The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

Calling Alex

 

                                                                    

 

As a music lover in the 80′s, I sang along to, bopped along to, danced along to the iconic song with the memorable telephone number 867-5309 /Jenny (no area code..hmmmm) and only last week did I learn that it was written by Nashville based singer songwriter Alex Call.  His newly released book is called, not surprisingly 867-5309 The Song That Saved Me. His talents extend far beyond the musical realm, as his values and spiritual focus shape his actions; this man walks the talk as you will discover when you read on. 

This interview is timely in the face of the 10th anniversary of a date that changed world history, September 11th,  since one of Alex’s songs, called When was written as a poignant reminder that it is important to treasure our relationships.

How do you live your bliss?

My bliss has not always been so blissful! I have struggled with self-doubt and the pressures of the commercial world for much of my life. It’s easier now that I’m older and have taken time to study myself and gauge the world with a greater perspective than I once had. I am an idealist who tried in vain to conform. My refuge has always been in creativity. I was a kid who drew cartoons who then took up music. I always told myself stories. Now I am writing them out. I love that world. Is it bliss or escape? Perhaps it’s both. My idealism has never been stronger, if Quixotic.

You rocked the world by writing 876-5309/Jenny way back when….all these years later, how does it feel to know that it is a tune people keep in their heads?  Is it an autobiographical piece…was there a real ‘Jenny’  whose name and number were inscribed on a bathroom wall?

There never was a Jenny. I got the song the way I get all the good ones; it just came out of me while I was playing guitar and letting my mouth make sounds and words. That’s the way I write – everything I write –including novels. Go figure. Tommy Tutone, the band who had the hit, made up a few stories about a fictional Jenny because they needed to have a story for the press. But I think the story of the muse is a more interesting one.

Why was it such a hit? I haven’t a clue except that it’s hooky musically, like a kid’s song (children get it right away) and it did seem to sum up the zeitgeist of the early 80’s.

Please talk about Passion and Purpose and the Firestarters.

 Passion & Purpose and the Firestarters happen because Lisa Carrie, my second son’s mom, who had been a high-level background singer with Wayne Newton and Eddy Arnold and others, had gone to work in health care. She came across the work of a man named Quint Studer, a patient satisfaction guru, who talked about passion & purpose in health care. Music and healthcare converge on this subject. She asked me to write a song for him, and the album grew out of that.

Any ideas for helping people ignite their own passions and purpose?

I am extremely fortunate in that I have known my music passion since I was eleven years old. The form of expression for me has only grown over the years to include novels and my memoir. I think some people are passionate about what they do; others, not so much. But the less passionate need the more passionate, if that makes sense. I see a group sitting around a cave thirty thousand years ago. Some worked, some fought, some told stories, some healed. Nothing has changed except the scope of the human community.

As far as recognizing your passion? That takes a leap of faith some courage at times. Take the Leap!

 

How did you discover yours?

I saw a band playing at a dance when I was eleven. They weren’t getting beaten up and girls liked them, That was enough for me! Seriously, I have been blessed with the gift-curse of creativity since childhood. I’ve known that since I was a tiny tyke.

 

Your wife Lisa is part of the group and I wonder what it is like to having a working/life partnership.

We did the Passion & Purpose project while she was going through the journey of breast cancer. That was tough, but it gave more meaning to the project. I almost exclusively work alone on creative projects. Certainly, the writing is a solo endeavor. But without her, the P&P project never would have happened, since she brought it to me, and her journey influenced the songs. She voiced the title “Time to Live” and I caught the spark and wrote the song in one pass.

 

As a creative soul, do you find that your music ‘writes you’?  How do songs find their way to you?

We’re called musicians because the Muses have called us to be their temporary mouths and hands. Songs and stories come through me. There’s a definite spark. When I get it, I can sit down and write a song straight out without stopping. It comes through me. Same with my novels. I get the idea, “know” it and write a book. My viewpoints shape my works as well. I have strong views about the world. I have spent a fair amount of time studying history and spirituality and practicing meditation (and playing baseball and going fishing). My life experience and opinions help mold the form of my work. But without the spark that comes, there’s only make-work, which I’ve done a fair amount of. No spark, no good. I have learned to recognize that spark.

 

One particular song, called “When” came through you and your friend Jon Keller 10 years ago as a message, it seems, from somewhere beyond just the two of you. Please share why that piece was hauntingly significant.

When” was written on 9-10-2001. We had no idea why wrote such a heart-wrenching song about loss. Until the next day, that is. Plainly, the Muse was speaking through us. I am open to such subjects as well. I always wanted a microphone to speak to the entire world with, to tell everyone to stop the hatred and killing. That’s my passion!

 

In the days that followed, can you express the myriad of emotions in which you swam?  ANd now 10 years later?

My older son James, then twenty-two, was working for the Port Authority of NY & NJ in a building adjacent to the Towers. I was in Los Angeles. No cell phone in those days. James could not be found. I instantly started driving towards Nashville. We didn’t find out that James had overslept and missed the train which would have put him at Ground Zero at that very bad moment until I reached Flagstaff, AZ at the end of a long day of fear and stopping at dusty desert payphones at which I got no news of him. I felt the pain. All such acts by all combatants everywhere fire the same response in me. Some day humans will get it, but that day hasn’t yet arrived, has it?

 

No pun intended (given your name), but how did you hear the ‘call’ of service?

I was lucky; I heard it when I was a kid. By the time I was teenager, there was no question about the message I hope to bring in some limited way to the world. I was a fan of Superman Comics. Superman trying to save the world from his Fortress of Solitude.

 www.8675309jennybook.com   

http://youtu.be/is668lGyVUY

www.alexcall.wordpress.com

Read A New Book Month

                                                                  

 

Books delight me, entice me, tickle me, inform me, entertain me, enlighten me, are spiritual nourishment, keep my brain sharp, introduce me to new concepts. Quite simply, I can’t imagine a life that is not filled to the brim with reading material. Of all of the items in my home, I have more books than any other thing. I grew up reading. My mother used to say I almost always had a book in my hand. She took my sister and me to story hour at the library.  She, my father  and grandmother read to us and we to them. Every babysitter did as well.

The day I had my own library card and could tote precious reading material up the street from what to me, was as much fun as a toy store,  represented a milestone in my life. I was one of the big kids!  I would breeze through them and gobble them up like the brain food that they were. I read everything I could get my hands on. I was weaned on Dr. Seuss. The only ham in the Weinstein household was the kind that came with ‘green eggs’  offered by Sam I am.  Little Golden Books, Heidi, Where The Wild Things Are and The Phantom Tollbooth had their place on bookshelves in our home.  Highlights Magazine was a monthly treat.  Oh how I wish I had kept the original hard cover version.  The volumes of the Funk and Wagnalls Encyclopedia my parents had purchased from a door to door salesman, brought with it a sense of magic that encouraged me to explore the world.   Nancy Drew and the Bobbsey Twins mysteries,  All of A Kind Family,  biographies of Helen Keller and Anne Frank were my  adolescent companions. I looked forward to arrival of the book mobile each year as it pulled into the school parking lot at Pennypacker Park Elementary in my hometown of Willingboro, NJ.

September is Read A New Book Month. It is an invitation to go to a book store or library, order on line via Amazon….whatever your preference, and crack open a fiction or non-fiction door into a new world. Adventure, romance, humor, biography, mystery, self help, motivation, drama, art, music…the genres are seemingly endless.

Some of my favorite reads that laid the groundwork for my spiritual path include:

The Search For Bridey Murphy by Morey Bernstein

Illusions, One, The Bridge Across Forever and Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach

Way of The Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman

Stranger In A Strange Land by Robert Heinlein

A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle

The Shared Heart by Barry and Joyce Vissell

Hope For The Flowers by Trina Paulus

Woman On The Edge of Time by Marge Piercy

Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel

2150 A.D. by Thea Alexander

Conversations With God by Neale Donald Walsch

The Dragon Doesn’t Live Here Anymore by Alan Cohen

The Kin of Ata Are Waiting For You by Dorothy Bryant

You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay

Even Cowgirls Get The Blues and Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins

More often than not, my nightstand has 2 or 3 books in the rotation; most for pleasure and review.  I carry a book in my briefcase in case the urge to indulge in this healthy addiction, arises.

What’s on your current list?  What would you like to be?

Every Day I Write The Book by Elvis Costello  http://youtu.be/3ybnsxCGg6E

Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield  http://youtu.be/TtGY4G7II6s

A Wrinkle In Time

                                                    WrinkleInTimePBA1.jpg

 

When I love a book, I read it multiple times, finding it intriguing and compelling. Such is the case of the 1962 classic young adult novel by Madeleine L’Engle called A Wrinkle In Time.  It entered my life in high school and I have likely perused the pages somewhere in the mid-double digits since then. It is a parable about good vs. evil, darkness vs. light and love vs. fear. The focus of the book and subsequent movie which I watched with my son recently is the Murry family, consisting of scientist mother and father, a teenage daughter named Meg who feels like a total misfit, twin  10 year old  ‘average’ brothers Sandy and Dennys and savant 6 year old brother Charles Wallace. The oldest and youngest Murry kids and their friend Calvin O’Keefe go on a rescue mission to find their father who disappeared years earlier while on a time travel experiment. 

With the aspects of what Joseph Campbell would refer to as ‘The Hero’s Journey’; the experience is seen primarily through physically and at times, emotionally/spiritually myopic Meg’s eyes. 

From Campbell’s iconic book The Hero with a Thousand Faces:  “A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”

Meg compares herself to her beautiful mother, her ‘normal’ twin brothers and her genius little brother of whom she feels protective when people don’t understand him and ridicule him. By the end of the book and movie, she recognizes her own worth and discovers her inner power.

Some quotes that remain with me and are applicable in my own life:

 “It’s not what things look like. It’s what they are like.” Like and equal are not the same thing.”  Our perception is open to adaptation at our will and when we change how we see things, everything we see changes.

“All that is important is unseen. All seen things are temporary. All unseen things are eternal. What you seek is like music. It sweeps you aloft so that you are moving in glory among the stars. Take time to find the unseen.” I have found that when I view the world through Divine eyes, those of love and acceptance, what I discover is infinitely more exquisite.

“You have something the darkness does not have. It is only yours and you must find it for yourself.”  Simply put, that something is love. Love trumps fear and shines the light in the darkness of fear.

 

One of my favorite songs about time   http://youtu.be/qHDt2t0oO7g 

Time In A Bottle by Jim Croce

One Minute Mindfulness

 

                                                 

Although there is alot to love about Donald Altman’s latest book entitled One minute Mindfulness: 50 simple ways to find peace, clarity, and new possibilities in a stressed-out world, my favorite portion opens the door for what follows:  “If there is a single secret to one-minute mindfulness, it is this: live the next sixty seconds as if your whole life depended on them, with a sense of urgency and excitement, or as if you had just arrived in a foreign land where there is nothing expected, hackneyed or taken for granted.”  Hmmm….I mused after reading this passage a few times and felt a sense of determination to do just that, to enter into the next moment, without expectation, but with anticipation that something wondrous could occur.

As a consummate recovering type A, I appreciate that this book is a user friendly guide, as it lays out, step by step ideas for enjoying each precious moment, enhancing relationships, finding rewarding right livelihood work, improving eating habits,  thus re-establishing wellness, immersing in life more fully and completely.

Anecdotes that put these concepts into practice, wisdom quotes, portable life skill exercises are a hallmark of the book. Altman encourages readers to ‘create an island of peace’, ‘gaze at the sky and the moon’, ‘leave work behind’, ‘find pleasantness’, ‘be at peace with desire’ and learn ‘lessons from the Earth’ and elaborates on them chapter by chapter.

The rewards of doing these practices are enumerable and priceless. Imagine having more peace, a sense of equanimity with whatever shows up in your life, getting the most out of each precious moment. One minute Mindfulness is the reminder to live both mind-fully and heart-fully.

www.oneminutemindfulnessbook.com

Previous Posts

Invulnerable and Invincible?
  Yesterday, in the midst of a radio interview with Kerri Kannan,  I was asked a question about vulnerability. It is a topic that has become as familiar as the fingers typing these words. I was awakened to it when viewing a TEDTalk by Brene' Brown a year or so ago. It doesn't come easily to

posted 10:24:20pm Sep. 18, 2014 | read full post »

The Now What Club
This morning, I joined two dear friends for brunch at Mal's Diner in Skippack, PA.  After a heart-healthy workout in cardiac rehab, I had a heart- happy  meal of egg whites, spinach (no cheese), fresh fruit instead of home fries and dry (no butter) whole grain toast. Yvonne Kaye has been my mentor

posted 10:10:09pm Sep. 16, 2014 | read full post »

Enjoy Every Moment
Feeling emotionally raw at the moment, having just returned from a day of honoring my friend Delane Lipka. I had written about another extraordinary day in a previous Beliefnet article called In the Garden of Eden that described a gathering of kindred spirits that had been organized by Delane. For d

posted 10:03:50pm Sep. 15, 2014 | read full post »

Cardia-versary
This morning marks 3 months since I experienced the kind of pain that cracks you open and has you revealing the emotional viscera that had long lay dormant. Literally at this moment, I was captured by the symptoms of a heart attack- searing heart burn pain, jaw tightness and wringing wet sweats. I s

posted 10:56:19am Sep. 12, 2014 | read full post »

Cosmic Coincidence
My definition of cosmic coincidence are those events that have me shaking my head in bewildered awe, asking "What are the chances that such a thing could happen?"  My answer is always the same. "100%, since it occurred." It is that encounter with just the right person, hearing a song on the radio r

posted 10:05:23pm Sep. 10, 2014 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.