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October 2004

Homestead, FL, in a recording studio, a real one, Keith Morrison behind the angled double glass, and the scratch tracks already sound better than any finished CD I've made. It has taken me two years to get here, through home studios and live recordings, performing and touring until the next step to be taken was this one.

I am a cabinetmaker by trade.

The doing of cabinetry is the building of boxes to hold people's stuff. The artistry of the craft is in finding elegant solutions to structural problems, within the limits of the materials, for the needs of the finished job.

And to accept now that I am not the artisan but the raw materials, that these new songs are my stuff, the finished CD a box someone else will build, is an idea that has been denied, fought, and finally embraced gracefully, gratefully.

In "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance", Pirsig, then a technical writer, mentions a line he found in the instruction manual for a Japanese bicycle. "Assembly of this bicycle," it states, "requires great peace of mind".

His premise is that this peace of mind needs to be brought to the assembly process, not derived from it, that the finished bicycle is a reflection of the assembler's inner peace or inner turmoil.

I have this peace of mind performing now. Our concert at Mary's Place in NJ is effortless, no set list, just talking to the audience from the stage, finding the next story or song, enjoying the evening together. A young Joni Mitchell answers a question by an interviewer of how she could tell she was getting better as a performer.

She says, "You don't bomb anymore."

I don't bomb anymore. But studio recording is a different bicycle.

It would be different if I were a musician. For the written language of music, the notes on staff lines, I am a dyslexic pre-schooler reading the fine print on a lease agreement.

But there's another language of music underneath the written one. I don't know if I'll find the symbols for it, or even if there are symbols for it. But I've caught it now and then, ridden it's waves and shared the ride with others who understood it, where the shared experience brings us all to a place we could not have gotten to alone.

I have heard it recorded and know that the engineer was as much a part of that ride as were the performers. It's worth doing.

And it sounds damn good already.