Episode 29: Becky Reardon – Finding the Moon
Becky Reardon describes herself as “In the music.” Her songs, tell us about the human community, our mother earth, and the reverence, and awe, and humility, and joy, and solace, and deep understandings that can rise up when you make time and space to listen to what she has to say.
Read the Whole Interview at Change the Story / Change the World.
Becky Reardon’s voice is familiar to the millions of people who heard her sing on the Charlie Brown TV specials (Charles Schultz called her his favorite singer!). She is a composer whose songs and rounds are sung by community and university choirs, and song circles throughout the US, Canada, British Isles, and Germany. Sometimes jazzy and fun-loving, sometimes trance-inducing and deeply spiritual, her music always conveys her passion for the natural world and the cycles of life. She teaches and performs nationwide, using improvised singing and movement to inspire singers to write their own songs. She is currently writing a musical about a women’s singing circle.
If you know anything about Juniper trees, their bark starts hanging off of them. But if you’ve ever had a Juniper in a fire and you’ve split a piece of Juniper, the center of it is dark pink. it’s “red is rose.” And so, I wrote this song to compare myself to a Juniper tree that was growing older and feeling myself, and going through my years, just being in the bright blue sky out here and still having a lot of passion in my heart.
…when I’m receiving writing and working on a song, I am trying my very best to make the song, carry the feelings that inspired the song. So that when you sing the song, you go to the place that, that I felt. I try, I really try hard to do that.
…you look around he community …and you ask, what does that community need that I have something special to, to give to? What is my special thing that I can give my community? So, there’s that part of it. And also, there is your own desire. And maybe that part comes first. Its like, “what do I love to do?
BC: [00:00:00] If you’re lucky, every once in a while, you cross paths with a singular soul whose way in the world Intersects with yours at an inflection point that contains a powerful lesson that makes profound sense for you, in that moment. Becky Reardon is one of those, at least for me.
We met at a while back during the deep mask times. On a bench by the San Francisco Bay. She and her wife were visiting my friend and Change the Story / Change the World musical collaborator, Judy Munson.
Now, Becky describes herself as “In the music” I’m thinking, it’s more like, “She is the music.” And that music has a compelling story to tell about the profound wisdom that surrounds us here on our planet. Her songs, tell us about humans, and our mother earth, the reverence, and awe, and humility, and joy, and solace, and deep understandings that can rise up when you take the time, and make the space to listen to what she has to say.
We’re all lucky that Becky has been kind enough to share those songs through her records, and concerts, and workshops all across the country, over the past decades. We spoke in the spring of 2021 about these things: The natural world and community, and the place of songs in the spaces where they come together.
This is. Change the Story / Change the World: A chronicle of art and community transformation, I’m Bill Cleveland.
Listeners, you will notice that this episode includes a lot of Becky’s wonderful music. If you are interested in hearing more, you can go to beckyreardonmusic.com or click on the link in our show notes. Now here’s Becky sharing, among other things, her recipe for finding the moon.
BC: [00:02:07] Part 1: In the Music
So, it looks like you’ve returned home in one place in one piece. Yeah. Yeah.
BR: [00:02:14] To one place, one piece I’m here. Glad to be here. Were you out at the bench this morning?
BC: [00:02:22] Yeah, that bench, if there are solace and soul helpers over this last year and that bench has been one of them, for sure.
BR: [00:02:31] Kind of like a rock.
BC: [00:02:33] Absolutely. So, just, before we start, could you describe what’s outside the walls of your place where you are?
BR: [00:02:41] Sure. I’m in the high desert of Northern New Mexico. I’m on a piece of land. That’s five acres. it’s on a little rise above a very long valley, an arroyo that’s full of Russian olives and little Rocky Mountain junipers, lots of sticky thorny things. I can see a Talus Mountain to the east. the Rio Grande Gorge is to, to the west of me outside my window there. I have Russian olive trees in my backyard. I have mockingbirds singing wildly right now. The arroyo used to be full of sheep, that’s years and years ago. Nobody lived out here except sheepherders. So that’s a little bit of my, my terrain.
BC: [00:03:29] I usually ask people that I also ask who are the people who were there before we came, the white folks showed up.
BR: [00:03:37] The Taos Pueblo. Indians. Yeah.
BC: [00:03:40] Who are very much. still there
BR: [00:03:42] Still there? In fact, they are, as the crow flies, about two miles over there to the east. I’m just west of the Taos Pueblo, and yes, they’re still there. Their village has been occupied continuously for a thousand years.
BC: [00:03:58] Yeah. Which is amazing. First of all, thank you for doing this. I’ve spent time with your music, and it’s an extraordinary way to be introduced to another human being. So let me begin. So, your work in the world how would you describe it, your way in the world, your path?
BR: [00:04:13] I’m in the music. I used to sign my emails “In the music,” cause that’s where I am. I’m a musician songwriter, performer, and that’s the medium through which I express what’s important to me, which is the natural world and community. And I know I start with myself. Where I am. I’m here. Here’s my body. Here’s what’s around me. Here’s, what’s singing to me. Here’s what I’m learning. And I make songs out of that, and I share them with my community, with my family, and hope they are useful.
BC: [00:04:55] And it’s so clear to me that spending time in the natural world that you are reflecting on is supremely important to you that feeds you.
BR: [00:05:07] Oh Yeah. And especially during this pandemic, I feel lucky that I live in a place where I can still get out to trails up in the mountains out on the mesas, because yeah, that definitely keeps me alive.
BC: [00:05:23] What took you to the place that you’ve spent so much of your life in this communion and this musical symphony that you’ve generated around you.
BR: [00:05:35] That’s such a question. I saw a movie once, and I don’t remember the name of it, but the premise of the movie was that after you die, there’s about 10 seconds of consciousness where you relive all the important things in your life, and all of a sudden it makes sense.
BC: [00:05:51] Yeah.
BR: [00:05:52] All of those puzzles are answered, and you know, what it was all about. And when you ask a question like that’s takes me there. And I think about being raised in a family in the middle west, that was pretty religious. My, my dad was a minister. My grandfather was a minister and a missionary, and I grew up singing hymns. And the best part of that was singing four-part harmony acapella, so all of those chord changes, all that stuff is just in me. And songs like
“Farther along we’ll know all about it.”
Yeah. That song. Sing, pop songs, lots of jazz, listening to Fitzgerald, the Gershwin tunes studied opera music. I traveled. I went to France for my junior year in college, learned some folk songs there. Then went to the Philippines in the Peace Corps. it was always like I had a ukulele or a guitar or something. I was always learning songs. Came back and moved to the Bay Area. And I sang in a little folk club called the Vene Fomage, on Solano Boulevard, and just sang songs that Joan Baez would have sung and Bob Dylan. And that’s the early part of this journey.
BC: [00:07:14] And we share a lot of that, but at a certain point you decided that you would make your own music, your own songs, and I’m wondering where that emerged, and how that flowered?
BR: [00:07:31] It took a long time. I’m very slow to, I didn’t start writing my own songs really until I was in my fifties. And A lot of other paths I sang with top 40 bands and bars and sang at a folk club called the Purple Onion in San Francisco and yeah. And, I was always singing other people’s songs and I tried to write songs, they were like love songs and I didn’t like them. And I didn’t really have my own voice.
And then there was one year where all of these fantastic things happened. I started taking singing lessons from the wonderful jazz improvisationalist, Rhiannon. who’s part of Bobby McFerrin’s group and a fabulous singer in her own. Right. And she just opened this whole world. Of hearing my own voice to me, and starting with vocables not singing words, but just like the Mockingbird I was listening to this morning, I was like,
“Mocking bird scat singing”
making enough, whatever kind of came out of my body and my own rhythms and my own excitement or quiet or whatever it was. I met her, I had two lessons and I knew that she had just given me a lifetime’s worth. So, I met her, I started singing with Kate Munger and, that’s another whole story. Kate is the woman who started the Threshold Choirs. they’re groups that sing at people’s bedside in the last stages of their life. But years ago, this was like 30 years ago, she had a group of women out in Point Reyes, and I would come join them. And we’d just sing on the full moons out on the shore, on Bay and we’d sing rounds from all over the world. And after a while, I would go I, think, “let me try my hand at that.” And so, I wrote around about the cycles of the moon, Where is the Moon.” And I think the third thing that happened that year that I came out with some friends to the four corners area.
BC: And that’s New Mexico where you are now, right.
BR: [00:09:50] Yeah, and I just, we came out in two, two trucks and all of a sudden, I just wanted to go off on my own. And they went up to Telluride and I went down to the canyonlands and just not having ever been there before, not knowing what to expect and started hiking in the canyons and I felt something there just in the pace of walking and being surrounded by such astonishing landscape, the immensity of the landscape, and then the intimacy of the little wildflowers that were there. It just took me back to a place. I don’t think I’ve been to I was a kid and the world was really alive to me. And so, all of that, I started singing back, just after I’d been walking for a while, I would just make up songs, and often not words often just S just responding to, to do what I felt around me. And that’s what really happened. It changed my, my, my music.
BC: [00:11:01] There’s an old school practice that I think you and I probably both had, which is you go into a music store, and you flip through the albums that are stacked up. And you look at the names of the songs and the back of the albums and you look at who’s in them.
And so having spent time with your music, I feel like I am flipping through a book of specimens photographs, sounds, of a long, long walk through the obvious paradise that you avail yourself of out there in the world. And there are times when I feel like I’m being introduced to your friends, your family in a sense.
There’s one of my friends, who’s your friend, which is the Raven, obviously the monkey flower and the Cocklebur and the rivers and the stars. At some points I’m feeling like I’m intruding—that this is a private moment. Okay.
That’s an important thing because sometimes it listening to your music, obviously the intention is to share it, but I feel like I’m in, in a sanctuary and I’d like you to talk a little bit about two things. One of them is the round and what it means to you. and this idea of sharing these things with groups of people who sing,
BR: [00:12:24] Oh, my mind is just so full of stuff, so, I will talk about rounds and where it started, then I started singing my own songs with other groups. Like I said, it’s in the music. I just, I want to play just a little bit
BC: [00:12:44] Good please do
BR: [00:12:48] You were just talking about the Ravens, and it makes me those services song. So, I was out in the Valley of the Gods, which is in Southern Utah. it was hot. And we were walking along in the red rock and looking for some shade. And that’s where this came from.
in the summer heat
looking for the shade of a cottonwood
A raven sees me walking.
She knows, but she’s not talking.
Some place green,
Down by cool stream
So that’s a round. the round form back to that group, singing on the shores of tamales bay, like the, I think the second round I ever wrote was, Where is the Moon? And first of all the round, that happens to be a perfect vehicle for writing songs about cycles of nature.
BC: [00:14:06] yes.
BR: [00:14:07] And so this round started before I had any recording equipment.
And I was out here in New Mexico and the first line came to me cause’ I was thinking about the moon. All right. if I see this little Crescent, the curve is facing. to the right. I, what does that mean? Is it waxing? Is it waning? if I see the moon, when I’m waking up in the morning, is it new? Is It like old? and then I learned that the full moon rises at sunset every month, no matter what month it is. And anyway, so I’m thinking about this, and this line comes to me.
When the moon is new,
it’s a sliver on the right
growing bigger every night.
And I went, oh, I better write that down. And later on, I was hiking with some friends, and I made them sing that part over and over again until I came up with the next and so forth.
But anyway, I want to play that for you so you can hear how it sounds when it turns into a round.
BR: [00:16:13] all right, so I’ll play those for you so you can see how this alternate into, around.
Where is the moon?
When the moon is new,
it’s a sliver on the right
growing bigger every night.
Where is the moon
When the moon is waning
Fading to the left
Till there’s no moon remaining
BC: [00:16:53] You don’t mind if I learn that song, I love that, that’s really beautiful. And it, in two ways. Obviously it’s a great round, but the minute that the picture starts to emerge, the moon, and then, the question, okay, what’s going on here? it, I, I lose myself in that song really easily.
BR: [00:17:16] Great. I know you like rounds.
BC: [00:17:18] I do.
BR: [00:17:18] You have long history with them.
BC: [00:17:21] I do.
BR: [00:17:22] Yeah, that round is very fun to teach. because you have to kind of deconstruct it a little bit, cause it’s a little bit complicated, but you start with half the room singing the questions and the other half singing the answers.
And then in turn that around. Oh, I’m so happy that came to me. And I heard, oh, some years ago that folks were singing it at Oberlin College, and they called it the Moon Instructional Round.
BC: [00:17:48] That’s great. that’s called a, that’s a musical epidemic, right? When you know, you travel the world and you bumped back into something that you gave birth to. Isn’t that nice?
BR: [00:17:59] did you say a musical epidemic? Oh, I see
BC: [00:18:02] yes.
BR: [00:18:02] a good way.
BC: [00:18:03] long before this stupid pandemic I became obsessed. Uh, with epidemiology — not as a science of biology, but as a science of human behavior. And I’ve always felt that at least my work was in part about creating of viral responses to good things. So, like music, like rounds, like great stories, that mutate along the way.
BR: [00:18:30] Hmm. Hmm.
BC: [00:18:31] Yeah.
BR: [00:18:32] That made, that reminds me. So, I was thinking about your podcast
Change the Story / Change the World, and how important it’s been for me to, to change some of the stories and the religious upbringing that I had. And you know, so I wrote a song called All of Us, Um, it’s just happens to be another round and it’s, it goes,
All of us are chosen people
chosen by life to be alive.
Wherever we walk is holy land,
holy by life’s returning
under heaven only one true birthright
to create whatever we love.
And yeah, you’d ask how did I start sharing my songs? In the world. And that really happened out here in New Mexico, I just had the fortunate circumstance to get involved with a group of women out here who were building their own moon lodge. I mean, that’s, that’s what, one of the things attracted me Taos in the first place. The women were all doing these fabulous things. They were building their own houses. They were making their own sacred spaces. They were gardening, they were hiking in the mountains, they were going on, wood runs, they were playing softball. they were artists. So, I got in with this group of women and helped build this moon lodge. And actually, it’s next door to where I am. the building is mostly sunk in the earth. Uh, it has above ground. It has a low dome. it’s all done with a rammed earth,
BC: [00:20:25] Rammed earth, Yes!
BR: [00:20:27] Tires around with earth adobe plaster finishing, and they were very interested in bringing different mythologies into. Creating art around them recreating some of the myths and singing songs that, that had emerged from women’s spiritual movement, some of which were like the earth, the sea, the fire, that, that kind of thing. And I it’s. So I, when I started writing songs, I brought the songs to that group and I, one of them was a around for winter solstice because we always had a winter solstice ceremony and stayed up all night singing, doing gifts, playing drums dancing, and my song went.
Deep down in the belly of the night.
Dream deep winter dreams
and lie safe in your grandmothers’ arms
Still as a sea
Still as a sea
BC: [00:21:41] So I have to say that little story resonates through all of your work. The sacred feminine, the obvious, and the sometimes-buried myths, that inform I think the vital spirit of the world. If we take them to heart it really reminds me of that song of yours, Old Woman Juniper?
BR: [00:22:03] Old Woman Juniper. Yeah.
BC: [00:22:05] A line in that if you don’t mind my quoting it,
You know, that deep inside
our hearts are red,
red as rose.
And when we burn
an incense glows,
bittersweet and unforgettable
under the sky,
the bright blue sky.
And I’m wondering if you could you say where that comes from? Because it just, it meant a lot to me, but its part of your story.
BR: [00:22:30 So, I love the Juniper trees — Rocky Mountain Juniper’s. Their small and they last hundreds of years. And I remember once when I was out camping near Bandolier Monument, that’s about a hundred miles from here and I was by myself, and I had set my tent up. And had my little tent, my little campfire, and I was in a little circle of Juniper trees. And sunset came, and went, and it started to darken with dusk and all of a sudden, I had the unmistakable impression that the junipers were leaning in a little slightly. And so, I have a feeling for junipers. And also, as I’ve gotten older, I look older, and I have wrinkled skin.
And if you know anything about Juniper trees, their bark starts hanging off of them. But if you’ve ever had a Juniper in a fire and you’ve split a piece of Juniper, the center of it is dark pink. it’s red is rose. And so, I wrote this song to compare myself to an, a Juniper tree that was growing older and feeling myself, even though, uh, and going through my years, just being in the bright blue sky out here and still having a lot of passion in my heart.
BC: [00:24:10] I felt that.
BR: [00:24:13] Okay.
BC: [00:24:14] I have some of those old bark pieces too, hanging off me. So, I really resonated with that. One of the things I think that this moment in human history, I guess you’d say is that the connection among and between people that we have cut off in some cases because of the pandemic and the interconnectedness, I wrote a song called Six Feet, which really asked the question: Maybe six feet is what we need, to understand, but the way we can act basically. We’re so unconscious about our fellow humans often. This was sort of early in the pandemic in the six feet thing, and I remember looking people in the eye much more than in the old days. But mortality, which I think that Old Woman Juniper is about can obviously it’s, it’s a little scary, but it can also be a gift.
Part 2: Useful Songs
William: [00:25:12] One of the things that I often do is ask people to reflect on are stories that really personify the work, or the energy that you’ve been investing in in your life. I’m wondering if one rises up
BR: [00:25:27] There, there are many a lot of times am thinking about my community, my family, and how to make useful songs, songs that can be sung ceremonies and celebrations and songs that will encourage. I wrote a song for Kate Munger, who was talking about before the woman that founded the threshold choir. And now it’s sung a lot at celebrations, and commemorations for women who’ve been important in communities. And it goes:
That kinda’ woman makes the world go around
a clap, your hands, slide, slide
Time after time doesn’t she take the time to
listen to your troubles,
To make a good connection
to tell you that she loves you madly.
So, that comes to mind. And another story I can tell you about — a song that came to me that that’s useful for community. The story of this song comes from a little village called Questa, is just north of where I live about 20 miles. And it’s, it’s where my wife lives and where her family has been for a long time. And their parish church was built in the 1850s and it started crumbling. I mean it, it was adobe, and it was getting to the place where it was unsafe to be for people to worship in. And the diocese wanted to tear it down and just put up. Yeah, like a cafeteria kind of modern building. And the villagers got together and decided no, they wanted to rebuild their church in their traditional style. And so, they raised money. some of them learned how to do stain glass. Some of them improve their skills in woodworking; people knew how to mud plaster, and they raised this beautiful gem of a church that would just take your breath away when you walk inside. And when I saw it, I came home that evening and I, most of the song emerged right away and we sang it at a dedication.
Here in the mystery of this place, we stand
Here we stand together
Witnessing work of your hearts and hands.
Here we stand together
May angels bless this place
May hearts find rest and grace,
may love surround this place forever.
BC: [00:28:42] So, did they sing that song when they opened the church?
BR: [00:28:46] We sang it. It just happened to be at a time when several of us were gathering for a yearly retreat that we do at the Lama Foundation, which is near here. And about 20 of us went to the church for, an informal dedication. and so many of the people from the community came, we stood at the front and sang that song to everybody, harmony.
BC: [00:29:13] Yeah. One of the places that has inspired me the most is the time I spent in New Zealand. Yeah. So often, my work introduces me to people who have a sense of spirit in the world like yourself. And in Maori culture, spirit is manifest in very powerful ways. One of the rules of the universe for them, is that the more that humans create in a place, the more sacred it becomes to the point where Maori spirit leaders are asked to come and almost like a Geiger counter say, “Yeah, you’re about 70% of the way there, and here you have a lot more work to do keep it up.” But it reminds me, us of that benediction that you just shared, which is to set that new, old building on its new history in that community. And I’m assuming it’s a vital place in the community now.
BR: [00:30:10] Oh, yes.
BC: [00:30:11] Yeah,
BR: [00:30:11] This all happened maybe three years ago. Of course, it, they had no, one’s been able to meet there during this.
BC: [00:30:17] Yeah.
BR: [00:30:18] it’s a beloved place in the community.
BC: [00:30:21] What a special story. That’s great. So, I just have to say that now you don’t sit around listening to your music all the time, in one fell swoop. I for the last week have. What’s coming up at me is a cosmology, of here’s the blessings we’ve received from the earth and the cosmos, and here are different ways we can celebrate it, and reveal it, through song.
The form of the song, the words of the song, the voices and the songs. So, it has been, I would almost say a sort of a blessing to me to share it all in one big gulp, and I really appreciated it. Am I right in saying that you, do have a worldview of cycles, and of what we need to learn from the natural world and the interconnectedness and humility that we need to bring to our relationship to the path we walk on this earth is that, does that make sense? Does that resonate?
BR: [00:31:23] Articulated very well. I yes, and going back to being in the music, when I’m receiving writing and working on a song, I am trying my very best to make the song, carry the feelings that inspired the song. So that when you sing the song, you go to the place that, that I felt. , I try. I really try hard to do that.
I have a song called, Eve’s Longing that came out of an, just an experience I had specifically being in Baja and the Sea of Cortez and the Bay of Conception. And again, and just as evening fell — and it was just right after sunset, I was sitting on the beach and looking out at this little bay and there were two fishing boats anchored there. And there were two pelicans sitting on the gunnel. And they were just looking at the sky as it deepened blue beyond the mountains. And I just wished that I could be in their world and be, beyond the limitations of my my human mind, and just be a part of the flow, the rhythm, the conversation that everything else in the natural world around me was experiencing.
And I want to play at least the beginning. it’s called Eve’s Longing. As in Eve, Adam and Eve who had to leave the garden. think it was part of me alongs to live again as a player.
Part of me longs to live again
As hawk, or a bee, or a blackberry bramble
Like a flock of shore birds turning round and round
in an instinctive motion.
I want to hear you calling me
in a song that you’re seeing through the dark blue sea.
I want to find my home again
by the stars, by the waterfall.
Guided by an ancient knowing
BC: [00:35:03] That was one of my favorites. I have to tell you. Maybe because during the pandemic sitting on that bench, I found myself envying the water birds.
And it’s so interesting because I’m sure you’re aware we’re pelican central here for a certain part of the year. And they in particular, because their characters are so strong and powerful. And so I thank you for sharing that song. That put the hair on my neck right up, really.
BR: [00:35:46] That part of that song, part of the images came from being, out there on that bench, in that place and watching the murmuration of the, is it sandpipers? But they’re so astonishing and you’re just like, how do they know how to move and what is to move all together like that? And what does that feel like? And and yeah. Bill it just writing about how something feels singing, about how something feels, often I just can’t, …I English fails me and I “…Larulae…”
BC: [00:36:17] yes.
BR: [00:36:19] ah, I just English isn’t. A human language isn’t enough?
BC: [00:36:28] Well, I would just say the science world is catching up to the a hundred thousand year old understanding that the thing that you do, which is singing was likely the first act of human connection made intentionally prior to even language. I always think that the first time they came across a harmony, whether it was on purpose or by mistake, it was the first miracle.
I can imagine sitting around some fire if they had fire then and stumbling across at least the two-part harmony, if not a three-part, and being gobsmacked, as they say, in awe of that.
BR: [00:37:19] You’re making me think of another time that I was camping and I’m just in my camp chair, dozing off by the fire and I wake up and before I’m like totally consciousness. I’m hearing the crickets. And there are the crickets. And I start, I just. Singing with him just as you say, it’s just, and I wrote a song.
How do we learn? How do we learn? Just to sing, ask the crickets if they know anything.
BC: [00:37:53] and you brought up spiders in that song and you also brought up moms learning how to speak from their children,
BR: [00:38:02] oh gosh. I think I might’ve got a little carried away there,
BC: [00:38:07] No to me, that was just like, “Okay, where do we find wisdom in the world?” w we could go to universities and science labs they’re important, but there’s some stuff here that is pretty dense and pretty deep and could stand a lot of over reflection. And that’s one of them. I love that idea.
So, one of the things that I, there’s all different kinds of people that listen to this and, it’s ending up being a resource for younger people who are interested in the answer to the question that I pose in my podcast, which is “What use are the arts in these turbulent times?
And so, I often ask the people I’m talking to, what would you share about The path that you’ve taken for somebody who is going, oh, that seems like a fun way to go a useful way to go a profound way to go in life. Any rules of the road
BR: [00:39:08] I think it’s like you look around it, the community or part of and you ask, what does that community need? that I have something special to, to give to. What is my special thing that I can give my community? So, there’s that part of it. And also, there is your own desire. And maybe that part comes first. Its like, “what do I love to do?”
What can you not help doing? And then later on, how does that special thing serve my community? how can I make that a bit?
BC: [00:39:52] which at least in my cosmology once you’ve entered into that force field of asking that question and then trying to act on it, you’ve automatically set a kind of synergy in motion because the gift of considering the other brings the a reciprocal energy towards you. In South Africa, it’s “Ubuntu” “I am, because you are.” , Also there’s another term and this is Pitjantjatjara from the Great Victorian Desert (Australia) and they say Ngapartji Ngapartji — is “I teach you, you teach me.” And that reciprocity of the world is probably a quality, a lesson, a characteristic that humans have that we desperately need right now, very badly. sorry. I think of if someone said, “Okay what’s the elixir for this moment.” And I think I keep coming down to, we need to have more people singing songs. I really mean that,
BR: [00:41:03] sweet too.
BC: [00:41:04] “Let’s argue later let, but let’s sing a song together.”
BR: [00:41:08] Start with a song. my my friend ,and comadre, Melanie Demore. Who’s a, an African-American singer, choral director, teacher, fabulous women. she writes. Some of her work is bringing police and troubled communities together. She told us once that she just made up a song and the, in the, in, in the, on the spot that just went:
More than air,
more than water,
we need tenderness.
Just that in her beautiful, deep voice and having the room sing that simple song to start with there.
So Yeah.hadn’t, it’s been very hard for us not to sing together. Of course we’re, we’ve zoomed and we do our best with that, but it has been a hard year and hopefully little by little, this summer, we’re going to get back to hearing each other’s voices and the same time
BC: [00:42:23] And feeling them together in the same space.
BR: [00:42:26] Yeah. I know a lot of us who teach. The question comes up. “Who are you now? Are you different than a year and a half ago.” You know, going forward, how are we going to be at what’s going to be different. And I was thinking about one of the myths that we explored in this group of moon lodge women, that I was a part of.
And I was remembering the story of Amaterasu, who is a Japanese sun goddess. And her younger brother, Susansoo, who had created chaos on the earth and she fled into a cave and shut the cave up. And of course, deprived the world of its life. And so everyone was in darkness. They weren’t going to be able to grow their crops. And they were like, “How can we get Amaterasu to come out of this cave and shine again? And the story is that they brought drums and rattles and. Set it up outside her cave and started this big party of drumming and hooting and hollering and singing. And an old lady got up on a big stump and took off her clothes into this big revolved dance.
And everyone started laughing crazily. And finally, Amaterasu is hearing all this party going on outside her cave. And finally, she peeks out and finally, she comes out with her full sun. And I’m thinking that what we need, as we try to get back our juju, we need that kind of enchantment that can come from singing, singing , and being together, and dancing together.
BC: [00:44:11] Absolutely. And that story reminds me of the Persephone myth of course — same story. “Where’s the light. How do we bring it back? Let’s do what we have to do to call up the spirits that we need in order to thrive in the world.”
Becky Reardon, this has been an extraordinary pleasure to be speaking with you. I think we could probably go on for a long time. and I should be sending you some rounds. some of which come from my prison work and work with kids, and also from my own attempt to transform space that has lost its soul, with music. The gift that I’ve received is that I know that’s possible. I’ve seen it in real life.
BR: [00:44:58] Yeah. Me too.
BC: [00:45:00] Yeah. and obviously it’s not something that is easy to share with people who have no connection to it, other than you teach them a simple round and say let’s try this. And then I’ll ask you the question, “How do you feel?”
BR: [00:45:13] Oh, look, I look forward to hearing them and adding them to my collection.
BC: [00:45:18] Absolutely.
BR: [00:45:19] thank you. so much for asking me to do this. See, you see you back at the bench next time.
BC: [00:45:24] Okay. All right. Bye-bye yeah.
BR: [00:45:26] Bye.