Sunday, December 16, 2007

Dan Fogelberg Left Us

I always wondered what it would be like to go to one of Dan Fogelberg's concerts. We were going to go on his last tour, but it was cancelled because he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

The Living Legacy will be creating a memorial fund in Dan's name with the Prostate Cancer Foundation. This is a good cause even if you weren't a fan of his.

Dan would like that.

Singers can have such an influence on our lives. Tonight I'm grieving a man I never met, a man who doesn't know I exist, and all because of the music he brought to my life.

I love the heart in his music. That's why it meant so much to me.

My thoughts and prayers will stay with the family for some time to come.

Grief is difficult. I wish there was an easier way to leave this planet, a way that left us able to connect with our loved ones.

Dan's family, though, has the comfort of knowing that his life made a difference to others. If I died today, I don't know if my family would have that same comfort. I'd like to think so, but I just don't know.

Would your loved ones be able to say that about you? Have you made a difference in the world? Have you made a difference to them?

I'm finding words difficult tonight. I think I'll just close with one of my favorite songs of Dan's called Nether Lands.

Nether Lands

High on this mountain
The clouds down below
I'm feeling so strong and alive
From this rocky perch
I'll continue to search
For the wind and the snow and the sky
Oh I want a lover and I want some friends
And I want to live in the sun
And I want to do all the things that I never have done

Sunny bright mornings and pale moonlit nights
Keep me from feeling alone
Now I'm learning to fly and this freedom is like
Nothing that I've ever known
Oh I've seen the bottom and I've been on top
But mostly I've lived in between
And where do you go when you get to the end of your dream
Off in the Nether Lands I heard the sound
Like the beating of heavenly wings
And deep in my brain I can hear a refrain
Of my soul as she rises and sings
Anthems to glory and anthems to love
And hymns filled with earthly delight
Like the songs that the darkness composes to worship the light

Once in a vision I came on some woods
And stood at a fork in the road
My choices were clear yet I froze with the fear
Of not knowing which way to go
Oh, one road was simple acceptance of life
The other road offered sweet peace
When I made my decision
My vision became my release

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Jon Foreman Sings His Pain

The Cure For Pain is one of the singles on Jon Foreman's Fall EP. For a short time you can download it free here.I don't know how long this link will last, so I'd suggest you go there now.

Just be prepared. If you've experienced loss or pain (haven't we all?) you'll find this song fits the description of another song title, Killing Me Softly With His Song.

Jon Foreman shared his thoughts about this song, and they're worth reading. We've come to expect honesty from this band, and we see it again in the lead singer.

He gave me an idea for Christmas gifts. First, though, his words:

The Cure For Pain: I wrote this one in Texas on a day off. I was reflecting on the passing of time. I have been playing music in Switchfoot for about ten years. During that period, I have been fighting pain or running away from it in a myriad of ways. And yet the pain is a constant. I have had some amazing moments singing gravity away but the water keeps on falling.

I began to think the suffering I see around me, I think of the pain of a grandmother dying of cancer. Of a friend killed by a train. I think of the pain of death, of failure, of rejection, the pain of a father losing his only son. And I came to the conclusion that I cannot run from pain any longer.

Most of us experience pain, but we find that others don't want to hear about it when we're hurting.

A classic example is with death. I've mentioned it before, but it bears repeating.

My Mom passed in early 2006. I still miss her terribly, as does my daughter. Yet people started telling my daughter to get over her a week after she went back to school.

It's not just kids who do that, though. The first person to tell me to stop grieving did so 3 weeks after she passed.

Three weeks. Three weeks of grieving for the a woman who was there from before my first breath, who raised me secure in her love, who extended that same love to her grandkids and largely influenced who I am as a parent.

Three weeks.

It's not just loss, though. Nobody wants to hear when somebody is hurting. Maybe it's because we're running from our own pain.

If you want to give a great gift this year, find somebody who needs your compassion. Then listen to them, really listen. Don't try to solve their problems, just be there for them. I can tell you from experience that just one person can make a difference.

Maybe it will even help you to ease any pain of your own.


My book is due at the publishers in a few days. I hope to write more between then and Christmas, but I still have shopping to do.

For those of you who have respected my grieving, you've given me a great gift. You are rare people. To all of you, Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Jon Foreman has a way with words, not just in his songs, but in everything he says.

His first solo EP, Fall, was released today. It's a pretty special CD to start with, but I can already tell that it's going to be one of those offerings that gets better each time you listen.

One of the things that draws me to the CD is his consistency. The things he says in interviews and through his blogs show us a lot about his character. His music shows the same consistency.

This is taken from his blog today:

That's my hope for these tunes: that they serve you. Let these songs wash your feet off.

He also posted a bulletin on MySpace that I want to quote:

But on another level the independence bit is only partially true. None of us are fully autonomous. Ever. We need each other, thank God! I'm thankful that I've been given these songs. I'm thankful that many of you have really believed in our music as a band over the years. I'm thankful that God has given me pockets and something to put in em. I'm thankful for my family, for tim, chad, drew, and romey. I guess I'm saying that we're never completely independent. We all need each other.

You could think that this is just PR, saying what he thinks will help sell his music. That could be true, but I doubt it.

I doubt it because I've had the pleasure of meeting him (and the rest of Switchfoot) a few times now, and that's just how they are.

I doubt it because I get unsolicited emails from people. Once they realize you're a fan of Switchfoot, they tell you stories. Jon Foreman has touched people in ways he doesn't even realize.

What makes it even better is that his bandmates are just like him that way. Sometimes I wonder if they have any idea what they do for people.

This blog was intended to highlight those who make the world better by doing things for others without even knowing it. I realize Switchfoot is beginning to appear here fairly frequently. There's a reason for that.

I'll never have the vast influence Switchfoot and Jon Foreman have. I'll never be able to make people think the way they can.

I can contribute, though, through introducing them to others.

That's why you'll be seeing more posts about them here. That's also why you'll see a few comments in my book about them.

I love the music, but even more I love that they have proven you can achieve fame and still keep your values.

I suggest you check out the Fall EP. For now it's available only through downloads, but you can get hard copies in January.

You can purchase it at

If you like music that makes you think, music that you'll find something different in each time you listen, Fall is a great choice.

I realize I didn't talk much about the songs on the EP. Switchfoot fans, please feel free to post your impressions. Readers who aren't familiar with Switchfoot will beneift.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


Some people think that God doesn't give us desires we can't fulfill. If this is true, I have something more destined for my life...but I need a little guidance.

What do you do when your longing for something just increases with every passing year, but you still don't know what to do about it?

I ache to make a difference in the world, to have it be a better place because I was here. I've been blessed with a lot of good people in my life. I've seen a lot of beauty. I want to give back.

I've tried elsewhere to describe my burning to be a music performer again. I'm learning guitar (because woodwinds aren't very useful unless you're playing in an orchestra), but that doesn't mean I'll ever find a way to perform again. Playing an instrument just makes the desire grow stronger.

I wanna see miracles
To see the world change

I think of those words from Switchfoot's song 24 a lot. (It's on The Beautiful Letdown CD.) I just don't know what to do about it.

I'm writing a book (due to the publisher in December) about music careers. I know there are other books about that topic and I wouldn't have proposed it to the publisher, but he came to me. I'm glad he did.

The other books are good, but they're basically reference books. Each one has it's own strengths, and all are great for getting ideas you may not have thought of, but they lack the passion that I am putting into my book.

I'm trying to help readers realize that they have to be true to themselves, even (and especially) in their careers. Music can be incredibly powerful, so it's not a field to go into just because you think you can make some money.

The best way to be happy in your career is to do something meaningful. My book will show how each job can contribute to something that impacts others. I want to help readers find a career that doesn't entail giving away their souls.

Maybe I can contribute something to the world through this book. Maybe it will make a difference to somebody.

I'll do my best.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Holy Longing

Lately I've been reading The Holy Longingby Ronald Rolheiser. I heard of it through the priest at the church we usually attend. He started a group to talk about it on Thursday nights this summer. Unfortunately, I'm not able to attend the group, but I'm glad I bought the book.

This book touches me on a lot of levels. I'm normally a fast reader, but this one has taken time. There is so much to think about, to contemplate. The book alternates between touching your heart and soul with it's understanding and giving you new ways to look at things.

It grabbed me early on when it talked about desire. I'm going to quote a passage because I could never justify it by trying to describe it.

Whatever the expression, everyone is ultimately talking about the same thing - an unquenchable fire, a restlessness, a longing, a disquiet, a hunger, a loneliness, a gnawing nostalgia, a wildness that cannot be tamed, a congenital all-embracing ache that lies at the center of human experience and is the ultimate force that drives everything else. This disease is universal. Desire gives no exemptions.

It does however admit of different moods and faces. Sometimes it hits us as pain - dissatisfaction, frustration, and aching. At other times its grip is not felt as painful at all, but as a deep energy, as something beautiful, as an inexorable pull, more important than anything else inside us, toward love, beauty, creativity, and a future beyond our limited present. Desire can show itself as aching pain or delicious hope.

First I want to say that the comment about a "gnawing nostalgia" surprised me. Ever since I was a child, when encountering something especially beautfiul (usually related to nature, like one of those perfect sunsets or a day when the breeze on your face is just to perfect for words) I have felt nostalgic. I have often wondered...nostalgic for what? As a child, I hadn't lived enough life yet to be nostaligic for anything in particular, but I was aware of it and wondered about it even then.

Reading this passage was the first time I realized that others felt it, too.

When my faith was strong, when I had no doubt about God's existance, you would think there would be peace, but even then an ache was present. I think it may be an aching for the presence of God.

Yet there was peace, too, along with the "inexorable pull" Father Rolheiser describes. Peace and nostalgia. Peace and an aching restlessness. I could never make sense of it.

In my blog I frequently talk about wanting to make a difference in the world. I realize now that the author's description of desire is exactly how I feel in my drive to make impact the lives of others.

Then there's music, of course. It's always back to music for me. Rolheiser's definition completely describes my experience with music. At a great concert (whether Switchfoot, symphony, or any other moving concert) there's that incredible joy as music fills my soul. Sometimes the beauty seems too perfect to be real. At the same time there's an ache, a longing, in part because the concert can't go on forever and I never want it to stop.

It might be more accurate to say that I don't want the way music fills me to stop.

It was even the same when I played in band in school and college. Sometimes things just click so well when you're performing. All the players seem to understand, to be in sync with each other. The music is effortless and wonderous, and the musicians are one with each other.

At those concerts, it's hard when it's over. As a performer, you are not just a listener but a participant in the music. It's part of you while at the same time it's all around you.

Afterwards, whether attending a concert or performing in one, there's that "concert high" mixed with the low of knowing you have to wait for more...and that, in a way, it is never enough.

In so many ways, music and God are interrelated. I think that God uses music to bring people closer to Him. I think He created something incredibly powerful with music, which is why Satan doesn't hesitate to use it also. As we all know, the power of music can be used to inspire bad as well as good.

Maybe that's why so much of my blog features musicians. They have incredible power to reach others. With that should come responsibility.

Authors can have incredible power, too. Ronald Rolheiser proved that with "The Holy Longing."

I'll probably talk more about this book in future posts. I plan to purchase at least one more book of his.

Now I find myself with one more desire. I want to be able to write as powerfully as Ronald Rolheiser does. I want to touch souls the way he does.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Can Music Change A Life?

I feel so silly. I've been online for almost as long as online has been available, but I've just now discovered the "post to blog" feature on YouTube.

I guess that's because I don't use YouTube all that much. Now that I see how useful it is can be, I've started a new blog called
Can Music Change A Life? It's going to be filled with videos that affect me and others.

Please feel free to contribute by sending me links to your favorites and how they impact your life. I'd like to make this blog a tribute to the musicians who not only give us great music, but also great memories and great things to think about.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

My Chemical Romance

When my daughter first started listening to My Chemical Romance, I knew I needed to learn more about them. I trust her a lot, but doesn't their name imply approval of drug and alcohol abuse? Why would she like a band like that?

I started by asking her what she liked best about them. She told me it was their passion. I could immediately relate to that. I like most musical genres, but a band doesn't become a favorite unless they sing like they care more about sharing the music than about getting wealthy.

She showed me a DVD about them. In it, they chronicle Gerard Way's struggle with drug and alcohol abuse. Despite their name, this is a band that most definitely does not condone the drug lifestyle. They deliberately used footage that would discourage others. I can't imagine most people allowing others to see them in their worst moments, but this band obviously realizes one of the benefits of having fans. They can use the mistakes in their lives to influence others.

My daughter then played me some of her favorites. She was right when she mentioned passion. This band sounds like they are playing because they need to. It's who they are.

Since that time, some of their songs have become an important part of our lives. The Ghost of You is one example. In that song, there are eight memorable words:

You are never coming home, never coming home

When my mother was in the hospital in the last month of her life, those words haunted me. Every day on the way to visit her they played over and over in my mind. Unfortunately, they proved true. She never did come home. That song still brings back those memories.

Another meaningful song for us is Helena. This song is about Gerard's grandmother. I love it when bands aren't afraid to show love to their families.

There is a casket scene in the Helena video. At one point you can see and hear Gerard choke up for a moment. My daughter watched this over and over after losing her Grandmother. Her friends never understood her grief, but MCR did. They showed that it is right to honor our loved ones in our grief.

MCR has a new CD, The Black Parade. There is a lot to like in it. Here's my favorite part from the title song:

When I was a young boy
My father took me into the city
To see a marching band.
He said, "Son when you grow up would you be the savior of the broken, the beaten and the damned?"
He said "Will you defeat them, your demons, and all the non-believers, the plans that they have made?"

In the song Cancer, Gerard is singing about his last days. The key line, which I know is true for many when they are dying, is
'Cause the hardest part of this is leaving you.
To some, it might appear that MCR is obsessed by death. The newest CD is, in fact, about a death journey. After seeing how we avoid death in our society, I think a CD like this has a lot to offer.
We need to be able to talk better about death. We need to share our fears and our grief. It seems that when a person grieves, the only thing others want to do is get them to stop.
Maybe that's just a way of trying to help. It's much better to help through understanding. That's one reason why I enjoy this CD.
For parents who may quote other lines from other songs to convince me of how bad MCR is for kids, I can say that I don't know every word of every song. I just know how they've influenced my daughter, and it's all been positive. I'm sure some kids find the negative.
If your child is being badly influenced by the music of My Chemical Romance, by all means take the music out of your home. If not, don't judge by their looks and what you may have heard. Ask her what she likes about them. You might be pleasantly surprised.
In closing, here's a quote from Gerard. It must touch some hearts because it's been posted all over the internet.
Hey girls, you're beautiful.
Don't look at those stupid magazines with sticklike models. Eat healthy and exercise.
Don't let anyone tell you your not good enough.You are too good.
Love your family with all your heart and listen to it.
You are gorgeous, whether you're a size 3 or a size 14. It doen't matter what you look like on the outside, as long as you're a good person, as long as you respect others.
I know it's been told hundreds of times before, but it's true. Hey girls, you are beautiful.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


In my last post, I wrote about John Shore's new book and his emphasis on respect. It occurred to me that many readers will feel they treat people with respect even when their beliefs are different. Maybe most of you do. I just have a few questions to ask. Though it will be written with Christians' attitude towards non-Christians (because that is the focus of John's book) you can use the same questions to examine how you treat others with regards to political or other beliefs.

1. As a Christian, when you meet someone who is not a Christian, is your immediate reaction to try to convert that person?

2. When meeting a non-Christian, is your first reaction that you have an obligation to try to convert that person?

3. When you talk about your beliefs and the person you are talking to disagrees, do you think that person is going to hell?

4. Do you think that those who claim to be Christian but don't go to your particular kind of church are truly not Christian, and therefore going to hell? (I'm Catholic. I'm used to this attitude from others.)

5. What happens when you try to convert somebody and they just don't get it? Do you continue a friendship?

6. Do you have anybody in your life who you truly care for who is not a Christian?

7. Are there any non-Christians in your life who you see for who they are, and not just as a conversion project?

You get the idea. Jesus treated everybody with love. If you're Christian, follow His example.

If you're not Christian, Jesus still offers a great example to follow.

Happy Valentine's Day.

John Shore

On any given day I can expect somebody to come knocking on my door to tell my why I am not "saved" and why the information they want to give me offers me the only path into heaven. Fortunately, my dog tends to spend her time growling at them, providing me with a quick exit.

Sometimes I wonder how many doors they knock on before finding somebody willing to listen. I wonder if they actually have any success bringing people to believe the way that they do.

John Shore has recently released a book called I'm O.K., You're Not:The Message We're Sending Unbelievers And Why We Should Stop . He has some good suggestions for those who find that trying to convert others doesn't work all that well.

I don't want to give away too much because it's worth your time to read the book. I'll give you one rather big clue to his approach, though. John advocates the use of respect. Yes, he actually thinks it's a good idea to represent Jesus by treating people the same way He did.

What a novel idea. Yet if it's so obvious, why don't people just do it?

Though John's book focusses on the way Christians sometimes treat non-Christians, the same applies in almost every area of life. Think about all the arguments people get into about politics and other hot-button issues. Rather than treating people with respect, we see those who think in ways that we disagree with as someone to try to change.

In other words, I'm right, you're wrong.

Read John's book, even if you're not an evangelist. He makes a lot of good points about living in general. If you read beyond the obvious, his words will give you a lot to think about.

John Shore makes liberal use of humor. You'll laugh out loud frequently, while at the same time recognizing yourself (maybe even painfully) in some of what he says.

Read the book. If you take it to heart, you'll find your own little corner of the earth becomes a better place.