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

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Life Goes On

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“Life goes on.” Don’t you just hate this saying? It’s right up there with “snap out of it” and “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” (gag). The problem is, unlike those latter sayings, “life goes on” is true.

I recently watched an episode of a tv programme I like. In this episode, one of the characters has lost his wife to cancer. He looks out the window and laments that the view is the same. The love of his life is gone from him and so the view shouldn’t be the same.

I agree.

When there is grief, or when life just generally fucks you over, or when the complications that are a part of chronic illness happen, the world should stop. Life shouldn’t go on. But, it does. Relentlessly. Maddeningly. It just keeps going on. And on. And on. It’s wrong, on soooooo many levels.

And we wear our fake smiles and masks and try our best to appear normal because people we encounter are going to tell us “life goes on”. Human compassion has its limits, and they don’t have the capacity to deal with our pain (another reason life should not go on). So, we prepare our lies for when they ask us how we are. “I’m fine.”

I’ve often said this:

Life goes on. And that, my friends, is the tragedy.

It isn’t the loss, or the unfairness of life, or the issues that arise because of our illness – those things are bad enough, but they aren’t the tragedy. The tragedy is that life goes on…when it shouldn’t.

And, so, with all this in mind, I wrote this song and created the artwork for the video.

No, not everyone will get it or like it. But, there will be many who will. It will resonate with anyone who has ever suffered a significant loss, and it will resonate with my fellow squishy brainers. We’re the ones who know what the tragedy actually is.

Little Improvement

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But, improvement is still improvement even if it is only little. I should be pleased with my progress so far, and not beat myself up for the slow going nature of said progress.

I’m speaking of my accent, of course. If you’ve been following my recent posts you will have read of my obsession to rid myself of my native American accent, and replacing it with the tone of my residence. Living in the UK for over a decade now, I had hoped – assumed – that my accent would naturally soften and, by osmosis, I would gradually, but surely, lose the harsh American sound to my speaking voice. Like in so many other things, I’ve been woefully disappointed. After so many years with so little softening, I’ve come to the conclusion that hard work and retraining is the only way to get what I want. But, hard work is what it is. Very hard work.

I have undertaken elocution exercises. And, I am finding, like all physical exercise, it causes me a great deal of pain. My whole head aches with the effort.

Today, after the school run, I decided I would record some of this baby step yet painful progress, with the idea to share it here. I went to the computer…

I haven’t recorded anything since we got a new computer and everything was different. My recording software, the operating system. Different now. I’ve been avoiding recording anything lately because… well, I didn’t have anything desperately pressing on me to record (people still aren’t beating down my door for my music), but more because of the changes to what I was used to and could use well.

The new computer was given to us…and, I’m not ungrateful…but, it hadn’t really been given with helping me out in mind, but more for my husband and the children. Granted our old one was on its last circuity legs, but I was on firm footing with it and it was only that familiarity that allowed me to use it to record two albums and all my singles. It was a crap piece of machinery, but I did do true wonders with it.

So, school run done, I approached the new with trepidation, and…

Autism reared its head and I found myself unable to navigate the changes.

Frustrated and in tears, I walked away from the strange and hostile hardware and software. Talk about your technical difficulties.

Now, I have a voice recorder on my phone, but I can’t, for whatever reason, upload what I record there. I can share it via whatsapp message, but it won’t go anywhere else.

I resorted to downloading the soundcloud app on my phone, so I could use my existing soundcloud account.

After several attempts at getting it right, the above recording is what I settled with sharing here.

What I recorded yesterday, on my phone voice recorder, sounds better…truer. But, this is what I could manage today. It’s one of Shakespeare’s sonnets, and one that particularly resonates with me.

Shakespeare is a benchmark, a starting point. The language and rhythm is helpful to mastering the necessary cadence. I know, I’m far from mastering anything here. And, there I go, beat beat beat, smash, hate myself for…

all my inability.

Can I go to bed now, wretched world?  No. Now, it’s nearly time to pick the kids back up from school.

I’ve wasted a whole day. My God, how miserable.

But, even pain sounds better in an English accent. Too bad my pain is simply and acutely painful and doesn’t yet – and might never – have that “better” thing going for it.

I leave you with the Bard and my imperfect voicing of his brilliant words.

Everybody Hurts…

…sometimes.

Last night, for an event at my church called Jobel’s@7:07, I sang my cover version of the R.E.M. song “Everybody Hurts”, accompanied on guitar by the cosmically talented Mr. Bob Breeze.

The night was all about suffering, you see. Something that, well, if you’ve read many of my posts, you know I am not a stranger to.

I like this song, and I feel I did an overall good interpretation of it (it’s good; watch the vid, people!)…AND I certainly understand the lines that talk about days and nights being too long and feeling like one has had too much of this life. But…

It’s that encouragement to hang and hold on that gets me.

Oh, I know I’m not alone. I know that not everyone suffers from depression and mental illness, but – it’s true that – EVERYONE does hurt, sometimes. And, while many do not suffer with severe depression, anxiety, etc., there are quite a few who do. So, in these regards, I am not alone.

I also know that I am not alone when it comes to having an amazingly supportive husband, a few dear and precious friends, and a loving, saving, God of hope and healing.

Oh, yes. I am certainly not alone.

And yet… sometimes holding/hanging on is more than difficult; it is excrutiating.

And, I know…

I’m not alone.

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.