A New Season

I’m over at the North Berkeley Senior Center, where they have a nice Yamaha U-2 console piano, one of my favorite non-grand pianos.  I don’t quite understand why two of the other pianists here prefer the Baldwin.  To me, it plays like an old Hamilton workhorse.  The keys can’t take normal rough pressure in the least; they keep breaking on me.  Well, this one hasn’t yet – but I feel it’s about to.  And the other pianists caution me to go easy on the keys.  It’s true that the nice nuances of its action come at a much softer range; but still, where is the tone?  The Yamaha, notwithstanding that for me, its action is far more subtle, precise, and superior, sounds like a damned Steinway in places.  It’s just a sensational piano – like the C-3 baby grand that I played for all those years at Gulliver’s.

I played a couple of my very newer tunes, then for some reason drifted into my standard New-Age improvisations around “Feed the Birds.” After that, I more-or-less dared to play three songs from The Word from Beyond that I really have only hitherto played in my head, those being “Adytum,” “Another Round of Fear,” and “Rosy.”  title: These songs reflect a spirit more consonant with the current phase in my life than the earlier music from Eden in Babylon, which was mostly written between 2010 and 2012.  Although by and larger their tone is more romantic and passionate than my earlier work, the most recent song that I’ve written, “The Very Same World,” has a very upbeat, optimistic feel to it, almost bubblegum in places.  As I played it, two of the guys working at the front desk tuned into it, and seemed to perk up a bit.  When I was done, they both asked me: “What was that last song you played?”  So  I explained everything, and linked them to this web site.  

It’s not that I don’t want to finish the very nearly completed script of Eden in Babylon, and finally tie it all together.  It’s just that I see no reason to rush into it, even after five years, and plow away at it as though there were a deadline, thus compromising its integrity at some point.  There’s a right script out there in the Universe, and it will get dropped down upon me at just the right time–just like everything else, in Art, and in life.

Coming Together: Scene One

One of the concepts in my theory of Thought Processing is that thoughts are either of value or they are not.  If they are not of value, their application is obvious.  They ought to be immediately sent into the “recycle bin” and ultimately trashed.  If they are value, then they ought not to be dismissed, but given some attention as to where they might best be applied.   The thought I wish to  express in this entry is definitely of value, for it affirms for me the sanctity of the Artistic-Creative Process.  Had something phenomenal not happened this very evening, during a full rewrite of Scene One of Wintone Greene, I would not be placing the words of this thought on this page tonight. It has to do with the creative process.  It has to do with the phenomenon of incubation, as introduced by Graham Wallas in his famous treatise, The Art of Thought.  

Graham Wallas

How I love it when two things come together, in the same place, at the same time, unexpectedly!  This is what affirms for me that I am somehow on the right track.  The two things were these:

1.  I knew that there had to be more evidence of “police brutality” in the scene, as well as more evidence of a naively idealistic spirituality on the part of the Street Kids — the main followers of  Winston Greene.   I knew that there needed to be a climactic moment in the scene where the Street Kids and the cops would be at odds with each other.  But I didn’t know where that moment should be.

2. I knew that in the music of the Opening Number, Intervention, there was a certain spot that seemed extremely anticlimactic.  I also knew that the Kids and the Cops were singing toward each other at the moment of said anticlimax.   But I didn’t know what to do about it.

How intriguing that the two were solved at once, as though they had been intended for each other!  In a rush, I added about 24 measures of increasingly dynamic music and lyrics, to expand the interaction between the Kids and the Cops in such a way that what was once musically anticlimactic was now a musical pinnacle, and what was once textually incomplete was now full, rich, and powerful.  The music built up and up, the lyrics of transcendent wisdom from the East blossoming into a mantra of liberty, while the vulgar threats of the unenlightened police rose up to meet inspiration with fury.   Only Winston Greene had the wisdom and courage to intervene, and to offer himself willfully to the Powers That Be, in order for his finest followers to be spared.

I guess you’d have had to have been there.   But the upshot is that a relatively lackluster Opening Number has this day been transformed into a profound and powerful affirmation of faith.  


A Piece of One’s Passion

When I first got the idea to write a musical called Eden in Babylon, it was because I wanted to write a musical about a guy who had written a musical called The Burden of Eden.  That guy, of course, was me.  Only I called him David.

I later got the idea that the musical should be an opera.   This came about when two pieces from The Burden of Eden were performed at Peninsula Teen Opera, where they were well-received, and where I got the funny idea that Opera people take care of their own, whereas Musical Theatre people don’t.  (Like I said, a funny idea.)

A few years later, not quite having completed the opera, a certain director convinced me to turn it back into a musical.  By that time, incidentally, the protagonist was no longer called David, but by the enigmatic name of Winston Greene.

A few years later, not quite having completed the musical, I sought support from a friend who responded by seeming to disdain the whole project.  Though the keyword here is “seeming,” my reaction to this seeming dissing of my soul was not to be able to open the script up for a good year and a half without thinking about how much my friend hated it.

And now – a few short months later, I have noticed that when I open up the script, not only is this a vast improvement from all previous versions – but an even vaster improvement is in the works.  And certain, God willing, to come.

Not to mention, by this time there is not a single song from the original version that remains in the version I see today!  So I might even have a third show in the works — again, God willing.  His will, not mine, be done.

There is something to putting a piece of one’s passion aside for a season – and picking it up again.  As Rocky Balboa said: “It’s not how many times you get knocked down that count, but how many times you get back up.”  

And as the Good Book says:

A good man falls seven times a day – and rises again.”
Proverbs 24:16

As Anthony Newley wrote:

Stand well back – I’m comin’ through –
Nothing can stop me now!
Watch out, world – I’m warning you –
Nothing can stop me now!

And as I wrote on my Facebook just the other morning:

I’m comin’ back with a vengeance.
Nothing can stop me now.