Making Music with Maharaji
FUZZBEE MORSE IS A PROFESSIONAL GUITARIST, KEYBOARD PLAYER, AND SONG WRITER WHO HAS PLAYED WITH A WIDE VARIETY OF INNOVATIVE MUSICIANS, INCLUDING FRANK ZAPPA, JEAN LUC PONTY, PETER GABRIEL, BONO, AND THE CARS. NINE MONTHS AGO, HE SPENT TWO DAYS IN A STUDIO WITH MAHARAJI, COLLABORATING ON "FEEL IT," A SONG MAHARAJI HAD WRITTEN. FOLLOWING ARE EXCERPTS FROM A TELEPHONE INTERVIEW WITH FUZZBEE ABOUT THIS MUSICAL COLLABORATION.
About nine months ago, I got a call from Michael Wood asking me if I'd like to work on a song Maharaji had written. I was absolutely floored. Thrilled. "Yes," I said, "I'll start yesterday." Michael then read the words to me over the phone and I wrote them down. Simultaneously, the same thing was going on with Kim O'Leary in Connecticut.
Kim then came to California and we worked out, a couple of versions of the song. Then I worked out the music at home on various synthesizers and samplers and sent Maharaji a tape. Soon after, Kim and I went into the studio for two long days and nights.
We had gotten the basic track of the song recorded when Maharaji arrived. Maharaji was very sensitive to what was going on in the session, sensitive to everyone, gave very clear direction, laughed, told jokes, enjoyed himself, had fun and played the synthesizer.
One of the most stunning things about Maharaji's approach to music is that he neither approaches it as a musician who "knows what he's doing" nor as a non-musician who doesn't. He's remarkably free in that way. He just feels it out until it's right. Along the way he picks up the technical skills and the lingo, but he's always approaching it from a real free zone. The music that he has written and played for me has been quite unpredictable and made its own sense, which is very much like Maharaji himself - completely unpredictable and yet always making his own sense.
When Kim was doing her lead vocal, Maharaji was listening and concentrating very much on the essence and meaning of each line coming across as fully as possible. For example, in the main line of the song, "I need to feel it," Maharaji told Kim to really feel and emphasize the need in "need" and the feel in "feel." at which point the character of the vocal completely changed and the song took on such a stronger quality and so much more impact. As a matter of fact., that single piece of direction did more to affect the outcome of the song than anything else. Kim started to put her whole self behind each word, And when she would really nail a line both vibrationally and musically. Maharaji and I would look at each other and beam. It was such an absolute pleasure to feel like a co-producer with him. We both had a chance to use our areas of expertise - mine being about music and producing and phrasing - and his being about meaning and feeling and the true vibration of life. He covers a bit of a larger territory than I do, but it did feel wonderfully like colleagues.
At one point, Maharaji wanted to hear what it would sound like with strings. So I hooked up about four or five synthesizers and samplers and combined various string sounds to get the most realistic sound. He let me know which sounds he liked and which ones he didn't. We'd both wrinkle our noses when it didn't sound too good and get excited when we found the right sound. He was intimately involved.
By the time he left that night, I had such an amazing feeling that not only was he enjoying what was going on, but that he trusted me. For so many years, I've known how much I trusted him to do the right thing by me, but now I felt his trust. I was so happy that his direction was flowing freely because it gave me a lot to work with. And yet, because I felt his trust, I trusted my own impulses - and trusting my own impulses has pretty much always led me to good things.
At a certain point in the session, I felt the green light to leave all external concerns behind me and go completely into music. At that point, I closed my eyes and let the moment move me. I felt no need to open my eyes and look around the room. I just got
I OPENED MY EYES AND LOOKED AT MAHARAJI AND IT WAS REALLY CLEAR THAT HE HAD ENJOYED THE RIDE HIMSELF. I DON'T KNOW IF I'VE EVER BEEN HAPPIER.
way in there, which is where I go at the best of times of doing music. For the duration of the piece, I sailed off into this wonderfully free atmosphere. When that particular take was over, I opened my eyes and looked at Maharaji and it was really clear that he had enjoyed the ride himself. I don't know if I've ever been happier.
As Maharaji was leaving, I walked up to him and told him what an absolutely delightful time I'd had and that whenever he wanted to do any more songs, I would love nothing more. That's when he said, "I'm going to write many more - I really want to do a lot more of this."
(ED NOTE: "FEEL IT" APPEARS ON "SELECTED LISTENING '87." TO ORDER A COPY. SEND $8.00 To ELAN VITAL. PO Box 6130, MALIBU CA 90264)
The Joy and the Challenge
Fundamentally, my involvement with Maharaji begins by stopping and asking myself what it means to me. Knowing what to do is not always so clear, but the feeling for why I want to do it and the remembrance of how important this is to me are two things I never want to forget. I don't say to myself, "OK, now I'm going to get out there and participate." It's something else.
I want to work with Maharaji because of the respect I feel for him and for what he is doing. His purpose and the timeless integrity of Knowledge call the very best part of me forward. There is a joy to experience from being part of his work. And a challenge.
Maharaji is constantly innovating. He is constantly looking at how things can be improved. For me to be involved in this process, I have to be looking at that as well. Part of me, of course, would rather not. Part of me would rather get the job done nicely and get a pat on the back.
Someone asked me recently, "How do you learn from Maharaji? You say he is a teacher, but how do you learn from him since he comes your way just once or twice a year?"
Well, one way I've found to learn from him is to be part of his work. Being involved helps me see what he and Knowledge are trying to bring forth in my life.
I don't see Maharaji trying to establish a "right way" or a pattern in doing things. He looks at things anew each time around and sets a bold course to accomplish what is possible. For me, it has always been encouraging to stay with this. Working with Maharaji always keeps activating something very wonderful in me.
(ED. NOTE: LORING BAKER IS A MIAMI BASED INSTRUCTOR)