Bees are buzzing. Birds are building nests. I took the doors off my Jeep today. Then I drove down to the lake to see the flowers. The new Steve Morissette pipe is so easy to smoke. It’s like a puff of air, and this Premier Cru is simply sumptuous. The local Public Radio is playing Vivlaldi’s “Four Seasons”. Jack and Pearl are playing near the water, scaring the Canadian Geese who seem to fly away in slow motion.
Do you ever get tired of worrying? I mean, just ever get worn out with thinking about what you need to do all the time? Yes, I do too. That may part of the reason I smoke a pipe occasionally, often, frequently, sometimes daily.
I’m back in school. 12 hours this semester…12 hours next semester….. then I get my degree, and then everything in the universe lines up and I see the path of least resistance. Will I take it? I will be 50 when I walk across the stage of diploma this coming May. “Hang on a second” I say out loud to myself. “That’s pretty cool.” I’ve heard it’s “all about the journey”, yea, what journey Peg?
Tobacco has been around and through so much persecution, most would have thought by now it would have disappeared. From the time smoking was stumbled upon in Egypt 6000 years ago, to the tobacco of the Native peoples of the Six Nations, to when it was taken back to Europe by Columbus, tobacco has been a part of human experience. All these anti-smokers of our day think they are winning some heroic battle against the evil weed, but they are just one more buzz kill in the long history of smoking. Long after corporations like Phillip Morris are gone, long after conservatives and liberals are gone, long after the lobbyist and special interests are gone, somebody somewhere will roll a cigarette, fill a pipe, or light a cigar.
I am a Bruce Cockburn student. His music, thought, lyrics, poems, all have been a big inspiration in my life. Not just musical life, but life-life. And I’m not really sure why.But his sound, his pathos impacted me. I have read about a tone, a sound for each ear. Even the ones making the sound know nothing of this. It’s nothing explainable. A good thing. If you think of a harp, you will understand. The strings are connected and arranged for the beauty they convey. The harp is a mysterious thing. Like a piano, but not even close. Like a stringed instrument, but far from. It is something beautiful, but all it’s own.
I went to Steveston, British Columbia years ago, which isn’t even past, to paraphrase Faulkner. Went there to record songs with a friend. A producer of many great Canadian artist. But why me? A guy from Mississippi, living in Nashville, trying to figure it out. But every time I got close to figuring it out, I felt like Judas.
The laughter of music and friends isn’t controllable.
As a lover of music, and having an understanding the effort displayed in writing a song, a mysterious and humbling thing…
I remember those days in the sea side town. The gulls, the sunlight on the water.
Roy, the producer, wanted beauty, pure sound, and truth. He reminded me of my opinion of Bruce Cockburn. Bruce is from Canada. Being in Canada, recording these songs, spiritually intense, mystically familiar.
I ended up doing a version of the classic, “All The Diamonds” for my SOUL album. I was there, in Canada, in Steveston, British Columbia, lying on a couch with my eyes closed. It was around 2:00 in the morning. Roy, the producer, asked which Cockburn song was my favorite. At that point it was “All The Diamonds”. All went quiet. I fell asleep, only to be awoken by Roy’s Schnauzer licking my limp hand hanging over the side of the couch. When I opened my eyes there was a Telefunkin u47 suspended above my mouth. I heard a beautiful, silky Stratocaster. Roy said, “Start singing when you feel it.”
Jeff and I played our first live show together in 14 years this past Saturday night. We played at The Blind Pig in Oxford, Mississippi. We did some of the old tunes we use to do with Bryan. Songs like “Rain”, “Southern Moon”, but mostly new tunes we have written over the past few weeks. It went well. In fact, it felt great. Something special happens when we play live. There is a bit of magic. The response was wonderful.
It’s good to be playing again. http://www.wineskinsmusic.com
While traveling through Turkey, I met some fascinating people. One of the guides and I spent some time talking. On breaks, at night around town, we got to know each other a bit. One day we were standing by some ancient ruins in Ephesus and he asked me, “Why is it you are so interested in Islam? Most people I guide from the West only want to tell me about their religion, and rarely ask about mine?” I told him I had read a few books about Mohammed and his faith. I found it familiar in many ways, especially being Catholic, their view of the virgin Mary was intriguing. He said she was considered one of the most important persons in history. “She is the only woman in the Quran who has an entire book named after her.” It taught me how important it is to be curious, to stay curious, to keep learning. We’ve stayed in touch. I got a message today that he and his wife had their first child. Peace be upon them.
I told you about the Peterson, my “favorite pipe”. It still is. But this Mastro De Paja I bought in 97 just before recording in Vancouver is a close second. It’s a Pesaro Media 1b. I’ve never seen one quite like it. Whenever I load it with Penzance, I am back in Vancouver walking by the boats of the quaint fishing village. The view of the restless ocean reminded me of a Bruce Cockburn song, “Salt , Sun, and Time.”
Pipes. These ancient reminders of man’s need for pleasure. I walked into my study a few minutes ago. I call it “my study”, but really it’s just a small bedroom where I have a desk, my books, guitars, and pipes. So yes, it is my “study”. It’s where I sit and smoke, read, and write songs. I have numerous rosaries hanging on the wall. I love the rosary. I went without it for 42 years. Now, I can’t go anywhere without it.
I polished my Ser Jacopo Van Gogh “Picta” pipes today. Beautiful work. Jean Carlo Guidi is truly an artist. Van Gogh is my favorite painter. He was the Bob Dylan, the Leonard Cohen, the Luciano Pavarotti, the Jim Harrison of his time.
Here’s my favorite Van Gogh Picta:
I have come across a very beautiful estate piece by Tom Eltang. I was very fortunate to spend a little time with Tom at his workshop in Denmark a couple of years ago. Tom is a remarkable pipe maker. His energy and focus in quite amazing. He makes many pipes, and each one is masterful. I believe this Oliphunt shape, inspired by Bo Nordh, is Tom at his best. If you are interested in this beauty, email me.. firstname.lastname@example.org
One of the most intriguing places in Istanbul is the Blue Mosque. No matter how many times I walked or drove past, it demanded my attention. The stone wall in this photo is from ancient times, back when it was called Constantinople. Istanbul is an amazing city with an even more amazing story. From Crucifix’s to the Crescent Moon, so much of who we are today plays well with how this city became what it has become.
One night I was walking near the Blue Mosque and smelled a familiar scent. It was latakia. I walked toward where I thought it was coming from but never saw anyone smoking a pipe. I did notice many cigarette smokers. I kept walking and came upon some Bavarian tourist. They were waiting in line for coffee. I decided to have a cup of this very strong muddy liquid so unlike Starbucks. By the time I left Turkey I had grown very fond of it. After a bit of small talk over our steaming brew, I pulled out a pipe and loaded it with my recently acquired Balkan Sobranie, Joseph, from Bavaria, asked to smell the tobacco. “Ahhh, this is very much like what my grandpa smoked.” I lit up and they all lit up their cigarettes. If I recall correctly, they were smoking Dunhill Reds. A young Turkish man walked by smoking a hand rolled cigarette and it hit me why I was smelling Latakia, it was in the Turkish mans cigarette. At least, it smelled very much like it.
We finished our coffee and they invited me to join them for dinner. We had a wonderful time eating Lamb Kabob, drinking Raki, and smoking the Hookah.