Sophia Rose, very creative herbalist, writer, photographer, designer, life artist, and my good friend, assembled this video collage of art from my books and photographs of me and my communal friends in the early 1970s in Northern California, to a fragment of my autobiographical jazz waltz, 1966. You can savor Sophia Rose’s divine herbal and artistic offerings at La Abeja Herbs.
“Music From Living on the Earth,” my first ever vinyl LP arrived today – 5 copies. EM Records, in Osaka, made the LP from my first CD, the one I released in 2000 for my self-made eight-month national tour promoting the 30th anniverary Villard/Random House edition of Living on the Earth. On the back cover is a photo that was taken in 1971 during a New York City book tour for the Vintage/Random House second edition of Living on the Earth. EM Records licensed it from the Associated Press.
I somehow never imagined my music would be recorded on vinyl. During the years that 33 1/3 albums were the standard presentation of singer/songwriters, I was writing lots of songs, but I was not at a professional level as a musician. By the time I felt ready to record, at age 50, the technology had blessedly changed. I could produce my own CDs, instead of hoping to be discovered by a record company. So, I did. I’ve made eight of them, so far. www.cdbaby.com/artist/AliciaBayLaurel
However, I actually WAS discovered by a record company. Koki Emura, the owner/producer of EM Records, saw my first two CDs when I posted them at the CD Baby online indie record store, where he was browsing for new releases. He knew my book, and he knew it was popular in Japan. He bought copies of the two CDs, listened and liked them, and offered license them both for distribution in Japan with Japanese language covers and liner notes. They were released in Japan in 2005, and the following year I began doing concerts in Japan, and sold plenty of them for him.
In 2014, Koki Emura proposed that “Music From Living on the Earth” be released as a vinyl LP. Of course, I agreed. So here it is. A thousand thanks to you, Emura-san!
Review of the LP, Music from Living on the Earth, on soundohm.com:
“Alicia Bay Laurel is well known as the writer and illustrator of one of the classic books of the back-to-the-earth movement, the 1970 hand-written guide to living the good life, Living On the Earth. She is also an accomplished singer, songwriter, and guitarist, the latter skill honed by studying with John Fahey. The songs on Music from Living On the Earth were composed concurrently with the writing of the book, permeated by the sun and soil of the commune life. Bright and earthy paeans to the natural world, featuring ABL’s pure, strong, and uplifting voice atop her fluid, confident, and deft steel-string acoustic guitar fingerpicking, her style showing that she learned well from Fahey. She also collaborated with San Francisco Tape Music Center co-founder Ramon Sender Barayón, who contributes the 40-voice choral arrangement for the closing track. Although these songs were written as the ’60s became the ’70s, Music from Living On the Earth was actually recorded in 2000, first issued as a self-produced CD, and reissued on CD by EM Records in 2006 (EM 1047CD). This 2015 15th anniversary edition is its first appearance on vinyl, and includes liner notes by the artist as well as English and Japanese lyrics, allowing listeners to again hear ABL’s blues, jazz, and Indian music influences meld with folk roots to glorious effect.”
This record quickly reminded of the glory folk days of Joan Baez and Judy Collins. This was even before I read that although Alicia Bay Laurel recorded this album within the last year, she wrote these songs in the 1960s and 1970s when she lived on various communes in the US. She has that same beautiful voice with occasionally barbed lyrics. The arrangements are classic folk, but there is also some lounge jazz in a few of them, which plays well. While this is not a Linda Perhacs style discovery, Alicia Bay Laurel is a nice find, taking us back to a great time in folk music.
© David Hintz
Folk World Europe
[The opening track, “Surviving in Style,” is] one of my favorite songs by any singer/songwriter… and as Alicia mentioned, this is the kind of song we need for this moment in history.
Filmmaker, Environmental activist
I received your CD!
It’s so beautiful.
Your songs make me calm, and I am able to go back to my golden childhood.
Love, Banana 🙂
I am loving this album!!! It is so nice, calming, simple and beautiful!!!
I can totally see myself relaxing and enjoying this music at a cozy cafe! Tim loves it, too!
We are keeping your CD in our CD player, and listening to it again and again.
Thank you for your creativity and love for music!
Mayu Uotani Jensen
Translator of Yogananda’s books
Wife of songwriter Tim Jensen, who creates songs for anime films
Dear, Dear Alicia,
I have just heard it once so far, but I am delighted by your music. Wonderful!! So many nice touches, like the flute – really, really delightful. And your voice is GREAT. Joan Baez-like. I love it. So proud of you!
Big Hug and Love,
Noelie Rodriguez PhD
Professor of Sociology
Hawaii Community College, at the University of Hawaii, Hilo
Listened to your CD for the first time this morning – the first time with any new music for me is freely experiencing it, feeling it as the music dances around the room. Subsequent listenings are for hearing what comprises the layers, but first time, just like first time sex, is all about the experience.
THE EXPERIENCE WAS GREAT!
Takes you back to the Sixties.
Love your voice. You sound like a young girl, a young hippie girl singing about the joy we had back then. In a few of the songs your voice is reminiscent of a young Norah Jones.
I especially love the way the language itself brings back the times – words that are not in common use now (at least in the terms we used them back then) come to life in your songs. Part of keeping the times alive.
And with all that said, the songs are also timeless in that the music still matters. It is so unfortunate that Dallas is barren of folk (other than one venue). The East Coast would eat this up – you would shine at the folk festival I attend yearly (other than this year.)
Hippie Hill and Have a Good Time especially made me smile. What it was all about. And the wistfulness in Paisley Days as you talk about the way it was. How did war and failing economies and faltering ecologies allow society to forget what we were trying to teach people – eat when you are hungry, sleep when you are sleepy. And the simplicity of moving from one moment to the next – sing me a song and I’ll sing you a song and weÂ’ll listen to each other’s music all night long.
Barbara Light Lacy
Author and musician
Ah yes…can’t help but plug my dear sister’s new CD…New to me that is… these songs (so Alicia tells me) are from back in the days of Wheeler Ranch…and more…Alicia, recovered from her old tapes the music from back then, and re-recorded the lot… If you like John Fahey, Maria Muldaur and a spice of jazz… you’ll love this…If you want to know more…just ask me…or better yet… ask the lady herself…but, do yourself a favor and pick up your copy now!
“Butterfly Farewell” is my current favorite. It surprisingly feels to me very melancholy (in a peaceful way).
Alicia’s voice rings of daybreak. I think the production is marvelous, and her ability to warm a heart is still intact.
Very much enjoyed listening to your new CD today.
Well-produced, with welcome messages of hope and beauty!
Post-theist Visionary, Author and Composer
San Francisco, California
Simply WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL. And so much more.
From the moment I tore open the envelope, I’ve been inside out, smiling. I soaked in that familiar face, now radiant, etched gently from your joy living on this Earth, then your artwork – then discovered your dear words to us…. Thank You.
Then your MUSIC. Oh does it resonate. Your lyrics, intonation, instrumentation, sequencing, back-up singers, gleeful sarcasm…. Your voice retains a sweet, magical ability to lovingly communicate with my spirit, my nature, the joys and responsibilities of living on this Earth. And it reminds me, regardless and because of life’s challenges, never to remove the “rose-colored glasses” my mother unwittingly implored me to “take off” and “grow up.”
Your voice/music/gift/you are miraculously facilitating a kaleidoscopic shift in my world view and confusing moods. My heart is grateful and delighted for you.
Your latest CD helped crystallized something so special: that one of the precious gifts of aging is increasing and embracing our joy and other’s if we take responsibility for and reappraise who we are, how and why we got here, and how we choose to go forward.
Your beautiful, beautiful CD has become my most welcome companion; I carry it from house to car and back again routinely. Without fail, like natural aspirin for the soul, it elevates my threshold for pain, reduces my anxiety, and brings me mindful equilibrium. Thank you for such a magnificently generous gift.
I wish you peace, joy, strength, really great connections and laundry facilities, laughter, and fun on your physically demanding tour. I’m sure the audiences will be captivated.
Alicia dear: The gorgeous sounds of your voice are floating through the house right now. One copy is going in the camper van. So we drive along listening to your beautiful voice and songs. I had a wonderful time recording with you. It’s a special memory for me.
Awesome job, you! Have a Beautiful, Beautiful weekend!
I am listening first song “Surviving in Style” now and I can’t stop my tears. This song is so beautiful and touches my heart.
Business and Marketing Manager
Tateyama, Chiba, Japan
What strikes me over and over about this music is a kind of purity and a sweetness.
I was surprised when I popped the CD into my car’s CD player at how soothing it was. Some of the vocals are really stylish, such as on “Serenade” and “Hippie Hill” and others fun and humorous such as on “Have a Good Time”. I love the liquid and haunting quality of the vocals on “Onward, Onward Ever Flow”. A few “romantic” songs such as “Piper of the Woods” and “Yabyum” add to the diversity of the collection. And there are a number of purely original folk songs. My favorite song may be the “Devotional for a Spiritual Guide” because of its many-layered richness.
This seems like a new sound. The sweetness is deeper, riper and more relaxed.
There’s a strangely familiar freshness and simplicity to the whole collection and an innocence that is impossible to find anywhere in the music world.
Alicia’s guitar playing and arrangements are as beautiful as ever and the performances of the accompanying musicians are wonderful. The production and quality are the highest, as usual.
I still have a lot of listening to do. There’s a lot on this album.
Artist, Permaculturist and Environmental Activist
Sometimes, someone’s life and essence lives and flourishes during a certain period of one’s life, in it’s first encounter, and this was in its most naive and direct sense of experience, while the rest of that persons life could be be used to work this essence out more economically and in different parts and sections. Alicia’s highlight came with her book “Living On Earth”, a practical guide of how to live your life as a hippie. She still is guided by those forces/inspirations, being stimulated by an inspiring optimism, which tried to see the positive side in all things and above all in humans.
In the end, it eventually led her further to meetings to such wonderlands in people more often and continuously, while being able to be guided by choices to look for them and attract them more often. While the optimism brings forward the hippie folk style, realistic confrontations add more like a slight touch of country/Americana flavour (while still being guided by a now this time more gospel-folk way of optimism), the practical workouts side is able to show by nicely worked out acoustic and blues-jazzy electric pickings (with Tom McNalley), with the addition of some flute, organ,…. I still can perceive Hawaii underneath, a place, which for many people must have stimulated that positive heart-attitude towards life.
Alicia continues to spread her message of possibilities, which is nice to notice. She definitely deserves a box set of LP’s with the inclusion of a book with some of her artworks and that of her students. Anyone?
Gerald Van Waes
Psychedelic folk radio host, collector and critic
I met Alicia Bay Laurel at a peace demonstration. She was making peace that day, and her music at night. She is still at it.
Her new CD of music, More Songs From Living on the Earth, is just that. It’s a Sunday morning spring day kinda sweetness Alicia takes you to.
All the while, underlying these sweet melodies, Alicia is a multi-talented visionary, and sage of our times. She creates a place with sounds and poetry, where you just know this day is going to be a mighty fine one. I like that.
This album is a sleeper, that must be listened to several times before you can BEGIN to get a handle on its complexities…it grows on you, and is very sweet.
It has taken me awhile to hear it all.
Your new CD is subtlety addicting. I find myself waking up humming little snippets of melodies you made. It is a gentle knowing smile you bring with this music. The more I hear it, the more I see the different layers you put into it. Much success with this one.
It’s a YAYY. My favorite song is track #2, Piper of the Woods.
Stephen Frank Gary
Hi Alicia, this is Gonzalo.
I don’t know if you remember me. I hope you do – I recorded the mandolin tracks on your record that you recently released, and I was listening to it, and I think it sounds fantastic, so I was just calling you to say “Thank you for recording this beautiful music.” Thank you very much for having me play on it, and, of course, thank you for sending me a copy. I think that, not only are your compositions beautiful, but, also, Ron Grant did a great job with the engineering.
Your record sounds beautiful, really. It reminded me to the feeling of the first time I listened to “Come away with me” by Norah Jones. Your record is a beautiful acoustic trip! Please let me know when you play live and also if the album comes out in vinyl.
Los Angeles, California
Songs are beautiful – pure and lovely! They remind me of the first time we met in our small room in Otsuka. The days in 1960’s and 70’s, memory of hard fights against the war in Vietnam, against everything of authority, lost dream of utopia, and new vision coming from the teachings of Black Elk, all came back as I listened to your songs.
Yes, so many years have passed since then…Still, as you sing, we praise those old days and their dreams.
Retired Professor of Mathematics, Tokyo University
Still an activist!
Oh Alicia – your new CD!
I LOVE IT!
It makes me so happy!
I put it on every day – really LOUD.
I played it for some guests today.
They loved it, too!
Thank you SO much for making this music.
Huntington Beach, California
The CD is very diverse – a wide variety of musical styles and sounds: country, celtic, folk, jazz, blues. The production is amazing, and Alicia’s voice is just tremendous. I really like this album a lot!
Photographer and Earthship Builder
Arizona and Colorado
While driving the back roads to Esparto I listened to Alicia Bay Laurel’s new cd, “More Songs From Living on the Earth.” There are no front roads to Esparto, and similarly the songs approach the listeners through back channels old and new, and timeless. Fluid motion, jazzy riffs, heartfelt lyrics, joyous celebrations, ecstatic visions, transcendent melodies, osmotic orchestration, happy hippy harmonies, and authentic phrasing grace the tracks, condensed and accessible, expanding, unfurling, spirit intonation of John Fahey and kupuna invocation of Auntie Clara, steeped in poetic Wheeler Ranch revelations, and all through the tunes, Alicia, chanteuse in tie dye. River Road meets Loomis Lane. Country funkin’ and commune groovin’, a world that just couldn’t be, but was for awhile, a stretch of infinity for us time beings, jikan ikimono. This album is creative and entertaining. Listen and remember, sing along and be here now.
Real Goods Solar Living Institute
Mendocino County, California
As a flower child of the ‘60s and ‘70s, I really liked all the songs on this newly-released album: “More Songs from Living on the Earth.” Just as Alicia Bay Laurel’s unique style of hand-drawing her books made them so special for my generation, there’s something wonderful about the unique way she uses her gentle humor and sweet soft voice to express so many truths. My own faves from this album are: “Devotional for a Spiritual Guide”, “Beautiful, Beautiful”, “Hippie Hill” and “Paisley Days” – the last two evoke memories of hanging out on Hippie Hill on lazy Sundays, listening to the cool pro jazz players who would come together to jam for free every Sunday. These are memories unique to the boomer generation.
Linda Joy Lewis
Author and Chef
Earth Angel Kitchen:
Vegan Alternatives to Meat, Dairy, Eggs and Sugar
I received your CD and love it, because the songs are all very gentle and filled with love.
I believe in Love.
That is what you gave me.
I really thank you.
Television Producer and Environmental Activist
We are enchanted by your CDs… Heaven has come to earth… Mahalo for the gift of your artistry in all its many forms.
I have played this wonderful CD over and over on my computer while I spend the countless hours a day that I must be “in office”. Thank you for this great gift of yours.
It is wonderful that you resurrected these precious songs from days gone by as they are all special. I love them all, but my favorite has to be “Piper of the Woods.” Long may you live to continue to share your unique talents and beautiful Spirit with us!
The whole of the recording is a joy…to try and sing along with!
More Songs from Living On The Earth proves again that the flowers are still in full bloom and I haven’t changed much in the several decades since they were first written & sung. What a great soundtrack to play in my car amidst the raging chaos on the highways. I’m on my way to Hippie Hill and I’m NEVER coming back. Thank You!
Alicia’s songs are beatiful and real. In a troubled times like these, we need her songs and art more than ever!
Professor Emeritus of Mathematics
I had an amazing experience leading my Introduction To The Inner Clown workshop this weekend. I played Alicia’s music from her album, More Songs from Living On The Earth as my sonic environment while we were on breaks. It was so beautiful. What a weekend. I feel inspired for the first time in awhile.
I don’t listen to many albums these days. Back in my 20s, that’s all I did, when I played in bands for a living, but now, writing mostly poetry or essays, I tend to put them on as background music while I’m ironing. (Hey, don’t knock it! Ironing is a form of Zen mediation. The Way of the Straight Crease.)
It’s especially difficult to comment on music created by your friends – or family – mainly, because you love them and want to empower and encourage them on, not expose them to the harsh wind of critical thinking or ‘too much head in bed’ as some freaked out flowerchild once put it. Artists get enough useless opinions, whether amateur or professional, from the uncaring. But you also want to be honest and help with intelligent commentary, not just sugarcoat everything so as not to hurt feelings.
As a professional songwriter and poet, I listen quite differently to music than people who are not in these professions. Music for me has never been simply entertainment. (It took me many years and many wasteful arguments to finally grasp this.) I listen to music perhaps more like an anthropologist – (if any single analogy is adequate) – looking through a desert of sand for single bone fragments that can reconfigure everything I have learned to date and make it vitally present again. A key to unlock something. I prefer watching films for entertainment. The great songs of the late 60s, from The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, so many others, all derailed me from whatever track I was on, whipped me around the cosmos and then rerouted me back onto the same track, but as though experiencing it for the first time.
So today, I piled up my wrinkled clothes, set up my ironing board, switched on my Always-Expecting-A-Miracle work light, and put on Alicia Bay Laurel’s, More Songs from Living On the Earth.
The soft tones and clarity of Alicia’s vocals, which are her trademarks, were immediately there. Alicia is Alicia and no one else. No jarring pseudo-melismas (ie.vocal runs with too many notes), so infesting vocal stylists (and especially, lead guitarists!) in the music marketplace these days. A simple tone and respect for a good melody and the clarity of the lyric. You do not need to read a lyric sheet with songwriter-singer sings like this. The words are vulnerable and ring out and you can take them, or leave them, depending on your taste, but itÂ’s clear that Alicia stands by what she sings. She lives it and has lived it for over forty years. Daniel Berrigan, 60s Civil Rights activist once said, ‘Know where you stand – and stand there.’ This assuredness is reassuring in a world where everything is about conforming and being popular.
I long to be led back to lost, forgotten and unfamiliar pioneers of music, by the present generation, much like Bob Dylan led us to Woody Guthrie, the Rolling Stones led us to Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton led us to Robert Johnson and The Beatles forced us back to not only The Everly Brothers, but Little Richard, and even the Tin Pan Alley songwriting teams of the 30s and 40s. Country music has always had this sense of history and connection with ‘elders’ but pop music only nods back to the closest reference point. For a singer-songwriter, it is certain death.
Meanwhile, back in the real world, I am ironing my way through my t-shirts (fewer difficult bits to iron, always a good place to start) and about to hit the more resilient jeans and pajamas. The tracks on Alicia’s album play one after another. I’m half-listening; half-thinking about the spaghetti sauce I am about to make for lunch.
In the music, I hear Alicia’s precise fingerpicking, often echoing the melody line of the songs. I’m waiting for her to hit a bum note (like I sometimes do when I finger-pick) but there are none. I think she rehearses her guitar playing as much as she does her vocals – which is every single day.
In a few of the songs, I hear the memorable and transporting traces of a mutual friend of ours, Sunny Supplee, effortlessly woven into her vocal style. Sunny lived with both Alicia and I, at different times, never together, on various back-to-the-land communes in the mid-70s. Sunny was accidentally killed in a car crash in the 70s, in Maui. I once asked Alicia whether she had been influenced by Sunny’s style. She said something to the effect of, ‘Oh yes, of course – but as she is no longer using this voice, I thought I would pass it on.’ I loved that. This is what I meant about an artist in the present leading us back to an artist who is gone or forgotten.
Ironing finally finished, I go into the kitchen to start the pasta sauce. I can still hear the music coming through the walls but I’m not really concentrating now. I feel guilty. Like I should be sitting down and doing a serious ‘review’ of this album. After all, Alicia is my friend. But, as I said, that would not be honest, because that is not the way I experience music. I am waiting for a little miracle. The REAL thing. Not lip service.
I go back into my music room to check my email. I have forgotten that the album has been playing all along in the background. I have also forgotten that I am ‘supposed’ to be listening. My critical mind is completely turned off and I am just Being. (I attribute this state, in part, to this album, which works on your Be-Here-Now chakras even when you are not noticing.)
Suddenly, I HEAR ‘The Last Song of the NightÂ’, second to last song on the album. This one stops me in my tracks. This song resonates with everything that I like in music. No BS. I can hear myself singing it in performance. I can hear others singing it. Several artists come to mind. It is a simple, practical and well-written song that actually is quite useful. (A good closing song is rare and handy to have in your repertoire. I remember once hearing a similar themed song that Lou Gottlieb wrote for The Limeliters that closed one of their shows. Perhaps the spirit of Lucky Lou visited Alicia disguised as a Muse?) Alicia sings it with a light dirge-like quality, echoed by a supporting vocal, sung an octave apart from hers. I love it.
It’s the Last Song of the Night
It’s the Last Song of the Night
We’re going to sleep
but in our hearts we’ll keep
the Last Song of the Night.
OK. I found a key. An old bone. Now lets have a closer look.
There are many experiences of late 60s culture. It would make a varied and psychedelic pie chart. There was the aggressive Jimi Hendrix, drop-acid, set-your-guitar-on-fire slice. There was the Richie Havens-social-protest-solo singer slice. There was the Bob Dylan surreal-angry-who-cares-what-the-audience-thinks (as long as they buy your records) slice.
The last album of Alicia’s that I listened to in depth was ‘What Livings All About’. The tracks that stood out for me on that album were the jazz influenced songs like her great and original interpretation of ‘Nature Boy.’
While there is definitely some jazz-influence, the music on More Songs from Living On the Earth suggests another neglected area of the great musical pie. The easy-listening music of groups like The Lovin’ Spoonful (reflected in songs like ‘Have a Good Time’, ‘Beautiful, Beautiful,’ and ‘Hang Around and Boogie’), the husband-wife folk love duo of Maria and Geoff Muldaur, and even the laid-back jug band music of Jim Kweskin.
One of high points on More Songs from Living On the Earth, for me, is ‘Green, Green Rain, surprisingly laced with lovely Appalachian and Irish flavours, and an inspired guitar harmonic counter-theme.
Alicia remarks, about several of the songs, in her liner notes: ‘It’s a sentimental review of the ’60s and ’70s, and also a decision to continue with the best of what I learned and lived then.”
This is clearest in songs like ‘Hippie Hill’, and ‘Paisley Days.’ And I know this state of mind well. It was the driving force behind my own album, Freelovedays. Having lived and loved through the flower-power generation and seen most of our idealistic dreams, and ‘ideal’ relationships, crash to earth, how does one continue on in today’s very different culture? Free love was a rebellion against the ‘nuclear couple’ monogamy that most of us ran away from. But, after having children and grandchildren, the joy, comfort and security of a stable relationship with one person, who is also your best friend, is very appealing.
The poet Rilke once said the job of the poet is to experience life, absorb it, making the visible, invisible. Then later, often decades later, through ones’ work, reverse the process. Make what is invisible, visible. Pass it on to others – the best – and the worst – of what you have seen and done, for anyone else desiring to go down similar paths. So that others, who will also be consumed by passion and also lost in Ideals, can possibly learn sometimes from our generation’s mistakes – and our triumphs.
Or in other words, as a sanyasan of The Way of the Straight Crease might put it:
Cows are beautiful, but no need to step in the same cow patty twice.
Follow Alicia. She knows the way through the field.
Immortal for his multi-platinum song Shaddap You Face
I put on headphones and laid in bed and laughed and cried revisiting innocence with your pure tones. Immediately replayed twice and gave to Diana to do same.
James Cook Loomis
Author, Environmentalist, Joyous Being
Alicia – really enjoying the CDs.
Great tunes, as always, and very good acoustic vibe and production.
I remember seeing you on TV as a guest on the Mike Douglas show in or around 1969 with Carol Channing talking about communal life. You sang a folk-style song (as far as I can recall), “Green, green, green is the color of the spring,” and “You and I say goodbye at last to the cold, cold winds of the winter.” Is this the same song as Green, green rain which is on one of your CDs?
If not, do you have the lyrics to this which must have made quite an impression on me as I still remember it today just as if it were yesterday. I play and sing with dulcimer and would love the words. It just had a nice California, bohemian feel to it, like something you would play for people who are just relaxing and baking in the sun.
If it is the same song, then I would love to buy the CD.
Hello Marcia Clark!
I am very flattered that you remember my song 45 years after hearing it on television! Thank you so much for sharing this!
Yes, the song “Green Green Rains” which I wrote around 1969 and recorded in 2014 for my CD “More Songs from Living on the Earth,” is the same one I sang on the David Frost Show on June 10, 1971. Here’s a web page about that show: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1691270/
I was also on Mike Douglas’ TV show a week after that, but I did not sing on that show. Both of these shows were part of the publicity tour that Random House arranged for the publication of my book Living on the Earth in its second edition.
You can download “Green Green Rains” here: www.cdbaby.com/cd/aliciabaylaurel3. The lyrics are on the same page, as part of the extended liner notes that I wrote to accompany the recording. I’m playing it in a Double Drop D tuning (DADGBD) on a steel string guitar, and the bass drone is a bowed upright bass played by Dwight Killian. We are joined by lead guitarist Mark Hewins.
You can buy “More Songs from Living on the Earth” as a download or as a physical CD from CD Baby. There are also some for sale on eBay, but CD Baby, which I supply directly, is less expensive.
All blessings, peace and love,
Alicia Bay Laurel
I went ahead and purchased “More Songs from Living on the Earth” and have enjoyed the CD very much. I have to say that Green, Green Rain is my favorite. It was interesting to hear it again after all those years.
It seems that I have been singing and playing dulcimer to some version that I thought I “recalled” and ended up with a totally different melody! Different words too! None the less, all credit is due to your lovely song which ignited the spark! Now I can learn the original version & lyrics. It is so nice to see the alternate ideals of our generation artistically expressed and still remaining solidly intact to this day.
Marcia Scott Clark
(from the green, green mountains of western North Carolina)
I’m so pleased that your memory of my song inspired to write a new song! And I am glad you are enjoying More Songs from Living on the Earth. Thank you for writing back to let me know.
As the title of this album suggests, Beyond Living is a collection of folk songs about death, many of them written by musicians who have passed. Alicia Bay Laurel, known for her 1971 guide to sustainable living entitled Living On Earth, collected and recorded many of the songs on this album in response to a number of deaths she encountered in recent years, including, most notably, legendary Japanese singer-songwriter Takashi Donto Kudomi, who died in 2001 at a hula performance. Songs from artists from several countries round out this decidedly international album.
While the album’s theme might suggest darkness, the album feels more like a celebration. As Laurel’s liner notes suggest “lyrics about death contain valuable instructions for living,” and these songs are no exception. Their cheery melodies, vocals, and a fingerpicked guitar mix with deep sadness in the manner I associate with children’s songs (Remember when you found out “Ring-Around-the-Rosie” was about The Plague?) The album invites the listener to engage with the certainty of death and to feel the relish that reality brings to living. Much like listening to the blues, listening to these songs provides a deep and pleasurable access to human emotion.
Review by Joe Dolce in his weekly newsletter, sent 09-25-09:
What I’m Listening to This Week
‘Beyond Living’ – Alicia Bay Laurel. This is the most recent release of my friend, Alicia Bay Laurel, who Lin Van Hek and I will be performing with in Okinawa and Tokyo next month. Alicia is one of the few real visionary freaked-out flower children from the 70s who has grown even further into the great dream of the Beloved Community that we all shared back then. She also had a Number One hit, so to speak, in her 20s, with a New York Times best-selling book, Living on the Earth, which changed her life, and it is an inspiration to know someone who continues to reinvent herself – without disowning her past.
Alicia and I were also both close to, and sang with, the girl who introduced me to California hippy communes back in the 70s, Janet ‘Sunny’ Supplee, and the spirit of Sunny hovers throughout this recording. Sometimes, listening to Alicia sing, I swear Sunny is in the building. Sunny and I sang together for a couple of years and she certainly influenced me in an unforgettable way. She was killed in a car crash in Maui and I still miss her.
Beyond Living collects a master’s bouquet of beautiful songs about Death that do not drag death down into the valley of shadow and fear where old time religion would like to keep it penned up, but releases it out into the empowering light and flight of warm meadows and possibilities. Alicia has included the song I wrote and sang at my own father’s funeral, Hill of Death, with lyrics by Australian femi-pioneer, Louisa Lawson, drunken Henry’s mum.
While in LA, I was lucky enough to be able to sing and play with her on this recording. I was surprised at first when the tasty, awesome, I-am-the-Fingers-of-God mandolin part I had recorded was nowhere to be found in the final mix, but after a couple of listens, I understood why it went to the cutting room floor (along with Satan, Everlasting Hell and the Edsel.) It’s not necessary. Alicia’s last album, What Living’s All About, was an eclectic brew of styles, electric guitar solos, even rap – but this one, a unique fusion of Hawaiian and Japanese sensibility, is smoothly unified by the continuity of Alicia’s lullaby-like singing and precision finger-picking guitar, the latter most notably in the fifteen minute closing instrumental, Ruminations, which is a collage of no less than fifteen tunes: Amazing Grace, The Garden, Is This Not the Land of Beulah, Will the Circle Be Unbroken, Oh Come Angel Band, Gathering Flowers for the Master’s Bouquet, Angels Are Watching Over Me, This Little Light of Mine, Swing Low Sweet Chariot, Bosan Gokko, Hill of Death, Long Black Veil, Good Night Irene, We Shall All Be Reunited, and Kumbaya – and leading to the final Hawaiian, Aloha Oe’. I wouldn’t mind at all having these fifteen minutes playing in my final hour.
There are also three tracks written by Takashi Donto Kudomi, a legendary Japanese new wave rock star turned spiritual singer/songwriter, who died mysteriously on January 23, 2001. He, his wife and their two young sons were watching a hula performance dedicated to Pele, the volcano goddess, at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. At the end of the final chant, Donto fell to the ground unconscious, and was rushed to the hospital. The next day he was pronounced dead at age 37 from a brain aneurism. He had been in perfect health until that day. We will be staying and singing with Donto’s widow, Sachiho, in Okinawa, at Donto-in, the temple Sachiho built in his honor.
One of my favourite tracks is the quirky Altid Frejdig Naar du Gaar (Courage Always When You Walk) with melody by C.E.F. Weyse, 1838, lyrics: Christian Richardt, 1867, set into verse by Alicia. It is often sung at funerals in Denmark and is faithfully sung here in Danish. Just voice and stand-up bass, played masterfully by Chris Conner and reminiscent of her great version of Nature Boy, on What Living’s All About, the vocal seems to float in and out of ordinary tonality like a ghostly dandelion puff. One day, I do hope Alicia gets a chance to put out an album of just vocal and stand-up bass recordings, as they are always a pleasure, and a challenge, to listen to.
Review by Gerald Van Waes, host of “Psyche Van Het Folk” (a psychedelic folk radio show in Antwerp, Belgium) on his website, November 20, 2009
Alicia Bay Laurel : Beyond Living (US, 2009)
A bit different from Alicia’s previous albums, this is a conceptual piece of songs to be meant as a tuning in to a spiritual good vibration and feeling, on moments when people have passed over. When Alicia suddenly saw many related and befriended people pass over, it seemed as if she had no other option but to give all this an accompanying meaning; she started to collect songs from different countries to express this.
It starts strongly, with a Hawaiian opening chant which leads to a song inspiration, as a special moment (or person) to remember. The second song is an Australian folk gospel song, a folk version in which the backing vocals gives an Americana gospel feeling. Next we hear a traditional Japanese song, accompanied by harmonium and congas and vocals. Also this one has gospel flavours, reminiscent a bit of ‘Amazing grace’, being a more delicate, religious almost Christmas-sphere sphere. After its vocal parts with high voices (in Japanese), there’s some spoken word by Alicia giving more reference in the song. “Waltzing with Angels” sounds more like a country children song with a Hawaiian effect on the way the mandolin is played, with a happy feeling or energy. The song with original Danish lyrics by Christian Richardt (1867) is sung with a Marilyn Monroe song voice, and accompanied with bass only.
“The Garden” is again more countryesque, is sung with nice dual voices, leaving a Hawaiian feeling. “Auntie Nona” sounds like a happy children’s song, old music. The next small song has more religious Christian lyrics which appeal less to me. Also here gospel and country-flavours are mixed nicely. “Nami” turns back to Japan but leaves traces of Hawaii. On “Ruminations” we finally return to the “Amazing Grace” song, turning after a short while into a slow Hawaiian guitar medley on acoustic guitar. Also the last instrumental is a guitar piece with references to
Except as a dedication to the subject, the album is as much a dedication to spheres provoked from Hawaiian songs and music, to spirituality in gospel music, as quietly privately experienced music, and the fresh kindness of children songs, and a touch of country. All of this is omnipresent throughout with a happy inner strength and positivism towards life and thankfulness to people and their lives.
As my mom and I were and are fans of your work, I appreciate your staying in touch.
Moana and I send tons of aloha and wish you good luck with your music. Thank you for helping us to keep my mom’s work alive in the world.
Me Ke Aloha,
Son of Hawaiian Renaissance pioneer/dancer/vocalist/songwriter/historian Auntie Nona Beamer
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
The interview is finished and runs about 63 minutes and features 5 live in-the-studio-songs (Hang Out & Breathe, Pain & Love, Love Understanding & Peace, Auntie Nona, and Doctor Sun & Nurse Water) and the rest from your new CD.
I did want to let you know we are now playing Aloha ‘Oe, Hill Of Death & The Garden in our regular new music rotation.
Once again the interview runs Wednesday May 5th at 10am on my show and then an encore airing on Friday, May 7th at 6pm.
Thank you and I hope you’re doing well!
Radio Free Phoenix
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
GODDESS SISTER ALICIA!
I want to send a mail just now!
What a perfect timing!
I listened your new CD! So beautiful. I cried……
I can feel your love and respect for Donto.
Now I am looking for Japanese distributor.
Tonight full moon is so beautiful and shining like you!
THANK YOU ALICIA!
SEND BIG LOVE TO YOU!!!
Leader of the all-woman trance band Amana
In the 1980’s, leader of Japan’s first all-girl punk band, Zelda
Naha, Okinawa, Japan
I love Beyond Living! Very strong album though it sound extremely gentle!
Especially I like Nami and Hang Out and Breathe. It is surprisingly true that an artist have created her essential song in early days and gives it evolution.
television producer specializing in documentaries on the environment
Got the CD, loving it, thanks!!!
Ecovillage Training Center
The Farm, Summertown, Tennessee
Thank you for bringing the most wonderful people to us here at Hopi. I enjoyed teaching them of our way of life and I pray for you all among the stars. Thank you for the CD that I received. I listen to it in the evening gazing among the skies. Thank you and keep in contact.
Shungopavi Village, Arizona
FROM HIROMI KONDO, percussionist with Amana [band], and other bands
Konnichiwa! Arigato your new CD. So beautiful!
A lot of LOVE! Hiromi
Nanjo, Okinawa, Japan
Aloha e Alicia,
I wasn’t even going to fire up the computer tonight, but I received the CD, I just wanted to say pretty awesome and what an honor. Donto is whirling in the realm of Po. Aloha!
ke aloha wale, ka mahalo wale,
Ried Kapo Ku
Performer of traditional Hawaiian dance and chant
Vice President, Na Manupo Music
Thank you for “beyond living”!
Your beautiful songs appreciating life and the beyond bring peace to my mind.
professor of mathematics
Ranzan, Saitama, Japan
Thanks for your new album.
I feel your voice is younger than last coming and guitar play is more beautiful!
I understand I love your world all over again!
magazine journalist specializing in outdoor living
We’re listening to it over & over.
Really love the way The Garden came out!
Also the beautiful slack key medley at the end.
Your BEST effort yet! Really nice.
Ellie LOVES the Nona Beamer song.
Wailuku, Maui, Hawaii
I’m listening to your new CD.
From the opening this CD is unique.
Here’s a new experience of Nami. Joe Dolce and Amana…
I think I want start to sell this CDs soon.
I’m gonna play this CD almost everyday in Yukotopia.
Oh, Nami again, and peaceful instrumentals at last. This is a nice album.
Vocalist/guitarist/leader of the band HaZaMa
Manager of Yukotopia night club
Alicia starts out with Hawaiian songs & then it seamlessly segues into a Japanese song & it was all ocean sounds somehow. Very beautiful. There’s an old Danish song (lovely) & the Danes are also ocean people. If you haven’t heard it yet, I recommend you get it.
Journalist and Political Writer
It’s so beautiful CD. My tears came. So moved. Arigato so much.
Jewelry maker and Craftsperson
Karuizawa, Nagano, Japan
I was particularly blown away by the 15-minute instrumental ending and the ingenious way you integrated Â‘Hill of Death’ instrumentally into the timelessness of those classics. I have never thought of the song as just music before but it works like that!
I also like how the common thread of all the songs is your finger-picking style which really stands on its own.
I’ve always thought that ‘Hill of Death’ felt like it could have come from the hills of 19th century Appalachia but you are only the second person to pick that up and the first to actually demonstrate it via that instrumental collage!
I love the CD!!!!!!!!!!!!! Everything from the Bosan Gokko to Auntie Nona and Ruminations. And what a nice surprise to see the photograph from Forest Hills. You are such a visionary…all I did was snap the shutter.
It works because it is so authentic…so thoroughly full of the heart and soul of YOU – and a true reflection of your bittersweet and tender feelings after so many loved ones passed on. I love that you are so inclusive in the explanations of your relationship to each song, lyric, and tradition. Your sound and FEEL puts down a deep tap root. Then the icing on the cake is your artistic nature-centric metaphor using the morning/mourning glory blossom to show the glowing light at the end of the physical life leading the way to the next adventure. And of course the piece de resistance is that you drew the blossoms and wrote the words in your own handwriting – enveloping the recording project with your SELF. Love it all. The whole shebang.
As soon as I got it, my mother and I listened to your CD and we love it!!! And when my family held a BBQ party at a tiny garden, we enjoyed your music again.
I have listened to your studio songs today (all 4 CD’s that I am aware of). “Beyond Living” is my favorite. Your playing and singing are impeccable. I think it’s quite possibly one of the greatest views on life I have ever witnessed.
Alicia, in my view this is your best recording yet! The songs are so movingly beautiful, no matter which culture they are from. Donto’s pieces are just beautiful. Your performance is great. The production is superb! You have done amazing things with supporting voices and instrumentation. You should be very very proud of yourself. And I was very touched at your including Peter in the liner notes. I think you have succeeded at reaching “Beyond Living” to a glorious and amazing place.
Photographer and Filmmaker
The CD is beautiful, eclectic and extremely well produced.
It is appropriately other-worldly.
Nami keeps going though my head like a continuous wave.
I LOVE the Donto tracks and the Donto memories.
Hill of Death sounds fresh and the medley is masterful.
The Danish piece is a treasure and a revelation.
Your guitar and vocals are so beautiful and they blend perfectly with the accompanist’s parts.
And you know me…I love good liner notes and you have written the BEST ones.
I’m one of those people that like “The Making Of…” even better than the movie, so good liner notes are a necessity.
This is a totally unique collection of authentic and personal music.
I feel like I peered into the pages of your “musical diary”.
I love the Hawaiian/Japanese flavor of it all.
Rock ON my courageous ONE!
Artist and Environmental Activist
Your new album has offered much consolation as Brandon and I mourn a good friend, a talented and spirited fiddle player. Your tunes fit so perfectly into my soul at the moment ~ THANK YOU. I would LOVE to plan a show together. I will put some feelers out.
Los Angeles, California
What I’m Listening to This Week 11-05-09
Beyond Living – by Alicia Bay Laurel. Having just done three concerts with Alicia in Japan and Okinawa, these tunes are still floating through my head. A very unique artist and ahead-of-her-time writer.
I love your CD, such a wide collection of inspiration ~ today’s favorite – Hang Out & Breathe. My husband and I lived and worked in and around the Findhorn Foundation in Scotland for the last 10+ years. After he died last year I was guided to move over to Arizona, reconnect with the Earth and continue my work here. It is a blessing to have connected with you.
Anam Aire ~ Soul Midwife
i LOVE the CD … 🙂 Beyond Living!
thank you for taking so much care in signing them so beautifully…its so lovely,…really ! GOOD JOB!
Vilma Lihau Daly
The CD is beautiful! It brought me so much joy – I’ve already listened to it twice through. It’s really a treasure! Thank you for making so much beautiful music with so much heart.
Lytton Dove White
Environmentalist and Writer
I absolutely love your music. The CDs are great, and now I have three of your special CDs.
Actress, Comedienne, and Teacher of Comedy Improvisation
Bevery Hills, CA
Aloha Dearest Alicia,
This is a mahalo to your from both Bruce and myself for the beautiful gift of your CD [Beyond Living]. We listened to it together as we commuted back and forth to Kapalua weddings – and we found it delightful. Bruce commented on how beautifully produced it is…A most wonderful collection of songs!
Aloha our brilliant Alicia,
Thank you so much for sending us “Beyond Living”.
You literally went “beyond” in this lovely recording.
Bless you, dearest friend, for sharing your creations with us.
We love you.
Gloria and Barry Blum
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Beyond Living: Finger-picked Ruminations on the Hereafter and Its Messengers has come from the pressing plant this week. It’s a collection of charming antique and antique-sounding songs from the USA, UK, Australia, Japan, Hawaii and Denmark that focus on mortality, immortality, and a life that is mindful of spirit.
Along with my open-tuned guitar picking, singing and speaking, youÂ’ll hear musicians from Japan, Hawaii, Australia, and the LA folk and jazz scenes, including Joe Dolce, Moira Smiley, James Kimo West, Ried Kapo Ku, the band Amana, Auntie Nona Beamer, Steve McGee, Ray Armando, Vic Koler, Chris Conner, and Tim Jensen.
On this particular CD, I wrote only two of the eleven cuts, but I wrote new English lyrics from translations of two songs by Donto, a legendary Japanese new wave rock star turned spiritual singer/songwriter, and one 19th century hymn in Danish.
I also commissioned a long overdue Hawaiian translation of Dontos famous hula, Nami, by Auntie Nona Beamer’s adopted son Kaliko Beamer-Trapp, an instructor of Polynesian languages at University of Hawaii in Hilo, and an opening chant for it in the ancient Hawaiian style by recording artist and kumu hula, Ried Kapo Ku, which opens the CD.
I also had the gall to record a 12-minute guitar solo consisting of 15 different songs.
I had the liner notes and lyrics translated into Japanese so I could take it to Japan on my concert tours there. There are two different covers, but the CD itself is the same in both versions.
I painted the cover in watercolor pencils. My idea is that the Bardo looks like a quasar or a morning glory, which have the same mathematical shape.
December 12, 2008
“Floozy Tune,” the opening cut of my blues/jazz CD, What Living’s All About, has garnered a runner-up position in yet a THIRD songwriting contest, this time as a Finalist in the 100% Music Songwriting Contest.
In summer 2008, “Floozy Tune” received Honorable Mention (7th place) in the World division (which includes jazz), in the Indie International Songwriting Contest. Here’s their profile page on me.
August 5, 2008
Today “Floozy Tune,” the opening cut on my 3rd CD, What Living’s All About, has placed in yet a SECOND international songwriting contest, as Honorable Mention (7th place) in the World division (which includes jazz), in the Indie International Songwriting Contest. Here’s their profile page on me.
The first award for “Floozy Tune” was in the Top 20 Finalists in the Jazz Division of the Unisong International Songwriting Contest, in 2007.
Marinated from birth in the world music, classical music, jazz and Broadway tunes my parents played on the hi-fi, I succeeded (after two years of begging) in starting piano lessons at age seven, mastered the Bumble Bee Boogie by age twelve, and was levitated into learning guitar and writing songs when I saw Bob Dylan play, shortly before I turned fourteen. A couple of years later, my cousin Jan Lebow married John Fahey, and one day I cornered him when he was bored at a family party and got him to teach me open tunings. That became my sound.
Most of my musician friends played rock and roll, so I was overjoyed when I first visited Hawaii in 1969 and discovered that open-tuned guitar picking was the national music. Between 1969 and 1974 I enjoyed a phenomenal career as a bestselling author, illustrator, book designer and media icon for hipdom and sustainability. My book Living on the Earth was the first paperback book ever on the New York Times Bestseller List, and it’s still in print in English, Japanese and Korean. I wrote, illustrated and designed eight more books, appeared on talk shows, and got written up in lots of magazines.
In 1974, I moved to Maui. There I learned to play slack key guitar and sing Hawaiian songs from some of the most soulful people I’d ever met anywhere. I learned to sing in Hawaiian from recording artist G-girl Keli’iho’omalu’s mother, legendary singer and choreographer Auntie Clara Kalalau Tolentino. I learned slack key guitar from Clara’s son-in-law Jerome Smith in Hana, and from Uncle Sol Kawaihoa in Wailuku. In the early ‘80’s, I began playing in restaurants and bars for the tourists. Over a period of twenty years I studied vocal technique with five teachers, including pop singer/songwriter Pamela Polland. (I STILL take vocal tech lessons!) My lifelong love of jazz (the first LP I bought at age 13 was Local Color by Mose Allison) led me to learn a repertoire of standards and the jazz chords I needed to accompany myself. In the late ‘80’s I started playing at weddings and learned love songs of many genres. From 1988 to 1999 I owned a wedding business that put on 3000 weddings, and I sang at hundreds of them, sometimes accompanying a troop of hula dancers.
In 2000, Random House released the thirtieth anniversary edition of Living on the Earth. I sold the wedding business and went on tour for eight months with an original one-woman show of comedy stories from my life and folk songs I wrote during the time I created the book. I self-produced Music From Living on the Earth, a solo CD of these songs, to sell while on the book tour, and, to my astonishment, it was not only reviewed but selected as an album pick on All Music Guide. Then a psychedelic folk radio show in Belgium started playing it. Then a Japanese record company released it.
When I returned to Hawaii from the tour, I self-produced Living in Hawaii Style, a CD of original and historic Hawaiian songs, mostly slack key guitar and tropical jazz. The CD features Sam Ahia, arguably the best jazz guitarist/vocalist in the islands, and Lei’ohu Ryder, a reknowned spiritualist and chanter with a string of fantastic CDs of her own. This CD got airplay both in Hawaii and on the legendary Ports of Paradise radio show in California, was released in Japan, and, in July 2002, I was the only woman headlining at the Big Island Slack Key Guitar Festival. I toured in Hawaii and California to promote this CD with a new one-woman story and music show.
I’ve spent a lot of time around avant-garde improvisational musicians in my life. I lived with Ramon Sender, one of the founding composers of the San Francisco Tape Music Center in the early ‘60’s, and co-designer of the Buchla Box, the first synthesizer built on the west coast. In the early ‘70’s, we co-authored a book, Being of the Sun, containing information about drones, modes and open tunings. In the late ‘90’s, I began partnering with Joe Gallivan, one of the pillars of the jazz fusion scene in New York and in Europe, who was the first to play a Moog drum in concert, who played in the Gil Evans Orchestra for two years and in a quartet with Larry Young for three years, and about whom an entire section is devoted in the Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD.
These men have been mentors to me, and, while Ramon’s influence is in my first CD, Joe’s influence is most evident in my newest release, What Living’s All About. Good luck in real estate afforded me the luxury of a great LA recording studio with Scott Fraser (audio engineer and producer for the Kronos Quartet) at the controls and a fabulous line-up of session players, notably avant-garde/rock/jazz guitar legend Nels Cline (best known as the guitarist with Wilco, and who I met when his band opened for Joe Gallivan’s band at the Bell Atlantic Jazz F
estival in New York City in June 2000), and John B. Williams, bassist for Nancy Wilson, the Manhattan Transfer, the Tonight Show Big Band and the Arsenio Hall Show Band. I co-produced the CD with Ron Grant, an Academy Award winning film composer, who arranged and conducted some of the material, but I also relied heavily upon the improvisational skills of my great players, and they surpassed my expectations.
In Performing Songwriter Magazine’s May 2007 Issue, “What Living’s All About” is one of the Editor’s 12 Top DIY Picks, and in June 2007, the first track, “Floozy Tune,” placed in the Top 20 Finalists in the Jazz Category of the Unisong International Songwriting Contest. Raves reviews of the CD appeared in eJazz News in London (written by John Stevenson, the editor), and in Feminist Review in New York City. The second track, “America The Blues” was a featured download on indieguitarists.com in August 2007.
In the summer of 2006, songs from “What Living’s All About” got airplay in Europe and in the USA, and in October 2006, I did eight concerts in four weeks in Japan. In February 2007 I did three concerts in Phoenix, where the CD has gotten a lot of play on Radio Free Phoenix, and in May and June 2007, I toured Japan again, this time performing 15 concerts, including two festivals, in seven weeks, and appearing as the subject of a TV documentary on Asahi Broadcasting Station. In May 2008 I return to Japan for another tour, including a concert at the opening of a gallery show of my art in Tokyo. I’m currently based in Los Angeles, working on creating an animated children’s television series that features my drawings, stories and music.