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Meet My Guest Today, Singer/Songwriter...Bobby Jo Valentine!


Good Morning My Confidants!


I am so happy this morning to have a wonderful performer as my guest, a singer/songwriter/poet who has helped inspire my writing. I think a lot of authors are inspired my music, even creating playlists to listen to while they are writing certain novels. I discovered Bobby Jo when the Reverend Chris Michaels played his video, "Fly", at church. It truly struck a chord with me, reminding me deeply of one of my characters in a series of books I was writing at the time named Wyatt. Wyatt was a sad young man who was always acting bright and happy, so that he could disguise his pain.


Then, a couple months later, Bobby Jo performed live at our church and well....I was astonished. Since then, the two of us have become friends, and he thrilled me when he allowed me to use the lyrics to "Fly" in Winter Heart, the last book in the series, and the one that was specifically about Wyatt.


Since then, Bobby Jo and I have stayed in touch and recently he came to Kansas City and did a concert where I got to see him perform a slew of songs! Afterward, I asked him if he would do an interview, and I was pretty darned happy when he agreed.


Today....it is time for that interview! But first, the video! Then the conversation.....



BEN: Bobby Jo, I am so glad to be talking to you today. It's very exciting. You have been an inspiration for me for a very long time.


BOBBY JO: Aw, thank you. 🙂 I love chatting with fellow artists! 🙂


BEN: For me, it all started with your video for "Fly", which was shown at my church, and then a month or so later, there you were in person, on stage, and I was simply blown away.


And, wow.... How long has that been? I've been trying to figure it out.


BOBBY JO: I didn't know they played my video before! Haha, that's great.


BEN: Tell me a little about that video, it was incredibly professional. It looked big budget!


BOBBY JO: That video was quite the experience. An amazing director found me on Craigslist! He was looking for a good song to make a video for. And I was looking for a videographer with imagination. It is still one of my favorite videos.


The videographer, Bruce Brown, was so talented. We created the story together, and he knew the boy who was the actor already [who stared in the video]. Cole. Such an expressive, openhearted face. Which was powerful for what we were trying to express...namely, how jarring it is to have painful experiences as a young, innocent child. He really told the story.


BEN: He really did. How did you guys do it all? Let me say again, it looked big budget. Something a major top-of-the-chart musical star would do.


BOBBY JO: We built the 'room' Cole was in, inside an art studio. My brother is a carpenter and created the walls himself - 12x12 on each side!! I think it was a 3-wall room, so we could shoot in it. To this day, I'm amazed at my brother for helping me out. He wouldn't take a penny for it.


BEN: That is truly amazing. Cole was amazing. He was so...the character in the video it's hard for me to separate him from the role. His acting and videographer directing and, of course, your song, made him real.


BOBBY JO: We found the right color/texture for the walls...and we recorded my performance right next to it, used some shimmering paper to express the ethereal "escape" of flight that the boy was having in his dreams, to contrast the darkness of his daily reality. We shot it in two days but the construction of the room and everything took at least 5, so a week total to create it. It's one of my favorite things I've ever been a part of. We'll re-record that song one day, but I don't know how we'll ever recreate the magic of that video. Time will tell.  🙂


BEN: I would say your life is full of magic, Bobby Jo.


BOBBY JO: Thank you. I feel the same way. Serendipities and little graces and beautiful moments. I sit in awe of it sometimes.


BEN: How about the song itself? Tell me about that, and how it came about. To this day, it is one of my favorites of your songs. That first song we hear by an artist is often amazing. The words reached out to me so powerfully and reminded me of a character I was writing.


BOBBY JO: The chorus of that song came first. When the line "If there's no hope, tell me why/ in my dreams I can fly" came to me, it spoke about something powerful. And I don't know where the most powerful lines come from. I know it's a sum of the books I've read, movies, friends, and my own experiences...but it sure feels like it comes from Somewhere Else when it's a line like that. So, I sat with it a while.


BEN: I love this, how like and unlike the way I write!


BOBBY JO: Then, as I was sitting in the back of my then partner's van, John, driving to some antique sale (that's what he was into), I had the thought of putting it into the life of a little boy. And the first line came... This is my room and it's robin's egg blue and it's got a few cracks in the ceiling .... and all of a sudden, the little boy was there.


BEN: Yes! Coming from the "Somewhere Else!"


BOBBY JO: So, I just kind of enlarged that world. What is his father like? What does he do with his time? What is the darkness that his dreams are calling him out of? I finished the verses in one day, I think. Then I had it. I'm so glad you like the song. It still connects when I perform it on tour.


BEN: I so totally get the Somewhere Else. So much of what I write comes from the Somewhere Else. I don't plot. I have a character or two that comes to me and thenWHOOSHoff the story goes and I only sort of know where it's going.


And I was writing my Seasons of Love books and falling in love with my character Wyattto this day he is one of my favorite charactersand I heard your song, and in my heart, it was all WYATT!


After you performed at my church, and you were selling your CDs in the lobby, I was so nervous about asking you for your permission and you said, "Hi, Handsome Man!" when I walked up to you, and I was all giggling inside and then and the rest is history!


BOBBY JO: LOL! It's sad we men don't call each other handsome out loud more often, or other kindnesses. It's a free way to make someone feel good.


BEN: Just as long as we're sincere about it. No one likes having smoke blown up their you-know-what.


BOBBY JO: Of course.


That's great that your characters spring to life in the same way. Human imagination is incredible.


BEN: You know, speaking of Center for Spiritual Living, Rev Chris Michaels told me that whatever brings you your most passion is what you are being directed by the DIVINE to do. That passion is our compass to go where it is we are supposed to go. And I think that "Somewhere Else" you spoke of, at least in my mind, is that connection we have between us and something AMAZING. At least that is the way I think of it. Me being who I was supposed to be.


BOBBY JO: I love that. Such a resonating, life-giving way to guide your steps.


BEN: Well, how about your video you are on the rocks and the camera is zooming all around you and, well, I was amazed by that video as well. I thought you must have used a helicopter or something! LOL!


BOBBY JO: [We used a] drone! Ha! Yes. "Wild, Wild Heart." I shot that at Mt. Lemon, in Tucson. Another great experience. The director and I were just looking to call out people's sense of awe and adventure, to believe in their own wildness and bravery.


BEN: Well, it succeeded.


BOBBY JO: Thank you. The director of that video ended up being the creative director for Ted Tucson, so that is how I wound up with my first Ted Talk! After he heard my music and spent some time with me, he invited me to Ted.


BEN: In your bio, you use the word "queer" to speak of yourself. I love that. But that word scares some LGBT people. Tell me why you chose that word.


BOBBY JO: I do. I think we need to be gentle with words and what people are comfortable with. I wouldn't use that to refer to someone else without feeling sure they'd be comfortable with it. Because it has been used as a negative slur. I love it. I'm different than the norm, in many ways, not just my sexuality. So queer is a way to describe that, and it's also a bit of taking power back from the bullies who used it to try and shame us.


BEN: But it resonates with you.


BOBBY JO: Yes, for me it has kind of a defiant joy to it.


BEN: Agreed. It's somehow spiritual to me as well.


You were raised Christian. Was it difficult for you to realize you were gay (queer)?


BOBBY JO: When desires and attraction started to pop up, I had no idea what to do with them. I think psychologically, my brain did all sorts of flips to try to "get me to" where I could fantasize about a man without feeling bad about it. So my fantasies were usually about losing control, not being able to help what was happening to me. That would alleviate the guilt a little bit.


BEN: Wow! OMG! I did the same thing!


BOBBY JO: Oh really? Wow


BEN: I'm 63 and I have never really heard anyone else say that. Although now that I say it, I am sure it is a big part of Dom/Sub community.


BOBBY JO: Luckily, there's a whole gay sub-culture of sexual control if that's what you're into! LOL!


BEN: I think it's sexy culture, and one to be explored. But for me personally, once I was free to indulge in sex with other men, I just went for it. The pastor of my parent's church said that old (Christian) saying about God "hates the sin but loves the sinner" was false. He said that gays were going to hell either way. So, I figured if I was damned if I did and damned if I didn't, I might as well be damned for doing it


BOBBY JO: It took until I was out of (Bible) college before I was in an environment where I could start exploring my attraction to guys.


BEN: So, no rolling around in the sheets with other Bible college boys? I've heard they are notorious. I had a friend who knew what he wanted in high school and had a lot of sex, and then went to a Seminary college to try and escape gay sex and said he had ten times more there than he ever had at home.


BOBBY JO: Ha! No, no, no. Although it would have been with the dean of men if anyone! I was always attracted to older men.


BEN: Lucky for older men! LOL!


BOBBY JO: I'm glad for my sexuality. 🙂 And have found a wonderful place in the gay community. Again, I feel very lucky to be where I'm at.


BEN: So...you have a new album. Want to tell me about it?


BOBBY JO: 🙂 My latest album is called The Thing About a Heart. I wanted to write a song about our heart's relationship to the outside world. The way that outer things connect with our inner lives. I really love it and I'm so happy it's out in the world.


There's a song called "This is a Joke", about living a little lighter. A song called "Love is Not a Fire Escape", about how true love costs something, and how it's worth it. A song called "Forgive Yourself," that asks you to do just that...one of the hardest things to do.


BEN: Those are quite nice, especially "This is a Joke." The lyric about "a thousand different sages saying what it’s all about,” grabbed me instantly, because my spiritual journey has taken on the teachings of so many wonderful guides through the years. And...then! Wow....

 

It takes most of our lives to figure out...

This is a joke but we’re a part of it

One big joke but we’re a part of it

And if you get down to the heart of it

We’re gonna be just fine

 

I loved that so much!  But I have to share that I was particularly moved by "Out in the Woods." Powerful. It reminds me so much of my experience with both the retreat center I go to each year, out in the woods in the middle of the woods in the middle of not, and with my experience with the love in my life....


Follow the love in your life

Don't be afraid of it

Follow the love in your life

And know that you are made of it

 

Again...Wow...

 

But my favorite song on the album is probably "Another Pulse." It feels to me like a ... I don't know ... Bracket? Bookend? To some of the things you were saying on your very first albums. And evolution so to speak.....


BOBBY JO: I'm excited for folks to listen to it.


BEN: Have you done any kind of video or uploaded a song to YouTube yet from your new album?


BOBBY JO: No music videos, but you can listen to the whole album on YouTube.


BEN: And is there a place where people can purchase it? Or is that through YouTube (forgive my ignorance, I've bought your albums from you!)?


BOBBY JO: I'm hoping to have my store live in the next few days.


BEN: But in the meantime, people can find all your albums on Amazon, right?


BOBBY JO: And iTunes and Google Play.


BEN: So.... Tell me about your book Your True Name. I am crazy about it. I read it in small bits, so I can just absorb your words--very emotional and spiritual--a lot of your music is.


BOBBY JO: Aw thank you so much. I'm glad you like the book.


It was time to put all of my lyrics in one place - everyone at concerts would always ask me if they could purchase a copy of my lyrics.


BEN: Yes!


BOBBY JO: So, it was always a dream of mine to make a book of those. But along the way, I started writing some poetry, too. So the book expanded. And then, when it started having a shape and chapters, I thought that it would be a great opportunity to tell some of my story at the beginning of each chapter. So, I worked at it - for over a year - and came up with the title Your True Name. Because, ultimately, anyone's art is meaningful because it speaks YOUR true name. The artist is trying to connect to you, to your deepest self, and invite it into being. So, that's what I hope it does.


I hope it makes people want to write their own poetry, tell their own story, and explore their own hidden depths more. In the simplest of language...I hope it helps.


BEN: Wow, Bobby Jo. It has certainly been doing that for me. And when I am finished (very soon 😢) I will probably read it again. It's a morning book, during my quiet time. Don't be surprised if I ask your permission to use some more of your words in the future!


BOBBY JO: Please do!


BEN: Where can people get your book?


BOBBY JO: Right on my website.


BEN: And they can get your albums in the same place?


BOBBY JO: Yes sir. [They are in my store] but they are [also] available on streaming everywhere 😊


BEN: Fantastic! You are in the middle of a Florida tour, right? I can make sure I post dates and places.


BOBBY JO: Then three in Georgia. Then Southern California. Then...! LOL! A lot of upcoming tours. It's exciting.


BEN: I hope that people reading this, if they live near any of those places, will go see you.


BOBBY JO: I sure hope so too. 🙂 I have lots of Florida friends but they're all spread out! Hard to tell all of them about the concerts. So hopefully a few posts and your blog will help!


BEN: Bobby Jo, this has been great. Thank you for taking this time with me. I have loved it.


BOBBY JO: Thank you for the conversation, my dear friend. 🙂 Can't wait to read your new writing.


BEN: Well, lots of hugs, take care, and I look forward to talking to you soon! And hopefully you'll come back to Kansas City--when it gets warmer!


BOBBY JO: Absolutely!   Planning on September.


Big hugs to you and the husbears, too!


BEN: Love you, "Handsome Man."


BOBBY JO: Love you too, handsome! And you are most welcome!



I hope Bobby Jo touched something inside you. He is a sweet and amazing man.


And I have put another video at the bottom so you can get another taste of his music!


And that's it for now!


But Wait! Please check below for Bobby Jo's concert dates, they are usually at churches and stuff, so that means the concerts are often free, or if not free, very reasonably priced. You will NOT regret going to see him, and if you do, please tell him Ben sent you!


(don't worry, if you aren't Christian, it won't be a religious experience. No songs like Amazing Grace and being a "wretch.").


And that brings us to a close for today's "Good Morning My Confidants."


Namaste!

BG "Gentle Ben" Thomas




Full details on all dates and times for Bobby Jo's concerts are at: bobbyjovalentine.com

Or right click on the venues below and you will get information on finding the locations.



Soon after will be the dates of his California appearances. Check his website for information!





Bobby Jo Valentine

Hopeful Mystic, Grounded Poet


Bobby Jo Valentine’s music exists outside the lines of any genre, but the music’s thoughtful, spirit focused lyrics and catchy melodies reach listeners across all walks of life. The poetic nature and spiritual focus of his stories and songs has resulted in notable awards and a growing, loyal following around the country.  He’s found a voice with original, hopeful songs about the gentle everyday spiritual awakenings of an openhearted life. 


Growing up and emerging out of a Baptist Church of strict lines and sharp edges, Bobby Jo Valentine has emerged into a larger, kinder, more welcoming faith…one that is excited to learn, open to growth, and focused on love.


Along with theatres, house concerts, and many other kinds of stages, Bobby is often invited to offer his stories and songs at faith communities around the nation. Among others, he has been invited to perform for The Wild Goose Festival, the international Emerge Conference, and the 2017 General Synod of the United Church of Christ. His music has won Song of the Year twice at West Coast Songwriter’s Association, and his work has appeared on radio, TV, and feature films. He has performed artist residencies, hosted songwriting workshops, and been involved in helping communities of all types use their spaces and voice in more creative and powerful ways. Bobby currently hails from Portland, Oregon, and is ecstatic any time he can discuss the big questions, challenge the easy answers, and inspire people to move closer to love.



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15 commentaires


Invité
24 janv.

A lovely interview with a really interesting man. He's talented and very handsome on too of that. I enjoyed the art going from inside ones self to a form of expression that the rest of us are lucky enough to experience. Jolly good show! 💗

J'aime

Invité
24 janv.

A great interview with a very creative and inspiring man. Thanks for the interview and music.

J'aime

Invité
23 janv.

An excellent interview! We were blessed last fall when Bobby Jo travelled to St. Louis and performed at Kirkwood UCC.

J'aime
B.g. Thomas
B.g. Thomas
23 janv.
En réponse à

So cool!


J'aime

Chris Gibson
Chris Gibson
23 janv.

Great interview. Fascinating to hear about the making of the video. Great song, great video. Will check on his other songs as well

J'aime
B.g. Thomas
B.g. Thomas
23 janv.
En réponse à

Thank you so much my dear friend

J'aime

Invité
23 janv.

Such a wonderful, in-depth interview! You both are very talented artists!

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B.g. Thomas
B.g. Thomas
23 janv.
En réponse à

Why thank you so much! <3


J'aime
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