I am grateful for a busy autumn of music making and sharing. Today I am taking it easy – plying the fire as the temperature here in New England drops and we have our first snow of the season. In this final month of a remarkable 2017 I share a simple song of peace, recorded back in 2009 with my daughter Mally and a room full of great singers.
At HCAM-TV Holliston, MA, Photo: © 2017 Dan Tappan
As my active fall season of shows slows down, I have been spending my extra energy building a new web site and member management system for People’s Music Network (PMN) and helping my friend Terry Kitchen produce the PMN Winter Concert coming up on January 26th in Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA.
Terry has just released his new album “The Quiet Places”, which is starting to get a lot of well deserved spins on folk radio. And you can learn more about People’s Music Network below.
This Month’s Music
A Prayer for Peace
A Prayer for Peace
© 2007 Tom Smith (ASCAP)
Click the image above to play the video.
It is customary in December to pay a kind of tribute to the calendar year as it comes to an end. “Best of” lists, “Person of the Year”, “Winners and Losers” lists along with summaries of important events and resolutions for improvement.
As I look back at the remarkable twelve months just passed, my feelings are complicated. I am discouraged when I compare the winners to the losers of 2017. This month’s song A Prayer for Peace, was inspired by a verse in Psalm #11 (from the Book of Common Prayer) – “For see how the wicked bend the bow and fit their arrows to the string to shoot from ambush at the true of heart”. Although I am not a member of any formal religion, I do consider myself a spiritual person. To my ear, this quote rings loud and clear in 2017.
If I have anything hopeful to offer at year end, I think it comes from recently reading the hundred or more notes I got when I retired from decades of teaching and being Director of Technology at The Park School. This was surprisingly emotional for me. Here is one from a 6th grade math student in 1980. “I have a particular memory of singing the I’m My Own Grandpa song in class and you asking us to graph the relationships to prove that it was possible. I still remember most of the lyrics, but the quadratic equation is a bit hazy.” These students (now adults) write about Jack the dancing doll (limberjack), the harmonica I played by blowing air out of my ear (yes, I did that when we were learning about the structure of the middle and inner ear), the time we cancelled class and went outside because it was the first snow of the year, the song we sang when a classmate died of cancer.
If I had been asked to list my most important achievements over my career and then compared that list to the things my past students comment on that have been most important to them, there wouldn’t be as much overlap as I’d expect. I am reminded of that famous quote by Maya Angelou. “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Perhaps we have our greatest impact just by exercising our connectedness as human beings. In this spirit, I ask you to sing “Prayer for Peace” with us. Thank you to all of those who participated in the recording of this song at Emerson Umbrella Art Center in Concord, MA in December of 2009 – most especially my daughter Mally Smith and our host for the evening, my dear friend Ellen Schmidt.
May 2018 bring an awakening of goodness in our world. I am certain that there will be many opportunities to wake it up in the year ahead.
Thank you for singing!
(If so inclined, I invite you to leave a comment by scrolling to the end of this page.)
December 16, 2017 @ 8:30 pm: Brooklyn Coffee Tea House, Providence, RI
Sharing the evening with my good friend Craig Sonnenfeld and TBD for the monthly Rhode Island Songwriters evening. Intimate venue.
December 31, 2017 @ 10:00 pm: Homegrown Coffeehouse, Needham, MA
The Rounders return to The Homegrown Coffeehouse to help celebrate New Years Needham. I join my good friends Chris Pahud, Cheryl Perreault, and Steve Rapson for an in-the-round evening of music and spoken word. Lots to do on New Year’s Eve in Needham during the day and evening. Then join us at 10:00 pm to bring in the new year in folkie style.
February 24, 2018 @ 7:00 pm: House Concert, Newton, MA
Seth Connelly joins me at a house concert in Newton. Contact me for details.
March 2, 2018 @ 7:00 pm: Sunapee Coffee House, Sunapee, NH
Sharing the evening with my good friend Chris Lavancher. This will be my first appearance at the Sunapee Coffeehouse. Hoping some of my midlands New Hampshire friends will share the evening with us. Should be fun!
Click to view details for these and more upcoming shows.
Featured Non-profit: People’s Music Network
People’s Music Network for Songs of Freedom and Struggle is a diverse community of singers, artists, activists and allies that cultivates music and cultural work as catalysts for a just and peaceful world. It has a storied history, claiming Pete Seeger as a long and active member.
PMN sustains a supportive artistic community dedicated to the ongoing development of the craft of music as a tool for social change. As a network, we offer contacts for artistic collaboration, performance opportunities, friendship, and singing together.