by Richard Connor
This album is self-indulgent.
The topics are very personal. The issues are mostly emotional. Unlike the first two American Zen albums, most of the spirituality and social comments are in the poetry and not in the music.
For many of our fans, they'll
be relieved to move on past the issues of religion and Coyote's conflicts with the Mormons.
People exist on any of the 8 LEVELS
Each LEVEL has different desires,
different ambitions, and different perspectives of the same issues.
I was recently at a Masonry dinner, to support a fellow Fellowcraft who was being raised to the 3rd Degree that night. The lady I sat next to was really sharp and we had a wonderful time conversing while trying to play Bingo at the same time. (It was the monthly social ladies night of the Masons.) As I explained my Buddhism to her, I said, "No two people see the same tree in the same way. Depending upon where you are standing, the tree will appear dark in shadow while bright and green to someone else. The goal of Zen Buddhism is to see as many sides of the tree as possible." I then summarized, "No one sees the same tree the same way." She liked that.
Later that evening there was a misunderstanding we overheard and I commented, "Sometimes they don't even see the same tree."
So, if Buddhism is about awareness, and these Zen dudes are supposed to be on their 3rd of 8 levels, they should be seeing at least 3 views of the tree.
Sometimes I view the 8-Spoked Wheel of Buddhism to be 8 views of yourself and 8 views to look at the world. Sometimes you are the center with the world looking at your 8 sides, and sometimes you are moving around the wheel trying to get 8 views of the center, or tree.
For those of you out there
living in the first 3 LEVELS, you'll really love this album.
For those of you out there
who have progressed past the distractions of sexual desire (hopefully not
entirely), this album will either be a quaint view backward in time, or a
reminder of your earthly instincts.
The boys had a very difficult year in 2008. Steve Hixon was replaced by Coyote on drums. After Steve joined the Coast Guard, Coyote started playing the drums for fun. Steve let him borrow his drums until he had them shipped to Florida, where he was stationed.
After Steve reenlisted in the Coast Guard, Coyote got serious and bought his own set of drums. Made in China, they were the cheapest set he could find at Guitar Center, but as you can hear, they sound great!
Our inexpensive, but very professional ProTools recording studio has major limitations including our inability to record more than two tracks at the same time. So we used...okay more later on our recording techniques. Despite our financial limitations, I used every trick I could devise to create the best recordings possible.
As with the previous two albums, all instruments were recorded live and not looped. I made a teensy bit of cut and paste and felt guilty. Although I intended to repair a couple bass notes and... I ended up leaving this album alone, as much as possible, as we sought to create a genuine album of genuine songs performed with genuine instruments performed by genuine humans. The bass tracks under the poetry were recorded right before I packed up the computer for storage when we were evicted from Tujunga. I hurriedly mixed the entire album and experimented with the basses underneath the poetry.
When I unpacked my computer and hard drives and fired up the album, I was impressed with my "experimental" special effects on the poetry basses. I tested them on some neighbors and decided to go with my inspired experimentation.
My goal when signing these
California Zenners was to watch and document their progress on the path of
Each band member got their own website to develop also.
LEVEL 1 was
a good album for young men starting out on their path of maturity.
They acknowledged that they would start their path with
Kung Fu and Tai Chi lessons
They became aware of the world around them
Looked at their own Christian religions
Confronted the Mormon religion
Decided they were Buddhists
LEVEL 2 showed some thoughtful inquiry and willingness to change and improve.
They fought to stay on their path
Zen Buddhism of shaolinZEN.org
Kung Fu Long Staff and Yang Style Taijiquan training
Coyote moves back to California
LEVEL 3 portrays their sexual desire and romantic ambitions. The title song tells it
all, "I Want You To Love Me."
Coyote's romantic songs from the past couple years and some oldies of his that hadn't been recorded yet, were combined to create an album of pop radio hits. Even the poetry shines with the bass tracks Coyote added at the last minute.
This turned out to be a really fun album to record with fun music that makes me smile when I listen to it. Some people have been inclined to start dancing around when I play some songs, so this album could have dance hits on it also.
Mostly, this is an album about love, written with love, and performed with love. Hopefully we're spreading love into the world with this album, LEVEL 3 = I WANT YOU TO LOVE ME by American Zen.
Today is September 11, 2008. An infamous day, "9/11," with hate, fear, and sadness embedded within it. I appreciate the irony of completing this album today, and launching it completely today on the internet and iTunes...
September 11, 2008
Next page of the LEVEL 3 Website