it’s that we don’t truly know the extent of what all has occurred through us. And so even after the work is completed, the extended mark of knowing, the continuing sign that something great has happened is that we continue to learn new things from the work. And so will others as the work affects them, And on it goes and goes. One happening, infinite ripples.

  19. Duchess and Miguel: I'm enjoying the extensions here, out and out. Listening to you all talk about the creative process brings me around to collage, to many visual arts, and probably to music. Writing (it, too, a visual art, I have to keep reminding myself), because of the "presumed" consciousness of words, can appear more intentionally shaped, though my experience is that it, too, is not - at least not as much as we like to think. Michael, your requiem seems to me a brilliant aural collage: you were amazed at how easily it all came together, and you certainly had ideas and intentions, but still, much of it comes together in a more mesmeric process: only after, do we see and know. We don't necessarily need, much less want, to know in the process of making.

    I used to say that "the poem is in the room; it's always in the room, right here, right around us." I think the sublime "Hocka-dee-dar" proves the point.

    Blessings to you both.

  20. I feel the need to clarify here for the sake of reference. All this talk of genius and Mozart is a precipitous walk for my middle-aged ego.

    It may be true that at this point Mozart and I have written a requiem. And further still he and I "composed" our first song at age 3. But I remain grounded by comparing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" to the melodically inferior "Hocka-dee-dar"!

    Not to mention the dearth of accomplishment on my part, post age 3. :P

    Humbly yours,

  21. If there were no rabbits in the forest.
    Would a bear crap in the woods?

  22. Jack: are you for real? The bear would just have to find something else to wipe his ass with.

    Now then, Music Man: would you feel better if I said to you that what happened to you is like what happened to Mozart when he accepted the commission to write the Requiem Mass in D Minor? And I don’t mean the feeling about his own death. I do mean the spirit of Creativity took him over. He was helpless. The spirit moved through him to create what humans call genius. But you and I know better. We are just folks, yet creativity can move through us when we are willing to let it. And you were willing. And I am becoming willing after a very emotionally scary dry spell. Wish me luck! Please.

  23. Jack - That would depend on whether the pop was there to hear it fall.

    Alicat - I would accept that. Exactly like that! Good luck, I'll pray for rain in your orange hue.