Posts Tagged ‘Music’

Leonard Cohen said there’s a crack in everything–how the light gets in. It came thru him & lit up a broken humanity.

September 10, 2017

True to the end, Leonard Cohen‘s work charted the arc of his career, between life and death (Sept 21, 1934 – Nov 7, 2016). His search for redemption also influenced his fans. Cohen’s evolving understanding of life, beautifully expressed through his music, shone a light through the cracks of a broken humanity in a dark suffering world. He never claimed to have found all the answers, but seemed to have reached a kind of inner peace toward the end of his life, between himself and his God.

There is a repeated stanza in one of his songs, Anthem, that conveys the redeeming acceptance of light illuminating the darkness, compassion and love overcoming bigotry and hatred: “Ring the bells that still can ring/ Forget your perfect offering/ There is a crack in everything/ That’s how the light gets in.”

There may be a crack in everything, but how does the light get in—from without, or is it released from within? I’ve often thought about the profundity of those lines, and there have been many interpretations of what he may be implying. See mine below.* I think he sang about finding that divinity within and among our broken humanity. I wrote this tanka in honor of Leonard Cohen.

Leonard Cohen’s music lit up a dark world
A tanka in honor of the poet by Ken Chawkin

Leonard Cohen said
There’s a crack in everything
How the light gets in

It came through him and lit up
a broken humanity

Of course there is a kind of irony here when he says, “Forget your perfect offerings,” since he labored for months, sometimes years, on getting the lyrics to his songs perfect. At some point, though, he must’ve given up, admitted his imperfection, and sent them out into the world. As Leonardo da Vinci once said: Art is never finished, only abandoned. Other famous artists and writers have said and done the same thing.

Artistic Genius—Two Creative Approaches

There is a story about Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan. They happened to be in Paris at the same time and decided to meet at a certain café. During their conversation, Dylan, one of the first to sing Cohen’s song “Hallelujah” in his concerts, asked Cohen how long it took him to write it. Cohen was embarrassed to tell him the truth so he lied and said 2 years. Then Leonard asked Bob how long it took him to write “I And I“, and he replied 15 minutes. I think he said he wrote it in the back of a cab. Cohen later told this story to an interviewer and confessed that it took him more like 5 years to write that song. He never could complete it, even after 30 verses! Their styles reflect the different philosophical approaches of ‘first thought, best thought’ versus ‘revise, revise, revise’.

You can read the fascinating history of that song in Alan Light’s book, The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of “Hallelujah”. Malcolm Gladwell, in Season 1, Episode 7 of his Revisionist History podcast, discusses the history of “Hallelujah” with Alan Light, around 20 minutes into the conversation, for about 10 minutes. The theme is about two kinds of artists—those who seem to create spontaneously, and others who labor for a very long time—the differences between Mozart and Beethoven, or Picasso and Cezanne.

See Leonard Cohen’s website www.leonardcohen.com with links to more.

As  a footnote, I just tweeted (9-19-2107) Leonard Cohen’s biographer, Sylvie Simmons, asking her what he meant about the light getting in through the cracks, and she pointed me to Allan Showalter’s website, Cohencentric: Leonard Cohen Considered, and this post: Leonard Cohen On “The Light” In Anthem That “Allows You To Live A Life And Embrace The Disasters And Sorrows And Joys”.

Leonard later spent time in Bombay, India having conversations with Ramesh Balseka, a teacher of Advaita Vedanta. It made a profound impression on him; his life-long depression had finally lifted. He also befriended an Indian gentlemen, a fan, Ratnesh Mathur. You can read about their relationship and see photos on Cohencentric. Also read this BBC report: When the light got in for Leonard Cohen.

Murals mark 1-year anniversary of Leonard Cohen’s death

Montreal murals of Leonard Cohen

Montreal murals made by Gene Pendon (l) and Kevin Ledo (r)

November 7, 2017 is the 1-year anniversary of Leonard Cohen’s death. To personally commemorate this date, Sylvie Simmons tweeted a picture of herself standing in front of a large mural of Leonard Cohen painted by Kevin Ledo on the side of a 9-storey Montreal building close to where Leonard kept a home. It was the center piece for the fifth Mural International Public Art Festival in June. The Montreal Gazette’s Bill Brownstein had written an article about the making of it. He also mentions another mural, a tribute to Leonard Cohen made by artist Gene Pendon, which was painted on the side of a 20-storey downtown building, as part of Montreal’s 375th billion dollar birthday bash. The Globe and Mail described them in detail: Leonard Cohen and a tale of two Montreal murals. ET Canada reported on the official inauguration today, a year after Cohen’s passing. Josée Cloutier posted photos of both murals in one tweet, shown above.

The M.A.C.’s Exhibition on Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything

The Guardian published Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything – Montreal’s tribute to its favourite son. The new exhibition was conceived as part of the city’s 375th anniversary celebrations – but has morphed into a thorough investigation of all things Cohen. On 9 November, the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (AKA the Mac) will open the doors to Leonard Cohen : une brèche en toute chose/A Crack in Everything, a tribute to the artist, poet and musician, filled with multi-disciplinary works inspired by Cohen’s songs of life. This special exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art will conclude 9 April 2018.

The show takes its title from Cohen’s song Anthem, which contains the famous line “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” The song also inspired artist Kara Blake’s piece for the show, an immersive installation called The Offerings. “The song apparently took Cohen 10 years to craft and is just one example of his many artistic offerings that get inside the beautifully flawed nature of being human,” says Blake. “I wanted my piece to present visitors with a sampling of the creativity, wit and insight Cohen has gifted us with.”

Julia Holter contributed a cover of Cohen’s Take This Waltz, which will play on rotation in the Listening Room. “I enjoyed getting into the feeling of this passionate, seductive, demented waltz,” says Holter, who incorporated field recordings she made during a visit to the Greek island of Hydra, where Cohen had a home. “Being there was incredible,” she says.

For Holter, being invited to contribute to the show is the perfect way for her to give back to an artist she was introduced to as a child and who inspired her love of poetry. “What was special about Leonard Cohen’s work was its calm mystery. I think that can be an inspiration to the world right now,” she says. “The world needs this subtle beauty right now.”

As part of the week’s celebrations, Eleanor Wachtel interviewed Sylvie for CBC Books Writers and Company, which will air Sunday November 12, 2017: Remembering Leonard Cohen: biographer Sylvie Simmons on Montreal’s beloved poet. I read and enjoyed her wonderful biography, I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen.

Eleanor tweeted that the photograph of Leonard Cohen, which served as the basis for the large downtown mural, was taken by his daughter Lorca. Interesting that Leonard named his daughter after the famous Spanish poet Federico García Lorca, who had greatly influenced his work. “His books taught me that poetry can be pure and profound – and at the same time.”

*My reply to Quora question about the crack and the light

Quora posted this question: What did Leonard Cohen mean by his lyrics: “There is a crack, a crack in everything/ That’s how the light gets in?” About a dozen people posted their suggestions. Here is my reply:

I agree with a number of interpretations posted here, quoting William Blake, the Kabbalah, and other esoteric sources, to explain what Leonard Cohen may be referring to in that line. They all make good sense to me. I also think that the light, of clarity, understanding, call it what you will, comes from within, not without. Metaphorically we may imagine light coming into a dark broken place from outside. But it can also light up the darkness from inside, if one knows how to turn on the switch. Another interpretation then, is no matter how broken, incomplete we are, with the proper approach, meditation technique, one can transcend, go beyond our limitations and just Be, experience that unbroken inner light of pure consciousness. With repeated exposures to one’s inner divine nature, the outer vessel, our body, can begin to heal, mend the broken cracks, and become whole. One way to experience this inner and outer development is with the regular practice of Transcendental Meditation.

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World-famous classical guitarist @SharonIsbin says #TranscendentalMeditation “helped make me the person that I am.”

January 7, 2015

Sharon Isbin: Seeking Out Serenity

Classical guitarist Sharon Isbin has been a trailblazer for both female musicians, and the guitar’s place in the world of classical music. A winner of two Grammys, she is the director of guitar programs at the Juilliard School and at the Aspen Music Festival. Liz Robbins interviewed Ms. Isbin for The New York Times and wrote this fascinating article on the world’s greatest classical guitarist: Sharon Isbin: Seeking Out Serenity. The Jan 2, 2015 Sunday Routine featured photos, other aspects of her life, and a short video of Sharon playing guitar. The article was well-written and richly put together. This part took me by surprise:

I have done Transcendental Meditation since I was 17 years old. I do 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the afternoon. I really believe it has helped make me the person that I am. Because it is an extraordinary way to release stress and allow it to dissolve, so that you can focus on what you want to focus on, and have your energy towards very positive things.

Sharon Isbin: Cosmic Performer

An earlier insightful article written by Linda Egenes for Enlightenment, The Transcendental Meditation Magazine (Issue 7) sheds more light on this topic: An Interview with Sharon Isbin: The Monet of Classical Guitar. Knowing that Sharon had been practicing TM since she was 17 years old, Linda asked how it had benefited her life, especially performing in front of live audiences. Her amazing reply reveals an enlightened performer.

As a musician, TM enhances my mental stamina, memory, concentration, and ability to learn. It puts me in touch with my innermost creative core and enables its expression through music. Most importantly, it facilitates instant access to a state of “cosmic immersion,” that feeling of being in the flow, or in “the zone.”

Sharon IsbinWhen I perform onstage, I enter a state of being very similar to the one I enter daily when practicing TM. It’s a sense of communion with the energy of the universe, the audience, the composer, and the music—without ego or interference. It’s a feeling of unity between me and the listeners, a sense of “oneness” in which we are all experiencing the beauty of the music together. That sensation is one of the reasons live performances can be so powerful—everyone is focused and transported, and the experience is unique and in the moment, never to be replicated.

Guitar Passions: Sharon Isbin & Friends

Linda also asked Sharon questions about her musical influences and her work as a performer, teacher and collaborator, in particular about her new CD at the time, (August 30, 2011) Guitar Passions: Sharon Isbin & Friends. This promotional video shares music and interviews with Sharon and Steve Vai; in studio with Nancy Wilson (Heart) and Stanley Jordan; previews with Steve Morse, Paul Winter, Rosa Passos, Romero Lubambo, and Thiago de Mello.

Documentary Film: Sharon Isbin: Troubadour

Sharon Isbin is also featured in a new documentary film that came out towards the end of last year, and is still being aired on public television: Sharon Isbin: Troubadour. The one-hour documentary produced by Susan Dangel (2014), includes guests Martina Navratilova, Michelle Obama, Joan Baez, Steve Vai, Stanley Jordan, Garrison Keillor, David Hyde Pierce, Janis Ian, Lesley Gore, Mark O’Connor, Tan Dun, John Corigliano, Christopher Rouse, Joan Tower, Leonard Slatkin, Thiago de Mello, Paul Winter, and more, with Isbin’s performances showcased from international concert stages to the GRAMMYs and White House.

American Public Television presents the national broadcast on nearly 200 public television stations in the US Nov 2014 – March 2015. Video Artists International will release it on DVD/Blu-ray with added performances. See http://www.sharonisbintroubadour.com for screenings, broadcast, and release information.

Sharon Isbin on The Leonard Lopate Show

Today, Wed, January 7, 2015, WNYC’s Leonard Lopate interviewed Sharon Isbin about the program: A New Documentary On The Acclaimed Classical Guitarist, Sharon Isbin (16:33). Leonard asks Sharon about her Transcendental Meditation practice at the 10:50 mark. She answers at 11:08–12:20. Leonard mentions Julliard School inviting Sharon to head up a guitar department in their Music division and asks if Transcendental Meditation is part of the program. At the request of the David Lynch Foundation, Sharon did invite teachers to introduce the TM technique to Julliard faculty, staff, and students, offering to make it available for free. Listen to the interview here: http://www.wnyc.org/story/sharon-isbin.

Visit Sharon Isbin’s website, www.sharonisbin.com, for more information: biography, press, music, videos, tours, and more.

Hafiz said to leave something in the marketplace, and Jesse Winchester sure did before he left us.

April 23, 2014

Hafiz’s poem, translated by Daniel Ladinsky, of leaving something behind in the world to inspire others, is exemplified in the singer/songwriting musical skills of the late Jesse Winchester. Read Hafiz’s poem, Leave something in the marketplace, then listen and be moved when Jesse sings this love song, Sham-A-Ling-Dong-Ding.

Leave something in the marketplace

Sometimes it can happen to these cheeks
when a poem visits my mind for the first time
and begins to look around.

They can wonder why rain is falling on them,
and causing my nose to run too.

O boy, what a mess love makes of me. But
there is nothing else right now I would rather

be doing . . . than reaping something from a
field in another dimension

and leaving it in the marketplace for any who
might happen by.

Leave something in the marketplace for us
before you leave this world.

A Year With Hafiz: Daily Contemplations
Daniel Ladinsky, March 20, page 88.
See more profound poems by Hafiz posted on this blog.

Singer/songwriter Jesse Winchester (May 17, 1944 – April 11, 2014) left many beautiful songs for us in the marketplace. Here’s one that will also make your cheeks wet and lift your mouth into a wistful smile as he sings about the sweet shyness of young love on Week 2 of Elvis Costello’s TV show, Spectacle. Listen to the poetic melodic musings of Sham-A-Ling-Dong-Ding.

I met Jesse in Montreal during the summer of 1967, shortly after he left the US to avoid being drafted for the Vietnam War, which he didn’t support. He stayed and made a name for himself as a fine singer/songwriter. Robbie Robertson of The Band produced Jesse’s first album. He couldn’t return to the states to tour until after all draft dodgers were pardoned by President Carter. But many top recording artists would go on to perform Jesse’s songs, and he became known as a first-rate songwriter. Even Bob Dylan was famously quoted as saying of Mr. Winchester: “You can’t talk about the best songwriters and not include him.” In 2007, Mr. Winchester was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award from performing rights organization ASCAP for his body of work.

I met Jesse decades later when he was touring through Iowa. It was sweet to see him again, finally being recognized for the talent he was, and for him to freely return home. Here is some news coverage of Jesse’s recent passing, reviewing his life and career, in The Commercial Appeal, USA Today, Rolling Stone, The New York Times, and C-Ville Weekly. From all his fans, and friends who knew him, I’m sure they would agree with Hafiz that Jesse Winchester did leave a lot of good music in the marketplace, and love in their hearts. You did well, Jesse. Thank you!

Jesse Winchester Radio Special: Listen to a special 2007 radio interview and music special with Jesse Winchester recorded by Donna Green-Townsend for WUFT-FM before Jesse’s scheduled performance at the Butterfly Festival in Gainesville, FL. In this program Jesse talked about his early years in Mississippi and Memphis, the inspiration for many of his songs and what he thinks about the music industry today. He also talks about the number of artists who have recorded many of his songs including Wynonna Judd, Emmylou Harris, Reba McEntire, Elvis Costello and many more. RIP Jesse.

Roots Music Canada uploaded a Jesse Winchester interview on April 13, 2010 with RMC’s editor-in-chief David Newland, from Hugh’s Room, Toronto, a venue Jesse launched about a decade ago, and one for which he has the highest regard.

Roots Music Canada produced a show on April 16, 2014: Remembering Jesse Winchester, of him and other artists singing his songs. To see the song list click on Playlist: Folk Roots/Folk Branches – Remembering Jesse Winchester. Jesse Winchester sings a slower version of Sham-A-Ling-Dong-Ding on his album Love Filling Station (Appleseed) with a backup group. I prefer the solo performance.

Howard Stern interviews Donovan about his hits and time with The Beatles and Maharishi in India

February 11, 2014

Howard Stern Show – Donovan Interview 02/05/14

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Howard tells Donovan that he’s going to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame before he even knew, and today it’s news: Donovan, Kinks’ Ray Davies lead Songwriters Hall inductees. Check this description of the interview on the Howard Stern Show – SONG BY SONG WITH DONOVAN. Around 40 minutes into the interview Donovan talks about how they got into meditation. Some fascinating stories!

Grammy Award winner Omar Akram says TM brought him closer to his source of creativity

June 26, 2013

Enjoy this great interview Christopher Caplan conducted with Omar Akram, published June 25, 2013 at 12:15 pm in RYOT Reports. I was pleasantly surprised to learn how Transcendental Meditation freed the creativity of this Grammy award-winning composer and recording artist, and the respect he has for David Lynch and the David Lynch Foundation.

Q&A: Omar Akram, first Afghan American to win a Grammy, talks Transcendental Meditation

Omar Akram, 2013 New Age Music Grammy Award Winner

I recently sat down with Omar Akram, the first Afghan American to win a Grammy award to learn a bit more about his creative process. He has been referred to as a cultural diplomat by many, and the musical equivalent of Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner, in that he is (gradually) mending cultural differences between war-torn nations through art. His recent article on The Huffington Post bespeaks of a well traveled life in which he has mingled with Cuban dictators and contributed to peace in the Middle East. What’s particularly interesting about Omar is the way he uses Transcendental Meditation in his creative process, as well as his support and admiration of the David Lynch Foundation.

Q: When and how did you first discover Transcendental Meditation?

I began using TM about 5 years ago. I was going through some creative blocks, so to speak, and a friend of mine suggested it. I’d known about it for years, but I had never taken the time to try it. I started to meditate slowly, and after doing it a few times, I got hooked.

Q: How has TM helped your creative process over the years?

I think it definitely brings you closer to the source of creativity. I feel this way almost every time. I remember David Lynch was talking about it. He said it was like “searching for the big fish,” or in other words, reaching deep down. I can reach deep down inside of myself and get to the big fish — that big creative idea. That’s what it’s all about, the big creative idea, and TM helps me find this.

Q: Have you tried other forms of meditation?

Yes, I’ve tried straight meditation, on and off for many years. But five years ago I became a lot more serious about it.

Q: How do you feel about David Lynch’s recent advocacy of TM?

I think what he’s doing is fantastic because he is really trying to get it out to school kids and to people that have never been exposed to it before. I think that once people try it, I mean really try it, they realize how beneficial it is.

Q: How do you think TM can help children and students?

One thing that I know is that kids sometimes have a hard time focusing on anything. Especially nowadays because they are being bombarded with so much media. I think it’s really helpful for kids once they give it a chance. They learn the value of meditation and focus. It will be hard in the beginning to understand what they’re doing, but with proper guidance they’ll learn. I think that not only will it help them become more creative, but they will improve in all aspects of schooling and self-esteem.

Q: Do you use TM when you are in the recording studio?

I try to do it a couple of times a day, once in the morning, and once in the evening. It has been really helpful both with creativity and dealing with the stress and deadlines of my upcoming album, “Daytime Dreamer.” It kind of sets the course of my whole day. Once I’m in the studio, I like to take a few minutes, but it’s hard to do it during the day, and that’s my routine. When I do it the morning it helps me focus for the whole day, and shift everything so I have a clearer sense of what I need to do. In the evening I can absorb everything that I’ve done, and refresh my mind all over again.

Q: What do you see for the future of TM and its continuing acceptance in the mainstream?

I think the more people are exposed to TM the more they’re going to realize the benefits of it. A lot of people are not aware of TM, and that’s what David is doing, he’s going around and introducing it to a lot of people that otherwise would never be exposed to it. The more people are exposed to it, the more practitioners there will be, and I think it’s going to be huge. Guys like David Lynch are pioneers in that. I have nothing but respect for him, especially with what he’s doing in schools. I think it’ll make a huge difference.

posted by Omar Akram. Check out his blog: www.omarmusic.com.

RYOT NOTE: Transcendental Meditation not only helps to reduce stress, it also helps with clearing the mind and allowing people to be more creative. The David Lynch Foundation provides millions of dollars of free services every year, implementing these scientifically proven stress-reducing modalities for at-risk populations and communities. See other related articles on David Lynch from RYOT posted at the bottom of this article, and click the gray box to learn more, donate and Become the News!

You can read more about Omar Akram’s background and musical influences in this PRWeb press release: Grammy Award Winning Artist Omar Akram Becomes Latest Entertainment Client to Join YM & Associates PR Marketing Firm at Beverly Hills.

Haiku With My Muse, Sali, inspired by Paul Horn

March 20, 2013

Haiku With My Muse

You are my soul mate
With you, I can be mySelf
Together, We Are

© Ken Chawkin
With Sali at Parkview
Sunday, March 17, 2013

See Celebrating Paul Horn and his Contribution to Jazz, World Music, Meditation and Spirituality.

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Dave Stewart and Jihae sang “Man to Man, Woman to Woman” for Transcendental Music, now official theme song for Walk A Mile campaign

July 15, 2012

DAVE STEWART & JIHAE “MAN TO MAN, WOMAN TO WOMAN”

Published on Jul 14, 2012 by

The legendary Dave Stewart and the lovely, Jihae (pronounced “Jee-heh”) teamed up to create this beautiful song called Man To Man (Woman To Woman) for Transcendental Music (formerly the David Lynch Foundation Music, a charity record label).

The song is the official theme song for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 2012 Hours Against Hate—Walk A Mile campaign (www.2012WalkAMile.com), a worldwide initiative to promote tolerance and health. The project is run on smartphones, using the SoFit, a free social gaming application that allows you to earn rewards while staying fit and making the world a better place. Look for WAM at the 2012 Olympics in London.

The song is also available on Dave Stewart’s website. If you love this song, as I do, you can play it on repeat with this URL: http://www.listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=rKonIn_1Ny0.

Here is an earlier version of this song Dave Stewart donated to David Lynch Foundation Music. It’s a great song! Thought it was a hit when I first heard it. I actually prefer this version, but they’re both great. Here are the liner notes.

This track from the prolific performer, producer and songwriter Dave Stewart evokes an awe-inspired contemplation of the human condition. “Man to Man” is a heart-strung symphony about passing the torch of consciousness, the soaring transactions of the heart. This is Muhammad Ali, this is Mother Teresa, this is a canoe trip, a love letter, a photograph with your lover by a geyser. “Man to Man” just might be the courage you need to finally get down on one knee and propose to your Higher Self.

Download both songs. Proceeds from this charity record label go to support at-risk populations learning the Transcendental Meditation technique (http://www.tm.org). Visit the David Lynch Foundation for details (http://www.davidlynchfoundation.org)

Dave Stewart & Jihae “Man To Man, Woman To Woman” (Higher Ground, remix) by Transcendental Music via #soundcloud : http://snd.sc/MvAaQP.

Links to earlier related articles: David Lynch Foundation Music Compilation Features Songs by Well-Known Recording Artists and David Lynch offers music for meditation.

TRANSCENDENTAL MUSIC™ TO RELAUNCH “MUSIC THAT CHANGES THE WORLD” ACROSS HUNDREDS OF ONLINE RETAIL OUTLETS WITH NEW SINGLE FROM DAVE STEWART “MAN TO MAN”

Transcendental Music is committed to releasing unique, high-quality music digital downloads, LPs and meditation branded lifestyle products, to help raise vital funds and awareness to support The David Lynch Foundation.

We are committed to creating a new, trailblazing, charity based music label. Involved in this model will be the creation of strong brands and fresh marketing concepts for our artists, releases and cause. In turn, our image will be reflected by the genres and artists involved with the various releases on the label.

We’ll capture the imagination of the music buying public by leveraging the influence of long established artists, and high profile world leaders and activists. We’ll create market demand by offering exclusive products featuring one-of-a-kind packaging and forward-thinking distribution.

William Stafford—You and Art

September 10, 2009

You and Art

Your exact errors make a music
that nobody hears.
Your straying feet find the great dance,
walking alone.
And you live on a world where stumbling
always leads home.

Year after year fits over your face—
when there was youth, your talent
was youth;
later, you find your way by touch
where moss redeems the stone;

and you discover where music begins
before it makes any sound,
far in the mountains where canyons go
still as the always-falling, ever-new flakes of snow.

—William Stafford

Also see William Stafford—A Course in Creative Writing

Listen to You and Art performed by Daniel Sperry from his CD: William Stafford: Cutting Loose ~ A Tribute To William Stafford.


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