Gord’s Gift

Music as medicine.

We interrupt our regular programming to talk about the loss of Gordon Lightfoot.

The Canadian singer-songwriter passed away at 84 last week and I’ve been playing his music non-stop.

Each song perfectly crafted, every song a story, revealing truths that are universal and lasting. And that’s why the music of Gordon Lightfoot will endure.

Music is the most magical art form. The best songs reach into our souls and tap into something deep.

I’ve been listening to a broad range of Gordon Lightfoot’s songs this week, but I keep going back to “If You Could Read My Mind.”
The song was released in 1970 and 53 years later, after countless plays, it still packs a wallop.

In 3 minutes and 49 seconds, Gordon captures love gone wrong, failure, the loss of passion and the pain of being brutally honest. It’s not an angry song. It’s a love song. But he’s letting go and it breaks your heart.

In under four minutes, I’ve taken a ride with a master and the music allows me to better understand my own journey.

If you’ve ever had love and lost it, the song just slays because of its truth and its humanity.

This is what great art does—it touches us, shapes us, defines us, and makes us feel things we’d just as soon bury.

I’ve loved music for as long as I can remember.

But as I grow older, the songs reach deeper, and I find I need them more to help me understand a very confusing world. I am rediscovering old songs, listening to lots of new music and searching for songs that convey meaning.

It’s a happy search and when I find a special song or a promising artist, I want to share my discovery with my wife Diane. It’s like sending flowers that last forever.

My friend Blake shared something on Facebook after Gordon Lightfoot passed. It was from a column written by Bob Lefsetz. Lefsetz is one of my favorite writers because he angers and delights me often in the same piece. Here it is:

“I’m not talking about a performer. I’m not talking about an award-winner. I’m not talking about someone who is rich. I’m talking about someone who learns the basics and then walks into the wilderness, on their own journey, following their own compass, not someone else’s. And it’s got nothing to do with what you look like, but rather what goes on in your brain. AI (Artificial Intelligence) can create something that sounds like the past, but it can’t create something that sounds like the future, after all it’s based on scraping the internet, and the new, the bleeding edge, the breakthroughs are never there. No one can teach you to be an artist. Not even Rick Rubin. Sure, you can be encouraged, but more often you’re discouraged. The odds are too long. Your choices are bad. You’re not that good. But some stay the course and break through. That’s Gordon Lightfoot.

Decades from now people might not know Gordon’s name, but I guarantee you they’ll be singing his songs. Because they contain truth, and for that reason they are timeless. But it’s not only the words, but the changes and the vocals. Gordon Lightfoot had it all. I’d implore you to remember him, but his songs will do the work for him.”

Yes!

Those songs will do the work. They will endure. Mr. Lefsetz captures the artistic process, it’s about finding your voice, sharing insights, revealing truths—even if they are inconvenient, maybe especially if they are inconvenient. This is how we evolve as people.

Art endures.

Art moves us forward or makes us look back and truly see.

There’s so much noise in our world these days…so many distractions.

But art clarifies, explains, and raises questions too. Music enlightens, calms, excites, and touches us. It reminds us of our humanity.

And we need reminders.

“If you could read my mind, love

What a tale my thoughts could tell

Just like an old time movie

‘Bout a ghost from a wishing well

In a castle dark or a fortress strong

With chains upon my feet

But stories always end”

Yes, stories always end. But the music lives on.

Starry Starry Night

Vincent

“Starry, starry night
Paint your palette blue and gray
Look out on a summer’s day
With eyes that know the darkness in my soul.” Don McLean

Awash in color, surrounded by music and lost in beauty I had a thought.

Art endures. (Yes, I know that’s not original).
A lot of other things fade over time but great art lasts forever.
That was the takeaway after attending “Beyond Van Gogh” at the Ice Palace in Miami.
It’s a hot ticket and for good reason. The exhibit is spectacular, moving and technologically impressive.
The exhibit runs through July. If you can swing it, I highly recommend you check it out.
The exhibit celebrates the life and works of Vincent Van Gogh, spotlighting not only his art, but also his struggles and his close relationship with his brother Theo.
It’s all uniquely presented, an immersive experience that is hard to describe. Let’s just say it’s quite a spectacle. You are placed “in” the art and the results are powerful. It’s worth the crazy drive to Miami.
There are lots of lessons in the life and in the art of Van Gogh.
Despite becoming one of the most influential artists in history Van Gogh was not commercially successful, and his suicide at 37 came after years of mental illness, depression and poverty.
And yet there is something powerful and exuberant in his paintings.  
Van Gogh failed at other careers including an attempt at being a preacher and while productive as an artist he just couldn’t quite make it either financially or commercially. 
He did however, have a great relationship with his younger brother Theo. The two exchanged heartfelt letters for years and they are a treasure,
In fact, the letters are a big part of the exhibit and shed light on their loyalty to each other and their philosophy on art and beauty. 
Theo was an  art dealer and his unfailing financial and emotional support allowed his brother to devote himself entirely to painting. Theo died at the age of 33, six months after his brother died at the age of 37.
One of the causes listed for his death was sadness. He kept everything his older brother sent to him, Vincent did not.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Vincent since seeing the exhibit. Been reading about him as well. 
I’ve also been mulling over the meaning of art in our lives. 
We are big music fans in our home and I’m constantly seeking out songs to sort through emotions that I experience. 
As a child of the 70s, I gravitate to rock music and count myself lucky to have lived in an era of so many great musical artists whose gifts have become the soundtrack to our lives. 
Along the way, I’ve found so many songs that have gotten me through the joys and sorrows of life. If you want to dance, cry, mourn, think, feel heartache, feel alive or smile there’s a library of great music to live by. 
Seeing the work of Van Gogh makes me hungry to explore the visual arts. Because standing in the exhibit surrounded by LED lights and digital recreations of his art, we felt moved deep inside. 
The issues of the day come and go or come and stay but great art goes deeper. Much deeper to the best parts of ourselves, where the good stuff, the real stuff exists. 
If we’re lucky, we find artists who speak to our condition; who touch our souls and express who we truly are as people. 
That’s why art endures and the rest of the stuff we deal with is ephemeral. 
We need art. It’s that simple. It’s just that beautiful.

A Man, A Dog, A Van & A Blog

ManVanDog=Compelling

Worry less. Experience more.
That was the hashtag on a recent Instagram post from an account called ManVanDogBlog.
The author is an ex NFL player who walked away from the game, gave most of his possessions to charity, adopted a dog named Freedom, bought a 2007 Ford van and hit the road.
The trip is open ended and the man, his dog and the van travel where they feel like going.

It’s fascinating (and a little addicting)  to live vicariously through Joe Hawley and Freedom and see where the van takes our heroes.
And the worry less, experience more mantra is pretty compelling too.

It helps that our protagonists are so appealing.
Joe Hawley played 8 years in the NFL and walked away while he still could.  That’s takes courage.
Here’s Joe..

“What an incredible journey this has been! People keep asking how long I plan to be on the road or what I plan on doing when I’m done and the honest truth is..I don’t know. The reason I’m ok with that answer is because I truly believe that when I do decide to stop and figure out what’s next I’m going to be such a changed man. I continue to grow and get outside my comfort zone every single day. This trip continues to evolve into something bigger and more transformative than I ever could have imagined and it’s only been four months. What I’m trying to say is that I’m not worried about what the future has in store for me because it’s going to be bigger and more amazing than anything I can even dream of right now. So I’m going to enjoy the process, live in the moment and continue to grow every day. I’ll be right where I’m supposed to be. I have no doubt about it. Worry less. Experience more.”

I thought this was important to share because time flies. Life moves fast.

People get cancer.
People get old.
Kids grow up. Fast.
None of this is new information but sometimes we act as if these things aren’t so.

We skip the vacation. We don’t make time for lunch with friends. We don’t bother to look at the orchid in the yard or the beautiful ocean that is so close for those of us who live in Delray Beach and Boca Raton.

We forget about the neighbor we used to see while walking the dog, we realize we never use the pool anymore and that the tennis racket is gathering dust in the garage. We drive by Old School Square– but when’s the last time we took in a show?

You get the picture.
I do too.
I think they call it being present— living in the moment.
I try. I too often fail.
But I’m going to try a little harder. It’s a promise I’m making to myself.