This one just poured out of me this evening and I recorded it. It's really the way I like to create most- from a deep place of processing and healing. I hope it brings you some of the same or provides some kind of window through to a new space.
Ever since I was little
Livin in my own world
Shut down and belittled
Lonely Little Girl
It’s not that I wasn’t loved
Not that I wasn’t praised
But the bloodlines of trauma
Are the hell that I raised
Oh the hell that I raised
I was taught a hard lesson
about the nature of love
I learned to feel less than
I learned to scream and shove
and now that I’ve seen you
how I want to reach in
But I don’t want to lead you
To the damage within
Oh the damage within
So if I scream and shout
Will you still hear me out
And will you let me touch you
When the fire is out
When the fire is out
Cause it’s nice to be lonely
It’s so peaceful and quiet
And I can be just as dirty
And low down as I like
But then hunger sets in
Every inch of my skin
And I just want you to hold me
I just want to begin
Can we begin again?
Music is beautiful therapy for the blues. Creativity takes the blues and turns those feelings of sadness, depression, anxiety- into rejuvenating lightening to share with the world. This song expresses that beautifully. Thanks for taking a listen to my cover of Hot Rize's "Blue is Fallin'."
To be honest, I've been self-isolating for awhile now. As an only child, solitude feels like a natural state of being. As I've stepped away from the public entertainment sphere in degrees over the years to balance the needs of motherhood, I discover a different voice, one that feels quieter but more true. I remember using this measure of song and songwriting as a young writer- that if my writing and performance felt "True", I had achieved my goal of creative expression. Joni Mitchell's writing is so many things- complex, universal, deeply personal and unique. It was a pleasure to learn this song that feels like it captured the writer's truth and resonates deeply in so many hearts. Please enjoy my piano/vocal arrangement of "Hejira" by Joni Mitchell.
Hejira- Joni Mitchell
I'm traveling in some vehicle
I'm sitting in some cafe
A defector from the petty wars
That shell shocked love away
There's comfort in melancholy
When there's no need to explain
It's just as natural as the weather
In this moody sky today
In our possessive coupling
So much could not be expressed
So now I am returning to myself
These things that you and I suppressed
I see something of myself in everyone
Just at this moment of the world
As snow gathers like bolts of lace
Waltzing on a ballroom girl
You know it never has been easy
Whether you do or you do not resign
Whether you travel the breadth of extremities
Or stick to some straighter line
Now here's a man and a woman sitting on a rock
They're either going to thaw out or freeze
Listen, strains of Benny Goodman
Coming through' the snow and the pinewood trees
I'm porous with travel fever
But you know I'm so glad to be on my own
Still somehow the slightest touch of a stranger
Can set up trembling in my bones
I know, no one's going to show me everything
We all come and go unknown
Each so deep and superficial
Between the forceps and the stone
Well, I looked at the granite markers
Those tributes to finality, to eternity
And then I looked at myself here
Chicken scratching for my immortality
In the church, they light the candles
And the wax rolls down like tears
There is the hope and the hopelessness
I've witnessed thirty years
We're only particles of change I know, I know
Orbiting around the sun
But how can I have that point of view
When I'm always bound and tied to someone
White flags of winter chimneys
Wave truce against the moon
In the mirrors of a modern bank
From the window of a hotel room
I'm traveling in some vehicle
I'm sitting in some cafe
A defector from the petty wars
Until love sucks me back that way
Yesterday I spent the day working on learning Joni Mitchell's "Cactus Tree" by ear, working on transcribing the lyrics line by line (an exercise I find really helps with learning the melody and phrasing- feel free to reach out if you want to chat about this!), and also dissecting the harmonic rhythms of the guitar. I made up my own method of notating these patterns with a combination of counting beats and solfege notation about what guitar tones were prominent behind the melody. Just a reminder that music doesn't really exist on the page, and you don't need to understand musical notation to learn- or write!- melodies and songs.
As I became absorbed in the lyrical rhythms of Joni's poetry, I got inspired to do some of my own writing in her free flowing style. I wrote a couple of pages in poetic phrase and did a few edits to create the poem below. Thanks for allowing me to share it with you, and as always feel free to share back.
I hope you are all finding ways to dive more deeply into your creativity during this time, and enjoying the beauty of Spring.
Dull ache in the back of my shoulders-
connected to a dreaming heart
Choose solitude, these days
Loose promises, fair plays
Bright yellow flowers bloom
like stars beyond the ether
or the kind things that we said
in the blacker void of fear
Chase those silver linings
looking for the sun
Sweet singing of the blues
I wonder at the dream-
The way I resorted to anger, and mean-
Ultimately, clean the wound
write it on the lines
between your house
This is a song about secrets. The secrets we keep from ourselves and others that have a way of coming to the surface when we connect deeply- with ourselves, our hearts, each other. I recently had the experience of being hit by a sleeper wave of sorrow as I explore old wounds for the first time. At first I protected my heart with anger. I'm not proud of that but it's true. A friend suggested- maybe the other side of that anger is pain. But when I let myself feel deep sorrow, I discovered that on the other side of sadness is joy. A sweet, gentle, unexpected joy as my heart thanked me for listening to her purely, without the masks of anger, false bravado, distraction, escape.
Of course, I've experienced this transformation from sadness to joy for years through songwriting and music. The art of taking an emotion and translating it into song, and then feeling the pure joy of creativity and musical expression no matter what the original source of feeling, has long been the driving force of my life, my heart, my path.
It was nice to experience it through pure emotion though, without creating a song around my experience. Just feeling. I realized- Oh! That's why Sad Songs make us Happy!
I hope you enjoy this share. Don't hesitate to reach out with your stories, songs, and creative musings.
This year I had the opportunity to be part of a monthly songwriting group. We had the prompt of a phrase every month and the encouragement and inspiration of a monthly gathering to help us work on and finish our songs. At the gathering we'd laugh, eat soup and bread, sit in circle, and share our songs together.
I'm a bit of a lone wolf and love creating alone in my living room. I wasn't sure how I'd feel about creating with community this way.
I loved it. I couldn't get enough. It was awesome to see how everyone interpreted the prompts differently and wonderful to get to know the group over the course of the year. Here's the last prompt of 2020- "So Many Miles". Enjoy!
This one came to me this morning fresh out of a dream. Imagining percussive colorful piano chords accompanying the words and syllables. Perhaps a work in progress!
Sweet Forgiveness/ If Not That
Sweet forgiveness springs from the core
I find myself at your door
Knock, knock, knock
I leave a single flower
No sense in trying to crash through
That just leaves me black and blue
Feeling better now, cold winter days
Grateful that it finally rained
The fire finally contained
New green must spring from ash
And what is there to celebrate
If not that ?
- Alison Harris
A new arrangement of a song I wrote some years back. This one has lots of dream and ocean imagery in it. Playing with my new harmony looper too, which is SO fun. Enjoy! Let me know what you think.
A poem for the coming winter. Creative writing Muse called me today and I felt refreshed after heeding her call. To be honest, I felt a little guilty for napping and writing poetry in the middle of the day. But the way I felt when the deed was done assured me that following my dream into writing and creation was unquestionably the right action. Bliss and Balance.
"anger thwarts lover’s play
cull drought, summer rain
light touch placed upon the skin
so many miles traced within
not quite seeing eye to eye
lover’s balm, open palm
time and phrases coincide
2 hearts slightly misaligned
different rhythms, measured strides
add uneven rhyme for song
sing perhaps still side by side
stories hidden in the blinds"
What I love most is the process of creation, of exploration. The magic alchemy of taking a tiny seed of an idea and nurturing it into something tangible with the sheer power of hearts, minds, and bodies. The way the energy of it transforms as we go, growing and changing as we first expand the idea, and then whittle it down into final form.
What I love most is how the process of creation transforms us- our hearts, bodies, and minds. When we write a song, I believe that the physical expression of it resonates into every cell, shifting the energetic signature of our very being.
It’s a powerful experience, something to be celebrated!
For many years, I shared my art through live performance, on stages from Bellingham to Joshua Tree.
Now, I’m sharing here, with you, from my heart to yours.
If you are called to this journey of musical exploration, if you desire to strengthen and share your voice, I would love to connect with you.
Today I’m sharing a song written in a song writing circle that offered monthly song prompts in the form of a phrase that had to be included somewhere in the lyrics. This prompt was “On The Wind”.
When I was first invited into the group, I felt nervous about writing from an external prompt, worried that I wouldn’t be able to connect with an idea that didn’t come directly from my own heart and experience.
Ultimately the process of writing and sharing from prompts in a group over the course of a year reminded me that although the range of human experience is vast, we are all connected by the common thread of human emotion.
When we open our hearts and share these emotions with each other through art, it’s easy to connect. Compassion and community are the result.
I hope you enjoy the music, and I’d love to hear back from you.