reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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the sustain pedal. [k.s. friday]

the file drawers are bursting. there are three bank boxes in the closet, next to and on top of the file cabinets. there is still music to be filed away, but it’s almost done. the ukuleles and the strum stick are hung on hooks. the cello sits silently in the corner. the black metal music stands are cleared of sheets and books. everything needs to be dusted or waxed. the wood floor needs to be swept more thoroughly – to chase away the dust bunnies. a few pencils wait. the storm is gathering. the sustain pedal begs for attention.

i’ve played maybe twice since last november. i stacked music and calendars and binders of slated songs and folders of research in there. i dragged in a box or two of supplies and cantatas that i brought home. i laid the ukuleles on the rocking chair, the poster behind the door. but i didn’t play. except for a day or two after our babycat died and maybe one or two other times. the piano is tacet. and the sustain pedal waits.

because i played and sang constantly for work before the end of november, and i was surrounded in my studio by all the tools and resources i used for that work, it has been, in the these last few days, important to me to finally move all that which i had been playing, all that which is no longer relevant to my life. this studio needs to be clean. it needs space. it needs room for new. it needs to no longer represent life doing that work, that dedication, that place. my studio needs a refacing. the sustain pedal holds its breath.

i got an email from a lovely woman somewhere in new mexico. she wants to order a baker’s dozen cds and wrote that she includes owning them up in her wish list of “large sacks of $100 bills and 25 hugs and smiles received daily for life”. i’m grateful to her and her dedication to analog music. it will be fun to pack it all up and ship it to her, though i will have to direct her to amazon for a few titles i no longer have in stock. her order is a reminder. and even in these days when i have been actively submitting titles to pandora for streaming (there are now nine titles available on pandora.com and everything on digital platforms everywhere) it is refreshing to go to the stock of cds and pull out shrink-wrapped copies of music to ship off. the sustain pedal giggles.

i’m getting anxious to finish the studio cleanse. to walk in and see possibility. to sit and listen to the quiet. to see the new project, the new song, the new composition through fog, fallow and passing time. to one day again depress the sustain pedal and place my hands on dusted keys under a full stick. i don’t know when that will be.

the sustain pedal whispers, “whoosh”.

*****

listen on PANDORA to a growing library

listen or download from my little corner on iTUNES

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

THAT MORNING SOMEDAY from BLUEPRINT FOR MY SOUL ©️ 1996 kerri sherwood


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chipping away, i suppose. [merely-a-thought monday]

long island has nicer springs than wisconsin. considerably warmer temperatures, more consistent sunshine, earlier flowers, i remember my birthday in late march as sweater-weather, with many birthday pictures taken in front of the yellow forsythia at the front corner of our yard where the grass met the curb of the street. not so much in wisconsin. it’s still cold, still windy, still cloudy, still rainy, even still snowy. as my birthday rolls around i am always hopeful that it will suddenly change and there will be 60 degree days and we will hike with no coats and no 180 earmuffs. invariably disappointed, we layer up and hike anyway. saturday was no exception. no in-like-a-lion-out-like-a-lamb for this state.

birthdays always seem to be a time of reflection. the generosity of wishes texted, emailed, called, zoomed, facetimed, mailed, shipped and wrapped on the doorstep are a heaping portion of goodness and they enveloped me in warmth all day. the lion of march did not reign the day. instead, the only roar i heard was laughter on the trail, on facetime with my niece, on zoom with best friends, reading the glittery-unicorn-poop card from my other niece, the lingering echoes of my girl and her boyfriend singing to me, my son’s voice on the other end of the phone, a dinner invite from him and his boyfriend, singing memojis, exploding confetti on a text from crunch, music and spattered painting in an ecard from my mother-in-law, words in messages penned or typed, thoughtfully chosen. i lit my new candle, named my adorable new gardenia bonsai, and pulled my concentric circles ever tighter to me, hugging them back. there are days i think that every day should absolutely be lived like a birthday.

there was a common denominator in messages. my husband cleverly made a birthday book about life and love from a pa-pad, pads of scrap paper cut and glued by my sweet poppo in his effort to save trees and the environment. a dear friend from elementary school wrote that she hoped all my wishes come true. my oldest friend ever, a cherished friendship that has sustained through the years, wrote that she hoped i was celebrating. in one card that wished me “all things beautiful” i read, “may you always see the beauty in this world and be encouraged to keep pressing on, regardless of the stumbling blocks or hurdles that stand in the way.” in another was simply the word “forever”. another made me laugh aloud, poking fun at growing older. another wished me a better year. and one reminded me that “we are all works in progress.” in that card, my wise friend added “to ever evolving you” to the message “to another good year of chipping away…”

ever evolving.

the spring rains gather on the deck. they clean off the last of the snow and dirt that have been left there through the winter. like periods on sentences, they mark a new time of growth, an end to fallow, warmth on its way. there have been so many periods on sentences this year. too many. it is a time of wondering. clarity is elusive. it is a time of giving over to not-knowing.

i suppose it is possible that this is the lesson after all. not-knowing. ever. i suppose that spring – even in wisconsin – could surprise me. i suppose no time is really a time of stasis. i suppose that is why riverstones are so smooth. i suppose that, no matter what, the promise is to be ever evolving.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY


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next. in the sun. [k.s. friday]

an ice field, this river. devoid of color, devoid of life. but below, it is teeming with fish, perhaps turtles, swimming, swimming, waiting for a thaw.

it is much like my studio. it, right now, is devoid of color, devoid of life. i suppose, like the river, it is teeming underneath. but, for the moment, it is an ice field.

i pass by my studio every day. some days i walk in to open the blinds, to allow the southern sun to fill the corners. i walk in later to close them, to keep out the cold and the dark. especially the dark.

my piano waits, swimming silently like the fish and the turtles; it is waiting for a thaw. mine.

i don’t know what’s next. the notes – scraps and notebooks – for the decades of composing and recording and songwriting i’ve done that used to pile all over the top of the keyboard, spilling into the body, slipping onto the strings under the full-stick lid-up, stacked on the bench – have been put away.

i don’t know what’s next. the music – for the decades of work i’ve done that used to pile all over the top of the keyboard, spilling into the body, slipping onto the strings under the full-stick lid-up, stacked on the bench – has been put away.

i don’t know what’s next. there’s a blank journal. a notebook. paper and a clipboard. pencils. an aspen leaf, a few high mountain rocks. there’s a peg from one of elton john’s pianos and a tiny sign that says “i came to live out loud”. waiting. the sun is gathering in the nooks and crannies and diligently pushes the dark cold away, waiting.

my footprints will fill in like these tracks on the river. the work i’ve done, the work i used to do, will fill in, will look less and less like footprints. little by little the wind will blow snow into the tracks and they will eventually dissolve into the rest.

and next will keep waiting. up the river. in the sun.

*****

music to download in the meantime, before next

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY


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#pow. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

“winter is a season of recovery and preparation.” (paul theroux)

ten inches already. that’s what the weather app says. another several on the way. it’s stunning out. snow-magic everywhere.

my phone camera log has many, many photographs of snow. a lot of these are from my daughter, a professional snowboard coach and instructor and an avid and passionate snow-girl in the high mountains of colorado. every one of them makes me yearn to be there…in the snow-covered fallow of winter, the time of energy storing up underground ready to burst forth in spring and bring new life, a new day.

yet climate change barrels forward, knocking down the door. “we have arrived at a moment of decision. our home – earth – is in grave danger. what is at risk of being destroyed is not the planet itself, of course, but the conditions that have made it hospitable for human beings.” (al gore)

global warming threatens. the last five years were the hottest on record and CO2 levels are historic. the trends are dangerous. the weather is extreme. the long-term effects of decisions we make now will change the trajectory of what is possible and impossible for our children, their children, the children of their children. we, each of us, need be responsible.

“protect our winters POW was started in 2007 by pro snowboarder jeremy jones, who witnessed first-hand the impact of climate change on our mountains. POW’s mission is to engage and mobilize passionate outdoor people to educate others about the growing problem of climate change and its negative effects on the environment, to protect the places and lifestyles they love. POW is a community of athletes, scientists, creatives, and business leaders advancing non-partisan policies that protect our world today and for future generations.” (protectourwinters.org)

2021. i cannot imagine – in recent years – a time when recovery and preparation were more vitally necessary, more heartbreakingly essential and when potential disaster was more imminent. we face down the raging pandemic, politicial chaos, heartless social injustices, vitriol echoing from one coast of star-spangled-banner-land to the other, wild and extreme weather events, bitter fallout from any and all of these.

the fallow of this winter need be rich with nutrients to conquer the acerbic byproducts of this time. the snow will help, i hope. yes, the fallow. this long, long winter. maybe snowmelt in the spring will reveal a wash of positive movement, rejuvenation, renewal.

“i don’t want your hope. i don’t want you to be hopeful. i want you to panic and act as if the house was on fire.” (greta thunberg)

it is our earth – graciously granted to us for a time. it is our absolute obligation – imperative for the future, any future – to act. like it matters.

“perhaps the rewards of solving climate change are so compelling, so nurturing and so natural a piece of the human soul that we can’t help but do it.” (auden schendler)

“the eyes of all future generations are on you…” (greta thunberg)

yes, greta. and what will each of us choose to do?

eleven inches now. we celebrate each flake.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

visit PROTECT OUR WINTERS.ORG


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held in grace.

it was snowing when we woke up this morning. huge white flakes. gorgeous. it’s april 2 so that isn’t so unusual in wisconsin, but we all have spring knocking at our hearts – waiting for it to happen. we walked in it…heavy snow boots, down jackets, earmuffs, gloves…it was cold…we were exhilarated. much of the snow was melting as we walked, the intermittent weak sun warm enough to melt it, just as the grey clouds made more snow swirl around us. we talked about waiting.

living with an artist and being an artist can be a challenge. we both feel the time of fallow needed to generate creativity. we get frustrated in that fallow. we rest in that fallow. we are held in the grace of it. and hold vigil for the spring.early tulip

his newest paintings are part of a new series. i stand in front of his easel and marvel.  the series is called “held in grace”. we hold each other in grace. (well, most of the time.) others hold us in grace. our universe holds us in grace. God holds us in grace. the freedom to be (in our case, human) grows in grace and green sprouts push through the fallow, becoming exquisite expressions – be they tulips or amazing paintings or pieces of music that make us cry or a dance we share in the kitchen.

we are waiting. and in each wait-full moment i am grateful. for the white flakes, the green sprouts, the fallow that makes me yearning-crazy and the ordinary extraordinary moments that i know exist because i can feel them. because i am lucky enough to be alive. because i am lucky enough to be held in grace.

www.kerrisherwood.com

itunes: kerri sherwood


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19 years ago today

RELEASED FROM THE HEART november 11, 1995

RELEASED FROM THE HEART
november 11, 1995

19 years ago today it was snowing. this morning i look out the sunroom window at golden leaves on the ground, a grey sky, rain falling. not as stunning as snow falling, but still part of the plan…a season of preparation, of going fallow in the overcast to come back stronger in the sun…

19 years ago today it was frenetic…the official release of my first original album with a big concert to celebrate it. family and friends had flown or driven in to be here and i was balancing my time between kirsten (who was 5), craig (who was 2), practicing and visiting and getting all the details in place…

19 years ago today ‘released from the heart’ entered the world…funny how you can be nervous and sure at the same time. this heart-project – so raw-ly (is that a word?) me…scary to put ‘out there’ and yet i was so ready.

19 years ago today i played the piece ‘galena’ on stage to start the release concert..originally written, spur of the moment, in galena, illinois where three of my friends and i were mini-vacationing. we had some amazing mystical moments during that trip, things you simply can’t explain. you know what i mean; those things that are happenstance, but aren’t happenstance. we sat around a table at a bistro, enjoying wine, laughing, talking, listening to a piano player who was accompanying various servers as they sang broadway tunes. my friends, carol, jo, patti, volunteered me to play the piano. i wasn’t about to duplicate the broadway theme, so i noodled around and wrote a piece on the spot (later to be called ‘galena’.) a family dining there insisted on buying the recording of this piece, which didn’t exist. one of the members of the family persisted and tracked me down in wisconsin, asking me to please record this piece that had meant so much to their celebration that evening. motivation. an impetus. it pushed my buttons and i started exploring the options.

that’s where the most amazing producer comes into the picture. our first recording encounter, which was also our first meeting, was not without challenge. my playing was measured, unemotional. ken’s suggestion was to get someone else to play the music i had written. i’ll never forget that. i was appalled. so we re-entered the project, building a remote studio in one of the concert venues at northwestern university. the day we started our recording there was blistering hot and the air conditioner units on the roof began to leak into the auditorium. we laid comforters on the chairs and could still hear the persistent drip, drip, drip. so we waited. two more dates there and at least twenty-six hours of playing and re-playing and re-playing and we had completed the fifteen pieces on the album. a zillion details remained: editing, mastering, graphic design, getting a UPC, cd (and cassette) replication choices, copyrighting my music, seeking distribution channels……

thank you to all of you who, 19 years ago, were a part of this beginning for me. and thank you to all of you who have been on the journey with me along the way. your prodding, your enthusiasm, your quiet help, your encouragement, your making-me-think, your life wake-ups have all been exactly what i needed. granted, i, like anyone, would have loved an easier journey, but then it wouldn’t have been this very journey. and so i trust the design of it all and try to learn each of the lessons.

and so 19 years ago today i released that first of what is now 15 albums and a few singles. and today? today i sat and listened to every track of ‘released from the heart.’ i am on the way to recording a new album…a new vocal album. it’s been 12 years since ‘as sure as the sun’ was released and it’s time. here’s the thing, though. as i think about this new album, as i come out of a long fallow, i wonder. i’m not 36 anymore. i’m 55 and by the time this album is done i will be 56. and i want to be relevant.

so today, 19 years later, i’ve decided to share the stories, the ones behind the pieces i composed. in concert it is natural for me to do that; people have asked me if i would record albums with the stories as well. i personally can’t imagine listening to me speak every time i heard the music – you know that thing about hearing your own speaking voice on tape – seems blahblahblahblah-ish. but i will write the stories…and, in this new day, share them in a new way. and in the writing-back and writing-forward, i’m hoping for clear relevance. the other night john the drummer said, “it’s not your job to determine relevance. it’s your job to put your work out there.” as i listen to this album and watch my little candle flicker next to me, i’m beginning to suspect that relevance is already there. for each of us.

RELEASED FROM THE HEART november 11, 1995

RELEASED FROM THE HEART
november 11, 1995

 

 

go to iTunes for the album RELEASED FROM THE HEART

kerrisherwood.com