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Dylan’s Ghost- Songs of a Lifetime- Track 2- We Miss You

February 18, 2016 Leave a comment

near-death-experience

We Miss You- Robert Garcia, Copyright 2015

 

Well, one thing is for damn sure. The longer you live the more times you say goodbye. There must be a list of at least a dozen people who I think about regularly who are no longer with us. Like every, single damned day, I think of them. Though years and years in the past in some cases, their passing seems like just yesterday- and I still can’t believe- I am astounded- that they’re no longer here.

Where are they? Where did they go? Wherever they are, do they think of us? Will we see them again? And if it’s true that you die twice, once physically and then again when the last person dies who had memories of you- then, my goodness, how important is it for us to remember them and miss them and keep them in our hearts?

And that’s the meaning of the song titled, We Miss You.

I wrote it a little over 20 years ago after I lost my father, Alvaro. This scratched up old photo is probably the best shot ever taken of the two of us.
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And the photo below is a scan of the two-decades-old, water-stained piece of paper where I first put down the words, about a week after Alvaro had passed, about two years after the shot above.

The lyrics spilled out all at once. I remember the process as an emotionally intense experience. It’s amazing actually, how many of those words are in this final version. But they don’t quite add up to a complete song, so urged on by my Producer, Jeff Severson, I doubled the break in the song and wrote an entirely new final verse.  There’s a thread about new life at the very bottom of the water-stained page that I never followed up on. Which is good, because it kinda sucked.

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We Miss You
By Robert Garcia

These are the times that shake us all
These are the times in the fading light of the fall
When we recall
The spirits of our mothers and fathers
Sons and daughters and sisters and brothers

Sleds and trains and dolls and horses
Ride off in the night like invisible forces

And we miss you- yeah we miss you

These are the times when we breathe deep
These are the times when we’d really rather be asleep
When we keep
The memories of our mothers and fathers
Sons and daughters and sisters and brothers

Christmas trees and candy canes and laughter
Do you think of us in the great hereafter

Yeah we miss you

Shimmering sparkles they play in the ether
Dancing together the light is their keeper
The stars in the sky point the way for the dreamers
And heaven it seems is not only for believers

These are the times that pull us under
These are the times when we hear God’s roaring thunder
And let no man put asunder
The undying love of our mothers and fathers
Sons and daughters and sisters and brothers

Where you’ve gone we cannot follow
Sometimes our prayers they just seem hollow

Because we miss you
Yeah, we miss you

 

Robert Garcia Copyright 2015

 

Musically- this is Jeff’s baby. My unplugged version of this song is slower and sadder and played on one lonely acoustic guitar.

Jeff’s version is crazy good. I can’t even get into the layers and layers of guitar work, key boards, and harmonies that went into this. The guitar lines in this tune are incredibly strong- they make the tune, musically. The build-up to the bridge (Shimmering sparkles)- those electric guitar hammer-ons, I guess you call them, are just perfect. And, yes, those are Beatle-like harmonies in the break. Thank you Ben Mason for your Beatleness! And for your portion of the We Miss You voices.

Easily, the best and most extensively produced song on the album. Jeff once said he wanted the music to do justice to the lyrics. I appreciated the compliment, and, uh, yeah. I’m not used to functioning without “thumbs up” emoticons. Hundreds of ‘em. Thank you, buddy- nice work.

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Dylan’s Ghost- Songs of a Lifetime is available for digital download at I-Tunes, CD Baby, and Amazon Music. Purists who would like a hard copy of the CD can contact me directly at robert.garcia.56@gmail.com and we’ll make arrangements to ship it out to you.

This Summer of Horrible News- Get Away From It If You Can

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– The 7-year-old son of an Australian member of ISIS is pictured holding the decapitated head of a soldier, a photo distributed on social media by his father.

– A white towel drapes the corpse of 18 year old, Mike Brown, an unarmed black man, two days from starting his first day at college, shot dead by police in Ferguson, Missouri last weekend.

– Far-ranging rockets fly into the night, aimed at Israeli citizens while shells land in “safe” places housing Palestinian refugees, wounding and killing women and children.

– Another 135 people die in a single day from the deadly Ebola virus, now spreading through West Africa.

– An actor and comedian who captured our hearts for over three decades with his obvious love and passion for life, kills himself- the victim of a deep depression.

– An airliner with 300 innocents aboard gets shot out of the sky over Ukraine and it is days before repatriation of the bodies and burials can take place as armed insurgents keep even investigators from reaching the scene.

– Thousands of Central American children who survive a 1,300 mile trek to the American border escaping violent gangs in their home countries, are dispersed throughout towns and villages in the U.S. while the government decides what do with them. In many of those towns, angry protestors demand the children leave and let it be known they are not welcome.

– American politicians forget the art of compromise and the business of governing grinds to a halt as partisan gridlock leaves our Congress as one of the least respected institutions in the nation, unable to address any of the country’s problems.

These eight news stories have one thing in common. These are the headlines of our summer of 2014. I am not alone in remarking about how bleak and horrible the world seems right now. Certainly, for those of us who work in the news business, where these dismal stories are part of our normal routine, it is hard to take. And for those not in the media or journalism worlds, it is all equally appalling and sad.

There is only one answer to this as far as I can tell. The world, despite our best efforts, is not going to fix itself. But you do have the power, mostly, of determining what information you receive. So unplug. Just disconnect every now and then. Don’t watch the news. Stay away from news web sites. Go outside. Breath clean air. Go for a walk. Take in a comedy club. Go to a baseball game. Rediscover your partner.

We all need to take a break from this horrid summer of news. For our own mental health.

“Cosmos” and Resisting the Temptation of False Equivalence

Nicolaus Copernicus, 1473-1543

Nicolaus Copernicus, 1473-1543

The National Science Foundation released a survey last month that found nearly 1 out of 4 Americans mistakenly believe the Sun orbits the Earth. This was all cleared up about 500 years ago by Nicolaus Copernicus who correctly theorized that the Earth and all the other planets in our solar system orbit a largely stationary sun. Still, 25% of the country disagrees. So does this mean the media is obligated to present the other “side?”

We know by now that the earth is a spherical object. There are satellite photos that confirm it. There are still-photos from the moon. Get high enough in a jet and you can see the curvature of the earth. Yet, there is an actual Flat Earth Society that contends otherwise. This is, literally, their take on the world:

Flat_earth

Do we carve out a few minutes to give the Flat-Earthers their “side” of the argument?

There is something called the “Creation Museum” that opened in Petersburg, Kentucky six years ago, that among other things, shows humans walking around with their friends, the dinosaurs. There is ample evidence, of course, that humans never co-existed with dinosaurs; the creatures had gone extinct by the time relatively new-fangled human beings came along. But let’s find the Museum Curator and put him on the air because, surely, this is the other “side” of the Dinosaur story.

And now, Neil deGrass Tyson, hosting a modern-day sequel to Carl Sagan’s Cosmos is under attack from some quarters for espousing Darwin’s theory of evolution with opposing groups demanding equal TV time from FOX and National Geographic to talk about creationism. That is the very definition of false equivalence.

Science and religion, fact and faith- are too entirely different realms. This does not mean there are no religious or spiritually-inclined scientists or that there are no persons of the cloth who subscribe to scientific discipline and study. It would be great to hear both “sides” on a show that deals with the controversy of creationists versus scientists. But if you’re writing a book or producing a TV series on the history of the universe- it’s about facts, not opinions.

From a philosophical point of view, I must admit I have never understood the revulsion on the part of fundamentalists toward the theory of evolution. How is it, in any way, an affront to the belief in the existence of a higher power? How amazing is a God that creates a universe that allows for the constant change and improvement of all living things through the process of natural selection?

I would go even further and wonder aloud how anyone who studies the infinite nature of our universe could be without a sense of wonder that eventually lands at a spiritual place that attempts to answer what we can’t with pure science. What came before the “big bang” is not knowable. What extends outside the edge of the universe is unfathomable, because theoretically, there is no edge of the universe.

It is in the realm of philosophy where science and spirituality rightfully mingle together. I am grateful to live in a world that considers both. There is little doubt in my mind that all of life as we know it and understand it, spiritually and scientifically, is, in fact, an amazing miracle.

But let’s not corrupt scientific fact with religious opinion by putting spiritual beliefs on some kind of equal footing with objective scientific inquiry. Those beliefs are completely legitimate. In a church. Or in a museum dedicated to Creationism. But not on a television series based on the story of our universe as we’ve come to understand it through long-established methods of scientific research, inquiry and peer review.

Pope Francis as Person of the Year

December 11, 2013 Leave a comment

pope-francis-boy

If ever there was a no-brainer for Time magazine’s selection of Person of the Year, it is this amazing Pope. There’s an interesting new survey that explains how he is resonating with Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

The Washington Post/ABC News poll
finds an amazing 92% have a positive view of Francis and 95% of the Catholic Church in general. Pope Benedict was at 73% after the announcement of his retirement last February.

There is a slight political divide. His ratings are highest among Catholics who describe themselves as moderate or liberal. But even “conservative” Catholics give him a 91% approval rating. Non-Catholics give him a 62-18 favorable/unfavorable, compared to 48/31 for Benedict.

The reasons for the amazing appeal of this Pope seem fairly obvious to me. His humility, his call for economic justice and equality, his warnings about the excesses of capitalism all echo the words and philosophies credited to Christ himself. Those who know Francis say his own experiences as a Cardinal in Argentina inform these views, especially on economic issues. Through Argentina’s rough, depression-like economic downswings he saw first-hand the massively wide gulf between the poor and the rich. At a time when this disparity has never been greater in the United States and throughout the world, his message resonates powerfully.

But those on the moderate/liberal side of the equation should not misconstrue the Pope’s populist positions as a change in Church doctrine on a host of controversial issues. What has changed is the emphasis.

Agree or disagree with aspects of these doctrines, for example, there is a basic consistency to them. On abortion, it is completely consistent to be anti-abortion and anti-death penalty. Conversely, in my opinion, there is a dissonance in espousing pro-choice/anti-death penalty views or anti-abortion/pro death penalty positions. I mean sanctity of life is sanctity of life. And while I admit I am still in the “dissonant” camp, I can still step outside my views and see the inconsistencies of my own political beliefs.

The point in regard to the Pope’s emphasis on certain issues is that the Church often lands on both sides of the political ledger, with positions on economic equality and against the death penalty, for example, falling on the liberal side and policies on abortion and homosexuality on the conservative side. The most recent Popes have dwelt exclusively on the conservative side of things and in the process have alienated moderates and progressives. Francis, meanwhile, is emphasizing things like economic equality and brings his great sense of humility to bear on topics like homosexuality in which he states, in his own words- “Who am I to judge?”

Ultimately, I think it is his disarming humility that is the foundation of his appeal. He walks the walk. He lives in a modest apartment. You won’t ever see him wearing Benedict’s famous red Prada slippers. He has literally washed the feet of convicts and beggars. Vatican security confirms he regularly sneaks out at night to mingle with normal people. He classifies himself first and foremost, not as Pope, but as a sinner.

I know there remains a very deep well of anger against the Catholic Church for its past actions; from sexual abuse and attendant cover-ups to economic hypocrisy in building wealth- quite literally through the contributions from the poor and dispossessed.

But in this miracle of a Pope, there is hope. Hope that humility, enlightenment and the philosophies of Christ himself, will lead the Church, and the rest of us, to a much, much better place.

The Unheralded Return

September 20, 2013 1 comment

Homeless

The bearded man was not clean. He did not smell of cologne. His long, unkempt hair fell to his shoulders. He wore simple, nondescript clothing, streaked with the dirt of the city. Pedestrians walked past him, clutching their pocketbooks and their wallets just a little tighter. But he asked for nothing- nothing material. He was not begging. He stood on the street corner talking about love.

He asked anyone who might listen or accidently listen, to consider the plight of those less fortunate than themselves. He talked about feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and caring for the lonely and disaffected. In the end, he said, these miserable, poverty-stricken street urchins; these pitiful, sad and needy people that no one seems to care about- these are the people who would inherit the earth, not the mighty titans of Wall Street or the politically powerful or connected. Because the world- the real world- was populated more by the urchins than these Masters of the Universe who would eventually lose everything through their own undisciplined greed.

He did not yell. He spoke in a controlled, soft voice. There was sadness but also a tenderness in his eyes. The men in well-pressed suits walked around him. And the fashionable women paid no heed. And a teenager nearly ran into him as she texted furiously on her smart phone, startled as she caught a whiff of him.

It did not make any Cable News program. There were no breathless, “Breaking News” crawls along the bottom of the TV screen. No one tweeted it. Social media missed it.

It is possible many of those who walked past him attended church the next Sunday. But it turned out that not one of them picked up on the resemblance between the crazy bum on the street corner and the tortured porcelain figure that loomed right in front of them, nailed to a cross. He had come back because the world had never needed him more.

And no one noticed.

Science and the Near-Death Experience

August 13, 2013 1 comment

Near Death Experience
Scientists say they’ve measured significant increases of brain activity at the approach of death, possibly explaining why people think they are seeing typical “near” death experiences like tunnels and bright, white lights, and feelings of being out of one’s body.

I think the scientists have bumped into something important here but my gut and I guess what passes for faith, both tell me we are not hallucinating these things.

First, the findings of the study as reported by the Washington Post:

Scientists from the University of Michigan recorded electroencephalogram (EEG) signals in nine anesthetized rats after inducing cardiac arrest. Within the first 30 seconds after the heart had stopped, all the mammals displayed a surge of highly synchronized brain activity that had features associated with consciousness and visual activation. The burst of electrical patterns even exceeded levels seen during a normal, awake state.

One reader commenting on the WP article made this point:

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I am a fan of science but this article shows the limits of science’s “logic.” They assume that a surge of brain activity causes the near-death experience. But isn’t it also possible that an actual near-death experience causes a surge of brain activity?

As someone who has had a near-death experience. I can attest that it was certainly not an illusion. It was very real as were my interactions with spirits on “the other side.”

Bingo.

I read an interesting article years ago that theorized there is an enormous rush of endorphins that literally flood and overwhelm the brain at the time of death and that the chemical reactions cause the hallucinations we know as the near-death experience.

But even if true, who’s to say the release of endorphins is not the physiological gateway to the spiritual side? Maybe it’s not a hallucination at all. Maybe the feelings and visualizations that are triggered by the chemicals and measured in the increase of brain activity are the beginning of the transition to whatever lies on “the other side.”

I love science too but please don’t mess with my spirits and angels and tunnels and bright lights. If it is all a hallucination, it’s going to be my party anyway, so I guess I’ll see whatever I want to see.

Remembering Stan Case

November 23, 2011 15 comments


Life can change in a split second. A horrendous car accident near Birmingham, Alabama, claimed the life of Stan Case last night. Stan was an anchor for the CNN Radio network in Atlanta and I had the honor of being his boss for nearly 8 years.

You couldn’t ask for a more reliable, dependable pro to be anchoring your national newscasts. And when he wasn’t anchoring flawless broadcasts, he was out getting a law degree. But there was so much more to this man than what he did professionally so well and so admirably for so many years.

He was an absolute, true gentleman. Kind, gracious, with a wonderfully wicked sense of humor; a 1st class prankster. One of the nicest, sweetest, warmest weddings I ever attended was the ceremony that united Stan with his CNN colleague, Angela Stiepel Case- Angi. Took her on a date to an Atlanta Braves baseball game once and they never looked back.

Angi is hospitalized today, a passenger in the car Stan was driving on a stormy Tuesday night as they made their way to see Stan’s family in Oklahoma for Thanksgiving. There are no words to describe the loss she is feeling today. There are just some couples you know are just perfect for each other. That was Stan and Angi.

People- it’s Thanksgiving. A time for appreciation. Hug your kids. Make a call to an old friend you haven’t reached out to in awhile. I’d lost touch with Stan over the years though I often thought of him and missed him. I really, really regret not having taken one damn minute to pick up a phone and hear his voice again.

I will remember and miss him forever.