Jun 10, 2012

25 Things: The Musical Edition

Once upon a time, there was a trend going around called "25 Things." The idea is that one bored member of society would write 25 entertaining, arbitrary facts about him/herself and tag a bunch of his/her (hopefully) bored friends with the intention that those friends would then share 25 of their innermost thoughts and feelings.
This might surprise you, but I've been bored. "25 Things" was a bandwagon on which I enthusiastically jumped, and I was super stoked to read all kinds of random facts about my friends.
Here's one random fact about me: When I was younger, and I had to walk back and forth to school uphill in the snow, MTV and VH1 actually played music videos. In fact, VH1 actually had a music-centered show called Storytellers with which I was slightly obsessed.
That said, I come bearing 25 music-related facts about the songs I've written.
1. "Not That Girl" was written on a polka-dotted envelope during a job fair. The whole time I was sitting next to my boss and PRAYING that she wouldn't look over and ask me about whose neck I was tonguing.
2. The bridge to "I Could Be Good" had completely different words for the first three years I played it.
3. "Shout" was inspired by the Lady Gaga song "Poker Face." Initially, I had imagined everyone singing "no" instead of shouting it.
4. The first song I ever recorded is a song called "Shades of Blue." There is one copy of it, on a cassette tape. I have never played the song live.
5. "About A Boy" is the first song I ever intentionally played and sang for someone.

6. "Give A Damn" was musically inspired by the Ani DiFranco album, Dilate. If you don't own that record, then you're seriously, seriously missing out.

7. The piano part for "All The Reasons Why" was a complete accident. I sat down at the piano to start writing music to "War," and I couldn't find a progression that felt right, so I started goofing around in A major. Literally ten minutes later, I'd written "All The Reasons Why."

8. I finished "The Fact Of The Matter" in a text message to myself after hearing the word "altruistic" in "Love's Not A Competition (But I'm Winning)" by the Kaiser Chiefs.

9. The first "big word" I ever used in a song was "ubiquitous." (The song is called "Infatuation.") My best friend teased me about it for days. After that, it became a challenge to use at least one ABC vocab word in every song.
10. To date, I've written over 425 songs. They're all in a binder, printed neatly and alphabetized. When I was in high school, I wanted to write a song for every letter of the alphabet. As a result, I wrote a song called "Xylophone."
11. "Just Friends" was originally called "The Eight Ways To Say No."
12. When I wrote "Where The Light Is," I promised myself that I was never going to play it live. Clearly, that worked out well.

13. I wrote "Bad Day" when I was 16, after a really, really terrible car wreck. It was going to be a guitar song until I saw a Hanson concert, at which point I decided that one could rock a guitar riff just as hard on piano.

14. Lately, I have a fairy tale obsession. It all started with the prince/princess role reversal delineated in "More Pity, Less Party," and escalated with an intense study of Cinderella.

15. My best friend calls "Exit" the "bad sex song" because of the first line in the chorus: "It wasn't good, but God, it's lasted."
16. When I first decided to pursue music as a performer, I thought I'd be going the Britney route...so I learned almost all of her dance routines from VCR recordings of her videos on MTV. True story.

17. The first song I ever remember writing was inspired by Sarah McLachlan. In my 11-year-old brain, the fact that she wrote songs about not being okay meant that I could, too. It was called "Desperation," and it included the line, "They're always telling you to live life well, but they never tell you how."

18. The only thing I could think about when writing the music for "The Story" was that it had to have a suspended 2nd. It is one of the only songs in which the lyrics were written in order and never changed.

19. Half of the songs on the new EP were written before I started playing live. One of them has a rap.

20. "A Hundred Years" was never supposed to be a love song. I had the first verse written eight months before the rest of it, and I was positive that I was going to write a rockin' chick anthem with those words. Songs tend to take a life of their own.

21. "Mine" wasn't supposed to have a happy ending.

22. I crack jokes about this in concert, but "Left" really was written in a bathtub.

23. If I could learn any instrument, I'd want to learn the cello.

24. In my head, the whole time I was writing "You Every Time," Martina McBride was singing it. I still think of it as a country song.

25. "Dream bigger, hope longer, love more," is a lesson I try to teach myself every day.
So there you have it, folks. 25 things. :) Until next time...
-Em :)


Apr 28, 2011

To The World On My 26th Birthday

Okay, so...I'm not a poet.  Not by any far stretch of the imagination.  I am, however, lucky enough to be friends with a number of extremely talented poets like Sara Brooke Blanton and Shanna Hale who have this tradition of writing letters to the world on their birthdays.  Their poems are beautiful, succinct snapshots of self-reflection.  The words they weave are inspirational and thought provoking and TRUE, and I wanted to attempt a similar kind of letter.  Mostly because all of these poets inspire me a lot. 

I've been thinking a lot lately about calling and purpose and the general WHY of my existence.  This is the result.  My letter in free verse.  For you...and the rest of the world, on my 26th. 

I know it's late, but I've never been early. ;)  

To The World On My 26th Birthday
(c) 2011 Emmeline 

Manifest destiny is more than a 19th century construct 
More than two explorers plunging fearlessly
FerociouslyInto unconquered territory
Poking rivals with rifles and claiming ownership of lived-in lands 

More than a continental congress
Determined to spread colonization like a social plague
Wielding war like a wildfire
An inevitable fate for all who dare to defy the divine providence of
From sea to shining sea 

More than the prostitution of democracy to all who look twice
At a rag-tag band of thieves
Suiting up to be the stuff of legends

Manifest destiny is a state of mind
That extends beyond the mountains and the prairies
And the oceans white with a rabid, insatiable hunger for shore 

It’s not fate.
It’s not even a belief.
It’s hope. 

At twenty-six, I’ve led a quarter-century march
From the capitol to the coalmines
Peering through branches and striking through shrubs
Trying desperately to leave a mark
A path
A scar 

And perhaps I could have conquered my own nation
Sequestered my own stretch of soil between two opposing tides
But marks fade
Paths succumb to new growth
And scars are impermanent
Even in spirit 

And so, as I sit
Fingers exploring a terrain of loose threads on a childhood quilt
I realize that my mission has grown as tired as my hands
And my ceaseless motivation
My manifest destiny has become nothing more
Than a desperate wish
To do something
To be something
To mean something
That lasts
And lasts
And lasts 

Manifest destiny is more than a 19th century construct;
It’s immortality.
And the pursuit of it
The hope for it
The need of it
Is the only permanence I know.

My quest to do something more has led me to host One Night Stand, a benefit concert in which allied and LGBTQ artists unite to promote acceptance through music.  The party starts at 7 PM at Lakewood Bar & Grill, 6340 Gaston Avenue in Dallas, TX, and all of the $10 cover goes directly to The Trevor Project, an organization that helps to prevent suicide in young LLGBTQ teens.

If you're not going to be in Dallas, you can stream the show live from http://www.thestage.tv.  Either way, it's a cause worth supporting.  

Here's to another year of music, and one step closer to a giant positive impact. 


Em :)


Apr 7, 2011

Mine by Emmeline (the guitar version)

So...once upon a time, there was this girl. She wanted very, very badly to share a new song with you, but it turned out to be quite a bit of a struggle. She had to slay all kinds of dragons--chord flubbing, space complications, a computer's lack of memory, and more. But you know what? In the end, she persevered. And so did you, because you get bloopers! Here are the lyrics to "Mine," a song I wrote and recorded here in late 2010. "Mine" (c) 2010 Emmeline I think my face looks better with the lights off I think my hair looks better when it's down I think my troubled mind feels better when there's chaos left to weather And your stubborn stare's not here to freak me out I think I like the sunset better than the sunrise Somehow three AM is much kinder than noon I think I like this empty space and all the silence that it's made I think I like that I can't feel you in this room CHORUS And I'm not saying I don't get lonely And I'm not saying it's not hard to sleep at night But my pretty paper heart It got used to the dark Inside the tiny silver tin I've always kept it in And it might not seem like much to you But it's still mine I think I like you better when you're not here I think your love hurts less from far away I think I almost like your eyes when they're not skating down my side I like your lips when they're not begging me to stay CHORUS And I'm not saying I don't get lonely And I'm not saying it's not hard to sleep at night But my pretty paper heart It got used to the dark Inside the tiny silver tin I've always kept it in And it might not seem like much to you But it's still mine Don't run too fast; don't fall behind Don't seek me out; I'm hard to find Don't kiss me; let our lips collide Don't come inside I think you've gotten used to coming over I think your stuff looks better in my way And my bed gets cold sometimes, so I guess you can take a side But don't think this means I'm ever gonna change I might just rearrange CHORUS And I'm not saying we won't get lonely And you're not promising I'll always sleep at night And my pretty paper heart Might still favor the dark But it's your tiny silver tin I'm gonna place it in I've just got one request for you To let me still be mine I might seem cold, but I'll always be true If you let me still be mine


Mar 30, 2011

Poetry In Motion and people-watching

Hey, friends!  I'm writing to you from a Starbucks in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where the cutest kid in the world just waved and said hi to me ten times before his mother dragged him out the door.

Remember when your biggest concern was whether or not the stranger to whom you were waving would say hi back?  Man, I miss those days.

Well, kind of.  Being able to drink coffee is a pretty nifty perk of adulthood.  I'm no longer worried that it'll stunt my growth.  In fact, I'm no longer worried that it'll keep me awake either. ;)

I'm writing to share the following lyrics from Ani DiFranco's "Evolve:"

so i walk like i'm on a mission
'cause that's just the way i groove
i've got more and more to do
i've got less and less to prove
it took me too long to realize that i don't take good pictures
'cause i've got the kind of beauty that moves

Such a simple thought, right?  "I've got the kind of beauty that moves."  When I was younger, though, these lyrics hit me like a freight train.  Like most teenage girls, I was frustrated beyond belief with  my inability to be photogenic.  Then, I heard that verse from "Evolve," and I realized that it didn't matter how I looked in pictures.  I had the kind of beauty that moved, and that--the desire to evolve and improve and progress and keep putting one foot in front of the other, even when the glare of the flash demanded that I stand still--meant more than any 5x7 ever could.

I share this with you guys because I think it's so important to love yourself.  Each and every one of you has changed my life for the better, whether you know it or not.  Your beauty isn't stagnant.  It moves and inspires me every day, and I wanted you to know that.

I'm technically on tour right now, watching the rain come down in a grey but beautiful Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  We're calling it the Poetry In Motion tour because my goal is to create the kind of music that moves.  I don't want to create art that's beautiful for a moment.  I want to create art that breathes and changes and makes you feel things.  I want to write words that stay in motion--circling your thoughts and sticking with you when you need them most.

So...that's my piece.  The Poetry In Motion Tour.  It's a tour that wouldn't have been possible without your support, your love, and the beauty within you.  So thanks for making my dreams come true.  Thanks for being you.

And next time you stare at a picture and get frustrated, know that you're more than beautiful to me; you're everything.  Because you have the kind of beauty that moves, and you've already moved me more than you know.


Em :)


Feb 10, 2011

Blessed and snow-covered

Greetings from the arctic tundra that is Dallas, TX!

Weird, right?  Texas is usually warm.  In fact, when I lived in California, I would frequently complain about how it was probably warmer in Texas.  Now, my buddies in So Cal are laughing at our snow-covered sidewalks and bragging about their 70* walks to Coffee Bean.

I have a teeny, tiny addiction to Coffee Bean.  And, by "teeny, tiny," I mean "giant and shameful."  If you live near one, I highly suggest getting a Black Forest...and then telling the cashier/manager/barista that they need a location in Dallas. :)

I'm writing because I feel like it's been forever and a day since I rambled to you guys about the beauty that is life right now.  In the last two weeks, I've had four snow days.  I feel kind of like a 6-year-old.  I went outside with my puppies and ran around in the snow and fell down a lot.  'Cause, you know, I'm graceful like that.  I also sat inside and drank apple cider and wrote songs by my space heater.  One of them is called "Obvious," and I've been playing it live lately.  It's about Facebook-stalking your exes and why that's probably not such a great idea. 

So far, I've had the opportunity to play a lot of really wonderful shows in 2011.  My first big show on January 22nd was at Labyrinth Walk Coffee House in Oak Cliff, where I had the honor of opening for the amazingly talented folk artist Andrew McKnight.  The entire show was done by candlelight and spotlight, and the audience was magical.  Andrew's set was magical.  Really, the whole evening was something that I'll carry with me forever.  People stood up and clapped at the end of my set, and I almost fell over from shock and surprise and joy.  I was so, so honored.

I did a lot of bouncing around after the show was over.  I even jumped on the bed in celebration.
There are so many cool things that we have planned for the rest of this year.  Jerry and Mandy, two really cool people, have agreed to help me so I can play more shows and make more records.  Together, we're an E Team.  We're working on spandex costumes and capes. I am maybe more excited about these outfits than they are.  (Actually, I'm not sure they know about the spandex yet.  You probably shouldn't tell them.)  You can meet them here: http://www.emmelinemusic.com/id51.html.

Also...THE EP IS OUT!!!!

I'm so stoked about this.  Thank you SO much to everyone who's bought the record.  If you haven't bought the record, you can check it out at http://www.emmelinemusic.com/id50.html for a special "snow day" sale price of $5.  (They're usually $7.)

Funny story.  Two years ago, I played my first show with Steve Jackson, Josh Cooley, Phoenix Hart, and Meredith Dobbs.  

Remember when I wrote that blog after the show saying that I wanted to do this forever?  I still want to play music forever.  I want it more now than I wanted it then.

I'm so grateful to be able to do this.  Seriously.  It's 12:58 AM.  I spent tonight trucking through the ice to play a few guitar songs for people in a bar, and it was still one of the coolest nights of my life.  

Thanks for everything that you've done to get me here.  Your support means the world.  I know I gush a lot, but I mean every word.  I'm so blessed, and that's all because of the love that you've shown me.

It's now 1:01 AM.  I have an episode of Glee in my Hulu cue.  Somewhere, Puck and Quinn and Artie are calling my name.

I hope 2011 is treating you guys well so far.  I'm sending you only good vibes.  And snowballs. :)

Love you.  Mean it.

-Em :)