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I must admit, I’m cheating this time around. I’m not actually at the studio right now, and haven’t been for the last sixteen hours. Rather, I’m positioned rather uncomfortably on a white leather couch in Jordan’s office, wondering what I ate that could have made me feel so awful. Though until Jordan is ready to go, I am left to bide my time and hope that by writing it will distract me from whatever it is that’s ailing me. So that being said, allow me to reflect for you. Day #3 in our studio adventures was full of mixed emotion. From the excitement of being able to record some more vocals and playing that beautiful parlor piano, while discovering that’s it’s the exact same black beauty that my parents own - The sentimentality in that? Simply the ivory touch on a set of keys that sparked my dreams, and now here I find myself, making music with an equally magnificent instrument, but one that pushes my mind to wrestle with the journey that it led me on. With a little Seinfeld thrown in, the load was lightened with a Kramer comment, only to soon after discover that we had run into a bit of a snag. Meaning that we have to re-cut guitar parts for three songs after thinking that guitar was fully tracked. So much to our dismay, we left with the knowledge that as productive as our time had felt over these past three days, it has still left us needing to pay for more studio time than we had bargained for. Then of course, we had to leave, knowing that tomorrow we wouldn’t be back. Oh we’ll be back, but we already miss it. So with a slight heaviness in the air and a new day that would open the door to our Chicagoland lives, and now sitting here with a rather disgruntled stomach, there is not much more to say about day number three. Except that we’re ready to go back.
After a rather disheartening morning, spending two hours on our first video blog and the program then deciding that it wanted to run an error that would keep me from finalizing the video, which in turn kept me from a shower, breakfast, and kept you from getting a taste of our first day in the studio - At least for now. Though with Jordan graciously keeping me entertained in our travels by joining me in some vocal warm-up exercises, I was again enraptured with the thought of walking into the studio for a full day.
What aroma fills the air at this moment? That sweet guitar. Yes, the sound of a guitar does carry it’s own aroma. Sweet but sassy. Strong but simple. Sexy but . . . well, just plain sexy. Especially considering that I’m madly in love with the person playing said instrument :) Ah yes, but back to the reason we’re all here; To smell the sumptuous delight of music. Let’s see 4:48 in the afternoon. Just one hour and 12 minutes left before we call it a wrap. At least for today. Guitar tracks for four songs complete, and ready to pump out vocals for song number three. It doesn’t get much better than this.
I am in love. Well, I should be fair. We are in love. There is a certain fondness we have for each other, though this new affair seems to make us even more so appreciate the depth of our musical bond. Who knew the simplicity of a place could bring so much to the surface?
Our first day in “the studio” is upon us. A rather long sought after moment and as I hear the pounding of Dave’s drum kit while sitting in the control room, 2-hrs. after our arrival, I realize that the sound couldn’t be any sweeter. To some it might be noise, chaos even, or perhaps a tedious process that would drive one to feel like they’ve just wasted 2-hrs. of their life, like after watching a movie where you feel dumber after leaving the theatre. Not to us. To us it is the sweet anticipation of music in the making; The culminating point of our love for writing, for performing, for recording.
First song on deck today: Storybook. Single. Title Track. A favorite. One that inspired the soon to be album artwork and perhaps might find it’s way to inspiring you. Only you’ll know that.
4:05. I’ve run out of things to write and we are here until 10. Good thing we’re here to make music.
Conversations can lead to the most profound moments; Moments where in speaking aloud I discover the thoughts that truly reveal how my mind has been shaped, how it feels, how it understands.
Well, I have had many marvelous a conversation in the past couple of weeks, all revolving around the same word – sacrifice. A heavy word, perhaps, when you think on the weight of its connotation. Sacrifice. Surrender. Relinquish. Costly. What else comes to mind? Well whatever it is, I would think that with the idea of sacrifice comes the idea of struggle. No matter if the reward is far greater, the sacrifice itself is going to take some gumption.
I am an artist. I was an artist before I started working full time at my church, directing all realms of music and production. Though I must admit, I feel more of an artist now, being able to put my passions to action every day. In my tendency to look back, a tendency that is probably far too familiar to each of us, I have seen a strong trend that led my decisions. Sacrifice. I chose to go to college so that I could become a trained vocalist. I sacrificed time. I chose to drive myself and my belongings to a city I had never stepped foot on before so that I could pursue my art. I sacrificed security. I accepted a job in the banking industry so that I could support myself while forming and leading a band. I sacrificed my daily enjoyment. I married the love of my life and vowed to grow in love and commitment. I sacrificed independence. I moved to Rockford, IL to take on the responsibilities of a leader and artist at River Valley Community Church. I sacrificed living in the city I had come to love.
With every decision there came sacrifice - Some easier than others, but an adjustment nonetheless. Yet there is more to every decision made, for to every road taken is a road left empty - One sacrifice made in the place of another. Jennifer, why did you take that job at the bank if there were tears in your eyes at the thought of saying ‘yes’? Jennifer, why did you spend so much time planning a wedding when you could have been writing more songs? Jennifer, why didn’t you just sell all of your belongings and go on the road?
For some, the potential decisions of the past that I ponder are very viable options, and rightly pursued by many. For me, every decision was surrounded by so much more than simply “going for my dream.” Oh believe me, I haven’t given up. My vigor is stronger than ever. I believe wholehearted that Lucrezio is going places and that our longing to reach the hearts of many through the music we have written in an even greater capacity than now is not only a hope, but a future reality. Though for me, I was not willing to simply sacrifice “everything”, and ironically, that’s the sacrifice that I made.
You may ask, but isn’t the artist’s life supposed to be someone living out of a car, dirt-poor, single, and working at Starbucks?
That’s what I thought too. Until I realized the artist’s life has no one way. I am an artist and this is my life.
If you have ever had a dream … If you have ever experienced an untamed passion for something more … If you have ever lived life in pursuit of what your heart deeply desires … If you have ever made sacrifices only to ache for the seemingly impossible … If you have ever believed that the impossible is attainable … Then we have walked a similar journey with an outcome yet to be determined, but a passion far from being hindered. Then you have seen disappointment that only pushes you further … Then you have experienced a cry that says “Here I Am! – Somebody please hear me ”… Then you know you cannot settle for anything less than the cry of your heart… You know that you cannot do it alone. This Saturday morning in May greeted us with a cool breeze, forming puffs of cold air that freely escaped through our lips. My shoes became decorated with speckles of mud each time they sunk into puddles of grassy patches that became our pathway to the music tent. Our set-up was simple, but Jordan and I worked diligently to arrange the small platform for our acoustic performance, honored to benefit this great cause that we were invited to support. Half past nine, while bundled in my winter hat and marshmallow vest, we positioned ourselves in the dew covered folding chairs so as to fill the air with unheard melodies. The wind took to our tunes marvelously, but only to carry each song away selfishly, merely mixed in with drifting dandelion parachutes. Although perhaps the wind took each note to God’s ears in the journey upward, and even one dear elderly lady in the corner who smiled lavishly upon us. As for the rest, they took the hands of their children and leashes of their dogs, strolling upon the grass with not even a gaze thrown in our direction, save an occasional thumbs-up whilst meandering to the food tent. Jordan’s fingers growing slightly numb from the cold, and with his fifth string now absent from the neck of his guitar, we began to play a tune that started on the white keys of my piano and made its way to this shadowed tent. “Write it down, every word, that has no sound but can be heard. Write it down, every thought, and don’t forget the words you sought. Fighting for an answer. I want to scream what I can’t say. What will it take for you to hear me? I want to shout; just shout it out. What will it take for you to see me? So I will -- ” Yet they continued to hear nothing but whispers of an innocent wind. Every piece of my being cried out unashamedly for my voice to be heard, only to recognize that I cannot grasp what it will take for the writings of my heart to become truth to empty steps that struggle through life just as much as I. Either they are not listening closely enough to find the resonating truth that hovers in the air above their heads, or I am not screaming loudly enough. So here I am, writing down the words that make the very core of my being ache. Not merely because I want to be heard, but because I want you to hear; to know that in our vastly different journey’s, the heart of emotion and hurt and struggle is something that we all know, no matter the yoke of our beliefs, no matter the steps within our stories, no matter the depth of our pain. This is why I write. This is why we play. Although we long to do what we love, our desires are cast not simply for the sake of ourselves, but for the beauty that will manifest itself when we all choose to listen and share in the struggle.
A little something from Jennifer: President Obama and his administration have recently moved to rescind job protections for healthcare providers who refuse to provide care they find objectionable. Whether you are Pro-Life or Pro-Choice, please recognize that this move extends beyond what is "right" and what is "wrong." America has been marked as a nation of freedom, and so must extend that freedom to all people. So I am asking of you to please go to www.freedom2care.org, where you can send your message to the Government. You may make it personal, or you may simply take roughly 45 seconds to add your name to thousands of people who want to give their healthcare providers the freedom to choose. Public comments are being accepted only until APRIL 9th so please spread the word quickly! ______________________________________________________ My message to Government: Yes, my heart breaks for the unborn, although now it breaks for those who have been given the gift of life; Individuals who have chosen a profession to care for the sick and mend the wounded, who now find themselves forced to take a life that they feel truly is life. I understand that the administration who reads this message on behalf of President Obama may not find abortion murder, nor am I trying to take the time to convince you of that, regardless of my personal convictions. Still in spite of where the difference lies, understand to the extent that our nation suffers from a lack of conviction; from theft to divorce to rape to murder. Thankfully there are those whose conscience would keep them from doing these things. Again, many may not believe that performing an abortion is equivocal to murder, but for those that do, you are asking them to perform an act that blatantly moves against the core of who they are; an act that would weaken their moral character, and make them feel as corrupt as that of a killer. Why, in a world where our lack of convictions have caused fellow human beings pain, would you ask those who want nothing but to restore a broken body to, in their minds eye, destroy it. We are a nation of freedom, whether that freedom is deemed "right" or "wrong." Freedom for men to marry men and women to marry women; Freedom for religious groups to meet and worship their god in public; Freedom for women to make the choice of whether or not they want to keep the child they have conceived. Then may this freedom extend into those in medicine, by not forcing them to choose between ethically controversial practices and the career that they have worked so passionately towards. Women who want an abortion will find those willing to give them an abortion. It is not as though we are running out of pro-choice healthcare providers. Please protect the freedom of these men and women who live out their moral convictions, just as you have given freedom to those who choose to live a different way.