64 Songs by Cotton Mather and Future Clouds and Radar
About This Project
The I Ching is a book of ancient divination written by a King Wen imprisoned during the Shang Dynasty. Its wisdom is accessed by tossing coins to divine answers from 64 possible readings – each containing 6 permutations. And it works. Talking about the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” with another student of the book, we reckoned it was so perfect because it presented every condition of the I Ching. And so I thought it must be the case as well with “Hamlet” or “Anna Karenina”. What about a suite of songs that could do the same thing? You might ask what a spiritual book has to do with pop songwriting. Nothing. The I Ching is shelved in the wrong part of the bookstore. It’s the first self-help manual. A concession to dualism trafficking purely in the temporal. The ancient Chinese didn’t believe in God. They believed in equanimity as demonstrated through nature, and how living in or out of accord with it determines outcome. Its themes – love, loss, betrayal, loyalty, vanity, and greed – are the very fodder of rock-n-roll from Fats Domino to Tame Impala. As much about the midnight kiss as the mud on your boot heels. I’m not a fan of rock reunions, preferring to leave well enough alone. When Cotton Mather rose from the crypt, I was reluctant to put out just another record. At the end of 2015, I told the collective I wanted to tackle the I Ching song cycle idea. No one did cartwheels. I launched this website for my images, reflections, and song journal last year, by asking one simple question “where to begin?” The answer came in the form of hexagram 24. The Return, which I took to mean – the return of Cotton Mather. And so, “The Book of Too Late Changes” declared our resurrection, explained our absence, and allocated plenty of blame. How does it work? The I Ching reports one’s psycho emotional GPS coordinates. So, if one were, for instance, trapped in a dysfunctional relationship they might receive reading 12.Standstill and find themselves writing “The End of DeWitt Finley”; the true story of a salesman whose truck was buried in the snow and survived 54 days before perishing. And so forth…
64 songs for 64 hexagrams written and recorded in real time and real weather.
Here are my song reactions to illuminations from the I Ching about life unfolding. Some of the songs directly reference the text and others use the readings as a starting point. The songs are being recorded by Cotton Mather and Future Clouds and Radar. We are releasing most as we go. Each song will be accompanied by a “commentary” (located in “song commentaries” section), which is traditionally where the translator shares thoughts on the reading. I will limit my commentary to the readings themselves and let the songs enjoy a free-range lifestyle.