Monday, June 26, 2023

Musical Magic at the Jammys: Grace Potter, Joe Satriani, and the Incredible Rendition of 'Cortez the Killer'

Have you ever found yourself lost in the vast rabbit hole of YouTube? That endless stream of videos tailored to your interests, serving up an array of content that seems to know you better than you know yourself. As a consumer of music lessons, guitar building tutorials, and music commentary, YouTube has become my ultimate playground of discoveries. It never fails to surprise me, unveiling hidden gems and introducing me to artists and songs I never knew existed. The breadth of musical content available with a swipe or a scroll is staggering, and if I had the luxury of time, I could easily dedicate days immersing myself in this digital wonderland.

It reminds me of that classic moment from "The Office" when the ever-entertaining Michael Scott proclaimed, "I discovered YouTube, and I did not work for five days. I did nothing. I watched Cookie Monster sing 'Chocolate Rain' about a thousand times." (Season 3, Episode 17: "Product Recall"). Though I might not spend five consecutive days lost in YouTube's depths, I can certainly relate to the allure and the irresistible pull that captivating content can have on us.

And so, it is with this insatiable curiosity that I stumbled upon a performance that completely captivated me – a rendition of a song called "Cortez the Killer." Despite my extensive musical explorations, this iconic track had somehow slipped under my radar. However, thanks to YouTube's algorithmic wizardry, I found myself tapping the play button on a breathtaking live performance that left me awestruck. This piece, featuring the incredible talents of Grace Potter, Joe Satriani, Steve Kimock, Reed Mathis, Willy Waldman, and Stephen Perkins, was performed at the Jammys – an event that celebrates live music improvisation and brings together exceptional musicians from various genres.

Join me as we dive into the mesmerizing performance of "Cortez the Killer" and delve into the backgrounds of these extraordinary artists. From the fusion of their talents to the powerful impact of the song itself, we'll uncover the magic that unfolded on that stage and celebrate the beauty of music's ability to surprise and enchant us.


Spotlight on the Performers: Get to Know the Musicians Behind the Performance

"Cortez the Killer" is a song that was originally written and performed by the legendary Canadian singer-songwriter Neil Young. Released in 1975 on his album titled "Zuma," it was a time when I, as a fifth-grader, was engrossed in the world of Kiss, with their captivating music dominating my elementary school soundtrack. Back then, the profound essence of "Cortez the Killer" remained beyond the grasp of my ten-year-old mind. However, it's a realization that, in hindsight, should not have taken me forty years to uncover. Neil Young's poignant message embedded within the song awaited my belated discovery, adding another layer of appreciation to this timeless masterpiece.

Grace Potter

Grace Potter

Grace Potter is an American singer-songwriter and musician. She gained prominence as the lead vocalist and multi-instrumentalist of the band Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. Known for her soulful vocals and energetic stage presence, Potter has released several successful albums, including "Midnight" and "Daylight." She has collaborated with various artists and is admired for her versatility across genres.

Photo credit: By Frank Schwichtenberg - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Joe Satriani

Joe Satriani

Joe Satriani is an American guitarist and composer renowned for his instrumental rock music. He is known for his technical proficiency and melodic guitar solos. Satriani has released numerous solo albums, including "Surfing with the Alien" and "The Extremist," and has received critical acclaim for his guitar work. He has also been a guitar instructor to several notable musicians.

Photo credit: By Alfred Nitsch - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Steve Kimock

Steve Kimock

Steve Kimock is an American guitarist known for his improvisational skills and contributions to the jam band scene. He has been a member of various bands, including the Steve Kimock Band, Zero, and the Rhythm Devils. Kimock's playing style blends elements of jazz, rock, and blues, and he has collaborated with a wide range of musicians throughout his career.

Photo credit: By Ron 'Skip' Magee from the United States - Steve Kimock, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

Reed Mathis

Reed Mathis

Reed Mathis is an American bassist and composer who has performed with several bands and artists. He is known for his work with the band Tea Leaf Green, as well as collaborations with musicians like Bill Kreutzmann (of the Grateful Dead) and Mickey Hart. Mathis is recognized for his versatile bass playing and ability to seamlessly navigate different musical styles.

Photo credit: Spotify, Link

Willy Waldman

Willy Waldman

Willy Waldman is an American trumpet player known for his contributions to the jazz, rock, and funk genres. He has collaborated with a diverse range of artists, including Snoop Dogg, Tupac Shakur, and the James Brown Band. Waldman's trumpet playing adds a unique flavor to the music he performs, and his improvisational skills are highly regarded.

Photo credit: Discography | Discogs, Link

Stephen Perkins

Stephen Perkins

Stephen Perkins is an American drummer best known as the drummer for the alternative rock band Jane's Addiction. He is recognized for his powerful and dynamic drumming style, which blends elements of rock, funk, and tribal rhythms. Perkins has also been involved in various other musical projects and has showcased his skills with his distinctive drumming approach.

Photo credit: Gonzalo Tello, Link

The Jammys: Where Musical Genres Collide and Brilliance Shines

The Jammy Awards, also known as the Jammys, were an annual awards ceremony that celebrated live music improvisation. They were established in 2000 and ran until 2008. The event aimed to recognize outstanding performances and collaborations within the jam band community and encompassed a variety of genres such as rock, jazz, funk, and bluegrass.

During its run the Jammys featured live performances and special collaborations by prominent artists from the jam band scene and beyond. The event highlighted the improvisational and spontaneous nature of live music, with musicians often jamming together on stage. These collaborations often brought together musicians from different bands and genres, creating exciting and one-of-a-kind musical experiences including this stand out performance of "Cortez the Killer."

While the Jammys may be a part of music history now, the impact it had on the jam band community and the memories created through its extraordinary performances continue to inspire musicians and fans alike. The performance of "Cortez the Killer" by the ensemble you witnessed serves as a reminder of the creativity, passion, and sheer talent that can be unleashed in the realm of live music.

Learn from the Best: Justin Sandercoe's Step-by-Step Tutorial for "Cortez the Killer"

For guitar players looking to learn how to play 'Cortez the Killer' by Neil Young, I highly recommend checking out Justin Sandercoe's tutorial on Justin is a renowned guitar instructor with years of experience in playing, writing, and recording music. His website, founded in 2003, offers a wealth of guitar lessons and resources for players of all levels. As a respected musician, Justin has contributed to numerous high-profile music projects and served as a 'sideman' for various artists. Don't miss the chance to learn this iconic song from a trusted instructor! Head over to and dive into the world of 'Cortez the Killer' today.

Lyrics and Chord progression


Em | D | C | G


D | C | Em | G

These chords repeat throughout the song.


Here are the lyrics for "Cortez the Killer":

[Verse 1]

He came dancing across the water

With his galleons and guns

Looking for the new world

In that palace in the sun


On the shore lay Montezuma

With his coca leaves and pearls

In his halls he often wondered

With the secrets of the worlds

[Verse 2]

And his subjects

Gathered 'round him

Like the leaves around a tree

In their clothes of many colors

For the angry gods to see


And the women all were beautiful

And the men stood straight and strong

They offered life in sacrifice

So that others could go on

[Verse 3]

Hate was just a legend

And war was never known

The people worked together

And they lifted many stones


They carried them to the flatlands

And they died along the way

But they built up with their bare hands

What we still can't do today

[Verse 4]

And I know she's living there

And she loves me to this day

I still can't remember when

Or how I lost my way


He came dancing across the water

Cortez, Cortez

What a killer

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

In the Footsteps of a Legend: Examining “Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, a Journey, a Song”

"Hallelujah" is a Hebrew loan word commonly used in the English language. In Hebrew, it is a compound word made up of "Hallelu" (הללו), which is an exhortation to a group of people to praise, and "Yah" (יה), a shortened form of the name of God. Therefore, the word essentially means "Praise, ye" or "Praise the Lord," reflecting an exhortation to express praise and worship.

“Hallelujah” the song by Leonard Cohen is iconic in popular culture and provokes praise in the mainstream. The melody is instantly recognizable, simple, and deeply moving, especially when paired with Cohen’s lyrics. It’s a religious song loved by religious and non-religious alike. It invokes thoughts of God.

"There are some people who can write songs in the back of a taxi cab in fifteen minutes, but my songs take a long time." -Leonard Cohen

Unveiling the Artistic Evolution: Leonard Cohen's Journey into Music

Cohen is talented and has a long history of writing great songs and giving moving performances. Cohen began his journey as a musician in the late 1960s. His debut album, "Songs of Leonard Cohen," was released in 1967 and marked the beginning of his successful career as both a singer and a songwriter. The album features some of Cohen's iconic songs, including "Suzanne" and "So Long, Marianne."

"Suzanne" stands out for its evocative storytelling. It captures the essence of the complex and enigmatic Suzanne Verdal, with whom Cohen had a platonic relationship. The song's poetic lyrics, haunting melody, and Cohen's distinctive delivery resonated with listeners, making it a standout track on his debut album. Popular singer/songwriter Judy Collins made the song a hit with her rendition of the piece. "Suzanne" has been covered by numerous musicians over the years, further solidifying its enduring appeal.

Prior to that, Cohen had already established himself as a poet and novelist. His unique blend of poetic lyrics and melodic compositions contributed to his lasting influence in the music industry.

“When you see the world and see the laws, the only way you can reconcile it to sanity is to glue your soul to prayer.” -Leonard Cohen

Exploring Leonard Cohen's Spiritual Journey: Faith, Heritage, and Musical Expression

Leonard Cohen had deep religious roots and heritage. He was born into a Jewish family in Montreal, Canada, on September 21, 1934. His paternal grandfather was a respected rabbi, and his father was also a synagogue leader and Talmudic scholar. Cohen grew up immersed in Jewish traditions and studied Judaism throughout his life. His religious background and spirituality often found expression in his songs and poetry, exploring themes of faith, love, and existential questioning.

The documentary "Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, a Journey, a Song," directed by Dan Geller and Dayna Goldfine, takes a unique approach by using Cohen's iconic song "Hallelujah" as the focal point to delve into his life and the conflicts within it. While the film offers valuable insights through interviews, concert footage, and analysis, there are moments where certain aspects feel incomplete, and the inclusion of certain figures seems unnecessary. Nevertheless, the documentary provides a glimpse into the profound impact of the song and features artists discussing their personal connection to it.

Columbia Records, lacking foresight and understanding, failed to recognize the potential cultural impact of "Hallelujah." As a result, they stifled Cohen's project, leaving the song to emerge organically from the streets, beyond the reach of major record label influence. The record was eventually printed by a lesser-known New Jersey record company, allowing it to find its own path to success.

The documentary showcases several interviews with individuals who have deep knowledge of Cohen's life and work, including the notable Rolling Stone journalist Larry "Ratso" Sloman. Sloman, born on May 23, 1948, in Brooklyn, New York, is an American writer, author, and music journalist. He has made significant contributions to publications such as Rolling Stone, The Village Voice, and Playboy, offering insightful interviews and writings on numerous renowned musicians and artists, including Cohen, Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, and John Lennon.

Sloman's engaging storytelling style captures the essence and spirit of the music scene and the personalities he encounters. He has also authored several notable books, including the memoir "On the Road with Bob Dylan," which chronicles his experiences traveling with Dylan during the 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue tour.

The album "Various Positions" by Leonard Cohen features nine compelling tracks that showcase his artistry. Here is a list of the songs included on the album:

  1. Dance Me to the End of Love

  2. Coming Back to You

  3. The Law

  4. Night Comes On

  5. Hallelujah

  6. The Captain

  7. Hunter's Lullaby

  8. Heart with No Companion

  9. If It Be Your Will

Each song on "Various Positions" captures Cohen's profound lyricism and musical depth, contributing to the album's enduring impact.

"Book of Mercy" by Leonard Cohen is a collection primarily consisting of poems. Rather than traditional chapters, the book is divided into numbered sections, each containing a series of individual poems. Here are some sample section titles from "Book of Mercy":

  1. From the Broken-Hearted: A Procession of Angels

  2. Dancing Before the Lord

  3. From the Prison of First Love

  4. Night Prayer

  5. Against the Grain

  6. Intercession

  7. The Appearance of the Rose

  8. The Dream of Abraham

  9. Lamentation

"Book of Mercy" presents a rich tapestry of emotional and spiritual exploration, with each section title offering a glimpse into the profound themes and experiences within Cohen's poetry collection.

Unveiling the Mysteries of Inspiration

“The real song, where that comes from, no one knows. That is grace. That is a gift. That is not yours.” -Leonard Cohen

John Cale: The Avant-Garde Trailblazer

John Cale is a Welsh musician, singer, songwriter, and record producer. He was born on March 9, 1942, in Garnant, Carmarthenshire, Wales. Cale is widely recognized for his versatile musical contributions, particularly in the fields of rock, experimental, and avant-garde music.

In the 1960s, John Cale became known as a founding member and multi-instrumentalist of the influential rock band The Velvet Underground, alongside Lou Reed and others. Cale's contributions to the band included playing various instruments like viola, bass guitar, keyboards, and providing vocals. His experimental and classically trained background brought unique elements to the band's sound.

Following his departure from The Velvet Underground in 1968, Cale embarked on a successful solo career. He released a series of acclaimed albums that showcased his distinct musical style, which blended elements of rock, avant-garde, folk, and classical music. Some notable albums from his solo career include "Vintage Violence" (1970), "Paris 1919" (1973), and "Fear" (1974).

Jeff Buckley: The Voice of Emotion

Jeff Buckley was an American singer, songwriter, and guitarist, known for his exceptional vocal range and expressive musical style. He was born on November 17, 1966, in Anaheim, California, and tragically passed away on May 29, 1997, at the age of 30.

In 1994, Jeff Buckley released his critically acclaimed debut album, "Grace." The album showcased his diverse musical influences, ranging from rock and folk to jazz and soul. It featured his signature rendition of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," which became one of his most iconic and beloved songs.

With his ethereal voice and heartfelt songwriting, Jeff Buckley began to establish himself as a rising star in the music industry. Tragically, his promising career was cut short when he accidentally drowned in the Wolf River Harbor in Memphis, Tennessee, during a spontaneous evening swim.

Bono's Resounding Interpretation

Bono sang it. The frontman of U2, boldly declared Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah' as the "most perfect song in the world." In Alan Light's book, The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of 'Hallelujah,' Bono's reverence for the track is unveiled. Alongside other artists expressing their admiration for the song, such as Regina Spektor affirming its indestructibility and Patrick Stump from Fall Out Boy noting its perpetual freshness, Bono's proclamation cements the enduring power and universal appeal of 'Hallelujah.'

Brandi Carlile's Profound Connection

Brandi Carlile covers it. When interviewed for the documentary, Carlisle says, “Leonard Cohen somehow understood that 'Hallelujah' wasn't a church song, but that it was actually a moment of realization that life can be desperately hard."

A Surprising Encounter: Discovering 'Hallelujah' in Shrek

I hate to admit this, but my first encounter with the song came unexpectedly while watching the animated film Shrek with my teenage kids. As the movie unfolded, I found myself captivated by John Cale's rendition of 'Hallelujah.' The song had a profound effect, humanizing the fictional, mythological character Shrek in a way that resonated deeply. Interestingly, Rufus Wainwright was initially chosen to perform the song for Dreamworks, but ultimately, Cale's version was selected for its perfect alignment with the essence of Shrek. Nonetheless, it was Wainwright's rendition that graced the movie's soundtrack album, which achieved remarkable success, reaching double platinum status.

An Enduring Legacy: Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah' and the Timeless Journey of a Song

"Of course, I was happy the song was being used, but I think people ought to stop singing it for a little while." -Leonard Cohen

The impact of “Hallelujah” was nothing short of remarkable, with its presence felt far and wide. In just one week, three different versions of the song graced the British top 40 music charts, illustrating its widespread popularity. Some may wonder if Leonard Cohen had mixed feelings about its proliferation, but those who knew him, like Ratso, suggest otherwise. According to Ratso, Cohen was genuinely delighted that the song had taken on a life of its own, capturing the hearts of countless individuals.

Throughout the documentary, there are numerous hidden treasures and profound insights to be discovered. Delving into the film's one hour and fifty-seven minutes is an edifying experience, filled with wisdom, gratitude, and an exploration of the mysterious origins of songs.

"If I knew where songs came from, I would go there more often." -Leonard Cohen

As the closing credits roll, one thing becomes clear: “Hallelujah” is more than just a song. It has transcended time, capturing the essence of the human experience and touching the souls of those who hear it. Leonard Cohen's enduring legacy lives on through this extraordinary composition, reminding us of the power of music to connect, inspire, and elevate the human spirit.

Bonus material:
This is a Spotify playlist of best renditions of "Hallelujah" by various artists.

Catch it on Netflix before it departs, or explore it on IMDb to find rental options if it's no longer available. Don't miss the opportunity to experience this captivating documentary firsthand.

Sunday, June 04, 2023

Expressing Hope and Courage: Music, Chord Progressions, and the Impact of Psalm 3

The phrase "David is a man after God's own heart" is found in the Bible, specifically in the Old Testament book of 1 Samuel 13:14. The original author of the phrase is Samuel the prophet, who spoke these words to Saul, the first king of Israel, in reference to David. The full verse reads: "But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you" (1 Samuel 13:14, NKJV).

David, a warrior-poet, embodies a complex view of masculinity, a topic that requires sensitivity and nuance in today's context. In this series, I am committed to navigating this subject with utmost care, respect, and factual accuracy. It is important to note that the conclusions drawn in this exploration reflect my personal opinions and interpretations, which should not be mistaken for indisputable facts. I invite and value your comments as we delve into the profound connection between Psalms, David, and music.

Psalm 3 is a historic Davidic Psalm. It is attributed to David and is believed to have been written during a time of great distress and danger in his life, possibly during his flight from his son Absalom.

The theme of this Psalm is a plea for God's protection and deliverance in the midst of great turmoil and danger. David expresses his trust in God's ability to protect him, even in the face of overwhelming opposition and danger. He also acknowledges his own sinfulness and dependence on God's mercy and grace.

There are a few Old Testament events that have been suggested as possible references for the events described in this Psalm, but it's difficult to know for sure which one (if any) is the specific historical context for this Psalm. Some of the possibilities include:

  • David's flight from his son Absalom, as mentioned above (see 2 Samuel 15-18)
  • David's flight from Saul, who was trying to kill him (see 1 Samuel 18-31)
  • The rebellion of Sheba, a Benjamite who tried to lead a rebellion against David (see 2 Samuel 20)

In terms of emotions expressed in this Psalm, David is very honest and raw about his feelings. He expresses fear and anxiety about his situation ("How many are my foes!... Many are saying of me, 'God will not deliver him.'"), but also confidence in God's protection ("But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high."). He acknowledges his own sinfulness and unworthiness ("You, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high."), but also his faith in God's mercy and forgiveness ("From the Lord comes deliverance. May your blessing be on your people."). Overall, this Psalm is a powerful expression of faith and trust in God, even in the midst of great difficulty and danger.

Beyond Guilt: Exploring Additional Sources of Unworthiness

Feelings of unworthiness are common for many people, and the root of these feelings can stem from various sources beyond the inherent awareness of one's own sinfulness. Here are a few examples:

1. Comparison with others: Sometimes we may feel unworthy or inadequate when we compare ourselves to others. We think we don't measure up to their accomplishments or abilities, or we may feel like we are not as attractive, intelligent, or successful as they are.

2. Past experiences: Negative experiences from our past, such as abuse, trauma, or rejection, can leave us feeling unworthy or undeserving of love and acceptance. These experiences create deep-seated beliefs about ourselves that are difficult to shake.

3. Everyone else’s expectations: Societal or cultural expectations about what it means to be "successful" or "worthy" also contribute to feelings of unworthiness. For example, if we don't fit into certain gender or cultural norms, we may feel like we don't belong or aren't valued.

4. Personal setbacks or failures: Experiencing setbacks or failures, whether in our personal or professional lives, can also lead to feelings of unworthiness. We may feel like we're not good enough or capable enough to succeed, or we may think we've let ourselves or others down.

5. Mental health struggles: Mental health issues like depression and anxiety also contribute to feelings of unworthiness. Negative self-talk and distorted thinking patterns can create a sense of self-doubt and self-criticism that are difficult to overcome.

It's important to acknowledge that feelings of unworthiness are complicated and multilayered, and that various factors can contribute to these emotions. Understanding and addressing the underlying causes of unworthiness are crucial steps in overcoming them and fostering a stronger sense of self-worth and self-acceptance.

A Shift in Perspective: David's Actionable Conclusion in Psalm 3

David arrives at an actionable conclusion in Psam 3. Although the Psalm begins with David expressing his distress and feelings of being surrounded by enemies, he ends the Psalm with a note of confidence and trust in God's protection and deliverance.

In verses 4-6, David acknowledges that God is his shield and his source of strength. He calls out to God for help and expresses confidence that God will answer his prayers and protect him from his enemies. David also affirms his belief that God is in control and that salvation comes from Him.

Then in verse 7, David expresses his determination to take action and not let fear overcome him. He says, "Arise, Lord! Deliver me, my God! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked." This is a bold and decisive statement, showing that David is not simply resigned to his fate, but is willing to take action and fight back against his enemies, with God's help.

Finally, in verse 8, David expresses his faith and trust in God's protection and blessing. He says, "From the Lord comes deliverance. May your blessing be on your people." This is a powerful statement of faith and a reminder that David is not alone in his struggle, but is part of a larger community of believers who are all seeking God's protection and blessing.

While Psalm 3 begins with David expressing his distress and feeling surrounded by enemies, it ends with a strong affirmation of faith in God's protection and deliverance, as well as a determination to take action and fight back against his enemies. Through his prayer and declaration of faith, David finds hope and courage in the midst of his difficult situation. _Ultimately, he entrusts his life and safety to God's hands. _This reminds us that even in our darkest moments, we can turn to God for help and strength. Our faith in Him can give us the courage and confidence to face any challenge that comes our way.

What follows is content designed to help you discover and interact with what David writes about in this Psalm. No doubt, you are familiar with the emotions David experienced. They’re familiar to all of us and we would all benefit from working through them the way David did.

I find it intriguing to consider the healing power that writing had for David as he poured out his experiences in the form of Psalms. His heartfelt expressions of faith and struggles have resonated with generations throughout the ages. The transformation of his memories and emotions into songs has left an indelible impact on humanity. It is a testament to the enduring power of music and the universal language it speaks. In the following sections, we will explore some remarkable songs that have been inspired by Psalm 3, allowing us to engage with the profound themes that David articulated.

Musical Artist Song Title Year Produced
Matt Redman "You Are My Shield" 2015
The Psalms Project, Daniel Brunz "Psalm 3: Lifter of My Head" 2012
Robby Seah Band "Psalm 3 (A Shield About Me)" 2015
John Michael Talbot "You, O Lord, Are My Shield" 2008

These songs draw inspiration from the themes of God's protection, trust, and deliverance found in Psalm 3. It's worth noting that interpretations of the psalm can vary among artists, and the songs listed above may incorporate additional lyrics or elements beyond Psalm 3.

Hopeful Harmonies: Exploring Chord Progressions that Evoke Courage and Inspiration

What if you don’t want to pay for songs but would rather write your own based on a Psalm that is meaningful to you? When it comes to chord progressions that can express hope and courage in music, there are several common progressions that evoke positive and uplifting emotions. Here are a few examples:

1. I - IV - V: This is one of the most basic and widely used progressions in popular music. It provides a sense of stability and resolution. For instance, in the key of C major, the chords would be C, F, and G.

2. I - V - vi - IV: Often referred to as the "pop-punk progression" or "vi-IV-V-I" progression, this sequence is prevalent in many uplifting and anthemic songs. In the key of C major, the chords would be C, G, Am, and F.

**3. I - III - IV - V:**This progression is commonly used in major key compositions and can create a sense of triumph and resolution. In the key of C major, the chords would be C, E, F, and G.

4. II - V - I: This progression is frequently used in jazz and can convey a sense of progression and optimism. In the key of C major, the chords would be Dm, G, and C.

5. IV - V - vi - III: This progression has a catchy and uplifting quality to it. In the key of C major, the chords would be F, G, Am, and E.

These are just a few examples, and there are many other chord progressions that can convey hope and courage in music. The choice of progression ultimately depends on the musical context, style, and the emotions you wish to evoke in your composition. Experimenting with these progressions and adding your own variations can help create a unique musical expression of hope and courage.

From Mind to Music: Translating Internal Melodies into an Expressive Song

As I thought about the chord progression provided in the second example above, a specific song by the Red Hot Chili Peppers began playing on a loop in my mind. It's a tune I often strum on my acoustic guitar, immersing myself in its melodic charm. The progression, known for its popularity, has an inherent quality that evokes a Beatlesque vibe, especially when played at a slower tempo. Inspired by this captivating chord sequence, I ventured to explore its potential in creating the song below which you are free to use and tweak however you wish. What I care about most is that Psalm 3 has the effect on you as it’s had on me.

(Verse 1)

On the edge of night, I stand alone

Dark shadows cast, and fears unknown

But deep inside, a fire burns bright

Steady hope, ignite my fight


Through darkest hours, arise

Like a roaring lion, no need to hide

Hope and courage grow, ‘cause you’re at my side.

(Verse 2)

Can’t shake the doubt, but I won't retreat

With every step, I hear your beat

Through trials and storms, I'll hold the ground

With a warrior’s heart, fierce courage found


Through darkest hours, arise

Like a roaring lion, no need to hide

Hope and courage grow, ‘cause you’re at my side.


In the silence, whispers of grace

Guiding me forward, to a better place

I'll sing my song, with every breath

Faith a compass, conquering death


Through darkest hours, arise

Like a roaring lion, no need to hide

Hope and courage grow, ‘cause you’re at my side.


With trials faced, and battles won

I'll carry on, till the race is done

In the depths of my soul, I'll never hide

Hope and courage are rooted deep down inside

Enhancing the Visual Impact of Psalm 3

Feeling inspired by what you've read above and eager to delve deeper into expressing the essence of this Psalm? Perhaps you envision using it as a springboard for a thought-provoking small group discussion, inviting others to share in its wisdom. To complement and visually communicate the mood evoked by Psalm 3, I have curated a table of captivating color palettes. These palettes are not only ideal for printed materials, but also for enhancing the visual impact of social media posts or websites.

These color palettes incorporate a range of bright, uplifting, and energetic hues that can symbolize hope and courage. They can be utilized in various design projects, such as artwork, branding, or any visual representation where you want to evoke a sense of positivity and strength.

Mood Color 1 Color 2 Color 3 Color 4
Radiant Sunrise #FFD700
Sunny Yellow
Warm Orange
Vibrant Pink
Pale Sky Blue
Renewed Growth #00FF00
Fresh Green
Earthy Olive
Soft Teal
Pale Ivory
Brave Passion #FF0000
Fiery Red
Bold Magenta
Warm Gold
Deep Indigo
Tranquil Serenity #00BFFF
Calming Blue
Gentle Lavender
Cool Gray
Subtle Cream
Vibrant Energy #007FFF
Electric Blue
Energetic Yellow
Lively Coral
Zesty Lime


Exploring the rich tapestry of Psalms and the life of David can offer us profound insights into our own creativity and spiritual journey. These ancient songs continue to resonate with people from all walks of life, reminding us of the human experience and our deep longing for connection with something greater. As we have witnessed through the songs mentioned in this post, the Psalms have inspired countless artists throughout history to express their emotions, doubts, and joys with honesty and vulnerability. They invite us to do the same, to delve into the depths of our own hearts and unleash the power of our creativity.

So, I encourage you to embark on a personal exploration of the Psalms, immersing yourself in their timeless wisdom and poetic beauty. Dive into the life of David, a shepherd, poet, and king, who poured his heart out to God through these sacred songs. Allow yourself to be moved, challenged, and inspired as you encounter the depth of human experience captured within their verses.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Van Gogh and Coldplay: Bound Together Across One Hundred Years by Strands of Yellow

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Every night before I go to bed, I find solace in playing my guitar. It has become a ritual that brings tranquility and peace to my soul. Recently, Coldplay's enchanting song "Yellow" has captured my attention, its melodies lingering in my mind. As I delved into the chords and lyrics, I couldn't help but draw connections between this song and Vincent van Gogh's masterful use of the color yellow in his renowned painting, "Starry Night." In this blog post, we will explore the profound symbolism of yellow in art and music and delve into the theological implications of human suffering and God's love.

The Melodic Magic of Coldplay's "Yellow"

Every time I strum the chords of Coldplay's "Yellow," I am transported into a world of enchantment. The lyrics paint a picture of admiration and devotion, expressing the beauty found in someone's presence. Let's take a moment to immerse ourselves in the opening verses and chorus:

[Verse 1]

Look at the stars

Look how they shine for you

And everything you do

Yeah, they were all yellow

[Verse 2]

I came along

I wrote a song for you

And all the things you do

And it was called "Yellow"


So then I took my turn

Oh, what a thing to have done

And it was all yellow

Now, take a moment to immerse yourself in the captivating melodies of "Yellow" using the embedded audio player below:

Listen to the whole song here on Spotify.

The above is only a sample, but you can listen to the entire song (and explore Coldplay’s catalog of music) here on Spotify.

Van Gogh's Vibrant Yellow in "Starry Night"

Vincent van Gogh's artistic genius shines brilliantly in his masterpiece, "Starry Night." Among the swirling blues and greens, the color yellow takes center stage, conveying a sense of warmth and vitality. Van Gogh's use of yellow in the stars, moon, and village buildings evokes a profound connection with nature and the divine. As we gaze at this iconic painting, we are reminded of the power of color to evoke emotions and transport us to a realm where beauty and imagination intertwine.

As we conclude our exploration of the intersections between Coldplay's "Yellow" and Vincent van Gogh's "Starry Night," let us be inspired to embrace the call to action. We are invited to heal the brokenness around us by infusing it with beauty and compassion. Just as yellow symbolizes warmth and vitality, let us embody these qualities in our interactions with others.

  • Move from worship to action: Worshiping God should propel us to make a difference and effect positive change in the real world.

  • Those who partake in the nourishment and grace found in Jesus are called to be at the forefront of efforts to eliminate hunger and famine, addressing the physical needs of others.

  • Prayer grants us extra resources of love and patience to care for those whose lives are damaged, bruised, and ashamed.

By embodying these principles, we can:

  • Combine art and music with acts of compassion and justice, becoming agents of change in the world.

  • Demonstrate love and grace through our actions, reflecting the character of Jesus and inspiring others to seek something greater.

  • Engage with the Psalms, joining in the timeless chorus of praise and prayer that transcends cultures and connects us to a rich heritage of faith.

By embracing these practical steps, we can live out our faith tangibly and make a lasting impact on the world around us. As we infuse our actions with beauty and compassion, we become agents of transformation, bringing warmth and vitality to the brokenness we encounter. Just as Coldplay's "Yellow" and Van Gogh's vibrant yellow in "Starry Night" evoke emotions and transport us to a realm of beauty, our lives can radiate the love and grace of Jesus, inspiring others to seek the source of that beauty.

So, let us strum our guitars, paint with vibrant colors, sing melodies of hope, and extend a helping hand to those in need. Through our art, music, and compassionate actions, we can be the strands of yellow that bind the legacy of Van Gogh and the melodies of Coldplay, resonating across one hundred years and touching the hearts and souls of all who encounter them.

Let’s go out, roll up our sleeves, and embrace the transformative power of art, music, and faith. Together, let us wield our brushes and paint a world illuminated by the warmth and vitality symbolized by the color yellow.

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Building More Than a Guitar: Embracing the Midlife Renaissance

Guitar body cut out preparation.

Hello, you people! As a man in my fifties, I have embarked on an exciting new adventure that has brought immense joy and fulfillment into my life. I want to share with you my journey of learning and building electric guitars—a passion that has been awakened during this remarkable phase known as the midlife crisis. And while my future blog posts will delve into the profound beauty of the Psalms written by David, for now, let me give you a hint of the inspiration they have provided along my path.

The Story of Guitars: A Musical Adventure

Guitars have an extraordinary history deeply rooted in the world of music. From the ancient civilizations to the rock legends of today, these instruments have shaped melodies and captivated our souls. The evolution of guitars has been nothing short of an epic musical odyssey, influencing countless artists and genres throughout time.

Playing music vigorously can be traced back to Psalms, in the Bible. The famous Old Testament character, David, is known to be a musician and songwriter in addition to being a great warrior and king.

Embracing Change: Navigating the Midlife Crisis

The midlife crisis—a term that often carries a negative connotation—has been an unexpected catalyst for personal growth in my life. It has inspired me to reevaluate my choices, reflect on my passions, and embrace change. Despite any regrets or sacrifices made in the past, this phase has presented an opportunity to follow my true desires and pursue newfound passions.

Learning New Skills: Building and Playing Guitars

One of the most thrilling aspects of my journey has been delving into the art of guitar craftsmanship. Learning to build electric guitars has allowed me to unleash my creativity and dive into a world of technical mastery. While challenges have arisen along the way, I have persisted, overcome obstacles, and discovered the immense satisfaction and pride that comes with creating something tangible with my own hands.

Even more affirming is the moment when I hand what I've made to a friend with more expertise, watching their skillful fingers breathe life into the instrument. It is a humbling reminder that the learning journey is endless, and there is always room to grow and improve. This realization has taught me to appreciate the beauty of the process rather than solely focusing on reaching a definitive finish line. It's about the continuous evolution and the joy of sharing the fruits of my labor with others, knowing that each creation carries a unique story and potential for further refinement.

The Power of Music: Rocking with Legends

The music of legendary rock n' roll giants such as Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Pink Floyd, and The Rolling Stones has served as my guiding light throughout this journey. By learning and playing their iconic songs, I have found a profound connection to the power of music. It has become a form of self-expression, an endless source of inspiration, and a bridge to the soul-stirring emotions embedded within these timeless melodies.

My midlife crisis has truly transformed into a midlife renaissance. Through the art of building and playing guitars, I have found an avenue for personal growth, creative expression, and pure joy. As I share my story with you, my hope is to inspire others to embrace their own passions and pursuits, regardless of age or the sacrifices made along the way. The future is filled with endless possibilities, waiting to be explored and experienced. So, let us embark on our journeys, strumming our guitars, and harmonizing with the symphony of life. Together, we can embrace our midlife renaissance and create a beautiful melody that resonates through the ages.

Thank you for joining me on this adventure!