Posts for Category: Musings From Sophie



Every Morning….

Every morning I drink in his voice with my ears. He’s always singing, with that wandering, reedy tone, or humming, the songs of his soul. I’ll remember this forever, When he’s flown away, when I’m flying away, I’ll remember the liberation of being his mother . Dashiell was eating and said it was better than God, I said that’s pretty good, then. What does God feel like? He asked, trust, I said, that everything is okay, like the sun on your back in a field of wild flowers on a summer morning. I feel like God, he said. You do, I said, and you make other people feel that way, too.

This Holy day season I felt the resurgence of God. It seems that each instance when God is removed from public life, or the expression of religious faith, there is a surprisingly emotional response from people who don’t seem to be at all religious. It’s an outcry that God exists, even if we don’t know how or why, that the mystery is essential to our being. The story of God is in the present, it’s always being written and experienced, it’s private for the most part, but the history of God, like the history of every human, has many versions, the roots run deep and through every culture, so it’s all of ours’, and yet comes down to what the individual can make of it right now, today.

A friend of mine said he is an atheist, and yet when he talks about the love trees hold I feel we revel in similar ponds, but use different terms. He asked if I believe in God, and I said I don’t have to believe, because I know. I know when I hurt someone. All these social issues boil down to whether we are respecting the individual rights of someone to live an honest, positive, and productive life.

Privacy from Government and powerful institutions is a sacred right that is spiritually based, because unless you are hurting people by imposing your selfish needs on them, no one, or group, should assume they know more about living closer to God than you do. As Elvis said, “You don’t know a man’s troubles ‘til you walked a mile in his shoes.” Over and over again we observe how society has become corrupted, and that only the brave, and usually religiously inspired individual, like Martin Luther King Jr. or Gandhi, can save us from cruelty, cowardice and ungodly immorality.

I was horrified when Mitt Romney said, at the New Hampshire debates, that he would overturn Roe V. Wade, but I smiled when Newt Gingrich talked about the media bias which doesn’t cover how under attack the Catholic Church has become. Both issues are not the federal government’s business, and if the constitution protects a woman’s right to choose, then Romney should leave it, as he said about contraception. Human beings do need guidance and forgiveness, but not from politicians. I also think Newt was correct in cautioning that we don’t need right wing social engineering any more than left wing social engineering.

The only reason so many independents and blue dog democrats are less enamored with liberalism and more curious about specific conservative principles, in my opinion, is because the government has failed the individual in this country, and we want to rebuild our lives, viagra prix en france, and in some cases, our communities, ourselves.

As far as I can see, president Obama is a Wall Street bureaucrat, and that’s the best of him, because who wouldn’t love the opportunity to have Wall Street finance their career? Give us Bill Clinton with his big ideas, love for humanity, Hillary and the joy of leadership. Give me George W. Bush with his stress on personal responsibility: “Every day’s earth day when ya own the land!”

But what we have now is not a republican or a democrat problem, because even democrats voted for the Iraq war, and we don’t know what will happen in the Middle East, we may regret not having a strong presence in Iraq. And I’ll never forget Geraldo shamelessly pounding us with “Shock and Awe”, and then giving the points of our soldiers away, and now he’s so above and against it all. Ron Paul makes sense on most issues to me, he truly wants peace and economic independence, he walks the walk, and yet the world may not be ready for his mature vision of humanity. Maybe it is too dangerous. I certainly feel that Americans, on balance, are still heroic. That this country has the potential to be, if not the hope of the Earth, as Romney arrogantly states, the Shining City On A Hill which attracts and brings out some of the greatest attributes of human kind.

Last night, Gigi, Dash and I brought a seventy year old woman who had been thrown out of her house fried chicken, blankets and dog food. The valet parkers, who had seen us delivering aid to the woman before, rushed at us, yelling out of their gaping holes to move on. “It’s still not illegal to stop and help someone, we have that right!” Gigi yelled back, the instinct of which, is evidence of God.

Perhaps there is a connection to the growing violence and anger in schools and on the streets, and the war on God, and religion, in our schools and in society. Religion is not the “sigh of the oppressed creature” as Karl Marx said, but rather a context out of which great thoughts like, “He is mindful of even the sparrows fall”, emerge to give an individual courage to take the next positive step. The feeling that you’re not alone, that you are connected through faith on your journey doesn’t make a person weaker, because those valet parkers could have been stopping us from helping their own mother, and that’s what a Godless world looks like.

This country is about faith in the individual, and God is inside each of us, so why not celebrate that with religion, with our constitution, with education, with discovering the Mysteries of life using science and technology? The story of God is written every day, in new and fascinating ways, the history of God will always be part of the creative discovery, but if we bully one another with group think we may as well live like The Lord Of The Flies.

When Dashiell came out of me I understood religion, I experienced God, I felt the meaning of humanity. I saw the plow on the field in Willa Cather’s “My Antonia”, and still the leaves around my heart rustle when I hear a good quote from the bible. I don’t go to church, because I haven’t found one I like, but I don’t have to, because when he sings, I drink in his voice with my ears.


My End Of Summer Playlist

I dubbed this summer my “SUMMER OF EXPLORATION”. I haven’t taken a vacation, but I’m not complaining, I’ve had special outings with the family and found fun, spontaneous friendships with Dash in the neighborhood. I’ve been working in a completely different way, on new projects, with new people. I have a play list for the waning summer that reflects my creative adventures and I’d like to share it with you.

Looking at my relationship with music and performance in a new light, and presenting my work to a new audience in a workshop setting with a great, wise teacher, Carole D’Andrea, and preparing like I was in school for the fist time, I choose SACHEL JAZZ: INTERPRETATIONS OF JAZZ STANDARDS & BOSSA NOVA.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TuQnFYPmu04 You have to hear this group, if you haven’t already. Even new jazz can sound old hat, but these old standards sound so fresh and accessible with the Pakistani group, THE SACHEL STUDIO ORCHESTRA. The stories behind the musicians are equally as engaging.

For a tone of what I’ve been working on, building a show with Gigi Gaston, (it was her idea), I choose LED ZEPPLIN. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrVDViSlsSM

The whole album with that name, including “babe I’m gonna leave you” etc. The mood and rawness, the reaching for true creative authenticity, the guts and the soul. I hope our show delivers in it’s own way with the sexiness and emotional power of this album.

For the sheer romance of being alive and discovering what will be touch stones and memories with my family this subtle summer I choose PHILLIP GLASS, VIOLIN CONCERTO, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFf6p6actPo especially movement II. We heard it in the car on our way to a boring beach party and were all three mesmerized. It’s also a lesson that even though there are things you don’t want to do, if you are present, you get surprise gifts you never forget. I also came away with a recipe for a delicious spinach salad with strawberries that you can take anywhere.

Sophie B!


So, you asked me about the social network…

You asked me what it is like living within the social media explosion, since I was around before most people even had personal computers, circa 1992, and I’ve been wondering why you asked, and why the question bothers me so much. In some way I feel you asked my age, or some personal question for which the answer is apparent, but the meaning is not. And yet I don’t want to put a wedge between the curious and the cat, I want to sniff the subject of social media openly and perhaps give you a clue as to why it represents a loss of freedom to me, at the same time as it feels like new freedom to so many people.

First is the truth that it’s all about promotion, self-promotion and promotion of whatever people can sell. Promotion isn’t bad, it’s obviously necessary to have promotion to survive, as an artist or anything else, people need to know you exist. But since you want to know what it was like before social networking on the Internet, there was the challenge of showing up, face to face. I was up promoting my songs at radio stations all over the world from 5 am to whenever the last station would have me on air, live, laughing and telling stories to a bemused jockey, meeting every one in the station, signing walls and babies, and then doing a show at night, for months on end. And press, sitting with journalists at a table or even having Japanese journalists to my apartment, one after another, and having great conversations for hours. This is just an example of old fashioned self promotion, where you could be in the moment with a human being and the air would change, it was exciting and scary and you didn’t forget people, and you learned from each person interviewing you, at least I did.

Most important about pre social networking times, is that the mystery was still there; the artist had a sphere that could be interpreted, but not pierced. Fans had to imagine, as the artist did each time a question was asked, how it was done, what was it like, what were you thinking. Now, it’s supposed to be about no barriers, we’re all equal, show it as it’s happening, show as much as possible even if it sucks, just get your videos up and let the social media feed. And it’s never enough. So the attitude of the artist becomes frantic. Instead of saying, “I’m going to take as long as it takes to make this a classic (Like Jimmy Paige by the lake composing Stairway To Heaven), the artist says, “I have to shoot a video of myself writing this now, recording this now, going to eat pizza now, talking to a famous friend now, because the network is a feeding frenzy for anyone’s crap.

If I saw every step of Georgia O’Keefe painting I’d be done with her, over, I’d see too much normalcy, the mystery of how her painting came to be would have suffocated. Then, if I saw her at home doing her daily stuff I’d be bored out of my mind, I’d take her for granted, I wouldn’t think I should pay for her work, like everything else she just showed us, I would think she’d give the work away for free.

The essence of the artist is to be private, even from yourself, to discover that which only comes after tunnels of darkness, clumsily groping until there are those particles of light, like dust, that tell you. “You’re on your way, keep going”. The Internet isn’t fond of privacy.

In a way there is too much control of what people see, it’s so targeted and you monitor your success with every twitter follower. A new insecurity arises within the heart of the artist, a new competition to lose. Because unless you devote your life to social networking, and not to your art, you will be told that is why you aren’t popular-enough. And no matter who you are, you are never popular-enough.

But now that social media is THE game in town, we have to play and devote ourselves to winning and not getting thrown out with the bath water. And so far we can still define the terms, at least as artists, we don’t have to be benign just to get more followers, or radical to get more followers, we can be ourselves and deal with the consequences. In reality, the only way anyone has figured out how to make money on the internet are the people with millions of followers who get paid to tweet products they just put on. It is still just social networking, there is no proof it sells music enough to support an artist, and to be frank, how many true artists are in a generation anyway, it’s mostly people wanting to be famous and rich and popular enough to get paid to wear a product. So I’m the wrong person to talk about Facebook and Twitter and Tumblr and every new “community” in cyberspace. The way I like to network is still face-to-face, and I treasure any mystique I may have, because like my songs, in the end, it’s all I may have.

Sophie B. Hawkins


Fiddling

Remember the fiddle in the song; “The devil went down 2 Georgia, looking 4 a soul 2 steal” ? Well listen 2 Willa Cather in 1905 -” The violin is an object of particular abhorence to the Free Gospellers. Their antagonism to the church organ is bitter enough, but the fiddle they regard as a very incarnarion of evil desires, singing forever of worldly pleasures and inseparably associated with all forbidden things.”


Happy Birthday Bob Dylan

My father was sparing with his comments but one day he quoted Bob Dylan, “I wish that for just one day you could stand in my shoes, you’d know what a drag it is to see you.” Positively 4th st. I walked out of the apartment and said to myself, “That’s what I am”, a song writer. I was 9 years old and the city was mine, the music was written for it, and the harmonica bounced like light off the wind shields and store fronts. Why do we waste our time with these Drunken politicians leaping onto the streets where mothers weep? If life is like a song, it’s one of Bob Dylan’s. Sophie B.


Wedding Day

You won’t believe this, because I can’t believe it myself, but this Royal Wedding is making me smile. I feel there is a rebirth of something classic, like the way Virginia Woolf writes about Big Ben, in Mrs Dalloway, and Orlando, that clock which is eternally pulling us into the present-or bust.

When I used to read Jane Austin I squirmed because I wanted that world to be true, but thought only she was true, and she gave us her world to wander in privately, but not openly in our rude society.

Strangely, William and Kate, and the soul of romance which I thought was dead, has been rekindled in the eyes of so many people, dare I say it, globally.

Yes, we are being ravaged by mother nature or something else really awful, and I want to make hot cocoa for everyone suffering tonight, and pull a blanket over their body and stroke their hair. I acknowledge death and how I hate death with a passion, and grieving is agony.

But sadness is shared by even the Prince and Princess, we are together in sadness, and I pray we can all be together in rebirth. Here’s to soul loving, come hell or high water.


I’m sad happy

Dash said last night, “I’m happy. Sad happy.” In my own way I feel the sorrow of growing, of seeing, of learning. On the one hand I’ve met profoundly committed people since 2008, people who put their lives on hold and sometimes never get back to them because they discover an injustice in our society and they want to expose it, right it. And I’ve also met people who have sold their souls to the extent they seem to be mind controlled, and I’ve encountered and even been taken by people who I consider evil, in that they steal from you knowing it’s your last dime.

I have a nervous sense about the world, I try to spin my feelings to positivity, and I do, but there is something gnawing at my mind. It’s as if the biggest tsunami is yet to come. So many people I talk to cannot sleep, young and old, we feel there is an agenda being played out that benefits only a few, crafty individuals. But no one I listen to agrees on the agenda or the culprits, although the outcome will be the same. A loss of freedom, a loss of humanity, an almost unbearable burden to carry. Or, is it an awakening?

Are we living the predictions of so many religions’ from thousands of years, that we will have destruction and chaos on a scale never before known, and then a coming of some spiritual leader, and peace? After all, billions of thoughts and prayers over all these centuries have made it so, even if it weren’t necessarily so to begin with. Can we undo the destruction and chaos part with fervent prayers and incantations of love and light? Or do we just observe, prepare for the worst and hope for the best?

What makes it different for me is the person that says, “I’m happy. Sad happy”. I want his childhood to be a childhood, as magical as Peter Pan, as original as the boy himself. I feel the man at the helm of America is as invested in our success as Lily Tomlin’s telephone company was invested in service, “we don’t care and we don’t have to.” That used to be funny, but it’s an attitude that pervades everyday life so much that we’ve become defiantly impersonal.

I treasure moments of real connection, not Internet connection. I muse that Dash is the only person I know who’s not always on the phone. We still have an eighteenth century relationship reading together, painting, walking, talking, laughing, cooking, playing and eating. I am so lucky to experience this, and it’s come late enough in my existence that I know how much it’s worth. I curse death and destruction. I want to hold onto life, the goodness, the simplicity of life, more than ever.

The concept of leadership has become meaningless in this world; I wouldn’t follow a government official to the bathroom. We need to find leadership within ourselves, even in the way we think about ourselves. Are we victims, are we pioneers, are we trail blazers, are we “me tooers”, are we blamers, or do we take responsibility? Do we shame other people for exploring; do we need to belong so badly we stop telling ourselves the truth?

The answer is not in followers, a true leader leads even when there are no followers brave enough to go there. Harriet Tubman said, “I could have saved more is they’d known they were slaves”. I don’t think we’ve known we are free.

I’ll never forget Bill Clinton saying at the democratic convention, speaking over the standing ovation that wouldn’t end, “It’s gonna be a hard fight to win against John McCain, because he LOVES this country.” I nudged the person next to me with tears in my eyes, “he’s giving us a signal”, I said.

Bill Clinton made us leaders, he inspired us to open up, even those who disliked him, and find new levels of wanting to be great. In retrospect, although in very different ways, Reagan did he same. Obama talks about winning the future, but I feel he’s stealing it. Perhaps he’s just a representation, a puppet of a master I don’t want to worship. Remember Bowie’s “The man who sold the world”? Now I would say it’s the man who stole the world, and compared to him, our president is just a petty thief.


Someone You love may be crossing

It was an evening business meeting at Hollys house, our Broadway producer, our Hollywood producer, potential investors and guacamole. A woman from next door walked in through the garden doors that hung open with weight of night blooming Jasmine, smartly East Coast and fixed on reaching the couch with no detours or small talk. She was a friend of the New York guy.

I liked her immediately, I introduced myself and sat down next her. She told me how her thirteen year old daughter had recently been killed as she stepped off the curb on their corner. The school bus driver signaled to the anxious teenager that it was safe to cross, and as her mother watched from the driver’s seat of her own car, a fast moving vehicle hit her daughter.

Jody Seigler had driven her daughter to the corner that morning because her husband said it would be safer for their daughter, Julia, as cars whizzed along the curves of Sunset so deafly, and blindly, as if pedestrians are an archaic idea, or just an inconvenience. Can you imagine being Julia’s parents? Can you imagine covering your dying daughter with your coat on the unforgiving tar of a relentless road that took your child away in an instant. I can’t, and I am still, months and months later in agony for Jody and Scott.

When Jody left the group of us that night, I stood at the precipice of unconsolable grief, the abyss of which was revealed by the beautiful woman who dispersed into the underworld. Holly said, “someone you love may be crossing”. I grasped that phrase like a bar that keeps you from falling into the canyon. Here is a simple demo of the song I wrote for Jody, and even more awfully, the car that killed Julia was driven by a teenager dropping his sister off at school.

I believe there is a charity for Julia called “Julia’s lights”, and I will get to that via Jody later.


This morning…

This morning I sat on the pew at Ronni Chasen’s funeral, on this extraordinary day of exuberant sun and boisterous wind, the day of my son’s birthday party, the day Ronni’s body was put into the soft, unopposing earth.

Ronni, who often said, “when are you going to get rid of those gold teeth? When are you going to give up those ripped jeans? You have to get out and be seen! People really like you, it’s funny, I mention your name and people really like you.” Ronni, who felt pride that I spoke hebrew and loved my songs, who appreciated me even as she couldn’t fathom me, Ronni who came to our house and had soul warming dinners with us when I couldn’t afford to hire her, who was making a transition from the woman who got artists recognition to the woman that recognized the artist within her.

That’s why, I feel, Paris became her place. She could be at a cafe, and be anything, for a moment. The senses open and the mind spreads, and before one can’t create an expression for what they perceive, one can imagine that they can. And as Ronni said, “I want to learn, I want to do different things.” I feel the gap between the qualities she loved in the people she fought so hard for and the qualities that made her artists love her, was closing.

Someone after the memorial said, “Ronnie had a way of saying things without offending people.” Shows how little he knew her. “Ronnie offended me allot”, I said. But Ronnie knew herself so well she could easily admit when she was wrong. Like all the times she pushed me to go to premieres with a beard. Months later she saw how much publicity women got when they came out, but I didn’t seek publicity one way or the other, and she gradually accepted me on all fronts.

Ronni had me hook, line and sinker from the moment I met her. I felt like a kid with her, she was so grounded, so worldly, so safe and perceptive that I could laugh and knock her arm, be sweet or outrageous, and she would roll her eyes and say, “I really do love you.”

I hate the users and takers who murdered Ronnie. I hate the world that this happens in. It is completely incongruous that a woman of such integrity, honesty, who worked so hard every day and night of her life, who did nothing but help people should be shot five times in the chest. She wasn’t in any “hood”, she didn’t hang around with people who live on that edge, she was street smart, she didn’t attract anger or danger, this is not the way she was supposed to go.

Ronnie created her life, their wasn’t a hair out of place, she did the work, she took the responsibility, she earned the existence she tended. Very few people have the courage to do that. Ronnie always said, “walk me to my car”, she wasn’t sloppy or careless about anything.

Incongruous. Unfair. Unbelievable. Enraging.

So today as I weep for those beautiful eyes that won’t look out another prodigious day with excitement and knowing, my son will wake up from his nap and have a party to celebrate his life, so far. Its a lot to ask of you, Ronnie, but could you guide him a little? Could you be as tough on him as you were on me, I’m not worried, he’ll find your soft spot. You were protective of me, Ronnie Chasen, I love you, the things you taught me, I’ll never forget.

Sophie B.


Hello friends and neighbors…

Hello friends and neighbors, I am pushing out the banks of my day to let the river of thought well up and twirl a little before spilling into dreamland, assuming sleep is down river. It’s funny what I’m thinking of writing about, considering I could be writing about the first reading of our musical with Kristin Chenoweth, Doug Sills, Kathleen Marshall, Gigi Gaston, Thomas Meehan, Mary Mitchell Campbell and a marvelous cast of seventeen well known and beyond talented Broadway performers. That was the most thrilling five days of my creative life as a songwriter and lover of musicians, theatre and performing artists. Although perhaps I don’t want to sully up the vibrations still humming inside of me, it was by all accounts a great success for a first reading, but we are still at the beginning of a long journey, and I don’t want to jinx it.

I could talk about standing in the rain for hours in Central Park, thanking God and my mamma New York, listening to the sounds of my childhood, the lamp light throwing itself on drops of soft, cool water, making leaves drip with gold, and running like mercury into the gutters after something too fleeting to behold. But then deep gratitude, like love, does not always come to the surface, rather it curls loyally around it’s roots. I could write about Provincetown, being stood up by the “nanny” at the airport at five a.m. with three dogs, a child and many instruments, not to mention two shows a night for four nights in a row…and it was a great time, not necessarily in spite of her, but because of the revelation that false support keeps one from opening up to real support. Had the entitled sabotager suffered her commitment, the heroic Erin Duncan, uber nanny turned star medical student, would not have called out a flavor from a no nonsense Italian from Providence, who took Dash to the Lobster Pot every night where we met him in between shows for clam chowder. He has a fan club there now.

I could really go on about Ptown and Dash in the ocean, the Province lands and playing with just Ed and I, but that’s not what’s really on my mind. My friend Richard Grenell, the longest serving American spokesman in U.N. history, a true environmental activist (he’s the guy we went to the Gulf with), and important public relations person, invited me to sing the National Anthem at a lunch for Mattie Fein. I didn’t know a thing about her but I always learn from Richard, and I love the challenge of painting a picture with that profoundly relevant song. I walked in with my guitar and saw Ambassador John Bolton in the diverse crowd, including a soldier from Iraq and business people from Syria and many other countries.

It was a very soulful group; they listened intently as I set up the song in 1814 from the point of view of Francis Scott Key looking at Fort McHenry, as Washington burned. They joined in singing with their hands over their hearts, and I felt rather humbled by the moment. My first impression of Mattie Fein was that she was unconventional, and she is. A pro choice, pro Gay republican, focused on keeping business in her district of California, and she’s running against multi millionaire career politician Jane Harman, who can’t be doing much right ‘cause Cali’s in the pits.

John Bolton was as far from what I thought he’d be as I might have been to him. He was measured, humorous, poetic, insightful, unpredictable and at the core, a true humanitarian. I asked him his view on immigration and he said we need to return to the Melting Pot philosophy, meaning to let everyone in as long as everyone can be Americanized. He said we need more people from all over the globe to keep this country great, to keep our edge, but immigrants need to be 100% American AND 100% whatever their heritage is. He said make legalized immigration easier, and focus on integration so we have generations and generations of diverse people who love this country. He is in every sense worldly and he expresses his appreciation of global relationships in every sentence, yet he believes America, the place in the heart, the mind and the soil, is still worth protecting. He talked about mistakes made during the Bush era, not defensively, because he is looking ahead, and he does believe a nuclear Iran is the greatest threat to destabilizing world safety.

I used to cringe at the Ambassador because I was so angry at our pre-emptive attack on Iraq, and before that I protested Clinton and Gore about the WTO. Now I express opposition to the Obama administration over legislation and his do nothing approach to the Gulf. I guess I’m just not a party girl. I like the individual. My nickname in high school was WW for wild woman, I’d come to an apartment full of stoned teen-agers, dance in the strobe light and leave. My favorite part was walking home alone on the granite sidewalks. I don’t want to be liked, (of course I want to be loved madly), but most of all I can’t stand feeling controlled. Having to be a Democrat or a Republican is giving up my freedom of thought. I appreciate being able to meet politicians and ask them questions, like when I met Hillary and was inspired to work like heck for her, and then when I met Bill and “got it”. I loved being open to Ambassador John Bolton and feeling how much he wants to give not just to Americans but to all people, and Mattie Fein, I like how out of the box she is. I like walking away feeling connected but not indebted.

I don’t want any country to be sold out by it’s leaders, and you know where it starts? When the people sell out to a party, mind, body and soul, and then the party sells out to the elite. I believe that’s happened for the last twenty years, at least. Again, I’m not a party girl and I’ve certainly never been a sell out, and I have a feeling the time is getting ripe for, dare I say it, Mr. and Mrs. Smith to go to Washington.