Moment Of Zen: Litchfield Beach

March 30th, 2010

sunset.jpgLitchfield Beach sits just south of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, a broad and flat stretch of sand at the center of Long Bay.

I rose before dawn to greet the sunrise there, hit the sand, and turned north towards Murrell’s Inlet. The waves were soft and low, the water grayish-blue. The sun peaked over the water a few miles into my run, just as the modest, gray-clapboard houses gave way to the rolling dunes of Huntington Beach Park.

I jogged into the park at a break in the sand, following a shallow creek to a pond bolstered by evergreen and seagrass. I turned off my iPod, and relished the rush of the wind through the blades of grass.

Back on the beach, I crouched at the edge of the waves to capture that moment of zen when the sea meets the sky, and the sound of the waves meets my breath.

Jogging home, I saw a break in the water. A black tail splashed near the edge of the waves. The droplets hung in the air backlit by the sun like a thousand tiny prisms. And it dawned on me: dolphin! I jogged alongside him a while, then rushed back home to tell my father.

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Something To Say

March 29th, 2010

gig1.jpgIt wasn’t until somewhere around Christopher Street that I realized that Thursday night’s Rockwood Music Hall set was littered with references to breaking silence, speaking up and being heard.

From “Giving Up The Ghost” (“It’s impossible to argue / It’s impossible to scream”) to “Live Forever” (“There’s nothing left here to say”), “St. Anne (Of The Silence)” to “Dear Elizabeth” (“I still have something to say”), “Trying To Tell You” to “I’ll Be Waiting” (“This is a message to you”), the set — in this case drafted by my pal Chris Abad but completely reflective of my body of work — was crowded with muted observers, silent bystanders, and anxious also-rans just dying to be heard.

Why it should take me some twenty-two years into playing rock shows — better still, to one marketed as my “Last Show Ever” — to realize this thematic cohesion, well, I’m not sure. Timing is everything. I just cleaned my high school artifacts out of my mother’s basement. I’m an expectant father. My grandmother just died. I’m moving in a few days. Take your pick. Anyway, everyone knows the cliché (or myth, or both) by now: discordant household’s existential din drowns out the young, sensitive artist driving him to construct an imaginary world into which he escapes and later mines for fame and fortune. The former, anyway.

This penny-ante breakthrough lay dormant in me for an hour or two until — as if we hadn’t been planning and rehearsing for weeks — we found ourselves there, Chris, Ryan Vaughn, Brian Killeen, Chris LoPresto and me, breaking the silence together. And what a sound! With this new combination of players, and a short rehearsal period, we were forced to listen to one another and discover what the songs wanted to say. Bolstered by the beautiful din of of instruments weaving and blending, I leaned back and relished the wall of sound around me.

Rockwood filled steadily, until the room was crowded with friends and family come to mark my good fortune, five years to the day that Abbi and I met there, and less than three months until we bring our first child into the world. The show might not be my last (“Yeah, that probably won’t happen,” I said three songs in), but it marked the edge of something new, something huge.

And so it took even me by surprise when — just a few songs after pledging to go long on the rock and short on the talk — I began rambling about my minor subway revelation with the audience.

“In a few hours,” I said, “My brother and I are flying to Waterloo, Iowa, to bury my father’s mother, my grandmother. The last time I saw her was the night before the Iowa State Fair. My cousin, Andrew, and I were performing at my uncle’s for the family members who we knew wouldn’t make the commute. She sat there watching us, a little uncomfortable, maybe, with all our emoting or whatever right there in front of her. She had a breathing tube in her nose, and was squinting a little bit, but the corners of her mouth were turned up just so, as if she really wanted to smile.”

“On the way down here tonight I realized that all of my songs are about trying to say something. My sense is that there was a lot of silence, a lot unsaid, in that household. And I’m sure that’s not unique to my family, or Waterloo, Iowa. It’s true of all families, of all of us. So I hope that tonight I can make manifest some of the things Dorothy might have wished she’d said.”

All week long, I’d told anyone who’d offered condolences, “It’s ok; she was ready to go.” Suddenly, though — there in the spotlight, there on stage, there with my friends — I felt this terrific loss begin to swell up in me. My voice cracked. I took two extra measures and one very deep breath to gain my composure. Because suddenly, “Dear Elizabeth” — a song I wrote nearly ten years ago, a song I have sung hundreds of times to thousands of people, a song that the band calls simply, “The Hit” — reminded me something vital, something compelling, something more urgent than ever: don’t die with the music left in you.

St. Anne (Of The Silence) – Live 3/25/10

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The Rest Of My Life – Live 3/25/10

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Forever Young – Live 3/25/10

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Dear Elizabeth – Live 3/25/10

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I’ll Be Waiting – Live 3/25/10

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Leaving On A Jet Plane – Live 3/25/10

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Rockwood Music Hall (New York, New York)

March 25th, 2010 - 8:00 pm

Giving Up The Ghost
California
Trying To Tell You
St. Anne (Of The Silence)
The Rest Of My Life
Forever Young
Live Forever
Dear Elizabeth
I’ll Be Waiting
+Leaving On A Jet Plane

Featuring Chris Abad, Chris LoPresto, Ryan Vaughn and Brian Killeen. Download MP3s and read about the show here.

Golf In The Kingdom

March 23rd, 2010

golf.jpgSay what you will about what Justin Timberlake’s done for the sport, golf still isn’t very rock ‘n roll.

I play once a year nonetheless, always with my father. Perhaps its the long walk, or the inherent futility of knocking that tiny ball all that way into that tiny hole, but the sport is rife with philosophizing.

It’s that kind of sport, really, one streaked with the patina of fathers and sons and the wisdom — half-baked, penny-ante and bona fide — that passes between them.

Those lessons are captured in books with titles like “Golf in The Kingdom,” “Dewsweepers” and “Breaking The Slump.” My dad and I have traded dozens over the years, and I’ve read every one, scraping the pages for every ounce of wisdom I can glean. I can’t recount any of those specific lessons at the moment, but I know they have something to do with existential balance, abandonment, and comeuppance. It’s about things as spiritual as they are physical.

Still, for all that reading, and all those hours of pensive walking, I pretty much suck. Used to be my dad would say, “Pick up the god damned ball!” Nowadays, though (assuming the course ranger is nowhere in sight), he says, “We’re in no hurry.”

Still, as much as I’d like to tell you I don’t care that I suck, I do; I don’t like sucking.

With Abbi in Florida with the girls celebrated her sister’s forthcoming nuptials, then, my dad and I headed to South Carolina to make good on my birthday offer of “one round anywhere in the world.” (We considered Pebble Beach and St. Andrew’s, but decided that was downright irresponsible given my level of play. Someday.)

I had precisely one bucket on the driving range to warm up, so it didn’t start pretty. I reviewed my mental notes (knees bent, head down, follow through) but sent more than one of my MTV-branded Titleist 7s just past the women’s tee at best, and deep into the ruff at worst.

Fortunately, our third was no Jack Nicholas himself. Rocco Gabriella grew up on the mean streets of South Philly before becoming a jockey at Philadelphia Park (location of my first racing bet back in the mid-80s). He stood about 5’ 2″, and drove a solid 200 yards, but was quick with a story, and plenty patient with my amateur play.

More fortunate still, we’d picked a stunning day to walk the links. The sky was crystal-clear, deep-blue, and filled with sunshine. A light breeze whispered sweet and warm through the pine needles. It was a great day for a long walk, even if it was punctuated by wormburners, shanks and slices.

Every so often, though, I found my swing. I took a deep breath, cleared my head, steadied the arc of my swing, kept my head down and followed through. I couldn’t always make it happen, but I knew it when I felt it. So while I couldn’t repeat the stroke every time, soon enough, I found something approximating a rhythm. And then it dawned on me: Try less, be more. It was a little bit Yoda, and a little bit Buddha. The more I surrendered, the better I played.

I won’t be winning a pro-am anytime soon, or even a company best-ball tourny. Odds are, I won’t play again for another year or so. Still, I’ll carry that one with me: Try less, be more. That tiny little insight made all the miles, all the frustration, all the lost and waterlogged balls, the sledge-hammered tees, sky-born turf and full-on whiffs worth it.

Try less, be more; it makes all the difference.

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May Your Song Always Be Sung

March 21st, 2010

rehearsal.jpgIt was a strange rehearsal. But then, it’s been a strange gig from he outset.

I booked this Thursday’s Rockwood Music Hall performance months ago, but didn’t mention it to the guy’s until a few weeks ago; I wasn’t sure how to approach it (solo, acoustic, electric, etc), I just knew I wanted to get one-last show in before the baby comes. And I knew I wanted to play it exactly five years to the day that Abbi and I met there.

A few Thursdays back, I mentioned the booking to Chris Abad.

“A Thursday night at eight o’clock?” he asked, tugging on his beer. “Let’s play a rock show!”

So I checked in with Ryan.

“I’m in!”

And then Tony.

“Bummer dude,” he replied. “I’ll be in Hawaii.”

Back to the drawing board, then, Ryan suggested we tap his pal Brian Killeen on bass. And then he suggested we add his pal Chris LoPresto on keys. Suddenly, we had a fairly formidable band on our hands.

Which was strongly in evidence at rehearsal the other night. Sure, it took us weeks of emails to find a date that worked for all of us, only to discover it didn’t work for Ryan so we rescheduled. And sure, Ryan dropped his cell phone behind the amps which were bolted to the floor of the rehearsal studio which required the owner to grab his drill and go to work. And sure Chris LoPresto showed up a half-hour late on account of a scheduling snafu. But, man! You should’ve heard us!

Oh, wait, you can. Watch this video.

It’s All Right

March 15th, 2010

sunshine.jpgSaturday morning’s slate-gray, wind-whipped bluster was an angry, Joycean tempest fit solely for hours indoors with tea and sympathy.

Abbi and I braved the elements nonetheless, striking out through the icey, soggy streets to yoga at Exhale on Central Park South.

Arriving waterlogged was rich irony, as our instructor, Kirtan, and I had conspired to base the class around the return of the sun.

I’ve only been going to yoga for a few months, but my connection to the practice was immediate. Not only have I discovered muscles I never knew existed, I’ve reconnected to a more deeply-spiritual part of myself long dormant (if not simply distracted). As solitary as practice can be, I’ve even managed to meet a few people. And as introverted as I can be (ha ha), it took me about thirty seconds to establish three basics: journalist, musician, marathoner.

Kirtan’s class is punctuated by music. Most of it is new-agey, chanty stuff, but once-a-class or so he slips in some Bob Marley or George Harrison. Which — when he asked me to play during one of his classes — gave me an idea.

Five years ago last month, I spent a long weekend at the end of an even longer winter in Naples, Florida. On the way to the airport, a local booker canceled my gig the following weekend, so I improvised: I changed the venue from that Lower East Side venue to my Upper West Side apartment.

This was during my “sabatical” period, a self-imposed, six-month dating hiatus. I was fairly unhappy that winter on account of some fifteen years of bungled relationships crashed down in a fiery, well-publicized conclusion. So I was alone, and wallowing in it, relished my long, cold, bleak winter alone.

The morning of my living room show, I woke before at dawn to a fresh blanket of snow. Sitting there waiting for the sun to rise, I pecked my way through, “Here Comes The Sun” as tears streamed down my cheeks. Some fifty or so friends packed my apartment that night. I played the song on just a few hours practice. The recording memorialized forever on “February 25, 2005” (still available on iTunes!).

It wasn’t until midway through Saturday morning’s performance that all of these dots connected, and then some.

A few weeks prior, when Kirtan asked me to play during the meditative end of class, I said, “I think I have just the song.” True to form, I was nervously re-learning it just moments before streaking out the door to class. As I picked my way through the song (and let’s be clear: it my version of the song; I’m not even 10% the guitarist George Harrison was), though, something was off. Which is when I discovered (or re-discovered) another layer of genius to the song (in addition to its brilliant, universal simplicity): the song switches makes an unusual (and editorially salient) switch between Em and E (typically, a songwriter sticks with one of the other). Perfect, right? To switch from minor to major as winter ends and spring begins?

Kirtan and I briefly discussed our plan before class. He asked me to play at the beginning as he set up the day’s premise, then I returned to my mat to practice with everyone else. Our moves were rife with sun salutations and warrior poses. Soon enough, my nerves abated as I forgot that I had to play at the end of class. Shortly after pigeon pose, though, gave me the sign. I picked up my guitar as he dimmed the lights. Forty bodies reclined in unison. There in the hush, I began arpeggiating in D.

Before hand, I’d been nervous in a thousand ways. It would be the quietest room I’d ever play. I barely remembered the words. What if my voice cracked? Or I was too loud? Or too soft? Or if my guitar was out of tune? What if I dropped it and shattered the silence?

And then I began singing in the most-hushed, most-relaxed voice ever. I closed my eyes and forgot about all of it, except the song. My body was warm and glowing from head to toe. I felt so complete, so connected, that I hated to end the song.

“Sun, sun, sun,” I sang softly, “Here it comes.”

Back outside, the gale surged on. Still, I was warm straight through all the way home.

The Bump

March 12th, 2010

abs.jpgThese days, it takes me about one minute to tell people that Abbi and I are expecting.

Take last night for example. I walked out of my office around nine o’clock. The building was nearly empty, so my elevator went express. When the doors opened 29 floors below, I bumped into a familiar colleague. I couldn’t remember her name, nor in what department she worked, but I said hello anyway. By the time we hit the escalator, I’d somehow found a contextual way to tell her the news. That lead, as always, to the following exchange:

Person: Is this your first?

Me: Can’t you tell by my enthusiasm!?!

Person: And how’s your wife doing?

And so it dawned on me as I passed Abbi exhausted and expressionless on the couch, Dear Reader, that you might be wondering the same.

I’m obviously not in her head, and she doesn’t blog, so I’ll have to answer from my perspective: Abbi’s doing great. She’s been steady and brave throughout the last six months, calmly adapting to changes in her body, mind and spirit. I look at her there on the couch, bolstered by pillows, hand on her stomach, little creature squirming and turning and kicking her in the ribs and — though eons of women have gone through the exact same process — I am awed by and envious of her grace and courage. You know how they say a pregnant woman glows? Understatement.

Her first trimester was textbook: morning’s were tempered by dry cereal and orange juice; she had appetite for little else. Even with the sonogram snapshot of our tiny, twelve-week-old embryo, our conversations were in the abstract and far-future.

Her second trimester was a promised too: any immediate light switch that found her energies, appetite and humor restored. She began to show, then to grow steadily: a tiny bump just below her belly button, but contained by her hips. Our twenty-week ultrasound made it real. Our babymoon marked the time. And our first Real Birth class set the stage. When our birthing instructor suggested that one of the easiest and most important things Abbi can do is stay hydrated, I had a case of Poland Spring Water delivered to her office.

Abbi is full-on preggers now, 26 weeks into 40 weeks of pregnancy. She wears pants with stretchy waists, and loose tops, and looks gorgeous. Her stomach is roughly the size of a basketball (her description, not mine), and is soft and round but less so than I might have expected: some spots (presumably the baby’s head and hips) are slightly harder, others a bit squishy. (I spend a lot of time with my head and hands on her belly.) The baby is (according to the numerous books and iPhone apps she reads) over a foot long and about two pounds, or roughly the size of an eggplant. She is working long, challenging days, and usually returns home absolutely exhausted. She’s typically in bed by nine o’clock.

As you’d expect, there is a tremendous amount of psychological transition going on as well. Abbi is, in my experience, far more of an introvert than I am. She is typically either factual and pragmatic, or completely silent and wildly emotional. Her connection to this new person in her life is almost palpable. I, in contrast, talk all the time, expressing my anxieties, my excitement, and my observations non-stop. It’s possible )I hadn’t considered it until just now) that I need more acknowledgement, validation and support than before (and I need a lot).

It’s a lot, and I’ve scarcely scratched the surface. There’s the forthcoming move, the actual birthing process, the financial aspects, the familial politics and considerations, and how hard I’ve endeavored to cultivate new levels of empathy and accountability. It’s all happening, all marching forward: a thousand, tiny heartbeats counting down like a stopwatch until the day that the three of us meet.

This week, we began playing my recording of “Golden Slumbers” to Baby every night just before bed. Last night, there was a stirring in the second verse, just after the lyrics, “Smiles await you when you rise.”

“Did you feel that?” Abbi asked.

I often do, but in that moment, I hadn’t. In many ways, I’m just on the outside of this amazing process. Still, I’m doing everything I can to be completely in it.

Crazy Nephews

March 10th, 2010

edward.jpgMy brother, Christofer, called Sunday morning.

“Dude, is there any way you can watch the boys this afternoon?” he asked breathlessly. Jen took Ella to the hospital. I’m running up there to meet her.”

My pointer finger was on their Upper West Side buzzer fifteen minutes later. I could hear Ethan and Edward’s tiny feet scurry on the hardwood above me as I climbed the four flights of stairs. I knocked on the door to the sound of giggles. The door swung open mysteriously to an empty hallway.

“Boo!”

The boys leapt from behind the door, then took off down the hall. Chris was writing a list in the kitchen.

“Hey man,” he said shaking my hand with a pained expression. “Thanks for coming over so quickly.”

He ran through the list (pizza’s in the oven, Ethan drinks soy milk, Edward drink’s cow, etc), then distractedly began loading his backpack with odds and ends: clean socks, a water bottle. All the while, the boys ran around the apartment, laughing and screaming and bouncing off of each other like bumper pool. When they disappeared into their bedroom to the sound of muffled laughter, he turned to me and squinted like Clint Eastwood.

“I’ll bet their jumping on the beds.”

Indeed, we found them climbing, tumbling and laughing on their loft beds.

“Gentlemen,” he said, stopping them in the tracks. “What did I say? The beds are for sleeping, not for playing.”

They quickly descended, and ran back into the living room. Chris pulled on his coat, and stepped out the door.

The boys sat at the table with their pizza for approximately thirty seconds, then resumed their frenetic living room rumpus. Edward dumped a box of cars onto the floor, scattering the tiny metal land mines like jacks, then started blowing one of those high-pitched, siren whistles. Ethan began bellowing on a green plastic horn as he leapt from the couch to the hardwood floor. Then they ran for the bedroom and began climbing onto the same loft beds their father warned them not to climb on less than five minutes prior. I narrowly escaped meltdown when I pried Edward from the metal ladder.

“Let’s play some music, guys.”

We sat on the floor, Edward and I with guitars, Ethan on drums, and began writing a song about a Tiger named Gilly (Edward’s idea) and his friend Phillipe the Penguin. It was a simple little number, mostly a C chord. And it worked. The boys focussed up, suggesting lyrics and singing along. But then Ethan rebelled.

“Let’s play some rock ‘n roll!” he said.

My eyes lit up.

“Whaddya’ think about this?” I asked.

“Hold on! Hold on!” Ethan commanded. “Lemme count… 1, 2, 3, 4, GO!”

And we were off, Ethan randomly tapping on his bongos (and anything else within arms reach) with chopsticks, Edward stabbing spastically at his guitar, shaking his hips, tapping his foot and blinking his eyes and like a pint-size Elvis.

We played all afternoon, writing silly songs like “Crazy Nephews” and “Stinky Jack The Pirate.” The boys named our fledgling band, “Stinky Jack,” and imagined us performing at “Shark Hall” (thankfully, they’ve yet to discover that all arenas are named for corporations, unless Ethan has a shell corporation, Shark, Inc., somewhere in The Caymans). Ethan MC’d every performance, “Ladies and gentleman! Thank you!”

You know me: I tried desperately to get one, clean take of “Crazy Nephews.” Alas, neither a six nor a three-year-old’s attention span is made for prime time. Still, we wiled away the afternoon with nary a nephew leaping from a loft bed. Which is about all an uncle can ask for.

Golden Slumbers

March 8th, 2010

mesinging.jpgLast night, just before her eyes turned heavy after her traditional page and a half of reading, I slipped a pair of Sony headphones onto Abbi’s belly, and pushed play.

I was running two hours behind my “Forever Young” recording schedule when singer/songwriter Misty Boyce finally took her seat at the piano. She banged out “Morning Has Broken” with just seconds of practice in three takes. Moments later, we began recording our cover of The Beatles, “Golden Slumbers.”

“Do you think I’ll be hung in effigy if I added an extra chorus?” I asked.

Misty said simply, “Do it.”

And so we did.

Again, she nailed it in three takes. Still, something was off.

“It feels a little bombastic,” I said through the studio’s talkback. “Can you try using that pedal? What do you call it? The damper or something?”

“Try this,” she said.

Two minutes and seventeen seconds later, we had it: soft, sweet, subtle, and perfect.

Listening back in the control room, I couldn’t help but hug Misty.

“This song sounds like I always imagined this record would feel!”

Last night, Abbi and my little baby heard for the first of what I plan to be hundreds of times a sound and a sentiment I hope s/he will bask in forever and forever: “Sleep now darling don’t you cry.”

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… But Now I See

March 1st, 2010

sparkles.jpgJamie Leonhart and I arrived to our “Forever Young” recording session a few minutes early, so set out for a cup of coffee.

The sun was broken free of the weekend’s snow-choked clouds. The trickle of melting snow hummed beneath the rumble of passing subways, far off-music and a faint inkling that birds were beginning to return from their winter hideouts.

Galuminum Foil Studio sits at a crossroads of Brooklyn neighborhoods south of Williamsburg’s newly-gentrified lofts and studios, north of Bed-Stuy’s Marcy Projects, and west of Bushwick.

The streets are wide, nearly empty, and buffeted by low-lying, brick warehouses and razor wire-wrapped vacant lots. The sidewalks were thick with snow, still, a few pedestrians passed. Most were young Hassidic men repeat in their Shabbat shtreimel. And most led a small gaggle of adorably costumed children.

Sunday was Purim, the celebration of Jewish deliverance. The festival celebrates the story of Esther, second (and secretly-Jewish) wife of Persian King Ahasuerus. When the King’s prime minister, Haman, is disrespected by Jewish palace guard Mordechai, he issues a decree to exterminate all of Mordechai’s people. When the King discovers that his wife is in fact Jewish, and that Haman has kept secret Mordechai’s aid during a plot on the King’s life, Haman is hanged, Mordechai is promoted, and his people are saved.

Purim is marked, then, by boisterous joy, revelry and feasting. Children’s costumes, apparently, are a more recent addition to the holiday stemming (as most of the Hassidic Jews of the neighborhood do) from Eastern Europe. Children dress as the protagonists in the Book of Esther, as well as Biblical personalities such as King David to disguise the their identities as Esther did hers.

The children’s costumes were, of course, in stark contrast to their parents’ demure Shabbat finery. Jamie and I smiled as we passed pint-sized policemen, soldiers, pirates and fairies. One little girl tottered leapt a snow bank dressed as a jack-in-the-box. My favorite site, though, was that of a two-foot King Ahasuerus holding his father’s left hand while tugging at his white beard.

Inside, Jamie unpacked her harmonium, a piano-like instrument powered by a hand-operated bellows that blows through sets of free reeds that sound like an accordion. The sound is gentle, soothing and steady, like a baby’s sleepy breathing.

“Amazing Grace” is a Christian hymn written by English poet John Newton in 1779. During the dark chapters of American slavery, the song become an emblematic spiritual. The song saw a resurgence in popularity in the U.S. during the civil rights turmoil of the 1960s.

My grandmother loved the song, so much so that my mother asked me to sing it at her funeral in 1996. It’s always moved me, often to tears, as it somehow connects me deeply with feelings of adversity overcome. Of deliverance.

Barnard professor and Anglo-American slavery expert James Basker says of “Amazing Grace”

There is a transformative power that is applicable… The transformation of suffering into beauty, of alienation into empathy and connection, of the unspeakable into imaginative.

Something in my brief but meaningful friendship with Jamie led me to believe that we’d connect on that. Little surprise, then, when I asked her to duet with me and told her why, that she said, basically, “Yeah, me too.”

We settled on the key of C, and the ballpark of a tempo, then sang it together, there alone in that great room with Bob Dylan looking down from the rafters.

Afterwards I whispered, “I feel the weight of everyone who ever sang this song before,” and grimaced.

“You’ll do fine,” she said.

We retired to our corners: Jamie tracking the harmonium in the great room, me in an iso-booth by the door. We tried a click, but waived off its stiffness. The harmonium, it’s working parts old and creaky, clicked and gasped. I sang in a hush, settling as best I could into the deep meaning and long history of the song, waiving my hands like a conductor. Jamie followed my vocal, ebbing and flowing with each line.

By the third pass — uncertain as I was about my performance but cognizant of the ticking clock and Jamie’s six-month-old son, Milo, waiting at home — we decided we couldn’t do much better. I moved to the control booth and marveled as Jamie effortlessly knocked out her harmony vocal.

Afterwards, I walked her to her car, tucked the harmonium in the passenger seat, and waved her off. Tiny shards of snow fell through a clear, sun set sky like glittering confetti. The neighborhood sparkled with the tiny sound of grace delivered. And finally, for the first time, I could see it shining there before me.