Auriol Hays

Awareness through music

You Can’t Hurry Love

I am asked about Love constantly, love and the notion of a  soul mate. After all, I sing about love; be it a lack of love, an over-abundance or a good lusty romp in the hay. I write about those issues, not because I have a string of lovers (oh I do wish!) but because I have an overwhelming desire to understand  people and nothing seems to cause greater distress than matters of the heart.

Usually I can be found huddled in a corner with someone, a glass of whiskey in hand, listening intently. “How did you meet? When did you know that you loved her? When did you suspect it was over? What have you learnt?” I pay attention to every word, every gesture and when something  heart wrenching  is unexpectedly revealed, I whip out my  phone and jot it into my secret folder.  I am inspired by the bravery of those I speak to. How do they do it, I wonder? How do they rush into love without fear or doubts? Or in spite of it?

The idea that there’s someone who will “complete us” is utter tosh  of course. Great for movies and  music but nonsense nevertheless. Although I am an incurable romantic, I am a realist before all else. I do not believe in soul mates.  My list of dvd’s might convince you otherwise, but let’s not get into that. Here’s my theory.We humans really are an arrogant lot.  After being alive for a bit, we mistakenly believe that we have the answers.  We know how  things should be done, we are firm in our beliefs  and unflinchingly in the pursuit of our ambitions. Life is running smoothly  and then Boom!  We meet someone or something completely blindsides us and we are forced to re-evaluate everything.

This happened to me on numerous occasions! And not all of those run-ins were pleasant either. Sometimes I would have a rip roaring argument  that leaves me in complete ruin and tears and very much beside myself.  Then I go slip into the familiar, I  over-think everything. Why did I meet this person now? And why the hell couldn’t I just be speak my mind?  And why, oh why, was I such an idiot!!?

Would you like to know why I think this must happen? It’s just a little idea I have,  so bear with me. We are gifted with people, with events…with moral dilemmas that challenge and demand that we  take a hard look at the choices we make. Why do I use the term “gifted” you ask? What greater gift is there than clarity? Granted those gifts usually come wrapped in drama, frustration, anger and tears..but you are never the same afterwards, are you?Sometimes we are so busy with our lives that we forget what  we really desire and those people  are thunderstorms, the wayshowers who illuminate the path… back to the selves we left behind.

Not only are we arrogant but we are also lazy.  We never do what needs to be done. There’s always tomorrow…and tomorrow..and tomorrow. The biggest gifts I was granted was my daughter and my divorce. That gave me the clarity I needed.  I am a better human being as a result, or I try to be. And that’s all I ask of whoever I allow into my life, personally and professionally. That  honesty and clarity always be present…because when I am not honest with myself and my needs – the universe will gift me with a little surprise to turn my life upside down, so that I may answer the very question I was so busy running  from.

I have quoted my Beloved Ben Harper on many occasions, and for perfectly valid reasons. In the song Don’t Give Up On Me Now, he sings, “And I don’t even know myself, what it would take to know myself. I need to change I don’t know how. Don’t give up on me now..” So I don’t…I don’t give up on those I love and care for, and most certainly not on myself. Especially when I lose my way or am at a complete loss.  My favorite poet Rumi once said, “ Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.’  Forget the idea of a soul mate. Try being your own best friend. Try seeing the best in others, living honestly. When those thunderstorms do arrive, stay. Listen and try to see – not the person involved but the lesson about yourself you are being shown.  Trust me, if you do that…whoever needs to find and love you will…

posted by auriol in love,Uncategorized and have Comments Off

Masters of Sex

Masters of Sex! Who wouldn’t want to be one? Unfortunately, I am referring to the tv show starring Michael Sheen but I will share my candid thoughts about sex, if you don’t mind. I do believe it was  Marcus Aurelius, the Roman Emperor, who said  “The sexual embrace can only be compared with music and with prayer.” Think about that for one second. Great sex can make you forget yourself. It has the unique ability to transport you out of your very skin and bones.  Music and prayer are not far behind.  I can see my Mother rolling her eyes. I just hope she keeps on reading…

We all want to be well adjusted human beings, right? A recent visit to a sex shop made me question just how well adjusted I am. No, it wasn’t one of those swanky, oh so posh boutiques littered with fluffy pink and white furniture. It was cold and mechanical; the implements of pleasure paraded brazenly, taunting anyone who dare pass. “Here I am! See what I can do for you!”  As I perused the goods on display, I was assaulted by the sounds of a porno movie being played in one of those dark back rooms. Don’t pretend you don’t know what happens there people! I did make mention of this to the elderly assistant. “Ah, I am so use to it I no longer hear the sounds.” Eish lady, I thought, I do.  Maybe I was being naïve. I hoped that I could hear Marvin Gaye crooning “Let’s get it on…”  Yeah, I am a romantic but an idiot I am not. Just as there are many musical genres, there exists a cacophony of sexual expressions. Who am I to judge the man with the toe fetish hmm?  After the initial shock of the porn sounds, I adjusted and well…handled my business.

In my mind the impulse to merge with another and share freely in any and every gloriously delicious way possible (with consent of course) is freeing, above all.  I do feel the same way about music. All works of ineffable beauty and magnificence is fuelled by the same innate and primal impulse. Yet it isn’t all sunshine and  roses is it?  This reminds me of something my Father once said, “Auriol, one’s core values have to be the same.” This is something I am always conscientious of when dealing with musicians, men and every other little thing along the way. Can we agree on certain things? Is there chemistry? And when things change will you have the courage to share it with me?

Where does prayer fit into this equation you ask? Allow me to share. Mind you this only happens with great concentration and sincere intent. When I pray I do find peace…and complete acceptance.  All the worries and burdens I carry are put aside. I pray for every single person I care about – cats and Ben Harper included. I pray that I will find peace, clarity and inspiration. I don’t pray for an end to world hunger or war. Instead I pray that every person find what it is they need and work towards what they desire.  Also, I thank the Gods in advance for more work, great food and an passionate enduring love affair with….my life.

I don’t really want to be a master of sex. Instead I chose to be a master of my life. Yes, that would be nice. I would like every part of my life to be harmonious and balanced. And that means being unafraid and unapologetic. Having the balls to look life straight in the eye and say, ‘Hey you! Just take a look at what I can do!’ George Bernard Shaw once said ‘Life contains but two tragedies. One is not to get your heart’s desire; the other is to get it.’ Perhaps I should settle for being a master of sex instead! The master of my life bit will take lots and lots (and did I mention lots) of time…

posted by auriol in human nature and have Comments Off

Ben Harper – With You

Everyone seems to think I am a stalker. A Ben Harper stalker to be exact. The fact that I wrote a song for him on my Call It Love album (With You)  does not make me look innocent by a long shot. So allow me to explain and then you can decide whether I am guilty of those charges or not..

It all started when I saw Ben Harper live in Montruex. I was so new to his music that I  couldn’t even sing along! I stood alone at the back of the hall, the night before I was meant to take the stage,  and…cried. I cried because I felt alone. I cried because I had no idea of the life I wanted to live. A few years later when I found myself at the beach at 3am devoid of all hope and again I sobbed bitterly. Deep  within there was a void (forgive me Zakes Mda) and I had no idea if anything could fill or I heal it. In that moment of blackening despair his music, the cadence of his voice pulled from that abyss… Finally I could curl my back against the world and feel safe…

My daughter calls him The Harp and loves ripping me off. I often wondered if I could ever express how his music affected me. Alas, life took care of that when her world was torn asunder by my divorce. Suddenly this happy-go-lucky kid was transformed into a sullen, silent stranger. That is until she found solace in Green Day, Kurt Cobain and a host of rock and punk musicians. Finally, she understood. Now she sings along to The Power Of The Gospel, pulls weird faces and mockingly proclaims, “Hey Momma! This is my jam!”

The love of music is our common ground. She sketches, I read and the music plays. Just the other day she gifted me with all the Arctic Monkeys music available online. Yes, yes, it was her favorite band until I stole them. Payback for stealing my beloved Radiohead by the way. Before you ask I do make fun of her favorite musicians (it is my sacred right as her Mother).”Girly, if Shmeagol from Lord of the Rings had to start a punk band…then they would sound like Bring Me The Horizon!” Yet  often I find myself humming along to their music. When she catches me in the act she says, “I see you like Shmeagol and his gang.” And Dammit all…I do!

Back to the seriousness of music. Musicians like Ben Harper remind me why I chose to be a musician. And often I need to be reminded especially when money runs low or I have a bout of writer’s block. I sing, we sing not for fame or fantastic wealth (yes, it would be great if it came, along with tall male groupies!) I sing, we sing…because there is nothing else we would rather do. We sing because by doing so we heal ourselves. We sing because when we do so we offer the best of ourselves to those who will listen, to those who need to hear.
I will leave you with this Ben Harper quote. “Music is the last true voice of the human spirit. It can go beyond language, beyond age, and beyond color straight to the mind and heart of all people.”
So go home, kick off your shoes, make some coffee, switch off your tv, lie on your couch with a blanket, put on some great music and… listen.

posted by auriol in life in general,My music and have Comments Off

Lover You Should’ve Come Over…

“Mummy why are singing the Shrek song?” my daughter asked early this morning. She was expecting the “Girl, get out of bed and get dressed now!” war cry that she was accustomed and inured too. However, her mother singing Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah from her bed was…new. Did she wake up and get dressed? No, instead she lay in bed while I sang and was 20 minutes late for school!

Music has the uncanny ability to make me feel good about myself regardless of where or with whom I am. In the past I had so many hang-ups. I didn’t look right enough, act right enough – even my voice betrayed me! I simply could not Whitney Houston the crap out of a song no matter how hard I tried. At times it felt as though I was hauling around a sign that said, “Look, these are all the reasons why you should love me; want to be with me…”

I spent a life time begging one man to love me with every song I wrote and sang. In the end it made for great music but a lonely life for both of us. It taught me a valuable lesson about self acceptance. Yes, my Ben said it best “Take me as I am or leave me where you found me.” Now I make sure that I am understood and aware of the consequences of every act.

It’s so easy to get carried away by the aura of one man. I realized that it’s a weakness of mine and one I transpose into music with ease. The only problem in that scenario is that I end up elevating and mythologising that one man. So in order to get around that little issue (because every musician needs a Muse) I deliberately do things to bring those traits that I admire in him into my own life. Is it working? Give me a few months and I will get back to you. After all I am not perfect you know…

This hard-line approach applies to my interaction with men also. A friend and I were having a conversation when I blurted out in panic “Listen, do you think this man will understand what I am saying?” I do worry that my less than subtle approach scare people. And he responded by saying, “Your honesty is one of your best qualities.”  Even though I decided to never tone down or cower the way I have in the past – I do still get itchy feet.  Regarding men – I make my intentions very clear.  If you want me come and get me – but only if I gave you the go ahead! If you don’t it’s no skin off my back. After all there that’s why there’s family, friends, music, books, tv shows, cats to love, causes to be involved in and top of the range vibrators…that will leave me singing  “Hallelujah!”

posted by auriol in human nature and have Comments Off

A Better Man

“Girly, truth is stranger than fiction,” I said very causally as I lay on my daughter’s bed. “Just look at the crap that happened with your father and myself! They could have made a soap opera about it!” Then I burst out laughing. “Mummy it wasn’t that funny when it happened.” Of course she was right but I continued laughing nevertheless. “But darling that’s the only way we humans learn anything. Through pain and drama! You might as well laugh about it…”

I have so many friends who are looking for love or trying to hold on to love. I am not jaded about love or even relationships. I have a more balanced view now, I think. There are just certain things I refuse to do. I will not take happiness at another person’s expense. It’s a combination of many things. I know what it feels like to look at someone who feels betrayed and conversely to have your trust in someone squashed to hell and back. Also it a basic law of the universe; what you give out you get back. Karma and I are on good terms for now and I have no intention of pissing her off. Does this mean I am a saint or a reformed Scorpio? Hell no! Sometimes I wish the ex and his side kick would rot in hell. Still, it’s not my place to make their lives that living hell. Although I do admit that I tried for a while…haha!

Yes, I can laugh about it now. Only because I know that it’s the easiest thing in the world to hate someone. It’s easy to allow other people in your head and have it spoil your week. Anyway, I have no reason or right to judge anyone.  At the end of the day she is someone’s mother, friend, sister and he was a man I once loved. I cannot know what any other person has gone through to make the choices they have made. Strangely enough I am grateful for the betrayal because it showed me what love should and should not be. I can only say those things in retrospect but better late than never I reckon.

Talking about epiphanies I had one while in JHB early one morning. Most of the time we want love to be packaged a certain way. Love has to look like this, sound like this, act like that and preferably be a musician named Ben Harper (I just had to squeeze that in somewhere!)….and all the while we miss out on the love that is continually being shown. That is a sad reality because we put ourselves at great emotional risk. I am not expecting Love any time soon. If it comes my way – wonderful! For now I am content with the love I am being shown by family, friends and my awesome cats.

I am very careful about how I treat people too. I go to great lengths to make sure I am perfectly understood and that I really listen in turn. Of course I have my off moments but they are far and few in between. Let me reassure you that no man is involved in my change in attitude. I am hit with all kinds of epiphanies and I pay attention to them. The logic is simple really; I have no desire to revisit past mistakes. And if I have a off day I can always count on my daughter to sing some dirty South Park song that will leave both of us in stitches! And that is enough for now, good night, good bye…

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Well, Well, Well…

Maybe it’s because I was born under the “wrong” star sign or because I never listened to my parents but I always call things as I see them. And honestly most people are full of bulls**t. Everyone wants what they want faster than you can say please and thank you. I see this in the music industry especially. Build a brand, get that endorsement, a tv spot on a reality show and be “seen”. On the one hand it is rather sad and on the other, perhaps, a necessary evil. After all a little help here and there does make a big difference. Hell, I know of so many talented musicians who play their souls out for hours and walk away with barely enough to care for themselves let alone their families. Call me an idealist or plain naive but I firmly believe that if musicians really understood how their music affects people it would dramatically alter the way they worked and grace them with something more valuable than money or fame….reverence.

I always thought that every single person comes into this life equipped with everything they need to live a rewarding life. Granted some people struggle harder than most finding their talent…but once it is uncovered it changes the course of their lives and everyone they touch. Be it singing, cooking or flower decoration. We are all graced equally. In case you are wondering I am not drunk or under the influence of a religious cult. Well, I am not that drunk yet ….

Everyone knows how much I love Ben Harper’s music. I do get ripped off for it on a daily basis. Some call me a pervert…after all the man is not only a genius musician but delicious in so many unexpected ways. I will freely admit that I do get distracted by his beautiful face and tattoos (I am human after all). But if I put all of that aside what I value most is his ability to articulate, through music, what it means to be human. There have been days when I felt so unloved, so unworthy, ugly, ashamed…where I doubted the value of my very existence and was unable to get out of bed. Then I would listen to his music, his voice and feel the one thing I needed most – peace.

Being deeply rooted to that reverence changed the way I view music. I no longer pull up my nose in disdain when asked to sing a silly pop song. I know that for that second it allows people to feel something real, gives relief…a way through and out. I understand that it is never about me but what moves through me when I sing. That in itself is reward enough. Yes, I need to make money to get by…but that reverence has always given me more than enough when I needed it most. Brand endorsements will come if they need too but they are not necessary – neither is fame.

So I try to do my best, be as sincere as I am able to and give my all in every way I can. Whether it means singing Brenda Fassie’s Weekend Special, answering pointless emails on Facebook or wearing heels for more hours than is humanley possible. Above all I trust.. I revere… and if that comes with a cocktail or two – so much better!

posted by auriol in career and have Comments Off

A Rush Of Blood To The Head

“Hell is other people” I have heard this so often. I was about to say the same thing when I realized that “Hell is my perception of other people.” Honestly, I wish I weren’t so full of shit or weighed down by my expectations of others.  Sometimes I expect too much or too little. I am big enough to accept responsibility for that. After all no one else can be held accountable for the way I view others. When I loose faith in my ability to understand people only two things get me through – my love for my daughter and my love of music.

I don’t waltz over the keyboard immediately and start writing music. I lie on the bed with all my cats (they always know when it’s a code blue situation) and listen to Ben Harper for a while. Then I question myself about those expectations and what it reveals about my state of mind. I have been accused of over thinking, but if I do not take the time to understand myself who will? In the Wisdom of the Tao it says, “”One who understands others has knowledge. One who understands himself has wisdom. Mastering others requires force.  Mastering the self needs strength.” I am tired of feeling weak and out of control.

A recent visit to a homeopath was more than surprising. After 30 minutes she looked at me and said, “You do not share easily and keep everything locked inside you. This is why you are having problems breathing.” And I thought I just needed to exercise! When I troubles with people I do not share them – least of all with those involved. I talk my way around it, under it or try to resolve it through music.

If I weren’t a musician I would be a diplomat. I could spend all my time hiding behind other people’s troubles. But music doesn’t provide me with that as option. Ben Harper said it best,  ”You can’t fool music because it exposes you to the depth of who you are, who you really want to be….Whether I am honest as a man is up for debate within myself…but as a musician I know nothing but honesty.”

Sometimes things have to be said, confrontations had so that all that the energy can be released. But, first I have to deal with my ego, its conditioning, prejudices, expectations and once I am resolved – only then can I face with person I am having issues with. And if I am lucky a song comes…if not at least I have peace of mind for a while…

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Funkier Than a Mosquitoes Tweeter

A friend asked me what I was doing in 1998. After pausing for a few seconds it came back to me. I spent way too much time playing klaverjas, perving over men with my friends and reading books in the library that had nothing to do with what I was studying. Oh, I was also going out with a boy who regularly overdosed on rap music. I was spontaneously and deliriously happy…

Having just recovered from a serious bout of writer’s block – I feel a bit like my old 1998 self again. Sure, life isn’t perfect but I feel more evened out and polished at the edges. When I have writer’s block it generally means that I am not dealing with my life very well. It leaves me feeling hollowed out and empty….as though there is no more music left in me. Everything just feels muted and bland.

Every emotion, I have learnt, has its place. I am just tired of wallowing in one state of mind and writing a soundtrack to it. Now I actively seek out happiness – no matter what form it takes. I have cut down on my daily Ben Harper intake too. He leaves me feeling comforted but a bit too sad. So I might as well just chill out and enjoy the ride because things will go wrong till the day I die. I can’t afford to linger in depression or hurt. That would just make me a sad human being and a terrible musician.

Many things have changed since 1998…Granted I do not salaciously perv over men or drink cheap red wine anymore. Now I am more civilized…urbane. I like the odd glass of white wine (Boschendal please) and regularly play an invented game called man poker with a friend of mine. Currently I am in the lead after trumping him with a picture of Jason Mamoa. And yes, I will go and watch Conan just because Jason is the lead. Plot? Who cares about that…?

posted by auriol in human nature and have No Comments

The Will to Live

My mother taught me many things – some good, bad and some down right ugly. The one thing I will always remember is how she starts her day. When we moved to JHB I discovered just how important it was that I do the same. The only thing I have added to my morning routine is a good dose of Ben Harper.

I listen to one the song I Want To Be Ready. I love the opening lines: “How I am strong is to know what makes me weak//How I am found is to know just whom I seek”. For me this is a call to remember what matters  most because trust me, sometimes I do loose the plot.

The one thing I have experienced firsthand is that when I forget the Universe bitch slaps with me a horrendous reminder. She knows that I am not smart enough to figure it out myself.  So she prods me in the wrong direction so I can  get to the answers on my own. Once I broke my ankle and the inability to move at my own speed made me question just where I was going. Then there was a time when I could not hear a single musical note for months….

A few days I managed to get hold of a documentary about the migrant workers of China. After watching it I know I will look at the label “made in China” with greater introspection. Sometimes I forget what my parents had to go through so that I am where I am. I will talk to my daughter about this movie and about the migrant workers in our own country. Maybe she will clean her room more readily and stop giving me silly reminders that her birthday is around the corner…

Yes, my mother taught me how to start my day: with a clear head and a greater deal of gratitude so that I can be ready for whatever comes my way

posted by auriol in human nature,insight and have No Comments

When She Believes

About 3 million years ago I was a pagan. No, scrap that, it was roughly about 10 years ago.  I had the robe, the wand, gemstones and books. Over the years I realized that it was the rituals that I loved most, especially the ones I created myself. A few days ago I bitched about how small my world was and blamed my love of music for that. Truth is I am just an unbalanced person. You see somewhere along the way I forgot many things and my world just went to hell for a while.

My mother starts her day at 5am by quietly sitting and reading her bible and getting her head sorted. That’s her ritual. I use to do the same thing – but with a Tarot deck, writing pad, pen and some tea. I would jot down the things that were important to me and why. That was the perfect way of staying on track. I felt motivates and energized.

I know that I have to re-visit my morning ritual. Hell, I refuse to wake up feeling so tired and directionless, wandering round in my pajamas till 3pm. No wonder I write these depressing songs!  Does this mean that I will be super perky and positive all the time? Hell no! I know a few people on Facebook who have these outrageously positive status updates.  Secretly I think they are headed for a nervous breakdown because no one can be that positive all the time. No, I take that back. You can if you are on drugs or stupidly in love! For some the effect is the same.

So I will invent some rituals dashed with a bit of paganism and a squizz of new age thinking just to be on the safe side. I will do it because I know the effect these rituals have. Through them I gain a better understanding of why I am where I am.

Is it a cure all? Hell no but I do feel more in control of my “stuff” and  right now that’s enough. And if my blog posts are ever too positive – Good Heavens, someone better do something…

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