Beautiful

As a society, we are obsessed with the visual. People say things like ‘Seeing is believing’ and ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’. We are pressured to look a certain way. Sadly, in the music industry (the one place that should be all about the ears and hearing), we are told that we must have a popular image, that we need to have a certain appearance in order to get heard.  WTF!?

We focus on sight, we focus on looking hot, women are told that men are visually turned on and, so, they need to look a particular way in order to be desirable to them. To our detriment, we have been taught that sight is the most powerful and important of the senses, and all our effort is put into how we appear to others.

Recently, I have become close to a man who has been completely blind since birth. And, I have learned so much.  He often tells me that I am beautiful. But, you say, if beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and he has never seen you nor has he seen anyone to compare you to, how is he qualified to make such a statement? And, he’s actually had people say this to him.  I daresay these people are fucking ignorant. I’ll tell you why.

There are four other senses, and they are just as powerful and visceral, if not more so, than sight. I’ve always thought this; my friend has only confirmed it for me.  Beauty is in the hand of the beholder. Beauty is in the ear of the beholder. Beauty is in the nostrils of the beholder. Beauty is in the mouth of the beholder. Beyond the limited, superficial, sense of sight, there is a way of perceiving and knowing and experiencing beauty in a way that is so intense as to be overwhelming.

My visually impaired friend is a radio presenter; that’s how he and I met. He is very passionate about music and about supporting indie artists (like me). His first experience of me was when my singing voice hit his ears; and, in his words, he fell in love.  Since then, we’ve spent many hours on the phone, and he tells me he also likes my speaking voice.  It’s more than how my voice sounds (although, that’s a part of it), it’s how my voice feels.

How can a blind man tell me that I am beautiful when he’s never seen me, when he has no concept of black (the colour of my hair) or brown (the colour of my eyes), when he has never seen the shape of my body or the composition of my facial features. How can he say it with conviction and how can I believe him? It’s simple, really. He feels beauty. He feels it.  And, I don’t just mean by touching something with his hands.  No, I mean on a deep, visceral level. Anyone who has ever challenged him when he called them beautiful, by asking how he is qualified to say such a thing because he can’t see them, has terribly missed out on the AMAZING compliment he has given them; they have missed the incredible wonder of his exclamation all because of their obtuseness. Their ignorance wouldn’t allow them to believe what he was telling them. They are the ones who are truly blind, the ones who cannot comprehend that what he said to them is SO MUCH MORE OF A COMPLIMENT than they have ever been given before.

Emotionally, intensely and all-consuming, he recognises beauty when he encounters it. And, in a place beyond the superficiality of seeing with the eyes, he sees it with his soul.

And, you know what?  I think that’s beautiful.

 

 

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For the love of a good lyric…

It was refreshing the other week when, at an acoustic sing-around I attended in Derby, the host complimented my songwriting and went on to purchase my new EP ‘A Collection of Tears’; he remarked that his main focus is always on the lyrics of a song – the music is secondary.

This is how I have always felt. Music is a boat to carry the precious (or, in the case of some songs, the worthless) cargo! Yes, it is ALWAYS a major plus to have a well-crafted boat, but it’s the cargo and passengers that the boat carries which is important.

In this analogy, YOU are the destination. We, as artists, want our cargo to reach you. Ideally we craft beautiful and powerful boats to carry that cargo to you.  But, that cargo better be well-made, of first-rate material, in excellent condition, effective and affective – the cargo better be good quality stuff. I don’t care how good the music is for a song, if poor lyrics let the song down then the whole song is ruined. Give me an instrumental then, with your toe-tapper or rocky anthem; keep the crap lyrics out of it! I don’t understand wanting a pretty boat that is filled with nothing but shit – that shit is going to make even an exquisitely gorgeous boat stink.

In this modern age, music videos have also become a vehicle for the cargo, with YouTube replacing the once novelty of MTV (which, as far as I can tell, does little showing of music videos anymore…it’s all reality shows and such).

Videos appeal to those of a visual nature and our increasingly visual world. But, as I always say, a picture may indeed paint a thousand words, but just one word is powerful enough to conjure many, many millions of images in the mind. Where is the power (or lack of power) of a song? The lyrics are where that power, or lack thereof, resides.

This brings us to lyric videos. You get something visual and which also ensures you don’t miss any of those all important lyrics. Very handy.

Now, not all lyric videos are created equal. The simpliest ones are just the words of the song on a plain, static background. Not all that exciting visually but, at the least, you don’t miss or mishear the lyrics. And, of course, it makes it easy to sing along if you want. More complex lyric videos attempt to convey the lyrics through a collection of legitimately sourced images or specifically created images. This provides something very visually engaging to watch, while also having those lyrics there on the screen so you don’t miss or mishear them.

To promote my new EP ‘A Collection of Tears’, we worked hard to create a lyric video for the first track off the album. Lots of time and effort were put into the creation of the images that appear in the ‘Waiting Room (Official Lyric Video)’,  in order to illustrate the meaning of the song (just in case anyone is still having difficulty working that out just by listening to it). I feel that the lyric video we created delivers the message. In fact, it might make it all too clear. There are some that will find the song uncomfortable. That’s ok. The song is supposed to make people aware and make people think.

‘Waiting Room’ is a very personal song to me – as are all the songs on ‘A Collection of Tears’.  There are people who will immediately identify and relate to the song. For some, it will perplex them or frustrate them…or, even, outrage them. I will leave it to you to decide what category you fall into. Regardless, may these lyrics – this cargo – reach you, and reach you well. I also do hope you enjoy the boat.

 

A Collection of Tears by Autumn Dawn Leader is AVALABLE NOW on:

Bandcamp

i-Tunes & Apple Music

Amazon

Spotify

Deezer

Tidal

iHeartRadio

Napster

Google Play

On The Spot

It’s been quite a while since I wrote a blog post. I figured it was overtime for an update.

Life has been busy; I won’t bore you with long stories or too many details. My health continues to be a thing that gives me many complications and grief, with new conditions/ailments/symptoms rearing their painful heads. Meanwhile, I am continuing to write, record and perform music, and I am very actively gigging. Besides the odd solo show, I am regularly gigging as one half of the prog-folk duo The Secret Magpies, performing our original songs, and I play with the original rock band Stevie Jones and The Wildfires.  I’ve also recently had national radio play on BBC6 Radio Music, something that was very exciting, indeed.

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So, it may appear that I am in demand. But, it is a seriously a challenge to stand out and get noticed among the glut of music that is out there and available these days. I am only now beginning to embrace digital media and streaming, in the effort to get my music out there to YOU who will hopefully listen and even share my music with others (word of mouth is still the best advertisement).

Do you use Spotify? Do you like music that is distinctive, emotive and intense? If so, it is you who I am appealing to in an effort to increase my music’s reach.

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For a while I have been using the hashtags #supportoriginalmusic and #supportindependentartists. What I do like about Spotify, as a streaming service, is that it allows its users to discover more of what is out there off the mainstream. Sure, you can stick with what you know, what is familliar and comfortable, but where is the fun and adventure in that? We miss out on so much when we do that.  I have personally discovered artists I had not known before by using Spotify – artists I now love. And, when you follow an artist on Spotify, it updates you whenever artists you have followed release anything new – so you don’t miss out on new music coming from your favourite artists. This is beginning to sound like an advert for Spotify, and in a way it is (although, I can assure you, I am not on their payroll and they have not commissioned me to plug their app…more’s the pity). I’m not trying to get you to download Spotify if you don’t already use it and don’t want to use it; my aim here is to engage with people who are already sold on Spotify and use it regularly*.

 

What I am doing is fan-fishing. I’m not going to deny it. I’m looking for people to follow me on Spotify.  I don’t write and perform music for it to sit on virtual shelves. I know my music is not for everyone. I am a particular niche. While being trans-genre, or cross-genre, or multi-genre, whatever you want to term it (because sticking with one genre is just far too fucking limiting!), my music isn’t EVER happyclappypoppyfluffy. It is more moody and edgy and about all the anquish, frustrations, longings, sorrows, struggles and pain and grief of this life. Many of my songs deal with longing for death. Ocassionally (as in my track Siren Song), I delve into the realms of fantasy and mythology. But, nothing I do is what anyone would call ‘happy songs’. So, if you don’t do morose, move on now. If, however, you question and rail and scream and cry at the general madness of the world, or if you tend toward introspection, over-thinking and daydreaming, my music may just be for you!

So, with no more ado, I leave you to (hopefully) go listen for yourself. If you dig what you hear, please click that follow button so you will be updated when I add more music (I am presently recording a brand new EP which will be released in the next month). Thanks for reading and listening.

autu1

 

*If you aren’t a Spotify user and you are still interested in checking out my music, it is available to download or stream from i-Tunes, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Google Play Music, Pandora, i-Heart Radio, Deezer, Napster, Tidal, Pandora, Bandcamp, & YouTube Music

Where’d You Go and Why?

Once you know you have BPD and understand certain triggers and symptoms, it makes you really question certain scenarios and how to react/respond.

Say someone (a potential friend, partner, lover, etc.) initiates contact with you and, at first, seems quite keen to have a relationship (whatever the kind) with you. There are plans to meet. Plans to hang out. Plans to participate together in whatever it is you’re both into. Plans to, generally, get this party started. And then… silence. Your last message gets ignored and unresponded to. What’s happened?

The natural reaction for someone with BPD is to panic. Like, ‘FUCKING HELL, you showed interest in me and got me to like you, now you’re gone.’ And, the tendency is, then, to bombard the person with messages, almost begging them to still be interested in you. You go from being the pursued to being the pursuer. You look sad and pathetic.

But, once you are diagnosed, you find out that you are predisposed to this reaction. So, you do your best to hold back from chasing and harassing. You try to convince yourself that they are most likely busy, and it’s not that they don’t like you anymore. But, there is real, physical pain in holding yourself back. For me, it’s a choking feeling that is added to the sinking feeling of, ‘WHY make me open my heart to you if you were going to abandon me?’ There is a pervasive, anxious feeling of wanting a plain answer for their disappearance. ‘Just tell me what’s up, don’t leave me hanging!’

And, the great majority of the time, it really is THEM and not YOU. Most likely, they had time on their hands, saw you available to chat (online) and dived in, not knowing you’d get more serious about things. You were something to do on the way to something else. And, that doesn’t bother ‘normal’ people so much. Then again, they could still be genuinely interested but something could have happened in their life that is stopping them from being in contact. Life throws shit at all sorts of people, not only those of us with BPD (it’s just that the shit we get thrown hurts us more). Still, if something is going on and they’re too busy now to meet or hang out anymore, it would be polite if they let you know. And, it would help things if, in fact, they are no longer interested in you at all to tell you that, as well. I’d rather just know. Just tell me instead of leaving me up in the air.

I find myself in this situation now. It sucks. Not knowing whether they’re busy or they’ve just ‘moved on’ without telling me.

I want to ask. I want to be able to move on. I want to learn from the situation (don’t let another person in so quickly; they’re keenness might not be as sincere as it seems).

All relationships are complicated for the BPD sufferer. We feel too much. We feel ‘too far’. And, it applies to every relationship or potential relationship.

I’ve written this blog post instead of writing to them. I wonder if they choose not to contact me again if I can resist the urge to contact them. I also worry that if they are only busy, they may read this and, instead of shooting me a quick message to ease my mind, they’ll just think I’m a weirdo.

I AM a weirdo. But, still… how irrational is it to feel this way, really? Those ‘normal’ lot are the truly strange ones. I envy them, though. This stuff doesn’t bother them. They’re immune. It just rolls off. While, here I am, wondering why I’m here again. 😢 #lifesucks #peoplesuck #bpdsucks

A Random Post Re: Intimacy

Not that intimacy is random, mind you. I haven’t posted in a while. I’ve been both busy and dealing with health issues. This leaves little time or energy for blogging. But, I carved some time into this day to post a thought.

It’s been rightly said before, by others, but bears repeating, that sex is not intimacy. Sex is awesome (IMO), but you can have great sex and not be intimate. The opposite is true: you can be intimate and not have sex (great or otherwise, lol).

Intimacy is about the soul, not the body. It’s about openness, trust and, most of all, vulnerability. It is about touch, but beyond the hands capability to reach. Intimacy, in any relationship from friendship onwards, will leave marks upon the skin of your heart.

Some crave intimacy. Some aren’t really bothered or would rather avoid such vulnerability. I tend to fall into the former catecory, my soul craves to touch and be touched. To be marked and to leave marks. It’s an invasion, a violation of boundary, albeit a welcome one. And, it is almost always risky and not always worth that risk, but in the times (and other souls) for whom it does prove worth it, it is a treasure without price.

I’mma just leave this visual here now and then return you to your regularly scheduled programme, already in progress.

I Finally Made It There, BUT…

…getting lost in Leicester yesterday took its toll.

I try not to go to too many places alone outside the town where I live. I easily get turned around and my sense of direction isn’t what one would call stellar. Plus, suffering from anxiety (both social and general varieties), navigating what feels like hostile terrain without moral and directional support can be terrifying. 

But. Sometimes needs must. 

I had a gig and I had to get to the venue on my own; there was no one else to go with me and play glorified emotional roadie. The first hiccup was I missed my train. So, I was going to be late (even if I hadn’t got lost). This set the stage for me feeling rushed and stressed. Stress makes my brain go on lock down – brain fog becomes total brain cramp; it’s safe to say that I do not thrive under pressure. 

So, I was going to be late and I wouldn’t have the luxury of a slow and gentle walk to the venue. Now I knew this would be a brisk walk which would tire me out. I’d be winded and sweaty by the time I reached the venue.

The place where I was playing is The Musician Pub in Leicester. It’s a venue I’ve played quite a few times. I like playing there as, normally, you get an appreciative and listening audience of true music lovers. I’ve been driven there, and I’ve gone with other people on the train and then on foot, time and again. I really should have had no trouble finding the place on my own. All things being equal, that is. And, all things simply weren’t equal. Chronic illness and anxiety doesn’t keep to logic and it can greatly tip the scales…and NOT in one’s favour! 

I got off the train and made my way out of the station, walking in the direction I needed to go. I was shaken up. Alone in the city, strange purple haired, middle aged woman, in stripy knee socks, rucksack on my back and carrying a guitar. The first wrong turn I made I caught relatively quickly; I righted my directional wrong and carried on.

And, on…  missing the next turn I should’ve taken. Suddenly I realise I don’t recognise what I’m seeing and panic starts to grab me.  

I kept, audibly, telling myself ‘don’t cry’ even as the tears came streaming uncontrollably down my face, while trying not to hyperventilate and hoping my makeup wouldn’t be too smeared up from the tears AND the sweat IF I ever did make it to The Musician Pub to perform. I tried Google Maps, but I was in such a state by the time I realised I had gone the wrong way, that my brain couldn’t make heads or tails of what I was seeing. At some point in my crying, blurred vision madness, some sort of vague sense of direction kicked in…probably one of those primal, evolutionary mechanisms…and, I’m glad it did, because I was seconds from collapsing in a corner with wracking sobs. However, since we’re in England and NOTHING is on a grid work, I still had no idea if I could get there on foot.

But, I did. I made it. I had a Guinness to calm my nerves. And then I had a wonderful time doing what I do. 

In my element. Fear, anxiety and pain miles and miles away. On form.

It was a great afternoon of making music in tribute of Ian Babington, a local singer-songwriter who died very suddenly a couple of months ago, and all proceeds went to the Air Ambulance charity. While it was sad, it was also a very feel-good event, a celebration of Ian and of live music (which was so important to him).  

All in all, the best of times. Unfortunately, however, the prior worst of times had taken its toll upon my body. After the gig finished, the fatigue and aches and sick feeling hit me. Even after a night’s sleep, a weepy and shaky feeling remains. 

This is the reality of living with conditions that make everyday things that don’t phase other people such difficulties. And, it makes you feel so much less. I feel fragile. Weak. Pathetic. 

Fortunately, this episode didn’t negatively affect my performance, for which I am intensely grateful. There were elements of the performance that could’ve gone better, but it had nothing to do with getting lost, and, overall, I was satisfied with the day’s musical endeavours. But, it did affect my frazzled mind and weary body extremely negatively. It’s wounded me. Made me more frightened of the next time I have to go somewhere on my own and more likely to just refuse to go, meaning I end up missing out on opportunities. 

Obviously, the mega-rich and commercially successful musicians out there are never going to have this particular problem; they can afford to be driven to every gig and pay people to accompany them. Alas, I am among the number of talented, professional, working musicians who barely have the funds to buy replacement strings, let alone purchase an entourage! And, my physical and mental disabilities make me even more frustrated at the sore lack of enthusiasm there is for original independent music in this society! I’m not only providing quality music, I’m also fighting an ongoing health battle to bring out this music to others. Having what I do met with apathy makes me both angry and sad beyond articulation. 

There are many times I feel like giving up. But, the idea of no longer doing music is anathema to me, as it is to all true musicians. And, I am good at what I do. It’s not a lack of talent that makes me consider giving up. It’s my physical and mental condition coupled with societal apathy that causes the bouts of despair. 

I’m not sure how to end this piece. I just knew I needed to write it. Many who also suffer with these conditions will identify with my experience in Leicester. And, fellow original independent artists will identify with the pain and frustration of the apathy all too many of us face. But, there really isn’t any END or HOPE in sight for either of these problems until there is more understanding and awareness out there. 

Sigh.