33 in 33 #30 08/29/2012 Oklahoma City Zoo Amphitheatre, Oklahoma City, OK (Jeff Goldenberg, @Jeff_Goldenberg)
Memo’s “Other Jams” Memo: See the City….”Slave to the Traffic Light”
From Jeff Goldenberg:
When I was selecting a jam to write about for “33 in 33” I was immediately drawn to the song “Light,” a favorite of mine from the album version through to the stage. As happenstance would have it, at the same time I was also engrossed in Eckhart Tolle’s seminal work “The Power of Now”. As I began doing some background research on the song, I learned that the song is based on this book, as Trey gave Tom Marshall a copy of the book after the 2004 breakup and shortly after Trey’s substance abuse battle. Since I’m not a musician and I don’t have the musical vocabulary of some of my co-contributors, I thought I’d take a different angle and investigate the message that Trey and Tom are trying to convey through the song.
The premise of the book is as simple as it is complex: Finding enlightenment and inner peace relies on separating oneself from the constant stream of thoughts (or inner voice) that dominates our day and realizing that our identity is not tied to this stream of thoughts.
“I can see the light between me and my mind”
When a thought subsides, you experience a discontinuity in the mental stream — a gap of “no mind.”
At first, the gaps will be short, a few seconds perhaps, but gradually they will become longer. When these gaps occur, you feel a certain stillness and peace inside you. This is the beginning of your natural state of felt oneness with Being, which is usually obscured by the mind.
With practice, the sense of stillness and peace will deepen. In fact, there is no end to its depth. You will also feel a subtle emanation of joy arising from deep within: the joy of Being.
“I can feel memories fall behind”
The quest for enlightenment is clearly not exclusive domain of this book and song. However, the book is so popular because Tolle is able to put it into terms that make sense in your day to day life, as he takes a topic as complex as enlightenment and breaks it into achievable steps and small mindless gaps that can add up to inner peace over time. By simply observing the inner voice and not living by it, these damaging thoughts that pervade all of our minds lose their power and slip away.
“And finally waiting for nothing at all”
Although this sentiment has been perverted by pop psychology, the concept of being in the Now is critical to both Eastern and Western enlightenment concepts. Being in the Now simply means focusing on the present, but without the filters that the experiences of the past or expectations of the future brings. I think any Phish jam relies on all four musicians focusing on the Now. Any relation to past iterations or what they want to segue into after the jam would kill the Now. It is their ability to find the Now that allows the band to create and inspire for so many years.
Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have. Make the Now the primary focus of your life. Whereas before you dwelt in time and paid brief visits to the
Now, have your dwelling place in the Now and pay brief visits to past and future when required to deal with the practical aspects of your life situation.
On to the music. The song and jam itself are anthemic and ethereal, and has become one of Phish’s most reliable launching pads for their best set II jamming. The 08/29/12 “Light” jam is a good example of how the band can utilize their patented tension and release and create a trance-like soundscape that alternates between ethereal and medieval. At the same time maintaining the positive optimism, positive message and “promise of a new day” feel to the sound. This is created by Fishman’s delicate drumming, Page’s ghostly harmonies and Mike’s dreamlike bass lines, which all serve to counterpoint Trey’s Jedi-like, tension filled solo. Phish would break the song out again a few nights later on 9/1/12 and jam for almost 30:00 minutes in what was arguably the jam of the tour. Looking back on it, 08/29/12 was a dress rehearsal of things to come.
What can we learn from Trey, Tom and Eckhart that we can apply to our everyday lives and have reinforced every time we jam out to “Light?”
Celebrate the Now. If you spend all your time in the past or in the future, you’ll miss the beautiful journey that is life.
Bad times and bad periods will come. It’s how we react to them that makes the difference.
Witness your inner voice as a curious observer. Watch how the painful thoughts, that keep us from being happy, slowly melt away as we take away their power over us.
Finally be kind to yourself. Always remember:
“It a takes a few moments of whirling around
Before your feet finally leave the ground”
From Jeff Goldenberg:
Jeff Goldenberg (@jeff_goldenberg) stumbled upon Phish in 1991 and it has been the soundtrack of his life ever since. Entrepreneur, sports fan and phish head. What more does a man need?
Favorite Ghost: 8/12/04 I love the transition into “Maze”