Nancy Elliott Music

             The Evolution of "Tall Tree"~A Journal

Entry Dated June 26, 2018 

To Catch Up

       Tall Tree, the album, began in 2014 as an entirely different project with an entirely different focus, story, aim, goal and title.  Between the early part of 2012 and December of 2017, I was on a journey down many trails. Trails which demanded, and still do demand, self searching and re-discovering and re-defining who I am.  It has been a road of loneliness and friendship, words tumbling forth and not a single word to be found, of losing sight, literally and figuratively, and seeing with new eyes the world, others and my self.  The path has been rocky, slippery, narrow, exhausting and full of treasure. "Tall Tree" is a reflection of a time of life. 

        In 2013, a divorce. Later that year, when I was publicly bullied and disrespected during a festival for a genre of music where I had spent a good ten years of my life performing and writing, I re learned that no one will stand up for you if it is not in their own best interest to do so, and especially if the bully has what is deemed status or potential status.  Fall of 2013 my father died.  In 2014, even though my father had died the previous October, my Mom was dying and, already, my brother was making this time in our lives ( I also have two sisters ) far more difficult than it should ever be to lose parents, nonetheless so close together,  I decided to work on a new album. Mostly because it had been about four years since the release of Wild Rose and I had new songs to sing and to share. But, a lot of the reasoning to start a new album was for a distraction from what was happening in my life. I was being kept from seeing my dying mother, being called a danger to her. I was feeling abandoned by family and cold shouldered by friends. I spent some time in a state of hurt disbelief then realized the only way to regain any footing was to use my situation as a springboard for a new journey. Time to move forward, onward and upward. But, that realization only came from my return to Doctrinal Bible Studies. There, and only there, was the light to a pathway of healing, understanding and personal and spiritual growth. That, I knew, had always known, was my purpose. Now, to regain a personal sense of destiny. 

     February of 2014 found me partially started on an album called "Desert Motel" ( McIntyre/ Tyson). It was set aside by studio complications and in March I got the call from a friend telling me that Mom had died. Not being allowed to see her and knowing I would not be welcome at her funeral, I did the only thing which made any sense; I loaded up the next morning and headed to south to play the Tombstone Western Music Festival. Stewart MacDougall was riding with me and kept me laughing with his road stories of traveling with The Great Western Orchestra, Katy Moffatt and Ian Tyson. June Murphy came down and sang with us and my daughter Shannon also came on the evening before and spent that Sunday with me. I could not have been in a better place at that moment in time, playing music and sharing with my daughter and friends.

   Later in the spring I went on a short music tour, flying to Seattle, base camping with Dave and Lois Jerdin and playing a few stages with Hank Cramer and Dwight Holmes. Playing an impromptu concert for the Darrington-Oso Community in the Cascades was the highlight and Dave and Lois were consummate tour guides, driving this desert rat to some of the most mossy, wet, rainy, giant-tree and beautiful places I have ever seen.  The writing then was barely accomplished, shaky, illegible scrawls on paper smeared with tears. But, the writing kept me moving and thinking. I was faithfully writing to prompts from Judy Reeve's book "A Writer's Book of Days" and April 24 's prompt sent me down a rainy, mossy track.

     April 24, 2014 A Black Winged Moth

    The stark contrast is what caught my eye, other wise, I never would have looked up just then. Strolling along my daily trail through a stand of birch I noticed a black place just above eye level on one mottled, grey and white trunk near the footpath. Dew laden fern and ivy soaked the legs of my jeans as I brushed through for a closer look at what was not there the day before. 

   A black winged moth, larger than the span of my hand was clinging to the tree trunk, wings outspread, touching the tree as if for extra grip. Near low hanging branches, perhaps it sought protection from last night's rain. Iridescent blue, green, purple and red shown in it's blackness as though lit from within. As I stood transfixed, every so often the moth would close its wings in a slow, tired movement then open them again to lay flat on the tree. Each time the moth closed and opened its wings the colors with moved, changing places and intensity as if it were breathing the colors. 

  With one finger I reached toward the beauty but stopped when I remembered an older sister, telling me as a child, that to touch the wings of a moth gets their dust on your fingers and removes it from their wings, leaving them forever earthbound. I pulled back, true or not, I did not want to risk ruining the beauty of this creature so beautifully tragic in its glowing blackness. Where do the colors and lights come from? Why is this moth here before me now? A creature I never knew existed. Not that I know all things,not by any means. 

   My mother's face came to me, a face of despair and darkness after the death of my sister. Her second child to lose. Even her third, if you count my brother's physical but not mental return from Viet Nam. But, even as she sat, nearly catatonic, eyes trained out a window showing only sky and tips of trees. I could see color, the color of life. And, in her slow breathing, her slow thinking, her slow and gentle and exhausted movements, that light from within, the one she, herself could not see, was glowing and illuminating her soul, the soul she thought dead. And she clung to her tree and she breathed when she thought she could not, and she moved when it felt impossible and she could not tell if she were moving or not, or thinking or not and she desperately wanted to move from this place where, once, twice, three times, her reason for being, her purpose had slipped through her fingers and may again if Dad's cancer comes back. I watched her and I cried, fearing I would lose her. So, I touched her, I risked getting her wing dust on my hands, risked her not flying again.   But, one day, she got up, and she flew again. Not far, or fast as before, but more gracefully than I ever knew, more beautiful than I had ever seen her fly.

    I reached out and touched the black winged moth clinging to the tree. It gathered itself and flew away, slowly and gracefully. Not in fear or because of my touch, but, because it was time to fly. I look at my fingertip, now covered with the moth's wing dust of black, purple, green, blue, red. I wiped the dust gently on my cheek, down the path a tear may take then I turned and walked back to the footpath, letting the sparkling, black rainbow dust flutter off my face and into the gentle breeze.

I sign off this journal entry with a rough mix of Cindy Walker's "Inseparable", for Mom because she so loved this song. 


Nancy Elliott