out there ©️ 2019 kerri sherwood
there was not room on island for my piano, sheets of blank score paper, baskets of notebooks of lyrics, melody smidges, chord progression fragments. they waited at home for my return.
consumed by many tasks and layers of work since we arrived back home, we are surrounded by boxes and bins still unpacked. there is much to do. we have many other things tugging at us and these packed boxes, although frustratingly in the way, have sunk to a lower rung on the list of things-to-do.
i have been in and out of my studio, grabbing music as i need it, playing through a piece here and there, reviewing music for work. i have added a few notes to notebooks, to my calendar, a line of lyric here and there to remember on scraps i hope not to lose.
the other day i pulled out cds, finding a few with pieces that didn’t get tracked. rough cuts of piano for under lyrics, rough cuts of piano instrumentals. every artist has them…the cuts that didn’t get finished, the cuts that didn’t make it to the album. scraps of paper, notebooks of ideas, rough cuts of beginnings. they all eventually lead somewhere. no idea, no melodic gesture, no lyric stands alone.
and so, my really beautiful big resounding piano waits for me as i am quiet. pencils i’ve saved from The Boy’s and The Girl’s pencilboxes sit atop, next to blank score paper, notebooks and pa pads. they all wait. the muse waits. the music waits.
WAIT A WHILE ROUGH CUT et al ©️ 1995-2019 kerri sherwood
as barney ages in our backyard, he clings to his original form – he is a piano, first and foremost.
barney has spent the last four years in our backyard. his presence is inspiring. rescued from the dark church basement boiler room he had been in, the light of the sun and weather he now endures have brought nuance to his life as a piano. no longer serving his original purpose, he has a new destiny.
but barney’s soul remains the same. you look at him and you know he is a piano. no ifs, ands or buts. and he is cherished.
there is a different kind of power in his spot in the backyard. it’s not one of crescendo-ing music. instead it is now one of steady quiet. it is one of a history of service and workhorse reliability. it is one of a history of the dawn of creative moments and the dusk of amens sung in sunday school classrooms or weekly meeting rooms of committees or choirs. his piano-soul now resounds in the chirp of every bird or chipmunk, the sound of the wind and the rain, the glint of the sunlight deepening the wrinkles of his keys.
barney is retired. but he is not silent.
yesterday, while i sketched moments on various keyboards, both pipe organ and piano, d sketched on paper. and he somehow captured how i was feeling. the lifting of eyes to the universe, the imploring of the heart. his scribblings on paper, my scribblings on keys. two artists, expressing.
the telling of the story – through music, through painting or drawing – does not demand complexity. sometimes it aches for simplicity. a pure line of melody, unadorned. a few fast pen-lines, unfinessed. the telling of the tale, honestly, pitch by pitch. not the skirting of the story, the fancified version sung by an vocal acrobat. instead, the straight-up carole-king-richard-diebenkorn-versions, sung note for note, painted line by brushed line, color by color. intense in their clean simplicity.
the more complicated things get, the more i list toward simple. less is more. my piano left hand has always been a virtual non-stop accompanist to my right hand, arpeggiating ad nauseum. in recent years, i’ve asked it to calm down, to allow room for the delivery of the right hand, to allow breath, to allow lift. together, they have given space for the real scribblings, the true expression.
if you have ever been to a taize service, you will have experienced the wisdom and power of repeated simplicity, a line of music that will take you to your knees. nothing advanced or embellished.
if you have ever held a child’s drawing in your hand, you will have experienced the wisdom and power of innocence, art that will take you to your knees. nothing advanced or embellished.
it’s the simple line. both ways.
“the box: a place to put all the stuff of our lives.” (from BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL liner notes 1996)
the old black suitcases store stuff. treasured moments, all in a jumble, some decipherable, others bits and snatches of times we want to remember, so we keep these feathers and ticket stubs, notes and river stones, scraps of wrap, cards, red rock. they proudly sit in the dining room, in a stack, their vintage scrapes and broken handles call to me each time i pass them by. they shower me with memories and times i have passed through, moments i have lived. i can feel what is in them.
in another box, in another place, are old dreams. torn vestiges of paper with lyrics, a few notes scribbled in the margins of old spirals. there are visions and imaginings, goals and undetermined outcomes. like you, these are the things undone. there are no ticket stubs or photos in this box; these are the things that have not come to fruition. these are the things that beckon over and over. these are the things that demand i consider and reconsider what i am doing today, tomorrow. these are the things that make me question. each time i pass them by. i can feel what is in them.
i am reminded:
“a ship in harbor is safe. but that is not what ships are built for.” (john a. shedd)
these are the full liner notes:
“the box: a place to put all the stuff of our lives. sometimes this place really hurts.” (BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL 1996)
THE BOX from BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood
the sun set on another day on island. and the moon rose. who knew?
four years ago, when david walked down the aisle to this song, who knew? who knew what would come, what adventures would appear, what challenges would rear up, what tiny moments would tear up in our eyes, what heartaches would befall us? who knew? who knew what chaos would reign our world, what gentle calm would envelop us, what times with family would look like, what times without loved ones would feel like? who knew?
four years ago, when david walked down the aisle to this song, we were decades younger, starting out all over again, baby-stepping into an unknown, beguiling, mysterious future. who knew? who knew the times of decisions, of direction-choosing, of sacrifice, of abundance? who knew the dances we would dance, the cries we would cry, the pages of life filled with, well…life? who knew?
there we stood, last night, on the back porch, white happy lights glowing on the railing, watching the moon rise over our little bay, high in the sky, gigantic, tiny hog island in the distance. we wondered aloud, in wonder, about the wonderment of it all. who knew?
and now…….looking forward…..outward….onward….with great love….
AND NOW ©️ 2015 kerri sherwood
your toes curl. your breathing is shallow. adrenaline rushes. your legs are a little shaky. your hands feel tingly. butterflies in your belly. you are on the edge. in that tiny place between before and after.
i gingerly walked to the edge of the canyon, my daughter encouraging me. at the moment i stood there, feet firmly planted, no guardrail, nothing between me and canyon wall, my heart slowed down and i breathed in both the enormity of the moment and the taste of both before and after. my girl and i laughed, loudly, the sound echoing across the vast canyon. and then, it was after.
i sat at the piano, ready to record this first piece GALENA of the first album, 24 years ago, savoring the safety of before but ready for after. at the edge of the put-it-all-out-there canyon, i walked onto the stage, brand new cds in the lobby, ready, with quivering knees and boots that gave me confidence. and then, in what felt like a minute, it was after.
now, many album and stage edges later, many life and love moments later, many work and play split-seconds later, i wonder what the next after will be. i can feel the edges; i can see them. i’m aware of my toes curling. my breathing is shallow and adrenaline rushes. my legs are a little shaky and my hands feel tingly, butterflies in my belly. there is a canyon beckoning.
GALENA from RELEASED FROM THE HEART ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood