“Valley Road” is an ode to family. This heart-tugging music video stars Jacob Schaffer’s dentist father, romanticizing a day in the life of a hard-working American man. Below, read the final of 3 memoirs by Jacob Schaffer on the making of Good Chi, his debut album releasing May 2017.
Often in this life I find myself questioning where I belong. At the core of my being, it always seems I am in some sort of existential crisis, on and off again. Here is a story of the many homes I had during the creation of ‘Good Chi’, only to learn that home is truly found within.
In California, I was blindfolded and led up a mysterious path in the woods. Fortunately this was a well crafted “gift” for me created by someone on a retreat I was on. As you may have read in my first ‘Good Chi’ memoir: I always find myself alone in exotic places searching for my soul. This time not in Costa Rica, but with a wonderful community from the bay area of California.
So… I was blind folded and being led up this hill in a redwood forest. Along the path, I was allowed sight 3 times meeting face to face with a different person.
The first girl gave me a tarot card reading and played a hand drum leading me blindly to the second guide where a woman performed (for lack of better words) a “shamanic animal ritual”. Lastly, I was led to the top of the forest mountain where I was unveiled to a third man free-styling hip-hop consciousness. He then told me to stare out into the trees and find my answer… Yes, this is my life.
I was expressing a lot of confusion to my group at the North American Leadership YES! Jam about my life and where “home” was. Call me granola, but the redwood forest spoke to me in that moment.
The forest said, “Home is where the heart is.”
And that really is true. Our vessels of flesh, bone and blood are the truest homes we have in space and time.
At this moment, I was hoping to move to Brooklyn after giving up on the Manhattan life I had been living. You can read about this in my 2nd ‘Good Chi’ memoir.
“Valley Road” was written and first recorded at a time when I was living alone, my childhood home had been sold and my lease was ending after quitting my job working at the Apple Store in Grand Central Station. I had no idea where I was going and all I wanted to do was make my parents (and myself) proud, feeling like I failed my New York City dream. I then spent a very anxious summer at my parents new home by Asbury Park, NJ and traveled before trying a new life in Brooklyn.
That summer, I returned to Bobby Mcferrin’s Circesongs at Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY. This was my 3rd year studying improvisational vocal music with this longtime hero of mine, including a group of master teachers leading an international music community, reminiscent of a modern day tribe.
There is a spiritual human energy involved in circlesinging. A leader stands in the center, conducting a circle of singers, bass to sopranos. The leader vocally improvises and gives parts to each section, conducting the circlesong. It is unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced and have been lucky to lead one of over 200 people. From here I followed my friend’s advice and took a plane to California before moving to Brooklyn. Little did I know, I would find myself invited back into those same redwoods asking myself a similar question several months later, “Where do I belong?”
These brief moments of time where I find myself alone in a new community, usually in “otherworldly environments”, is where I’ve felt most myself. Yes, that guy is sometimes in total bliss, but sometimes he is crying collapsed on the floor in a room full of strangers. To be honest, I wonder if my closest of friends and family know who this part of me is. They each get different glimpses of the good and the bad, but when I find myself on these adventures that is the full package. I am trying my best these days to let people see the full me.
While creating ‘Good Chi’ I intended to show all of these sides of me while allowing myself a safe space to bring serious closure to the emotional traumas of my past. Circlesongs had been such an influential part of my life, oddly lined up during my 20th, 21st, and 22nd birthdays. On my 23rd birthday last August, I was on my Brooklyn rooftop with both of my wrists injured wrapped in splints, completely frozen in extreme deja vu from the year before, a lease ending and unsure where to be, feeling very lost. I had been trying to get my “NYC hustle” on, constantly shlepping heavy music equipment by hand until my body gave out. I had pretty much finished the album and was so confused… “Why does this shit keep happening to me?” “Where do I belong?”
So, like a lot of millennials, I moved back into my parent’s house. Luckily this is a new home town for me to explore by the up and coming yet historic music scene of Asbury Park, New Jersey. Currently living here openly, working in music and taking weekly trips into the city where I am a creative vagabond for several days at a time, life seems to be flowing. I need to trust this flow for now as I am preparing for the album release including a European tour May/June where I hope to find myself back in that free spirited state of mind!
Remember, you can’t have ‘Good Chi’ without bad chi.
P.S. Much love and big thanks to Impose Magazine for hosting this 3 part series, it was a positively cathartic experience being allowed to publicly spill my guts like this! 🙂