A few years back, I was visiting Yosemite National Park in California. The valley. I used to go there quite a bit, which redefined the way I use the word "awesome."
One morning, I got up early. It was still dark on the verge of becoming lighter with the forthcoming sunrise. I made a strong coffee. Grabbed my guitar. Headed into the woods. Light was creeping into the day. I headed further into the woods that would be beneath El Capitan and Half-Dome— two extremely significant rocks. Trees are really, really tall in Yosemite. I was looking up when a pack of wolves raced by... one of them taking account of my presence as they hurried along, loyal to their mission.
If I was still sleepy before this moment, I was no longer. I wondered if I'd see a bear.
Pretty soon, I found a "place." Misty woods. Filtered misty light. Soft. The smell of trees... I settled in, taking it in, sipping my coffee and started playing my guitar. My good friend (and Modern Peasants bandmate) Jim Earp had shown me some alternative tunings—namely DADGAD—of which I was eager to learn. I was soon exploring what the new tuning offered—buzzing on coffee, the scent of giant ferns and basketball sized pine cones.
"Oh. There's E-minor..... mm hm, G...." Pretty soon, I was naturally working a composition through the process, because I just do that. Lost in it. It was still not quite fully light out. The valley was filled with a thick fog on this morning; and the sun had a ways to go before making its way down to the floor—4,000 feet below the ridge. Everything was still.
Just me, the woods, God.
After a while, concentrating on what my hands were doing, I looked up for a moment to find myself in the company of three very large buck deer. Giant racks of antlers. Wow! They wore these racks royally like crowns. I'd never seen anything so majestic. Ten or twelve feet directly in front of me. Looking at me. Listening. As to not disturb the moment I just kept playing acknowledging with a nod. Smiling my ass off with the privilege of this.
Have you ever stared into the eyes of a wild animal? In his house?
In this moment, I saw soul. We connected. We communicated. Staring at each other in music. It was nice like slow-dancing. Staring and witnessing... In this moment I knew I'd never be the kind to pull a trigger on these guys. Eyes locked, staring. A freaking beautiful moving experience. After about ten minutes, they sort of nodded, turned and made their way — with a motion of supreme grace and strength — into the mist as I kept playing on my composition with a lump in my throat. A moving privilege, indeed.
I left those woods that morning with the composition and decided to call it, "Three Kings."
...And got some breakfast.