From John Farrell
Autumn 2004
Greetings Friends,

The fringes of summer (June, late September and October) are so spectacular here in New York that it lifts the spirits just to go outside and partake of the beauty that surrounds us. But today it's raining so I'm happy to take the time to sit down at the computer, compose some thoughts, say hello and wish you well as the seasons change.

A few weeks ago I decided to observe some of the last days of summer by doing one of my favorite things, riding my bicycle. I spent most of the crisp morning of September 21 riding in western Connecticut and Dutchess and Putnam Counties, in New York. Within 10 to 20 miles of our home is some of the most delightful scenery anywhere. Lakes, reservoirs, ponds, rivers, waterfalls, horse farms, meadows, the last of the wildflowers, the first leaves changing color, a vivid blue sky accented with generous strokes of white and gray, and panoramic views of the distant hills and valleys all enriched my soul and spirit that morning. An additional treat was exchanging greetings with some of the school children waiting for their busses. I enjoy riding my bike up the biggest hills I can find and the children seemed amused to see me struggling to make it up. One little fellow gave me a great big smile as I pedaled by he and his mom standing at the end of their driveway. A few minutes later when his bus passed me nearing the top of the hill he had his face pressed against the bus window and was waving enthusiastically as though he and I were old friends. He doesn't know it but he helped me make it to the top of Joe's Hill that morning at a time when I certainly appreciated the push. He also reminded me that the simple act of a kind word or gesture makes a difference. I'm really glad he was there to help me and to share part of summer's last day. Thus far the fall foliage in our area is as glorious and colorful as I can ever recall. It has been a spectacular October. Hope you are enjoying it wherever you are.


We were at our home on Prince Edward Island from July 1 to August 18 this year and it was a thoroughly enjoyable summer. It was slightly cooler and wetter than most summers but there were many sunny days and clear nights to enjoy. Ann Marie expanded her flower gardens, we built an outdoor shower, did some very leisurely painting of the hallway walls, and spent much time visiting with friends and company. We have spent an average of six to seven weeks on the island each summer since 1988 and have made many dear friends on PEI. Because our time with our island friends is measured we make certain to plan gatherings, and each summer we enjoy meals, bonfires and sing-alongs together. This year we hosted our third annual Per-po-lu-pa (Perseid Pot Luck Party). Around the second weekend in August (10th -14th) each year there are meteor showers known as "the Perseids." We invite lots of friends to join us for a pot luck supper and we hope for clear skies. The party is joyous regardless of the weather. For the second year in a row the skies were somewhat cloudy but the food, bonfire, music, and camaraderie were spectacular and memorable. I have written three songs about these summer nights with friends and hope to include them on a future CD. A few nights after the party the skies were brilliantly clear and we stayed up until 2 am watching the shooting stars. At one point several of us went over to the beach with sleeping bags and lay out under the stars. We counted 62 meteorites in half an hour and then stopped counting. At least one of the spotters had dozed off to sleep at this point and others were soon to follow. The serene beauty of the night sky combined with the rhythmic sound of the waves meeting the shore assured us that all was well and that we belonged right where we were. (If you are interested in seeing some incredible photos of Prince Edward Island please visit the web site of our friend, and photographer extraordinaire, John Sylvester. The address is


I wrote several new songs this summer, including two that were inspired by and begun during long bicycle rides. The first titled "Glorious Gray Day," is a reflection on the necessity of rain combined with an observation about the splendor of the sky on a lovely, cloudy, misty afternoon. The second "Behold This Morning," came from a sunrise ride along the coastline and numerous images that presented themselves to me saying "open your eyes and ears and behold creation!" I'm hoping to have "Behold This Morning" arranged as a choral piece for many voices. Lots of other new songs (for young and beyond) are percolating on a range of topics from bald eagles, "The Bald Eagle Isn't Bald," to our sometimes frenetic culture of consumption, "Go-Go Gimme, Gimme," to public cell phone use, "We Don't Need to Know," to my feelings about the election. Some of these will make it into my repertoire of concert pieces and others will remain in the living room and car, or just fade away.

The final phases of my new Christmas CD are underway and I hope to have CD's by December 1. The working title of the new CD is "Season of Light, Songs of Peace." It will consist of all of the songs previously released on "Season of Light" plus 5 or 6 new recordings. We just did the tracks this week for "A Little Bit of Scrooge," and "Hot Chocolate and Diplomacy." The latter is about our annual excursion to Sam's Tree Farm to choose and cut down a tree. With seven people involved in the decision it often takes considerable debate and lots of hot chocolate to make it home peacefully. The new cover will feature artwork by my friend Gini Frank Fisher. She's doing a watercolor painting of our house at Christmastime. What I've seen so far looks fantastic.


We don't have a television in Prince Edward Island and I don't miss it at all. Each day is filled to the brim with things to do. I enjoy greatly hearing radio reports on events such as the Olympics and also appreciate hearing the world news from the perspective of those outside the U.S.A. Since returning from PEI, I have continued to resist the lure of television and have decided to spend a year without watching any TV programs. In our culture television is prevalent nearly everywhere you go so it's impossible to not see it, but I've made the conscious decision to choose not to watch it. I'm learning to draw and paint and I have the goal of doing at least one drawing every day. I also want to spend more time reading, writing, journal keeping, talking with my family, practicing guitar, juggling, exercising, etc. so it's no TV for me. As I said I enjoy the radio and also really like it when my family or friends tell me about a sporting event or program they watched on TV. I listened to the presidential debates on the radio and found it a great way to really pay attention to what the candidates were saying. As I was listening in our bedroom Ann Marie and some of the kids were watching in the living room. From time to time they'd hear me yelling things like, "He didn't answer the question…" or "That was a great answer!" Regarding the election, it is my sincere hope that we, the American people, will act on November 2 to change the course our government has chosen, and that the US will look to use our great strength and wealth to be peacemakers, cooperating members of true international coalitions, and leading stewards of this amazing planet we are blessed to share with so many others. I saw what I thought was a great bumper sticker this summer. It read, "I love my country but I think it's time we started seeing other people." PLEASE remember to vote. The future of our children and our environment are at stake.


I will be doing performances at two of the Wildlife Conservation Societies' zoos in New York City this month. I will be at the Bronx Zoo October 23 and at the Queens Park Zoo October 30 and 31. The WCS has a great website ( with links to the zoos, that includes directions, upcoming programs etc. I'm really looking forward to working with them and being involved in their important work to educate people about endangered species, threatened habitats, and what we can do to help.

I will be at the "Literacy for All," conference ( in Providence, RI November 8 and 9. I'm doing a session on the 8th and will have a booth in the exhibit area both days. I'm also looking forward to a trip to Cookeville, Tennessee the last week of October.


You can now reach Mary Jain at a toll-free number to discuss bookings, order CD's, or just chat. That number is 1-800-928-4007. We are also in the process of making it possible for you to order online using credit cards. This should be in place soon and I hope it will be helpful.


As always thanks to all of you who support my work with your friendship and encouragement. I am very lucky to work with such wonderful people. Please send us a note at the website or call and say hello. You can also check the website for my schedule. It is updated frequently Maybe there will be a performance in your area and you can come do some singing and say hello. Have a great autumn and a healthy and peace-filled thanksgiving.

Keep a song in your heart,

Summer 2004 Newsletter

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