The Story Behind Not All the Leaves Are Falling
There have been two separate incidents over the last three years when I have read a phrase and suddenly felt a mysterious but palpable sense of connection to my future self. Perhaps that will sound strange. I can’t really explain it, I can only describe it as I experienced it.
The first happened in a scenario I describe in my blog story, ‘Silent Retreat | Why I Put a Minute of Silence in the Middle of My Album’
The second incident happened on New Years Day, 2014. I was spending the afternoon with some particularly mindful friends creating collages/vision boards for the year ahead. We were using old magazines and cutting out whatever caught out eye. It’s a playful and intuitive process and one that has been quite revealing and helpful for me at different times over the years.
Part way through the process, I picked up a gardening magazine and turned the page to find a simple illustration of an autumn tree and the headline ‘Not All the Leaves Are Falling’. As soon as I read that phrase I felt a quickening, a deep body knowing that I would write a song with that title some day. The phrase rang with loss and hope and mystery. I had no idea what the song sounded like – only that it was a reality I was going to walk into at some point.
That phrase ended up on my collage, and the collage ended up on my bedroom wall.
One evening, several months later, I arrived home after one of my many ‘Sunset Road’ city to country commutes. Late summer was just starting to give way to autumn. I collected my things, closed the car door and was walking inside when one of the pale pink flowers from the climbing vine on our front veranda fell at my feet.
I sang most of the first verse out there on the lawn.
Not all the leaves are falling
Not all of the flowers are dead
And the late summer rose is still blooming high on the hill.
By the time I got inside I was filled with this unfolding melody and epic lyrical saga which kept coming and coming for hours while I sat at my keyboard upstairs and tried to catch it. Writing it felt like trying to catch the stars, or trying to pin the waves upon the proverbial sand. There was this vast sense of mystery and of a bright and fierce hope pulling me forward towards the future.
That summer, my sister Sharon and I had been reading a chapter of Job out loud to one another each evening. This ancient Hebrew text is about suffering and mystery, the relationship between the Divine, humanity and the created world – a poetic narrative, epic in scale and emotional scope. The immenseness of that mysterious book had also been working away on the inside of me and this song is part of my fumbling attempt to capture some sense of it.
I must have swallowed too much of the saga form, because the first version of ‘Not All the Leaves Are Falling’ was nearly twice as long the final album version. Stanza after stanza bore witness to my grasping sense of trying ever new ways of trying to say the unsayable and capture the uncapturable. I soon saw sense and edited it to a listenable length.
Some songs get written and feel complete. This song lingers for me because the feeling was so much larger than I could translate into lyric and melody.There is something deep, bright and mysterious dancing between the notes and words that remains elusive and compelling to me.
It is a song that reminds me that faith is not a static thing, that God is a dynamic presence.
The song feels like an invitation into all sorts of things on both a communal, epic and personal scale – things that are not yet known to us – things that are waiting to be apprehended, to be attended to, to be lived, to be known.
This song gave me, and still gives me, me a huge sense of hope.
“All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.”~ Julian of Norwich