It has been a while since I’ve written a post here on FiftyTwoinFiftyTwo. I’ve heard some of you say things like “What happened?” or “We miss hearing your songs and seeing your posts!”, and “What are you doing now?. Actually, I have been doing a lot. I just haven’t been posting or talking about it all that much in a public format. Mostly, because I’ve been allowing myself time to figure out what I’m inspired to do these days, finding different muses, so to speak. For example, I’ve started putting together a new vintage jazz ensemble for events. I’ve been researching old jazz songs and writing charts for the set list. I started playing with a new guitarist. I’ve been researching new gear to get for my studio. I’ve been playing songs to my family in my back yard here in California where it’s amazingly warm most of the year. I’ve been getting monster trucks added to my guitar by my son (see picture above). I’ve been learning new cover songs. I’ve been attending local songwriter circles and meeting new writers to work with. I’ve been participating in songwriting competitions. All good stuff that’s been allowing me to find passion again in my work.
Also, I’ve been letting myself say “I don’t have time” to send updates. That, I’m working on not doing anymore. I started listening to a new podcast called “Don’t Keep Your Day Job” by the songwriter Cathy Heller. If you are a musician or creative person of any kind, you should check out her podcast. She’s really enthusiastic and genuine in her delivery and has some great interviews with creative people and pointers on profiting from your work. One thing I was reminded of after hearing one of the episodes is that I can’t blame not creating work on not having enough time or money. Every time I say I don’t have enough resources like time or money to create or promote my music, the bigger reality is that I’m not being resourceful. Yes, I have a small child. Yes, I have another job besides being a musician. Yes, I have a spouse. Yes, I have housework. All of which I love (well, I don’t love the housework) and am grateful that they “consume” my time. I’m not always left with a ton of space in my day to write or perform or post about it. The reality though is that there is time, even if it’s just a small amount and a small amount can add up to a large amount in no time at all.
So, here’s my update and promise to you. I’m letting some new muses guide me and seeing where it takes me. I’ll get back to keeping you updated every week. It may not be a video. It may not be a new song. It may just be pictures like the one above of me playing guitar in my back yard with my kid. Either way, I’ll keep you updated. Thanks for the reminder to stay connected. I’ve missed you too.
A few years ago, I joined a songwriting workshop given by Jan Bell, a fellow singer and songwriter I know from back in Brooklyn. She gave the participants the assignment of looking at a picture and writing a song from it. There was a New York Times article available at the workshop about female bike messengers working in New York City. There were some really great images of tough and tattooed women cyclists. The song “She’s Not Waiting” came out of that assignment. Ironically, a couple of weeks after I wrote the song, I ran into that actual bike messenger in the office building I worked at in Manhattan. I don’t have a copy of the picture, but you can read a digital version of the article at NewYorkTimes.com. Sometimes I think of changing the title to “Wings on Her Heels”.
This week I also recorded a video of the Gram Parsons song “Return of the Grievous Angel”.
I also recorded a song I rarely ever play out live. It’s called “All That I Need is You”. I wrote it a few years ago as part of a songwriting group I was a member of. We would come up with a weekly word or idea prompt for a new song. One week during December the assignment was to write a holiday song. This is what I wrote. Check it out right here.
Lastly, yes, a song about being pissed off with God. It’s called “Oh Lord”. I wrote it after hearing a man speak on the news who had just watched his whole house be blown away by Hurricane Katrina. Check out my YouTube performance of it right here. The song was also on my last EP “The Singles”. You can listen to the recording with a full band and buy it too by going to my main website at www.RachelLeeWalsh.com.
A friend I’ve known for many years requested that I do an old song of mine called “Baby Blue”. I wrote it years ago back when I first branched out my own as a solo artist. I’ve had the song rolling around in my head for a couple of months now so finally decided to play it here for 52in52. Check it out on my RLW YouTube page. This one goes out to Jennifer.
I also uploaded a couple of other songs last week, including covers of “The Wayfaring Stranger” and “The One I Love is Gone”. I was cat sitting at a friend’s place in San Francisco and didn’t have a guitar, so ended up doing some a cappella performances with a bit of hand percussion.
Thanks for listening. Hope you enjoy. See you next week.
Each night I put my toddler to bed, we say goodnight to everything he loves. For example, we say goodnight to his animal toys, goodnight to his cars (he loves cars), and goodnight to the people in our lives. Obviously, I had to write something I could sing to him at this time of day. What I came up with was “Goodnight To You and Me”. I’ll probably write other verses to it in the future, but for now I’ve posted a short version of the song.
I also missed the last two weeks of posting videos, but now have them up for viewing. I played “Something About What Happens When We Talk”, an old favorite of mine by Lucinda Williams. I also played “Leaving Train”, a sweet song by Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. With this one, I experimented adding percussion to my performances by using an ankle tambourine. You can view all three videos by clicking the links below.
I started working on “Man on The Wire” a couple of years ago after seeing the film “Man on Wire“, a 2008 documentary about the high-wire artist Philippe Petit walking on a tight rope strung between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. It’s an amazing story about preparing for the walk, getting to the top of the buildings in secret, and the walk itself. I have an intense fear of heights that I’m always pushing myself to get over, so watching his story was beyond inspiring to me. I will certainly never do a tight rope walk between two buildings as tall as the Twin Towers, but I can at least work toward getting up to the top of high mountains, which is what I wrote the song about.
I’ve recent months I’ve been attending songwriting workshops with a chapter of West Coast Songwriters. I played this song recently at one of the meetups and changed it a bit based on the groups input. I’d love to hear your insight as well.
This time last year, I was living in NYC and it was ZERO degrees. Now I live in California and it’s pretty darn sunny and warm, basically around 65 degrees. I’m guessing this is why my brain went to doing a cover of the song “You Are My Sunshine”. It’s also a song that I sing often to my toddler so it was swirling around in my head.
I’ve started to experiment a bit with accompanying myself on other instruments besides guitar and piano including hand percussion and even children’s musical toys like my child’s xylophone. This week I tried having some fun with rhythm eggs and a small ankle tambourine, pictured below (along with a chalk sun drawing of course).
This week I was in the mood to do a cover of a Patty Griffin song called “Trapeze”. I find the lyrics of the song to be so beautiful and inspiring, so much that at one point I thought of getting a tattoo of the chorus. I didn’t end up doing that…yet.
A couple of years ago I wrote a 30 second song as a writing challenge with The Ignition Lab, a group of songwriters I got together with to write. The goal was to come up with a short song that could be used in a TV commercial. I ended up writing something I thought could be used for a home improvement store. I revisited the song again this year and tweaked it a bit. You can see the video on my RLW YouTube page.