I thought I’d start blogging again as I’ve got a lot of stuff I’d like to share these days…
So after finishing my latest album, I thought it might be a nice idea to share what I was thinking about when working on each of the songs, although this obviously should in no way influence whatever you think or feel when you listen to any of the songs.
This goes all the way back to the mid-1990s when I went on a trip to Italy with a couple friends for about a week or so…..We were in Florence and trying to see as many cultural and historical sites as we could, and we were as dazzled by the architecture, the art and the beauty of the city as anyone. One day while wandering around, we saw that there was going to be a Matisse exhibit in this little museum, and I am a huge visual art buff, so we split into a couple groups and me and one of the other friends decided to go to the exhibit while the other two went off to explore something else.
So we went into the exhibit, and I have to say I didn’t know a lot about Matisse’s work but I’m always eager to learn. Now, neither of us spoke Italian so we couldn’t actually read any of the information for each of the pieces, but I have to say that I really didn’t understand Matisse’s art at all, not really seeing how or why people even found it “good.” I remember looking at some of the cutouts (cut out colored paper that was attached to the sheet) and thinking that they were so simple that almost anyone could do it (yes, I had little appreciation or knowledge of modern art back then). Needless to say, we had a nice time at the exhibit but we were not overwhelmed.
Fast forward a few years, and I was watching a PBS show on artists and they explained quite a bit more on what Matisse was trying to say with his art, what was going on in his life at that time, and how difficult it was even to get art materials during that time in World War II (so he resorted to making his own paper and colors from berries in the garden!). I was blown away by the show and really captivated by what the artwork was saying, what he accomplished and how incredibly beautiful the art was, given all that background.
So in that vein of thinking, I thought I’d provide a little context on the songs from my latest album “Lake of Dreams” as it is culmination of 7 years of life and thinking and growing in my composition style since my last album. Each month I will post about 2 songs, in order, from the album and what I was thinking about and trying to convey through the music.
Track 1: Kindness
I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) almost 18 years ago (in my mid-40s), and it was quite a struggle at first to even figure out what was wrong with my body….I could barely walk and had these strange pains all over my body that kept moving for about a year. After about 6 months of going to various doctors, one doctor said that I had about 10 times as much fluid in my knees and that he thought I had RA, so after draining my knees with a long needle (it hurt, yeah, but the relief I felt was tremendous). That summer I was super depressed after the diagnosis since I didn’t know how I was going to live with all this pain for the next 30-40 years…eventually I got in to see a rheumatologist and started on methotrexate and months later I started to feel some relief from all the pain. Yeah - I could see that this was manageable!
About 5 years later I started on the biologic Enbrel, and it was a wonder drug! I felt fantastic with it, and was very happy to have access to such a great drug…so I stayed on Enbrel for about 7 years until, alas, in my mid-50s they found a small but invasive cancerous tumor during my mammogram. I can’t emphasize enough the importance for all women to get your yearly mammograms - catching my breast cancer early was critical as the doctors said it was quite an aggressive kind. So yes, I had to do chemo for 5 months, had a surgery, and radiation for 2 months and another infusion for a year. But here I am 5 years later and still showing no sign of cancer! :)
Then about 4 years ago, I took a fall at my health club (swimming in a therapy pool is excellent for folks with RA and fibromyalgia) and ended up breaking my shoulder and arm in a number of places…so had to have surgery to put in a plate and 9 pins….after all that, I had another fall and broke my other arm about 9 months later (although I didn’t have to have surgery for that one). This was a tough time for me but I made it through with a lot of help from my sister, Ruth, and her family.
The amount of help, support and sheer Kindness I have gotten from family, friends, and the wonderful nurses and doctors through all of these years and these events has been incredible. So this song is an homage to people helping people….even a kind word or gesture can make all the difference in a person’s life. Let’s all try to be Kind to one another!
Track 2: Lake of Dreams
I consider this song, the title track of the album, to be a metaphor for life….we come into this world full of dreams and wishes for all we hope to learn and do and accomplish. Once you get to a certain age in life, though, you can see that there is both a sweetness and beauty to life that is also bound together with a fair amount of pain….dreams that weren’t fulfilled, illnesses and injuries, losing loved ones, difficulties you couldn’t foresee, outright tragedies and any number of other things that all of us have experienced. So with this song, I tried to capture that sweetness, beauty and pain of life….at the end of the day, the dream is still full of incredibly beautiful moments.
Okay, that’s it for this month! Next month I’ll talk about the next 2 tracks: Hidden Worlds and Breeze of a Memory!
Hope to see you then ;)