My Brother’s Bed
Are You Her, Too?
Ever anxious, I drew a card going into Fair on this ‘Spirit Animals Oracle’ app I have. It was the Phoenix. For some reason I wasn’t quite happy with this. Maybe it seemed a little far-fetched. Turned out to be accurate to a depth I simply could not have imagined.
I’ll spare you the extended story, and will simply say that eating breakfast at Phoenix Rising (i think that’s the name of it… i didn’t make it past the word ‘phoenix’ on the sign) on Monday morning, as the vendors and staff were packing out, I was moved to write the lines that became the chorus for this song.
Does Not Play Well with OthersReleased: 2/24/2017
The startlingly moving saga of one man with a piano, and, sometimes, a guitar.
" ... you might identify as misanthropic, but your music isn't. It's just human, deep feeling, real."
"A triumph of self-assassination..."
Written, Produced, Performed and Recorded by Timothy Michael Shaw.
1. Victim of Circumstance
2. Dial Up
4. Faeries of Fashion
5. Doctor Salt-n-Peppa
6. Restless Venus
7. Bad Man
8. Crying Out
9. She Gave Me Water
10. Figments of Your Mind
11. One Planet
A number of people came through with crucial support at one point or another, during the long, winding, road from conception to completion. I hope they enjoy the results they helped to happen.
John and Joy Haines
TIMOTHY MICHAEL SHAW
was the creative genius behind such critical and commercial triumphs as Original Jones, My Father’s Ghost, and Marrying the Muse. When not riding waves of epic success, he wages a lonely, rear-guard action against the tsunami of clickbait and propaganda that threaten the freedom and sanity of us all.
Sometimes, he sleeps.
Having just completed a solo record, DOES NOT PLAY WELL WITH OTHERS, he is currently at work on his magnum opus, a musical autobiography titled
HAMLET AMONG THE PIRATES.
Should you care to contact him, find him on Facebook…
Your Beautiful Heart: 10/22/17
I held a concert in the Sanctuary at Breitenbush on this past Saturday evening. Whenever I’m ‘on land’, I tend to spend a fair amount of time playing piano in the lodge, and this convinced a few people to skip the mushroom workshop and come over to hear.
It was, from my perspective, a lovely couple hours, though during this time I was reacquainted with just how far I am from being able to clearly articulate the Master Narrative I’m aiming for. It was a good crowd to be unprepared in front of; and in the time since then I’ve slowly come to see some of the connections that were only absences that night. It is so much better for me to make these awkward efforts in the right direction than to stand immobile before the subtle immensity of the task.
Plus, the Muse showed up, and we ended up in an extended conversation afterward. Being well-versed in the perils of infatuation, I dutifully came up with a judgment of her in my mind, so as rationalize away my attraction as of no real substance. Problem was, the conversation kept getting more and more honest and real; and then, after taking a couple steps away from the rest of the crowd to ensure Her Secret wasn’t overheard, we exchanged a Moment that completely undermined my judgment and left me exposed to the depths of my own desire.
I can’t remember exactly I said. Something, to which she slightly recoiled (we had been talking in close proximity), inhaling for a moment before bringing her hand lightly up to touch her heart – not the organ, of course, but the energetic center. Deep beneath layers of inhibition and constriction, I felt my own heart’s muffled ring.
In retrospect, I was reminded of the name given to the heart chakra by those ancient sages: Anahata. The unstruck bell. It is, I think, what the Zen Buddhists cryptically refer to as “one hand clapping”. The bell that rings of itself.
I realized later on, as our conversation ranged over a few hours through a couple changes in venue, how deeply repressed I am. I felt the exchange, and instantly clamped down on my own feeling, so as not to show it. My earlier judgments about her were really just projected judgments of myself. Anyway, this happened, and then – longer story made short – she left with someone else.
After seeing them off on Sunday afternoon, I walked back in the rain up to Rivendell and confessed myself to Geoff. It was a brief talk, but just enough for me to actually access the spring of feeling, which bubbled up in response to the sentence: “I truly believe I will never have what I want.”
Minutes later, Geoff was off back down the hill to work, and I was left alone with our piano. This video records the song I wrote then. We made it after he returned that evening. I can’t say if it’s a good song, and it’s certainly imperfectly sung, but it is real.
My dad went to work for IBM in the 1960’s. Training initially to repair their 360 mainframe, sometime in the late 70’s he was promoted from hardware repair to software repair. One year he won an award at the Providence branch, and the company flew he and my mom across the country to San Francisco. He came back with a little trophy, a pewter trolley encased in glass or some clear plastic. I felt proud of him.
More than that, even though I increasingly got the feeling as I was growing up that he felt trapped in his job, I never quite lost the sense that he was involved in something magical. Computers were fragments of the future, first kept in secret government facilities, then giant corporations, and then come, in the late 70’s and early 80’s, finally into the home.
He bought the first IBM PC, with 4 colors and 64k RAM, at the special employee discounted rate. I think it cost around $2,500, which was a lot of money back then. I tell you this to communicate the sense that as a kid, my dad was, in my mind, on the forefront of the times.
But then in 1989 he died, and the technology kept changing, and changing, and changing.
Ever since that time he has been coming back to me in dreams. In the very first dream, in the days after he died, I found him packing up the contents of his sock drawer. A few years later, he came back on my parents anniversary to argue with my mom about how she’d chosen to redecorate their bedroom. “We could never reach a resolution,” he finally concluded. To which I replied, “I am your resolution.”
In that dream he told me that the afterworld was a card table surrounded by purple mist, at which he and three friends sat while playing game after game of UNO. I asked him if he would be born again and he replied that he wasn’t ready yet.
As the years, and then the decades, past, my puzzlement within my dreams over his visitations grew, as I struggled to make sense of where he had been for so long. My mind invented many stories. He had another family. He had been in jail. Whatever. You can write those stories yourself.
DIAL UP is a song I wrote one morning after one of these latter day dreams. It was written, recorded and released in 4/4 time, on DOES NOT PLAY WELL WITH OTHERS. This past summer, sitting in the communal kitchen of some friends, it struck me to play it in 6/8. The recording in this video was made a few days later, on a single Zoom H5, just so I wouldn’t forget this new version. I put the video together the next day.