remembering i’m a songwriter

The past few days I’ve really been into Pinegrove’s new song called “Moment”.

Coincidentally, I’ve also been making more time for songwriting and guitar noodling.

It’s been a consecutive two days and I feel good like it’s been two weeks. The two songs I’ve written are not good, but I think there’s a certain degree of rediscovering one’s self after walking away for a while. I don’t know who I am as a songwriter anymore. I don’t know what I need to say. But it’s something and it’s coming and it’s bubbling. Right now I’m following the threads I blindly unravel; Chords I stumble on, saying words that feel good in my mouth, finding melody from my throat that magically appears, taking on conversational cadence. If you’re a songwriter, you know, you understand.

Another thing about songwriting, at least for me, is that it’s this meditative exercise; I can focus and shut the world out in full concentration. Breathing becomes easier, anxiety dissipates. And this is incredibly important to me in that mine has been mostly unbearable for at least two months. I need to write songs. I think I’ve forgotten this. I actually need to; otherwise my Life becomes this unbearable, miserable hell.

I’ve been so focused on other life things and work and my EP, which as cathartic as that process has been, those songs were not recently written. The songs are good, but I already consider them past emotions. They’re not my present state. I’m trying to figure that out now.

I oftentimes forget how songwriting legitimately saved my life in middle school and high school (and college). Those songs weren’t good either but the saved my damn life. They allowed me to articulate frightening and complex emotions, to navigate my hormonal teenage years. If I didn’t have those hundreds of sheets of paper as my sail, I don’t know what I would have done. Surely I would have combusted and drowned in pure emotional frustration.

Music is magic I must believe in. If not that, then what? And if not now, then when?

Writing songs is my most favorite thing in the world. I need to start acting like it.

waiting to leave

I’m waiting to leave my house.

It’s 9:20 AM on a Tuesday. I have studio time booked for 10, but it’s too early to leave.

It’s not that far. Only a 12 minute car ride from my house.

I’ve hired a violinist play on a sad track I wrote called, “All Your Books”. A track that I know is my most honest one yet, but I’m simultaneously afraid to release it for fear people/listeners will needlessly worry about me. (Y’all don’t need to – The song was written awhile ago in a different headspace than my current one.) But I can’t deny the honesty Life. That’s what music and art and songwriting is all about. And I feel as though I must stay true to that, regardless of others’ potential misconceptions.

The song touches on loneliness and I suppose feeling left behind in an important aspect of growing up – that of physical love. And grappling with that. Trying to pull myself up out of my depression by my own bootstraps; Trying really hard to put a positive spin on it, and lift myself out of it based on logic and sheer will. It’s a very intimate song. It’s delicate. It’s vulnerable. It frightens me.

But the one thing that does not frighten me is the certainty that I am not alone. That I am not alone in my feelings or experiences and that there are other people out there just like me. Who feel just like this. Who will/can resonate when the hear the song and/or read the words. And as an artist who appreciates music, how else can I contribute to the scene without putting something out there that perhaps has never been expressed before in this way? Isn’t that the point? To do it even when it hurts? Even when you’re scared?

Today the sky looks like blue raspberry italian ice. I’m drinking cold brew I made with Madcap coffee (really good coffee and would totally buy those beans again). Today would have been my maternal grandparents’ 60th wedding anniversary (that’s Nonna and my Poppy for those keeping score). Today my mom seems tense, anxious, and worrisome.

We got a little puppy last month (a Dachshund/Chihuahua mix whose name is Mario) and he has been such a joy to have in the house. He’s going to be 7 months in a few weeks. He is playful, a little mischievous, doing pretty well with house training, and only barks a little a night – he’s getting better with that…

I think there’s so much more to talk about and say – I’ve forgotten how nice it is to just let it out on the page sometimes – but I think I will focus on finishing this cold brew and loading the few items I have into my car.

To anyone who’s reading these weird, little, intimate posts of mine – Hello! Thank you.

And even if no one is, I don’t care. Sometimes it’s nice to write it all out, just for me. 🙂

 

angeles

Last night I (quite literally) dusted off my Elliott Smith songbook and opened to the first page and proceeded to learn “Angeles”. I would love to have a been a fly on the wall when Elliott wrote this song because it is pure magic and power in the quiet and the flawless accuracy of his fingerpicking. I can get through the song, pretty well actually. But I’m still practicing to get that Elliott perfection.

Elliott Smith is one of my favorite songwriters of all time because of where he goes, musically, in his songs. He covers so much ground; the chords are constantly moving and changing, which in turn makes the melody more compelling. I’ve been a fan for awhile now. I remember having some of his music on my iPod between high school and college, but his catalog never fully hit me until I wanna say, 2011. That seems right.

Dedicating time to learn covers (or even new chords for that matter) is something I’m incredibly bad at; I’m impatient and impulsive and sometimes I wish I weren’t. But I think there’s immense educational value in sitting down to learn songs and different chords and strumming patterns because that is what in fact informs future songwriting. That concept is literally the way I started learning guitar and soon after, writing my own songs. But again, sometimes I find it difficult to commit. Though I was glad to find time to take a look at “Angeles” last night. I was so excited I even played it for my parents once I had it down.

I’ve recorded a bunch of videos on my phone between yesterday and today, wanting to ultimately upload a flawless clip to Instagram, but it is still a work in progress and something I don’t think I’ll cave into until I get it right. I just found what seems like a good tutorial on YouTube and I think I’ll watch that next time I sit down with my guitar to play it.

Rocking Horse

It’s almost 1 AM and I’m not sure why I’m still so awake. I do have work tomorrow…at 11. I still need to be up at a respectable time. But damn, I am up and alert.

I know it’s been a little bit since I’ve hit up the ol’ blog. Not sure where we left off…but I bought a Gibson Les Paul, work has been busy but great, and I’ve fallen off my yoga game. Haven’t been in a bit and really need to make the time to go back and getting into a routine again. Might go Saturday morning. Balancing yoga with work has been tough lately.

The Gibson plays great, though I still swear up and down this thing needs a neck adjustment. I’m starting to hear a little buzz on the 1st and 2nd strings at the 1st fret. Like I’ll pay the damn $65 for the setup, I’d just like my strings not to buzz, thanks.

I wrote a new song tonight. It’s one of those songs that as I was writing it, I wasn’t sure what the hell I was writing about but I kept going with it ’til I finished. It’s kind of like sculpting in that way; Like, I don’t know what shape I’m going to end up with, but I’m following the marble, you know? It’s part improvisational, part intuition(al?). But yeah I wrote this song about sex and money. And then after sitting with it for awhile, I realized another way to read it is that it could definitely be about heroin. Which kind of makes sense if my subconscious was at the wheel writing this thing; This past weekend I finished up a podcast called Crimetown, and Season 2 talks about the history of Detroit corruption and drugs (namely heroin) is a big part of that story. It’s kind of been in my mind, rattling around. Here are the lyrics:

[Verse 1]
Rocking horse and Canadian money
Gonna make it out of this one fine
Rocking horse and my sexuality
Baby, baby won’t you help me cross that line?
[Verse 2]
Fill the bag to the brim – don’t question me
Cash and carry and I don’t wanna know why
Your driver’s seat with the window open
Now ask me what it’s like to feel alive.
[Chorus]
I live on the edge
I’m dangerous
And I’ll never forget
The way you touch
me in bed
and give me head.
Expensive memories.
Shallow regret.
[Verse 3]
Silver stallion in lucrative industry
I feel the groove of the saddle against my thighs
“Rebel Rebel”, but you ain’t foolin’ me.
Making it look so easy, you don’t even try.
[Verse 4]
And you’re a sweet ideal. Automatic love affair.
Expert level all the time
Back and forth in arbitrary movement.
But he’s not a poet, he is just some guy.
[Chorus]
I live on the edge
I’m dangerous
And I’ll never forget
The way you touch
me in bed
and give me head.
Expensive memories.
Shallow regret.
[Outro]
Rocking horse and Canadian money
Gonna make it out of this one fine

But anyway, you don’t have to take my word for it – As a songwriter all the songs I write will usually have purpose and meaning particular to me, but that doesn’t mean it can’t have more than one meaning, or a different meaning to someone else. It’s all kind of fluid in that way, IMO.

So the last time I was at yoga was actually two weeks ago I think. It was this self-love workshop which incorporated crystals and reiki and a light warm vinyasa flow. And I had this really awesome transcendental experience I’d like to write about. But I don’t know if I have it in me tonight to do it. Perhaps another time.

Going to see if I can fall into a good night’s sleep. I’m starting to yawn, so maybe I’ll just roll with that too. See where it takes me. More soon.

-RKB