‘What if Today we were Grateful for Everything?’

Grateful Blog: Day 75: Today was one of those days. I was Grateful for everything. You know: I woke up. (Amen!) There was coffee in the house. (Yes!) There was hot water too—and heat. (Sweet!) And I still have hair, and my jeans fit. (Nice!) And my wife loves me—a lot. (Yea!!!) And I had a job to go do, which pays me actual money. (Phew…) Then I had practice with my great guitar playerJerry Towelland we rocked it out a bit. (Righteous!)  We talked for awhile, the way a couple guys do, about nothin’ and everything. (Yeah…)

Then I came home, to my favorite cat of all-time, Zeke (Prrrrrr…) and my wife Diane, who still loves me a lot, even if it’s harder to fit into my jeans and I have less hair than I used to and I spend Thursday night practicing and rocking out a bit. She knows that tomorrow we’ll both be Grateful that we woke up, were able to get out of bed, fit into our jeans and have jobs to go to. Mostly she’ll be Grateful that our cat Zeke worships the ground she walks on, that I still love her—a lot, and that I’ll come down stairs early tomorrow morning and make sure the coffee will be ready when she get’s up to start her day. Yeah, that’s it in a nutshell.

So ‘What if Today we were Grateful for Everything?’

Indeed, I am.

A Subscription, Rodney, a Civic and a Swowobile…

Grateful Blog: Day 74: I got my annual ‘SnoWest’ snowmobiling magazine today. It comes delivered to my house exactly once a year after most of the snow has fallen and is on its way out around here. I’ve been getting it now for 15 years. I get to peruse the latest and greatest and most powerful models from Ski-Doo, Arctic Cat, Polaris and Yamaha. Most of ‘em have more power and bigger engines than my 1980 Honda Civic station wagon did (although few would survive a barbed wire fence at 80 miles per hour like my Honda did).

I went snowmobiling a number of times in college. It was a blast. It was even more fun when you’d been drinking. And then it was not only fun but it was stupid and dangerous as hell. You’d lay on the throttle and suddenly your whole body would slide backwards, damn near off the seat (which would’ve hurt). The only thing still keeping you held on was a death grip on the handlebars, which were squeezed tight around the throttle. The ‘Catch-22’ lasted until you could scoot back up and regain your position—and composure on the seat. Once a guy I was snowmobiling with hit a tree. Not going all that fast, but he still hit a tree. Wrecked it pretty good. I think we were smart enough to be wearing helmets…I think…

Somewhere along the line I developed a healthy respect for those powerful machines and decided it wasn’t my thing. It wasn’t my thing like motorcycles and firearms. And redheads. No offense ladies but I know beautiful trouble when I see it. But I still get ‘SnoWest’ magazine without fail, every year. I don’t pay for it. In fact, it’s addressed to someone named Rodney G. U’ren who used to live here before I bought the place in 1997. I have no idea why they keep sending it. Is it a lifetime membership? Just totally free to every household inAmerica(do YOU get one too?). And what else was Rodney G. U’ren (if that’s even your REAL name Rodney) in to??? The mind reels and my spine shudders…

The thing is Rodney’s been doing me a favor, once a year, every year for 15 years. When I get the magazine I actually read through it. It’s filled with that certain bravado and machismo that almost all guys get when they’re about to do something exciting (Read: borderline crazy) and downright dangerous. It’s that “Hey guys! Watch THIS!” moment. That magazine reminds me that yeah, once I did dig riding snowmobiles at outrageous speeds. It reminds me that I use to like redheads maybe a little too much and I used to climb rock formations with no clear plan how to get down. And I once crashed a perfectly good Honda Civic station wagon in Spanish Fork Canyon, Provo County Utah into a perfectly good (until I got there) barb wire fence going 80 miles an hour. I have the arrest record to prove it…

All I’ve got to say today is that I’m Grateful for having survived those reckless and maybe somehow necessary transgressions of my youth. And I’m Grateful for Rodney, wherever he is, for somehow setting me up with an annual subscription that reminds me that I need to slow down, take a deep breath, and take my hand off the throttle for a bit…

P.S.: I just looked up Rodney on Facebook…and sent him a friend request…stay tuned!

A Car, A Girl and A Business Card…

Grateful Blog: Day 73: I found an old business card of mine today. It was funny. It had my name on it, right there in royal blue. ‘DanWeber’. And it had the company I worked for ‘Favorite Nurses’ and their address and phone #. The works. Pretty standard deal. My first thought was ‘Welcome to 1996’. However, I instantly remembered that guy who it belonged to. The car he drove, the job he had, the girl he was in love with and thought he gonna marry someday.

And then I thought ‘I HATED that job’ and was so Grateful that one day my awesome boss Judy said ‘My boyfriend needs someone to be his Real Estate Appraiser apprentice, know anyone?’ And being the smartass I am, I said ‘Yeah, me!’ She shot that idea down instantly. So did I. I’d be taking a huge cut in pay and she’d have to hire someone new. Nope, that wasn’t a very good idea for either of us. Then 5 hours later, while at home, she called and said ‘I know I’m going to regret this, but why don’t you come over and meet my boyfriend.’ I went right over. It was Friday afternoon We talked. About anything and everything. We actually each had a couple of coldCorona’s. That was the interview.

I got the job, with its cut in pay and I never looked back. I really dig my job now. Have for a long time. And I’ve not missed that old job a single day, not one. Finding that old business card reminded me how Grateful I was for fate intervening on my behalf. But the truth is I actually DO miss that old car I had, a 1977 Buick Skylark, the one I drove everyday to that job I hated, when I was in love with a girl that I thought I was gonna marry someday. Turns out it’s the same car I drove to my new job, and it’s the one I drove away from the church dragging tin cans and a sign that said ‘Just Married’ on the back. You know, I wish I’d have kept the car and thrown that business card away…

2 Brothers. 2 Birthdays. 1 Family…

Grateful Blog: Day 72: 2 of my older brother’s had birthday’s this past week. There was Stephen on 7th and Gerard today on the 12th. I’ve known Gerard my whole life. He’d a good egg and a better person. He’s a talented guitar player, a devoted Christian and generally good guy when he’s not being too darn sarcastic (wink). It comes with the territory though. He was born prematurely and had to battle a long time just to be here. I think that changes you in some way. And this past year, he would up with one of those mysterious ‘killer’ infections that darn near got him. He was sick for at least a month, hospitalized a bunch of that and I was petrified with worry. I don’t think he knows that. So today, on his birthday, I’m Grateful for my brother Gerard. The good Lord has seriously tried to take him several times already and Gratefully he’s nowhere near ready yet. Gerard sings and plays in church every week. It’s a big part of his life. He’s still got God’s work to do a while longer. A long while longer I hope.

My other brother Stephen, well he was a different story altogether. In fact, he’s always been just a story to me. When he was just one year old he got pneumonia and died. Just a little guy. I never knew him. There’s not a lot I know about him because there wasn’t much to know. There’s no apocryphal insight’s. He’s out family’s angel though. The shining star. The one gone too soon. In some ways that took the pressure off all 3 of us, and in some ways maybe we had to live for him too. I never know how it affected my oldest brother Michael because I never asked. Maybe it didn’t. He was so young too when it happened. But he was there, while I wasn’t. Mom celebrated his birthday this week, she always does. Me? I’d just like to meet the guy someday. See how he turned out. I figure he’s a bit of an amalgamation of the rest of us, kind of like my brothers and kind of like my parents. In other words he’s family. So yeah, I’d really like to meet him someday. The brother I never knew.   

So today I just wanted to say that I’m Grateful that my brother Gerard made it this far to celebrate another birthday and I’m hoping he makes it a whole lot farther. He’s still got things to teach me, I’m sure of it. And Stephen, well I’m Grateful for him too. I think his dying so young changed my family in ways that maybe none of us ever understood. And I like to think it made us stronger, especially Mom and Dad. You know a lot of folks point to their childhoods and say ‘It was unhappy’ or ‘this bad thing or that happened’ but I have none of that. I only have fond memories of 2 loving parents and 2 great brothers. As childhood’s go, it was as happy, benign and blessed as they come. I’m Grateful for that too today…Peace.

Springtime: A Blanket and a Fire.

Grateful Blog: Day 71: When I was 19 I bought a ‘Mexican’ style blanket in a parking lot inHampton,Virginia. Springtime inVirginiaand the night’s get cold. We were on a 6 day run of Grateful Dead shows coinciding with a non-existent Spring Break that we skipped out of classes for anyways. Warm days on the beach. Dancing in the Coliseum aisles at night. Then many hours reveling in the Bacchanalian parking lot festival that was a Grateful Dead show. Sometimes it was better than the show itself. And sometimes it’s bloody cold inVirginiain springtime. I bought the cheap blanket for $10 if I recall.

4 years later I was living in Seattle,WA. The other side of the country. Dragged that blanket with me. In fact all I brought with me was an interview suit, a handful of Grateful Dead bootleg cassette tapes and that blanket. Don’t know why. Maybe good memories. One night I went to sleep while I was writing poetry and stories in bed. Hmmm…turns out I’ve been doing that for longer than I’d imagined. Writing by candlelight and keeping myself warm on a secondhand mattress underneath that cheap blanket.

Somewhere in the night I woke up. On fire.Me.The sheets. The bed. I’d fallen asleep. The candle had burned down. Flipped over I guess. I woke up, parts of me dangerously singed and the bed in full tilt blaze. I’m not sure exactly what transpired next but what I recall best was leaping out of bed, grabbing that blanket and smothering the flames, on me and the bed. Put the whole thing out, smoke alarm still blazing. Smelled like hell. My roommate was asleep on the couch in the living room but he kept saying out load: ‘Dan, I don’t know how many times I’ve told you to cook the burgers slow instead of cooking them fast and burning them’. He never woke up. Bizarre…

Earlier tonight I was sitting in one of my favorite chairs, and oldMissionstyle rocker in the den, just relaxing for a few minutes before Sunday was no more. There’s a lot of windows in the den and I got a chill sitting there. I reached back and pulled a blanket off the back of the rocker and it was that cheap, worn, stained and yeah, singed Mexican blanket that’s kept me warm on more than one occasion and helped saved my life on another. I’m Grateful for that and for one of life’s little reminders that sometimes it gets cold in springtime…

Giant Steps: Jazz. DJ’s and Radio in the Desert…

Grateful Blog: Day 70: When I was a Park Ranger in Canyonlands National Park, almost 20 years ago, I had scheduled duty of 9 days on and 5 days off. I stayed mostly in this little ‘Sheepherder’ trailer high above this place called ‘Horseshoe Canyon’. If you’ve ever seen the movie ‘128 Hours’ you’ve seenHorseshoe Canyon. It’s Amazing to say the least. That little gypsy trailer didn’t lack for much. It was pretty well equipped with a wood cook stove, propane lights and a little AM/FM car radio that ran on a little solar panel mounted on the back. We had a ‘solar’ shower too—yeah the old hang the black bag in the sun all day variety.

Well this wasUtah, and it was 168 miles from the nearest ‘real’ grocery store inMoab,Utah. It was 46 miles of dirt and sand and rock road to get to the highway. It was 68 miles to get the mail. So there wasn’t much for towns around and there wasn’t much for radio. About 5 varieties of 90’s era country stations and one NPR/all jazz station. I listened to a fair amount of country, some NPR and a bit of jazz too but mostly it never struck me. I think something about that vast desert and jazz seemed incompatible. You could probably make a case for classical music and the ‘western’ variety of country but jazz found profoundly out of place. Until one night, that is, when I was back in the trailer listening.

The DJ that night got to spinning old jazz records. CD’s were here to stay by then but he still liked to spin the real thing even though it was more work. That one night he played John Coltrane’s ‘Giant Steps’. The song’s less than 5 minutes, short by some jazz comparisons, but I remember the singular beauty in which Coltrane descended and ascended the scales with such precision, fluidity and beauty. It was the very first moment that I felt like ‘Oh, now I GET jazz’. I was riveted, just stopped in my tracks hearing it. When the song ended the DJ lifted the needle off the record and came back on the air. He audibly sighed and then said in deep-voiced manner of all classic DJ’s, ‘That was THE John Coltrane and that was Giant Steps. Wow, wasn’t that great? You know, I dug that so much I think we should it again? What do YOU think? Yeah, alright. Well then let’s hear it again. Here it is. Mr. John Coltrane and Giant Steps.’

And then he played it AGAIN! You could hear the needle drop, the crackle, and the opening salvo and the intoxicating ride started over again. It was like going back to your Senior Prom and getting to do it RIGHT the second time. I don’t know how he knew, but that DJ KNEW I was riveted to that little AM/FM radio, running off the last of the day’s suns rays, high atop the mesa above Horseshoe Canyon, probably 400 miles to the nearest jazz club in Salt Lake City, awash in the beauty of ‘Giant Steps’…

I’ll never forget that moment. So today I wanted to say how Grateful I am for that DJ and for DJ’s near and far, who go out on a limb and play what their heart desires. A bunch of them, Diane, Jack, Jim, Scott, Wayne, Kathy have been playing songs of my new CD, ‘Ash and Bone’ a lot and I’m in their debt. Every time someone plays one of your songs on the radio and it puts it out there over the airwaves into the universe it’s hard to know what happens next. But having been on the receiving end of so many great songs for so many years I can only say that sometimes magic happens, and it doesn’t happen without a DJ who’s willing to play what touches their heart. And every time I hear one of my songs on the radio I’m inspired, to write a better one, next time. Every one is but a small step on the way to Giant Steps…

My new Biggest Fan…

Grateful Blog: Day 69: I heard through the ‘grapevine’ that I’ve got a new fan these days. He’s a bit of a ‘mover and a shaker’ as it were. I don’t want to say his name because I don’t want to get him in trouble. He’s been listening to my CD ‘Ash and Bone’ a LOT and has become a really big fan very quickly. Clues? Well, his favorite song is ‘Take the Central GeorgiaHome’. He not much for long-winded prose and I’m not sure he’s ready to go on record yet in public, but privately he told a friend of a friend who knows my wife that he pretty much can’t be in the car without hearing it.

That’s pretty damn cool. In fact, its waaaay cool. Alright a few more clues? His name is Gavin? Ummm Gavin who? Well, I can’t say. That might just be the name he’s going by right now. The thing is he’s a BIG fan of mine and especially that song. I heard every time he gets in the car he yells ‘Mommy, play that train song!’ Seriously, Gavin’s like 4 now and a serious DUDE of the world. And his favorite song is ‘Take the CentralGeorgiaHome’. You can find it on my new CD at www.danwebermusic.com

I don’t know what’s cooler: That Gavin’s Mom is driving around playing my CD non-stop because she and her son dig it or that Gavin totally dig’s one of my favorite songs I’ve ever written. Either way I’m Grateful. I’ve sure gotta meet Gavin one of these days. Like I said, he’s a BIG fan of mine and well, I’ve gotta say in all honesty, I’m a BIG fan of his.

And one last thing: ‘Mommy, play that train song!’ Damn straight Gavin…Damn Straight!

Lawnmowers, Camelias and Dandelions…

Grateful Blog: Day 68: I heard the sound this morning: The low rumble, the whirr and whine of a small engine spinning round: The neighbor’s lawn mower. It’s been coming for awhile. I saw the first Camellia bloom and the other day and today the first dandelion. Last week it snowed but this week you need to mow the lawn and pull dandelions??? That’s spring in the Pacific Northwest. They say this past winter was the warmest on average. I don’t know. Maybe it felt that way and maybe it was statistically. Every winter seems too long to me. But today the sounds of lawn mowers filled the air and I was indeed surprised. March 8th? Lawn mowers? Really? Incredible. Surprised? Yes. Grateful? You bet…

Breathe…

Grateful Blog: Day 67: I got home from 13 hours of work today, in time to sort of make dinner and sort of relax and sort of have a few minutes to breathe. I’m a born and bred workaholic. 50 hours is ‘normal’ and this week, at 60 hours, won’t be unusual. I know I’m self-employed and supposed to be ‘in charge’ of my business but more often that not it’s in charge of me. So now I’m just hopping on the computer and checking my email at 11pm at night for the first time in the day. I think I’m supposed to answer some of it but honestly, I’m too tired. Just gotta Breathe…

But I got to thinking: Someday not too distant from now, the itch will hit like it does every year. It starts with the first warm days, a bit of a false spring, followed by 2 solid weeks of cold rain. The forecast will be bleak for a bit but by then it won’t matter. I’ll be like today, like every other ordinary Wednesday for just about everyone, getting up, going to work, trying to stay on top of it and trying to breathe. But I’ll pack the car. Fill it up with gas. Damn the price, who cares. I’ll start by heading east, then south, then further east, through the mountains and several high passes, down into the sagebrush country. I finally go around the northern tip of the range, drop down the old gravel road. Follow it for 40 or 50 miles. Stop to hear the red winged blackbird’s singing. Getting closer. Breathe…

I’ll be rolling down the highway, the spring desert blooming, the mountains beckoning in the distance with a rush of snowmelt flying down to make that dry, cracked sandy world come to life for a few months again before the unrelenting heat of summer puts an abrupt stop to it. But for that moment in time, the smell of sage, the tang of a sulfur hot spring I know, the warm wind on my wet hair, the smooth trail beneath my feet, I’ll be in heaven. There’ll be no work, no cell phone, no email, no Facebook and maybe even no blog. Yeah, it’ll be Wednesday but it won’t matter. All will be right with the world. The 12 hours days and 60 hour weeks will be too far to even see in the review mirror. My gaze will be up at the stars, down with the noisy creeks, along the ridges searching for bighorn sheep, out into the sagebrush looking for wild horses, and on the road to the future and what comes ‘Next’. And all that matters, will be enjoying the moment. Breathe…

It’s coming. I can feel it. It comes every year and right about this time. I’m so Grateful when it does. So, so Grateful. I’ve just got to hang on a little bit longer and Breathe….

This is what we DO…

Grateful Blog: Day 66: I got the email today that said:

Help! We need more copies of Dan Weber: Ash and Bone.

Congratulations! You’ve sold enough CDs through CD Baby that our all-knowing inventory management computer wants you to know that we need more discs to satisfy anticipated demand.

I LOVE that!

Not because I’m making any money selling CD’s, I’m not. The simple truth of the matter is when I gave the first copies away to my wife and my Mom I was already under water on the project as it were. It ‘is what it is’ I guess. But I didn’t make ‘Ash and Bone’ because I wanted or needed to make a profit. I made ‘Ash and Bone’ because I cared about the songs and I wanted people to hear them and maybe share in the joy they’ve given me. Making a CD or any form of art is something like: 70% long shot, 19% exercise in vanity and 11% ‘What the HELL were you thinking’?

For my 11% I was thinking: ‘You know, this song, or that song is REALLY something special, and all these Amazing people who come to my shows tell me how much that means to them, so I think, just maybe, I should record them and share them, and somehow spread that feeling that you get when you truly connect with a song or an artist. You know, see where it goes, see who you’re drawn to and who’s drawn to you. Take that shot in the dark, bet on the long shot, and hey, don’t over think it, because the songs are good, maybe REALLY good and you NEED to share them…     

So that’s it in a nutshell. I could go on at length and try to rationalize it further but I think my friend Gil Reynolds summed it up best when he said ‘Look Dan, we write songs, we make music, and then we record them and then do it all over again. It’s what we DO. It’s who we ARE.” I couldn’t agree more.

Tonight I’m Grateful for everyone who’s listened to or played ‘Ash and Bone’, who’s sent me a nice note, who written a review on CD Baby or iTunes, bought it, downloaded it or even pirated a copy. I don’t care. I want YOU to hear it. I think it’s REALLY good. Oh and that email from CD Baby, they wanted a BUNCH more copies. I guess it’s selling really well. I’m Grateful for that too. I’m gonna need the money one of these days, to make another CD, because as Gil pointed out “It’s what we DO. It’s who we ARE.”

Thanks for listening!

If you want a copy you can find it at:

http://danwebermusic.com/ or at CD Baby at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/danweber