The Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey
Heaven in Your Heart
On this sad day in Canada, I offer this song dedicated to and about Rumi, the 13th century Persian Sufi mystic and poet, and to all others who embody compassion and peace in this world. My heart goes out to those who sought safety and sanctuary here in Canada and were betrayed by unbridled hatred. Love will prevail.
For recent electoral events in the U.S., for our Day of Remembrance, and to honour this day in 1973 when I 'officially' began my Buddhist practice of chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, I offer this song written so many years ago.
Rise People Arise
music and lyrics
B. Glenn Copeland © SOCAN 1982
It is a hard time in the world. Not that it has ever been easy. But increasingly we are able to witness, if not personally, electronically the struggles of those near and far as we collectively and individually experience the results of our human childhood on this planet - famine, war, rage, hatred, greed, waste, etc. etc. that so many have and do suffer. And now too the results of our planetary pollution.
And yet, the light of our emerging adulthood has never been brighter.
This song written so many years ago, continues to be the central message I try to reinforce within my own psyche.
Do not despair.
There is light at the end of the tunnel.
Love is more powerful than fear.
Each obstacle overcome is a measure more of courage, compassion and wisdom developed.
I practice daily to embody these messages to myself. Being a natural optimist - though at times I wondered if essentially, I'm naive (!!) - this is normally very easy. I have, however, witnessed the dark night of the soul during one particularly intense period of loss many years ago. Something of the shades of grey that begin to wash over the colour palette was finally revealed to me.
But, I digress.
Searching through my songs this day after a solar eclipse, I stumbled upon this simplest of all its versions. Seemed right somehow to offer it today. The last few days, my friends tell me, were hard days all around. I noticed.
May we go onward and upward, my friends.
Onward and Upward - words and music
© B. Glenn Copeland
The forbidden rhythms were taken over by the banjo, the guitar, the knee, the mouth harp, and every other imaginable substitute. And now, many centuries later, the rhythms brought with the Africans have now just about taken over 'First World’ countries’ musical taste. Not quite. But close. Unless I am listening to country music, celtic music or classical music I am listening to the rhythms of my African ancestors.
Personal memories of my mother flood into my being with this song. Though she didn’t sing often as I recall, she sang with deep feeling. These pieces lived within her as they did most blacks born before the first half of the 20th century. While my father sat at our piano playing Bach, Beethoven and Chopin for about four hours every evening, my mother would sit and play songs from other cultural roots whenever she could get time at the keyboard. My father lived there, except when he was teaching or reading.
Because of her musical influence, I have a wealth of songs from the African American Diaspora. Her and the radio.
Tears well up when I hear this song.
It is a call to freedom. The Jordan River here is a metaphor for any river across which a slave could cross and be free. All of the so called 'Negro Spirituals’ were actually coded messages for how to escape slavery - messages that fell upon the culturally deaf ears of the slave owners as they sat in and monitored the few hours of Sunday church services allowed slaves. Services at which these songs were sung.
Interestingly, a large majority of slaves were originally Muslims.
I, born in freedom, am a Buddhist.
No matter. The desire to have true dominion over oneself is still largely unfulfilled in our world no matter what one practices or doesn’t, believes or doesn’t.
One day…all forms of slavery may be completely abolished. And then we shall have truly crossed over the deep river.
I hope. I pray.
Deep River - from the CD 'Crossin’ Over’
copyright: Granny Mabel Leaf’s Music 2003 PRO
Arranged and performed by B. Glenn Copeland
Deep River - Media art by Glenn
A TRIBUTE - "Living in the Unknown". My dear friend Joan Ruvinsky, who recently passed from this earth, wrote these words upon hearing of her illness. She lived almost two years beyond her 'prognosis' in joy and celebration. I set her words to music. She lived and died a radiant being.
Joan's Words on her illness
"Life is full of surprises!
We are always living in the unknown but we do not always know it. We only know it when something takes us by surprise. We may be pleasantly surprised or we may object vigorously, but ultimately, Life prevails.
This time, Life is prevailing in the form of this physical body dancing its way through incurable cancer. The details are irrelevant; any prognosis is pure fantasy.
The "I" called Joan is perfectly at ease with this latest version of the unknown, as the body, having passed the three score and ten mark, is looking for the exit door. No surprise. No protest. No problem.
This afternoon is a beautiful afternoon, as I watch sunlight gliding across the mountain peaks toward sunset."
Life has been kind, as I've moved from one lesson to another. This past week I've received such a loving gift that I must post this music as a thank you. The gardens of life are sublime.
It's been a long time coming, but today is the birthday of Songcycles' new site. Now I just have to get the word out. Thanks for your patience - about forty years worth! Oh well, turtle is my base totem animal, and yes I'm slow.
So, now that I have an unfolding platform for my music, I shall today put up a song that took forty years to write. Not that I was trying for forty years. When I was twenty something, I fell in love and wrote the first few bars with my guitar, a few chords and a bit of melody. It had no words. I would visit it once in ten years for a moment. There was nothing more. Then suddenly one day in my sixties, it wrote itself fully formed, simple but haunting.
Perhaps it is meant to remind me that LIFE has its own time table. It is mysterious and beyond us in its workings. We are along for the glorious ride and must make the best causes we can while it lasts.
Or so it seems to me, Turtle.