Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Ghost (what ghost?) In The Machine

As we were traveling back to our hotel after last night's show in State College, Pennsylvania, I looked around and observed the moment. I was struck by the realisation that it has been less than two months since we first convened as a unit. I had to count that again to make sure I was correct. Yes, it was just the beginning of March that we embarked on this journey. Not even two months.

Of course since our coming together we have spent almost every day in each other's company, but in my observing last night, it was the closeness I felt to everyone that spoke of a span of time far greater than what "two months" represents in my mind.

One might sentimentally call this a "warm and fuzzy" feeling, but I prefer a less syrupy depiction. In moments such as this of which I'm speaking, the computation of an event attains a sharper point of focus and perspective. It's almost as if one is outside of oneself, truly observing, and in that detachment there is a clarity which has a quality that is rarely felt. It may be momentary and not necessarily factual - but one certainly feels that, at such a point in time, you see something for what it is. It is subjective and elusive and maybe just something to be logged, filed away and "forgotten" as in not dwelled upon.

The experience of this tour is being shared by each one of us in the band and those who travel closely with us, and in this shared experience there are as many subjective interpretations. It's funny how life will always find ways to put situations in front of us that we, as individuals, need to confront. And it continues to do so until such a time as we have conquered whatever that issue is that needs addressing.

I am presented daily with opportunities to learn more about being flexible - physically and emotionally! Sting made a small change in the running order of songs last night. In doing so, it meant that I would change guitars four songs in a row rather than once, with the routine I had going. My goal right now is to always find a way to simplify, whether it's with guitar changes or with my playing within a song. Can one chord do instead of two? That may sound like a joke, but I'm serious. The answer often is "Yes". Especially if one wants to find a way. And "Yes" is such a beautiful word. I much prefer it to "No"!

So I decided to play one of the songs, Synchronicity II, on a different guitar than usual - a guitar with a different tuning. I sat with it and realised that I could play it in this new configuration and that the change for me would help keep my life and the overall show more simple. That may, quite possibly, change again tonight! Who knows? Who cares? It's not important. At the end of my stint with Chris Botti last year opening up the Sacred Love tour, I wrote a retrospective of my experience on the tour. It begins with Sting's advice to me "not to sweat the small stuff". Aye-aye, Cap'n!

Change can create "chaos" in the "routine". Maybe the best way to minmize or neutralize chaos is to maximize flexibility. Think "Yes" before the knee-jerk reaction of "No". Also, if there's no "routine" then one can't interject chaos into it either! No ghost in this machine!

I am learning much from Dominic on this tour. Musically that is a given, but I'm speaking about a larger perspective. It is about the kind of response he will give to a request Sting might have. Even after playing together for fifteen years, Sting may request a different approach from a "routine' part in a song, and Dom's reponse is always uncategorically "Yes". The spirit behind that "Yes" conveys, without hesitation, a willingness and belief that he will find a way to successfully execute the request. There's never any intimation of "I'm relinquishing something that I hold precious". What it speaks of is committment to the big picture. I think this is what defines success.

Tonight is the last show for Phantom Planet. Each one of them - band and crew - has been a pleasure to be around. They joined us onstage last night, playing with us during Lithium Sunset, and will do so again tonight, taking a communal bow at the end of the show. We all wish them the utmost success, which seems to be the direction they're headed anyway. I'm sure I'll run into them in Los Angeles.



Willowwind said...

Wow.. and Yes!

Reading your blog has become such a guilty pleasure for me. Not only because you let us have a peek into the lives of you and the rest of the band, but because you challenge us to think about a bigger picture.

Time does play such interesting tricks with the memory. Many people I know that have seen the Broken Music Tour have been experiencing what they describe to be effects of distorted time. There have been many special moments that they try to capture and hold onto, but in the end it’s just an instant and must be released back out to the universe.

So many reporters that have reviewed this tour have gotten stuck in the past. They don’t seem to understand the possibility that even an old song can have new life, that music evolves and changes and doesn’t have to be confined to what was once written down long ago. Thank you so much for sharing you thoughts and feelings about this tour with us, and for reminding us that every night is a little different.

4/27/2005 9:12 AM  
Anonymous said...

I was at your Penn State show and I must say it was unbelievable! One of the greatest things that happens during a concert is to see how people you admire relate to each other. The four of you had a symphony last night on stage. Thank you for the enjoyable evening and the great memories.

4/27/2005 7:15 PM  
Anonymous said...

you were such a mean, bullying bastard at school.
all this new age bollocks is a lot to swallow now.
i hope all that bad karma catches up with you in the end.

4/27/2005 7:41 PM  
Anonymous said...

Hey Shane,
I just had to smile at the picture of you changing guitars 4 songs in a row - because I so know what you mean!

One of the groups I play with is a traditional Greek band, and I like to use an array of darabukas and frame drums - they may all look similar, but to me they all have their own voice and personality which suits particular pieces. Anyway, from time to time someone will suggest a change to the set which means I'll have to change drums, move mics, even seats, in the space of a few seconds, then back again. I'm learning to relax and breathe and think through what's happening and find a creative way of making it work...rather than act on my initial impulse to erupt into a Scorpionic/Irish frenzy of: "You can't expect me to do that!" (that would be a "no"!). Sometimes I think all I need is an acknowledgement that a 'simple' change will involve a big effort on my part (pathetic, yes?).

Routines can be comforting and restrictive at the same time. Part of my 'day' job involves engaging in activities with adults who have disabilities of various kinds, who live in extremely regimented environments. I try to provide them with the opportunity to exercise some choice, however tiny, if they so wish. Every day I'm reminded of the plethora of choices available to me, and how easy it is to not recognise, to take for granted, squander or resist them...which, of course, can seriously inhibit our developing into reasonable human beings (if you get my drift!).

Another thing I've noticed, through continually being asked to do things for which I feel utterly unprepared, is that we often want to dictate the timing of our learning, rather than have it 'thrust upon us', which can be unsettling - as if there'll be some magical day when we'll feel 'ready'.(I've also started to see such requests as a compliment rather than an imposition. So I say 'yes'...and then panic!!).

The universe often has a very different idea about what we need to know than we do. I've been known to stubbornly bash my head against the same wall (for well, years, sometimes!) before it finally pops through the other side, at which point I usually burst out laughing and say: "Oh that! I knew that!"

Oops, raved on again...Cheers, and keep on blogging, Anne (Oz) XX

4/28/2005 1:12 AM  
Anonymous said...

Geesh, not sure how old Shayne is, but something tells me the high school days were a few years back. Talk about holding a grudge. Thankfully, I'm not the person I was in my youth today.

Thanks for the blog and the wonderful music that I'm hearing from the Chicago boots (sorry!) and I look forward to hearing this band in Boston. I've been waiting to hear this from Sting for many years and I think his material has finally found the proper band.

Best to all.

4/28/2005 6:05 PM  
Willowwind said...


I noticed that you added links back to your website, store and Sting's site. But you forgot about Dom! Come on now, share the love :-) The MiFe have been giving you great reviews over there!

4/29/2005 4:44 PM  
Anonymous said...

Even about this guy is a lie--all the way down to his name. He's a fringe player who thinks he should be a star as well, but can't seem to get there. Why would he think anyone would want to read his "blog" defining success? "What Nature Intended" is for Shane to disappear, and for the public not have to be subjected to his crap.

4/30/2005 7:30 AM  
Willowwind said...

Hey "E Street" if you're so offended by this blog then don't read it, that's part of the beauty of the internet. Some of us are really enjoying reading Shane's thoughts, if you don't care to read them,just go away. :-)

4/30/2005 2:09 PM  
Anonymous said...

"Amen", willowwind! As far as I'm concerned, we're just a load of friends having a chat, which is what I thought blogs were all about. If you're not interested in the conversation, choose another table! Cheers, Anne (Oz). xx

4/30/2005 11:50 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home