Jenny Boyd — Staring Into The Face Of God
Interview by Iain McNay
Iain: Hello and welcome again to conscious.tv. My name is Iain McNay and my guest today is Jenny Boyd. Hi Jenny.
Jenny: Hi Iain.
Iain: And it's always interesting how we end up having guests on conscious.tv, and there's often a flow of how things happen. And Renate and I were going on holiday a few weeks ago at Heathrow Airport, and I wanted a book to read on holiday. I like reading books, and not always just conscious.tv-type books. So I picked up this book [holds up the book, Anger Is an Energy] which is John Lydon's autobiography, which I thought would be really interesting and I know it had good reviews, and she said, 'Don't buy that, I've got you that for Christmas.' So that was that one out of the way. And next to it was this book [holds up the book, Play On], the autobiography of Mick Fleetwood. And I've always liked Fleetwood Mac and this had good reviews, so I thought, I'll get this. So I got this. And then in the book it talks about a book written by Mick's wife (wife at the time), Jenny Boyd. And this book is called It's Not Only Rock 'n' Roll — Iconic musicians reveal the source of their creativity [holds up the book]. And I thought, that sounds really interesting, because that's a subject that interests me. So I then contacted Jenny and she's agreed to come along to conscious.tv. And the strange thing is, going back to this one [holds up John Lydon's book again] — the interconnectedness of the universe that we're going to talk about — the bass player of PiL (Public Image Limited, which was John Lydon's second band), Jah Wobble, is coming in later today to conscious.tv to talk about his spiritual journey. So it all ties in nicely.
So, Jenny, you've had a fascinating life.
Jenny: I have, yes.
Iain: And you've certainly lived a life, haven't you, in many, many ways. And you... just to recap the early days, you left school about seventeen, and you became... you and your sister Pattie became successful models in London.
Jenny: Yes, well Pattie became a model... she became a photographic model first. I carried on at school, not sure what I was going to do, got into the sixth year, thought maybe I'll be a journalist. And then I was sort of head-hunted by these two fashion designers, Foale and Tuffin, and they asked if I would be their house model. So I left school and the next weekend I started. I never spoke to my mother about it, um... and that's how it began. It was in Carnaby Street, which was just beginning to have sort of music in men's shops, which was quite unusual then, and it was quite buzzy.
Iain: 'Cause you'd had before that — we won't spend much time on this — but you were living in Kenya for a time, weren't you, in Africa, with your mother and her second husband?
Jenny: Well, no, my sister Pattie and my brother Colin and I all went to Kenya. I was just a few months old, and I had my first six years there. And that was with our father who was not a very well man. He was quite traumatised. He'd had a bad accident during the war. And so we were sometimes with him, sometimes with our grandmother, you know, it was very sort of... pretty traumatic upbringing.
Iain: Yes, yeah.
Jenny: And then my mother divorced and met this other man who then became our stepfather. They went to live in England, we stayed in Africa, and then gradually, one by one, we followed.
Iain: Right, yeah. So becoming a model and getting out into the swinging sixties was a relief to you, to get out of the situation you were in?
Jenny: Um... I think by the time I became a model, stepfather had already gone off with somebody else, so actually life was not too bad, you know. It was sort of a bit more... okay. But my mother still had... she had six children altogether, so she still had more children to bring up. But it was exciting. But I think anyone who turns sixteen, life is exciting, because you have freedom. So, you know, I could have been anybody, I think, and felt excited. It was just part of life, I thought, you know, going off and being a model in Carnaby Street. And then photographic model and traveling, you know, round Europe and New York and everywhere. And, um, yeah, it really was exciting.
Iain: And then when you were around eighteen you had an important experience, didn't you?
Jenny: Yes, and by this... before this happened... Mick and I had met when we were sixteen and we started going out with each other around seventeen. And we went out with each other for about a year, and then I broke up with him because I felt there was more to life and I needed to, um, I don't know... there was a feeling that I just needed to experience more. And I actually was sharing a house with Beryl Marsden who I know you've had on the show...
Iain: Yes, yes.
Jenny: ... and I was by myself, just in the sitting room — and I had started smoking a little bit of pot, but not an awful lot, and I just have to put that in there because I don't think it was to do with that — but I was just sitting there, completely, you know... nothing... sober, nothing going on. And suddenly it was like time stood still. And I had this extraordinary feeling where I suddenly felt I'd become very sort of alert, but at the same time it felt very otherworldly. And what it was, was this feeling that everything is a circle. Life, death, reincarnation, you know, I sort of saw it very clearly, and it didn't feel like it came from here [pointing at her head], it felt more just part of me. And it was very, very powerful. And I think now, after, you know, after many years, I actually made a very... a connection to a very deep part of myself. And from then on I became aware that I was searching then, I was on this path. And I wasn't quite sure at that time what I was searching for, but I'd heard about this book[shop], afterwards, in Charing Cross Road, called Watkins.
Iain: The bookshop, yes.
Jenny: The bookshop. And old Mr. Watkins was there then.
Jenny: And I went in there and I started looking at all the books I could about Eastern religions, and realised that they were saying a lot of the stuff that I'd experienced. So it was very affirming. And then I just wanted to find other people who had felt the same way, or the same thing had happened to, so I really was on a search.
Iain: And was it something... at the time when it happened, did it throw you a bit, or was it just exciting that something new was opening up?
Jenny: No, it threw me, it threw me. And it was so deep, it stayed with me all these years later. And suddenly I didn't want to be a model anymore because it didn't feel it had the depth that I was craving. And it wasn't long afterwards that a friend of mine asked me if I would come and help her open a shop in San Francisco, and so I thought, why not?, you know. I didn't want to be a model anymore. So I went over there, and that was 1967 and it was the beginning of Flower Power. And so when I got to San Francisco I saw there were tons of people who'd all experienced similar things, and it just so happened there I was in the middle of the sort of Zeitgeist, you know, of that time.
Iain: There was also quite a strong LSD drug thing, wasn't there? Because I'm not sure that LSD was illegal then, was it, in '67?
Jenny: Not that I'm aware of.
Iain: Yes. I think it had a different name and it was legal at that time. Anyway, that's a detail, but...
Jenny: Yeah... yeah... yeah. So that was all part of it, you know, taking LSD; although I probably had about three or four trips altogether. It frightened me. I wasn't one of those people who could just, you know... like the Grateful Dead; you hear about them taking it every day almost, you know. It frightened me because what would happen, I would just be questioning: why are we here? what is God?, you know. I was so heavy. And I was still then, what?, eighteen, nineteen.
Iain: So it really impacted you, because to have those questions at eighteen, nineteen years old is... that's deep stuff.
Iain: So your sister Pattie — who was, I mentioned earlier, was also a model — she at that time was going out with George Harrison.
Iain: And before you went to San Francisco, George gave you a book, didn't he?
Jenny: He did. It was Paramahansa Yogananda's book, and that stayed with me for a long time. Because when I got to Los Angeles... they have a Self-Realization Fellowship that I used to go to. And through all the crazy sort of Fleetwood Mac years, that would be my, um, place where I would go to when I needed peace and quiet. And I knew all the chants; and place to meditate.
Iain: So were you meditating regularly at this stage or did that come later?
Jenny: No, it was after I came back from San Francisco. George and Pattie and the rest of the Beatles... we all went to Wales together to meet Maharishi, and on our way back George asked me if I'd like to go to India with them, 'cause he knew... 'cause I'd told them when I had this experience, and, you know, they were sort of feeling the same way. It was almost like this wave, you know, that people were picking up on. And I think that's exactly what it was, you know, you were just kind of tuning in to this sort of collective unconscious, I suppose. So I said I'd love to go to India. It had been always like a dream of mine to go to India ever since. And so I went to India and we were there for about two and a half months. We left prematurely, which everybody knows about. And then Pattie, George and I went and met up with Ravi Shankar and then toured with him for a couple more weeks.
Iain: But in India I think... one of the things that I found interesting, which you talk about briefly in the book, and Pattie talks about in her autobiography, is that you observed the creative process of the Beatles, which in a way was — though you didn't know it at the time — was the beginning of this [pointing to Jenny's book].
Jenny: I know, yes, yeah. And because the thing is, I always felt I wasn't creative, even though I wrote poems... and Mick actually said to me recently, 'Well, when you were modelling you were the one that sort of danced along catwalks.' They weren't in those days, you know. People were... models were paying a lot of money to learn how to walk properly and demurely, and do all the right things. And I just danced everywhere because that was my self-expression. But I never thought I was creative, and so I think there's always been this undercurrent of fascination with people who are creative. And so we'd be sitting on the top of our bungalow — just the Beatles, and I think Cynthia Lennon was there, and Pattie and me — and one of them would say... like John would say, 'Well, I didn't sleep very well last night.' And then you'd see him pick up his guitar and start making a song about it, and then them joining in. And it was amazing just to see creativity at its most fundamental really.
Iain: Yeah, because in Pattie's book it mentions the song written about Prudence Farrow...
Jenny: Oh, yes!
Iain: ... 'Dear Prudence' which was because apparently Mia Farrow's sister, she was a bit over-the-top with the meditation.
Jenny: Yeah. She went into a trance!
Jenny: And she was... then she got moved to our bungalow, so she was just sitting up in bed, day and night. And John went in with his guitar, I had my little flute from San Francisco, so I was playing and he was playing his guitar, and that's when he started singing that song, and, um...
Iain: Did that song just come to him?
Jenny: I think it did!
Jenny: Or maybe that was the beginnings of it. But he was just trying to get through to her. It didn't work. I mean, she stayed sort of in this trance until a few days later we saw her running down this track. And she was alright in the end.
Iain: She became famous because of that song [laughing].
Jenny: That's right, 'Prudence,' yeah [laughing].
Iain: One of the things that I've pulled out of your book, too, which fascinated me was — it's a bit later in my notes here [looking at notes] — but the song that George... George Harrison wrote a song there which was never recorded, um... which...
Jenny: Beggars in a banquet?
Iain: Beggars in a banquet. Yeah.
Jenny: Yeah. When I was interviewing him for the book and he was saying that, you know, 'we have everything we need to live a spiritual life.' And he said, you know, when we were in India and he was there to learn how to meditate and, you know, he would see people going off to Dehradun or the Taj Mahal or... you know, and he said 'I didn't want to do that because I was here; everything you need is here.' So it was like... we're like beggars in a gold mine.
Iain: Did you realise the importance of that at the time, for yourself?
Jenny: Yes! Yeah, yeah.
Iain: And I just want to read the lyrics out, just four lines. So this is the lyrics to this unrecorded song, 'Beggars in a Gold Mine.'
See them move along the road; In search of life divine; Unaware it's all around them; Beggars in a gold mine.
... very simple but very poignant.
Jenny: Yes. Yeah, yeah.
Iain: And I think we all go through those phases in time where we're similar somehow. We know it's here, and yet we try to seek it outside.
Jenny: Yes. I think sometimes — just as we're talking about this — that it's to do with gratitude as well, you know, being grateful for where we are, and staying in the moment, rather than always searching. Searching for this or that, which is all distraction, you know? It's all here.
Iain: And just to finish off on this songwriting, of course Donovan wrote a song for you, didn't he?
Jenny: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm, yeah. I was working...
Iain: 'Jennifer Jupiter' he wrote for you...
Jenny: 'Jennifer Juniper.'
Iain: Juniper, yeah.
Jenny: Yeah. I was working at the Apple shop, the Beatles' Apple shop, just before we went to India, and he came in there and didn't realise I was working there. I'd met him once or twice before. And then he asked me if I'd like to go to Cornwall with him. And he was writing the album From a Flower to a... No. Flower in the Garden... what was it? [A Gift] From a Flower to a Garden, I think it was called. And anyway, he'd obviously developed a bit of a crush, and so he asked me if I'd like to come over to his manager's one day for Sunday lunch, and then he said 'I've got something to show you.' And so he sat down, got out his guitar, and started singing 'Jennifer Juniper.' And it was so sweet. I sort of felt quite shy and wasn't quite sure where to look, but at the same time it was very sweet. And it always still feels like it's my song. Yeah.
Iain: So... and then you came back. You spent this time with Ravi Shankar, which... did that... that must have deepened your process to some extent, your understanding, did it, to some extent?
Jenny: Well, it was wonderful. Just being in India was wonderful. And we were all still meditating, um, so, yeah, it was an incredible experience. It was just... because I love the sound of the sitar and the tablas and... it was amazing. And it was interesting being in the Indian audience, you know: whereas we all clap, they all just shake their head and ts-ts-ts-ts-ts-ts. Every time something's amazing they just make that sound. It was very different.
Iain: And then one thing that you wrote in the book which is obviously significant to you... that you were in... so you were with Mick again, and Fleetwood Mac were playing a gig in San Francisco, and you say the gig changed your life because you 'saw musicians as modern-day disciples spreading the word about something greater than music.'
Jenny: Yeah. Actually I think that might have been when... it might have actually been, Iain, in New Orleans.
Jenny: And they were playing with the Grateful Dead. And the Grateful Dead had spiked everybody. So it didn't matter whether you were just one of the road crew or... and I got spiked as well.
Iain: They spiked all of you?
Jenny: Yeah, they spiked everybody, without us knowing.
Iain: What, LSD spike?
Jenny: Yeah, yeah.
Jenny: And so, suddenly we were all high and, um, you know, Mick wasn't sure if he was going to be able to play, and, you know, it was all... But anyway, they got through the gig and we managed to find our way back to the hotel. And whereas normally in those days everyone would go to their own room, we were all congregated together. And everybody was high on acid, and they were talking about things that they'd never talked about before, but it was a lot of this sort of stuff. And it was then that I realised they seemed as if... it seemed to me that musicians were... You know how people seem to have stopped going to church now, but tons of people will go to watch a band. And within that... while they're there, they pick up on this wonderful feeling of unison... unism...
Jenny: Unity. Where they're all together. And that was like this sort of sudden flash of seeing what part musicians play. And they're kind of like the spokespeople of our time.
Iain: Yeah, and that comes out a lot in the book. Later on in the book you talk about the 'live side' how the audience and the band, they become one unity, in one way.
Jenny: Yeah... yeah.
Iain: And I also particularly like — I'm jumping ahead a bit here, but this is relevant at this point — that Mick Fleetwood would talk about the rhythm section with him and John McVie in Fleetwood Mac; how, again, they were one unit. And how with Peter Green, in the early days with Peter Green, how Mick would sometimes be reduced to tears by the genius of... the intensity of Mick's guitar playing.
Jenny: Yeah, yeah, yeah — of Peter's — yeah, exactly.
Iain: Sorry, I meant Peter's guitar playing, yeah.
Jenny: And that comes across in the book as well, because quite a few of the musicians talk about technique versus feel. And where you can be a brilliant musician and do 100 chords a minute, but if you don't have the feel, it doesn't mean anything. Or you can be somebody just playing on a couple of strings, but if you've got feel, that's what counts, because that's what communicates to other people.
Iain: Yes, and people are hungry for that, aren't they? They're hungry for that sense of communication and belonging.
Jenny: Connection, yeah.
Iain: And it's something that we, in one way, unfortunately move away from in society. But what happened to Peter Green? 'Cause he told you he'd had this... he confided in you he'd had this spiritual awakening...
Jenny: Yes, this sort of spiritual awakening, and he asked me if I'd... if he came by in a taxi, would I jump in the taxi with him and just talk to him about my spiritual life and my spiritual awareness, and what happened in India. But we only had from Notting Hill Gate to Marble Arch, you know [Iain laughs], to say everything, and I couldn't get it all... I couldn't say it... it wasn't very conducive, you know. But I did know that there was a part of him that was really searching and obviously he hadn't talked to other people about it. Because when the band got together they were always teasing each other and, you know, it wasn't really the right atmosphere. But then he started wearing robes and I could tell something was going on. But also on a tour — I think it was in San Francisco — he met up with these women who then, when he went to go and visit them, gave him a lot of acid. And I think for anybody who's as sensitive as he is... I think that's what started it off. So my feeling is, if you're an artist the veil between the conscious and the unconscious is very thin. And they're quite used to going into the unconscious because that's where all the creativity comes from. But I think that, you know, acid's quite powerful, especially for somebody who's really sensitive. And I think that was probably the beginning of this sort of... you know, he became paranoid schizophrenic, and um...
Iain: It was the same — although you don't talk about him in the book — Syd Barrett, wasn't it, from Pink Floyd, a similar process? Yeah.
Jenny: Yeah, yeah. And I think it's a way of seeing how the creative energy can be very destructive if it's not released, you know? It kind of goes in on the person.
Iain: It's like someone says in the book, that it's a gift from God, and somehow that gift needs to be expressed.
Jenny: Yes, yeah. And there's a quote from psychologist Rollo May that if you don't use your creativity you betray yourself.
Iain: Yeah, it's like a responsibility in a way. It's a difficult one because then you have to have the courage to go out there and do it.
Jenny: Well, that's it. And you know my inspiration for actually starting on that book was Eric Clapton, 'cause he was married to my sister after she was married to George. And I lived fairly near them in England. And I would see Eric in his drinking days and he seemed very... [he] would say, no, he wasn't special in any way, you know, he was just like the man-in-the-street. And I kept thinking, well he is special, you know, he's an amazing guitarist, and why isn't he owning up to it? And then years later when I went and lived in L.A. and I was writing that book, I thought, maybe there's something that's frightening to him; maybe having this gift is actually a burden — 'cause I did see it as a gift. So when I actually got to interview him — and he'd stopped drinking at that time — he said 'it is frightening; it's like staring into the face of God,' sometimes when he's creating, and you feel very vulnerable and naked. So, um... and it does take courage.
Iain: Yes. Staring into the face of God. That is... that's right, it takes everything away, doesn't it?
Jenny: Mmm. Mmm.
Iain: So, just to follow your story through a little bit more, and then we'll get on to more detail of the book. You, um... being with Mick was wonderful but also challenging, wasn't it, at times? And you were actually married to him twice, weren't you?
Jenny: Yes [laughing], determined to make it work!
Iain: You tried hard; you don't give up easily! And then you also were drinking and taking some drugs, etcetera, and it came to the point — I'm interested in knowing what happened at this point — it came to the point that you saw you couldn't go on like that, in terms of the excesses. And what were the triggers there?
Jenny: Yeah, um, what happened... by this time now I was married to Ian Wallace, another drummer from England who lived in L.A.
Iain: King Crimson, yes.
Jenny: King Crimson. And went back to move... I was in England for a bit after Mick, and then came back to L.A. Two things I'd vowed I would never do again: move back to L.A. or marry another musician!
Iain: Or another drummer [laughing]...
Jenny: I did both of those, yeah. And — I think it was our honeymoon — at some point we went to Hawaii together and we went with a couple of other musicians as well because, you know, it was all about who's got the drugs? And I was given magic mushroom, which I'd never had before; but in a pill, so it's synthetic which obviously makes it stronger. And, um, we were sitting on the beach and everyone was laughing and, you know, it started to become a little bit, 'well, are we making a lot of noise and are we drawing attention to ourselves?' So they all wanted to go in the sea. So I've always been a bit scared of the sea; I always had some sort of phobia, you know, when I was younger (but love it). So I followed them into the sea and just wore my... what did I... I just had my mask on, and just dropped my snorkel. And then I was swimming out, and I was quite far out; I was completely just out of my head. I believed I could breathe underwater. I thought I was a fish. And so I was under the water and couldn't be bothered to sort of put my head up again. And then I started choking and floundering, and all the fear of, you know, when I was a kid, believing I would drown... all that came. And they were way out, so they didn't see what was happening. And I swam back to shore, terrified that I would have another feeling of, 'I don't want to put my head up and get air anymore.' But anyway I got to shore, and it was after that that I realised I was ready to give back, in some way, to life. And so I went... the first thing I did... because, you know, I'd never gone to college, I didn't have any degrees or anything. The first thing I did was, I trained to talk to kids in state schools about drugs and alcohol. So I did three months' training there and I would go with somebody else and we would just, you know... talk in the classroom. And I was a bit shy, so I would just go to the little kids and chat with them separately. And then I realised I needed to do more, so that's when I actually enrolled myself in a college that was about holistic health — which meant psychology and nutrition and, you know, all the things I was interested in. And that was the beginning of my journey.
Iain: And you just stopped drinking from that point on, pretty much, did you?
Jenny: I did. I did. And, you know, because one had to write so many papers. I wrote so many papers about my life, about my upbringing, about... you know, psychological papers. And you start to see... it's sort of like... I never went to, and I never felt I needed to really... I never went to a twelve step programme, although I've always been involved in the, sort of, addiction field on... you know, as a sort of therapist really. But once I got to know about the twelve steps, it was very much... all the papers we were asked to do, was like doing the whole of the twelve steps. And so I guess I stopped in a different way than a lot of other people stop, you know? And my spiritual programme helped as well.
Iain: And you still are quite a strong meditator?
Jenny: Mm-hmm, yeah, yeah.
Iain: So let's... let's talk in detail more about the book now. So one of the things you say at the beginning is that there's a difference between talent and creativity. Just explain that.
Jenny: Okay. So talent, I think... talent is you have an inborn talent, a propensity towards... you just have a natural way with, say, the guitar, or depending on whatever it is that you do. It's like a gift. And it depends how you use that talent. 'Cause you could have that talent and do nothing at all with it. But creativity... anybody can be creative. And even if you've got the talent, you'd still need to be creative to be doing something with it. So I do believe that everyone has the ability to be creative in some way, and I think it's not how can I be creative?; I think it's about how do I get in touch with me and my sense of self-expression?
Iain: Yeah. And that's a really important thing, and most people — not most people, but many people — flounder with that, don't they? Because it is about a deeper level of who they really are.
Jenny: Exactly. And it's recognising that, because I do believe everyone has a gift of some sort; an ability, an innate ability, to do something. And that's fine, but then you've got to... by looking deeply into yourself, you know, 'know thyself;' it's knowing what it is. What is it that you do, that you do naturally? And then you go ahead and you do it.
Iain: So what are the clues that someone looks for in themselves to find that?
Jenny: Well, I can only use myself as an example. I've always loved to write, but I never thought anything of it. And I would write about how uncreative I feel; I'd write poems about it.
Iain: About how uncreative...?
Jenny: Uncreative, yeah. So I never thought of writing as my thing, but I would do it; it was so natural. And if I, you know, couldn't say something, I would be able to write it; then I could see how I was feeling. If I was feeling a bit depressed or I couldn't understand what was going on, I'd always have to get a pen and paper and write about it. So I always used writing. But since writing that book, I realised, that is my gift; that is what I do. I write. And I just... I'm hoping now there's going to be another book — I hope it'll be a book, I think it will — but a manuscript I've just finished. And it's... I realised that's what I do. And the reason why it's important to find one's gift, or one's thing that you do, is it makes you feel good, you know, it's like... it just makes you feel good. So that's a pretty good reason to do it.
Iain: And being yourself does make you feel good, generally...
Jenny: Yeah, yeah, yeah. You have more energy, you know, life is good.
Iain: And of course, in my perspective, that's also tied in with the spiritual path, because the more you understand yourself, the more you get in touch with who you really are, which is an expression of the whole; a unique expression of the whole.
Jenny: Exactly. Right, right. And when I first wrote... because it was a PhD dissertation originally, and it was called 'The Spiritual and Creative Link.' And, you know, a lot of the questions — although I don't sort of mention 'are you spiritual?' to the musicians — you know, I asked them about, had they ever experienced any peak experience? Which is a very spiritual experience, you know, when everything becomes one, and suddenly you're writing and you can't believe it's you that's written it, because it feels like it's coming through you.
Jenny: And it's opening up to whatever one wants to call it.
Iain: And of course the musicians get that experience very much in the live... their live work, and also in the studio, and also... with the live work with the audience, but also in the band, as we were talking about earlier.
Jenny: Oh, yes. I think... was it David Crosby who mentions that he remembers quite a few times when they've been up on stage and the audience is with them, and they're in that sort of peak moment, and they all start the wrong verse at the same time.
Iain: Right, yeah.
Jenny: But there's another part... and the peak experience is really connected to the unconscious too... and there's another aspect of it that quite a few people talked about: when they were just going to sleep, you know, that sort of... where you're just going off to sleep... and suddenly they'll hear a riff, or they'll hear a few words, that they need to get up and write it down. And if they don't, they think they'll remember, and they don't. And there was one woman who said she knew these words were fantastic, it just kind of came to her, but she couldn't be bothered to get out of bed. And a while later she heard those very same words in another song. So what she was alluding to [was] that it's all around us, but it's what you want to, you know, connect with.
Iain: So, in a way, a creative gift is an opportunity. It's not necessarily that one person has it and one person doesn't. It's the opportunity, and do we take that opportunity in life?
Jenny: Yes, yes. And it does take courage because, you know, doing anything that's kind of not the status quo, you know, is like standing out... or having the courage to sort of say, 'this is who I am.' And whatever you do that's creative... you do need courage because you kind of put yourself on the line... for criticism.
Iain: That's right, you do, because — especially a musician — you can get bad reviews, you can get people talking negatively about you.
Jenny: Right, yeah. It's having the courage to be who you are.
Iain: Having the courage to be who you are. That's pretty deep, that, isn't it? And it is the essence, really, of life: have you got the courage to be who you are?
Jenny: And the other thing that all those musicians talked about is this drive to create. So, you're thinking... most of them are pretty famous musicians, and a lot of them... their drive was they just knew. There was this sense of destiny. They knew that this was going to be something big, that they were going to actually play an important part in this world. And that was the drive. They couldn't not do it. And so whereas a lot of people... I always wanted to play a musical instrument, but that wasn't my gift, you know. I played... I'd get a guitar, or I'd get... George gave me a sitar once, you know; I'd get all these different instruments, but I didn't have the drive to go through the learning process, you know, where your fingers are hurting or whatever is happening. But they all did, because there was something more. They had the drive.
Iain: Yes. There's this film I saw last week, Whiplash. Have you seen this film?
Iain: It's about a drummer in a jazz band, and he — I won't go into the whole film; I'm not sure that the film itself, in terms of how it ends up, is great — but his dedication to try and be the best... And he's drumming away — another drummer! — drumming away, and then he has to put his hands in blocks of ice because they're hurting so much he's damaging his fingers. Because he's drumming, just trying to get that... the peak, the intensity. And so you... you know, I remember reading Colin Wilson — he's gone now; he's dead now, Colin Wilson — him talking about the peak experience. But you quote Maslow, don't you?
Jenny: Yes, yes.
Iain: So what does Maslow say about the peak experience?
Jenny: He says, um, it's about 'self-actualisation,' he calls it. And he says when everything becomes one, when everything unites — in fact Carl Jung talks about it as well — when the conscious and the unconscious meet, and you come into that midway, the midway part, and then everything comes together.
Iain: And it's like — just to go back briefly to the drug thing — it's like... many people who've been on conscious.tv have had a taste of this interconnectedness, the oneness, through drugs; but they see that drugs doesn't really get you there in the end. It's an addiction that gives you a taste of something without really delivering...
Jenny: Then you've got to do the work. It only gets you so far.
Iain: That's right. But somehow — and I'm not saying this is the right thing to do — but for so many people drugs are a catalyst, just to give you that beginning somehow.
Jenny: Yeah, yeah, just put you in a slightly different frame, I suppose, yeah.
Iain: And as you've said, this balance, this... between the conscious and the unconscious is so delicate at times, and it is... Someone who is sensitive is nearer to the unconscious, but there's the danger — like the Peter Greens or the Syd Barretts or whatever — of collapsing into it and just going completely... losing their human side.
Jenny: Yeah, yeah. But also, I find, and I'm sure a lot of meditators do, that at a certain point... You know, you hear all the sort of, like, monkey mind going on and on and on; then at a certain point it sort of calms down and you get into that space. And it is like a kind of void where the ego is just not involved at all, and you're just being there. I mean, that's what we all strive for. But every now and then in meditation... and I think that's like a peak experience.
Iain: So the peak experience isn't necessarily about a kind of euphoria; it can be... a peak experience can be very undramatic...
Jenny: Yeah. I think so. And I think it's when the conscious mind just gets out of the way, and you just allow yourself just to be.
Iain: 'Cause some of the people in the book, they talk about actually... the more present they are, the more there they are, in a way, the less they're there. So they'd bring their attention, they'd bring their focus, to the playing, and then something else, like, takes over.
Jenny: ... takes over. So then... I think it was David Crosby again who was saying... he was describing what that's like... and he's playing all this amazing stuff that he's never played before, but as soon as his conscious mind comes in and says, 'whoa, you're really cool,' he messes up. You can't get that in the way, the sort of ego, you know. As long as you keep that at bay, then you can do it. And I think that's also why a lot of people would drink, as well. Because that would sort of... probably get rid of the conscious mind, and it's more easy to kind of get into the unconscious bit... to a point, until it takes over and the drink becomes more important than what you're using it for.
Iain: Yeah, well that's the addiction quality, isn't it? And there is this diligence, I suppose, you have to... you have to apply. Because there's all the temptation, especially when you're — you would know this with Fleetwood Mac; you were on tour with the band — and then after the stage there's parties every night...
Jenny: That's right; they want to keep the high. It's like Joni Mitchell said, you know... she was talking about different drugs and what they do, and she said, 'but you know, at the end, the sober mind is the long-distance runner of them all.'
Iain: The sober mind is the long-distance runner. Yeah... yeah. I'm just pulling out a quote here from Keith Richards, because you obviously spent a bit of time with him; there's quite a few quotes from him in the book. And he talks about when he's playing with the band, 'there's a sense of amazement; this isn't me playing.'
Jenny: That's it. Same thing. Yeah. But as soon as that ego comes in and goes, 'God, you're so brilliant,' it just messes it all up.
Jenny: But isn't it... it's giving yourself to the groove, to the... you know, that oneness, isn't it?
Iain: The flow that happens, yeah.
Iain: And he goes on further saying, 'When you are playing with the right bunch of guys, there is joy and a very calm feeling. There is this incredible thread to everybody else who is there with you. You get to the point where you don't even have to look at anyone else to know what they're doing. We all transcend together.'
Jenny: Yeah, yeah.
Iain: And Ringo says something similar: 'We all feel like one when we're playing together. You trust each other as players.'
Iain: It must have been great meeting all these people actually [laughing]!
Jenny: I know. It was. It was amazing! And every interview was just brilliant. You see, a lot of them I knew already, but I didn't know they thought in this way. And it was only once I started asking all my questions and started interviewing them... And everybody loved the interviews. You know, there was a lot of them that came to the book launch, book signing, at Book Soup in L.A., just to support it because they felt so pleased about the book and how it had come out and, you know, it was a thoughtful book.
Iain: Yeah... yeah. So, um... let's get on to this thing about — which I think is really important — that we all have the creative spark in us. Because people tend to write themselves off: they say, 'Well, you know, Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, Joni Mitchell, Keith Richards — these are all geniuses,' and they're way beyond where they're ever gonna be. And you quote Rosanne Cash saying, 'We all carry the divine spark in us. When the gates are open it's free-flow information and inspiration.' So it's like... and I remember also when you talked to, again, Keith Richards, he said... he was talking about... with Mick Jagger. He said to him one day, he said to Mick Jagger, 'Why don't you paint something?'
Jenny: Oh, yes, Ronnie Wood. Ronnie Wood said that, yes, yes.
Iain: That was Ronnie Wood. Ronnie Wood, yeah.
Jenny: And Mick did. Apparently he did a really lovely drawing, and he never thought he could.
Iain: Having said... having said he can't...
Jenny: But the thing also with these musicians... pretty much all of them had nurturing parents or grandparents; or the person down the street, you know, in the case of George Harrison. And so that counts for a lot. You know, a few of them didn't, like Stephen Bishop and Roger Waters didn't. But their drive was obviously strong enough that they managed to get there in the end. I mean, Roger Waters ended up by having a teacher — he thought he was going to be an architect — who actually said in class, 'You can take your guitar to the back of the class and I'll be teaching these people here.' So he was his support. So he was his nurturer. And how important that is. So it's hard for people where creativity — or even just themselves as who they are — isn't nurtured when they're young.
Iain: You know, it is interesting because there are people, as you say, that will be successful in spite of everything, and they're the ones who have to try harder, aren't they? They're the ones that have got this life force that's so strong that it kind of burns through.
Jenny: Mm-hmm, I think so, yeah, yeah.
Iain: I've just started reading... There are so many great books to read; that's the trouble. There are only so many hours in a day! But I just started reading Keith Richards's biography and he talks a lot about his... is it his grandmother?
Jenny: Yes, his grandfather, wasn't it? Yeah.
Iain: ... his grandfather being very, very supportive.
Jenny: ... very supportive, yes.
Iain: And somehow... I think it was his... I forget who bought him... but someone bought him a guitar when he was very young as well.
Jenny: Yeah, and put it on the piano, wasn't it? And he never showed it to him, but he... Gradually each time he'd visit he kept thinking, what is that guitar doing on the piano? And it was put there specially for his visits. And then the grandfather took it down and showed it to him...
Iain: I guess that's something that all parents... it's something we need to bear in mind, isn't it?
Jenny: It is. My granddaughter... We were all in Hawaii for Christmas and New Year, with Mick and, you know, our children and our grandchildren and old friends, because Mick's mother was sort of... It wasn't long before she was actually going to die, and so he thought it would be a good idea to all come together. And my granddaughter who's nine years old... she was in... Mick's got a club there, so that when he's off the road he can play — it's like a supper club — and she wanted to sing on stage. And so after the Blues Band had finished, she got up on stage and she sang this song. And she's only nine years old, and so the whole audience... and real sort of country-and-western song... and it was amazing. And she wasn't nervous, and it felt like a completely natural thing to do. And so I said, 'OK, she's got to have singing lessons or something.' And so now every week she goes to... her friend's mother plays guitar and piano... so she just sings every week with her. And it's just that thing of nurturing that.
Iain: And that's similar, isn't it, to the spiritual path, which needs nurturing. And I know, again, you say in the book that sometimes your spiritual path... it wasn't like it was on hold, but it was more in the background. But it never disappeared. And how do you find, in your own life, that the reminders come to keep it at the forefront? I know you've said you have a certain discipline, you do meditation regularly...
Jenny: Yeah, I do meditation. If, for any reason, I don't do it every day, which is... most of the time I do it every day. But if, say, a day or a couple of days goes by and I haven't meditated, I feel slightly sort of off-centre. I'm aware — even though it's not sort of amazing each time I meditate — but I'm aware when I don't do it.
Jenny: And, um, it makes me feel sort of balanced when I keep meditating.
Iain: Yes, yeah. And is silence important to you in your life?
Jenny: Yeah, yeah.
Iain: I mention that — I'm just looking at my notes here — and George Harrison... this quote from him that you took down, 'I like quietness; I tend to write most of my songs in the night, when the world goes to sleep.' And again he says, 'When meditating you infuse the energy into your being, the creative energy that lies within the stillness.' And that's, I suppose, what the unconscious is; it's the stillness. And if we are open to that, it's accessible, and then the stillness is total life as well.
Jenny: Mmm. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, that's important.
Iain: So, um, what I think I'd like to do — we've got about seven or eight minutes left — is... we did touch on this... this encouragement for people to... Because of the link between the creative process and the access to the unconscious, and the journey to find out who they really are; how people can be encouraged to do that more. And, as you said, not everyone's a great musician, not everyone can paint well... what are kind of... what are the clues you got from talking to people?
Jenny: Um... hmm... I think it has to start off first of all with a desire to express yourself in some way. And then, you know, it might take a while to find out what gives you happiness, what gives you joy. It's like me saying I always wanted to play guitar — well, that's not my journey. My journey is writing. I write. But I also bring people together, you know, for different sort of... with the job I do for bringing workshops... putting workshops on. I bring people together. That's something which I found out is a gift. And I think it's about finding what your gifts are. And I think you have to kind of be very quiet, find that little still voice within, and see what resonates for you.
Iain: So what do you do in the workshops?
Jenny: I bring therapists over from the States and I organise workshops. So they can be on relationships, you know, shame, healing our shame, healthy boundaries, learning to let go. And I bring... I've, over the years, brought different therapists, always from the States, and then I create the platform for them. Then I did a conference, a Mindfulness conference, once and had Lama Surya Das and some other really great speakers. So I bring people together. 'Cause I think that... having lived in the States for so many years, I've met some really inspiring people over there, and I think they were ahead of the game as far as psychotherapy. So I'd like to bring people from there and, you know, mix them with people here — either doctors, therapists, um, just people, regular people. So I bring people together; I'm a kind of catalyst.
Iain: Yeah. And where do you see us going? We are... not as much as a society, but there's something growing... the awareness of the interconnectedness is growing all the time. And in a way it has strange ways, because you can, you know... you can just make a little film or a comment and put it on YouTube or FaceBook and it's round the world in two seconds.
Jenny: Yeah, yes, extraordinary.
Iain: So in a way the interconnectedness is happening there. But in another way, people are less personal.
Iain: And so somehow we miss the depth, and that's the thing that I admire and — it comes across very well in the book — that you admire: this courage to be yourself, which... 'cause it takes some balls to go up on a stage. And I remember — this probably wasn't your thing at all — but I remember the early Punk scene, the mid- to late-seventies, where anyone can... I remember T. V. Smith, Tim Smith, from the Adverts, who I used to know quite well. You know, he didn't really... couldn't really play much, but with his girlfriend Gaye Advert, they'd get up on stage and they'd play, and they made records, they got in the Top 20. And it was that thing, that spirit, of going and just doing it.
Jenny: ... doing it, yeah.
Iain: And then, often that can be... turn out to be a living, and other times it's just... it's just a bit of fun and nothing happens. But somehow we seem to have lost that a little bit in society and it's... you have the thing now of the... of the X Factor and Britain's Got Talent, which is almost a karaoke show, in my eyes.
Jenny: It is, yes, yes. But also you've the thing of FaceBook which, yes, it can be nice 'cause you can see photographs of your family or whatever. But, you know, it's like people are so, 'oh, I've got 150 Friends.' But then how many people do you actually sit and have a cup of tea with, you know? And it's sort of deluded in some way. It's a weird thing. I'm not quite sure where it's going.
Iain: So, LIndsey Buckingham — again, a quote from the book — 'All children are creative; it's just that 95 percent get it capped off. The instincts go away. A lot of being creative is being committed enough to do what you were doing to follow it through. The seed is only the beginning.' And we all have the seed.
Jenny: We all have the seed.
Iain: We all have the possibility.
Jenny: Yeah, we do. And you've got to kind of get rid of the crap, really, and sort of, you know, kind of come back to yourself. There's a wonderful TED Talk by Sir Ken Robinson about creativity and schools, you know, about how it gets capped off.
Iain: Yeah, I've seen it, yeah. So overall, your book is... it is fascinating to have... [opens book and holds it up, showing photograph] and that's a wonderful picture of you I've just, by chance... you must have been, what?, seventeen?
Jenny: [Laughing] Sixteen, seventeen, yeah.
Iain: Wonderful picture. The book is very much... you know, it's a collection of inspirational little snippets of stories, in a way, but underneath it there is this deeper message, isn't there? There is this important thing, that we all have this creative side. And I suppose, again, the underlying thing is: have we got the courage...
Jenny: ... to really look inside.
Iain: Yes. And the reward for that is another level, finding another level of who you really are.
Jenny: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
Iain: And what else is there in life to do but find out who you really are — isn't that the biggest journey of all?
Jenny: Yeah, and then express that.
Iain: Express that, yeah.
Jenny: And then that connects with other people. They can really see who you are.
Iain: Yes. And seeing who somebody really is is wonderful. It's like...
Jenny: Yeah... yeah... yeah. It's allowing yourself to be vulnerable, isn't it? And just be who you are.
Iain: And then you can look into the eyes of God always.
Jenny: Mmm, mmm.
Iain: Okay, we're going to need to finish, Jenny. I appreciate you coming along to talk to us at conscious.tv.
Jenny: Thank you. It's very nice to be here.
Iain: Good luck with the book. It's Not Only Rock 'n' Roll — Iconic musicians reveal the source of their creativity [holds up book]. Seventy-five quite fascinating interviews. And I'm just going to show this again 'cause I loved it [holds up Mick Fleetwood's book]. You know, the thing about Mick Fleetwood is — well, you know him, obviously, really, really well — he expresses so many things in this book about the courage to get up there and do it, and he's very transparent. And one thing that touched me, he said about you and him... because you were telling me that you'd got closer again to him when he was writing the book because he came and talked to you about it. And you're now talking in a way you haven't talked, probably ever before in life.
Jenny: You know, we've always been very close. That's the thing, um... and I suppose because we've known each other since we were sixteen — that's a long time — and we've been through a lot, all this kind of crazy Fleetwood Mac time, but also having children as well. But you know, his parents were very much... they were sort of like my parents, and so we've always been very close. But we didn't really know... I think there are some things in that book that we hadn't actually talked about, you know, some of our difficult times, and, um, by writing that, we talked about them. And so, you know, it's an ongoing closeness.
Iain: That's fantastic. Good.
Iain: Thanks again.
Jenny: Thank you.
Iain: Thank you, everyone out there, for watching conscious.tv and I hope we see you again soon. Goodbye.
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