Story Behind Brave Heart
by Jeff Pasternak
My wife Shannon and I met Dr. Alex Pattakos and his wife, Elaine in Santa Fe, New Mexico on Christmas Eve at the Inn at Loretto. We had just completed the traditional holiday family walk up and down Canyon Road with my stepson. We were looking forward to warming our bodies from the snow and the 20-degree night. The room was packed with revelers and the chance of the three of us finding seating was, at best, bleak.
A few feet away Alex spotted us and did not hesitate to offer a place at their table. During our conversations we found much in common, happily exchanging phone numbers and agreeing to catch a film and dinner some other night.
We got together a couple of weeks later, and after dinner Alex mentioned his book. Both Shannon and I thought that Prisoners of Our Thoughts was a great title, and we were intrigued with the subject matter. I think Alex was surprised to hear that the title of my just-released CD was “Bandits of The Soul”. By the end of the evening Alex and I knew that we had a mission together. In fact, I suggested to Alex that I’d like to write a song about Prisoners of Our Thoughts, and that I couldn’t wait to start. Alex beamed and replied, “Why not”!
Alex’s book gave me a great deal to think about, but my spiritual realizations and purpose weren’t bringing me any closer to the song I so longed to write. Attempt after attempt haunted me. l found myself struggling in my own frustration as a writer. Where does one begin to write about such a revealing book on life? How does one capture such lessons to be learned? I concluded that my approach was not coming enough from my heart--I was a prisoner of my thoughts! So I put the project on hold.
Some time later Alex called and asked if I would like to be interviewed on a radio show that he was co-hosting. I agreed and Alex made the interview a breeze. In fact, it was right after the show when I realized that a major key for the song’s direction was a simple word called “sincerity.” All of my life I have tried to live up to the hallmark of being true to myself and to seek out this quality in others. It was clear to me that Alex exemplified this principle in his writings; he definitely walked his talk. His passion for a better world was unyielding, and his heart always ready to give whenever needed. I was ready to go back to my song. The lyrics and the melody came together quickly.
There was only one last and very important question lingering in my mind -- what would Dr. Alex Pattakos think about the song? I changed the title from Prisoners of Our Thoughts to Brave Heart, and with every note wondered if I was staying within the boundaries of the book. When it was finished I sat back and realized that this song reflected my own journey after reading his book. So I mailed off the song to Alex and waited. A week later I was still waiting for a response. Finally the email arrived: “Jeff, just received it. You had to know how much I would like this song. Congratulations! “
I am deeply honored to say that Alex and my friendship has flourished as we both do our best to “take no prisoners” along the way. And I am deeply pleased that he likes my current CD, Double Cover, in which Brave Heart is included.
Story Behind Brave Heart
by Alex Pattakos, Ph.D.
As with so many things in life, Jeff Pasternak and I met serendipitously. It was an unexpected encounter; in hindsight, however, it now seems more like destiny’s child than mere chance. At the time, Jeff and his spouse, Shannon, were living in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which also happens to be my home. We instantly became friends and began communicating about a number of meaningful topics and projects. We learned that we had many common interests, which strengthened our bond from the start. It is probably not surprising to say that, almost immediately, I felt like I had known Jeff for very long time.
Besides being warm and friendly, both Jeff and Shannon are very down-to-earth, unpretentious people. In light of their backgrounds and life experiences, this is rather exceptional. Both of them can make your head spin with stories from the celebrity world of Hollywood’s film industry and the backstage of the real American Idol music business. Their home, in fact, is like a “museum” of artifacts commemorating both worlds, albeit from their own life experiences!
Anyone reading these reflections already knows that Jeff Pasternak is a songwriter and musician, who says that he drew inspiration for his song, “Brave Heart,” from my book, Prisoners of Our Thoughts. I can’t tell you how and in what way my book -- and my "meaning-centered work" -- may have influenced Jeff’s creative expression; that is for him to describe. What I can say is that Jeff and I have remained in touch (Jeff and Shannon moved last year to Arizona) and have explored on numerous occasions an interest that we share in the search for meaning in life and work.
The well of creativity from which Jeff is able to express himself runs very deep. As I mentioned, he is a songwriter and musician. But, as you will know after you listen to his new music CD, Double Cover, he is not just any songwriter and musician. Here is a person who has opened for groups like The Doors, Alice Cooper and Big Brother and the Holding Company! This is in addition to having his own bands and having his work recognized on shows like Dick Clark's American Bandstand!
Jeff’s winding journey through the recording industry has its roots in Hollywood where he also had to “survive” a parallel world as he was growing up. You see, Jeff also happens to be the son of legendary Hollywood film producer, Joe Pasternak. The elder Pasternak is known for such feel good films as Girl Happy (with Elvis Presley), Please Don’t Eat the Daisies (with Doris Day), The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, and Where the Boys Are. His work was nominated for Academy Awards, including a Best Picture nomination (Anchors Aweigh, starring Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly) in 1946.
Whether he liked it or not, and whether he even knew it or not, Jeff had to grow up in the shadow of his famous father, in a place where both the “will to pleasure” and the “will to power” were paramount (no pun intended).
Among other things, I am very grateful for the special friendship that has been cultivated between us, especially since it is something that has flourished primarily from deeply embedded “seeds of meaning” -- in effect, a spiritual force that brought us together and has sustained and nourished us over time. One of the harvests from these seeds of meaning may have been Jeff’s song, Brave Heart. If this is true, then I am honored for the lyrics to this song touch my heart light and resonate with my soul.