May the Muse Be With You

"Garageband" –a term that reeks of beer, adolescence, motor oil and cigarette butts– has become my new best friend. Who knew, after all the years of my life I spent slaving away in my basement studio learning Logic and techy skills I never really needed, that I could simply sit down and record ideas and demos as easily as writing an e-mail. I thought it was just for kids - but it's surprisingly sophisticated! Such a clever man that Steve.

Since I craftily bred my own personal engineer (which unfortunately I now have to share with the rest of the world) I have pretty much abandoned my studio, so when I launched into writing in the spring and needed to demo the songs for the band, I thought…okay, I’ll humour my Mac and try out this toy. Well hot damn…it makes the incubation of a fledgling song SO much easier and faster. I’ve always loved demo-ing new songs and the part it plays in the evolution of arrangements and vocals and instrumentation. It’s the first of many rewards for suffering through the annoying whining and foot dragging that inevitably accompanies my ramp up to writing.

The next big reward is getting to play them, as I did last night, with the enhanced “All Girl Group” (that moniker is for the alliteration – not to denigrate our stature as the Super Women that we are!). This stage in the evolution is like listening to a flower open up. Oh…my heart. The aforementioned daughter Julia, Kirby Barber (my co-hort in the High Bar Gang”), and new musical human treasure on Bowen, Cindy Fairbank, are the wind that fills the sails of the songs. Breathtaking.

Okay – for a little context, this has been the summer of my dreams. You would think that might involve some Adonis type character, but no. It was the dream of being able to totally indulge music and writing songs and the creative muse in general, with an abandon and freedom I’ve never before allowed myself. Of course, my booking agent/manager side has gone for shit, so once again I find myself thinking….I ONLY want to do the creative part. Where’s the HELP?

The fact that it has been a long and sultry summer on the beautiful west coast has certainly added to it. Though there was and continues to be some serious smudging as the smoke from BC, Washington and even Oregon fires has found its way to the coast. Many feel it disturbing and eerie - almost post-apocalyptic - as I certainly do, to say nothing of 3,800 square kilometres of forest burned and homes and wildlife lost.

But while Rome was burning, I walked, swam, hiked, kayaked, cycled, read, and paced as the songs ruminated and poured forth. Oh, and there was quite a bit of napping involved.

It’s my personal harmonic convergence, I guess. My myopic world - knowing I had to get down to writing new music, which requires world muting solitude and concentrated focus. coming at a time when I can’t bear the world in any case. So it worked out. Years ago I wrote a song with the first lines “I can’t read the paper/ I can’t watch the news/ I can’t bear the who or where and what they say’s the truth.” Well, it’s never been more on the mark. Though from time to time the brilliant and humorous translations of Bill Maher, John Oliver, Trevor Noah or Colbert can make it palatable, and in some weird way give me some hope. But otherwise, there’s just something about the threat of impending nuclear war that can put a bit of a damper on one’s enjoyment of life. So given that I couldn’t be more helpless to affect the course of such things, I will stay in my bubble of musical spelunking and gliding, and pour it all into songs. it's a survival technique. It works for me.

So....I know there is so much happening out there that I should be commenting on beyond my little Bunker of Song, but not for this newsletter! Just me, me, us, me me and me.

I continue to see music and the arts as the flotation devices in these stormy seas. Go make, paint, write, build something. It helps. It really does.

Happy Trails to you, until we meet again,


Julia GraffComment