As I sit in a dark room mixing my latest song, Lemon-Yellow Rendezvous, thoughts of life’s struggles, contradictions and uncontrollable twists and turns come to mind. Lyrics from a song by Vigilantes of Love titled Skin describe the risk of artistic self-expression in knowing that it may not be well-received: “Sometimes you can’t please everyone, Sometimes you can’t please anyone at all, Sew your heart onto your sleeve and wait for the ax to fall”.
I grew up in the home of a skilled artist. My father is a master of oils, pastel, and gesture drawing. Through art, he found a joyful respite and in his natural talent he was able to express himself in ways that wouldn’t otherwise find a canvas. I remember posing with my cello for his art students and for various classes and paintings. Our house growing up was filled with every variety of art and so I was raised with a deep respect for self-expression. There’s a reason why in our humanity, we find relief in art, poetry, and music. Within the artist temperament lies a place where we try to work out the unexpected, the eternal, the pain, the spectacular, the tension that we must live as we journey in between birth and eternity. My dad’s story is the same for many of us, if we think beyond the mainstream flux of life that tries to keep us confined to the temporal.
Van Gogh’s bedroom paintings are an underlying inspiration for Lemon-Yellow Rendezvous. He associated the color yellow with warmth and happiness. He chose to paint his white chair the color yellow for this reason. There’s an air of expectancy in the bedroom paintings — possibly becomes of his high hopes for creating an artist colony in the ‘Yellow House’. In my song, I’m not necessarily writing about Van Gogh but about the misunderstood artist and the “raging will to love”. As we live on the bridge between birth and the afterlife, we have no choice but to face the tension. We do our best to set up our tents on earth but we are just pilgrims here. As we look out over the world from this bridge, the warmth of the sun is a reminder that peace will one day reign. Dylan Thomas speaks of this raging will for life and love when he writes, “Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light”.