My 3 Things - December 2015

This list is straight up, no nonsense. Certainly no year-end wrap-up or New Year's resolution-y directive. I'm daring myself NOT to do a review of 2015. I'm daring myself NOT to make a resolution. Instead, my goal is to have no goals. You can bet I will be creating things and taking action, but I won't be using goals to "get" somewhere. 

The wise words of Pema Chodron in her book When Things Fall Apart are helpful here: “We think that if we just meditated enough or jogged enough or ate the perfect food, everything would be perfect. But from the point of view of someone who is awake, that’s death. Seeking security or perfection, rejoicing in feeling confirmed and whole, self contained and comfortable, is some kind of death. It doesn’t have any fresh air. There’s no room for something to come in and interrupt all that. We are killing the moment by controlling our experience."  

1. LISTENING: Rickie Lee Jones's version of Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most
I've been working on a new song about spring but it is not all flowering trees and birds. Shocker. The working title is "The Spring That Felt Like Fall." Truth is, I've been wrestling with pretty much everything about the tune and lyrics. So, I did what I always do when I'm stuck: listen to everything and anything that reminds me of some aspect of the song I am writing. Of course I had to listen to this classic of the Great American Songbook and I finally came 'round to Rickie Lee's version.  (And, to keep track of all these weird spring songs, I created a "Spring is So Weird" playlist on Spotify).

2. WATCHING & REMINISCING: Remembering Jim Hall 
My good friend Brian Camelio and his talented team at ArtistShare (the label that released my last two albums) just created Remembering Jim Hall, an intimate and charming portrait of my friend, hero, and pen-pal, the late, great jazz guitarist Jim Hall. (I appear in the video at the 10 minute mark, talking about the prank that Jim pulled on me before I ever even met him!) 

Jim was an inspiration to everyone who knew his music. His playing was sensitive and playful. As a person, he was genuine, interesting, and interested. He took the time to send me the latest books and newspaper articles that he found intriguing and thought-provoking. This video gives you a glimpse into his world, how endearing, thoughtful, and puckster-ish he was. Mostly it shows you his big, wonderful, sorely-missed heart. (To read more about what I said and what I played at Jim's memorial gig at the Blue Note, go here.  Jim is one of the main inspirations behind the sound of my band REDSTACK.)

3. READING: The Death of Ivan Ilych by Leo Tolstoy
When my Mom got cancer, I gave myself the task of reading the literature of death.  (One could argue that all reading is about death or that reading is a kind of death and on and on.) I recently read this classic, Leo Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilych. I should have started with it. It is such a deeply affecting short story that when I got to the end, I immediately started over. I've read longer tomes about dying.  Those were important.  But let me help you out: start here. Then, see my other recommendations here

Leave a comment below and tell me what's what.  Did you like these 3 Things?  What did they remind you of?  What are your 3 things that you want to share with me?