Through some serendipitous circumstances, Steve Farber somehow got his old guitar back, reigniting a passion for music that he had once put on hold when life started to happen. We all have something in life that we are truly passionate about, whether it’s music, writing, art, sports, maybe even fishing (because why not?). Sometime in our lives, we might have been forced to give up on that passion because we had “better things to do.” We get lost in grind of everyday life, the demands of our jobs, business and relationships that we lose touch with the very thing that gives us our energy, our drive. Does this kind of story resonate with you? If it does, then this episode is perfect for you. Join Steve as he shares his personal music story, his reunion with his old guitar and the return of his passion for music that he condensed into a six-song album, There’s Not a Dream I Wouldn’t Keep. Sit back, listen to Steve’s songs and learn why you owe it to yourself and everybody else to bring that passion back for yourself.
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There’s Not a Dream I Wouldn’t Keep: Reigniting the Passion In Your Life
This episode is going to be very different from the norm. We’re taking a little bit of a departure. We have no guests in this episode. It’s you and me and a little bit of music. I thought we’d start with a story. If you would have asked the late teens and early twenty-something Steve Farber what he’d be doing in his 30s, 40s, 50s and now 60s, I wouldn’t have described this. I wouldn’t have said, “One day, I’m going to be a leadership guy. I’ll be giving speeches, doing consulting and writing books.” I didn’t know what any of that was. In fact, I knew what I was going to be doing in my later years because I was going to be a musician. I started playing guitar when I was thirteen years old. That’s how I survived high school.
I used to sit and play for 6 to 8 hours a day. It was my passion. I knew that one day when I grew up, I would be a working musician. I started playing music with friends. We had a band when I was in my late teens. In 1977, I bought my first good guitar. That guitar came with me to college. I wrote my first good songs on that guitar and played some great gigs on that guitar. I loved that guitar. In 1981, two things happened. I graduated from college and I got married. I got married to an immediate family.
My daughter, Angelica, was four years old at the time I married her mother. My son, Saul, came along a year later. I discovered during that time that this idea of being a musician and feeding people seem to be mutually exclusive. I gave up the music, which I’m sure as you can imagine was a very painful and difficult thing to do but I needed the money. I needed the money so bad that I sold my beautiful and beloved guitar. I sold it to a woman named Leslie for $280. I still remember vividly watching Leslie walked down the hallway from my apartment carrying my guitar and it was like watching the death of a dream.
I know that sounds terribly tragic. In some ways, it was but in other ways, it set me on a new path. I did have another dream which was to raise a great family, which I did. I had another dream, which was to be a great provider for that family. That’s what brought me into the business. That’s what ultimately sent me off on a trajectory that led me into the work that I’ve been doing now for years. The work that I deeply love, but the music for a time anyway became something that I needed to put on the shelf. Giving up on the dream of pursuing a music career, the only way that I could deal with that was to stop playing music altogether. For a couple of years, I didn’t play at all.If there's something you loved doing, but gave up on for some reason, you owe it to yourself and others to bring it back for yourself. Click To Tweet
I didn’t have a guitar anymore for one thing, but it was too painful. It was easier for me to stuff it away like a gunslinger hanging up his guns. Over the years, I did start to play again. I got another guitar. It became part of my creative expression and part of my therapy day-to-day but it wasn’t something that I did regularly. It wasn’t something that I did with the great fervor and passion that I had played music with once upon a time. One day, out of nowhere, I got an email from a woman named Leslie. She sent me this lovely message that said, “I saw your name online. I went to your website to see what you’re doing and you’re doing such cool stuff. I thought I would write to say hi, congratulations and keep up the good work.”
She started filling me in on what she’s been doing, “I live in Texas. I’m divorced. My kids are grown and I’m doing this thing and that thing.” Small talk, if there is such a thing as small talk via email, and then she said, “I still have that guitar that you sold me all those years ago.” I’m telling you after I read that line, she may as well have written, “Blah, blah, blah,” because I didn’t see anything else. I couldn’t believe that here she was, this woman I sold this guitar to all those decades ago was writing to me to tell me that she still had it.
I collected myself that my heartbeat slowed down a little bit and I wrote back to her, “It’s so nice to hear from you. I live in San Diego and my kids are grown. By the way, if there’s any chance at all that you’d be willing to sell that guitar back to me, I would love to have it back.” I hit send, I stared at the screen and I waited, hardly breathing. Within a few minutes, she wrote me back and she said, “I still remember the look on your face when I walked out of your apartment carrying that guitar. I’ve never been able to play it without thinking about your pain, so I don’t play it. It sits in my closet. As I recall, you sold me that guitar for $280, so I’ll sell it to you for $280 plus shipping.” I got it back. Can you believe it?
That guitar is called a Gurian made by Michael Gurian, who is starting to become popular in the ‘70s and early ‘80s. His mill burned down and he ended up going out of business. They don’t make those guitars anymore. It’s a bit of a collector’s item but for me in particular, that guitar, not only is it a beautiful sounding, beautiful playing, amazing, rare guitar, but it represented everything I am and was once upon a time and had desired to be as a musician. I looked at that as a tremendous gift and also a bit of a living metaphor. It was symbolic for me that it’s time in my life to bring music back into play, no pun intended, to bring music into the fabric of my life as a professional and as a human being.
Bringing Back Your Energizer
That’s when I started to focus once again on music, on recording, on writing and most important, letting music be that inspiration for me and energizer for me every day in the way that it was once upon a time. Let’s talk about you for a moment. As I’ve shared this story with a lot of people around the world over the last couple of years, I’ve had many people share with me that they had something similar in their life that they loved to do once upon a time. For many, it was music. For others, it was writing. For others, it was a sport. There are many things that they did because they love doing it and for whatever reason, gave up on it. They maybe didn’t think they were good enough or they couldn’t make a living at it. It began to feel frivolous.
They had other “more” important things to do in their lives and they gave it up. If there’s something like that in your life that you loved doing once upon a time, but you gave up on for whatever reason, the question I have for you is, “Can you bring it back?” Not only for the obvious reason that you owe it to yourself to bring that back because that’s where your joy, love and energy come from but also because I would suggest, you owe it to the people that you’re leading to bring that back for yourself.
Songs From There’s Not A Dream I Wouldn’t Keep
A couple of years ago, that guitar in hand, I went into the studio with my good friends, The Brothers Koren, to record six songs. Four of which I had written on that guitar years ago before I gave it up, and a couple of songs that I finished on that guitar after I had been reunited with it. The album is called There’s Not a Dream I Wouldn’t Keep. What I’m going to do for the rest of this episode is to share those songs with you from the album. I’ll give you a little preamble to each song and it’s my great joy and honor to be able to share that with you. You can find the album on all the streaming services. You can find that on Spotify, iTunes, wherever it is that you listen to music or you could listen to it here.
This first song is called Blaze of Glory Ball of Fire. I wrote this originally for my kids because I wanted them to understand that they’re writing their own story in this life. We’re all writing our own story and any good story in any novel or any movie that we’ve ever read or seen has an arc to it. It’s got ups and downs. The hero goes through trials, tribulations and overcomes them. The same is true in our life. It’s not about aspiring to have a life that has no challenges in it. It’s about understanding the challenges that will come but what determines our character is how we come back from those challenges and those experiences that at the moment can look like a failure. The inspiration for the song is based on an old Italian proverb that goes something like this, “The house is on fire, so let us warm ourselves.” I love the sentiment of that proverb. That’s what I tried to capture in this song, Blaze of Glory Ball of Fire. Enjoy.
“The house is burning, let’s warm ourselves. The river is rising, let’s fill our pails. The storm is blowing, let’s raise our sails. That’s the way it is. It never fails. It’s always a dramatic story and it’s always down to the wire. May you go down in a blaze of glory and come back in a ball of fire. The Earth is shaking, let’s learn to dance. Our hearts are breaking, let’s find romance. The battle’s raging, let’s hold our stance. That’s the way it is, not by chance. It’s always a dramatic story and it’s always down to the wire. May you go down in a blaze of glory and come back in a ball of fire.
The tree is falling, let’s hear the sound. Ashes, ashes, we all fall down. Phoenix rising for one more round. That’s the way it is, lost and found. It’s always a dramatic story and it’s always down to the wire. May you go down in a blaze of glory and come back in a ball of fire. Don’t you fade. Don’t fade on me. Take a pen, take a napkin and write your next chapter. Fill it with characters, fill them with love. Give them some anguish to rise up above. At the end of the story, at the close of the scene, when the obvious things are not what they seem.
When the villain is vanquished and the hero redeemed, and the bounty is granted for all your good deeds. You climb on the back of your mighty white steed, and head for the sunset like the end of a poem, and ride away, ride away, ride away home. The house is burning, let’s warm ourselves. The Earth is shaking, let’s learn to dance. The tree is falling, let’s hear the sound. That’s the way it is. We all fall down. It’s always a dramatic story and it’s always down to the wire. May you go down in a blaze of glory and come back in a ball of fire.”
That was Blaze of Glory Ball of Fire. I started writing that song years ago when my guitar was separated from me. I finished it and enhanced that a bit after I got the guitar back. This next song is called This Moment. I wrote in its entirety on my beloved Gurian guitar way back when I was in college. This song plays with one of my favorite poetic metaphors which is the ocean, which to me represents vastness, unboundedness, all possibilities in life. In years, this idea of being mindful and being present, understanding that this moment is all we have has become part of the popular conversation, part of the mainstream culture. Back then, when I wrote this song, it was a little bit more unusual a concept but it was something that I understood very clearly once upon a time and still do now. This song is called This Moment.
“I see you in the evening, sweet evening. If you’re there, I’ll carry you away. All the way up to the lighthouse, bright house to sit and watch the tide go in again. It will fly out over the ocean, blue ocean, cutting through the salt and wind and spray. I can feel it on my face, red face, the memories never go away. I wouldn’t trade a minute for an ocean full of tears showered by the memory of you. For all the sand in the hourglass are all the lonely years but this moment is all I need. Forever now I only see, this moment is all I need to see me through.
There’s a lantern on the hillside, soft hillside. It lights when the high tide rolls to shore. I’ve seen that light glowing, strange glowing but nobody lives around there anymore. Where were you that evening? Please tell me. Was that lamp a dream? Was it real? Now you’re rolling through my daydreams, sweet daydreams but the ocean wind rose down through the fields. I wouldn’t trade a minute for an ocean full of tears showered by the memory of you. For all the sand in the hourglass are all the lonely years, this moment is all I need. Forever now, I only see, this moment is all I need to see me through. This moment is all I need, forever now I only see, this moment is all I need to see me through. To see me through.”
This next song was also written around that same time back when I was a young man in college. I remember the original inspiration for this song came to me as many of my songs do in the form of an image. I got this picture in my head of this girl on a river and something mystical about her skipping along on the surface of the water, running away down the river. I played with that image. Sure enough, this song emerged. It’s called Away on the River. Over the years, it has gone through many different arrangements and versions. This, I have to say, is my all-time favorite and I’m happy to share it with you now. Here it is, Away on the River.
“Folks on the river, they got a tale to tell. They remember the days and they remember the stories well. When the waves that rolled on the river rolled higher than the tidal sea, oh, oh you can call me crazy, I believed them when they told it to me. Running away, run, running away on the river-o. Running away, run, running away on the river-o. The story goes in the beginning was a river girl. She stood on the banks like she stood on the edge of the world. Then the water rolled through like thunder breaks open in the summer sky. As she rode the waves through the air, the people cried. Running away, run, running away on the river-o. Running away, run, running away on the river-o. Running away, run, running away on the river-o. Running away, run, running away on the river-o.What determines our character is how we come back from experiences that in the moment can look like a failure. Click To Tweet
Some called it sin, others called it sacrifice. Since that day you know the river runs smooth as ice. They don’t get the towering waters, they used to get in them there days. Now the people think they’re happy but me, I’d miss the waves. Running away, run, running away on the river-o. Running away, run, running away on the river-o. Running away, run, running away on the river-o. Running away, run, running away on the river-o. Sometimes I wonder where that girl could be. They say she took the water with her to the air above the trees. You know, I don’t believe in fables but this one appeals to me, because I thought I heard her singing yesterday in the morning breeze. Running away, run, running away on the river-o. Running away, run, running away on the river-o. Running away, run, running away on the river-o. Running away, run, running away on the river-o. Running away, run, running away on the river-o. Running away, run, running away on the river-o. Running away, run, running away on the river-o. Running away, run, running away on the river-o.”
I’m going to take you from the river back to the ocean. This next song is called Sailor and the Ocean. Another song that I wrote way back when I was a young man and this is the deepest exploration for me of the metaphor of the ocean. It’s a song that has become part of the soundtrack of my life. I played it for many people over the years. I played this song at the memorial service for my big brother, Bill, after he passed away. It was one of his favorite songs. It means a lot to me. It’s about our willingness and our ability to surrender. It’s about the joy and the freedom that comes from letting go and giving ourselves over to something bigger, something greater than ourselves. I hope you love this song as much as I do. It’s called Sailor and the Ocean. Enjoy.
“Can you turn the tides to heaven? Can you turn the tides at all? With the seagulls rushing downward and the horizon rushing outward, can you turn the tides at all? Red flannel sky at morning warned the sailor on the dock. His red flannel shirt was open and his heart was nearly frozen, until he heard the old girl crashing on the rocks. The wind came down like feathers, softly brushing through his hair. He felt the ocean churning and his head’s slowly turning. For it seemed that she called to him through the air. Can you turn my tides to heaven? Can you turn my tides at all? With my seagulls rushing downward and my horizon rushing outward, can you turn my tides at all?
Now the sailor was a young man, eyes as clear as morning sky. The stars gave his direction and the wind gave his attention. They would tell the truth but never tell him why, so his years went by like sonnets, written to no one at all. He had trials and tribulations and in his hour of desperation, he turned to the ocean and gave her one last call. Can I turn your tides to heaven? Can I turn your tides at all? I’ve seen your seagulls rushing downward and your horizon rushing outward but can I turn your tides at all? On that day, she called out to him, salty breath, sweet reply. Come to me on your knees, blow softly and you’ll see. My waves will take you high above the sky. Now he turns the tide to heaven. Now he turns the tide to heaven. Now he turns the tide to heaven, but does he turn the tides at all?”
This next song is a little bit of a departure from the usual theme of my ballad. This story that you’re about to hear is written about a guy who is at that time in life when a marriage has ended and he’s waiting for the next opportunity to come along. When I first wrote this song, my kids thought it was autobiographical because I had divorced and went through that time what this guy in this song is experiencing so they assumed that I wrote this about myself. I want to be very clear, although founded in my experience of what it’s like to be newly single, this song is not autobiographical but I can get into this person’s brain and heart well enough to be able to tell the story. The refrain that you’re about to hear goes like this, “He’s got extra room inside his slacks. He’s got extra money from his tax. He’s got extra time on his hands because he’d been extradited from Loveland.” The name of the song appropriately is Loveland. Here we go.
“He’s got extra room inside of slacks. He’s got extra money from his tax. He’s got extra time on his hands because he’d been extradited from Loveland. They go strolling hand in hand. She the woman, he the man. Stick that toes into the sand because it was always sunny in Loveland. Sometimes they’d chase, sometimes they’d walk. She the lamb and he the fox. He kept her in the music box because in Loveland, there’s no need to talk. She believed in miracles, he believed in obstacles. In time, they got confused. She cut her hair, he pierced his ears. She had no fear and that scared him silly. He got courage but she was gone. The gods won’t stay if you wait too long. Now he works his knots out in the gym. He takes a steam, he takes a swim. He sees the girls but they don’t see him, so he buys an ad SWM. Now he tucks his shirt into his briefs. He shines his shoes, he cleans his teeth. His tie is tied, his hair is neat, interviewing his way down the street.
She believed in miracles. He believed in obstacles. In time, they got confused. She looked into her soul completely. He looked into his coffee grinds. She read the future. He read Newsweek. She told fortunes, he told lies. Now he’s got more friends that he could ever see and he is privy to their deepest dreams. “I love them and they love me,” but they all live in TV. He’s got extra room inside his slacks. He’s got extra money from his tax. He’s got extra time on his hands because he’s been extradited from Loveland. He’s got extra room inside his slacks. He’s got extra money from his tax. He’s got extra time on his hands because he’s been extradited from Loveland. He’s been extradited from Loveland. He’s been extradited from Loveland.”
Yes, he’d been extradited from Loveland. I hope you’ve been enjoying these songs and thanks so much for coming along on this personal music journey with me. I’m going to leave you with one last song. I consider this to be a book-end song to Sailor and the Ocean. This is called Dream Song and it’s very meditative in its structure with a repeating chord pattern and rather haunting melody. This is a purely symbolic song. It was one of these that came to me all in a flash. I had the initial image. I finished writing the song in about 20 minutes, maybe 30 minutes. It was one of the songs that I wrote on my beautiful green guitar way back when in the ‘70s, as a matter of fact. It’s another song that I love sharing with people. For some reason, it become a part of my DNA.There is joy and freedom in giving ourselves over to something greater than us. Click To Tweet
One line from this song became the title of the album that all these songs are on, There’s Not A Dream I Wouldn’t Keep. Remember, you can find this EP album on Spotify, iTunes or wherever you listen to your streaming music. I hope you will. I hope you go and download it and listen to it a lot. Share it with folks. Dream Song is the last song on the album and it is the song I will leave you with. The first verse goes like this, “I slept softly again. Sweet, innocent sleep. Though I’d throw out some realities, there’s not a dream I wouldn’t keep.”
“I slept softly again, sweet, innocent sleep. Though I’d throw out some realities, there’s not a dream I wouldn’t keep. Lady tread softly to my moonlit room. Made no noises as she came reminiscent of a tomb. Standing in a radiance that could put the moon to shame. With the patience of a lioness, she whispered clues about her name. I tried to say I know you, but the words just wouldn’t come, so I laid there in my slumber submitted to the godly one. I watched in silence as she stood. I thought all the world could see. Oh what music in my mind I heard as she spoke these words to me. I’m the wife of your forefathers, the queen to all your kings. I watched Moses on the mountain, I taught the sirens how to sing. I worked my hands in Egypt, wandered years upon the sand. I’ve seen the days of man and God and walked into the Promised Land. She took me over the ocean and through the olive groves. She said if you think that I have died, there’s so much that you don’t know. I’ve followed all your people, they’re still alive and you. On the banks of the Galilee and in everything you do, and as you lay here dreaming, they’re living in the land. The wisdom and the glory are waiting for your hand. You’re the window of my soul. I cried bursting from my muted state. You are nothing more than I but you opened up the gate. I slept softly again, sweet, innocent sleep. Though I’d throw out some realities, there’s not a dream I wouldn’t keep.”