I warned you. Remember when I told you last month that I’d listened to a certain soundtrack 3 times in a week on the road? Well I haven’t stopped. I have an acute and probably highly contagious case of Hamilton fever. I can’t remember the last time I was so consumed and inspired by a body of musical work. It's so, so, SOOOO good. As a listener I’m moved to shouting, singing, dancing and tears. Every. Single. Time. And as a writer? I am sat-the-fuck-down-can’t-even-spell-fathom-much-less-actually-fathom how Lin-Manuel Miranda did that. Every. Single. Time. (Note to LMM: if I meet you I will probably blubber incoherently and pee a little cuz holy #writercrush.) The fact that it took him 6 years to write this musical offers a teeny bit of consolation, but barely. It's an absolute masterpiece in lyric, rhyme, wordplay, melody, groove....GAAAHHH!
I freaked alllll the way out when I heard this particular track for the first time. Once I stopped hyperventilating and yelling "YAAAAAASSSSSS" through tears of joy, I knew #singernerd had to get her hands on this one. I finally started it just over a week ago – got the arrangement worked out in pro-tools and only had time to record two video squares: bass and beat box. OH HELL YES I SAID BEAT BOX. (!!1!) But then I had to fly to NYC for some shows with Lynda. (Carter….as in Wonder Woman, in case you missed that singing BGV’s for her is something I do. It’s kind of ridiculously awesome.) And, well,….lemme back up a second.
You guys....I SOOOOOO wanted to be Cyndi Lauper when I was 13. Anyone who knew me then will remember my pink hair and fluorescent clothes. (Sharing of photographic evidence of this phase of my life gets you extra credit.) I thought she was super-neato back then, but as I got older I came to recognize and really appreciate what a shredding beast of a singer she is. And this song is just too good in the feels department. So much so that I got requests from TWO different people to #singernerd it up (big thanks to Jen Jeske and Mel Buckner!). Plus, I'm all about recognizing and celebrating true colors. So here ya go.
I found myself on I-40 west of Amarillo yesterday, as I'm making my way to CA for some shows this weekend. I'd just finished my third time through the "Hamilton" soundtrack in 4 days (sidebar: HOLY SHIT THAT IS THE MOST BRILLIANT THING I HAVE EVER HEARD) and was ready to just listen to road noise. Until my brain went "hey let's make an a capella video right now - we've got like 4 more hours on the road going in a really, really straight line - let's see if it'll work." My brain is a dork.
I started this last Friday, January 20, 2017. I reached for funny. It was out of my grasp. This song popped into my head and I couldn't get it out, so I decided to sing it out.
SINGER NERD GOT ALL HOLIDAY SPIRITED UP!
I may have out-nerded myself with this one. I transcribed horn parts and a clarinet solo. There are hats and hairdos involved. I'm a weirdo. BUT SUPER JINGLE CHRISTMAS FUN TIME!!!
SINGER NERD IS BACK WITH ANOTHER A CAPELLA THING!!
I'm having a super nerdtasticly good time with this ongoing project. Allow me to state the obvious right off the bat: FREDDY MERCURY WAS ONE BADASS MOFO. This is likely not news to anyone, but what it means in this context is this shit was hard!
The one where I tell a story about Garth Brooks, talk about how self promotion is hard, and Lynda Carter helps me do my intro video. Related: my life is weird and great. :)
I MADE ANOTHER A CAPELLA THING JUST LIKE I SAID I WOULD!!
Remember how I made an a capella version of Time Warp last month cuz it was all my friend Zip's fault? And then had so much fun I decided to do a new a capella video every month and let you guys suggest songs for me? Even though I thought the whole thing might be a really dumb idea? I've decided: it's a great damn idea.
I MADE AN A CAPELLA THING. I’M GONNA MAKE MORE. WANNA PICK MY NEXT SONG?
Oh my god, you guys – my singer nerd is showing here BIG time. It’s all my friend Zip’s fault. One of the incentives I offered on the PledgeMusic campaign for my new album 3 AM was “I’ll record a cover song just for you. Go ahead – make me learn something weird.” Unable to resist this challenge, Zip sent the following directive along with a generous pledge (thanks, Zip!): “Time Warp. WITH the dance moves.” (Bite me, Zip.)
I wrote this step-by-song guide/blog/thing to accompany the release of my “epic breakup album” 3 AM, but there’s one song I hadn’t included yet. That’s because the first song on the record was the only one I wrote while he was still here. It was the writing on the wall, I just didn’t want to read it.
I’ve played well over 100 house concerts over the past several years and no two are the same. I’ve played to audiences of anywhere from 3 to 80+ people. I’ve played big, lavish, 3-story houses and tiny A frames where I still have no idea how we squeezed in 20 people. Inside, outside, daytime, nighttime, rowdy, reverent… Here’s what they have in common though: there’s something about playing in someone’s home that fosters a deeper connection than a public venue can – both between me and the audience and between audience members themselves. It’s special.
Can a breakup be a gift in disguise? While the wrapping on mine was utter shit, it was still the best gift I ever got. Opening the box was the opposite of fun, but inside was the realization that I didn’t deserve what I’d just been handed. I didn’t know what I’d been putting up with until I wasn’t putting up with it anymore.
This is a hard one, and it takes a while. In fact, it doesn’t just happen one day and then it’s done. You don’t get bonked on the noggin by the forgiveness fairy and immediately commence to feeling groovy. The hurt or betrayal you felt doesn’t just magically dissipate, but you can learn to soften around it rather than letting it fuel your anger and harden your heart. Time really does heal. Not in the same way time allows a physical wound to close. But when it comes to emotional wounds, time allows for some perspective to develop that you couldn’t possibly have when you were still pulling emotional shrapnel out of your tender places.
It would be understandable to not trust again, not love again – decide the whole thing was for suckers. Who wants to risk getting hurt again, right? That’d be a valid choice. But that would mean the heartbreak won. The darkness won. The one who left won. Fuck. That.
"When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time." - Maya Angelou
That’s hard to do, especially if you tend toward Sister Mary Sunshineness like I do, giving everyone the benefit of the doubt. There’s something to be said for seeing the good in people or the potential in people even when they don’t necessarily see it themselves. But there’s just as much to be said for trusting your gut, drawing healthy boundaries, and recognizing that while something may be shiny and pretty if it’s concurrently really hot and hurty it probably burns BECAUSE IT’S PROBABLY FIRE.
There’s a marked and crucial distinction between not liking something and dismissing it as lesser art. Yet I’ve heard SO many musicians put down music they don’t like. That gets under my skin like a frickin’ chigger.
Shit will remind you of shit when you’re not expecting it. Road signs, pens, TV commercials, photos, songs, air…and don’t go into the greeting card aisle at Walgreens, whatever you do. Gah! That place is a damn mine field.
Getting left behind is a deep, jagged cut. When someone decides “I’d rather be without you than with you,” there is a deafening loneliness and bone-chilling sadness left in the wake. It’s really hard not to believe you must have failed somehow for someone to be making that decision. But it’s not necessarily so. Sometimes people just can’t see past what they think they need and it’s actually not about you at all. It’s far easier to see that in hindsight than while you’re still icing the bruise of being dropped like a hot potato, but hang in there. Hindsight WILL come. You just gotta get to the hind first.
"I think I'm angry....is that OK?"
That was me on the phone with my therapist a few days after the bomb dropped. The dust had settled, the initial shock had worn off and suddenly something welled up inside me like “wait just a fucking minute….oh HELL no.” Since anger is not something that had ever come naturally to me, I wasn’t sure what to think. Hence the call to my therapist, who laughed heartily and said “Yes – you should be angry right now. It’s healthy and appropriate. If you weren’t angry I’d be worried.” So I ran with it.
Have you ever heard someone refer to singers as “not real musicians”? Yeah me too. Grrr. While it’s possible that someone was an asshat, it’s also possible they were simply ill-informed. So in the interest of diplomacy, let me ‘splain a little bit about the aspects of music mastery that make a professional singer.