story originally written for Ladygunn. read the full story here.
Ever want something you thought you’d never have?
I have, more times than I can count.
In April of last year I was opening for Louise Goffin at the Union County Performing Arts Center in Rahway, New Jersey. I’ve played some nice rooms over the years, but none like this. I stepped out onto the stage for sound check, took a long look at the theatre’s vaulted ceilings, tiered chandeliers and absolutely fell in love. Never mind that it’s a 1600-seater, and I usually play 250 capacity rooms, tops. The only reason I’m here is because I’m opening for Louise, and all I want to do is figure out how to come back. A voice in my head tells me I will shoot a music video here. Another voice tells me to eat a case of sour patch kids.
In that moment, I had not even written the song, but didn’t give the “how” much thought. I know better now. My entire music career has been built on seemingly impossible dreams.
Ten years before I stepped on stage in Rahway, I sat in my boyfriend’s living room in Austin, Texas fiddling with my acoustic guitar. I’d just started learning Mirah’s “Archipelago,” and was stumbling through the chords, trying to impress him. I kept fucking up. Slowing down to try and remember the next chord, hitting the wrong notes, and then apologizing. Long, dumb silences while I cursed and corrected myself. Feeling my face grow hot.
“It’s okay,” he told me, “maybe when you’re on stage, it’ll just be your thing. Long, slow pauses in the middle of songs. It could be cool.”
Pffft. I could barely even hold a guitar upright, much less play it. I knew the opening riff to Nirvana’s “Come as You Are” and that was pretty much it. He referred to me on stage as casually as he’d ask me to pass the salt, and I thought he was nuts. I was a college kid, not a musician. Music was something other, more courageous people did. I couldn’t even muster up the discipline to get through a simple tune without freaking out.
Though I didn’t have much guitar prowess, I did have enough going on in my life that I had to get my feelings out. That boyfriend and I broke up, and a few nights after, I stayed up late and spilled all my frustration into my first song. I played it for my sister, and she actually liked it. So I played it for a friend and then tried an open mic. A few weeks later I met with Alexis, my first songwriting and voice teacher. After having me play every song I’d written (all three of them), she told me I was going to record an album. Since I was paying her good money to tell me what to do, I wrote down the list of tasks she gave me, anxiety bubbling up in the pit of my stomach.
“You know any graphic designers? Great! Call them.” She told me. “You should aim to write another 10 songs.”
I had no idea if I was going to be able to pull any of it off, but nodded anyways. She promised me all I had to do was follow the steps she laid out, one by one.
“Oh and next we’ll book your first show.”
Fuck, I thought. Maybe it won’t be so bad and by the time we get a gig I’ll have written a lot more songs and practiced and everything will be fine?
A week later, I’d booked my first gig. It was a two-hour set, and I figured my three songs would get old if I just played them, over and over. So I pieced together a band, wrote another few songs, and learned enough covers to make up the difference. I was a musician.
read the rest of the story on LadyGunn.com