Album

This September I dedicated myself to create a series of songs and stories about love and loss. I was curious if my music had the power to help others heal and could compel others to join me in supporting cancer research in the process.

What a journey it has been – heartbreaking, inspiring, lonely, hopeful, despairing and joyful. Music has been a major healing force throughout. My songs have long been mileposts that mark my waypoints of my life. These thirteen original songs, written and recorded over the past six months, were all inspired by a moment in time, a feeling, a story from these past few years of love and loss. The diversity of sounds match the range of feelings. Below you’ll find each song packaged with its story. The album can also be streamed here for continuous play.

Having the opportunity to make and share my music for good has been incredibly gratifying. Please consider making a donation to help Abby’s Army support cancer fighting research and sharing with others in need of healing.

“It might take all night together there, so I’ll be walking in my sleep / If you see me laying down just put the shoes back on my feet”. This final verse from the album’s final song, Thank You, says it all.

Thank you for giving my heart the chance to sing again.

Love & Healing,

Justin


Love & Healing

  1. Five After Six

  2. Asleep

  3. Kissing Ghosts

  4. Black Wildflower

  5. Orion Slips Away

  6. Driftwood Fire

  7. Hey, Snowflake

  8. Movin’ On

  9. You Are Everything You Need

  10. Together Apart

  11. Hopeful Bird

  12. Leap Year

  13. Thank You


Five After Six

You spend hours, months, years dreaming up your future. Then, in one minute, everything changes. This is that minute.


Asleep

In the final hours of editing this album, I found myself wanting to keep creating and singing. This simple tune reflects upon the enormity of the first anniversary, the changes in this past year, and the persistence of dreams. “Are we asleep at the wheel?” ponders whether we are really living our lives or just repeating  yesterday’s behavior.

 


Kissing Ghosts

Words are an inadequate expression for all of these feelings about life after death. Music is truth and touch is honesty. This song portrays the simple and honest beauty of a shared kiss and simultaneously a haunting loneliness and longing; feelings of love when love has been lost.


Black Wildflower

Five days after Abby’s death, I took up my friend’s invitation to go to the Methow Valley, and the small town of Mazama, a place where Abby and I loved to spend time and unplug from our busy lives. Driving over the North Cascade mountains gave me great perspective on life and the impermanence of time. The arrow balsamroot wildflowers had turned the hills a vibrant yellow. The skies were the bluest of blues and we found Abby’s presence everywhere. The imagery of wildflowers fit the many feelings of this time; invasive, uncontrollable, but often beautiful.


Orion Slips Away

On what would have been my 11th wedding anniversary, I played Orion Slips Away at a celebration of life for my dearly departed Uncle Harry. Never in my life has music completely filled and reverberated within my body as it did when I sang this song for Harry’s family and friends this year. It was as if my body had transformed into the acoustic guitar that Harry had helped me find and which was used as the primary instrument on this album. Orion Slips Away was written many years ago after a night stargazing with Abby, Harry and other family in Central Oregon. It reflects on Harry’s amazement and gratitude at the improbable odds that despite the magnificent expanse of the universe and spectrum of time that we were in that exact place at that exact time, together.


Driftwood Fire

Ever wonder about the things you find on the beach? Where did they come from? What were they before? And what about the transformative power of the sea – strong enough to change the shape of an object, but not the object itself. Perhaps most importantly, what will these beautiful broken objects become and who can find beauty in their tragedy? This song is an homage to the community of widows and widowers I have linked arms with, lit candles with and helped heal together.


Hey Snowflake

A full moon lit up the Wilson Ranch snowfields this past winter. I found myself thankful for the snowflakes unexpectedly kissing my face.


Movin’ On

Life has a funny way of making connections. Danielle Logan and I met in a grief group and immediately connected over our shared passion for music. Her partner, Brent McDonald, was murdered for no reason – just wrong place, wrong time. It could have been me or you. When the Healing Center hosted a night to share artwork, we decided to collaborate on this song Danielle had written words to. I added music and we liked it so much we decided to share it with you.


You Are Everything You Need

When Abby began chemotherapy her great peace and magical way of thinking was invaded on every level. I recorded this bedtime lullaby during her first 5-day hospital stay to remind her of the immense inner strength she held and the bedrock of support I would be for her every day. As we continued our journey I found the ability to dig deeper into my internal reserves of strength than I’d ever imagined possible. I’ve shared this song several times with family and friends who endure their own obstacles in life. The human will is a truly magnificent thing to behold.


Together Apart

Nearly thirty days after Abby’s death, she came back to me in a dream that would be one of most profound experiences of my life. The dream took place in three different stages and settings of our lives – before our relationship began in what I pictured to be a park on the French coastline near where Abby studied her junior year abroad, at the Sooke Harbour House where we were engaged and later celebrated our anniversary, and at the doorstep of our first home in Seattle. The symbols of my dream still bring me to tears – the sadness and love in Abby’s eyes, her soul’s final way of saying goodbye and thank you before continuing on; witnessing a rising sea and seeing waves crash into a seaside house amid a wedding ceremony without feeling its reverberations – witnessing a year’s fight with an indignant and obstinate disease while remaining ever optimistic; standing at the door of the house we built and feeling the unbearable weight that against my every wish we can not be together.

This song, my first song in three years captures these scenes and feelings as I experienced them in my dream. It was written a day later and recorded on my phone that night. I recorded it several times since in my studio, but none quite convey the urgency as this version – just a guitar, vocals and phone.

 


Hopeful Bird

This instrumental started as a haiku after watching a winter sunrise and hearing the hopeful sounds of morning birds.

Time waits for no one

A hopeful bird sings again

Life unbound takes flight


Leap Year

2016 was a leap year. I couldn’t wait for it to be over. But when it ended and 2017 had arrived I couldn’t help but be thankful for all the terrible unintended gifts it provided me: living with deep intention, unbreakable friendships, personal growth and expansion, the deepest understanding of love.


Thank You

Our journey through life is rife with contradiction, but none as significant perhaps as our connectedness amid our solitude. ‘Thank You’ strips away the ornamentation of our lives and explores winding mountain roads, aloneness and feelings of being lost, the challenge of preserving memories while focusing on the obstacles and opportunities that lie ahead. In the depth of our loneliness there are glimpses of beauty beyond our reach and a determination and a knowing that even amid the most vulnerable seasons of our lives safe harbors of friendship, music and gratitude allow us to reclaim our lives as our own.

3 thoughts on “Album

  1. Mark Gottschalk says:

    Justin you are so eloquent in your thoughts and tremendous heartfelt words and music. We love you Justin and look forward to supporting you in Obliteride and with other plans

    Your songs are wonderful

    Mark and Rhonda

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Carole Siegel says:

    Justin you are such a wonderful man so full of love and genious and strength. I pray for you and think of you everyday. Thank you for sharing your heart. Your writing is as beautiful as your music.

    Liked by 1 person

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