Sometimes I listen to myself play the piano and just marvel at what God has poured out through me. I sit back and admire the love and feeling he’s flooded into and out of my soul and through my fingers. I’m blessed to share God’s love with others through music. That’s such a humbling blessing. I don’t seek my own glory, but rather feel humbled at what God has imbued me with.
I’m a deeply emotional person who often struggles to show how I truly feel. But sometimes my fingers touch the ivory and do the talking. I’m grateful when people appreciate the depth of feeling and the little pieces of my soul I pour into my music. I feel sad when they think I’m just another person who plays the piano. Another kid in Utah who took piano lessons. A dime a dozen. When they don’t connect with what I’m lovingly imparting to them. When they’re not into it like I am. I really do wanna feel loved, special, and unique. I love everyone even if they don’t always show me the deep attention I long for.
I feel so blessed and heard and understood when people say I have a gift and when they truly thank me for pouring out a bit of myself to them through the piano. I have put many many hours into honing my craft. I appreciate it when people see the fruits of these labors. Those 12 hours a week when I was 15 years old and countless hours before and after. The sacrifice. The missed time with friends.
My talent on the piano is all thanks to my God. He loves me. He loves you. Open your heart to him. Listen. Heal. Find what you love in this world and drink it in. Jesus lives. You are loved. Here’s a playlist that I hope touches your heart as much as it does mine. It’s my gift to you from God.
Hide your mental illness? Why not instead embrace your mental skillness (there’s an interesting TED talk about that by Joshua Walters).
I have bipolar I, also referred to as manic depressive disorder.
I wrestle with deciding whether or not to share this with my employer. To be honest, in job applications where it gives you the option to self-identify any conditions I typically put “prefer not to answer.” On the one hand, it’s helpful for them to know so they can keep me in check if I start getting sped up. On the other hand, I feel I cope well enough to where it doesn’t affect my work, and actually in many ways ENHANCES it so long as I’m careful. The risk of people not wanting me on their team because they might perceive me to be unstable without first getting to know me is too great for me to check the button that says I’m bipolar. But perhaps I’ve been short-sighted.
I feel that it’s BECAUSE of my mental illness, not in spite of it, that I’m able to be as creative and quick-thinking as I am.
Robin Williams. The rate at which that man could shift between voices and characters was dizzying. And it was spectacular. It was brilliant. And it was celebrated. The man was a manic depressive. Kurt Cobain. Carrie Fisher. The list goes on.
I’m able to generate ideas more quickly than others. Manic depressives are skilled at making associations between things. They find connections. Sometimes even connections between things that logically shouldn’t be connected, but that can be if you do so by a very small thread. In reality, every word, every concept, every idea is connected to another one in some way, just as every human is (as Disney’s animated Pocahontas sang, “we are all connected to each other, in a circle, in a hoop that never ends”). The connection (especially between ideas and seemingly unrelated thoughts and actions) is often tenuous, but there’s always one there.
It’s when multiple layers and long chains of tenuous connections are formed in the mind and played out and followed in reality that manic depressives can get into trouble and spin out of control. They lose touch with reality. This can be very beneficial in the creative field because it helps us think, live, and breathe without limits, pushing the envelope. But it can also lead us to believe our ideas are RIGHT and that other people’s are wrong. It’s our way or the highway. We are rebels. We stray outside our lane. We think we’ve been enlightened and see things others don’t (which in my opinion, we truly DO at times). But then we push our agenda. We go too far. We say things we shouldn’t. We try to take charge in an area we’re not ready to yet. And we do it without style and grace at times. We’re too blunt, too bold, and that burns us if we’re not careful. But when we learn to harness our passion, sit back, relax, and breathe, we can be incredibly targetted and effective in our work. This is what I’ve found to be true in my career.
This might sound far-fetched and really “out there” to some, but at least hear me out. Perhaps the ultimate root of this whole mental illness problem and other similar ones is that we are mortal human beings with finite minds and limited capacities. Our feeble minds can scarcely fathom even the smallest sliver of how divine beings think.
Flashes of inspiration. To me, those are manifestations of the divine beings we truly are. We are divine beings, spiritual beings, having a human experience. Pouring the soul of a celestial human who has been developing for perhaps hundreds of millions of years into a small, clunky, clumsy, mortal tabernacle of clay naturally results in some spillage. This spillage to me is what we label as mental illness.
Let’s just be more compassionate. More understanding of those who think differently. Those who live differently. Those who have a different sexual orientation than our own. Because we’re each divine beings. We’re different for a reason. We’re different so we can strengthen each other and grow into the greatest measure of our potential.
So be kind. Cut some slack. Seek understanding. Love. And stay blessed.
This song is so incredibly deep. And one that communicates much more eloquently what I might be getting at.
It’s Colors of the Wind from Pocahontas.
… You think I’m an ignorant savage And you’ve been so many places I guess it must be so But still I cannot see If the savage one is me How can there be so much that you don’t know You don’t know
… You think you own whatever land you land on The Earth is just a dead thing you can claim But I know every rock and tree and creature Has a life, has a spirit, has a name
… You think the only people who are people Are the people who look and think like you But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger You’ll learn things you never knew, you never knew
… Have you ever heard the wolf cry to the blue corn moon Or asked the grinning bobcat why he grinned Can you sing with all the voices of the mountain Can you paint with all the colors of the wind Can you paint with all the colors of the wind
… Come run the hidden pine trails of the forest Come taste the sun sweet berries of the Earth Come roll in all the riches all around you And for once, never wonder what they’re worth
… The rainstorm and the river are my brothers The heron and the otter are my friends And we are all connected to each other In a circle, in a hoop that never ends
… How high does the sycamore grow? If you cut it down, then you’ll never know
… And you’ll never hear the wolf cry to the blue corn moon For whether we are white or copper skinned We need to sing with all the voices of the mountain We need to paint with all the colors of the wind
… You can own the Earth and still All you’ll own is Earth until You can paint with all the colors of the wind
I love this hymn. It’s about how we can move forward with our Savior as our guide.
Guide Us, O Thou Great Jehovah Lyrics
Guide us, o thou great Jehovah. Guide us to the promised land. We are weak, but thou art able; hold us with thy pow’rful hand. Holy Spirit, Holy Spirit, feed us till the Savior comes. Feed us till the Savior comes.
Open, Jesus, Zion’s fountains; Let her richest blessings come. Let the fiery, cloudy pillar guard us to this holy home. Great Redeemer, Great Redeemer, bring, oh, bring the welcome day. Bring, oh, bring the welcome day!
When the earth begins to tremble, bid our fearful thoughts be still; when thy judgments spread destruction, keep us safe on Zion’s hill. Singing praises, singing praises, songs of glory unto thee. Songs of glory unto thee.
Text: William Williams, 1717–1791. First verse trans. by Peter Williams, 1722–1796
The new Coldplay album came out on Friday, and I’m digging it. Alex Haitz put it best in his review when he called it “so refreshing” and “back to form, but new stuff.” It’s definitely highly conceptual and with the exception of a few songs, it doesn’t have much of a pop feel to it. To me that’s ok and even exciting.
I like to be taken on a journey when I listen to an album, and that’s exactly what Coldplay does here. The tracks are deeply emotional, and while some would say the shift from one song to the next feels jarring, I don’t agree. It’s one of those albums that you have to just sit back and let happen to you.
Some have said that Everyday Life will end up looking a lot like the more experimental Ghost Stories that was followed up the next year by the pop-heavy A Head Full of Dreams. And if that’s the case, I’m fine with it.
To me, the beauty of Coldplay is that they’re able to do that—get experimental, dabble in a multitude of different genres, and then come back with some pop hits that appeal to a much broader audience. It’s like they’ve got a little something for everyone. Want a melancholic acoustic piece? They’ve got it. A stadium-rocking pop smash hit? They can deliver that also. Or if you want a mixture of the two, they’re also capable of that, all in one song.
With that introduction, here are my thoughts on each track in the new album, Everyday Life.
This piece starts off with what sounds like cello or bass, and then you have a fuller string orchestra come in over the top. Yet, it all sounds a bit muffled. It’s got a melancholic feel, but with about a minute left in the song you get this beautiful weeping (that’s the best way I can describe it) violin solo. It’s a very emotional instrumental intro to the album and it sets the stage for the rest of the journey they’ll take us on.
The first track almost melts right into this one, but it sounds like we’re getting some acoustic guitar now, and the pace gradually picks up as a heartbeat-sounding beat comes in. More drums and layers are added.
The more I listen to this one, the more it reminds me of the opening track on their Parachutes album. I think it’s the drum line that does it.
Chris comes in with the vocals. Eventually, it builds to a smooth, groovy little guitar section. This song has me feeling like Aladdin taking a nice cruise on his magic carpet at a relaxing, yet swift 60 miles per hour. We pass a camel, salute the dude riding it, and keep skimming along the sand.
Piano, bass, a western, sheriff ridin’ on a horse kind of feel. It’s like I’m riding through a dark old town, shining a flashlight into old trading posts and taverns. Everything’s empty, seems like a ghost town.
This song has a really cool feel to it. Smooth, mysterious, a bit brooding. After a recording of a heated police exchange, we get some heavier, yet still smooth rockish sounding stuff. More turbulent. After that, it’s back to me riding my horse. From there, it’s smooth to the end and I hear children’s voices and then a heartbeat.
In stark contrast to the previous tracks, this is a gospel song. Piano, background singers, simple. The message is “Lord, Shine Your Light on Me.” It’s joyful with plenty of feeling, yet very simple and undoctored.
We go back to the heartbeat. For a good 10-plus seconds. It continues as a soft nocturne-ish sounding piano comes in. Melancholic, nostalgic, sad. Chris sings a lullaby that’s both sad and sweet. Just so raw and emotional.
It’s a kid crying out for their daddy, saying they need them. Expressing deep longing, yet acceptance and forgiveness. Man, this song is deeply moving, and it’ll hit some people right in the feels, particularly if they’ve lost their father or he’s hurt them deeply or run away. This one’s enough to almost bring tears to your eyes.
Near the end of the song, it swells for just a minute with some Christmas Lights-esque bells. It softens back down and ends with the heartbeat again.
I think this stands for “Wonder of the World/ Power of the People.”
This one is very organic. Just sounds like Chris playing around on his guitar and figuring stuff out as he goes. Almost has a Jack Johnson feel or maybe more like a Brett Dennon vibe. It’s like if you smashed the two together.
This definitely has a Viva La Vida album vibe at the beginning. Almost some Violet-Hillish sounds, that is…until the brass comes in. Really cool riff with the brass added in makes this sound a bit different than anything they’ve ever done.
The sax solo starts at 2:25ish and then the majority of the rest of the 5 and a half minute song is just instrumental new jazz jamming. Pretty cool. Sounds like Sesame Street, but if Big Bird were getting just a bit tipsy. The “We Share the Same Blood” chorus doesn’t come back in until a minute and a half left in the song.
From here, you really start getting heavier on the Violet Hill vibes. With the beating of the drum and the bass. Then it’s the buildup where you get the brass mixed with the bass. Chris adamantly cries out “Same f—–g blood.”
This one sounds a lot like the Christmas song called Still, Still, Still (listen here). There’s a choir in the background. Beautiful, soothing harmonies. This seems to be the last song on the “Sunrise” side.
The last 38 seconds have what sounds like an older hispanic man essentially saying in spanish that everything is rough and people don’t realize it.
Feels like I’m back on my horse in the wild wild west again. The horse is going fast though. I’m zippin’ across the dust. I’m not entirely sure what the message is here, but it kinda just seems like they’re talking about how crazy the gun violence situation has gotten.
This is the first one that seems really poppy. Definitely seems like it could fit well on the Head Full of Dreams album. Almost sounds like if the song Sky Full of Stars met a Head Full of Dreams. I don’t love it, but I don’t hate it. Seems fairly generic and sounds a lot like their other songs. It’ll satisfy the casual listener, but there’s nothing too experimental or unique about it.
Now I feel like I’m sitting in a coffee shop. Then, it seems like I’m driving through some wheat fields. Next, it says “In Africa, the rivers are perfectly deep and beautifully wide. This song feels like it would go well around dusk on the beautiful African savanna.
This sounds like a Randy Newman song. A lot like Short People Got No Reason to Live. Made me think of this scene from Little Rascals. I don’t have much more to say about that one. Just makes me want to go watch Toy Story or Little Rascals.
The title of this song is a Farsi word that translates to “Children of Adam.” It’s also the name of a famous poem by the Iranian poet, Saadi Shirazi entitled Bani Adam. The track starts as a beautiful piano interlude. You could maybe call it a little bit Yann Tiersen-ish. Next, it switches to guitar and high-hat. Then you hear a lady speaking something in a different language, probably Arabic. Then you hear… “Let there be peace and love and perfection in all creation.” Must be a meditation or a prayer.
Starts off with some chanting likely in Arabic. Aside from that, this sounds a little bit more like a traditional Coldplay song, though I think they pulled it from someone. It’s kind of giving me some slight Speed of Sound vibes at parts. It’s kind of like that mixed with Miracles, the single they did for the movie, Unbroken.
Starting at around the three minute mark, it kinda sounds like Brett Dennen again. I can’t quite put my finger on which song, but maybe it’s the :38 mark of Wild Child. That might not quite be it. I think it’s the voice that isn’t Chris’s that I’m hearing. And at 3:52, it sounds a little bit like John Mayer’s new Carry Me Away.
The beginning sounds like another song of theirs that I’ve heard… Just the empty interlude part. Then the song itself sounds like an acoustic version of A Sky Full of Stars mixed with Atlas.
The subtle strings in this one make it really nice. It also has just a little bit of an Up&Up vibe to it. There’s not a lot to this song, but maybe that’s what makes it good. Simple, sweet, and not a bad ending to the album. At times though, it does seem like the album just ends.
Not bad. Slightly different from their other stuff, but still distinctly Coldplay. Simple, but some cool stuff going on. This one’s hard to describe, but it’s definitely worth a listen.
I really like this album. There’s a lot of experimentation, emotion, and depth. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but as an avid Coldplay fan, it was well worth the wait. I think I would put it in my top three Coldplay albums without much hesitation. And when it comes down to it, for me it’s really tough to even rank albums, because a different one will be my favorite at any given time depending on my mood.
Anyway, hope you liked some of my first song-by-song thoughts of the new album. It’s a great one, so definitely give it a listen. You should also check out the following two videos shot live in Jordan. They’re beautifully done:
I recently got a new antique Steinway piano from the 1890s for just $2200. The touch is amazing. It feels incredible to play. The tone and sound are also pretty spectacular. Can’t believe we got such a good deal on it.
I’ve really been enjoying playing it, so I wanted to record something for YouTube. Here’s my cover of Amazing Grace: