I wasn't going to post this here, but dammit I spent an hour writing it, then one moment losing it to the click of a mouse, then an hour crying, and then an hour re-writing it (soul-crushingly frustrating, believe me). Anyway, I posted this here at our forums, and I'd like to re-direct any comments about it there, so we can get that thing flowing. Thank you.
This is a list of books that I referred to in my notes as required reading for the writing of our album, the Republic of Heaven. I thought you might like to have an idea of some of the concepts that went into it. His Dark Materials Trilogy – Philip Pullman I read these books while my mom was dying and it absolutely informed not only my experience of her death but my own understanding and comfort with what happens when we die. While I didn’t want to make this album a lyrical re-telling of Lyra’s journey, the parallels were certainly there. These books brought about the tearing down of old structures and ways of thinking and replaced them with a better understanding of my place in the universe and taking responsibility for one’s own heaven on earth. Highly recommended. The Universe In A Nutshell – Stephen Hawking Even with the dumbed down version, I am still a bit lost truly wrapping my mind around current theoretical physics. Still, I am entranced by it and can’t get enough. String theory and branes and the idea of parallel universes were definitely on my mind in the writing of Simply Sleep. Losing a Parent – Alexandra Kennedy I read a lot of self-help books when my mom died but something about this one stood out. Instead of the usual literal approach, this woman brought forth the shamanic journey as the path to true healing. While the book tended to focus a bit too much on her own experience, her recommendation of paying strict attention to one’s dreamscape was very helpful (and still is). On The Mend and A Lullaby For Myself grew from this space.
Books of Saints In order to truly understand what happened to my mom, I had to crawl further into her world. These cherubic, 1950’s-style depictions of mostly young people happily being tortured and killed for their god were a strong reminder of the lure and glory of martyrdom, which we see being carried out today in a myriad of ways. My mom always loved the martyrs. Pentecost and Not A Man Of God, in my head, are colored in these hues.
The Lovely Bones – Alice Seabold I loved the idea of everyong having a “personal heaven.” It was comforting to think mom might be running with the doggies and probably ringing the bell from the one-room schoolhouse somewhere. The book also speaks of the difficult transition spirits must make when they realize that the longer they linger around the living people they love, the longer the living people are in grief and pain and cannot move on with their lives. It just seemed to make sense. Huntington and Wraiths run with this pack. The Hidden Messages In Water – Masaru Emoto While there’s no science behind this guy’s science, as art it is a really lovely idea. Intention informs the physical world. Bring love into what you do and it will shape your reality. This idea is definitely an agitator when trying to suss out the nature of illness. Does illness happen randomly or is there a reason behind it? Are people at fault for getting sick, or is it just chance? Labyrinth asks this question.
Parabola: Death, Dying I wanted this record to have the feel of a ceremony, so it begins with a ritual bell and procession, and ends with a ritual bell and recession. I knew we’d have to fully walk the dark path in order to get to some kind of resolution, so I looked to Parabola to understand the world mythology and tradition associated with death. Always, there is the staring down of the void, and always, an emerging to a new way of being. Parabola is sort of a collection of the human repository of spiritual knowledge.
The Neverending Story – Michael Ende I actually only just finished this recently, but the film was a major influence on the song Clouded. Atreyu’s journey through the Swamps of Sadness and the loss of his horse have always been a strong image in my mind. While the film is wonderful, the book takes you on a longer journey through a true process of completely losing one’s self in order to be found again.