When it is time to prepare for an upcoming show, I am in a happy state of mind. I love to perform my new songs. There is nothing like a live audience, even small, when you want feedback on your work. My fellow musicians are in the crowd and they are not hesitant to comment after the fact. This is my way of life. A local show is a great opportunity to I invite family and new people I meet. We all share a love of music of any type. I have my own style and it finds its best expression in small venues. Oddly enough, I spend a lot of time deciding what to wear. You would think otherwise—that I practice for hours on end. I do this anyway, but looking good and being comfortable is part of my “act.”
Right before a show, I was in a panic and couldn’t decide what blouse was best. I tried one on after another, rejecting each as the wrong style or color. Clothes went flying in my bedroom. It looked like a communal changing room as there was so much lying around. I didn’t know I had that much in my closet. I wanted something attractive that wouldn’t call too much attention to itself. Where did I get this idea? Have you seen Taylor Swift on stage? Lots of glitz and glamour! I could go this route, but in a small space some too fancy would be overwhelming. So, I went through the process of trying more things on and tossing them in the air as I took them off. Here is where things really went wrong.
You aren’t going to believe the next part of the story. After a ridiculous amount of time, I was getting bored and finally settled on a simple pink silk shirt. It would look great with midnight blue jeans and cowboy boots. I had my look for the performance and could start to relax. But…I took it off and threw it upward as I had done with every other item, perhaps out of habit. Yikes! The shirt got caught in the ceiling fan in my bedroom which I’d bought from https://www.ceilingfanchoice.com/best-bedroom-ceiling-fan/. I had worked up a sweat taking clothes on and off and had turned it on for a few minutes to cool off. You can’t imagine what the item looked like after I retrieved it in dismay. I had to share it on Facebook. It was between the blades for less than a minute, but was torn to shreds.
I must pause here as the memory of this moment still gives me the shivers. The “perfect” shirt for my big evening was no longer an option, now or ever. I had wasted so much time and energy and would have to start over. I had gone through everything, so the only recourse was to try it on again. Agh! I put each item on, stared in the mirror, and took it off—before tossing it into the air. Sound familiar? But this time I knew better and had carefully turned off the fan.
Musicians and songwriters can have exciting lives, but odd events aren’t limited to their careers. We are just like regular folks. Recently, however, I became a panicky homeowner. When I turned on the faucet to get water to make pasta, it came out brown. I was completely grossed out, almost as much as the day my brother put a live snail on my dinner plate when I was ten. You can’t imagine my reaction. The memory is etched in my brain. I always think back to that time when I am freaked out. It is a kind of benchmark of awfulness against which I measure everything else. There aren’t many givens in this life, but I do expect clean water living in the western world. A quick call to my landlord revealed the cause of the polluted liquid. A water main had broken nearby. He said I should expect normal flow in a day or two. This wasn’t good enough for me. I had to wait to see it with my own eyes before giving up another remedy. The first thought was to buy a ton of bottled water with which I could cook my meals. I would have to forego showers and baths. This is not so drastic since I belong to a gym. Off I go.
Brown water is loaded with dirt and assorted pipe silt, based on what I read at Home Water Health. It can contain toxins and chemicals so you don’t want to even touch it. You will want to clean out your sink when things get back to normal. I wouldn’t boil it like they do in third world countries. It is not something you encounter much in the city. If you have galvanized pipes, you might expect it to happen. I worry about deadly diseases from contamination. Water is life itself and it is emotionally disturbing when you don’t have crystal clear purity.
Further research told me that iron and manganese can be in brown water. They are found in the soil and can make their way into a broken water line. Your pipes can also be rusty as in very old homes. They should have been changed long ago. Pressure inside such a pipe can loosen the rust, which then pollutes the flowing water. If you have galvanized pipes, some of the coating peels off inside, exposing the iron beneath. Get it? Or is this more than you want to know? The real questions is the harm caused by brown water. Experts say small amounts of iron and manganese are normal and they aren’t going to kill you. However, I am not going to take any chances. I know that rusty water is a breeding ground for toxic bacteria. Plus, you would have to subject yourself to a metallic taste if you wanted to test it. It can also smell. It would even stain your laundry or leave a residue in your freshly washed hair. If you are concerned, I would change to copper pipes.
I have been having trouble getting enough sleep between checking out other bands and clubs at night and working my day job. It is a very full life with little time for anything else; but I enjoy it as long as I get inspiration for my songwriting. If you hide your head in the sand, nothing will come to you. You need to get out and experience the world around.
I am not sure what healthy sleep is but I know I am not getting it. I feel tired in the morning and not well rested. I have trouble getting out of bed. Sound familiar? Many people suffer from a lack of good sleep and by that I mean a full seven to eight hours and nothing less. Sleep deprivation causes all kinds of problems in the physical arena, but I am most concerned about mood, stamina, and alertness. When you lack these, you are not operating at optimum level.
I know the protocol; I have read it all online at https://www.berightlight.com/what-is-healthy-sleep/. You dim the lights and maintain a soft, cozy, and comfortable environment. You don’t eat or drink for an hour before bed and you stop all that texting and reading on your cell phone if you expect to nod off promptly. It shouldn’t take more than twenty minutes. As for me, I have all kinds of thoughts going around in my head or I hear music. It is so hard to stop the din if you have had a busy day.
Friends suggest I eat dinner earlier and not when I get home from clubbing or socializing. I get it. They also recommend more exercise earlier in the day, perhaps the morning, so I can tire my body out. It is important to do everything I mentioned as a routine and you will therefore clock your required sleeping hours. They promise me more energy as a result which seems like a contradiction, but it is not.
I have a plan that I will execute starting tonight so I can report back to you shortly. I expect to wake up refreshed and start a new life—one of well-being, strength, purpose, and….sleep! I don’t want to sacrifice my lifestyle and think that only a few adjustments will be necessary. I always thought a drink or two would send you to slumberland a few hours later, but it is not always the case. It works the reverse if you have too many. The beer is the first think to go. Next, I vow to get home at least one hour earlier if I am out with friends. I get revved up so to speak. I need time to wind down. I also know not to start writing a song or reviewing music I have heard recently as it keeps me awake for a long time.
There you have my advice in a nutshell, or blog, on healthy sleep and why it is so important to your life.
My life revolves around music – listening, writing, and sharing with friends. I am always open to new artists. I can enjoy my favorites when I am alone or at a social gathering. Each offers an authentic experience. Music helps me find my groove. When something is that important to you, it becomes incorporated in your life 24/7. When I want to relax, I find a quiet spot and put the earphones on. When I am hyper it goes on loud and clear. Then there are the contemplative times when I am writing music and/or lyrics. If I get a creative surge, I can go for hours without a break. I think you get the basic picture. We all have our own unique way of indulging in our passion. Music to me is the essence of life. I feel like I am going around with background music like in a movie. I can hum to myself and compose as I meander about town.
There is also a novelty side to all this when I want to have some fun. Recently, I had the wild idea to record a song with friends using random sounds in the mix to make it really different. I wrote some goofy lyrics that set the mood for us to innovate and improvise. I am not sure which was worse! I had hopes for the natural sounds, some of them industrial and recognizable like a roaring vacuum cleaner, an electric mixer on high, and a toaster popping up every ten seconds (that took some editing). Other sounds you would simply have to guess. A prominent element was a clicking sound that came from a friend wearing soccer cleats. While it sounds ridiculous and farfetched, it was the most effective sound in the experiment.
The quality and clarity was due to walking quickly across a wooden floor. It might have been even louder on tile or marble. It would have been better to be consistent with this musical direction and try all possibilities for comparison. I had envisioned a medley of odd sounds with the cleats as the central motif. My friend did his best, but I would have preferred someone more imagination. We had borrowed them for a friend and he later told us he wore soccer cleats for wide feet. Such are the restraints we encountered that wacky day. Our most important musician was a real novice.
After the song had been recorded and edited by one friend with the necessary audio equipment, we all sat around to evaluate our effort. We were not at all surprised that the “music” was not very good. It had started out well and I had the best intentions as the ring leader of the project, but ultimately it failed to impress. I guess there is always a next time. At least we had a great time. There is a lot to say about the value of having fun as a group.
As a singer, songwriter, and musician, I live a different kind of life from most. I am either practicing, entertaining, performing, researching and listening to my favorite genre of music, or attending concerts, large and small. I am always out it seems. I crave some time at home. A little relaxation should spark my creativity. I get enough stimulation in the world, but I have to digest it and turn it into something valuable.
When at home, I like a clean and tidy apartment. I do regular vacuuming but the old boy is breaking down. I don’t have the funds right now to buy a state-of-the-art Shark. This is one of the best brands around and they have every model from an upright to a canister. They’ve received top marks from The Vacuum Challenge as well. Someday I will get one and make my work easier. My old model seems to smell as if the motor were burning out. I feel sorry for it. I have the Shark at the top of my wish list and everyone knows about it!
The other day at home, while resting from a busy day, I spotted a cockroach running across the kitchen floor. This must be where he lives. Yikes. Roaches denote dirtiness, the kind you never want to encounter at home. Maybe I forgot to clean along the baseboards, under the stove and refrigerator, and below the sink. I expect to see a few carcasses there. Horrors. I called my mom in a panic, but I knew what to do. I had to catch it or run out and buy a bug spray for this particular creature. I could also call an exterminator which seemed to be the best idea of them all. After he rid my place of nastiness, I would vacuum up.
As I moaned and groaned on the phone for about an hour, mom gave up and offered to send enough money for both the new Shark and the professional exterminator. Parents can jump in when you really need them. While I like being independent and on my own at this stage in my life, I welcome the help. I will accept the money with gratitude and proceed to order my vacuum on line. In a few days, I will deal with all future problems, including roach infestation.
I went ahead and called the exterminator that day, hoping he would be able to send a bill. I wanted all roaches to be gone! He agreed to come in two hours so I could restore my previous state of calm. I couldn’t wait. Once the roach was out of there, I could breathe again. I first had to wait a couple of hours for the poison to dispel. I went for a walk and stopped by the local music store. They sell sheet music, new and old, and various instruments. I tried out a few guitars and then chatted with the owner about our common interests. It was soon time to return home and get back to normal life – sans roaches.
It is hard to make a living as a singer, songwriter, and musician unless you get a record contract, write for the top-tier, and hit it big. Well, I have my dreams and have moved to the coast to be near the heart of the industry. So far, I have been doing fine. However, I worry about downtimes and the possibility of having to take a “real job.” Creative people aren’t keen on ordinary day jobs as you can imagine. They don’t fit into a rigid corporate environment, the legal or medical spheres, and probably are not suited for sales. If you have to make a living, you must compromise. Maybe the high-tech world has a place for an “artist.” However, I don‘t exactly have advanced computer skills.
Giving it a lot of thought while daydreaming about the future, I took a long, hard look at my past. Have I done anything that I could resurrect and make it into a career? Suddenly, I remember that as a high school student, I took a lot of shop classes to avoid math and science. They taught wood working and welding, great skills for a guy, but what about a young girl? I wasn’t going in this direction for sure as my music aptitude appeared quite young. I did it to enjoy myself and help dad around the house. I had a brainstorm. I would look into apprenticeships first and then research qualifications to be a union welder at Rate My Welder and find out what the professionals make.
I learned a lot in the process, enough to determine whether or not I would ever consider this possibility. It was odd for sure, but not improbable. More and more women are entering the field, something unheard of decades ago. Union membership means better money and benefits. I am a little concerned that I would have to go to a trade or vocational school to bring my skills up to par. I wouldn’t mind if it were short term and didn’t cost a bundle. I read that scholarships are readily available. After training, I would seek certification.
Meanwhile, I got excited about the world of welding. After all, welding helps build the world. Many types of manufacturing require joining metal part such as the auto industry and housing construction. I was pleased to see that statistics show that welders are still in demand. They can work independently and go freelance or join a crew. I know that you have to be physically and mentally fit and I presume that I would quality. It is not for the clumsy and careless. I know from personal experience, that you can’t learn welding from a book. It pays to accept a variety of jobs to hone your skill at handling various types of equipment for MIG, TIG, arc and more. If you market yourself properly, you can command a salary of about $75,000 to $85,000 depending upon where you live. It sounds pretty good.
It is not enough to be a music lover who listens only at home. It is warm, comfortable, and cozy in my den. I love the wool afghan my mother made just for me. Plus, I have a huge collection of albums just waiting for attention. I can blast it as loud as I want and no one complains. I can don the earbuds and go nuts with my iTunes in my personal library, but I need to get out to get inspiration because only doing Facebook live videos isn’t enough for my own work.
Going to clubs fulfills this need. I also perform sometimes on open mike nights and these evenings can go rather late. It is after midnight when I amble home, usually in my car unless I had a few. However, when I approach the front door of my building, the light often doesn’t go on, leaving me in the shadows. I can barely see to turn the key in the lock. I have complained but my landlord has not been responsive. I asked for a replacement light numerous times and sent him guides like this: https://www.outdoorlightandsound.com/install-outdoor-motion-sensor-light/. He nods and agrees, but then nothing happens.
I asked him if he wanted something bad to happen. I reminded him that while we live in a good neighborhood, vandals and muggers roam at night most everywhere these days. Just listen to the news. Did he want to feel responsible if one of the tenants were attacked—male or female? Of course not. I think my words started to have an effect. He has a daughter and was probably imagining what could befall her. She, too, frequented the clubs and has been known to return home after closing hours. Now he was getting worried.
I let it ride for a while as I was tired of nagging, but one night when I came home late, the light went on as I walked toward the door. In fact, it went on when I was ten feet away. He must have installed a good motion sensor. Usually, you had to wait until you were right under the fixture. If someone were lurking in the bushes, he would have an easy target. I don’t carry a weapon or even pepper spray. I wouldn’t know how to use it. I am told that a bright light works well to deter assailants and thieves, which is why the experts tell women to carry LED flashlights at night for a surprise effect.
I called to thank him the very next day and found out that he was also planning on installing a security system that would cover all the units in the building. It would sound an alarm if activated manually or by a motion sensor. These sensors are mighty useful. If there was a situation, the police would come automatically. If there were a fire, then it would be the fire department. We already had smoke detectors in our ceilings, but this will make us feel safer. My landlord got the message and went all the way toward providing full protection.
As you know, this week I am in New York visiting my best friend, Farrah, who performed at her first open mic. (She was amazing, by the way, but I’ll write another post on that later.) We’ve always been there for each other, and despite us moving to completely opposites parts of the country, I had to be there for her because I know she would do the same for me, and I was really excited to hear about her first show. Even though this was her weekend to be celebrated, she treated me to the most amazing experience. Are you ready for it? She was somehow able to snag us tickets to see Hamilton!
You would not believe the ear-shattering scream I let out in the middle of the street when she told me that we would be attending this show. Lucky for me, I only got a few annoyed side glances from the busy New Yorkers hurrying to their destination, and I’m sure that was only because I’d stopped walking and was holding up the traffic on the sidewalk. What did I do to deserve such an amazing best friend?
I know you’re asking, “Lizzie, is Hamilton as amazing as everyone says it is?”
No, it isn’t.
IT’S SO MUCH BETTER!
I’ll try to explain without making this sound like some critic’s critique of the show. I’m a much more emotional creature than that, and I try to capture feelings in words and music. So, bear with on this.
It’s difficult to describe the feelings in the air when you’re doing a show. Granted, I’ve only done small shows, but I still understand the energy. There’s something amazing about the buzz that thrums in the air as you’re preparing for a show. Everyone’s energy coalesces together and causes the electricity to ignite your nerves. This is what you’ve practiced for and what you’ve dreamed about, and there’s this feeling of excitement tinged nervousness that settles in your stomach as you think about all the things that can go right and all the things that could go wrong. And your heart is pounding, and you don’t know how you’re going to keep it together in front of so many people. And then… the curtain rises, and for one moment, you’re blinded. Then, you open your mouth and you start singing. Suddenly, nothing else matters, but putting your heart and soul into this song.
That’s what it felt like to watch Hamilton. Even though I wasn’t part of the cast, I could still taste that excitement. I felt like I was on the stage with these immensely talented men and women. It was so much more potent than anything I’d ever felt during my own shows. My heart was beating in excitement. I laughed. I cried. I cheered loudly. I was totally caught up in the moment, and I don’t know if I’ll ever have another experience that’s so sublime as this one. But I can dream that I do. I’m grateful that I had a chance to experience this breathtaking show. I think it’s an experience everyone should have at least once.
Now, excuse me. I’m going to go to sleep and dream about the day when I’m on that stage pulling the same emotions from a girl who moved from the midwest to chase her musical dreams.
I thought I would so something a little different today, but I still wanted to keep it music related. So, here’s a little fact about me. I am a huge movie buff. I’ve probably watched thousands of movies. You would think I wouldn’t have time for that, but you find the time for the things you love—even if that means you have to sacrifice sleep.
Some of my favorite albums are movie soundtracks. When I’m working out, cleaning, doing anything that doesn’t deal with my own music, I love listening to the music of others, especially soundtracks. I am a music fan first and foremost, and there’s just something about a good soundtrack that moves me.
The Wedding Singer
Say what you will about this movie, but the music was amazing! (And I thought the movie was pretty amazing as well, but I digress.) It’s just so purely 80’s that you can’t help but love it and sing along with it, even if it is an Adam Sandler movie. This movie picked some of the most iconic songs of the New Wave era and really made it work on the big screen. It helps that you get a cute, funny love story along with the music.
Romeo + Juliet
I loved this movie, and I will fight you about it. Just kidding… about the fighting part. I love this mix of the old and new, the classic and the modern. This was such an anachronistic experience that worked really well. The songs on this soundtrack captured the yearning, the dark and twisted desire, the pain. Romeo and Juliet is one of the greatest tragedies that we have, and this music managed to encapsulates that tragedy well. It will remain one of my favorites.
I love hearing how other cultures bring music alive, and Slumdog Millionaire does this with such style. While Romeo + Juliet uses modern music in a dated setting, Slumdog Millionaire’s music itself is a blend of the traditional and the modern. Hearing this music framed in the movie context makes it such a treat visually and aurally.
FYI: My mom is a HUGE Prince fan, so that’s how I got into Prince. Purple Rain isn’t the best movie out there, but the music is really amazing. I mean, it’s basically a whole Prince album rather than a soundtrack. You can’t deny that Prince was a talented artist. There was always something so intense and authentic about him that I can only hope shows in my own music.
Scott Pilgrim vs the World
This movie is so fun and amazing! I’m a bit of a gaming and comics geek, so this appealed to me so much. The soundtrack features music by many lesser known bands, and this really fits with the weird, outcast type vibe that you get from this movie and its characters. I’ve probably listened to this soundtrack a few hundred times. I wish I was kidding.
So, there you have it. Do you like movie soundtracks? What are some of your favorites?
Every since I was a little girl, music has always been my first love. As a young child, I was fortunate enough to have parents that saw the value in kids being involved with music. Neither one of my parents were musically inclined, but they loved listening to everything from classical music to Motown hits to modern rock. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t surrounded by music in my household. One of my earliest memories was dancing with my father when I was around 4-years-old to Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,” which is kind of funny when you think about. Here I was this girl from a family that couldn’t even hold a tune, and now, years later, I’ve moved away from home and I’m looking to strike it big in the music world. Like Frank said:
Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knewWhen I bit off more than I could chewBut through it all, when there was doubtI ate it up and spit it outI faced it all and I stood tallAnd did it my way.
I kind of think that if my grandparents had encouraged either one of my parents to pursue a life of music that things would’ve been much different for them. I might not be here at all if that was the case. Then again, I might’ve grown us as the daughter of one the world’s most celebrated artists and hated making music.
In any event, I appreciate my parents introducing me to music, even though they could have taught me to pursue more practical things. When I was 6-years-old, I started playing the piano. It was the first instrument I learned to play. I was the youngest student that my piano instructor had ever taught, and she took me on as a student because she said I had an ear for music after allowing to play around on the piano.
Over the years, I learned to play many other instruments and started singing while I was still in elementary school. Music isn’t just a thing that I do. It lives in my soul. It’s been there for me through the good times and bad. When my father passed away with cancer, I wrote pages of songs to help me heal. When my best friend got married, I composed an original piece to play at her wedding to celebrate this happy occasion.
It’s like this to me. Music can express our deepest feelings, and it allows us to understand the depth of feeling from our fellow man. Even if we don’t have firsthand knowledge of the words used to compose lyrics, the melody can move us. We can feel the emotions that the artist is trying to convey. Sometimes, a song doesn’t need words at all for us to understand the meaning. Even if our meaning is different from what the artist intended, music is such an interpretative form of communicating with each other and songs will speak to us on different levels.
Music is a universal language, and without it, I don’t know where I would be. I don’t even want to imagine the world where music was never in my life.
So, some people have asked me about my process of finding inspiration and how I go about writing my songs.
Before getting that question from a few people, I didn’t think much of my songwriting process until I talked with other musicians and realized just how varied the process could be. I mean, I knew it differed from person to person, but I guess, sitting and talking about it with people really made me think deeply about the creative process. If you do something all the time, you stop thinking about the process and you just do it because that’s what you’ve always done.
I wish I could say that I was one of those people who could churn out tons of the content at a drop of a dime, but I’m not. I wish I could say to myself, “You know what, Lizzie? We’re going to write about love today.” I write with my feelings, and that could change from one day to the next. Hell, that could change from one minute to the next, and I go with it. I found that trying to force myself to write about things I wasn’t feeling would either result in me a.) becoming blocked or b.) producing the worst crap you’d ever read.
My songwriting process is a response to the world around me, to the things that are going on in my life. It’s my way of expressing my feelings about everything from heartbreak to injustices that people suffer every day. I have to be feeling something in order to create music. I find inspiration in looking at the news despite how depressing it all has been lately. I go out and I observe people around me. I look at people and try to pretend that I know their story. I give them this whole intricate life that causes all these feelings, words, and ideas to just come to me. I write music about the causes that I’m passionate about.
Yes, sometimes, I’ll lock myself in my apartment and write endlessly in that frantic madness that people think characterizes creative types. I will not talk to anyone for days until I finish writing my latest and greatest song. During these times, it’s easy for me to forget to eat until I feel like the job is done. When I tell people that, they just nod at me like, “Yeah, you creative types are like that.”
Other times, I go out and I live and breathe among people. I may take photos of things that stir feelings. I may write snatches of phrases that come to me in my notebook, but I don’t isolate myself from the world. I take it all in, all the feelings and thoughts. Eventually, these fragments form a whole.
This was a really good question, and it took me a little while to find the words I wanted to say about how I create. I know how I create. I just didn’t want it to sounds too cheesy or too vague. I hope this is helpful and coherent to someone out there. Until next time!
I am shaking right now like you wouldn’t even believe. Yes, I performed tonight, and it was the most emotionally taxing show I’ve ever done. I took a chance and put myself out there completely. I am a bundle of emotions right now. I’m happy. I’m sad. I’m excited. I’m afraid. I am feeling every single emotion that you can imagine.
Tonight, I performed a really tough song that I wrote called “Love Remembers Everything.” It wasn’t that it was tough for me to perform physically, but it holds a lot of emotion for me. It was one of the last songs that I composed about my father after he lost his battle with cancer.
I wrote many songs during that time. Even though I had my family there with me and we all supported one another, I just felt like I couldn’t completely let go of the grief that I held during his fight with cancer and after his death. I know my mom and my siblings would listen to anything I had to say, but I just couldn’t verbalize all the pain that I felt during that time. So, I wrote music instead. I wrote pages and pages of emotional lyrics that embodied the feelings that I had. I did this just wanting a way to express myself. I never expected it to become a type of therapy, if you will.
One of the last songs that I wrote managed to capture all the feelings that I had about my father. It wasn’t just about the hard times. It wasn’t just about how the sickness had robbed him of so much life or how his death left an empty space in my heart. It chronicled the good times that we together, as well. I always felt like it was the greatest thing that I could write to honor my father’s legacy.
I’ve only performed this song a few times, and I don’t know what made me want to perform it tonight. Maybe I was feeling nostalgic. In two months, my dad will have been deceased for three years. This will be the first year that I’m not home to make the journey to honor him with my mother and siblings, and I think that is starting to weigh on me. I think that performing this song tonight was my way of honoring him even though I know that I won’t be able to make it to his graveside this year.
I was in tears by the time I finished it. That song makes me feel so vulnerable. All my emotions are on display whenever I perform it, and the crowdseemed to love it. I got such a thunderous applause, and I’m hoping it’s because they understand the emotional depth of this song and the type of courage it took to perform it in front of complete strangers. I hope, if there is an afterlife, that my father saw me perform this song tonight. I hope he’s proud of me.