I am sitting in a parking lot in Ayer, MA. Maple, elderberry, nettle, and more are putting on their splendid autumn show. I love the leaves in the northeast. Emmett is with papa in California, this is the longest and farthest I have ever been from my baby. It is day 3 and there will be 12 days in all. It is quiet. I am sleeping well. I miss my little cyclone but I am very much enjoying this blessed stillness. The best part is, I don’t even feel guilty about enjoying this respite. Yes, I will admit to watching videos of Emmett for about a half hour last night, but I think this is good for everybody involved.
When i was a little girl, my Mama would tell my big sister and me stories about her childhood to help us go to sleep. They ranged from funny to slightly macabre. That time when she was gifted 2 new barrettes for her hair and her maid said to her “If you lose those, don’t bother to come home”. She promptly lost her shiny hair clips and stood in the bushes in their front yard for hours until her father came home around dinner time. Once at a family picnic, my Mother who was youngest of all the cousins, was trapped in an attic with hundreds of dead birds after a game of hide-and-seek gone awry. She pounded on the lone window and watched the picnic below unfold in mime until her mother realized she was gone. My Mother had a ticket to Woodstock and became violently ill the hour before her ride came, and was absolutely fine an hour after he left. I would listen, enraptured, and dream of her as a child, living through these moments. I always pictured her with her most beautiful grownup face on a little girl’s body. I thought i would never have such interesting and fantastic things to tell my children.
I could not be more grateful to my Mama for sharing these things with us. She does so now, in poem form and these books are like bibles to me. They are the chronicles of my most important female figure, the story of her life. I’m not sure she knew that these stories would imbue both her daughters with a love of words, but they did. More importantly, they showed us that our Mother was more than just a cooker of healthy dinners, a double-knotter of shoe laces, an editor of sloppy school work, and a keeper of house; she was a living breathing human being just like us. Not the annoying parental super hero figure, but a person with all the messy heartbreak and confusion that goes along with that incarnation. Upon the future time of her leaving us (which i hope is not any day soon), i revel in the fact i will have truly known my Mother.
In my work as a songwriter, I feel i am allowed to express myself in a way that is necessary to my health and wholly unusual in this climate of the self congratulatory 40 character long facade. I am writing broken cosmic letters in rhyme and melody that spew out my sadness/joy like dandelion florets. It doesn’t matter where they land. It doesn’t matter if they find purchase in some dark soil and germinate. It only matters that they are let go and fly away. My Father writes wonderful songs and he gave me the tools and the know-how, but my Mother gave me permission to tell my stories.
I am now a Mother to a cyclone of a boy. He is beautiful, runs faster than water falls, he is oak-strong and often kind. It has struck me how important it is to refer to myself as “I”. To say “It hurts me when you hit”, “I don’t like it when you scream”, “I love you” instead of in the third person, like “Mama” is some sort of character outside of our equation. Take away the humanity and “Mama” is just an invincible care-taking robot. “I” am a woman, a mother, a mistake-maker, a tired person who bruises when you throw choo-choos at her face. “I” have stories to tell you, young man. They may shock you and confuse you and awaken you to the fact that your Mother had a very complicated life before you came through her and made it even more so. Little boy, i want you to know who i am. I want you to see a woman with a strong sense of self and vocation. I want you to see all women as intricate novels, wrought out of lessons hard-won, triumphs and disappointments. I want you to see me and know me. I will never hide from this or shirk the responsibility of giving you my stories. In turn, i hope you listen.
photo by Danny Schmidt
As to where Rebecca Loebe and i are playing between Oct 16th-26th and things that have happened in these places on tours past:
*Oct 16th: Boston, MA at Club Passim. One time at a gig in Boston Becca ended up dancing drunk on the bar. I don’t think we are allowed back at Toad.
*Oct 17th: Folk In the Chapel in Norwich, CT. One time in CT at Steve & Jen’s house I dropped my tuner right off my headstock straight into a glass of water. Then Becca and i got in the hot tub and broke it. it was a cold tub. I also rode Jen’s horse the next and i broke that too, the horse turned out to be lame. Sorry Roland!
*Oct 18th: Fox Run House Concert near Boston. see Oct 16th for cute Boston anecdote.
*Oct 19th: Courthouse Concert, Merrick, NY (that’s Long Island). One time Becca and i played on Long Island, someone threw $100 in the tip jar and we ran to the ocean the next morning. it was beautiful. Thanks Mike Stein!
*Oct 20th: Slippers & Socks, Syracuse, NY (email: firstname.lastname@example.org). One time in Upstate we played at Bard College and laughed so hard we couldn’t stop in the middle of the show. And we made the gig really pay by taking all sorts of food from the cafeteria! It turns out that the Quality Inn in Kingston, NY is not appropriately named.
*Oct 21st: Rockwood Music Hall, NYC. We were in NYC the night before Halloween in 2010. We both got super drunk and walked around in the rain til 3am. Becca was dressed up as Octomom. She had uncontrollable hiccups. We got to Dina’s house and Becca fell down on the couch and went to sleep. Mike Meadows has video proof.
*Oct 22nd: Focus Concerts, Rockville, MD. Yet another instance where we were playing a bar in MD with the most delicious food ever, but the audience is only concerned with hooking up (lots of white baseball hats, short dresses and fake tans). We started laughing about 2 hours into our 3 hour set and laughed through the next hour. Could not stop. Tears flowed. The duck was incredible.
*Oct 23rd: Dapogny House Concert, Falls Church, VA (email: email@example.com). One time in Virginia in West Virginia, i almost died in a snowstorm with Aj Roach. Becca was on tour with Robby Hecht. We met up a lot and played shows as a foursome. Becca and i missed eachother, even though we love those boys. We had less of our usual thrift store shopping and sushi.
*Oct 24th: Hamlin House Concert, Washington DC (email: firstname.lastname@example.org). One time in DC Becca and i went to the Washington Monument. That thing is funny enough. There is video…
*Oct 25th: Godfrey Daniels, Bethlehem, PA. We once played a college booking conference in the middle of PA. The packet of information they gave us was covered in swirly 1960’s era graphics and it said “Peace Love & Programming”. FAIL. We Also spend a lot of time in my sister’s apartment eating her delicious foods and watching her giant TV.
*Oct 26th: Private Concert, Hopewell, NJ. One time in New Jersey Becca and i spent almost all our hard-earned tour money on yarn and needles. I knitted some hats. Becca knitted some socks. We felt very productive.
That is all i can remember at the moment, but we sure are excited to come up to the Northeast and play songs together for YOU. All dates and info are at www.rainarose.com & www.rebeccaloebe.com. Hopefully you can join us for one of these shows, they will inevitably include harmonies, embarrassing stories, and tons of laughter.
Tonight i cut the shit out of my thumb with a cheese grater. Not just any grater, but a fancy Microplane cheese grater that my foodie sister gave me. This thing is as sharp as the bored guy at a Mensa meeting. I nearly had a complete meltdown, but managed to steer myself back on the course of dinner making. It was either that or me and the almost-2-year-old start screaming and writhing on the floor. Papa was at a rehearsal, so i had no choice. My right hand has been covered in eczema for about 6 months. It came out of the clear blue and has made finger picking the guitar, doing the dishes & washing my hair incredibly painful. So this unfortunate (and totally minor) accident felt like 100 papercuts bathed in lemon juice.
I have a generally sunny disposition. I am a glass-is-half-full-but-let’s-just-go-get-something-delicious-to-fill-it-with kind of lady. I can see the blessing and meaning in most ship wreck situations, but lately i’ve been up every night worried about The Ominous Future. Climate change, GMO, the bees, the Koch Brothers, Nuclear Weaponry, Natural Disasters, the plastic island in the middle of the Pacific, the list goes on and on. I carry the weight of these things like birds nesting in my hair and i feel completely powerless as to the job of their untanglement. Is there some higher purpose to these dead end roads? “God is a concept by which we measure our pain”. What is the point in eating 5 servings of organic vegetables a day if the beautiful glaciers are melting and the ozone is thinning and there will be no clean water left in 2 years anyway? Is this all an exercise in futility? AHHHHH!!!
Is it all about the minute moments of love? Is it about the new tenants in our birdhouse? The success of our small victory garden? a new song, an evening of laughter with friends, the scent of the baby’s skin, your lover’s kiss. This is the house that love built whicc fear will shake down to the very foundation if you simply open the door and let it in. Is God a concept by which measure not only our formidable pain and confusion, but also our staggering joy? “The dream is over, what can I say? the Dream is Over, yesterday”. Most days on which i wake up breathing, in a safe home, with plenty to eat, i think these moments are enough to keep the grateful train on it’s tracks. Enough to keep the hungry sharks of pointlessness from dragging me into an apathetic watery grave. Enough to keep the baby fed and think about making him a sibling. Maybe my blessing is that i have the affluent luxury of worrying about the big picture stuff, while some people worry every day about how they will feed themselves. Not to say we are exempt from the economic struggle, but if we ran out of food tomorrow, our community would feed us. They have in the past.
So am i left with on this day where i feel frustrated and small, David with a slingshot against a most gargantuan foe? I hold on to my hopes like a life preserver. I cling to the notion that humanity is mostly good at the core. You clear past the brush and garbage and the sadness and there is a red heart beating inside every chest that wants to love and be loved. My dearest held hope is that my great-grandchildren will lead long healthy lives on this Eden of a planet. That the governments of the world will somehow un-corrupt themselves. That we realize the great volcano of love from which we all sprang and start behaving like family. “You may say i’m a dreamer, but i’m not the only one”.
Happy Birthday John Lennon.
What an incredible thing. My open letter to three beautiful musicians has been shared over 200 times on the Facebook. When I was composing that letter (in the shower with a toddler, trying to get us both as clean as possible and make sure nobody drowns) I had no idea it would be seen by so many eyes. I am humbled by the support.
Today Emmett and I went and had coffee at our favorite shop. We played in the dirt and drank a cappuccino, he and I respectively. We watched Sesame Street. We played in the backyard and watered the plants. We ate casserole. We read Yertle The Turtle and now here I am, appreciating the first moment of solitude. Andrew is in New York until Monday playing with our dear friend Carrie Elkin. I’ve been really hoping to write a song this weekend, but my hands have been too full with groceries, dishes, vacuuming, dog, and whatnot. When I was touring full time I had fantasies about how wonderful it might be to have a home and a baby and sit still. It’s, of course, not the Sally Homemaker dream that I worked over in my brain. But nothing is. Reality doesn’t run like a movie script. It’s dirtier, more annoying, and slower. It’s got more moments of joyous motes of light than I had ever imagined. It’s got less sleep, more sickness and too many cookies. It’s got yelling and laughter.
I am so grateful for where the days have taken me. For the two sides of the globe I get to be, mother and musician.
I wanted to say Thank You. All three of you admirable women are outspoken, powerful, talented, and living your lives on your terms. Somehow, in the year 2013, that last one is still difficult. Women are still shaking off the shackles of oppression from all angles, still unsheathing themselves from the mighty patriarchy, and oh my, is it a heavy cloak. I hope the honesty and hard-won lessons in these letters are being ingested by others the way they have by me, an early-30’s songwriter, musician, mother, and unknown folksinger.
You could say i tried to use my sexuality to sell music in my early days. I was 23 and living in my car, driving mad circles around the country playing coffee shops, colleges, backyards and bars, armed with pink tinged blonde hair, a loud untrained voice and a guitar that was an old friend who would acquiesce to my often odd demands of playing bizarre chords and waltzes. Sexuality didn’t really work for me, my songs were too vulnerable as is, i couldn’t bear putting too much more of myself on display (except for that one time at a jam festival in California where i accidentally wore a tube top and during a particularly aggressive song i realized my boob had escaped… i sold a lot of cds that day). Years later after building a very small, but very satisfying career singing about my feelings, my bass playing boyfriend and i got pregnant. I was terrified, my small time folksinging career couldn’t afford tour nannies or even consistent hotels. We traveled in a station wagon. I had no agents or labels. I had to let our sweet manager go because we couldn’t pay him and pay the midwife. My career (or whatever you call it) has definitely felt a hit, as I write this blog with an almost two year old demanding my attention every three minutes. My husband currently plays bass with TV stars every other weekend and we are able to stay afloat, regardless of the anchor of my jealously of his sweet gigs.
I digress, I appreciate you Miley for your unabashed use of all the arrows in your employ. A month ago, I couldn’t have cared less about you or music and now i’ve seen a lot of your videos and read every interview you’ve given lately. I am fascinated and impressed by the amount of fucks you don’t give as you twerk and cry all while riding a wrecking ball without any undies. I would never have half the courage you have, plus i can’t figure out the folksinger’s version of twerking, maybe using 2 capos at once? I just hope we don’t see you fall into mental illness or serious drug addiction. America loves a naked train wreck, but i can’t help just see you as a real young woman carving a niche for herself in an already graffiti covered pop music world. If you take Sinead & Amanda’s insight to heart, you could possibly avoid such missteps. These are your elders. They see your beauty and are hopeful for you. We live in a world where this advice is scoffed at, where our elders are drugged into a stupor so that we can drive the planet into the rising seas without a wrinkled finger wagging at us and saying “I told you so!”. That finger points at you out of love and respect. Bob Dylan’s famous quote “Please get out of the new one / If you can’t lend your hand / For the times they are a-changin’.” May or may not apply here.
Sinead & Amanda, thank you for voices. For playing the Mother and the Crone for Miley the Maiden. It saddens me so deeply when women hate on women. We HAVE to be each other’s biggest advocates in this world that wants us to fit coyly into our tiny molds and not complain about it. You have both been very inspiring to me in many ways, the most of which is very clearly standing up tall and straight for your art, for your beliefs, for yourselves. If i had any kind of soapbox to stand on (maybe this is it?), i would decry my love for your giant balls of fury. And now that you’ve made your voices heard to Miss Miley and her ability to command attention, i think we all need to sit back and watch her live out her life the way she so desires, in all it’s tongue-waggling glory.
I hope if she ever has kids she lets those boobs fly when she breast feeds. That’s my favorite way to expose myself.
I know that the chances of any of these 3 women seeing this blog is slim to none, but i had to take a page out of their books and express myself on the subject. While we are at it, can we start calling musicians who happen to be female, “Musicians” as opposed to “Female Musicians”? Would you ever call a man who happens to be a musician, a “Male Musician”? I doubt it. We don’t need the qualification of our gender anymore when it comes to our jobs. Thanks.
xo, a musician
ps-spellcheck doesn’t know what to do with the word “TWERK”
pps-my new record, Caldera is the best piece of art I’ve ever made and I would jump on a wrecking ball and twerk my naked ass off to get the word out about it, if I had access to a clean wrecking ball. (http://www.rainarose.com/store.html)