Allowing Myself

…to feel, to love, to be.

Tag: lyrics

Siren Songs

The first time I saw Hughie Stone Fish play live was on Valentine’s Day 2 years ago. To say I was blown away would be an understatement. His songs are just the kind you want to hear on Vday… after a hard break-up.

I am very picky in my love of songwriters. From Joni Mitchell to Ani Difranco, from Don Henley to Taylor Swift, from Garth Brooks to Death Cab for Cutie to Jimmy Eat World (ok, this last one’s more of a band crush), to so many people in between, it’s the voices of these songs that kill me. Some combination of words + melody that drive right to the heart of it.

Give me the honesty of your experience in this life. This is what I hear when I listen to Hughie’s songs.

I could give you a run down of the album song by song. Break things down note by note, like the groove in “Israel Song”, or how the guitar part in the title track “Siren Songs” echos the determination and guilt of the singer. How “Broken Homes” is in an odd meter, the storyteller singing “fallllllling… fassstttterrr” and you really do feel like you’re falling, because you’re missing.a.beat. It’s just… gone.

This is called prosody. When the structure of the rhythm / melody supports the meaning of the lyrics. This is something I learned in my own songwriting studies that are so far gone now. This is something HSF gets.

His honesty could almost make you uncomfortable, if you didn’t believe every word he sings – but you do, and so, you go along song to song, amazed at both the humor and the sadness a song can contain. Which is probably why I love them so – I live in the grey world of joy and sadness, of sarcasm and hurt, of craving emotional honesty.

But if you want the song that will just slay you, it’s “Benjamin”, about a father’s stark honesty about not being such a great father, unable to help his son. Holy hell. Makes me cry every time.

“If you leave us now
You’ll break your mother’s heart
I know I should’ve told you
I’ve wait for too long
Benjamin, I’m sorry, I did you wrong”

But that’s not the single, and so I can’t share that song with you here. But I hope you’ll check the record out today – you can start with the single below, “Siren Songs”, complete with stop-motion chalkboard video. Love it.

Update: you can listen to the whole record and ‘pay what you can’ via bandcamp. http://hughiestonefish.bandcamp.com/album/siren-songs

1 of 52, Year of Ocean

“She walks along the edge of where the ocean meets the land
Just like she’s walking on a wire in the circus
She parks her car outside of my house, takes her clothes off
Says she’s close to understanding Jesus
She knows she’s just a little misunderstood
She has trouble acting normal when she’s nervous”
~ Counting Crows

Sunset Beach, Malibu – a week ago.

That Counting Crows song haunting me for a few weeks now. Love that record, perfect for winter. H and I went to the beach after spending a few vacation hours working. I wasn’t watching the waves though – I was searching the breaks for dolphins.

We spotted a small pod, maybe 3 to 5 of them, their gray fins lifting out of the waterline the way Ferris wheel cars sail up into the air and glide back down. Watched them move up the coast until they were small specks. H said his colleague saw a whale the other day.

Wow. To see a whale…

We only stayed for an hour, but it was worth it. I’m thinking it’s going to be worth it every time.

**See all of my Year of Ocean

Heartaches for the Impermanence

I’ve been thinking about ease, about changing my one little word (which I have yet to write about here), about cold and seasons and God and creativity.

But mostly I’ve been focused on getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, running my miles and staying leveled… not doing anything to tip the scales, to allow the demands of work to take me away from myself.

Wasn’t sure what to write about tonight and then remembered I’d marked this passage in the book I’m reading – Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott – where she recaps advice a priest gave her when she was considering an abortion:

“Get quiet for a moment, and then think about having the abortion: if you feel a deep secret sense of relief, pay attention to that. But if you feel deeply grieved at the thought of it, listen to that”

What a perfect way to describe our own ability to choose, to listen, to trust the inner guide.

And then this yesterday in The Right To Write by Julia Cameron:

Practice means what it says: writing is something to be done over and over, something that improves through the repetitive doing but that needs not be done perfectly… Consistency is the key to mastering the instrument that is you.

You, the writer, are a spiritual instrument. If you allow yourself to write consistently, you will become more and more finely tuned. You will become more and more fluid and expressive. As you become more fluid and expressive, you will become more vibrant, more vital, more alive.

I’ve been thinking about repetitive actions, the daily happenings, the differences within the sameness. Rituals. The idea that we’re all stalking our lives like animals, thinking it’s something to take down, eat alive, thrash about. Or we’re so dejected, we don’t even bother engaging. So disappointed that adulthood is just more laundry, more email, more snow.

But I’m learning to see the immense magic in all of this – how I want to take a photo of every freaking palm tree against a blue sky every.single.morning. How I want to show you my boots next to a patch of ice or aligned with a parking spot marked with my favorite number. How I spend every morning the same way – wake up, write, feed the dog, run, shower, eat… and I have yet to tire of this.

Instead it’s these rituals that keep me going when the pressure of work is on, or when the push and pull of days ruffle my feathers.

Tonight I called a good friend. She was in tears, dealing with the grief of losing a mentor, and talking about how it just makes everything so much more real. That we’re only here for such a short time. That the socks on the floor, or the dirty dishes aren’t really that big a deal.

That the ice I stood next to yesterday may be the only ice this year.

And I am so grateful to be in a head-space where I can fully appreciate these moments. That I could show up to support one friend last night and another today. That I can kiss my husband. That I can have my sister snuggled on the couch with my dog.

And yet my heart aches for the impermanence of it all. For the season changes, for the growing older, for the books read and unread.

There isn’t enough time, I keep thinking, over and over again.

I need you so much closer – Death Cab for Cutie

This Grateful Season – Music Like This

Tonight we saw Brandi Carlile at the Orpheum Theater and ho.ly.shit. what a show.

We didn’t have plans to go. A friend of a friend, who has now become a better friend, flat our bought us tickets. No real reason except that I commented on his Facebook status when he mentioned the show.

I am a lucky girl because music and I have a complicated relationship to say the least, but the Universe is always trying to sneak it in on me. Tonight was a shining example of being brought back to the bare bones of the sounds, having voices in three-part harmony prickle your skin. Listening to lyrics that cut through my own numb soul, desires and aches laid out and sung to the rooftops.

Sometimes I think, maybe I’ll write a few songs, open the vein and let that blood flow again. There’s gotta be something to it still for me. And I know I’ll never be even half as good as what I saw tonight, but thank goodness someone is out there busting their ass to keep the torch burning.

pride and joy – brandi carlile

I believe this to be true
There’s nothing sacred, nothing new
No one tells you when its time
There are no warnings, only signs

And you know that you’re alone
You’re not a child anymore but you’re still scared

All your mountains turn to rocks
All your oceans turn to drops
They are nothing like you thought
You can’t be something you are not

Life is not a looking glass
Don’t get tangled in your past
like I am learning not to

Where are you now?
Do you let me down?
Do you make me grieve for you?
Do I make you proud?
Do you get me now?
Am I your pride and joy?