That gift was shared by Groove Armada. It was timely as I woke to it, Earth Day 2020 morning–missing my dad. He was so honored to work with them. I remember how excited he was when he told me that they had remixed Roots! From there, I went down the rabbithole of songs… And why not share them? His music was so absolutely poignant in the times he made, played and shared energy…
And now… Still.. So. Relevant…
If music does more than lift our bodies, minds and spirit, it certainly offers us the opportunity to see how far we’ve come—or not, and just how much more there is to do.
I couldn’t just make a set list without sharing how much these songs have meant to me all of my life. I have considered sharing something like this for some time… but/and many parts of the I Am That I Am story are omitted from my general sharings, for many reasons.
It isn’t easy being a natural expressionist when you follow in such incredible footsteps… again, for some of those same reasons. Honoring those that came before me, can be tricky. Because, while so many do—I don’t find namedropping appealing, and there are is a long line of sacred ancestors who got me here. Yet, I am that I am and who I am is what made me. I honor my ancestors in my own way, and the conversations continue…
As I begin the second half of my life, I draw weary of explaining to people why, after years of friendship or working together, they are just learning my lineage. Or why I cringe when people introduce me as Richie Havens’ Daugher… It will never make sense to some, and it will always be a nimble walk, the tightrope wobbling at times…
When I was a little girl, I had a lot of my Dad’s favorite songs. Now when I listen to them, I see how those songs, in many ways, shaped my path. How could they not right? They soundtracked my being, from gestation forward. And in the case of the last song… backward. I hope you enjoy them, and this uniquely Intimate storytime… They have been placed in a playlist, so if you would like to skip reading, just click that link above… I won’t be offended. I hope that you are moved to explore his work in deep dive fashion. You can do that HERE on his website.
Here Comes The Sun
I won’t be adding Freedom to this mix, because you can all find it and I am seeking videos that are not monetized for ease of experience and well… Please excuse me there will be some ads… you’d be surprised how many people monetize other people’s work on YouTube… But I will share Here Comes The Sun. This one charted. Of course it’s the Beatles song. But he (as usual) brought it someplace else. I was born six days after he brought this with him to Woodstock. 😉 here’s another version…
I was Educated By Myself…
As a stubborn and driven child, with my own plan… I related to this song a lot. It still may be my favorite. It also tickled me to see my dad on the piano. My grandfather played, but my dad didn’t play it on stage that often. Most knew him for Freedom. And many know Him for his brilliant cover interpretations, but he was actually quite a prolific writer, himself.
Two days before our Father’s funeral, my sisters and I found ourselves on our grandparents porch in Brooklyn. For me, it was a beautiful journey back in time. This song arose and continued to play in my heart after we left. Perhaps a reminder that it was up to us now. That night, on the drive back to Woodstock, for a few hours of sleep before returning, I called Maritri Garrett; there was a piano at the church. She agreed to play it–with less than 48 hours to learn it. We first met at a beautiful tribute that was curated by Darrel McNeil. The gentle sweetness in her voice, when she sang Here Comes The Sun, let me know that she would be soothing in such an emotional time. And she was. It can’t be that easy to get a call with a request like that, but she opened her heart and held us in such a beautiful way. Such a gift.
What About me?
When I was a little girl I sometimes hummed this song backstage, while waiting for fans to see that I was there. They rarely ever did. And later in life as I pulled farther away from my own entitlement, I noticed that we didn’t always notice him when he was in need of something. And then as I grew, I pulled out even farther to see that my work would stand on the very foundation of this rhythm and these words and His Delivery of this song. It was written by Dino Velente—and released by Quicksilver Messenger Service. My dad brought the call to a-whole-nother-level. I have a few ideas about who I think would cover this one well today. Very appropriate for this time. Right now. So many of us see from a perspective this song speaks from. Looking backward… I feel so fortunate to have heard those words then and I hold them now… I guess I was listening. Now I am listening to the young people in my life bring these same sentiments to us with as much power and strength. What are we going to do about future generations?
Nobody Left To Crown
Another one that sticks at the core of my foundation. I sometimes wonder where the Antiestablishment Trip I’m on came from and then I am reminded. These were the conversations happening at the kitchen table, on the streets, in our communities, and from the stage. As I crest half a decade, I am seeing just how few stuck up for what they believed in. It leaves me sad and mad and activated to continue forward even if simply in prayer for those with more strength for the movement. Please. Give platform, the mic, money, mentorship, love, hope, Positive Expectation— to our Youth before adulting the innovation and creativity out of them.
Because this song… shouldn’t be more relevant now than when it was written.
From The Prison
Another exquisite song, written by Jerry Merrick. As many work to address and others turn their eyes, this country that some call america, has continued to go beyond horrific proportions when it comes to the prison industrial complex. More black brown and indigenous men and women are incarcerated in this system than is fathomable. “Buy American?” How much of what bears the flag was produced in modern day slavery conditions? How many of our brothers and sisters are working to find love and light behind prison gates? He always brought the heart to the truth. I cherish him for that grace.
And I also offer you this cover, by his Grandson Chogyi Lama, accompanied by Daniel Littleton and Francis Mejia.
He would almost always follow one at least of the hard songs with this. Another beyond exquisite song written by Jerry Merrick. As a little girl in the Joyous Lake or any other nightclub, this one always had me lean into my mom and lull the energy. The fire that would erupt at different times was overwhelming for a little one. But I was so awestruck by his presence and the lull of this one would bring me home… Now, years later, it is a blessing to be getting to know Jerry’s daughter Jessie—a beautiful continuation of creativity follows…
Things I Used To Do..
The Love songs… this one still gets me… not much to say about it. Just listen.
Okay. So I had never heard this live, and in my runnings it hadn’t come to me until I was in my mid twenties. And It Slayed me. slayed Me. And it will you too. Nothing more to be said.
Wear Your Love Like Heaven...
Another one that would always warm my being to the core… I do the best I can—certainly wear it on my sleeve.
I’m Not In Love…
I remember when this came out, I think it charted. There was always something so eerie about hearing your dad pop up on the radio. I remember one afternoon when I was about seven… We were living in the city. My mom hadn’t gotten home from work and I had sent the old lady upstairs back home, and this came on… it made me so sad. I was already feeling lonely. And while in some respects it made me feel a little warm to hear my dad’s voice, I was struck by the truth that I had no idea where in the world he was… he could have been in Egypt he could have been in Japan. And for a little girl, an experience that can be intense. I go right back to that kitchen window looking into the rainy chute between tall NYC apartment buildings whenever I hear it.
License To Kill
When he recorded this, I was deep diving into Bob Dylan with my girls. And he Nailed it. He had a way of picking the songs that drove the most richness and he captured this one, with his own regal nature, so well.
Lives In The Balance
And then he did Lives in the Balance. I remember being in the office when he was listening to it with an ear to include it in his set. We were on another brink of war and he was so moved by this one. When I finally heard him play it live, it rocked me. He was working with a Killer band and playing half the set acoustic and then busting from freedom into some next shit with a band of might. The band, (Jack Scarangella & Kieth Lambeth rhythm section was over the TOP!) Louis Smalls on keys, Huey Cox and Billy Perry each on Guitar for spells and some others joined the roster as well. Kieth & Jack will forever remain some of my most cherished uncles.
Here is one that I loved, HE loved. And his stories of recording with Pino Danielle in Italy were a delight. I loved that time in his life for him. This song makes me giddy inside. And this one, again so so so ahead of throughout and timeless in its time… Perhaps the entitlement that brings us to live with no regard will leave us someday…
I Don’t Wanna Know About Evil
A reminder to stay on point, keep our focus on the positive and be the change… A lot of people didn’t get where he was going when he had a band– fans were a little attached to his acoustic set. I totally dug it. He had so much fun and what an amazing crew! Having Jack in my life now has kept my heart so warmed.
And about that band…. I don’t believe this was them… but here is a little opportunity to see how much fun he had when he put the guitar down. One time he was on Howard Stern (cray episode) and he played this song… It was funny, Howard had no idea what to make of it.. He tried to get him to break down the meaning of the song… It was a riot!
And this one… while folks generally turn to freedom to tap in to his energy, I listen to The Well. I believe it was a literal breadcrumb he left. This is where I tune to when I need to call him back for some advice or wisdom. It works.
And last but not least… Perhaps the most.
This song has the power to break you down and bring you back together. Written by Kris Kristofferson, it came to me in the months following my father’s passing. One of my father’s most cherished friends shared it with me one afternoon, and it completely blindsided me. It took me back to a time when I felt the need to make him wrong for choosing a life on the road. He said something to me that pulled everything I was driving off its axle. “If you don’t know how much I love you now, perhaps you never will…” and like a young entitled youth does… I let it sit while I poked around at it from different angles. We spent many years doing the direct work it takes to move past juvenile resentments and parental judgements and disappointments and came out the other side. I wonder sometimes what my life may have been like if I had listened to that song when he recorded it. Which was not long before that conversation. I often look back into the sandbox that we call family beside an ocean of expanse. We ask a lot of our parents. In the wild, they would set us out far sooner than in this captive society we try to maintain in…
We expect so much more of them than they should ever be asked. The bars they set are gifts.
Thankful for all of the love… so thankful.
Blessed for this sharing.. Blessed for this life… Thank you for listening….