Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Heaven Help the Day - What's this song about?


Walking down the sidewalk in Carpinteria, CA with Ryan one day we came upon a yard sale. I bought an old copy of War and Peace.

When I got home a letter fell out of it. This guy writing to someone about all his regrets, that he divorced the woman he loved cause he thought he was going to prison, that he regretted that he'd never met his son, that the cancer he had could never hurt him the way he missed her. It was unbelievable, all this pain.

It stayed with me. I wrote about the son, the one that got left, that had nothing to do with what happened.

I know a lot of people who have never met their father, or not till later in life. I have a friend who saw the back of her dad's head once when someone pointed him out to her as they passed in a car. That's all she got.

I got to meet Nick Flynn on tour, and read his book Another Bullshit Night in Suck City. He writes about being a boy and wondering if he'd met his dad but didn't know it. That inspired a lot of the feeling of this tune.

The song is all the feelings of love and anger that go with being left by family. How in the end, there is always a piece of the heart that is theirs, no matter what they do to you.

I have never met my father
They say he left us for another
Her name was Wanda, her name was prison, her name was free
And my name’s lonely, My name’s orphan My name’s please

If you see me walking I look at faces
I wonder if your blood’s in me
You’re just a stranger, a fellow walking down the street
And if you see me, smile gently keep going
Heaven Help the Day you ran from home

Cause I don’t know if I want you home
If I want you back who left me all alone
Yah I don’t know if I want you home
Heaven help the day you come

I’d make you worry, I’d make you want me,
I’d make you sit at home, wonderin’ where I’d gone
Uh huh
I’d make you love me, I’d make you love me then I’d leave you all alone

Heaven help the day you come back home

Copyright Jessica Peters Malmberg 2009

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Bay Area Shows with Johanna Kunin

New shows in San Francisco and Santa Cruz with the wonderful Johanna Kunin, on tour from Seattle. So excited to play some music with her!

If you know anyone in these towns, please pass the word on, send em down! It will be a great night of thoughtful, beautiful tunes.

San Francisco - June 14th 9:00 PM at Hotel Utah with Johanna Kunin
500 Fourth Street, San Francisco, California 94107
Cost: TBD

Santa Cruz - June 15th, 9:00 PM at The Crepe Place with Johanna Kunin
1134 Soquel Ave, Santa Cruz, California 95062
Cost: TBD

More info at Myspace
Or at

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Big Heart - a song from Crepusculo


Even before the big loss of last year, the loss of my son, I had a bit of a continual heartache. You can hear it in the music of the past years - the melancholy with sweetness, the sadness always a little present.

I decided one day that my heart was good, with the holes, with the big feelings, with the darks and the lights. With the sadness. The ride it takes me on is important. And I would protect it, and make a safe place for it, trust it and listen to it. (More.)

Sat down at the piano, pushed record, and told my heart, "No one will ever hear this." It's easiest for me to write a song thinking that it's just in this small world of my red-walled studio and my imagination that it will exist, and it can come out safely this way. I can break the rule later.

And I started plunking the piano, felt the arpeggio of the first line come, it felt real, and I could sing it again and again and like it.

Recording the piano for Big Heart from Crepusculo on the old and singular piano at Type Foundry in Portland, you could hear the hammers and strings, the creaks of the pedal. And getting into the space of dearness, singing to my heart, is nothing but helpful, strengthening, and scary all at once.

We decided to keep it sparse, keep the drums with space between and making an impact. Tad contributed the guitars from his studio in Santa Barbara, a strong solo, and perfect support for the choruses. And we let it build up strong at the end to the declaration of "This is your song", a big celebration, a letting go, and then, a quiet thank you at the end.

To my big big big big heart
Oh my love
I will listen
Beautiful heart

Oh my big big big big heart
You love so hard,
Let me clip the wires off
You will bleed

I will build you a house
Made of earth, of my bone
It will be black as love
It will be a gracious womb

Oh my dear dear dear dear heart
Steady in me
Making me me
I thought it was too much

And I’ll hold you here my heart
Velvet dark drum
Lean against your soft thrum
Making waves through me

I will build you a house
Made of earth, of my bone
It will be black as love
It will be a gracious womb
Throw your arms up, this is for you,
Throw your arms up it's your song...

To my big big big big heart
Marching soldier
Blessed Mother
Big strong love

Friday, May 1, 2009

Up at 3:30am

I never do this. Laying in bed, I'm thinking about the release of Crepusculo, my latest album, this summer. We're planning a tour from LA to Seattle and  I'm lying half awake with weird surveys I'm taking in my dreams, and names of friends in these cities circling my brain, and I think, should I spend this hour laying here frustrated or get up and send some emails? It feels good to just scratch the itch. I can nap tomorrow.

Except that when you get up in the middle of the night, when your eyes have been closed and look at the computer screen, it's impossibly bright.  I had to half cover my eyes for five minutes! The computer is so full of fake light, how can we look at it all day? 

In my half-awake state, I start thinking about sending this record to be reviewed, a process that's part rewarding, ego-boosting and part high-school, "am I popular?" - feeling.  I remember one review from the Portland Mercury where the guy spent 2 paragraphs talking about how there were birds on the cover of my album and birds were SO last year. Then he spent a couple sentences writing about the music, and how it was pretty good.

At the same time, I've never felt more like I don't need to read the reviews.  I love these songs, I love the artwork, I like my life, I get to play music, isn't this great? I get to play music!

So hopefully bitter Jess will stay home when we play this tour,  and happy Jess will be present as we open the paper, sitting at a pizza joint an hour before we play a show and read through local reviews, I hope I remember how good I have it, and let it be fun to read what these people I've never met have written about what I wrote. I hope I remember happy hours at my baby grand, with the window open, listening to the mockingbird outside as I play away...