On Leaving

02021-10-09 | Uncategorized | 16 comments

I wondered when you wrote “Monday I would fly home from Albuquerque” how you felt about leaving New Mexico to fly to your new home after living in Santa Fe for so many years?

That’s a fair question and one I asked myself before I left. I didn’t leave Santa Fe because I don’t like it. I left because I wanted to discover something else. That experience might be pleasant…. or not. Consequently I didn’t feel strange or sad when I got on a plane to fly out of Albuquerque. I also know that I will be back in Santa Fe every year. There will be rehearsals before some of the tours, there will be visits to friends, and I will go to Upaya.

I know Santa Fe well. After all, most of my life was spent there. I arrived in 1986 when I was 27 years old and I stayed until I was 62. I can look at the sky in the morning and usually know more about the day’s weather than any app can tell me. I know where to obtain any supplies I might need. I know where to eat. I know how to bake sourdough bread at an altitude of 7,500 feet. I know that water boils at a temperature of 198º (92ºC) – instead of the 212º that are required at sea level. I know a lot of the trees along the paths I walked most every morning. I said hello to the same murder of crows who greeted me noisily. Familiarity creates intimacy. That’s all lovely and good and I appreciate it.

Still, I wanted to experience more places. I imagined that having to relate to a new location, finding my way around strange neighborhoods, getting to know a different landscape, perhaps having to learn a new language, would keep me fresh – literally. Perhaps I feel that exactly because I am getting older I need to challenge myself in this way. It would be too easy to walk 100 feet to my studio and sit in the same spot I sat in since 1996 – the location of the chair marked with white gaff tape on the black rug – and simply continue until, eventually, it all comes to a hard stop.

One night, a few months ago, during the process of selling my house and studio, I woke up with a start at 0130 in the morning. When the house is sold, where will I record? My studio is literally perfect and can’t be replaced! As I laid awake I had an idea. What about building a traveling recording rig and using studios in foreign countries, in places that might inspire me? I could find a studio in Saigon, for example, and bring my guitar, a microphone, perhaps a mic pre-amp, and a laptop. I would literally only need a quiet room, some wiring, and a control room where I could set up the computer. After I promised myself that in the morning I would search for studios in foreign cities I was able to fall asleep. The next day I did search for studios and not surprisingly found that there are lots of studio that can be rented in many far away places.

After my house sold I bought a camera. Actually it’s not A camera, really, for me it’s THE camera, a camera I had wanted for many years. Now that I actually bought this camera I want to, no, I need to feed the lens new sights, new everything. An adventure to be continued.


  1. Pamela

    Thank you for your response. It is sometimes easy to stay where one is…it is comfortable after all, like your favorite pair of slippers. Change can be scary and exciting all at the same time. To continue to grow and learn new things is to evolve and live life to its fullest. Bravo to you.

    ps. looking forward to seeing you play in The City Different in Nov.

    • ottmar

      May you always do what you are afraid to do.
      – Ralph Waldo Emerson

      At least sometimes. :-)

      • Diran

        I agree on this one,Ottmar. “If you can’t fly,then run. If you can’t run,then walk.If you can’twalk,then crawl.But whatever you do,you have to keep moving forward”MLK Jr. Please don’t get me wrong I’m not trying to give an advice to anybody Just liked the quote.

      • Jeanne Dirhalleh

        What a great line by Emerson. ‘New adventures ahead for me at age 65. Looking forward to seeing, hearing, feeling more things.
        ‘Just got reacquainted with your Nouveau Flamenco after a long lapse. Moving from CD’s to playlists, I’ve lost touch with some favorite albums. I heard Barcelona Nights in a store recently and was so pleasantly surprised. I couldn’t keep still. I immediately looked you up on my Rhapsody/Napster app and spent my morning today, dancing and spinning while I cleaned my kitchen! Found your website, too. I hope you can come to NYC again, or better yet, Stephen’s Talkhouse in Amagansett. Either way, hope to catch you. Thank you for you wonderful music.
        (I gave your CD of Barcelona Nights years ago to my mother, who is 96 now and still dancing around with her walker. I will make sure we listen together soon! She’s got the CD player-lol! Thanks again!

  2. Nancy

    I understand the need for change. I have moved several times and the change has been good for me. For me it started after college and then traveling to Europe for six months. When I returned home I did not want to stay in the place I grew up in. I felt I needed more. It is scary but also nice to have a new adventure. I am glad you are happy in your new space.

  3. Deane

    There is one thing you can count on


    Best of energy to you

  4. JaneParhamKatz

    Glad you got the camera you wanted so much! I look forward to your photos.

    New environments have always inspired me. I have moved to a different city every few years my entire adult life, and before that Mother and I made several drastic moves. Now it is amazing how fast I adapt, making a new home or hotel room feel organized and homey, finding food sources, sights to see – made easy by the good ole GPS, and quickly catching on to a new language (except Hungarian – I only got to “THANK YOU” (köszönöm)).

    Still, I do miss your presence in Santa Fe, especially since I only discovered it a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, I was too busy with my work to become a fan before. I missed so much fun with you! So, the changes you make have consequences to people who love you.

    Recently, we have been researching places to relocate outside the U.S. – with a very heavy heart. Toronto? – too cold. Taiwan? – threat from China. Portugal – don’t know. It feels like the U.S. is destroying itself. Attributed to Goebbels, but not proven: “Let me control the media and I will turn any nation into a herd of pigs.” Given the lack of real consequences to FaceBook, Fox News, and the other rightwing media for their contributions to the subversion of our democracy, plus the seeming lack of consequences to the criminals from the previous administration, it appears the pig herd is growing and stampeding already, again with few consequences. Oh, I don’t know!

  5. Boris

    Wow, you actually sold that nice house and studio! You burnt the ship to be able to reach the island.

    • JaneParhamKatz

      Yeah, Boris!

      • Boris

        Hi Jane! I was using a metaphor from Umberto Eco’s book “The island of the day before”. From here, Europe, that is, currently in France, Santa Fe in general and the architecture of Ottmar’s house always looked fascinating. I think the first images of the house and the studio I got from the famous ZEIT-article which made me discover Ottmar and his music. This added a layer of interest for me. From what one could see, the photos Ottmar posted on Flickr, this looked all so exciting! Also living in Santa Fe, the height above sea level, the adobe architecture, the Spanish and indogenous influences … it would be one of the frist places I wanted to see when visiting the US (if ever, who knows). At one point, I wondered where I would need to live in Europe to have a similar atmosphere (in terms of height), Engadin in Switzerland maybe. So it is quite of a shock for me as fan that he did not rent out his house to return one day but actually sold it!

        • JaneParhamKatz

          Thank you, Boris. I will read the Eco. You have comforted me, as I am heart-broken at Ottmar’s departure. I have lived in Santa Fe for 6 years, but have loved it all my life and feel I have attained a dream to live here now. I will share a Poem with you:

          Come live with me in old Santa Fe,
          Desert jewel of Enchantment’s Land.
          Breath-taking beauty fills eye and heart.
          Five mountains, soft, rugged, distinct,
          Glow velvet purple, luminous blue.

          Arid, clear, crystal light, vibrates hues to intense.
          Setting sun slashes sky, floods the earth,
          Rich orange, deep red, bright gold.
          Then stars sparkle in, fluffy, crowding.

          Culture feast inspires mind and soul,
          Sophisticated city, yet quaint adobe village,
          Bold sculptures recline outside on the streets,
          Exquisite windows show powerful art,
          Fashion, jewels, and metallic abstraction.

          Look about, see who lives here.
          Romantic, dusky remnant of Indian,
          Spanish conquistador, wild cowboy,
          Melds with artist, poet, seeker, mystic
          Streaming in since before living memory.

          A century resplendent with creative force,
          Love of human expression and natural grace,
          Expanded atmosphere, energized, ageless,
          Urges all to live joyous, dares all to live free.

          Jane Parham 2007

          • Melissa

            Jane, your poem is beautiful.

          • Luna

            Jane, you are simply lovely.
            Thank youfor sharing.

  6. Dave C.

    Santa Fe has changed so much since the late 1980s. Perhaps that was part of Ottmar’s move decision also. Just as similar Boulder has changed. I and my friends have had to move on from both towns after many years (though some older relatives are staying put on their long-time property in Cerrillos). In the 80s there were ranches right outside both Santa Fe and Boulder, and people of all income levels, including many elders. (Real) cowboys came to town sometimes. And much more friendly and polite western behavior than today. The large numbers of new people moving in from the east and west coasts with very big money has changed all that. The increased weed smoking hasn’t helped either. But the only thing constant is change, and when a place no longer fits your values or lifestyle it is time to move on. So I wonder if that cultural change may also have been part of the move for Ottmar. On the brighter side, I finally found a brand new (hard to find) CD of “Bare Wood” (#1) – it is just wonderful in its simplicity. Thanks very much to Ottmar for that fine work – which strangely is not listed in most of his online discographies.

  7. joanie

    Too many people spoil everything and mucho money doesn’t reflect your intelligence or taste. Yes, it has changed but for a good while it was a desert paradise. We are grateful to have enjoyed the best of New Mexico for thirty-something years because these new people missed it. And we were blessed to have met Ottmar while enjoying his music which will always conjure up our visions of New Mexico which we lucky ones all share.

  8. Letty Mandel

    Great quote Ottma,r just what I needed to hear as I am going through the changes of learning how to leave alone and by doing so discovering unfamiliar places inside my mind. I love your music and I am looking forward to more from you from wherever you are .


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