There happens to be one song in the world that served as a catalyst for me to pursue music as an on-going passion. Several years ago, a friend of mine had told me of a new artist named Fiona Apple. She mentioned that I might like her stuff and recommended that I check her out.
Well, a few weeks later, I was in a record store and came across one of those listening booth/kiosks that had several different CD's that you could hear songs from. Fiona Apple's debut album called "Tidal", with those gargantuan blue eyes staring out at you, was one of them . . .
I remember picking up a copy and thinking "Oh, this is that girl that my friend told me about". After looking throught the song titles in the back of it, one title stood out to me. It was number 7--a song called "Never Is a Promise". I thought it was such a simple but poetically provocative name for a song.
In the middle of this very busy record store, I put the headphones on, went to #7, and was hopeful that I would like what I would hear. I can honestly say that this event changed the way I looked at music. I heard this song with all of its power, hopeful defiance, angst, and beauty, and I was so inspired. I could relate to every word and understand every nuance in the music. The delicate inflections in her voice, the sense of mounting urgency in the piano, the mournful violins, and that tender moment at the end when she sings "You'll say I need appeasing when I start to cry"--I was never the same after this. This song changed me in ways that I can't even begin to explain.
Every now and then, I actually play this song on the piano and sing it when I'm alone in my room. I just love to play it so much.
I have a small handful of reasons why I play music. This very song is absolutely one of them.
As this week's featured Video of the Week, I present to you a live version of her performing this song at The Troubadour in LA. Just close your eyes and have a listen.
Hope you all have an amazing weekend.
I wanted to give a little preview of the album and talk about one of the songs in particular.
Early on in this process, I spent a great deal of time figuring out which songs would appear on this album. There was one song specifically that I knew belonged on "Seahorses". It's exactly one of the songs that exemplified all of the ideas and themes behind this album. Foolishly, I decided to leave it out. I did this because I could not figure out the best way to present this song. Of all my songs in my repertoire, this one demands a certain degree of reverence. It did not feel right to go for something fully produced with a complete band of instruments behind it, and I felt that it would cheapen its intention and its meaning by making it available on a commercial album.
Well, as it turned out, I changed my mind, and of course, I did it at the worst possible time. The deal-breaker was that, as the recording sessions were coming to a close, I felt more and more that excluding it would be a mistake, and I would physically beat myself up for this many years down the road. Furthermore, this actually is not a commercial album. I would certainly love to sell many copies of it, but if only one was sold to someone who really connected with it, then I would be very happy. It is, more than anything, a work of art--my art, that is. It is a series of thoughts, stories, musical compositions, and feelings that I am compelled to share.
On the final night of recording, when the main vocal parts for several of the songs were done, I said, "To hell with it!! Let's do it!!". Given our constraints in time (studio time is so not cheap), this last minute inclusion required a certain degree of determination. I decided to just record it live. By this, I mean that I was going to just sit at the piano and play while singing into a mike. This meant that there would be no full band or rhythm section behind it, and unlike all of the other songs, the vocals would not be recorded separately from the music. So, even though I knew my voice had reached it's limit after already singing so much, I performed it anyway. Ben, my producer, just hit the "record" button, and I just played.
It was about 2:00 am (very late!) by the time we did this. We recorded the song all the way through twice over, and by the time I heard the second recording, Ben and I knew that I got it right on the first try. In fact, I honestly believe it is one of the best versions of the song I've ever performed. Perhaps it helped that my voice was tired and that it was so late at night, but the finished recording delivered everything that this song needed to give---every intonation, every lilting cadence being so honest, with every word and every note nestled upon the crest of a tidal wave of emotion.
I can never really pinpoint when my first real crush was. It might have been in fourth grade when I use to eye goggle a girl I believe whose name was Jessica. She had beautiful eyes, brunette hair and she always wore a purple coat everywhere she went. I mean almost all the time when I saw her. Thankfully I didn’t have a full grasp of what would arouse me of a woman’s body so I wasn’t in dire frustration. It was all about face for me. And it still is. Whenever I see a beautiful woman walking down the street I always have to make sure to see her face. I guess it is part of my aesthetic checklist.
But if I had to pinpoint my first real crush it would have to be in the summer of 1996. It was the year of the Atlanta Olympics. I was watching the U.S. gymnastics team perform when I saw for the first time the girl who would take over my whole summer. Dominique Moceanu. She was performing her floor routine. It was basically a timed musical dance but with tons of more flipping. Moceanu was performing under the song “Cotton Eyed Joe”. A horrible song, but with her dancing and gymnastic prowess I could care less for the crappy country song. She pranced, she swayed and by the time she was done I was trying to name our five kids that we would soon have together.
Now in 1996 the internet was new for me just like everyone else. But this new technological resource for me was used every waking moment trying to find pictures of Dominique Moceanu whenever I can. I don’t know what I did once I saw them but I knew that I had to download any picture (before we shortened that word into pic) just to get a glimpse of her. I don’t know what she presented in me but I do know that everything around me ceased to function once I saw her on television or on my computer.
I didn’t know about her biography but from quick tidbits that I listened to from the over enthusiastic commentators of the Olympics she was born in California to Romanian parents. She started to learn gymnastics at the age of three which I hear is little too early for them to start but not too early. Take that from what you will. At the age of ten she trained with the famous BélaKárolyi. The rest is history. Moceanu went on to be part of the world famous Magnificent Seven alongside Shannon Miller, Dominique Dawes, Kerri Strug, Amy Chow, Amanda Borden, and Jaycie Phelps. I followed their work like the equivalent to a thirteen year old girl cutting out pictures of One Direction. It still boggles me today why no music manager in 1996 ever wanted to make a musical record with them. I would so buy their Album covering Abba songs. I would have gone to their concerts and start a fan club the moment there first single came out on Mtv. I would have started a fan club and it could have been called the “I Heart Moceanu” of course but the others would get my attention as well……sort of.
It was a big year for the seven gymnasts. For years the Russians were kicking our ass and this was the first Olympics that the Americans won a gold medal as a team. So more press and that meant more times for me to look at the beautiful Roman princess. Sure everyone was paying attention to Keri Strug because of her miraculous blah, blah, blah, but Moceanu was all I cared about. What made me admire Moceanu the most was she never cried. It was something to see. Every time any other gymnast made a mistake like miss a turn, flop a flip, or drop on their face, when they finished they walked towards their coach and started balling. Not Moceanu. She literally fell on her head on a balance beam and I mean pile drive her own head on it. Not an ounce of emotion. And I mean none. BélaKárolyi would try to coax some sort of emotion out of her from the side but she had an” I don’t have time to bleed” attitude. It was hard not to fall for her.