Before Goodbye, The Song

Out today on CDBaby. Soon to be on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon—where the music is.

Out today on CDBaby. Soon to be on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon—wherever music lives. I wrote “Before Goodbye” to go along with my debut novel of the same name. You can get a copy of the song by clicking here. Hope you enjoy! “Before Goodbye” was recorded in Woodstock, NY and produced by the illustrious Kevin Salem.

 

Light of Day Winterfest 2016

Hold Your Roses Back

roses for blog

SoundCloud, where the Sirenstories SoundCloud lives, is apparently a great place for collaboration. From what I can gather, among other things, it’s like . . . online dating for musicians, or rather, online making.

With Valentine’s Day fluttering towards us on ickle cupid wings, it seems like a good time to post one of the collaborative pieces submitted to the Sirenstories SoundCloud. There have been quite a few uploaded recently.

Roses is a gorgeous song full of yearning, with a guitar track from Telefan and lyrics and vocals by Linde Sagen. 

I’ve listened to Roses over and over for about twenty minutes. There’s something elusive about the song. The form sounds loose, feels organic. The lyrics seem a little loose as well, as far as rhyme, and at times, even reason. And yet . . . I love the lyrics. Love the surprising sentiment of the song: Hold your roses back.

Jim M from Philadelphia, who goes by Telefan, is a guitar player who has collaborated with dozens of artists on SoundCloud. He was the one who uploaded Roses, so I looked him up to find out a bit more about the song, but found only this lovely note: “Linde Sagen created some amazing vocals and lyrics for my music. It was an honor to work with her again.”

I’m sure Linde Sagen would say the same about Telefan. His jazz inspired guitar playing has a beautiful, clean tone. I look forward to listening to more of his collaborations.

Roses

Do you remember our very first night; we were busy chasing green lights
Time was raining on with crazy love, holding hands, dancing with a free mind
And the smell of green grass was never greater

Hold your fancy roses back, don`t buy me with a bunch of fancy crap
Hold the speed of your words, what does it matter now, wrong or right
Hold your roses back, I don`t need them anymore
See whatever that comes around, you’re begging me for more
I said hold your fancy roses back, I said hold your fancy roses back
I don`t need them anymore

Dazzled away by roses, dazzled away by a bunch of fancy roses
It’s hard tonight, imagine what the world would be without you
Just a bunch of fancy roses (those days are over)

Hold your fancy roses back, don`t buy me with a bunch of fancy crap
All I know it’s better than before, all I know his living for the moment
Roses, all I know he`s breathing on me now. This boy never read the weather
All I know he`s breathing on me, don’t you ever stop
I see you holding back the future, I see us falling back to pieces
Hold your fancy roses back
Where does he run to, where does he run to now
I`ll never lay me down in his bed of roses . . . 

Linde Sagen – lyrics, and vocals.
Telefan – guitars, and bass.

God Damn I Don’t Know.

Michelle Held painting

The availability of digital recording software, apps, and dyi culture, coupled with the constant state of flux of the music industry, has allowed the process of home recording to become just as sophisticated and creative as studio recording. These days, plenty of talented musicians make their records at home.

And then there are the musicians that make their records sound like home.

That’s the case with Michelle Held—whose name is a speck of a song all its own, go ahead, say it aloud—a singer songwriter from Detroit, who “has a big heart and a guitar” and whose gorgeous song, God Damn I Don’t Know, (which she recorded at home), is a thing of beauty and provocation.

Somebody said I should believe in you 
And somebody else said that you’re just not true 
And the other guy he claims it’s just a vibration between the two 
He said we’re always in motion 
And the other guy says that’s just some magic notion he made up 
To fill in the gaps

Everybody’s walkin along at their own accord tryin to get some sort of award 
Cause they think it means somethin 
But I don’t know I don’t know what it means anymore 
I’m tryin to clear my head 
I’m just walkin along thinkin about people who’re passed and dead 
And I don’t know where they gone to

Thinkin about em makes me sad and blue 
And it makes me wanna stay so damn true 
But I don’t know I don’t know who to stay true to 
Everybody’s right and singin their own song and if they sing it loud enough 
They’ll be able to prove you wrong 
But I don’t know I don’t know anymore

And the other guy says that I do know 
And I got all I need to prove it’s so 
But I don’t know I don’t know if he knows what he’s talkin about 
Everything now seems strange to me 
You seem weird too but don’t take that personally 
Cause I don’t I don’t know what I’m talkin about

And if it’s true if it’s true that I do know 
And I got all I need to prove it’s so 
Well if that’s true if that’s true then why do I feel so God Damn blue 
And now I’m afraid I just offended you 
But those are just some letters that somebody threw together 
And who’s to say who’s to say they have to remain that way

Maybe all that was once tried and true has grown 
And what was set in stone has been blown it ain’t new no more but old 
And all the stories we were sold how can you be sure that they still hold 
Maybe the person who said it was black or white or good or bad 
Was just as sad and blue as you and me and 
Maybe he was trying to find his own way tryin to find a way to break free too

And the other guy said just take the time commit your mind 
And sooner or later you’ll be fine 
But I don’t know I don’t know I don’t know if he’s right 
But I hope he’s right I hope what he’s sayin is true 
And I hope this fight takes me from here to you 
Cause if it don’t take me somewhere well that don’t seem fair

And you gotta remember the joy’s in the journey 
But does the joy end after they wheel you out on that gurney 
I don’t know I don’t know anymore . . . 

Michelle Held has contributed several songs to the Sirenstories SoundCloud and God Damn I Don’t Know is my favorite. Although there are plenty of differences in style, for example Held’s voice is unparalleled when it comes to vibrato, Michelle Held makes me think of Rickie Lee Jones, early Michele Shocked, and Elizabeth Cotton—quite an aural cocktail.

God Damn I Don’t Know is a song written out frustration with  life; not knowing what to do with it. Think Held’s figured it out, yeah?

Love the tags she used on SoundCloud: Indie. Folk. Tired of the Bullshit. Question Everything.

Please follow Michelle Held on fb and twitter.

Then check out Libby, still going strong at 92.

This Could Be Yours

ThisCouldBeYours

This Could Be Yours is certainly an evocative name, but maybe this Berlin based band should be called They Could Be Huge. They’ve got all the ingredients for pop stardom.

A pulsing  body of an indie/postrock song lying in an atmospheric electronica bed, At Your Feet is intense, yet almost delicate at the same time. It’s driving, but contemplative.

I hit the road
Become insane
If those forces really please you
I will be the one that you never see again

It’s a misery that’s fitting
“Desperation Of The Day”
And you don’t seem to know
All those ghosts around here
seizing hold of your friends

Oh yes, you were laughing out loud
To witness the words that you’re spitting
Shuts my mouth

You never know when to stop
You never fall

Down at my spot
Decomposing and decay
Please don’t open up those eyelids
Don’t you get a glimpse of that
dwarf at your feet

Oh yes, you were laughing out loud
To witness the words that you’re spitting
Shuts my mouth

To silence you once for all 
Every minute that I stayed
This plan did grow
I wanna make you lose
I could have sworn

You never know when to stop
You never fall

This Could Be Yours is Max Wiegand (Vocals, Guitar), Levin Siert (Guitar), Fabian Haupt (Drums), and Jan Möller (Bass).
Max was kind enough to tell me a bit about the band.

ThisCouldBeYoursBandShot

“The core of the band has existed for about ten years now. Everything started in a town called Bremerhaven which belongs to Bremen but is 60 km more far to the north. The three of us (Fabi, Levin, and me ) grew up close to the northern sea. The last missing member, Jan, is from Berlin originally, and took over the bass almost two years ago. We came to Berlin in late 2009, where we went through various changes, not just in line-up but also in terms of music. Also the name ‘This Could Be Yours’ was found here.”

I love the way Max says that the name of the band was “found”, as if it was waiting for them.

The official music video for At Your Feet is equal to the song, a combination of video and animation that is just as pleasing as the mix of musical styles.

This Could Be Yours will announce some new tour dates soon. Hope NYC makes the list, because I love these guys. Even without the stage makeup.

ThisCouldBeYours3

Unfinished Song

Philly area Singer Songwriter Denise Moser was one of the first Sirens on this blog and I’m very happy to share the news that she’s released a new CD, Here Right Now.

The excellent, detailed review written by John Apice and published in No Depression on January 27th covers just about every aspect of Here Right Now, and he calls Unfinished Song the bravest song on the CD. I agree with him completely, and although guitarist Marc Moss did a wonderful job producing this gorgeous, honest collection of songs, Unfinished Song, an a cappella piece that gave me chills when I first heard it, is my favorite.

 

It’s lionhearted.

 

And it’s not just the fact that Denise Moser sings this song alone and unaccompanied that makes Unfinished Song so courageous, it’s the content, and the simple, profound resolution in her voice. If I was willing to bare my soul, like Denise does, this part of the post would be a lot longer. Instead, I’ll just say that I love this song so much, it hurts.

Blank paper is an old friend

My life’s unfinished song

Pretty lines and melodies

No rhyme to hang it on

I walk down roads look straight ahead

And then I change my mind 

I lose the path I double back

Regrets can be unkind

Bright stabs of inspiration

Sometimes I do my best

I put a good face on it

But this heart needs a rest

My mind is all a clutter

In places you can’t see

I never was a mother

That part of me bleeds

Denise released Here Right Now at the end of 2012, and despite the fact that I’m late with this post, she was generous enough to share her thoughts about Unfinished Song.

“It’s interesting to me that Unfinished Song resonates with people. I actually wrote that one a while back, just for me. It came out in one sitting with very little editing. No one else was ever supposed to hear it.

One day in the studio, I thought of it, and I wanted a good version for myself, so I asked Marc to start a new track, and I sang it. He liked it and planted the seed of an idea that I put it on the CD. I had it on the list of songs for consideration and shocked myself a bit that I put it on. It makes me feel vulnerable, and at the same time I don’t live in that space anymore.

Seven of the eleven songs on the CD were written within the past year and a half, and the other four are older ones that I wanted to include in this collection. I surprised myself a bit by what I left out and what I kept in some instances.

I feel proud of this CD. My dad died in March of 2011, and that ushered in a period of intense creativity – it felt like the veils between the sacred and the ordinary were thin. At the same time, I committed to songwriting for 55 minutes a day. I call it my Duck Sessions, because at the end of 55 minutes, the duck on my iPhone timer quacks. This has been my most prolific time, and I’m grateful that new songs continue to be unearthed. I’ve even begun writing customized songs for other people. There are two of those on this CD as well.”

Like the Sea

Like The Sea

The sea, I feel you like the sea,
deep inside, yet so far away.

I cling to every word you say,
you stole my heart, please give it back to me.

Could it be that it was all just a game to you?
Am I really such a fool?
Don´t you feel the nearness of us?
Life without you is just a rainy day.

Time plays tricks on our minds.
Still I hope there´ll be for us a time.

Anjù is Anja Graefe, a singer songwriter from Ulm, Germany. Anjù recorded Like the Sea at her home, and perhaps that’s part of what gives the song such an intimate sound, but most likely it’s Anjù’s voice, which is quiet, often just above a whisper. The lovely acoustic guitar part and bare bones bass line that accompany Anjù’s spare and sophisticated vocals offer the perfect amount of support to both singer and song.

Anjù‘s smooth voice has just the right amount of inflection and vibrato for contemporary folk, jazz, and even blues. Her approach to blues on her digital album The Attic Sessions is especially refreshing; there are no snarling or guttural sounds that all too often hit the listener over the head because they’re just not, well, snarly or guttural in the right way. Anjù on the other hand sounds a bit like Fiona Apple might sound if she were drifting off into a dream . . . Maybe even a little like Nora Jones. Anjù also tips her hat vocally to some of the icons of jazz, but possibly Chet Baker more than anyone. Just Get Lost, The third track on The Attic Sessions made me smile.

You can get Anjù‘s digital album The Attic Sessions on her bandcamp site and I suggest you do. There are quite a few songs that are just as good as Like the Sea, and all have the same sparse arrangement of voice and guitar. All the songs on The Attic Sessions, whether they’re bluesy or jazz influenced, are evocative and atmospheric, and Anjù’s voice has a lovely, subtle musicality that invites the listener in. Enjoy.

 

Pomegranate Waltz

Every time I pick up my guitar, I play. I don’t just copy and repeat music that somebody else thinks is good. I play what’s inside me. That’s what I mean by thrumming. When the vibrations of the music make your soul vibrate, you feel the thrum.

The above quote is from an adorable book I read last week about two teens who connect to themselves and each other through music.

Guitar Notes by Mary Amato is a well crafted story perfect for tweens and teens who are serious about becoming musicians, or who just want to understand the process of getting drawn into playing and songwriting. I’m not going to review the book here, I’ll just say that there’s a touch of tragedy, but basically the book is a celebration of the power of music.

The book includes lyrics and chords for the songs that the two main characters write. Pomegranate Waltz is the first song that the young musicians write together.

I like the sound of your name in my ear 
I like to hear what you have to say 
I’d like to pay attention to you— instead of doing what I have to do. Oh…  

Now something inside me is ready 
Something inside me is ready 
Something in me’s ready—oh—here I go… 

I like the way that our time intertwines 
I want to design each day so we can meet 
Each word a seed that’s hoping to grow—no need to hurry. Let’s take it slow. Oh…  

I like the shape of the thoughts in your mind 
You’ve got the kind of edge that I seem to need 
And if you feel the world doesn’t care— I’ll send a message. You’ll know I’m here. Oh…

Mary Amato lives in Silver Springs, Maryland. She’s is an author, a musician, and a teacher, and I wish I’d had someone like her in my life when I was a kid. My own artistic journey was not nearly as tidy as the trip that Amato’s characters are on (one of whom is actually named Tripp) and maybe that’s why I loved the book so much. If only I’d had a copy of it when I started dreaming of becoming a musician . . .

Guitar Notes includes actual notes that the characters produce during their songwriting sessions. The notes show how the songwriting process might work through brainstorming, trial and error, etc. This is an excellent way to show the critical thinking process that goes on when writing a song and a very clever way to show children how they might go about this process. (There are no mistakes when you’re writing on the back of a napkin, I always say.)

Go to Mary Amato’s website for info on the workshops she offers, and songwriting tips.

Oh, and give Guitar Notes to every kid you know who plays an instrument.

 

Pure Potential

Sophie Hosken-Taylor‘s voice is smoky, breathy, and shaky. A tentative, beautiful sound. The sound of pure potential.

Sophie Hosken-Taylor performed around the South West for two years before she moved to London looking for a bigger audience. She names Joni Mitchell, Nick Drake, Amy MacDonald and Jose Vanders as her inspirations.

When I wrote my song, Breathe, the only other song I knew with the same title was one by Pink Floyd. Needless to say, no one would ever confuse the two songs. Now, with so many great songs out there with the same name, if I wrote Breathe today, I wouldn’t call it that. But it doesn’t matter that Sophie Hosken-Taylor gave the title track of her self-produced CD a popular name. The song is such a lovely wash of acoustic guitar and airy vocals, it’s unique. And besides, what’s more important than breathing?

 

Breathe

Many days I find myself asking, who am I?

Everyday I stare at the mirror,

And wonder who is looking back.

Is it a shadow?

Is it a ghost?

Is it someone I used to know?

And then it hits me…

I’m staring at me.

And I can’t breathe,

I can’t see.

I can’t breathe,

Without you holding me up,

Up against it all.

Too many times I’ve locked myself away,

In exile I’ve stayed.

Now I’m trapped in my own mind and I’m scared,

It’s here I’ll stay.

Will I come back?

Escape from it all?

Can I be what I used to be and let it all,

Blow away?

I can’t breathe,

I can’t see.

I can’t breathe,

Without you holding me up,

Up against it all.

And if I could I’d stop it from ever happening.

And I wish I could let it slide and fade away.

I can’t breathe,

I can’t see.

I can’t breathe,

Without you holding me up,

Up against it all.

Music and lyrics written by Sophie Hosken-Taylor.
Vocals, Guitar, Drums performed by Sophie Hosken-Taylor.
Bass performed by Ashley Poulton.
Recorded by Ashley Poulton and Sophie Hosken-Taylor.

To listen to Breathe in its entirety, go here. To listen to It Could Have Been Worse, go here. To be a super cool person, like Sophie on fb.

To see what convinced me of that one day  Sophie Hosken-Taylor will not have to seek her audience because they will be looking for her, click on the picture below.

The Right & the Real

I pre ordered my copy of The Right & the Real, the new YA novel by talented writer Joëlle Anthony, but if I hadn’t, the book trailer would have made me buy it.

The solo electric guitar playing of Nathan Tinkham is all  you hear when you watch the trailer for The Right & the Real, and his raw, emotionally wrought version of Amazing Grace combined with the images and written words is chilling.

I wrote about Joëlle Anthony’s previous novel, Restoring Harmony, here. I can’t wait to read The Right & the Real, Publisher’s Weekly says it’s a harrowing page turner.

You know where I’ll be tonight.