I was invited to join a singer songwriter workshop a few years back. Actually I think it may have been more like 15 years ago…….wow time flies! I found myself in the company of some of the most talented people I had ever met. I will tell you that it was quite intimidating and I almost quit after the first night. I think there was a lot of fear and not much confidence which led to a lot of esoteric pompous conversation that I found irritating. As the walls began to come down and we got to know each other, it was a different conversation altogether. You could see the “mutual admiration” clubs forming. We were all very talented and different but we also began to see all the ways that our individual journeys were the same. Some had had some small successes some (like myself) none at all but it had no effect on the way we saw each other. It really did become all about the music. I forged some really great friendships and at least one that I still count among my dearest friends. For some years I spoke to most of them, worked with some and celebrated as I went to CD release parties and shows. I have lost touch with them all but carry the memories of them singing and playing (or at least attending) my wedding.
I suppose that some of the reason I lost touch with them is due to the fact that I quit playing out and about when I started my family. I do think about them and look back on that time very fondly. It was a time that I became very clear about what I wanted my life to look like in terms of the music business and still hold that vision for myself even though I am not there yet.
I remember one night, early on, when the guy who was running the workshop said something that resonates with me still. He talked about the “community” of artists. How vital those relationships can be. You lean on, inspire, and support each other. You share the journey in ways that others might not get. I think about the times that I was writing with one of them or preparing for a showcase (really fun nights). The creative process, especially when shared, is life affirming at it’s very least. I love the conversations that take place after hours in the studio, trying to figure out where to go next. Listening to the music and letting it dictate the path. When shared, the process takes on a whole new light, one that I yearn for.
I was reminded of this yesterday, as I was laying in my bed with a bad back, and watching video after video on youtube. I came across and interview with one of my favorite duos The Weepies. I watched them talk about their own processes and found myself green with envy. “I Want That!” I really really want that! I miss the exchange of ideas and the mutual admiration and respect.
I am posting a link to the interview. Check it out and leave your own thoughts.
My kitchen table is covered with embroidery floss, the result of an unsuccessful attempt at making a friendship bracelet with my daughters. The untangling of the threads took most of our time and the youtube tutorials did not take into account that I have absolutely no skill for such things. I was trying to check my self deprecating remarks so as not to discourage my girls attempts but my frustration got the better of me. It’s summer time, my kids are home and we have no car. We have to be able to do crafts right? Unfortunately …..I have never been a very good crafter. I lack patience, skill and equipment. There was no clip board or tape with which to hold the threads so I tried to use the sugar canister to hold them down….this was not my first mistake.
At the moment my number one son is upset with me because I will not let him wander down to the boulevard to the thrift store by him self. I tried explaining to him that it was not that I did not trust him but that if something were to happen (and it has before) that I cannot come to rescue him as I am by myself and I have three other little ones (who are now watching a movie due to the unsuccessful bracelet attempts) that would not want to go with me which would result in drama of another kind. I have stopped writing this blog at least three times since a I started it because everyone needs something. I have come to dislike summer in just about 14 days.
Really and truly what I hate is the fact that I feel ill equipped when it comes to mother hood. All I was ever any good at was singing. That skill went by the way of their infancy and willingness to sit still and listen. I don’t even cook! I used to be a good cook but that was before I had kids and any tiny bit of patience I did have has long since been used up. All I can do is sing and right now I’m not really doing that. Yet another crisis!
When I feel less than perfect in my parenting I can usually fall back on “well at least I can sing” it is my “I can’t be bad at everything” net. I just wish it had some practical applications to help me with some of my life challenges at the moment. If it could soothe my children who, at the moment, are burning up with cabin fever, or get me out of my financial quagmire, or at the very least, not serve as a reminder of yet another thing I cannot do at the moment. I find myself in quite a dilemma.
I will say however, that it has served as a time machine of sorts. I have been thinking a lot about my own childhood and my own mother. We used to giggle as kids when we looked at her year book and saw that she had a dream of one day being a congress woman. My mom, a congress woman? Who knows if that was a real dream or just one of those passing childhood fancies. I do have to stop and think about it for a moment. She was stuck in the house, without a car and usually with more than just her own children because she was always supplementing the household income with babysitting. What she must have thought on so many days. Did she ever feel like she lost herself in all of it? Did she ever feel like she was ruining her kids lives because she had no patience left? I know it must have crossed her mind. I would ask her these questions, actually I have, but her usual answer is ” I don’t remember” When I ask “how did you do it?” her usual response is “I don’t know but I guess I did because you are still here.” Not very helpful but I suppose there is some wisdom in there. “Don’t worry about it, just do it.” So I will pick up the reins yet again and ride those horses through another summer day and hope that at the end of the ride nobody fell out of the wagon. Maybe I will do some singing around the camp fire tonight. “Smores anyone” ( I can actually do that pretty well.)
When life and music collide, I can usually be found in a puddle. I found myself in exactly that spot as I sang at a wedding yesterday. Two sisters (cousins of the bride) sang “I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You” and I was stunned. Their voices separately were totally unaffected and pure and together they were angelic and ethereal. When the younger of the two glanced over to smile at the bride who was obviously well pleased, well……open the flood gates.
I have recently discovered the artist Rumer and have had a profound response to her as well. I have been meandering around Youtube and seeking out everything this British artist has to offer and low and behold I found “Come Saturday Morning” and found myself emailing the link to my dearest friends whom I see way too little of. There is a story behind the meaning of that song but it is too much to post here. Needless to say I left a rather teary message to my friend. What is it about music that gets me right where it counts. Sometimes it’s the melancholy tear sometimes tears of joy but what ever it is you can bet there was a song involved.
Oh to be able to share that gift with others. It is something truly amazing and wonderful. I will say that the lyric can get me as well but there is something in the melody and the arrangements that gets there first. I suppose that is why music is truly an international language. You don’t have to speak the language to be lifted by the soaring strings in a beautiful John Denver tune or be rocked to contentment by the chunky strumming of a mandolin…….don’t get me started on vocal harmony. It isn’t the words as much as the voice as an instrument. I can be lulled by the sonic quality of voices perfectly suited for one another, joined in harmony…. words are not even necessary for me to have a visceral reaction. Don’t get me wrong, a good lyric can rock my world as well. It ‘s just that it isn’t usually what get’s me first.
My problem here is that it can also lull me into a bit of procrastination. I love it so much and become so obsessed with a new song or artist that I lose track of my own work. I do yearn to sing for and with others but sitting at my computer or singing along in my car can sometimes do it for me….temporarily. Sometimes it inspires me and sometimes it discourages me because I don’t have those strings behind me or even a drummer or percussionist to play with. When I sing, just me and my guitar, it sounds empty to me and I am always worried that it is not enough. Hence, June has come and gone and I never did the concert I had said I was going to do. I really really want a band. I want to be grabbed by the heart by my own music. If it doesn’t grab me musically then how can it grab you? And yet, I was so moved by the simplest of duets yesterday. It was only two voices and one piano (wish I had one of those as well) and it was enough.
So…..I am going to try again. I will put something together and let you know. For now, check out Rumer. I won’t even tell you what to listen to but I know you will find something you like. She is really great.