Randy Granger

Randy Granger
In the Chihuahuan Desert near the Organ Mountains, New Mexico

Friday, February 8, 2013

Alchemy as a Music Metaphor

Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.” ― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

Paulo Coelho’s seminal book “The Alchemist” is a fable like story of a Sheppard boy searching for the meaning of a recurring dream. Along the journey he meets archetypes that tell him it means treasures, wealth, secrets but an alchemist reveals it is his own personal story that he must transform into the metaphor of gold. "When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it" is the core theme of the book. Coelho was met with failure and ridicule when his book was first released and after a “period of healing” so believed in his work he went door to door of publishers. This undoubtedly, his own personal transformational journey he wrote about.

Las Cruces Museum of Art Feb 1, 2013
This week I taped a short radio interview about my album Strong Medicine and also to promote an upcoming show in El Paso, TX Feb. 10. The interview is scheduled to air Feb. 9th 11:30 AM MST at www.ktep.org on a long-running program called State of the Arts. The interviewer had listened to and reviewed the new CD and had a page of notes. She is a pro and musician as well. She said to me before the interview that she is incredibly moved by this new album, paused then said, “You know Randy, you’re an alchemist.” She said I had turned so much love, pain, grief and loss into something so personal and moving that is stunned her. She shared a story about her own loss and how when her mother was battling cancer in the last stages she heard a bird singing loudly outside her window during a thunderstorm. Just then she received a call that her mother had passed. So when she heard the line in my song “Where Did You Go” about a bird singing outside a window, she knew I had been in that place too—where the artist makes the personal into the universal. Alchemy.

Las Cruces Museum of Art Feb 1, 2013
The process of writing and recording the music for Strong Medicine felt like mining, which is another metaphor for how we get gold. If you’ve any knowledge about gold mining it is messy, hard, ugly work that involves searing heat, tons of water, chemicals to extract the gold and a lot of sweat and dirt. Sometimes making art is like that too. You don’t come out of it clean, shiny and radiant. You need time to heal and recover too. It is an enormous privilege and responsibility to be given the gifts and talents to do this. You want to avoid sentimentality and cliché as much as possible. You gotta dig deep and mine that emotional core of each song in an authentic way. Listen to the interview if you get a chance. If you miss it the State of the Arts website posts past shows so you can catch it later. I only hope I was an alchemist of this music for posterity and for you, the listeners. Ultimately though, it has to be about my own, the artist’s, transformation from raw materials into something precious and worthy and my own personal transformation.

During the interview she got choked up a couple of times which is very humbling to me as she is a pro. At one point, when I mentioned my late partner’s name in reference to a lyric a speaker in the studio howled and squealed with feedback for an unknown reason. This shook us all up. The engineer piped in and said he had no idea what that was caused by and suggested we had a ghost with us. We exchanged a knowing glance. I think this will be edited out of the interview though.

Don’t forget I’m playing a full concert 3PM, Feb 10, at Grace United Methodist, 400 N. Carolina Dr, El Paso, TX. www.graceumcelpaso.org/about.html it’s Free!

Radio interview airs Feb 9 @11:30AM MST, www.ktep.org Stream live or listen after program airs at http://www.ktep.org/programs/state-arts

Peace and well being