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.

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*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

I’m Not Complaining (a poem, of sorts)

I am a wreck, a ruin – a life-ravaged soul, aching, longing to be free.

I don’t mean to complain.  I’m not complaining.  I’m hurting, can’t you see?

Am I broken, or was I never meant to be here at all, that I cannot handle this life?

I know nothing any longer but the weariness and longing, the exhaustion too intense to fight.

And, the metre’s out of sync, and the sorrow’s out of bounds,

my fatigue is fatigued; waking leaves me drained – let me sleep away my time –

and there goes the rhyme, along with the metre –

again, I’m a failure…

but, I’m not complaining; that should be plain to all.

I’m hurting, longing, aching –

and, like this poorly written verse,

my end is not forthcoming.

©Autumn Dawn Leader 2015

This Is Where I Am

I refuse to say,”This is where I’m at.”  I may be very down, very low, and certainly not functioning well, but I still know correct grammar from incorrect, even if it has become socially acceptable to say “where I’m at”.  What does society know anyway?!

This is where I am.wpid-20150630_093436.jpgAnd, now, yes…I’m going to sing to you, here in this place where I am.

Seems I’m always sitting in the waiting room of life
Staring out the window at the world that is outside
Wondering when my time will come – if I’ll ever have my day
Whiling the time away

Doctor, Doctor, can you tell me what is wrong?
Can you fix me with this song?

Seems I can’t get out of here, and the walls are closing in
The pressure in my head is high, and the air, it feels so thin
Will someone call my name, please? Won’t you open up the door?
This room’s more like a prison cell; I can’t take it anymore!

Doctor, Doctor, can you tell me what is wrong?
Can you help me with this song?
Doctor, Doctor, I’ve been waiting here so long
It hurts when I breathe, and all my strength is gone

Feels like I’m gonna die here in this room (still waiting)
Feels like I’ll never get out of this room

Doctor, Doctor, it’s been hurting for so long
Can you help me end this song?

Doctor, Doctor, there are no words left to say
And I have no more chords to play

©Autumn Dawn Leader 2015

The Trial and Travail

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So, my psychiatrist told me that medication is all trial and error, that it would be great if they could just run a blood test and know what would work for me…but, they can’t; you never know what you’re going to get because all the meds effect everyone differently.

I have now tried eight different meds for depression and anxiety and I keep returning to duloxetine as the lesser of all evils.

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My last trial (and, what a trial it was), before again returning to duloxetine, was with escitalopram.

The good points..well, there was only one good point, and it was a very good point: I could reach orgasm again easily. It was delightful to not have to work so hard… the relief from frustration… the glorious intensity of pleasure. However…

The broken pieces of glass in my head would not stay put. Crashing and slicing around, they blinded me with mental and emotional agony. Thus, not doing much as an ANTI-depressant. Then, there was the physical pain which forced me to my bed.

Maybe, prior to taking duloxetine, I hadn’t realised the severity of physical pain I was in. I knew my body hurt most of the time, but it was…manageable, compared to the mental/emotional anguish.

Now, the pain in my body was intense and overwhelming, further contributing to a downward spiral.

And, so, I stopped taking the escitalopram and started again on the duloxetine. Bye bye easy orgasms but, also, goodbye crippling pain.

It’s sad that in numbing the bad, the good gets numbed as well. And, as far as mood…I still want to die…but, the duloxetine helps me function by effectively killing the physical pain.

The duloxetine also holds the glass in my head in check; it dulls the sharp, jagged edges, doing little for anxiety and low mood, but keeping full blown psychosis at bay.

It’s no way to live, it’s just a way to exist a little better, to (I detest this word) survive (bleurgh, I spit that word out with hatred).

A Moment of Silence

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One of those days when it’s all getting to me… and that always amplifies my angst at the shittiness of people not giving a shit and my frustration at the ughness of life.

Well, read the tagline… it is a blog about rants, after all.  I am attempting to live in the present and develop a more positive outlook… through mindfulness meditation I am cultivating awareness, and it is helping. But, in all honesty, I do ride the line of hope and hopelessness. I have moments when I experience a small taste of freedom. Moments of silence, as an observer; moments of not being caught up in my thoughts and the feeling of helplessness and the… the lifeyness of it all and the unfairness of talent going unappreciated, the lack of a caring audience, the inability to do something to support myself and my family through my gift, the agitation and anger at my mental health (or lack thereof and the limitations it causes).  Oh, but…on a sideline, speaking of an audience, I do want to say “hello” and “thank you” to the new followers of the blog I have recently acquired. And, then, there are these other moments of silence. Grieving the dead dream, along with my own longing for death… a deep sadness that creeps around the edges and stains the present old-photograph-yellow. Awareness gets swallowed up in reverie and rumination and the silence is filled with a scream of anguish about…well, about all those above mentioned things and more.

It’s just a moment. 

Only a moment. I won’t stop playing and making music for long. It feeds my soul and even though I can’t “make a living” from it, it is my life. My therapy and expression and, as I said here, I do want to make beautiful things whether or not anybody cares.  No matter what Don McLean wrote, there has never been a day when the music has died. Music lives and is powerful medicine. Dreams die. Musicians die. But music? It’s eternal. And so…

I’ll have my moments (now and then) for grieving the dream, but I will never stop making the music. And, I will also continue to take time for moments of silence where I go beyond the despair of life to experience a level of…something close to enjoyment of the present. Until I, at last, get to finally join my dead dream in rest.

Won’t you join me in a moment of silence?

 

 

Embarrassment (And What Does It Have To Do With Ducks?)

Image“Like water rolling off a duck’s back”, so the old saying goes. I’m not much like a duck (well, other than I may waddle a bit when I walk, and then there’s that quacking thing…and, my lips, of course). I wish I was more like a duck. How great it would be to have bad experiences just roll off like so much water and not be affected because my God-designed waterproof feathers keep me from getting soaked, damaged and overwhelmed by the badness.

I wish I was more like a duck.

Last night I had a rather embarrassing, humiliating and demoralising experience. To make matters worse, this pickle I found myself in was not my fault (hey, I’ll hold my hands up and admit often I’m the one to blame for my pain, but this time it wasn’t the case). I cried most of the night, kept awake by my anguish.

The whole episode reminded me of a time when I was about 15 years of age and was to sing at a special meeting for Veteran’s Day. Now, I have always been good (or, at least I was so when I was younger) at remembering my words. I never forgot one. Up until that night, when almost every word in the song flew out of my head in an instant leaving me up there blinking into the spotlight while no words came out of my mouth. Some people blamed my age or lack of experience; the truth was I had been singing professionally since the age of four. I had no excuse. This, unlike last night’s experience, was my fault. I had no one else to blame but myself. The experience marked me. I was so embarrassed it made me sick. I have never fully recovered from that night over 20 years ago. So much for “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, eh? What a load of bull-poo!

Of course, that experience when I was 15 was not the end of my musical career. The fact that I was so young worked in my favour even if people were mistaken in thinking that it was youth – and therefore – inexperience that had caused my nightmare situation that night.

Last night was the same, but different. I didn’t forget my words. And, there was very little I could have done to change it other than to not sing at all or stop when my guest accompanist began the song we were doing in the wrong key forcing me to sing it way out of my comfortable contralto range (where we had rehearsed it – and, man, it sounded awesome in rehearsal). The song was part of a bigger programme, so it wouldn’t have done to stop and start again – so, the professional “went on with the show”. Of course, there’s no explaining this to people who don’t understand music. I simply sounded crap (“who told her she could sing?”). There was no way to save my musical/vocal reputation. For this night, and those people, it was ruined. And this time it wasn’t even my fault.

Now, I don’t want anyone to get the mistaken idea that I am badmouthing my extremely talented keyboardist. The man is simply talent on legs. He played what he played absolutely exceptionally (and any decent second soprano could have handled it easily and beautifully, but I am a contralto) it was just, unfortunately (for me and my rep), the wrong key. Believe me, there’s a lot of difference between F and C.

I sobbed most of the night, feeling kicked in the teeth by life again – marked, irrevocably, and not feeling in the least bit duck-like. Humilation is just so utterly sh*tty!

I didn’t get much sleep, obviously. But, after I did mercifully drop off to sleep in the wee hours of the morning, surprisingly enough I woke up without immediately starting to cry again (although, I did tear up a bit as the morning progressed), and I felt led to read Lamentations from the Bible (well, if anyone is lamenting, it would be me…).

Lamentations: 3:14-24:

My own people laugh at me. All day long they sing their mocking songs. He has filled me with bitterness and given me a bitter cup of sorrow to drink. He has made me chew on gravel. He has rolled me in the dust. Peace has been stripped away, and I have forgotten what prosperity is. I cry out, “My splendor is gone! Everything I had hoped for from the Lord  is lost!” The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord  never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord  is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”

Well! Here I am rolling around in the dust like Jeremiah the prophet was, humiliated, in sorrow and pain…yet. What a great word that is. Yet. Jeremiah chose hope again and so can I. Why? One reason:

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loved.

I remembered my grandfather when he would comfort me when I was little, and he’d say, “You’s bein’ wuv-ved” (wuvved – pronounced like wuvv-ed). He didn’t have a speech impediment and he was quite well-spoken and a very intelligent and well-educated man. But, when he was affectionate with his family, he used language like this with us. I still hear him say it, though he has been gone these many years, when I feel very vulnerable and very unloved. “You’s bein’ wuvved.”

This morning it was as if my Heavenly Father was saying to me, “Autumn, there’s hope. All is not lost. This situation has affected you greatly and maybe you can never forget it, but you can put it behind you today and start afresh, because you’s bein’ wuvved.”

So, we have established that I am not much like a duck where it counts but I am somewhat like an ancient prophet. We have pretty much made it clear that humilation sucks big time, and – judging from past experience – we can pretty much assume that I am not likely to “get over” it anytime soon. YET. We have seen yet. And, that one little word makes a big difference going forward, because I can’t go back and change anything.

Thank God for yet, for hope, for grandfathers, for music, for ducks and, most of all, for wuv.

An Anthem of Anguish

I recently wrote a very morose song. In fact, when I played it for my husband – and I had warned him beforehand of the moroseness thereof – he said, “Oh! You mean really morose! It’s really good, but it’s really morose.”

I debated sharing it with the public at large. I mentioned my dilemma on my Facebook Page. My exact words were: So, I’m wondering if the latest song I’ve written is a bit too morose. When I say “morose”, think ‘Bottle’ and multiply the moroseness thereof about 100 times. Yeah…it’s a downer. But, the question is, is it too much of a downer?

Someone then asked, “What’s it about?”

I responded with, Pain…depression…life…pain.”

The words that came up inside me after I’d hit the post button were: anguish, grief. This is an anthem of anguish.

Someone else posted after I did: Plenty of songs were inspired and written about heartache, pain, suffering etc. Put it out there as there will be plenty who will relate and thank you for putting into words how they might feel.” 

This comment encouraged me to go ahead and share it for the reason of putting words to heartbreak and even, in this case, actual emotional breakdown and the ofttimes daily struggle that those with severe depression can go through. But, when I finally recorded the song, I realised I wanted to share it not only for that reason – not only to share how I feel when faced with my stressors and to be a voice for those who don’t have the words for it…  

I don’t want to limit this song.

What I think can be easily heard right away is that Waterfall was influenced by both the classical and musical theatre music genres. It  has a rather epic feel (and it has a life of its own, as many songs do; certainly it is bigger than the singer/songwriter who wrote it. I am tempted to call it a ‘masterpiece’, but I would not like to appear quite that bigheaded). Also, I wrote it while reading The Hunger Games Trilogy, and I believe that the first three lines of the song were, at least in part, inspired by them. Waterfall came with force, crashing into me (not unlike waves of grief themselves – it kept coming up and over me) – and, when I resisted it a bit, it kept coming at me in wave after relentless wave until I had it written. So, for that reason alone – the song’s insistence – it deserves to be heard. And so, I give you this beautiful, tragic, brilliant, morose song…for all that it’s worth. Because, after all, I feel it is, indeed, worth a lot.