|Play the song here!|
Heavy things pushing me
Walls far as I can see
It can be hard to deal
Each and every day
But there won’t be surprise
If with two open eyes
I see things as they’re really drawn
While on the way
Often I wish for things
Different from what life brings
And even that’s just one
More thing to parlay
It may seem hard to do
And yet I always knew
It’s led to all I’ve undergone
While on the way
Sometimes I feel I’ve
Gone off track, then I see
If it’s not my track
Then whose else could it be
Though the path here was set
What’s ahead isn’t yet
The course can always bend
Anytime I say
Each night will always end with dawn
I’m on the way
This song and the album it comes from were written using Appreciative Inquiry and Internal Family Systems. With IFS, we can talk about different parts of ourselves as if they are separate people. Hopefully that clarifies why these stories at times refer to he, she and we!
This was the last song written for the album, by a part of me that’s particularly interested in doing healthy things and especially in communication. When we started his Appreciative Inquiry, he thought about how important it was to get kids off to a good start. Keep them healthy and centered. Make good things happen for them, and they will become best able to make good things happen for themselves and others. Help them to face everything that comes into their lives, good and bad, all one thing. Teach them to channel it all toward whatever good they can and to accept when they can do no more — and help them see all of this as just more good and bad to face and work with as well as they are able.
As he said these things, he mentioned Taoism, which generally gives the same advice. See things clearly, for what they are. Work with them as they are, and be nothing other than what you are as you work with them. There’s obviously much more to Taoism than this, but this is one of its main ideas.
He knew that this was on one hand a very simple thing, but also, in this world, often very hard to do, with many obstacles in the way. But all there is to do is subject those very obstacles to the same advice.
The song, then, he felt should be simple and should create a feeling of peace that lets the message be heard. The lyrics should not merely seem to be giving advice, they should help create the experience itself, be a little more suggestive and poetic, not explanatory and wordy and instructional. They should speak as if humbled from experience, not from up on a pedestal.
As he imagined the song, he thought about someone on a journey, walking, following a path. Maybe something happens and the person feels they have gotten off the path — but now that is the path. Just take each step, each obstacle, each challenge, each success, take them as they come, and know that something else lies ahead beyond that, each step of the way, and there’s really nothing else at all to do. But also know that the path ahead of you isn’t written yet. You can’t change where you came from, but you can change where you’re going. You may only be able to do it a little at a time, but you can act to take on a new directions.
Suddenly, music popped out of nowhere. It was like a lullaby. It became clear that this was the song that should end the album. Writing the album was a journey, and so would be listening to it, and either way this song would signal the end. Except the journey is never really over, you’re always onto something else. Meet one challenge, have a success, face an obstacle, and there will be something else on the other side. Listen to the album, then you go on to do something else afterward. You may go to sleep after listening to the lullaby, but you’ll wake up and there’ll be another day.
The notion of things never being done, everything just being steps along a path, brought to mind the title for the song, suggesting both that we’re walking on a path and that things are yet to be, not yet complete, still coming into our lives like a visitor or package that hasn’t arrived yet. It seemed pretty relevant also, that a common translation of the word Tao is “way,” and that the Chinese character for the word Tao shows a person walking along a path.
With this song as a quiet ending for the album, the song “Where’s the Orchestra?” by Billy Joel came to mind. It’s another relatively quiet song that ends an album, but only in hindsight, as I’m writing the story, do I realize that there’s much more to why this song was a good model, and much more to why I always felt a special connection to it.
The song is from Billy Joel’s album The Nylon Curtain, widely regarded as one of his best and reflecting a new kind of maturity in his songwriting compared to what had come before. Its songs swing through many feelings, and Joel confronts many difficult and challenging topics throughout. Then it wraps up with this simple little story about going to the theatre. He thinks he’s seeing a musical, but it turns out to be a straight play. There’s some disappointment because it seems like less of a night on the town now, and because he’s not sure what the playing is saying. In the end, he realizes that it was only his assumptions that were thwarted. He finds that there was a lot to appreciate and even does, in the end, understand the deeper meaning of the play. In the end, the wondering about the orchestra is still with him, as if he still hasn’t let go, but it’s like he’s holding both feelings at the same time, the disappointment and also having come to accept that things turned out differently from what he’d expected.
Maybe on some level I’d somehow sensed this deeper connection to the song I wanted to write, beyond just thinking about quietly closing an album. Either way, Joel’s song served as as a model for arrangement — light pulsing piano complemented by similar parts for reed instruments and a bit of strings.
Share your own stories — of art or other things that have inspired you, of how you came to do something artistic or creative, of how the OHB’s songs have impacted you, whatever you like — at the Fan Clan.
Written by and &© 2008 Mark S. Meritt (BMI). All rights reserved.
Dianne Mucci – Vocals
MSM – Instruments
Produced, arranged, recorded and mixed by MSM in the basement in the village, Red Hook, NY, using a MacBook Pro, MOTU Digital Performer 5.13, Quantum Leap Colossus, EastWest/PMI Bösendorfer 290 Grand Piano, and an M-Audio Keystation Pro 88.
Vocals recorded in the garage on the mountain, Bloomingburg, NY.
Release Date: November 11, 2008
Album: Everyone’s Invited
Track Number: 12
Written: 12th of the 12 songs for the album, February 2008
Key: Written in Ab, transposed to Eb for recording
Arranged: 12th, starting April 16, 2008
Vocals recorded 1st, July 22, 2008
Mixed: 8th, starting September 22, 2008
From the album Everyone's Invited
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