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Lions Roar : September 2006
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2006 79 a generation’s exhaustion after tumultuous times.” That genera- tion was the young adults of the sixties and seventies and now, as a young adult myself, I can real- ize that my dad must have been exhausted after living in a hippie commune, serving in Vietnam, and starting a subsistence farm with my mom and their three babies. No wonder James Tay- lor appealed to him. As a young adult today I crave the same ac- companiment to the absurdities that are our tumultuous times. We’re deal- ing with President Bush, again, we’re deal- ing with the oil crisis and the ozone and mad cow disease and the AIDS epidemic in this so-called post-9/11 world. We’re a little exhausted too, and it’s nice to be able to listen to some music that isn’t trying to cover it up or distract us or give us all the answers. That’s just thoughtful, insightful, and admittedly human. “The condition of being alive and hu- man is a little bit like playing along,” Ben told me. “But at the same time I feel like I’m making progress in directions that don’t embarrass me and I think that’s as good as you can hope, you know?” The day after the photo shoot, I drove from Massachusetts back to my parents’ home in Ontario and arrived weary but happy, close to midnight. Mom and dad had stayed up to wait for me, wanting to hear all about my trip. Sitting in our kitch- en that night, telling them about meeting Ben and Carly, I saw the expression of sat- isfaction on my dad’s face. To me, it meant a lot that I had met someone my age who is really cool and cares about the same things as I do, and meditates and writes great music. But to him, I knew it meant a lot that I had met Ben Taylor, son of James, his favorite musician. Because it meant that we had something very quiet in com- mon. A side of ourselves that only music can talk to; that part that wants to be sung to with honesty and softness. And there is something wonderful about knowing you can hear the same music your dad can, with the same kind of ears, even though you have grown up in different worlds. ♦ to think about it,” Ben said. “You need to get to the point where you’re just telling a story that, for whatever reason, strikes you as being important. When you become in- volved in the song and lose yourself, then I think you’ve got a good chance of es- tablishing a spiritual connection. So it’s a quest. The quest to find the spirit in music is to get past the ego as much as you can.” “How do you handle that?” I asked him. “How do you deal with the ego?” “I feel like discipline and diligence go a long way towards it. I feel like if you play every song that you plan to play that night three times the day before you get on- stage, then when you do get onstage, your chances are good of not having to worry so much about your lack of confidence or anything else that’s apt to throw you into yourself. You’re more prone to just telling the story, which is what made you want to sing the song in the first place. “I believe in disciplined hedonism to a certain extent,” Ben said. “I do about a half an hour of meditation and forty-five min- utes of qi gong practice every morning. It’s something that I do because I’ll let myself get away with whatever I want to get away with, pretty much. The balance is that I need some sort of intense discipline too.” Not many people will admit that they meditate or attend church or do whatever they consider the right thing to do, in part so that they can get away with what they suspect may be the less-right things. It’s this kind of honesty that gives Ben’s music, and his presence, a refreshing dimension. I once heard James Taylor described as a musician who wrote songs that “mirrored