“I got my first guitar when I was 16 and took some lessons that summer. The teacher taught me some chords, finger picking, and in spite of my shyness and resistance, made me sing. Learned some tunes by Dylan, Neil Young, James Taylor and others, plus a smattering of folk songs. Moved on from there to an electric Gretsch, with a muscular amp that would make it howl like a coyote in the spring, much to the chagrin of my parents. When I was 19, I laid down $700 of my hard earned money for a beautiful Martin that stretched my budget, but played so beautifully I was willing to work a few more hours each week to pay for it.
In the 80’s a friend and I wrote some songs and decided to record them. We performed in a few places, and even had a band for a short while. Even created a music publishing company for our songs. Never made much of any of this, but our publishing company did license a punk song by another fellow. The name of the song was “Death to Disco.” It sold in England and we got a royalty check of $3.84 for it. We tried to find the artist to pay him, but by then we’d lost track of him. Still have that check somewhere in a box of files—never did cash it.
These early tunes that we had recorded weren’t all that good, and my friend and I eventually went our separate ways. I continued to play over the next several years, with lulls here and there where I didn’t pick up my guitar for several weeks. Never did tackle songwriting again during those intervening years, but always had a love for music.
About a year and a half ago, something took hold of me. I dusted off and re-wrote a couple of those older songs and started writing new ones.
Several things influenced this new cycle. First, I noticed that a lot of songs I liked and played were very basic, with only three or four chords. Someone told me that about 80% of popular and contemporary music was like that, but this time it really sunk in. Then I started getting melodies in my head. They would sort of grab me and stay with me until I did something with them by sitting down and sketching them out on the guitar. Words would come too. I’ve been a writer my whole life—songs, articles, books, poetry—so that part seemed to flow even more easily.
When I played some of these tunes for my wife and close friends, I got a good response. Even more importantly, I felt a passion for composing and playing these songs. Most of them had both personal and universal meaning.. Like my experience writing my books, I felt like I was translating these songs, that they were being inspired by some other force. On a couple of them, I could feel the spirit of John Lennon guiding my hand as I wrote the lyrics and played the chords.
Toward the end of last year, realizing that I then had several songs, I decided to record them. I dabbled with home recording, and although somewhat satisfied with the results, I realized that I needed to go to a professional recording studio and give it a shot. So after several inquiries, I called and made an appointment with a guy that was relatively close to our house. I had a good feeling about him, which later turned out to be true.
So I’m sitting in my office the afternoon before my appointment the following day, enjoying the fair weather and the slight breeze coming in from the open sliding glass doors, feeling a mixture of nervousness and excitement, organizing my songs in preparation for recording them. The critical/ego voice kept popping in and out, saying such things as “What do you think you’re doing? Who do you think you are?” Kind of like and internal Robby the Robot in the old series, “Lost In Space,” saying, “Danger! Danger, Will Robbins!” It’s interesting how when we stretch our comfort zone there’s often that kind of response from the part of us that wants us to stay safe and not take risks. But always opting for safety and comfort is a sort of death in itself, isn’t it?
So right about then a big grasshopper jumps from the outside and lands squarely to the right of my computer. Now I’ve not seen any grasshoppers for years, so this was a very unusual occurrence. As I stared at it for a few moments, I thought, “Okay, Mr. Spirit Animal guy, what does this mean?” I did hear shortly, “Take the leap,” but I wanted more. So I looked in my book, “Animal Spirit Guides,” but lo and behold! Nothing about Grasshopper as spirit guide! Okay, let’s do what you tell others to do, and do some research.
I jumped onto the Internet, did a Google search for “Grasshopper/Totem,” and came across one of the websites I’d resorted to when I was researching my book. On the website http://www.sayahda.com/cyc2.html, amongst other information, the one piece that jumped out was:
There are about 10,000 species and each has its own unique song. With a few exceptions only the males can sing. During courtship, male grasshoppers take turns singing songs, competing to outdo each other for the attention of the females.
One of the gifts these insects hold is the power of song and sound. Song is an ancient way to alter consciousness and communicate with our animal and spirit relations. Some Native American songs date back at least 20,000 years.
I got chills up and down my spine when I read this. They say when you get chills or the hairs on the back of your neck stick up either you’re getting sick or having a spiritual experience. Wasn’t sick, so must have been a message here. These are the kind of messages I like to get from my guides, whether I’m completely comfortable with them or not. Better than those cryptic, dream-like, abstract messages that require you to sit with them for a while before they make sense.
So I’m happy to report that I did get to the studio, recorded five songs of basic tracks, just guitar and vocals. I’m pleased with the results and it confirms my intention to create a CD this year, so stay tuned . . .
Oh, yeah, one more piece. Two evenings ago as I was working on a new song, I was struggling to find the right music for the lyrics that had flowed out of my pen. I played it one way, then another, trying to find the right tune and was getting frustrated. I decided to call on Grasshopper spirit. When I did I heard very clearly, “Let the song find you.” A good message for most of our artistic endeavors.