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Nov 26th
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Making Sense of Soul

msiic AllenStone1Allen Stone wants to give R&B back some of its depth

Whether fairly or unfairly, R&B and soul music often get typecast. Much of the music is groove-inducing and has an overtly romantic, sensual or sexual side to it, and the suggestive lyrics only reinforce this mood. That is fine and well, but for R&B and soul singer Allen Stone, it is not enough.

“I love music that’s about love, and I love R&B songs, but I also like songs that have influence on culture,” Stone says. "I believe that if you’re given a microphone you need to use it in a positive way, and I feel like pop culture, more often than not, doesn’t. I think that [pop stars] are very bad stewards of the microphone they’ve been given, and the voices they’ve been given, and they tend to talk about pretty futile and shallow things, rather than subjects which uplift the children in our culture, or the teenage culture, or the young adult generation. If you’re given a microphone, you should say something that’s deeper than, ‘I’m going to the club and I’m going to drink cognac.’”

On Stone’s eponymous 2011 record, he combines the passion and funkiness of R&B and soul, but puts a socially conscious bent on some of the tracks. The soulful, fun-sounding “Contact High” talks about finding a deeper purpose to life than chasing money or security, and the deep funk of “What I’ve Seen” belies the song’s message of mistrusting politicians and the crippling effects of greed. But Stone’s lyrics cut deepest on “Unaware,” where he talks about deficits, taxes, and being stretched to a breaking point just to make ends meet.

“‘Unaware’ isn’t necessarily a protest song, but more of a conversation song,” Stone says. “Like, ‘Does anybody else feel this way, or am

I the only person who doesn’t believe our government is being honest with us?’ I like to write about things that are current and have cultural weight.”

But the fact that he calls this a “conversation song” is key because he is not pretending to have all the answers.

“It’s incredibly unrealistic to think you know everything,” Stone says. “I don’t understand what it takes to run a country, to be president, to be a senator. So to be 23, 24 years old, stand on a stage and act like I have it all together, to me is ridiculous.”

For all Stone’s awareness about serious issues, he is not above having some fun on the record. On the lively gospel/soul opener “Sleep,” he runs through reasons why drinking, smoking, taking pills or counting sheep don’t help him sleep, and “Say So” is an upbeat love song that doesn’t resort to talking about sex or cheap thrills. And “Celebrate Tonight” is a perfect example of how Stone can make music fun and meaningful all at once.

“I wanted to write a song that everybody could sing along to and be happy doing it,” he says. “I pictured a big group of people singing a pretty hooky, easy, positive chorus together. What better phrase than ‘celebrate tonight?’ Just have a good time. Forget about the menial darkness in our fast-paced lives and focus on how incredibly lucky we are. In Western culture we tend to stress out about things that don’t have much eternal weight, and it’s good to be reminded to let it all go and celebrate instead.”

More often than not, Stone chooses to focus on the positive, and he has every reason to. He knows he is blessed and that his success could all disappear tomorrow, so he tries to remain humble.

“Eighty percent of my life is very surreal right now,” Stone laughs. “I hope I don’t ever get used to it, and I don’t think I ever will. I hope I’ll always be able to maintain a grounded spirit.” 


Allen Stone will perform a sold-out show at 9 p.m. Friday, May 10 at Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. For more information, call 479-1854.

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Giving Thanks: The Thought-Form of Solution

We are in the time and under the influence of Sagittarius, sign of the wanderer, good food, good music, and the joy (Jupiter as ruler) that occurs from giving to others while simultaneously giving thanks from our hearts. Having the Thanksgiving holiday during the month of Sag is not a mistake. No other sign understands joy (an aspect of the Soul) as Sag (except Pisces when not in despair). “Sag is a beam of directed and focused light. The beam reveals a greater light ahead, illuminating the Way to the center of the Light,” emitting the Ray of Joyfulness. Thanksgiving is a time for gratitude; in the form of prayers, thoughts, feelings, wishes, hopes and greetings. Gratitude is something we still need to learn. Gratitude creates goodwill. Together, gratitude and goodwill create the “thought-form of solution” for humanity and our world’s problems. Gratitude and goodwill are the prerequisites for the reappearance of the Christ, the Aquarian World Teacher. In Ancient Wisdom texts it is written, “being grateful is the hallmark of one who is enlightened.” Gratitude comes from the Soul—the characteristics of which are love and wisdom (Ray 2). Gratitude is scientifically and occultly (mental, not emotional) a releasing agent. Gratitude liberates us and everything around us. Also a service to others, gratitude is deeply scientific in nature, releasing us from the past and laying open our future path leading to the new culture and civilization, the new laws and principles, the rising light of Aquarian, the Age of Friendship and Equality. The Hierarchy lays much emphasis upon gratitude. Let us be grateful this year and this season together. And so now the days of light illuminating the darkness begin (December’s festivals and feast days). Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I am grateful for all of you, my readers.

 

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