Quaker Epistle, Set to Music!

A few weeks ago a Friend in England Facebooked me to see if I’d put music to an epistle that she had a part in writing. The epistle is the Kabarak Call for Peace and Eco-Justice. Here’s my rendition.

The Kabarak Call for Peace and Eco-Justice

The Kabarak Call for Peace and Ecojustice was approved on 24 April 2012 at the Sixth World Conference Friends, held at Kabarak University near Nakuru, Kenya. It is the culmination of the FWCC World Consultation on Global Change which was held in 2010 and 2011. It is being circulated with the Conference Epistle.

In past times God’s Creation restored itself. Now humanity dominates, our growing population consuming more resources than nature can replace. We must change, we must become careful stewards of all life. Earthcare unites traditional Quaker testimonies: peace, equality, simplicity, love, integrity, and justice. Jesus said, “As you have done unto the least… you have done unto me”. We are called to work for the peaceable Kingdom of God on the whole earth, in right sharing with all peoples. However few our numbers, we are called to be the salt that flavours and preserves, to be a light in the darkness of greed and destruction.
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How to Play “Walk in the Light” (The George Fox Song)

There’s a Light that is shining in the Heart of a man
It’s the Light that was shining when the world began
There’s a Light that is shining in the Turk and the Jew
There’s a Light that is shining, friend, in me and in you.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been singing this song about George Fox, a man who is widely regarded as the founder of The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

When I became a singer-songwriter and started sharing some of my music with Quakers, I started getting a lot of requests for it. Though I was never a “singalong” musician (I have my own song that I wrote about Fox), I loosened up and learned the chords. If you’re looking to learn how to play the George Fox Song, I’ll post the chords and lyrics just below this video.

+Click to show chords & lyrics

Why You Should Listen to Eyedea

In the year 2000, when I was first getting into underground hip hop, I came across this rapper from Minneapolis who blew my mind.

Edit 12.12: Eyedea was from St. Paul

Eyedea was a master of his craft.

Eyedea was a musical prodigy, beginning to tour at just 16 years old, and already starting to develop his signature style of fast paced delivery with mind-bending lyrics. He released his first work of genius at age 20.


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“Clothe Yourself in Righteousness” Video Song

When I released my new album, “Clothe Yourself in Righteousness”, last Fall, I promised to myself (and to you!) that I would edit all of the footage I had taken during the recording process and turn each song into a videosong.

I got through 8 of these videosongs, and then needed to take a step back and rethink the way I was approaching them. Video editing is an entirely new skill for me, though there are some aspects that are akin to audio.

When I released my new album, Clothe Yourself in Righteousness, last Fall, I promised to myself (and to you!) that I would edit all of the footage I had taken during the recording process and turn each song into a videosong.

I got through 8 of these videosongs, and then decided to take a step back and rethink the way I was approaching them. Video editing is an entirely new skill for me, though there are some aspects that are akin to audio.

Anyway, here I am returning for the last two videos! This is the new and improved Jon-the-filmmaker! Enjoy!

Lifted Up

“Lifted Up”
from the album “Clothe Yourself in Righteousness”
by Jon Watts

Download this song

And for a moment there
I was ground down
I had my chin on my chest,
infested surround sound.

But I took a breath.
I took a moment.
No,
the rest of this poem’s
dedicated to our closeness.

The remainder of my fame
is aimed at saving all the
hopeless.
I’m committed to this human face and
focused.

So now I’m lifted up
and now I’m lifting others with me.
When my silence is serenity’s
a sign I’m living simply
and I’m simply living
in this complex world that we’ve been given.

And I salute the Amish
and all the other life affirming products
of considering our tolerance for process.
It’s like a long conversation
in which everyone’s involved,
like a deep breath
before you make that phone call.
It’s like a solemn, sullen song
that’s been written and exists
solely so some lungs can laugh,
only after, in sadness, they’ve
sung along.

So let’s make a contract now:
a contractual agreement
that we’ll only be what we really are.
And if you’re scarred, then
let me see your scars.
If you’re lonely
I get lonely too
and I’m here to rest with you.
Or to wrestle you.
If you need a vessel for the truth,
I’ll be a son of a bitch
or the father of our youth
but I’d rather just rest
Let’s get arrested.
Only time can test
all this time that we’ve invested.

If our settlement gets better
in these seven solemn days
I’ll be a weatherman
predicting all this rain on faith
that intuition is correct
or I’m supposed to be wrong
like
writing a song
when the notes
have a will of their own
or herding cats into a barn
when they haven’t heard
reports that there’s a storm on.

And now I’m lifted up
and now I’m lifting others with me.
When my silence is serenity’s
a sign I’m living simply
and I’m simply living
in this complex world that we’ve been given.

And I salute the Amish
and all the other life affirming products
of considering our tolerance for process.
It’s like a long conversation
in which everyone’s involved,
like a deep breath
before you make that phone call.
It’s like a solemn, sullen song
that’s been written and exists
solely so some lungs can laugh,
only after, in sadness, they’ve
sung along.

I’m saying
maybe our sadness
is a natural reaction
to the sad state of living
that’s been so in fashion.
This is babylon
and this is heaven on Earth
and since the day of my birth
every breath has been work
and it’s worth it.
A solemn, sullen song is just the surface.
It’s a tool to be used
for a purpose.

Celebrating life,
celebrating yearning,
celebrating sadness
and our infinite capacity for learning
how to be sad and joyful in the midst of all this mess…
learning how to love life in our faithlessness.

Learning how to love,
especially ourselves.
Forgiveness is a practice that’s essential to my health
forgiveness is the difference between heaven and hell
that’s not some afterlife shit, I’m talking now.

Sometimes I distance myself
because we’re not living deeply
but there’s nothing more shallow than alone.

And that’s the burden of vision
it’s this gift I’ve been given
and it can help or it can hurt the world I know.

And now this pit that I’ve lived in
self-indulgent and rigid
looked a whole lot different from below.

And now my life on the surface
is authentic, it’s purpose
is to be who I’m here to be
and grow.

So now I’m lifted up
and now I’m lifting others with me.
When my silence is serenity’s
a sign I’m living simply
and I’m simply living
in this complex world that we’ve been given.

And I salute the Amish
and all the other life affirming products
of considering our tolerance for process.
It’s like a long conversation
in which everyone’s involved,
like a deep breath
before you make that phone call.
It’s like a solemn, sullen song
that’s been written and exists
solely so some lungs can laugh,
only after, in sadness, they’ve
sung along.

from Clothe Yourself in Righteousness, released September 23, 2011
Written by Jon Watts
Violin by Marina Vishnyakova
Cello, Mixing and Mastering by Jake Thro

all rights reserved

Quakerism 101 with Max Carter

When we were filming the scene in the hut for the music video, Tom Clement and I had some down time with Max Carter and, having asked him to prepare a brief lecture on the history of Quakerism for the video, decided to let him run once through the whole thing.

What’s amazing about what follows is that Max did this without flinching, as Tom and I were moving around the room trying to get everything ready for filming the music video.

As I looked back over the footage, I realized that there is simply no online resource as concise and comprehensive as the (less than) five minute talk Max had just given. I went to work with the visuals, and would say, humbly, that the result is as good as the music video (some might say better!)

Tom Fox Music Video

Friends,

As the tenth anniversary to 9/11 came and went, I found myself reflecting on the past ten years… especially our reaction to being attacked and the results of that reaction.

I found myself reflecting on my elder, Tom Fox, who joined the Christian Peacemaker teams to try to heal some of the damage we were doing in Iraq. And I found myself mulling over the song that I wrote about Tom’s subsequent abduction and death.

What resulted was very unexpected. I am working full tilt on a new album (due for release in 2 weeks… yikes!) and certainly did not have the spare time. But of course I had to listen, and be faithful to the call. Take a look:

Read more…

A Visit to Shiloh Quaker Camp

Shiloh Quaker Camp is a Summer Camp in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains outside of Charlottesville, Virginia. It is a part of the Baltimore Yearly Meeting (BYM) Camping Program, along with Catoctin, Opequon and Teen Adventure (TA).

Shiloh Quaker Camp is a Summer Camp in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains outside of Charlottesville, Virginia. It is a part of the Baltimore Yearly Meeting (BYM) Camping Program, along with Catoctin, Opequon and Teen Adventure (TA).

http://www.bymcamps.org

Xtracycle Radish Tour Vlog

For the past three months I have been touring on an Xtracycle Radish. Every week for ten weeks, I recorded and uploaded a vlog. Now, for the first time, each of those vlogs is combined into one window. You can watch all the way through or find the most interesting episodes, all from here!

Xtracycle Radish Tour

For the past three months I have been touring on an Xtracycle Radish. From Richmond to Boston and then on to Buffalo, NY, I ended up riding about 1,000 miles with all of my gear, which turned out to be about 120 Lbs. (!)

Click here to find out how I fit all of

that equipment onto my bike.


Two Wheel Tour Vlog

For ten weeks, I recorded and uploaded a vlog every week, which included footage from my performances and from the ride… and revealed some of the secrets of how I made my trip happen!

Now, for the first time, all of that footage is combined into one window. You can watch all the way through or find the most interesting episodes, all from this page!

Dance Party Erupts During Quaker Meeting for Worship

The Quaker Youtube video sensation, Dance Party Erupts During Quaker Meeting for Worship.

Greetings, Friends!

TODAY I AM RELEASING MY FIRST EVER MUSIC VIDEO!

Sorry for the “all-caps,” but I have to express my excitement.  This has been a long time in the making and I only get to release my first music video once!

Plus… it is really good!  I promise.  We filmed it in April at Pendle Hill with many familiar resident faces.  The concept of the shoot was “Meeting for Worship turns dance party” and it came out so well!  …thanks to filmmaker Ben Schilling, his helper Allie and all those who graciously came to worship, dance and be filmed.

So, without further ado… watch this!
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