Just finished tracking 18 songs, piano/keyboard parts and vocal parts…over the course of this past week roughly. It’s exhausting work, hard to find yourself in the right mood each time when you’re working around a busy work schedule and life. But I am feeling more motivated than ever, because this month’s album-in-process, “Survival Skills,” is a perfect example of wasting your life. Which is a perfect explanation as to why I’m a whirling dervish of creative energy and output right now.
I’ve been writing since I was 3. It’s fine that I did nothing with it then. Even elementary and middle school, it was cute, I won awards and did shows, but it’s okay that it didn’t go beyond that – great memories with friends, but overall school was a priority and distracting and I was busy caring about being an A student, getting into colleges, eventually getting a piano performance degree (though I chose my college based on the promise of being able to create a major in Songwriting – I applied, was accepted to the conservatory on scholarships, but classical piano was SUPPOSED to just be a way in the door…had to wait til Sophmore year ended to propose your own major, wrote a big proposal on my B.A. in Songwriting – Psychology, Philosophy, Poetry, and Music – I was so excited about this, and when the proposal was rejected because they thought I could just take those classes and continue on my multiple major trajectory (theatre/english/music), I was devastated. Almost transferred. Why reject something like this? What harm you do to a dreamer like me, it’s so ridiculous. I was paying them tens of thousands a year, if I wanted a less-impressive-sounding degree, why not let me? So many small defeats I rarely talk about anymore…like freshman year of college, taking third in a contest with only three entries…didn’t perform publicly for friends for many many years after that…)
Anyway, I was writing all this time. Never recording. No studios, no awareness of studios even (after 6th grade – thanks again Uncle Bob). Didn’t know the first thing about bringing high quality audio recordings into the world. Got lost in Musical Theatre, went to NYC for a program in Musical Theatre Writing…but it was such a tangent. I wrote a musical for my senior honors project, just to have one thing to represent three majors. I love my musical theatre trajectory, but I’m really lucky self-help books exist, to have brought me back to my solo singer-songwriter self. Almost didn’t make it. That toxic ex, it’s one thing he was really great for – helping me be myself. He was a very accepting human being, in a very strange and dysfunctional way (oh, I said that like you know what I’m talking about…well it’s in my songs…getting lost in my timeline these days, back and forth and back again…getting a little hard to keep things straight).
So basically, by this point, end of grad school, I already had boatloads of songs that I’d not only not recorded, but mostly played just for me. Shared with one or two friends. Even had one of those two friends say to me, when I would visit her at college and be excited to share, that she wanted to not always have to listen to a new song when I come (once or twice a year). Like 5 minutes, I share with 2 people. Maybe just 1 by then. And she said that 5 minutes was bothering her. Deep breath.
That was a very formative experience.
Probably why I share with so many people now, even just dropping into the void like this. So no one person liking or disliking my music has power over me.
I don’t know. I guess I’m just backed up. I left NYC right away after grad school, ended up in Chicago…that was its own mini-tragedy. That man, who I loved, wasn’t who I moved there for. Moved there for someone else, but our wounds were so deep and unsolveable. Could never even really explain it to him, because I tried to one or two months into dating and he talked me out of it. We grew apart, is probably the best description – or more accurately, I was never really in love with him, and we wanted very different things.
So when I found someone who was compatible with my life plans and hopes, and also was in love with, I was able to overlook the glaring issue of addiction and all of its negative life-destroying ramifications…I hope he is well now. But that is a very dark and strange and powerful chapter of my life. On one hand, he encouraged me to pursue my path – be that performing songwriter I deeply wanted to be. Supported me better than anyone, truly loved my music and voice and any weirdness or top 40 sounds or whatever. My music got very weird and varied. I made homemade music videos out of construction paper and other cute goofy things. I have him to thank in so many ways for finding myself. He was the antithesis of the tight control, analyse and think through everything approach to ‘success’ that I grew up with. I really think its possible to find positives in everything (because that super controlled upbringing gave me a flawless foundation for my education, the stability to focus on school, scholarships, piano practice, etc…honestly, I realize in hindsight how rare that kind of stability is, and am deeply grateful for it…but it was hard to embrace and accept all my idiosyncracies in such a structured atmosphere).
Anyway, listening to all these songs has me not wanting to disown my own past anymore. None of my exes, I’ve loved something about all of them, and am deeply grateful for our friendships and connection. None of my past friends, no matter how deeply they hurt me, maybe I was just overwhelming to be around. I can imagine. I mean, trauma, confusion, lots of words, unresolved emotions…probably. And I think compatibility is a real thing, and in childhood I had some friends I was deeply compatible with. Same with partners. But it’s hard to wake up to your own life and realize that all the hurt is maybe just growing pains. Nobody meant you any harm, really, but in the process of finding ourselves and our preferences, we have to rule somethings out – and it hurts, we hurt people, people hurt us. And it sucks. And I don’t know why the earth and its people were made this way. I don’t know why this is the process or the point. But I am ready to forgive everyone, more fully than I have before, because I can’t forgive myself for all the people I’ve hurt or the things I’ve done to hurt others, unless I forgive the things others have done to me. Its process, its learning…I get, so clearly, that I am not for everyone. I used to say that a lot, but feeling it in your heart is a different story. Its painful. We want to be liked and it feels so personal when we’re not someone’s first or second or fifteenth choice…when we’re like 69th or 126th or just not even on the list. I’m finding that a lot lately, with new friends and acquaintances…it’s just hard. I love meeting new people, but social media is just not realistic about what connections mean anymore…
Anyway, I digress. WHY am I doing this? Because look. All that, above, is because I just spent two weeks playing and singing trauma years songs. Excavating, digging through mini-disks, exploring years of my life that I had sealed off in my mind, never to think or talk about, too painful, too confusing, too embarassing, too…
But it’s easy to accept that other people have sordid or sad pasts…I know that’s a truth of existence for many, and it doesn’t bother me. For others I would share uplifting things, help reframe it, etc. But for myself, I shoved it all in boxes in my heart, or more like gut really. Or deeper. Something unobservable. Barely there. When it would pop up, I would shove it back down. So this intentional pulling up, rerecording, planning to share songs that hurt, that make me FEEL, that make me feel both sad AND strong…its…liberating. I didn’t know how I’d feel releasing them as Jessica in The Rainbow. Considered putting em on my old Bandcamp (jessicafogle.bandcamp.com) …but that is like a time-capsule page, and I’m tired of fragmenting myself. Rainbows are fragmented enough. Like here’s all the spaghetti, here’s the shit show, splattered here…childhood albums, teen/20s albums, Chicago coming up (the other 10 albums I wrote while there, might do one big release one month of all 10 remaining albums? 100 songs in one month? why not, I’m not tired, HA HA HA)
I just want to move forward, and stop regretting my past that never came into the light, every time I move forward quickly. These old parts of myself felt unloved, unobservable, except by me and 2-10 people from my past…and it felt sad and fragmented that no one knew this childhood me…I think its what made me so defensive and want to tell people about it. Because those songs, they’re so different (in my mind)…these ones from high school-early 20s are even MORE different…jazzy, angry, sad sad, musical theatre infused (?), piano pop? I don’t know what they are. I added space sounds and sang in my now voice, not my explosive pushing sounding voice of back then…I like to use my power in a balanced way now, back then I liked just singing as loud as possible. And it wasn’t controlled…sometimes it sounded amazing, other times super pitchy.
I dunno. That’s why. I’m trying to catch up. I mean, I can’t catch up. 365 songs from last year, only one or two more albums will be about that. There’s other things. Musicals I wrote. The desire for forever to do a new kids’ album. Made one with my ex, Frog & Duck, and mourned it so hard when we divorced. Gave him the rights because I knew I wouldn’t promote something that made me so sad, that felt like failure. So I’ve been wanting to make a new kids’ album since a convo with my brother in 2016. Haven’t yet. Why not? Cuz of that damn slating things…never really saying “this week, this month, this year, I will work 12x as hard as usual.” So that’s what I’ve been doing, since Feb 12, 2017. Trying to work 12x as hard as usual. Or 24x. Or 365x. I don’t know. Just trying to not let up. Its insane and a bit unbalanced, but the world feels unstable right now and its keeping me sane(r) to match its energy in a way I can control. Since, if you read my politics post, getting into politics didn’t work for me 😦
Hmmm was that a good explanation? Cuz it’s not just distraction during a political maelstrom. There are many ways to distract. Netflix, anything zoning out or fun, this is not fun. This is hard hard hard work. I’m exhausted all the time. And no one is asking me to be and I could quit at any time. Which makes me sad and scared…because I don’t have challenge blood, or resolve like some people do. I mean, it feels like a “have to” but I don’t feel invigorated from the challenge, like “haha challenge, I’ll show you!” Just matter-of-fact. I assigned it to myself, so I HAVE to do it. Period. I mean I assigned myself “walk every day for a year” and failed that already. Maybe it’s the public sharing? I think it helps. I know I need to be held accountable, even if it’s by 2-3 strangers or fans who read these. I know it exists, it gives me an outlet, to explain, to process, to defend…it’s something.
Okay it’s 2:30am and we’re going on a little trip to Chicago tomorrow…need to rest.
Rough draft done though, I feel good about that. I’ve missed these songs and I don’t care how sad they make me, or how angry/impatient (I’m an Aries, and these bring out that side in spades…normally I can be softer than I feel inside, by a belief that it makes people happier…but in reality, I’m fire).
Night ❤ Jessica