I am writing this blog post as I watch many inaugural events on TV.
So far everything has gone well.
For this I am deeply grateful.
Deep breath in.
Deep breath out.
The song for this blog post, “New Words,” was written by Maury Yeston — a professor at Yale who also created beautiful songs for the Broadway musicals NINE and TITANIC.
I first heard it sung by a woman named Andrea Marcovicci at Town Hall in New York City.
She also recorded it, along with a bunch of other great songs by contemporary songwriters, on a CD called NEW WORDS.
I performed it as part of an evening of SONGS ABOUT PARENTS AND CHILDREN, and again as part of a cycle of songs I shared at my 25th high school reunion.
Then last year this version gracefully jumped out of my archives of past rehearsals with pianist Doug Hammer — and I decided I would wait until after our new president was inaugurated to release it.
After four years of a certain kind of leadership, I have been hungry for a new tone…
A new sense of respect…
A new vision for the future…
And new words…
Another deep breath in.
And deep breath out.
I have been told — and sometimes have experienced with my own eyes and ears — that underneath anger and acting out and conspiracy theories and doomsday scenarios and threatening comments and violence and all sorts of drama is simply…
Pain from past hurts…
Past abuses of trust…
Past unhappiness of all different shapes and sizes and colors and tastes and smells and densities…
I breathe them in.
And then I breathe them out.
Like many of us, I’ve experienced new pains and new fears during this past year.
I don’t need to go into any of the details, which I have so far chosen to keep private.
Suffice to say that some of them involve rites of passage related to families and health and time and aging which all of us inevitably experience in one form or another.
And some of them involve things which have happened locally, nationally, and globally.
I have a sense that our new president — who has himself experienced some of the most profound losses a human being can experience — and our new vice-president — who has experienced life as a child of immigrants, as a woman, as a person of color, as an attorney general, and as a US senator — may be able to offer us some new words of consolation.
We shall see…
Yet another deep breath in.
And deep breath out.
As regular readers of my blog already know, in addition to writing postcards to potential voters in swing states and going for long walks in local cemeteries full of trees, I find refuge and inspiration in music.
The song “New Words” reminds me of the Music Together classes I lead each week — which give me much-needed infusions of joy and spontaneity and playfulness and creativity and connectedness and love.
We set aside the worries of the world for 45 precious minutes and are present with each other — having fun clapping and snapping and drumming and waving scarves and shaking rhythm eggs and singing and dancing together — even via Zoom.
Some families have stayed with me for many years — so I experience the happiness of bearing witness to their children’s new movements, new vocabulary, new ideas, new competencies, new stuffed animals, new Lego creations, and, yes, even new siblings!
Part of me is amazed that anyone would dare to bring a child into a world teetering on the brink of so many disasters.
Yet part of me also sees how these precious, blessed beings can awaken a profound sense of responsibility and interconnectedness in their parents.
I hear mothers who are breast-feeding begin to re-think what they are themselves eating — and start to become curious about how and where and by whom our food is grown and processed.
I bear enthusiastic witness to families’ participation in social justice marches, in political activism, in fighting for a more respectful and sustainable future here on planet earth.
And I feel hope.
I feel love.
I do not know if love really IS capable of overcoming systemic racism, economic inequality, environmental degradation, accelerating rates of extinction, ignorant non-mask-wearers, brain-washed insurrectionists, and the myriad other challenges facing us here in the USA.
A very brave man who was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee over 50 years ago once said:
“We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love.” (1958)
“We must combine the toughness of the serpent and the softness of the dove, a tough mind and a tender heart.” (1963)
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” (1963)
“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.” (1963)
And “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” (1967)
Yet ANOTHER deep breath in.
And deep breath out.
This song inspires me to stick with love.
Thank you to Maury Yeston for writing it.
Thank you to Doug Hammer for playing such beautiful piano and then helping me to mix and master it via Zoom.
Thank you to the generous photographers at Pixabay for these glorious images.
And thank YOU for reading and listening to another one of my blog posts.
If for some reason you want to listen to this song on Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, YouTube, Amazon or Tidal, you can click here for a link to those digital music platforms.
ps: As I was doing my final proof-reading of this blog post, I received an email from one of my favorite former Music Together parents.
“We have been enjoying your music on Spotify! I started following you, and now new songs of yours come up on my new release playlist that Spotify sends out periodically.
Scarlet (her super-sensitive, fairy-like, delightful daughter) especially loves ‘New Words’ — she stopped what she was doing and came over and gave me a hug when it came up on my playlist. She found it so moving, and she didn’t even know it was yours.”
One more deep breath in.
And deep breath out.
This is why I do what I do.
If you are curious to learn more about my musical life here on planet earth, you are welcome to visit my website.
You can also find me on Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music and other digital music platforms.