Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Syracuse - Story Behind the Song


The music came first. One time after warming up my fingers on the piano with scales. After the warm up sometimes fingers just want to keep going, and catch on a cord or a pass that really gets to something, speaks to something going on deep down in there.

I loved this tune and would play it to myself like candy sometimes, that emotional fix that feels so good.

Often when the music comes first you don't want to force the meaning out of the song, or try to force something or use the mind too much, it's gotta come on it's own. The music came from a simple and true place, and it takes patience and grace to allow the same thing with words, so much more cerebral. You must open the window and see what shows up, maybe in just a few minutes, maybe months later, something will be waiting there, plain as day.

We were on the road, on tour for Blue Cotton Skin, when we turned from the East Coast to come towards home. Like when you're on a trampoline and there's that moment when you're just floating, not up or down, but in the air, between both movements. It was such a freedom.

The sky was gray, there had been floods because of so much rain, all across the country. May. And the tune came into my head and the moment was right, Syracuse, NY was coming up and the words floated down into the music of this tune.

I felt such a tenderness toward the semis and truck drivers. We had a big van at the time (named Valerie) and we sat kinda high and I could see their faces. They drove as much as we did, much more, and it was interesting to have a little bit of a parallel life with them. The trucks seemed gentle and slow, the fields around us so quiet and green. I was grateful.

Valerie our tour Van/house

To see more Petracovich Tour pics go here and push the pics button


Syracuse Next 6 exits

Truck drivers bend in my mirror
Square noses curve like the road
By purple fields and farms
Green from the rain doesn't stop

It will be spring six weeks ago
Water is rising level to the road
Geese flying over us
Going back home

Slow mothers carrying loads
Blue cabs, gray clouds hanging low
It's quiet out here on the farmlands
Quietest part of the run

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Shows With Sister Grace

The three sisters would often sing harmonies in the car on the way to school, or on a long trip, and especially doing the dishes. Jody and Grace were better at it than I was, I would sing the melody and belt that out, oh years of fun, tapping on our legs and singing.

And finally I got to sing with my sister Grace on stage this week - so beautiful! She sings low harmonies and plays organ and harmonium with me, and it was loads of fun. Thanks so much to those of you who made it out and stayed up late, all your hugs and tears. It meant so much to see you.

We drove back from Santa Cruz late last night and had to break into the place we were staying - we got the keys to the inner room, but not the keys to the outside door, hmmm. This is not something I'm comfortable with, something that looks questionable, I could get in trouble... - a cop kept driving by, and I'm trying to act all casual at 1am with tears in my eyes cause I want to sleep so bad.

Apparently I have some sneaky abilities, cause we got in, got into bed, and slept, yayay! I'm proud of myself.

Sad to put Grace back on the plane to Long Beach, but we had some good adventures, and managed to get some playing and practicing in between laughs and treats.

Thanks for the memories..

Friday, June 12, 2009

San Rafael - What Does This Song Mean?

Have you ever had something that felt like a dream while you were awake? When we lived in San Rafael, about 15 minutes north of San Francisco, I would be driving from the city to home at twilight (crepusculo) and hit some traffic, and have this moment where I felt this gentle splitting withinin myself between the me in the machine (car) the me in the amazing moment of glowing sundown and golden hills full of oak trees.

I'd be driving and almost feel my car lifting off toward the hills, going towards the old landscapes. It happened several times. Something was calling me over there. Then I'd look back to the road, the other cars, the artificial lights, and come back to my reality, stuck to the road, gravity. Technology.

After a year or so of this happening, a tune I was writing felt like it might be the right basket to try to show this mystical moment that would pop up. It was written on the piano, a little achey, a little whimsical, a little sad. When I put the image to the music, words started coming out right, describing those moments.

The mountain it speaks of is Mount Tamalpais, it means Sleeping Woman in the native language, looks like a woman laying on her side, a beautiful, tree-covered monument overlooking the ocean, taking up a lot of Marin County. When I let myself continue this dream in my head, I fly over the hills, the car dissolves, I'm back where it's quiet and you smell the earth and the ocean, she is a protector, this mountain.


Coming over the hill to San Rafael on the 101
The sky is purple against red brake lights
Watching the stars appearing over the dark outline of the hills
Slowing down in front of flashing signs

Oh Cars Cars are drifting, cars lining up miles, miles and miles Oh , I don’t belong here all caught up inside Sealed off from the night

We sit still, impatient Night is coming,
We’re all going home
Hands on the wheel with our radios
To the west hills go to bed
They’re calling me where I belong
If the traffic stops I’ll float above, alone, above

Oh, cars Cars are rivers cars are flowing miles miles and miles Oh I I am lifted into the sky slipped into some old light

Up up over lights and droning motors
Over dew and honey grass and sleeping deer
Over rollers, hills with backs like dinosaurs
Floating over time a thousand years ago

Sailing Sailing quickly
I will soon be in the ocean air
Sleeping mountain where my heart is heard

Let me down on slanting sides
The breeze my breath, the grass my hair
I will fall asleep to waves and waves… in my ears

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I'll Return as Waterbird _ What's this Song About?


It started on the bells - a pattern I tapped out on my fingers absentmindedly, and then I picked up some pencils to replicate it, finally found the mallets and went in earnest.

I hummed a long for weeks, with a melody, and couldn't figure out in my mind what the song was about. This is always the case with songs that start with music. The meaning is under many layers.

Images started to come and sometimes it's a little embarrassing to let these out, they seem random and not related to any specific event in my life. I've come to learn that they are more relevant than anything I "think" of to write about. They come from deeper places.

You may have noticed that birds show up a lot in these tunes. They are my guardians, a great blue heron always seems to be near, no matter where I live, even in the suburbs. Even at the beach.

Allowing the images to tell the story to me is like watching a wonderful movie/dream, and over the years I'll know more about what it means.

Basically: Lying in fields for answers is something I've done since a toddler - I'm always letting go of something, the bird flies over, and I become the bird, I let the old things lie in the field, I become the next part of myself. I trust this part to take me into the dark places, to warm me through them.

A lot of the letting go is from religious expectations, old forms, and yet the bird nestling me under the wing is an image I learned from the Bible. There is ancient wisdom in everything, there are things that get messed up.

The earth always seems to be the thing I can trust, the thing that knows, breathed through with the vibration of all love and Spirit. The Native American honor of the sacred earth is so inspiring to me.

The delicacy of the bells against the big thrum of the drums feels perfect, the harmonium in the minor keys feels next-worldly to me. Man, this was a tough one to sing through! Not a lot of places for breath, but I love singing it... And here are the lyrics!

Baby I’ve been feeling so gone
Lyin in a field for so long
Under wings and buzzin things
If I listen good I’ll live long

Harvest ball you’ll be free of me
Of the darkest spark of evenin'
I’ll return as water bird
Greatness fill the river of my blood

I will take you darling
Deep into the evening
I will take you darling
Deep into the night

They’ll say whatever has happened
Some will tell and some won't listen
We saw silver sail glisten
O’er the sea, she’s gone to find her (love)

Where has she gone, where has she flown
Lightness lifting hollow bone
Feathers holding wind to a home
That was there long before she was born

I will take you darling
Deep into the evening
I will take you darling
Deep into the night
Come my little darling
Deep under my warm wing
I will take you darling deep into the night

The truth comes out
I’m light as air without you
The truth comes out
I often think about you

Baby I’ve been feeling so gone
Lying in a field for so long
Under wings and buzzing things
Listen’ to their every day song

After long I learned their ancient
Tellings and I took their secret
I fly over where we summered
And from my high heart I send my love
My love
My love
Oh my love

Monday, June 1, 2009

On Writing - Walgreens

Walked into Walgreens today and I love the smell of that place.

Brings me back to being a small child at Hoy's 5 and dime with my Grandparents at the shore. When the gift of a plastic ball fom a big bin of other plastic balls with marbly blue and pink colors on it was heaven.

And what is the 32 year old Jessica's equivalent of a marbly blue and pink plastic ball?

A composition notebook.

Blank lined pages. Big enough to write freely, cheap enough to not edit my thoughts, the right space between the lines - and this one was purple. I thought I'd go for purple for the first time.

I remembered today how important it is to write those 3 pages every morning - not songwriting, just whatever comes out. Not trying to make it sound any certain way. And the composition notebook is just the key to make that happen. Little pretty journals are harder to write in.

This to me is a big key to writing. When you're TRYING to sound poetic, it's not convincing. Practing writing about nothing really gets a nice flow going, so that when I do go into my studio and press record, I'm already all flowy and purged.

And then it's just fun.