Songs, Video Recording

Song: “Colors”

“Colors”

Sometime in my middle teens it dawned on my that my life seemed to go in peaks and valleys. Sometimes I felt great, other times I felt rotten. (I’m not talking about bipolar disorder, mind you, more the normal ups and downs that all flesh is heir to.) This realization wasn’t so much a bolt out of the blue, but a gradual recognition, like noticing you’ve been speaking prose all your life.

I didn’t care much for this. Why couldn’t I have only peaks? Why couldn’t I fill up those valleys? Surely there was a solution out there.

I spent many years looking, in one way or another. My favorite strategy tasked me with hunting down The Ideal System. The Ideal Diet. The Ideal Belief System. The Ideal Career. And so on.

Common wisdom will tell you that such a quest is a fool’s errand. Accept the peaks and the valleys, don’t worry so much about them, and do your best.

Well, maybe — but is there a System that articulates this thought?

Several, actually. The one that’s working for me is a form of talk therapy (or in my case, “book therapy”) called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, or “ACT” for short. ACT grew out of the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) tradition. As its name suggests, ACT invites you to accept the challenges you face and then choose which values you want to act on. It then gives you a toolbox of skills to help you do that.

Today’s song “Colors” expresses some of what I’ve learned from ACT. Specifically, that when we try to erase the bad parts of life, we can end up erasing the good parts too, or at least the ability to feel the good parts. (If you’re interested in learning more, check out the book A Liberated Mind by Steven Hayes, one of the founders of ACT).

Still, the valleys suck. I’m in one right now: day two of recovering from my second shot of the Moderna COVID vaccine. I’m grateful to have the vaccine, and I’ll be excited once the two weeks are up and I can go running through the streets kissing strangers — kidding! — but yesterday was pretty awful. I didn’t feel much like accepting any of my feelings then or today.

Anyway, better days ahead.

Kind of the definition of bitter-sweet, isn’t it?

Lyrics

Some days the gods smile on me
pouring sunshine on the land.
The world's my private oyster
spilling pearls into my hand.

But other days are darker
my mouth is full of soot.
My words are slurred and mumbled
I drop anvils on each foot.

But I'll take 'em both, the bright and dark, before I take the gray.

So give me red, give me green, and the biggest grin you've ever seen.
Give me all the colors I know how to feel.
Give me blue, give me brown, lift me up and slam me down --
Let me get a grip on everything that's real.
Cause I don't want to face
the endless smear of gray
So give me all the colors every single day.

Now the gray can seem so promising
when it promises no pain.
Smooth the hills into the valleys
so you trod an even plain.

But in that land of twilight
I find it hard to tell
What's water and what's poison
'cause heaven tastes like hell.

That's why I'll take the bright and dark, before I take the gray.

So give me red, give me green, and the biggest grin you've ever seen.
Give me all the colors I know how to feel.
Give me blue, give me brown, lift me up and slam me down --
Let me get a grip on everything that's real.
Cause I don't want to face
the endless smear of gray
So give me all the colors every single day.

Now I don't seek the downpour
I'd just as soon stay dry.
But it's hard to feel the sunshine
when I avoid the sky.

So if I want to see the heavens
and I am tangled in a wood
I've gotta get good at feeling
'stead of trying to just feel good.

That's how I'll see the bright and dark, instead of only gray.

So give me red, give me green, and the biggest grin you've ever seen.
Give me all the colors I know how to feel.
Give me blue, give me brown, lift me up and slam me down --
Let me get a grip on everything that's real.
Cause I don't want to face
the endless smear of gray
So give me all the colors every single day.

Songs, Video Recording

Song: “A Little Fame”

“A Little Fame”

Here’s a cheeky song … with a little basis in biography.

From 8 years old onward, I acted in plays every chance I got. I remember having a conversation with my mom, I think, about whether I should audition for commercials, movies, etc. (We lived in a small town, nowhere near close to major TV/film markets, so it’s not as if I was turning down solid opportunities. But the effort could have been made.)

If I remember right, I said something like “no, I’ll keep on acting in local plays. Have a normal childhood. Then I can get famous when I’m older.”

Now, much older, I don’t have too many star-studded dreams anymore, and I’m pretty much fine with it. (I’d like to share my songs … but not so sure about being in the spotlight.) But every so often I get the itch to stand at the center of a stage with all eyes on me. This song takes that little urge, embiggens it, and has some fun.

Not really bittersweet … but I don’t have a flavor for “cheeky.” Hmmm … maybe salty? Taffy?

Lyrics

I'm glad I wasn't famous 
early in my life.
No refreshing crop of groupies
to spoil me for my wife.

And I'm glad I learned the value
of eking out a wage.
Learned to grin and bear it
and bottle up my rage.

But now I think I'm ready for the movie to begin
Close up on my sparkling blues and my million-dollar grin ...

Ooooh, just a little, Ooooh, just a little,
a little star-struck when they see --
Ooooh, just a little, Ooooh, just a little,
I think I'm ready now
for a little fame
a little fame for little old me.

See I always had the feeling
that I should be a star.
Like everyone should know me,
but like, know me from afar.

When I speak I'd hook my listeners
without the need for a sharper wit.
And I'd just kind of glide off problems
on the wave of my latest hit.

Yes I know I'm ready for the movie to begin
Close up on my sparkling blues and my million-dollar grin ...

Ooooh, just a little, Ooooh, just a little,
a little star-struck when they see --
Ooooh, just a little, Ooooh, just a little,
I think I'm ready now
for a little fame
a little fame for little old me.

Won't I be unhappy with that spotlight in my eyes?
Just hand me a pair of designer shades
and I'll be fine.

Yes, Lord, I am ready for the movie to begin
Close up on my sparkling blues and my million-dollar grin ...

Ooooh, just a little, Ooooh, just a little,
a little star-struck when they see --
Ooooh, just a little, Ooooh, just a little,
I think I'm ready now
for a little fame
a little fame for little old me.

Songs, Video Recording

SONG: Grays, Greens, and Browns

I was walking in Shoreline one day about fifteen years ago, at a time when I was living with my Grandparents, going to college, and it was autumn, and I was wearing this grayish fleece pullover, thinking about the woods and the rain, and I thought to myself, “I am clothed in grays, greens, and browns.”

Continue reading “SONG: Grays, Greens, and Browns”