If you've visited this website before you may have noticed I'm a fan (not a "fan-atic," but definitely a strong fan) of Eric Johnson. Eric is known as a virtuoso, especially among guitarists--he is a guitarist's guitarist. Many years ago I saw him in concert in Atlanta, and he asked the audience, "How many of you are guitarists?" About a third raised their hands, so he proceeded to demonstrate some techniques for them, right there on stage in the middle of the show. But there is something else about Eric that seems to be missed by metaphysically and spiritually aware people. In one concert, one of his acoustic ones, he described, in somewhat cautious, veiled terms, what I took to be a past-life memory as a knight. Eric's music is full of spiritual fire, longing and vision. In his lyrics, mysticism is veiled--it can be taken on two levels, the most obvious level being that of human relationships. But for anyone with "ears to hear," the mystical interpretation is clearly there. I have no idea what his spiritual path is, though reincarnation is referenced in at least one song, and referred to in one album's liner notes--and while playing the Hendrix* tune "Are You Experienced" on Austin City Limits in 1988, he made the brief comment, "I don't mean stoned, but mystical." My feeling is that this is not his first life as a musician and composer, to put it mildly For some time I have continued to feel, "Handel," however unlikely that might seem--it came to me initially because of similarities in the qualitative energy of their music, before I compared portraits; and also that this is not his first life involved in mystical studies.
Through additional internet research, I learned that Handel was a Mason. In this life Eric keeps his spiritual life very close to his chest, which would be consistent with someone who had this incarnational history in a secret organization (a knight might also have belonged to such an organization). I also learned that although Handel is usually identified with "The Messiah" and other religious works, like Eric, he also wrote pieces that explored themes of human love and non-Christian mysticism. Eric plays both guitar and piano with mastery--Handel played violin, organ and harpsichord. I have no musical training or expertise, so this may be a stretch, but as I have listened to Eric's guitar solos, it has often struck me that he makes the instrument do things you'd expect from a violin...and if I really wanted to stretch, I could point out that Eric's first name is contained within Handel's middle name, "Frideric"...still, karma and the mental impressions underlying it do create these kinds of synchronicities.
In case you're wondering, no, I don't consider this scientific proof or proof of any kind. It's educated guesswork based on a knowledge of reincarnation patterns, plus some intuition. I'm really just exploring the idea. There is nothing unscientific about speculating, as long as you make it clear you're speculating. Nor is it without its own value or validity. Speculating is the only way advances are made in science. Same goes for intuition.
As regards "famous person cases," you can say, Handel was a genius and the likelihood of anyone being him is extremely slim, and this is true. Statistically, there are hundreds of very talented musicians out there who might be "Handel-like" or have been trained on Handel's music. But the likelihood of talent of this magnitude cropping up out of thin air is also very slim. There is no "free lunch" in the economy of life--no "spontaneous generation" of talents in prodigies and geniuses. What makes this particular proposed match plausible to me, personally, is that the intuitive "spiritual signature" in the music matches in some way I can't explain. It's something that would be impossible to quantify, and yet to me it's tangible. I have also come to believe from various clues that I was an (amateur but advanced) organist around the time of Handel, and might have been familiar with his talent then, so that may be where some of the feeling of recognition is coming from.
Seeing him in concert in Atlanta, 4/25/06, it still felt plausible to me. The king stood up during the playing of the "Hallelujah Chorus" in Handel's "Messiah"--and I would say that Eric's music makes the king inside people want to stand up, as well. I can point to very few musicians who can do this, no less who are similar in other respects. Here's an energy that's a little bit similar, though somewhat more ponderous and sombre--this is Russian choral music written in the 1800's, combining chant with a more modern Romantic style, according to the liner notes. On the face of it, it has nothing in common with modern rock music, or Baroque music. But it calls forth a response from that inner "king" just the same, and so I am trying to isolate this variable for you to communicate what I'm referencing. As regards that particular variable, Eric's music and this music have a "signature" that's somewhat similar. This is kind of like "triangulating" or locating a bird call with two people--it is here (in Eric's music); it is also here in the Russian liturgical music. What we are doing is essentially triangulating in on the sacred, and on a particular facet of the sacred, a triumphant aspect. Hundreds of thousands of people can imitate it, but we are concerned with finding the real thing here. It has absolutely nothing to do with the "box" it comes in--with organized religion, culture, era, musical genre, or any other such labels and categories.
Note that "sacred" does not have to mean "mamby-pamby" or boring or "nice".
Just for fun, check out this tune sung by the Chad Mitchel Trio, primarily known for their political satire, and see if you can feel the energy in it, and also the energy coming back in their audience's reaction. Or, let's get totally away from any overtly sacred genre, and listen to this excerpt by saxophonist Ernie Watts, with the ambiguous title of "Rock Camping." To me, this piece has a spiritual vibe also, despite the title sounding entirely secular (in fairness, the album cover is expressly spiritual in an omni-denominational way). It's as though there is a non-physical vibration embedded somehow in the physical vibration of the music. A similar vibration can be discerned in the African drumming that opens the "News and Announcements" page of this website. After I placed it on the page, a former co-worker from Jamaica told me it is "spirit drumming." But I could feel that in it before, which is why I used it there.
When modern Western society wakes up to the realization that these vibrations are as real as anything we can touch or feel with our physical senses, we will start taking responsibility for the vibrational garbage we pollute ourselves with, and start discerning the higher from the lower.
If you are musically-inclined (I know enough to be dangerous about music, in this life at least), listen to this clip from a portion of "The Messiah," "Let us break their bonds asunder" (whew!), and then listen to "Cliffs of Dover" from Eric's first album. Don't hear a similarity? Okay, try this, and then try this (leave your player launched on the desktop so you can compare more quickly). Again, I don't consider this evidence--I'm just exploring.
On his "Souvenir" album, featuring some of his earlier work, I've run across another clear comparison. But I'll leave it to the few receptive and seriously interested readers to follow it up if anyone wishes to--I won't parade this gem in front of a general audience. Compare Johnson's "Forever Yours" with Handel's "He Shall Feed His Flock." (If you have the music in front of you, compare the musical composition at the lyrics "I will always stay forever Yours" with "...like the shepherd" or "...with His arm".) Personally, I feel that this is not coincidence, nor is it unconscious plagarism. These songs came from a deep intuitive space. I don't believe you can't get this level of spiritual honesty and power from unconscious plagarism. Actually, I would say in this example he's brought it foward and improved it, because Handel's treatment has a hint of being ponderous and contrived, while Johnson's is more piercingly beautiful and direct. This, to me, on an energy level, is the primary difference between Handel's music and Johnson's--Johnson's is freer in expression, like Handel released from the confines of Baroque sensibilities and, perhaps, of organized religion. Johnson's disciplined freedom is like the inverse of Handel's discipline, which carried within it hints of freedom.
There are these two sides of him--the perfectionist--i.e., the Baroque composer; and the musician longing to break free of Baroque constraints. If I am not mistaken, the music that Eric plays now is what Handel always wished he could play. I ran across a comment made by one of Handel's contemporaries, who had seen him play violin. It was a left-handed compliment; he said something to the effect that at least he had to admire Handel's dexterity. This tells us two things: first, Handel as a musician was probably ahead of his time, playing in a style too progressive for conservative tastes; and secondly, that he was probably very accomplished. If he died with the unexpressed wish to be recognized for his playing as well as for his composing, it would make sense that Eric is all about being known as a guitarist, and not as a composer or as a conveyor of spiritual energies. Still, I am picking up on these other facets, and they are so remarkably strong that I must comment on them even if nobody else pays attention or notices.
*Here's an interesting aside from a biography of Jimi Hendrix. whose songs are often featured in Eric's concerts: "Established as a star in the U.K., Hendrix and his girlfriend Kathy Etchingham moved into a flat at 23 Brook Street in central London. The nearby 25 Brook street was once the home of baroque composer George Frideric Handel. Hendrix, aware of this musical coincidence, bought Handel recordings including the Messiah and the Water Music. The two houses currently comprise the Handel House Museum, where both musicians are celebrated." I would draw from this that many who have achieved greatness in the rock genre had also done so in earlier eras, and that some of them are karmically linked.
Russian excerpt: "Exult in the Lord," Alexander Gretschaninoff, performed by The Johannes-Damascenus Choir of Essen under the direction of Karl Linke. Excerpts of "The Messiah" sung and played by the Robert Shaw Chorale and Orchestra, Mr. Shaw conducting. Eric Johnson excerpts: "Desert Rose" and "Cliffs of Dover" from the Ah Via Musicom album. "You Can Tell the World" performed by the Chad Mitchell Trio, taken from their "best of" album. "Rock Camping" by Ernie Watts, on the "Ernie Watts, Musician" album (written by Don Grusin).