Being Still and Healing

Posted by: Dave Douglas on December 19, 2012 @ 6:09 pm
Filed under: Dave Douglas (Artist Thoughts)

I’ve loved getting your feedback on Be Still at Greenleaf. With this record in particular it has been touching to read so many of your notes relating your thoughts and experiences. Thank you for that. We make the music to reach out, to communicate.

Making this record, and perhaps even more performing it live, has deepened my own perception of the reality and the transcendence of loss. It has been an uplifting and life affirming process for me. I am always surprised when the record is referred to as a mournful or sad record. It’s a celebration of Emily’s life, in the lively and vibrant manner that she herself wanted to celebrate it. I think it carries the sense of healing through these wonderful songs. To me it is a record with a very positive message of warmth and remembrance, humility and steadfastness. It deals with loss as an opportunity for expansion.

There is no worse sense of loss than the one we have all felt this week.

This was an unmitigated tragedy and there is no philosophy or “new perspective” that will change that.

And yet we will go on. We have to. We always do. There is no explaining how we are able to do it. We are all united as we begin to take those difficult next steps.

Some of the letters I have received share a sense of sorrow and renewal. All refer in one way or another to the healing power of music. In reading through them after this week’s tragedy I feel they open a window into some of my own feelings about music and healing. I’ve omitted personal details in relating them here.

I recently lost my mother and father to illnesses, they passed away peacefully within three days of each other. A few days later I was sent “Be Still”.
Since I don’t know how to reach Dave directly, I wanted to thank him personally through you, his tribute to his mom Emily moves me and ultimately provided me with comfort in my grief.

Another inspiring one:

I am inspired as a fellow traveller stung by parental loss Happy to
provide this T shirt to my son who as an aspiring actor can benefit from this advice. Struck by your Mum’s seeing 200 gigs. Mother love, salut, Good luck

And another:

I just wanted to thank you for this gorgeous record. I read the review on the New York Times and then listened to the show on NPR.

My mother passed away this spring after a 2 year battle with bladder cancer. She also was involved in planning her memorial services, so the NYT piece and the emotions behind this record are very relevant to me. I suspect this is not the only email like this you may be getting, as I’m sure you will touch many people with this project.

And from Minneapolis:

I’m a big fan. I have 6-8 CDs and my wife and I saw you in concert at the Walker Art Center in Mpls. My stepmom died of ovarian cancer and our surviving parents are suddenly quite old. From the first notes of High on a Mountain I was deeply moved by this powerful and resonant music. Thank you.

I agree with those who say music is the healing force of the universe. I would wager the writer of this next letter does as well:

Thank you so much for your music, it’s like hearing the sky singing for you.

I’ve had a lot of questions about religion, this being a collection of hymns. I went to a Presbyterian church until I was seven. My background is mostly secular, but I feel that music has led me to a deeper search in the life of the spirit. I hear the verses and my mother’s choice of hymns as personal and ecumenical.

Be Still is beautiful. I’m sending it to my daughter for Christmas. Although I’m not Christian, she has chosen a path of contemplation and service as an Episcopal priest. As a musician, I connect with her best through music. I’m sure she’ll love this. Thanks!

Many have said that music is their church. I would agree with them! And music is remarkably non-denominational! It cuts across all languages and borderlines.

My husband played this album for me last evening for the first time. Within moments, I was in tears. You, all of you, have touched my soul. There is strength in this stillness. I am grateful.

Thank you for writing, and I look forward to more correspondence in the future.

During this holiday season music is one of the forces that carries us through. I’d say it strengthens us to call on our leaders to deal with the root causes of these tragedies. To have those beautiful kids sing with Paul McCartney the other night was an act of bravery and optimism that brought a bright light to a dark moment. If my music has brought a small candle to anyone, then I am grateful. Thank you.


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