Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

My Mind by YEBBA at Sofar will blow your mind!

January 16, 2022

January 16, 2022: Today is YEBBA’s 27th birthday. We wish her peace of mind, a joy-filled heart, and a successful fulfilling career.

Born Abigail Elizabeth Smith, she went by Abbey Smith until she changed her name professionally to Yebba—Abbey spelled backwards—in honor of her mother who had given her that nickname. More on that later.

I recently discovered this amazing artist on YouTube. She is an American singer-songwriter from West Memphis, Arkansas. Over 5 years ago, when she was 21, she gave a powerful, emotive performance of her song “My Mind” at Sofar (Songs From A Room) in New York City. Sofar NYC had recorded it and later posted it on their YouTube channel. It went viral.

I can’t get it out of my mind. I never heard a singer express such raw emotion, yet within a precise musical structure. She does this with her very versatile voice and just her guitarist softly backing her up. That’s it.

The song opens with her discovering that her partner has been cheating on her, then shows her reaction. Her voice slowly builds to a powerful expression of rage, hurt, and grief, to the point where she is about to lose her mind. The audience is spellbound. The camera shows some women sitting motionless in rapt attention.

I would rank YEBBA up there with other exceptional authentic female vocalists like Eva Cassidy, Lissie, and Angelina Jordan. Be prepared to have your mind blown listening to YEBBA sing My Mind at Sofar NYC.

YEBBA performing “My Mind” at Sofar NYC on September 30th, 2016. Sofar Sounds connects artists and music-lovers around the world through intimate shows in unique venues.

Losing love can be a painful thing. I normally wouldn’t post something like this, however. This is such a profoundly visceral experience executed with the utmost skill and talent I just had to share it.

Having written and performed My Mind at Sofar in front of a live audience must’ve been part of her healing process, and a cathartic experience for those listening who may have also suffered a betrayal and loss of love. After it was over, I like how she matter-a-factly stated, “That’s that one.”

Reactions

Hundreds have reacted to this video over the years, some technically, others emotionally, recalling their own memories of betrayal. It is a powerful performance that triggers anger, compassion, tears. It reminded me of that famous line: ‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’.

Three reactions worth watching are by these music professionals: Lolli Wren aka The Fairy Voice Mother in England, Julia Nilon in Australia, and John Henny in California.

Lolli Wren goes into technique, but also acknowledges her emotional response.

I think the main thing that I felt when I heard that was this overwhelming sense of wanting to protect her and make the pain go away because it was just watching a woman in distress crying out for help in such a harrowingly poetic and beautiful way. It shows you what beauty can come out of such intense pain. And we need that, we need a pioneer of expression.

Julia Nilon picks up how well Yebba delivers the R&B-soul-gospel runs to serve the song.

All of her vocal effects—from the runs, to the aspirations, to the yodels, to the calling or crying that she’s putting into the sound, to the distortion—all of it sounds suitable, if the emotional content of the song that she’s putting in, like, you can’t help but feel something when you’re watching her sing this because it’s like her heart is in her hands. This is an incredible emotional performance and the vocal delivery is stunning. I mean I don’t think she overdid anything that wasn’t warranted by the lyrics that she was delivering.

Voice teacher John Henny said Yebba uses a minor pentatonic scale, a five-note scaffolding on which her voice ascends and descends. Her riffs sound like Middle Eastern runs or from a gospel choir. Yebba’s father is a pastor and she used to create choral arrangements and sing in his church. At times, it sounds like she’s wailing. John provides us with this insight into her talent and technique.

I gotta tell you, it is so hard to take your voice and your emotions to the edge of tears but you don’t lose the ability to sing. That’s really difficult, because as you begin to touch that emotion you lose control in the voice, and she’s right on the razor’s edge of that. That’s really fantastic! I’ve seen Barbra Streisand do that effectively well. It’s incredibly hard to do.

He concludes by saying “She’s just amazing” and then provides us with this final analysis:

The song itself—there’s not a lot there. I mean very simple chords. It’s not like it’s this hook-driven ditty. It really is just a vehicle for her to express herself emotionally. And what I love, is her riffs, her choices. None of them are done to be showy. It’s not, ‘Hey, look-at-me,’ vocals. It’s, ‘Let me express myself to you.’ ‘Let me communicate to you.’ So, this is absolutely fantastic!

Collaborations and Grammys

To date, this video has almost 20 million views. Ed Sheeran saw Yebba sing and it brought him to tears. He immediately signed her to his record label and later invited her to London at the famous Abbey Road Studios (same name!) to record one of his songs as part of his No. 6 Collaborations Project released in 2019. It included many top artists and produced several hits mentioned in the notes. It’s posted on his YouTube channel: Ed Sheeran – Best Part Of Me (feat. YEBBA) (Live At Abbey Road).

An earlier collaboration also worth listening to is Yebba singing John Mayer’s Gravity with Clark Beckham. (More on John Mayer added below.)

Besides the viral video of My Mind, Yebba first became known for her backing vocal performance on Chance the Rapper’s SNL performance of “Same Drugs” in 2016. In 2017, she released her debut single, Evergreen—a tribute to her late mother that was recorded in their family church.

Yebba has collaborated with a number of artists, including PJ Morton (How Deep Is Your Love), which won a Grammy in 2018 for Best Traditional R&B Performance; Sam Smith (No Peace); Mark Ronson (Don’t Leave Me Lonely); Stormzy (Don’t Forget to Breathe); Ed Sheeran (Best Part of Me); and Drake (Yebba’s Heartbreak). Her own song, Distance, was nominated for a Grammy in 2020 in the same category as before.

Yebba received 2 Nominations for 2022 Grammys Awards: #18. Best Traditional R&B Performance: For new vocal or instrumental traditional R&B recordings, How much can a heart take – Lucky Daye ft. Yebba – (Live Performance), which premiered Jul 31, 2021 on Jimmy Kimmel Live; and her album, Dawn, for #71. Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical.

Dawn

Yebba’s mother, Dawn, a high school science teacher, encouraged her singing. Sadly, she committed suicide in October, shortly after Yebba’s performance at Sofar went viral. Yebba returned home traumatized, putting her career on hold, and tried to deal with her PTSD and OCD.

Yebba mentions a feeling of constant panic and grief in this 5-minute synopsis of an NPR interview that Sam Sanders did with her when her debut album, Dawn, came out last September: With The New Album ‘Dawn,’ Yebba Sheds Old Beliefs.

Listen to the complete intimate 24-minute interview where they discover they have a lot in common growing up around music in the church: Yebba Sheds Old Beliefs With A New Album. Both include the transcripts.

NPR also posted Yebba: Tiny Desk (Home) Concert of her performing songs from the album with her amazing band and vocal backup group.

Trying to come to terms with her mother’s death, Yebba processed a lot of emotions and memories. She titled and dedicated her first album in her name. Symbolically, it became the official dawn of her career.

September 8, 2021: This Tiny Desk Concert has been in the works since the spring of 2020, when the album was completed but shelved until Yebba (and the rest of the world) was in a better place. It was worth the wait.

Reviews

Billboard published: Yebba’s ‘Dawn’: The Long, Difficult Road to the Stunning Singer’s Debut. Yebba’s highly-anticipated, Mark Ronson-produced debut album was delayed by loss and lockdown — but now the soul singer is even more eager to begin in earnest. 

In the YouTube documentary, “How To Be: Mark Ronson,” when Mark and Yebba are in the studio, he says, “she is one of the top five greatest vocalists I’ve ever recorded, just the kind of person that when they’re singing in a room, everybody just suddenly engages more.” And Mark has collaborated with and produced the best, like Amy Winehouse, Adele, Bruno Mars, Q-Tip, Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, to name a few.

The Whit Online published this review: YEBBA’s Debut Album, “Dawn” is a Masterclass in Musicianship.

“This is a voice that moves, it doesn’t merely entertain,” says Kyle Dennis in his Album Review: Yebba’s ‘Dawn’ Is Divine.

Natalie Maher interviewed Yebba for Harpers Bazaar: Yebba Isn’t Afraid to Feel It All. The singer-songwriter’s debut album, Dawn, is a hauntingly beautiful ode to the art of healing.

Song versions

Yebba doesn’t usually sing her songs the same way twice. Her song, Boomerang, is on the album, but this live version posted on her YouTube channel sounds better.

Same with this live version of October Sky. The song is based on a memory of her mother firing off bottle rockets she had brought home from science class for Yebba and her brother. Gerard Hern explained it in his comment quoting Yebba on how she wrote the song.

“I wrote this whole story about remembering her sliding down the hall and telling us ‘Come outside we’re shooting off bottle rockets,’” Yebba explains. “That memory came to me and the words just spilled out: this story of her and the promise that she broke, in a way, because she killed herself in October. I genuinely feel like she was standing there in the room with me as I was writing it, in my studio apartment in Brooklyn.”

Look for videos on her YouTube channel. She adds new ones. For her debut album, Dawn, you can Listen on Spotify or Listen on Apple Music.

Yebba posted this gem Nov 8, 2015: Abbey Smith cover “Weak” by SWV.

Healing Trauma with Transcendental Meditation

Nick Cave and Lady Gaga are two of many musicians who have spoken about the benefits of Transcendental Meditation (TM) for their grief and pain, respectively, and to boost their creativity. Katy Perry and Sting have participated with other artists in fundraising concerts for the David Lynch Foundation (DLF), which offers TM for free to traumatized communities.

DLF’s latest projects include veterans and their families suffering from PTSD and frontline healthcare workers exhausted from dealing with the pandemic. Many published studies show TM to be effective in removing stress, healing trauma, and reenergizing people. It could help Yebba.

New music

Jan 24, 2022: Yebba – The Age of Worry (Live at Electric Lady), a song originally performed by John Mayer. johnmayer posted this comment on Yebba’s Instagram post about it:

My screen is getting blurry. ❤️ So moved. Thank you for showing what’s been hiding in my own work through your profoundly powerful and soulful take. You are so special I can’t stand/understand it sometimes. ♥️♥️♥️

Jan 27, 2022: Spotify posts Yebba’s new 5-song EP, Live at Electric Lady.

Opening for John Mayer’s 2022 Sob Rock Tour

And now John Mayer’s 2022 Sob Rock Tour will include Yebba as his opening act in some March to April venues. Official #1 Fan, Yebbite Smith, posts videos from concerts, like these clips from Luke Edgemon of Yebba and her funky band opening for John Mayer in LA. Luke also posted Yebba singing October Sky from that Forum concert. Jayla R posted Stand from the Tampa show.

See more on YS’s Instagram accounts: Yebbites and yebbasmithworld, which includes a photo of Yebba and John. And on his YouTube channel, Yebbite Smith, where he also posted, YEBBA Best Vocals Sob Rock Tour.

Yebba posted this insane clip from one of those shows of her riffing on “It’s just a shot away” from the Rolling Stones classic Gimme Shelter.

‘How Long Will I Love You’ sung by Ellie Goulding highlights 4 Romantic Comedies by Richard Curtis

October 7, 2021

Many of us have been isolated during the pandemic lockdown and ended up watching a lot of movies. I particularly enjoyed revisiting a few popular romantic comedies. Having seen them when they first came out in theaters years ago, I was pleasantly reminded that these four award-winning box-office hits were all made by Richard Curtis.

Universal Pictures UK had posted a video on YouTube of memorable moments from four wonderful romcoms: Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, Love Actually, and About Time.

The video was used to launch his latest film at that time, About Time, promoting it with the beautiful theme song, How Long Will I Love You?, movingly sung by Ellie Goulding from her new album, Halcyon Days.

I’d seen these films again, most recently About Time. It’s a sweet story about using time travel to improve romantic outcomes, with an edifying conclusion. The theme song was relevant and touching. While searching for it online I discovered this video using it to highlight all four films.

Ellie Goulding’s cover of a Waterboys song used in the About Time official soundtrack reminded me of Dan Fogelberg‘s beautiful song, Longer. Both songs profess loving someone forever. Watch her music video of the song intermixed with visuals from the film.

Another cover of the song in the film’s OST is by Jon Boden, Sam Sweeney & Ben Coleman. The Waterboys original 1990 song on their Room to Roam album was remastered in 2008.

Richard Curtis also wrote the screenplay to the musical romantic comedy, Yesterday. I loved it and created this post: Can you imagine a world without the Beatles? Watch the new film “Yesterday” to find out.

See this earlier post on some of my favorite romantic films. I later added: Writing, literature, life and love intersect in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and The spring rains renew life and the promise of love in this film, A Good Rain Knows, inspired by the poetry of Du Fu.

If you like, please leave a comment with your favorite films.

Discover and enjoy the amazing soulful voice of young Angelina Jordan. It is jaw-dropping great!

June 7, 2021

I may be a little late to have discovered this unbelievable musical phenomenon, but Angelina Jordan continues to impress and inspire me daily. The more I found out about her, the more I wanted to hear her sing and uncover more of her story. This would account for the length and breadth of this new post. There’s enough here to keep you informed, inspired, and entertained at your own pace.

I want to sing for the whole world. Singing is as important as breathing to me. I just love to sing. Angelina Jordan

I recently discovered and am thoroughly enjoying listening to an amazingly talented young artist—Angelina Jordan Astar from Oslo, Norway. Born January 10, 2006, this musical child prodigy started singing very early in life.

Thanks to her grandmother, Angelina began listening to classic American jazz artists when she was a very young child. She started singing around 18 months and by 3 knew that’s what she wanted to do with her life—become an international singing superstar.

Luckily, her family has supported her in that direction. As a young child, Angelina attended the Oslo Waldorf School and participated in the Oslo School of Music and Performing Arts after-school program where she received vocal training. In addition to singing, she also learned how to play 4 instruments—piano, violin, guitar, and flute—and she paints! She speaks several languages. For years she has been covering other artists and is now starting to record her own songs.

Enters Norway’s Got Talent at 7 years old and wins

In these earlier videos, it is totally incongruous to see such a small young child performing old American jazz standards on Norway’s Got Talent. For her audition she sang Billie Holiday’s version of Gloomy Sunday. The judges could not believe what they were hearing. Some were at a loss for words; others were teary-eyed. After Angelina finished singing, the audience and judges rose to their feet applauding wildly. As they sat down and the judges started interviewing Angelina, we hear music playing softly in the background. It’s the beautiful song, How Long Will I Love You?. That’s the moment Norway, and, when the video went viral, the rest of the world, fell in love with Angelina and her amazing voice.

Watch the final full show where she sings Summertime and goes on to win NGT with 46% of the vote at 7 years of age! See Angelina Jordan All Performances On Norways Got Talent.

She puts a spell on you

Here is another jaw-dropping, mind-blowing experience. Watch Angelina, now 9, belt out I Put A Spell On You in a studio with musicians, and later, live on Germany’s Little Big Stars. Often covered in the past, this 1956 song was written and composed by Jalacy “Screamin’ Jay” Hawkins. His own recording of it was selected as one of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. You have to wonder how she discovered such historically significant artists. Watch him sing it, then you will understand how she honors him (he’s on the candle she holds up to the camera) by staying true to the original, yet creating her own version of it (see the conductor nodding at the written directions of her arrangement).

Angelina has recorded over 130 covers from 80 different artists that she’s posted on Facebook and YouTube over the years. She arranges her own versions of popular songs and directs musicians how to play them. This video ranks as one of the most outrageous mind-blowers, with hundreds of reactor videos and millions of views! I love to see reactors try to respond in disbelief when they hear her sing this song. It’s a double enjoyment for me—reacting to their reactions, as well as my own, again!! For example: Soul Reacts, a songwriter who cannot comprehend what he is hearing; and joethemaster‘s over-the-top reaction.

Pontus Österlin at PO Talks put together a brilliantly edited 8-minute compilation of a range of many reactors’ reactions as Angelina belts out I Put A Spell On You. During the credits listing them, he included footage of Jay Hawkins screaming out his song, with parallel clips of Angelina. This is definitely worth watching!

(Later inserted) The following year I replied to a question on Twitter as to which black and white film I thought was the best and most watched in 2001 and I said this one directed by Per Heimly adding his Twitter address. He liked it and we started a DM. I was thrilled and surprised and told him the world owed him a great debt for what he did for Angelina and her family, especially her grandma Mery Zamani. He messaged back: It’s a Family Of Great Genius . 🤘❤️🙏

Here is another newer compilation: Look at the reactions of these beautiful girls‼️Angelina Jordan – I Put A Spell On You React. The names of the 7 reactors and their YouTube links are listed in the notes.

Another song that’s up there is Feeling Good. She was 10 years old when she performed it at Allsang På Grensen – TV2, and later LIVE on The Stream Gir Tilbake.

America’s Got Talent Golden Buzzer

Six years later, Angelina appeared on America’s Got Talent: The Champions 2020 when she was 13 years old. She told Heidi Klum that she had waited 10 years to sing for Simon Cowell. And it was on the biggest stage in the world! This was her moment. She auditioned with her own spellbinding version of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, which won her a Golden Buzzer from Heidi, who could hardly contain herself.

Angelina later said: “When Heidi stood up it felt like time stood still. I can’t believe it. The confetti felt like millions of gold stars were falling on me. It was really the best moment of my life.”

As the judges and audience members were on their feet applauding wildly, I heard an excerpt of Eva Cassidy singing Over The Rainbow playing in the background and thought, how appropriate! One amazing angelic voice honoring another as her dream finally, really did come true!

Angelina later returned for The Champions Season 2 2020 final round to sing her unique take on Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. She blew the judges away again, and the crowd went nuts in joyful disbelief.

Angelina was later joined by amazing sand artist Kseniya Simonova and talented young violinist Tyler Butler-Figueroa for an exciting group performance of Someone You Loved in the AGT Champions Finale. Watch Angelina Jordan: ALL Performances on America’s Got Talent Champions.

Boris Palenovski later edited all 3 performances together in higher res: Angelina Jordan (13) – All performances – America’s Got Talent: the Champions Season 2 – 4K video. See 13-year-old Angelina wearing a T-shirt with her 7-year-old face on it from Norway’s Got Talent at 3:52.

The girl with a thousand voices

Angelina later recorded Bohemian Rhapsody, with Queen’s blessing, for her official channel. She also sings many cover songs by today’s great artists, like Adele’s All I Ask and her cover of Bob Dylan’s Make You Feel My Love. She even sounds like Amy Winehouse in Back To Black. Her performance of Whitney Houston’s I Have Nothing is filled with emotive power and heartfelt feelings as seen in this screensaver from a video of her singing the song.

Angelina Jordan recording I Have Nothing (Whitney Houston Tribute)

Angelina may emulate these artists, vocally and emotionally as she inhabits their songs, but she interprets them in her own unique stylistic way, oftentimes better than the original! Like any great jazz artist, she is developing her own sound, finding her own voice, and now performing her own music. We are all in for many surprising treats.

When she was 10 years old Angelina was asked to record a song by Brandon Lowry, aka Sterling Fox or Baby FuzZ. Angelina’s version was a demo, not meant to be released. She said she would never record it again because it deals with suicide. Nothing happened with his song, which he had written and recorded with some Norwegian friends. Someone later “leaked” the audio. Rusty Shackleford provides an explanation in this comment. He includes Baby Fuzz’s comment—an attempt to clear the air about it after he had heard it. Angelina’s version of I’m Still Holding out for You could easily have become a Top 10 hit.

Worldwide online reactions

Besides her impressive vocal skills, what gives listeners goosebumps and moves them to tears are the powerful soulful feelings she puts into each song. How can someone that young, who has not yet experienced life’s ups and downs, express such emotions and understanding? It boggles the mind! There is no doubt that Angelina is an old soul in a young body—something the judges at NGT and AGT said, as well as others who have commented on her performances.

She has 2 billion Facebook views and over half a billion on YouTube. There are many compilation channels of her music and 100’s of reaction videos of people responding to some of the many songs she’s posted. Most of them are visibly moved, jaw-dropped at a loss for words.

One of the more qualified reactors is Spanish-speaking vocal coach Ceci Dover. She explains things in detail, sharing valuable advice. See this one she posted of Angelina covering Lana Del Ray’s Born To Die.

In this enjoyable video (select English subtitles), Ceci uses excerpts of Angela singing between ages 7-13 to give us an informed overview of the evolution of her amazingly talented voice.

See Angelina Jordan’s rise to stardom! 🚀 – “When You Believe” ⏳ 🎼 🏆 Along with Angelina’s cover of this iconic song is a visual montage created by Kaleidoscope RMX. It shows her commitment to and belief in herself using excerpts from NGT to AGT and a sweet surprise ending. Very emotional and inspiring!!

Creatively collaborating with Stargate, signing with Republic Records

After turning down many requests to sign Angelina, the family eventually settled on what they felt was the right record company that would allow her to create her own style of music, and not mold her into something artificial for commercial gain. When she was 14, they signed with UMG’s, (United Music Group) Republic Records.

Angelina released her first singles on the Republic Records label: “Million Miles” in November 2020 and “7th Heaven” in March 2021. Both songs are co-credited to the multiple Grammy-award-winning Los Angeles-based Norwegian production duo, Tor Erik Hermansen and Mikkel Storleer Eriksen, aka Stargate. Read how this creative collaboration came about in these postings by this Angelina Jordan Fan Club – The Shield on the WIKI: Angelina Jordan and Stargate.

Republic released 4 videos—2 Live in Studio and 2 Official Lyric Videos: Million Miles (Live in Studio) and (Official Lyric Video), a very personal song about losing her grandfather; and a more upbeat 7th Heaven (Live in Studio) and (Official Lyric Video) about her philosophy of life. The live in-studio videos were filmed in a sparse lounge-like setting. The official lyric videos contain the words to the songs with paintings by her grandmother Mery Zamani, some of which were printed onto the outfit Angelina wore on AGT. A third, more personal, Angelina Jordan – Million Miles (Official Music Video) was later released in Jan 27, 2021.

Partnering with Stargate and Republic officially launched the career of this young teenage artist. She is now getting to create and produce her own material. There is no question this original artist will evolve into the international superstar she dreamed of becoming ever since she was 3!

RECENTLY ADDED: Republic Records later produced and Angelina Jordan Official posted on July 15, 2021 a new video of Angelina Jordan singing 7th Heaven in a club setting with an audience. The story line includes a waitress listening to Angelina and the band rehearse, working in the kitchen dreaming of what her life could be, then at the live performance. It includes footage of her and Angelina horsing around in the kitchen. Very funny and cute.

The Barefoot Princess / Jazz Queen

You may have noticed that Angelina sings barefoot. There is a reason for that. While living abroad with her family in the Middle East she came upon a poor young girl, her own age at the time, around 6 years old. She was weighing people to earn money to feed her orphaned brothers and sisters. Angelina discovered this when she spoke to her. She also noticed that the girl was barefoot and had scars on her feet.

Angelina asked her what she wanted to become. She replied, a doctor, but didn’t think it could happen. Angelina strongly told her to never give up her dreams. She took off her favorite green shoes and gave them to her. The girl resisted at first, then thanked her, and said she would pray every day for her to fulfill her dream to become a superstar and sing for the whole world. Angelina told the story in this Variety Media interview.

So, in honor of and inspired by that girl, Angelina always performs barefoot and still thinks of her, and the many homeless and shoeless children everywhere. Angelina actually went on to raise millions of Euros for children and families in need. Talk about putting yourself in other people’s shoes, or in this case, giving your shoes to someone in need! Angelina’s empathy and compassionate heart are expressed through her actions as well as her amazing voice!

Angelina’s empathy and compassionate heart are expressed through her actions as well as her amazing voice!

Publishes “Between Two Hearts

At 9 years of age, Angelina became Norway’s youngest author when she published a book about this story. Between Two Hearts is illustrated by her grandmother Mery Zamani, herself a child prodigy who became a famous poet and painter at a very early age. Mery exposed Angelina to jazz before she could read or write, and is responsible for her desire to become a jazz singer. They create art together, and design and make her own clothing. Mery tapes the many videos of Angelina singing. She also paints the backdrops for some of them, including images in the animated sequence for the lyric version of Million Miles. Some of her images were made into clothing that Angelina wears, like the colorful pant suit she wore in her first appearance on AGT, when she sang Bohemian Rhapsody. See this short Angelina Jordan book release video.

In a Book Talk podcast published by Angelina Jordan’s publisher, Cappelen Damm, in 2015, Erling Kittelsen, a Norwegian author and poet and friend of the family, talks with Angelina about her book. When he was first shown her diary containing that episode with the barefoot girl, he said it should be made into a book. English subtitles have now been provided by her fan club. In between we hear excerpts of Angelina singing and small extracts from “Mellom to hjerter” (Between Two Hearts). It is very moving and gives us a glimpse into who Angelina really is. For her, “Love is very … Love means everything.” Angelina’s book has been translated into English and is available for purchase as an eBook on her website: https://www.angelinajordanofficial.com/book.

(See a footnote below that I added after ordering and reading the eBook.)

The week her book came out, Angelina Jordan was interviewed by Anne Lindmo on the NRK TV show “Lindmo” (Nov 14, 2015). Ms. Lindmo asked Angelina to share the story of why she sings barefoot and to tell the story of how she met a poor barefoot girl when she was 6 years old. She then brings out Angelina’s actual diary for her to read what she wrote after that encounter with the girl. That Norwegian interview has now been translated with English subtitles. Click on the CC to watch it here. After the interview, Angelina sings Unchained Melody.

The whole family nourishes and supports Angelina in her career. In fact, her uncle is her manager, her mother handles publicity, and her grandmother is her stylist. They have been very protective of Angelina, wanting her to still enjoy her childhood and complete her education as she pursues her dream to become an international star. Throughout it all Angelina remains unpretentious and is happily focused on manifesting her musical destiny. In a reactor video, GEB Endeavors comments on how Angelina’s uncle became her manager and eventually paved the way for the family to move to LA to pursue her career in music. It’s happening!

It is interesting to note that instead of bowing when an audience applauds her, she curtsies. She always comes across as dignified yet humble, respectful and loving. A rare talent and a very special soul.

Revealing insights into Angelina’s inner world

When Angelina performs, she is in her element. She is calm and fearless. It is natural for her to powerfully project the emotional content of a song. She appears extroverted on stage, yet is in her own world. But ask her questions in an interview, and she gives short answers. She seems shy, introverted. She’s not comfortable expressing herself personally. However, it seems to be easier for her the older she gets.

I think she may be an introvert by nature and inhabits a rich inner world. She comes from a deep place. We get a glimpse of that world when she sings, and are transformed by it. Here are a few hints I’ve noticed in some interviews.

In this 2016 Norway TV News Feature, Angelina tells the interviewer: “I want to sing for the whole world. Singing is as important as breathing to me. I just love to sing.” That says it all.

I want to sing for the whole world. Singing is as important as breathing to me. I just love to sing. — Angelina Jordan

Angelina is quite young in this interview when she said: “I close my eyes and go in a different world.” Her mother Sarah said: “I came home one day when my mother looked after her. She was well eighteen months, and sang a Whitney Houston song in bed. I was almost shocked. It was so beautiful! We quickly realized that she had very great interest in music. It is she who is first and foremost musical in the family. Neither my husband nor I are particularly musical.” This video, Angelina Jordan – The Evolution, includes that clip of Angelina singing as a baby.

I close my eyes and go in a different world.

A young Angelina to an interviewer asking her about her singing.

Angelina was 1 of 10 finalists in America’s Got Talent: The Champions 2020, and the winner was going to be announced that night. In this Short Interview from LA in Norwegian TV2 Monday Feb 17, 2020, the interviewer asks Angelina about the public’s response to her singing. She told the interviewer that “it’s absolutely incredible that there are so many people who send so many millions of messages,” and quoted a few.

Q: How do you prevent this from getting to your head?

A: I take it all in…and use it to spread love to everyone all over the world.

I take it all in…and use it to spread love to everyone all over the world.

Angelina Jordan’s response to a Norwegian reporter in LA asking her how she prevents all this attention from going to her head.

On Scandinavian TV, (Singer Angelina Jordan: – I don’t feel like a 12-year-old | SVT/TV 2/Skavlan) Skavlan asks Angelina some deep questions. Her answers are revealing!

At the start of the interview in Norwegian, Skavlan asks Angelina, “What do you find easiest: singing or speaking?

She doesn’t hesitate to answer, “Singing and writing,” which is what you’d expect from an introvert. He confirms her answer by asking, “Singing and writing is easiest? Not speaking?” Smiling and chuckling, she shyly nods her head in agreement.

They then switch to speaking in English.

Q: My first question is, when I see you on stage, I wonder, who do you feel that you become?

A: When I sing I go to another world. In the world, it’s like, endless. It’s amazing. (smiles and laughs)

Q: What do you mean by endless?

A: Like, full of happiness, and, I love… It’s amazing!

Q: Many people say that you don’t sound like a 12-year-old. Do you feel like a 12-year-old?

A: I feel like a 12-year-old when I look at my passport.

When I sing I go to another world. In the world, it’s like, endless. It’s amazing. … Like, full of happiness, and, I love … It’s amazing!

Angelina Jordan answers Skavlan’s questions about what happens to her when she sings on stage.

He mentions a song that she’s written and will soon perform, and asks her what it’s about. She explains, “It’s about someone you love, wherever you are, it’s a strong love, protects you.”

The song sounds like a religious prayer, which could also serve as the theme song for a Bond movie. Skavlan said it reminded him of the Bond films and asks her if she’s familiar with them. She tells him that she got the inspiration for her song from the Bond films. He asks if she would sing a little bit of her favorite Bond song, and she does, acapela, Diamonds Are Forever.

Listen to her sing her song Shield with the band. It is powerful! Skavlan posted it Nov 12, 2018. There’s a video of her performing this song with a band in an open air concert the following year in Norway, Jul 12, 2019, when she was 13.

Describing her destiny

In this Feb 4, 2021 People (Magazine) article, Alyssa Johnson asks her: Where do you hope to see yourself in five years from now?

A: I’ll have an important name in the music industry and to make timeless music that can live forever. Also to give the best music experience to people and for them to enjoy and feel emotional or dance or make memories with the music I make.

I’ll have an important name in the music industry and to make timeless music that can live forever. Also to give the best music experience to people and for them to enjoy and feel emotional or dance or make memories with the music I make.

Angelina Jordan’s answer to a People (Magazine) reporter asking her where she hopes to see herself in 5 years.

Angelina is definitely following her bliss and manifesting her purpose in life! True to her name, Angelina Jordan Astar is an angel and a star sent here to fulfill her destiny and awaken a range of emotions in our hearts and touch our souls with her incredible voice! After Angelina auditioned for NGT, one of the judges concluded her remarks with this statement: You ARE music!

Reacting to Angelina singing Cry Me A River, vocal coach Ceci Dover exclaimed in disbelief: “She can sing like this? This is impossible. Oh my gosh! She’s music. She’s jazz. She’s soul. Oh my gosh, I don’t know what to say. She’s amazing! That’s what I want to say.”

Indeed! That about sums it up.

Angelina Jordan’s social media, fan clubs, and overviews

Visit her official site: Angelina Jordan, and her various social media accounts: YouTube and CoverChannel to see selected videos of her performing well-known songs, including some of her own; and follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok. To support Angelina join her on Patreon. Read her profile on Republic Records.

This Angelina Jordan Fanclub Mosarz, run by her grandmother, posts clips she’s taken of family and friends, concerts, and rare behind the scenes footage. Here are two examples: rehearsing the song, What is Life? that she composed for the orchestra and wrote the lyrics, and an exclusive backstage rehearsal for AGT.

See Angelina Jordan Fan Club – The Shield mentioned above and their YouTube compilations.

Visit Rusty Shackelford’s YouTube Channel for a complete list of every song Angelina has performed. In Rusty’s complimentary response to voice coach Julia Nilon‘s in-depth technical reaction to Angelina’s performance of “I Put A Spell On You” he gives her a comprehensive review of the young singer’s history that’s worth reading.

YouTuber, pa1189j, created a library of individual and mashup quality videos of Angelina Jordan.

My Time also created a great compilation of Angie’s Music +.

Andy Schnell, another knowledgable fan, usually informs new reactors to Angelina’s music with a brief comprehensive history of her accomplishments. Here is a recent one.

See the first time vocal coach Fairy Voice Mother ever listened and reacted to Angelina sing. She gave an excellent explanation and analysis of how Angelina was creating the sounds in her voice while singing Bohemian Rhapsody on AGT, and was moved to tears listening to such a rare talent.

Also see Wikiwand’s page for Angelina Jordan.

Added footnote: I just bought and finished reading the eBook of Between Two Hearts. I was just as moved by her story and the way she tells it of why she sings barefoot as I am when I hear her sing, even more so. What an evolved soul for such a young girl! Through the eyes of a child, Angelina innocently makes us see and understand the suffering of a homeless little girl, and why she was moved to do something about it in her own small way. This was definitely a life-transforming experience for Angelina that continues today. (And probably for that homeless girl as well.) I understand why she went on to raise money for homeless families. If they publish a hardback copy in English, I would buy it again. Her grandmother’s childlike artwork adds a lot to the book.

More updates: On July 31, 2021, Angelina posted an original slowed-down, jazzed-up cover version of Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean. Check out the colorful sets. An amazing production! On August 26, 2021, she followed that up with a similar treatment of The Beatles song, Yesterday.

On October 14, 2021, after a 6-year absence, Adele posted her new song, Easy On Me. The next day, Angelina’s Fanclub posted a TikTok clip of her singing the song. The day after that Angelina premiered her amazing cover of the song: Angelina Jordan – Easy On Me (Adele Cover) Live From Studio! Republic Records produced the in-studio black and white video of Angelina at the mic with just her piano accompanist. Angelina pours her heart and soul into this song. Her voice continues to mature as well as her vocal dexterity. Surprisingly, she sounds even better! I posted a comment on the quality of the silence I felt at the end of the song. There have already been many videos posted on YouTube reacting to Angelina’s cover of Adele’s song. See this most effusive reaction from Adam Straughan.

Friday, Dec 10, 2021, The Hating Game premiered in the USA. Republic Records released the original motion picture soundtrack and featured Angelina’s cover version of “Mercy” by Duffy to promote the film! You can listen on these music services: https://thehatinggame.lnk.to/OST.

Thursday, Dec 23, 2021, 3pm CST: Angelina Jordan Online Christmas Concert live from Los Angeles. Visit her website for details: https://www.angelinajordanofficial.com.

Angelina Jordan turns 16

Jan 10, 2022: In honor of Angelina’s 16th birthday Pontus Österlin posted 16 Reactors 1st Time Hearing Angelina Jordan. Very amusing. Another great compilation from PO Talks in Sweden worth watching! BigAngieFan Chris Walker from Hawaii posted a wonderful compilation in the form of a quiz: Happy Birthday to Angelina Jordan! Can You Guess How Old She Is? I really enjoyed this musical mix by Kaleidoscope RMX: 🥳🥳🥳HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANGELINA JORDAN 🥳🥳🥳 👨‍👧

Valentine’s Day: Angelina posts Instagram video of My Funny Valentine.

April 11, 2022: Written by Willie Nelson and popularized by Patsy Cline, listen to Angelina Jordan sing “Crazy” and you’ll go crazy for loving her!

Honoring Elvis Presley

June 22, 2022: Angelina Jordan honors Elvis Presley a day before the release of Baz Luhrmann’s film, Elvis, singing a slow melancholy version of Suspicious Minds. The song was written by Memphis singer Mark James, an old friend of Elvis. When he heard the demo, Elvis told Mark he wanted the song and the female background vocalists. It went to #1 and relaunched his career.

In this video, Angelina wore a beehive hairdo like Priscilla, dressed in a black leather jumpsuit carrying a red guitar over her shoulder like Elvis in his televised ’68 Comeback Special. Rob Christie arranged the music and accompanied Angelina on piano. Rob’s red jumpsuit matches the guitar color and is what Elvis’ musicians wore in that ’68 Special.

Uncle and manager Michael Astar arranged everything. His two young daughters and Angelina’s sister Juliette make brief appearances in the video. Grandma Mery Zamani was the executive producer. Cole McCarthy directed the video in the same store location Angelina sang My Funny Valentine. This is an amazing performance and production!

Summer Concerts in Norway

Angelina will be performing at various venues in Norway this summer. In her first concert, at Allsang på Grensen, June 22, 2022, she paid tribute to Freddie Mercury and Whitney Houston. She sang Bohemian Rhapsody in a vibrant red pant suit and I Have Nothing in a stunning ice blue gown, both televised by TV2 Norway. Angelina Jordan Vlogs captured part of Bohemian Rhapsody, and I Have Nothing twice from the actual event.

Wrapped in a Warm Blanket Podcast

Last year, AJ reactors Alan Papier and Pontus Österlin PO Talks collaborated to create Wrapped in a Warm Blanket, a podcast with heart-to-heart talks about Angelina Jordan’s artistry and how it affects our inner world. Their second season comes to YouTube on Feb 10, 2022. Watch this beautifully edited Angelina Jordan’s Podcast Teaser – Season Two – Wrapped in a Warm Blanket. See Polina‘s beautiful watercolor painting of Angelina come together before your eyes. She truly captures her!

Much to my surprise, co-hosts Alan and Pontus had seen this blog post and invited me on their podcast to talk about my experiences with meditation and listening to Angelina to see if there were similarities, and to shed more light on this topic. We had a long animated conversation, and it was later edited down for Season Two, Episode 4: It’s All Mind – Meditating on Angelina Jordan with Ken Chawkin. Watch the Premiere with Live Chat on Thursday, March 24 at 3pm London time (10am Central Daylight Time). It will then be available at this same link: https://youtu.be/YSyu6aAwLI4. Appreciated the positive reactions, especially the amazing comment from Jim Donaldson.

Conclusion: Fill my heart with song and let me sing for evermore

Today, Sept 22, 2021, is the Autumnal Equinox, and as I was listening to Angelina Jordan (8) – Fly Me To The Moon – The View 2014, these words from the song caught my attention: ‘Fill my heart with song and let me sing for evermore.’ I realized it echoed her quote at the top of this post. Singing is her raison d’être! She wants to fill the world with song and love.

Posts on other great musical artists

The hauntingly beautiful voice of Eva Cassidy || My Mind by YEBBA at Sofar will blow your mind! || Lissie @lissiemusic and her connections to Twin Peaks, Fairfield and #TranscendentalMeditation || Colin Hay’s song—I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You—is so relevant during these tough times || Leonard Cohen said there’s a crack in everything—how the light gets in. It came thru him & lit up a broken humanity. || The hauntingly beautiful music of Davy Spillane played on uilleann pipes and low whistle || Bill Evans’s Peace Piece is musical onomatopoeia || Bobby Hutcherson plays Bouquet with Ron Carter and Herbie Hancock at One Night with Blue Note

Donovan celebrates 75th birthday, releases video of ‘I Am The Shaman’ produced by David Lynch

May 9, 2021

Donovan celebrates his 75th birthday with the release of a video single ‘I Am The Shaman’ in collaboration with David Lynch and launches an appeal for teaching Transcendental Meditation to students in Ireland.

Photographer : Jamue Caldentey : c Donovan Discs 2021

Donovan, world famous singer songwriter, who shot to fame with his extraordinary folk music in the 1960s and spent time with Maharishi and the Beatles in Rishikesh, India, now celebrates his 75th birthday on May 10th 2021. To mark the occasion Donovan is releasing a new video single with iconic filmmaker David Lynch. 

‘I Am The Shaman’ is available on: www.donovan.ie, Spotify, You Tube, and other platforms after May 10th.

At the same time Donovan is launching an appeal for teaching Transcendental Meditation to students in his native Ireland. If you would like to contribute: paypal.me/donovanleitch.

Also, please consider leaving a birthday greeting on his official Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/DonovanOfficial.

Donovan, who was inducted to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2012 and the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2014, says: “David and I are compadres on a creative path rarely travelled, and we bring Transcendental Meditation to the world. Thanks for all your support!”

How it happened

“It was all impromptu,” Donovan explains. “I visited the studio and David said, ‘Sit at the mics with your guitar Don.’” He continued, “He had asked me to only bring in a song just emerging, not anywhere near finished. We would see what happens. It happened!”

Donovan said he “composed extempore … the verses came naturally. New chord patterns effortlessly appeared. He added, “On another day David ‘sound sculpted’ my Ferrington acoustic guitar ‘Kelly’ and he played his unique Modal Chord Ferrington Guitar textures with ‘effects’.”

The video was released today, May 10 for Donovan’s 75th birthday, in hopes of raising money to help him “give students TM Meditation.” Transcendental Meditation is a type of meditation that is taught to students one-on-one. Lynch is another major proponent of it, and organized a livestream festival benefitting his Meditate America initiative for the David Lynch Foundation. Donovan stated, “David and I are ‘compadres’ on a creative path rarely travelled. And we bring TM Meditation to the world.” 

Some news coverage

wxdmw: This article goes into how the song and video came together in David Lynch’s LA studio: Donovan Enlists David Lynch to Direct New Video for “I Am The Shaman”.

Pitchfork: David Lynch Directs New Video for Donovan Song “I Am the Shaman”: Watch. The song was produced by Lynch and mixed by collaborator Dean Hurley.

Rolling Stone: Donovan Taps David Lynch to Direct New Video for 2010 Song ‘I Am the Shaman’. Filmmaker also co-produced the song, which first appeared on the folk legend’s album, Ritual Groove.

IndieWire: David Lynch Directs Psychedelic Music Video to Celebrate Donovan’s 75th Birthday — Watch. With black-and-white images of stars and skulls and a droning soundscape, “I Am the Shaman” is a very Lynchian affair.

NME: David Lynch directs video for new Donovan song, ‘I Am The Shaman’. “David and I are ‘Compadres’ on a creative path rarely travelled”.

Stereogum: David Lynch Directs Donovan’s “I Am The Shaman” Video.

This news was reported on IMDb and many more places on the internet.

# # #

The last time Donovan was in Fairfield he performed at the Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts and at Fairfest 2016: Sunshine Superman Donovan is a Very Mellow Fellow, a Hurdy Gurdy Man with Loving Vibes.

Don Henley and Lissie use the same approach to writing songs—don’t force it and wash the dishes!

October 4, 2020

I enjoy listening to songwriters talk about their creative process—how they approach the task of writing a song, the kind of strategies they use.

How Don Henley writes his songs

I recently watched a 92nd Street Y interview posted on YouTube in 2015. American Rock royalty Billy Joel and Eagles drummer and singer-songwriter Don Henley covered a lot of ground in 85 minutes. One of the things Joel asked Henley about was what does he do to get himself into the space where he can write songs.

Don tells Billy how he may hole up in a cabin, or somewhere where he won’t be disturbed, and shuts out all electronic distractions. He also says he doesn’t just sit there and write; he can’t force the words to come. He says he follows the zen-like advice to do a simple task first.

He tells the audience, “I’m dead serious. I’ve written some of my best stuff loading and unloading the dishwasher! Because you’re distracted and yet you’re not. I don’t know how to explain the thing. But I’ve read about the zen masters saying the same thing—if you can just do a menial task instead of sitting there with a pen and paper, in front of you going, (he clenches his fists and grunts).” The embedded video may play from the beginning, but that part of the discussion starts at 57:14.

How Lissie writes her songs

That reminds me of the exact same thing Lissie said in The A-Sides Interview. She discusses how she is learning to balance art with commerce, and spontaneity with structure. Describing her creative process she usually comes up with a melody, sometimes working with other musicians, then later writes the lyrics alone.

When writing lyrics, she’s “careful to not force it” and is always surprised when rhyming phrases pop into her head “when washing the dishes, not focusing hard on the lyrics.” That’s when she’s presented with newer better word choices she hadn’t thought of.

She emphasizes finding a balance: “being spontaneous, yet structured.” The embedded video may play from the beginning, but that part of the interview starts at 4:58.

How Colin Hay writes his songs

Another singer-songwriter I had discovered and recently wrote about is Colin Hay. When it comes to writing songs he says he likes to have as empty a mind as possible and puts himself in a space where he won’t be interrupted. He emphasizes that time is important, to give himself enough time to fail. He describes a scene where he’s all alone for 3 or 4 hours without any distractions, just sitting with his acoustic guitar doing nothing, just idling, coming up with musical ideas.

At other times, a friend may drop by and mention something in passing that will act as a catalyst to what he’s been thinking about. It triggers the melody, and then the words spontaneously come out in one take. In those cases he’ll quickly finish a song in under an hour. That’s how he wrote Waiting for my Real Life to Begin.

He explains all this in a 2011 CNN interview with Brooke Baldwin when she asks him where he was when he wrote that song, then quotes some of the lyrics to him. The embedded video may play from the beginning, but that part of the interview starts at 3:52.

TM, creativity, and the default mode network

Our minds are usually working on a particular problem, consciously and unconsciously. I’ve had the same thing happen to me when I’m writing a poem or a blog post and reach an impasse. I give up, let it go, and, surprisingly, the right solution later presents itself when I least expect it.

Science calls that place in our brains the default mode network (DMN), a.k.a. the imagination network or genius lounge. It’s activated when the mind is daydreaming, not engaged or concentrating on anything, just “idling” as Colin Hay put it. The key is to be easy. Focusing or “forcing it” turns it off.

Interestingly, the DMN is also activated during the effortless practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique as practitioners experience a state of “restful alertness.” Sometimes great ideas may show up during, but more likely after TM, what David Lynch calls, “Catching the Big Fish.” He often tells students, “TM is a boon for the filmmaker.” It facilitates access to one’s inner resources to create and think out of the box.

Jon Bon Jovi says washing dishes brings on hit songs

Addendum: Jon Bon Jovi, who loves doing TM, shared the same experience as Don Henley and Lissie on Monday night’s A Late Show with Stephen Colbert when they discussed the events that influenced his new album, Bon Jovi 2020. He told Colbert how the song Do What You Can came about when he was washing dishes in one of their JBJ Soul Kitchens during the COVID-19 pandemic. Bon Jovi concluded, “Washing dishes brings on hit songs, Stephen.

Related: Lissie @lissiemusic and her connections to Twin Peaks, Fairfield and #TranscendentalMeditation and Colin Hay’s song—I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You—is so relevant during these tough times

Colin Hay’s song—I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You—is so relevant during these tough times

September 17, 2020

For anyone who’s gone through a breakup, or the traumatic loss of a loved one during these tough times of COVID-19, forest fires, and other natural catastrophes, this nostalgic song by Colin Hay may move you to tears. That kind of cathartic experience, acknowledging and feeling the loss, may help in the healing of it, relieving some of the grief over time.

I first heard I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You in the Garden State soundtrack. A while back a friend posted it on her Instagram. I listened to several YouTube videos of him singing it, along with other great songs, and funny stories he shares with audiences during his shows.

You can see the lyrics and history of the song here. It was re-released on Transcendental Highway and posted on his YouTube channel. It has a softer, quieter feel to it, especially the ending, compared to these more powerful live performances on Paste, and more recently on eTown. I’ll embed it here, but I recommend hearing all 3 selections.

I discovered that Colin Hay had been part of the world-famous Australian musical phenomenon, Men At Work in the early 80’s. Their first massive hit, Down Under, was heard everywhere for months. Hay was their lead singer, guitarist, and main songwriter. After the band broke up, a few members at a time, and their label dropped him, a downward spiral into addiction followed. His wife left him. He would eventually seek help and attempt to launch his musical career as a solo artist with not much luck.

He moved to LA and became the first musician to play at Largo, a new club frequented by people in the entertainment business. He soon gained a following, was discovered and produced. What helped relaunch his career was when Scrubs star Zach Braff encouraged producer Bill Lawrence to see him perform at the club. Bill’s wife, Christa Miller, had already become a fan earlier on and was always raving about him.

After he heard Colin perform, Bill couldn’t understand why his songs were not more successful. He decided to feature some of them in his popular TV show. Colin is seen performing Overkill in one episode, while Waiting For My Real Life To Begin is sung by the cast in another. That song has been featured in eight different popular television series. The song is also heard early on in the soundtrack to the 2010 film Morning Glory and in the 2014 film soundtrack to Words and Pictures.

Zach asked Colin if he could use one of his songs for a movie he was making. The Garden State film and soundtrack would become a huge hit, which included, “I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You”. The CD went platinum, which also put Hay’s music out there in a very big way. The TV show, movie and CD introduced him to a much larger, younger audience. It changed everything for him. He had paid his dues and humbly moved into one of the most stable and rewarding phases of his career. He also married singer Cecilia Noël, who often provides backup vocals at his shows. Noël has also helped with production on Hay’s solo albums.

Colin Hay: Waiting For My Real Life

In 2015, an independent documentary film was made about him, appropriately titled: Colin Hay – Waiting For My Real Life. Here is a comprehensive Summary posted on IMDb, followed by the official trailer. https://www.colinhayfilm.com See updated note below with links to it.

‘Colin Hay – Waiting For My Real Life’ is the story of singer-songwriter Colin Hay, former front-man of Men At Work. We follow Hay from his earliest days in Scotland, through his family’s emigration to Australia, to the massive, worldwide success of his band, to the depths of addiction and failure, to a slow climb back up the ladder seeking relevance, artistic freedom and ultimately, transcendence. Featuring interviews with Hugh Jackman, Mick Fleetwood, Sia Furler, Guy Pearce and many others, ‘Colin Hay – Waiting For My Real Life’ is the inspiring story of a true artist.

In the film Hay says, “Creativity is my salvation, and going out on the road.” Performing his music in front of appreciative live audiences feeds his soul. “It’s clean, it’s pure,” he says. “It has to do with connecting with people, you know.” He says he keeps touring because, “It makes me feel useful.” It also gives him a natural high, a healthier kind of addiction.

His artistry has staying power. One musician in the film says his music is intergenerational: his millennial fans don’t remember him from Men At Work, and the boomers don’t know him from Scrubs. American actress Wendie Malick says he’s the best living troubadour today. I agree. Plus, he looks like a man at peace with himself. Colin concludes, “Everybody has to find their place in this expanding universe. This is my place.”

Playing with Ringo Starr

Colin Hay met two Beatles and played with one of them. In 2008 he toured with Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band. Hay performed his classic hit Down Under with the band during a show at the Greek Theatre in LA. Be sure to watch the final 15 seconds where after the show Ringo says to Colin, “I really laid it on you on that song ‘cuz you thought you were doing it all. There’s a solo coming!” He imitates Colin, ‘Okay.'” Colin smiles and says, “I was good though.” Ringo exclaims, “You were great!” He laughs and repeats ‘I was good though’ to one of the musicians next to him. Colin laughs with Ringo who loudly claps his hands twice.

Colin performed on several tours with Ringo and his All Starr Band. Click to see another great performance of Colin Hay singing Down Under with Ringo and a different combination of his All Starr Band, including a flutist, and Sheila E as the other drummer!

Hanging out with Paul McCartney

In addition to being a great guitarist-singer-songwriter, Colin Hay is a very funny storyteller. The most fascinating and hilarious story is meeting his childhood idol, Sir Paul McCartney. He relates occasions when Paul and his then wife Heather came to hear him perform, once just himself, another time with his band. After the concert Paul was backstage at the bar and invited the whole band to join him. He holds court for an hour. Then it’s just Paul and Colin. After an awkward silence, Colin asks him what he’s in LA for, and Paul tells him he’s finishing a record. Colin remarks, “Oh, a bit different from the old days, eh, making a record?” And Paul proceeded to tell him what it was like in the old days. Colin tells the audience: “And I could have stood there all night.”

Paul would pick up John and together they’d finish the new song he played for him as they sat in the upper deck of the bus on the way to the studio. When they arrived, George and Ringo were already there. Paul would show it to them, George would figure out the chords, and Ringo would tap out the rhythm. Then a man in a white lab coat would come in and say, “Right, you’re up lads.” They’d record two songs, break for lunch and a smoke, then record two more, with few takes.

Paul then tells Colin he and Heather would like to come over to Colin’s house for dinner. That part of the story is priceless! The audience loved it, as did I. You will too. It’s the preamble to him singing the title song of his reissued 2001 album, Going Somewhere, which Paul and Heather loved, and added to their rotation of favorite songs. It also contains the bonus track, I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You, which prompted this now ongoing blog post. Enjoy!

How Colin Hay writes his songs

CNN’s Brooke Baldwin interviewed Colin Hay on the occasion of his 11th solo album, Gathering Mercury, which was partly influenced by the death of his father in 2010. The discussion came around to how Colin writes his songs. I found this part of the interview fascinating.

When writing songs he says he likes to have as empty a mind as possible. Time is important to give himself enough time to fail. He describes a scene where he’s all alone for 3 or 4 hours without any distractions just sitting around with his acoustic guitar doing nothing, just idling, coming up with musical ideas.

He uses the image of a revolving door in a hotel lobby. If a bunch of bags are stacked up and it’s chaotic, there’s all this noise and bustle, any idea that comes in would turn around and go out the door. But if it’s quiet, and there’s a nice fountain, it may stick around for him to discover and turn it into a song.

Brooke asks him where he was when he wrote, Waiting for my Real Life to Begin. She quotes a section of the song: “And you say, just be here now. Forget about the past, your mask is wearing thin. Let me throw one more dice, I know that I can win. I’m waiting for my real life to begin.”

He describes how his song-writing buddy and drummer, Tom Mooney, had come over to his house. He asked him how he was doing, and he mumbled that he was waiting for his real life to begin. Tom left to do something else and Colin said it sparked what he had been thinking about. “It opened up a door.” It was the catalyst. The melody came, then the words. He wrote the song in 30-45 minutes.

Colin had moved to California to leave his old life behind in Melbourne, where he drank a lot, hung out with crazy people, thought about the past, and worried about the future. “Very rarely do we be where we are.” Brooke asks him if he does now and he answers that he’s learning. But when he does, “it can be quite profound; it can be life-changing.”

Coming full circle

I’ll leave you with this beautiful song, A Thousand Million Reasons, from Colin Hay’s 2017 solo release Fierce Mercy, his 13th. On the Track-By-Track Colin explains the song is about not letting fear rule your life and how to find meaning in the fact that although we may be alone, we are all alone together.

I found this cool website with a timeline biography, and an alphabetical listing of the lyrics and songs of Colin Hay and Men at Work posted on http://colinhay.com.br.

Updated: You can see Colin Hay – Waiting For My Real Life on Amazon Prime (1hr 24min 2017). Someone also posted it on YouTube.

Related: Don Henley and Lissie use the same approach to writing songs—don’t force it and wash the dishes!

Who was Bungalow Bill from the Beatles White Album and what happened to him? He tells us!

June 29, 2020

Do you remember The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill that John Lennon wrote and sang on the Beatles White Album? It was based on a real person who was on the same Transcendental Meditation Course the Beatles had attended in Rishikesh, India with Maharishi.

Richard Cooke III was there with his mother, Nancy Cooke de Herrera, who was a publicist for Maharishi at the time. Maharishi had assigned Nancy to look after the Beatles during the course.

I don’t know if Richard stayed for the whole TM training course, but he took time off to go on an elephant-riding tiger-hunting trip while he was in India. He killed a tiger and was proud of his accomplishment, as was his mother, who related the story to Maharishi. John happened to be in that meeting. Richard and his mother are referenced in the song’s lyrics.

A friend sent me this new article, which brings us up to date. Here is the continuing story of Richard “Rikki” Cooke III in his own words: My Last Hunt, published in Chasing the Light.

It’s interesting how Maharishi’s response and John’s song profoundly altered the trajectory of Richard’s life. He decided to trade in his gun for a camera and did a different kind of shooting from then on. Learn more about Richard A. Cooke III at rikkicooke.com and National Geographic.

This photo shows Nancy with the Beatles and other celebrities attending the course at the ashram in Rishikesh. She’s the tall blond woman behind John Lennon and next to Paul McCartney. Others in this photo are: Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, George Harrison, Mia Farrow, John Farrow, (Mia and Prudence Farrow‘s brother) and Donovan Leitch. A larger photo shows Pattie Boyd in front of Nancy, and Jane Asher and Cynthia Lennon next to Donovan.

Meeting the Beatles in India film by Paul Saltzman

Update: Sept 9, 2020: Speaking of that time, a new film, Meeting The Beatles In India, about Paul Saltzman’s brief stay there, premieres tonight, 7pm, online at Gathr.com. Here’s an announcement about the film from the national TM Office of Communications with a message from the director. Here are a few film reviews: Cryptic Rock, NYS Music, and Variety. Paul’s website: https://thebeatlesinindia.com, and trailer.

I saw the film tonight. It was well done, personable, and revealing, as was the post‑screening discussion and Q&A with Emmy Award-winning director Paul Saltzman, and surprise guest Rikki Cooke III, aka “Bungalow Bill.” In the Q&A that followed, Rikki explained why he thought the remaining Beatles left the ashram abruptly. It made a lot more sense than the usual rumor mentioned in the article. I posted a comment (below) on the Variety article of what he said including related material.

There are several interviews posted on YouTube. Beatle Brunch host Joe Johnson spoke with Paul Saltzman on a zoom call about the film. This is another good interview published in the Cleveland.com. And this one from the BBC: When a ‘heartbroken’ backpacker met The Beatles in India.

International music journalist Jeff Slate wrote an article for The Daily Beast about the film: My Transformative Time With the Beatles in India. He contributed the usual rock history and interviewed Paul Saltzman, Jenny Boyd, Pattie’s sister, and Deepak Chopra, a close friend of George Harrison. In the Q&A that followed the premiere, Jeff heard Rikki Cooke’s explanation of why he thought the Beatles had left the ashram. Jeff appreciated this different perspective saying it was “one for the record.”

The documentary film, plus exclusively filmed Q&As moderated by Jeff Slate with Paul Saltzman, Jenny Boyd Levitt, Rikki Cooke, and Stephen Maycock from events in India, Germany and London are available on Gathr starting Friday, Sept 11, 2020. Total run time is 2hrs 20mins: movie, 1hr 20mins; Q&A Highlights, 1 hour.

I later found this excellent movie review by Beatles fan and Michigan State Theatre Programming and Media Coordinator Nick Alderink: This Week: Turn Off Your Mind, Relax and Meet the Beatles in India.

CTV News anchor Angie Seth interviewed Paul Saltzman at his home in Oakville, Ontario about his film and what it was like Meeting the Beatles in India. You can see it here.

Dec 21, 2020, Bob Roth announced on Instagram that a free rental of the film will be available between December 24th 2020 and January 1st 2021 thanks to @LynchFoundation and @TM_Program.

June 8, 2021, The Irish Times: Saltzman has been left with more than some priceless holiday photos. What memory does he still hold on to from that week? He replies, instantly: “Doing my first 30-minute meditation. It was fun meeting The Beatles, but that was secondary to the transformation of my inner life.” – Guardian

June 12, 2021, Paul Saltzman spoke to Mayank Chhaya about his story of meeting The Beatles in India. You can see this wonderful interview on Mayank Chhaya Reports YouTube channel.

In one incident, when Paul was in London, he describes how he was invited by a filmmaker friend to join him in a private first screening of a film they were working on. It turned out to be Yellow Submarine!

A surprised Mayank comments on this as another example of serendipity, things as if magically happening in Paul’s life. Paul then talks about the importance of listening to his soul, his intuition. That’s when unexpected things occurred.

Paul tells Mayank: “I do know that when we truly listen to our hearts, that’s the best guidance system on the planet. When we truly open ourselves to hear our own soul’s guidance, it never leads us wrong. It’s when we don’t listen to our inner guidance that we get …. (Mayank interrupts saying: “That’s when things go wrong.”) Maybe Paul was going to say that we get into trouble, i.e., we suffer.

It reminds me of what Maharishi said about being self-referral and enjoying the support of nature as a result of regular practice of Transcendental Meditation.

Mayank Chhaya Reports: The Beatles in India

My comment to the Variety article:

Ken Chawkin                                                              September 9, 2020 at 10:39 pm

I saw the film tonight and enjoyed it. I stayed online for the Q&A that followed with director Paul Saltzman and surprise guest Richard “Rikki” Cooke III, aka, Bungalow Bill. One of the questions asked was why the Beatles had left the ashram, and did it have something to do with Maharishi supposedly making a pass at one of the female course participants. That story was a fabrication created by a jealous Magic Alex to draw John Lennon out of there. But Cooke had another explanation, and it had nothing to do with Alex, although he said he stirred up a lot of trouble while he was there. I had also read about this explanation in a book years ago. The Beatles had told Maharishi of their desire to make a documentary film about him and his message of TM to help create world peace. Maharishi was amenable and they were excited to do it. Unfortunately, Charlie Lutes, the leader of the TM movement at that time, had already signed a deal with Four Star Productions, and they had dispatched a film crew to Rishikesh, India. Cooke said when the Beatles found out, they were disappointed, upset, and decided to leave. Rikki said he saw them walk out the north gate at the same time the film crew were coming in through the south gate. He said it was an unfortunate misunderstanding. I had also heard that when John and George had gone to speak with Maharishi beforehand, most thought it was to ask about his making a pass at a girl. But the real reason may have been to verify the rumor of a Four Star film crew coming to make a documentary. If so, they would not want to be involved with it in any way, and would be leaving. With both John and George gone we may never know for sure, although it seems more plausible. Of course, John would write Sexy Sadie in retaliation. He had originally used Maharishi’s name, but George convinced him to change it to Sexy Sadie. Years later, George would visit Maharishi, with the help of Deepak Chopra, to apologize for John’s behavior at that time. Maharishi said he was not upset with John, regardless of what he had said, that he loved them. Deepak had told Maharishi that when The Beatles had played on the Ed Sullivan Show, there were no crimes committed in America. When Maharishi heard that, he called them angels, and said he could never be mad at them. Chopra said that George broke down, and was emotionally relieved with that karmic burden now off his heart. In separate interviews, both Paul and George said there was no truth to those accusations about Maharishi, which they felt were unfortunate.

(PS: I later noticed that all comments were removed in the archive of the Variety article. Thinking that might happen I saved and included it here.)

September 4, 2020, The Daily Beatle published this excellent review: Watch Meeting The Beatles in India.

Paul Saltzman is a two-time Emmy Award winning Toronto-based film and television producer-director known for over 300 productions. In March 26, 2010, he spoke at TEDxWaterloo on My life in Art. His talk opens with his story of how he went to India to work on a film and received a letter from his girlfriend that she had left him for another. Brokenhearted he traveled to Rishikesh to find Maharishi’s ashram to learn Transcendental Meditation. He describes meeting the Beatles and them welcoming him into their fold. The latter part of his talk is about a film he made with Morgan Freeman, Prom Night in Mississippi, and his work with Moving Beyond Prejudice.

Paul concludes his talk sharing wise advice from his own life’s journey up to that point, to be open to receive what the universe is waiting to give us, and to be willing to look at ourselves, our prejudices, to talk about them openly, and to change. This reminds me of a poem by Kukai, Singing Image of Fire, “all things change when we do,” and this poem by Vaclav Havel, It Is I Who Must Begin. Change begins within, and it starts with me.

Norman McLaren’s 1968 NFB film ‘Pas de deux’ creates a spellbinding aesthetic experience

June 21, 2020

I remember seeing this beautiful short film when it first came out, either on Canadian television or in a theater. ‘Pas de deux‘ was made in 1968 by Norman McClaren at the National Film Board of Canada. I had never seen anything quite like it. There were no special effects; the technologies had not been developed yet. Expand it to full screen and enjoy a spellbinding aesthetic experience.

How it was made and received

Considered by many to be Norman McLaren‘s masterpiece, ‘Pas de deux‘ is a stunning meditation on form and movement. He photographed backlit dancers dressed in white against a black backdrop, then used an optical printer to expose individual frames up to 11 times.

The film is choreographed to the music of Romanian panpipes. Ludmilla Chiriaeff is the choreographer; Margaret Mercier and Vincent Warren are the dancers. Dobre Constantin plays the pan flute accompanied by the United Folk Orchestra of Romania.

The film won 20 awards, nationally and internationally, at festivals in Melbourne, Locarno, Buenos Aires, Chicago, New York and London, including a special Canadian Film Award for exceptional quality. It was nominated for best live-action short at the 1968 Academy Awards.

Surprising and Amazing Final Performance to @GlblCizn One World #TogetherAtHome Concert

April 19, 2020

This surprising and amazing performance concluded and highlighted Saturday night’s Global Citizen One World Together At Home Concert. The 2-hour show aired in 175 countries, in the US on 3 major networks (ABC, CBS, NBC), the BBC, streamed on Twitter, Periscope, then YouTube. The full 8-hour program, One World: Together At Home Special to Celebrate COVID-19 Workers, and individual performances are available on Global Citizen’s YouTube channel. They raised around $128 million!

Two of these amazing artists had previously recorded this song, separately and together on their respective albums. Earlier performances are on YouTube (with lyrics). This more recent one: The Prayer – Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli, a duet with David Foster on piano, is from Andrea Bocelli’s album, Concerto, One Night in Central Park.

Wikipedia: The album was recorded September 15, 2011, during a concert at Central Park’s Great Lawn in New York City. Bocelli was accompanied by the New York Philharmonic, conducted by its music director Alan Gilbert, and the Westminster Symphonic Choir. He was joined on stage by singers Celine Dion, Tony Bennett, Bryn Terfel, Ana María Martínez and Pretty Yende, instrumentalists Chris Botti, Andrea Griminelli and Nicola Benedetti, and producer David Foster.

Wikipedia: “The Prayer” is a popular song written by David Foster, Carole Bayer Sager, Alberto Testa and Tony Renis. The song was originally recorded in two solo versions for the 1998 film Quest for Camelot, in English by Canadian singer Celine Dion and in Italian by Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli. A duet between Dion and Bocelli later appeared on their respective studio albums, These Are Special Times (1998) and Sogno (1999), and was released as an airplay single on 1 March 1999. The song won the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1999 and a Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals in 2000.

Global Citizen is a social action platform for a global generation that aims to solve the world’s biggest challenges. On their platform, you can learn about issues, take action on what matters most, and join a community committed to social change. They believe they can end extreme poverty because of the collective actions of Global Citizens across the world. To find out more visit https://www.globalcitizen.org.

The Poetry and Color of Love for Valentine’s Day

February 15, 2020

Donna Warwick posted this digital painting on her Instagram artsfusionist: “Happy Valentines Day Everyone ! I Love Hue!”

Good homonym! This is so vibrant, like a beating heart! Can you feel it?

Hope you all enjoyed a Happy Valentine’s Day. Whether you were with someone or by yourself, Love Is Love. I emailed most of this content below for Valentine’s Day and decided to post it afterwards with some additions.

The Poetry of Love

For those alone, here is an uplifting poem reminding us to love ourselves: Love after Love, by Derek Walcott, resonates deeply when you first acknowledge yourself. Includes videos of him reading his poetry.

For those sharing love, [i carry your heart with me(i carry it in] by E.E. Cummings is a most beautiful poem about the intimate unity of the lover and the beloved within his heart.

And Emily Dickinson succinctly describes the eternal nature of Love in this short but powerful poem.

Since it was Valentine’s Day, again, I thought I’d mention last year’s post. The audio links have been updated: Dan Fogelberg’s song, Longer, and my 3 love poems complete today’s Valentine’s Day Show. The poems were written for and inspired by my muse and sweetheart Sali. The first two were written earlier in our relationship, the last one after she passed.

The Color of Love

When it comes to art, one artist stands out for me—Marc Chagall. The love for his wife is expressed in his art; his art expresses love in color. He says, “In our life there is a single color, as on an artist’s palette, which provides the meaning of life and art. It is the color of LOVE.”

In our life there is a single color, as on an artist’s palette, which provides the meaning of life and art. It is the color of LOVE. — Marc Chagall

This blog post contains the Canadian documentary film, Marc Chagall: The Colours of Love, and 2 short videos. They cover his life and work, and the love of his life, his muse and wife, Bella. Marc Chagall’s paintings contain beautiful colors of love and a joyful floating lightness of being.

These images are from those films: closeups from an early painting of Chagall’s then fiancée Bella Rosenfeld; of Bella and Marc Chagall in Les Amoureux [Lovers] (1928); and in L’Anniversaire [The Birthday] (1915).

Closeup of Bella Rosenfeld, Marc Chagall’s fiancée
Top section of Les Amoureux (1928)
L’Anniversaire (1915)

The Chagall documentary ends with these words about the poet-artist: “He has painted the unity of the universe in all things. His song of songs is really a song of love, like a bouquet of flowers. Marc Chagall’s light, his message, his life, has been a gift to us all.”

May Love Always Be—within and among us expressed in poetry and art.


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