Ever wondered what’s the story behind a song?
This month’s question: Has your writing ever taken you by surprise?
When I penned my very first story at the age of eleven, I had no expectations on where writing would take me. What started out as a challenge ended up being a lifeline that I’ve used time and time again.
Writing took me on a journey to places I never dreamed I visit. Experiences I never thought I’d ever partake in. It enabled me to meet like-minded individuals from all over the world, from all walks of life.
Writing changed me.
In fact, I think it might have saved my life more times than I care to admit. Whether or not it kept me from insanity…well, that depends on who you ask!
Writing has been the one constant in my life while the rest has been full of chaos and changes.
I guess what I never expected when I wrote that fateful story all those years ago was how writing would change my life.
Something it’s still doing.
As I sit here at my desk, I see a future that holds more changes and yes, even heartaches. But knowing that I have my writing to hold on to as I travel through the possible dark path ahead, I believe I will be just fine.
Now that I’ve declared I was a poet (much more so than just a fiction writer), I decided to really put myself out there.
By recording poetry as “spoken word.”
This was a huge thing for me as I absolutely HATE the sound of my own voice. This mainly stem from a history of speech problems due to my hearing impairment. So, after listening to other poets’ recording their poems, not to mention some hard-core loving encouragement from Susan Richardson, I took that leap.
Quiet was my very first attempt. This poem was actually inspired by having listened to so many of Avi Kaplan’s music:
Once was a poem I wrote years ago, but it’s a story I feel is still very relevant today:
“Being different and thinking differently make a person unforgettable.” –Suzy Kassem
My mental illness is definitely not something I generally like to talk about; however, it’s probably one of the main reasons why I write.
I saw this quote on the internet the other day, and it got me thinking about things. Lots of things.
“No matter what we make, creativity always changes the creator.” -anonymous
Anyone who creates, whether you’re a photographer, musician, or writer (the list can go on and on), not only do you have the ability to change your own life through the act of creating, but other people’s lives as well.
How do creatives have such powerful impact? One of the best answers I found was in this explanation:
“Art does not show people what to do, yet engaging with a good work of art can connect you to your senses, body, and mind. It can make the world felt. And this felt feeling may spur thinking, engagement, and even action.” -Olafur Eliasson, Why Art Has the Power To Change the World
To create is to connect. And in this day and age, we as the whole seemed to have lost the ability to truly connect with ourselves, to people, and to the world that surrounds us.
Is it a wonder to why we feel so lonely? So disconnected?
Yes, we have this thing called technology in abundance but it can NOT fully step into the role of the connector. While there is that feeling of being connected to someone on the other side of the digital barrier, it still feels artificial. Not real or alive.
On the other hand, creative arts have the ability to do just that.
Through music, paintings, sculptures, photographs, poetry, and on and on. So, while art has the power to bring people together, it also has the power to heal especially for the creator (aka artist, songwriter, poet, etc…you get the idea).
How does art heal us?
“Art and music affect every cell in the body instantly to create a healing physiology that changes the immune system and blood flow to all the organs. Art and Music also immediately change a person’s perceptions of their world. They change attitude, emotional state, and pain perception. They create hope and positivity and they help people cope with difficulties. They transform a person’s outlook and way of being in the world.” –How Art Heals-Mind/Body Physiology
Music has always been in my family especially on my mother’s side which yielded several musicians including an uncle who went on to play with an award-winning Native American-Folk band, December Wind. As a girl, I can remember many occasions when family members gathered together at my Grandmother’s house for a “jam session” completed with guitars, banjo, fiddle, accordion, harmonica and even a set of spoons. I was at an age where I was misunderstood (no one knew I was partially deaf until later) and music was something I understood. I’d sit on the floor, and “listened” to the beats and deep bass sounds for hours.
Although I loved music, I never learned to play an instrument (the desire was there though), I ended up singing in the school and church choirs for several years (I’d harmonized through the “beats” and reading music).
Since I couldn’t be a musician, I found myself drawn to words. Words I also understood so I delved deep in the worlds created by words. Here I connected with characters who became my friends since I had so few in the real world (byproduct of being “different”). After accidentally discovering writing (the story behind this discovery can be found here), I’d took my favorite characters (Scooby Doo and Shaggy were among those) and created my own world with them in it.
Writing became a lifeline to the intense loneliness I’d felt.
When I was in college, I took to writing journals as a way of dealing with the stress and pressures that went with being a student living away from home.
In 1992, I stopped writing altogether. This was the year I was diagnosed with Usher Syndrome (a form of Retinitis Pigmentosa-progressive blindness-which included hearing loss).
Depression really emerged at this point in my life though I was never diagnosed. And when I married my first husband, Aaron, anger replaced everything else I was feeling and he bore, unfortunately, the brunt of it. The depression and anger steadily grew worse over time, and then the worst happened.
He was killed in a car accident.
Grief and regrets overwhelmed me, and I nearly did the unthinkable. I backed out just before it was too late as I realized that this would be the ultimate regret that I could never return from. Worse of all, it would hurt my family as well as Aaron’s.
I just couldn’t do it.
Instead, I poured all my attention and strength into finishing college (which I did over a year after Aaron’s death). By this time, I’d moved out in my own apartment, but also had regressed from all social activities becoming a hermit with very little contact to the outside world.
Then Jay came into my life (actually he returned to my life, but that is another story of its own). He changed everything by not only marrying me, but by reintroducing writing back into my life through a gift of a leather-bound journal.
In this journal, I spew all my anger and pain like vomit. When the pages were all full, I closed the book and packed it away (even to this day I have not gone back to read it).
Now being emptied, the healing can begin.
(This is just part one of my story. I plan to continue in the near future)
Since it’s National Poetry Writing Month and that I’m from a family that’s musically inclined, I’ve wondered how interesting it was that songs, in general, can sound so poetic (and why on earth do people believe that poems can’t be sung?).
Both have a beat (rhythm) as you sing (or say) the words. Both have verses which tend to have some sort of a rhyming scheme. Both have the power to evoke emotions and images. On the other hand, the lines of a song tend to be much shorter than most poems; and frankly, a lot catchier (easier to remember).
So, yeah, there are few similarities between a song and a poem, but when you really get down to the nitty-gritty, they are two separate entities that may “sound” and at times “appear” like one another, but they’re not.
With being hearing impaired, it’s more difficult to compare these two side by side just by listening; however, when I go to write a poem, and then a song, that’s when those differences become much more apparent to me.
Here’s a little fun. Read the lines below and decide if this is a song or a poem:
You say you’ll give me
Eyes in a moon of blindness
A river in a time of dryness
A harbor in the tempest
There are only a handful of musicians who move and excite me otherwise they are mostly meh. I hadn’t really been able to truly dig music since the ’80s (with few exceptions).
Until nearly five years ago (2014) when I stumbled across Pentatonix’s Christmas video, The Little Drummer Boy, on You Tube. Two vocalists in particular stood out to me: Kirstin Maldonado and Avi Kaplan. I especially loved Avi’s booming bass voice. I was very sad when he announced in early 2017 that he was leaving Pentatonix to pursue his own music as well as to spend more time with his family.
It’s been a joy watching him grow and mature as a musician striving to find his own path. And boy, with his latest song, I believe he has finally arrived. But, in order to truly appreciate his latest music, you really need to revisit his past music, and then as you listen to the Change On the Rise, you will truly understand why his fans are so excited and wowed and stunned!
Avi was born and grew up in Visalia, California, a city in the San Joaquin Valley. Being Jewish, he was subjected to ridicules and bullying as a kid. Having grown up near the Sequoia National Park, nature greatly influenced his music.
In the video below, you will hear the story of how Pentatonix and Avi came together to compete on a television show (Sing Off) that would change their lives forever.
The video below was where I first discovered Avi (in 2014).
The song below won Pentatonix their first Grammy.
Below was Avi’s final performance with Pentatonix.
Avi loved Folk music so naturally the music in his debut album fell in that genre. The song below is my favorite.
I believe sometime in 2017, he moved to Tennessee to live in a cabin deep in the forest outside of Nashville. Here he would spend his quiet days writing and playing songs. Every once in a while a video surfaced of him. Otherwise, he basically took a sabbatical in order to delve into his own music away from the chaotic world.
And then this! This music video premiered on You Tube on the said date below. For those who closely followed Avi and his music, well, this was a real treat. We’ve listened to the kind of music he sang in the past, and this…this was NOT what we expected. Far, far from it! We were speechless and so incredibly moved to tears. Yes, Avi is finally coming into his own. And I expect him to continue to surprise and shock us with his talent in songwriting and singing. Oh, did I mention that voice? Simply put…there is no other like it.
Avi’s official website
His You Tube channel
Who says that bass singers can’t be successful? There are plenty of bands with bass singers; but, how many of them are the lead singers? Or better yet, soloist?
Hmm, I can only think of a few.
These are just a few I could think off the top of my head. Anyhoo, the reason I got on this bandwagon was because of a new song I listened to earlier today that just absolutely wowed me. Newly released to the public (earlier today), Change On the Rise by Avi Kaplan (formerly the bass singer from Pentatonix). His voice is incredible! I believe we are possibly looking at one of the prolific bass singers in modern time right here. Give it a listen and let me know what you think.
Are all movies produced from screenplays only?
Many have been inspired by novels. Think Harry Potter and Twilight. But, did you know that there are a large number inspired by short stories?
Here are a few just to give you an idea:
In my next post, how does a short story get selected to be a film?