It's not every day that a review of your work gets you to thinking about why you are even doing this at all. The review by Jer over at Sleeping Bag Studios is one of those type of reviews. I agree with him on all of the points of accolade, but it was the questions he asked in the review that really got me thinking about how I can convey the complexity behind the concept in a way that people can connect with other than just listening to the music itself.
There is questioning woven throughout the length of the review, but the following bit is particularly thought provoking.
Unless this is written as a particular affront to the Christianity-portion of the holiday season…I’m honestly perplexed as to why Ryan would choose to build the concept around a Christmas tune. Hear me out! What I’m saying essentially…is that he’s got a seriously universal concept that could be adapted to a number of sounds, styles, genres, songs…you name it and of course he could change the words to suit the needs of whatever the flow is in the song he’s mapped out the lyrics to…so why a Christmas tune and not something from Soundgarden, Gary Clark Jr. or Rihanna? My point being…unless there’s a specific reason to attach this to a Christmas tune…I’m not entirely sure that the idea itself isn’t being pigeonholed into a small portion of how effective and widespread the idea could truly be.
About a year ago I went to Tibet. It was my second time.
The details of that trip belong somewhere else, but after that I came back and started writing songs. Sometimes with their own melodies, sometimes using familiar melodies. I wrote several to classic folk tunes. Woody Guthrie, Simon and Garfunkel. Some were and still are waiting for their melody. It was all just fun. Just spontaneous compositions.
Then Christmas of 2015 I wrote the lyrics to "Rudolph the Bodhisattva." Over the next several months I continued to write more songs, and many of them happened to follow the lyrics of Christmas melodies. I have about seventeen songs now that are composed to Christmas melodies. So one of the reasons I chose to start with them is simply from the practical point that they collectively are consistently themed enough to create an entire concept album eventually.
That is not the only reason however; actually, there is a much deeper reason which I think I will blog about over a series of posts, but I can tell you that it spans from my childhood, to life in a Theravada Thai forest monastery, to His Holiness the Dali Lama, to my current practice in Vajrayana and beyond.
Definitely stay tuned. More to come...