Introducing: Jeffrey Silverstein’s “River Running By”

A track premiere, plus an essay about it by the artist himself.

Along with running, teaching, and meditation, music has always been an outlet through which I come to understand myself and others. Each release helps keep me on the path. Torii Gates, my forthcoming EP, is largely a celebration of the unknown, small joys and learning to be comfortable with transition. A torii (Japanese 鳥居, “where the bird is”) marks the entrance to a sacred space. The gate represents the border between secular and sacred worlds of the Shinto religion and serves as a metaphorical passage from the mundane to the spirit world. 

Throughout the past year I’ve often felt caught somewhere in-between. At times, the disconnect I’ve felt between mind/body has been alarming. The tension I’ve felt between gratitude and sorrow continues to swell. Yet this period of stillness has also served as an opportunity for me to explore, question, and expand upon ideas that have floated freely in my mind for quite some time, both creatively and personally. I’ve been able to adhere to more of a process over product mindset. Collaborating in-person and remotely with Barry Walker Jr (pedal-steel), Alex Chapman (bass), and Ryan Oxford (production) has been a gift. 

“River Running By,” was inspired by the concept of “blue mind,” the meditative state we fall into when near, in or under water. I wrote it during my summer break from teaching, spending the majority of my days sitting in solitude along the Washougal, Lewis, and Columbia here in the Pacific Northwest. I had nowhere to be, nothing to do, so I just sat. Despite the world around me feeling “paused,” I found immense comfort in the steady movement and momentum of the water. My goal was to translate this feeling into song. Once I found the right drum machine sound to accompany my guitar part, I could begin to visualize where the track was heading. I recently found an email I sent to Barry and Alex which outlined the direction for each track – “the vibe: having a beer along the Columbia, big open sky,” I wrote. Between pedal-steel flourishes and the subtle movement of the bass, I think we got there. If you’re reading/listening, I hope it brings you some peace of mind. 

Lyrics:

I was a river, running by
Living life, in four-four time 
So many things, I couldn’t know
Caught a fish, but I let it go

Be easy,

J

Torii Gates is out April 16 via Arrowhawk Records, and Jeffrey’s most recent album You Become The Mountains is avaliable now. 

(Photo Credit: Shade Standard)

Jeffrey Silverstein is a songwriter based in Portland, OR. His new EP, Torii Gates, is out April 2021 via Arrowhawk Records.

(Photo Credit: Shade Standard)