SummerSongs West 2013 – Inviting My Ghosts
I’ve been thinking about turning sixty. It’s one of the reasons I decided to take Alan Thornhill’s advice and treat myself to this songwriting camp in Cambria, California, “I think you might like them and they might like you,” said Alan last summer.
I’ve been thinking about turning sixty because For Lee it was such a big deal. His father had died at 59, alone in a small residence hotel room, an abandoned alcoholic. On the eve of Lee’s 60th he confessed he was superstitious he wouldn’t make it. I told him he already had and not to worry. He wasn’t alone. He’d found love and family and community. He featured at his beloved Hotel Utah Open Mic and the City of San Francisco even proclaimed January 10, 2005 Lee Mallory Day. Lee Mallory turned 60 but for lack of a liver transplant, he returned to the Universe a scant two months later, where his soul and music and loving spirit still reside.
I’ve been thinking of Lee all weekend, knowing I’m now living music for him too, inviting his spirit to shimmer through me and beautiful Ophelia, his great Ovation12-string. I brought her out to play Sunday night at the silent coffeehouse so you all could know a bit of Lee.
I’ve been thinking of my brother Alan Smith. He would have loved the brilliant young people and he would have especially loved seeing young and old working together so sweetly. On New Year’s eve 1979 Alan was beaten while trying to protect his new girlfriend from her violent ex-husband. Alan didn’t survive.
Music is all about vibration and performance, all about moving energy. Body, mind , emotions, spirit in an exchange of energy in community. I’ve been surprised by those at SummerSongs who could see that in my performance. I don’t know how your own journeys gave you that vision, but I’m so grateful to those of you who felt it and said so.
I invited my ghosts, had to step out of activities to commune with them now and again. I carry a heavy load but I try to hold it lightly.
On Monday morning when Penny Nichols sang the song she wrote with her brother, all my tears broke through. That evening at the house concert came more tears and I allowed myself to feel the depth of music that I could not bear for almost ten years after Alan died. Because, you see, I’m defenseless against music. I’m so grateful to Penny and all of SummerSongs for creating a space safe enough for my tears.
See you in the music!