Tuesday, December 9, 2008

On Music, Vibrations, and Meher Baba

I just posted this stream-of-consciousness on my Who Forum site, and I thought I would plunk it down here, too.

I have inspired to start this thread by reading and responding to so many other threads in this vast, rich forum. For some reason, in the past few days, the same topic started to come up in various threads, which is the topic of music and vibration. (Obviously Pete has been talking about this for YEARS--it almost seems to be his main reason for being on this planet at this time, to teach us about vibration.)

Also, it’s quite possible that these subjects have been discussed before. I am fairly new to www.thewho.com and was not even aware of the Lifehouse Method at the time it was taking place. (I was sequestered off at a Buddhist retreat center at the time). Anyway, if this a repeat topic, I apologize. But I imagine that the new Wholigans might appreciate is, as well as the old!

Like most of us, I have been a Who fan for more than one decade. Their music has brought me great comfort, joy, solace, and great, grand feelings of connectedness and vitality—especially when I was young.

I wrote this in another thread but, I was an incredibly lonely, isolated and morose adolescent. (Weren’t we all?) At times the only thing that brought me out of this state was music—especially the music of the Who. Something about Pete’s dead-on, yearning lyrics and Roger’s brutal and honest voice helped me. I felt as if I understood them, and I felt that they understood me. You all know what I mean.

But looking back, I realize something much deeper was taking place. In a word: vibration. By listening to the Who’s music, and loving it, and taking from it, and giving back, I was taking part in a vibration--the very vibration of the band. Pete’s keen intelligence and his despair at being Separated; Roger’s aggression and the tenderness he hid behind it; Keith’s majestic lunacy; John’s solid wryness. And of course their f—ing instruments. Good Lord! All that was in my adolescent room with me.

Another thread in these forums is discussing David Hawkin’s book “Power Versus Force.” This excellent book, written by a scientist, talks about how each human emotion carries with it a vibration—some are high; some are low. Negative emotions such as sorrow weaken us. Higher emotions such as acceptance strengthen us, and raise our vibrations.
(This particular thread also included discussions of Meher Baba, but more on that later). And music, quite obviously, can affect our vibrations too.

Of course, as an ignorant adolescent, I had no idea what a ‘vibration’ was. I remember once reading an article in which Pete tried to explain “Tommy” and I was like: what is he talking about? All I knew was that I loved “Tommy”—especially the triumphant See Me,Feel Me/Listening to You suite--and that I always felt better after listening to it. I felt new and cleansed and whole. Then I’d have to go downstairs for dinner with my family and feel like crap again. Anyway, in Hawkins’ terms, The Who were taking my low-caliber vibration of, say, grief (which calibrates at 75) and raising it to a level of, say, anger (150). I found Quadrophenia to be a great album to stir up some righteous anger!

I don’t want to go on too long here. But I am fascinated with the subject of vibration. It is fun to finally be able to grasp some of Pete’s concepts on both an intellectual and experiential level. (And I don’t think I could have grasped any of this without having turned to a more spiritual path when I entered my thirties.....plus, I believe that Pete is a being from what Meher Baba called the Fifth Plane of Consciousness, but that it totally another thread.). I would love to hear about others’ experiences.

For about a year now I have been a kirtan walli. That means I lead a group of people in a series of ecstatic chants, in which we repeat cosmic sounds, and the names of the divine. It’s a completely blissful experience, and much of the bliss comes from, of course, vibration, as we combine universal notes with sacred sounds. (Ask me about it.)

Recently, I also formed an all-female Who tribute band called “Pictures of Lily.” And I have to say that the experience of singing the Who songs is very similar to that of kirtan. It’s a different energy sometimes—a very male energy, I’d have to say. But it is energy and it is vibration and it swirls around and around and it is glorious.

All this has made me realize that the vibration of the Who is all of us. I’m not trying to sound grandiose here, but each time we listen to a Who song, and love it, and jive to it, we add to its vibration. I have a completely new understanding of songs like “Join Together” and “Pure and Easy.” Brilliant!

So this brings me back to my original point. Which is to open up a thread on the vibration of the Who’s music, and how this has affected your own vibrations. Are there any songs that have been particularly evocative for you? Can any of you musicians elaborate on how the vibration of a C-note differs from that of, say, an F-sharp?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


The title of this post shall be: SMART DOG

Today is Election Day, and I happen to be in DC for the momentous occasion. I came here for another momentous occasion—to see The Who, and they were so good I cried. It is touching to see two men in their sixties—two men who admittedly used to loathe one another—communicate with such love and respect on the stage. Plus, they fucking rock.

Imagine the experience of seeing Pete Townshend, dressed casually and almost frumpily in black jeans and black t-shirt, still bending down to machine-gun the lucky fans in the front row. His “I am going to kill you with my music” stance had a certain stiffness to it, and I miss the way he used to wiggle his cute butt in his white stage pants during “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” But, man, he’s Pete. He’s a guitar god.

Because I meditate a lot, I am used to getting eighth-chakra chills in the presence of beings with high vibrations (which is the best feeling in the world for hopelessly low-vibration folks like myself), and I must say I got chills throughout much of this concert. It wasn’t just the musicians—who I could tell were channeling glory. It was the fans: old, young, in between; entirely white, mostly male. But God love the grey haired woman who came in with a walker and was later seen standing in the aisles, walkerless, and shaking her booty to “Sister Disco.” It’s things like that that give me chills and make me cry. I love being in the midst of happy people, who add to the channeling of glory.

I could go on and on about the Who, but this is supposed to be a dog blog, not a rock blog. SO the final thing I shall say is: go listen to Tea and Theater from Endless Wire. Or better, go listen to it live. Roger is a cuddle muffin and Pete is a wise old sage. The formerly bare-chested, angry spokesmen of discontent have come full circle into contentment. Bliss.

Back to the SMART DOG:
As I said, I am in DC—or rather, Bethesda, Maryland, in a neighborhood called Friendship Heights. I am staying in one of those incredibly posh, gargantuan apartment complexes as big as Rhode Island, and as exquisitely landscaped as the Mandarin Hotel in Hawaii: I’m talking trellises and topiaries and wisteria and cupolas and tennis courts and pools and exotic trees and pansies galore and bricked paths, stone paths, fountains, streams, koi ponds. Having just come from New York, I am in shock. We don’t have parquet in the East Village and we don’t have marble paths. Don't get me wrong: I love bohemia. But here it's like the Seventh Realm.

The apartment belongs to my former mother-in-law, whom I adore, and whose generosity to me knows no limits, but I must confess it feels a bit strange to be here. The ghosts of my pasts here are strong and negative. I feel myself being pulled into a stage of regret and guilt and thoughts of what might-have-been had I been stronger then, and I wish I were strong enough to resist this pull, and remain focused in the present, and try to like myself..... I should have brought sage. But my car is so jam packed I left behind my sage, candles, and incense.
Not a Bethesda thing anyway..

Anyway, the only drawback to staying in such a posh pretty place is that the whole district teaming with Republicans. As many of you know, I spent the last four years “country-ing” in Woodstock, New York, where there are like six Republicans and they never get incited to any of the cool parties so I have never actually seen one. But sometimes I see their bumper stickers on cars parked outside CVS, and see that they are quite dented up, and wonder a bit about what caused that.

Here in Friendship Heights the cars are not dented—and they seem to get washed every day. I walk past them each morning as I take my dog for her walk—past the large houses with their brick driveways and beautiful plants and trees. The dog sniffs at each house, trying to find the perfect place to poop, for these things, in the dog world, are quite serious. Her entire future and social hierarchy seem to rest upon this choice, so I respect her wishes. We dawdle. We consider this sidewalk or that. On a street called “Harmony,” we actually pass a few Obama/Biden signs, and I feel pleased. I feel harmonious. Then we come upon a Tudor mini-mansion with a McCain/Palin/Satan sign. I feel disharmony again. And the dog stops suddenly, circles around the sign a few times and deposits her waste. I pick it up of course—to not do so would be undemocratic. But it seems to me that I have received a sign. The world will change for the better. Obama is winning. Truth is winning. Compassion is winning. Dogs know this. Dogs have always known. And hey, Pete and Roger know it too. Blessings to all on this fateful day.

Monday, September 22, 2008

How Does One Become a Rock Star?

How the heck does one become a rock star? Or even a musician of little fame, but perhaps some critical success? Can anyone out there tell me?
Because I am going to try. Gosh darn it yes I am.

(Today, Sunday, is a no-swear day for me, so you won’t be getting any f-words in this post.)

Here is what I have done so far to launch myself on this musical path (all of which will be elaborated upon, in my lengthy convoluted way, in upcoming blog posts):

1) Finally convincing myself, after trying for a few decades, that my parents were wrong about me, and that I am not the most annoying, shittiest singer on the planet;
which let to:
3) getting over my crippling shyness about singing with others (I joined a gospel choir in Harlem)
which led to
3) getting over my crippling shyness over singing as a back up singer (I sang with the Revelons at CBCB the week before CBs closed),
which led to
4) Attending the fab-u-licions Ladies Rock Camp In New York City (this very long essay will hopefully be appearing in Oprah Magazine soon!),
which led to
5) finally realizing my dream of singing lead in a band (the rocking, babe-o-licious Wrex Abroad),
which led to
7) dreaming of forming a real band,
which led to,
8) really really wanting to do something about forming a real band, instead of just dreaming about it (I’m forty, for f—k’s sake),
which leads us up to where I am at the present moment, wondering on Sunday in September what I do next.

I have been writing songs, believe it or not. I’ve written one a day since Ladies’ Rock Camp. Most of them are along the lines of Robert Smith—so depressing you have to lift the needle off the album after the third one, for fear that you might rush off to slit your wrists. But others aren’t bad. And for me to say that a poem of mine is ‘not bad’ is quite a leap, for no one is more critical of my work than moi. I am hands down the nastiest self-critic out there.

Anyway, I have now written three ‘concept albums!’ One of which is eight songs dedicated to my eight male muses, who were members of my all time favorite bands.
Another of which is the suicide album (a sure hit :)
And a third about karma.
Any takers? Any leavers? Any lovers of leaving?

Anyway, I must say that the songwriting process (as it were00I have no idea what I am doing) has been gloriously fun. Much more rewarding than writing memoirs or novels. Writing books has sucked all the life force out of me. Working with an editor who doesn’t really get my work has been debilitating. But still, I wrote and wrote and wrote and worked and worked and worked and struggled and struggled and cried for the past four years. Every morning I did this. From 11 – 2 (sorry, that’s ‘morning’ for me, you lovely office drones). Devotedly, even though it was killing me, I devoted the best part of my day, and the best part of me, to my books.

After Ladies Rock Camp, I changed that. I decided that maybe I’d be a less miserable human if I devoted the best part of my day to music. To something that gave me life. To something that got me excited about the future. And baby, it worked. With each song I write, I feel a sense of accomplishment that carries through the rest of the day. And sure, it might be grandiose (my songs might suck after all), but it feels good nevertheless. I have even started dreaming about my muses: Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, Pete Townshend, and even, once, Meher Baba—they come to me in my dreams and tell me I am doing the right thing.

When I was writing the first draft of my novel, I had only one visitation, from Mr. Henry Miller (who, honestly, I have never admired, as a human or a writer of prose.). I was staying at my agent’s country house at the time—the phenomenal and godly and wise Lisa Bankoff—and we had been talking about one of my subplots (a pregnancy scare), and Lisa said, most astutely, “Pregnancy is not a subplot.” And then, that night, in my dreams, Henry Miller waltzed in with his big round glasses and said, “Lost that subplot.” Just like that. Thanks Henry.

Anyway, I am way off-track. I am trying to become a rock star. If Henry Miller has any advice on that, I welcome him. Otherwise, I am reaching out to the cyber public. To the myspace friends and the facebook acquaintances and the people who accidentally came to this site because they googled “Jimmy Page.” (Sorry, guys, it’s just me, a woman who has sworn off swear words.)

Send me a manager. And I’ll send you angels on high.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Dreaming of Pete Townshend, Part I

I suppose if I were to confess to anyone that I frequently dream of Pete Townshend, here would be the place. But don’t worry—it’s not that kind of dream. No sex, no drugs, not even rock and roll, really. He’s just a presence really—one who fills the room with peace, love, and a sense that everything is all right.

Sounds like Christ, eh? Is this what they mean when they call rock stars gods?
For years I have wondered...

After these Pete dreams—which tend to happen two or three times annually—I wake up feeling blissful. I wake up feeling loved. I wake up feeling as if some real connection has been made, and I wake up wanting to maintain that connection for the rest of my life.

But then, after a few minutes, the grim reality would set in: that I was alone, seemingly unloved, and Mr. Pete Townsend—the man with whom I felt so intimate in my dreams—had no idea who I was. And never had and never would. What a terrible feeling!

(I had similar dreams about a man named Tony Stacchi, with whom I went to high school, and upon whom I always had a secret crush. I haven’t seem him since high school But this is another story.)

Getting back to the Pete dreams: in 2004, I finally consulted a therapist. Not about my Pete dreams—believe me, those were the least of my “problems.” Those dreams were pleasant, and gentle, and if they left me momentarily mystified, well, I wasn’t going to complain. No, this therapist was helping me recover from childhood trauma. She was a saint, that woman—so compassionate and wise—and once I started to discuss my Buddhists, Pagan, Jungian, and Native American beliefs, she told me she also happened to specialize in dream therapy. “I don’t tell that to all my clients,” she said with the smile. “Not everyone is open to that.”

So I told her about Pete. I told her the love I felt from him, and with him, in my dreams. “He’s wonderful,” she said, “I love him, too.” (For a second I was jealous. Because I wanted to believe I loved his music and connected with his lyrics more than anyone else on the planet, thank you very much.)

But anyway, I told her that sometimes Pete and I sang together. Sometimes we sang his songs; mostly we sang songs that I had written, that I couldn’t remember when I woke. Sometimes he encouraged me, and told me I had a good voice. Sometimes he would hug me—not in a sexual way. More of a maternal/paternal embrace—something I have rarely experienced in this lifetime. I would close my eyes and just absorb this love.

My therapist listened with a beautiful smile. “Everything in a dream is a representation,” she said. “What do you think he represents?
Music, of course. Singing, playing guitar, writing incredible, magnificent songs. He represented self-expression, channeling anger, channeling pain. He was an artist who could transmute those negative energies of anger and sorrow into something beautiful, the way the Buddhas are said to do.

“He’s encouraging you to make music,” my therapist said.

I loved this interpretation. And it made perfect sense. All of my life I have wanted to be a musician, but my parents discouraged that from the start (another long story for another day). Basically they told me I couldn't sing for beans, and could I please turn that crap-ass music down?

Now, in my dreams, I was getting encouragement from one of the people I admire most in the world. How cool is that?

The pure, almost celestial warmth and happiness I felt in his presence was simply Music was calling me back, the way they say God calls you back, i suppose.

This goes back to the question above: Is this what people mean, then, when they call musicians “gods?” Because they have the capacity, through their words and music, to call us back to a better place? Because they make us feel less alone?

It would be fun to find the person who coined this term (God of Rock) and get his/her opinion. But I’d argue that, yes, that is the role people like Pete have served on the planet. But this is another big topic I suppose.

What I can say for certain is that, in my reality, in the Jungian context of my dreams, Pete absolutely serves as an archetype. He is Music, embodied, in a half human/half ethereal form.

Would he be flattered, or appalled, to know this? Only he can say....
(Part of me wants to believe that his appearances in my dreams are true visitations; that he has traveled astrally across oceans and continents to give me—sad, special, talented, weird me—a reassuring hug.)

Regardless of what this all means, I shall thank Pete, again and again, for this role he has played in my waking life, and in my sleeping life—the world of the subconscious, the world of gifts from beyond. It took several years, but I finally got the message:

Sing, girlfriend. Reclaim your original self. Let it be pure, and easy. Amen.