Music has been a huge part of my life ever since I was small. My mom could sing, my dad was tone deaf. But both of them loved music and had it playing constantly. As a result, I learned to sing before I could talk. Music has been inescapable since. As a matter of fact, I’m listening to music now.
I grew up listening to disco and the music of the 70s through my mom. My dad hated most 70s music – especially disco – and tried to keep me from blasting it at full volume throughout the day and into the night (understandably, in some ways).
My dad brought the sounds of the Police, U2, Toad the Wet Sprocket, and other bands into my life practically from infancy. In fact, the first concert I ever saw was Toad the Wet Sprocket on 1 August 2014. He bought me tickets for my birthday. Don’t ask me how in the world I remember that specific date, because I have no clue, either.
Music was already one of my biggest influences in my life by the time I turned 12, and the chance discovery of Pandora Radio turned my world upside down. I rediscovered my first songwriting love, Sara Bareilles, and making a radio station from her music led to me discovering a whole host of other artists that I also grew to love. I wrote my first song when I was eleven and thought I was done after that. Little did I know that that was not to be. Because of these artists, writing and music became a sanctuary that I turned to when I was feeling overwhelming emotions. Most of my songs were very, very sad. From the beginning, I’ve always found it difficult to write a happy song, much less a happy song one that I will be proud of sometime in the future. The way I relate to happy songs changes, whereas I can almost always go back to a sad song of mine and experience the emotion in the way it was originally intended to be felt. It’s sad.
Now that I’m married, it’s a bit better, though my happy poems “stick” better than happy songs. I think that what I feel when I listen to a happy song I no longer relate to is something close to shame and regret. I kick myself in the heart for being so stupid and for getting my hopes up. In reality, though I did get my hopes up in some cases, I was not stupid for feeling. I don’t consider that enough. With the songs I’ve written for my husband, the regret is not there, but I do feel stupid because they are a bit over-the-top gushy.
I think that it’s similar to killing my happiness because I think it’s too extreme. I suppose the term I would use for the songs is “cringey”, but that doesn’t necessarily invalidate them. I still feel in much same way as I did when I wrote my album The Places We Come Home To back in late January for my husband’s Valentine’s Day present. We’ve come more out of the fairytale phase and the love has matured a bit, but we’re still crazy for each other. Perhaps I judge myself for Places because I wrote it while in the thick of the fairytale phase, which I’m no longer in quite as much. It just seems sickly sweet.
Sometimes it’s hard to listen to happy songs start aren’t my own. There are certain bands and songs I can’t hear unless I’m in a certain mood, or just can’t hear in general. They seem too schmaltzy. I have a happy songs playlist on Spotify for when I do need a pick me up, but for the most part I steer clear of the sap unless I’m in that mood where I want to skip through a meadow with flowers in my hair. I do get in that mood. That wasn’t a joke entirely. Right now I’m listening to David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance”, which could be sappy. I just love David Bowie.
Music for me contains immense power. It makes me feel connected to something higher and is one of my favorite ways to talk to God. I get a specific song stuck in my head when I’m doing spiritual things, “CS Lewis Song” by Brooke Fraser. Instrumental and choral pieces being me closer to God, too. I walked down the aisle at my wedding to a song by Explosions in the Sky called “First Breath After Coma”, which gives me chills every time.
But nothing compares to composing my own music or making a piece truly my own, in my opinion. My first album was like a cry of pain preserved in song. My favorite tracks on this album are “Gone“, an original, and “Drowning Man“, a cover of my dad’s favorite U2 song. I felt immense power and connection when recording this album. “Gone” was pure energy and pain. “Drowning Man” was me talking to my dad. Writing and arranging songs gives me catharsis. It doesn’t matter what the song is about or the feeling that the song conveys at the time. At the best moments, it’s just the music and me. A perfect connection. My seventh album is like that for me in its entirety. We’ve covered some of it, but I want to go through the whole album with you piece by piece. Come along!
Until next post,