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Studio Unicorn

Open Road had a recording session at Studio Unicorn last week http://studiounicorn.net/.  We finished off two songs:  Lovely and One Easy Night.  They’re being mixed by Paul Avgerinos.  Nancy Burger and Scott Weber co-wrote Lovely and Sue Broudy and Scott Weber co-wrote One Easy Night.  We sing three-part harmony on both tunes. 

A recording studio is one of my favorite places to be, in the company of awesome musicians, tracking a song…  Nothing on this planet makes me feel more centered or alive than singing and working this songwriting craft.  Working with Scott Weber and his awesome guitar playing is such a joy, as a singer you feel completely safe, and harmonizing with Nancy is where the fun resides.  Sharing music is an intimate process.  You want it to be perfect, you don’t want to disappoint your mates.  Some days are better than others, even with the best of professional intentions to do the best job, and not waste anyone’s time.  The additional pressure of the studio clock ticking away by the hour can be distracting as well.  Yet Nancy and Scott are filled with love and light, they beam as I do when they’re making music.  They respect the process and we all come prepared.  How lucky to have such trust with these individuals.

Here's me being happyhappy...

It also doesn’t hurt when Mr. Weber goes into his impersonation of FogHorn LegHorn…I dunno why, but it cracks us up!

Here’s what I know for sure.  If you love music, you must always find a way to have it in your life, at whatever level you’re at.  The simple participation of playing or singing is a great place to reside.  Your brain chemistry changes (it’s science http://www.chemistryislife.com/the-chemistry-of-music :-).  And if you’re lucky enough to meet or find some people to share music with, life gets even sweeter.  Don’t make excuses, just do it.

 

always looking for lyrics, always

Open

You are both the creator and the created. And neither creator nor creation is meant to be suppressed. When you live in a state of openness, you are allowing the art piece of you, to be painted across this world. You are not restricting yourself. You are also not restricting Source itself. Because of this, it is by far the more "in alignment" way to be. And it can easily be said that walking the spiritual path, is walking the path of complete openness.

-Teal Swan, spiritualcatalyst.com

I know that taking care of self is not the same as selfishness.  There is a distinction to be sure, but I’ve had a harder time separating how to actually live for my true self, as it has often felt selfish to put myself first before others.  I’ve raised a family, I am a mother, a daughter, a sister, a wife, a friend to many, and those roles have always pushed the true Sue to last in line, or to leftover time. 

I now try to be more aware of self, and what really resonates from within.  Being a songwriter is a true form of self expression.  I love to write, I have a need to express, and I often start with just a nugget of truth, but it often leads to interesting ‘other’ places... as long as I stay open.  When I force, when I rush, it become inauthentic.

Here are some lyrics I’ve been working on this week, and I suspect the music will get tighter as the song evolves.  I’ve been fooling around in DADF#AD tuning, which is a tuning that resonates with me, and is easy to compose in.  These thoughts feel like a youthful self. 

 

Stay With Me

A river runs through
My beating heart
I never knew
I could feel so good, so good
I want you to stay

The night is young
The moon’s on the rise
We see our shadows
As we swim with the stars

So why don’t you stay
Stay, stay here with me
Please won’t you

I wouldn’t go as far
As to say we’re in love
My, but look at all those stars
Out tonight, Oh tonight

Why don’t you stay
Stay, stay here with me
Please won’t you

We can drink our fill
Give thanks to the night
Go against our will
Sit right here…

 

Let’s see if this song idea gets flushed out.  Some songs do, and some don’t.  There are many steps, a long way – from ideation to finished product -- from thoughtfulness of craft to practice and revisions to arrangements to musicians to recording to posting and distribution.  It is a process… but I will endeavor to stay open.

Stood So Still

I have this debate when an inspiration strikes me to write a song, with or without the melody in my head… should it be simple in nature, with a catchy hook and an easy, repeating sing-a-long chorus, or should it tell a story that will resonate with the listeners that will hopefully allow them to smile, cry, or laugh…?

I’ve heard ‘write what you know’.  Well, yea, every inspiration usually comes from a real and genuine spark from a personal experience.  Is this song about me, or my life, or anyone I know…?  Well, perhaps a germ of it is, but sometimes the song takes on a life of its own and carries itself to its own conclusions.

I just wrote a song about an old man facing the end, and mostly knowing he was at the end, but also a little too far gone to really understand he wasn’t coming home, ever again.  Heavy stuff.  But it struck me one day, so I went with it.  Some of it reminds me of my dad’s last chapters (borrowed from real life), and some of it is just a feeling.  This is something we will all eventually face, and it is hard on everyone (that’s the abstract part). 

This is a darker subject, but it’s part of real life and I needed to express it.  I mean, none of us really knows what will happen in the end, and none of us really want to have a conversation about it.  We don’t really respect the process in my opinion, and it’s scary, the not knowing.  In some ways it’s easier to express tough stuff in a song.  So, here it is:

STOOD SO STILL © Sue Broudy 2015

We knew it was coming

That day he went to Sunset Hill

Up the ancillary road to nowhere

Where the trees stood so still

 

I think he knew where he was going

As he donned his cap and coat

His wife watched him from the kitchen

And wished he wasn’t one of them folks

 CHORUS:      It’s hard enough to age with grace

                        We spend our time taking up space

                        You wonder how life’s embrace

                        Just Goes.  Just goes.

 I stood watching from the hallway

My sister standing there, the one who doesn’t cry

His old recliner sitting empty

Sun reflecting the dust floating by

 This man flew over Burma in the war

He supplied the fighting men on the ground

Now he stood so still in the doorway

Not once complaining or making a sound

 CHORUS:      It’s hard enough to age with grace

                        We spend our time taking up space

                        You wonder how life’s embrace

                        Just Goes.  Just goes.

 The ambulance had its lights off

Backing on up the hill

He seemed to know he was leaving

And the trees stood so still…we stood so still

CHORUS:      It’s hard enough to age with grace

                       We spend our time taking up space

                        You wonder how life’s embrace

                        Just Goes.  Just goes.

Standards

I used to sing in a competition a cappella quartet for over 15 years a little over 10 years ago.  The men who competed called it barbershop but the women who competed called it striving for perfection.  We may not have had the lung capacity to hold a tag as if it were an Olympic sport, but we perfected the art and artistry of a song.  The quartet, called From The Edge won the northeast championship four times if memory serves correctly.  We had an incredible time competing, performing  and traveling together.  It taught me how to breathe, how to own the technique, strive for accuracy, and then… let it all go and live in the moment of the song.  Glorious.  I was the lead singer of the quartet and just loved singing songs from the American Songbook.  To this day, I still love singing standards.  I am recording a few right now as a side project.  Here’s one, In The Wee Small Hours, recorded at Blue Bus Music in CT, with Dana Scofidio from NY on guitar.

In_The_Wee_Small_Hours.mp3

Here's one more, Bewitched Bothered and Bewildered, also recorded at Blue Bus Music.  My friend Patrick Nimmo, owner of Blue Bus, was tag teaming this song with me.  Speaking of glorious, I think Patrick's voice is GLORIOUS...!  Enjoy!

bewitched_bothered_and_bewildered.mp3

Back to New England

Back from northern Arizona, back to the guitar-shrinking cold, back to the white-on-white landscape.  The south west desert makes me so happy, and I was so grateful to escape this New England winter for a while… to walk among the saguaro, to breathe in the big sky, to play some music with friends.

Getting to hang out with some old music buddies was the best part.  Here they are, below.  One is from AZ, one is from LA, one is from Hong Kong, and me, from CT.  We all went to high school together in New York.  That was a long time ago, and although they’re all professionals in other careers, they have never lost their love and practice of music.  These are some very fine guitar men and a kickin’ drummer.  We call our gathering ‘Acoustic Winter’.  One fella was missing this winter, our bass man from NY, who had to attend to some family business… but the love of music, collaborating, jamming, and sharing has a strong pull for all of us.  We try to get together every year, ‘God willing and the creek don’t rise.’

My sis also joined me for a couple of days in AZ.  She’s a horse gal and had a good 10 mile ride out of Carefree one day on a pure Arabian whom she said was being “jiggy”, and just wouldn’t settle down.  She also bought a new hat from http://www.heritagehatshop.com/

This is Rich Glisson, the owner, who’s been making and selling hats at rodeos and his retail location since 1981.  He has a few rescue dogs hanging out in the back that were also more than happy to give us some licks.  Rich is very knowledgeable about his craft and it was a pleasure talking with him.

Here’s my sis’s purchase, an Akubra - which is an Australian brand - their version of a Stetson, in terms of popularity and use.  This particular hat model is the Territory Western hat - named after Australia's Northern Territory, which has vast stretches of hot dry desert as well as wet tropical jungles.  It's a pinch crowned hat.   This gal is a cowgirl at heart and probably should be living near more horses...

Horses are indeed magnificent creatures, but I have no interest in riding them or having them.  Music’s my thang, however, I am addicted (like to Starbucks) to the Arabian horse show held at WestWorld in Scottsdale, it’s Class A and honestly stirs my soul, which I don’t understand.  There is no way to describe this event, but imagine being parachuted into a world of horses, hundreds of them doing different tasks, with riders wearing all kinds of garb, it’s out of my world and I love it…

http://www.scottsdaleshow.com/shows-events/scottsdale-arabian-horse-show

AZ in the winter.  These are only a few reasons why I go…

Brown’s Ranch walk, part of:

http://www.mcdowellsonoran.org/home#sthash.hMlWIM0y.dpbs

 

 

 

Songwriter musings for a cold day

Well, we’re in the ‘dead’ of winter here in southern CT.  I’m in a songwriting fog this past week.  I try to write every day, even if it’s just creative nonsense to get my thoughts flowing.  Sometimes a nugget will appear and I can start to polish it off for a better look, more often it’s tossed back into the stream to be carried away for another day.

It’s all this cold, and the monotonous colors of winter white, snowy white, icy white, some dark bark, and gray stone walls and boulders strewn about the woods.  I normally like this palette, but it’s been hammering us.  I noodle with the guitar every day and that sometimes inspires, I listen to all kinds of eclectic music, and sometimes that inspires.  This week I’m just standing in the same place waiting for something to occur to me.    Staring at a white blank page doesn’t help, but the songs will come, they always do, I couldn’t shut them off even if I really tried.  I have cleverly built in a mid-Feb trip… Here’s where I’m headed:

To the north Arizona territory.  A place to warm up and walk, write, and play guitar. 

 

OPEN ROAD, a trio of like-minded music friends performed our latest batch of original music at Blue Bus Music in Ridgefield, CT.  http://www.bluebusmusic.com/   What a cool store.  The owner, Patrick Nimmo, has stocked it with some very awesome guitars.  He also services and builds guitars.  The store offers lessons, and all sorts of cool music gear, but what's really neat is that he supports the community by allowing musicians like myself to gather and showcase their talent.  It’s comforting to play and sing under all these guitars :-)

That’s Nancy Burger on the left, from Redding CT (http://www.musicbyhindsight.com/The-Band.html ), and Scott Weber on the right, from Wilton, CT (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Acoustic-Wilton/277795088856).  (Photo by Luiza Goncales)

We performed 12 original tunes, and pretty much harmonized on almost every one.  The collaboration between us just organically took off a few months back.  Industry folks have always recommended that you need to collaborate at some point, break out of the vacuum that you get into as a solo singer/songwriter.  It helps that you are with like-minded individuals.  It helps when you’re genuine in your heart and want to share ideas. I was inspired by a couple of lines of text in a blog that my daughter's friend writes:  http://thepurplesthouse.com/   Her friend was moving to Oregon and talked about the redwood trees reaching to the west, and the land giving way to the sea… I thought that was very poetic.  I came up with the following lyrics and forwarded them to Scott Weber, and he heard it in DADGAD tuning, capo 6.  Here you go: (the live video of this is on the video page.)

ONE EASY NIGHT

©lyrics by Sue Broudy, music by Scott Weber 2014 

 suebroudy@gmail.com

 

I am the redwoods

Reaching to the west

You are the land

Giving way to the sea

 

I am the sky

In all of your thoughts

To resist you now

Just wouldn’t be me

It wouldn’t be me… just wouldn’t be me

 

I’ve been in love

So many times before

This is deep water

Miles from the shore

 

Please stand still

Look me in the eye

Tell me what you plan

Tell me why

I could roll my way

Right into you

On one easy night

One easy night

If I came to you

Would I be so true

On one easy night 

One easy night

 

You are the flame

A light in the dark

I am a force of life

Electric sparks

 

Is it too predictable?

Your fire, in my eyes

Who knows the out come

Or the paid price

 

I could roll my way

Right into you

On one easy night

One easy night

If I came to you

Would I be so true

On one easy night 

One easy night

 

How is it possible

that I dream about you…

I said, how is it possible,

I still dream about you?

 

I am the redwoods

Reaching to the west

You are the land

Giving way to the sea

I could roll my way

Right into you

On one easy night

One easy night

If I came to you

Would I be so true

On one easy night 

One easy night

One night, one night, one night...

 

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