THE WILL TO RECORD

Since my last entry things have taken some shape. I am almost done with my record. Through vast distances with at times, little to no inspiration, no $$$$, self doubt, and feelings of futility, through  brief blasts of writing, recording, and rejoicing, I have been guided  S-L-O-W-E-Y through the dark swamp of my mind to an oasis within, I could only hope at the beginning, was going to be there. I have a group of songs that I feel enough love for, to give to the world (some time in the late fall).

Making a record “Independently” is, as I have made clear in previous entries, NO SMALL FEAT!  There is much more tied up in the process than I was aware. Maybe not for all, but for me it’s been learning how to play as I go along, picking out on piano what I hear in my head. I don’t read music. I play incorrectly, not really knowing proper chord, song structure, or the rules of engagement.  I have been learning to find my voice both literally and figuratively as I go along.

I hear other “Songwriters” and don’t relate all that much to the majority of what I hear or see. I’m not great at following recipes, reading maps, or following rules. I am a bit hard to impress. Don’t get me wrong I love structure to a point, but the perfect voice, the verse that completely makes sense, the chorus you can’t get out of your head doesn’t always ….“move me”.  Total PRO-NUNC-E-A-TION is often for me, an annoyance. I would rather hear one quiet note, one jumbled phrase, one jagged little edge if I can feel their guts wrapped up in the delivery. I have a hard time with vocal, or instrumental masturbation. Call it a pet-pieve.

It’s one of those things that had known what I was commiting to, becoming  a musician and record maker, I would have prayed for the passion to be a mail delivery clerk, or a baker. Some how (a really supportive husband and an insatiable desire to live inside a song) I am making my way. Through feelings of fury and failure, fear and flight, at the end of the day I know I have been blessed with the gift of music in all it’s mystery, as a way of keeping me sane and connected to the experience of being human.

A teacher of Buddhism here in Marin county;  Jack Kornfield wrote this:

“We awaken most easily to the mystery of life through our weakest side.”

Yup, it’s true, and I have chosen to share my weakest side with you.  (It’s my entire right side by the way) and to record my experience of it on cd, now, for no other reason than the songs won’t leave me alone.

I have made it this far through the litany of  those self defeating voices that have lied and lied and lied to keep me from my dreams.  The one’s that have told me:

“It’s no use Aim, you are too old.”, or
“You don’t even know how to write a proper verse, your nose is too big, your forehead, and gums are too high. WOW, that song is boring, and self indulgent”

But I have learned that those voices were trying in their own fucked up way to protect me. I now invite them when they begin to squak to go somewhere else and play poker, or to kindly go fuck themselves now, thanks very much. Slowly, but surely new voices have been allowed to get a foot hold, (the voices! God!  the voices!) walking with me through fear, through phantoms to mirages, to a brighter, simpler, more authentic place that is more true, than any form the fear may come in.

I have come to find out that I don’t care who one has worked with. I don’t care if one’s chorus made millions, if you’ve cracked the code to worldly success. And I don’t care if I do either. Once one begins to dribble on about what they are “doing” (including myself) and with “Whom” they are doing it with, I begin to hear the voice used for the adults in “The Peanuts”:
“WA   WA   WAWAWAWA     WA    WAWAWAWAWA!!!!!”
Or the chorus of meowing cat’s from the “Meow Mix” cat food commercial that I loved so much growing up:
“MEOW MEOW MEOW – MEOW MEOW MEOW –  MEOW MEOW MEOW MEOW MEOW MEOW MEOW MEOW”

To quote “The Verve”
“ I need to hear some sounds that recognize the pain in me, yeah”
If any one wants to respond I would like to hear about the songs you turn to when you need them the most, the songs you turn to when you just want to know that your pain, or joy is understood. The songs that make you feel “Apart of “ instead of “Separate from”.

As of late I’ve been spending a lot of time at home with my songs, Peter Gabriels’ “US” album,  David Darlings’ “The Tao of Cello”, and Ben Harpers’ “The Will to Live”. Ben is who I most want to go on tour with if ever given the opportunity. We would make an interesting show, if any one knows him tell him to contact me.

Whether we are the giver, or the recipient of song, we are able to jump into, from either end for a moment, alive and connected for THAT moment. I don’t believe that I need to go to a cave in Thailand, or a guru in India to find my soul, or God, or whatever you want to call it. I have caught glimpses of it alone in my living room at my piano birthing a new song, with Radiohead at The Greek Theater in 07’ when they played “Pyramid Song”, at Harford Civic center in 87’ when U2 closed the show with “40”.  Just to name  a few moments when I felt  “Apart of” not “Separate from”.  This is why I am a listener and maker of music. This is why I walked through this past 2 years of writing and producing my first record. In this moment I am grateful.

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MASSHOLE

Amy Penwell
**WARNING!!!IF YOU ARE OFFENDED BY HORRIBLE LANGUAGE, ARE UNDER THE AGE OF 15, OR DETEST POLITICALLY INCORRECT QUOTATIONS OF OTHERS THAN DO NOT READ THIS ENTRY**

09/4/08

Yup that’s me!

I come from the land of Massachusetts, a very different land from The SF Bay Area where I have been in residence for the past 14 years. I went home for my cousin Katy’s wedding, and to spend some much needed one on one with my two best friends Beth and Robb, who will also be joined in marriage to each other after 20 years together (for the most part) next summer. Hallelujah!

I put much distance between myself and the land from once I came. Thousands of miles, and days between us.
But a few things have kept me glued. One of which is too much use of the word F**K in all of it’s glory. a bit like DEADWOOD. I use it when comfortable, homesick, angry, shocked, and elated. At any given time you could find me in my car, or at my piano composing with a train of “f**k f****n, f**k, f****rs.” trailing out of my mouth. I find it descriptive, satiating, and quite frankly, comforting. No, I’m not a trash mouth all the time, Yes, I have discrimination and reserve (another Masshole trait that leans much more toward the puritan spectrum) but I do love it. Both words, not the whole spectrum. Like it, or not f**k, m******e. and p******nism are apart of me. Is that Puritinism, or perfectionism? Both, UGH!

“Good Will Hunting” is a perfect example of the crowd I was mingling with. Not the trust fund Harvard types, no, the other guys Matt, Ben and Casey.
I forgot how freely:
“Oh my f****n Gawd, that’s wicked, f****n Queeaaah! Yauwr such a cawk sucka.” could be thrown around at an Irish/Italian Catholic wedding just North of Boston in 2008. I forgot how many homosexually derogatory words were used in casual conversation. I found myself looking around for those who might be outraged, and insulted, but no. I imagined some of my SF constituents and how they might feel if they were dropped into this conversation in that moment. The first time I heard:
“Don’t be so f****n gay, you f****n loozzaah”. I nearly spewed my drink across the table. I was shocked. I forgot that it’s part of where I come from. I’m not homophobic, and no one I hang with is either. The Gay community is one of my favorite in the world. I made sure I stayed in Province Town so I would feel more at home on my trip, but I will say that it made me laugh out loud at how freely it flowed in casual conversation, at how my siblings and I quikly picked up accent and bgan to mimic, “You’re sooooo f****n lame, stop being such a sucka!” became our comebacks for the week. It was foreign yet familiar, confusing yet clear, appalling, yet appealing all at the same moment. I still find it totally amazing what can occur in one moment. My old Massholian self in mid collision with the liberally minded, politically correct Northern California self. Living side by side in the same woman all this time.

My husband could tell that I was home from the immediate return of my Mass speak. “A** face” doesn’t usually come flying out his wifes mouth. (Too much time with the siblings) My speech got faster, more sarcastic and if I were to measure about triple the cursing. More descriptive as well, even if only in jest. One of the million things I love about my husband Matthew is that he let’s me be me whoever that is on any given day. There are many faces of Amy. I can be a chamileon. I probably should have been a “Master Thezzzzzbian”, but I felt to silly for that. Most of the actors I’ve met have been such theater geeks, too self -absorbed for my taste. Maybe I just need to get honest that I am too, but not now.

I felt the very same way when I went to my first AA meeting. All of these conflictual feelings of being “Home”. Some how it all made sence and it was all right. The paradox was alive and well for a reason. Human beings often live in contradiction. Made up of all kinds of rough and shiny ingredients, and recovering alcoholics, no matter where you are in the world make fantastic use of “F**K”.

My dear friend KC after years of no contact (his ex wife hated me) reminded of who I was. I was someone who is from that teeny state with a big name. Massachusetts.
His closing statement to me on our first telephone reunion after his divorce was this:
“Hosmer,” (my maiden name) “Remember this, you have always been, and will always be…… a Masshole.”
A flush of relief and pride washed over me. Some part of me was returned.
“Hi, I’m Amy and I’m a Masshole.” Admitting that is enough for now……
Thanks McCarthey!

A closing shout out ot WBCN Boston. As soon as I got in my rental car and headed for Cape Cod “One Tree Hill” off of U2 “The Joshua Tree” came on. I knew I was home. No matter how much I love The Bay Area the radio stations here F****n s**k! (except for KFOG)