The Ram Sessions
This album took me on an arduous and unexpected journey. What started out as an innocent desire to record some new songs turned into a creative dark night of the soul. No matter how much effort I put forth, I could not stop stumbling over the same old wounds and fears. Eventually, my “stuckness” became too much to bear, and I found myself at my harmonium, mysteriously calling out to Ram. His name felt so comforting, so simple, and so familiar that every time I wrote a song thereafter, I could not help but sing to him. Thus, The Ram Sessions was born.
As I worked on this project, it organically evolved into a concept album with the Ram mantra as a focal point. In today’s age of digital downloading, the concept album has lost some of its potency. However, there is beauty in weaving a music compilation with the same thread and presenting it as a subtle narrative. In that spirit, this album chronicles my five-year journey of disillusionment, descent, healing, and rebirth.
Ram is one of the most beloved mantras. It was Gandhi’s favorite, as well as the cherished Name of so many saints and sages. While language fails to define who Ram is, the closest explanation is love—pure, unbiased, ever-flowing love. As a man and an incarnation of Vishnu, Ram was a being of great compassion, wisdom, and power—the perfect embodiment of dharma (righteousness). As the omnipresent consciousness, he is the essence of our true, eternal Self—the light within. May the power of his name bring peace to your heart. -c.g. (2016)
The word pranam means “to bow down”. In India, it is customary for people to “pranam” elders, teachers, saints, and beloved ones by joining the palms, touching the feet, or prostrating. I have always been moved by this practice, as it’s a beautiful symbol of reverence and respect. In that spirit, this EP is an offering to my spiritual teacher Amma who has continuously touched my heart and blown my mind since I first met her in India over 20 years ago. I have no words to express my gratitude—all I can do is say thank you.
Thank you to everything that has ever blessed my life—to my precious teachers and guides, to my parents and ancestors, to the mystics, mavericks, renegades, rebels, saints, and artists of all kinds. Thank you to the messy madness of life, which I don’t pretend to understand. And thank you to the beauty and the pain, the failures, mistakes, triumphs, trials, tenderness, longing, and unfathomable love—I pranam to it all. - c.g. (2017)
Sometimes beautiful things arise out of darkness. Like seeds shrouded in sunless soil, these songs began to germinate during a difficult period of my life. In need of change, I moved to a tiny, sky-lit cabin in the Berkshire Mountains. As the last of the autumn leaves fell from bare branches and the land grew quiet, blanketed in snow, I turned within. Sitting before my woodstove on winter evenings, the music that once lived invisibly inside of me took form and, nine months later, this album—Soma-Bandhu—was born.
The Sanskrit word soma-bandhu means “friend of the moon.” It's also the name for the white water lily that blossoms at night. Long considered a feminine symbol, the moon has always inspired me—the way she hides herself in the black night and then delights in her fullness, bright and whole. Just as the moon reflects the light of the sun, so, too, does this music reflect the mysterious power, the shakti, that animates all things.
I have been madly in love with the call and response chanting practice known as kirtan ever since my first visit to India. I have also been inexplicably drawn to the sonic power of the Vedas, India’s most ancient scriptures, which I first heard at the ashram of Sri Ramana Maharshi in 1999. Although I could not understand the words, the vibration of the sounds stilled the waves of my mind and drew me deep inside.
With all the subtleties of the Sanskrit language, I am quite sure I've made some errors in my pronunciation. For that, I ask forgiveness of Saraswati, goddess of learning and the arts, and hope that the purity of my intention shines through.
I am so grateful to the nameless rishis who heard these beautiful chants in the depths of their meditations, and also to the feminine divine who planted these songs in my heart, and then watered them with the sweet nectar of her love. Thanks to her grace the seeds have ripened, and I offer the fruits to you, dear listener—may each one nourish and inspire your soul. -c.g. (2010)