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October Theme: Remember

A poem for October. “Remember” is our theme for the month and all our posts here will play on that theme, for the most part. Fall is my favorite time of year and October my favorite month… so this should be a good time!

REMEMBER

October is a swan song

A last grand gesture of earth color and twilight
before everything sustained by light and warmth
fades into winter

The beautiful funeral is felt in
gray skies, falling leaves, and shorter hours

In the face of the Great Sleep
It’s best to

hope
and
Remember

to keep account of the memories of days
filled with vibrant greens and full hours

So we head forward
into the dark with a candle

and a recollection

Song: Paint Your Tigers Gold

The Story of the Song

“Paint Your Tigers Gold” was written when our daughter, Lucy (then 2 years old), was having night terrors. She would erupt into screaming and crying anywhere between midnight and 4 AM. And we couldn’t wake her up to calm her down.
Being in that helpless place and not being able to fix the problem was extremely hard for me as a dad. Exhausted, I would hold my frantic daughter and be completely unsure what to do.

After several weeks of trial and error, turns out she just had to go to the bathroom as a part of the bedtime routine. That was a tiring lesson to learn and best remedied at 7 PM rather than 2 AM.

I wrote this song as a prayer- processing what it means to come alongside someone (when that’s really all you can do… just be with them) when they experience darkness. There’s such strength in coming alongside them to tell them you are with them; that they are brave and can do it.

The sound of the song is purposefully both circus/ kaleidoscope joy and vesper/lullaby hush- a call to courage and a calming comfort. And all that wrapped up in hope.
-Tim

Listen to “Paint Your Tigers Gold”

“Paint Your Tigers Gold” Lyrics and Chords

by Giants & Pilgrims

F
Hedge of angels come to corners with me

Bb
Riddle out every shadow you see

dm             C                       dm                   C                           F
Ring a bell, shake across, give them hell whatever the cost

Summon all of your rave revelry, Say a word against the indecency
You’re alright, you’re not alone, Keep the fight, you’re safe and you’re home

F F/E  dm x2
Put on your brightest shine
(Paint all your tigers gold, Whistle your loudest song,
Shout in your highest notes, Singing your loudest tone,
Put on your greatest crown)

Bb                                                 F   F/E  dm
… And your Lionheart sleeps tonight

Every ride, every Carasol stops, In the end, ended all without knots
Breathing deep, thank the Lord, you’re covered up, with rock and with sword

dm           F              Bb
Sleep along, dear. Darling I’m here
I’ll hang my heart, dear, upon the door here x2

Bb– F– dm– C–

 

September Poetic Intro: Brave

Our Almanac theme for this month is “brave”. Since September holds beginning of the fall and school and new projects after summer it lends itself to a need for courage.

 

BRAVE

September is a courageous leap

into the trial,
the unknown,
the new
all the unexpected that

demands an answer

of courage
and bravery

After this harvest, this last run
the days will begin to shorten

And the adventure of fast days and darker hours
found in this crisp autumn
will require your best energies

Just remember

that which quickens your pulse
reminds you best
of how alive you truly are

The Story of the Song and Painting: “Written in Our Clothes”/ “Go with Me”

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Here’s the Story behind Betony’s painting “Go With Me” and its companion song I wrote called “Written in Our Clothes”:

It was several months ago and Betony had printed out this vintage picture of a bicycle and was using it for the main subject of her painting. As she was working on it I came into the studio with my guitar and began asking her where she was going with the piece.

She told me the main idea was that it was about the journey, not the destination. She felt like that old maxim held a lot of truth, even though it’s overused, especially for us and our life as a family.

This piece would definitely find home in our Almanac series.

I began strumming out an idea on the guitar as we talked and the song had it’s start.


Clothes Patterns

Betony put various textiles into the spaces of the tire spokes, all with striking differences of pattern to represent just how chaotic and unpredictable life and this journey can be. Things don’t often line up and match as you’d hope or expect.

And as I began writing lyrics to my song I titled it “Written in Our Clothes”. Because when our first daughter was born, Lucy,  in one of her one-sies she had hidden this little phrase that said, “this is the beginning of something beautiful”.

That simple phrase has moved me years since and what better thing to reference in a song about journey?


Better Together

As the chorus of the song came together I shared it with Betony. The lines were
“I don’t know where we are going
But I’d like to go with you darling
When we get there I suppose we’ll know it
Let’s go, Let’s go”

Betony loved the lyrics and wrote them into the piece underneath the bike with collaged map images and little icons hidden in representing milestones. She’s noted to me about the map part of the piece that although all the destinations aren’t known in life, it’s always better that we go together… That’s really what being in love is: it’s just better together.

While my song is called “Written in Our Clothes” she titled her painting:

“Go with Me”.

Many thanks to the Van Manen family who purchased Betony’s piece. May you be blessed in the journey!

Hear the song HERE.

“Written in Our Clothes” lyrics
Giants & Pilgrims

This is what you’ve wanted for so long
I will wake you early for the road, right before dawn
You can sleep with feet against the glow
Coming from the sun still sitting low

You may keep those things from me you stole
You know me I cashed out long ago
Without a penny for control
Careful with the highlight reels we post
Half of it’s the truth and half we’ve
Sold the truth we’ve halfway told

I don’t know where we are going
But I’d like to go with you darling
When we get there I suppose we’ll know it
Let’s go

There are matters shattering our hearts
If we can’t outrun them we should go
Let’s depart

We will find new words to aim the throws
We will write them hidden in our clothes
They’ll shape and take control

I don’t know where we are going
But I’d like to go with you darling
When we get there I suppose we’ll know it
Let’s go

Film Score for New Francis Chan Video

Download the short film score for FREE HERE.

(Tim Coons of Giants & Pilgrims speaking here)

I had the opportunity to write the music for this short film about the Chans (my music starts at 2 minutes in)

Francis Chan is a New York Times best selling author (Crazy Love) and his latest project is a book he’s co-written with his wife, Lisa. A series of shorts are being released to supplement the book and this film is one of them.

The film, produced by Pilar Timpane, showcases how the Chans approach family and how they live out their marriage in light of eternity. It reveals an inspiring life of intentionality, service, mission, and centering in God’s love. Producer Timpane did an incredible job capturing and presenting this.

I wrote the song in response to the film’s themes: marriage, mission, giving, etc. So the score has 4 short distinctive movements:

“You & Me Forever” Short Film Score Movements
A. Love and Marriage
B. Difficult Fields
C. Sacrifice and Pouring Out
D. Love and Marriage (reprise)

If you’d like to hear the film’s song on it’s own and download it for FREE come to this site:
https://timcoons.bandcamp.com/

Film Score Credits

Released 28 August 2014

Written and Recorded by Tim Coons
Mixed by Dave Farrell and Tim Coons
Mastered by Dave Farrell

For more about the book “You and Me Forever”:
www.youandmeforever.org

Branches of Influence

Who are some of the people who have inspired your work most in your life? (this could be in business or art or music or teaching, etc)

Write down three of them.

Now do some research. Who were three people who heavily inspired their work?

Go one step further and find out who inspired them…

What you end up with is a great network of exploration that will help lead you to more inspiration.

(This exercise was taken from “Steal Like an Artist”, a great book by Austin Kleon, www.austinkleon.com)

 

I, Tim Coons of Giants & Pilgrims, have gone ahead and done this above exercise for myself and hope to make a playlist from the musicians I’ve found soon. Let me branch this out.

Three artists who have greatly influenced my song-writing:

Bon Iver  is an American indie folk band founded in 2007 by singer-songwriter Justin Vernon. Vernon released Bon Iver’s debut album, For Emma, Forever Ago independently in July 2007. The majority of that album was recorded while Vernon spent three months in a cabin in northwestern Wisconsin.

When I heard Vernon’s first well-known album, I was so excited that he had recorded so much of it himself. The layered voices and instruments gave me a sense of permission to create the basement recording of “Frailty”. That album of mine is found here.


Sufjan Stevens
is 
an American singer-songwriter and musician born in Detroit, Michigan. Stevens first began releasing his music on Asthmatic Kitty, a label co-founded with his stepfather, beginning with the 1999 release, A Sun Came. He is best known for his 2005 album, Illinois, which hit number one in the Billboard Top Heatseekers chart, and for the song “Chicago”.

The beauty and strangeness of Sufjan has also been  permission-giving towards my creativity and how I write. His use of antiquated items and children’s instruments remind me of the kind of things I found in my grandmother’s house- organs and bells and noise-makers that would entertain me for hours. The use of those instruments are instantly nostalgic for me. I thank Sufjan for inspiring their use.


Jeff Buckley
– an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. After a decade as a session guitarist in Los Angeles, Buckley amassed a following in the early 1990s by playing cover songs at venues in Manhattan’s East Village, such as Sin-é, gradually focusing more on his own material. After rebuffing much interest from record labels and his father’s manager Herb Cohen, he signed with Columbia, recruited a band, and recorded what would be his only studio album, Grace, in 1994. Rolling Stone considered him one of the greatest singers of all time.

If there is one source that has inspired how I try to sing, it’s Jeff Buckley. I remember falling in love with the album Grace and heralding the song “Hallelujah” as my favorite of all-time (pre-Shrek explosion of the song’s usage). 

 

So who are artists who inspired Bon Iver?
Steve Reich
Naked City
Richard Buckner
John Prine
Bruce Hornsby
Charlie Mingus

Who are artists who inspired Sufjan Stevens?
Phillip Glass
Daniel Son
Prince
Peter Cetera
Cyndi Lauper
Tiffanny
Dvorak
Stravinksy
Shoenberg.
Baroque
Glen Gould

Who are artists who inspired Jeff Buckley?
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
Edith Piaf
Judy Garland
Nina Simone
MC5
Miles Davis
Duke Ellington
Led Zeppelin
Rush
Genesis
Sebadoh
Stevie Wonder

The Shape of Branches

Would any of you be interested in doing an online art show together? Read this and hear where I’m going with the “theme”. Then let’s make some art together!

The Shape of Branches

I haven’t fully unpacked this idea yet, but I wanted to share it’s  beginnings here. For years I’ve loved that you can find  the shape of branches in so many places. I’ve wanted to do an art show  with this idea or an album or something like that.  Here’s a short list below of things in life that seem to follow the branches pattern:

Trees, root systems, rivers, canyons, blood vessels, highways, genealogies, art & music genre developments, conversations, religions (Christian denominations), the Milky-way galaxy, evolution, nervous systems…

I find it fascinating that in the branches pattern there is always a tracing back to a source, a beginning. You see it all over: What started jazz? Go back further to ragtime and New Orleans music earlier. Major arteries have been identified in our bodies. Years are spent trying to find the “source” of various rivers.

Wrapped up in the branches pattern for me is the  mystery of God. What started this that started that that started this… All the way back to a true source  Like I said, it’s just the beginning of an exploration. I don’t know what will branch out from here.

Father’s Day Writing

There’s a strange story that I like to tell on Father’s Day.

When I was in 7th grade, I was duck hunting early in the morning with my dad and I shot my first duck. Our dog retrieved the bird and brought it back to the blind. I had wounded the bird but it was still alive, gasping for breath. I was uncertain what to do but certain I didn’t want to touch that duck. My dad stood up and quickly stepped on the bird’s neck, killing it and putting it out of it’s misery. It was a messy thing that fell on him to do to fix the situation.

Fast forward to a couple years ago. I now have my own wife and children.

We returned home one night to find blood and feathers all over our back porch. Our cat had mortally wounded a bird and was still toying with it.  My wife was horrified and uncertain what to do but certain she wanted to head inside with the kids. I agreed and, of course, obliged to take care of the porch. I kicked my cat away (Hard. You would have too). I quickly stepped on the bird’s neck, killing it, putting it out of it’s misery. I said a prayer and threw it into the river by our home. I swept and cleaned the porch.

It felt like a rite of passage, honestly. It was this messy thing that fell on me to do to fix the situation. I was glad to do it so my wife and kids didn’t have to.

And it made me feel like my dad.

I felt strong. I felt responsible. And I felt like I had entered a greater sense of fatherhood.

-Tim Coons

The Difficulties of Faith and the Song “Run, Run”

Here is the story behind the song “Run, Run” from Giants & Pilgrims album Almanac No. 1:

I was at a retreat in the mountains a couple years ago. The folks leading it said you have three hours on your own in this wilderness for quiet and alone time. We want you to connect with God.

I had been in a difficult place for a while with faith and I was excited for this get away.

Here’s what had been going on: Most people say that when their children are born they finally understand the heart of God and how much God loves them.

I actually had a very different reaction.

With the immense joy of having my daughter I realized just how much I did not want to die; to leave her and my family. It made me, for the first time in my life, face my own mortality and intensely question heaven and the idea of an afterlife. This retreat was going to help me find a deeper faith and greater hope in God for my future. I had this great experience with love in the birth of Lucy, it was time to increase belief and understanding. I had been praying about it often; that God would ease my wrestling in these questions.

As far as faith goes, I can speak to my experiences. I’ve seen evidence of God bringing new life in people’s past – the way that people feel absolutely forgiven of their regrets and guilt. And in my experience I’ve seen evidence of God’s work in the present – people motivated by supernatural purpose, doing amazing things of love and impact for the sake of God’s Kingdom.

But as far as the future? So far no one has footage on what happens after death. I’m suspect of books like “Heaven in Real”, so all this remains a mystery for me.

Here I was in the mountains for three hours with the same questions I’d been wrestling with for a couple years or so.

I think what I was really longing for in that wilderness was contact. To hear from God or see God. Perhaps to have something happen that I could make meaning and purpose of and attribute that to God. Then I could have greater faith in something happening when we die. It would  become less faith and more assurance, really.

While wading in a creek surrounded by mountains I did not hear or see God. But I did have, in a sense, an epiphany. And this will be a let down for any of you reading this hoping for something big and profound. Here’s what I came into.

A still, small voice within me said, “Hey.

“You will never see or hear God, truly, in this life-time. At least not with direct contact. Rarely do people ever see angels or get direct messages from God. In fact, unless a donkey talks to you or you are a 15 year old virgin in first century Israel, your story will not be given to you so directly.

“But there will always be something just underneath. Something within or below all your senses, deep within your DNA that says God is real. You won’t be able to shake that sense that God is with you and for you and a part of your life. This is a different, more difficult kind of seeing and hearing. It won’t necessarily bolster your faith, but it will never leave you.”

That epiphany felt a little disappointing. And it’s probably one that others reading this have come into earlier in their Christianity (I’ve always been a slow learner).

But it  felt true.

It stayed with me and eventually I wrote a song heavily influenced by this moment called “Run, Run”. My favorite lyric from it goes like this:

You won’t see God, you won’t see God
But you’ll swear He’s in the morning when the sun comes up
Your God won’t talk, your God won’t talk
But He’ll sing within your blood and he just won’t stop

And so I acknowledge this. That faith is a different kind of seeing and listening for me- difficult to get words and senses around. And that with that, wrestling over “life after death” will continue to be a struggle for me.

But in that faith and struggle, I long to run the good race set before me. In all the great questions of past, present, and definitely future, I hope to

Run to the edge, unbroken

as the chorus of “Run, Run” admits.

I hope to keep living this good life given wholly to love, joy, hope, faith, family, good-works… this life following Christ and his pattern of sacrificing yourself so others might live. And at the end I hope to leap off that edge in full gait, unknowing of what happens next, embracing that great mystery of the beyond, unafraid, unbroken,

and faith-full.

Here are the full lyrics of “Run, Run”. You can listen to the song HERE.

RUN, RUN
Giants & Pilgrims

You can’t go home, you can’t go home
But you can find another shelter you can call your own
You can’t push time, you can’t push time
But you can ride out every wave like an alibi

Your past won’t leave, your past won’t leave
It’ll stay with them like it stays with me
You won’t break free, you won’t break free
Death is gonna get you like he’s gonna get me

Run, run
Just run
Run to the edge unbroken

You won’t see God, you won’t see God
But you’ll swear He’s in the morning when the sun comes up
Your God won’t talk, your God won’t talk
But He’ll sing within your blood and He just won’t stop

Run, run
Just run
Run to the edge unbroken

 

Almanac Essay: Finish Lines

Below is a page from our May Almanac. I’ve found the idea of finish lines to be really helpful in my life, navigating how to view the ending of work on certain projects and how letting those things go helps me to enjoy leisure and family more. I hope these ideas bring good provision to your month.

It is good and healthy to recognize our need for finish lines. In the “go, go, go” life when we hit an ending point it’s good to catch our breath, and recognize the prize of our efforts. (One of my favorite writings on this comes from author Bill Hybels.) Here’s what I mean:

Your day has a finish line. Traditionally, for most people, when evening comes it’s time to take your mind off of the fields of vocation and turn it towards places of family, friends, and rest. There’s a moment in the evening when I myself try to put things away and enjoy the fruits of my efforts. That often looks like a dinner with my wife and my girls.

Every week has a finish line too. In religious traditions, it’s called a sabbath. It’s a whole week of work finding closure in a day off. This day off breaks up the week into a great rhythm. Without it it we’d be in the monotony of work and the lack of variation would mean a dissipation of joy (no matter how much you love your job!) And this day reminds you your vocation is not your full identity. You are more than what you do.

Lastly, every year should have a finish line. In traveling through the four seasons, it’s important to intentionally allocate time for vacation. Nothing refreshes the mind and restores the soul like unplugging from the everyday rhythms and leaving your city. These breaks can be expensive, but even on the tightest budget, getting out of town can do wonders.