It’s autumn here in New England.
I am not a big fan of autumn — with ever-lengthening nights and ever-colder temperatures…
But I understand that I can’t experience spring and summer without also experiencing autumn and winter.
So I strive to accept and make peace with the arrival of autumn.
Deep breath in.
Deep breath out.
This week I rode my bike from East Arlington (where I live) to Arlington Heights (where I lead Music Together classes three mornings per week) via a rail-to-trail bike path.
At one point there was a stretch of sugar maple trees with orange, red and yellow leaves silhouetted against a very blue sky.
And I had to acknowledge the beauty of autumn…
Another deep breath in.
And deep breath out.
Dedicated readers of this blog may remember a song called “The Beauty All Around” which I wrote not long after taking a class called “Ukulele for the Almost Musical” led by a wonderful teacher, Danno Sullivan.
I recorded it using my ukulele and Apple’s wonderful GarageBand application, and then I recorded a new piano/vocal version a few years later with pianist/engineer Doug Hammer at his terrific home studio.
You can hear both versions in a blog post dated March 27, 2014 if you are curious.
I had been sitting on the Doug Hammer version for many years, intending to overdub a bunch of harmony vocals before releasing it.
But then I crossed paths with singer Carole Bundy and singer/pianist/songwriter/arranger Molly Ruggles.
And Molly added harmony lines for her and Carole to sing.
And we included it in a service at their Unitarian-Universalist church in Medford, MA.
And we sang it during several Porchfest performances.
And finally last December we recorded it for our first 8-song CD.
So far we’ve given away or sold about 50 CDs and also have begun releasing some of the songs via digital music platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora.
Right now we are working on new songs for a benefit performance on Saturday, October 29th at 7:30pm to raise money for the social justice programs at the UU Church in Medford.
Among other things that church runs a much-needed food pantry and is currently hosting a family who managed to get out of Afghanistan earlier this year.
We’ve been rehearsing in the main sanctuary of the church, and it has been a great pleasure to experience the excellent acoustics of the space.
So much is happening right now in the USA — and all around this small, blue-green planet!
Accelerating climate catastrophes such as drought, forest fires, hurricanes, flooding, polar ice/ permafrost melting…
Ongoing health anxieties related to COVID, the flu, monkeypox, and whatever else may be coming down the pike…
The horrible war in Ukraine…
The rise of fascist political rhetoric and activity and actions here in the USA and in many other countries around the world…
And the list goes on and on…
Deep breath in.
Deep breath out.
My coping methods to deal with all of these challenges include:
1) Personalizing and sending lots of cards and letters to potential voters in swing states…
2) Riding my bike, walking, or taking public transportation…
3) Singing with the families in my Music Together classes and also with Carole and Molly…
4) Donating tiny amounts of money to tight political races all around the country…
5) Savoring moments of beauty in the non-human world…
So far we have not yet had a frost; so the cosmos, zinnias, and daisies in my neighbors’ front yards are still blooming brilliantly.
And the basil and marigolds on my back porch are still going strong, too!
Thank you to Carole and Molly for our ongoing musical journey.
Thank you to my Music Together families — past, present and future!
Thank you for a roof over my head, clean drinking water, food to eat (much of it from a local organic farmshare!), a steadfast and loving partner, and a still-beating heart.
Thank you to Peter Kontrimas, who did the initial recording of our eight songs, and to Doug Hammer, who helped us mix and master them via Zoom.
Thank you for the great photographs from Pixabay.
And thank YOU for reading and listening to another one of my (not-particularly-frequent) blog posts.
Deep breath in.
Deep breath out.
PS: You are always welcome to visit my website — where you can find many songs (and learn more about my musical life here on planet earth if you are curious).
You can also find me singing — with Doug Hammer playing his Schimmel grand piano — on Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, YouTube and other digital music platforms.
Deep breath in …Deep breath out …is most important.
Kudos on continuing to make and share your music in more venues and platforms Will. I admire your dedication to living simply, helping others, and fighting for causes you believe in. Hugs…
Thank you, Brad! I appreciate your ongoing support AND the courageous candor of your recent blog posts!
You’re most welcome Will.
A marvelously done piece of music, Will. Love the concept of Holy Ground. Your harmonies blend so well. You are a really busy man. Keep on creating, the world never gets enough of the joy and happiness it brings.
A great post! Have a great weekend!
Another thoughtful post. Thank you! And I continue to enjoy the music you make with Carole and the amazing arranger, Molly.
You are very welcome. And thank YOU for buying a CD at our Porchfest performance in West Concord. I continue to be very grateful for Molly’s many gifts as a songwriter, pianist, arranger and singer.
I really love this post. I love how you encourage democracy and care about the world around you. Congratulations, and thank you. I would consider buying that CD.
Thank you!!! If you live in the USA, I could probably figure out a way to send you a CD…
I have been missing your blog posts, Will. The diversity and richness and kindness inevitably calm me. So glad your musical life is expanding. Cheers!
Thanks, Annie!!! My goal is to write a little bit more often — and also for each blog post to be shorter than many of my past blog posts have been… But my main writing focus these days (as I am guessing might be true for you, too) is personalizing letters and postcards being sent to voters in swing states!
I don’t like the ushering in of the cold either, but there are a lot of beautiful trees.
Yes, the hardwood trees ARE magically beautiful in New England during the fall…
A beautiful song, Will! Good to see you back.
Thank you, Lavinia!
So beautiful Will!
What an optimistic song that is, Will. And I love that it mentions a crocus pushing through the dirt, and compost-piling. That has to be a first for songwriting!
Thanks, Audrey! It is one of my “helps me get out of bed in the morning” songs.And I particularly appreciate that you savored some of my gardening-related rhymes!!! Just planted more crocus (and allium and grape hyacinth) bulbs this weekend…
Love breathe in, breathe out with lots of examples of positivity.
Breathing in and out, I send you many thanks for reading and listening yet again!
Thanks again for sharing your music with us Will. It’s a beautiful song.
Fall is my favourite time of year. If only it didn’t mean winter was on the way. Sigh.
You are very welcome, Michelle. I bet I would like autumn more if I did not know that winter was following it… Maybe I can train myself to forget about winter and simply savor what is happening right now in the autumn!
I enjoyed (will continue to enjoy) The Beauty All Around, Will. It actually helped me relax. I’m looking out the lounge room window right now, across the front yard, through the trees to the sports oval across the street. It’s a coolish morning, the birds are singing and I’m now in a relaxed frame of mind instead of an anxious one 😊
Hurrah! Thanks for this lovely feedback! I am delighted that listening to TBAA (if I am understanding your comment correctly) helped to put you in a more relaxed frame of mind. As you probably noticed, you can listen to it on a bunch of digital musical platforms in addition to WordPress in case you use Spotify, Pandora, etc.
Absolutely, Will. I was facing a tough day, but TBAA put me in the right frame of mind, the right perspective. And yes, I will seek out the other platforms.
It is a blessing that music can help alter our moods and mindsets!
Thank you for reading and listening to yet another blog post, Jane!