"Is she okay?"
I usually laugh it off when my partner mentions that a friend has asked that about me after reading something I wrote, or when acquaintances of mine start using the dreaded "care" emoji to comment on my latest Facebook post... The truth is, most of us are NOT okay from time to time, and the posts I most enjoy reading-and writing- are heartfelt, honest and articulate rather than glossy and superficial. My partner worries about the image I may present to potential venues or promoters, and he has a point, but the truth is that songwriting has already exposed me many times over. Sometimes I write about stories and people who capture my attention, but often I am writing about things closer to home: the uncomfortable desires of my heart and body; fear of aging and loneliness and obscurity; living and loving in what often feels like the End Times. As I make the transition from writing and recording alone feverishly in my little basement suite to playing with a band, the strangeness of this often strikes me. "Do you reach under the sheet / And does it make you feel complete" was a fun lyric to hint at a quick cure for the January blues, but felt a little raw the first time I sang it in front of my bandmates. In the end though, songs- like social media posts- are only a snapshot of a moment, and happiness often harder and more elusive to capture than despair.
Song Story: Desire Lines
For my partner’s sake, I’ll pick an entirely happy, non-angsty song this time around ;)
We walk these desire lines
the dirt underneath our feet
the distance between two places
the track leading from the street
The idea for this song came from hearing a friend mention this phrase, which describes tracks and trails made by people and animals rather than by planners or architects. My reaction to hearing these words was visceral and I knew I had to write a song about it. I began working on it the same night. I like to explore a song’s theme in different ways, and of course “desire lines” is so perfect because its very name hints at personal feelings and choices as well as its more conventional use to describe the trails we make over land. The lyrics begin by describing a walk between two places, but as the song goes on the desire lines become more personal and end with a description of the “desire lines” we make in our hearts: the paths we make to the people we love best. The lyrics came fast, as did the little ukulele riff that begins the song, but it took a while to record everything because I kept wanting to add more stuff: layers of uke, vocals, bass, even marimba! Eventually I asked Liam MacDonald to put some percussion on it, and he obliged in fine style. Shooting the video for the song was simple: I merely hopped on my bike and filmed every tantalizing desire line I could find. One day I went to Stanley Park with a friend and we had a hilarious time searching for desire lines there; another day my partner and I went to Queen Elizabeth Park and scrambled up and down slopes while I filmed him walking on various paths.
“Desire Lines” will be the title track on my EP, but until that version comes out you can hear (and see) it here: