Last week, I had an appointment with my dry eye doctor; it had been over a year. She had no new ideas for me. Her only recommendation was that I try for a second time a remedy that hadn’t helped me the first time. I gave Doxycycline another chance with a lower dose and once again I suffered from unpleasant side effects. For over a week, I was off-balance and suffered from muscle pain in my legs and thighs. Needless to say, I was very discouraged.
The worst thing was that whenever my eyes hurt, I had little interest in singing. The place where I normally recorded vocals was unavailable to me for several months already. I was no longer working with the man who had arranged my songs for the last six years. And my assistant had also quit.
There was a sense of finality now with my “former” arranger. For months, I was in limbo and wondered if things could be resolved. It took courage for me to call him, but I felt that the beginning of the New Year was a good time to discuss a way for us to work together again. Unfortunately, we reached an impasse that neither one of us wanted to cross. Clearly, it was over.
Now the music I had worked on with him for almost six years held too many memories and whatever magic was once there, had evaporated. I was angry and found myself unable to listen to any of my former song arrangements that had once given me so much pleasure. And for the first time since my journey began – I felt like I needed to step away from my music.
But then I decided this was a time for me to find my own comfort. My guitar had always been my companion and now it was just the two of us. Perhaps this was exactly where I needed to be right now. I could rediscover musical joy from within. I purchased a new digital recorder and loved the bright and clear sound.
For several months I had been recording myself at home. Those acoustic recordings were terrific practice and a wonderful way for me to improve my performing ability, too.
Click the blue links to hear my most recent acoustic recording:
The title for this post of “One Day, Your Pain Will Go Away” is a line of lyrics from my song “Hang On.” That song has been on my mind a lot lately, for many reasons.
I’ve struggled with pain in my life before, and holding onto hope of healing has definitely kept me going. Parts 1 and 2 of this story were written during the time when my mother was dying. Part 3 was actually written when I was suffering the same side effect after taking Doxycycline a year ago!
Other links related to this story:
After recording my song “Hang On” one afternoon last week, I decided to perform it at the Monday night Kulak’s Woodshed Open Mic.
I had a very late slot, and was amazed that I was out at night to sing when it was past 10:30 p.m. I was thankful that my eyes weren’t as painful as they had been earlier in the day. My performance was fair; I stumbled in a few places but was just glad that I was able to put myself out there. Best of all, I had a very kind and receptive audience.
As I was leaving, I gave one of the wonderful Kulak’s volunteers a hug. He touched my arm and said, “I love your song’s ending – it’s so cool how it has an unresolved chord!”
As I walked to my car, I couldn’t suppress the memory that began to swell in my mind . . .
I was in the studio with George. I had brought guitar tracks with me for my newest song and wondered which one would work best. My song had a tentative title of: “Love Will Always Stay.”
Unfortunately, one of the tracks was cut and didn’t have the last chord. I said to George, “Oops! We can use a different one.”
But George wanted to use it. He pointed out that leaving off the last chord would be a musically perfect way to convey “hanging on.” I wasn’t sure if I wanted that, but later on I realized it was a brilliant idea on his part.
I had so many memories about working with George. That particular memory was clearly a metaphor. Despite the pang in my heart, I allowed myself to remember it with a smile.
I was beginning to acknowledge the finality so I could move on.
TWO WEEKS AGO:
It was a dark and gloomy evening, the kind of weather where I’d rather be wearing sweatpants and playing guitar in my bedroom.
But there I was, driving on the freeway with raindrops splashing on my windshield. I was headed to a large coffeehouse where there was a meeting for songwriters. I had marked it on my calendar a few weeks earlier.
The flier had announced: “Music buyer in the industry will listen to your music and might even take something home in consideration for licensing and placement. Bring your best CD.”
A music library in New York had already accepted my music; I had submitted a dozen songs. But my contract wasn’t exclusive and I thought it might be helpful for me to have other options.
I was almost there and decided that maybe a rainy night was a good thing, because the turnout would be small. I arrived and ordered a hot tea; I carried it with me into a back room and found a chair.
The meeting began and the music buyer introduced herself. She talked about her lengthy experience, which was extremely impressive. My ears perked up when she said that she was actively looking for new music because she had recently formed her own library.
After half an hour of explaining how music was purchased for music libraries, she went around the room and asked everyone to introduce themselves and share one song. There were about eight songwriters and I waited for my turn.
She was extremely patient with one of the first songwriters in particular. He didn’t know the key or meter for his song and she repeatedly emphasized to him how important that was.
When she was discussing music negotiation with another songwriter, it sounded just like dealings in my art career. It was always interesting for me how many similarities there were between music and art. When I first started, I experienced some hard lessons in the art business. I used to have several agents, but had handled my art clients without a representative over the last ten years.
I still wasn’t sure which song I wanted to share. I had brought many CD’s and had narrowed down my choice to three, in both vocal and instrumental versions. I raised my hand and asked, “Do you want to hear songs with a vocal or as an instrumental?”
She said, “I want to hear them with a vocal.”
Before I knew it, it was my turn. I introduced myself and briefly explained the vision I had for my music by saying, “My songs appeal to people who are grieving.”
The music buyer said quickly, “Music for funerals or memorial websites is very limited and there’s certainly no money in that area.”
I realized that my introduction wasn’t one that would appeal to any music buyer and I regretted saying it. At that moment, I decided to share “Hang On” because I felt it was inspirational and truly carried the meaning of what I had tried to explain with my awkward introduction.
The familiar notes of my song’s arrangement filled the room. When my voice came on, my heart began pounding; was that really me?
The verses swelled to the chorus, but when the chorus started – the music buyer waved for the music to go off. I held my breath and waited to hear what she had to say.
Her voice was stern and matter-a-fact as she said, “First of all, you shouldn’t sing your songs. But most importantly, your song is dark and gloomy.”
As I listened to her expand on the depressing nature of my lyrics, I wondered if she liked the arrangement or melody. I responded bravely, “You know, the chorus is actually uplifting.”
She replied, “Well you took far too long to get there.” Then she added, “I couldn’t sell this song to anyone! It’s one thing to talk about being down and discouraged, but you take it way too far. I suggest you rewrite your song.”
As she moved onto the next songwriter, I scratched my head for a few minutes digesting her words and wished I had chosen a more upbeat song.
Then I began thinking about some of my songs that had far more brutally honest lyrics than “Hang On.” George, my former arranger, had also disliked many of my song’s lyrics. And he never hesitated to tell me that either.
After three hours, the meeting ended. She said she would gladly listen anyone’s music and get in touch if anything interested her. On my way out, I handed her some of my CD’s and wondered if I’d ever hear from her.
I decided the entire experience was actually affirming for me.
Even though I was on a lonely stretch of my musical journey, I realized that I was supposed to be exactly where I was. I was simply searching for a way to put my music “out there” and reach a very specific audience of people who would appreciate what I had to say.
I wasn’t going to tone down my lyrics because someone else found them to be too honest. I planned to continue to express the music from my heart with songs that had helped to heal me.
My new vocal coach, Hannah Anders, has been very gentle and encouraging. I appreciate her so much. At one of our recent lessons I couldn’t sing at all and cried for half an hour.
I like to record my voice lessons and have shared many clips with my former voice teachers on this blog in the past.
I am finding new energy with Hannah. She is helping me find my joy in singing again.
I share a recent lesson clip below:
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