Saturday, December 27, 2008

My favorite Chrismas albums

There are few Christmas albums that make me smile but here are some good ones in no particular order:

Johnny Cash - The Christmas Spirit - it's good for a chuckle, good for a big man with a deep voice to sing these old carols, and his version of christmas songs - gotta listen on vinyl
Sufjan Stevens - Songs for Christmas - from the simple banjos to the big percussion and bells, there is a lot of music here that could blend into your life in December so you can have the holdiays but not go insane..
Roger Whittacker - Christmas album - my sisters and I had whole routines for each song as kids, had all the words memorized, nice dramatic, sweeping 70's big sweetness.
Bing Crosby - White Christmas CD - I love this old way of singing, natural and smoothe and charming, good stuff
Louis Armstrong - What a Wonderful Christmas -  he reads "the night before Christmas". Full of laughter, good for lots of people over
Low - Christmas - slow and strong and steady, lullabies and some rockin original stuff too.
Aimee Mann - One More Drifter in the Snowbeautiful and depressing, organs and strings and sarcasm with a bit of good cheer. I love her voice

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The story of the last 3 years...

So much has happened...

After touring for We are Wyoming we moved to Santa Rosa, an hour north of San Francisco. We focused on playing in the Bay Area for a while, converted our garage into a studio for me - the first time I've had a private space for music. Baby grand piano, red walls, computer and mics, it's bliss. Here Iwrote and wrote for the 3rd album...

We headed to Portland for Feb/March 2008 and recorded what will be the next album, staying with my sister and her big dog Theo. With John Askew recording and producing, it was a great time, fun and peaceful, playing tunes, talking, and eating up a storm. I've been playing with a great drummer, Max Diez from Audio Outsend, and Tad Wagner added amazing guitars, Heather Houseman on cello. The best thing about it was that I was pregnant with my first child, a mystical and beautiful feeling. He is woven through all of these sounds, with love and wonder.

We finished the album in good time, and took a few months off for my belly to grow. In the hot summer of 2008, I had a blast in my home studio recording songs for the winter season, sweating and imagining the cold and the dark. I like the songs in minor keys, the darker ones. I like bringing out the good memories of the season, the Christmas eve service in the little wooden church my family belonged to, no lights, just candles, no mics, just walls, people singing in the candlelight, I loved that part.

The Portland album was mastered and my baby was born the same week. It seemed like everything in my life, these amazing creations, would converge in space and time. Otto Charles was born August 22nd, 2008. And when he came out he wasn't breathing. After a great deal of whisking away and a few days of tests and wires, we found that an "event" occurred a few days before his birth, and his brain was really injured, and he wouldn't have long to live. Our hearts broke and broke and broke. Our baby, who we loved more with each second passing, would have a very short life. So we decided to make it the best possible, and we took him off the machines and took him home and spent every last moment holding him and singing to him. I became a mama, my husband an amazing father, our hearts grew so big to know this beautiful soul that came to us, our child. We had 3 days with him and when we couldn't stay awake any longer, when our eyes closed, he passed on in our arms at dawn.

This has changed everything. Becoming a mom is enough of a perspective shift, a huge change of order. Singing my son to sleep, singing to comfort him, singing to help him die, both destroyed me and made me find this place of pure love, of genuine being. I have never felt like I was really singing until that time. And now, still, I feel music as a source, a connection, that is in everything, and I don't need to try hard to do it, it is just in me, it just IS me. Big goals, numbers of albums sold, people at shows, are hard to care about. But music, I love more than ever. My son is such a big part of my heart, my life, everything I see now, and I hope to keep my heart soft for him, I hope to keep singing to him from that place that he showed me.

I am sad a lot. I find peace too. I realize that I will die and that life is here for me for now, what will I do? How will I be? I have 40 or 50 years to be here and what is this all about?

And so I have this beautiful album that I love, and I'm figuring out how best to release it. I hope to get it out in the next few months. I am excited for people to hear it, because it was an amazing time for me to make it, and such a sacred space was held for my baby and the music in the rooms it was made in. These songs mean so much now.

Those Christmas tunes are posted at for free download! The album is called Old Long Since/Winter Songs.

I hope you have a beautiful winter season. I hope the solstice and all the dark holds you within yourself in a peaceful way. Thank you for your wonderful support and for listening. It is an honor for me.

I'll be keeping this going about once a week - check back for more info... I've got lots to say about life and music and recording and the road.