Six years ago today, my life-long dear friend and occasional musical collaborator, Michal, lost her life due to complications while giving birth to healthy beautiful twins, Reverie and Jackson.
I remember that day. I think I had just gotten out of bed when I got a phone call with the news. I remember being one hundred percent certain I was still dreaming. I was going to wake up from this at any moment.
In the following days, I listened to Michal's music and came across a folder of unfinished ideas and sketches she and I had, with some simple and beautiful a cappellas she had sent me of her singing various melodies and harmonies of 'Ah'. I never used these recordings in anything and I felt incredibly compelled to create a song with them that day.
As I played the parts to the song, there was literally a waterfall of tears pouring down onto the piano keys. The song flowed through me as naturally as these tears.
I sent an MP3 of the song to Michal's family and they played it for Reverie and Jackson, who were just three days old.
At the time, due to the circumstances, a practical concern was raising money for Jay and his new single-dad family, and I planned to release this song to help out with this, but I just needed to fine-tune a few things, mix it properly, master it, and sort out other details like album cover art. But it never happened.
The song has been essentially ninety percent finished all this time. Every so often, I would sit down to finish it. Sometimes I felt I had accomplished this but then I'd listen to it again a week or a month later, and I knew it wasn't finished yet. Other times, simply listening to it in any objective way was too much for me.
In the meantime, I organized the cover art for the single. It is a calligraphy by meditation master and artist, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche of the Tibetan seed syllable 'A' (pronounced 'ah'), which of course happens to be the 'lyrics' of the song as well.
Trungpa Rinpoche once said this syllable 'A' means what it sounds like, a baby’s sense of wonder, an innocent moment of surprise.
Seeing the open sky for the first time.
I literally just mixed down the final master. I realize now that it was so hard to finish because I knew this was our final collaboration.
The song is called 'Vajra Sister'. Vajra (Dorje in Tibetan, which is my middle name, given to me by Chögyam Trungpa) is a Sanskrit word that is translated as 'thunderbolt', symbolizing the qualities of 'indestructibility'. 'Sister' because Michal was like a big sister to me. As the oldest sibling in my family, I always looked up to Michal ever since I was a kid. And she was always encouraging and supportive of my music. Our first musical collaboration was over twenty-seven years ago. I always felt so lucky and humbled that she appreciated what I did and wanted to work with me. Having the chance to make music with her incredible voice was such a joy. Also, 'Sister' is for the Friedman sisters, Michal, Maitreya, Wendy, Lynn. I love you all.
This song is from Michal, aka Michal The Girl.
It is dedicated to Michal's children with the wish that their lives are full of profound meaning, love, joy, and endless blessings. Happy birthday Rev and Jack <3
And to Ken, Maitreya, Wendy, Lynn, Julia, Anthony, Benny, and everyone else in this wonderful family.
And of course, for Jay, one of the most courageous men I have ever met. I remember going to your home five years ago on that incredibly hot summer day in New York to meet your beautiful children. We were both holding back tears as we chatted about simple mundane things and about life. I was so struck that day by your tenderness and strength.
All of the artist's proceeds from the sales of this song and accompanying physical merchandise will go to Reverie and Jackson.