Life Challenge: Fitting in sources of joy (for me, music)

Andy Revkin playing with Breakneck Ridge Revue at the Towne Crier Cafe in Beacon, N.Y.
Sources of joy. I fit in family time as much as anyone can on this busy, fast-forward planet, and even relish the tough moments -- knowing how fleeting everything is. I cherish walks in the woods with my wife and younger son.

But one thing I love that often eludes me is making music, both writing songs and then performing them with friends.

What eludes you in that way? If you've found a way to make life time for it, let me know how!

Below you can learn how the out-of-the-blue "lucky" stroke I had in 2011 led me -- for a time at least -- to put my music in the foreground.


For more than three decades, my core occupation has been conveying stories about the environment and other subjects through journalism, books and blogging—a profession that’s taken me from the Amazon to the North Pole to the White House to the Vatican.

But there are some subjects, situations and feelings that just cry out to be sung instead of typed. That fact has led me back to one of my first loves — music.

I’d been performing and writing songs since the early 1990s -- a stretch that joyously included dozens of jams and local shows with Pete Seeger.

Andy Revkin (mandolin) singing with Pete Seeger and David Bernz around 1993 and in 2010.
But I was only prompted to focus on recording them by a close call. Midlife jolts come in many shapes. Mine came in the form of an out-of-the-blue stroke — the kind that sometimes hits people who are not the usual suspects. There’s more on that below and in an article I wrote for The New York Times in May, 2013. Losing the use of your right hand for a few weeks gets your attention. Click here to see the finger therapy that helped me heal. It’s a very fine line between dexterity and incapacity.

I recorded “A Very Fine Line,” a collection of 10 of my songs, from February through September, 2013, in the Beacon, New York, studio of Joe Johnson, with contributions from a batch of brilliantly musical friends, including the songwriter Dar Williams, mandolin wizard Mike Marshall and virtuoso fiddler Bruce Molsky

You can learn about all of the contributing musicians here in the original Medium post.

I have another two albums' worth of songs that I need to record and release. 

Someday, some way. Here's one song, "Lee Fore Brace" -- music by me and lyrics from a poem written around 1915 by Cicely Fox Smith.



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