-

 Nancy Elliott Music

Blog

Sonoran Desert Sage

A Life lived in the Desert SouthWest


view:  full / summary

Firm Footing on Wobbly Ground

Posted by Nancy Elliott on April 29, 2020 at 12:15 PM Comments comments (0)





It seems there is an even heavier push to blend in with the crowd than when I was growing up. To look a certain way, to have a certain body type and if you don’t, you just do not belong. To have this job, or own this house, to be popular. To be THIS is the ultimate! No! Wait! Be THIS. Do THIS. Think THIS. No, Wait! Do THIS! Think THIS or You Do Not Belong! You Must Belong, Be Labeled, Categorized, Catalogued and Filed. Be black and grey, or black or grey but you cannot be red or yellow or blue, because that is not black and grey. Social Media would have you to believe otherwise. Take a second look, even a third if you must. But, take a long, hard, deep look. Then, tell me what you find among all the posed selfies which took hours to create {you can even take lessons on selfies...}, pouty lips, deliberately antagonizing posts about ecology or politics. What are we teacihing our children?

Now, in these Covid-19 days, when you have your children at your elbow and knee constantly ( at least, I hope you do ) what are you telling them about their worth, their value? Are you telling them to do whatever makes them feel good? I hope not. Are you teaching them solid guidelines for living or flimsy, meme guided thought processes?

This is a wobbly world. How does a person find solid footing? I am no child rearing expert, but, having once been one and having raised a couple on my own, I have learned a thing or two. The most important lesson I learned is practiced daily; Providing children a solid foundation for thriving means giving them solid, black and white rules to grow by but, it does not mean that they must conform to black and white modes of living. Solid strutcure let's kids reach out in many directions to learn and explore while having safe footing to return to. Solid foundation means, among other things, rules, respectful speech and behavior in the home and away from home and on social media. It means standing your own ground on what might be hard topics like; no piercings, no tattoos, no R movies, grounded is grounded, you get the picture. It also means stepping back and allowing room for the child to explore its own soul. Soul is real, Soul is living, and it must be cared for and fed properly. That means there is structure needed for soul growth, a method to an end.

There is a whole lotta talk these days about sex education in school and what is and what is not the right thing to do. If there is Spirit and Soul education in schools, other than in Christian Schools, and I am not so sure about what they are teaching, I have not heard anything about it. What I do hear is the squishy "whatevers" that media and the world tell children.  

Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, in her book “Mother Night, Learning to See in the Dark”, describes the story of “The ErlKonig”, by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. She tells of an evil elf whose sole desire is to capture and kill those children whose spirits and souls are filled with creativity, with beautiful differences which set them apart from the rest of the world and can bless the world. She tells of parents and communities who unwittingly give their children over to death of the creative soul, the lively spirit. Children are taught, inculcated and brain washed with a false doctrine called “Fitting In”. In a parent’s own blind and desperate yearning to fit in, to belong and be accepted, their children suffer and “die”.

 

Here is Edgar Alfred Bowring’s translation of The ErlKonig

 

Who rides there so late through the night dark and drear?

The father it is, with his infant so dear;

He holdeth the boy tightly clasp'd in his arm,

He holdeth him safely, he keepeth him warm.

 

"My son, wherefore seek'st thou thy face thus to hide?"

"Look, father, the Erl-King is close by our side!

Dost see not the Erl-King, with crown and with train?"

"My son, 'tis the mist rising over the plain."

 

"Oh, come, thou dear infant! oh come thou with me!

For many a game I will play there with thee;

On my strand, lovely flowers their blossoms unfold,

My mother shall grace thee with garments of gold."

 

"My father, my father, and dost thou not hear

The words that the Erl-King now breathes in mine ear?"

"Be calm, dearest child, 'tis thy fancy deceives;

'Tis the sad wind that sighs through the withering leaves."

 

 

"Wilt go, then, dear infant, wilt go with me there?

My daughters shall tend thee with sisterly care;

My daughters by night their glad festival keep,

They'll dance thee, and rock thee, and sing thee to sleep."

 

"My father, my father, and dost thou not see,

How the Erl-King his daughters has brought here for me?"

"My darling, my darling, I see it aright,

'Tis the aged grey willows deceiving thy sight."

 

"I love thee, I'm charm'd by thy beauty, dear boy!

And if thou'rt unwilling, then force I'll employ."

"My father, my father, he seizes me fast,

For sorely the Erl-King has hurt me at last."

 

The father now gallops, with terror half wild,

He grasps in his arms the poor shuddering child;

He reaches his courtyard with toil and with dread, –

The child in his arms finds he motionless, dead.

 

 

 

No matter what life you choose, there will be a price to pay. There is a price to pay for living a creative, expressive life. Usually, you are described as “different”, in a kind way. Perhaps you are labeled as a loner, a private person who tends to keep one’s self. And, the price of not belonging can an exorbitant one, if you let it be. I choose to live a creative life. I chose to let my daughters grow expressively and creatively. I hope I taught them how to take their bumps for being different, for not belonging. I hope I taught them a few skills for thinking, living, creating, for being and living differently. Skills for not letting the bland and general world-thinking invade and take root, potentially destroying a life of fulfilling their God given creative joys and spiritual gifts.

I hope I taught them this; You are probably not going to be applauded and internationally recognized for being different unless you make a stink. Then, you are busy about making a stink and not busy about being your self.

We all have choices regarding how we live and the right to our viewpoint. While I am not ignorant to the harsh realities of the world, I choose to look for good all around me. It is a daily choice, sometimes moment to moment. People, the world, the place I live, the landscape of my life is what I choose to make of it. I choose to see good, to see beautiful, to see harmony and the positive side of everything possible. I choose to eschew thoughts and actions hurtful to my life. Oh, like any one else, I have “those” moments where I get taken in, side tracked, ambushed and tricked. Usually because I am not paying attention. But, I try not to tarry long in dark places. I tend not to linger in the company of people who are not solid in their desire for growth in heart, spirit and soul.

Creating a world you can live in, thrive in, a world which belongs to you individually is not for the faint of heart. It means accepting one’s differencess and not being fearful of not being accepted, or popular, or understood. 

My world is solid and expansive. It is stable and ever growing. It is full of light and color and, by my own choice, what shadow and darkness manage to get in become tools for further growth, more creating. I have to learn and grow. I must learn and grow spiritually and creatively or I suffer, I am unsettled, fidgety, disconnected, adrift.

Even so, in the midst of suffering is sometimes where learning and growing takes place, where blessing can be found in abundance. You have to know what you are looking for, it is there. Every day I learn, again, how to take a stand for myself. It is not a battle or a struggle. It is growth. It is.”Ah ha!, Now I see!”

So many have never been shown their choices. They believe it is just the way life is because they have not experienced anything else. They do not see their real worth to the whole and that real worth comes in their individuality and their joy of discovering it. I believe that is why so many people of all ages are adrift, lost in a blended and faded land of All The Same. They join in any where they will be accepted, not thinking about if they really want to be in that place physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally. They have been taught that to be applauded is acceptance and they need to be applauded. They join in the hollering of “Diversity!”, “Individuality!” from every street corner yet, they holler as a group, a gang, a legion. They are very busy yelling. Be quietly different. In quiet difference you bless the world.

#neverblendin #itsasouthwestlife #katyscache #theheartofitall #music #sonorandesertsage #bethedifference #quietlydifferent

 

© 4/29/2020 Nancy Elliott ASCAP Sonoran Desert Sage Publishing

 

Angles of Light and The Wind

Posted by Nancy Elliott on April 23, 2020 at 10:35 AM Comments comments (2)

   


    "What Are You Thinking?" he asked.

 

    Angles of light, color, hue an depth. A shadow, thin as spider’s silk, hangs over the orange of mallow petal, barely seen, maybe only percieved, but part of the texture and tapestry before me. Entrancing to distraction.

    While on a second date, desert picnic during a long, languishing Sonoran Spring, my companion, now my sweetheart, asked me, “What are you thinking?”

    I was not thinking, not at all. My eyes were slowly moving over the desert floor, seeking every shadow, curve, stick, flower, leaf and movement. The “Hot Shots” were packing up after extinguishing a wildland blaze, thankfully less than a few acres. This added even more interesting and arresting shades and smells. And feeling. All of those colors, light, shadow and smells effect my feelings, stopping the usual thinking process and I go to a sensory place I have no name for. Explain all that on a second date. “I am just taking it all in,” was my response. An understatmement of huge porportion. I cannot explain this to my self, how would I explain it to someone else? Bob still asks me, “What are you thinking?” Sometimes, I can answer fully because of the trust we have established. But, sometimes, I am caught without words. Like, one evening when we were dancing to a band playing outdoors. The establishment was in a rustic setting, dance floor was behind the band and away from people and tables, and over Bob’s shoulder and through the trees I could see the night sky, the pond and the stars. I could hear the night birds and crickets and my eyes started to seach the details of the shadows and light. All of that, along with dancing in Bob’s embrace, left me without an answer.

 

    And then, there is silence.

    The songs of silence are welcome to my ears, to my soul. One can’t hear the songs for all the noise of the world. But, the songs are all around and tell me the world is Okay. From the porch I hear the groan and squeek of the soup pot on the stove. The tin roof pops as the sun heats it, and then rattles a shiver as a stray cloud cools it. The breeze drifts orange and purple blooms and makes mallow and lupine nod gracefully to the rhythm of pop, rattle, shiver and squeak. Cassia floats sweet perfume on the wind while butterflies work diligently.

    There is birdsong, too. Laughing, whistling, cat calling, cheering, playful and alive. The local Harris Hawk family is hunting. Today there are five of them and their conversation is like encrypted surround sound.

    I know places where the quiet is so thick, the footfalls of ants seem an intrusion. Not here, not today. There is silence enough for today. A restful, not alone silence. A peaceful, beauty filled silence after months of busy and hurry.

    I am ever thankful to live in this place. From my back porch I can see Pima Butte, The Sierra Estrella Wilderness, South Mountain, Four Peaks, The Superstitions and McDowells. I can see Signal Peak and the Sawtooths, Newman, Picacho, The Catalinas and Lemmon.

    The wind speaks to me when the world is quiet. Or, rather, when I am quiet I hear the wind speaking.

     I recall the wind in the treehouse in Arkansas. I would climb out and up onto the tin roof to hear the wind in the forest that covered the surrounding hills. I remember the screaming wind of a California grass fire as I worked my way to safety with a bladder pack and shovel. The peaceful hush of the wind as I repaired targets on the archery range. The roar of the set-your-watch-by-it 3pm dust devil on the gun range.

     And now, I’ve had to fetch a coffee and a blanket, in spite of my fleece pants, thermal shirt and sweater, because I don’t want to go inside and miss any little thing out here on the porch, in the silence and the wind.

Shaken Forward and Shaken Free

Posted by Nancy Elliott on April 15, 2020 at 11:40 AM Comments comments (2)

It's the topic of discussion around the world. The sneak attack by a lethal, invisible monster who slammed our lives into the dashboard, broke and bloodied our noses, erased our warm fuzzy feelings of safety and security and kills indiscriminately. This thing which has forced us to take cover, spend time alone, a lot of time alone, and discover what matters most in life. This "beast" which has forced us to look at our selves and our lives as never before. 

I quickly became overwhelmed by what So-And-So is or is not doing. Or, President Trump said, "thus-and-so" and isn't that just awful. How we are being lied to, manipulated.  I could hear more of new discovery of the deeper side of self and others. 

    "How the Lord takes by its corners this old world and shakes us forward and shakes us free. To run wild with the hope. To run wild with the hope. That this thirst will not last long, that it will soon drown in the song not sung in vain. And, I feel the thunder in the sky, I see the sky about to rain. And I hear the prairies calling out your name." ( Rich Mullins~ Calling Out Your Name ).

        In any time of testing and trial, it is easy to succumb to pointing fingers and blaming. I hope, instead you will help your self and the world by asking "What am I doing?", "What am I thinking?", "How may I comfort someone else?" "Have I removed the plank from my own eye before I seek to remove the speck from someone else's eye?"

       So, I hope you spend this time seeking out the heart and soul of those you love, those you think you know all about.  I am no expert. And, after someone once remarked to me that "an expert is a former drip under pressure", maybe I don't want to be an expert on anything. That said, here is the "go to" instilled in me by my parents and reinforced by life. 

      Be quiet. Listen to the clatter in your own mind and shake out the bullshit. When was the last time you really heard the crap and lies you tell your own soul?

      This world has supposed itself to be so busy and important it does not "have the time". Now, it does have the time. Listen to others, don't pre-suppose what they will say. There are people out there who have not had anyone listen to them for so long they have forgotten how to talk out loud, let them ramble till they find the path, you have the time. Whether you are listening to the news, a friend or family member, you have the time, right now, to listen and to think before you respond. Set a new 5 second rule for your self; you have to wait 5 seconds before responding. Maybe, you will find you do not have to respond with anything more than a touch or a smile. This former Police Dispatcher can assure you, 5 seconds of silence can feel like an eternity, so make sure others know you are not ignoring them, that you have set this new rule for your self. 

    Be present, wholly and totally present. In this modern life of record and pause buttons, social media posts and newcasts, like cockroaches, will forever be with us. Like yourself, the person next to you is but a vapor, and will not always be available. Cherish the now. Even now. Inspite of now.If the world should end in the meantime, wouldn't you rather be holding the ones you love close in your heart? Wouldn't you rather their faces are the last you see, their voices the last you hear?

      I would love to hear how you have been shaken forward and shaken free. 

The Voice In The Desert

Posted by Nancy Elliott on April 8, 2020 at 12:15 PM Comments comments (2)





The Voice in the Desert

 

Searching through the desert, there is something I must find

I know You are out there, I hear You calling all the time

With a voice as sweet as fillaree, dancing in the desert wind

Drifting from each rocky slope,sandy wash and bend

 

I chose to ride a crooked trail, of which You know the scope

Shameless acts, wasted time, shattered dreams and hopes

Yet still, Your voice is filled with peace, alluring, ever there

Singing to this broken heart a vow of love and care

 

I met You once when I was young, then just turned and rode away

to live a life I thought was grand, and promptly, went astray

Now, my back trail, it still beckons me and probably always will

But, I think if I keep riding, I'll find You round that next hill

 

As I dismount to watch the sunset, all the desert has gone still

Not a whisper of the wind, not a click, or peep, or trill

Then, the sun explodes atop the mesa and I dare not even breathe

Light sweeps across the desert floor and pools around my feet

 

Saguaros stand like soldiers of God, halos of light through their spines

Swashbucklers of Glory, steadfast, protecting, arms stretched out in mime

Each rock and leaf is set ablaze, and the silence pounds in my ears

My soul is drenched in the beauty and wonder that thrives in this world so severe

 

With the hilltops a fire, the canyons in shadow, the day snaps off like a lamp

My blood still rushing, mind over run, I mount and head back to camp

I hear your voice, I feel you out there, but one thing remains a fact

I've ridden for years cutting for sign of those promises made way back

 

That gun toting preacher, he told me himself, and preachers never lie

That You'd never leave me and You'd always love me, and be there to help me get by

I've had some bad rides, a scrape or two, times with my back to the wall

Yeah, I survived, but can't help but ask, just where were You through it all?

 

Reflecting on the wrecks I've been in and the tragedies life has brought

Decisions I made, trails I chose, the glory in life I sought

I'd laid down a pattern of endless mistakes that only compounded my plight

"Poor, pitiful me, all the world is against me" yet, still maintaining I'm right!

 

But, You never left me, You never forsook me. You rode out front the whole time.

That's why I heard Your whispering voice, and now it's ringing like a chime!

You came down here and lived among us so we could see that You're for real

And now, it's about learning Your lead, and never about how I feel

 

All these years I've been fighting my own head, doing things my own way

It's a shame I was too dang stubborn to see how things should really play

It's tough to admit, but I realize now, I just didn't want to understand

That in spite of it all, I'm alive and well, 'cause You let me ride in the palm of Your hand

 

Copyright Nancy Elliott Music & Sonoran Desert Sage Publishing September 27th 2006

Time Flys

Posted by Nancy Elliott on February 23, 2019 at 8:50 PM Comments comments (1)

Journal

February 23, 2019

      Has it really been September since I last made an entry?

      There is so much to catch up on.

      Tall Tree kept me very busy for the last few months and I am not sure things have slowed down much at all yet. The mailing out to DJ’s has begun and also seeking out new Radio Stations out side of where I had been sending music for the last ten years or so. I am sending out to stations with more Folk inclinations and less of the Cowboy/Western side of things. I hope that makes a difference in how well received my album is, that Tall Tree falls into the right hands to get this music out to the hearts who are waiting and listening for this music. I do not have the words to express how pleased I am with this record, with the artists who contributed their skill, how blessed that Ismael heard that something in my music that made him want to work with me to create the South~Western Americana sound. But, I gush, and gushing is not very becoming.

      I have made mild threats over the last couple of years to leave social media. I find many of the posts in my news feed, especially on Facebook, are merely re-posts of something found to be clever, or profound but essentially are quite empty. They are the personal opinion of someone who, while they have every right to their opinion and their feelings, has fallen prey to the false idea driven by social media that one should say everything one thinks.

      There is another good lot of posts that are deliberately antagonistic, and people cannot seem to see through this as a means of bringing attention to self. It is one thing to poke good natured fun at a person or situation, it is another to make an effort to hurt. I have come to believe that social media is at the top of the list of social engineering groups and no, not one of us is exempt from being engineered no matter how well you think you have it all figured out. My perception is that everyone thinks they are wearing sunglasses and, therefore, will not be caught staring. That as long as the screen is between the typist and the world permission is given to disregard civil interaction and there is no need for respect of another person, their station or even their feelings. That mis-belief has transferred to human interaction off the screen. But, the cold, harsh, sarcastic way of speaking began to be presented to us as humor thirty years ago with Television. I did not watch shows like “Friends” and the new “Saturday Night Live” then for the same reason I do not appreciate biting sarcasm now. The only good thing I have discovered by witnessing this behavior on social media is that it clues me in about the apparent cruel side of people who I interact with personally, face to face. Quite an eye opener. Startling and off-putting. I do not want to see it or be part of it or “understand” it. Delete, you say. Un-follow, you instruct. Well, that takes time and energy I do not have or want to waste.

      Here is that threat, again. Maybe you will see me here and there, maybe in fits and starts, but find me less directly on social media and more indirectly by posting there through the music website. I am not afraid of missing out, I’m just fine with being left out.

      Maybe, you will miss me and come looking for me. I’ll be just over here, busy with this living, you all are welcome to join me.


Love,

Nancy

Tall Tree

Posted by Nancy Elliott on September 4, 2018 at 11:40 AM Comments comments (0)

September 4, 2018


 

 

 

It is not easy to create an album. But then, it is.

 

Songwriting, essay writing, writing poetry and writing my Spiritual Legacy is something I must do. I must to write to sort out my world. I have to be honest on the page, true to my self, or you the listener, the reader, will see right through the whole mess.

 

Some times the hard part is going back over what I wrote because I am not sure I want to let you in "there", but I know I have to. Most of the time, the hard part is putting pen to paper, and through that first writing, the editing and the writing again, that chiseling out process, I learn about me.

 

I hope through this, my process of writing, that you will learn about you, also. I hope to always leave room for a story to be your story, that I never clutter it up with so much stuff there is not a place for you, a gift for you. That is important because, although I would still have to write songs and stories, I could never stop writing even if you were not there to listen or read, ultimately the gift is for you.

 

When I first started writing songs I heard music beyond my guitar. I am not a schooled musician, but, I manage to get my point across with the music and have made efforts to grow and improve over the years in order to express my self more clearly and speak to you better. I have always hoped for an opportunity to have the musical compositions and arrangements of my songs be fulfilled as I hear them when I play them. I hear specific instruments, voices in harmony in particular places. Traditional instruments in traditional places in songs is not what I hear when writing or performing.

 

Some of the instruments on Tall Tree are what you might expect to hear, but not in "that place" in a song. Some of the instruments are ones you may have never heard of, or never thought of being played in this type of music. There are voices singing and speaking which are not what you might expect. I am thrilled and excited to surprise you! I am thrilled and excited to have a producer and engineer who is not a traditional thinker, who is creative and adventurous, who will take a risk with a "let's see what happens".

 

I created the South~Western Americana because while I can and do play Cowboy Music, I am not a Cowboy and have never claimed to be. While I can and do play Western, I am not a Western performer in the true sense of the word and have never claimed to be. Understanding one does not have to be a particular thing to write about it, neither were a good fit for where I believe my writing falls, which is nowhere in between and fairly far outside of those two genres, yet close enough I sometimes get invited to perform both genres of festival. They bill me as they want me billed. But, other venues want to know, "What kind of music do you play? How do we put you in the program?" Folk music was not quite the answer either. South~Western Americana is a combination of the terms I have heard often enough when audiences and followers attempt to describe what they are hearing. So, there you go.

 

Yesterday, I spent the day in studio with June Murphy, who is singing back up and harmony vocals for four songs on Tall Tree. I met June while attending a church in Mesa. June is the choir at Barrah Ministries. I invited her to go with me down to the Arizona Folklore Preserve and listen to Jon Messenger. She was very excited to go since she was new to the area and lost as far as where to go for music. It was a drive, but worth it all the way there and back as we learned about each other. When we got to the APF and the concert began, June could not contain herself and was humming harmonies softly under her breath on songs she had never heard before. Jon pinpointed her right away and smiled. When he sang Cohen's "Hallelujah", that was it, June broke out and Jon kissed her cheek, saying she could sing with him any time any where. You will hear June signing on Desert Motel(Tyson/McIntyre), A Horseman's Hands (Elliott/MacDougall), A Breath of Spring (Nancy Elliott) and My First Love (Nancy Elliott). Well, we spent the prior evening together working on the vocals while working on pizza and homemade spaghetti. So, when we got to Mi Casa, we had a good idea of where and what June was going to sing, though not how she would sing it. Ismael took her strong and sometimes unbridled signature voice in hand and the result is masterful. Bravado, an out and out cry, a sweet, sweet invitation, just some of the colors of June Murphy. Painting the songs on your heart.

 

Blessings, Nancy

Tall Tree

Posted by Nancy Elliott on August 20, 2018 at 11:35 AM Comments comments (0)

August 20, 2018 Monday 

I write to explore. To learn who I am today, right now, who I am becoming and what my world is made of. To stay in my journey and find my direction in my journey, I have to write. I write to understand an experience, to lay it out on the paper, all blood, bones and guts, stir it around, re-arrange it again and see if it goes back together. And if it does, are they any extra parts leftover and what does that mean? I write to pare my mind down to the reality of the mystery, the next step, the next stop. I write with faith (faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen) that the writing is part of my journey, the map of my journey and a compass by which I am guided. 

Mostly,I write for me. Because of all of the above and because of things I cannot explain but hope to, one day. Hope, here, is hope that is knowing without a doubt. Not a sickly, weak hope of "well, I hope so..." which has no hope at all and is just something to say. 

But, do I write for you? No. I don't aim a word or a line or a song at any one person or group. If I write for you, we would both be disappointed because I would worry if you liked my writing or not and you would feel compelled to like or "like' my writing. Worst of all, that kind of writing feels mendacious to you and me. That kind of writing, worrying if you will "get it" or not, if you will understand my meaning, appreciate my twist of words and rhyme is not how I write. Letters are written to someone. Letters are where you make sure the other person knows what you mean. 

Part of my writing journey is reading, a lot of reading. Reading other's works helps you find your own words, gives you new thoughts to process from, angles you have never considered. I have often said that if it were not for Libraries I would be broke and have no room in my house. I do keep a collection of favorite books, though. Even when I worked in the parks and spent time living in a small tent, I kept a shelf of books. It was actually a wooden crate turned on its side with the books on the lower shelf and my lantern and such on the top shelf. A book I have always had a copy of is "A Sorrow In Our Heart, The Life of Tecumseh" by Allen W. Eckert. "My Side of the Mountain" by Jean Craighead George is another, although I think it is with the one of the grand kids right now. That kinda worries me some. Both books read as though they were the author's exploration of their own curiosity. And that's what makes them exquisite. Who was this man, Tecumseh? Did he really love Rebecca Galloway? How far west did he travel with his predictions of a total eclipse and an earthquake that would change the course of a mighty river? What would happen if a boy lived in a tree with a Goshawk for a best friend and yearned to discover the land of his grandfather? How would he survive? How would he eat? Dare he make any friends ?

 

It was a rainy, foggy November morning and I was driving from Marysville, Tn. to Nashville on the back roads. I took a left off the highway onto River Fork Road, a winding country two lane that ran beside a river. Under the canopy of an Oak that had refused to give up its leaves for the winter, I thought someone was standing there in the mist. As I passed I looked back, but I had made a curve and the tree and its lingerer were out of sight. I started writing Cold Night In Nashville right there on the road.

 

 

 

"It was raining when he saw her down on River Fork Road, he pulled over said, "get in, you're looking wet and cold."

 

A duffel and guitar, she tossed in the back seat then she jumped into the front and took her wet sock off her feet.

 

He turned the heater up and they drove for several miles 'for she ever spoke a word, then, she turned to him and smiled.

 

'Thank you, it was a cold, cold night in Nashville. I left early in the morning, and if you hadn't stopped, I might still be standing there, I might have missed my rendezvous, I might have missed it'" ~ from A Cold Night in Nashville, Nancy Elliott 2014

 

 

 

While I will tell or hint at what inspired a song, I often tell a story indirectly related to or, having nothing at all to do with the song which follows it. I am always loath to say a song is about this or that, because I do not want to cause the listener to have a predisposed ear. The misty figure beneath a tree on a Tennessee two lane looks like you want her to look and the "songs he never sang" are, you fill in the blank. I believe that is story to song.

 

"Write what you know" seems as superficial at "don't tell them, show them". While I understand the concepts behind both statements, I find them both lacking in depth and inspiration. And, in my own search for how to explain being painfully honest on the page, writing from your life experiences, being willing to zip open your soul and let all the world look, I am probably doing no better than anyone else. So, I will lead you to a story. A story is always the best way.

 

"I Can Only Imagine", written by Bart Millard of the band Mercy Me, is a 3x platinum song. It is multi platinum for one reason only, it grabbed people by the souls of their hearts and never let go. The movie made about the song is by far the best example I know of story to song. " Imagine" was at the theater last March for a short run and I missed it, but found the DVD at Target. Put it in your library and keep it, watch it often and when you get over it, then you can watch it for the lesson in writing anything.

 

 

 

Back in the studio tomorrow.

 

Blessings,

 

Nancy

Tall Tree

Posted by Nancy Elliott on July 11, 2018 at 11:30 AM Comments comments (0)

July 11, 2018

 

There was another start on a new album in 2016. I went to a nice studio in Phoenix, one used by a friend and which is an award winner. But, I had, and still have, a sound I am looking for, and although we recorded a few tracks, I was not able to make my self understood as to what that sound actually is. Surely, and without a doubt, that was my problem. I did not have the words, could not find the descriptors, didn't know the vernacular, in order to be understood. There is a good first lesson. Not only do you have to know what you want, you have to know how to ask for it or you are going to get blank looks.

 

So, I went back to the drawing board. Well, indirectly, anyway. I put it on the back burner figuring once again, it just was not the right time. And, rightly so. I was still very much involved in the dispute over Mom's estate and knew the reflection of that would become a part of anything I produced. How could it not? Focusing on the sewing shop, playing the Sunday Brunches at Monterey Court and a few gigs here and there, I was keeping my head low and trying to build a new life, a new direction, put my self before new and broader influences, and, recover. Allowing recovery to begin was necessary before anything else.

 

The "need" to make a new album was to establish a line in the sand to which I could point and say, "See that on the other side? That is who I was. This, on this side of the line, this is who I am now." Making a new album was a way to separate myself from an old life and herald in a new life. That is was I was telling myself, anyway. What I came to realize is that I did not even know who the "who I am now" was, other than a royal mess. I did not want to record a royal mess. I lost sight of any value in my writing other than to my self. I did not see anything in my writing which could be of value to others.

 

Having people in my life who were happy to answer questions, guide me, encourage and even co-write with me was the first biggest happening to show me the way to grow. I began to see a value once again in my writing and music. Now, I wanted to grow more, settle in to this new direction before I got serious about an album which would be for you.

 

Last summer, in 2017, I went to Cavern Studio in Tucson and recorded demos on 22 pieces. I knew before going in not all of those pieces were going to be on an album, but felt it a good idea to have them permanently archived in their current state. Just taking that step felt like progress. I went back to writing, and asking musicians who are light years better then me, "What do you think about this?", "Could you give me a hand here, show me where you think I am trying to go?". All I heard back was, "Of course.", "Come on over.", "Oh, you bet!".

 

In November of 2017 I got a call from Ted Ramirez and Ismael Barajas, asking me to be a part of their new label. When they described the mission of their label to me, all I could say was, "I am in."

 

And, so, the learning really begins. Begins anew, continues in another direction. I am so happy you are along for the learning!

 

 

 

 

Tall Tree

Posted by Nancy Elliott on July 1, 2018 at 11:35 AM Comments comments (0)

Recording began in December 2017 at Mi Casa Recording in Tucson. Ismael Barajas listened with me to the two disks of demo tracks and looked over the songs I had chosen for my new album. It was my first experience with a truly natural, gentle spirit as is Ismael. I had made good song choices, all of them strong, yet not every one of my choices would stay in the lineup. As we began recording, coloring out the story in each song, building the sound for each instrument, it became apparent a couple of songs were not for this project. They didn't fit in the story line. A new take on "murder your darlings" for certain. But, those songs were not murdered, merely set aside for another project.

 

When I first spoke with Ted and Ismael, I told them I wanted Hammered Dulcimer on at least three songs. Their response was, "Okay." Actually, it was better than just "okay". Ted is friends with Walt Michael, who was in town for a weekend in December, for Common Ground on the Border, a series of workshops in Tubac for music and the arts. Ted told me we would have to catch Walt as we could, but he was interested in my project and wanted to play on it. We caught up with him after a day of workshops and teaching and he played for Tall Tree, Thirty Some Miles and A Breath of Spring. I was mostly speechless, Walt probably thought I was strange. I was realizing I was beginning to experience my songs coming alive as I heard them when I wrote them. Even after this much time, when I hear those yet unfinished songs, the excitement of the session wells up, and I am anxious for you to experience it, too.


Rss_feed