Over the Rhine

What You Liked Last Week (08.22.2016)

What You Liked Last Week (08.22.2016)

Consider this a 'greatest hits' from the last week of the Bleeding Heart Art Space social media-sphere. These are the posts you liked, clicked on and shared most last week, served together in one tasty meal. 

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Scaffolding: The Glen Day Three

This morning, Tuesday, begins with a second Over The Rhine session. First, we share what we caught in our butterfly nets. Words from Richard Rohr. A fluttering moth that could not fly. Captured conversations. Landscapes. I am learning, again, to see. To notice. Later tonight I will wander the campus, struck by the sudden sunset. I will try and capture it's colour and tone with my camera. I will fail. I will watch the moonlight gleam from select sidewalk blocks. Some shimmer while others are dull. I will pack the image into my net. I will glance up at the bell tower, silhouetted against the filling moon. I will lap it all up. I will see.

But first, the morning and the music.

Over The Rhine kicks things off with some of their songs. Old songs. New songs. Beautiful, heart-breaking songs. Their duets pierce the thin air with crystal-clear harmony. Listening blesses. This is a great way to start the day.

Soon enough, it comes time for us students to share. Most of us have brought something, and wonder if we brought the right something. Should I present my best work? My weakest? How much feedback do I give? Where do I hold back? Critique is always a rocky pass to navigate, but the summit is so rewarding. Our instructions are minimal, but clear. We play. We pass out lyrics. The group responds while we listen. We don't defend. When comments fade, we respond.

Andrew plays a song while we read lyrics. We listen hard. We piece together story. We puzzle at parts. We ask questions. Andrew takes it in with stoic grace. Then he responds.

This is a cowboy song. A desert rambler. A cactus wind is blowing dust. We all felt this. Yet, a couple of obscure words catch our ears. We ask about them. Andrew tells us this is really a story about Greek mythology. Hercules' weariness under the weight of the world. This is interesting texture, but not of us got it from the song alone. Perhaps Hercules was just scaffolding. Perhaps, the building complete, he needs to leave the room.

I start to recognize scaffolding in my creative process.

I think back to great ideas that have spawned my creative endeavors. Ideas I treasure too tightly. Precious beginnings that start the journey and then have no home. Ideas that no longer belong in the end. I think of how difficult it can be to let them go, and how sometimes I have not let them go, and how that has made my art weaker. Some ideas are scaffolding. They help us build the real work, but no one needs to see them after that. Scaffolding is a word that rose up from somewhere at our table. It is the right word. It is a helpful word, because scaffolding is still important, even if no one sees it later. Scaffolding is for the DVD extras, but not the film. It's OK to let things go, because creation is a constant openness. Hold that paintbrush loosely, friend.

I wonder how often we don't begin a project because we are afraid it might transform on us. If we are true to the story, it may lead us where we don't want to go. We may wind up in mysterious alleyways. But this adventure is how creativity keeps us fully alive. There is something beautiful beyond our control.

In the latest Image Journal, Greg Wolfe declares, 
"One might even say that the nature of faith is to be open every moment to the new ..."

Art. Faith. Mystery.

Even our grandest ideas my be mere scaffolding. Who knows what the building will become?

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Always Carry a Butterfly Net: The Glen Day Two

My first official Glen Workshop day stands in glorious contrast to my horrific and hectic day of travel. I meet Over The Rhine along with a dozen other songwriters. I learn the best kind of skill – both practical and life-changing. I even get a birthday party.

Our first songwriting workshop sets the tone of safety and trust. We share the stories that brought us here. These are not stories of our travel mishaps, but stories of our musical trajectory.

Songwriter Stories

Linford of Over The Rhine teaches us to search our stories for themes. Foreshadowing. Little happenings that give clues to bigger happenings. I think of my story this way and it takes a new shape. My own creative tensions become reflections of my parents' creativity and repression. My own desire for affirmation leads back toward my parents divorce. My broad but shallow gift for playing instruments may be the outcome of financial struggles to stick with lessons growing up. So often, conversations about art begin to feel like therapy.

Every story around the table has pain. Tension. Some of us write to survive. Most of us struggle to make sense of this writing life. We struggle to make it a living. Even Over The Rhine.

Linford and Karin begin the week confiding in us that they cannot repeat the past 25 years of their musical career. The music industry has changed. Their bodies cannot handle the road another 25 years. Their bank accounts can no longer depend on album sales. They need to forge a way forward and someone has burned all maps. The well worn paths have are covered over from storms of change. Somehow, hearing uncertainty and risk and hope from these veterans gives me life.

The Number One Tip for Songwriting

Before we leave our first three how session, Over The Rhine imparts to us the number one tip for songwriting. For writing in general even. It's a good one.

Pay attention. Capture what you notice.

Linford teaches us to carry a butterfly net.

When that special something flutters by, it is our job to notice and record it for future reference.

I am encouraged to live this week ahead with my antennae up. Receiving. Entries in Evernote. Sketches. A notebook. A simple word document of sighted images and overhead conversations.

A few months back my wife remarked "we've got to ease our way into the light". I captured that butterfly. I'm still not sure where she will live, but I'm certain she must survive.

When I am stuck with a verse down the road, I can pull out my file. I can rummage through my net for the right butterfly, and set it to flight within my melody. She can carry my sagging verse to new heights.

This is good advice. I am listening. Serendipity is the product of years of preparation. I am paying attention.

Here are some butterflies I capture today.

One. I share a birthday with Poet Tania Runyan and feel the family of new friends at an upscale chocolate shop. Tiny cups pack massive flavour. There is something about those tiny cups.

Two. I meet poet Luci Shaw over lunch. She is at the birthday party, too. She is full of colourful stories. Once her and her husband had to put a mouse out of its misery. An axe works better than a saw, she says. She has a tatoo. Luci Shaw is awesome in unexpected ways.

Three. The koi pond draws me in. I watch golden scales glide beneath the surface. Mouths too big for their bodies try and speak. Glub. Glub. Glub. This campus is beautiful. These butterflies can swim.

This entire week I will stuff my net with more than I can carry. More than I can use. It is only when I return home I will find the time to catalogue my treasures.

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