Reflect On It [on KS Friday]

her palette - the piano copy

I so loved Kerri’s post yesterday that, today, I’m reflecting it back to her.

Do we ever really know what it takes to do someone else’s job? We don’t know the tools used, the research done, the years of training and experience, how someone perceives their own work. We can only guess and, most often, fall desperately, arrogantly, audaciously off the mark.

Kerri’s piano dominates her studio. A black 6’7″ Yamaha grand. It is not a show piece, it is a workhorse. Littering the music stand are stacks of composition notebooks, idea journals, sketches (she is visual) and pile after pile of church music – old hymnals, new downloads of pieces she’s considering for her ukulele band, choir or handbell choir. On the floor are several heavy binders arranged in alphabetical order with the music already played, binders from the 30 years of experience as a minister of music. There is yet another stack reserved for pieces she’s considering playing with Jim, her brilliant guitarist. Lining the walls are ukuleles, a few guitars, a cello, a keyboard, several music stands, more stacks of the original recordings of her albums (note: they are not stored as sacred artifacts. Rather, they are piled willy-nilly for easy reference). My wife is a Yamaha artist (look it up) and her constantly shifting studio topography (ever-moving piles) is testament to the music in her soul, her very-long history of artistry.

Now, I’ve sung a song or two in the shower. When I met Kerri I told her that I didn’t sing and she fairly quickly called my bluff. I sing in her choir. I delight in singing with her and Jim. They are kind and pretend that I add something to their mix. Nowadays I can even pick out a slow tune on the ukulele!

All of this, however, does not make me capable of really understanding how Kerri plays or composes. I can pluck a note. I can warble a song. I will, however, never have mastery of all the instruments, I will never approach her capacity to transpose on the fly, or compose poetry and melody. I will never hear the nuance she hears, the music of silence. I do not have a natural gift of music nor an entire lifetime to exercise and explore it.

I do not know the tricks of the trade she has accumulated over decades of honing her expertise. Nor do I know the knowledge base she brings about other artists, other musicians and compositions, the instrumentation, the way she ‘feels’ an audience and adjusts, the very technical details and the very heart-based intuitions she has learned through many, many years of study and practice. I can’t understand or even try to predict the amount of time it takes (or doesn’t take) for her to conceptualize, to explore, to create, to review, to assess, to adjust, to re-create. I can respond to her work but I cannot define it, nor would it be credible for me to even try to do so. Out of respect for her work, this ‘music’ that is one of the essential things that define her, I know that I really have no idea. I will never approach all that she knows. What I can do is appreciate the enormity of her talent, the endless hours of study, pursuit, practice, passion, experimentation, frustration, rehearsal, writing, performance, teaching, research, recording, pondering, pounding and playing and playing and playing – a lifetime of experience – that has brought her to this place where she creates beautiful music that seems to take no effort whatsoever.

Making it look easy. It takes a lifetime. The woman who delivers our mail has been a postal carrier for 30 years. It is hubris to think I know what that takes. It is utter arrogance to think I could pick up a mailbag and simply know what she knows, do what she does. Experience is invisible. Value is too easily reduced to dollars and cents. As Kerri wrote yesterday, with regard to anyone, the work they do, the life-path they bring to their work, we have no idea. It is both humbling and respectful to take a step back and consider the invisible, to remember that what appears easy comes from years and years of very hard work.

 

read Kerri’s blog post on KS FRIDAY

 

 

their palettes website box copy

 

Listen To The Heart [on KS Friday]

MISSING song box copy

This morning, sitting to write about this piece, I find that I have too much to say. Too much to say about missing and memory and delight and yearning. In trying to choose a thought-path I realized that all of my blah-blah would simply get in the way. My words will get  in the way of this heart composition. I will only offer that this MISSING will lift you. It will bring a knowing smile. It does for me.

I will let this beautiful composition speak for itself. It is MISSING from Kerri’s first album RELEASED FROM THE HEART. Truly, it is from the heart.

MISSING from the album RELEASED FROM THE HEART is available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about MISSING

gate f8 website box copy

 

missing/released from the heart ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood

Come To Realize [on KS Friday]

you come to realize songbox copy

This is among my favorite of Kerri’s compositions. It is children laughing and running through tall grasses. It is the tender green shoot pushing up through the crusty soil to drink the sun. It is the bursting grape, the wine. This is hope and giddy life. It is “Do it now. Don’t wait another moment.” It is a spontaneous celebratory dance because you can’t hold it in another second. It is the soundtrack for the moment when you come to realize that life is boundless and vibrant and right now.

 

YOU COME TO REALIZE on the album THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY is available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post on YOU COME TO REALIZE

 

 

laughing website box copy

 

you come to realize/this part of the journey ©️ 1998/2000 kerri sherwood

Emerge [on KS Friday]

when the fog lifts songbox copy

There is a famous season of fog unique to the San Joaquin valley called The Tule Fog. It is dense and otherworldly. Early in my life, as the stage manager of a children’s theatre company, I drove into The Tule Fog almost daily.

Early each morning, in a van loaded with actors and sets and costumes, we’d leave the  highway en route to a school, dropping down into the wetlands and into the white wall of fog. The entire known world would disappear. The horizon vanished. Any sense of up or down faded. We’d creep through the Tule Fog with no actual feeling of progress; the wheels turned, the engine hummed, but there was no way of knowing whether we progressed down the road or whether our wheels were spinning on a treadmill.  Occasionally, a car would pass going the other direction. We knew it more as a disturbance in the fog, something we felt rather than saw. It was harrowing.

Time suspended. All conversation, all noise ceased. It was a true liminal space, not here or there, all orientation gone. It was as if were in the boat on the river Styx, crossing over.

And then, we’d rise. Or the sun would reach to us. And the dense white Tule Fog would release its grip on us. It let us go. And we’d emerge like time travelers coming home to a place we once knew. I’d relax my grip on the wheel and breathe a sigh of relief.

WHEN THE FOG LIFTS, is my soundtrack to those early mornings in The Tule Fog. Moving forward fueled by nothing greater than the belief that there will be another side, somewhere. And then, the rise, the reach of the sun, and flood of quiet gratitude.

 

WHEN THE FOG LIFTS on the album THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about WHEN THE FOG LIFTS

 

bong trail, wisconsin website box copy

 

when the fog lifts/this part of the journey ©️ 1998 kerri sherwood

Hold And Be Held [on KS Friday]

YOU HOLD ME songbox copy

Tom and I sat on the little deck just off the kitchen of his cabin at the ranch. We watched the sun set on the land his family had owned for generations.  “They’re going to build a Walmart just off McKenzie Road,” he said, not taking his eyes off the setting sun. “That’s about it, I think.” The tide of development would soon gobble up the ranch.

He told me that, without the land, he would not know who he was. It held him. He held it.

It was a complicated relationship. During his life, he’d attempted to flee the land more than once but it would not let him go. During his life, the world tried to take it away from him more than once but he would not let it go.

Tom died on his land. His wife and nephew fought hard to make that possible. They held him and the land together, through their passing. Both are gone now.

Why does a piece of music evoke such a specific memory? Kerri’s YOU HOLD ME always takes me back to that deck and that sunset. A love story. A life story. To hold and be held.

 

YOU HOLD ME on the album THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about YOU HOLD ME

 

aspen silver bull website box copy

 

you hold me/this part of the journey ©️ 2000 kerri sherwood

Paint With Sand [on KS Friday]

TRANSIENCE songbox copy

Many years ago I was lucky enough to see a sand mandala created by Tibetan monks. It was intricate and vibrant. It seemed impossible to create something so complex with sand. The day after I saw the painting the monks ceremoniously destroyed it. The process, the painting, is a mediation on the impermanence of all things.

Yesterday was my birthday. I am now 58 years old. More and more the transience of all things is less a metaphor and more of a reality. If there is wisdom that comes with age it is at least partially attributed to the awakening reality of our transitory lives. As the monks remind us, we are, in truth, a beautiful intricate sand painting.

Kerri and I took a walk yesterday through our beloved and soon-to-be-passing Bristol woods. A sizable ropes-adventure-course is being constructed that will cut through the center of the woods. More than ever we appreciate our walks through Bristol because we know these are probably among the last. We stopped along the path to catch our breath and, laughing, found ourselves spontaneously rolling balls of snow to create a snowman. Permanence is not a high priority in making a snowman.

Later, sitting together in the nature megaphone, we were being silly and howling with laughter. I realized that, because it was my birthday, we’d granted ourselves a free pass for the day. Nothing need be achieved. Nothing need be created. We had no agenda so, therefore, no time constraints. There was no attempt at permanence or investment in importance or thought to fill-up-time and so, in the absence of a purpose-filled-day, we found great open space for play and laughter. Pure enjoyment of our fleeting moment and of each other. I found myself in the mandala, appreciating the passing moment of vibrant colored sand.

In TRANSIENCE, Kerri builds a snowman, she takes us on a stroll through the passing woods, a mandala of rich musical color, and, if we give over to it, she knows, we might just find that great open space teeming with play and presence and the simple enjoyment of being alive.

 

TRANSIENCE on the album RIGHT NOW is available on iTunes & CDBaby

anniversary haiku copy

read Kerri’s blog post on TRANSIENCE

 

footprints in the snow at bristol woods website box copy

transience/right now ©️ 2010 kerri sherwood

Take A Slow Walk [on KS Friday]

bridge song box copy

Many years ago, on a beautiful fall evening, I was in San Francisco. My work  was complete. Thinking that my work would stretch into the evening I’d planned to stay the night before driving back to Los Angeles. It was a rare treat to have so much free time.

I walked. I let the winds of fancy blow me, going in any direction that caught me. The sun went down. I wound my way up a hill and came upon a park with a view of the city. It sparkled. I sat on a wall and watched the city shimmer, listened to the sounds, and reveled in the remarkable absence of any demand-on-my-time. A space between.

Kerri’s BRIDGE brings me back to that evening, to that slow walk to nowhere-in-particular on a crystal clear fall evening. It brings me to the peace of sitting on a wall, overlooking a city, with no desire or need to be anywhere else. May this BRIDGE, Kerri’s remarkable BRIDGE, bring you the peace and presence that it always brings to me.

 

BRIDGE on the album AS IT IS, available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about BRIDGE

 

pumpkinfarm website box copy

 

bridge/as it is ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood