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"Rat Race" is a commentary on the "Social Network Master Nation." Freshly recorded by Sine Studios and mastered by the renowned Phil Nicolo. Give it a listen. "It will wake you up in the morning. That's for sure."
This is a song about a guy who has paid his dues in prison, walking down that road with nothing, looking for cigarette butts, thumbing but no rides, sleeps in the sand. He has nowhere to go, and that is where he is going. In the desert night he senses he is being followed by some magical force, "Juju sits beside me, writing's on the wall." All he can do now is turn inward, for that home. "Dropped down on the inside. Done some crazy living. Mojo’s led the way....Crossed them lines to see those signs. Shadow hears the call.
At this point we used to stick in a memorable relation from Swedenborg, but now settle for a lead guitar.
On that road to nowhere, Burnin the inside of me, Looking for that place called home. I just have to be free!
What a blast playing all day in front of 4000 plus people at the MuckRuckus MS Philly fun and fundraiser. We not only had a great time, but felt honored to be the only band on stage all day supporting such an incredibly important cause. "Break Out In Love!" (Grant)
The song Howling Minstrels started out as a poem I wrote back in 1984. It truly was something of a vision – standing on the beech watching a strange triad of medieval musicians asleep from a night of song and laughter, waking at dawn as their raft crumbled beneath them.
The musicians three in number, From their slumber waking, Clutching to their raft of lumber, The plank beneath them surely breaking.
It’s about the loss of control—not about going out of control, but rather the helplessness of disconnection, powerlessness as fate presses down beyond anyone’s dreams or reason. And yet, even in this disconnected world, somehow our eyes meet. I see. They see that I can see them. There is only one conclusion to this unfolding of events, and we both know it.
Hopeless figures gazing at a distant shoreline, Where I stood and watched their faces sinking. They were too far out to reach And they knew it. But I still wondered what they were thinking, What they were feeling, As their tear-filled eyes reached for mine.
In the song, the drums go into double time at this point, the acoustic turns to an acid rock riff, and the vocals rise in acknowledgment of the inevitable and ultimate verdict of fate. As suddenly as it started is ended, as they disappear into the calm red sea.
Caught up in the struggle of earth and sky, Darkness blanketing the warm sun’s gleaming, The minstrels, seemingly dreaming, Silently screaming, Disappeared before our eyes.
Originally, before so many have joined them in the now infamous 27 Club, this was dedicated to Jimi, Janis, and Jim – Howling Minstrels indeed.
This song is about revolution. Look at what is happening in the Middle East – the Arab Spring. I watch the videos of people from country after country rising up in masses, shouting, many times spiritual praise to their God, mixed with anger at the totalitarian regime that not only stripped them of their freedom, dignity, and even their livelihood, but shoot them down as they rise in the name of justice. The lyrics focus on the one who has found his way to the top, through, at first, possible charisma, glad-handing, and pretense of a kind of pseudo kingly omniscience, while in the shadows plotting and carrying out aggression.
You see the sun, you are the One: A bag of lies, you realize- All of you! You walk to talk and stock the jock All in time.
But there seems to be some kind of law of nature, or can I say God? That those who rise fall. There is a saying from Lao Tzu:
“He who stands on tiptoe doesn't stand firm… He who has power over others can't empower himself.”
Those who rise for their own glory fall. In the song, SHOUT IT!, the one singing sees what is happening and is calling him on it, just as every individual who wakes and rises against tyranny opens his or her eyes and begins to see.
You know I see: Real you! No surprise….This night of lies, the sun will rise over you! You! Can’t! Fool! All the Fools! They’ve! Got! You! By the Rules!
By “rules” I mean the way life is set up, and the way of peace leads to peace, while the way of violence and self-serving arrogance and misuse of power leads to downfall. Perhaps it is karma.
I was drawn to the chorus, to find something of a judgment a divine judgment of such people. I found it in the book of Jeremiah, reworked to fit the song, but it says it all.
“I’ll make you small again: Despised of all men, Your fierceness, it has deceived you. Heart now full with pride Crawl in holes and clefts inside. Though you nest by eagles’ side, I’ll bring you down.”
One of my favorite quotes is a Native American saying, “You cannot destroy me, not one who has dreamed a dream like mine.” (Chippewa) I feel that way, not so much about people who may wish to do me harm, but my inner demons who would like to bring me down, in times of trial and despair. I have dreams of making a difference in this world. Don’t you? If we dream of what is possible, and I mean what we can give to this world, how can we be harmed inside? “You! Can’t! Fool! Me! You! Can’t! Touch! Me! You! Can’t! Kill! Me! Not one who has dreamed a dream like mine!”
The song changes up into what may have said is a hypnotic beat. You hear a solitary woman (Steph) singing in the emptiness, “He will come.” She sings this over and over again. Then she is joined by a male voice (Alan). They sing together in harmony. For me, the solitary voice is the last bit of hope in times of darkness and despair that the divine light will shine and that I must wait for it, fight for it, but most important – believe in it.
As these words are chanted, another voice comes in strong, “Thy will be done,” repeated again and again. This too, is not only my surrender to what is, and the belief that this hope can lead to love and peace, and what is genuinely good about this life, but it is also the promise that the will of LOVE, Divine Love, will find its way.
It was shortly after my son died at age 27, a beautiful man with so much to offer the world, and his music was extraordinary.
Having been left alone to cope with this tragedy, I had to write about it, sharing the pain, and also the prayer that he was taken up into the afterlife/heaven, and that he was now at peace and mentally and physically whole again. That's when Break This Stone formed and wrote itself.
In all sincerity, I writhed on my bed like a snake in pain, and truly felt that living was the only thing worse than death." But I also called out to whatever or whoever God was up there to bring him peace, and bring us all peace, especially those who suffer. And so I wrote the words of the song, "with tears bleeding from my eyes." This song helped me make it through, and we dedicate this to my son, Jason, the rock star in heaven, every time we play it.
I can see the broken hearted Doubled in their pain. In the darkness swelling mists Of stillness breaks the frozen rain.
Colder than the lowest places Empty warn out sullen faces, Drops the colors of the skies, The tears are bleeding from my eyes.
Break this stone and quell the heart-ache Take the cold dead dear departing Calling on the other station, Who’s the one in adoration?
Left alone to writhe like a snake Swimming through a fiery lake. Dying a thousand times a breath When only living is worse than death.
What’s real is anyone’s guess to me I only see love and that’s all I see, If that’s the only thing that’s left I can take another breath.
Open up this house of glory Let him speak and tell his story Turn the broken into power Let this be your finest hour
Break out in love And one and Peace This one’s allowed To know relief Set the soul free The one who cries. Give them to see. Let them rise. [REPEAT]
Through the fallen times and faces Must be another day. Cut short in empty places Take them where they lay.
Cut through the heart of madness Past the cold dark lonely sadness Isn’t this the past of lies, Caught up in your paradise?
Break this stone and quell the heart-ache Take the cold dead dear departing Calling on the other station, Who’s the one in adoration.
Lift him through that final hour Break the clouds that caused this shower Shot within the walls of leaven Like a rocket toward the heavens.
Now Give live and love Peace This one’s above Life It’s through the brawl Heaven It waits them all.
Now Give live and love Peace This one’s above Life It’s time to live. Love For this to give.
It was the love of others that pulled me through. Though Alan sings the song, and with such heart, having lost a brother as well, my fairly lengthy lead guitar at the end, is where I get to give each concert my instrumental tribute through the combination bended strings and loving-warrior-heart blasting into the silence, and crying out to the universe - Peace, Love, Life! Grant Schnarr
With our new drummer, Gregg Swierczynski, the live music has taken off - twice the intensity, twice the emotion. Adding keyboards, Lianne Reese, the music takes on a new fullness and depth. We're going to one of the best studios in Philadelphia to record everything.