You Are Everything You Need (The Lyrics Are Now a Song)

Yes, you are all you need, and that is enough for a love song. What I mean is, a few days ago, I wrote a blog post about pop-radio love songs and how they’ve traditionally revolved around the subject of incompleteness… pain and longing… and the belief that you cannot feel whole without the presence or validation of another person.

As an antidote to this misconception, I wrote some song lyrics on May 11, 2018, called “Stars.” And over the weekend, I set those lyrics to music—a simple bass line with organ, vocals and guitar, recorded with nothing more than Abelton Live Lite, a Graphite keyboard and microphone.

Quality-wise, the recording is a demo.

If the vocals sound constrained in areas, the reason is simple. Where other songwriters enjoy access to soundproofed recording studios and proper audio equipment, my available “studio” basically consists of a laptop in an apartment where there’s little soundproofing. So as much as I enjoy getting lost in recording, I was also fairly conscious of what the neighbors were hearing and thinking as I worked through vocal tracks for a few hours.

I really have to start working on that FACTOR grant to get better digs.

Anyhoo, I hope you enjoy the demo, as well as the idea that you’re everything you need.

Have a great week, everyone!

–Xris

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Yes, You Are All You Need (And That Is Enough for a Love Song)

Have you ever felt sad, angry or just empty because of a relationship that didn’t work out? If you have then you have a sense of what’s right and (dare I say) wrong with pop-radio love songs.

Subjects like longing, loss and pain are certainly relatable, and when we hear another person echoing the same feelings in a three-minute love song, the sense of empathy has an immediate degree of value. After all, no one likes to feel alone, and we can all appreciate the sense of comfort that comes from listening to what feels like an understanding friend. To me, it’s the same as taking an analgesic to immediately remedy and manage pain.

That just makes sense.

The problem is, people can get hooked on such painkillers. And just like drugs, the long-entrenched love-song formula for pop radio only addresses the symptoms of pain, and rarely address the root causes.

Just like a pharmaceutical company endlessly spitting out bottles of drugs, the song mills of mainstream radio monotonously continue to churn out songs that fundamentally say, “Your happiness relies on something outside of yourself.”

You hear this message reflected in endless lyrical themes:

  • “Without you, I’m a dead person walking.”
  • “My life has no meaning since you’ve been gone.”
  • “Please come back. I’m incomplete and miserable, and just so that’s clear, here’s a video that shows me sitting alone in a park, or moping around some crappy apartment, or staring longingly out some dirty window.”

As cool as such lyrical themes can seem when wrapped within lights and sound, they reinforce the belief that happiness lies in the arrival and consistency of external conditions that you can never control, whether people, jobs or money. They seldom (if ever) speak to introspection, self-discovery and acceptance of a truth:

The true long-term and lasting solution to sadness, anger or emptiness caused by relationship-related pain is not waiting at the end of some street or on the other side of some window easily cleaned with Windex. Yes, those are easy beliefs, and it’s always great to share our lives with people. Yet should someone walk away, or should someone turn out to be so unhealthy for you that you have to leave them for simple self-preservation, recovery and the return to happiness do not come from staring into the false darkness of someone else’s personal abyss (popstars or not) and deciding that suffering is the status quo. Recovery from suffering comes from knowing that you are enough on your own. You’re complete. You have always been everything you’ll ever need to feel whole. Your evidence stands in those moments when you so implicitly knew this to be true that you didn’t need to question it, and here’s the ironic thing.

When you know you’re enough on your own, and keep this knowing in your heart, the assurance and self-confidence that comes from this helps better attract people to you, and helps keep existing relationships vibrant and strong. And if your sense of wholeness makes someone else nervous, or if they seek to undermine your wholeness and try to create dependency on them, that’s their stuff. Not yours.

Now I’m certainly not saying anything that hasn’t already been said before by the likes of Wayne Dyer, Robert Holden and thousands of others who have made the vernacular of wholeness and happiness part of everyday language.

It’s just the way the world talks now. Yet it doesn’t seem that this language has translated to any great degree into pop music.

The big record companies are undoubtedly fine letting the pain continue in order to keep selling their pills in song form. Yet in doing so, the result has naturally created a vacuum—a new market already embracing a new language that is not well represented in mainstream music, meaning a market pretty much wide open for songwriters (perhaps including you) willing to zig while others continue to zag.

This would seem to represent a profound new opportunity, not just to be another song-seller but to offer people real pain relief and a true way out of the darkness.

Indeed, when people talk about rock music making a comeback, this is the very area in which rock can make a comeback because it’s the very area of lyrical theme in which rock once thrived.

Am I being idealistic?

Perhaps. Even so, I sat down the other night to pen lyrics to a new kind of love song called “Stars” that speaks to wholeness as the true seat of personal happiness.

I hope the words speak to you and always remind you that you are enough, and that all of us only forget that from time to time.

Stars

Put away any thought you have today

of a word that went unspoken

You might be every word you need to say

as you are in a galaxy of stars

always smiling in the knowing

you are one of them, you know it in your heart

every time you wander free of mind

And I know sometimes you just can’t see

you are everything you need



Take a day

Just walk away from everything you think you need to do

Just walk away and take the time for you

You alone know where to find your home

So follow intuition

It follows you though you can feel alone

in the noise that builds as it destroys

So just leave that to those who cannot see

you are everything you need



And I know this ‘cause I have been there too

You are more than a list of what you do

You’re the evidence of truth



Put away any poetry of blame

Un-wholeness of an answer

will always find you standing in the rain

Step away and be with who you are

I know it can be frightening

to stand within the dark of why you came

but you know, you feel it when you glow

and I know sometimes you just can’t see

you are everything you need



And I know this ‘cause I have been there too

You are more than a list of what you do

You’re the evidence of truth



So fall in love with every voice that lies within you

and walk the truth of why you came and why you grow

and there will never be a day when you’re feeling incomplete

You are never, never alone

Lies We Tell Ourselves (And How to Wake Up)

Please note: The scratchings on this paper are an ancient and mystical language called cursive.

Have you ever lost sight of your happiness and true self? What I mean is, have you ever had a moment when you felt you weren’t good enough… or as successful as other people… or had made bad decisions that suddenly felt like horrible regrets?

If so, you’re not alone.

I know this because yesterday was my day to feel that way, and I was shocked by how little it took to shift me from happiness and contentment to complete darkness.

The day had begun happily enough. I’d risen early to start some writing. The sun was coming up. My cat, Majyn, was coiled beside me atop his scratching post and I was enjoying a warm cup of coffee from my favorite Beatle mug. For all intents and purposes, the moment was my idea of Zen. Then something small happened.

I started thinking about the month ahead. Money looked tight and I hadn’t generated as much freelance income as I’d imagined. Suddenly, bills loomed larger than they’d ever seemed. Anxiousness and self-doubt flamed in my gut like a bad taco, and all of a sudden, an inner voice came blasting in like a verdict:

  • “You’re not good enough!”
  • “Every decision you’ve ever made has been wrong!”
  • “You will never be successful!”
  • “You made the worst possible decision to pursue a living as a writer, and if you insist on pursuing your foolish dream, you’re going to wind up poor and miserable!”

I’m not too proud to admit that I temporarily believed that black voice. My hands dropped from the keyboard. Everything stopped except a swirling void that would only consume me, and it did.

In that moment, every other person on the planet seemed miles ahead of me… happier… enjoying successes I’d never know… and I was dead wrong to believe I’d ever walk among them.

In other words, I fell into self-pity so deeply, my eyesight completely failed.

I’d be lying if I said I quickly recovered or did it alone. Recovery came slowly. Yet it came by finally reminding myself of a few important things to which you might relate.

I hadn’t come into this world to be like everyone else. I’d been given my own gifts… my own fire… my own soul. So I’d come to this small blue planet to experience what it was like to be MY spirit walking around in this thing called a body.

I’d known this implicitly as a child.

I’d known this as a teen.

And I’d even known this as a young man.

Sure. When the voice of the world got inside my head, I could lose sight of myself. I could believe that “success” had a fixed form… a shape… a dollar value… and measure myself against it all to determine whether I had a right to be happy.

But I didn’t need such a right.

No one does.

I had my own ideas about success, and I was living it. Jobs, bills and even the opinions of others were only the encumbering paperwork of life on earth, but they weren’t the essence of living… of happiness… of why I came here… and falling from that would only ever come from the lies I bought and told myself.

In other words, the more I ignored ideas about “success,” the more successful I’d actually be as a spirit who came here for one reason: to be spirit.

Okay, I probably came here to enjoy pizza as well.

You get the gist.

Anyhoo…

To help keep myself awake in the days ahead, I sat down last night and began writing a song called “Lies I Tell Myself.” I’ve yet to finish all the lyrics but wanted to share what I scribbled because we all lose sight of ourselves from time to time. Yet we’re always only one reminder away from waking back up.

Enjoy, fellow awesome spirits. 🙂

Lies I Tell Myself (Partial Lyric)

I’m no good and I’m bad at what I do

I am always wrong and far behind

And running out of time

I am slow and I’ll never be enough

And I’ll never see the life I need to make me happy

These are the lies I tell myself

These are the lies I tell myself

When I listen to what others say and I lose my way

And get tangled up in battles that were never mine to own

When I didn’t care not very long ago

When I moved, just moved with my life

I was patient, I was kind to myself

And I knew that what I knew was all I’d ever need to know

That I was me and they were them and they could stay or they could go

How to Write a Song

“How do I write a song?” If you’ve ever asked yourself this, here’s the answer I’ve personally learned as a writer in my experiences with musicians:

It’s about being a good listener.

Here’s what I mean.

A few years ago, I interviewed electronic violinist Dr. Draw for a feature story in Starlight Music Chronicles, and he was extremely grateful that I understood something. As a performer who’d played on stages around the world, Draw had been interviewed countless times by journalists. In the course of that, Draw had become a bit frustrated by journalists working under the illusion that his ethereal music purely resulted from his technical skills… that if he hadn’t learned how to read music or know the notes he was playing, he’d somehow be unable to write music.  Yet I’d developed a different sense of how music really happens.

I’d come to the idea that music is like a river of notes always happening around us. Distraction, worry and a sheer unwillingness to relax and let go commonly prevent people from hearing this river. Yet for those who can focus past all that, “writing a song” simply involves two steps:

  1. Listen to the river.
  2. Write down what you hear.

For this reason, some of the world’s biggest songs have been written by artists who never learned how to read or write music.

In other words, knowing theory is great for lots of reasons. Yet notes and chords are a record of an experience. They’re the result of something.

In my interview, I likened Draw to an alchemist rendering what he heard into form through his violin, and he was so grateful to someone finally getting it that he wrote to personally tell me. (Such an awesome guy.)

A few months ago after finishing an original song called “Love Someone” for another artist, I again sat down to scribble my thoughts about where music comes from, but made a personal journey.

By sharing it here, I hope it helps you on your own creative journey and connection to spirit, the universe, river of notes or whatever you call it.

In the following reflections about “Love Someone,” I called this place the ocean:

“I sing sometimes of an ocean. Funny. I rarely write about the ocean in regular writing, but when I allow the lid to creak back even a bit on the Pandora’s box that seems to sit within my mind, I see that ocean… just rolling there… just smiling in the way that all oceans seem to smile… rolling and roiling, those great white waves… just smiling.

So it was that I smiled back yesterday evening, as I’ve not done in some time. It’s funny how you can forget an ocean when it’s right there all the time… always whispering on those fringe edges… on those beaches… where we ourselves walk, or once did, and to where we’re always drawn. It was to that shore breeze that I closed my eyes and drank in the lungful of life that’s always there for everyone, and where was I next?

It’s difficult to say. There was an immersion… a letting go… a great engulfment with no compass points… and if a voice spoke, I recognized no words. Only emotion—those words of all hearts but no language. How can a heart creak and cry so badly for something so formless… dimensionless… so utterly unknowable?

I ask as one this morning who came up from those depths, and for a moment, it was as if the world was a collection of loose particles… shimmering… taking only the form that I believed I’d find. And so I was back in this place called reality… and for all the waters and waves and lengths of beaches stretching from here to thereafter and the never-ending edges of the map, I was lucky to bring back a song.”

Conversations With Source (or, Chatting With Rabbit)

The strange thing about going down the rabbit hole… that metaphor for the deepness and complexity of what lies beneath the world commonly called reality… is that sometimes you come back with souvenirs—like this little scribbling, which I’m pretty sure is the beginning of some operatic rock song. But I suppose the point is really this:

I sometimes wonder why I get these kinds of things at all.

Do you ever feel the same way when you get some inspiration?

I mean, if there was actually a rabbit down that rabbit hole and I could have a conversation, I’d ask, “I just don’t understand why you give me these notions and scraps of music. Sure, the rabbit hole is the same wellspring from which comes all the regular writing I do, and sure. I can translate all that stuff with ease. But I can’t even play most of the music you give me, and I certainly can’t sing it that well. Don’t you know how frustrating that is for me? I mean, don’t you think you’d do better to give all this stuff to someone else?”

But that rabbit… of that rabbit… just seems to excitedly bounce off to the next scribbling or scrap while saying, “Oh and this! You should have this! It might go with that other scrap. Oh and this! Take this as well!”

Seriously? Am I just some deliveryman?

I guess I love that rabbit, but I also think I want to strangle him sometimes, because on top of everything else, he gives me stuff like this bit of scribbling you’re reading right now.

Was I even supposed to post it?

Does it go with something else?

Does it go with ANYTHING?

Am I simply the last one at some tea party that’s been over for years?

Or am I simply helping set some table to which people will eventually come after realizing they’ve been away in some dream for far too long.

I guess I’ll never know for sure, but if the former is the case, then I guess I’d better just learn to live with that rabbit and enjoy the fact that he’s still talking to me.

Stillmorning Daughter (A Song Demo)

If I’ve been quiet of late on my blog, I’ll catch you up on why. January finds me exploring new directions for the year ahead (and beyond). Years ago before I developed an interest in art and writing, I spent a lot of years writing and recording music (and even performed a bit). I gave it up for a while, but last December, I had the good fortune of connecting with a local music promoter. He listened to a few tracks I’d uploaded onto YouTube (as well as some personal music files I sent him) and liked what he heard. So he introduced me to a musician out of Guelph, Ont., and that musician said he’d enjoy it if I wrote and recorded demos (like this video) and sent them to him for consideration (either for recording, performance or both). This is my first demo—a completely unplugged recording. It’s just me singing and playing an original song in front of my camera, and please excuse the odd flubbed chord. (I’m not really a guitar player.) I hope you enjoy it, and I’ll definitely keep you in the loop with news and other demo videos as I go forward. And of course, I’ll be posting new artwork in the year ahead as well.

Cheers.

PS: Much belated thanks to all the new subscribers. It means the world to me that people enjoy what I’m doing in this admittedly strange hybrid place of art, writing and music. Thanks, thanks and more thanks. 🙂

Zero Releases “Elysium” for Half-World!

Masked orchestral dubstep composer Zero agrees to allow “Elysium” as the soundtrack for “Half-World.”

After weeks of back-and-forth emails with enigmatic musician Zero, I’m absolutely thrilled today to announce that the mysterious orchestral dubstep composer has given me full permission to use his track “Elysium” as the soundtrack for my final “Half-World” art video.

As a blend of violin, driving rock guitar and dubstep, “Elysium” might be described as Lindsey Stirling meets Skrillex. Yet beneath that lies an intricate and subtle layer of woven sound that can only be called Zero. With its hints of Cirque and shades of Epica, “Elysium” so powerfully evokes mystery and passion that I immediately knew it would be the perfect soundtrack choice for “Half-World,” and I’m jazzed that the masked composer gave me permission to his use his track.

Hope everyone had a great weekend! Cheers for now.–Xris