Viewing: About a song - View all posts

"Sometimes you wanna go..."  

 We all have our place that feels like home, right? Ok, for some people it is their home, but that's not what I'm talking about. For this post, I'm talking about the Skylark in West Seattle. I've been singing at the Skylark open mic for 5 years. It was the venue of my first real show and the place where I met Todd and Ellen. And It's the birth place of the song Belong
I've mentioned in my personal blog that I followed Josh Ritter's advice to start up my music career by hitting up as many open mics as possible. As far and wide as I travelled to play an open mic, I always appreciated the weeks when I'd play at Skylark. One such week (as recorded here) I met Todd. He heckled the Steph's and I from the crowd and then got up after us and owned the stage. His voice was captivating and his guitar was so steady and rich. Steph Roche leaned over and said, "he's nice looking and plays the guitar well.  Why don't you play music with him?" I like to think back to that comment, because without her nudging I probably never would have approached Todd that night. 
After that the Skylark became our wednesday night spot. If Todd was going, I was going. We even added a night: Tuesdays at Shadow Land. Todd and I started collaborating on songs, sending each other anything new we'd come up with, and basically worshipping each other's music. Needless to say Todd has been a huge motivator in my musical journey, has inspired a song or two, and continues to be a valued friend.
Fast forward a few months and we're back at the Skylark. In walks a new girl. She's adorable and shy. She gets on stage, sits on a chair, leans over to look at her music that is on the ground in front of her and plays a nervous first song. She then tells us (the crowd) that she hasn't played live in 10 years, but has been asked to play at a music festival and needs to get her act back together. She has a Natalie Merchant sound and I'm easily imagining her being a hit 10 years prior. 
As had become our usual, Todd and I introduced ourselves after her set and learned that her name was Ellen. She was a stay at home mom and was just resurfacing as a musician. We told her about the shadowland and supported her for the next month while she got ready for her big show. 
My favorite memory of Ellen is the week after her show when she walked back into the Skylark on Wednesday night. She no longer needed to practice for anything, but the Skylark had become her CHEERS,  her "hallpass from the kids" and a chance to rediscover the artist inside of her. She had come so far from that first night sitting on a chair with shakey hands. 
I think that was the first night The Holy Child came through town. They were a California band of five who packed ua van and drove up the coast to Seattle, where they were sure people would better appreciate their music. Their first performance at the skylark was LOUD and a little crazy, but they were lovable and fun to meet. We told this group about the Gypsy Cafe open mic the next night and were excited when we saw them there. (Small world?)
As it turns out, they were living out of their van and the gypsy is a place where you can use Wifi, grab a bite, strum one of the instruments in their larger room, and just hang out. So they showed up seven hours early and hung out until it was their turn to play. 
Something about this venue was much more suitable to THC. They honestly nailed it that night. People were dancing, smiling, singing along to songs they'd never heard and the THC was loving it. (I'm pretty sure their last song was 5 minutes longer than it had been the night before). Amid compliments and cheers at the end of their set, one of their more adorable band members caught my eye. I gave him a thumbs up and he just smiled.

Though that turned into a long explanation, those are the stories that wrote the song Belong. As a side notes, the back up vocals are performed by Ellen and electric guitar by Todd. 

The Secret Tales of Tunes 

Songwriting changed for me in February of last year. Not because I read a book about songwriting or attended a music conference. And certainly not because I became more clever and creative. No, songwriting changed last February when I wrote a song about someone, boldly describing an unspoken feeling, and then played the song for that person. The impact was immediate and the connection everlasting. I can never undo that song, and I'll never want to. 

Something about that song taught me how to write from the heart. Of course, all of my songs are about something; an event or feeling that sparked an idea or phrase and turned into a tune. But since this experience, I've tried to break apart my raw emotion and say things that I should either be mortified for someone to hear or that someone has been dying to hear. Why? Because those things are the truth and everyone can relate to the honest feelings of the heart. Whether they are rational, warranted, appropriate or not, they are real and they exist in all of us.

I'd like to use this blog to tell the stories of some of my songs. Some stories are best left as songs, but others are eager to be shared. The first will be Belong. Keep an eye out for the first post early this coming week.