Monday, May 07, 2007

Dogs & Pianos & Peace.

The other evening, we were invited to dinner at the home of two really wonderful guys. We knew we were in love with them when, with one out on the patio workin' the barbecue and the other in the kitchen getting some utensils, Jim and I looked at each other and said, "They've got to have animals." As comfortable as they made us feel, and as comfortable as they were with each other, we knew there was something missing.

So, we asked, "Do you guys have pets?"

They said they had two dogs down in a room with the door closed since they didn't know if we were animal people. And we're, like, "WELL, BRING THEM OUT! We wanna play with the doggies!"

"Yeah. We want to meet the whole family."

Well, up the staircase from below came two big, happy, tail-slappy white and tan dogs (Labs) named Grace and Travis who were excited to be out with the rest of the pack. We embraced them and got little licks and happy dog energy. Their tails were whipping so hard, we had to put our drinking glasses up on higher tables to keep them from getting broken. I couldn't have loved it more. Made me miss our kitties really badly.

Then, on the other side of this room was this beautiful black grand. Made in Berlin in 1918. On the stand was a book of Chopin favorites.

It sounded beautiful. And it was in tune. I could feel the resonance in my gut, and the big open two-room expanse had beautiful acoustics. They asked if I'd sing so I performed "Will It Always Be Like This," the song about Gabi Clayton. And I sang "Imagine." It led me to sing songs from my ever-upcoming folk peace cantata ("Holy Dirt," "My Thanksgiving Prayer," "Lazarus Come Out," "Cool By Default," "The Faces In The Music") and "Connected" (from The Last Session).

We talked about religion and politics and spirituality and peacemaking. Our new friends were smart and articulate, and both had great hearts. As I sang and we all talked, I couldn't help but think about the upcoming event in Gabi's house, wondering how it would all work -- and what I'd play if I could just stop time at that event and play all day and night.

When I spoke with Caroline True, the creative director of the Imagine Piano Peace Project, about the event, she said they try to not plan too much, but to simply let the moment happen. Put the piano in the place of violence and just let it speak for itself. Let the people do what they will do. The mere fact of this piano in this place is what is really powerful. The poetry of it is overwhelming. The sound of this little instrument inspired a great and meaningful anthem to peace.

I believe in the power of a great song, a great photograph, a great instrument, a great film, or just a great life. What the world needs right now, as "Imagine" would have it, is not more war or more ideology or more religion or more money. In "Holy Dirt," a song about how we make "objects" holy and protect them, but then so easily live with the daily stream of violence against people, the lyrics go:
I said There’s not a grain of sand
Worth any girl or boy
But somehow in our twisted minds
The killing turns to joy

We watch it like a football game
And wait for it on CNN
Cuz winning’s somehow everything
And they’ll rerun it all again
In Gabi's Song, we ask, "Will it always be like this?"

Yeah, the world as imagined by John Lennon is probably not an actual achievable goal. But if people lived "as if" there were no countries, religions, possessions, etc., we'd be creating, around us, exactly what one imagines heaven would be.

Tomorrow, I fly to Seattle. My stomach is fluttering with butterflies of anxiousness and joy. And it's all because of Gabi & Alec & Noel -- and Caroline True. Thank you so very much -- and, of course, thanks to George Michael and Kenny Goss. I feel humbled and privileged to be invited to be a part of this work of art.
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