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studio

Last years thoughts:

Studio: The place for the study of an art.

I was actually in the studio when I wrote that. In the producer’s chair at Jason Weinheimer’s Fellowship Hall Sound in Little Rock, working with H. on creating what would turn into his most recent release, “What It Is.” It was fun, it was informative, it was collaborative, it was music, it was indeed study.

Today, my studio is my desk, a guitar, my iphone, and google drive. I find that my studio is wherever I am — technology allows that and I am thankful for it. If I were a painter like Frida, I wouldn’t have the luxury of portability as much as I do. I can study my art in most places if I have something on which to write and record. All of this is to say I’m going to record an EP this summer to go with my memoir, and preparation has commenced.

This is probably no surprise to some. It seems my work is never completed around this subject — there is always more investigating to do, more explaining, more excavation of emotion and spirit and struggle and the hope for some exaltation at the end. Exaltation comes, but only in short bursts when I successfully describe, for myself, a feeling through a piece of art that came through the study of first, myself. Self-doubt creeps in when I wonder if it has any hope of doing the same for the reader or listener. No, my work is never done. But my work is also my purpose. What would I be without it? Is my mind my actual studio? Is my art my self? In some ways I think that is true. We are all our own works of art, as our lives are our works of art.

So far there are six new songs, one unheard original written by my daddy and my sister (she found a lyric he’d written after he died and put music to it), and I’m also going to revisit “Cold, Cold Earth,” the hidden track that was on The Hardest Part. In some ways it’s my belief that the whole thing exists because of that song, that song that tells the facts but not the truth — I’m a better writer now, I can dig out more subtlety, more complexity, and I’m less afraid to be honest. I want to finish the job I started when I wrote that lyric down over twenty years ago.

So here’s hoping I pull together a worthy, not only companion piece to the memoir, which I worked harder on than anything else I’ve ever made in my life, but something that stands alone as a document of its own merit.

I find that most artists’ works are connected — we all have our unique stories to tell and we tell them until they’re fully told, if we get a chance. I’m very thankful to have mine.

Happy Wednesday, Y’all.

AM

dedication

Some people are born into their thing. I’ve calculated that my sister and I did our ten thousand hours of singing in the car with our Mama before we were even close to grown. 

That doesn’t make us geniuses, but it gives us a certain confidence about doing the thing that we were born into which is, without a doubt, making music. 

These past weeks I’ve immersed myself in making a record with Hayes Carll. He asked me to co-produce with Brad Jones and it’s the first time I’ve formally held the position. While I lack, sorely, any technical musical prowess, I know my way around a studio, a song, and a performance as much as it pains me to admit it (I’m female – I tend to downplay and underestimate my talents – but as a side note please let’s work on getting more women in the producing and engineering door). Lest I digress, my point in telling you all of this is to say that I saw a lot of dedication in human form come in and out of that studio while we were recording the record. There’s a reason why people travel from all over the world to make records in Nashville – the musicians who reside and work there are, across the board, simply the best that can be found. When I stand back and consider the talent I’ve been lucky enough to be surrounded by the past twenty-two years, and that I’ve been allowed to be a part of the music making business family as a whole, I am astonished. What a fortunate person am I to have been given a front row seat to witness mastery, sometimes on a daily basis. Some of these folks were born into their thing and came by it more easily than most could, but some of them were not and instead had their souls set on fire by something that made them want to pick up an instrument and master it. I love almost nothing more than a natural talent, but I have the utmost respect for a hard worker.

I said to someone recently that while it’s true that I do and have done a lot of different things in my professional life, I was aware of what it takes to be great and didn’t want to dilettante around at this or that, never giving myself a chance to become great at anything because I wasn’t disciplined or dedicated enough to stay the course. It took me a while to get to that way of thinking. It takes a lot of backbone and other things, such as reminders like the one I just described above, to think like that every day. Life’s too short to take halfhearted stabs. At some point, one must nail something to the wall. 

Happy Monday. 

AM

PS – Thank you Connie Chornuk for the great photograph.

studio

 

Studio: The place for the study of an art.

If it hasn’t been scientifically proven that time goes by at twice the normal speed when one is in the studio, then that comes as a surprise to me. It makes no sense that such a thing would be true, but making art often makes no sense. When one is chasing something, the most narrow part of the hourglass is widened somehow — maybe it is required because each grain of sand expands, having come alive with the infusion of electricity that accompanies the recognition of a possibly proper path.