Friday, August 20, 2010
you make beautiful things out of us.
Last year, I was recording a song I’d written called ‘Stay’ at Metropolis Studios in London. I’d played my heart out on this Fazioli piano that was given to the studio by Freddie Mercury. (not gonna lie, it’s one of the yummiest things I’ve played. In case you’d like a visual: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7H6VuHPkeM) I was trying my very best to put into practice all that I’ve ever learned and sing out with as much passion as I'd just played. I was trying to go to ‘that place’ of emotion, which wasn’t hard because the boy for whom the song was written was in the process of vanishing from my world and I could hear my heart cracking in my chest. I was asking him to stay and he was disappearing into his work and stretching himself as thin as possible on as many shoots and projects as possible.
Try as I might, I remember feelings of such frustration at the thin feel of my voice. How empty it felt against the piano, drums, bass, guitars and cello. I will never forget something that John (the producer) said to me when I was recording the vocal takes. I was singing my heart out. I was pushing as hard as I could… and he said something like, “You’re voice is so soft and sweet. It doesn’t get very strong, does it…?” He said it as an observation without any sort of ill-will. I didn’t take offense, but it hit like a slap in the face. I mean sure, there are a few songs of mine that are quite soft and sweet, purposefully. But this is the girl who goes to karaoke nights singing Alicia keys and who gets entire bar tabs comped by the owner in return for belting out Aretha Franklin – Natural Woman. My voice was gone, and I didn’t have any idea why. I was losing myself, nice and slow. The voice that used to be able to pull off most Christina Aguilera and Mariah Carey tunes was struggling just to scream to the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s in the car. My career did that standstill thing which I’ve been speaking of, which doesn’t help you to run to the piano and start belting out tunes, either.
Just as the sun was going down on this season and it started getting really dark, (It’s been one of those ‘dark nights of the soul’ – truly), I began to sing songs in the night. I don’t need to explain that part, you can simply go back through the last couple of months of blog entries and you’ll retrace my steps. The last couple of months, though, I’ve noticed a change. Along with the slow reveal of love, came a strength creeping back into my voice. I realized, I’d been so crippled by fear that I was actually being silenced by it. Pretty soon, I looked my fear of rejection in the face and announced I was no longer going to be ruled by it. Can you say, audacity? Lord. So, I went into the studio here in town and recorded the last 3 songs. 1 of which, “Outrun” is one of the strongest vocal takes I’ve done in a ridiculously long time. Probably the strongest since ‘Everything’s Not Lost’. I remember well the irony of 'Everything's Not Lost' being so hopeful and joyous and coming from a place that was so...anything and everything but that. It doesn’t even make sense how upbeat and strong it is. It came just after burying a relationship that had just had the life strangled out of it prematurely. It was one of the most lovely beginnings I’ve ever known, and it was snuffed out prematurely. At the time, I wept. I stopped eating. I was a miserable wreck and depression moved in for a little while. I begged for redemption. I begged for resurrection, but nothing changed. So, I just threw myself into an ocean of grace and sang that song out. I also remember the unabashed honesty about that song. I’m still nervous someone will figure out precisely what I’m saying… but they rarely do. However, as time went by, I shook myself from the grip of grace, lost the hope and ran to the arms of other lovers. I let depression move into my house and it sang me lullabies of despair and hopelessness every night. I allowed fear to take control…and it did a good job.
That is until Love came in and saved the day and told fear to get lost.
A Love that said, “I make all things new.”
A Love that announced it was “making a Genesis week from the chaos of my life.”
For the record, I’m happy to say there is a bud that seems to have cracked the gravestone over that relationship. I have no idea what will become of it, but something has shifted.
In the meantime, I wrote a new song to that person, and it’s just as honest and bright and joyous and courageous as ever. Last night, I was working out that tune and practicing for the upcoming gigs and showcases and things… and I just let go. I was surprised at the sound of my own voice. I felt all of the songs deeply and sang them out without timidity. And yet, there was an undercurrent of peace… I was able to revisit the heartache and angst without singing it seizing my heart. there was a strength in my voice, a control with all of the emotion that’s usually there. I felt so at ease with the piano and my voice… not one fighting the other… a comfortable flow. Like, I wasn't singing for freedom, I was singing from it.
Something is changing…
I haven’t been this excited about my own music or felt this free artistically in a very long time.
I can’t wait to see what comes of all of this.