For my sixteenth birthday, I remember being blind folded and taken to First Dam (a little man-made lake in Logan, Utah with a dock and nice grassy parts. And yes, there is a Second Dam.) I got there and my friends had made me a poster out of dried noodles that said Happy Birthday. And now, as I type this, I think all this happened when I turned 18. Sigh. I’m getting old.
Hello there and good day to you. Are you well? Are you feeling alright? I hope so.
As you know, I spent last weekend in the North East (freaking awesome!) with friends, Jonathan, and Hog Farm. On our way home, and lucky for us, we had the chance to break up our long drive home with a stop by Jonathan’s sister’s. Julie Clark Shubert is Jonathan’s oldest sister. She is 53 years old and started playing the electric guitar three years ago when she turned the magical 5-0. She had never even touched a guitar before turning 50. In her own words from her website, www.allthingsjulie.com:
[My husband] Gary surprised me with [a Fender Strat] on my fiftieth birthday. She’s beautiful, but I hadn’t even held a guitar before. It was just on my list I had made, my bucket list of things I needed to do before I die and learn how to play electric guitar was on it next to tap dancing.
For nine months I just plucked at her a little, hoping my inner Hendrix would spring out of me, but the sounds I made couldn’t be called music. I kept putting off trying to find a guitar teacher, but everyday she just sat there in the corner of my office and stared at me. I finally gave in and found a teacher. Then one day after taking lessons for two months and knowing four chords, my first song poured out of me. It was magical. I don’t know how to write a song, no one had ever taught me how, I was writing chords I hadn’t learned yet. I assumed it was some kind of miracle, but then it happened again and again.
My songs are like my children, I can’t believe they came out of me. I am delighted, intrigued, and amazed by them. I am also struck with a sense of responsibility, they are clearly not mine in the same way that my children are not mine, and come from a place much bigger than me. My songs are gifts from the universe, and I realized that I alone was responsible for their growing and nurturing and sharing them with the world.
Knowing Julie has been an important turning point for me in my music making. What a wonderful example of awesomeness. Here we have someone who had never written a song in her life and she picks up her guitar and there you go. Before I talked to Julie about songwriting, I was unhappy with the songs that were coming out because they didn’t fit some mold I had set for myself. I opened up to Julie about my frustration and the most important piece of advice she gave me was, “Just like you don’t choose your kids and who they will be when they come out, you can’t always determine what a song is going to be when it comes out. You have to let them out and let them be what they’re going to be. Don’t judge them.” Up until that point, I had been pushing and forcing myself: where did I belong, what is my sound, where are my songs? The second I gave up on all that head space mumbo-jumbo and followed her advice, and I’m telling you, the very second I let it go, I felt like I had written a really solid song that I enjoyed playing and, for the first time, I felt was me. (That song happens to be Danny Sorrow, a song I recorded for The Crux and The Bluestocking EP with Franz Nicolay. You can find it on iTunes!)
Since then, I still have frustrating moments, and those moments are a big reason why I started this project. But it’s getting better the more I do it, and hopefully I’m learning something valuable in the process.
You will hear in this recording Julie shout out, “You’re looking sharp, my man!” She is speaking to her husband, Gary who had just passed us and was dressed in a shirt and tie. I left this in because it gives you a very clear picture of a side of Julie that makes her very… well… Julie.
We starting writing this at about 8:30 am, had a break to eat breakfast, and finished recording at 10:30, so I would say the whole thing took about an hour, maybe an hour and a half. Julie has a style that is all her own, and I changed up her normal form by taking out the bridge mostly to save time since we had to make a deadline, but also to shake it up a bit (if you can call taking something out shaking it up). I was afraid the melody that came to me so automatically sounded too much like something I have heard before, but it doesn’t matter, and I put my mind away about it. As I wrote my verse I realized it was about Julie, so she fashioned her verse about me. Julie pulled together lyrics for the chorus, and that was it. We had a great time together. Thank you, Julie! Rock on, sister.
Jules, she came about a wide, wide universe
Keeping none and selling all
Goods she beamed were two bits strong
Saved a pretty piece
A big, red, lucky star
All the while screaming out
Things aren’t what they used to be
And we write every day
And we sing it all away
And she called me up Confused as to who she was Writing the words that were shuffling through her world I told her they were for the people she’ll never know The lives that she would touch Would always mean so much And we write every day And we sing it all away
Since I’m a bit ahead because of Aly and Guy’s double recording day, I can already tell you what tomorrow’s song is! But I won’t. I will tell you, however, that Jeremy Styles, Jocelyn Mackenzie, Jim Alteri and Jonathan Clark all take part AND there’s ANOTHER VIDEO!!! YAY FOR TECHNOLOGY! (Even if the program sucks.) And, tomorrow’s song marks the first official SWEAR WORD in a song in The 365 Project! (So get ready, Grandma!)
Until tomorrow, once again!