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The Life of a Song

December 6, 2007 One Comment

My Own Voice

Summer 1997
Driving across Eastern Washington to visit friends between shows my journey slows down as I wait for a ferry on a warm Sunday morning. I get out with my notebook to sit in the quiet air and write down the first thing I see, a sign that reads: “You are leaving Lincoln County”. This causes big chunks of song to come tumbling out of me and as I write, the trip across the lake on the ferry intermingles with my sadness over the news that my favorite uncle has just passed. When I arrive at my destination my understanding friends point me at the “writer’s shack” and leave me in peace to finish my song, “Leaving Lincoln County”.

Fall 2007
I receive a call from the same friends in Eastern Washington. The cancer had returned/spread. Further treatment declined. Through my tears I take the amazing opportunity to heap appreciation on my friend before we said good-bye, for what I knew to be the last time. Her partner called last week to say she was gone. It will be from a different place that I sing this song from in the future:

“Three days ago, I left Sacramento
Where I said good-bye to someone
For what I knew to be the last time
I’ve driven 1300 miles, but that’s nothing on the distance
That my friend traveled yesterday, in the blink of an eye…”
(From Leaving Lincoln County)

Winter 2005
I receive a lovely, hand painted card from my artist friend for Solstice that ends: “May you drink from the well of your heart”. The next day, a close friend’s mother passes at 96, leaving behind a family legacy three generations strong. I am asked to sing for her memorial service. Sitting in my living room in the Oakland Hills I gaze through the eucalyptus at the winter sunset strumming my guitar and wondering what I will play. A wire crosses in my brain and the title track to my most recent CD; “EVERYTHING” is born, written so quickly that my pencil can barely chase the words across the paper.

Winter 2007
My artist friend loses her partner, abruptly, horribly, before his time. She writes me that she listens to “EVERYTHING” over and over again for comfort. I can’t help but wonder about her inspiring the song that two years later will soothe her shocking loss.

“Now the days draw dark
As the year dies down
And the spring lies
Frozen in the fallow ground
Bide your time, mind the fire
No belief is required
The seasons teach the reason
That we cycle around
Again and again
Every ending a Beginning

And if things should fall apart
May Kindness be your finest work of art
May you dream
May you dwell
May you drink from the well
Drink from the Well of your Heart
May you Drink from the Well of Your Heart”
(from “Everything”)

It occurs to me that life is as mysterious as songwriting and I wonder why I presume to think that I ever do more than just hold the pencil.

One Comment »

  • Paula Groves said:

    Just heard your song “Leaving Lincoln County” on Kevin Vance’s A Patchwork Quilt on KALW. Didn’t hear who sang it; sounded like Dar Williams. Googled the song title & found your name. Years ago I drove you to the Turtle Hill Music Festival outside Rochester. I was a volunteer driver. I live here in the Mission now. Still have the cassette you gave me; includes “I will listen to my own voice now”

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