August – The Dream

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This month’s song was supposed to be a real rocker.  One night in July, when I was visiting family in Rio de Janeiro, a riot broke out on the streets surrounding the hotel.  From the balcony, I was blinded by search lights from three helicopters overhead and the red-orange glow from burning piles of garbage.  My ears were filled with the deep booms from tear-gas cannons, the clatter from what sounded like a lost samba school, and, of course, deafening “CHOP! CHOP! CHOP!” from the three helicopters.  The smoke from the fires worried me.  I wondered if the hotel was going to catch on fire and if we would have to evacuate into the streets.  I imagined navigating the riot in my pajamas and, with my limited portuguese, only being able to ask where the bathroom was.

I wanted to pack all of that energy and all of that emotion into a song, so I recorded layer after layer of frenzied cello notes.  Then I added a part that sounded like the riot police marching to the hotel.  All the while, everything got louder and louder and more chaotic.


A calming picture of Rio that I took from Pão de Açúcar (Sugar Loaf).  Beaches on the left, business on the right.

Well, now I’m getting ahead of myself.  Let’s back up a little bit.  The riot was  inspiring, but it was only a part of what brought this song into existence.  The other part was meeting my wife’s two cousins.  These men were doing extraordinary things in a city that was literally screaming for change.

One of them co-founded Papaya Ventures, a company dedicated to nurturing new types of industry.  Rio, like many cities, is experiencing major economic changes.  Old jobs are vanishing, leaving a vacuum for something new to keep the city alive.  The start-up companies that Papaya Ventures develops are part of the revitalization.  They bring new ideas, new technologies and new jobs.

The other co-founded Escudero, a fashion company whose name comes from from the portuguese word for “squire” – the person who prepared knights for battle.  However, instead of making armor, they make beautiful, yet practical clothes.  The modern day knights are the people that fight to keep Rio alive and vibrant.  The battle isn’t in a field, but in office buildings and places of work.


I wasn’t sure what to make of this duct work, so I took a picture of it. I meditate on it daily.

The inspiration for this song came from two sources: the riot and the entrepreneurs.  One source required loud, frenzied cello playing, and the other requested a softer sound.  It’s a song about people demanding change, and about people, through hard work and dedication, making change possible.  It starts out in the chaos of a riot, but ends up being about working to build something new.  And building something new, trying to make the world a better place, is what we can all work towards.


This month’s song features, among other things, small drinking glasses that I tuned with different amounts of water. I played this “glass xylophone” with a wooden spoon.  Who knew Ikea sold musical instruments?

And last but not least, here’s the chart.


13 thoughts on “August – The Dream

  1. Aline says:

    Awesome! Once again…. Although I love the “where is the bathroom” portuguese songs as well 🙂

  2. Josh says:

    That’s a good one. Maybe I’ll record it as a bonus track!

  3. hank says:

    Wow! This amazing song and you get published in Nature. Not a bad month!

    1. Josh says:

      Yep! It’s been a good one!

  4. This is beautiful. Looking forward to hearing more of your work.

  5. WOW says:

    Really nice song. Not enough riot though. But you could have two songs actually. The riot one which if increased in riotness would remind me of “knock on the bus” and this dream one which in this day and age is universally shared with all people who are looking for a better life. But an interesting concept to have the riot underlay it. Hmmm


    1. Josh says:

      The producer kept yelling, “more riot!, more riot!”, but I thought he was saying, “more cowbell!”, so I ignored him. Lesson learned.

  6. Fletcher says:

    Awesome. Love the depth the cello provides in this tune. Lot of really cool things going on in this one. I think it is best yet!!

    1. Josh says:

      Thanks so much, Fletcher!

  7. Laura Milko says:

    This is my favorite song for today. Any plans for a live performance soon?

    1. Josh says:

      Maybe in the spring we’ll put on a show. I think that would be a lot of fun.

  8. Josh, I’ve now subscribed to your mailing list because I don’t want to miss a single post. Enjoying these!
    Regarding the photo of the pipes at the bottom of that heating unit. They scream to recall a movie that had me on pins and needles almost from the get-go, and didn’t let up until the very end. A must-see: “The Plumber”,1979, Australia, written and directed by Peter Weir.

    1. Josh says:

      Awesome! I’ll check out that movie.

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