I started dreaming music about five years ago. Not all of my songs originate from dreams, but most do. I wake up in the middle of the night with a melody in my head, sometimes with lyrics, and stagger to my iPhone in the next room, sing it into a voice memo file, then stagger back to bed. I consider these little gems as gifts from elsewhere. The songs that come from them are from me and through me, but they feel like donations made on my behalf that are meant for others.
Despite many other things she has said to discredit herself, Michelle Shocked had a small quote posted on her website that I took to heart when I got home from touring with her: “Make your own music. It is possible.” I was afraid of extending myself this way, but felt guilty about ignoring the nocturnal sprinkling of jewels I began receiving.
There was a time not long before that when
my life felt out of control, and I vowed never to do anything without a clear call, and always to do what I felt called to, even if I didn’t want to. Without this call, I would have abandoned songwriting a long time ago because it is nerve-wracking having your insides suddenly on the outside and packaged in a way that demands a listener. Doing an EP is exponentially more nerve-wracking for this reason, but at the same time, hearing my songs fully produced has had a strangely soothing result, even with scratch vocals.
I saw an interview with Gwen Stefani recently in which she said that when she releases a new CD, she plays it on repeat in her car for weeks because listening to herself singing her own songs is therapeutic. I was startled, because I had thought myself wildly narcissistic because I am doing the same thing with my EP. Every time I listen, an empty place in me fills in a little more. It is the place I used to try to fill with other people’s opinions of me, which is why it was still empty. The opinions of others fail to satisfy. Instead, I am slowly filling it with confidence that comes from being obedient to what I think I am supposed to be doing.
Toni Morrison once wrote:
Passion is never enough; neither is skill. But try. For our sake and yours forget your name in the street; tell us what the world has been to you in the dark places and in the light. Don’t tell us what to believe, what to fear. Show us belief’s wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear’s caul.
I take heart from this thought – that sharing stories with one another authentically and thoroughly is what we need from each another. Songs penetrate easily the gate the intellect hammers up around our true selves. Songs drop straight into the heart. I am moved when people tell me that my lyrics and melodies touch them; hearing this is encouraging and deeply appreciated. Even so, their experience cannot be why I write. I write out of faith and obedience to a call that comes from a longing that has always been deepest in my heart – bringing myself forward in song.
Songs demand a listener, however, and my EP Release Show at Art Boutiki needs lots of live listeners. Please do what you can to come on Saturday, November 12, 2016 to help me celebrate the release of my EP; please click the icon to the right for tickets. ArtemesiaBlack opens, I will play a solo set, then you will see and hear Dave Maurischat, Chris Lanier, and Will Diamond join Kenny Schick and Sabiné Heusler-Schick of ArtmesiaBlack back me in a full band set.
Show time is 7:30 pm, and advance tickets are available here for $10 plus a small transaction fee. You can also buy tickets at the door for $10.
Please come on November 12.