September Restart: Singing the Silence

If you frequent Barnes & Noble at MarketFair, you probably already know Dan Zimmerman. He’s the guy behind the music counter who knows the stock, and well he should, because he’s a musician himself, a recording artist with Sounds Familyre with two CDs to his credit. He’s also a painter. Zimmerman plays the Arts Council of Princeton’s Café Improv this Saturday, and is scheduled to go on in the featured spot at the end of the evening. A video of a previous gig at Café Improv, which combined his music with his paintings, won a prestigious national video award

Zimmerman had an opportunity to share his faith this summer at an alternative-style worship service at Princeton United Methodist Church. For a service in the contemplative style, he sat at the altar with several of his very evocative paintings and contributed two deeply spiritual songs, one familiar (“The King of Love My Shepherd Is,” which he says he has loved since he was a little boy) and one of his own (“Scarcely Born”). The title and the concept are oddly comforting. “It’s about how freeing it is to allow the evolutionary concept of vast stretches of time,” says Zimmerman. “I am savoring the belief that our development has only scarcely begun.”

The son of a Methodist preacher who “fell through the cracks,” as his bio puts it, Zimmerman lets his life experience infuse his songs. His singing has been described as deeply resonant, and “backed by skillful guitar, it surprises an audience with smooth, subtle, but intense emotion,” according to one writer.

He’s been edging to the spiritual and philosophical side. Thanks to a choir director who taught that “the foundation of all music is silence.” Zimmerman says he is working toward a music that focuses on the “place between the notes.” The song “Silence is a Golden Mountain” is one of my favorites on his new CD “Cosmic Patriots.”

“The lion’s share of songs I’ve written had their genesis in quiet times I’ve spent in the morning with a book on my lap,” says Dan. “There’s something about The Space Between that draws me back, the space between words on a page, and in music, the space between notes. In painting it’s more difficult to express: perhaps it’s the fluid, mysterious space between the painting and the open heart of the viewer.”

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