one of my heroes phil alvin told me one time (an interview: an hour 45 mins via phone & i think i got in four words!!!), "to be part of the river that is music, you have to enter it." so profound! probably especially due to the sonorous, pontificating manner in which he spake it: i almost expected to hear the vesper ring out in that great moment.
but i forget that i can participate in & produce, be part of the inventive activities that make Life a thrill... i think i'm just a spectator, an everything manque, & that last statement's true, but that doesn't mean i can't incubate & actualize, too... we hacks, we salieris, we live, breathe, produce, too!
brian hubby started the engine; he was the catalyst: "stop complaining and do something!!" he told me many years ago when i was grousing about lack of happening CULTure around here... & so now & then i remember his advice & i jump to it again.
we've as a band been playing these fantastic cover tunes for 3-4 years now, great ones by the blasters (phil's band, you know, with most songs penned by bro david 25+ yrs ago), hank ballard, johnny cash, wanda jackson, the hollywood flames, robbie fulks, etc. the songs are fantastic! but then folks say, you can only go so far as a cover band; your options are limited... brian p thinks NO ONE knows these songs in our repertoire, & he will probably read this, so i'll just say, respectfully, & once again, buddy, YOU'RE WRONG!!!! these songs we do are cherished & well-known/-worn ones within a certain musical genre & among its aficionados/ fetishists/ dictators. we certainly couldn't bluff our way into SXSW by submitting as "our song" "riot in cell block no. 9" (speaking from experience here... eek...)
... so i've been in a bit of a pickle lately cause i've been convinced for some time, why add songs to the billions out there when i've nothing to say? all the stories have been told; all the good songs have been written. but now i am realizing more and more, sticking to our repertoire of well-loved oldies limits our possibilities. and my earlier thinking was just a cop-out so that i wouldn't have to try. (that's actually the most important realization!) boo, hiss! i've been a lazy little cheese.
then the clincher: in a recent conversation about "the biz" & exploitation LPs of the 60s, a wise friend told me, "there's nothin' wrong with writin' one-offs. everybody else is doin' it." wow! everyone else is doing it; therefore, i can do it, too. why not??? what makes me so special that i have to judge & thwart my abilities & separate from the herd to the degree that i accomplish nothing in the end???
five-six years ago i was writing songs like a little demon, anyway, without such stultifying self-consciousness, because i was driven suddenly. it's like the switch was flipped & the songs started rolling out. en spiritus, you know? what an exciting time, only rivaled when i published a local underground rag for 3 years... creative toil, ink on hands, blisters on fingers, sweat on brow, pulse fevered, mind dancing with rhymes, rhythms, couplets, melodies, the excitement of productivity & finding just the right word or note!
i had this little four track & i was my own one woman ultra-low-rent brill building, locked in the parlor of our old house for 6-8 hours each night after work. i must've written 150 songs!!! yes, most of it was crap, but here & there i uncovered a tiny gem, a diamond in the rough (apologies for all the cliches, but this ain't no pulitzer, yknow, not even purple prose...)
well, then some a**hole broke into the house & stole all my little recording gear (twice). it really wrecked me. i felt like god was saying, "it's time to stop." they stole my new guitar, too, which i'd got as a gift so that i could play all the (rough) musical parts on all the songs. (bass isn't so bad, but the demon guitar, with its non-linear, insane mad-math structure... well, i rationalized that god did not wish for me to play guitar, either... )
but now i'm back at the songwriting trough, because to be part of the stream of music, you have to enter it, & there's nothing wrong with writing one-offs cause everyone's doing it, so the songs are falling from my brain again & it's bliss. it helps (???) that i've been going through some physical & much self-inflicted mental & spiritual torture: i don't act much out of my comfort zone unless i'm in some kind of pain, lazy consumer that i am... the kick is, some of the songs don't even sound like knock-offs!!! the best ones are like hillbilly opera, though i'm neither hillbilly or operatic, but i did used to love & work for some hillbillyish people & my boyfriend liked to sing roy orbison, & orbison was called the "caruso of pop," so maybe that's it.... or maybe i just type too dang fast & who cares??
maybe someday someone will hear my songs. this guy in florida, johnny fire, recorded one from the old days ("my heart remembers when"). what a thrill to hear someone else's interpretation! (it sounded kinda like "see you on the other side" by australian 80s newwaveabilly brian briggs.) brian p's been nice enough to record some of my songs with me & his creative input is making them really pop with possibility.
today, i birthed two more. plop!
aahh... music. without music, life would be an error... i didn't write that; i knocked it off. :)
ad astra, ad infinitum, ad maiorem Dei gloriam