We’re Running A Big Experiment…

Thank you to everyone who read and listened to and commented on my last blog post!

It has been lovely to re-connect with WordPress friends and acquaintances after my three-month hiatus from blogging (although I did continue to read a fair number of other people’s blog posts during that fallow time).

Last night I was unable to fall asleep.

I am guessing it was a combination of reading two more chapters of Deep Adaptation (which can be profoundly terrifying and heart-breaking) combined with falling asleep for an hour during an unsatisfying football game earlier this evening (our New England Patriots fell ignominiously to the Buffalo Bills with a final score of 17 to 47) combined with the several chocolate truffles (made in Canada for Trader Joe’s) which I ate in the late afternoon before bundling up in many layers — t-shirt, hoodie, thin down jacket, thick down vest, thin black jacket, hat, gloves, and huge winter parka — and walking around a local lake in the very cold, refreshing winter air.

I have included another new song in the player at the beginning of this blog post.

I had intended to release it at the very beginning of 2022, but two things have delayed me.

One is some confusion about whether I should continue to use CD Baby (the company that has been distributing my recordings with pianist Doug Hammer to various digital music platforms) as my publishing administrator.

In case you do not know, when one records a song, there are two main copyrights for that recording.

One is a copyright for the actual recording.

That is usually owned or controlled by the recording artist (such as Lady Gaga or Tony Bennett or an independent musician like me) or by the recording artist’s record label (which may have advanced the money needed to make the recording…)

The other is a copyright for the song itself.

That is usually owned by the songwriter(s) and/or their publishing company.

So when I record a song written by someone else (Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg, for example), I own the copyright for my specific recording, and I pay a mechanical royalty in advance to the entity which owns the compositional copyright for that song.

When I record and release one of my original songs, I act as my own record label AND publishing company — and up until this point I’ve been using CD Baby as my publishing administrator.

A publishing administrator helps to track down earnings on behalf of the person who wrote the song.

I recently took an online class to learn more about how one might get one’s songs placed in TV shows and movies — and it turns out that one option is to find a sync rep to help me pitch my songs to music supervisors (who find songs for TV shows, movies, advertisements, and video games).

And some sync reps also like to act as one’s publisher — so having an agreement with CD Baby to be the publishing administrator for my original songs might be a detrimental to building a relationship with a sync rep…

So I’ve been stalled for the past month, wondering exactly what to do next regarding my publishing administration options.

And sadly, CD Baby — which once offered immediate phone assistance when it was a groovy, independent company — now only offers phone callbacks (during a window of time over a couple of days) or email responses (which also can take many days to get a response).

I assume this is because they were bought up by a larger company who decided that the immediate phone assistance option was too expensive and/or inefficient.

And it took two weeks for them to respond to my most recent questions about their publishing administration option — maybe because it was the holiday season and/or maybe because my question didn’t fit perfectly into one of their dropdown menu options for customer service assistance…

Deep breath in.

Deep breath out.

Another reason why I have been delayed in releasing my new songs is because a few of them are about challenging topics such as our climate change/disaster and our current Covid epidemic/disaster — which I am guessing might elicit strong feedback/pushback (the prospect of which I find scary…)

And of course there is probably good-old-fashioned denial at work, too.

Sharing songs such as “We’re Running A Big Experiment” with the rest of the world (or rather with the people who have electricity and smart phones/computers and access to digital music platforms such as Spotify and Pandora and Apple Music around the world) somehow makes the topics I am writing about more real.

I can no longer hide in my own little puddle of denial once I put them out there.

And denial is an extraordinarily wily and powerful psychological mechanism/phenomenon.

One of the things I’ve been observing — in a spirit of curiosity rather than judgement — is how much denial can be triggered when one begins reading Deep Adaptation.

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, a friend invited a group of us (seven total) to read it together and also to discuss it each month via Zoom.

Since we began this process, some of us have managed to write down the wrong time for our Zoom meetings, some have taken a nap and almost missed a Zoom meeting (until someone else called and woke them up), and some have gotten ill and missed a Zoom meeting.

And many of us — myself very much included — have struggled to read the recommended chapters before each monthly Zoom meeting.

What have been YOUR experiences with denial?

And with climate change?

Deep breath in.

Deep breath out.

I wrote in my last email that I was going to write shorter blog posts; so I’d better end this one now.

I am very grateful to you if you have managed to read this far and perhaps have also listened to “We’re Running A Big Experiment.”

Thank you!

I am also very grateful to Doug Hammer — for his wonderful piano playing AND his engineering skills AND his advice/input regarding the harmonies I sang on this song — as well as to the photographers and artists at Pixabay for their magnificent images.

And I remain truly grateful for all the blessings I currently have in my life — food, shelter, heat, warm clothing, electricity, a functional computer, access to the internet, a reliable bicycle, family, friends, and the WordPress community (to name just a few!)

One final deep breath in.

And 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 SpotifyPandoraApple Music and other digital music platforms.

And if you are hungry for a more uplifting song as an antidote to “We’re Running A Big Experiment,” you are welcome to click here and listen to a song I wrote a few years ago when visiting friends in Toronto called “Another Good Morning” (which I recorded with Doug Hammer and released on a bunch of different digital music platforms last year).

I earn only a fraction of a cent any time someone plays one of my recordings on a digital music service — but they all add up!

PPS: If I have mis-explained the basic copyright concepts regarding recorded songs, please correct me in the comments section!

6/13/22 I finally distributed “We’re Running A Big Experiment” via CD Baby to various digital music platforms! You can click here to listen on Pandora, Youtube, Apple Music, Spotify, and more…

Life Goes On…

Life Goes On…

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Like many people in the United States — and in many other countries around the planet — I have been experiencing a wide variety of feelings since our recent election.

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And a lot of denial — for which I am both grateful and apprehensive…

One of the things that I have found the oddest is how most of us have continued to do the same things that we did before the election.

I have continued to buy groceries.

I have continued to take books out from the library.

I have continued to do laundry.

I have continued to get up and lead Music Together classes on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday mornings.

I have continued to do gigs at retirement communities with jazz pianist Joe Reid.

I have continued to learn song lyrics.

I have continued to clean the toilet and wash the kitchen floor.

I have continued to draft blog posts.

I have continued to watch TV.

And I have continued to love the song “Life Goes On” written by Stephen Schwartz (a version of which is in the player at the beginning of this post with Doug Hammer on piano and Mike Callahan on clarinet which we recorded during a rehearsal for my show called Will Loves Steve several years ago).

Photo by Ralf Rühmeier

Photo by Ralf Rühmeier

As you probably know, Stephen Schwartz is the composer and lyricist for Godspell, Pippin, The Magic Show, The Baker’s WifeWicked (and more) on Broadway as well as the lyricist for animated movies including Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Enchanted.

“Life Goes On” is not from one of his shows or movies, however.

I found it on Mr. Schwartz’s first solo CD release, Reluctant Pilgrim, and have been gently haunted by it ever since.

According to Mr. Schwartz’s web site, “I originally began to write the songs that make up Reluctant Pilgrim in response to a ‘challenge’ from a songwriter friend, John Bucchino. I had been encouraging John (who had always written individual and highly personal songs) to write for the theatre, and John in turned asked why I never wrote individual songs based on my own life. He said it was time to stop ‘hiding behind Hunchbacks and Indian princesses.’ So I decided to try… The first song I wrote was ‘Life Goes On.’ This was an attempt to deal with my feelings after a close friend of mine died of AIDS. Writing the song turned out to be very therapeutic for me.”

I recently heard a great interview by Terry Gross with Cleve Jones on Fresh Air.

Mr. Jones was involved with the AIDS crisis from the very beginning, and he (although he is beautifully soft-spoken and articulate during the interview) reminded me of how loudly and angrily and stubbornly AIDS activists had to demonstrate and organize in order to make progress on understanding and treating this virus when our president and many of our elected officials just wanted to ignore what was happening.

Have we re-entered a time in US history when we will need to act up — regularly, passionately, strategically — in response to our government’s actions and/or inactions regarding climate change, immigration, civil liberties, the rights of the media to investigate those who hold power in our society, etc. etc. etc.?

 

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I do believe that grass roots action is a crucial part of how things — laws, attitudes, opinions, political leadership, prejudices — change.

What might be the most important issue(s) to which I might devote myself in upcoming days/weeks/months?

I have a sense that protecting and maintaining the amazing web of interconnections which make up our various ecosystems is a fundamental priority which underlies (and, dare I say, trumps) many of our specifically human challenges.

 

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But maybe election and campaign finance reform are more crucial in the short run, as an antidote to the oligarchic voices which increasingly dominate (and frame) our political and cultural debate?

 

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How do we address and respond to and heal the enormous reservoirs of fear and anger and disrespect which seem to be percolating in the hearts of so many fellow human beings on planet earth these days?

 

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How do we plant seeds of hope and trust and respect and love while simultaneously standing up with great power so that we are not run over by ignorance and ego and power and greed and fear?

 

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How do we nurture kindness and gentleness while also standing up for justice?

I am clueless.

I hope that music can somehow play a part in whatever activism and consciousness-raising and healing are on the horizon.

Until then, life goes on…

Thank you for reading and listening!

And thank you to Pixabay for the images in this blog post.

I welcome any thoughts, feelings, ideas, and recommended actions in the comments section.

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