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I’ve never been a fan of categories.

On a recent trip with students, one of them was wearing a New England Patriots t shirt while our guide, a local from the country we were in, was explaining about how much he loves his country. This got me thinking of the differences in the two ideas.

One: a (mostly) pre-determined set of characteristics, a box or category that some people try to fit into, whether it is their truth or not.

Two: a verb in which all those characteristics are put into action plus some, allowing individuality in the way which a person shows love for their country.

I’m sure there are a lot of people for which there is a sort of Venn diagram where both one and two share many of the same characteristics. Which is awesome.  Maybe it’s just me. I do not enjoy being told “you have to do this” or “you have to act this way” (unless there are safety concerns or something – I’ll always wear my seatbelt). I also dislike the “here are the rules to be in this category” meaning that if you don’t follow those specific rules, there is something wrong with you and you don’t belong. And so, I prefer the idea of an action. I prefer the verb form. The form which allows a little bit of leeway. The form that encourages someone to take action, to question what they have been taught or even who they have been taught by, to take a knee or climb a statue.

So, if someone ever asked me “are you a patriot?” I don’t know if I could answer “yes.” But I could answer that I do love this country. That I am acting with love and that my love is not constrained by predetermined characteristics. I love all the good things it is and it is through and with this love that I want to change the bad things.

Peace,

Dann

The Mother

This post was originally shared on Mary’s Instagram page, along with the above photo. It was well-received, and Dann suggested Mary ought to share it here on our blog. (Incidentally, Brandi Carlile liked the post, which is about the coolest we’ve been since Frank Turner retweeted us that one time.)

***

Acquired what is definitely my new favorite shirt at last night’s @brandicarlile show at @orpheumboston. What an amazing show! 🤘🏼🎶🔥

#bythewayiforgiveyou has become one of my favorite albums of hers. So many good songs: #thejoke#partyofone. But I have to talk about her song #themother. Hearing that song made me feel so seen, both as a mother and a musician. It actually sounded like my experience of motherhood, when I’ve struggled so much to find models and templates of what parenting looks like to me. And when Brandi brought her daughter out on stage, and then later, when she encouraged a parent in the audience with a crying baby to not feel like they had to leave … powerful.

When my daughter was born, I was terrified that music was over for me. Postpartum depression, a severe lack of sleep, and challenges with breastfeeding compounded that fear. I was sure I could never be a good mom, because I’m a musician … and that I could never be a good musician, because I’m a mom. I was so miserable for a long, long time — longer than six weeks — and was afraid I had ruined so many lives because I hadn’t chosen just one path. Some days it was all I could do to get out of bed and make sure I had a smile for my beautiful baby. I tried to look happy, but I was suffering.

This is #maternalmentalhealth awareness week. No matter how much of an “easy” baby she has, no matter how much she’s smiling, no matter how put together she looks, #askher. Ask that new mom in your life how she is, and read between the lines. We get a lot of messages about how precious the early years are and how fast kids grow, and that is very true. But postpartum struggles are not a matter of choice, not something that can be changed by thinking positively. It’s a medical issue. She might be terrified to talk about it, but she might also be bursting at the seams and begging to be seen. And if you can, wash some dishes, do some laundry, take care of the simple things. It makes a world of difference.

Peace,

Mary

PS – We’ve got a gig coming up THIS SATURDAY in Waltham at The Music Salon, hosted by Linda Marks. We’d love to see you there! And don’t forget about our upcoming EP release parties (you read that right – multiple!), the first of which is on June 7th at Dorchester Brewery with Banded Starling and Kerr Griffin!

Compartments

Have you ever walked into a Container Store? There are, apparently, a lot of different kinds of containers made to contain things. The range of sizes, shapes, colors, and materials is endless. You walk in, filled with a sense of purpose about how, this time, armed with boxes and shelving units of all sizes and shapes, you’ll organize your books and clothes and, ultimately, your entire life. This is where you will learn to adult.

God, I hate it there.

Perhaps it’s the simple fact that I hate organizing. I am not averse to being organized, but please, oh please, don’t ask me to create the system. I can’t even read a menu in a linear fashion. More than three categories of things, and I panic, filling a box labeled “miscellaneous” with so much stuff, I might as well not have started organizing in the first place. Boxes of this nature, leftover from ambitious trips to the Container Store or Bed Bath and Beyond, are piled all around my house.

But perhaps it is a tangible reflection of a much deeper aversion: the need to compartmentalize oneself. I’ve grown progressively more frustrated with the idea that I ought to be a different person when I’m teaching than when I’m performing than when I’m with my husband than when I’m with my friends than when I’m with my kids…. It’s exhausting! And as coworkers become family become friends become audiences, I find that, once again, I have a number of poorly sorted boxes scattered about my heart, full to bursting. How is a person supposed to find the appropriate outfit to wear — the appropriate self to wear — in all this mess?

Pain always seems to get the back corner of the closet, doesn’t it? It’s that box you move from one apartment to the next and never open if you can help it. But when you do, you find some powerful things you forgot about, pieces of yourself that are always with you, whether you look at them or not.

The truth is, we are all of our compartmentalized selves at all times. We are active, and we are exhausted. We are well-dressed, and we are in need of a shower. We are smiling, and we are hurting. We are strong, and we are hoping someone will just hug us and hand us some tea and a blanket. None of these things change just because we don’t show them. This is the stuff of being human.

I’m not going to go to any more Container Stores for a while. Compartmentalizing my life is not serving me. Maybe it’s not serving any of us as well as we think. If you’d like to join me, I’ll be over there, resting on a massive pile of all the outfits I own and trying to figure out how to wear them all at the same time.

Peace,
Mary

PS – While 3@H doesn’t have any shows until May, Mary has one TOMORROW NIGHT (April 14th) at St. John’s Coffeehouse in Arlington, MA, opening for The Copley Cats! A few advanced tickets are still left, and you can get them hereCome on out and support an all-female bill!

Hey!

Oh, Hey! What’s going on?

No really. I mean it.

🙂

Something occurred to me this afternoon as I was walking from the cafeteria in the school at which I teach back to my classroom. I saw no less than four people with whom I had almost the same conversation.

“Hey!”
“Hey! What’s going on?”
“Not too much. How’re you?”
“I’m ok.” Or “I’m well.”

And I had two thoughts about this. One: it made me sad. And two: it made me happy.

The sad part is an obvious commentary on society and superficiality and lack of time with overscheduled people rushing as fast as they can to whatever is “next” in their day and the ubiquitousness of iPhones and deadlines, the lack of courtesy being taught in our schools, the individualism of the country, the overarching crankiness of the world. I’m sure many blogs and articles have been written about that.

The happy part, though. That was pretty awesome. People whom I see pretty rarely looked up, made eye contact, maybe even a half smile, and genuinely wanted to interact with me. Even if the conversation was short, it was important to them to have it. There are plenty of people whom I walk past – either in school or out of it – and (for whatever reason) we don’t talk. Maybe it’s someone who doesn’t know me that well. Or maybe it’s a complete stranger. Or maybe that person is dealing with something.

It’s been a weird couple of weeks. The snow has crushed New England. Easter has come and gone. There were birthday parties and family get-togethers. Work hung over all of it like an umbrella of anxiety (both good and bad).

So, we wanted to look you in the eye, maybe even half a smile, and say,

“Hey! What’s going on?”

Peace,

Dann

PS – We’d love to say hey to you in person! As it happens, we have a gig this Sunday from 2 – 6:30 pm at Aeronaut Brewing Company. We will be sharing the stage with one of our favorite duos, The Promise Is Hope. Come check it out, and you know, say hi!

SpotiFriday #29: Brandi Carlile Edition

Happy March! Despite the storms outside, we know that spring is around the corner. And we are especially excited for spring, because we have tickets in May to see BRANDI FREAKIN’ CARLILE! This woman a phenom, a powerhouse, and a musical hero to both of us. Her new album, By The Way, I Forgive You, has been topping the charts, and after we both listened to it (roughly a million times), it was easy to see why. Plus, it’s a perfect fit for our SpotiFriday playlist, so we’ve devoted this month’s list to her. Soak it in, friends!

1. Every Time I Hear That Song

“By the way I forgive you…after all, maybe I should thank you”

Forgiveness is a very powerful thing. It pre-supposes that the person being forgiven is acknowledging they did something wrong. Or maybe not and it’s an altruistic way of dealing with a seemingly unsolvable issue. I read in one of Brandi Carlile’s posts about this album that the person she wanted to forgive the most was the pastor at her church for not wanting to baptize her as a teen because she had a girlfriend. And the power in forgiveness is tremendous. She, with a loving, and clear conscious said it’s ok, and she may even have learned from that situation. Starting off the album with such beauty and strength sets the emotional journey perfectly. — D

2. The Joke

I don’t know quite how to be eloquent about this one. There is a lot to unpack. Let me start with the easy stuff.

I’m a sucker for strings. I really am. They are so emotive and almost human. They practically sing.

And I am a sucker for unexpected chord changes. The harmonic structure is virtually unchanged from the first verse into the chorus, UNTIL “I have been to the movies” and then we’re slapped with a brand new chord, something completely outside of our expectations. As a theory nerd, it blew my mind the first time I heard it.

I connected so much with the woman “carrying her baby on her back across the desert.” I think any mother can, to be honest. But I also connected with the “boy” in the first verse, even though his story is not my own. And maybe that’s part of the point, to connect with someone else’s story, to create an opportunity for empathy.

I’m not sure I have ever heard a song convey both hope and heartbreak so effortlessly. And that’s important, because so many hopeful songs unintentionally ignore the sadness and hard times of their audience. This one embraces it. — M

3. Hold Out Your Hand

The Johnny Cash song! Until the chorus, that is, when it becomes the coolest singalong. Although it holds on tightly (pun intended) to the country gospel-ness of the Man in Black. I cant wait to shout this from the seats of the Orpheum. — D

4. The Mother

“None of that was ever who we are.”

In the almost six years since my daughter was born, I have been asked an average of once a month if I have any songs about motherhood or if I would be writing one soon. I didn’t for a long time, because I struggled to write authentically about my experience. I came into motherhood with years of baggage that I hadn’t had time to unpack, a flood of emotions and fears. On top of that, I didn’t stop being a musician; nobody stops being themselves just because they become a parent. But finding a model of musician-mother I could look up to, whose life looked anything close to mine, who could show me that I wasn’t going to ruin everything one way or another just because I was trying to honor every piece of myself … that was challenging.

“I’ll never hit the big-time without you.”

“The Mother” is, hands down, the most relatable song about motherhood I have ever heard. It sums up everything I have felt in such a poignant way, how beautiful the whole thing is. And it still doesn’t ignore that sometimes, it does kind of suck. And these two ideas are existing together, occupying the same space all at once.

This song gives me hope. She gives me hope. — M

5. Whatever You Do

I’m fascinated by this song. I want to know the story. I want to see the whole picture. I’m almost certain that it’s the most beautiful break up song ever. And I love how the whole thing starts off so simply that you can hear the squeak of the guitar strings and gets more complex as the song goes on. — D

6. Fulton County Jane Doe

In case you’re wondering who this song is about, as I was, this is her. You can also read a little more about her here.

It is an innate human need to be valuable, to matter, to be seen. There is scarcely a greater gift we can give to another person than to really see them. Every one of us deserves to feel precious to someone else, even if it’s only for a little while.

I hope she felt loved, in spite of the way she died. Rest in peace, Jane. — M

7. Sugartooth

I love how I got all the Gospel songs on the album. 🙂

What is a “Sugartooth?” I mean, when people have a sweet tooth, usually they are talking about the fact that a little pick-me-up every once in a while makes them feel better. It takes away that little bit of what’s bothering them – makes an awful day a little better.

I was talking to a friend of mine about this song and he said, “one of the things I find most interesting about the song (this friend has actually interviewed Brandi Carlile a few times and says the picture you have of her as awesome is actually incorrect – she’s better than that) is that the protagonist struggles with addiction while Carlile, a very religious person, struggles with there being ‘living proof that there was no God.'” Which is so fascinating to me, because I think this song is about someone suffering with confusion and depression. In my mind, the protagonist is searching the entire time that the songwriter(s) have known him, and every so often quiets the confusion and depression with whatever sweet makes him feel better. — D

8. Most of All

One of the things I find most interesting about this song is that her father taught her forgiveness and patience, and her mother taught her strength and to fight. This, however unintentional, is a challenge to traditional gender roles. I’ve heard many country songs about the value of parents, but I think it’s neat how the roles are reversed in this song. It’s not that they need to be reversed, but it is important to know that they can be. And of course, the biggest takeaway is still there: “Remember what comes back when you give away your love. Give away your love.” — M

9. Harder to Forgive

I, too, believe that all souls are born kind. And omg I struggle so much with the idea of this song. Forgetting wipes the slate clean. As if it never happened. But if something affected someone so much, it’s the forgiveness that’s the important step towards healing. I can think of more than one situation in my life (and I’m sure you can as well) in which this idea rings true. And how incredibly difficult it is to forgive. And even in asking us to forgive, and leading the way by example, Brandi Carlile shows once again what an amazing human being she is. — D

10. Party of One

One thing that caught my attention is that, while we’re in the key of C Major, it’s a long time before we actually hear that chord. That’s the one that feels the most resolved in this key, the most like home. Some of the moments I heard it in the first half of the song: “I saw you”; “I love you still”; “It ain’t ever gonna close”; “you’re already home”. I believe these are meant to be hints to the resolution of the song, where the singer ultimately decides that, despite the struggle, it’s worth it to stay. Because the point at which we finally feel that resolution and certainty about being in the key of C, about being home, is when the band comes in and she sings, “I am yours, I am yours, I am yours….”

Points at which I was wrecked while listening:

  • The opening piano intro
  • “Let it burn you to sleep”
  • 1:16: “But I am tired. And I am yours.”
  • “Constant overthinking and secretive drinking”. That is some boss internal rhyme right there.
  • 2:11: “I am tired”, with that raw and dirty broken honesty in her voice that is Brandi Carlile’s specialty
  • 2:48: When the strings come in (remember what I said about strings *bawls*)
  • Every moment she sounds like she’s crying while she’s singing. Which is most of the song. And most of the time. *bawls more*
  • When the band comes in
  • The massive string section at the end *melts into puddle*

I think anyone who has been in a long-term relationship and found your way through the darkness and out the other side is feeling this song along with me. Absolutely gorgeous. — M

Good luck picking yourself up off the floor after that one, friends.

BTW, we’ll be doing a last-minute Concert Window concert TODAY, March 3rd, at 5 pm EST. Tune in without leaving your couch! Also, Mary has a concert at The Burren this Sunday, March 4th, at 7 pm with Florie Namir and Jocelyn Limmer. Tickets are going fast, and they’re way cheaper in advance, so buy them here and use code 24HOUR at checkout. See you around!

Peace,

3@H

 

They’re quite aware of what they’re going through

There are a number of talented visual artists in my family. While I am obviously inclined toward the arts, visual arts are not my strong suit. Nevertheless, I had the privilege of knowing an amazing art teacher in middle and high school, Ms. Debra Anton-Coburn. She saw us, her students, as people before we could even fully see ourselves that way. And long after my schedule was too full to fit art or photography, I would find myself dropping by her classroom. I felt seen there. I felt safe. And so did so many others.

The library was next door to the art room, and both were up a couple of steps, rendering both rooms inaccessible to students with physical disabilities. So while I was in high school, a decision was made to build a ramp. Ms. Coburn suggested that her art students be given the opportunity to decorate it, and the powers that be agreed to let them.

The art they made was amazing and beautiful and from the heart. Each one was a cutout of bodies in motion, decorated with gorgeous designs. The kids were so excited about it. It brightened the otherwise drab hallway.

And one night, the janitor was asked to throw it all away.

Those same powers that be were unhappy with the outcome of the project. It had an abstract leaning to it, which was not what they had in mind. I believe the words used were “too colorful”. And so one night, without warning, they asked the janitor to take THE ART THAT CHILDREN MADE and THROW IT IN THE DUMPSTER. They didn’t even tell Ms. Coburn, not before or after. She found them. In the dumpster.

I remember the rage I felt so clearly, a pure, unfiltered rage that seems only reserved for the teenage years. Many of us who had had frequent contentious dealings with the staff (often related to arts-oriented clubs) but who had a good rapport tried to say something. We tried to speak to unsympathetic ears about the matter, administrative staff who claimed their hands were tied, and given it was a parochial school in one of the wealthiest areas of the state, it was clear who had tied their hands: the generous donors who were members of the school board and PTA, who so often wielded their money in favor of a small few. And they didn’t like the art. It’s a tale as old as time.

Now, this is a small, wealthy, largely white school we’re talking about. And no one’s life or body was on the line. I shook in my boots any time I had an encounter with the principal or superintendent regarding matters of this nature. And I tried to be understanding, Prayer of St. Francis style, listening to their perspective and being respectful. I knew that was the right thing to do.

This week, I have watched teenagers — children — stare into the eyes of senators, tell the stories of watching their friends die in front of them, and ask them how they will change our laws or if they will stop accepting money from organizations that seem largely disinterested in their survival. And who could look at them and tell them they are nothing but children, who just don’t understand how the world works, and how complicated it all is? Who could blame those kids for not being interested in hearing that perspective while they recover from bullet wounds they got while trying to get an education?

And I think of all the teenagers in this country, largely inhabiting black and brown bodies, who have done the same in times past, protesting the violence in their communities. I think of how many have known the real fear of death from far too young an age. I think of how I haven’t even heard so many of those stories fully, how their cries fell and still fall on unsympathetic ears.

Teenagers are often thought of as impulsive or reckless. But they have a bravery that we all need. They possess a pure, unfiltered rage that can be directed at injustice, and they will not assume their own defeat in the face of power or money, or if they do assume it, they just don’t care. We owe it to these children to stand with them when they beg for change for the sake of their safety. We owe it to them to do more than think of them or pray for them or shrug our shoulders and say, “What can you do?”

It makes me uncomfortable to say these things, to have these conversations, to think of the debates I’ll probably get into. But I have heard and listened to the other side. Perhaps they are not the ones who need our understanding right now, though. Perhaps it is these teenagers who need it, kids who are afraid for their lives, who are asking us why our laws value the right of an individual to own a weapon designed to end human lives over their right to live. Discomfort is a small price to pay.

They are people. And they have a right to ask such questions. It’s time we saw them that way.

And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They’re quite aware of what they’re going through

— David Bowie

#neveragain

Peace,

Mary

Fifty-Two*

Superbowl superbowl superbowl superbowl superbowl superbowl superbowl superbowl superbowl superbowl superbowl superbowl superbowl superbowl superbowl superbowl superbowl superbowl superbowl.

It’s amazing to me how totally ok we are when companies (usually fronted by white men) purchase the “rights” to words. How DOES someone purchase a word? What gives them the “right” to own a word and to charge people for that word?

I guess I understand if it’s someone’s name, or even, to a certain extent, the name of a company. You want to make sure that whoever is using your name is making sure to use it with respect and honor, and hopefully honoring the message or the characteristics you want your name to represent.

Superbowl superbowl superbowl superbowl superbowl superbowl superbowl superbowl superbowl superbowl superbowl superbowl superbowl superbowl superbowl superbowl superbowl superbowl superbowl.

I guess I could possibly understand that an organization wants to make sure someone else doesn’t gain money off of the work they have done. That whatever product they are putting forth is something in which they reap the rewards of their labor.

It seems sometimes that what the NFL does (and there are MANY issues with the NFL. This is merely one of them, and, honestly, not even close to the most important.) is that it doesn’t want to miss out. We need to call the buffalo wing special at the local pub the “Big Game” special. And even some marketers default to “let’s cheer on Our Team on Sunday!” Why? Because the NFL makes sure of two things: 1. That the local pub isn’t using this product (the game?) to make more money (which it has no problem with happening every other Sunday in winter) that 2. the NFL isn’t missing out on.

So basically, it comes down to the NFL making sure to wring as much money from this past Sunday’s game as it wrings life from the players who turn their (majority brown) bodies into green for the (majority white) owners.

Superbowl superbowl superbowl superbowl superbowl superbowl superbowl superbowl superbowl superbowl superbowl superbowl superbowl superbowl.*

Ugh.

I know football is popular. And, hey, you might really enjoy the crashing or the athleticism, or the power, or the grace, but is it really worth it?

And speaking of “worth,” who decides what a word is worth? Is it worth a certain amount of money? Is it worth a certain amount of hundreds of years of peoples’ stress, hurt, pain (whether it’s physical and/or emotional)? And who actually owns words? HOW do people own words? The idea in and of itself is both bizarre and logical.

And I guess that’s the question – What is a word worth? And who gets to decide?

Superbowl.

Peace,

Dann

SpotiFriday #28

And I hope life treats you kind
And I hope you have all you dreamed of
And I wish you joy and happiness
But above all I wish you love

— Dolly Parton/Whitney Houston, “I Will Always Love You”

Happy SpotiFriday! It’s February, and Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, so naturally, we have a list chock full of love songs for you. There is the right kind of love song in here for just about everyone, so don’t let the subject matter scare you away. 😉

1. Crazy In Love – Beyonce (feat. Jay Z)

My friend Christian used to work for a bunch of different very fancy clothing designers in NYC. There was this one event at Rockefeller Center where he had to bring some clothing to some superstar and his text message to me said “THE TROMBONES ARE WRITTEN OVER THE TRUMPETS!!!”

I love how ridiculously “I don’t care what other people think – you’re awesome” this song is, in such an effortless and perfect (I mean, what does Queen Bey do that isn’t effortless and perfect?) way. A genuine “I love you” song. That makes me dance and smile. — D

2. What You Do to My Soul – Air Traffic Controller

This is, in many ways, my kind of love song. Just when it starts to get too corny, you get to the B section. “Kiss me when your breath was bad. Still the best I ever had. Damn you.” It’s fun and cute and not overly serious. If I had to take some issue with it, it would be to say maybe the guy could be a little less, “Look how my woman’s conventional attractiveness makes other men jealous!” I mean, really?

Side note: a while back, this song came on WERS and I texted Dann to suggest it as a cover. He wrote back that he had just been thinking the same because we were obviously both listening to the same station. #wondertwins

Also, anyone want to build a fort? — M

3. I’ll Be There For You – Bon Jovi

Ok. This one is a pretty easy one for me. It’s Bon Jovi. Super cheesy with the hair and the live video and pyrotechnics. My first band-love. Ever since that fateful day walking to school in 5th grade when my friend John asked me, “do you know who Bon Jovi is?” and I said, “I didn’t know you knew French.” They are one of my not-so-secret pleasures in life (although the newer stuff is kinda ok) and this song is my go-to when someone asks me to play a love song.

When you get deeper into the lyrics? It’s really a lovely song. There is no creepy “you’re good for ME” or “EYE need you.” There is no unhealthy relationship red flag. There’s a “I’m really sorry I missed your BD” owning his mistake. There’s the “when you do something fun I want to be there” with an almost resigned nod towards nostalgia not the future. It’s a really beautiful song about a failed relationship in which the singer messed up, owns it, is wistful about it, and is willing to try again, but on the recipient-of-said-love’s terms. And bonus points for actually mentioning Valentine’s Day. 🙂 ❤ — D

4. The Luckiest – Ben Folds

People have pretty mixed feelings about this tune. That second verse maybe didn’t age as well as it could have. (Beautiful? Or just creepy?) But I’ve had a place in my heart for it for a long time, ever since I heard it back in high school. The lyrics have always cut me clean through, the awkward imagery of fumbling to the best way to tell a person just how important they are. I may or may not relate pretty strongly to that.

It also happens to be my husband and my “song”. I’d be remiss to leave it off a Valentine’s playlist. 🙂 — M

5. Symphony – Clean Bandit (feat. Zara Larsson)

One of my voice students brought this to me a few months back. We watched the video (which is devastating and beautiful and I definitely cried right in front of my poor student) and I’ve kind of been obsessed with the song ever since. What even IS Zara Larsson’s voice on that chorus? I love the wild and adventurous directions the arrangement takes. More electronic sounds are not usually my thing, but this one speaks to me, perhaps because it is still so organic in nature — the strings, the xylophone. I had a similar connection to Imogen Heap’s music the first time I heard it, something so new and yet so familiar on an almost primal level. — M

6. There She Is – Frank Turner

Frank Turner. My most recent band-love.  Whom I have seen 17 times and will very likely see another 17 times. The artist for whom being an opening act would be the summit of my musical career. I played this song for my sister, who had been almost skeptical of my fandom, and halfway through she was crying. I suggested to my daughter (who is 11), that I would be very put out if we didn’t dance to this at her wedding. It’s a beautifully written song about real, true love. — D

7. Danny’s Song – Loggins & Messina

I know what I said about not being overly corny. Well. Sometimes I’m corny.

I don’t know what it is about this one. I sang it all through my pregnancy with my son, and to him from time to time when he was a baby. But I loved it long before that. The chorus with those gorgeous descending vocal harmonies and lyrics full of confidence in love over everything. A bit naive, maybe, or perhaps it’s just hopeful. And I think we all need that hopeful moment we can reach for when things get darker. — M

8. Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses? – U2

This is a very complicated love song. And the perfect complement to Catullus’s poem 8. You see, in Catullus 8, Catullus steels himself against a woman who no longer wants him. He says, “we had a great time. Everything was awesome. But now she doesn’t want you.” Which is a great and healthy way to look at it. But then he makes a mistake and asks, “who is going to call you pretty? Who will you love? Whose will you be said to be? Who will you kiss? Whose lips are you going to bite?” which I had for the longest time thought of as slightly romantic. In retrospect, maybe Catullus WAS trying to be romantic, but whoa, dude. Chill a little. You can ask that question without calling her “scelesta” or telling her to “get out of here.” You were SO close. Thankfully, Bono is here to clean up your message a little…ok, a lot. However, it doesn’t make it much less complicated. — D

9. Love Song – Tesla (from 5 Man Acoustical Jam)

At some point at the beginning of Freshman year of high school, that time when people are starting to really look inside and figure out who they are, or trying to put on a different persona to see who they might want to be, my mind was blown and I decided that at some point in my life I wanted to be a rock star. Not just any rock star, but the kind that can put on a show while sitting down. The audience came for a rock show and is blown away by fancy flamenco guitar work. The audience expected an acoustic show and, tremendous showmen that Tesla are, halfway through Tommy Skeoch reaches back, pulls out an electric and the band rips into a tremendous solo/singalong outro that never ends that I know is going to make at least Mary laugh with how “Dann” this song is. And the Philadelphia reference this weekend is wholly unintentional. Promise. — D

10. I Will Always Love You – Whitney Houston

Oh, Whitney. God DAMN, Whitney.

What a bold arranging move to open a pop song with nothing but one voice, a cappella. But you can do it with a voice like Whitney’s. Very few voices could make that work. Oh and also, the key change out of freakin’ NOWHERE. And then that huge long note! And the TWO slides up and up right at the end?? I am slain.

And ALSO, let’s talk about boss-as-hell Dolly Parton. Here’s a quote from Jason Isbell’s Twitter, posted in honor of her recent birthday:

“Dolly wrote ‘I Will Always Love You’ all by herself, then turned down Elvis’ offer to record it because he and Colonel Tom wanted half the publishing. We all know what happened when Whitney recorded it.”

We sure do. — M

Until next time!

Peace,

3@H

Gasoline

About this time, 15 years ago, I was getting out of the hospital.

It had been an outpatient program. Full days, 9 to 5, focused purely on group therapy and art therapy and family therapy and whether or not my medication cocktail was working out. It had been very weird and lonely, but also super necessary.

I had been living in that strange world out of time for a month.

And suddenly, a stamp of approval, release papers. I was headed back just in time for midterms and hoping against hope that the two college applications I had managed to eke out before their final deadlines would pan out some way, somehow. While the side effects from my new meds were awful, it became rapidly apparent that SSRI withdrawal was much, much worse. I literally have no idea how I passed any of those exams that first week back, stumbling around in a drunk-like state and barely able to formulate a sentence. (Effexor can die in a fire, just by the way. All of it. Hand me the match.)

Coming back also meant facing everyone, knowing they all knew. It was a small school, in a small town. I had openly discussed my struggles with depression and anxiety at a retreat with my class earlier that school year. Everyone knew. A couple of friends had even gotten a bunch of people to sign a card. But I felt branded, like I was wearing a scarlet “C” for crazy on my head or shirt or maybe the C was just my entire body. I knew at least 20 people who had it worse than me. So why had been the one to lose it? How had I earned the right? I felt fragile and weak. In my own mind, I was fragile and weak. I was a failure, and quite sure that everyone else could see that.

I’ve been ignoring this anniversary. I’ve been ignoring this girl, this 18-year-old kid who was so painfully close to the next step of her journey, so ready for the start of joy that was waiting for her on the other side of summer (though she didn’t know that yet).

In my songwriting lately, I’ve been working through some old stuff, stuff I haven’t touched in over a decade, stuff I haven’t ever touched at all because it burns. Some piece of me is still waiting for it to burn itself out. But this girl keeps throwing fuel on the fire and screaming at me. She is persistent. She is desperate to be seen. She is begging to be convinced that it really is okay for her to occupy all of the space that she does. She needs to know, on a visceral level, that her life doesn’t need to look like anyone else’s to be valid and beautiful. And she has a bucket full of gasoline that says she will not shut up, because she has just spent a month staring at the alternative, and it is absolutely unthinkable.

Becoming a wife and mother and moving to the suburbs did not stop this girl from existing. In many ways, she is stronger in me for it. And while I would sometimes quite prefer to distance myself from her, she is me and I am her. I have an EP to finish, and God willing, many more EPs yet to record. I have shows to play and tattoos to get and hearts to move. And quite frankly, I cannot do a bit of it without her.

I think we’re going to need some more wood.

Peace,

Mary

Discomfort

“Why don’t they just stick to music?”
“It was great until he started running his mouth…”
“Why do they always have to bring up politics?”

I’m sure you’ve heard it. Either from a family member watching a performance on TV or you overheard it walking back to the parking lot after a show. Someone (usually male) complaining that the concert they had just witnessed – that they heard about, purchased tickets to, made plans for a sitter, got some kind of transportation, possibly brought food and drink for before or after the concert, with plenty of car speakers blaring the music they just heard or were about to hear – had a political (liberal) message at some point in the show. I’ve heard this most often around Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen, U2, and other “loud mouth” front men. And the thought which 100% of the time enters my mind is “do you KNOW the artist you came to see?”

But recently, I have started thinking about this issue differently.

People like being comfortable. Part of what makes going to concerts so rewarding is the commonality of thousands of people, fists in the air, singing and dancing along to their favorite songs. For many, a U2 concert is a religious event. A church where there are no hymnals and the words (or at least the vowel sounds) are pouring off of everyone’s tongue from the first or second note of the intro. When Bono starts “running his mouth” the guy who thinks Bono’s worldview isn’t correct all of a sudden is left out. His church is no longer welcoming to him. He is uncomfortable. He has no choice but to listen to what is going on, even if he decides this is the time to run to the bathroom or grab another beer or a t-shirt. He’s maybe even forced to question his belief about whatever it is and is either sad/depressed or angry/defensive or insulted in some other way. He is uncomfortable. And that’s a good thing.

Too many – politicians especially – point to “white and black children living together” as the “comfortable” Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I Have A Dream is easy. From the first part of the intro, words (or at least vowel sounds) are pouring off everyone’s tongue. It’s when he starts to “run his mouth” in the Letter From a Birmingham Jail, or in Beyond Vietnam, people – especially white and mid-to-upper-class – get a little uncomfortable. The speeches are no longer welcoming. They are questioning. They may make someone feel angry/defensive. They may seem even a little insulting. And definitely uncomfortable. And that’s a good thing.

Maybe we all need a little discomfort. We all need a little shakeup. We need to look at the Poor People’s Campaign or “Where Do We Go From Here?” and realize that sometimes it’s important to stop talking and listen. And that’s how we learn. And THAT is how America gets better.  #blacklivesmatter #imwithKap

Peace,

Dann