Fell In Love With a Song

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One of the reasons I started Sirenstories was to find new music, especially  music that would inspire the act of writing.

This week I fell in love with “I Gotta Man” featuring Xavier from Sxip Shirey’s fantastic record A Bottle of Whiskey and a Handful of Bees.

I don’t have time to write a long post about “I Gotta Man” the way I definitely would have in the past. But I had to share it. The song is just so delicious. In fact, if I had to say anything about this tune, if I had to pick one word, I’d say  yum. That was my very first reaction. Just—yum.

XoMimi

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.

Sirens spotted in Montana

When I saw the title yr w-o a btl posted by tsunamidaily in the Sirenstories SoundCloud, I instantly thought that when I hit the play button I’d hear, well, I don’t know exactly what I thought I’d hear, something tribal? Something in another language? I certainly wasn’t expecting a rough take of a gorgeous song  in the vein of Nick Cave from a singer songwriter who lives in West Yellowstone, Montana. I wasn’t expecting to hear Year without a Bottle, a romantic ballad about trying to get sober during a time of loss.

Unfortunately tsunamidaily didn’t leave much info in the Sirenstories Soundcloud, but he did say Year Without a Bottle is a work in progress, and labeled it “rhythmic soul”. He also wrote, “It’s an actual song”, referring to the basic instrumentation of piano and voice. I have to agree with him, it’s a song, and a good one at that. I also think that the label on tsunamidaily’s myspace page is a more accurate description than “rhythmic soul”. It says that the music of tsunamidaily is Folk/Other/Shoegazer.

Year Without a Bottle makes me think of God Shuffled His Feet by The Crash Test Dummies, remember them? What’s going on with those guys? I’m off to Google.

Ghost Trails

“Ghostly folks from Chicago . . . “.

That’s about all I know about Chief Ghoul.

The song Ghost Trails was recently submitted to the Sirenstories SoundCloud and although it’s labeled folk and definitely is, the music has a grunge edge to it that makes me think of Eddie Vedder. Eddie Vedder on some old car radio, and the vehicle is driving nearly out of range of the station. The reception is iffy, but I keep listening.

Blues guitar, low-fi production, and a whistled countermelody that serves as a chorus and is almost cheery, all work together with the dark vocals to create an intriguing sound that makes me want to hear more from Chief Ghoul.

If you feel the same way, click on the Chief. You’ll wind up on last.fm where you can listen to nine more Chief Ghoul tunes.

The Siren Song of Parakeets

Alternative, Indie, Postpunk. These are terms that describe the music of Parakeets.

As I listen to the energetic delivery and guitar riffs of iii I hear the influence of The Police. As I enjoy the insistent, slightly paranoid sounding vocals on iii I can’t help but think of The Talking Heads. The phrasing of the vocals in the beginning of iii actually reminds me of an old Steely Dan song, and there’s a bit of Interpol in Parakeets sound as well. But when the chorus comes in, the song is all David Byrne.

Except that iii isn’t a David Byrne song. It’s a Parakeets song.

Parakeets are from London and they left me this lovely note when I asked for more info about them:

“hi, yes we are parakeets were a alternative band from north london. We like to play for ourselves and work hard at what we do. I like to write and write and i love words. we work towards creating intense energy on stage and i like to harness nervousness and turn it into something energetic and exiting. we would like to see ourselves as a contemporary band on the cutting edge of the indie music scene. we are quite new and shiny we have been playing together as parakeets for just under a year and have played a few shows over the summer. we have recently recorded 11 tracks which are on our bandcamp page. we are currently working on new material at the moment and working toward 2 london dates on the 26th of nov at the enterprise and the 17th of december at the bowery. maybe a physical release isn’t far off.”

I’m looking forward to listening to more Parakeets, but for now, I’ll just pogo around my office.

I floated, greatly
To the graveled court yard
I flattered, shaky
‘neath the railed houses
my wound was a blessed
drenched pretty in red

III lost my sister
III lost my sister
The secret churches
Are not in this world

I looked at you and it cost me my life
Sick of break-point, carried, join us
Sickled tasker, married, asker
Sink-hole bellows from the
Terra-Madre
Kill her this way and kill her that way
We’ve got 5 days who stays who stays
So happy that it shed its skin
Climb high, dig deep, let the thoughts begin

III lost my sister
III lost my sister
The secret churches
Are not in this world

III lost my sister and
III love my sister
The birds sing nicer once or twice
A crippled right a troubled biter

quiet pace against
the past is tired again so
since the days without was pending
and up to . . .

And yes they are quite “new and shiny”, so do them a favor and click on the picture above to go to their fb page and ‘like’ them.

Bright Beams

You Are Projecting from Bright Beams was just the kind of piece I needed to hear today. The beginning of the song is a slowly revealed spacious soundscape that cleared my head and took me away from my desk. Listening to You Are Projecting made me take a minute to just sit and breathe, and that reminded me that there are other things in my life that need my attention besides stories and queries, unfinished manuscripts, workshops, and websites.

Bright Beams marked their track as Lo Fi on the Sirenstories SoundCloud even though the production does become fairly thick with layers by the middle. Which is fine, but it’s the beginning of the piece that I love, with only a voice whispering, “Shh . .  .  ” the start of You Are Projecting is truly Lo Fi, and quite wonderful.

Laptop, Bedroom, Dreampop.

These are the words Bright Beams used to tag their song, and other than those three evocative words, they left no info for me on the Sirenstories SoundCloud. I can’t tell you who they are or where they’re from. I can’t tell you where they’re playing or even if they are ‘they’!

Kind of mysterious . . . but that’s how many Sirens are. Elusive and mysterious.

This is Bright Beams’ avatar. Sea or sky? From what I’ve read, Sirens inhabit both worlds. I think Bright Beams may as well.

Of course I Googled around, but sadly, I didn’t discover the identity or musical history of Bright Beams. I did however find this wonderful poem on my serendipity search. It was waiting for me on the lovely website of the Poetry Foundation.

Avising the Bright Beams

BY SIR THOMAS WYATT

Avising the bright beams of these fair eyes
Where he is that mine oft moisteth and washeth,
The wearied mind straight from the heart departeth
For to rest in his worldly paradise
And find the sweet bitter under this guise.
What webs he hath wrought well he perceiveth
Whereby with himself on love he plaineth
That spurreth with fire and bridleth with ice.
Thus is it in such extremity brought,
In frozen thought, now and now it standeth in flame.
Twixt misery and wealth, twixt earnest and game,
But few glad, and many diverse thought
With sore repentance of his hardiness.
Of such a root cometh fruit fruitless.
Thank you to the Poetry Foundation and to Bright Beams.

The Best Teachers are Sirens

Meet Mrs. McGee . . .

A total Siren, right?

Mrs. McGee is the teacher featured in What Do You Want to Be? a new picture book written by Beth Carter and illustrated by Leo Silva.

I ‘met’ Beth on author David Harrison‘s wonderful blog about two years ago. At that time, I was going to his blog almost every day for inspiration. David has written over eighty children’s books and runs a Word of the Month poetry contest on his site that’s great fun. If you need inspiration, I suggest you try it, the word prompt will get your pen moving. For me, the experience was more about community than contest, and I felt like my poems had a home on David’s site even though they were all really works in progress.

When she found out that What Do You Want to Be? was going to be published, Beth, who lives in Missouri, asked me if I would write a song to go along with her book. I said yes, and last weekend I went up to Woodstock with #MySonIs5 to record the track that What Do You Want to Be? inspired. Hope you enjoy it!

Here are a few pics of #MySonIs5 recording his part at Kevin Salem‘s studio in Woodstock.

After a while, what starts out as fun in the studio becomes work, and even #MySonIs5 begins to feel the pressure . . .

Finally he finishes, and takes a bow. #MySonIs5 has stamina in the studio and—what? What did you just ask me? Did I actually make him listen to old Grateful Dead on the drive home from Woodstock? Um.

Click on the pic of Mrs. McGee to get a copy of Beth Carter‘s book for your kids. If they like the song, tell Beth and she’ll probably send you a copy, or come back and listen any time here on Sirenstories.

To learn more about Beth Carter, visit her blog, Banter with Beth

What Do You Want To Be?  Song lyrics

What do you want to be?

Asked Mrs. McGee

Raise you hands high and share your dreams with me

What do you want to be?

What do you want to be?

Raise you hands high and share your dreams with me

When I arrived at school today

My teacher smiled and said let’s play

Join me in a circle on the floor

She asked us all what we held dear

The people we loved to be near

And what we thought the future held in store

She gave us crayons & pens & pads

She said, no answer’s wrong or bad

Just think my friends then think a little more

Use pictures, words; free thoughts like birds

Express yourself and you’ll be heard

You’ll learn in part what you are all here for

What do you want to be?

Asked Mrs. McGee

Raise you hands high and share your dreams with me

What do you want to be?

What do you want to be?

Raise you hands high and share your dreams with me (I don’t know!)

A baker or a builder,                          

Or a swimmer in the sea

A mommy having babies (Maybe!)

Or a maybe a daddy

A dentist, doctor, artist, author                              

Teacher, Forest ranger, or you might like to sing . . . (I’d like that!)

You can do anything!  (Definitely.)

What do you want to be?

Asked Mrs. McGee

Raise you hands high and share your dreams with me

What do you want to be?

What do you want to be?

Raise you hands high and share your dreams with me

An astronaut, a lawyer

Or a farmer growing trees (Next stop outer space!)

The president, a fireman

A keeper keeping bees

A dancer, banker, preacher, painter

Help save things are endangered (Yeah, like pandas!) maybe you’ll sew . . .

You can give it a go!  (I think I might want to think about this . . .)

What do you want to be?

Asked Mrs. McGee (A baseball player!)

Raise you hands high and share your dreams with me

What do you want to be?

What do you want to be?  (A candy maker!)

Raise you hands high and share your dreams with me

(A cow!)

(I just want to be me.)


Believe in Sirens

I believe in a deep earth smell and in the sound of the falling rain

In tripping over my heavy heart

And in getting up again

These are a few of the wonderful lines from I Believe by singer songwriter Denise Moser. Accompanied by a lovely acoustic guitar part and minimal rhythm track that includes a supportive piano, the line is delivered with quiet breath of a chuckle that immediately brings to mind the laughing singspeak of Alanis Morissette. Indeed, I Believe could be an early Alanis song, Alanis on a mellow day.

Denise Moser‘s vocal vibrato gives her a slightly tentative sound, as if she is exploring her voice and her ideas, perhaps for the first time. This doesn’t make her sound inexperienced, instead the slight quaver in her voice gives her performance a freshness, a newness. Her performance of I Believe is restrained—a quality I love—as if the she is hesitant to share her personal list of favorite things. These are the details of her delivery conspire to draw the listener in.

The fact that the lyrics of I Believe are a list of favorite things, brings to mind the Rodgers and Hammerstein song My Favorite Things, one of the greatest songs of all times and one of my personal favorites. I Believe will be forever linked in my mind to My Favorite Things, how cool is that?

I Believe expresses Denise Moser‘s love of nature and family while deftly exposing her love of love as well as her tenderness. Knee deep walks in snow, apologies, weaknesses, dreams; these are all on Denise’s list, which is a list of things literally stated or implied. Her use of strong yet simple images that often comfort make the song poetic, but it is the invisible things she sings about, and the way her slightly tremulous voice gently nudges us until our own emotions step forward  for our examination, that makes the song art.

I Believe in a second chance and in a brand new fresh mistake . . . 

My recommendation is that you listen to I Believe multiple times, because the song gets better with each listen. With every play the song reveals another corner of Denise Moser‘s heart and if you listen long enough to her honest, encouraging voice, you’ll find that your own heart will mostly likely yield some hidden pain or joy. It wasn’t until I’d listened to the song half a dozen times that I found myself in tears.

Let this song break you open and help you discover or rediscover your Dreaming Self. If you’re already living your dream, this song will be a faithful companion.

My wish for this Philadelphia singer songwriter is that she continues to write and share her music, and I’m sure she will, because she believes. I do too.

Click on the cover art by Alisa Lowden Preston to get your own copy of I Believe.

 

I believe in winter boots, and in clean slate snowy days

In knee deep walks through the neighborhood

And in a dried oak fire blaze

I believe in sleeping in, and in grasping at a fading dream

I believe in saying what I mean

I believe in I’m so sorry, and do you know I care

I believe in I can see you there

 

I believe in a deep earth smell and in the sound of the falling rain

In tripping over my heavy heart

And in getting up again

I believe in letting go of those things that I cannot change

I believe in reaching past my range

I believe in it’s my turn, and I’ve waited for too long

I believe in wishing on a song

 

I believe that what makes you you, well it’s the same thing that makes me me

That our differences are more the same

Than we ever would believe

I believe in my own words of in the beauty of today

I believe in brown hair turning gray

I believe in a second chance, and in a brand new fresh mistake

I believe in giving what I take

 

I believe I’m a daddy’s girl, and I’ve always had a broken heart

I’ve tried to find my way back home

And it’s never been that far

I believe in tenderness, and being kind in love

I believe the dreams that I dream of

I believe in magic stones and in taking off my shoes

Do you know – I believe in you…



Do Sirens Wear Sensible Shoes?

I love this lyric:

Moving Day, I tore up your picture and packed the frame.

Check out Moving Day by Sensible Shoes.

Catch Sensible Shoes tonight at the Orchard House Cafe, NYC.

Read my earlier blog to learn more about the Vermont based band Sensible Shoes the group film director Jonathan Demme says, “Rules the blues news!”

Click on the poster to connect with Sensible Shoes on fb.