listening to levon

As many of you know, one of the greats, Levon Helm passed away last week.  I thought I’d share this video of Marc Cohn’s song, “Listening to Levon,” which sums up just what his songs did to you when you heard them, no matter where you were.

And for anyone who’s ever felt lost or gone…

music love

Last night, suddenly my phone was constantly buzzing with 50 emails at a time updating me on my youtube account.  Apparently the 2Pac facebook page had posted my cover of “California Love” and things, well, got real…

I have passed 100,00 views on this little song, which I posted two years ago in homage to two incredible rappers, namely Tupac Shakur, who’s poetry and art transcends race and speaks to people of all walks of life.

It has been a very interesting thing to read the comments made on this video.  Some have given me a thicker skin even.  But for the most part, they are positive and encouraging and I think that says a lot about music and the power it has to bring people from different backgrounds together with a common bond.

I remember buying his book of collected poetry, “The Rose that Grew from Concrete” in 1999, three years after his death.  It was beautiful and powerful and showed the world and me how much love can grow from hate.  The title poem, still simply says so much to me today:

Did you hear about the rose that grew
from a crack in the concrete?
Proving nature’s law is wrong it
learned to walk with out having feet.
Funny it seems, but by keeping its dreams,
it learned to breathe fresh air.
Long live the rose that grew from concrete
when no one else ever cared.

People can be so angry and mean with their words.  These silly youtube comments are a perfect example of that.  But my heart breaks for those who fail to understand my intentions – and those of anyone who wants to create music to share and connect with others.  This has been quite the start of a year with weighty realizations.  Again, I find myself realizing that I can’t escape my need to play music.  How very uplifting.

joyful journey

I was surprised to find that my new year’s decision to start running helped me this week to cope with what had happened.

The last thing I wanted to do was put on some running shoes and be alone in my thoughts.  But I think it saved me from climbing into that dark hole.

I mean, it’s a simple fact that exercise makes you feel better.  It balances emotions, pumps you full of endorphins, and gives you energy.  Obviously there are serious exceptions to the rule, and sometimes we need more than just a run and we need serious help, but let me use this post to simply talk about the amazing power we all have within ourselves to be happy.

It is easy sometimes to self-soothe with pity and bitterness.  We fall down and demand that others to carry us.  I’ve done this plenty of times.  But I have been recently amazed at how we, as humans in our fragile forms, can be stronger than anything emotional that could hit us.

What my friend taught me, more than anything, is that we have no excuse to be sad.  There’s too much that we have the capacity to do to make our lives better.  Feeling helpless and resigned to our fate is simply selfish and lazy.

I heard someone say on the radio that “bitterness is amplified self-pity”.  That was a wonderful realization for me.  It was quite a kick in the pants.  Furthermore, I think sadness is a lack of awareness or a lack of willingness to see the greater world around you.

My friend’s favorite author, once told a story that begins:

“There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”

This is a standard requirement of US commencement speeches, the deployment of didactic little parable-ish stories. The story [“thing”] turns out to be one of the better, less bullshitty conventions of the genre, but if you’re worried that I plan to present myself here as the wise, older fish explaining what water is to you younger fish, please don’t be. I am not the wise old fish. The point of the fish story is merely that the most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about …

“It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over:

‘This is water.’

‘This is water.'”

The full speech by David Foster Wallace is here.  I recommend reading the thing in its entirety.  But if not, hopefully the point is made clear enough from what I’ve extracted.  Life really is too short to forget how important it is that we take advantage of every moment that we live it.

I’m afraid I might end many of my next few posts on more of a rant than was intended.  Forgive me for the time being.

dear tommy

This is really fucking hard.

I found out on Monday that you had died in a motorcycle accident the evening before.

It starts out quiet.  Then I think of the way you’d break an uncomfortable silence with some horribly lewd sound.  Or how you’d attack me out of the blue and say “stop crying” in a mock threatening voice.  Your voice is always in my head, coming and going as you please.

You were always there to make me mock my fears and face the world head on.  When I needed you, no matter where you were, you came.  You were there at my first open-mic, my first show, you came up to see me whenever I was feeling lost and alone in LA.  You came to my last show.  You came with me to parties we both were uncomfortable attending but knew we had to.

I need you now, why won’t you come?

Allow me to believe that everything happens for a reason, as hard as that idea is right now.  Allow me to believe that you were there with me when I sang for you the last stupid song I wrote.  Allow me to believe that you gave me that because you knew I needed it because you knew what I’ve been through and you knew I never wanted to go through it again and now that you have made me you at least eased the pain by giving me just two more minutes with you.

You left us enough love to get through this once you were gone.

my dad

… is not one to divulge stories about his past.  But the other day he gave me a box of photos from when he was, well, my age.  It got me thinking, “This guy was cool once?! I don’t believe it!”  I’m just kidding, my dad was and always will be a “cool guy” in my eyes.  I mean, he’s my dad.  And he looked like a hipster in the seventies.  Check out that belt on the third guy from the left.  Yep, he’s the cool one.

Heck, he was chillin’ at the Holiday Inn before Sugarhill Gang and Chingy.  Yes, I had to google those names.  Now, who’s cool and not cool?!

i’m no feminist but…

I’m a goddamn feminist.  And I hope to hell you are too.

So many girls my age cringe at that word and make sure to separate themselves from it when they are talking about how important their simple rights as a woman are threatened- in ways subtle and not- every day.

Excuse me, do you believe in equality?  Do you care about the rights of all genders and sexes?  Do you never want to be limited in your own abilities by the judgements of others?  Then I’m sorry, sweetheart.  You’re a goddamn feminist.

I mean seriously, why preface a sentence with, “I’m not like a feminist or anything but when he assumed I wasn’t going to succeed because I was a girl, that really pissed me off.”  Or how about, “I don’t mean to sound all ‘Gloria Steinem’ but women still struggle in the workplace fifty years later.”  Are you kidding me?  How would you not want to be considered a feminist?  Go on with your bad gloria-feminista-self.

Okay, I’m not being fair.  I know that unfortunately many people don’t even know what being a feminist means.  Too many people think it’s about being a feminazi lesbian we-hate-men marcher.  And yeah, there are those, and more power to them.  But you don’t even have to be (gasp) a woman to be a feminist.

Allow me to reference the all-knowing internet and cite Merriam-Webster Online, which defines feminism as, “the theory of economic, social, and political equality of the sexes.”  Um, yeah, I would say I subscribe to that.  Wikipedia actually has a great opening paragraph, defining feminism as “…a collection of movements aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights and equal opportunities for women.[1][2][3] Its concepts overlap with those of women’s rights. Feminism is mainly focused on women’s issues, but because feminism seeks gender equality, some feminists argue that men’s liberation is therefore a necessary part of feminism, and that men are also harmed by sexism and gender roles. Feminists are ‘person[s] whose beliefs and behavior[s] are based on feminism.’[4]

We’ve got amazing, feminine, determined, loving, strong women who are feminists in every sense of that definition.  Is it too much to assume that all women who strive for equality should embrace feminism?

From my simple google search entry of “feminism,” the two aforementioned internet references popped up, which I think are pretty trustworthy.  But let me point out that the fifth down the line is a (not by my definition) christian website condemning feminism with articles on how the Rockefellers engineered women and how the CIA created the feminist movement to destabilize the government…  Funny how more studies have shown that when we empower women in third world countries we see more economic growth and higher standards of living.  I noticed a link on this ranting, terribly misinformed website to another less offensive but also misinformed site called, “Ladies Against Feminism”.  Good grief…  Its inherent belief that feminism is just female domination over men is sadly what I think more intelligent women have been led to believe.  It gives a site like this power to have an argument that shouldn’t even exist.

Okay, I’m trying not to digress to a larger picture of the problems of misguided religious groups who end up hurting more through their miseducation.  Maybe I’ll blog about that if I haven’t already scared people away.

But back to my original and more pressing point because it’s something I think we deal with more on the day-to-day…  Dear fellow beautiful, independent, loving, passionate women.  I have never gone out picketing for women’s rights.  I shave my legs and like to wear heels.  I love cooking and I love cooking for my manly man.  But I love community among women.  And I think we are all powerful beyond measure.  And I’ll never back down from someone who thinks I’m less of a person because I’m a woman.  And I’ll fight anyone who tries to make me feel helpless.  And I’ll always encourage others to do the same…  So, ladies, please hear me out and start seeing the ways you are absolutely and undeniably a feminist.  Men, that goes for you too.


Our mothers and grandmothers are our first and most important inspirations.  They taught me first to be daring and creative and to follow my own unique path.  They are the everyday example of what it takes to be a woman in the world.

Here are other amazing women that I look to for inspiration in what it takes to be a woman in music: