My articles are going to jump around rather than take a linear course, reflecting how my creative brain works. I am completely right and left brain oriented – literally 50-50.
My parents were both academics - my father a professor of Electrical Engineering at Carnegie-Mellon, with a later in life MBA. My mother had a PhD in dramatic English literature, MBA with an emphasis in marketing and MFA and BFA in theater performance from the esteemed Carnegie Tech Drama School studying with famous folks like Stephanie Powers, Jack Klugman and many others. She worked on and off Broadway and in many regional theaters until she had children and then her duality began, trying to balance her artistic actress self with her responsibilities as a mother, faculty wife, perpetual student and - in her own way - political activist. She never really found her own voice. She never really fulfilled her artistic self. She died disappointed with everything except her love for her two daughters and especially her deep love and connection with her grandson Cameron Miles Lavi-Jones of King Youngblood fame.
I didn’t learn the lesson of my mother’s failure to be true to herself until later in life. So, I lived and still live a life of perpetual duality, which often causes me tremendous dissonance.
To appease the parental gods, I amassed an absurd amount of college degrees, BS/MS in Wildlife Biology from the University of Michigan after transferring there after dropping out of the University of Chicago. Then on to law school for a JD from the University of Oregon School of Law. All the while performing in bands, recording, dabbling in record deals, writing for others and thinking I was “doing both.” In fact, I was living in a dual reality of incompatible proportions.
I proceeded after law school to get a job as an Indian and environmental attorney with the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe outside of Auburn, WA near Seattle. I loved the job. It was better than a law firm job – a little looser and the senior attorney seemed at first to be into the fact that I was an artist as well as a lawyer. The Tribe – pre-Casino - proved to have many dysfunctional elements– think Indian Country version of the TV game show Family Feud – but there was also an honor in trying to help save the last of the elk and salmon in the State of Washington armed with federal treaty rights.
I loved my identify as a tribal attorney. During that time, I released my first album – The Art of Living, and with the help of a dear friend who was studying the music business at Seattle’s Art Institute – and my distribution company for my then Cody Records indie record label (named after my first golden retriever) – we sold a ton of albums and I got the attention of Warner Chappell Publishing and went on to become a professional songwriter.
I also formed, with my Godfather, Charles Neville of the Neville Brothers, the band the SongCatchers – a merger of Native American singing and drumming with rock, soul, jazz and spoken word – that band was ground-breaking on so many levels and deserves its own article.
So much more has happened for another day of writing, but the most important thing I want to say here is, I have had this dual life of academic achievement and, eventually business and law life, concurrent with my musical life since I can remember. The musical and creative life always felt like where I needed to be and the rest of it where I felt required to be even if some of the work was meaningful and rewarding in its own right.
So, these days and for the last 40 plus years, there is not a day, a minute or an hour that I don’t hear new music in my head. Lyrics and melody come to me concurrently like a ticker tape inner voice message. Because of my law firm’s workload, honestly, it is like living in a perpetual dual reality.
There is a song I wrote a few years back while living in Toronto with a long-lost friend, Ryan Perlberg, called “Undiscovered.”
Some of the lyrics go something like this (this song will likely go on the new album coming soon in 2021.
I can taste it
I can feel it
Then all of my doubts make me my own worst enemy
Tonight it ends
But I know who I am
My heart is drumming
As I am thumbing
Through the pages
Soon to be me…..