They say that when all falls silent one is better able to hear their own voice. That resonated with me the past weeks. It’s terrible what’s happening in the world, but it also has good and interesting sides. To take a moment to ask ourselves what’s really important to us: if we really need all the distractions all the time: many trips a year, big festivals, dinner outings, dating craziness or if we can find happiness in the environment of our own families and neighbourhoods. Think about what we really appreciate in our lives. Sit still and go back to the essence of things. Are we only waiting for this episode to pass or are we willing to start living differently after this?
Which jobs are really important? Do some jobs need adjustment? When it comes to musicians for example living room concerts seem to be very much valued now as simple entertainment. They are very practical and the oldest forms of entertainment and storytelling. It gave me a fuzzy feeling to see bigger artists play simple gigs from their livingrooms, struggling with technique. When all the glamour falls away we’re all some form of campfire artists in the end. And why do we actually need more than that?
I started broadcasting daily #lockdownsessions in studio on YouTube over the past 10 days. It’s quite a bit of editing work since it’s not live, but I (also!) stumble upon technical difficulties to do it livestream in studio quality, so I might go for live streaming acoustic sessions instead in the next while and make the studio work a less regular thing…
To me making music brings me closer to the feelings and energies around us. While playing live I usually tune in on what the audience wants to hear, what the energy is like in a hall, and I still try to do the same online, looking at the requests that come in and reactions to songs. That way even now it’s pretty intense work. One thing that I noticed is that people seem to value old songs, songs with a history more than newer ones. They carry powerful memories and have helped people in the past so they can still help us these days.
I’m learning lots of new songs this way as people can send in any request they like. One of the songs that I really felt while playing it for the first time is this one: Close to it All by 60’s Woodstock singer Melanie Safka. If we get back close to the essence of things we can’t fall so deeply, and our society can’t either, so maybe that’s something we should be aiming for: to get back close to it all….
In 2006 I made a big decision to quit my lawyer job to leave to Ireland a few months later with only a guitar and a backpack to explore the unknown, knowing there should be more out there! I knew for sure I loved music as I was playing some local festivals already (see pics, Haagse Bos Summertime Festival 2006). A friend helped me with moving all my belongings into a storage space since I also had given up my apartment. Some belongings weren’t suitable to move into the storage, like my five guitars and two large plants, so I stalled them at friends’ houses. The friend who helped me moving at the time suddenly texted me a picture last week of the plant he still looks after! That one pic of the plant brought back so many memories of the packing up time and just going blindly for my passions. Like suddenly meeting the younger me again.
It’s mainly in our teens and twenties that we dare to take big steps without much thought. Gathering experiences we tend to think longer about everything, or we often reconsider decisions we already made. Even though I can still fall into the habit of searching for ‘serious’ jobs at times, I never ever regretted that decision to leave, It was the best experience ever. Second guessing ourselves (I love the word, we don’t have it in Dutch) can be a very bad habit and a sign of perfectionism. Trusting our gut feelings and daring to go with them often brings us into the best situations. That old plant of mine reminded me of that in many positive ways this week. And it’s even better that it’s a growing plant, and not just a thing….
What are the biggest decisions you have ever taken for your life course? And do you recognize the bad habit of second guessing your decisions? Even if you do sometimes: never give up believing in your dreams!
‘Sing to me of the man, Muse…..’ The beginning of the famous opening lines of Homer’s Odyssey, a long poem in which he describes the twists and turns of Odysseus’ adventurous journey.
It’s directed straight to his Muse, one of the Greek Goddesses of inspiration, support and song. I think we all have Muses for our creative work. I do at least. Shortly before I write a song, I get a certain feeling as if I have to lay an egg and then I just grab a guitar and it usually flows straight through me and I only have to listen to the recording to get it right. It’s magic, like I don’t really do it myself! Sometimes I even sing words I don’t fully understand untill I hear them. Usually the lyrics still need some fine tuning but the idea is there right away.
Looking at it that way the Muse is a very abstract idea, like a Holy Ghost of inspiration. But sometimes our Muses can be very concrete people, mainly when we are in love. I have had a few important male soulmate muses over the years. And there is still a vacancy for ‘Muse (M)’ here haha. It doesn’t involve much, it’s a long distance job, only to be very inspiring, preferably a male musician and to be the subject of many writings haha! 😉
By the way, my old Muse was suddenly very kind to me this week and I’m delighted with the result which is probably gonna be a new single…
Do you have Muses for your own creations? I’d like to know all about yours!
While I studied law I worked as an environmental volunteer in a National Park in Ireland over the summers. I loved it so much to be outdoors all day to protect the oak woods from invasive species that I realised I wanted to work with nature in daily life. I should maybe have become a veterinarian as I initially planned! Anyway, when I came back home I signed up for a course on Environmental Law. And that became a very depressing period to me: The whole environmental law system evolves around the idea of ‘pollution rights’. Companies have a right to cause a certain amount of emissions and pollution. If they don’t use their full share they can sell it to a company that needs a little bit more: tradable emission rights, the complete moral downfall of capitalism.
Strangely I found out lately that individuals think exactly the same. When talking about climate change issues people say for example that ‘because they don’t eat meat they can fly to Asia for their holidays now’. As if we also have a certain right to pollute and that we can choose how to divide that. Of course being alive causes pollution. But we can still try to keep it as low as possible. That would ask a major lifestyle change for many. I find it strange that we are not able to do that ourselves without government intervention. When I see how people are loading up their supermarket trolley’s for December feasts I lose my hope for change already….
This climate problem needs a cultural and psychological revolution. Sometimes I can’t understand why it’s so hard for people to change their own lifestyles on their own initiatives, to buy less, fly less, holiday less, change their diet. Even many people who believe the climate facts still don’t change their behaviour. We must be a very egocentric species. I hope we all can talk about it over a sober Christmas dinner to make the people around us more aware that there is no such thing as a ‘ right to pollute’ . Happy Christmas!
There was a time when I was very idealistic. From the age of 17 I worked many summers in a national park as a volunteer to do my share for tree conservation. I graduated on a legal topic hoping to contribute to the preservation of common goods: property of our common heritage. Things that don’t belong to just one person like our bikes or cars, but areas like woods, seas and lakes that belong to us all, that should be kept in a good state….
Western society sadly isn’t based around the preservation of “common heritage”. Most of our lives we spend focussed on our individual property: saving money to buy a car, a house, the nicest of clothes, saving for expensive holidays to far away destinations. We work all of our lives because we committed to pay off a mortgage to finally become the full owner of a tiny plot of land, or an appartment in a big block of houses with other people doing the same. But with which higher goal? Or should I even say: with which entitlement? I have always found it very interesting that humans are not well able to think for the sake of all people.
In the meantime the effects of climate change are really making themselves known now. Wildfires on the North Pole, unbearable heatwaves in the most of Europe, smog alarms: it’s only a small part of what’s to come in the next decades. Why are we still obsessed with expanding our own individual properties, neglecting the effects our lifestyles have on the planet as a whole? Knowing that if we continue like this our own little situations will be affected?
I could imagine a system where people would be rewarded for their footprint, like getting a basic financial incentive when keeping their footprint under a certain amount of points, taking into account how many kids one has, not having a car, eating a plant based diet etcetera. Many people are waiting for the government or companies to come with solutions. What we can do as individuals now is raising awareness about lifestyle changes and voicing out our opinion, like when friends announce their 5th flight to a destination far away or buy a second car. Even though this might not be nice. And even though it might seem futile: it is all in the little things!
Apart from that in my opinion the State’s public property of common goods should be getting a distinct position as ‘common property not meant for exploitation’, like it used to be in the past and still is the case in some countries. It seems the only way….Do you have any other good ideas to combat climate change?
In the meantime I’m working on songs on the subject. All I can do as a musician….
Suddenly temperatures dropped 10 degrees tonight after the heatwave of the past days. It felt as if an extremely heavy hot blanket that had been thrown over my house got removed and my world got bigger again all of a sudden. Finally able to breathe again! I love this!
Yup, I am one of those crazy people who love the rain and cold. I do like sunny days ofcourse, but certainly not above 25 degrees. Above that temperature I can’t exercise or think well and it really works on my mood, no matter how sunny the beaches look. I spent a lot of time in the sea the past days to cool down. It’s amazing to have the sea nearby!
The interesting part was that the hot weather had me thinking about the other places with a bit more nature where I could see myself living in the future. I really felt like escaping now and then. I had considered the South of Holland before since my ancestors are from there and I like the region but there it’s even 5 degrees warmer (!). Or the equally land locked East of Holland? I am pretty negative about the effects of climate change so I think we should brace ourselves for even hotter weather in the future. Or my favourite cool country: Ireland!
I think it’s interesting why some people love the cold and others love the hot. Does it have to do with body posture, where you’re from, what you’re used to or just a personal preference? Any other lovers of rain and cold out there? In which places could you see yourself live ideally just looking at climate? Summer all year? Do you worry about the future effects of climate change?
I hope you all had a good start of the new year! Luuk Lenders and I played a nice concert in an old church on the grounds of the beautiful Dutch Open Air Museum over the holidays. Largely situated in an old forest. I really love old places and history in general. It’s great to step into that time machine to visualize how things were in the past and how they can be in the future. For same reasons I am very interested in researching my family genealogy.
Last summer we even performed in an old castle in Belgium that I stumbled upon while researching the family tree. I found the idea of family links to this castle so intriguing that it was great that they invited us for a show. The Van den Eertwegh family originates from Maeseyck in the Pays de Liège that was a separate country untill the 18th century. The coat of arms- pictured below – looks pretty cool.
Maybe to me it feels even more interesting because I moved 16 times myself between places in Holland, Belgium and Ireland. In nowadays society where residence and work have become very flexible things, I think I value roots and old stories even more!
Do you know anything about your own roots? Do you believe they play a part in your identity? In all cases: let’s all write some good history in 2019 again!