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The music and ideas within Phoenix were inspired by the world changing events of 2020 and how everything we had relied upon to sustain us were thrown into chaos and unknown as we came to terms with our new realities. Each song in this short album represents a specific emotional influence 2020 has had on us and how it has affected our collective lives.

Times Arrow signifies the passage of time in a world that seems to blend days together into one endlessly long blur. Where you find yourself asking multiple times a day...  what day is it again? It's both a mixture of comfort, nervousness, anxiety, and drive to just do something. I wrote this song thinking about the myriad of tasks our daily lives are filled with and I wanted a soundtrack that would fit neatly into all of them - from doing the dishes, to reading, to watching the news, to working - and through all of it, a keenly felt understanding of the passage of time. Appropriately for this song, I was able to use a clip of my wife's singing that we had recorded over decade earlier.

Passing Clouds represented the wistful pleasures of a now seemly forgotten pastime... enjoying the company of friends on a sunny day watching the clouds pass by overhead while day dreaming what shapes you can make from them. My wife's beautiful voice can again be heard in this song. I can think of no better way to express this mixture of emotions I want to convey than through her amazing singing.

Our struggle to make sense of this new reality we find ourselves in is a very real one. Each new day brings a new challenge and a new demand. We must take everything on despite the overwhelming odds, while not having the faintest idea how to do it. The Summit represents this struggle. Each day is a mountain we must climb, seemingly all by ourselves, and success is not guaranteed. The deep bass, the soulful and powerful guitar and the soft wistful piano portrays the complex emotional state we find ourselves in.

Loss is something 2020 handed us all by the truckload and then some. Angel Tears is an expression of the deep emotional toll the events of 2020 have taken on us - especially the most vulnerable of us! At some point, loss overwhelms our reasoning and simply takes over.  We must acknowledge it, process it, and deal with its repercussions.  I wanted the percussion used in this song to sound like the steps of a thousand feet stomping the ground in unison, signifying our collective pain and the universal strength of our convictions.

The first song I wrote was Phoenix Rising and like many musicians during this time, I felt the need to make sense of the world around us through my art.  For me, this materialized as the mythical creature known as the Phoenix, rising from the ashes of its former self, born from the death of its past, and taking shape as something magnificent and new.  A vision of hope stirring within the ashes of our daily routines.  


Interesting fun fact:  The cover art for this was made from a custom blend of 10 different copyright free images, generating a unique new masterpiece from their elements.  A perfect metaphor for what the Phoenix represents.


A Poem by Shirley Maya Tan

On days we feel like scorched earth,
Like corroded rust or trampled dirt,
All we have to do is turn our faces,
Toward the gentle breeze,
And be sprinkled into the four directions,
Be swept away by the wind’s tender breath.

We are made holy
Through this burning,
Like a phoenix rising from its ashes
To become more powerful
Than it ever thought possible.

The scorching does not destroy us,
Rather, it burns through the chaff
Until our greatness is revealed
And what’s of real value remains.

This is our defining hour,
The moment we are made whole
By what has made through the burning.

So, let us be marked,
Not by sorrow or pain,
Not for false humility,
Or, for thinking we are less than we are.

Let us claim our brilliance within the debris,
Let us dance on the ashes of our previous lesser selves,
Let the stars be engraved into our bones,
And our divine fearless nebula return home.

Ashes to ashes,
Dust to dust,
From the rust,

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