One morning, I awoke around 4:30 am and decided to sit out on the porch. I lit a small candle, watching the flame flicker and wondered why I couldn’t sleep. What was going through my mind? I decided to sit quietly, and listen within. I heard the wind through the trees. I heard birds sing. I never heard these particular songsters. I’ve heard it said that birds sing glorious prayers early in the morning, before humans wake. I stared at the stars and began to think about how we are on a tiny planet spinning at six hundred miles an hour in the middle of space-one of ten thousand or more universes with no ‘lid’. Baffling. Humbling. My concerns of life seemed very distant in that moment. After awhile, I decided to get a cup of coffee, and bring my hammered dulcimer out on the porch and “noodle around” on the strings. I played very softly, with the padded end of the small mallets as to not wake the others.
As I began to play, it began to rain. Slowly, sweetly, practically in tune with my dulcimer. I thought about the song ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”, and the meaning of that song. Then I began to play the melody to accompany the soft rain. Simply. No chords, no arpeggios, just the melodies. The rain through the trees laid the sound track for these simple melodies, and the birds and critters in the woods, sang the choruses. I began to get so relaxed; if not for the coffee I may have fallen asleep on my dulcimer.
Then other songs came to me. “Row, Row, Row Your Boat, Gently Down The Stream..” and I began to think about the last line, “Life is but a dream”. Then more songs came, in a sense asking subtle sweet questions about what IS life really about, and what is illusion? Are we sleepwalking? IS life but a dream?
So many old songs, filled with wisdom we learn as children, forget as adults, and remember when we grow very old, or perhaps sitting on a porch at 4:30 in the morning listening to the rain through the trees and natures chorus calling; ‘Wake up, Wake up’, wake to the true inner beauty that life holds in its subtle mysterious wisdom”.
This collection of lullabies and familiar folk songs is perhaps the simplest recording I’ve ever made, and yet the most difficult. It was not easy to keep things simple. It’s my nature to want to play the dulcimer with accompaniment, full force, arranged, performed perfectly. But the rain-so simple, one drop at a time- was so beautiful. The breeze blowing through the trees playing each leaf like a note one breath at a time, so mystical. Birds, singing individually and collectively for their morning prayer, so perfectly pitched. I did my best to record these songs as I remembered playing them on my porch. One note melodic reminders of just how peaceful life can be.