I have seen the movie Forrest Gump and frankly can relate. Life really is like a box of chocolates. You never know what your going to get. For me, another way of saying this is; “If you want to make God laugh, have a plan”. Of course, this is not always the case I am also aware that I have quite a lot of control when it comes to creating my own reality. The notion might seem a bit paradoxical and contradictory to the reader, but in my experience it really isn’t. This paradox would have made me very uncomfortable in the winter of 1988-89, but in hind sight it all worked out perfectly. Apparently at that time, my work at TMI was far from over despite my initial plans.
After completing H+, I began to spend less time at The Monroe Institute and more time in my own studio. I was eager to get back to my own passion which was a CD I was recording of my own music. My musical passion at that time was in the progressive rock genre, and the project had been working on had taken about a year. Since the spring, the time allocated for this project had to take a back seat for the more lucrative Hemi-Sync gigs, paid client projects and radio. Needless to say, I was reaching a point of exhaustion and longed for the coming holiday break. I planned to put this time to good use and further my project.
Occasionally I spoke to Bob on the phone. Although our initial agreement had been fulfilled and the holidays were now upon us, Bob asked if I would be interested in staying on as a TMI contractor for occasional project work, which I agreed to. My guess was that the work would be intermittent.
Bob had other plans. One day in early January after an extended break from TMI, he baited me with another cryptic message left on my answering machine. I called the cabin to find out what he was up to.“Hey Sport.” he said as he answered the phone. “Sport” was an alternative moniker he used to address me. Although it sounded like something from a by gone era, I actually liked it better than “Kid”. With an enthusiasm I was becoming more and more familiar with, he invited me to join him for lunch the following day to discuss the issue at length. We were meet at the lab.
Next afternoon I arrived at the lab and found his distinctive dot matrix print sheet left on the console. I knew it was for me because my name was written on it in bold black Sharpie in Bob’s familiar left handed scrawl. It seemed at first glance to be a script. It read: Music intro slow from silence. Approx: 3:00. Music swells slowly then segues to main theme at 3:30. Recap theme to full crescendo for 6:00. At approximately 10 minutes, main theme segues to tragedy, devastation and horror lasting 5:00. Slow segue to soft, contemplative church plate music for 8:00. At 25:00 mins, main theme returns triumphantly with variation till coda. This was obviously a cue sheet for a music production and it resembled The Out of Body Adventures of Robert Monroe, but there was no voice script accompanying it. I was a bit confused, but figured my questions would be answered in short order.
Bob met me at the lab and we drove to what was to become our favorite eatery in Nellysford. It was a place that he and I would frequent often through the years; greasy spoon called Truslow’s which served griddled hamburgers and crinkle cut fries. Looking back, it really was a cardio vascular nightmare, but the burgers suited both of our pallets. Bob and I were both huge fans of cheese burgers.
Bob was well known and loved at Truslow’s. Although the folks there knew something of his work and thought that The Monroe Institute was involved in rather suspicious activities, the staff always greeted him warmly and treated him with great respect. I suspected he liked that as much as the food. Another unique feature of Truslow’s Better Burger, was that it shared a building with Truslow’s auto repair! This was my very first visit to Truslow’s. The place had lot’s of ambience. There were Budweiser neon signs, country music on the juke box and pool tables. Perfect. I secretly wondered if they were using discarded motor oil for the crinkle cut fries, as Bob and I sat on the plastic chairs in the dining area next to the pool room.
As we waited for our lunch, Bob expressed his appreciation once again for a job well done. As I said earlier, we were becoming friends and I was a little saddened that our weekly meetings had come to a close. I enjoyed his company, his stories and his enthusiastic nature. He asked me about the work I was doing in my own studio and on the radio. He asked me about my future plans. As he continued his query, I got the impression he was sussing me out to see whether or not I was willing to stay on long term. I spoke honestly with him about my personal aspirations.
Things in my life were really beginning to move in the planned direction. My then wife who was also a recording artist, had just released a record that was getting some attention. Her video for the song was already featured on MTV’s Basement Tapes. My client list included some of the members of the then unknown Dave Matthew’s Band. My own CD was nearing completion and the radio gig also showed a lot of promise.
Bob Monroe listened to my speech patiently with a soft smile. His animated presence slowly began to wane and he began to seem a bit tired to me. After a few moments of silence, he began speaking to me in a way that I had not yet experienced from him. At first, it seemed to me as if his mind began to wander off topic. I found myself struggling a bit to find meaning in what he was saying. It then occurred to me as if he were speaking like a man who was keeping his cards close to his chest. This was the same manner he had upon our first meeting, when describing the work being done at TMI. His tone was somewhat soft and he struggled to find the right words as he spoke, yet he maintained eye contact. I remember my mind beginning to drift off in a way that denotes the impatience of the young listening to the old, when they are reminiscing about things the listener has no connection to. His words became more and more muddled in my awareness until he said, “…….and you are here”.
I suddenly became aware of my friend once again. I remember feeling too embarrassed to ask Bob to repeat himself, so I made like I had attended his every word and smiled silently as he continued.
He was in need of a quarterly tape for the membership. At the time, TMI had a membership of people who donated money to the NPO. In return, members were gifted with a quarterly magazine and a recording for “Their ears only”. The last one “Out of Body Adventures” went out late and as a result, the next spring quarterly deadline was rapidly approaching. Shirley (whose purple cardboard nameplate read Membership Director), was apparently always having to chase Bob to fulfill his promise of a new recording. This time, Bob had come up with an idea apparently inspired by me. He wanted to call this one, “The Sandman Sleeper” and he had a script all prepared.
Sandman Sleeper was an offshoot of the H+ parody that I had done for the Christmas party. Apparently the parody not only made Bob laugh, but also inspired his thinking. He handed me another dot matrix print sheet with a script all prepared. The Sandman would be voiced by me using the same gangster voice I had used for the parody. It was designed to make the listener laugh a bit before eventually putting them to sleep. The fact that Bob had asked me to voice this recording was no surprise to me, but apparently somewhat unprecedented for him. As I said, he did all the voicing. “Sure Bob. Why Not?”, I replied still feeling a bit embarrassed for zoning out during his monologue. The agreement was that I would make this production happen within a months time and at my studio. For him it was the top priority, for which Shirley was relieved.
He was far more excited to discuss Meta Music. This was the reason for the cue sheet left on the recording console in the lab. In the past Bob had written and performed most of the Meta music recordings on his Lowery Organ. This time he was inviting others to compose rather than doing all the work himself. He was going to call his new project, The Meta Music Artist Series. “Has a nice ring to it don’t you think?” he said. I thought so too.
The truth was I hadn’t listened to the MetaMusic of yesteryear at that point, but found out later that it wasn’t very well received. As it was explained to me, Metamusic was supposed to be relaxing music with Hemi-Sync tm that took you on a journey without words. Being an musician I totally agreed that music had the potential to transport you to a different place and time. I wondered what Metamusic sounded like and if it had an increased power to accomplish this goal with the Hemi-Sync sounds embedded in the recording. I could only imagine that it did. Bob went on to explain that the cue sheet, was an invitation for me to take a stab at creating a piece of music for the Artist Series project. I was honored that he would ask, but felt a little reluctant to take on the task. As you know, I had other plans.
I assumed that New Age Music was what he wanted, given it’s relaxing properties. However, the cue sheet indicated something else was on his mind. I asked him questions about his ideas. “No”. He said emphatically, “That New Age music is just plain boring. I want something more like a soundtrack to a film. Something that evokes real feeling”. I got the gist of what he was looking for and told him that if the inspiration hit me, I would take a stab at it over the coming months. He went on to explain that he was already getting submissions from a magazine ad that he had placed in Keyboard magazine. He wanted me to screen them out. He was looking for serious composers and would rather I reject the more New Agey stuff. I told him that would be fine.
I collected the cassette tapes after we drove back to the lab. In addition, I requisitioned a few of the previous Metamusic titles so that I might get a feeling for what was done in the past.
Bob and I shook hands as I prepared to depart the grounds and return back to my studio. He looked even more tired as the minutes passed. I assured him that I’d be in touch within the coming days. “Ok Sport. Think about what I said and let me know.” He smiled as he rolled up the window to his Blue Chevy Blazer and slowly took the road up to his cabin.
I got into my car trying to remember what he said as I drove home. All I could remember was “ You are here.”