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Song Story: “Ghosts for Tinder”

Betony and I are both from Kansas. When I tell people this they often comment with something Wizard of Oz related. I usually joke with them back and say, “Have you ever driven through Kansas? It’s like driving through Purgatory. There is NOTHING on I-70. Its a sea of blue and brown.”

But then I assure them with something I also truly believe. That Kansas does have an incredible beauty; like enormous, open skies that hold vast sunsets or intense changes of season. When Betony and I are in Kansas we feel home, we feel safe, and we visit often (we currently live in Colorado).

Being from the midwest I remember being taught something fascinating about the plains ecology: that it’s actually adapted for wildfires to burn through. It happened so much in the thousands of years in our region that plants and life have evolved to assume it’s likelihood. (The government actually pays money for certain acres of prairie to be burned. The CRP program helps all the ecology to have areas remain native and they do controlled burns to preserve that correctly! It’s amazing to watch!)

Here’s a science-y run down from a museum site of how fire actually helps the grasses of the plains:

“The roots and growing points of prairie plants form thick networks underground, where they are protected from fire. Prairie fires move quickly, so the soil acts as a buffer protecting prairie plants’ underground growing structures.

After prairie fires, the dark surface of the soil is warmed by the sun, and in the spring this helps seeds germinate. Existing plants grow stronger after fires. New seeds carried into the burned soil start new plants. For some plants with hard seed-coats, fire burns some of the seedcoat off the seeds and actually helps the seed germinate faster.”

I think there is something profound here in this story of nature. That fire can actually lead to better growth.

http://www.museum.state.il.us/muslink/prairie/htmls/eco_fadapt.html

How many of us know this scene: In order to get over the relationship, in order to move on, the broken-hearted takes all the love-letters and keepsakes and momentos and, in ceremony, collects them in the pile outside. Slowly and deliberately a match is lit, maybe a prayer is said, and the fire begins- a fire that will hopefully clear things for new growth. In the pain of letting go there is the hope of new life.

How many of us know this scene? but a bigger question is How many of us have lived it?

Betony and I’s album and art project Becoming looked at this metaphor and saw truth in it worth creating from. She created a stunning piece of a prairie fire after I wrote the song “Ghosts for Tinder”.

It begs the questions,
Have you let things go that hurt like a fire, but now with distance you see great life came from it?
Are you in the process and pain of letting some of that go now?

Here’s the lyrics to “Ghosts for Tinder”. And you can listen to it here as well.

GHOSTS FOR THE TINDER lyrics by Tim Coons

Come and keep by my lovely fire
I’ve got pieces I’m scheming from the liars with in me
You’ve replayed in my darker mind
You’re re-lived in the days I have assigned without you

Yes, I’ll leave it behind
Yes, I’ll leave it behind
Yes, I’ll leave it behind
Yes, I’ll leave it behind

Burn it down here
burn it down
it will come again
come up, on up from this ground
Up and around
So burn it down

I’ve got ghosts for the tinder glow
I’ve got pages to wash clean as snow to warm me
I’ve got memories for matches now
I will lighten the load so sad and loud for
When I see you

Heaven knows it will light
Heaven knows it will light

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“Ghosts for Tinder” Painting Story and Process Photos

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A photo of a wildfire that was about a quarter of a mile from my parents’ house.IMG_5177IMG_5175

My parents’ farm in the Kansas Sandhills is surrounded by hundreds of acres of native prairie. Farmers there are constantly fighting the growth of cedar trees and other invasive species to try to retain the health and beauty of the prairie. One of the reasons why the prairie can be difficult to maintain is because fire is necessary to its life and health. Wildfires burn away dead plants; prevent certain other plants from encroaching; and release nutrients into the ground to encourage new growth. But in our world, we fight against fire.

Where I grew up, prairie fires are a very real concern. My childhood home was destroyed in a prairie fire (thankfully after we had already moved out). I remember many nights where my dad would leave all the sprinklers on in the yard “just in case”  because a nearby wildfire might jump the road and head our way.

Understandably, we don’t have room in our lives for fire. It can be dangerous and destructive. We have belongings and homes that are cherished. But, in our needs for safety and to protect the things we love, we can miss out on some of the restorative benefits. Especially in the sense of fire as a larger metaphor.

So the prairie here is a metaphor. Sometimes the best healing for new growth is a clearing out. This painting is my reminder to myself; that sometimes we need to start anew. Sometimes we need to let pain in and let go and begin again.

Ghosts for Tinder_web

Interesting little side note, this is the one piece in this series that was not started on a new blank canvas. The canvas had a painting on it that I was never happy with, so I painted over it to create this new piece – an act that mirrors the symbolism of the piece. The gray bird in the sky flying towards the past is the one element I kept from the original painting.

The butterflies here represent (as always in my pieces) hope and forward momentum.
The fire has sparkles of the universe within it.
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A 2013 photo of burning cedars in the prairie

 

GHOSTS FOR THE TINDER lyrics by Tim Coons

Come and keep by my lovely fire

I’ve got pieces I’m scheming from the liars with in me

You’ve replayed in my darker mind

You’re re-lived in the days I have assigned without you

Yes, I’ll leave it behind

Yes, I’ll leave it behind

Yes, I’ll leave it behind

Yes, I’ll leave it behind

Burn it down here

burn it down

it will come again

come up, on up from this ground

Up and around

So burn it down

I’ve got ghosts for the tinder glow

I’ve got pages to wash clean as snow to warm me

I’ve got memories for matches now

I will lighten the load so sad and loud for
When I see you

Heaven knows it will light

Heaven knows it will light

 

“Monarch Migration” Painting Story and Process Photos

Over the course of this month, we will be sharing some of the stories behind the paintings and songs in the Becoming series.
You can purchase prints of this piece here.

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“Monarch Migration”
15X30  mixed media on canvas

The farm I grew up on is in the heart of the prairie in Kansas. It is a 30 minute drive on dusty dirt roads to the nearest civilization. My parents apple orchard is surrounded by 180 acres of native prairie and forests. Their driveway is over a mile long – and because the county maintenance trucks won’t maintain driveways, it was usually in pretty rough shape – horribly muddy in the spring, treacherously icy in the winter, and full of sand pits in the summer. Our mailbox was at the end of the driveway and a daily ritual was to walk and get the mail.

On this particular day in September, when I was probably about 8 years old, I remember turning the corner at the mailbox and feeling like something was different. There was a quivering energy to the air. I looked up and noticed hundreds of monarchs in the sky above me. And then, as I looked closer at the trees lining the roadway, I gasped, because what I had first thought were leaves fluttering in the wind were actually wings. Thousands and thousands of wings. I had happened upon the migration of monarchs.

I’m not sure why the butterflies ended up in KS that year. It’s out of their normal migratory path. After I left home, my parents had them come through one other year. But I have never seen them again.

We are losing monarchs. There are less and less every year. Their main source of food, the milkweed plant is being displaced by fields and housing and mowers. The older I get, the more I am becoming aware of how fleeting everything around us is. How delicate the beauty of these tiny wings. How necessary it is to pause and notice the flutters hidden in the branches.

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Story behind the painting “On Becoming and Artist”

Over the course of this month, we will be sharing some of the stories behind the paintings and songs in the Becoming series.
You can purchase prints of this piece here.
And, you can listen to the song, Eventually, here.

ON BECOMING AN ARTIST
24X18 mixed media on canvas
Companion Song: Eventually
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I grew up in a very artistic family. My mother is an amazing artist and she dedicated many hours of our homeschooling to magical projects with artistic bents. But I never considered myself an artist. My older sister was always the one who could draw elaborate characters and scenes from her head. I was the kid that was good at math and science. It wasn’t until H.S. – when my sister went off to private ballet school in Canada – and I took my first structured art classes, that I even considered that I was good at art as well.

Little River H.S. is a tiny rural school in Kansas only accessible by dirt country roads. There were 32 kids in my graduating class. The year below me had 12. Beth Myers is the art teacher there and she has this amazing little “attic” art department that smells like wax and sunshine. It is the only room on the second story and had a door to the rooftop. She let me set up my own work table under a window in the corner where I could leave my scattered in-progress works out. It was this glorious little world all in its own. It was the first time I started to see my self as an artist separate from my sister.

In college, I was majoring in the sciences – computer programing and biology (believe it or not), but would still take art classes for fun. The art rooms were always where I wanted to be. Walking in felt like home. I was working several jobs – scooping ice cream and delivering papers and I hated it. But I was teaching little art workshops for my friends. Then, in the classified ads I saw an advertisement for a M.S. Art teacher. I applied, and through uncharacteristic boldness and luck, I got the job.

And slowly, I realized that the thing I loved most, and the space I loved most was creating. Sitting in a sunshine filled place with a steaming mug of coffee, tools of making in my hands, excavating beauty from the stories that make up our lives.

To me this piece is about the pull. About how all these little tidbits and disconnected themes in your life have direction and movement. You may not see the image they are forming until you reach the destination. But, your passions, your curiosities, your dreams – they all are leading somewhere.

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EVENTUALLY lyrics by Tim Coons
My hourglass, my calloused hands

My furrowed brow in all my plans

I’ll come into my own, I’ll come into my own

The distance I have traveled

The wool that I have gathered

I’ll come into my own, I’ll come into my own

Heaven’s ship sails low

All the while, it’s ever close

You know you know…

You’ll never have that time you need

You strike the rock but nothing bleeds

You’ll come into your own

eventually

the distance you have wandered
The fabric torn asunder

You’ll come into your own, you’ll come into your own

Heaven’s ship sails slow

Give it time, it’ll show

before you go, before you go

you know, you know, oh

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“Becoming” Art Series Released

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“Coming Down from the Mountain”

16X20 mixed media on canvas with custom wood frame
Companion Song: Elixers

SOLD

Prints available here



On becoming an artist
“On Becoming an Artist”

24X18 mixed media on canvas with custom wood frame
Companion Song: Eventually

SOLD

Prints available here


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“Boxing Shadows”

18X24 mixed media on canvas with custom wood frame
Companion Song: Boxing Shadows

$350
For purchasing inquiries, email betonycoons@mac.com

Prints available here


Waking Up_web

“Waking Up”

16X12 mixed media on canvas with custom wood frame
Companion Song: Please Cover Me

SOLD

Prints available here

 


 

Butterfly Tree_web

“Monarch Migration”

15X30 mixed media on canvas with custom wood frame

$375
For purchasing inquiries, email betonycoons@mac.com

Prints available here


Sunrise Sunrise little house_web

“Sunrise”

11X14 mixed media on canvas with custom wood frame
Companion Song: Sunrise, Sunrise, Sunrise

$140
For purchasing inquiries, email betonycoons@mac.com




On Becoming Rooted_web

“On Becoming Rooted”

24X48 mixed media on canvas with custom wood frame
Companion Song: Will You Stay or Will You Go?

SOLD

Prints available here


 

The universe is in us_web

“The Universe is in Us”

12X16 mixed media on canvas with custom wood frame
Companion Song: I Have Waited for You

$150
For purchasing inquiries, email betonycoons@mac.com



we grow up_web

“We Grow Up”

12X16 mixed media on canvas with custom wood frame

$90
For purchasing inquiries, email betonycoons@mac.com



moon is won_web

“The Moon is Won”

16X20 mixed media on canvas with custom wood frame
Companion Song: Big Sister on the Toy Phone

SOLD
For purchasing inquiries, email betonycoons@mac.com

Prints available here



Leap of Faith_web

“Leap of Faith”

16X20 mixed media on canvas with custom wood frame

$250
For purchasing inquiries, email betonycoons@mac.com

Prints available here


into the horizon_web

“On Losing”

16X20 mixed media on canvas with custom wood frame
Companion Song: Dust to Dust

$210
For purchasing inquiries, email betonycoons@mac.com

Prints available here


Growing Up_web

“On Femininity”

24X36 mixed media on canvas with custom wood frame

$410
For purchasing inquiries, email betonycoons@mac.com

Prints available here


Ghosts for Tinder_web

“Ghosts for Tinder”

12X30 mixed media on canvas with custom wood frame
Companion Song: Ghosts for Tinder

SOLD

Prints available here


Cutting through fog_web

“When You Cut Through the Fog”

12X24 mixed media on canvas with custom wood frame
Companion Song: You Seem Yourself

SOLD
For purchasing inquiries, email betonycoons@mac.com

Prints available here


Color wheel_web

“Spectrum”

20X20 mixed media on canvas with custom wood frame

SOLD

Prints available here


 

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“Is There Beauty in the Monotony?” or “Why I Wrote the song Sunrise, Sunrise, Sunrise”

Sunrise, Sunrise, Sunrise

We have a window in our bedroom. Each morning the sun shines through in various colors, depending on the season and cloud cover and make of the light. It falls onto our hardwood floors.

Honestly, most mornings as I awake to this light and find myself next to my best friend (and often with a baby or child in our bed as well) I have a strong sense of gratitude. It is the birth of another day. And I get to spend this day with my Love and my family.

Then at the end of the day we are spent. It’s not easy raising kids and doing the daily, monotonous business of all that needs to be done. Many nights as we lay together in bed, exhausted, the moon brings soft light to this closing. That light glows through that same window and on those same hardwood floors.

There are many songs about living the day in and day out life, a poetic look at the sacred rhythms that, when stepped back from and observed, are quite beautiful. I wrote the song “Sunrise, Sunrise, Sunrise” with this idea in mind. Even the title exemplifies the theme I was going for.

On an additional note I was also inspired for this song by a strange source. And you all can make fun of me for this.

When I first heard the big, overly-dramatic song from Fiddler On the Roof “Sunrise, Sunset”, I was moved; even as a sixth grader. I loved the idea that day to day, season to season, life moves fast and it’s so good to share that with the person you love. I was moved in sixth grade hearing this song.

Now I hear it as a 37-year-old and WEEP. I mean SOB. No kidding. The bittersweet truths represented in the tremendous arc of this music takes me out.

So I wrote the lyrics of this song with the same premise. Together we have each day. We’re watching our kids grow and leave the house, we’re dancing and taking it from sun to moon until our last days. And we’re so blessed.

Sunrise, Sunrise, Sunrise (Lyrics)

Will you wake with me, In the sunrise
Will you wait with me in the moonlight
How we’ll lay, And both be held
Folding limbs
As last lights fail –

Oh you’ll walk with me
In the one light
Oh you’ll sing with me
The one line
How you’ll smile
How we’ll laugh
How we’ll stand
As oceans pass —

Oh you’ll dance with me
At first sight
And fall asleep, beat
After night after after night
How we’ll watch
Them fly away
How we’ll say we love the race that they would take –

Won’t you wait with me
For the sunrise
Holding close to me
In the one light
We’ll all move on Far from here
My dust to dust And your dust near –

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Why I Wrote the Song “Boxing Shadows” or What Happens When You Get What You Want?

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“I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer”

-Jim Carrey

What happens when you get what you want?

Let me tell a personal story.

I had a strong, single-minded dream for several years of my life. I desperately wanted to achieve this dream. It was a goal that I hoped for and prayed for and worked towards. Honestly, it was really a strange and simple dream.

I wanted to release an album with Worship Circle Records. (I’m sure many of you are wondering who Worship Circle Records are…)

I had been writing and leading worship music for many years and Worship Circle Records had put out my favorite album of all time in this genre. Their album “Enter the Worship Circle: Circle One” was a stripped down, raw collection of great songwriting and expression. This little, independent record company was being led by great people and I wanted badly to be a part of it.

Well, I got the chance to do it. After a songwriting intensive and through good relationships (and this is many years later) I released an album with them. I had done it. I had achieved this goal.

Rewind just a bit. Before anything with the album went forward I remember my wife turning to me and saying, “You know, if you get to do this and release an album with them you’ll just find something else to obsess about afterwards. This isn’t really an end-all goal that will make you happy”

As the record was coming out I smiled and enjoyed it all, but my wife’s words stuck with me. It wasn’t but a few months later that I started thinking: Now what? I know this is an arrival point but… what’s next?

What happens when you get what you want? What happens when you reach that goal or achieve that victory? After the initial joy and sense of success, what are we left with?

Nothing. Not really. That sounds so defeatist but it rings true to me. After you climb that peak you deeply enjoy the moment and then you climb back down. And you start dreaming about other peaks.

That’s okay.

I think what that teaches us is that it’s not about the peak. Life needs to be about something more expansive and all encompassing, something bigger than our goals.

There’s an incredible remake of the cartoon Wile E. Coyote (NOT done by Looney Toons) in which he CATCHES the road runner. He’s floored that he’s actually done it. He has his friend over and they have a feast. He’s says something like, “You know, it just tastes so good when you work for your food…” But then his friend asks him, “Now what are you going to do?” Even WE know this is a big deal for Wile E. We’ve seen him make countless tries (and loved seeing the failures) to achieve this goal.

The rest of the cartoon we see Wile E. spiral into deep depression and a directionless listlessness. (The gag ends with him strapped into a catapult of his own creation then it quickly cuts to him with his buddy again and Wile E. has become a born again Christian. A cutting joke, but perhaps appropriate?)

I wrote the song “Boxing Shadows” to work through the tension of these questions. What happens if I actually get what I want? What happens when I fail? What happens after each peak is conquered? Will my desires become less? Will I feel like it was all worth it?

On a musical note I did something very on purpose in the song. It begins with janky toy-castle. This is actually a toy my daughters own and they LOVE that I use it. The sound represents to me that thin, immature idea of ourselves as kids. The self-importance of our singular heroics trying to sound strong.

Then the song actually ends with a real trumpet blast (my friend Craig Basarich is incredible). I wanted the song to close with this feeling of maturity and joy that we have in the trials and tensions. That we DO achieve but that’s not what it’s about. It’s that we keep on growing and becoming. That’s where the true adventure lies.

Oh, you won the war, you won the war
and now you’re wandering how you’re so alone
You got the part, you got the part
but why are all lines so damn short?

You’re boxing shadows, you’re not the hero
of great renown, there’s room to grow

Oh, when do you know, when do you know?
That all the work was worth the pay in tolls?
My dreams still howl, my dog still growls
the pack is running faster every hour

You’re boxing shadows, you’re not the hero
of great renown, there’s room to grow
You’re boxing shadows, you’re not the hero
of great renown, there’s room to grow

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The New Project Releases: See & Hear “Becoming”

Becoming is the new art and music project from Giants & Pilgrims.

Says Tim Coons in a recent article:

“The project comes from a central idea. When I was young, I couldn’t dream very far. My projections were one day I’d have a wife and kids and be a musician. Well, I have all that now. Am I done growing up? Am I all wise and coasting from here on out? I have ‘arrived’ haven’t I?

“It was a nice surprise to know we never stop growing up. It’s never all figured out. We are still in that process of ‘becoming’ who we’re meant to be, because, though the body may slow down and stop, the soul never does. It’s always dynamic.”

You can listen and purchase the album here.

You can see and purchase 3 prints of the art series here (full series available November 6th).

If you’d like a combination of album + prints pick get that special here.

Butterfly Tree_webOn becoming an artistboxing shadows_web

 

“Elixirs” Official Music Video from Giants & Pilgrims

For the past year we’ve been going to the woods with Lucy and Harriet and filming the same 12 shots, whether in summer heat, yellowed leaves, or blanketing snow. The result is this video with an incredible perspective of the seasons and a surprising story that emerged (all caught by Wes Sam-Bruce, the video’s director).

We’ll post more stories soon of how this all came about. For now, enjoy the magic of the video.

(You can pre-order the new album, Becoming, and “Elixirs” here.)

Note: For optimum viewing magic, click the HD button on the video player for best clarity