out there ©️ 2019 kerri sherwood
there was not room on island for my piano, sheets of blank score paper, baskets of notebooks of lyrics, melody smidges, chord progression fragments. they waited at home for my return.
consumed by many tasks and layers of work since we arrived back home, we are surrounded by boxes and bins still unpacked. there is much to do. we have many other things tugging at us and these packed boxes, although frustratingly in the way, have sunk to a lower rung on the list of things-to-do.
i have been in and out of my studio, grabbing music as i need it, playing through a piece here and there, reviewing music for work. i have added a few notes to notebooks, to my calendar, a line of lyric here and there to remember on scraps i hope not to lose.
the other day i pulled out cds, finding a few with pieces that didn’t get tracked. rough cuts of piano for under lyrics, rough cuts of piano instrumentals. every artist has them…the cuts that didn’t get finished, the cuts that didn’t make it to the album. scraps of paper, notebooks of ideas, rough cuts of beginnings. they all eventually lead somewhere. no idea, no melodic gesture, no lyric stands alone.
and so, my really beautiful big resounding piano waits for me as i am quiet. pencils i’ve saved from The Boy’s and The Girl’s pencilboxes sit atop, next to blank score paper, notebooks and pa pads. they all wait. the muse waits. the music waits.
WAIT A WHILE ROUGH CUT et al ©️ 1995-2019 kerri sherwood
so if you are an over-thinker like me, this is tough – to trust where you’re going. there are too many details that get in the way of the overall picture. d is a global thinker…he looks at the bigger picture, he calls it “from 30,000 feet”. i need to be able to envision each foot to get there….ok, maybe not EACH one, but i need a few more details lined up in order to believe something is possible. that disparity gets us in trouble sometimes. we talk about something and are having two different conversations within the same conversation. mostly, we usually agree on the ultimate Thing, but getting there is, well, sometimes cloaked in a tad bit of disagreement.
who was it that said, “everything will be ok in the end. and if it’s not ok, it’s not the end” ??? such brilliance! and optimism! i suppose we gauge so much of what might happen on what happened Before. we have pre-judgments about how something will turn out; we have reluctance to start; we think, “i’ve already DONE this and it didn’t work.”
i am at a crossroads. after 15 albums, i haven’t recorded an album in 8 years, haven’t recorded a new vocal album in 16. 16! where does the time go? albums are very expensive projects, not only financially, but emotionally. as i have already talked about numerous times, there is financial pressure on independent artists now like never before. streaming and illegal downloading has lead to a literal trickle of income, despite millions of “listens”.
so – where do i go from here? songs have been waiting; the piano beckons. something in me resists, afraid of not recouping even what it costs at the front end for something new to be released. part of me wants to believe – believe that it’s time to release something new, in this new time of my career. put it out there and not be concerned with how it is received, how many cds are purchased, how many paid downloads vs how many times it is streamed or pirated. but that won’t pay any bills, won’t afford a living. i am having trouble seeing the 30,000 foot view. not to mention all the feet in-between here and there.
like you, in some arena of your life, i am trying to trust. that whatever decision i make it will be ok in the end. and, if it’s not ok, it’s not the end.
trust where you’re going ©️ 2016 kerri sherwood & david robinson
we walked The Girl to kindergarten. it was spring and sunny and warm. dandelions were everywhere. on the way home, The Boy dropped my hand to toddler-zigzag around a yard where dandelions > grass by far (kind of like ours.) he bent down and picked yellow flower upon yellow flower. until he came running back to me. he held up his sweaty-dirty-little-boy fist, full of bright yellow and green dandelions and said, “woses for momma.”
better than roses. what more could a momma want?
that is the moment this song was born.
happy mother’s day.
*beautiful yellow dandelion art by The Boy*
fistful of dandelions ©️ 1999 kerri sherwood
wendy (aka saul aka ben) and i have this thing about unicorns. well, unicorns and bubbles and rainbows. i can’t look at any of those without thinking about her. individually we look especially for unicorn “stuff” for each other; those tend to be small gifts we send from time to time. i have a unicorn calendar that offers pretty straight-ahead advice each day, without mincing words. i have unicorn socks. i have a stuffed unicorn on my piano in my studio. my new favorite unicorn thing is a white plastic stretch unicorn pen she sent me for my birthday…hard to explain…a unicorn with a rainbow mane that looks a lot like a dachshund and is a pen. yep, too much information. you are probably thinking i am too ‘old’ for unicorns, but i beg to differ. one is never too old for unicorns. they are happy and free and magical. plus, as a person who has been horse-crazy since girlhood, anything that even vaguely resembles a horse gets my vote.
d often tells me that i have a wild imagination. that works against me as well as for me. i will imagine all sorts of things – both good and bad. sometimes this is an opportunity; i often find myself imagining things, ideas or plotting while i am blowing my hair dry (this seems to be a time of increased-imagination-activity for me.) or i will be off and running in my imagination on long drives or walking in the woods. sometimes this imagining thing can make you nervous, making up stuff before it even happens. but the word imagine conjures up many things for me. john lennon’s song ‘imagine’ or mercy me’s song ‘i can only imagine’. both have beautiful lyrics; both imagine places and experiences of great beauty and and grace and goodness.
one day when d was drawing our chicken marsala i asked him to include a unicorn. “for wendy,” i said. we decided on the words “give full rein to your imagination” to go along with this drawing of chicken and his unicorn. but when i was designing the cartoon nugget, i added the word “reign”….it felt right. after all, what could be the worst thing if we all let our imaginations be sovereign? if we imagined a world of peace and harmony and rainbows and bubbles. and yes, maybe even people on unicorns wearing creativity-tiaras. full reign.
yes, you say, wild imagination.
give full rein/reign to your imagination ©️ 2016 david robinson & kerri sherwood
19 years ago today it was snowing. this morning i look out the sunroom window at golden leaves on the ground, a grey sky, rain falling. not as stunning as snow falling, but still part of the plan…a season of preparation, of going fallow in the overcast to come back stronger in the sun…
19 years ago today it was frenetic…the official release of my first original album with a big concert to celebrate it. family and friends had flown or driven in to be here and i was balancing my time between kirsten (who was 5), craig (who was 2), practicing and visiting and getting all the details in place…
19 years ago today ‘released from the heart’ entered the world…funny how you can be nervous and sure at the same time. this heart-project – so raw-ly (is that a word?) me…scary to put ‘out there’ and yet i was so ready.
19 years ago today i played the piece ‘galena’ on stage to start the release concert..originally written, spur of the moment, in galena, illinois where three of my friends and i were mini-vacationing. we had some amazing mystical moments during that trip, things you simply can’t explain. you know what i mean; those things that are happenstance, but aren’t happenstance. we sat around a table at a bistro, enjoying wine, laughing, talking, listening to a piano player who was accompanying various servers as they sang broadway tunes. my friends, carol, jo, patti, volunteered me to play the piano. i wasn’t about to duplicate the broadway theme, so i noodled around and wrote a piece on the spot (later to be called ‘galena’.) a family dining there insisted on buying the recording of this piece, which didn’t exist. one of the members of the family persisted and tracked me down in wisconsin, asking me to please record this piece that had meant so much to their celebration that evening. motivation. an impetus. it pushed my buttons and i started exploring the options.
that’s where the most amazing producer comes into the picture. our first recording encounter, which was also our first meeting, was not without challenge. my playing was measured, unemotional. ken’s suggestion was to get someone else to play the music i had written. i’ll never forget that. i was appalled. so we re-entered the project, building a remote studio in one of the concert venues at northwestern university. the day we started our recording there was blistering hot and the air conditioner units on the roof began to leak into the auditorium. we laid comforters on the chairs and could still hear the persistent drip, drip, drip. so we waited. two more dates there and at least twenty-six hours of playing and re-playing and re-playing and we had completed the fifteen pieces on the album. a zillion details remained: editing, mastering, graphic design, getting a UPC, cd (and cassette) replication choices, copyrighting my music, seeking distribution channels……
thank you to all of you who, 19 years ago, were a part of this beginning for me. and thank you to all of you who have been on the journey with me along the way. your prodding, your enthusiasm, your quiet help, your encouragement, your making-me-think, your life wake-ups have all been exactly what i needed. granted, i, like anyone, would have loved an easier journey, but then it wouldn’t have been this very journey. and so i trust the design of it all and try to learn each of the lessons.
and so 19 years ago today i released that first of what is now 15 albums and a few singles. and today? today i sat and listened to every track of ‘released from the heart.’ i am on the way to recording a new album…a new vocal album. it’s been 12 years since ‘as sure as the sun’ was released and it’s time. here’s the thing, though. as i think about this new album, as i come out of a long fallow, i wonder. i’m not 36 anymore. i’m 55 and by the time this album is done i will be 56. and i want to be relevant.
so today, 19 years later, i’ve decided to share the stories, the ones behind the pieces i composed. in concert it is natural for me to do that; people have asked me if i would record albums with the stories as well. i personally can’t imagine listening to me speak every time i heard the music – you know that thing about hearing your own speaking voice on tape – seems blahblahblahblah-ish. but i will write the stories…and, in this new day, share them in a new way. and in the writing-back and writing-forward, i’m hoping for clear relevance. the other night john the drummer said, “it’s not your job to determine relevance. it’s your job to put your work out there.” as i listen to this album and watch my little candle flicker next to me, i’m beginning to suspect that relevance is already there. for each of us.