Beyond The Horizon
(The Dream)

©Will Spicher 2011

November 23, 2011



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In the stillness of a summer night
in my dream so long ago
I stood before a brooding gloom
with only one way to go

toward the gloom by a hard road
through fear and confusion
driven on by a longing
to see beyond the horizon
to see beyond

rising & falling
twisting and turning
the road ever calling
my heart ever yearning
to see

an expanse of years
in a moment's time
my life played before my eyes
in visions & symbols
of people & things
beginning in the days of
love won
Under The Sun
future bright
filled with song and light.

The road grew hard
& turned my face to the Rain & Wind
through the highs and lows
it swept my feet so far from my home
I looked to the sky
to gaze
to feel
by a wonder

in the gloom
silver lining
could it be
something shining
to find, lay my eyes on
there just beyond the horizon
there just beyond the horizon

sunlight upon us
stage-lights, honors
it all comes so easy
just smile and agree
knowledge & power
advancement & favor
contentment & safety
within the cocoon!

Shadows growing
courage & fear
conflicts, resolution
hope & despair
Nirvana's unstable
Counting the cost
cycles confusion
love lost!

closeness to distance

mown grass in springtime

freedom to slavery

stars in the night sky

inclusion to exile

breeze on the meadow

dying to live

the thrill of The Ride

writhing & wailing

The Sea & mountains

soaring in glory

restaurants & movies

walking in fire

Toys & Balloons

and, oh, so alive

The Eyes of a Child

and The Truth is, Love is,
attained in The Truth

achievement & failure

applying mathematics

debasement & status

composing music

rejection, acceptance

faces & places

forth come The Song

haunting my dreams

power & weakness

traffic on freeways

shame & forgiveness

the wonder of people

rend the cocoon!

rend it!

burst into flight!

love is won, and love is lost
love just slips through my hands
but Love attained is only gain
Love defines who I AM

then the breeze
blew away The Gloom
as a Star was arising
and for one glorious moment
I saw beyond the horizon
I saw beyond the horizon
I saw beyond the horizon
I saw beyond the horizon

About the Song

After publishing Friday Night, I apologized to the WillSongs Listeners for thoroughly depressing them and promised I would try to come up with something more redemptive next.  It took a few months--okay, nearly a year--but here it is.

While making this song, I noticed an event promoted by one of my Facebook friends. The event was about sharing dreams, and its description read, "I am doing my part by creating a space where each of us can connect with other through the powerful language of the shared unconscious world so beautifully expressed by our dreams."  I thought, I could say a thing or two about that, but it is going to take me some time.  Well, I missed the event, but here's my contribution anyway.

Dreams play an interesting role in my life and music.  Perhaps half of my songs have their original inspiration in music I heard in a dream and woke up quickly enough to capture it (perhaps the other half would work that way too if I wasn't so lazy in the middle of the night).  I have known for years that I wanted to create this song, but it was another one of those that could not happen until the right moment--the right ambience--arrived.  That ambience came when I decided to respond to a recurring dream (yep, one of those) that seemed to insist that I take action. After years of putting it off, I finally decided to embrace it somehow and deal with it.  In the end, I needed to seek forgiveness from someone (or maybe I needed to forgive myself, or more likely all of the above--still working on understanding it all).  But the process took me for a roller-coaster ride that I could not foresee and probably would have chickened out of if I could. Some called it a midlife crisis (which actually happens very rarely); others called it an identity crisis (which seems closer to the truth but not a bull's eye); but I will simply call it The Crisis. 

The Crisis was a time of soaring highs and wretched lows (much of the song's imagery is taken from these experiences).  And it was a time of remembering deep into my past.  One of the things I rediscovered was...The Dream.  It was unlike any dream I have ever had, and it is the only one about which I have a real conviction that it was--dare I say it--supernatural. It came four years after The Catastrophe, in the summer of 1988:

I was walking across a lightly wooded field toward a dense wood.  While it started in peace and serenity, soon there was growing confusion, frustration, weakness, sorrow, fear, and conflict all around, and all these intensified the further I got (the scenery never really changed, but somehow I had an understanding of life events being represented by the things I saw, heard, and felt).  As I got further along I could see a giant white wall behind the trees ahead with writing on it.  The wall was not a barrier but a destination to which I was irresistibly drawn, and it had a luminescence: In night it would probably glow like the Moon.  As I got into the trees, I realized that there were a dozen truths inscribed on the wall, but I could not read them because of the trees in the way.  As I got closer, though, I could make them out one by one as I maneuvered around the trees to expose the words (though I've never remembered what they were--I guess I have to learn them the hard way).  All this time, the going got harder and harder, even as I discovered one truth after another.  Finally I reached the wall and understood them all. At that point I fell on my knees in the most overwhelming state of worship I have ever experienced as I looked back on all the difficulty and understood that it had all been orchestrated by God for my good, with my best interests at heart.  All I could do was cry, "I love you," over and over.  Every word had deep meaning, and I awoke in that state drenched in sweat and tears and knowing I had been given The Dream. 

I have never experienced anything remotely like it since. At the time, The Dream felt powerful but meant little to me, and I tucked it away in an attic of my soul the way we do with many items of significance in our lives.  But the longer I live, the more important it becomes to me. Today there are aspects of my life that I find incomprehensible.  The Dream was, I believe, an incredible gift from God that helps me remember that a day will come when these will not only make sense...I will even treasure them deeply. This song is not meant to chronicle The Dream but more to honor it and say thanks to The One who gave it.  The symbols are changed to avoid the need for lengthy explanations in the lyrics; after all, walls usually represent barriers, not ultimate destinations; and I love trees and take bike rides to get under them (or lovingly collide with them) and don't regard them as hindrances.  I don't have words to convey what the The Dream felt like. All I can say is, for one glorious moment I saw beyond the horizon

I think one of the truths was illuminated a couple years after The Dream.  A man picked me out of the crowd in a chapel service and said a few interesting things. One was, "You are a man in a cocoon, and you are undergoing a transformation. If anyone tries to free you from it too early, resist them." Years later I found out that a caterpillar (ironic, huh) will die if it is freed from the cocoon by external help. It must go through the process of breaking the thing itself in order to gain the strength necessary to escape and fly.  I felt this was one of the images that belonged in the song, for The Crisis had this sort of liberating-struggle quality to it. After writing it in, my boys decided we would watch the movie, I Am Legend, in which God speaks to Dr. Neville through the image of a butterfly. The next day, I made a data plot (I'm an engineer so I do that sort of thing) and suddenly noticed a butterfly in the plot (watermark added in case I'm the only one who can see it)(1):

With all this inspiration, writing the song was still a grueling process (5% inspiration, 95% perspiration). I had a lot to say (in contrast with Seeking Rivendell), and needed to find the right way to say it. In some ways, this is really five songs interwoven into one long movement. At ten minutes, ten seconds, it far exceeds my previous record for length (Rivendell is 7:45).  But, since none of the short ones have been given airplay, I have little to lose by making it the way I like it.

About the Music

Of course, I had to write the most difficult lines to play on all instruments (bass, acoustic, electric, and voice), so this meant weeks of arranging and practicing.  During The Crisis, I was singing constantly (I created a long playlist of all my music that mentions dreams and related themes, put it on shuffle, and played it often singing along).  I think this exercised my voice more than usual, and my range expanded as a result (top note went from A to B above middle C).  

My friend, Ken, heard a crude scratch track of the song and said, "I hear a scream."  I thought, "okay, I think I'll go for it!" If there was anything "mid-life-ish" about The Crisis, I guess this was it.  I managed to nail the high B for four full measures (for the first time in 24 years). Singing has not felt this good in a long time.

But that doesn't mean I didn't need help with the singing. On Friday Night I was very fortunate to have the help of Jessamyn Luong, who played the tambourine (nailing it in one take).  Some weeks later, however, I heard her sing and thought, "I can't believe I had her play tambourine! I have got to get her to sing the counterpoint."  So this time I offered her an overdue promotion.  When it came time to track, I wanted her to sing on almost every line.  Thank you very much, Jessie, for all your hard work.  How indebted am I now?  With any luck, maybe I can get the tambourine gig on one of your songs someday! 

Rob Weber also graciously loaned his talent on the piano. We tracked him at Northminster Presbyterian Church (big thanks to Lynn and NPC!) on his very last day living in Peoria.  He went to the trouble of creating a score--not knowing I would ask him to play in the dark!  Thank you so much, Mr. Weber. What will I do now without you around?  I wonder if I could use the "interesting features" I caught on video to blackmail you into moving back?

The Production Notes contain all kinds of tales of my exploits and adventures--including my indulgence of another "mid-life-ish" aspect of The Crisis: An all-tube, 100-watt Carvin half-stack amplifier! 

About the Video

In spite of its strange appearance, this is still a "tracking" video; that is, you are watching actual footage of audio recorded for the song, not lip-synching, air-guitaring, and pretending.  When I recorded Friday Night, I purchased a few lights that allowed me to set different moods for different scenes.  This used a very basic lighting controller that could play a pattern or hold a constant setup. With the months it took to write and arrange this song, I began to ask, what if I could get the lights to change in real time the way I want in concurrence with the music every time?  Toward that end, some internet research led me to a very handy gadget: The Enttec DMXIS along with a pair of DMX light controllers. The DMXIS includes a VST host with the driver that plugs into Sonar and allows me to program the light faders with track envelopes. Okay, that's all the techno-jargon. Read the notes for more.  In the end, this means the lights had the same color and intensity at a particular point in the song in April (while tracking piano) as they did in July (when tracking vocals).

I continue the theme introduced in Friday Night, with the various costumes, and explain: they represent a confused, fragmented identity. At the end of the song--as at the end of The Dream--there is none. There is only one. Someday. Perhaps others may even share such a dream. If so, this is my gift to you.

Big thanks to Mike Kerby & Associates for help with shooting and editing the 41Gb of video data and producing the final cut.  Great job. This video is really more like a documentary.

Another video is in the works which is intended to add to the artistic expression of the song.

Thanks for listening and watching.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.  Romans 8:28-30

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.  1 John 4:16-18

Production Notes

(1) Yes, I realize there are some technical fine points that will generate debate among students of biology. So, before I am accused of misleading anyone, the subtleties of butterflies and cocoons should be thoroughly studied to learn the distinctions. In the meantime, I will continue the story as I understood it before I was properly educated--as an artist.

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published: 23-Nov-2011
modified: 23-Nov-2011