The Curse and Blessing of Being a Songwriter

"I wonder how many people I've looked at all my life and never seen." John Steinbeck. Pinterest can be tacky but it can also be a revelation. I wasn't expecting to find a quote there that so completely captures the conundrum I face each day as songwriter and human. No matter how empathetic I think I am, whether it's the homeless man sleeping under I-5 in a makeshift sleeping bag I breeze by to make an early meeting or the way I scratch my head about the latest choice of a close relative, I don't always "see" them. Don't get me wrong. My physiological eye perceives them but to borrow from yesterday's Hot Yoga, my "third eye" -- the one meant to provide perception beyond ordinary sight -- just blinks and moves on.

And so it goes. As I think about the album we've just made and is now being manufactured, I recall special and rare moments I got to "see." In the title song "Carnival of Miracles," I write, "I walk the street not seeing, my eyes gaze straight ahead as my brother's eyes are bleeding -- mocking voices fill his head." In "Lenny's in The House" I "see" the youthful exuberance in aging songwriter Leonard Cohen. In "Edith's Coming Home," a friend shared his mother's story and through him I got to "see" a risk-taking, strong and talented black woman at end of life and marred by Alzheimer’s. In "Miss Ruby Kirby Blues" I "saw" a devil-may-care Septuagenarian Texan who'd more than earned the right to be sassy. And, In "Look Straight Ahead" I "saw" an African-American male teen's machismo, fear and limited life choices before the world knew Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown or Eric Garner.

Each day is a new opportunity to pull out the Visine and when I do, I write better, become more human and by so doing, become a better me.

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