Punk Rock Vote

Have you voted yet? I’m lucky enough to have an early voting station in the lobby of my office building, so I already got to cast my ballot in what feels like the most consequential election of my lifetime. Precarious times.

For me, this is not just about hoping to snatch democracy from the jaws of tyranny but the future of the planet from the claws of those that deny climate change.

When my buddy Ron recently put out the call to make some art to get out the vote, I said “I’m in!” So he sent me some lyrics, aimed at getting younger folks out, to make into a song.

I made a few little adjustments – worked some of Pete Seeger’s participation in – and cranked out this one-minute punk rock Vote song. Please share.

Vote!

You will listen to bad music
You will wear dumb clothes
You will sport extreme haircuts
You will awkwardly make out
Who cares. It doesn’t matter. You’re young.
One day you’ll look back
At all those selfies
And laugh your ass off

But not voting is different

It really matters
It’s never mattered more
Only way to save the nation
is participation
Your chance to stand up
and save the planet

Get off your ass and vote
Get off your ass and vote
Get off your ass and vote
Vote Vote Vooooooooote!!!

by Jeff and Jane and J

Pete Seeger w quote

What It’s Like

On one of our walks around campus a few years ago my friend Dan shared some Buddhist phrases that he uses as mantras. First: “Everything changes. Everything’s connected. Pay attention.” And second: “Right now, it’s like this.”

Those stuck with me and I made some slight adjustments to make them more singable, ending up with:

Everything’s connected
Everything’s changing
So pay attention
This is what it’s like right now

After a little searching, I discovered that the first three lines can be attributed to poet Jane Hirshfield, who wrote, “Zen pretty much comes down to three things — everything changes; everything is connected; pay attention.”

The last line seems to come from a Buddhist monk named Ajahn Sumedho, who advises us “to see things the way that they actually are rather than the way that we want or don’t want them to be (“Right now, it’s like this…”).”

Gary Sanders’ hands

I like the way singing these lines brings me back to the present, focussing me with a sense of curiosity and wonder on how much is happening at this moment. I hope I’ve made the song catchy enough to stick in your head and bend your attention for a second to the interconnectedness of things.

The video of tall grass with cattails in the wind comes from a lovely city park we stumbled upon one spring day in Boston. I hope you can get lost in the beauty of the wind through the grass and trees.

Saturday Morn

If you’ve got a dog or cat, you probably talk to them as I do. And I bet they speak to you too.

Frida and Townes

Frida and Townes, cuddling on the couch

Saturday Morn is a song about walking my dog, Townes, early one Saturday as my cat, Frida, followed us from a distance.

I was very much in my head that morning, frustrated and dispirited. But as my mind wandered, Townes’s buoyant doggy spirit brought me back to the sunlight and serenity of the park.

Eventually, Townes’s insistence that we play and fetch and swim lifted my mood. So this song is about how our beloved animal friends get us out of ourselves and bring us back to the glories of the present.

dog bless,
j

Saturday Morn

“Ya got some buddies there I see”
the runner said to me
as me and Townes and Frides lounged in the sun

Twas a gorgeous Saturday morn,
cool breeze, warm sun
the day barely begun already runnin’ round

Townes was chewing on a stick,
Frida chewin’ on her leg
we were all rollin on our backs in our grassy gowns

I was sittin on a stump by the stream
across from where I’ve been
I could see the rut I was in and how well worn

How I sit day after day,
dreamin’ of places I’ll play
without finding a way to get it done

And Townes said “Let’s jump in the pool and chase things”
and Frida said “Don’t mind me, I’ll sneak along behind”
I said Come on, move along, let’s go now
And home we flied

Takin advice from the dogs is a mugs game
Takin advice from the cats is fine
Take me some good advice for when you need relaxin
Stay kind to yourself in your mind
And take yourself a little time

Cause I know that Townes is right,
a dog needs his exercise
but I feel like some catnip and following behind

Now they’re dozing on the porch
and I’m strumming a few chords
try in
to get my head restored to the how and why

I know that I need that plan
that details who I am
defines the discipline to win the war

To forget about my worst
put out my best and bust
on to the scene like the first one to be born

And Townes says “Please don’t be gone all the time”
and Frida says “I’ll wander off into the night”
and I said “I’ll stay and myself that I’ll play
and walk you every day forevermore
and walk you every day forevermore”

Sunday Morn

J Molin
Sunday Morn
J Molin Sunday Morn
{{heart_svg}}LikeLiked
61
23

Here’s a little journey I took on a Sunday morning 25 years ago that is still with me.

I wrote this song, Sunday Morn, while living in Dublin, Ireland. It’s about walking up the beautiful, wide, car-free Grafton Street watching a dozen street performers along the way, past the big church at the top then back along the River Liffey.

Grafton St.

It’s about wandering in search of the sacred and finding it in a great array of artists along the way. That is certainly how my life has turned out, finding the spiritual, the spark, the source of life in art and the people making it.

I can still see all the buskers chronicled in this song. I hope you can see them too.


Sunday Morn

I was on my way to church one Sunday morn
the sun was bright and the weather was warm
winter was over but I needed my coat
the streets were clear and the cars ran slow

there a clown breathed flame and ate the fire
juggled a knife a book and a tire
he called all the children and gave em all toys
sent them back to their parents for coins

I came to the poet in a long tattered coat
who sung and chanted every word he spoke
he pointed and pounded his great walking stick
I could hardly get through the crowd was so thick

then I came to a one-man band
who’d rigged up strings to every finger on his hand
from a little dance and from a little song
came a chorus or strings and drums and gongs

two girls sat on the side of the street
on a Persian rug with cards about their feet
for the smallest of bills and they’d shuffle the cards
and give you the blessing of their beggar gods

and a middle-aged lady with old misfit clothes
sat on a crate no song nor show
just dirt on her face and her inhuman eyes
that begged for the money that they despised

and a short man with a beard and beret
had a saxophone and man could he play
low and slow a hoarse sort-of cry
you could see the sadness in all who passed by

and a freckled gypsy boy with spiky red hair
played a penny whistle high with despair
his two younger brothers played violin
as the mother and father passed ’round the tin

and when I finally came to church I was late
and I’d spent my money for the collection plate
tossing my coins in the cups and hats
so I decided to take the long way back

I walked through the street with old women and men
nodding a greeting now and again
down by the courthouse and past the cops
looking in the windows of all the closed shops

my legs had gone weary and my mind had gone blank
as I made it home along the riverbank
arriving again at my door
having spent Sunday morning like so many before

My System 1.0

My System 1.0

I’ve always been a daydreamer battling the busyness. I struggled through every level of school and early adulthood as the details of my responsibilities got lost on my mental meanderings.

Finally, I found myself a system (called Getting Things Done, or GTD, by David Allen). The GTD idea is to build an information capture and review process for all your tasks and ideas. It’s basically a workflow of lists for all your to-dos and dreams that you review periodically. Boring stuff, I know, but when I really commit to it I find it makes room for all sorts of magic and miracles.

It’s a constant struggle to stick to my system and keep it sufficiently simple, but when I do, it saves me from constant worry about what I’m forgetting so I can daydream up new songs, like this ode to my system.

 

My System

I use my system to capture information
I use my system to structure inspiration
I use my system to make up my inventions
I use my system to catalog intention
Always planning for a miracle
Always scanning for a miracle

I use my system to connect from a distance
I use my system to fire up the pistons
I use my system to play all day with children
I use my system to listen and re-listen
Always feeling for a miracle
Always appealing for a miracle
So I’m free to make my art and play my part
So I’m free to undertake with all my heart
So I’m free to work out my philosophies
So I’m free from all of these anxieties

I use my system to buy myself some freedom
I use my system to know what to abstain from
I use my system to do and then do nothing
I use my system to amplify the loving
Always tending to a miracle
Always sending for a miracle
So I’m free to be with friends and not my phone
So I’m free to stay at home and be alone
So I’m free to be a fool and not be cool
So I’m free and not a tool of all my tools
So I’m free to let go of what I know
So I’m free to appreciate the show
So I’m free to not feel bad bout feeling low
So I’m free to go wherever I can go

I use my system to get up and get busy
I use my system to keep from getting dizzy
Singing reggae hymns and indie spirituals
Snapping pics and scouting out the visuals
Recording lines for all my oddball musicals
I finally learned it’s cool to be unusual
I use my emptiness to make a place
I use my denied state to fight the hate
I use my heart to steer into the fear
I feel a miracle is almost here

There’s Something (Irv Said)

There’s Something (Irv Said)


My last dispatch was from as far away as I could get this summer, the tip of a peninsula off Nova Scotia. After that, we spent a few days by Lake Ossipee in New Hampshire before returning to the Texas heat. I especially appreciated those last few days of vacation knowing they would soon end.

Walking back from the beach by the lake, I started singing to myself: “There’s nothing like the sun and the sand…” and this song was born. That night I fell asleep to the rain in the trees and had a vivid nightmare (as I often did while away). When I arrived back home to happy dogs that needed walking and wilting plants that needed watering, I was glad to be busy back home.

That’s the story told in the verses of this song about how getting away is made sweeter by impending return. And how what we learn while away is buried back in our busy days.

Lake Ossipee
My daughter Anais playing with her cousin in Lake Ossipee on a cloudy day

The chorus comes from another place, Irvin Yalom, a great psychiatrist whose books I discovered last year. In the relaxed mood of unscheduled afternoons I thought about his existential view of the human condition (which you will discover upon listening) and how we make peace on those ideal days with all the difficult realities we must return to.

J Molin
There's Something (Irv Said)
J Molin There's Something (Irv Said)
{{heart_svg}}LikeLiked
66
30

There’s Something (Irv Said)

Capo on 3rd fret

G                                                  D
There’s nothing like the sun and the sand
C                                              G
The feeling of a smooth rock in the palm of your hand
Em                              B7
Sneaking a peek at the girls getting tans
C                                              D
Forgetting for an hour about all of your plans

There’s something ’bout wind and the waves
Lying on the beach just watching kids play
Everything’s so simple when you’re not in the maze
But you know you’ve got go home in a few days

Em                      Bm
Your isolation, your mortality
C                                                G
Your meaninglessness and your freedom
Em                        B7
As Irvin said, these four things are given
C                                          D
Now it’s up to you to do go something with em

There’s nothing like the rain in the trees
Outside your window as you’re falling asleep
Waking to the thunder in the middle of the night
Staring at the dark between the flashes of light

There’s something bout a dream that so real
You know it’s not true but it’s all you can feel
I dreamt that you left me cause I didn’t understand
In the morning you told me you’d never abandon me

Isolation, mortality
Meaninglessness a-and freedom
As Irvin said, these four things are given
So get out of your head and find yourself a rhythm

There’s nothing like arriving back home
When you’ve been gone for a while and your sick of the road
The dogs are all their wagging their tails at the door
You water the plants feeling totally restored

There’s something out there calling your name
It opens a door on how the whole thing gets framed
But back in your bed you sleep so long and deep
That you forget what it said like a secret you keep

Isolation, mortality
Meaninglessness a-and freedom
As Irvin said, these four things are given
So take a nice vacation and go do some livin!

There’s something.