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What the Call in Mythology Means to Your Life Now

When you follow your calling, when you listen to what your soul is telling you you are here for, when you follow that “Theseus” thin thread out of the Labyrinth to the T, then the whole universe opens up and comes to your aide, and a magical track opens up that automatically takes you where you need to be, and the things you need to fulfill your destiny come to you automatically. Life becomes effortless simply by making a decision to say ‘yes’ to your calling which is more often than not, not respected by the outside world, and that’s one of the first hurdles.  

How to Fix a Spotify Embed That’s Too Tall or Stretches Too Far Down the Page

I just released a new single last week, and when I created a new post about it, which included a Spotify embed of the single, even though the embed only contained two songs it stretched all the way down the page. When I google searched for a solution, I came to this page: Spotify embeds have large blank space at bottom on WordPress.org, but their solution, a bit of CSS code added to your Appearance >> Themes >> Customize >> Additional CSS didn’t work for me. As of this writing I’m using the TwentyTwenty WordPress theme.

At first I thought I found the answer simply by adding px after the height number the Spotify gives you for the code. In their code it’s just the number 180 in parentheses. I added a px at the end of that number, and that seemed to solve it, at least as an individual post, but on the main page of the blog at the domain level (as of this writing it is my most recent post), the problem still persisted.

Somewhere along the line of my search, I found someone had wrapped the <iframe> tag that Spotify gives you in a <figure> tag which I had never heard of, but that didn’t help either. What finally worked (at least it seems so at this moment, is keeping that px addition (to the height not the width) and then wrapping the whole thing in a div tag. Here’s what the final code looks like:

<div><figure><iframe src="https://open.spotify.com/embed/album/5r5zBUsuM7tsJtDC3x0AE9" width="300" height="180px" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true" allow="encrypted-media"></iframe></figure></div>

You can see I went ahead and left the figure tag in there. I don’t know if that makes any difference or not. But the above code seems to have solved my problem as of this writing at least in WordPress and the particular TwentyTwenty theme I’m using at the moment. Just replace your own Spotify code within this nest and add px at the end of the height value and see if it works for you.

Just Released Two New Songs On Spotify

My latest single just dropped on Spotify, Apple Music, Youtube Music, Amazon Music, really every streaming platform on Earth by way of Distrokid. It’s also on regular old Youtube.

It’s called “Just for a Moment,” and the B-Side is “Union Street (Hold On).” Give me a listen, like, and follow if you’re a fan.

Mixing and Mastering for Streaming Services Lesson 1

I have a track I’ve mastered. It’s -14.7 LUFS and -1.2 True Peak. I’m pretty happy with it other than I wish it were about a decibel louder. So I thought I’d try to go for -13.5 LUFS. But it seems whatever I do the true peak is more sensitive to than the LUFS. For instance, the first thing I did was raise the gain on the Multipressor in the master chain from 1.6 to 2.0. The overall LUFS integrated went to 14.4, but the True Peak went to 1.0 which I want to keep under. Should I increase the limiter then? Shorter version of the question: How to increase the LUFS without increasing the True Peak? Thanks! I bought a copy of Levels.

I do think I have figured out one thing: Just a small bit of audio or so can make your True Peak sky rocket out of the blue while 98% of the mix is well below your target, even though it’s not necessarily audible. Once you identify that bit, and it’s not hard with a metering plug-in like Levels or Youlean, you can create an identical track, cut and copy that bit to it and apply more processing to just it, whether that be a Limiter, faster attack time on your compressor, and then it frees up the majority of the track to breathe! [I made these comments to this video post: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BS07ChRkY4M ]

How Long Will It Take Me From Song Idea to Release?

Last night the idea came to me as a melody A-F#-D-A-C-B. I didn’t know what the notes were until I played it on the guitar and this is where the Snarkman was another blessing, since it identifies the notes as you are playing them. Then I was able to surmise that it was over a D-C-G chord movement. I tapped the rhythm as 109 and layed down the first demo on the iPad in Garageband with an accompanying “Drummer Track.” I sang mumbo jumbo which is what I usually do just so I can get the jist of the idea before I go to sleep.

1:49 pm. Today, I’m going to try writing the lyrics. I’m going to listen to what I mumbled last night and see if I can write some real words.
2:30pm. I got a first verse, chorus, and half of a second verse, but I had to stop. Or maybe I didn’t need to stop, but it feels like I need to stop for a while, do some other things and let my subconscious go to work. I still struggle with just letting out anything that comes to my mind, which I think you have to do on your first draft. When push comes to shove and its going to press tomorrow you can clean it up, but for now let your mind have some space.
I think the desire is to make everything so pretty, especially when the music is pretty, so when something comes out that is either nonsensical or not necessarily a pretty image, the impulse is to quash it. I say let it out, especially on the first draft. I’m trying to walk a fine line here with a balance between the subconscious and the conscious. I want to let each have its day in court so to speak. On the one hand if I wait for the subconscious to come up with the most perfect line, it’ll never get done, on the other hand if I just go with the first thing, not trying at all to bring some sense into the equation it won’t have any value either. “Sound and Sense” as my college poetry textbook said. An equal mixture of both. That’s poetry.

5/19/20

Well, let’s see. So technically I put in 40 minutes on this yesterday, but as I was doing other things the song remained in my head, and new lyrics started coming to me. Luckily with the Notes App whether I work on it at the desk or when I’m out and about with the iPhone, it all syncs up. Today, technically I sat down with it another 45 minutes or so. Well the end result is, I’ve got two or three pages of lyrics, way more than I need, but they don’t necessarily make sense together. Also, when I sing the ones I have, it just feels like there are better lyrics hiding, but I can’t force it or they won’t reveal themselves. Actually after I wrote for 45 minutes I opened up Soundtrap and layed down a couple guitar tracks. I’m a little stressed about the lyrics. It feels like a delicate line to walk between not rushing them and procrastination. I don’t mind having this creative space at the beginning, but I definitely don’t want it to go on too far. There should be some kind of deadline, but I’m not sure what it should be.

The Symbolic Meaning of the Belly of the Whale

Giving yourself over to something completely, letting yourself be ‘swallowed’ by it, as it were, (symbolically, psychologically) with the faith that you are not going to be annihilated but rather transformed, ‘reborn’ into your true hero, adventurous self: That’s the sense of the ‘belly of the whale’ motif in mythology.

Stephen Pickering
For Country Music artists, such as Sierra Ferrell above, one form of the initiatory “belly of the whale” experience is busking in the streets of Nashville. Ordeals like this do two things: force you to become better 2) force you to ask yourself whether you love doing this (the “inside out” philosophy) internally, no matter what the outside circumstance. It acts as a test or trial, which is another important motif in mythology.

The Beatles are metaphorical for the “belly of the whale” motif in mythology. I never realized it myself until I read “Anthology” and realized that they had spent almost 2.5 years in Hamburg playing 8 hours a day, 7 days a week. Now this isn’t literally true. They did have breaks. They definitely went home many times for breaks, but the most important aspect is that it is psychologically true. Apparently the clubs were physically below the street level, like walking down into a subway, and I do remember a compadre of theirs saying, “We’d go down there and wouldn’t come up for air for a week.” Now this obviously is not literally true. But one understands the psychological, metaphorical implication: giving yourself over to something completely. That’s the idea of the belly of the whale motif in mythology. Even the the locals of the Cavern Club in Liverpool seemed to be stunned by the transformation of the post Hamburg Beatles. That’s the central idea of the “Belly of the Whale” motif. It’s exactly analogous to the idea of the male initiatory experience: You go in one person and come out the other side with a completely transformed consciousness. All mythology, as Joseph Campbell said, is about the transformation of consciousness. Transformation of Consciousness is the goal of Mythology as well as Initiatory Experiences. They can happen involuntarily (You’re born into a certain group) or voluntarily (You have an intent to become someone new.) Regardless, the method is the same: extended periods of “submersion” in which there is “no way out.” Only under those circumstances does a crucial part of the brain “switch” and a true transformation take place.

Complete immersion is the key for tripping some kind of metaphorical “wire” in the brain whose effect is transformation of consciousness. You see this in initiatory experiences all through history all over the world. This is at least one of the metaphorical meanings of the “Belly of the Whale” motif in mythology. You’re in it all the way. You’re committed. You’ve made a decision. This is when things start to happen, and your life becomes like an adventure. This is one way of applying the metaphorical messages of myth to your real life.”

Stephen Pickering

I’d say there are two main aspects to the Belly of the Whale symbolism and they are psychologically connected although in the world express themselves in two different ways: 1) As noted above with the Beatles is the aspect of a career. The way to get to the top is complete emersion, giving yourself over to it completely, allowing yourself to be “swallowed up.” This is the appropriate attitude for a young person, say 20-30, deciding on their career. They have to know the irony that this immersion, once a decision has been made, will free them, not confine them, as long as it’s their true calling, not someone else’s.

2) Is more metaphysical in the sense primarily of acceptance. The trash compactor scene from Star Wars comes to mind. If you just take the literal, mechanical view of nature, then its all about a group of adventurers who are most certainly going to die in a horrible way. At best their chances are 50/50. But what in the deepest sense does this scene really mean?

On a lighter level, I can’t tell you how many times when I’ve lost something, that it suddenly appears the moment I truly accept that its gone. It really does feel like magic. I really wish I had documented all the times. My only problem with acceptance is that I can’t seem to willfully bring it on. Many times even when I believe I’ve accepted something it’ll still be “gnawing” or nagging me in the back of my mind. Intent does help, but seems some other thing in my mind has to happen in order for true acceptance to really be the state I’m in.

Update 6/13/20: I realized as I was watching a lot of music production videos on Youtube, and as their algorithm keeps bringing you more, I realized that the amount of content I could watch on this subject is nearly endless. And then I realized, that’s it! You keep at something non-stop until you break through to another level. The irony is its your laser-like focus on one subject that opens up the entire world to you.

Now, I would say there is at least one caveat: whatever that subject is, I think it needs to be your true soul’s calling. In other words, if your only reason for doing it is to get rich and famous, it still might work, but there’s something lost in translation. And the whole process will not be fun. If it is your true soul’s calling, then it will be feeding you the whole way in terms of inspiration, joy, and fulfillment, even in this so-called “Belly of the Whale” period in which you are not getting outside attention or rewards. I’d say that’s the test for your true calling: If you feel emotional reward from the act itself, then that’s it. Stephen King and writing is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of this analogy. Especially if you want to be a writer, go watch some of his speeches and interviews on Youtube. He mentions this aspect as being primary.

Update 6/13/21 —— Here’s a thought I had this evening about the matter: “The more you get into something (into the “belly” so to speak), the more your world expands.”

One reason for this is because there is a huge market for uniqueness. People don’t tune into the Olympics for average performances, nor do they to movies, books, music, and even business itself. They are looking for the “hero” in these things for a lot of different reasons, but among them it inspires them to awaken their own dormant desire to break out themselves. And everyone has the capability to do it.

It’s paradoxical, like the line from the Peter Gabriel song, “You gotta get in to get out.” It may not seem like it if you are swimming in circles and or places of what I’d call “striving for mediocrity” or “striving to fit into the local group” because those folks there are programmed in a certain way. And if you are a young person thinking in terms of a career by “getting into” you’ve got to move to a place where they produce uniqueness (LA, NY, Nashville, London) instead of merely consume it (most other cities you can think of.)

Update 8/15/21 — It’s just occurred to me why this metaphor, if it can be interpreted and practically applied to one’s particular situation, works in real life: Our brains are built for resistance first and foremost especially to foreign or unknown stimuli. That old saying “Shoot first and ask questions later” comes to mind.

Last night after a rain storm I was walking down the steps of my deck and, scaring me, out ran an opossum who had been sheltering under there, streaking into the forest. He wasn’t asking questions first. That instinct was hard wired into him, just as my startled emotion and tense reaction to the occurrence was. This is just the way of nature. This behavior was “selected for” simply by fact that the creatures who inherited it tended to live as opposed to the ones who were wired to be inquisitive and congenial right out of the gate.

I remember Shad Helmstetter said about “Self-Talk, “Repetition is a powerful argument” when he was explaining how the practice would eventually effect and change your emotions and behavior. I also remember reading Ogilvy on Advertising when I was running a small store in the nineties, and he wrote something to the effect of “The first time you see an ad it angers you. The tenth time you see it you’re pulling your check book out to buy it.”

This may be a negative way of putting it, but the brain is also hard wired for submission in the face of what it perceives as an insurmountable power, (again, this behavior was selected for at some point along the line) and repetition is perceived as an insurmountable power that one either submits to or is crushed by.
I think of those folks who learn a new language by living in the origin country for instance or even how we learn our first language. There’s no thinking or ‘work’ involved (at least as far as I can remember) and yet there it is, seemingly by magic one day you are effortlessly doing a very complicated and hard thing, fluently speaking a language.
That’s because, metaphorical of the “Belly of the Whale” motif, you were inundated by it with no relief, with “no way out” so to speak, and so the adaptation instincts were triggered which turned off the resistance and the shields came down. Biologically speaking (I know it takes the romance out of it!) positive hormones were released rewarding the new behavior of acceptance and assimilation.