One Song Left.06/18/2011 at 12:13 pm | Posted in Stories from Alaska | Comments Off on One Song Left.
Tags: alaska, anchorage, confession, marian-call, Music, recording, something fierce
It’s 3am, I have a headache from HTML and ProTools, and I leave on a jet plane Sunday to start my traveling again (DC! NYC! Philly! Cambridge! Look Lively!). Glory Moses I’m tired. Feels like I just got done with the last tour, even though I’ve mostly been home for six months.
But I’m thankful. I’m sitting here thinking how much a collection of friends and strangers online has come to mean to me — lots of individuals, but the whole community too. I’m about to finish a project you guys have helped see me through, some of you for more than two years. Some of you gave money, tons of you gave encouragement, thousands have come to shows now. I’m sorta blown away. I am really thankful to you. And I take my responsibility to you very seriously. I’m happy to come see some of you again, I wish I could see you all.
(Sorry, sleep-deprived headachey Marian = sappy serious 3am blog post I may regret. Feel free to skip and return when I’m wittier & more amusing (and that’s a sincere, not a sarcastic invitation).)
I’m finding this album tough to finish — it’s called Something Fierce, and release announcements and pre-sales are imminent. I mean, it’s hard to finish for the usual reason: the total amount of “Stuff Marian Takes On” over “Time Marian Actually Has” always winds up with a remainder, at the moment probably about 7/5. But it’s also hard to finish because it’s just…big. I feel the weight of how much people have helped me with this and invested in it. I wonder how it will be received. I know I’ll get some of my first proper critiques. I know some people will like other versions of things better. And I know I’ll always be vaguely amazed that it’s not sitting on my shoulders anymore like a big cat, the way it has been since early 2009. It’s heavy but it’s also kept me grounded.
Let’s go back in time a bit, since few of you are clear on the chronology: I launched this album project with a fundraiser in early 2009 when I had just separated from my husband of 6 years and I was in Seattle, far from Alaska, alone with no car or home or income. It was quite a shock landing there. After sitting on the curb for a month wondering what to do, announcing Something Fierce was my first step forward. It was a thing to walk toward so I could get up, get moving, and either become an artist or give it up and go be a secretary or waitress. A lot of you guys took care of me back then, as I launched into about a year of having nowhere to live and no income except what I earned singing for my supper and fundraising for the record. And all that help is hard for an independent lady to stomach. But I tell you what, for every time you have ever tipped a street or bar or online musician, dear reader, I am thankful. For every dime you’ve launched into a kickstarter project, I owe you one.
I bought a car with no money in Seattle — not sure why they let me have it — and I drove and drove until I got back to Alaska. I had never driven long distance before, I had always been driven around by others. But for the first time I was behind the wheel. When I made it back to Anchorage I started laying groundwork for the record, and I began laying down audio in November 2009.
It’s 2011 now, and I’ve recorded with nearly thirty people in New York, LA, Seattle, Texas, and Anchorage, with a hiatus to play all fifty states + 5 provinces. And in the end I don’t know whether all that will be worth it for the audio that comes out. But it will be worth it for the meaning. The process means a lot to me. The people mean a lot to me. For example, the project was missing a few folks who came to be part of my music community after the bulk of the recording was done. But I got a few chances this spring to record pickups, and I jumped on the chance to get Bryan Ray, Brandon Cockburn, Errol Bressler, Aaron Benolkin, and Nick Petumenos in the studio. And I’m so happy I did, because now their voices (drums, guitars, bass, pedal steel, engineering) are on the record. It feels more complete with them than if I’d released it sooner. When I hear a song recorded in five different cities, all these musicians I love are in the same space for a second. And that’s more home than anywhere I’ve been since 2009.
Something Fierce is not as funny or geeky as the last few things I’ve released. Got to Fly was commissioned to be about geek stuff, and I like to release funny singles, but this record is just straight Marian, recalling my first record, Vanilla. Marian happens to be a geek, so this art happens to be a geek’s experience of a long stretch of road. But instead of fiction it’s fact; it’s a couple years of couch-crashing, debt, penance, illness, insane travel, recession, divorce, and reinvention. That’s not to say it’s dark. But it’s not sunny. It’s dappled light — with interesting clouds, the thick substantial ones that might and might not become weather. Like “Anchorage,” if you’ve heard it.
Why say this now? I have no idea. 3am headaches while working on your last song will do that to you I suppose. And perhaps I feel a need to confess and disclaim as I finish. Not because I think the product is unworthy, but because it’s honest, and honesty evokes a little confession and a little context, even when it’s not required.
I’m not sure what happens after this record is not on my shoulders anymore. I don’t know where the compass will point exactly, this record has been my Polaris for so long — I might spin for a bit. But mostly I don’t know how I could ever have enough days or words or songs to hug and thank all of you. It would require more sustained gratitude and sincerity than I think most humans are capable of at my age. I try, but I keep lapsing.
Perhaps the sheer number of you folks out there (you awesome amazing folks) is starting to frustrate my impulses for deeper connection; it’s hard as this group of fans changes from “y’all” to “all y’all. ” I find myself protesting often how deeply I feel for my online community, and I think that’s mostly because I don’t have the time anymore to pay you each as much attention as I feel is fair for all the investment you’ve put into me. That imbalance bothers me, though it can’t be helped. Anyway I’m so thankful to you, if you’re reading this, for getting me through the last two years and into the next one. Even if you never paid a dime, your attention for a moment ultimately helped/helps to make this record I’m about to finish, and your attention is precious. You didn’t have to spend it here. I’m grateful.
Oh Marian, be quiet and get to work making a kickass record. It’s 4am already, time’s a-wastin’.
(But seriously. I hope you like it.)