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Before There Were Gods



 Genre: Acoustic

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You now sometimes you hear a song by someone else and are moved to use it as inspiration, but something more than a cover, something that involves your own creation? This happened to me when I first heard Michael Hedges' Lenono. I contacted Michael's estate to get permission to create a derivative of this most amazing guitar solo and then proceeded to cut it up and create an entirely new work from it. I hope you enjoy it.

The lyrics are inspired by Suzanne. They are meant to be impressionistic, unfolding, true.

I offer this as a deep and abiding tribute to one of the greatest guitar talents I have even known.

Michael Hedges: acoustic guitar
Elliot Friedman: additional guitar
Tobin: vocals, Indian flute, percussion & samples programming, lyrics

For more regarding "Song of Myself," please seer the project page on my website: http://www.tobinmueller.com/solo/

Other draft tracks from "Song of Myself" shared on MacJams include:
Dignity (by Bob Dylan)
Blackbird (by Paul McCartney)
Blue Tattoos (based on songs by Joni Mitchell)
Frozen Man (by James Taylor)
I Have Been Deceived (based on songs by Elton John/Bernie Taupin)
American Tune (by Paul Simon)
Oh Danny Boy (traditional)
No Place Like Home (a duet: piano/soprano sax)
Before There Were Gods (with Michael Hedges)
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Before there were gods,
Before we knew the difference,
Before there were lines that marked the land
between here and there,
You knew me. That’s what you said. You said
You knew me (you knew I was there)
with a love that reached beyond the dead.

Beyond the turning of the world
Beyond the burning of each life I’ve led.

Before there was time,
Before we traveled through it,
We gathered like pilgrims to stand at the edge
of all known land.

On the shoreline
the waves can play like children.
On the shoreline
the footprints wash away.

At the end of the world before there were gods.
At the end of the world...

There are seagulls that cry as the lovers swim by
near the feet of a savior, standing.
There are layers of clouds forming words in the sky
and we read them in swirls, as they can be
when the waters rise.
When the waters rise.

(Rain down to me.)

And I stand here,
with my mouth opened wide,
hoping to catch you,
like the rain.

And I stand and I trace, in this pilgrim place,
all the lines that we made
in the sand.

Before there were gods,
Before we knew the difference,
Before there were lines that marked the land,
You knew me. That’s what you said. You said
You knew me.

Before there were gods.
Song Stats
Hits: 5346
Comments: 28
Fans: 23
Plays: 414
Downloads: 6
Votes: 25
Uploaded: Dec 14, 2006 - 10:18:58 AM
Last Updated: Aug 08, 2013 - 10:55:06 AM Last Played: Jan 15, 2019 - 05:21:26 PM
Song License
Creative Commons License:

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G5 Quad; EV 757
Live: to cut, edit, reshape original guitar track; Liquid Grooves rhythm samples; and lay in samples of seagulls, shoreline waves, etc.
Digital Performer: to record vocals, flute, new guitar, etc.
GarageBand: percussion
Suzanne said 4453 days ago (December 14th, 2006)
so many times during this song i get goosebumps. the opening flute. the first guitar phrase. the "rain down to me" section. the quick elliot runs flitting like birds. the seagulls/flute duet. and then thinking of what the words mean to us. thank you for creating this tribute to both mr. hedges and us, and keeping something wonderful alive. a beautiful, elegant track.
Check out my latest song called Rock The Baby With Voodoo (w/Tobin)
tmcfate said 4448 days ago (December 19th, 2006)
back in 1983 a young m hedges walked into my kitchen at work trailing a rolling suitcase and a guitar case. he was completely lost haveing come from califoria to do a show at a small venue in town. i helped him find his way to the house he was staying at and he said he would put me on the guest list for that nights show. i had no idea who he was at the time but was truely blown away at the way he used effects on his acusstic guitar and created such a full sound. just amazing. this is such a tender tribute to all concerned.
Check out my latest song called Beautiful Rose
TobinMueller said 4446 days ago (December 21st, 2006)
Meeting young Michael
Such a great story. I'm really glad you took him up on his offer to see his show. Life is too short, that's for certain. I have a similar story involving Leo Kottke. And Santana. It is always cool to meet talented people before the tension of celebrity falls over the situation. Thanks for sharing this.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
chikoppi said 4453 days ago (December 14th, 2006)
Very tender and beautiful song!
Lovely melody that fits so well as to make it seem the guitar part was written afterwards. Wonderful, evocative lyrics. The tribal flute is a nice choice to accent the primal language as is the hand drums. I like the subtle changes in the vocals tracks, alternating doubling, echoing, and harmony. The performance is excellent - gentle. The sound effects work nicely, especially as the instruments trail off gradually into them.
Check out my latest song called Autopilot
TobinMueller said 4453 days ago (December 14th, 2006)
Thanks for the comments on the layering of the different tracks, the washing in and out of the different parts. I spend time making it all sound smooth, like thoughts coming in and out, folding into each other. Lots of different ambiences going on (seagulls, waves, brittle reverbed guitar, vocals, synths...) and I had to find the right effects to make them all inside the same head. I'm glad you thought it melded together right.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
Jim Bouchard said 4453 days ago (December 14th, 2006)
Remarkable in many ways...
This is really a good use of Medges' music, and going to all that extra effort to contact his estate to get permission is a really admirable use of your networking skills, since you probably could have arranged your own music to take the place of the the sort of lazy lope and delicately arpeggiated guitar repetition. Sorta too bad that there isn't a download option for this song, since my Tobin playlist on my iPod will be incomplete (but that's probably due to copyright issues). If you're looking for input, one thing I would do is bring the guitar up a bit and try to give it more body, since compared to the richness of the vocal it's a little light sounding. It could be the reverb-y nature of the guitar is sounding a little distant. But it probably was just recorded in a really live room, and if you didn't change a thing, this would still be awe-inspiring and wonderful. The singing is very Hedges-like and I would imagine he would be smiling listening to this, wherever he is now... Thanks!
Check out my latest song called Big Yawn (Apogee One mic demo)
TobinMueller said 4453 days ago (December 14th, 2006)
I wanted to do something like Natalie Cole and play along with the original track, "actually" sing with Michael. I did have trouble making his guitar sound warm. I think the problem started with me speeding up the track, since his original tempo was too slow for my purposes. He used several tempo changes, between phrases, which I equalized in Live so that it would go with the groove. When I listen in headphones, it sounds much better. I'm hoping he's smiling, and, yes, that would be the best of compliments. Before there was light, there was music...
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
jiguma said 4453 days ago (December 14th, 2006)
I am always amazed at the amount of detail you include in your music - a breadth and depth that is pretty rare in the type of music I listen to and play. Beautifully composed Tobin - like Jim I'd probably like to hear a the guitar more "up" in the mix, but that's a very minor nit. There are so many nuances here that I'll need to listen more to catch them - a really outstanding post - thanks for the headsup!
Check out my latest song called We End Up Being All The Same (42)
TobinMueller said 4451 days ago (December 16th, 2006)
Sunset over the ocean bay
Thanks. I came up with the idea for this while in Cape Cod, facing the sunset. I'm sure you can relate to such moments. On the tip of the Cape, you feel like a pilgrim at the edge, yet stuck without a boat, unable to cross over into uncharted territory (which is maybe a good thing); free and timeless, like in a dream, but not a dream, since you know you are truly awake. And not alone, since there is love. Thanks again for your careful listening.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
Ed Hannifin said 4453 days ago (December 14th, 2006)
Drawn from Hedges, yes, ....
...and I also hear a Bruce Cockburn-like thing in the way the lyric lines lay over the loping and arpeggiating guitar bits.... In the Hedges canon, it reminds me of the 'I Carry Your Heart' adaptation from e.e. cummings that Hedges did on 'Taproot'... I also hear your experience writing musicals in the way the vocal is phrased and sung...

Apropos of that, the lyrics are enchanting in that, listening to them, I find myself imagining backstory and sequellae.... the song itself ends up seeming one captured moment, with much that came before, and much that will come after...

Thanks for letting me know this was up...

Check out my latest song called Chime (Alone) (Inspired by Particle Dots)
TobinMueller said 4451 days ago (December 16th, 2006)
Life as uncaptured moments
Suzanne and I cherish every moment, every dinner together, every daily homecoming, every morning waking, every call to let the cats in, becuz we know you can't really capture moments, except in art. Yes, this is a captured moment honoring what has led up to that moment, hoping for what will come after. Thank you for hearing that, knowing that.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
Mcboy said 4452 days ago (December 15th, 2006)
as a
bamboo flute collector and part-time dabbler i was mesmerized by the sound of the american indian flute.....the vocal harmony comp was just gorgeous......the soft gutar rhythms beautifully placed.......man....if ever the opportunity arises i would use u as producer in a second(paid services of course...hehhehhe).......this piece is a peaceful vibration in a mad world.....beautiful!!!!
p.s. is the flute scaled in minor???
Check out my latest song called Bluesphemy (MJRF 2010)
TobinMueller said 4452 days ago (December 15th, 2006)
Dorian mode
The flute is scaled in the Dorian mode; that is what drew me to it. I've always been fascinated how this mode turns up in the oddest places. Of course, it is my own limitation to think Olde English folk songs have some sort of proprietary right to it; after all, it was named after a Greek scale. Thanks for the comment about peaceful vibrations in a mad world; it is why I chose to set the song at the edge of the world, at the edge of time, the edge of beliefs (before there were gods). It is where peace stops teetering, merely rests, and where love has time to soak in and nourish. As for the producer thing, I enjoy producing stuff, lending an ear and experience, have always had a good time in the booth, and would relish the opportunity alongside you, especially if it meant a paid trip to the Caribbean!
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
said 4452 days ago (December 15th, 2006)
Peaceful waves...
just gently flowing over me as I listen. The haunting flute and the sounds of ocean and seagull intermixed with the expected well mixed tracks. This is such a completely satisfying piece of music. Your additions seem not only seamless but organic with Hedges guitar, as if they were always intended. Suzanne's lyrics mirror the comtemplative mood of the music... sung with feeling and precision by you. I say precision because this doesn't seem like an easy song to sing. To float the words through the piece as you sing the various note changes... quite good.
Thanks for the note leading me here.

Scott Carmichael said 4452 days ago (December 15th, 2006)
Hey Tobin
completely knocked out... I'm a big MH fan, but this goes someplace totally different... what a wonderful journey... this is what I love about music, the free trips... I have to say, I love the mystical eliptical lyrics, so important for me to get the journey started, the lyric is the springboard...

this post also shows off your production chops... everythings is so well placed soniclly and part wise... nothing is stepping on the other..

1 little nit... when I record several voices.. i really try to sing in straight tones, and get any soul from the up front vocals, but I also carve out a frequency specific space for them, or they end up being sonic hogs.. when I do it this way they are easier to mix

hi regards here; Scott
Check out my latest song called He Has Passed this Way
GuitarJanson said 4452 days ago (December 15th, 2006)
I like it, Tobin! Thank you for sharing it with me.

Check out my latest song called Planxty Irwin
said 4452 days ago (December 15th, 2006)
Nice arrangement and use of samples , very enjoyable.
outstanding piece of music
Peter Greenstone said 4452 days ago (December 15th, 2006)
He was a truly remarkable guitartist and I think this is a wonderful tribute. It's got such a grand scope to it but maintains such an intimate closeness. The lyrics are stirring and poetic.

I was engulfed by this piece.
Check out my latest song called Iridium Flare (2013 Re-Release)
Scorpjammer said 4452 days ago (December 15th, 2006)
I think...
...your flute came with a dreamcatcher, didn't it? I wouldn't be surprised if you have a dreamcatcher hanging in your studio.

The archetypal sound of the flute, natural sounds of the gulls and surf, and the gorgeous cadance of the fretless bass and gentle guitar %u2013 perfection.

Wonderful song and amazing production.

My 3rd listen as I type this...Wow.

Check out my latest song called Christmas Time Is Here
TobinMueller said 4451 days ago (December 16th, 2006)
On the reservation
I lived on a reservation for a year while I wrote an indian history, on commission, way back in 1978, entitled "From Where The Sun Now Stands." Afterward, I followed the 1,700 mile trail Chief Joseph took to escape the US Army, only to give himself up 30 miles from the Canadian border (the Medicine LIine) to stay with the elders who were unable to make the final run for it. (I lived in a pup tent the whole while, could barely even sit up straight inside it.) I've always held onto those friends, those stories. Yes, I had a dreamcatcher up for a while in my home, and had one up in our bedroom until recently (until it caught too much dust and was replaced by curtains - it hung on the vacant curtain rod). I just started writing a Book Of Dreams and many of these older times are stirring.

(I do have a Hindu dream mask in my studio, blue and ethereal.)
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
MattGranz said 4452 days ago (December 15th, 2006)
Grand Poetry!
Very well done all around. I love the very Stereo feel of this track. It kept me interested from start to finish.
Check out my latest song called Green Eyes
moorlandt said 4451 days ago (December 16th, 2006)
very touching
For songs like this, I really feel frustrated not having a more extended english vocabulary. Well, let me at least tell you that this song is without any doubt one of the very best I've heard from you (and that means a whole lot!). Beautiful, evocative lyrics, sung with passion. Tobin, you have a wonderful voice. Delicate, but always perfectly balanced, as is the choice of instruments. My only little quibble (but I guess this is VERY personal): I'm not a huge fan of mixing nature sounds through any kind of music. In my humble opinion the melody and the instruments tell more than enough here, and they leave this necessary space for the listener's own visualising and personal emotions. A great poem doesn't need an illustration :-)

- Walter
Check out my latest song called Free (remix)
said 4451 days ago (December 16th, 2006)
Almost missed this...
I love how it starts where it goes and how it ends,
nice guitars, lyrics and harmonies, good going.
Vic Holman said 4451 days ago (December 16th, 2006)
most impressive
isn't it always special when you can hear a few notes from something and evolve it into places you wouldn't of have imagined? great work on all the vocal mixing. that had to be a chore in its own right. i was just going to listen originally but i heard something here that sparked something just as the original tune hit something in you. so in the back of my mind theres a seed of something developing. not sure what it is yet. thought i'd log in & comment and thank you for the inspiration.

Check out my latest song called Feeding The Sharks
thoddi said 4449 days ago (December 18th, 2006)
Wonderful guitar
What a great sound in that guitar. The moods with the seagulls fits the guitar very well. Your vocals is also very near and blends beautiful into the mix. I find the perc tasteful and could wish to hear a bar or two where it could stand alone.

Another gem from you Tobin!
Check out my latest song called The King has left
said 4438 days ago (December 29th, 2006)
Sorry it took me so long...
...to get to this one Tobin. MAGNIFICO!!! A thing of beauty to be sure. Profound lyrics. Wonderful vocal stylings and delivery. So beautiful...sorry...beginning to ramble...speechless.....

Be well!

JUGGERNAUT: http://www.macjams.com/song/27500
said 4345 days ago (April 1st, 2007)
What a great
idea and beautiful song. How well done too.
said 4313 days ago (May 3rd, 2007)
I loved the sound of the waves on this song and the Indian flute was a lovely touch. It took me to another place. A place where all my problems had no place. I was swept away. Thank you for sharing your creation.
Artist Info
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Name: Tobin Mueller
Location: Rowayton CT USA
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I am a professional musician, composer, playwright and director. I've led a charmed life. I'm married to fellow MJer Suzanne and MJer Twonicus is my son, who currently sings and writes for rock bands in the NYC, D.C. and Cleveland areas. My second s... [see more]

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